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Friday, July 31, 2009

Simply... Cookies.

Not long ago, I was contacted by Katie Grien on behalf of Pillsbury with an offer to try Pillsbury's new Simply... line of refrigerated cookie dough. Now, I've been known to buy refrigerated cookie dough from time to time. I mean, I love to make homemade cookies and I have great memories of baking cookies at my grandma's house when I was young...they are actually some of my earliest baking memories. But, there's just something about having some refrigerated cookie dough on hand. I mean, remember those cookie dough cupcakes! I'm also guilty of eating it straight from the roll (these aren't in a roll, but you know the ones I mean). In high school, my friend Michelle and I used to walk to the market and buy a log of cookie dough. We'd rip it in, I don't remember, because I know we'd eat it while walking home...and each of us would take out half and eat from the ripped end. Um....good thing I don't do that anymore. Often. The really awesome thing about Pillsbury Simply... cookie dough is that it is made with "simple, wholesome ingredients." The list is actually pretty short- wheat flour bleached, brown sugar, semisweet chocolate chips, vegetable shortening, water, eggs, baking powder, salt & vanilla extract. Nice, right? Zero grams trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It is available in either chocolate chip or peanut butter. Do I even need to say that I said "YES!! I'll try them...I mean, I suppose...wink wink." Not long after, I received a box with a reusable cotton canvas bags, a media kit and 2 free coupons to try Simply... refrigerated cookie dough. Have I mentioned that I am a bag-a-holic? I have a ridiculous number of reusable bags. So...perfect for me.
Place & bake! Looks yummy like this, doesn't it?
Dunk, bite, repeat.But are they tasty? MMmmmMMMmm...yup! I've only shown you the chocolate chip, but I tried the peanut butter, too and they are both delicious. How can you not love the taste of just out of the oven cookies? I do not know.
Okay, I actually received 4...Yes, 4 reusable bags and 8 Free that I can share some with you! If you would like to try Pillsbury Simply... refrigerated cookie dough & have a nice, new reusable bag...simply (ha ha) leave me a comment letting me know that you'd like to try them! That's it. You can have an extra entry if you tweet about the giveaway and let me know...or an extra by mentioning it on your blog and linking back (and letting me know). ***important stuff....1) this giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only. Sorry to my other friends, but these coupons are only good in the U.S., so it wouldn't be much fun for you anyway:( 2) Please enter by noon on Thursday August 6th (Eastern time) announced sometime over that following weekend.
I would also like to give a few shout-outs to some awesome people who have passed me these awards recently.
The super sweet from Kristen at Whatcha Eatin? passed me this Kreativ Blogger award...thank you so much Kristin! I recently posted the 7 "things about me" here if you'd like to know what I wrote.
Thanks so much to the amazing Frieda of Lovin' from the Oven for passing the Lemonade Stand Gratitude award to me. I am supposed to nominate at least 10 blogs who show an attitude of gratitude. 10! Yikes...I've done this in the past and am going to be an outlaw today and not pass it on again just yet...but I the future ;)
Frieda has inspired me to get in the kitchen and start baking that homemade bread that I so adore! Thank you, Frieda.
I would also like to thank Kim from Stirring the Pot for passing this One Lovely Blog award to me. Kim is a fellow Tyler lover, a source of inspiration and just a plain old sweetheart...go visit her and these other great ladies if you don't already! Good eats :D
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quieres Huevos Rancheros?

Yo quiero Huevos Rancheros!! Okay, apparently I'm all about simple lately...because this is yet another easy, but delicious dish. This month's Second Sunday San Antonio recipe, Huevos Rancheros was chosen by Spryte of Spryte's Place. Eggs with Ranchero Salsa is something we eat often and without thought around our house. I make a few versions of Ranchero Sauce...that I usually just refer to as blender salsa because A) there is no chopping involved, B) it's tasty & quick and C) It keeps well in the refrigerator. It is also one of those things that has no "set" changes a little bit every time. I've given a basic salsa verde recipe before...and now I'll give you the "recipe" for this specific ranchero sauce...which I changed from Gloria's recipe (can't help myself Gloria). Please click here to see Gloria's recipe from her book Foods and Flavors of San Antonio...and cook along with us this's quick and delicious!
Huevos Rancheros
Ranchero Sauce w/ Avocado:
1 tomato
5 tomatillos, husked & rinsed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 jalapenos
4 dried puya chiles
1/4 c. water
sea salt
1 avocado, diced
1/2 small red onion, small dice
small handful cilantro, rough chop
For the rest:
corn tortillas
First, make the ranchero sauce...Place tomato, tomatillos, garlic, jalepenos & dried chiles in medium pot and add water to just cover. Simmer gently until just tender. Remove veggies to a blender jar and add 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth.
Add avocado, red onion and cilantro.
Season to taste with salt. Set aside and make eggs and goes're almost done!
Drop a pat of butter into small saute pan. Once it begins to form little bubbles, crack in an egg or two. Once the eggs have begun to set on this side, give them a quick flip. Cook another minute or so, depending on how you like your eggs. For the tortillas, I just turn on the flame on the stove and set a couple of tortillas over each one, flipping and moving until warm and browned the way you like them. Place the tortillas on your plate, slide the eggs on top of the tortillas, then spoon the Ranchero Sauce over the top of it all. Ricos! Ready for breakfast??? Or lunch or dinner for that matter! Join us for Second Sunday San Antonio....Huevos Rancheros roundup will be posted August 9th over at Foods & Flavors of San Antonio.
Monday, July 27, 2009

Finally...a Curry!

Seriously, I've been saying I want to make a curry...I need to make a, for-e-ver (for-e-ever...Sandlot...seen it?)! Well, look ma! I did it. I made a curry! Did I mention how much I adore curry? Also, I've been noticing how often I say I love insert name of food here or I adore insert another food here . But when I say it, I truly mean it. There are so many foods that evoke those emotions in me. So, if I've ever said it to you (and I probably have), it was with all sincerity. Okay, back to the big bowl of deliciousness we go...

Three P Curry (okay kinda... red Potato, Peas & chickPeas) by girlichef

Olive Oil

medium onion, sliced thin- 1

garlic clove, minced- 2

red potatoes, diced- ~7 (b-size)

red curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen brand)- ~2 Tbs.

curry powder- 2 tsp.

brown sugar- 1 1/2 tsp.

coconut milk- 1 (13.5 fl oz) can

water- 1/2 c.

chickpeas, cooked- 1 (15 oz) can drained or equivalent dried, cooked chickpeas

sea salt- to taste


cilantro or parsley- handful chopped

plain yogurt, thinned with a little milk or water- to taste

flat bread or other bread to eat with

So, let's start by heating the olive oil in a large, deep-sided skillet. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for a few more minutes, or until the edges start to turn transparent.Next, add red curry paste, curry powder and brown sugar. Stir and cook to release oils for a minute or so. Pour in the coconut milk and water; stir well. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat a bit and let it cook at a lazy bubble until potatoes are just tender.Add your chickpeas and your green peas and let bubble for a few more minutes, until everything is heated through evenly. Now taste it and add sea salt as you see fit.Serve with a good drizzle of yogurt & a sprinkling of cilantro....with warm flat bread. Yummmm! This was so good later on when it had cooled,, straight from the pan and not in the fridge....bacteria be damned!!! I mean, I covered it and it had been just a teensy-weensy bit longer than 2 hours...and I'm still here... Now, just to decide which curry to make next as I'm still in the curry mood.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Souper Simple Tuna & Bean Salad

Have you seen Mark Bittman's newest cookbook, Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express? It is totally Zeppelin (as rocks, hard)! I love how Bittman describes this book in his introduction. He calls its recipes "precisely imprecise". It is a fabulous collection of 404 "recipes"...101 for each season. Each "recipe" is just a few simple lines stating approximate amounts and ingredient suggestions...core recipes, if you will. You can adjust amounts to suit your needs at any given time; and everything in here can make it to the table in "twenty minutes, max." And of course I love his remembrance of Jacques Pepin (amazing) once remarking to him that the old adage about "never stepping foot in the same river twice holds true for recipes also: You don't start with the same amount of ingredients, they're not at the same temperature, they're not the same age or from the same place, the ambient temperature and humidity are probably different, as are your equipment and mood. Everything is different, and the results will be too." that way of!

I was flipping through looking up key ingredients in the index that I might already have in my pantry or fridge and came upon a great "recipe" for Tuna and Bean salad. I want to write it exactly as he did, so that you can see the basic idea of this amazing cookbook.

Tuna and Bean Salad
from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express p.170

Mix a cup or so of precooked or canned cannellini beans (drained) with a can of good tuna (packed in olive oil), a handful of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, a teeny bit of garlic (optional) or shallot (or red onion, or scallion, or whatever), and, if you have it, a sprig of rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil, toss, adjust seasoning, and serve with good bread or alongside cold cooked asparagus.

That's it...his simple recipe...that's how they're all written- nice, huh?'s the process:

I opened one can of white tuna packed in olive oil and dumped it into a bowl, then dumped in ~1 cup of canned, drained Great Northern Beans.
Next, I chopped a handful of parsley, minced a small clove of garlic, and finely diced ~1/4 of a small red onion and added it all to the bowl. Then I added freshly cracked black pepper and some Black Truffle Sea Salt.Then I added a (blurry) glug of olive oil and tossed it all up. Just before I mixed up this quick, healthy salad, I blanched some tiny asparagus spears and chilled them. I served the salad with the asparagus (both sprinkled with some more pepper & truffle salt), a hunk of good bread and a glass of Chardonnay. Delicious!This was another of those books that I had to run over to Amazon and buy right away! But, I know it will get a lot of it will be well worth it! I'm sending this salad over to Deb at Kahakai Kitchens for this weeks Souper (soup, salad, sammie) Sundays!
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tex-Mex Beef Brisket Tostadas

This post may look a teensy bit familiar to some of you. Last month I did a guest post over at Food~Wine~Fun...and this was a nutshell. Since I have had such an incredibly busy week, I haven't had much time spent in the kitchen with my camera, so I thought I'd re-visit this and share it here! When I made this, I wanted something representative of Texas, since that's where Chef E was going to be during my post. I asked her what some of her favorite food was that was representative of Texas. Well she, like me, is a fan of, she passed me her recipe for Beef Brisket. I made a few, very slight alterations...and here is what I came up with... Tex-Mex Beef Brisket 
slightly adapted from a recipe given to me by Chef E (amounts are guesstimates...go w/ the tastes & flavor combos you enjoy) 

 2-3 lb. beef brisket 
Salt I used Espresso Brava Sea Salt (coffee+beef=delicious) 
Black Pepper 
Garlic Powder 
Chili Powder I used Chipotle Chili Powder 
Liquid Smoke 

 Start off by preheating your oven to 300 degrees F. This is a 3-something pound brisket. See that thick layer of fat on the top? If you are doubting your butchering skills, ask your butcher to trim this down to ~1/4" thickness. I actually like to do it myself, but I'm cuckoo like that. So, beef brisket...trim... Next, rub your chosen amount of the dry spices all over and into your meat. Set it in your roasting pan fat side up and give it a little liquid smoke massage. Cover tightly with foil (or a lid if you have one) and slide that baby into the oven for ~30-45 minutes per pound.
When you remove it from the oven, carefully lift back the foil (steam!!) and test the middle of the brisket to see if it is "pull" tender (that was Chef E's term). If it isn't, slide it back into the oven for a while longer. When it is done, it'll look a little somethin' like this... Aw yeah..."pull" tender with a delicious crust around the outside! If you're not going to eat it right away, let it cool down a bit and then pull the meat apart and use some of the delicious cooking juices to store it in (refrigerated) so it doesn't dry out. Chef E does some other things with the juices afterwards...but this is my version of her version, and here's what I decided to do with it. 

Refried Black Beans 
1 heaping Tbs. bacon grease 
1 (30 oz) can Black Beans w/ a bit of their juices 
minced onion 
garlic powder 

 Put your bacon grease into a small to medium sized non-stick pan over medium heat. Once it is melted, pour in the black beans with some of their cooking juices. Add your spices and let it bubble away for a while, stirring occasionally. After some of the juices have begun to evaporate, smash up the beans with a potato masher...a few larger chunks are okay by me. Let the beans continue to cook over low heat, stirring here and there.
They are done once they have begun to dry out...and basically look like refried beans. Remove from heat. So, are you wondering what I'm going to do now? Some of the brisket "after-talk" was about tostadas....and if you know me, you know that adding a tortilla to something is never a bad thing. What do you get when you take those refried beans in the picture above and add them to the pulled-beef from the Tex-Mex brisket below... ...and then fry up a few tortillas into crispy tostada shells....
...and then add some Salsa Verde, some Mexican Crema, a bit of chopped green onion, thinly sliced radish, torn up cilantro and chunks of creamy avocado...with a sprinkling of Queso Quesedilla? This, dear friends, is what you get..... Beef Brisket Tostadas...Tex-Mex style! much do I wish that I had actually made these this week!? Forgive me if I seem a bit absent...I'll catch up soon...I hope!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Iron Cupcake Earth: Herbs

I have to begin by saying...I am on Tyler Florence's Blog!!! Check me out HERE. You too could end up there...just whip up a recipe by Tyler and join us at Tyler Florence Fridays! Tyler. Tyler Florence. Chef Tyler Florence. Tyler Florence Food Network Chef. Shuttin' up. (photo by Scott Jones Southern Living Magazine Jan 2009 issue) ---------------------------------------------------------------- You know, for someone who is not really the biggest cake fan, I have sure been making a whole lotta cupcakes lately!! It's not that I don't like cake, I just like it every once in a while. I've just been experimenting and preparing for the day I need to send cupcakes along with somebody for one reason or another. (Yes, I always answer the question cake or pie? Pie!) When Reeni suggested I enter Iron Cupcake after my last cupcakes, I figured...why not?? You know me, I like a challenge. I am a bit of a challenged baker (again, you know this, right?)...but practice makes perfect, so I'm willing to keep trying. I took inspiration from those oh-so-addicting cookie dough cupcakes this time. Everybody loves surprises, so I like to oblige. Oh, did I mention that this month's challenge is herbs? Why, yes girli, you just did. Good. I immediately knew I was going to use thyme...not just because it's my favorite herb, but because I have a whole stinkin' bunch of it right now. Okay, more than one stinkin' bunch...many stinkin' bunches! My brain then tells me I must pair it with lemon. And my belly grumbles ricotta. This is what brain, my belly and I (we're quite a team) came up with...

Thyme-Infused, Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes by girlichef yield: 24 cupcakes For Filling: 1 c. ricotta cheese 1/4 c. powdered sugar zest of 1 lemon 1 tsp. thyme leaves big pinch sea salt For Cupcakes: 1 (18.5 oz) box white cake mix so what? 1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (~6 lemons) 2/3 c. ricotta cheese 1/3 c. lemon curd 1/3 c. vegetable oil 3 Tbs. poppy seeds 2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves, chopped 4 large eggs 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest Start by making the filling, because it needs to chill in the freezer for a while. Mix all of the filling ingredients in medium bowl. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto wax or parchment paper lined sheet pan. Put in freezer for ~1 hour to firm up. Once filling is in the freezer, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat all of cake ingredients until thick and fluffy. Fill prepared cupcake tins (either sprayed or with liners) ~2/3 of the way full. Place one frozen ball of filling on top of each. Yes, these balls are big, your eyes are not deceiving you. I decided it was too much filling, therefore halved it for the final recipe.Bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in side (not center, because the filling is there and will be creamy) comes out clean.Frost with your choice of frosting...I actually used cream cheese frosting because I wanted to go into overload. You could go with a buttercream or whipped cream frosting successfully, too. I kid you not, these are super, SUPER rich cuppies!Decorate with some extra lemon zest and a small section of a thyme sprig. Just check out the creamy, creamy insides that is. Click on the Iron Cupcake Badge below to check out Iron Cupcake Earth.

Iron Cupcake Earth has prize packs every month for the winner. This month's prize pack consists of:
-A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH
-A delicious treat from CIRCLEMONKEY
-A sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery
-And CAKESPY who will be doing something for the winners each month until further notice.
Corporate Prize providers are:
-HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson