Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caprese Salad Minus Becca

Becca is my cousin.

She was my first babysitting job; her parents paid for the gas in my1971 Volkwagen Rabbit, and all of my cassingles, including Bon Jovi and Richard Marx.

Becca is now grown-up and doesn’t need me to babysit her anymore. But she still comes over and we drink Diet Coke and solve the world’s problems.

Becca is moving to California on Friday.

My cousin Becca was schedule to come over and we were going to make Caprese salads for ya’ll. Gorgeous, easy, and perfect for summer, especially when tomatoes are in full force in my garden.

Becca and I had to cancel our plans, but I wasn’t about to let good tomatoes go to waste. So follow my stream of consciousness here for a sec.

When I was shopping for our little adventure, I thought about tomatoes. I know that Caprese salad literally means “of Capri” or coming from the Italian Island of Capri.

So while I was on tomatoes, I was thinking about how much I love Mexican food. And I thought, “wow, I wonder if we could somehow make a Mexican version of a Caprese salad…like with queso fresco or something…”

Of course, any excuse to use cheese other than cheddar is worth a go in my book.

So I plowed through the aisles at WalMart, looking for Becca’s caprese salad ingredients, and throwing in some extras for a Mexican version:

I got queso fresco (obvi), avocado, tomatillo, and cilantro.

Oh, and a yellow plate.

So…I really didn’t know what I was doing. I started just stacking stuff:

This is tomato-avocado-queso fresco-tomatillo. Not looking so good.

Then I tried to artfully arrange the pieces on a plate. Sort of “deconstructed” which is a term I love.

Pretty ridic.

So I went back to stacking. Left out the tomatillo, crumbled the queso fresco.

Ahh, much better.

Traditional Caprese salads have a balsamic vinegar dressing. So I just made a simple sauce of a can of chipotle peppers in adobe that I threw in the food grinder.

Dude, that stuff is spicy.

Then I tore off a couple of pieces of cilantro and threw them on as well.

Not Top Chef, but pretty awesome for me.

And the best part? It’s really yummy!

There ain’t nothing fancy about making this. It just looks pretty impressive, right?

You make one. Take it to work for lunch tomorrow. Impress everyone.

Mexican Caprese Salad

1 tomato

1 avocado

queso fresco

cilantro leaves

1 can chipotle in adobo

Slice the tomato and avocado. Crumble a little queso fresco. Grind the chipotles in a food processor until smooth. Stack the layers beginning with tomato, then some queso fresco crumbles, then the avocado. Repeat. Sprinkle with cilatro leaves and drizzle the chipotle sauce.

Warning: the Chipotle sauce is hot. I smeared it on the side so I could dip into it when I was ready. If you’re not into hot stuff, you can leave it off.

Count how many times I said “queso fresco”. It’s an embarrassing amount, but Dude, I really like cheese.

I should have pulled a Rachael Ray and called it “Q.F” or “Ques Fresc”.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

S'mores Fudgsicles to cure Hot Hair

This morning we walked across the street to my mom and dad’s house.

“Mommy? My hair is hot,” said DJ.

“Mine too, Darlin’. Mine, too,”

Since we all have hot hair, I suppose that it would be nice to make something cold, right?

And it would be even nicer if I made something that the kids woul…hang on a second.

I gotta give one of these to Joey before has the big freak out on me.

I’d say he likes them…In Joey’s defense, he’s been watching me screw around with these since 7am this morning. He’s ready to eat one, by gosh!

Okay, like I was saying, it would be nice if I made something for the kids.

Aaaaand, to top it all off: It’s National S’Mores Day! Once again, these holidays creep up on me! Y’all, my Happy National S’Mores Day cards are in the mail, I swear!

Anyone have any idea why they picked August for S’mores day? Sept or Oct seems a little more appropriate. But, who am I to question the National S’Mores…uh, dudes, I guess.

So let’s go. We’re going to make Triple Layer Fudgesicles. Chocolate, Marshmallow, and Graham Cracker. Pretty brilliant, right?

Fudgesicles are super easy to make. Milk (any fat level you desire), Sugar, Corn Syrup (lots of recipes used Agave Nectar), Vanilla, cocoa powder…

Put that stuff in a saucepan and heat until cocoa powder and sugar are dissolved.

Meanwhile, if you have those fancy popsicle molds, use those. I don’t, so I’m using bathroom cups…

And I found some random sticks in my drawer…lollipop sticks, caramel apple sticks, and straws. At this point, I’m not sure how many this recipe will make, so I’ll just have it all out in case I need it.

Now pour the cocoa mixture into the cups. About 1/3 full…

Oh, yeah. I put it in a pouring container. It’s hard to pour from a hot pan. Duh, Amy.

Now we can pour it…

Yeah, I’m a slob.

Stick in the freezer for about an hour.

Next we move onto the marshmallow layer.

Same concept with ingredients…

That’s marshmallow fluff instead of cocoa powder.

Same concept…heat in a saucepan until sugar dissolves…pour on top of the chocolate layer:

Those lighter ones are foamy. I stirred too hard…

I decided at this point to add the sticks. I don’t really know why, I just did it.

These are going to be awesome…Back to the freezer for another hour.

Now the graham cracker layer…

Again, same concept.

Suddenly, DJ was super-interested in what I was doing…he helped me carry the ingredients. Then knocked my table and spilled some milk. Oh, well. We’re taught not to cry over that, aren’t we.

Again, heat till dissolved. Yeah, you got this.

Back to the freezer. It’s embarrassing that I spilled so much. They’ll never let me on Food Network Challenge with pics like this.

2 hours back in the freezer, or until they’re hard.

Let’s peel one back and have a peek…

Oh, man…these are better than I expected…

Holy Crap!

Yeah, baby…just like I wanted.

See the layers…?

Most definitely worth the wait…Right Joey?

Wanna make some? Sure, ya do.

S’Mores Fudgesicles.

Adapted from a recipe found on Baking Bites (one of the best food blogs out there, I’m not just saying that!)

3 cup milks (any fat level), divided

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided

3 tsp vanilla, divided

3 tbsp corn syrup (or agave nectar), divided

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup marshmallow fluff

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

for the Chocolate layer: Heat 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp corn syrup, 1/4 cup cocoa until sugar and cocoa are dissolved. Pour into popsicle molds or mini cups, about 1/3 full. Freeze for 1 hour.

For the Marshmallow layer: Heat 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp corn syrup, 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into molds over the chocolate layer until the molds are 2/3 full. Freeze for 1 hour.

For the Graham Cracker layer: Heat 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp corn syrup, 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs until sugar is dissolved. Pour into molds over the marshmallow layer until the molds are full. Freeze another 2 hours or until firm

Enjoy, and enjoy quickly…in this heat, they melt fast!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lemonade with Leaves

My grandma never made homemade lemonade. My mother-in-law does.

This is one of those family tradition things that my family never did, and my husband’s family ALWAYS does.

My mother-in-law is a great cook: she makes the absolute best potato salad I have ever eaten. She also rocks out some awesome sugar cookies. And she makes incredible lemonade.

Since it’s once again HOT…

My husband will be so happy that I made lemonade.

Start with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water…Simple syrup.

Cook until the sugar dissolves…

Meanwhile, get out the lemons…

4 usually gets me about 1 cup. You can use more or less juice, depending on how intense you want the lemon flavor. 1 cup gives you a nice, soft lemon flavor. Not that scratchy-throat lemon flavor, wow I hate that.

Yup, 1 cup…and a butt-wad of seeds. I like the pulp, but no seeds.

Simple syrup is done, they don’t call it “simple” for nuthin’. It needs to chill in the fridge.

I decided that I wanted to jazz up the lemonade a little…The boys and I were watching an episode of Max and Ruby, and the grandma made lemonade with mint. So, in honor of the rabbit brother and sister that have no parents…Let’s add mint.

I just tore it and threw it in the bottom…this is about 5 leaves…

Then I sliced up some lemons and threw them in…

Then the juice…

Then 4 cups of water and ice…

Joey’s reaction: Oh mommy! you made lemonade with leaves!

Joey’s dad will have a similar reaction, I’m sure: What’s this green stuff floating in the lemonade?

Because of the “green stuff floating in the lemonade”, He won’t drink it, I’ll bet ya $10.

Pour into some glasses…garnish with a lemon…

Bada-bing, you got minty lemonade!

Hot? Wanna make some?

Lemonade with Leaves

Adapted from a recipe from Karen Robinson

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 lemons, plus 2 for garnish

4 cups water

5 mint leaves, plus more for garnish


Mix together 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Juice 4 lemons to for 1 cup of fresh lemon juice, slice remaining lemons thinly. Tear 5 mint leaves and drop into the bottom of a pitcher. Add lemon slices, lemon juice and 4 cups of water. Fill pitcher with ice.

Pour into glasses, garnish with more lemon and mint.

And you just made Lemonade with Leaves!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Joey and DJ's favorite sleepover snack

My boys are funny…you remember my boys right?

This is Joey at the Bible School Program…

Front row, having the absolute time of his life…

This is DJ at the same Bible School Program:

Singing all the songs on his grandmother’s lap in the back pew. We couldn’t get him up on stage because he sometimes gets “weewy, weewy, shy”.

After said Bible School program, the boys had a sleepover at Grandma and Granddad's. Which is like their favorite place ever. Obvi.

Every time they sleep over at Grandma and Granddad they have to eat pudding. Every time. EVERY time. If my mother happens to be out of pudding, she or my dad will run to the store in their jammies and get a box of instant pudding. If she knows they’re coming in advance, she makes sure she has that freakin’ pudding.

I am big on making things from scratch. Cakes, frostings, pie fillings…etc, etc, etc. I feel there’s something to be said for taking butter and sugar and adding flour to make (insert baked good here). Like the old way. Like the way the grandma’s did it. Which brings us to today’s offering: homemade vanilla pudding.

I found this recipe in Grandma Laura’s secret stash…you probably remember the secret stash from this photo:

It’s an old metal bread box full of chicken-scratch recipes. And I love it.

This recipe is easy and quick and requires no oven. 3 bonuses for today since I worked all night last night, I need to get a nap in before my husband gets home, and it is freakin’ hot outside.

So let’s get going so I can get that nap in:

7tbsp flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt:

Yeah, the lighting sucks at my stove. It’s particularly bad today because I blew out a light bulb and contracted Lazy so I can’t get up there to change it.

Add 2 1/2 cups of milk:

Heat to boil.

Whisk 2 eggs:

Yeah, that’s a sour cream container. If your short on these, let me know. I have 65 billion of these.

And I’m sure there’s a “you might be a redneck” joke here somewhere. If Jeff Foxworthy gets this, he better freakin’ credit me.

Egg tempering 101

Take a small amount of hot milk mixture:

pour into beaten eggs, whisk quickly…Then pour egg mixture back into milk mixture and whisk whisk whisk. Don’t stop whisking or you’ll get scrambie eggies.

Keep cooking until mixture begins to thicken. 3 minutes, maybe? Keep whisking.

Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Use the good stuff here, it’s the only flavoring.

Whisk that in and get your bowls ready.

Oh, look. She brought out the Fiesta ware again. Shock-a-rooni.

Pour into cups…

Doesn’t look like much, does it?

Let’s add a sprinkle of cinnamon:

Or “Cimm-A-None” as the boys call it. Ahhh…I tried some food porn shots:

Is it composition? Is that what’s weird about my photography?

I know it’s not my camera. Or it better not be the freakin’ camera.

Wanna make some homemade vanilla pudding? It’s worth it!

Vanilla Pudding

Adapted from a recipe found in the bread box recipes of Laura Sherwood

7 tbsp flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

cinnamon for garnish

In a saucepan, mix flour, sugar and salt. Slowly pour in milk, heat to boil. Temper eggs with hot milk by adding small amount of hot milk to beaten eggs and whisk together. Then pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk mixture. Whisk together until thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into cups and sprinkle with cinnamon. Refrigerate.

This is a great base for scratch puddings:

Add bananas = Banana Pudding

Add chocolate = Chocolate Pudding

Add peanut butter = Peanut Butter Pudding

Add all three = Awesome.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Food Alliteration is Awesome.

This post involves 5 of my favorites: Bread, Butter, Brown Sugar, Bacon, and Alliteration.

How can you go wrong with that?

Dude, you can't.

I'm sort of having a Brown Betty obsession. I made 2 peach brown bettys: one for our neighbor (knee surgery) and one for a church meal. I figure, if you find something awesome, just keep making new ones and cash in on the popularity. Kinda like CSI and NCIS. Also, it was just as easy to make 3 as to make 1.

This is based on Pioneer Woman's Apple Brown Betty. You can find that recipe here.

I ain't about chitty-chatty today, let's get on with this. Mainly so I can get away from the desk and stand in front of the refrigerator to finish the pan. Excuse me, "baking dish".

Let's start at the beginning. A very fine place to start. And to make it even more fine, it's with butter.

Butter the baking dish. Don't be shy. Butter it like we's friends.

Slice some bread. I just used wheat bread,

We're going for a dice here...or you can tear it into bite size pieces...

This is 4 slices of bread, I eventually ended up doing 8.

I spread 1/2 cup of brown sugar on the bottom of the dish:

Then added bacon:

5 slices of pre-cooked bacon. And I burnt it a little...

Now some bread cubes...

And back to the brown sugar:

See where I'm going? Layer-layer-layer. Brown Sugar, Bacon, Bread. Brown Sugar, Bacon, Bread. 3 layers total.

Thank goodness it's not more or I'd be in some sort of artery-clogged trance.

At the end, we cover the top with butter. Yeah, we do.

I used about a stick of butter. Pioneer Woman's recipe calls for 1 1/2 sticks. Maybe she used a bigger dish.

Little more brown sugar never hurt anyone, right?

And then 3 tbsp of water sprinkled over the top. I'm not sure what this is about, but who am I to argue with the Pioneer Woman?

Cover in foil...

375 oven for 40 minutes...then it looks like this:

I'll give her another 5 minutes with no foil...

And I'm not waiting anymore. I'm eating now.

Yummy, right?

The brown sugar on the bottom makes a crust, and the rest is salty-sweet heaven. Because in my heaven, everything will be salty-sweet. And have bacon in it.

Has Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Google Dudes invented something that allows you to eat a virtual bite? Well, dangit...he should.

Wanna make some? yeah, I thought so.

Bacon Brown Betty

Adapted from the recipe Apple Brown Betty from Pioneer Woman

15 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 stick butter, sliced

8 slices bread, diced or torn into bite sized pieces

3 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 375.

Butter baking dish (8x8 glass pan, large pie dish). Layer 1/2 cup brown sugar on the bottom, cover with 5 slices of bacon pieces. Layer 1/3 of the bread pieces on the bacon, then begin another layer patter of brown sugar-bacon-bread. Repeat brown sugar-bacon-bread layers until you have a total of three. Cover the final bread layer with the sliced butter, sprinkle more brown sugar, then sprinkle the water. Cover in foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes or until slightly browned.

Eat while standing in front of the fridge with the door open.

And now you understand why food alliteration is awesome.