Saturday, February 13, 2016


I have made a couple of seafood recipes lately that turned out really well.  Garlic Butter Shrimp and Rice is both creamy and light. Creamy with Parmesan cheese and milk and light with fresh parsley and plump shrimp.  If you want to be a little less decadent, I would reduce the butter to 3 or 4 tablespoons.  I also used 1/2 a bunch of parsley because I think it would be difficult to put too much parsley in a dish.   I love it!

This tastes a bit like risotto though much simpler to prepare.  I served this with a side of sauteed spinach and mushrooms.

The second dish is Cilantro Lime Honey Garlic Salmon.  Whew, try saying that three times fast.  This dish is even easier to prepare than the rice - place the salmon on the foil, pour over the marinade and bake.  I like salmon best with some sweetness and this recipe cuts the sweetness with sour lime, spicy garlic and fresh cilantro. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 10, 2016

I cannot believe it is 2016.  But I am happy to say, I have not messed up and written 2015 - yet.

We met at Mary's and we were joined by guests Rachel and Carol and missing Angelica.  The theme was Mexican street food.  Ole!

Cocktail - horchata, Mary
Appetizer - scallop ceviche and guacamole, Angie
Side Dish - creamy corn cups, Tonya
Main dish - tortas, Mary
Dessert - tres leches, Carol

Mary started us off with horchata that she added some brandy to.... because first rule of cooking group is we drink alcohol.  She used the basic recipe and then added a can of condensed milk, almond milk and brandy.  Serve this refreshing, slightly sweet drink over ice.
Our appetizers were ceviche and guacamole.  I have never made ceviche before and this was a super easy, not scary (of ending up with raw seafood in juice) recipe.  I halved the recipe and it was plenty for a small gathering.  I recommend roughly chopping the scallops to get small pieces rather than just quartering.  I followed the recipe exactly except used half a seeded jalapeno instead of a Serrano.  I found the unsweetened coconut in the bulk section and while I do not think it added any flavor, the little white specs look pretty.  I served both the ceviche (after using a slotted spoon to move it to a new bowl) and guacamole with tortilla chips.

In case the ceviche did not work out, I also made guacamole.  This recipe had essentially the same flavors, just swapping out the scallops for avocados.  I have made guacamole many times, normally just mashing avocados and adding some garlic salt, lemon juice and hot sauce.  I decided to try this fancy recipe and I really liked it.  I do think you should use less onions than called for but otherwise would not change a thing.  Funny that the recipe calls for fresh coriander because this is also known BY EVERYONE as cilantro.  You're welcome.

Tonya prepared the most tasty corn recipe and served it in mini mason jars.  The toppings are stirred into the corn, resulting in a sweet, creamy, salty, limey, concoction.  Mary had this spice and Tonya sprinkled some on top and it was so delicious.  

The main dish was tortas de milanesa, which in our case was fried chicken cutlets served on rolls and topped with spicy (sriracha)  mayonnaise, lettuce, avocado and tomato.  Mary marinaded the chicken breasts in something spicy (probably more sriracha)  because the chicken alone had a nice kick.  I realized this because I ate my left overs on plain white bread (I know - who eats this any more besides children) and there was a pleasant spiciness.  I loved this sandwich.  The chicken was crunchy because of the double breading and frying and the combination of the toppings cool down the heat.  

 We finished our meal with Carol's tres leches cake.  Carol reported this dessert was rather easy to make because it starts with a boxed cake mix.  We all discussed that we prefer boxed cake mixes to homemade.  I know I have made a homemade yellow cake recipe and it was an embarrassment.  The sweetness and texture were off.  It was a very old recipe and I think today's tastes have evolved where the old recipes are less palatable.  The cake was creamy but not as wet as other tres leches I have eaten.  For the icing, Carol used a box icing mix which she said was just egg whites and you add hot water.  Yum!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cookie exchange, December 13, 2015!

I hosted my 2nd (next year, annual) cookie exchange and it was a great hit! I served various appetizers and this fall sangria.

 The cookie exchange winners...

An interesting fact is that none of the cookies have flour!  Under certain cookie nazi rule books, cookies without flour WOULD NOT be allowed at a cookie exchange.  


Christmas Tree Meringues

  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 1/4 TSP Cream of Tartar
  • Green Gel Food Coloring
  • Parchment Paper
  • Piping Bag
  • Large Star Tip
  • Sprinkles & Stars (I ordered Wilton gold stars online)
  1. Preheat oven to 150-170 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer place egg whites. Let the whites come to room temp.
  2. Beat egg whites until white and foamy. Mix in 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Set timer for 7 minutes. Slowly add in sugar a bit at a time taking the entire 7 minutes to do so.
  3. Add food coloring and mix well.
  4. Fill piping bag with meringue using a large star tip (I used Wilton #1M). 
  5. On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet pipe small mounds of meringue, moving in a tiny circle. 
  6. Add sprinkles and stars. If placing stars on the soft meringue is too difficult, you can also add them with a small dab of royal icing after baking.
  7. Now bake at a very low heat (about 150-170) for about two hours to two and a half hours until they are nice and crisp. I just checked on mine every so often to make sure they haven’t started to brown. Every oven is different. I have found in the past that a low temp for a much longer time is far better then a higher temp with a risk of browning.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stew and Muffins

It sometimes gets cold here.  When it does, I want to cook using my crock pot.  I made old fashioned beef stew using this very simple recipe.  I did not do any searing or cooking outside of the crock pot.  I followed the recipe other than leaving out the celery (my family does not believe in celery in stew) and I used 32 ounces of beef stock.  Start off with the amount of beef stock as called for in the recipe and then add more to get the amount of "soupyness" that you want to achieve.  I did need to thicken at the end using a corn starch slurry and add quite a bit of salt.  This was delicious, comforting and just like my parents would make and with the ease of a crock pot.

I had some fresh cranberries and oranges so I decided to whip up some muffins.  These were superb.  The muffin is almost like pound cake and it would make a great base for any combination of fruit and nuts.   I recommend cutting the cranberries in half but otherwise, this recipe is perfect.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I made a few new dishes this year that I want to share.

First, the turkey.  This is the simplest yet tastiest turkey that I have ever prepared.  No overnight brining.  No fingers smeared with butter and working under the skin.  The aromatics go into the turkey, olive oil on the outside and you are done.  I did add some poultry seasoning to the outside because I love the flavor.  The turkey was super moist after I baked it to just under 165 degrees and let it rest. I also set it out for about 2 hours before I put it in the oven.  The aromatics add nice yet mild flavor to the meat.  The recipe link goes into great detail with a summary recipe about half way down.

I also prepared a spiral cut ham IN MY CROCK POT.  Yes!  I could not figure out how to time the turkey, ham and side dishes in the oven so I looked for alternative methods for heating up the ham and voila, crock pot!  It was perfect!  The bone in ham was slightly too tall for my crock pot so I cut some off and put it on the side of the pot.  I also had to use two layers of foil as a lid and as suggested in the recipe, still rested the lid on top.  I used one cup of orange juice and one cup of water as the liquid and only half of the glaze because I did not want the ham to be too sweet.  I think this was a good idea and the extras were not missed.   

Two new sides made an appearance this year.  My parents brought Ruth's Chris Sweet Potatoes.   These are sweet enough that you could put it in a pie crust and call it dessert!  While I thought it was delicious and decadent, I think you could half the sugar in the potatoes and would not miss it, especially since there is a cup of brown sugar in the topping!  I was impressed with my dad for following both my instructions to bring this dish as well as preparing it.  I love delegating!

The second new side dish was Black Eyed Pea squash casserole.  This is a great way to fancy up squash.  I added some fresh thyme and otherwise stuck to the recipe.  The bread crumbs create a nice crust. I put this recipe together the night before and baked it on Thanksgiving day.  This savory side dish was a nice contrast to the sweet potatoes.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Taco Soup

Two things are happening: it's cold and it's Thanksgiving week.  It was with both of these in mind that I made Taco Soup for my meals this week.  I followed the recipe other than using 2 cans of black beans instead of pinto beans.  The cans of rotel bring some heat so if you are a wimp, proceed with caution.  The warm soup full of vegetables will be filling and comforting during this first week of cold weather.  It will also help me reduce my calories before the eating fest of Thanksgiving arrives.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Butterscotch Bars

This recipe for Butterscotch Bars was in the Wednesday edition of the Houston Chronicle.  For $5 a month I receive the paper on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Mostly the paper drives me crazy but I do appreciate the Food section and the coupons.  

I wanted to make this recipe because it has a meringue like topping.  There is a sugar cookie base, middle layer with butterscotch chips, pecans and coconut and on top, the brown sugar meringue.  It all blends together so the layers are not distinct and this results in a delicious bar that makes you wonder what all is going on here?!   Yum

The recipe should say that the butter is melted.  Also, I used the whole bag of chips.  I had about 1/3 cup of toffee chips and I put those in too.  I think the kitchen sink could be in that middle layer!  These are decadent.  No need to serve with cream or ice cream as suggested.  Unless you want to go into a diabetic coma.

(photo by Gary Coronado/Houston Chronicle)