Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Because I was lazy (Recipe: Pasta Salad)

My husband and I attended a party earlier this month.  The same party we have been going to for the past decade.  And for ten years I have contributed to the potluck...except for this year.  I didn't make a darn thing.  I didn't even stop to purchase an artisan loaf, fruit platter, watermelon, or a cheap box of pre-fab cookies.  I just brought myself (and the hubs & toddler) and did not feel guilty about it.  I usually do, but not this time around.

I suppose I could blame it on potty training the days before and morning of.  Or the fact that the Baking Tot had been ill for a few days.  Or that I had been making jam in the wee hours of the morning.  What the heck, I'll admit it, I was tired...and lazy.  I had all the ingredients for my favorite pasta salad just waiting to be composed and yet I let them sit untouched in the pantry.  And guess what, I am so glad I did.

Upon arrival I waltzed into the kitchen where a smorgasbord greeted me.  Amongst the mounds of brisket, racks of ribs, fruit platters, beans, quick pickles, chips & dip, sat four, yes, FOUR pasta salads.  Yes!  My laziness had finally paid off!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Monkey, A Toddler Story; Recipe: Boardwalk Bananas

from our family blog, July 9, 2011
Linkletter and Cosby had it right, kids say the darndest things.  Baking Toddler has been in speech therapy for almost a year and has improved greatly; and for that I am very grateful and pleased with all the work we have done.  Grateful yes, but today however was a different story.

As I was rifling through honeydew at our local grocery store, Baking Toddler became VERY excited and started to yell, "A MONKEY, A MONKEY!!!!"  I responded, "Really, where do you see a monkey?"  Following his tiny excited index finger, I turn around looking for a banner, sign, stuffed animal, picture on a shirt, and finally my eyes fell upon an older woman not more than 4'5" tall.  Her facial structure resembled that of a Neanderthal and she had wild, black, long hair.

A little tickled and a bit embarrassed, I strolled him a few feet over and quietly told him that his "monkey" was actually a lady.  He just sat there and looked at me for a minute, processing what I had said.  I pulled around the corner and the little old lady happened to be standing 15 yards from us.  Baking Toddler turned to her and chirped, "OOH OOH AHH AHH!"

Oh the things little ones will say, especially when they are just breaking out of their shell to talk.  This just so happened to occur a few days after Baking Toddler had a meltdown at school because his chocolate fell off of his frozen banana.  Therefore, this post is for my silly, sweet, happy boy who just so happens to love chocolate covered bananas and uhhhh....monkeys....

Boardwalk Bananas
makes 18 to 24 banana pops
adapted from Chocolate Holidays, Alice Medrich

6 to 8 firm ripe bananas
3/4 stick butter
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped nuts, jimmies, sprinkles for toppings

2 dozen disposable wooden dowels (used for caramel apples) or Popsicle sticks
Tall Skinny Glass or container (I used a 6oz. pilzner)
  1. To prepare the bananas, cut the ends off of the bananas and into thirds, leaving the peel intact.  Push Popsicle sticks 1 inch or more into the flesh of the banana.  Peel the bananas and place in the freezer.  If not dipping right away, transfer them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag and return to the freezer.
  2. Clarify the butter.  Cut butter into small pieces and put it in a 1 cup glass measure or a small glass jar.  Set the glass in a pan of simmering water and heat without stirring, until the butter is melted and hot and has separated into three layers:  foamy milk solids on top, golden butter oil in the center, and a watery substance on the bottom.  Skim and discard white foam, spoon out the golden oil (clarified butter) and discard the rest.  ***Alternatively you can ditch the glass container and heat the butter straight in a pan until it separates; skim the foam off, save the clarified butter and discard the rest.  If you have never clarified butter however, watch it closely because your butter can burn easily this way.
  3. In the top of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and 4 tablespoons of clarified butter.  Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the glass.  Line a shallow pan with wax or parchment paper.  Have the toppings ready.  Remove the bananas from the freezer.  Holding the stick, dip the banana quickly and completely in and out of the chocolate.  Hold it over the lined pan and sprinkle all sides with nuts or sprinkles before the chocolate sets, which will begin to harden immediately.  Set banana on the lined the pan.  Repeat with the remaining bananas.  Transfer the bananas to the freezer to harden completely, then to an airtight container or freezer bag.  Keep frozen until ready to serve.
Leftover coating may be frozen and used again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blueberry Swirl Cheescake Ice Cream

Because it was my birthday-
  • I asked for the day off from work.
  • Made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.
  • Sent my little one to MDO for a little peace and quiet.
  • The Hubs stayed home from work so we could spend some time together-just me & him, which doesn't happen often.
  • Watched American Pie because I wanted to laugh.  And yes, I know it is a little raunchy.
  • Returned to the bed around 11am to take a nap with The Hubs (he started snoring within two minutes of hitting his head on the pillow).
  • Ate at a local restaurant and enjoyed a great Cobb Salad and a really good blueberry cheesecake.
  • Bought two toilet seats-because I HATED the ones I had.  Happy Birthday to me!
  • Ate Double Stuft Oreos instead of a cake
  • And was too damn lazy to write in paragraph form for this post!
All in all-I made it MY day.  Relaxation, good food, lots of was a good way to spend my birthday.  Inspired by the cheesecake I had at The Leaning Pear, I'm going to share with you the most delectable ice cream I've ever made.  Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake Ice Cream is AMAZING!  A must try for any cheesecake lover or any ice cream lover!

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake Ice Cream
Makes 1 ½ pints
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, 2000

¾ cup plus 2 T. sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup crème fraiche
1 egg
½ t. vanilla extract
¾ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups blueberries

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place ¾ cup sugar, cream cheese, and crème fraiche. Whip at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined, set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring milk and cream to a low simmer until just steaming, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low, add half the warm milk to the cream-cheese mixture. When combined, add mixture back to saucepan. Stir mixture constantly over medium heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes; do not allow mixture to boil.

3. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Pour cheesecake mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl set in an ice bath; stir occasionally until cooled. When cooled, place mixture in an ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

4. While ice cream is freezing, beat blueberries and 2 Tablespoons sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Smash half the blueberries while cooking. Cook until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

5. Remove half the ice cream from the machine, and transfer into a low-sided 2 quart container. Sprinkle half of the graham cracker mixture (recipe below) and spoon half the blueberry mixture over the ice cream, and repeat process with remaining ice cream. Sprinkle the remaining graham cracker crumbs and spoon the remaining blueberries over the top layer of ice cream and cover. Freeze overnight, or until firm.

Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
  •  Combine all ingredients into a bowl.  Using fingertips mix ingredients together until the graham cracker crumbs are moistened.  Set aside until needed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Field Trip: Trailer Hopping for Tacos & Cupcakes

Izzoz's Padre
My youngest sister, fourteen years my junior, and I have a lot in common despite the huge age difference.  We both are very hard on people, quick tempered, have an obsession with lip gloss, watch the same food programs and like the same types of food.

When she came to visit me, we struck up a conversation about Austin food trailers featured on the Cooking Channel.  As our conversation progressed, it became apparent that we were talking about the same episode of Eat St.  We were even talking about the same taco!  Pork! Pineapple! Avocado!  Salsa!  We were there...or at least a few days after the conversation we were there.
The Baking Toddler thought he was on a "picnic" :)
This was not my first time visiting Austin's food trailer scene and boy do they have one.  Food trailers can be found all around the city serving up tacos, crepes, BBQ, cupcakes, Thai, Indian, farm to trailer-you name it, they probably have it.  Our mission, however, was to find Izzoz Tacos and eat The Padre.  The Padre is a delicious pork carnita taco with avocado, tomatillo salsa and pineapple. Two thumbs up!
Hey Cupcake!  Vanilla and Carrot flavors
My sister is also a cupcake freak, so I had to take her to an Austin food trailer institution, Hey Cupcake!  It was around 11:30 am, the sun was scorching and we broke a sweat walking across the crosswalk but we still managed to grab cupcakes to go.  It was a great ending to a fun filled foodie day!
Trailer Hopping Sisters
Now she wants to make a weekend trip which involves us (plus my younger sister) eating from different food trailers-breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I can't wait-that will be a fun and delicious weekend.
This is what happens when you go trailer hopping

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What a Loser...Blueberry Pecan Sticky Buns

Well in my mind this is a winner!  That's right, I'm sharing a losing recipe with you guys.  I entered this recipe for Blueberry Pecan Sticky Buns in a Holiday recipe contest and, well, I never got a response back from the hosts.  I knew it was a risk entering a scratch dough into the contest and thought it would hinder my chances, but these are so irresistible.  The color alone makes it all worth while; a golden bread topped with an intense, glistening purple glaze.  It looks too amazing to eat!

Please don't be overwhelmed by the amount of instructions that come with this recipe (I have a feeling that is why it was overlooked in the first place); it is really easy and makes a beautiful dough.  And best yet, it can be made a day in advance, kept in the pan, placed over low heat on the the stovetop for about 5 minutes before turning it out onto a plate for serving.

Oh, and by the way a cheeseball won the $3,000.00 prize...a freakin' cheeseball!