Sunday, April 29, 2012

Carne Asada

The Mexican food fiesta continues.  Carne asada means “grilled meat” in Spanish. My translation is "fancier than fajitas" and my vast knowledge is based on the fact that restaurants charge more for it. It probably has more to do with the cut of meat used - Mi Cocina uses a rib-eye; I like top sirloin; fajitas are mainly skirt or flank steak. This marinade comes from a cookbook, the Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook, that my Aunt Chris gave me soon after I graduated from college. It is simple and gives the meat a nice flavor.  Add sides that you like including grilled or sautéed onions or peppers, guacamole, pico de gallo or salsa, warm tortillas, beans...  Try it for a change of pace.

Carne Asada
  1. 1 (1 ¼ lb) top sirloin steak 
  2. 2 T vegetable oil
  3. 1 packet of Lawry’s fajita seasoning
  4. ¼ C orange juice
  5. ½ t dried oregano
Pierce the steak with a fork on both sides.  Place ingredients #2-5 in a cup or bowl and mix.  Place the steak in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over the steak.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, turning the steak occasionally.  Grill or broil steak on each side until done to your liking.  Yes, that’s it!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guacamole Deconstructed

Parent tip: put it on a chip and chances are good that my kids will at least try a bite.  Case in point: spinach, shrimp and now avocado.  Avocado is not a surprise since guacamole is a must when we go out for Mexican food.  Historically my homemade guacamole was mashing an avocado and mixing it with Pace picante sauce (a little lime juice and garlic salt if I have the time).  But for you, I set out on a quest to learn how to really make guacamole.  I looked at 7 different recipes including Barefoot Contessa, Rick Bayless and Joy of Cooking.  There are some consistent ingredients: avocado (duh), lime or lemon juice, onion, garlic and salt.  The other ingredients vary based on the recipe so I have created a basic recipe with optional add-ins – kind of like building your own guacamole sundae.

The next time you want your kid to try a new food, put it on a chip and see if this strategy works for you too.  The real test: does anyone have a brussels sprout dip recipe?


1.      3-4 Avocados
2.      2-3 T Lime juice (or lemon juice) 
3.      ½ c chopped onion (or 1 T onion powder)
4.      1-2 cloves garlic (or ¼ - ½ t garlic powder)
5.      ½ - 1 t Salt
Optional add-ins
1.      A pinch – 1 t ground black pepper
2.      1 chopped tomato
3.      Cilantro, chopped
4.      Cumin, 1/8 – ½ t
5.      Chili Powder, ¼ t
6.      Cayenne, ½ t
7.      Green chili like serrano or jalapeno, 1-2 chopped
8.      Hot pepper sauce like Tabasco, 8 dashes

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.  Lightly mash with fork or potato masher.  Place all other ingredients in next and mix well.  If making in advance, place avocado pit in the guacamole to slow down browning. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shrimp Ceviche Cocktail

Six posts until Cinco de Mayo so let’s use that as an excuse to cook Mexican dishes.  One night the theme for dinner group was Mexican and the two of us who were assigned to appetizer both made this dish.  Out of all the recipes available, what are the odds that we would choose the same one?  Makes me think that I’m brilliant because Amber is a great cook.  Or perhaps I should have played the lottery.  And now, my friend Linda is hosting a party and she is serving this dish but pre-party, we are conducting research: does it really make a difference whether you use pre-cooked shrimp or if you should boil it yourself?  The answer from our esteemed taste testers: with all the sauce, you cannot taste a difference so it is your choice whether to go with the convenience of the pre-cooked shrimp or to cook your own.

A little history lesson for you: Cinco de Mayo is a celebration held on May 5. This day is celebrated nationwide in the US as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride and regionally in Mexico to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  In case you thought that Cinco de Mayo was Mexico's Independence Day, that day is celebrated on September 16.

This recipe was adapted from one published in Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, not to be confused with his brother, sports journalist, and former Dallasite, Skip Bayless. 

Shrimp Ceviche Cocktail
  1. ½ C plus 2 T fresh lime juice
  2. 1 lb shrimp (I tried 2 types of shrimp from the fish market: medium uncooked (count: 20-25/lb); and large cooked (count: 20-24/lb post-cooked and deshelled weight) - either works fine, cut into bite size chunks 
  3. 1/3 - ½ C medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  4. 1/4 - 1/3 C chopped fresh cilantro
  5. ½ C ketchup
  6. 1-2 T vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce (such as Tamazula, Valentina or Búfalo – I used Tamazula (note that there are 2 versions: salsa picante and extra hot)
  7. About 2 T olive oil, preferably extra-virgin, optional but recommended
  8. 1/2 - 1 C diced peeled cucumber or jícama (or half and half)
  9. 1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
  10. Salt
  11. Several lime slices for garnish
  12. Tostadas, tortilla chips, or saltine crackers
If you choose to cook your own shrimp, bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Place the shrimp in the boiling water, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat and pour off the liquid. Replace the lid slightly off and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein the shrimp if you wish. Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ C lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Chop the onion and then rinse under cold water in a small strainer, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado. Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ t . Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.

The ceviche is best served the day that it is made.  The flavorings can be added to the shrimp a few hours in advance.  Ole - muy bueno!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


You now know where I didn’t go on my birthday.  Here is where I did go.  David and the kids took me to a gas station for lunch… in Dallas... we weren’t even on the road coming home from a trip.  David is good about taking me out of my comfort zone and making me try new places.  He had read about Fuel City’s tacos.  We sampled the barbacoa, picadillo and chicken fajita tacos.  Our collective favorite was barbacoa.  You have probably seen barbacoa on the menu at Chipotle too.  I thought it was pork but my (always accurate) internet research shows that it can be made from beef, goat, lamb, pork, cow head (seriously – and I won’t provide the gory details about how to clean a cow head) and cooked in a crock pot, on the grill, on the stove top or in the oven.  I figured if barbacoa can be made at a gas station and at a chain fast food restaurant, surely I could too. 

I used a chuck roast and tried 2 different sauces and cooking methods (crock pot and oven).  I must admit, crock pots intimidate me as I have struck out twice in prior attempts.  Once I did not use enough liquid and the sauce burned.  The SOS pad and I became great friends.  The next time, I underestimated the size of my crock pot and had to frantically call friends who might have one with a greater capacity because my 8 hour cooking window was ticking away.  In the end, the flavor winner was the one made in the oven.  As the cook, I preferred the convenience of the crock pot.  Either way, once the meat is shredded, you will want to add the sauce back to the meat to give it flavor and moisture.  Also try to buy the most authentic, freshest tortillas that you can find. 

Happy Birthday RF!

Barbacoa made in the oven – the taste favorite:
1.       1/3 C apple cider vinegar
2.       3 T lime juice
3.       3-4 chipotle peppers, canned, no sauce
4.       4 garlic cloves
5.       4 t cumin
6.       2 t oregano (this recipe called for Mexican oregano but I could not find any)
7.       1 ½ t ground black pepper
8.       1 ½  t salt
9.       ½ t clove, toasted and ground (I didn’t use clove)
10.    2 T vegetable oil
11.    4 lbs chuck roast
12.    ¾ c chicken broth
13.    3 bay leaves

Make the sauce by combining vinegar, lime juice, peppers, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and clove in a blender or food processor and puree on high speed until smooth.

Trim the fat from the meat, and then slice the roast into 6 smaller pieces. Sear all sides of the meat in 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan with a lid or dutch oven over medium heat until browned. The original recipe calls for cooking on your stove top.  Instead, I placed in the oven at 225 for 5-6 hours covered with aluminum foil.  Transfer the meat to a small roasting pan.  Add the adobo sauce to the meat, pour in the chicken broth, and add the bay leaves. Cover with aluminum foil.  Let the meat cook for 5 to 6 hours or until meat easily flakes apart.

Barbacoa made in the crock pot/slow cooker – the ease of cooking winner
  1. 3 lbs Chuck Roast
  2. 2 whole white onions
  3. 3 T Vegetable Oil
  4. 8 cloves Minced Garlic
  5. 1 T Cumin (I used ½ T)
  6. 1-½ T Oregano (used ½)
  7. 1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used 3 peppers – you can use as much or as little based on how much spice/heat you like)
  8. 1 C Chicken Broth
  9. 1 C Water
  10. 1 T Bay Leaves (I didn’t use bay leaves in this version)
  11. 2 T White Or Rice Vinegar
Place ingredients #2-11 in a blender or food processor. Blend until onion is all ground up.  Note: I used a food processor and putting all of these ingredients in at once made it overflow, so next time, I will only mix the ingredients with a portion of the chicken broth and water and then add in the rest of these liquids later in a bowl.

Add some of the sauce to the bottom of the crock pot.  Place the roast in the crock pot and pour the rest of the sauce over the meat.  Slow cook for 8-10 hours on low.  Use forks or tongs to shred the beef once cooked and it should easily fall apart.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spinach Dip, Chicago Style

Can I gripe for a minute?  Have you eaten at Hillstone/Houston’s lately?  Holy cow they are proud of their food or perhaps they are charging all of us to cover the cost of changing their name.  When they opened their first restaurant in NYC, David and I laughed at the “city upcharge” – a few dollars extra per item which we figured was because rent is higher in NYC.  Now all of their prices have exceeded the standard rate of inflation.  For example, the spinach dip is $13.  $13!  Cheddar’s offers theirs for $4.99.  One is Chicago style and the other is Santa Fe style – is the cost of living really so different for spinach dip?  The version below is Chicago style.  I read that the key ingredient is the parmigiano-reggiano cheese.  Try it for yourself at a fraction of the cost.

I will still meet you at Hillstone for their french fries.  This side is only $5 and they are worth every penny.

Spinach Dip, Chicago Style
1.      12 oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I don’t know about your grocery store but mine sells 10 oz boxes so I adjusted the other ingredients down slightly)
2.      ½ C canned artichoke hearts (not marinated), chopped
3.      1 T chopped white onion
4.      ¼ C heavy cream
5.      ¼ C sour cream
6.      1 ¼ C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
7.      1/3 C grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
8.      ¼ t garlic salt
9.      Tortilla chips (I served it with Mission tortilla strips)

Mix together ingredients #1-3 in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then cut a small slit in the center of the wrap so that the steam can escape.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes.  Keep the spinach covered while you prepare the cream sauce.

Combine ingredients #4-8 in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Heat this mixture slowly for about 10 minutes or until the sauce reaches a simmer and thickens.  Do not let the mixture boil.

Add the spinach mixture to the sauce and continue to heat over medium/low. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until mixture reaches a thick dip-like consistency. Pour into a bowl and serve with tortilla chips.   Add side bowls of picante sauce and sour cream if you choose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pomegranate Champagne

What's the saying?  "The only things certain in life are death and taxes" by Benjamin Franklin.  What an uplifting post this is starting out to be!  Since I cannot help you with either, how about I provide a beverage recipe instead and name it after our cheery chap.

Which category are you:

A)    I am receiving a tax refund check.
B)    I owe more money.
C)    I finally received all my tax statements yesterday so have to file an extension.

Whether you are celebrating your returned income, drowning your sorrows over passing along more money, or procrastinating the inevitable (that's us - C), try this bubbly beverage. You can gain some solace in the fact that pomegranate juice is good for you, thereby hopefully delaying one of the inevitables in life. I'll drink to that. 

Pomegranate Champagne,
aka the Ben Franklin 
When pomegranates are in season, add a few seeds to further boost the stated health benefits of pomegranates which include fighting breast, lung and prostate cancers, protecting arteries, preventing Alzheimer’s, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, among other things.  (I read this on the web - it must be true.)  Also, with the seeds added, you can better justify to yourself that this drink is like a meal.


1.      3 oz. champagne or dry sparkling wine 
2.      1 oz pomegranate juice (I used Pom)
3.      1 t pomegranate seeds, seasonal/optional

Pour the champagne in a flute.  Add the pomegranate juice and seeds, if available.  Enjoy!

Update: January 5, 2013
Williams-Sonoma published a recipe in their holiday catalog which added 1/2 oz Grand Marnier to the champagne, 1 oz pomegranate juice and pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Butterfinger Ice Cream Pie

Hibiscus makes a dessert that deserves you planning the rest of your meal around it.  Skip the salad or vegetable and save room for the Ice Box Pie, a name which I don’t think does it sufficient justice.  A friend suggests that they rename it Better than Sex pie (I won’t name the friend out of kindness for her husband). 

Today is my birthday (that comment might seem self-serving but the point is to set up the rest of this story).  To the kids that means letting me choose whether I want to go to Gattitown or Chuck E. Cheese.  To David that means taking me to a work function rather than treating me to dinner at Hibiscus with this dessert as my main course.  I will put on my resort attire (thanks to the helpful girls at Mal Malouf) and a smile and be perfectly lovely and make witty conversation.  But when I get home, I am changing into my pajamas with the elastic waist (in case I want a second piece), cutting myself a large slice of pie, and plopping myself in front of the TV to see what the gals of GCB are up to this week.


Butterfinger Ice Cream Pie
1.      1 quart vanilla ice cream (I used Homemade Vanilla by Blue Bell and halved a half gallon)
2.      3-8 Butterfinger candy bars, refrigerated (I used 6: 5 for the pie and 1 for the topping)
3.      1 Oreo cookie crust (premade from the grocery store or homemade, directions below)
4.      Caramel ice cream topping

Refrigerate the Butterfinger candy bars.  Once cold, transfer to a zippered plastic bag, remove most of the air otherwise the bag will easily bust open, and crush (I used my meat tenderizer, flat side).

Place a quart of vanilla ice cream in a bowl and allow to soften (about 10 minutes).  Pour in the crushed Butterfingers (I used 5 candy bars’ worth) and mix well.  Shortcut: buy Butterfinger ice cream at your local grocery store.

Dump the Butterfinger ice cream into an Oreo cookie crust.  Shortcut: use the store bought crust made by Nabisco.  If you want to make your own, read how to below.  Spread the ice cream evenly and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 Butterfinger crumbles on the top.  Refreeze for at least 4 hours.  To serve, either spoon the caramel ice cream topping on the plate and then place the slice of pie on top or place the slice on the plate first then drizzle the caramel on top.

To make your own Oreo crust:
1.      24 Oreo cookies (remove the cream filling first with a knife) – you want about 1 ½ C of crushed cookies in the end.
2.      ¼ C butter, melted

Crush the cookies in a food processor or blender until they are fine.  Add ¼ C melted butter and stir to mix so that everything is moistened.  Press the cookies crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350.  Allow the crust to cool before filling with the ice cream.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Asparagus Caesar

Asparagus.  Asparagi.  The kids don’t particularly like them.  But I keep making them because there are only so many times each week that I can serve broccoli.  My mom made this dish the other night for our family gathering in Houston.  The recipe comes from another Junior League cookbook, this time from Monroe, LA, Cotton County Collection (circa 1974).  Maybe that’s a whole series of posts – cooking our way through Junior League cookbooks across America.  Gotta come up with a snazzy title: Junior League-licious.  Junior League Cookbook Journey.  Cooking: JL Style.  Creative ideas welcome.

Much to the kids’ dismay, we had an asparagus tasting (see sentence 3 above).  The winner was this recipe vs. some asparagus with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.  Note to self: cover any and all vegetables in butter and parmesan for an increased likelihood of kid consumption.  All 3 actually ate these!


Asparagus Caesar
1.      Asparagus – 2 cans or 1-3 bunches of fresh 
2.      ¼ lb (aka, 1 stick or 8 T) butter, melted
3.      3 T lemon juice
4.      ½-1 C grated parmesan cheese
5.      Paprika

Drain 2 cans of asparagus; or steam 1-3 bunches fresh just till done (approximately 5 minutes); or blanch in the boiling water.  To blanch, boil salted water, blanch for 1-3 minutes until tender yet slightly crisp (not soggy).  Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the water  and pat dry with paper towels. 

Arrange asparagus in a Pyrex dish.  Melt butter (microwave is fine but cover with a wet paper towel so the butter doesn't explode all over the inside.)  Mix the melted butter with 3 T of lemon juice and drizzle on the asparagus.  Sprinkle with 1/2-1 cup grated parmesan cheese and then some paprika.  re-heat at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chicken Salad

A few years back I was visiting my friend Kerri Ann in Austin.  It was lunchtime so she says “let’s see what I have in the ‘frig for lunch.”  If the roles were reversed, my heart would have stopped at this point unless I had been to the store in advance of her arrival.  David claims “you have no idea what is in the refrigerator.”  True (as I throw out a Tupperware container of chicken from ??)!  But I can find anything in the pile on my desk and tell you without looking whether there is Blue Bell ice cream in the freezer.  Surely that counts for something?!?! 

Back to my friend and our lunch, she proceeds to pull out a roasted chicken breast and exclaims “I’ll make chicken salad.”  I watched in awe as she threw items (that she had on hand in her pantry, no less) in the bowl then waved her magic wand over it and poof - yumminess!!  So I am channeling my best version of Kerri Ann and adding some dried cranberries, a la Festive Kitchen's version of chicken salad. 

This chicken salad would taste great with a butter lettuce salad or with sliced avocados or tomatoes or La Panzanella crackers.  Shall I keep going? 


Chicken Salad
1.      1 cooked chicken breast, cut into small pieces about 1-1/4 c – start with a skin-on, bone-in chicken breast – two cooking options below: roasting or boiling 
2.      ¼ c mayonnaise
3.      ¼ c chopped walnuts
4.      ¼ c chopped celery
5.      ¼ c dried cranberries (or Craisins now makes 1 oz. pouches)
6.      1/8 t salt
7.      Other items to consider adding: black pepper, tarragon, chopped apples, grapes (cut in half), almonds instead of walnuts, red onion

To cook the chicken by roasting: preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-45 minutes (chicken should reach 170 degrees).  Allow to cool.  Once cooled, remove skin and pull meat from the bones.  Cut into bite size pieces or shred with 2 forks.

To cook the chicken by boiling: place the chicken and water in a large pot with some olive oil and salt (chopped onions, optional).  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently.  Simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes – the chicken should be cooked by then but you can check it with your meat thermometer.  Let it cool, uncovered and then remove the skin and pull the meat from the bones, as noted above.

Place the diced or shredded chicken in a bowl.  Add other ingredients into the bowl and mix well.  Adjust quantities of ingredients as needed.  Flavors will meld together better if you mix and refrigerate prior to serving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Raspberry Parfait

As we drove to Houston to spend the weekend with my family (always a great time!), David responded to my question about “what do you want to do about…” with “I am a chameleon.  I am here to blend in this weekend.”  This dessert is chameleon-like as well.  It has served as a birthday dessert for said husband who does not eat dessert – I rationalized that it was essentially fruit and whipped cream.   Or as a great summer dessert when raspberries are at their peak.  Or in the winter when you crave a fruit dessert since grocery stores sell frozen raspberries (be sure to find the unsweetened kind, simply the fruit, no sugar added).  Or for Passover because there is no flour.

David’s chameleon-esque ways lasted about 30 hours when he declared last night “I want to leave by 11am on Sunday.”  Watching Sunday of the Masters is a religious experience for him.  He then proceeded to remind me of the time that he was invited to attend this golf tournament and I made him decline because we were co-hosting a wedding shower for my brother and his (then) bride.  I then counter-reminded him of the time that I allowed him to attend the 2005 National Championship game (UT vs USC – good guys won; sorry, Jolie and Robert) while leaving me with 10 day old twins and a 2 year old at home.  Valid point however we still left Houston by 11am today.

So try this year-round dessert for whenever you decide – it will work!  Happy Easter - Happy Passover - Happy Masters!

Barefoot Contessa refers to her version of this dessert as Eton Mess in her How Easy is That? cookbook.


Raspberry Parfait
1.      4 6-oz. (24 oz total) packages of fresh raspberries or an equal amount of unsweetened, frozen raspberries 
2.      1 C plus 3 T sugar
3.      1 T lemon juice
4.      1 ½ C heavy cream (canned whip cream works too but assemble right before serving as it seems to fall faster
5.      1 t pure vanilla extract
6.      4.5 oz (or so) package of meringue cookies (I found Spaan’s (vanilla) at Whole Foods or other groceries probably carry pre-made or in the bakery or you can make them from scratch)

Put half (or 12 oz) of raspberries, 1 C of sugar and 1 T lemon juice in a large sauté pan.  Crush the berries lightly with a fork, bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until syrupy.  Fold the remaining 12 ozs of raspberries into the hot mixture and refrigerate until cold. 

To make your own whipped cream, pour the heavy cream in a mixing bowl with wire attachment.  Beat the cream, 3 T of sugar and vanilla on medium-high until it forms firm peaks.  If it splatters, cover the mixer with a towel and peak periodically to make sure that it does not turn too firm, like whipped butter.

In a clear glass or clear plastic cup, alternate layering the raspberry mixture, whipped cream, meringue pieces, etc. until the glass is full.  Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Butter Lettuce Salad

Anyone can make a salad.  That must be why salad bars are so prevalent.  Put a variety of ingredients out and you too can be a chef.  Then why does the compilation of lettuce-cheese-fruit-veggie-nut-creamy-acidic-bitter-sweet scare me so.  Let’s take a look at history.  I wore a school uniform for 12 years.  I wish they made Garanimals for adults.  I work with an interior designer.  I follow recipes and would really appreciate if someone could quantify a “pinch” or “to taste”.  

Romaine is a safe bet or spinach, field greens, iceberg, or green leaf.  Next time, try butter lettuce.  Some stores sell it still on the root.  If you have guests, you can pretend like it came straight from your garden.  Kind of like how my mom would remove the fried chicken from the bucket and place it on a platter.  As if… 

My friend, Cathy M., brought this salad as part of a congratulations-you-had-babies-you-must-be-dog-tired-so-here-is-a-meal meal after the birth of Elizabeth and Andrew.  I have said it before – a meal is the best gift ever!


Butter Lettuce Salad
1.      Butter lettuce 
2.      Goat cheese, crumbled
3.      Dried blueberries
4.      Walnuts, crumbled into bite size pieces
5.      Raspberry Walnut vinaigrette dressing, like Litehouse

Remove the lettuce from the root and wash.  Tear leaves into bite size pieces if necessary.  Add ingredients 2-5 in the quantity you prefer. 

- - - - - - -
Happy Birthday UW!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lemon Bundt Cake

After 2 hours of lockdown at the kids' school because of tornadoes flying all around us, I need some comfort food - oven baked french fries and then I'm going to wash it down with a bite of lemon cake.

Here it is!  The lemony cake that I was craving.  My friend and fellow baker, Elizabeth S., came to my rescue with this recipe that was given to her by her friend, Marcy F.  I could not help myself.  I had to try it various ways.  And in this corner...  the other contenders were the same cake recipe but baked in cupcake form and topped with a lemon infused white icing and a buttercream icing which claimed to be Sprinkles’ recipe (I don't think so).  I try not to play favorites (just ask the kids), but the esteemed taste testers liked the bundt cake version the best.  I think it has to do with the icing.  It melts into the cake and creates a glaze which reminds me of a Krispy Kreme donut.  Oh wow – I sound like an addict.

You might say “Anne, you do know that there are lemon cake mixes conveniently made and packaged by Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines?”  To which I would reply “where is the fun in that?”

Elizabeth also shared a muffin variation to the Sour Cream Biscuits.  Check it out.

For the cake:
Lemon Bundt Cake (bottom)
With white icing (top left)
With buttercream frosting (top right)
1.      1 package Yellow Cake Mix  
2.      3 oz. (1 package) lemon Jello 
3.      ¾ cup vegetable oil    
4.      ¾ cup Apricot Nectar (located in the juice aisle)       
5.      1 t Lemon Extract      
6.      4 eggs, add one at a time

Preheat oven to 350.

Place ingredients 1-5 in a mixer fitted with wire whisk attachment.  Once blended, add eggs one at a time.

Pour batter (about 1/4 c) into a greased mini-bundt cake pan (pan makes 12 cakes).  Bake for 13-15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Invert the bundt cakes right-side up on a wire rack to cool.  Makes 2 1/2 - 3 dozen mini bundt cakes.   

For the bundt cake icing:
1.      1 ½ cups Confectioner's Sugar, sifted
2.      3 T Lemon Juice         
3.      1 t Lemon Extract      

Whisk the ingredients together until completely mixed.  Place the wire rack with the bundt cakes on a baking sheet to catch any of the icing that drips down.  Drizzle and soak the bundt cakes while still warm.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Green Chile Egg Puff Casserole

With Easter approaching, I started thinking about eggs.  I couldn’t help it!  I am always on the look out for great brunch dishes that work for larger groups and there is never a time quite like having family over to try making a new dish.  This one is from Uncle Willy, brunch cook eggstraordinaire.  The casserole is easy to make, fluffy light and the chiles add a nice flavor however not too spicy or overwhelming.  Follow the directions for the casserole, make his banana bread to accompany the casserole, and you’ll be eggstatic with the results. 

Just don’t let the Easter bunny catch you cooking the eggs that you should be dying and hiding. 


Green Chile Egg Puff Casserole
1.      10 eggs
2.      ½ c flour
3.      1 t baking powder 
4.      ½ t salt
5.      16 oz. cottage cheese
6.      16 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
7.      ½ c (1 stick) melted butter
8.      1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

Preheat oven to 350.

With electric mixer, beat eggs until foamy.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add to eggs and beat.  Add cottage cheese and beat with egg mixture.  Blend in remaining ingredients.

Pour into 9x13 pan and bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes.

When I made the dish for our family of 5, I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 Pyrex dish.  Equally yummy and less leftovers.