Friday, December 9, 2011

Seasons Eatings

Christmas is right around the corner and the cold weather has me aching to be in the kitchen. If you're like me you're looking for a few easy dishes that are pure comfort on a spoon. (or fork!)

Try these.

Here are some of my other holiday favorites:

Smoked Turkey
Quick! Cranberry Sauce
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Cinnamon Rum Pecans

Enjoy the season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Aunt Aggie De's

Have you heard of Aunt Aggie De's? I hadn't either until I was contacted by them last week to sample their pralines. Aunt Aggie De's is based here in Texas and will celebrate their 25th year in business in 2012. The company was started by a stay at home mom in her own home kitchen, today they sell 2 million pralines annually and have a nationwide customer base.

Given their history I was excited to give these a try, although I have to start off by admitting that I've never really been a fan of the traditional pecan praline. Every one I had tried in the past was grainy, stale, crumbly, or just lacking flavor. Apparently I just never had a truly well made praline, like the pralines from Aunt Aggie De's. Their creamy pralines have made me a believer. Each one is packed with pecans and has just the right amount of sweetness, the texture is so deliciously smooth it melts in your mouth. Definitely a new favorite.

I was also fortunate enough to sample their chewy pralines- these little treats were so delectable they rival my own recipe. The taste is pure rich and chewy caramel and fresh crisp pecan.

Drooling yet? There's more. Aunt Aggie De's also coats chewy pralines in chocolate- an idea I wish I'd thought of! I guess the only way to one up perfection is to coat it in chocolate. And as if that wasn't enough there's toffee. And pecan brittle. The perfect treats if you're craving a bit of crunch.

One other thing I thought I'd mention, all of their candies taste so fresh, like they were made in my own kitchen. Aunt Aggie De's is definitely a company with the right idea- making top quality confections that really deliver on taste and freshness.

Here's how to get your hands on some of these delicious pralines:
Visit or if you live in Texas you can stop by their retail store located at 311 W. Sinton
Sinton, TX

Order by Tuesday December 20th for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Really who wouldn't love to find this on their doorstep?

These are my honest opinions of the products sampled. I was not compensated in any way for this review. Except in candy. Which I willingly ate. and ate. and ate. Thank you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hungry Texan in Southern Living Magazine

My Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie recipe has been featured in this month's Southern Living Magazine! I was contacted back in August but couldn't really believe it until I saw it in print (with a full page photo!).

Southern Living says, "This pecan pie is to die for! Forget your tried-and-true pecan pie recipe and replace it immediately with this one. You'll never look back." I'm beaming with pride.

In case you're not a Southern Living subscriber, here is a link to the online recipe.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Best Buns I Ever Baked

My twin girls are 5 weeks old already. I can't believe how fast this past month has gone and how much they've grown in just a short amount of time. Its been a big adjustment becoming a mother and caring for two babies. Some days the most I manage to get done for myself is a chance to brush my teeth and eat a quick bite. Other days are better, hopefully soon I can attempt to cook again- my kitchen misses me.

For now I'm happy to watch them grow, be at their beck and call, and capture every moment with photographs. Speaking of, these lovely shots were taken by our very talented friend Sharon. Thanks a million!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

BLT Pasta Salad

Miss me? Let's catch up over this cool and creamy pasta salad. Spring is in full swing here and the rising temperatures have me craving cool treats, crunchy veggies, and salad. But of course I couldn't keep it light and healthy, could I? This BLT version of pasta salad is tossed with 2 pounds of bacon and dressed with ranch and a hearty sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Oh yeah and there's spinach and tomatoes in there too- just to keep the illusion alive that you just might be eating something healthy.

BLT Pasta Salad
(printable recipe)

2 lbs. thick cut bacon
1 lb. bowtie pasta
2 pints grape tomatoes, sliced in half
9 oz bag baby spinach
ranch dressing
1/2 c parmesan cheese
pepper to taste

Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta. Boil uncovered for 11 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
Wilt the spinach 1 of three ways:
-Add to the still hot pot with drained pasta, cover, toss and let stand 10 minutes (this is what I did this time around)
-Wilt with bacon grease
-Microwave on a plate in 3 batches for 2 minutes
Combine pasta, wilted spinach, crumbled bacon, and tomatoes. Toss with enough ranch dressing to moisten to your liking. Sprinkle on parmesan and plenty of fresh ground pepper, mix well. Chill for at least two hours before serving.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maple & Motor

Wow, this review has been hiding in my drafts pile since, uh December? Definitely pre-pregnancy due to the PBR I indulged in. What I wouldn't give for one of those now :)
Anyways, enjoy the review and be sure to check out Maple & Motor if you have a hankering for a good burger.

I'm definitely a little late to the Maple & Motor party but I'm glad I decided to stop in for a bite nonetheless. Maple & Motor is a great little burger joint and is open for lunch or dinner. I'd been wanting to give it a try for a while, I spied the cool revamped architecture a while back and the "burgers & beer" beckoned. Finally I had my chance at a late lunch on a Friday afternoon.

The atmosphere at Maple & Motor is fun, there's booths and tables, and what I think was a jukebox in the back. The walls pay homage to some of the other colorful restaurants in the neighborhood, and the chalkboard menu gives this place a homey feel. I ordered a straight up jalapeno cheeseburger (I chickened out and went for pickled jalapenos instead of fresh) with onion rings and a tall boy.

The burger was really good, it had a nicely seasoned hand-formed patty with plenty of cheese and toppings. The bun, although a bit greasy, held up nicely to the burger. The onion rings were average but good. And my PBR tall boy was ice cold. I'll definitely be back for another taste.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tacos de Lengua (Cow Tongue)

The first time I tried lengua I was at an East Dallas taqueria with my uncle. I must've been around ten years old. He handed me a "beef" taco and I happily devoured every last bite. It was delicious.
Only after the fact did he inform me that it was lengua, and that lengua is actually cow tongue. Surprisingly I was unaffected and just wanted another taco. Lengua continues to be one of my favorite taco fillings and its always the first thing I try at a new taqueria. Here's how to make it at home.

Tacos de Lengua (Cow Tongue)
(printable recipe)

1 cow tongue (about 3.5 lbs)
2 onions, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves crushed
6-7 bay leaves
1 tsp. mexican oregano
1 tbsp. peppercorns
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. comino
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 serrano, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Rinse the tongue and place in a large crockpot*. Add onions, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, peppercorns, salt, and comino. Cover with water and cook on low, about 6 hours.

Remove the tongue from the broth and set on a cutting board to cool for a moment. While its still warm peel off the skin. (Its easiest to start peeling at the back of the tongue and tug forward) Cut away the base of the tongue where it was attached to the mouth (this part is tough).

Slice the tongue crossways in 1/2" slices, then dice it. Sautee the tomatoes, onion, serrano, and garlic in a little oil until cooked through and fragrant. Add the cubed tongue and 1/2-1c of the cooking liquid. Season to taste with salt, pepper, comino, and chili powder. Simmer briefly to reduce the liquid.

Serve in corn tortillas with onion, cilantro, lime and fresh salsa.

*Alternately you can make this in a stockpot. Bring the water to a boil, add the tongue, onions, garlic, and seasonings. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 1 hour per lb.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Update, Carrot Cake, and few birthdays

Wow. Who would have thought the first few months of pregnancy would be so exhausting? Just a hint of what's to come I guess, considering I'm carrying twins (!). I haven't been slacking off entirely though. I've been cooking a little, earlier this month my little brother celebrated his 19th birthday and as is customary, I made the cake of his choice. This year he asked for carrot cake. I devised my own recipe with fresh grated carrot, chopped pineapple, walnuts and flaked coconut all topped off with my favorite cream cheese frosting. It was a real treat, and absolutely the best carrot cake I've ever had. So good that we didn't wait to take a photo (sorry!) but here's the recipe:

Carrot Cake
(printable recipe)

2 c sugar
1 1/3 c canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c coconut
1/2 c chopped pineapple
1 lb. grated carrots

Combine the sugar, oil, and eggs. Beat well and add vanilla. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet. Combine the walnuts, coconut, pineapple, and carrots and fold into the cake batter.
Evenly divide the batter between 2 9"round cake pans lined with parchment. Bake at 350 degrees, 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(printable recipe)

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
pinch salt

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and mix well. Gradually add the powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.
*for a little variety add a dash of cinnamon or a bit of maple syrup for a slightly different flavor

My mom's 50th birthday was just a week later. We planned a big party complete with live music (thanks Saddle Tramp!), awesome food, and too much beer. I made a little spread with appetizers and sweets.

This really is one of my favorite ways to spend time in the kitchen- cook ALL DAY, umpteen different things and celebrate with a party that night. Feet aching, compliments, and all. Its wonderful.
I made goat cheese-pesto pastry swirls, roasted red pepper tapenade, herb-olive oil dip, marinated tomatoes, and spinach-artichoke dip served with lots of crusty bread. We also had two huge sandwich trays from Jimmy's, stuffed jalapenos, chicken wings and a cheese log! For the sweet treats we indulged in 2 kinds of popcorn- fudge drizzled kettle corn, and mom's favorite- homemade cracker jack. I also made lemon cake pops, pistachio truffles, meringues, and yellow cupcakes with fudge frosting.

All the food went over really well, the band was awesome (a 6-piece in the living room? Now THAT's a party!), and a great time was had by all. I was so glad to have the occasion to cook for after the last few months of avoiding the kitchen- sometimes I just need some sort of motivation and once I get started I usually go overboard. My goal for the blog moving forward is just to post as often as I can manage, it may be weekly or every 2 weeks, but I plan to keep on cookin'! Look for a new recipe next week!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Candied Grapefruit Peel

Have you ever had candied citrus peel? Its a bit chewy, a little tart, and a little sweet. My kind of candy really, and I adore citrus- so there's that.

As a kid I remember my grandpa telling me about the citrus orchards in the valley. I was amazed that just a few hours drive away (Texas is a big place!) were orchards bursting with delicious grapefruits and oranges. I have yet to venture out to any Texas citrus orchards but I always enjoy their bounty each year. One of my favorites is the Rio Star grapefruit- its deliciously sweet and just a little tart, and the aroma of slicing into one is mouthwatering. This year after slicing and slurping my way through a giant, juicy Rio Star I wanted to do something more with this fruit, and before I knew it I was making Candied Grapefruit Peel. Read on for the recipe.

Candied Grapefruit Peel
(printable recipe)

1 large Rio Star Grapefruit
2 c sugar, plus 1/2 c
2 c water

Cut the ends off the grapefruit to make a flat cutting surface. Put one side down on the cutting board and proceed to cut the grapefruit in 8 wedges. Remove the fruit (eat it!) and slice the rind lengthwise into 1/2" slices. Place each slice rind side up on the cutting board, use a sharp knife to carefully cut away as much of the white as possible, this will keep the candy from being bitter. The peel should be almost transparent.

Place the peels in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and combine 2 c sugar and 2 c water over low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Add the peels and boil for 20 minutes. Use a fork or tongs to remove each peel from the syrup and dredge in sugar, coating all sides. Place on parchment to dry, about 20-30 minutes. If you'd like dip in dark chocolate!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home Fries

At the Goldrush Cafe where I grew up you can special order these fries. They are thick cut by hand with the skins left on and deep fried to perfection. Home fries are the perfect accompaniment to a juicy burger or a club sandwich, and they pack a real punch when you're craving fries. It doesn't get much better than these...well unless they're crinkle cut, or waffle, or shoestring... I have a thing for french fries I guess. Make these for now, and don't forget the jalapeno ranch for dipping.

Home Fries
(printable recipe)

russet potatoes
canola oil for frying
salt & pepper or french fry seasoning to taste

Now, there's a method for making these just right (assuming you don't have a deep fryer). It's a 3-part process:
First microwave your potatoes for 4-5 minutes each. We found that one potato at a time for about 4 minutes was just the right amount of time to precook. You want them to be easy to slice but will still hold their shape.
Then as each one is ready, cut into thick fries. You can cut these however you like but I prefer the fry to be the length of the potato and about 1/2" thick. Fry batches in hot oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels.
Once these are done bake in a single layer at 400 degrees until crisp, about 5-10 minutes. While they are still warm season with salt & pepper or fry seasoning (recipe below) to taste.

Serve with jalapeno ranch or your favorite dipping sauce. These also go great with steak!

French Fry Seasoning
(printable recipe)

2 tsp. seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Combine and sprinkle over hot fries.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Super Bowl Party Food

In just one week thousands of fans will descend upon our city for Super Bowl XLV-something or other. I, as you may have guessed, am not really a football fan. Its just not my thing. But I do share their enthusiasm for one thing- the food. Give me a bowl of chili, some pizza, or my mom's famous chicken wings and I might be able to sit through a play or two.

So I thought I'd do a roundup for those of you planning your Super Bowl Sunday feast. Here are a few of my favorite munchies that would be great for game day:

Stuffed JalapeƱos
Hank's Tomatillo-Avocado Dip
The Hungry Texan's Ultimate Italian Sub
Gasp! Chili with Beans
Spiced Tortilla Chips
Queso Flameado
Hank's Roast Beef Sandwiches

Oh, and don't forget the beverages! Only beer will do,


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hank's Roast Beef Sandwiches

Not many are aware, but my husband Hank is actually a really good cook. Its just that he rarely has a chance to shine seeing as how I'm such a kitchen-hog. I think he's accepted that cooking is a passion of mine and politely steps aside and happily eats anything and everything I make for him. Its a win-win.

But now and then I'm exhausted at the end of the day or just plain tired of being in the kitchen (it happens, I blame pregnancy). This month has been particularly uninspired, so I begged Hank to make one of my old favorites, these delicious Roast Beef Sandwiches.

Hank spent a few years as head cook that the Bagel Nosh in Arlington and learned to make a mean sandwich. This one is his adaptation of a classic roast beef with provolone and horseradish spread, its delicious on its own but I insist on the au jus for dipping.

Hank's Roast Beef Sandwiches
(printable recipe)

1 lb. thinly sliced roast beef
1 bell pepper
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. butter
4 sandwich rolls, hoagies, or bolillos
6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
fresh horseradish, or horseradish spread
1/2 lb. provolone
2 c beef broth

Thinly slice the bell pepper and onion, and saute in a bit of oil. Mince the garlic and add to the pan. Continue to cook until soft and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Melt the butter in the pan and add the roast beef slices, separate the slices and toss them around a bit to brown. Meanwhile lightly toast the sandwich rolls and make the spread.
Combine cream cheese and add horseradish to taste, we like it to have a bit of a kick but not so much that its overpowering. Add a little at a time until you get to the right flavor.

Layer the sandwiches, spread the horseradish-cream cheese on both sides, add a slice of provolone, roast beef, and finally the bell pepper mixture. Add an additional slice of provolone over the top if you like. Put these in a warm oven to melt the cheese.

Meanwhile add the beef broth to the pan you cooked the meat in. Scrape the bottom to remove any tasty bits. Season the broth with a bit of pepper and kitchen bouquet. Serve the warm sandwiches with a small bowl of the broth for dipping. Have napkins handy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Road trip: Amarillo / Canyon, TX

So far January has been a pretty hectic month for us. You may have noticed that I haven't been posting quite as frequently. Honestly I haven't had the energy to shop, cook, photograph, edit and write as much as I've wanted to. Over the holidays Hank and I found out that we are expecting our very first child! Needless to say I'm experiencing the exhaustion that comes with pregnancy. All I want to do when I get home is eat a burger, watch the tube, and lounge around- I haven't had energy to do much else.

Along with all this, we've been caring for a new puppy! We drove out to Canyon, TX this past weekend to pick up little Zeke. He's been a joy so far and we're so happy to have him as part of our growing family.
I thought I'd recap a few of the sites in case you happen to drive through this area of the panhandle. I love a good road trip, and as usual planned every one of our meals.

In true Texas fashion we stayed at the Big Texan Motel. The rooms were nicely appointed with a king bed complete with faux-suede duvet, a large western mural, and saloon doors to the closet / washroom. Across the way from the hotel is the Big Texan Steak Ranch, famous for its free 72 oz steak- that is if you can eat it in an hour. But not only do you have to eat the steak, you have to swallow all the sides- a baked potato, shrimp cocktail, salad, and a roll. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

We dined at the Big Texan, and although I contemplated the challenge I knew I was no match for that much food, and I could never bring myself to waste steak. Hank and I stuck with a reasonable portion, an 8oz. top sirloin with sides. The steak was seasoned well, extremely juicy and cooked perfectly.

For dinner we headed over to Coyote Bluff Cafe, renowned for their burgers. After such a great lunch we weren't awfully hungry but still managed to share some delicious chili cheese fries, a hickory burger for me, and a bacon cheeseburger for Hank. Both were substantial and delicious, I just wish I was hungrier.

Coyote Bluff is a great little place, we were immediately offered a beer when we walked in (Hank indulged, I of course did not), the place was packed but we only waited a few minutes before we were seated. Unfortunately we were put in a dark corner so I don't have any food photos to share but we'd definitely go back if we're ever in Amarillo.

The next morning it was time to pickup Zeke. I had planned it so we'd have just enough time to grab a quick breakfast at El Tejavan, which was just minutes away from the hotel. Unfortunately Urbanspoon had the wrong opening time listed and we couldn't wait any longer before we had to hit the road. I can say that we could smell fresh corn tortillas from outside- I wish we could have sampled them. Instead we grabbed a bite at a small diner in Canyon, the Ranch House Cafe, before going to pickup the puppy.

All in all it was a great trip, lots of good food and a nice little escape from the big city. I'd definitely recommend the Big Texan for the kitsch and great steaks and Coyote Bluff for a great burger and an awesome plate of fries.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Queso Blanco Burgers

A few months back Rebekah from Rebekah's House of Munch posted these amazing burgers. I could not wait to give them a try, a burger covered in queso? Yes please, and thank you.

These Queso Blanco Burgers have a few components but come together easily. The patty is spiced up with a bit of hot sauce, cooked to perfection, then covered with homemade queso blanco and topped with pico and sliced avocado. Definitely my kind of burger.

Now, as luck would have it my internet crapped out the day I planned to make these so I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but remembered most of it and improvised where I could, adding what I had on hand. Here's how they came together.

Queso Blanco Burgers
(printable recipe)
adapted from Rebekah's House of Munch

for the patties:
about 2 lbs. ground sirloin
1/4 lb. chorizo
3 tbsp. hot sauce (I like El Yucateco chile habanero)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. comino

for the queso blanco:
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 c diced onion
1 jalapeno, diced
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 c milk
1 small poblano, roasted and diced
8-10 oz. white american cheese, shredded
4 oz. monterrey jack cheese, shredded

pico de gallo
8 hamburger buns
sliced avocado

To make the hamburger patties combine the meat, hot sauce, and seasonings. Mix thoroughly and form into 8 patties. Grill outside or in a cast iron skillet on the stove. Set aside.

For the queso blanco saute the onion and jalapeno in half the butter until soft. Add the remaining butter, and turn the heat to medium low. Add the flour and stir together to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Add the poblano and shredded cheese, stir until combined, adding more milk to thin to desired consistency if needed.

Assemble the burgers. Place a patty on each toasted bun, top with warm queso, pico de gallo, and sliced avocado. Serve with spicy chichurritos.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Dishes

Those of you out there who know me are already aware of the fact that I love to go thrifting. I started shopping at thrift stores soon after I learned to drive as I prepared to move out on my own, purely for economical reasons. But then I experienced the thrill of the hunt. The excitement of finding a must have piece, like buried treasure, and for only $2.62! Amazing.

These days I shop at thrift stores just for the chance to find something unique. Hopefully its furniture (see my husband's business, Toshmahal), something I can wear, (that 1950's beaded cashmere sweater? yes, thrifted. thanks.) or use in the kitchen somehow, like these great plates!

I have a severe weakness for vintage china patterns. I've versed myself in a lot of the manufacturers and pattern names, and I like to think I have a keen eye, but really the stuff I'm after is pretty easy to spot. Luckily Hank shares my taste and doesn't think it odd that we have random plates and pieces. And hey, they come in handy for food photos too! I'll have to remember that... "This? Its for the blog of course! Got to keep it interesting ya know?" Ha.
So I hoard plates. I'm ok with that.

Anyways, these are my latest acquisitions. I've lusted after the pattern on the plates for some time. The color palette, the line weight and style of the drawing- I love it! The plates are by Harmony House, which was a Sears brand in the 40's and 50's. The pattern is El Dorado. Now before you all rush off to do an ebay search, I will say that these seem to be pretty hard to find. And I will outbid you. (kidding)

The other little gem in the photo is a sombrero dip server I found this past weekend. Isn't it darling? The top portion of the hat lifts off to reveal a bowl underneath. I can't wait to fill it with warm black bean dip. It has only CA - USA on the bottom so I have no idea of its manufacturer, but would love to learn more.

What do you collect? Do you hoard dishes like I do? Or collect old microphones, fans or other cool stuff?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Potato Soup

Its been especially cold these last few days. The wind is relentless, not to mention the snow we saw over the weekend. Times like these call for desperate measures er... I mean delicious hearty soup. This rich and creamy Potato Soup fits the bill. I can remember this soup from when I was a kid, bubbling away on the stove, my dad made it every winter. Its always been one of my favorites.

This rich and creamy Potato Soup is slow simmered until the potatoes are tender and shredded cheese is stirred in for a boost of flavor. I love to top each serving with thinly sliced green onion, crumbled bacon, and an extra sprinkling of cheese. Serve up a bowl with a chunk of crusty bread, its comfort food at its finest.

Potato Soup
(printable recipe)

3 celery stalks, sliced thin
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. white new potatoes
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of broccoli soup
1 c chicken stock
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 c sour cream
2 c milk
oz. cheese (I use half sharp cheddar and half pepper jack), shredded

thinly sliced green onion
crumbled bacon
shredded cheese

In a large pot cook the celery, onion, and garlic in 2-3 tbsp. of oil until they begin to soften. Peel the potatoes if you prefer, (I didn't) and dice into 3/4" chunks. Add the potatoes, soups, stock, butter, sour cream and milk. Stir well to combine and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and tender. My dad says to cook them till the edges are somewhat round. Add pepper and garlic salt to taste. Shred the cheese and stir into the soup, reserving some extra for garnish.
Serve hot garnished with green onion, fresh crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese with a piece of crusty bread.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Banana Bread

Seriously? I haven't posted this banana bread yet? I could have sworn I had already but I must've got caught up in wondering whether or not anyone would really be interested. You see, I've had a go-to banana bread recipe for some time. Its good but really nothing special, just one I'd always used from Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. I'm sure you have a banana bread recipe or two, maybe from Grandma or a treasured cookbook, so why would you bother trying some other recipe?

Well I thought the same thing until I read this article in the Dallas Morning News. My mom had saved it for me, since banana bread is her favorite, and was eager to see if I would make the recipe given. The author had been in search of the best banana bread recipe, one that would yield a tender, moist, flavorful bread bursting with banana flavor. It sounded like a noble quest to me, knowing that the recipe I had was just mediocre. So without delay I whipped up the recipe given in the article, and I'm happy to say it has been my new go-to banana bread ever since. The sour cream adds just enough acid to give it a good rise, and the loaf is full of chopped walnuts and plenty of banana flavor. Its the perfect thing to make on a lazy weekend or anytime you have several too-ripe bananas hanging around.

Banana Bread
(printable recipe)
from the Dallas Morning News

2 c flour
1 c sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
2 eggs
1 1/2 c mashed bananas (about 4 small bananas)
1/4 c sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick (1/2 c) butter melted, and brought to room temp.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, powder, soda and salt. Mix well and toss in the walnuts to coat. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, add the mashed banana, sour cream, vanilla, and butter. Stir well to combine.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture and stir well until thoroughly combined. Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cover loosely with foil if it seems to be browning too quickly. Reduce heat to 325 and bake about 20 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes away clean.

You'll be happy to know that this recipe adapts rather well. Don't like walnuts? Substitute chopped pecans or chocolate chips. Want a peanut butter flavored loaf? Substitute peanut butter for half of the butter called for. Either way, this banana bread will be a hit.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Melissa Guerra Tienda de Cocina

I know most of us probably still have the after-Christmas shopping blues but it never hurts to look, right? I won't be doing any real shopping anytime soon but I thought I'd share this new to me kitchen resource.

Melissa Guerra's Tienda de Cocina is based out of San Antonio, TX. The next time I pass through I'm going to make sure I stop by, as I'm sure the store has a much bigger and better selection than the online offerings. But don't get me wrong, there's plenty in the online store to drool over.

My current favorite is the line of Pomaireware they carry, handcrafted by artisans in Chile. I hinted to Hank to get me a set of these bowls for Christmas, and he delivered! I love them, they look primitive yet modern at the same time and have a wonderful earthy quality to them. And they smell of clay- the perfect vessel for a serving of frijoles or warming caldo.

Visit Melissa's store here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Honey Bun Cake

I do my best to keep us from eating so many pre-packaged foods- sweets and snacks in particular. Hank and I successfully resist the oh-so-tempting Little Debbie snack cake display quite often, probably 95% of the time. We're determined. Even if it means one of us drags the other away by the arm like a 5 year old.
Its a reality we face.

But sometimes temptation gets the best of us. Every once in a while we'll grab a box of our favorite Little Devil indulgence- Hank likes Zebra Cakes and Oatmeal Cream Pies, while I'm a sucker for Nutty Bars and Honey Buns. And we snack to our heart's content, well almost. Most of the time we maturely ration our servings so as not to annihilate the entire box in one day.

So imagine my elation when I stumbled upon a recipe for Honey Bun Cake on Tasty Kitchen, I had to make this. And share it. There's no way I could let such richness sit in my kitchen for nightly snacking. This Honey Bun Cake truly hits the spot and definitely delivers on the honey bun flavor we all know and love. I, of course, could not leave well enough alone and decided that layering the cake with real honey buns would only make it that much more indulgent. And I was right. And I have the tight pants to show for it.

(My apologies to those of you starting New Year's dieting resolutions... remember everything in moderation, just don't give up cake!)

Honey Bun Cake
(printable recipe)
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

for the cake
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 c sour cream
3/4 c vegetable oil

for layering
3/4 c light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
6 honey buns

for the glaze*
2 c powdered sugar
6 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

*I made the whole batch of glaze, but it wasn't necessary and was a bit too sweet for my tastes. Next time I'll make a 1/2 batch and drizzle lightly over the top. A little goes a long way!

Combine the cake mix, eggs, sour cream and oil. Mix well and set aside. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Grease a 13x9 pan, add half the cake batter. Top with half the sugar mixture and 5 honey buns. Press the honey buns into the batter a little. Add the remaining cake batter and spread evenly. Top with the remaining sugar mixture and nestle the last honey bun in the center. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

While the cake is baking make the glaze. Combine the milk and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar and whisk until combined. Pour over warm cake, allow the glaze to set for a 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pimento Cheese

I blame Hank for getting me hooked on Pimento Cheese. Had I not married into his wonderful family I might have never tried it. Hank's mom, Betty Lou, makes the finest and she was kind enough to share the recipe with me a few years ago. Here is what I make from memory, sometimes adding a little variety with hot pepper sauce, garlic salt, or worcestershire.

Pimento Cheese
(printable recipe)

1/2 lb. longhorn cheddar cheese*
1/4 onion
2-3 tbsp. pimentos, drained of liquid
salt & pepper to taste

*if you can't find longhorn cheese use a sharp cheddar

Remove the red wax and shred the cheese. Mince the onion very finely. Combine the cheese, onion, and pimentos, add enough mayonnaise to moisten the mixture and form a very thick paste. Mix well. Add salt & pepper to taste and chill until ready to serve. Tastes even better after a day in the fridge.

Hot pepper sauce, cayenne, garlic salt, or worcestershire can be added to taste if desired.

Pimento cheese is great on crackers, celery, or sandwiches. Serve to hungry, sweaty, brides on their wedding day with an ice cold negro modelo. (worked for me on my wedding day!)