Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

National Tequila Day!

Hey y'all,
I haven't had much to post lately because well.... I haven't been cooking. The kid has been off with her grandparents an will be gone until early Aug. so I've kind of taken a hiatus from cooking. Not to mention my awesome digital camera had to go in the shop for a repair so even if I had anything to post I wouldn't be able to photograph it. Bummer. However! I have two bits of news. Yesterday was National Hot Dog Day (and it also coincided with my friend Brian's cake day as well as Daniel Radcliffe) and today is National Tequila Day (as well as Cousin's day and Amelia Earhart day). This works out well because I've always been interested in Amelia Earhart and I have a cousin (more than one actually) who likes tequila. What luck!

I inadvertently celebrated National Hot Dog Day yesterday when I put two hot dogs in my stove top mac and cheese. This was purely on accident. But hey I'll take it.
Today, I'm not sure what I'm going to do as I'm pretty sure the only liquor we have in the house is whiskey and rum. Maybe I'll just post some awesome pictures I found on the internet that have tequila in them!

Tequila Soaked Watermelon from Two Tarts

Tequila Lime Bars from The Novice Chef

Tequila Sunrise from The Slow Roasted Italian

I think I'll also tell you my favorite tequila is - Patron and my favorite place to drink it is at Cantina Laredo.
Patron XO Cafe is great for dessert drinks!
Cantina Laredo does some pretty awesome tequila tastings and if you haven't had the change swing on by the Royal Lane location and say 'hi' to Thomas, he's the general manager. He's pretty cool ask him about the tastings. I found out about the XO Cafe from a tasting, it goes great with chocolate. Yum!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Food Porn Friday - National French Fry Day!

Hey y'all, it's National French Fry Day!
If there is any fast food that is my weakness it's french fries. I love them and it's hard for me to say no to them. Definitely not a good thing when trying to change eating habits and be more healthy. But how can you pass up National French Fry Day? I didn't.....

Go get you some fries!

Tastes Like Arby's Curly Fries from The Family Kitchen
Golden Oven Fries from Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Herb and Parmesan Fries from Kitchen Runway

Season Grilled Fries from The Slow Roasted Italian

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Aioli
from Natural Noshing

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cook's Thesaurus: Chocolate

This is a nice article about chocolate it's not the end all be all to chocolate but it has good information. Substitutions, types, equivalents, etc. I found it useful when I was looking for a substitute for bittersweet chocolate today... but more to come on that later. And I couldn't resist putting a clip from one of AB's Good Eats shows about chocolate at the end....

All content and photos are from: http://www.foodsubs.com/Chocvan.html

Chocolate is made from tropical cacao beans, which are transformed by machines and an inveterate spelling error into a bitter, brown paste of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.  When this unsweetened chocolate is combined with sugar, vanilla, and other ingredients, the result, of course, is heavenly.

Chocolate's notoriously hard to work with.  If you don't store it properly (preferably at 65° or so), the cocoa butter can separate slightly from the solids, causing the chocolate to "bloom."  This leaves a telltale gray residue on the surface and impairs the taste and texture slightly.   Chocolate will scorch if you melt it at too high a temperature, or "seize" and become thick and grainy if you add even a drop of cold liquid to it as it's melting.  You can prevent it from seizing by adding hot liquids (like cream) to chopped chocolate in order to melt it, or by making sure that anything you're dipping into the melted chocolate (like a strawberry or whisk) is perfectly dry.  If your chocolate has seized, you can still use it in any recipe that calls for chocolate to be blended with a liquid.  Just add the liquid to the chocolate and melt it again.  
If you plan to melt chocolate, it's best to buy it in bars.  Chips contain less cocoa butter so that they can better hold their shape in cookies, but this makes them harder to melt and less tasty.  It's easiest to melt chocolate in a microwave oven.  Just break the chocolate into small pieces, heat it for 30 seconds at 50% power, stir, then repeat a few times.  Take it out of the microwave when the chocolate is almost completely melted, then continue stirring until the melting is complete.  If you don't have a microwave, use a double boiler.

American cocoa  See cocoa
baking chocolate  See unsweetened chocolate; 
bitter chocolate  See unsweetened chocolate  

Bittersweet chocolate  
Notes:    This is a sweetened chocolate that's heavy on the cocoa solids and light on the sugar, giving it a rich, intense chocolate flavor.  Many pastry chefs prefer bittersweet to semi-sweet or sweet chocolate, but the three can be used interchangeably in most recipes.  The best bittersweet chocolates contain at least 50% cocoa solids.     Substitutes:   semi-sweet chocolate  (Very similar, but bittersweet chocolate usually has more chocolate liquor.  To make semisweet chocolate more like bittersweet chocolate, add some unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder to it.)

carob = St. John's bread = honey locust = locust bean    Pronunciation:  CARE-ub  Notes:   Carob is sometimes used as a substitute by those unfortunates who are allergic to chocolate, since its flavor is vaguely similar.  Others use it as a healthy alternative to chocolate, since it contains less fat and no caffeine.  It's available as raw pods, chips, and either as toasted or untoasted powder (toasting helps bring out the flavor).  Look for it in health food stores.  Substitutes:  cocoa powder (Most cookbooks call for cocoa to be substituted for carob measure for measure, but since cocoa has a stronger flavor, you should use less.  Cocoa powder has more fat than carob powder, and some caffeine.  Since carob burns more easily than cocoa, the recipe may call for a lower oven temperature than is necessary with cocoa powder.)

Carob Chips
carob chips  Notes:  You can use these in place of chocolate chips in cookies or trail mix.  Substitutes:  chocolate chips 

 Chocolate Chips
chocolate chips = chocolate morsels   Notes:   These are designed to go into chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and trail mixes.  Chocolate chips often have less cocoa butter than chocolate bars, which helps them retain their shape better when they're baked in the oven.  Avoid chips that contain vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter--they have a waxy flavor.   Substitutes:   chocolate bars chopped into chunks OR M&M candies (in cookies) OR nuts (in cookies) OR carob chips OR raisins OR chocolate-covered raisins OR butterscotch chips (If you're using these in place of chocolate chips to make fudge, use less fat in the recipe.) OR peanut butter chips (If you're using these in place of chocolate chips to make fudge, use less fat in the recipe.) OR white chocolate chips (If you're using these in place of chocolate chips to make fudge, use less fat in the recipe.)

Chocolate Curls
chocolate curls = chocolate shavings = shaved chocolate    Notes:    This is a pretty and easily-made garnish for desserts.  The curls are fragile, so it's best to move them around with a toothpick.   To make your own:    Warm a square of sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet, white, or milk chocolate in the microwave at 50% power for about 30 seconds, then shave curls from it  using a vegetable peeler.  If the chocolate crumbles, it's too cold.   Substitutes:  Use a grater to grate chocolate onto the dessert you're garnishing. OR dust with cocoa 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

chocolate-hazelnut spread =  chocolate-hazelnut paste =  chocolate-hazelnut butter = gianduja paste = gianduia paste = pasta gianduja = gianduja pâté = gianduia pâté   Notes:  This is a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut paste that Europeans use like peanut butter.   Nutella is a popular brand.   Substitutes:   peanut butter  

cocoa = cocoa powder = unsweetened cocoa powder    Equivalents:  1/4 cup cocoa powder = 1 ounce  Pronunciation:   KOH-koh    Notes:   Cocoa is similar to unsweetened chocolate, only it's in powdered form and has less cocoa butter.   Cooks like it because it allows them to make low-fat goodies, or to use fats other than cocoa butter.  Cocoa's also used to dust candies and cakes.   Dutched cocoa = Dutch process cocoa  = European process cocoa is treated with an alkali, making it milder yet richer-tasting. It's the preferred cocoa for beverages and frozen desserts, and for dusting baked goods.   Recipes for baked goods usually intend for you to use natural cocoa = American cocoa = regular cocoa = nonalkalized cocoa, which is more acidic than Dutched cocoa.   You can often substitute one type of cocoa for the other, but if the recipe includes baking soda, it may be counting on the acid in natural cocoa in order to react.  Don't confuse cocoa powder, which is bitter, with instant cocoa mixes, which are sweetened.  Substitutes: carob powder (Most cookbooks call for carob to be substituted for cocoa measure for measure, but since carob has a milder flavor, you might want to use more.  Carob powder tends to lump, so mix it into a paste first with a bit of liquid.  It also burns more easily than cocoa powder, so reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.) OR unsweetened baking chocolate  (One ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or oil.)

Cocoa Butter

cocoa butter  Notes:  Pastry chefs add this to chocolate to thin it, usually so that they can pour a thinner coating on a cake. 

Compound Chocolate
compound chocolate coating = compound chocolate = chocolate summer coating = decorator's chocolate = confectioners' chocolate = confectionery coating = chocolate flavored coating = confectioners’ coating chocolate    Notes:    This is an inexpensive chocolate that's melted and used for dipping and molding.  Since it's made with vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter, it's much easier to work with than ordinary chocolate.  It also melts at a higher temperature, so it doesn't get all over your hands when you eat it.  The downside is that it doesn't have the rich taste and texture of regular chocolate.  Though it's considered to be a beginner's chocolate, it's still a bit fussy.  It can scorch if you cook it at too high a temperature, or seize if you add even a drop of cold liquid to it after it's melted.    Substitutes:  couverture chocolate (This has luscious cocoa butter, which makes it tastier but harder to work with.) OR compound coating (other than chocolate) OR chocolate hazelnut spread (This makes a good chocolate dip for strawberries.  Thin it with a little cream and warm it in a double boiler before dipping.) 

Couverture Chocolate
couverture chocolate = couverture-grade chocolate = coating chocolate = commercial coating chocolate    Pronunciation:   KOO-ver-chure   Notes:   Couverture means covering in French, and professionals use this type of chocolate to coat candies and glaze cakes.  It has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than ordinary chocolate, which makes for glossier coatings and a richer flavor.  Available in bittersweet, semi-sweet, white, and milk chocolate.  It's expensive, and you may need to go to a specialty store to find it.   Substitutes:   compound chocolate coating (Not as rich and tasty, but easier to work with) OR ordinary chocolate  

Dark Chocolate
dark chocolate = plain chocolate = continental chocolate = luxury chocolate   Notes:  This refers to sweetened chocolate other than milk or white chocolate.  It includes bittersweet, semi-sweet, and sweet chocolates, all of which can be used interchangeably in most recipes 
Dutched cocoa  See cocoa
Dutch process cocoa  See cocoa.
European process cocoa  See cocoa.

gianduja = gianduia = hazelnut-flavored chocolate   Pronunciation:   zhahn-DOO-yuh   Notes:   This Italian specialty is made with chocolate and hazelnut paste.  It's unbelievably good.   Substitutes:  milk chocolate

Hot Cocoa Mix

hot cocoa mix = hot chocolate mix = instant cocoa mix    Notes:   You need only add boiling water to this powdered mix and stir to make hot chocolate.  To make your own:   Combine 2 cups powdered milk, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer.  To make hot chocolate, mix one part cocoa mix with three parts boiling water. Substitutes:  Mexican chocolate
honey locust  Substitutes:  carob
hot chocolate mix  See hot cocoa mix

Mexican Chocolate
Mexican chocolate = Mexican style sweet chocolate   Equivalents:  1 tablet = 3.1 ounces  Notes:     This grainy chocolate is flavored with sugar, almonds, and cinnamon, and used to make hot chocolate and mole sauce. You can buy boxes containing large tablets of this in the Mexican foods aisle of larger supermarkets.  Ibarra is a well-respected brand.   Substitutes:  1 ounce = 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon OR  (in mole sauces) cocoa powder (Substitute one tablespoon cocoa powder for every ounce of Mexican chocolate called for in the recipe.) 

Milk Chocolate
milk chocolate   Notes:    If you're looking for a plain chocolate candy bar, this is your best bet.   It's like sweet chocolate, only it contains dried milk solids, which gives it a mellow flavor.   It's not a good choice for baking, though, since it's sweeter and not as chocolatey as other chocolates.  Despite this, many cooks prefer to use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips in their cookies.  Be very careful if melting milk chocolate, it scorches very easily.   Substitutes:  sweet chocolate OR semi-sweet chocolate
natural cocoa  See cocoa
nonalkalized cocoa,  See cocoa.
Nutella  See gianduja.
regular cocoa  See cocoa

Semi-sweet Chocolate
semi-sweet chocolate = semisweet chocolate   Equivalents:  One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable.  Squares can be chopped up to make chips for cookies.  Notes:   Americans like this best for their cookies and brownies.   It's available in bars, chunks, and chips.  Mint-flavored semi-sweet chips are also available.   Substitutes:   bittersweet chocolate (very similar, but bittersweet chocolate usually has more chocolate liquor.) OR unsweetened chocolate (1 ounce = 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon sugar) OR 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter or vegetable oil (may leave a powdery taste, but makes product moister and more flavorful.) OR 1 tablespoon peanut butter chips OR white chocolate (especially in chocolate chip cookies; more delicate flavor, burns more easily, contains more sugar.) OR milk chocolate St. John's bread  Substitutes:  carob

Sweet Chocolate
sweet chocolate = sweet dark chocolate = sweet baking chocolate  Equivalents:   One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable.  Notes:   This is similar to semi-sweet chocolate, only it has a bit more sugar.  It can be used interchangeably with bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate in most recipes.   Baker's Chocolate calls its sweet chocolate German chocolate.  Substitutes:  semi-sweet chocolate OR bittersweet chocolate OR 1 ounce sweet chocolate = 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate + 4 teaspoons sugar OR 1 ounce sweet chocolate = 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa + 4 teaspoons sugar + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (may leave a powdery taste, but makes product moister and more flavorful.) 

Unsweetened Chocolate
unsweetened chocolate = bitter chocolate = baking chocolate = pure chocolate = chocolate liquor   Equivalents:   One cup of chips = 6 ounces   Notes:   What kid hasn't sneaked a bar of this out of the kitchen, only to discover that unadulterated chocolate is bitter and unpalatable.  Some cooks prefer to use it over sweetened chocolate because it gives them better control of the sweetness and flavor of the product.     Substitutes:   cocoa (One ounce unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or margarine or shortening or vegetable oil.   Using cocoa may leave a powdery taste, but it usually makes the product moister and more flavorful.)  OR 3 tablespoons carob powder + 2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon butter or margarine or vegetable oil (lower oven temperature by 25 degrees) OR semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate = 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon sugar, so decrease the sugar in the recipe accordingly.)

White Chocolate
white chocolate = white baking bar    Notes:   Like milk chocolate, this is made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla.  The only difference is that white chocolate doesn't have any cocoa solids.  Since the FDA won't let American producers label a product  "chocolate" unless it has those cocoa solids, domestic white chocolate is known by a hodge-podge of different names.  White chocolate scorches easily, so cook it gently.   Bars and wafers usually taste better than chips.  Avoid white chocolate that's made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter--it's cheaper but not nearly as good.     Substitutes:   milk chocolate 

White Chocolate Chips
white chocolate chips = white chips  Notes:  These are used to make white chocolate chip cookies.  They contain less cocoa butter than ordinary white chocolate, so it's harder to melt them.   Substitutes:  white chocolate (cut into chunks) OR chocolate chips OR carob chips

Copyright © 1996-2005  Lori Alden

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hot Corn Dip

Good grief this stuff is pretty awesome! Of course I found it on pinterest and promptly posted to my Food! board to be forgotten like a lot of the recipes on there. I'm glad I tried it, Jeff and I ate half the dish by ourselves right out of the oven.

From: GinaMariesKitchen.com

2 cups shredded chedder cheese
1 cup shredded Montery Jack
2 tbs chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced small
1 small can (4oz) diced green chilies, undrained
1/2 cup Mayo
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 11oz can of corn, drained
1 small tomato
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
2 tbs green onions, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the cheeses, chipotle and green peppers, mayo, garlic powder and corn together. Pour into an oven safe dish.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
Top with diced tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

My notes:
I had everything on hand to make this except the diced chilies, but I don't think it makes a huge difference. I put 1 whole chipotle pepper diced up real small. I have made this twice and plan on making it for the 4th as well. Everyone who has tried it has really liked it. It's pretty awesome. Jeff thinks bacon would go well on top and I agree, so I may try that next time and I'm going to double the recipe.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Roasted Pepper- Corn Pasta Salad

I had to bring a pasta salad to a dinner we were having with Jeff's family a few weeks ago so I hopped on pinterest and looked through my Food! board. Found this recipe and decided to give it a try. My Uncle was commenting the other day about how he likes to test a recipe before he takes it somewhere or serves it at a gathering. I found myself nodding in agreement but then I stopped and thought about it. I must have brass cooking balls.... forgive the vulgarities. Lately everything I have taken to a gathering has NOT been tested including this recipe. I guess it just never occurred to me that things could go wrong.... which knowing myself is a bad assumption. But my luck held out and this turned out to be a hit!

Roasted Pepper - Corn Pasta Salad
From Womenshealthmag.com

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain.
2.Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown. Add the roasted pepper and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.
3.Add the pasta, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and black pepper to the bowl and toss gently but thoroughly.
Description: Click here to find out more! 
My notes
I didn't change a thing, I think (I may have added cumin and chili pepper). I did roast the pepper myself instead of buying a jar. I think next time I will roast my corn and maybe roast a jalapeno to add to the mix.