Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Kitchen Has Been In Boxes...Again

Yes, I even borrowed this pic...lazy blogger...

 Okay, allow me to apologize for not having been back on for a while...I do have mostly good reasons ...mostly.

Good reason #1 for not blogging lately. We relocated, yet again.  We are now living back in San Antonio, Texas.  While I'm ecstatic about this move, San Antonio is my second hometown, it makes a grand total of four moves for my son and myself since 2010, two of which have occurred in the last six months.  Whewww...  That's all I have to say about that.  Well, that and this move was extra fun seeing as how I was 7 months pregnant and towing around an active 5 year old while it was happening.  I've been tired, ya'll.  

Good reason #2 for not blogging lately.  I believe I've mentioned that I am pregnant, but have I mentioned that I am now 8 and a half months along and particularly whiny?  Okay, scratch that. I'm very, very whiny and running out of positions to even attempt to be comfortable in without looking like a damaged, tilted globe.  And sleep...  What is that?  I should get used to the sleepless nights, I suppose, but the they will be more tolerable once I have a sweet, little baby to hold in my arms and distract me.  I'm so looking forward to having this little girl with us on the outside!

Bad reason #1 for not blogging lately.  I've been lazy because I'm too busy whining about unpacking and being crazy pregnant.

Okay, well no more.  I should have something worth reading about (and maybe even baking) up here in the next few days.  I have plenty of ideas pass on, just need to get back on the ball.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Other Writing Gig

Hey ya'll, good morning! Many of you all are aware that I also write for Examiner.com.  I'm just making a quick post to invite any of you all that haven't done so already to join my Facebook page for business.  I post from both sites, Little Fish and Examiner, on this page.  Click here if you would like to check it out:  San Antonio Family Meals Examiner

Thanks for reading and also thanks for the occasional bit of feedback...I thoroughly enjoy hearing from anyone who gives this blog a gander. 

I'm getting so excited about the upcoming holiday season...big plans for lots of fun around our house.  And of course, you'll be hearing about it. 


Friday, September 7, 2012

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is obviously one of the world's greatest comfort foods.  Nowadays it's also an considered an easy-peasy convenience food... just grab a box at the store and mix it all up in one pot. 

I love cheese, but to be completely truthful, I rarely eat the boxed stuff.  It's unappealing to me.  I just make it because, well, it IS convenient and my son eats it well.  I make homemade cheese sauces for just about everything else.  From chicken dishes to baked potatoes,  it's not atypical for me to whip up a creamy cheese sauce to accompany dinner and it is always such a hit.  

I had to dig deep to answer this question...Why do I cheat and make the processed boxed stuff when it comes to macaroni and cheese??  Why, I ask?!  I decided it was time for this madness to end.  I took the time to make macaroni and cheese from scratch last weekend and it was so completely worth the effort.  

I grabbed 8 ounces of American cheese from my grocery store deli, mixed up a simple cheese sauce which I combined and baked with some cooked macaroni.  The rest was family meal making history for us.  No more boxes!

Macaroni and Cheese
  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • dash or two of black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • About 2 cups shredded American cheese (get the good stuff from the deli...no Velveeta!)
  • 3/4 cup crushed Ritz crackers 
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°
2. Cook macaroni in boiling water until done but still firm.  Drain.
3. To make the cheese sauce:  In a Dutch oven, cook chopped onion in butter or margarine until tender.
4.  Stir in the flour and pepper.  Next, stir in the milk all at once.  Allow to simmer until mixture is slightly thickened.
5.  Add in the shredded cheese until it is melted into the sauce.
6.  Fold in the cooked macaroni.  Once the pasta is well-coated, transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish.
7.  Top macaroni and cheese with crushed Ritz crackers.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
8.  Enjoy.    

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Devil's Food and Toffee Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Rich, chocolate cake-like cookies and sweet, vanilla ice cream.
Summer is winding down for the school kids, but the heat in South Texas will linger for a while yet.  I don't know about you guys, but I've been in the mood for some cool-down comfort food.  Ice cream is a convenient comfort food solution, but an ice cream sandwich is a true treat in my opinion.  In fact, my five-year old would live on ice cream sandwiches, if I would allow it.

I've made quick and easy homemade ice cream sandwiches for years by stuffing all kinds of ice cream between various flavors of store bought cookies (Archway Molasses Cookies rock, by the way!).  But, a few weeks ago, I started craving more cake-like cookies to stuff with ice cream.  Then I was thinking that these cakey cookies definitely had to be chocolate.  They should also have candy pieces in them instead of chocolate chips or chunks...Heath bar pieces to be exact. I know, now we are getting into high-maintenance person cookie extremes, right?

Well, for those of you who are not aware, I am expecting my second child and sudden diva-like cravings abound lately. This recipe is the result of one such sudden craving.  It turned out good enough to share.  Let me know if you give them a try.   


Devil's Food and Toffee Cookies
  • 1 box (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
  • 1 stick butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup water
  •  1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Heath bar pieces
  • your favorite flavor of ice cream
1.  Heat oven to 350°
2.  Prepare baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or non-stick foil.
3.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together cake mix, melted butter, water, egg and vanilla.  Batter will be thick.
4.  Add in toffee candy pieces.
5.  Drop heaping tablespoons full of cookie batter onto prepared baking sheet. (truly, heaping...don't be bashful) 
6.  Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes per batch. Cookies appear very puffy when removed from the oven, but they will sink slightly while cooling. 
7.  Allow cookies to cool completely.  
8.  Using an ice cream scooper, scoop up a generous serving of ice cream.
9.  Gently press the ice cream onto the back side of one of the cooled cookies.
10. Top with another cookie.
11.  Enjoy.

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Out And About Today

Okay, so I'm straying here...this is not a food post.  I'm just in the mood to share. 

I took my son to the beach today and we had so much fun.  It's hard for me to believe that July is about to end.  I was so anxious for summer to begin so that I could spend more time at home with him and tinker around my little house. Seriously, it seemed like the first of June would never get here and now I'm cringing as summer's end is closing in.  

In less than a month, I will walk him to his first day of class for his Kindergarten year.  Now that's real, big-boy school.  He is a super, duper smarty-pants though...I'm going to be much more nervous than he is.  


View from my beach towel.







Hard at work, filling up bucket after bucket of water for his pool.


Our beach neighbors built "a pool" in the sand.  He was happy to continue construction after they went home.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mushroom Stuffed Meatloaf

This week has been such a great week at home.  We moved into a new apartment recently and everyone knows how hard it is to get settled into a new place.  It took some time, but the newly acquired kitchen is finally organized and in working order.  Since I've now located all of my much-loved kitchen gadgets and gear, I decided to serve up a special weeknight meal for the family the other night: a meatloaf.

Boring, you say?  Well, I would have too, but I took a traditional meatloaf prepared with peppers and onions and then I stuffed it with a savory bread stuffing and juicy mushrooms.   Trust me, it sounds much more complicated than it was to put together. 

I plated it up with some fresh green beans and homemade mashed potatoes (Because I think those two side dishes are required by law in some states when serving meatloaf, even a fancy one).  This is one of those simple meals that is tasty enough to serve for company, and in fact my next dinner guests are quite likely to be having this dish.



 Mushroom Stuffed Meatloaf

  • 1-1/2 lbs ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper,finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  •  1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups soft bread crumbs
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375°.
2.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together ground meat, peppers, 1/2 of the chopped onion, garlic and onion powder.
3.  Fold in the beaten egg with the meat mixture and set it aside.
4.  In a second medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining chopped onion, sliced mushrooms and spices.
5.  Press half of the meat mixture into the bottom of lightly greased 9 x 5 in. loaf pan.
6.  Spread the mushroom stuffing on top of the layer of meat mixture.
7.  Press the remain meat mixture on of the of the mushroom stuffing.


Half way there: the mushroom stuffing in between the two layers of  meat mixture.

8.  Place the meatloaf into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes.
9.  Allow meatloaf to cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing to serve.


I served my meatloaf with a traditional tomato sauce which was delicious, but next time I'll be serving this dish with brown gravy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Classic Blueberry Pie

I'm not sure there is a dessert that is more classic than a simple, sweet fruit pie.  Blueberry pie is a traditional American dessert and I'd vote it as a close second place to apple pie.  I know, you're thinking, blueberry pie, really?  If it seems like it's been posted about before, you're right, it has been.  Blog posts and recipe suggestions about blueberry pie are all over the web, in fact.  But, who am I to feel too proud to sing the praises of a traditional, summer recipe especially when I was so honestly impressed with it once I finally baked one up?  It's good stuff.

During the summer months, fresh berries of any kind are some of my favorite staples to keep in my kitchen.  Berries are sweet, convenient and healthy goodies to keep around when they are in season. 

Through the years, I've made plenty of other blueberry-showcasing desserts and breakfast breads, but before this past Wednesday, never a blueberry pie.  I have long-admired the pretty pictures of this fruity treat posted in magazines and I sure liked the idea of the dessert, however I had just never gotten organized enough to bake one.  I'm so glad I finally did, it was really sweet, flavorful and so simple to make.  You should try it too. 

July is National July Belongs to Blueberries Month... I plan to celebrate many times.  Will you? 



Classic Blueberry Pie
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen (thawed blueberries)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • pastry for a double 9-inch deep dish pie crust (frozen crusts work just fine if you are crunched for time, as I usually am....although I do make my own pastry as often as possible.  Really, I do.)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp butter
1.   Pre-heat the oven to 375°.
2.  In a colander rinse blueberries and drain well, transfer berries to a large mixing bowl.
3.  Sprinkle berries with the lemon juice and set aside.
4.  Place prepared bottom pastry or pie crust in oven and allow to bake for about 6-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
5.  Add next 4 ingredients to the bowl of blueberries and carefully mix well
6.  Pour the prepared blueberries into the lightly pre-baked pie shell.
7.  Place pats of butter on top of the berry mixture.
8.  Cover pie filling with the other pastry and seal.
9.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Allow pie to cool completely before slicing, otherwise it will be really, really runny


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Corn Casserole


What vegetable is more summer-y than corn?  None, I say, none! So in honor of the most summerific vegetable, I've adapted a corn casserole that has been served in my family for years to suit my spice-loving taste.  I added in some fresh bell pepper and onion for a bit of crunch and an extra spoonful of sugar to rev-up the flavor a bit.  

This casserole is really versatile as far as add-in possibilities.  Or, it's just as tasty with just corn and no other veggies at all.  For occasions when my guests prefer dishes to be extra-spicy, I've added two seeded and chopped jalapeño peppers to this casserole and it is always a big success. 

If you wanted to give this a try for your 4th of July celebration it would be a great choice...it's a simple, inexpensive, and crowd-pleasing little number.  Also, I find that this corn casserole is a perfect partner to any and all things grilled.   This dish also works served as a main course with a green salad, or just something green for that matter.  I'm willing to bet that no complaints would be received even though it makes for a meatless meal.  

And as an added perk, your house is gonna smell terrific while this baby is baking.

Sweet-N-Spicy Corn Casserole
  • 1 15 oz. can whole kernel, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can cream-style corn
  • 1 stick of butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 8 oz. package of Mexican-style corn bread mix
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar 
Directions: 

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350º.
2.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the all ingredients and mix well.

 

 
 
3.  Transfer corn mixture to a greased, 9 x 9 inch pan.

Before...

4.  Allow to bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm.

After!
5.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

I love to bake cakes, especially chocolate ones. 

I've been baking chocolate cakes from scratch for years, all the while I've experimented with ingredients and methods from different recipes I've come across.  Based on all that practice and depending on the flavor I'm trying to achieve, I'll vary ingredients like brown sugar or the amount or type of cocoa powder.  But, one of my favorite additions to any chocolate cake is hot, fresh-brewed coffee.  I think it adds a deeper flavor and a little extra complexity to a rich, sweet treat. 

I make this version of chocolate cake pretty often and it's one of my favorite dessert treats to feed to dinner guests when they come around.  The coffee flavor is barely detectable in the cake recipe, but you'll definitely be able to smell and taste coffee in the Mocha Frosting.  I think it's some of the best cake ever, but as usual I may be biased.

Chocolate-N-Coffee Cake
  • 1 3/4 cup flour 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Mocha Frosting 

  • 3tbsp hot coffee
  • 4 tbsp butter or margarine 
  • 3 tbsp cocoa 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla  
Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 350 °F.  Spray two 8 x 2 in. round pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Dust with flour.

2.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla.





3. Add the dry ingredients to the milk mixture and mix using a handheld mixer until  well-combined. 



 4.  Next, stir in the hot coffee and boiling water (batter will be really thin).

5.  Evenly pour the batter into prepared baking pans.  Bake cakes for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.  Allow cakes to cool completely.


6.  After the cakes are cooled begin making the Mocha Frosting.  Whisk all ingredients together until fully incorporated and a smooth chocolate-y, glaze-like frosting is created. 

7.  Place first round cake onto a plate (or wherever it is gonna stay because you're about to frost this baby).  Apply a thin layer of frosting to the top of the first cake.


8.  Next, top the frosted round cake with the second cake.  Now, hurry and frost the whole cake! With this frosting you have to move a little quickly as the frosting, like a glaze, will begin to firm up.

Finished product should look something like this.



Now, this is the most important part...
This cake is extra good accompanied with a glass of cold milk.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cheddar Cheese-Veggie Soup

It's just my little opinion, but if you are in the mood for comfort food a cup of hot, creamy cheese soup is about as good as it gets.  When I was living in San Antonio, Texas I came to love the version of Canadian Cheese Soup that is served up each and everyday at a locally owned chain of diners called Jim's Restaurant.  I ate a cup of that soup often and I tried, but I was never able to pry the entire recipe out of the any member of the kitchen staff.         
For weeks now, I've been craving a cup of that luscious, cheesy soup and I have yet to find a suitable replacement in any restaurant here locally in Corpus Christi.  So in an effort to end my cheesy craving I decided to try to make it myself.   

This recipe is what I came up with and it definitely made me miss the other soup a bit less.  I'll be making it again.  Let me know if you give it a try. 
   
     Cheddar Cheese-Veggie Soup
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional for topping) 
Directions:

1. In a heated Dutch oven, melt butter and add all diced vegetables.  Saute in the butter for about 6 minutes or until tender.




2. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir well.



3.  Pour in chicken broth, one cup at a time and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; and simmer for about 10 -15 minutes.  Broth should thicken up as the mixture is heated.

4.  Remove soup from heat and stir in milk and cheeses.  Stir until cheeses are melted.  Soup will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.

5.  Top with with crumbled bacon just before serving.






Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fruit and Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

The residents at my house have come to expect a big breakfast on Sunday mornings.  The usual breakfast feast includes pancakes, eggs, or French toast.  Sometimes, of course, I'll try something new.  This morning I decided to try my hand at giant oatmeal breakfast cookies. 

Well, after mixing in some extras, the cookies turned into bars.  They weren't as sweet as I was anticipating them to be, which is a good thing.  This recipe is a keeper and it's versatile.  Now that I have a basic mix, I'll use some different add-ins to keep it interesting.  When I'm feeling naughty, adding chocolate chips may be a good idea.  



Fruit and Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
  •  1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple or plum jelly 
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl
  3. Press into a greased 8x8 inch pan
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until bars are browned lightly
  5. Cut into bars and serve warm
  6. Enjoy.






 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dad's Scrambled Eggs

When I was a little girl, one of my three favorite toys of all time was my Easy Bake Oven. Once I figured that little machine out, I kept it hot! Chocolate cakes with white frosting or yellow cakes with chocolate frosting, no matter what was on the light-bulb baked menu that day, Dad dramatically devoured it. I credit his spirited, comedic enjoyment of those little cakes for encouraging my love of cooking and baking. The thrill I feel from watching the happy effect food has on people began with giggling at my dad.  Now, many years later that satisfaction over the contentment good food brings to others continues. 

It hardly seems possible that nearly 10 years have passed since Dad lost his battle with cancer in the spring of 2002.  Myself along with the entire family think of him often and miss him still.  I want to honor my dad by including one of his recipes, maybe the one I remember the best, as the first actual food post on my blog.

My dad wasn't much of a cook, but like most other men in America he looked forward to a day by the grill.  The few things he did cook in the kitchen were simple, unpretentious and savory.  Whenever dad was making breakfast for my four siblings and myself we all expected his soft-scrambled eggs and buttered toast. Simple, traditional foods were some of his favorites.  Scrambled eggs sound traditional enough, but Dad always add a dash of garlic power and bits of American cheese to the beaten eggs.  The cheese adds a velvety smoothness to the eggs and hint of garlic makes scrambled eggs seem like much more of a meal...it also turns plain-old scrambled eggs into my dad's eggs.

Dad's Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients:
  • six large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  •  garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 slice American cheese, torn into small pieces
  • tablespoon of butter or margarine 
  Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs using a wire whisk.
  2. Add in the milk, a small dash of garlic powder (just a dash is all you need!)
  3. 2 dashes each of salt and pepper
  4. Mix well
  5. Add in the cheese pieces and lightly stir.  Set egg mixture aside.
  6. Place butter in to a warm skillet and melt
  7. Add egg mixture to the skillet and stir constantly until eggs are cooked to a soft consistency 
  8. Serve with buttery toast and enjoy. 


    Dad's eggs were quite tasty in breakfast tacos. 






     

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Okay, Now It's Really Time To Start Writing

    Hello there to all!

    Today is January 9, 2012 and I'm reviewing my one and only post to this blog dated September 11, 2011... and feeling like a very neglectful new blogger. BUT, I have a good explanation for my absence! In fact, many exciting events have occurred in the last few months which have kept me from planning or doing anything worth posting.  I'll catch you up on a couple of the biggies.

    Firstly, after four years (yes, you read that right, 4 whole years...) of actively seeking a full-time teaching job, I got one!  Needless to say, the school year was already in full swing by my hire date in late September 2011 so I had to hit the ground running just to keep up. 

    Also, I have a new boyfriend!  When it rains it pours, right?

    So, in a nutshell, I have stayed busy looking after my awesome kid, a new job, a new boyfriend and a new blog...and pretty much maintaining the status quo of my life in that order too.  But, please believe I have been thinking about this page, for what that's worth.

    Now it seems I have a basic rhythm running in all the new and exciting responsibilities that I'm thankful to have taken on at the end of 2011. So, with just a little more time on my hands, I can finally get back to my cooking adventures and post about them on Little Fish.  Looking very forward to it! 

    Happy New Year, everyone!