Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Baking, Lately

March 29, 2014

If you know me at all you probably have an idea about how much I love to bake, if you don’t know me then this post should make it obvious, ha! Here’s a look at some things I’ve baked and managed to document over the past few months.

baking03

I’m quickly gaining a reputation for these sugar cookies and to be honest they really are the most delicious sugar cookies you’ll ever gobble down. The secret is in the recipe (found here), it uses powdered sugar instead of regular granulated sugar which gives the dough a soft, pillow-y texture and helps the cookie to hold its shape during baking.

I boxed up some of these Christmas cookies to send to our grandparents up in Massachusetts. Naturally, I made a couple lobster cookies to top off their care packages. Aren’t they cute?!

baking01

Cupcakes for our Superbowl watching party…I clearly just have way too much fun with this, it’s an addiction that I don’t care to break :)

baking02

A recipe for a delicious, moist, rich, full-flavored chocolate cake is something that I’ve always searched for and I finally found it. This is literally THE. BEST. CHOCOLATE. CAKE. EVER. The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and when paired with some homemade raspberry filling, it’s just divine.baking04

When I make this cake I always have a little leftover batter because the recipe is for two 9″ pans and I use 8″ pans. No big deal, I use the extra to make half a dozen little cupcakes. I made this cake for our New Years Even party and it was a huge hit.baking05

These earth sugar cookies were for a “welcome to the world” themed baby shower for a friend. It’s fun to experiment with new decorating techniques, I think this was the first time I tried lining and flooding.

baking06

And here are some more baby shower cookies from last weekend. I loved making the little onsies and the smiling sunshines.

baking07

They just look so happy!

baking08

I’ve also dabbled in some bread making lately. Even though we don’t eat bread much, I love to make it from scratch; there’s just something about working a ball of bread dough in your hands that’s therapeutic. This is a honey wheat loaf that was super simple to make, recipe is from Life In Grace.

baking10

I love to volunteer to bake a cake when someone’s birthday falls on or near a small group event and last week we had our first outdoor cookout of the season so this hamburger cake seemed appropriate. Nobody believed me when I told them but this was seriously the easiest cake I’ve ever made. Instead of delicately icing the entire outside of the cake layers all I had to do was squirt some on with a couple piping bags. White for mayo, green for lettuce, yellow for mustard and red for ketchup…throw a few sesame seeds on top and voila it’s a burger!

baking09

Nothing brings me more joy than seeing something I’ve made bring happiness to someone else; cookies and cakes are pretty good at doing that ;)

baking11

Camping: McKinney Falls

May 4, 2011

I love camping. There’s just something about removing myself from the day to day and being outside for hours on end that rejuvinates my spirit. I love breathing the fresh air, hiking in lieu of working out, seeing the stars at night, exploring trails and waking up with the sun. It’s no wonder that as soon as the temperatures become favorable I start planning a trip to a nearby park.

We camped for two days at McKinney Falls State Park and had a great time despite the burn ban which prevented us from partaking in the traditional campfire hot dogs and s’mores. Thankfully, my parents had a camp stove that we borrowed to cook on; throughout the weekend we made grilled cheese sandwiches, fajitas and breakfast burritos…yum.

Due to the current lack of rain in the area we didn’t see many wildflowers but the cacti were blooming like crazy.

Mark and I went on an almost 3 hour hike Saturday morning {not entirely intentionally, we forgot the map}; we hiked around the upper and lower falls, stopping off at the old McKinney family residence. The water-worn rock is similar to what I imagine the surface of the moon to look like.

Sights like this amaze me…can you imagine how long it took for the river to carve those curves out of the solid rock? Nature is simply amazing.

Mandy and Jake joined us for the second day and, after a night of card games played by the light of an emergency glow stick, we went out hiking again, this time stopping to wade in the falls and soak up some sun. I could have laid on that rock with my feet in the running water listening to the falls for hours. This is what camping is all about!

Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

January 19, 2011

Lately, in an effort to branch out of our semi-boring mainstay of dinner recipes, Mark and I have been adamant about trying some new things. A couple of weeks ago we brought home some mahi-mahi {which I’ve never cooked before} and used a rendition of this ginger-soy glazed recipe; it was amazing, almost as if it had come from a restaurant.

So when we bought some shrimp on our last grocery run I knew I wanted to try something different. I scoured the internet and happened upon this recipe for shrimp tacos:

via: Life’s Ambrosia

Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

20 medium shrimp, peeled & deveined

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 T. olive oil

4 tortillas (the recipe calls for corn but we used flour)

oil for frying

shredded lettuce

diced tomatoes

sliced avocado

Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

1/4 c. sour cream

2 T. chopped, fresh cilantro

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. lime zest

2 T. lime juice

salt to taste

– In a bowl, whisk together 1 T. oil, garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Add in shrimp and toss to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to marry.

– While the shrimp is marinating, mix together the cilantro-lime sour cream ingredients in a small bowl and dice and slice your tomato and avocado.

– Cook shrimp in skillet on medium heat until pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

– Lightly coat small pan with oil over low-medium heat. Warm tortillas until soft.

– Spoon 5 shrimp onto each tortilla, top with lettuce, tomato, avocado and cilantro-lime sour cream.

This recipe is so simple and flavorful and takes very little time to make from start to finish. I can’t wait to make this again!

Ice Cream Festival

August 16, 2010

On Saturday, Mark, my brother and I went to the 14th annual Austin Ice Cream Festival at Waterloo Park. I honestly had no idea what to expect since this was our first time to attend, but with the advertised ice cream eating contest and popsicle stick building contest I went hoping for the best.

We made it to the park around 2:30 and the Texas sun was boiling hot and beating down on us. We walked a lap around the park passing by about 7 or 8 ice cream and food vendors along with craft tents, a caricature/face painting booth and a handful of kiddie rides. I have to say I wasn’t too impressed {I think the event is geared more towards kids} but nevertheless, we stuck around for the eating contest.

The event began with the introductions of the eaters announced by an extremely over-animated guy who has apparently been hosting competitive eating contests for over 22 years…what a job. There were 5 contestants from Austin along with Joey Chestnutt, the world record holder for various eating competitions.

They had 5 minutes to eat as much ice cream possible…Joey downed 1-1/4 gallons while the other eaters combined ate about a gallon total. It was pretty much disgusting and awesome at the same time.

There’s Joey in the center, finishing off his first gallon.

All things considered, I’d give the ice cream festival a 5 out of 10. It was just too dang hot to be enjoyable and there wasn’t a whole lot to do; not to mention there was no free ice cream and the ice cream for sale was marked up considerably. We most likely won’t go back next year but it was definitely fun to experience it once.

Sunfood Farm

June 29, 2010

In case you didn’t already know my dad loves to garden, so much in fact that he has slowly begun to share his produce with others. He started out by taking lettuce to local Dyer Dairy in Georgetown where they sold it along with their milk, cheeses, meats and other goods. Then a couple of weeks ago Scott & White hospital held their first farmer’s market as a part of their wellness program and my dad was invited.

In preparation for the event he asked my help with brainstorming a name and designing a logo for his growing farm. The name was inspired by some quotes from the Omnivore’s Dilemma; in the book, Pollan spends a week at the infamous Polyface Farm where he discovers that farming is {in the simplest of terms} harvesting the sun’s energy into a form that we can consume. Therefore sun energy + plants = sunfood.

The farmer’s market went really well…ours was by far the best looking table {I should have ironed the table cloth}. There were about 20 vendors total; a couple selling grass-fed beef and jerky, one selling eggs, a couple with dairy and cheeses, many selling various fruits and vegetables and one table with nothing but home-canned pickles.

My dad enjoys experimenting with different varieties of vegetables in order to discover new, tastier produce that is best suited to grow in the hot, central Texas climate. This definitely proved to be advantageous for our table because we had things that nobody else had! Most of the other produce tables had red potatoes, yellow squash, cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, etc. while our table consisted of two varieties of garlic, sweet Texas onions, fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard, rosemary and sage.

My dad also came up with this great idea of selling pre-made baskets of mixed vegetables along with a recipe for making a simple soup. Each “Sunfood Soup in a Sack” contained one pepper, some potatoes, an onion, a tomato, a couple cloves of garlic and a bunch of Swiss chard. All you need to add is your choice of a piece of meat!

We both had a fun time and it was definitely a great first farmer’s market experience. I can’t wait for the next one!

Granny’s Cinnamon Rolls

May 28, 2010

Remember when I said I had lost my baking touch? Well, I’ve got some good news…

I HAVE REDEEMED MYSELF!

In preparation for our three day weekend on Lake Conroe with Mark’s family, I made two dozen gooey, homemade cinnamon rolls. I just love making these things, mainly because it brings back so many fond family memories.

My granny made THE BEST cinnamon rolls ever, no doubt about it. I can remember back when I was around 5 or 6, helping her drizzle icing over the pans of warm rolls. I’m not sure why but that is my favorite memory of her; well, that and the smell of Avon perfume. I actually bought a small, carriage-shaped bottle of Avon perfume from an antique booth because the smell reminded me so much of her. I have it sitting on my dresser and every now and then I’ll open it up and take a whiff and be reminded of her.

I love my granny and I miss her very much but every time I make cinnamon rolls, I think of her and know she’s looking down on me and smiling. :)

Penny Pinching/Pantry Cleaning

April 28, 2010

As I mentioned before, Mark and I aren’t buying any more groceries for the remainder of the month…and it’s beginning to be a challenge to say the least.

This morning we used our last two eggs, the remaining milk and the last cup of pancake mix for breakfast. I also made pasta this morning…yes, pasta in the morning; it’s for Mark’s lunch today as well as meals for later in the week. The only pasta noodles we had left were a half bag of vermicelli and some wide egg noodles. So it wouldn’t look like spaghetti, who cares? I cooked up the noodles, then made the sauce with our last cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste along with our last onion, sauteed in about a tablespoon of our last stick of butter. This is cracking me up just to type out…we’re having so much fun with this!

The only thing that stinks about this is that we ran out of quick-fix, snack foods long, long ago. So whenever we get home from work and we just want a little something to eat, NOTHING LOOKS GOOD. {Last week Mark discovered half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips hidden in the freezer…needless to say they are already gone}

It’s been really good though, we’ve managed to get rid of a ton of things that have been sitting in our pantry since we got married {ahem: vermicelli noodles}. But I am definitely looking forward to May 1st :)

Green Smoothie Test Results

April 2, 2010

After a few weeks of having a smoothie almost every day I’m proud to say that I did lose a couple of pounds {not that my goal was necessarily to lose weight but YAY anyways!}. I have to admit, it was really hard to keep up with having one every day because my work schedule/workout schedule varies so much. Also, it’s hard to always have fresh fruit and greens on hand without making a special trip to the grocery store in between normal runs. It helped that Mark wanted in on the smoothie action after workouts, the only problem is that he likes his minus the green stuff; but we started adding protein powder so his smoothie could be a little more manly :)

In the end I did miss a few days; I’ve heard that you have to do something every day for 21 days in a row in order to make it a habit…oh well. I don’t think I’ll continue to have a green smoothie every single day, but it’s nice to have the ingredients around so it’s an option. Most of the time when we go work out together it’s already 8:30-9:00pm once we get back and eating something heavy that late is never good, so in that situation a smoothie is the perfect solution.

We’ve perfected our strawberry/banana recipe:

– 1 banana

– 4-6 strawberries

– 2oz. apple juice

– 2oz. pineapple juice

– a handful of greens

It’s usually a lot better if the fruit is frozen and the juices have been refrigerated, otherwise you end up with a lukewarm smoothie which is kind of gross really.

I just went to HEB today and got frozen blueberries, blackberries and mangoes…looking forward to creating a fun new recipe!

Green Smoothie: Day 2 & 3

March 13, 2010

So I had another green smoothie with my lunch yesterday, I brought it with me to work along with half a sandwich and a granola bar; to my surprise I could hardly finish all of what I had brought, that smoothie was so darn filling! I made the same strawberry/banana/spinach mixture and found that it was already starting to get a little boring. I’ve read that it’s good to change up what fruits and greens go into your smoothie day after day so that you get as many varying nutrients as possible.

With that thought in mind, Mark and I visited the Austin Farmer’s Market on 4th and Guadalupe this morning to scope out the scene {we had never been before} and find some other fresh greens. The market was great, the sunny weather and cool breeze made for a perfect day to walk around and see what all the vendors were selling. I bought a small bunch of baby swiss chard and a head of red lettuce, then we headed back to make lunch.

This time my smoothie consisted of some frozen strawberry/blueberry/raspberry fruit mix, a little orange juice and a handfull of the swiss chard. The change in fruit was nice but this one definitely tasted a little “green.” I knew going in that chard has a stronger, more bitter taste but the thicker and darker green the leaves are the better it is for you. All in all it turned out to be pretty tasty, it wasn’ t green in color this time thanks to all those red berries and the orange juice gave it some acidity.

I’m sure 90% of this is all in my head but I’ve felt more energetic the past few days. And when I start my day off by drinking a smoothie, I start my day with a healthy attitude. I think I’m going to start replacing my breakfasts with a smoothie; I’ve never been a huge fan of breakfast anyways {I’m not much of a morning person}.

My goal right now is to have one green smoothie a day for 14 days…so day 3 is down, 11 more to go!

Green Smoothie Experiment

March 11, 2010

Lately, I’ve been searching for a way to fit more fruits and green vegetables into my everyday diet and I think I’ve found a solution…green smoothies! It just makes perfect sense to me, I love fresh fruit smoothies so why not throw in a handful of leafy greens and make it even better?

After a little research I found that drinking green smoothies has a TON of healthy benefits including increased energy, regular digestion, healthier skin & hair, reduced appetite and not to mention it makes you feel good! I know that when I eat healthy I feel more motivated to exercise and vice versa; but that goes the other way too, when I eat crappy food I feel like being a slug. Of course this is all a challenge that we each face everyday, such is the omnivore’s dilemma {great book so far}.

My thought process is this: the more raw foods I consume, the more steps I’m taking out of the trip our food’s energy makes from the sun into my system. For example, with spinach {or any plant}, the sun’s energy is harvested through photosynthesis and then we eat the spinach…two steps. Then there’s the everyday breakfast cereal; sun to the grain, grain is dried and ground to a flour, then its mixed with things like sweeteners, flavoring agents, vitamins & minerals {that must be added because the natural ones are lost in the process}, that all gets cooked, then pressed and dyed into some shape attractive to children, which is then stored in plastic bags……you get the point, I don’t know how many steps to call that but the point is the more our food is messed with, the less natural nutrients remain in the final product.

…sorry, I tend to get up on my little soap box when I blog because it feels more like I’m just thinking and not typing something that someone actually might read, haha….ANYWAYS, on to the experiment!

I decided to start out with something simple, a strawberry banana smoothie. Ingredients included one ripe banana, 4 or 5 strawberries, a handful of spinach, water and a dash of cinnamon.

The first step was to cut up the fruit into chunks and place in the blender with about 1/4 cup of water and blend until smooth; I added a few ice cubes too. At this point the smoothie still looked normal and it tasted great.

Then came the spinach…

I added the cinnamon last after everything was already nice and creamy. It definitely looked like Nickelodeon slime, except with little flecks of spinach leaves. To my surprise it really didn’t taste that different after adding the spinach, just a tiny bit more “healthy” but nowhere near “grassy.”

This particular smoothie did turn out rather thick, I think I’ll add more water next time or maybe I’ll run by a smoothie shop and steal some of their huge, 1/2″ diameter straws. I’m looking forward to experimenting with creating some new recipes using different fruits and vegetables, should be fun!