Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grandma G's Cheese Strata

Strata is something that I was not familiar with until now...
One of Husband's family Christmas traditions is Grandma G's Cheese Strata
So being the good wife I am {he he shameless pat on the back} I called my sister-in-law & got Grandma G's Recipe.

The Deets
8-12 Slices of White Bread 
1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar
1/2 Cup Swiss Cheese
5 Eggs
2 Cups Milk
1 tsp Seasoned Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt

Assembly
In buttered casserole dish alternate layers of bread & cheese
Combine remaining ingredients in bowl & mix until smooth
Pour over Bread & Cheese
Cover & place in fridge overnight
Place in larger dish of water  
Bake at 325 for 55 minutes
And that is Gramma G's Cheese Strata. Enjoy. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Scandinavian Christmas Kringler

One of the Traditional Christmas dishes my family has is my Dad's Scandinavian Kringler which he makes every Christmas.  This year was the very first year of my life that I did not spend Christmas with my parents, as such, it was up to me to make the Kringler.


As I've stated before I'm still trying to figure out this non-high altitude baking...so I am going to use that as my excuse for now.  Though the Kringler wasn't as good as dad's it wasn't too bad & next year I'll know the tricks to making it just right...if a voyage to the home land isn't in the plan...


Anyway, Christmas Kringler is a three part pastry. First there is a crust layer, then a puff layer & then the oh so important icing.


Crust
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Butter
2 TBS Ice Water


Mix Flour & Butter until crumbly, then add water & mix.  This is one recipe where I mix everything by hand & give my trusty Kitchenaid a break. Divide Dough in 1/2 on a cookie sheet and press into two 5 inch rows.  
Puff Layer
1 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Flour
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix Butter & Water in pan on stove & bring to a boil. Add Flour, Eggs & Almond Extract, cook until fluffy.  Beat until Smooth.  Spread on Crust Layer.
Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes. {Note - I think next time I will bake it at 375 at low altitude}

Icing
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 TBS Butter
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
2 TBS Milk

Mix Icing & spread on cooled Kringler, sprinkle with sliced almonds & enjoy.

Merry Christmas to you & yours!  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homemade Baked Potato Chips

In case you haven't heard the head of the Washington State Potato Commission recently finished a 60 day all potato diet.  Shockingly he lost 21 pounds & his cholesterol dropped 67 points!  You can read more about his diet here.  I don't like potatoes that much, but I am a big fan of the little root-veggies.

As you know potatoes are constantly being attacked as junk & not a vegetable on a regular basis even though they are actually quite healthy (hence Mr. Washington's potato diet) because most people only eat them in some sort of fried manner...potato chips, french fries, hashbrowns...

The way I see it, if it grows from the ground & you eat it in whole form it can't be bad for you - so long as you remember that little thing about moderation & don't deep fry it to oblivion.

Anyway, I've been on a potato kick lately.  Fingerlings, baby reds, purple passions, yukon gold, sweets & even the classic russet.  The other night we were having paninis with our good friends (another post on that later) & I felt like having some chips...which we don't usually keep in our house.  So I decided to try my hand at making homemade baked potato chips.

They are super simple.  Just thinly slice up your favorite potatoes - we used russets, sweets, baby reds & purple passions.
As you can see My slices aren't very uniform. This created various textures in the finished product.
Next rinse the potatoes in warm water.  Pat dry with a paper towel & lay on baking sheets (I recommend Williams-Sonoma Gold).  Spray with cooking spray - I used Pam Olive Oil Spray.  Bake for 15 minutes, then switch the pans from top to bottom rack so that both sides get crispy & bake another 15 minutes. {Time may very based on thickness of potatoes}

Sprinkle with Sea Salt & enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Banana Bread

Banana Bread is one of those perfect treats on a cold day.  


It's sweet, it's bread and it has fruit in it, so you don't have to feel bad about eating it, even if it is loaded with chocolate. Plus you can add flax or nuts for a little more of a health kick.
I started experimenting with banana bread recipes back in college, my friends enjoyed countless trial runs of various recipes, even after I came up with "the one".  But no matter how many things I add, take away or mess with the ratios,  this is the best one I've come up with, I always come back to it.  I think it's perfect.  Let me know what you think.


The Deets
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Milk
4 - 5 Bananas (I prefer to freeze mine & then thaw them out when it's baking time)
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds


Instructions
Mix Wet Ingredients 
Add Bananas & Mix Well
Add Flour, Backing Soda & Salt
Add ChocoChips & Flax Seeds
Heat Oven to 350 Degrees


I'm a big fan of the mini loaves.  
This recipe will make 4 minis or one normal loaf of Banana Bread
For the minis bake @ 350 for 35 minutes
For the normal loaf bake @350 for 50 - 55 minutes or until toothpick pulls out clean.


Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The McRib: a $3.00 Trip Down Memory Lane

If you haven't heard, the McRib is back.
Now, as I'm sure you know by now, I am not a fast food type of girl & I haven't eaten at McDonalds in years. But, when I heard they were bringing the McRib back, my interest was peaked.  I have fond memories of the McRib as a kid, even though I'm sure that I only had a McRib once or twice in my life.


So after a long day of work, followed by a long night running errands I decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane.  I called Husband & told him my plan, the conversation went something like this:
Me: I'm going to stop & McDonalds to get a McRib do you want anything?
Husband: Really? You're going to McDonalds?
Me: Yes, I'm sure I'll eat like 3 bites & throw it away, but I've got to see if it's as good as I remember.
Husband: Hmmm this is a bad idea
Me: I know, but I just have to try it.
Husband: laughing, ok. 


So I pulled into the McDonalds' drive through & ordered a McRib, then was confused by the whole 2 window set up (yup it's been so long that I didn't even know how to go through a drive through!)  The 12 year old behind the window looked at me like I was retarded & explained the process. It was pretty embarrassing.


Anyway, at the second window I was handed a paper bag that contained the oh so anticipated McRib.  I must say it smelled fantastic, so much so that the 15 minute drive home was a bit torturous & I'm pretty sure I was salivating for the last 5 minutes.  Ridiculous I know.
This is what was waiting for me after the long drive home.
Yup, that's pressed reconstituted mystery meat, BBQ sauce, pickles & onions on a bun, or as Tim McGraw would say "Another supper from a sack, a 99 cent heart attack"
The First Bite was ok, the edge was a bit firmer & immediate flavor wasn't too bad.  But bites 2 & 3 were like eating already been chewed meat stuffs & the nasty aftertaste already crept in, plus raw onions are on my no-no list.  3 bites & to the trash it went, just as expected.


The best part was that no one believed me when I told them I tried the McRib!  No offense to Micky-Ds but I plan on going another 5 years or so before trying their delectable cuisine again.  The trip down memory lane was worth the $3.00, but the tummy ache that came with was not worth it.  


This is what I made after having my Third & Final Bite in an attempt to make peace with my tummy:
Grilled Asparagus & Mushrooms, yummy!


Next time the McRib comes around, I'll have documentation & an adult memory to keep me away.  But hey, that just means more McRib for all you fanatics out there! Enjoy your ABC Pressed mystery meat sandwich. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

THE Dessert: Chocolate Truffle Cake

This Recipe is for the Best Dessert Ever
It is an extra special occasion only recipe
It is so good that when my sister was having her first baby, she said I couldn't come see my new nephew without it.  Yes it is that good.  So good that you will do irrational things like keep your sister away from your baby until a Chocolate Truffle Cake is Delivered.
Without Further Ado, I present 


Tiffany's Truffle Cake
The Deets
2 sticks Butter (1 Cup)
6 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
6 oz Semisweet Chocolate
5 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1/3 Cup Corn Syrup (I mean liquid Corn Sugar)


Prep
Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees


The Instructions  
DO NOT DEVIATE! 
Melt Butter & Chocolate together & let cool
Once cool add Eggs, 1/2 Cup Sugar, Vanilla & Almond Extract
Whip to Triple Volume
Separately Mix remaining 1/2 Cup Sugar & Corn Syrup and bring to a Boil
Add boiling mixture to Chocolate Mixture
Mix until Smooth
Pour mixture into a spring-form pan 
Place spring-form into larger pan & fill larger pan with 1 inch of water
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
Garnish as Desired (this is supposed to be a maple leaf to celebrate fall)
WARNING! This is a very rich dessert, the cut made in the above photo was 4 servings

I have been making this Truffle Cake for years & I didn't think it could get better, but then my friend Jen brought her butterscotch over to go with another dessert and I accidently got some on my truffle cake - let me just say amazingly good, rich chocolate with slightly savory butterscotch - delish!  But use the butterscotch sparingly to avoid a sugar coma. 

Jen's Butterscotch Recipe

 1/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended.  Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract whisk until combined.
Let cool slightly.
Drizzle over your favorite dessert.

Enjoy these two recipes separately or in collaboration for a dessert you won't soon forget.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Ideas: Christmas Cards & Hats from Shutterfly & Lemondrop1222

Today is all about shameless advertising.
First up: Shutterfly Photo Cards

I have never actually sent Photo Christmas cards, I've always said I wouldn't do it until I had kids.  But then I got to thinking - why?  My life is interesting right?  I'm sure my friends are just as interested in the happenings in our house as they are in our friends with kids lives.  That being said, I've now officially changed my mind and this year I am sending photo cards.  They may have pictures of food instead of the family, but Photo cards they will be!

Have you looked at shutterfly.com lately? They have some gorgeous Christmas cards that are even reasonably pricedAs an added bonus if you are a blogger you can sign up at this link: http://bit.ly/sfly2010 and get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. The hard part is that there are so many great options, I don't know which one to choose!  Here are a few of my favorites:
Hmmm come to think of it I wonder if I could order these with the stock family...that would really get people talking.  Ok I won't really do that, it will be dog or food. Tough decision.  One thing is sure, I will be ordering my Christmas cards from Shutterfly this year.


As for Christmas Gifts, My friend Kaley has this great etsy store. She makes the cutest hats!  You can custom order any color combo or if you have an idea she will do what she can to make it for you.  I personally have ordered 1/2 a dozen baby hats for gifts this year alone.  Right now she's working on a hot for me, which I'm super excited about.  Here are a few of her creations.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas to get ready for the holidays.
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Best of the Mex - Mexican Throwdown

One of the Great things about OKC is the great variety of good Mexican Food
Here is the rundown on 4 local Mexican Restaurants

The Contestants

The Rules
Restaurants will be judged on the following:
1. Chips & Salsa (Queso if applicable)
2. Enchiladas (contents & sauce)
3. Beans & Rice

First Up
Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant 
1718 East 2nd St. Edmond, OK

The Lowdown:
1. Chips & Salsa: The Chips are Fresh, Thin & Lightly Salted (not enough salt for me)
The Salsa - My Favorite of the Bunch, the perfect blend of tomatoes, garlic, peppers & spices; It's on the Mild side which I love.  They also have a hotter salsa upon request - it's a little too hot for me but has a great smokey chili flavor
Queso - Creamy, Mild & perfect with salsa on top (I'm not a huge Queso fan, but Husband ranks it as #2)
2. Enchilada: Chicken Enchilada with Tomatillo Sauce - Best Enchilada Sauce Ever! It's tangy, savory, fresh, flavorful - perfect! The chicken is perfectly seasoned & shredded.
3. Rice & Beans: Spanish Rice and Refried Beans I love the rice; It's always cooked to perfection & perfectly seasoned. As far as refried beans go these are as good as they get.(I'm not a big refried beans fan, but I always eat a few bites) 
4. Bonus: Sopapilla with your meal  (I always pass but take 1 bite of husbands) Light & fluffy with cinnamon sugar & honey - the perfect last bite

The Los Arcos Score
Chips 4/5
Salsa 5/5
Queso 4/5
Enchilada 5/5
Rice & Beans 4.5/5

Ted's Cafe Escondido 
Multiple Locations in Oklahoma City Metro 

The Lowdown:
1. Chips & Salsa: The Chips are Fresh, of medium thickness & perfectly salted
The Salsa -  Good Stuff, a fresh blend of tomatoes, peppers, spices with a bit too much onion.
Queso - Creamy & perfectly seasoned. This Queso is lo mejor! Delicioso! Ted's Queso is Husband's #1 Pick
2. Enchilada: Chicken Enchilada with Tomatillo Sauce - The Sauce is good, but very commercial and a little over processed and the chicken is nicely shredded.
3. Rice & Beans: Spanish Rice and Refried Beans The rice is really good, well seasoned and just the right texture. The Beans are not nearly as good, the flavor is flat and the consistency is too muddy.
4. Bonus: Sopapilla with your meal  Light & fluffy but a little heavy on the cinnamon sugar 
5. Double Bonus: Perfect homemade flour tortillas - these are probably the best tortillas I've ever had & the only place I'll calorie splurge on tortilla & queso!

Ted's Score: 
Chips 3/5
Salsa 4.5/5
Queso 5/5
Enchilada 3/5
Rice & Beans 3/5

Mamasita's
1121 Northwest 63rd Street
Nichols Hills, OK

The Lowdown:
1. Chips & Salsa: The Chips are Fresh, Thin & Absolute Perfection - This may be the perfect chip
The Salsa - Over processed, too much dried spice flavor, but still ok.  It has a little more kick than the other competitors. 
2. Enchilada: I had the Chicken Enchilada with Salsa Verde Sauce & the Seafood Enchilada with Cream Cheese Sauce.  The Chicken Enchilada was fantastic, very flavorful, the sauce was good too - but there wasn't enough of it, so the enchilada was a little dry.  
The Seafood Enchilada, was well, not good. I ate 2 bites & that was all I could handle...not good. It was all mooshy yet dry at the same time & way too garlicky.
3. Rice & Beans: Spanish Rice and  the option of Black or Refried Beans. The Rice was overcooked and dry, the flavors were not there - again stale dried spices. Not so good. The black beans were also over cooked, but were ok. I'll take black beans over refried any day.
4. Bonus: Sopapilla for 50 cents  Light & thin with cinnamon sugar & honey - good, but a little too much cinnamon sugar 

The Mamasita's Score: 
Chips 5/5
Salsa 3/5
Enchilada (Chicken) 4/5 (Seafood) 1/5
Rice & Beans 1/5

Pepe's Mexican Restaurant 
1701 S. Broadway. Edmond, OK

The Lowdown:
1. Chips & Salsa: The Chips are ok, just normal chips. 
The Salsa - Is good; a nice blend of tomatoes, peppers, onions, & spices; It's a little spicy but in a good way.
2. Enchilada: Chicken Enchilada with Sour Cream Sauce - The sauce was good, a little heavy for my taste, but the chicken is perfectly shredded & well seasoned. The big downside for me is that Pepe's doesn't have tomatillo sauce - which is my favorite, but as far as cream sauce goes, Pepe's is pretty darn good.
3. Rice & Beans: Spanish Rice and Refried Beans. The rice is good, good texture, good flavor.  The beans are pretty good too.  Pepe's gets the #2 slot for beans & rice.

PePe's Score: 
Chips 2/5
Salsa 3.5/5
Enchilada 4/5
Rice & Beans 4/5
The Undisputed Winner: Los Arcos
Los Arcos wins on Salsa, Enchilada & Beans & Rice + they have the best service.

Ted's Cafe Escondido wins on Tortillas & Queso - but they have the worst service.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sugar, Sugar... Cookies that is

The Perfect Sugar Cookie is Hard to Come by
I just so happen to have the Recipe...
But I'm not quite sure I'm ready to share it...
I am however willing to share this
Frosting, Icing, Sugary Goodness
The Best Frosting Recipe Ever!
1 Cup Butter
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
4 Cups Sifted Confectioner's Sugar (Must be Sifted!)
2 TBS Milk
COLOR!
Enjoy your Perfect Frosting! 
Maybe Someday I'll share the cookie recipe.  
Someday, not today & tomorrow's not lookin' good either...but someday



Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate = Love Godiva Bakery Truffles

There is no question that I am a chocoholic. I love trying new chocolate combinations, exploring different cocoa percentages and the overall satisfaction of a good creamy chocolate.

Over the last few weeks I explored Godiva's new  Bakery Dessert Truffles.

The collection includes: Chocolate Lava Cake, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet, Cheesecake, Tiramisu and Strawberry Tarte.  For the benefit of all chocolate lovers, I sacrificed my calorie count and tried all of them!

Chocolate Lava Cake Truffle
I love Chocolate Lava Cake, so there was no way I was going to pass up this truffle. The Chocolate Lave Cake Truffle is a  powder sugar dusted dark chocolate truffle, with a milk chocolate inner shell  and a split center - one side is a dark chcolate ganache while the other is a gooey chocolate lava liquid. This truffle takes the cake! Add this one to your must try list if you're a chocoholic it's worth every calorie.

Carrot Cake Truffle
I have to admit it was actually pretty good.  Carrot Cake is not my favorite of the Cake Kingdom. But the Truffle is a definite improvement.  It is a milk chocolate truffle with pecans on the outside and a split center - one side is a coconutty creamcheese icing & the other a spicy carrot cake.  Now I have to say the carrot cake part was a little to spiced for me - it had an after taste of old powdered spices.  But when eaten together, it was pretty good. I propably wouln't pick this one again, but if someone gave it to me, I'd eat it.

Red Velvet Truffle
The Red Velvet Cake Truffle is a White Chocolate Truffle with a dark chocolate inner shell and delicious red velvet chocolate ganach. This Truffle is better than any red velvet cake I've ever had! It's creamey, chocolatey, creamcheesey all without an after taste of red dye. The Red Velvet Truffle is a must try!

Cheesecake Truffle
The Cheesecake Truffle is a Milk Chocolate Truffle with a creamy cheesecake center and toasted almonds on the exterior.  The center is very buttery with a hint of vanilla and a slight note of toasted ghramcrakers just like the real thing. But the Truffle actually reminded me more a smores than cheesecake. It was good, but unmemorable.

Tiramisu Truffle
The Tiramisu Truffle is a White Chocolate Truffle with a milk chocolate inner shell, a split center of a vanilla cream and a questionable brown butterscotch espresso substance and shaved dark chocolate on the shell. I'm going to play nice here and just say this truffle was a fail.  Not an epic fail, but a fail none the less. I would have to be paid to eat this one again. Even if you are Tiramisu Obsessed I'd still skip this truffle.

Strawberry Tarte Truffle
The Strawberry Tarte is a Milk Chocolate Truffle, with a lovely dark chocolate drizzle  and a split center with a sweet cream on one side & a sweet-tarte strawberry preserve on the other.  The sweet cream has flecks of vanilla bean and is rich and creamy while the strawberry preserve is tart and light.  This truffle strikes a great balance between rich creamy decedence & light tart fruit. The strawberry tasted a bit overprocessed, but overall it's worth the calories.

 I must say overall this collection is a HUGE impovement over the lackluster performance of this summer's Ice Cream Parlor Collection.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Historic Cattlemen's Steakhouse
















Every town has one of those places, the one you "have" to go to.  Often they get all hyped up and you end up disappointed in the end.  Cattlemen's is NOT one of those places.

Cattlemen's is celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year.  There is a good reason it's still in business after 100 years: great food, pure and simple.
Cattlemen's is still located in its original building on Agnew St in Stockyards City. The walls are dark panelled, the booths are deep red and there's a whole lot of cowboys stoppin' in for "supper"

Dinner is plain and simple:
House Salad with House Dressing
a ranch-like dressing but "more creamy and less salty" (this is what I was told, since I'm not really a salad dressing kind of girl)
Husband ordered Shrimp and Mashed Potatoes.  The Shrimp were lightly coated and perfectly seasoned.  Husband rated them 4/5 stars.  
I went for my favorite cut - the Rib Eye.
This was the best steak in my recent memory.  It was perfectly cut and perfectly cooked to Medium Rare +.  Melt in your mouth perfection. The steak was perfect on it's own, but once they added the Au Jus Wow!  Too good for words. 5/5 stars!
And who can forget the rolls...mmm
Our dinner companions. 
 If you're in the mood for a great steak Cattlemen's is a must.
The history is an added bonus.