Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strawberry ( and blackberry) Crisps for Two

Lately it's been just Alice and me hanging out around this big ranch house. Nick is still in California and Haley is in Dallas visiting her aunt until next week. Because of this we're eating lots and lots of leftovers. We're also playing a game I like to call how many ways can you eat the same quinoa salad; in a tortilla, stuffed in a bell pepper, as a side dish, etc. So because my cooking has been so elementary lately I needed to create and that is how these strawberry (and some blackberries) crisps for two were born.

It's simple really. You take three strawberries, dice them. Then take a handful of blackberries, or not since they weren't very good hence the "(and blackberries)" portion of this blog. Take the berries and place them into two muffin cups.

Then take 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, and two tablespoons of margarine and mix it all together. You then need to crumble this mixture onto the tops of the berries. it should look a little like this:
bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

While you're waiting you might want to do what Alice and I did, eat some strawberries and blackberries.

Then maybe decide that this batch of blackberries really isn't the best.

The finished product is delicious and you can easily double the recipe or swap the strawberries for peaches or your favorite fruit.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Balsamic Berries in a Crust

Last night Nick came home from the field, the dirt on his face so thick I could see it  from 10 feet away in our dimly lit living room. Since he has not had to go into the field in about 6 months or so it was quite an adventure for all of us. Haley and I ate all the spinach and mushroom stuff (Nick can't stand either one) we could which included pizza and quesadillas mostly, and Alice had a really hard time sleeping without her daddy around which means I had a really hard time sleeping. Because it had been so long I had to honor his return home with a really great dinner and dessert. We had southwest chicken salad which was amazing; chicken, lettuce, bell peppers, cheese, tomatoes, corn, and black beans topped with lite ranch dip (not dressing) and BBQ sauce. Then for dessert I prepared this:

I don't know why it's sideways and I also don't know why I used my iphone to take its picture, I know better than that :( It looks kind of fancy, but I assure you it's ridiculously easy. All you need is:

2 tbs sugar
1 bag of frozen mixed berries (thawed)
lite whipped cream, 1/4 cup plus 4 tbs
6 puff pastry shells
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Mix sugar and berries and allow them to macerate for about an hour.
add 1/4 cup whipped cream and balsamic vinegar to berries
resist the urge to constantly taste test this mixture.
Cook puff pastry shells according to package directions.
Fill each pastry with a spoonful of the berry mixture, then place a dollop of whipped cream on top, top it with the pastry "lid" and put a little extra juice on the side.

It's pretty tasty!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perfect Posole

Before getting to the posole, did I mention that we're moving back to Texas? I am going there in April, Nick is going in June. Ok, on to the posole...

I was first introduced to this southwest delight on New Years Eve when a friends wife made it for us. She had spent all day working on it because she slow cooked a pork shoulder. I may not have told you all this but I have an aversion to pork after watching a show about pig farms. I don't want to ruin pork for you as well so I won't go into detail but it was life changing, although I still eat bacon. I don't care how dirty or disgusting pigs are, I will forever love bacon. Anyway, I was intrigued by the posole because it has hominy in it and I had an obsession with hominy as a child, it was my favorite side dish so naturally consuming it evokes warm childhood memories. Well, a few weeks ago I discovered an amazing blog called Everyday Southwest and found a recipe for posole using chicken that only took about an hour of my time. Please, please, if you are a lover of southwest food or Mexican food visit Everyday Southwest. She also made a recipe for green chili potato au gratin which I made and paired with grilled chicken breast, it was to die for. The links will take you directly to the recipe but I have copied and pasted for you here as well:

3 poblano chiles ( we didn't find poblano so I used some random large green chile and it was really spicy, be careful if you need to substitute)

Meat from three chicken thighs, diced (I used 2 large chicken breasts)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground oregano

4 tablespoons canola oil, divided

6 cloves garlic, diced

1 large onion, diced

4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock

2 tablespoons regular or ancho chile powder (or more taste)

1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon cumin (or more to taste)

2 cans (15 ounces each) hominy, drained

Salt and pepper to taste

A few dashes Tabasco sauce, to taste

Cut poblano chiles into strips and place skin side up on a baking sheet. Lightly brush the chiles with a little canola oil. Broil chiles about 3 inches from heat for 2 or 3 minutes, watching closely so as not to burn, until chiles are browned. Remove from oven, let cool and dice.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stockpot. Mix together the flour and oregano, and then toss the chicken pieces in that mixture. Cook chicken pieces in two batches over medium high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until well browned. Remove chicken pieces from pot.

Add remaining oil to pot and add onions, stirring constantly and cooking for about 2 minutes, until onion begins to be transparent. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Add in all remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve hot garnished with cilantro, avocado, cheese or sour cream, as desired.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cake Slice Bakers - Cranberry Cake

Although this is my third month as a member of the cake slice bakers I opted out of last months cinnamon pudding cake because it didn't really appeal to my tastes. This months cake is once again not a cake I would have chosen to make but I am so glad I did because it was amazing. It's moist, sweet, tart, and the topping gives it a little crunch.

For the streusel:

•1 cup sliced almonds

•2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

•2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

For the cake:

•2 cups all-purpose flour

•1 teaspoon baking powder

•1/4 teaspoon salt

•3 large eggs

•2 cups granulated sugar

•3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

•1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

Make the streusel: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch round springform pan.

Combine the almonds, butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Work the mixture between your fingers to form large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the eggs and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a medium high speed until the mixture is lightened and increased in volume, about 5 minutes.

With the mixture on low, add the butter in a slow stream. Turn the mixture to medium speed and beat for another 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

Gently but thoroughly fold in the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the cranberries.

Scrape the batter into a prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to a wire rack. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! It's Christmas eve today and I am thrilled to announce that I will be devouring eating homemade (not by me) tamales, Mexican rice, and borracho beans for Christmas eve dinner. Tamales at Christmas is a traditional Texan holiday meal and I was hoping that it would make me feel a little better about not being home... for the 4th year in a row now. But my best friend just gave birth a few days ago and I would really like to be home so I can meet her little man. I'm hoping she'll allow me to refer to myself as his aunt Whitney because I love being an aunt. Nick's sister has 3 kiddos and while we don't see them often I really do enjoy our time together, I love being their aunt. This is probably because I was blessed with some amazing aunts who I love dearly and who I have always looked up to.

Speaking of aunts, another reason I would really like to be home is because my great aunt Patsy is in the ICU after she underwent an emergency triple bypass last week. Patsy had planned to travel to LA last Friday but she had a cold and wanted to get it taken care of before hand. When she went in to see the doctor she also mentioned that she had shortness of breath. One test led to another and before she knew it she was being admitted and ended up in surgery. She apparently had a large hole in her heart and if she had flown there was a strong chance that the pressure in the plane would have caused a stroke or heart attack. So although it is unfortunate that Patsy is in the hospital this holiday season we are actually very blessed that it was not worse. Everyone in San Antonio is working hard taking care of Patsy, going to visit her, making sure her house is in order, etc. I wish I was there to assist in helping out. Last I heard Patsy was doing really well.

Generally when we are here for Christmas we have traveled up the coast to San Luis Obispo and we love it. I mean there is something magical about SLO, the family, the scenery, it's just perfect. But last year we ended up staying home because I was hugely pregnant and we enjoyed not packing the car, not driving 7 hours, and just taking it easy at home so we decided to do it again. I kind of regret it now because to me Christmas is mostly about family, but at the same time when I think about the car ride I instantly need a nap, the sheer thought is exhausting.

I should also mention that Haley is not here, she's in Texas with Donnie so this Christmas is even stranger than usual. So our plans are to enjoy the Texan dinner tonight with a single Marine friend of ours, and open one gift. Then tomorrow I'll get up, make a nice brunch consisting of cranberry coffee cake, coffee, and a hashbrown casserole, get ready, THEN open gifts, and then we'll eventually make our way up the tram to play in the freshly fallen (we had one heck of a storm) snow and eat a nice Christmas dinner.

I'm really looking forward to not being rushed at 6am to hurry up, make coffee, get the camera ready, and photograph an incredibly excited Haley. I mean I love her to death and I certainly miss her but I'm looking forward to taking my sweet time :)

For all of my family reading this, I love and miss you guys like crazy! Hopefully next year I'll be living in Texas and be around to celebrate the season with all of you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Alice Vs. The Butterfly

Since moving here I've been amazed at the generosity from so many different organizations. As a military family we are invited to all sorts of free or low cost events, we're often treated to free meals, free gifts, just all sorts of things. Of course Christmas is a huge time for giving so it's no surprise that we're given plenty of goodies. Last night we attended a special holiday party put on by Lincoln Management, the company that runs the military housing. The girls got to visit with Santa, we got a free photo, and then each girl chose a gift. These are good gifts, not something you'd get from the dollar store. Haley got a board game and Alice got a butterfly toy. When we got it home and turned it on she was completely freaked out by it. It was hilarious, she would not turn her back on the butterfly and wouldn't let it touch her. Eventually she warmed up to it but she still had some reservations about it. Here is a video of her and her butterfly, watch her face when she realizes it's about to touch her foot :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Haley's 10th Birthday Party

This last Saturday we celebrated Haley's 10th birthday with an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party. Her actual birthday isn't until the 29th but since that's during winter break so we always throw the party early to ensure that guests actally come. I made her cake using two box cake mixes, vanilla and dark chocolate, and it was composed of 4 layers total. It was a big, beautiful, and delicious cake. Unfortunately there were a lot of leftovers and it was a huge effort not to snack on the cake all day yesterday. Anyway, here are some photos from the party.