Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Red Pozole

The first time I tried red Pozole I was working at a job I didn't particularly like. My co-workers were great but I wasn't happy with the way management treated us and how the place was run. Anyways, on this particular day it had iced over outside and was sleeting. Hank drove me the 10 minutes to work and I relieved the person working the overnight shift. The rest of my co-workers filed in, some late, but all miserable from the weather. After a particularly grueling morning, I was starving. I hadn't brought much to eat, just a few snacks I snuck in my purse. A friend of mine called me into the nearby kitchenette. I crept away from my desk to see what the commotion was, and as luck would have it another co-worker had brought some pozole for all of us. It was a welcome treat to everyone who was working that day. I heated up a small bowl and sipped and slurped to my heart's content.

Recently I devised my own version of red pozole. It's a lot like what I remember with plenty of hominy and tender bits of pork all in a deliciously flavored broth. It's the perfect warming dish on a cold day.

Red Pozole
(printable recipe)

2 lbs. boneless pork ribs, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 29oz. can hominy
1 dried guajillo chile
1 dried ancho chile
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. oregano (Mexican oregano, if available)

Simmer the pork, onion, garlic, and 4 c water over medium heat for 1 hour. Add the hominy with its liquid and simmer for another hour.
Soak the chiles in enough boiling water to cover them for 30 minutes. Remove from the liquid and remove the stems and seeds. Puree the chiles with 1/4 c of the soaking liquid. Add the chile puree, spices and another 4 c water. Simmer 20 - 30 minutes.
Serve with corn tortillas, lime wedges, and a little cilantro.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kitchen Tour

It's Saturday. I have a fridge full of leftovers and no desire or need to cook. So I'm taking this weekend after Thanksgiving to give my kitchen a good scrubbing and tackle a little organizing project.

I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some photos I took during the summer. My kitchen was clean and bright, the counters were clear, the dishes were done... Ah, memories.

At the very least it's a good incentive to get to work and prepare for all the Christmas cooking I have planned. But that's just what I'm telling myself - really I'm just procrastinating and putting off cleaning for just a few more minutes.

Here's my stove- a 1950's Tappan Deluxe. It is immediately to the left when you walk in the kitchen. The rack I purchased for extra storage (and I was tired of digging my pans out of a low cabinet). I've got all my cast iron on hooks for easy access and large pots above and a bit of bulk storage below.

To the right of the wire rack is a few cabinets and an alcove (where the stove used to be) where we keep our deep freeze. This clock sits on the wall above the freezer. Look at how much the wall color changed in the photos! Weird.

To the right of the deep freeze is this counter and corner sink. I think all kitchen sinks should be beneath a window don't you?
I've since cluttered this space with another plant and few of my cookbooks..it might be time to move those.

To the right of the sink is another small counter with our dishwasher below.
Confession: I never use it.
It's full of tupperware and seasonal stuff (popsicle molds, gingerbread pans, empty canning jars) I'm thinking about removing it and putting open shelving there...not sure yet.

Along this same wall, on the right side of the kitchen is this little dining space. It's where I take 80% of my photos (thank goodness for natural lighting)!

But we've always struggled with this area- it's an awkward size and just isn't quite right for this table.

We have since found this little vintage red dinette. A much better fit! (but a really crummy photo).

Here's the tree that sits outside the window. I love it- anyone know what kind of tree this is?

This island / divider juts out and closes off our little dining area. I keep all my small appliances (and microwave!) in the cabinets below.

Here's our Kelvinator fridge. It's a relic - I debate about whether or not to make Hank paint it. A part of me would love to see it redone but another part of me loves it in it's found state- rust, wear marks and all. I pray to the appliance gods every day to keep it running (thank you!) and to defrost the freezer for me- they never do.

That's about it, folks. I've procrastinated long enough I think...off to clean and organize!

the Hungry Texan on Mid2Mod

Thanks for the write up Dana! Read the article here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Smoked Turkey

I know I said before that all I had to make for Thanksgiving was a side or two and a pie, but Hank and I got a wild hair last week and decided we needed to smoke a turkey. It was the right thing to do, and since everyone who had previously volunteered to make it seemed to be backing out it was a good thing we did.

Now, if you must know I've never made a turkey before- so the recipe below was purely experimental. I mean we had plenty of ideas (and questions)... should we flavor it up BBQ-style? cajun? how do we keep it moist? truss who? etc. etc.

In the end we just went after it and used our best judgement. I went for more of a fall flavors kind of approach. It was really fun- we haven't sliced into the turkey yet but it smells absolutely amazing.

Smoked Turkey
(printable recipe)

1 stick butter, softened
equal parts (about 2 tbsp. each) fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage, minced
dash pepper, cayenne, paprika

2 c apple cider
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
salt & pepper
dash cayenne, paprika

2 c celery, chopped
2 c onion, chopped
2 c carrots, chopped
6 small apples (1 used 3 granny smith and 3 fuji), diced
3 small pears
fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme, sage

Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator overnight (if using a fresh turkey, brine in salted water overnight) thoroughly pat dry. To make the rub combine the butter, herbs, and spices. Mix well until smooth and spreadable. Rub underneath the skin (as much as you can) and over the entire bird.

Combine the celery, onion, carrots, apples, and pears and stuff the turkey. Add the fresh herbs to the cavity as well. Place any extra aromatics on the bottom of the roasting pan and put the turkey on top. Truss the turkey (I simply tied the legs together and cut through the skin on either side to insert each wing).

To make the injection bring the cider and spices to a low boil. Simmer 5-10 minutes until fragrant. Inject each breast and leg with the hot injection mixture.

Smoke the turkey at 200 degrees in a water smoker. We used a equal parts apple cider and water for the liquid in the smoker, and used mesquite and cherry wood chips - next time we'll try apple wood. The turkey is done when you reach 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Check the turkey every hour to make sure the skin is not getting too dark - we covered ours with foil when it had good color and continued to smoke it until it was cooked through.

Using a turkey baster remove some of the excess liquid / drippings from the pan. Carefully remove the turkey from the smoker and allow to rest for 1 hour before carving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quick! Cranberry Sauce

I went to the grocery store today - I highly advise against it. It was a madhouse- people everywhere scrambling for food, climbing over each other to get to the turkeys. Insanity.

Hopefully you didn't wait until the last minute to get your groceries. Hopefully you prepared way in advance and have everything ready. But in case you didn't here's a really simple (and tasty) side you can contribute to your Thanksgiving feast.

Quick! Cranberry Sauce
(printable recipe)

1 1/4 c apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 c sugar
1 package (12 oz) cranberries
2 small pears (or apples) diced

Bring the apple cider, cinnamon, and cloves to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Remove the cloves and cinnamon. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Add the cranberries and pears, turn the heat down and simmer about 10-15 minutes until the berries have burst and the sauce begins to come together. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes before serving. Can be made in advance, just refrigerate and rewarm the next day.

This sauce can also be processed in a water bath canner. The recipe makes about 4 half pints. Process for 15 minutes.

Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie

I've been meaning to share a classic pecan pie with you for a while, and what better time than the day before Thanksgiving right? I've been making variations of this pie all week (don't ask me how my pants are fitting) and finally have the proportions the way I like 'em. So without further ado, here's my Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie:

"Too much and the effect is utterly deadly on the digestion- and the figure." -vintage Southern Cooking, 1953

The original recipe from the book is modest by comparison, so I figure my version is definitely worthy of the "utterly deadly" title. It's rich but so worth the calories - full of pecans with a perfect crackly caramel crust and smooth sweet filling. No messy corn syrups are used, and if you have the pecans on hand the rest comes together with pantry staples.

I use my favorite sweet pie crust, but use whatever you like, even store bought is fine. This pie bakes for quite a while so be sure to cover your crust to prevent burning. I go ahead and cover it from the start so I don't have to fuss with taking the pie in and out of the hot oven.

Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
(printable recipe)

1 unbaked pie crust
4 eggs
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted and brought to room temp.
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla*
1/2 c chopped pecans
pecan halves to cover the top

Beat the eggs until foamy, add the melted butter. Stir in sugars & flour. Mix well. Add milk, vanilla, and chopped pecans.

Dust your pan with powdered sugar, then place the crust in the pan. Shape the edges and dust the bottom with a tablespoon of powdered sugar, this will help absorb any extra grease from the pie. Pour the filling into the crust and top with pecan halves. Cover the crust with foil to prevent burning.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the pie to cool several hours or overnight before removing. It is easiest to cut at room temperature.

*you may also use bourbon or other flavoring instead of the vanilla.

Also I wanted to add that this recipe works perfectly in a standard 9" pie pan. I was running out of pie pans so I used my 10" cast iron skillet. I wrapped the bottom in foil to prevent the crust from being overcooked.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spanish Rice

This may seem like a pretty random recipe for the week of Thanksgiving but I assure you it's not. Spanish Rice has been a staple in my family at Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember, (yes, it goes right next to the mashed potatoes and turkey!). I have no idea when we started doing this or why, but I'm sure families of different heritages incorporate their own dishes and flavors into the traditional feast. I see it as a way to bring the family together, celebrate the traditional way and yet add a bit of your own heritage and history to the mix. And for us, Thanksgiving just isn't the same without Spanish Rice.

Spanish Rice
(printable recipe)

1 c white rice
1/2 small onion, diced
3 c chicken stock*
4-6 oz. tomato sauce (about 1/2 small can)
1/2 tsp. comino
salt & pepper to taste

Fry the rice in a few tablespoons of oil at a medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the rice starts to get a little color add the onion and continue stirring until the onion is fragrant and the rice is nicely toasted. Pour in the hot chicken stock, tomato sauce, and comino. Stir to combine, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

*I tend to use the Knorr chicken bouillon for this. I heat up 3 c of water and add 2-3 tsp. of powdered bouillon. It just gives it the flavor I'm used to (and it's already salted, which is nice). Feel free to use real chicken stock.

Also, there's a number of different things you can add to Spanish Rice to change it up a bit. Try adding handful of (pre-cooked) peas, carrots, limas, chopped tomato or even dried shrimp for a little variety.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sour Cream Chicken Enchinachos

This is hardly a recipe. More like something I used to nosh on when it was "Enchilada Thursday" at the Goldrush. Most of the time I would sneak in the kitchen it was so busy I could only get to a few things... on Enchilada Thursdays the sauces and everything were ready made and I could quickly get to them, load up a little plate, and get out of way. I always looked forward to the Sour Cream Enchiladas because the chicken and green sauce made the best nachos.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchinachos
(printable recipe)

tortilla chips
shredded chicken
sour cream sauce
green enchilada sauce
monterrey jack cheese, shredded
pickled jalapeños

Spread out a few tortilla chips on a plate. I used these Spiced Tortilla Chips since that's what I had on hand. Top each chip with chicken, then sour cream sauce, green sauce, cheese, and a jalapeño slice. Stick the plate under the broiler or in the microwave to melt the cheese. Serve with fresh guacamole.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchinachos make a great appetizer or midnight snack. I often find myself making these out of the leftover enchilada components. Its the perfect way to get all the flavors of the full size enchilada in a finger food, enjoy them!

Friday, November 19, 2010

AHeirloom Cutting Boards

Check out these state-shaped cutting boards from Etsy seller AHeirloom. Each bamboo cutting board comes with the option to add a heart or star over your city, how cool!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Flautas

I feel like I'm always looking for new ways to use random things taking up space in the fridge. Somehow when I'm at the store I forget that I'm not feeding an army and that Hank and I can only eat three times a day (much to our dismay), so we always seem to have different things accumulate.
Every week I assess the fridge situation and make my cooking priorities. This week I had some chicken and a bit of leftover Salsa Verde that needed to be used up in a hurry. I also had a few other odds and ends- some of Hank's dip and a little queso. With all the ingredients on hand and some quick work in the kitchen, these chicken flautas came together in about 30 minutes!

Chicken Flautas
(printable recipe)

2 large chicken breasts
salt, pepper, and comino to taste
1 c salsa verde (or any salsa you like)
6" corn tortillas

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in a little oil and cut into chunks with kitchen shears. Add 1 c salsa verde and warm through. Transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until the meat is shredded finely. Season with salt, pepper, and comino to taste.

To assemble the flautas place the chicken filling (about 2 tablespoons) a bit off center (closer to you than perfectly centered), roll tightly and secure with a toothpick.* Fry in hot oil, turning once until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with queso, guacamole, salsa or sour cream.

*if the tortillas tear as you roll them pass them briefly through hot oil to soften them, allow to cool and then add filling. The fresher the tortilla the easier they will be to roll.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


For years I never drank root beer. It's not because I didn't like it, but because I thought the bottled stuff could never measure up to that frosty mug of root beer I had as a kid. I remember it clearly... the place was your typical drive in- very 1950's style with car hops and everything. I have no idea what we ate but the root beer was what really struck a chord. It was served in a giant frosty mug so big I could barely get my hands to grasp it. The root beer was ice cold and almost starting to freeze to the mug on the sides. It was so good it ruined me on root beer from that moment forward. What's funny is I could never remember where that place was or what it was called. Then a few years ago while out thrifting in my old neighborhood I stumbled upon it - the Dairy-Ette. It was a revelation, to say the least. I immediately pulled in and ordered a root beer and sipped to my heart's content.

Hank and I stop in for chili cheese dogs and root beers every chance we get. The soft serve ice cream is a real treat too. It's so nice to find an old favorite again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spiced Tortilla Chips

I hate to see these chips at a restaurant. Why, you ask? Well, it's my own fault I guess. First of all, you should know that every Tex-Mex joint in Dallas serves free chips and salsa, it's a given. You sit down and before you have a chance to order a beer, you've got chips. And salsa.

I try to watch what I eat so I can usually drum up enough willpower to resist them. Sometimes I have a few. Or twenty.

But when I find a place with these chips - fresh, greasy, dusted with spices and still warm? I cannot resist, I dive right in and I may as well be having chips for dinner. And I'm ok with that.

And when no one seems to be serving these I make them at home. It's the right thing to do.

Spiced Tortilla Chips
(printable recipe)

2 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. comino
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
corn tortillas
canola oil for frying

Combine the spices and mix well. Taste and add any additional seasoning if needed. Cut the corn tortillas into 6ths, to make triangles. Working in batches, fry at 350 degrees until crisp. Remove from the hot oil and place on paper towels, dust the chips with seasoning as each batch comes out of the fryer. Serve with salsa, guacamole, or queso.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cheddar Pepper Biscuits

The second I saw these Cheddar Pepper Biscuits from Joy the Baker I knew we were meant to be. They are my biscuit soul mate and have all the yummy qualities you could possibly want - tender, flaky, buttery, cheesy. And pepper-y. It's a word.

Anyways, I had to make them. And now I get to share them with you! Oh, and because I couldn't leave well enough alone I made sausage gravy.

Yep, that happened. Don't hate, appreciate.

Cheddar Pepper Biscuits
(printable recipe)
adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

3 c flour
2 tbsp. sugar
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c shortening
1/4 c butter, chilled & cubed
1 egg
3/4 c buttermilk
3/4 c grated longhorn cheese (or sharp cheddar)

1/4 c whole milk
fresh ground black pepper

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix thoroughly. Cut in the shortening and butter. Stir in the cheese. Whisk the egg and buttermilk in a separate bowl, add slowly to the biscuit mixture. Knead for 5 minutes then roll out to 1" thick on a floured surface. Cut out biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
In a small bowl combine the whole milk and a bit of fresh ground black pepper. Brush over the tops of the biscuits. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Sausage Gravy
(printable recipe)

1 lb pork sausage (I like to use the sage variety)
1/4 c flour
3 c whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sausage over medium high heat, breaking apart into crumbles. Once cooked through remove from heat and set aside. Check to see how much grease is left in the pan - different sausage varieties will yield different amounts. Add enough butter or bacon grease to make about 4 tablespoons of grease. Lower the heat and add the flour stirring constantly until it turns a light golden brown. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. It will begin to bubble and thicken, turn the heat to low and add the sausage. Season to taste (plenty of pepper!) and simmer a few minutes longer until it reaches the desired thickness. Thin with a bit more milk if necessary. Spoon over warm biscuits or toast.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nopalitos con Puerco

Hank and I don't eat out very often, but when we do I'm always looking to try a new-to-me dish or unique combination. I spotted nopalitos on the menu at Gonzalez, one of our favorite spots in town for Tex-Mex. It listed the option to add carne de puerco and I went for it... who could turn down a chance to add pork?

The restaurant version was good- nice and spicy with a great flavor but I thought the meat was lacking. I knew this dish had potential, I love the subtle flavor of the nopales but I wanted big chunks of flavorful, tender pork- and definitely a greater meat to cactus ratio. I knew I had to recreate this dish at home to do the idea justice. Here is my version, full of melt in your mouth pork stewed with onion and garlic mixed with little bits of nopalitos. It's the perfect comfort food served with warm flour tortillas and charro beans.

Nopalitos con Puerco
(printable recipe)

2 1/2 lbs. boneless country style pork ribs
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 serranos, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. comino
dash of pepper
1/2 c chicken stock
4 small cactus pads or 2 c canned nopalitos, drained & rinsed

Trim the pork of any cartilage and excess fat. Cut into large chunks, about 1" x 2" thick.
Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add peppers and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Add the pork and seasonings, browning on all sides. Add the chicken stock to de-glaze the pan. Cover and simmer on a medium-low heat for 2 hours until the pork is tender. Check periodically and add a little water if it seems dry.

To prepare the cactus, run the pads over a flame to remove the needles. Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to remove the nubs. Rinse and then chop into small chunks. It will be very slimy, boil the cactus for about 5 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water. If you are not able to locate fresh cactus you can also used canned, it is typically packed in water, you will need about 2 cups, drained.

Once the pork is cooked through and tender remove the cover and add the nopalitos, warm through and reduce the sauce by cooking on low, about 5 minutes. Serve with fresh tortillas and charro beans.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie

By now everyone's got their sites set on Thanksgiving. It's only a few short weeks away and I'm definitely counting down the days- luckily I still get to go over to my folk's house to chow down. So no giant turkeys or hams for me, all I'm responsible for bringing is a side or two and a pie.

This Sweet Potato Pie fits the bill, it's sweetened with maple syrup and topped with brown sugar and pecans, definitely a good change from your run of the mill pumpkin pie (although I'll probably be making one of those too).

Sweet Potato Pie
(printable recipe)

for the filling:
2 c mashed sweet potato
1/2 c milk
1/3 c maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves
1 beaten egg

for the crust:
9 cinnamon graham crackers, crushed (yields 1 1/2 c crumbs)
1/3 c melted butter
1/4 c brown sugar

for the topping:
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch cloves
1/4 c chopped pecans
enough pecan halves to form a border

To make the crust combine the cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar and press into a pie pan. Work the crust evenly up the sides.
For the filling combine the mashed sweet potato, milk, syrup and spices. Adjust sweetness if necessary. Beat an egg and fold it into the filling. Pour the filling into the crust.
For the topping stir together the brown sugar and spices, sprinkle evenly over the pie. Top with chopped pecans and form a border around the outer edge with pecan halves. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Salsa Verde

Sometimes you need salsa in a hurry. It's often the perfect thing to round out a meal, serve as a snack, or dress up boring leftovers. Instead of popping open a can of store bought try this quick salsa I threw together- a classic salsa verde with tomatillos, serranos, lime and cilantro. You can enjoy it two ways- fresh or cooked and served warm, and the best part? it comes together in just a few minutes with the aid of a food processor. Couldn't be easier.

Salsa Verde
(printable recipe)

1 lb. tomatillos
1/2 large onion, chopped
handful cilantro
3 serranos
juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp. salt

Roughly chop the tomatillos and combine with the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and add a bit of water to thin to desired consistency. Serve raw or cook over medium heat, about 5-10 minutes and serve warm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tortilla Soup

Sometime last week the weather turned from perfect 70-80 degree afternoons to a cold and rainy, miserable mess. I was, of course, unprepared in a skirt and sandals and BAM! I caught a nasty head cold that very day. I haven't been that sick in a while and was craving my cure-any-cold Tortilla Soup. The only problem was I was not feeling up to cooking it. But soon determination set in (and my mom and Hank helped) and I had my soup. And now that I've got a huge batch in the fridge the weather has turned gorgeous again, and I'm no longer sick. But I'm not complaining... this Tortilla Soup is so delicious I could eat it all week - and I probably will.

Tortilla Soup
(printable recipe)

1 5-6 lb. chicken
1 quart chicken broth (I use home canned broth, unsalted)
1 quart stewed tomatoes (also home canned, low sodium)
3 bay leaves
2 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, diced with skins on
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large jalapeño
2 1/2 lbs. yellow squash*, sliced into thick rounds
2 1/2 lbs. calabasitas* (could also use zucchini), sliced into thick rounds
3 tbsp. comino
1 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. cajun seasoning (unconventional, I know)
1 1/2 tbsp. seasoned salt
1 tbsp. old bay
2 tbsp. tomato paste

to garnish:
corn tortillas
queso quesadilla (or other mild flavored melting cheese)
lime wedges

*pick the smallest squash you can find, they will hold up better in the soup and be a bit easier to eat. Also slice them pretty thick about 3/4"

Put the chicken in a large stock pot breast side down and cover with water. Boil for about 30 minutes until cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool. Remove from the water and pick apart the meat from the bones. (save the carcass to make stock). Strain the water in the pot to remove any bits of skin and bone. Return the meat to the pot with the water. Bring to a boil and add the chicken stock, stewed tomatoes, bay leaves, potatoes, onion, and jalapeño (leave it whole). Cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are not quite fork tender. Add all the seasonings, tomato paste and the squash. Simmer until the squash is cooked through, adding seasoning to taste. Remove the jalapeño and bay leaves.

While you are waiting on the soup prep the garnishes. Slice the tortillas in long strips about 1/2" wide. Fry in hot oil until crisp and drain on paper towels. Dice the cheese into small cubes and scoop chunks of avocado.

To serve place a spoonful or so of cheese and avocado into each bowl. Ladle the hot soup over the top. Add a little chopped cilantro and a handful of tortilla strips. Serve with a wedge of lime and additional garnishes on the side.

This Tortilla Soup is so tasty with its rich, flavorful broth, crunchy tortilla strips, hearty veggies, and creamy avocado. It's sure to become a family favorite. Oh, and don't skimp (or skip!) on the garnishes, they really make this soup special.

Girls Can Tell Housewares

Awesome housewares from Girls Can Tell featuring original drawings screen printed on everything from coasters and towels, to placemats, lunch bags and notebooks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oatmeal Scotchies

Quick, what's your favorite cookie?

Chances are Oatmeal Scotchies didn't come to mind. You likely answered chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodles, or maybe plain oatmeal cookies. Oatmeal Scotchies are often overlooked in the cookie world but to me they possess all the qualities of a great cookie: The brown sugar sweetness of a chocolate chip cookie, the cinnamon-spice of a snickerdoodle, and the crunchy (yet chewy) texture of an oatmeal cookie, all topped off with rich butterscotch flavor. What's not to love?

Oatmeal Scotchies
(printable recipe)

3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c oats
3/4 c butterscotch chips

Combine the butter and sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients except the oats and butterscotch chips. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Form 1" balls and space 2" apart. Bake at 350 degrees, 10-12 minutes. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Remove and cool on wire racks. If you like, melt about 1/2 c of butterscotch chips and pipe a swirl on each cookie.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower Tea)

Every once in a while I'll spot a new (to me) ingredient at the grocery store and toss it into my cart in order to force myself to make something. It's a sure method to keep experimenting and trying new things. I had these dried hibiscus flowers in my pantry for a solid week when I remembered I was supposed make tea with them. I had tried the Jamaica Jarritos before and liked them, but wanted to make the real thing. I'm so glad I did- the flavor is sweet, a little tart, and floral all at once.

Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower Tea)
(printable recipe)

1 1/2 c (2 oz) dried hibiscus flowers
3/4 c sugar
3 c boiling water
6 c cold water

Steep the hibiscus flowers in boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain the tea and add sugar, stir to dissolve sugar. Add cold water and chill. Serve over ice with a lime garnish.

Can also be served hot!

The deep ruby red color is gorgeous in your glass but can stain, so use caution.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chewy Pecan Pralines

I've always loved the chewy pralines from El Fenix, even when we didn't make it there as often I would still crave the pralines. My folks are well aware of this, so I'd find the chewy treats in my stocking at Christmas, or my Dad would often pick up a few extras to save for me when I came over. I'm not really a fan of the other pralines, the non-chewy variety. They seem to have a somewhat gritty texture that for me just doesn't compare to the smooth, rich, caramel in the chewy praline.

For years I enjoyed these and each time carefully chewed and savored them, trying to pick out what I thought was likely cinnamon and vanilla added to the caramel. I knew I'd have to try to recreate these eventually. Finally the day arrived when I happened upon a chewy pralinette recipe in a mother's association cookbook. My adaptation is below:

Chewy Pecan Pralines
(printable recipe)

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c lite corn syrup
1 stick of butter
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash cinnamon
1 1/2 c chopped pecans*

Cook the sugar and syrup over a medium high heat to 250 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Slowly add the cream until thoroughly blended (return to heat if needed).
Return to heat and bring the mixture to 242 degrees. The caramel should be a deep golden color. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and cinnamon. Beat for 5-10 minutes until almost cool. Mixture should mound on the spoon but still be able to drop and be stirred easily. Drop (using 2 tablespoons) onto parchment. Allow pralines to cool completely before serving.

*its best to buy pecan halves and roughly chop them yourself. I've found that the pre-chopped variety are too finely chopped and don't yield the right texture in the finished product.

I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. A few friends tried them and remarked at how fresh tasting they were in comparison to the restaurant praline. I thought the caramel was a bit softer as well, and easier to chew. Another great thing about making these from scratch is that you can add as many pecans as you like and even portion them out into bite size pieces. Wrap any extras individually in a small square of plastic wrap and store in a cool place. They will keep for a week or more, although the pralines didn't last quite that long around here... I've already bought the makings for another batch.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Printable Recipes

Guess what? I did something for you today.

Yep. The Hungry Texan now features printable recipes! I don't support mindless printing of junk off of the internet but I would be honored if you wanted to print one of my recipes to add to your collection. And now it's a little easier to do just that...

Look for the printable recipe link under each recipe title.

Click the link to go to a very plain page (perfect for printing) and click the "Print page" link at the bottom of the page to get a copy of the recipe.

Easy right? Let me know how the recipes turn out!