Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Time is Here (Poached Egg Garden Salad)

 This is probably the easiest, fastest, simplest salads I have ever made. It is perfect for a quick fix dinner or lunch, beautiful enough to serve for guests, and fresh enough to be a wonderful salad idea for an enjoyed spring time picnic. The salad may appear extremely bland with the very few ingredients that are added, but sometimes clear and precise balances taste buds better than overdosing on jumbling mixtures of ideas. There is an egg to add protein which is poached yet "broken" to give the regular hard boiled egg a break, the almonds are all natural to save time from having to preheat and grease an oven, the lettuce consists of only two different types which keeps the hassle of handling multiple lettuces to a minimum, and the seasoning is purely simple with a light vinaigrette and freshly ground pepper bringing the salad together as whole. This salad may appear quite easy and one that possibly wouldn't classify under a chef's specialty, but that is because it is precisely that! This salad is quite easy and it is a recipe that absolutely anyone can achieve! So the short and simple recipe shall follow. . .

Ingredients:handful baby organic spring time lettuce
one stalk romaine lettuce
plain almonds
freshly ground pepper
basil and parmesan vinaigrette
one egg
 add spring time lettuce to salad bowl and tear into bite size pieces the romaine lettuce and add to same bowl. Slice almonds and add to salad. In a small saucepan with inch thick high in water allow water to come to a boil. Crack egg into water and keep egg together as a whole and kind of slightly break the center yolk. But keep egg together! When thoroughly cooked through turn heat off. Pour vinaigrette into salad and toss. One placed on plate, add egg on top and garnish with pepper. Serve, and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Craving To Cook (Vegetable and Whole Wheat Pasta)

All day I was just craving to leave school and enter into my happy little kitchen and cook up something fresh, new, and exciting as well as something that symbolized the pure beginning that Spring had finally sprung. (Well it did a few days ago until the rain showed up. . . but I am positive within a few more days the sun will clear up everything and Spring will jump right back into it's place.) So I came up with any and every lousy excuse just so my mother would hand over her apron and measuring cups and allow me to prepare dinner for the family. And out of my fabulous vegetarian mags, I stopped upon a moderately easy recipe that called for vegetables and lots of them! I mean it only makes sense to add vegetables into a vegetarian magazine, right? I added a few of my favorite vegetables and mixed the recipe up a tad to make it an absolutely outstanding and wonderful dinner.
Well at least I loved this dinner! (And I am most certain any other vegetarian would love it as well.) But lets just say. . . my father is nearly a carnivore and my mother well . . . she pushes all her veggies aside and picks at her plate like a three year old! (Hm who would have thought a teenage girl would have to nearly beg her parents to eat their daily greens!) Regardless of their taste buds, this dinner was successful because the sauce was nothing more than salted water and a splash of wine, the linguine was one hundred percent whole wheat, and the dish consisted of lots and lots of plump, juicy tomatoes, freshly grown basil, green asparagus and zucchini, as well as organic mushrooms. All the flavors collided together to add spice and flavor to an ordinary pasta dish. After making so many fresh vegetables to add to my pasta, it is safe to say that Spring is right around the corner if not already knocking at my door.
half of green zucchini thinly sliced
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup fresh asparagus cut into one inch pieces
1 small onion coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450 F and toss together mushrooms, asparagus onion, zucchini, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large cooking pan. Roast about 20 minutes, stirring half way through. While cooking, over medium high heat in a pan cook tomatoes until soft and starting to shrivel (about ten minutes). Then transfer all vegetables to a large serving bowl. Boil salt water with some olive oil and cook pasta for about 8 to 10 minutes. In the same pan (that veggies were in before) pour wine and put back into oven for five minutes. Drain pasta but reserve half a cup of cooking water and add it into the wine in the pan and mix all together. Add pasta and basil and water/wine to bowl of veggies and stir together. Serve and add basil for garnish with cheese. Enjoy! (add salt and pepper if desired)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Who Would Have Guessed (More Chocolate Chunk Cookies)

Um wow. Can we just take a moment to soak in this absolutely beautiful picture of this absolutely beautiful super chocolaty chunky and oh so ooey and gooey and precious and good and beautiful little cookie? That sure was a mouthful, but so is this cookie! Seriously, after last month's chocolate chip cookie challenge I thought I was all cookied out especially ones with chocolate chunks and chips, but then my mother. . . oh my sweet, sweet mother nearly begged me to bake more chocolate chunk cookies! It was for a good cause so I simply could not say no, but I did go behind her back and come up with an entirely new recipe versus making one of my dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes already posted. Devious little me ignored her input and baked a one of a kind gorgeous chocolate chunk cookie hailing all the way from little land Germany. In the end, she thanked me for if this cookie was entered into my previous challenge, well it is obvious it would have won the blue ribbon!
These cookies are giant, gooey and soft in the middle, slightly crunchy around, and extremely chocolaty with the large and irregular chocolaty chunks that surround the entire cookie. I thought I would never eat another chocolate chip cookie for a long, long time. That is until I discovered this recipe which changed my whole perspective on home made chocolate chunk cookies. They are picture perfect and look like they walked out of a local bakery. They smell like raw sugar and pure chocolate and dough. They taste absolutely perfect and I could not have asked for better textures from a chocolate chunk cookie. Also, after making these cookies, I don't think I can ever (and seriously, ever!) go back to making regular Ole' cookies out of chocolate chips. Chocolate chunks are the new fab and the absolute only and best way to make an award winning and crowd pleasing cookie. This is for sure one recipe that can not and WILL NOT be passed up because yes, it is that amazing!
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
17 tablespoons butter, melted and allowed to cool a little
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 egg yolks
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups chocolate chunks, roughly chopped to give large, irregular chunks
Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease baking sheets. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl and then add eggs, yolks, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add flour and chocolate chunks and stir until combined. Divide the dough into even and large rounds and space them graciously on cookie sheet. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden and soft (they harden) Serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Be Happy! (Fresh Orange Juice)

I have discovered that we have an orange squeezing machine! It was a brilliant find considering Spring has sprung and citrus fruits are all the fab right now. So with my happy and sunshine attitude, I grabbed my bowl of oranges and got to squeezing. Now let me mind you, this machine has been around as long as my parent's marriage so it wasn't the fastest of squeezing but it still worked quite well regardless of all the racquet it created. (Not saying anything about your age mom and dad! ha!) Anyways, The first orange I cut up was just simply gorgeous and smelled so sweet and pure that I knew within minutes I would have a fresh jar of orange juice to savor. Hmm. . . I sure was wrong. Not about the part of how sweet and delicious it smelled, but of the whole jar savoring thing, because well, one giant orange is equivalent to about a small cup size of juice. (And when I mean cup, I am referring to the size of that little rooster cup in the picture below.)
So there I was ten minutes later with almost a cup full of orange juice to share among me and my three family members. But hey, I didn't have much to do the rest of the day so why not squeeze the rest of my oranges then? Well, because the rest ended up being pink Cara Cara oranges which are not really oranges rather than some sort of citrus fruit that simply does not squeeze juice out the same way a regular orange can. Therefore I was done, and with all my hard work had created a small cup where about each person in my family could savor one orangey, pulpy, all natural sip. And that sip I let linger in my mouth as long as possible savoring and enjoying every last bit. And it sure was worth it.

Fresh squeezed orange juice definitely, and by far beats the carton juice. When orange juice is fresh squeezed it tastes fresher smells stronger, and has way, way, way, more pulp! Which I absolutely love the taste of almost having to chew your orange juice because the pulp is so overpowering. Pulp gives orange juice a real and authentic taste resembling a true and real bite out of an orange. That is why I absolutely adore pulp in my orange juice, and I absolutely adore fresh squeezed, home-made orange juice. And for those who wish to pursue (or attempt) to make home-made orange juice, well the only ingredients necessary are oranges! and lots of them! And it is as simple (or complex) as that; squeeze a few oranges and. . . wahlah! (or not so wahlah as is , give it thirty minutes and then possibly wahlah!) So enjoy life, enjoy juice, and savor every bit of the two.

Fourth Way, Fourth Sandwich

Remember the other day when I blogged about three sandwiches that can all be made together because they are so similar? Well I have also created a fourth that is similar yet very unique on its own. The difference: I did not toast the sandwich and added even more delicious ingredients than before. I sauteed the tomatoes so the juices oozed out around the entire sandwich and added an avocado spread to bring spice and pazazz to the sandwich as a whole. This sandwich is so versatile as well as my other three and so extremely easy that it definitely tops a plain PB&J. (Which in fact I believe might even take longer to make than this wonderful vegetarian sandwich!) Therefore, I believe it is time to step up a typical sandwich and say heck with the norm! It is time to add whatever one's desire to the center of bread and call it a day. The goal is to please one's mouth, and why not do it their way? So here on this sandwich I have put whatever my creative mind desired, finished it off with a top slice of bread and now call it my own version of some type of vegetarian sandwich. And it is GOOD!
Thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese
baby romaine lettuce
thinly sliced tomato
pinch of sea salt
thinly sliced cucumbers
tablespoon olive oil
light caesar dressing
whole wheat flat bread
Over medium heat add olive oil to frying pan and saute the tomatoes only until they become soft and juices are about to ooze. Sprinkle with salt and turn off heat. Mash up a bit of avocado and spread onto bottom slice of bread and then spread a little dressing on top of that. Add cheese, cucumbers, lettuce and the tomatoes. Cover with other slice of bread, serve and enjoy! (Or add whatever your little heard desires and enjoy!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three Sandwiches, Three Ways

Spring Break may have started over half a week ago, but today is the first day I feel that I am actually on vacation to enjoy the lovely spring time. The sun has finally decided to awaken behind the dark and dreary clouds and shine down upon the beach blankets and herb gardens. Today is such a beautiful day out that I feel I am back in Paris with my family walking along the endless numbers of parks enjoying the outdoors and fresh produce markets. Yet, surprisingly I am right here in my suburban home in Houston, Texas planting flowers with my mother and sister as well as adding a new member to my own little garden; parsley. We are three similar people, yet three very different people when it comes to life as well as food. Today I was in the mood to make a fresh and delightful lunch that I knew all three of us would enjoy, so I made lovely little sandwiches. However, our taste buds are not identical so I made three similar sandwiches yet three very different sandwiches. And here I am to share three different recipes that all correspond and are very easy to make all together: one for a vegetarian, one classic sandwich, and one with a little something added.
Ingredients: (to make all three)
thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese
thinly sliced white cheddar cheese
freshly ground pepper
thinly sliced cucumber
light caesar dressing
thinly sliced mushroom
thinly sliced and grilled chicken breast
whole wheat flat bread
LETS COOK! (we are making three sandwiches the way I made them, but they are so versatile you can make them however you want!)
Put oven on a broil. Open up three flat breads and place insides up on a cooking sheet. On all three place cheeses and on two add chicken and on one with chicken add mushroom. Broil in oven only for about five minutes or less or until cheese melted and bread lightly toasted. Remove from oven and on all three add cucumbers and on the opposite ends of the bread spread a little bit of dressing and place on top to make a sandwhich! Goes great with a fruit salad, serve and enjoy!

Cooking For a Vegetarian (Vegetables and Rice)

Now what vegetarian doesn't like a good meal filled with lots and lots of colorful veggies topped with simple white rice? Because sometimes simplicity is the key to a good meal. Sometimes less ingredients is all that is needed to create something so pure and so subtle that one can really take the time to enjoy the true tastes of a vegetable. Even if cheese is added or a dressing or lots of spices are added, then the real taste of an asparagus or broccoli can be taken away instantly. Therefore, this extremely easy where anyone can make recipe is probably one of my favorites, because I am constantly just craving that raw, pure taste of vegetables. The taste is everlasting and has a spice all on its own that many do not get to experience if other substitutes are added. Therefore, this recipe is simple, to the point, and absolutely real and delicious.
sliced red pepper
thinly sliced tomato
long grain white rice
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter
dash of extra butter and garlic salt
For the Rice: combine rice and water in a 3 qt. saucepan and bring to a boil and stir once. Cover with tight fitting lid and reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5-10 min. longer. For the Veggies: while the rice is sitting, put all veggies on foil and lightly sprinkle with garlic salt and a tab of butter. Grill on medium heat for about ten minutes and then remove. Mix all the vegetables together on top of the rice, serve and enjoy!

Vegetarian Pizza (Arugula, Basil, and Tomato Pizza)

CONFESION: the pizza crust is Pillsbury. I know this comes as a shocker to most as it does me and I am almost ashamed to be putting this recipe into my blog because I feel that I did not one hundred percent make it but I have a good reason! And before I explain my very good reason as to why I was forced to buy the crust, let me add that I am a good bread baker and I know for a fact would I have more time I would have made an excellent pizza crust. But this is what happened. . . I was following a recipe for pizza crust ingredient by ingredient, yet some how there must have been a glitch (because something like this has never happened to me before) and the bread would simply not rise! Therefore my brilliant mother (Ha! I am sorry mom but it was not completely all my fault!) told me to put the dough into the oven to warm up letting the dough rise faster. I worried that the bread might bake. So thirty minutes late I asked my mother, yet she calmly responded assuring me that nothing would happen and the dough would not be hurt. So I left it there. And I left it there. And I left it there for maybe two hours. And I checked it. And . . . not to my surprise, the dough was hard. It crumbled in my hands as the outer layer had baked its way to pieces. I should have known! But my mother was so assuring and is way more experienced than I am, so I trusted her. Anyways, a few minutes of sadness later, I was forced to go to the grocery store and buy dough because it was near eight o'clock and I knew I would not have time to search up a new recipe and start fresh.
Now that I have explained my terrible crust fiasco, Pillsbury dough actually did make for an excellent crust and balanced well with all my other fresh ingredients. I would like to introduce that this pizza is one of my many to come fresh from the garden recipes, because I garnished the top with fresh basil strait out of my new herb garden. And the smell is just divine. Might I add. . . notice I said new herb garden because as we have all learned earlier how my old herbs were sadly murdered, my mother and grandmother were nice enough to surprise me with a whole new set of herbs that I could easily plant right away in the garden making sure nothing could go wrong second time around. So this pizza is topped with fresh, home-grown basil, freshly sliced tomatoes, baby arugula, and lots and lots of freshly grated mozzarella cheese. All the flavors combined are mouth watering and liven up a regular ol' pizza any day!
Ingredients: (makes for half a pizza)
Pillsbury original pizza dough
one Roma tomato, thinly sliced
tomato sauce (recipe on my website)
handful of baby arugula
couple leaves of basil, torn
1/4 pound freshly grated mozzarella
1/3 cup four Italian cheese, grated
olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 or as high as oven will go and grease with olive oil a pizza stone. Roll dough out into circle and place onto stone. Apply tomato sauce evenly on top and then sprinkle cheeses on top. Place the tomato next and then the basil. Then add the next half of the pizza with same ingredients or anything else you would like! Bake for about 15 to 20 minute or until crust is golden and pizza is ready. Take out of oven and garnish with baby arugula. Serve warm and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Home-made Pizza Sauce

It was time for another challenge, and this time it was to master the Italian art of fresh tomato sauce. My mother was more than skeptical and had little encouragement when I announced that I would be making the pizza sauce versus buying it strait out of a jar. This only gave me more encouragement, because the last two times she said those exact same words about my cooking was when I made my 17th birthday cake and my well known chocolate Italian truffles. (Which might I add, those specific recipes are not only a success but my very favorites.) Therefore, I ignored her little comment, opened up my cookbook, sliced a few tomatos, and went strait to the stove.
I will admit that this is not my favorite tomato sauce and I have tasted better. Maybe because only true Italians can actually master this specialty? Or maybe because it was my very first time to create a tomato sauce and I might have added a bit too much salt. So, I advise those to use a very little to possibly even no salt when adding the spices to the equation. But in the end, since the sauce is only part of a whole to the entire pizza, it was successful and I would make it again. I absolutely loved how the sauce had flare with its chunky tomato bits, yet still a smooth and creamy sauce texture. As a whole, the sauce I felt was very authentic and very Italian-esc. I pat my self of the back to making such a little ingredient, yet has a huge impact in a pizza as a whole.
5 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Splash of white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt (OR LESS!!)
1 small potato
Bring medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the tomatoes for one minute only, and then drain them. As soon as they are cooled off enough that you can touch them, peel them. Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon. Add the potato in small chunks. (only do this after tasting a bit of the sauce and if the seasoning of salt is too strong. . . it will soak in some of the salt, otherwise do not worry about the potato)
Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste without burning your tongue and adjust seasonings, if necessary. (If used potato, before using sauce remove potatoes. . . no longer need them.) Add to pizza dough, or whatever and enjoy!

Pizza Fridays (Supreme Pizza)

There is a tradition here at my cozy suburban hose; to order in pizza or hit the town for Russo's Italian Grille almost every Friday night with the fam. I live with a smaller family of three girls and my dad, therefore we are not ones to order in pounds and pounds of pizza. So we usually agree on one size pizza going half and half style to please everyone. But this Friday, my sister, LB, was coming in town from Alabama and I wanted to cook up something special for her knowing that when living the college life, home cooking is not usually an option. So to keep up with our Friday night tradition, I made a home-made pizza! It was a perfect and brilliant idea, and this way I was able to put exactly whatever I wanted as well as exactly what anyone else wanted onto the pizza. (This made it easier than having to pick off this and that like I most often do when a pizza is delivered.)
This specific post is the recipe of a supreme and meaty pizza. So I do have to admit, I myself, did not get the chance to try it, but my father ate every last bite and absolutely loved it. Therefore, I am safe to blog all about it considering I am most sure that the pizza was a success. I topped the pizza with all of my dad's faves such as black olives (something that I am not a fan of), green and red peppers, and lots and lots of deadly pepperoni. Ha! Okay so maybe it isn't deadly to us. . . but it sure is to those poor, poor little animals who are no longer with us living high up in animal heaven. Tear. I am aware however, that the majority of people enjoy a little pepperoni or meat on their pizza, so I respect that completely and went ahead and added some to this recipe.
Ingredients: (makes for half a pizza)
1/4 green pepper thinly sliced
1/4 red pepper thinly sliced
handful black olives
handful sliced pepperonis
1/4 pound freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated four-Italian cheese
pizza dough
tomato sauce (a recipe will soon follow)
Preheat oven to about 450 or as high as possible and with olive oil, grease pizza stone. Roll out dough to circle leaving "crust" a little thicker than inside center. Spread with tomato sauce evenly over entire pizza. On half of the pizza sprinkle all the cheeses and then place pepperoni on top. Finally add olives and peppers. Fill the other half of pizza with same recipe or anything else you would like! Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden, but NOT BURNT! Serve hot and enjoy!

The Love Of Breakfast (Egg-In-A-Hole)

Blake and I spent the weekend away at Lake Conroe, and when breakfast came, supplies were limited to eggs and bread. So then of course we had to make an egg-in-a-hole! Now that is what I have grown up calling this delicious comfort food consisting of pure eggs and bread. I mean the name only makes since considering it is literally an egg in a hole. But Blake debated saying the name was too literal and not nearly as fun as what he grew up calling it; cock a doodle doo? or something like doodly doo. . . or well, I don't really remember because to me it made absolutely no sense! (Sorry Blake!) Therefore we compromise, calling it by my name but making it his way. (I usually make it more "runny" and not so dispersed. . . I think my way would of made for a better picture but that is okay! Just looks like I will have to write another blog about version two.)
Egg-in-a-holes or doodly doos or what-ever-you-call-thems are so fun to make as well as a wonderful way to start the day off! It is practically like eating toast with an egg spread versus butter or jelly. Therefore, I am concluding that Egg-in-a-holes are much better with protein and less saturated fats that it will give off more energy  to get the day started. The center is pure egg in which can become a sunny side up egg or fried and then the yolk spreads across the entire bread giving each bite a wheaty crunch yet a smooth run. I absolutely love bread and eggs for breakfast and it can only be said that it is a family fave. (And for those jelly lovers, well to create an egg-in-a-hole, one must cut out a small circle in the center thus there is a remaining little piece of toast which is still good to eat with jelly. Very cute and very chic.)
Ingredients: (to make one)
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
one egg
on slice of toast
with a frying pan over medium high, spread butter onto pan. With a small round cup (or anything to cut out a SMALL hole) cut the center of the bread. Place both pieces onto the frying pan and crack an egg into the center. With a fork kind of "pop" the yolk and spread it among all of the bread. Let cook almost all through and then flip the bread letting it cook until as runny or as hard as you would like the egg to be. Take both pieces off and apply jelly or what not to the small round toast. Sprinkle salt and pepper or the egg-in-a-hole, serve and enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mixed Everything Salad

I love salads. And it is as simple as that. I can not go for more than three days without craving fresh lettuce and simple ingredients that somehow all correspond with one another to create something so simple yet so delicious; a salad. Salads are so versatile for they can be a main dish or simply a side. They can become a picnic fave with bright fruits, or a mexican fiesta with tortillas and beans. Salads are formal beginnings or casual endings. I just love how salads can never be over rated for the varieties are endless that new creations of such are ordinary. So yes, I think I have made my self clear that salads are one of my favorite things to throw together as well as eat!
So as long as I can remember (or as long as I have been watching Food Network and discovered such thing as arugula), my mother and I have been on a quest for arugula everywhere and anywhere in our neighborhood. For months this hidden little treasure could not be found. . . until my mother entered a local grocer's and finally spotted Ms. Arugula! She may have been hard to find, but now that she was captured she was then brought back to the Brown household to be used in many ways. We first off started by mixing arugula up with other lettuces to create this absolutely amazing salad, and she then moved on to bigger positions in life such as the prime topping on a vegetarian pizza (which the posting will soon follow). Therefore, thanks to Arugula, this is probably one of my most prized salads that is for sure an award winner! (That is if it were ever to be entered in such contest. (I can see it now. . . the "Who Can Make Arugula Taste The Best Contest")Yes, sounds fabulous!)
pinch of fresh ground pepper
1.5 cups organic baby spinach
1.5 cups organic arugula
1 cup hearts of romaine lettuce
.5 cup dried cranberries
2 hard boiled eggs sliced
4 tablespoons black organic beans
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
basil herb dressing
In a salad bowl add all ingredients, mix together, serve and enjoy! (um..can you say salads are the easiest dinners to make?!. . . SO SIMPLE on a busy-running-around kind of night!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Grandpa's Specialty (Flan Dessert)

The first time I had ever heard of this dessert was while sitting at a very inclusive and upscale Mexican restaurant with my family while on the beaches of Cozumel, Mexico. It was our last night and my dad was in a generous mood to treat his three lovely ladies out to dinner. For dessert my mom had ordered the flan, which I had never heard of before so I was eager to see what this "flan" was all about. And wow, the second the waiter placed that flan in front of my mother, silence over took and I was in utter awe. It just looked so eloquent and FANCY! I thought for sure the chefs slaved over that little and petite dessert for hours, but years later I would soon discover how wrong I had been. . .
So my first encounter with a flan happened a few years back, and my next encounter with a flan wouldn't happen until this past Sunday when my grandparents came in town. My grandfather had told me he wanted to teach me how to make flan and only if i wanted to and if it was up to par shall I write about it in my blog. Ha! He really made me laugh, because anything and everything that I cook is usually posted into my blog, especially such a decedent dessert like the flan! My grandfather kept reassuring me that I didn't have to put the recipe in my blog unless I felt that I absolutely wanted to. First off, my grandfather only knows how to cook the best of the best, so why wouldn't I want to write about his upscale dessert?! And second, I just could not wait to write about how giddy and excited he seemed over the fact that this fancy dessert only took a whopping eleven (yes, only eleven!) minutes! And third, I am thinking that he was also just so eager to be mentioned in my blog, because he kept bringing the subject up!. . . So this post is dedicated one hundred percent to my grandfather; the chef who cooks in style while wearing corduroy pants and a golfing vest with a martini by his side.
At first I always thought that a flan was a Mexican dessert or something that was originated from Latin America, because that is what I was always told. However, after doing a little research upon the dessert I came to find that actually it was first originated in France, Spain, and Rome. Okay, so maybe I don't quite know where this classy, little dessert originated from, but that is simply because every website had something different to say about the flan. (I mean how can one dessert somehow originate in multiple countries?) Well regardless of its origin, most all websites did agree upon the flan being mostly enjoyed by us Americans, Latin Americans, and Filipinos (So Vlad, if you are reading this. . . looks like I have found a step up from boxed brownies next time you're in town!) As my own unique definition, I would describe a flan as part custard/cake/pudding/jiggly jello and tastes a bit like a sweet custard with the definition of a cake and the texture of pudding. So basically this is a soft and cold dessert that is purely wonderful! I love you grandpa for teaching me this oh so easy recipe!
12 ounces evaporated milk
1/4 cup sugar AND THEN 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Crack eggs into a medium sized bowl. Pour evaporated milk into the same bowl, as well as the 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Whisk together. In a serving dish, fill about half inch up with hot water. Place mini (5) ramekins into the water in the serving dish. (The water will be on outside of ramekins but inside of dish). Now over very low heat in a small sauce pan pour remaining sugar and stir watching carefully that sugar does not burn and melts to for a liquid. Remove immediately from heat when all clumps are gone and evenly pour into ramekins. Pour liquid mixture on top evenly in all ramekins. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for about 55 min or when a knife can come out clean in the center of the dessert. After, put in refrigerator and cool until ready to serve (stays good for days!) Flip the dessert over onto a plate where the carmalized sugar shows on top. Serve, and enjoy!

Mexican Night! (Vegetarian Cheese Enchiladas)

It was fiesta night at the Brown's house as we celebrated well...nothing in particular! But my grandparents were over and so of course lots and lots of food was involved in the process upon their arrival.! Therefore, it is completely safe to say how lucky of a granddaughter I am to have spent my Sunday night in the kitchen with some of the best San Antonian cooks in all of San Antonio, my grandma and my grandpa.
Things began to heat up as we all were in to impress one another and make a spectacular dinner for the whole family to enjoy. Three generations of women were cooking aways on the enchiladas while I was also making a fabulous, six star dessert with my grandfather, all while my dad and his lawful dog kicked back against the couch for ABC's evening news with a beer and salted peanuts. (typical weeknights. . . hah! :)
Not only do I love these enchiladas because everything always taste better when made over a few laughs and lots of love, but because my mother and grandmother showed their love for me by making sure that all ingredients were vegetarian friendly. (And I truly do thank them for that!) These cheesy enchiladas were truly delightful with all the cheeses, sauce, and corn tortillas. (Which corn tortillas aren't just better for you, but taste better than flour too!) They may have come out a bit messy when served, but that is why I love cooking for family over friends to impress. . . they don't care about the looks as long as it taste good! And the enchiladas were no disappointment.
can of vegetarian re fried beans
can of mild, chopped green chilies
bag of corn tortillas
pack of cream cheese
about half cup or more grated white cheddar cheese
large can mild enchilada sauce
mexican style four cheese (comes in a bag grated)
preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. In a small frying pan, heat small amount of canola oil and add tortilla frying each side for a few seconds. Once both sides are slightly fried, place on paper towel and add a small amount of cream cheese, white cheddar cheese, 1/2 tablespoon of the beans, about a teaspoon of the chilies, and wrap tightly up. Place wrapped tortilla inside a serving dish. Repeat until serving dish is filled. Pour enchilada sauce on top of tortillas (as much as desired) and cover the top with the mexican cheese. Bake about 15 min, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Figuring Out Things As I Go. . . (Baked Eggs with Potatoes)

First off, I would like(scratch that) LOVE to say thank you to all my devoted online readers who take the time out of their schedules to read such a blog about an amateur's life through food and simple enjoyments. To my giddy surprise Little Blue Box has reached the triple zeros in a mere four months. It blows my mind that somehow this blog has reached the ends of New York, across the sea to England, Australia and the United Kingdom, up to Michigan, Washington D.C., back down to my home state Texas, and who even knows where else my little blue box has been shipped off to. I feel that I am finally beginning to live my dream of simply getting my voice heard across the world wide web, and proving to my self that all dreams can be reached and goals are set for reasons. So to this I clink my glass and say cheers, and to challenge those reading;  to pass the box around the table continuing the cycle of sharing the little pleasures in life.
And now to what I love to do most; write on and on and on about the joys of food until my fingers go numb and the play list on itunes has repeated its self nearly five times. As I listen to Ingrid Michaelson and Matt White, I can't help but just feeling so happy about life. Their music is pure and blissful, and maybe I shall just write about them rather than my latest dinner dish? This is almost truly a hard decision to make, but for now I shall stick with my first and foremost favorite passion- food. I found this recipe through a blog site while viewing endless blogs on a slow and dreary day. Somehow, this particular recipe caught my eye and forced me to read on about it. Maybe it was the fact that eggs were to be eaten with potatoes, or the fact that I was going to bake an egg in an oven for the first time if I chose to forgo this splendid recipe. I thank my eyes for gazing at the site now, for this was such a simple yet absolutely outstanding and delicious recipe that I know for a fact I will be making more in the near future. However, I did not have many of the ingredients that it called for and MEAT (yes, MEAT!. . . GASP!) was involved in the original recipe, therefor substitutes had to be made and ingredients had to be changed up to make it my own version. So below is a recipe that I created, yet was formed around another food junkie blog which was only intended to be shared with other world wide web food junkies such as myself, and know to my faithful followers.
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of skim milk
5 cooked new potatoes
3 tablespoons of freshly grated white cheddar cheese
A small handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Preheat your oven to 400F. Take out a small serving dish. Dice the potatoes into bite-size pieces.
Neatly place the potatoes into the pan and pour milk over. Crack an egg into a small bowl and pour over one side of  the potatoes. Do the same for the other end of the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper and top with the cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the egg is just set. Wrap foil over the pan and bake for about 5 to 10 more minutes or until eggs are thoroughly cooked through. Serve, and enjoy! (Serves about 2 to 3 people)