Archive for April, 2011

April 28, 2011

Mother’s Day Memories from the Queens

by Sandy Pollock

The Queens are thrilled to be featured this week on The Recipe Club, the cookbook community run by our awesome publisher, Clarkson Potter.

Read about our favorite Mother’s Day meal and watch us make Mint and Pea Ravioli, in a segment we shot last year for We Are Austin.

Thanks, Allison!

April 24, 2011

New CQ cookbook cover!

by Sandy Pollock

Check out our new Casserole Queens cookbook cover! We now have a sweet quote from Bobby Flay!

You can pre-order our cookbook today from one of these fine purveyors: Amazon, BN, Borders, Indiebound, Bookpeople

April 19, 2011

Sandy’s Salsa Situation!

by Sandy Pollock

I love salsa.  I mean I REALLY love salsa.  Not the chunky stuff though — I love the vinegary-smooth burning kind.  If my nose isn’t running and my mouth isn’t on fire when I’m done eating, then it didn’t count.

I recently had to go on a business trip and was away from home for about a month.  I could NOT find my brand of hot sauce anywhere.  I ended up buying and trying over 10 different hot sauces while I was gone and none of them gave me the flavor and burn that I crave from my favorite.

Once I got home, I made a bee line for my grocery store to load up on the spicy red liquid, when much to my horror, I found that MY grocery store, as well as all surrounding stores, have quit selling it!

Panic started to set in.

I wrote to the company that makes the hot sauce and asked them WHY they would deprive me of this thing that brings me so much happiness.  They responded and suggested that I first acquire some sort of life, and then they gave me a list of area grocery stores that might carry it.  I should note that all of the stores they listed are very far way, but I drove to them all.  Of all of the places I visited, I found a single bottle and I bought the crap out of it!

Needless to say I was bummed, but then my main squeeze did the most amazing thing and surprised me with the bestest treat ever!  He ordered an entire case of my beautiful beautiful salsa online.  I LOVE YOU ML!

It’s like Christmas.

So pretty!

Get in my belly!

I’m a happy Queen.

How about you? What is your favorite salsa?

April 11, 2011

Inside the Queen’s Studio with Denise Silverman

by Casserole Queens

The Queens periodically interview someone we find interesting and inspiring. In this installment, we are proud to introduce you to Denise Silverman.  Not only is Denise the CEO of CLINK (a fabulous event production agency that designs and coordinates special events in Texas, across the US and abroad), but she is also a loyal Casserole Queen customer and dear friend! Denise has been planning show-stopping events here in Austin since 2002 and boasts about 75 events/year, many of which have been published and/or featured in various news media outlets.  She is sharp, fearless and has impeccable taste.  And we do mean impeccable.  See for yourself, on the CLINK company blog. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself.

First and foremost, I’m a Mom and a wife.  My family is what motivates me to be successful in everything I do.

What is your “recipe” for success?

Making people happy.  I’m a people-pleaser and I don’t like to disappoint.  So whether it’s my clients, my staff or my family – I am constantly working to keep people happy.  That, and Friday nights at El Chile with my family.  There’s nothing better than making it through a busy week and looking forward to our weekly tradition of margaritas and Tex Mex with my two favorite boys.

If you weren’t the CEO of CLINK you would be…

A swim coach.  I grew up on a swim team and it was probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  I held my coach in the highest regard and learned from him the value of hard work and how it pays off.  I loved the look of pride on my coach’s face when I would beat my best time or win a race! I would love to be able to teach/motivate that way.

If a casserole described your personality – what would it be?

Gooey apple butter cake . . . sweet and indulgent!

What’s your favorite dish you’ve served at an event?

I would have to go with the make-your-own stuffed avocado bar.  There was so much delicious-ness all on one table.  The caterer was so creative with the fillings and the guests couldn’t get enough.  And I was lucky enough to get the leftovers!

Name one event disaster you’ve had.

I’ve never had a full-on disaster (knock wood!), but Mother Nature has certainly given me a few grey hairs.  Of course, we are always prepared with a fail-proof rain plan, but having to make the call on whether to execute the rain plan tent is both stressful and expensive!  I hate having to advise clients that we really need to execute the rain plan!  Everyone wants to think it’s not going to rain on their wedding day, but I’m paid to think that it will!  And no matter how much planning goes into a good rain plan, there are inevitably little, unexpected glitches.  The key is working through those glitches so that the client and the guests never knew a thing!

What was the most fun/interesting event you’ve worked on?

What makes an event fun is the guests.  If the guests are happy, fun, friendly people, the event is going to be fun.  If the guests are hard-to-please and/or rude, well . . . it’s going to be a long night.

What’s your most favorite part of your job?

Making people happy.  There’s nothing better than receiving a thank you note from a client after the event is over that says, “We couldn’t have done it without you.”  Also – the food! I love trying new things and love when my clients are excited about food!

What was the craziest request you’ve received from a client?

Some day, I will write a tell-all book about all the crazy requests and other madness that has occurred over the years.  Until then, mum’s the word.

If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be?

People Pleaser.

April 6, 2011


by Sandy Pollock

Michael and I recently took a long, out-of-town weekend trip to Syracuse, New York, to see our friends Kelly and Patrick.  While there, we got to watch the mighty Syracuse Orangemen play some b-ball!  The game was a total blowout and tons of fun.  We stayed at Kelly and Patrick’s adorable house and simply had the best time.

K and P are great hosts, so we wanted to be sure and take a little gift to thank them for what we knew was going to be a fantastic time.

As usual, the first gift option that popped into my booze-focused brain was booze.  I thought about wine (which is always good), but I wanted it to be more special.  Then I remembered that I had given homemade limoncello to my friends for Christmas a while back and it was quite a hit.

Limoncello is the perfect gift for a few reasons.  First, making limoncello requires some forethought.  You can’t just whip it up and serve it in an hour — people will know that love, time, and thought were put into their gift.  Secondly, most people don’t have this delightful liquor on hand and would probably not think to make it for themselves.  Lastly, they will drink the heck out of it and maybe even offer you some!

Here’s how it went down:

Zest 6 to 8 lemons.

You can do this by cutting away the zest with a knife (like I did above) or by using a vegetable peeler which works like a charm.

Keep going…

and going…

I julienned my lemon zest, but that really isn’t necessary, as the lemon rind will later be discarded. I just freaking love a good julienne, plus mama gotta keep up her knife skills.

Place the zest in the bottom of a glass container with a tight lid.  I used a mason jar.

Add the booze!  A 750ml bottle of vodka to be exact.

I love you so much!

Cover the jar and place it in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks, but go for as long as you can.  I know it will be hard.

This is what the mixture will look like after sitting for 2 weeks.  The longer it sits, the more lemony goodness will be infused.

When two weeks (or longer) have passed, then combine 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a suacepan (will look like picture above at first).

Over medium heat, cook until the sugar has dissolved completely (approx 5 minutes).  Syrup will look like picture above when ready.  Allow syrup to cool.

Strain the lemon vodka through a strainer to remove all the lemon zest.  Discard the zest, but thank it for its service before doing so.

This is what it looks like before adding the simple syrup.  Feel free to start drinking it now.  It’s lemon flavored vodka.  Hell yeah.

Add enough simple syrup to the strained vodka to create a sweet and delightful concoction (I used around 2 cups of simple syrup).  Now this is an important step and it will require quite a bit of taste testing to ensure that the gift is to your liking.  I am sorry.

Find some great cocktail recipes that highlight Limoncello.  Print them on small cards then attach them to the neck of the jar with kitchen twine!

It’s a great gift for great friends!  Thank you Kelly and Patrick!

April 1, 2011

Inside the Queens’ Studio with Cory Ryan

by Casserole Queens

The Queens periodically interview someone we find interesting and inspiring. In this installment, we are super excited to introduce you to Cory Ryan, photographer extraordinaire! Cory was just recently voted one of the Top 10 Best Photographers” in Austin, TX by the Knot Magazine, and won a Golden Boot for her work at the 2009 Austin Fashion Week Awards. In addition to shooting weddings and portraits, she is also mastering the art of food photography. Yum!  Cory’s wit and energy is infectious – and we are sure you will enjoy learning more about her – just like we did!

Tell us a little about yourself and why you chose photography as a career.

I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in film & video production and post graduation, worked as an editor for 3 years. After one particularly long documentary project, I got creatively burned out and was sick of sitting in front of a computer all day. I decided I needed a career that was more social and active. Since I already had lighting, composition and visual storytelling skills, I thought, ” why not photography?”

What is your “recipe” for success?

Be sure that your brand and your photographic identity are truly authentic to who you are as a person. People can tell when you’re trying to be someone you are not. Work at being innovative and 100% yourself in all the work you create!

If you weren’t a professional photographer you would be…

A full-time musician. I currently play bass in Hollywood Gossip and would love it if that could actually pay the bills!

Why do you enjoy shooting food? And how is it different than your other gigs (wedding, commercial, etc.)?

Food doesn’t talk back. Ha.

If a casserole described your personality – what casserole would it be?

Ummmm, a 7-layer dip?

Name one photography disaster you’ve had.

That was probably the windy wedding when my umbrella blew out backwards during formal photos and I sliced my thumb trying to get it fixed. Blood was gushing all over my camera body and I had to try not to freak out in front of the family.

What do you think makes a good food image?

Texture, lighting, dish presentation’s and garnish. I love it when a chef or stylist surprises me with some unexpected garnish or dollop of asymmetrical sauce!

Are there some foods that you find impossible to photograph?

Some foods are naturally impossible to photograph, like ice cream. What’s funny is that they make fake versions that look identical to the real thing, but that don’t melt! There are food styling resources that make almost anything possible these days.

Who was your most fun/interesting client?

That would easily have to be the “Premiere Clothes-Free Travel Agency” that hired me to shoot a 7-day nude cruise to the Caribbean.

If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be?

This is so hard! How about, “How to be Fearless and Other Fun Tricks from a Pedicure Addict”?

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