October 22, 2013

Crème Fraîche: The Fancy French Cousin.

by Crystal Cook

I used this crème fraîche as a garnish for a Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage soup that I made this weekend. Originally I was going to incorporate the method into the soup post, but since I also garnished with some olive oil that I infused with sage, I thought it might be nice to teach you how to make these separately. That way you can go ahead and make them to have on hand!  Besides, if I put all of that in one blog post it would become more like a small novel. You know I couldn’t just stop there! I also had to make some crispy sage leaves and shallots, then I served the entire darn thing in a pumpkin bowl! It was amazing, but it took some time! So, since the crème fraîche can be stored for up to 10 days, let’s start here — and then tomorrow we can tackle the sage oil — and then head on to the soup in a pumpkin bowl! Baby steps….

So what is crème fraîche, you ask? Well, crème fraiche is sour cream’s thinner, more sophisticated cousin from France. Aside from the accent, it also has a smoother taste and won’t break as sour cream does when added to sauces. (Show off!) While crème fraîche is becoming more and more available in supermarkets, it is actually really easy to make at home. The only thing sour cream has going for her is that crème fraîche doesn’t develop in a hurry. Crème fraîche will make you wait. 24 hours to be exact.

Cream Collage

It only takes 3 simple steps to make — the waiting is the hardest part! Simply pour 1 cup heavy cream in a jar, add 1 tablespoon buttermilk, cover and shake. Leave covered at room temperature, stored in a dry place and away from sunlight, for 24 hours. It is ready when it becomes thick, and don’t worry about the cream spoiling; the benign live bacteria in the buttermilk will multiply and protect the cream from harmful bacteria. You know, science stuff. After 24 hours, place in the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken and take on a tangier flavor as it ages. Crème fraîche will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7–10 days.

In closing, here is a teaser shot of the crème fraîche on my soup. Oh, and some other clever uses for it! It really is pretty amazing on about anything.

  • Great on black bean and other creamed veggie soups, too!
  • Mix into mac and cheese for something completely decadent.
  • Stir into marinara to make for a creamier pasta sauce.
  • Spoon it in place of whipped cream over chocolate pudding, or on top of your favorite cobbler.
  • Make an elegant appetizer by dolloping it onto smoked salmon and rye bread, topped with fresh dill.
  • Make your morning brighter by serving alongside your morning scone.

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October 8, 2013

Miss Elsie’s No-Bake Candy!

by Sandy Pollock

Small towns and small town churches are great places to grow up. I was raised in Hargill, Texas and attended the Hargill First Baptist Church every Sunday (whether I wanted to or not).

My mom played the piano, my sister led the singing, and the elegant and amazing Miss Elsie taught my Sunday school class. I was about 5 years old and Miss Elsie was simply magic to me. She was kind and gentle and the bearer of stickers and happiness. I miss and think of her often.

Miss Elsie was an AMAZING cook and I could spend many days on this blog recreating some of her dishes (her chocolate pie and cabbage rolls are the stuff of legends), but today, I’m sharing her no-bake candy that she made for us kids.  It’s a sugar-on-sugar extravaganza with an accent of peanut butter — super sweet and super awesome! We all LOVED it. Not sure where the original recipe came from, but here is how my beloved Miss Elsie made it.

Enjoy!

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4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

IMG_7329Combine everything in one bowl

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IMG_7344Roll into bite size balls

Miss Elsie’s No-cook candy

4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

Mix all the ingredients. Roll into small balls and place on wax paper to harden. Eat them with your face.

September 30, 2013

Merry Mushroom Bread Pudding

by Crystal Cook

My dish addiction is no secret. We have discussed it here on the blog many times before. So it should come as no surprise that I have an impressive selection of vintage casserole dishes—from Pyrex to Fire King, and a whole lot of everything in between. One of my favorites happens to be a Corning Ware dish with the “Merry Mushroom” pattern on it. The orange, yellow, and brown color palette screams 70’s, and I love it! The dish keeps me inspired and I am constantly creating new mushroom recipes to proudly serve up in this dish. Trust me, nothing perks up a buffet table like a “Merry Mushroom” painted casserole pan!

Since I just learned that September was National Mushroom Month, I jumped at the chance to make something in this dish! Unfortunately I didn’t find out about this until the next to the last day of the month, so I had to act fast! I picked up my trusty Make-A -Meal cookbook from The Cassserole Queens (maybe you have heard of it?) and immediately turned to the Merry Mushroom bread pudding—one of the finest mushroom masterpieces around! The combination of portobello and button mushrooms makes it especially earthy and super comforting.

Shall we?

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Ingredient list

Yummy ingredients: Milk, rustic bread, portobello mushrooms, vegetable oil,  button mushrooms, garlic,  fresh parsley,  fresh rosemary, salt, freshly ground black pepper, eggs, and Gruyère cheese.

Pour milk

First take your bread and cube it into 2-inch pieces. Any rustic bread will do, but I used Ciabatta and I liked it a lotta! 🙂 Pour 2 cups of milk over the bread and refrigerate for 30 minutes – stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, using a spoon, remove the brown gills from the undersides of the portobellos and remove the stems; discard the gills and stems, slice mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and button mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices.

mushrooms saute

Stir in the garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

add garlic rosemary and parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk, the eggs, and the egg white.

whisk eggs

Spoon 2 cups of the bread mixture from the fridge into the prepared casserole dish.

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Top with the mushroom mixture.

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Sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the cheese.

cheese layer

Top with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining ⅔ cup cheese. Pour the egg mixture over top.

last layer

bread pour

Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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final mushroom dish

final from above

Gorgeous and delicious! Happy National Mushroom Month (or in this case – day!) Better late than never, right?

Merry Mushroom Bread Pudding.

Serves 6

Cooking spray

3 cups whole milk

8 cups rustic bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used Ciabatta)

2 (4-ounce) portobello mushrooms

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

6 cups quartered button mushrooms (about 12 ounces)

2 garlic clove, minced

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 large eggs

1 large egg white

1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 × 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the milk and the bread. Cover and chill for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Meanwhile, using a spoon, remove the brown gills from the undersides of the portobellos and remove the stems; discard the gills and stems, slice mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and button mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Stir in the garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

4.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk, the eggs, and the egg white. Spoon 2 cups of the bread mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the mushroom mixture and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the cheese. Top with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining ⅔ cup cheese. Pour the egg mixture over top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

September 18, 2013

For the Love of Ramekins: Pot de Crème

by Crystal Cook

Have I ever told y’all about my deep affection for ramekins? If not, you’re about to find out.

Ahh ramekins…the oh-so-versatile dish that is a must in any kitchen. Perfect for individual sized meals and desserts, ramekins also have a number of other uses. In fact, ramekins help you organize recipe ingredients so that you‘re ready to go once the oven is fired up (professional chefs refer to this practice as mise en place). You can also use them for condiments at the dinner table like dipping sauces, toppings, or fresh sea salt or cracked black pepper. (Yes, I am in love!) I am constantly finding ways to use them since my friends and family tease me about the sheer amount of ramekins that I own. I admit, it may be excessive, but you never know when a gal might just want to whip up some Pot de Creme! Am I right?!

Which brings me to this tasty post. Pot de Creme is one of those crazy simple recipes with an end result that feels so indulgent. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up, and requires only 5 simple ingredients. The only potential drawback you could possibly find is that it takes time to set in the refrigerator (about 2 hours). But I don’t even find that to be a negative, since I love things that you can prepare before hand. You can’t be a “hostess with the mostess” when you’re all stressed out. I like having more time with my company to do the things I want, like enjoy a glass of wine!

So let me show you how easy this really is!

5 simple ingredients: Milk, Vanilla Bean, Egg, Sugar & Dark Chocolate.

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Cut the bean lengthwise and scrap out the good stuff!

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Pure heaven!

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Add milk and vanilla bean to a saucepot and scald. To do this heat over med-high heat and remove pot from heat right before milk comes to a boil or reaches 180F.

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Place the remaining ingredients in a blender.

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Pour milk into a blender along with the sugar, chips, and egg. Blend for 1 minute.

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Pour into 6 ramekins and chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator or until set.

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Garnish with favorite toppings. We used our caramel sauce, berries and powdered sugar – but we have even more suggestions in the recipe below!

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Voila!

Pot de Crème

3/4 cups milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped lengthwise

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

1 egg

6 (3-4 ounce) ramekins

Garnish suggestions: powdered sugar, caramel sauce, berries, mini marshmallows, chocolate covered espresso beans, cocoa powder, shaved chocolate.

Method:

1. Add milk and vanilla bean to a saucepot and scald. To do this heat over med-high heat and remove pot from heat right before milk comes to a boil or reaches 180F.

2. Pour milk into a blender along with the sugar, chips, and egg. Blend for 1 minute and pour into ramekins, chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator or until set. Garnish with favorite toppings.

July 26, 2013

Inside the Queens’ Studio with ELizabeth Lyons

by Crystal Cook

Queen's Studio

We met Elizabeth Lyons when we were in Arizona  for a Lunch & Learn demo at the fabulous Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Scottsdale last year and immediately fell in love with her for a thousand reasons. First of all, she’s adorable. Look at her! Second, she came bearing gifts! She had read our bios and took a line of ours “Part Kitsch. Part Dish. All Apron.” and made us these amazing leather wrap bracelets.

AZ meeting_n part kitsch_n

In addition to being generous, she’s this amazing mother to nearly half a dozen kids and yet still has the wherewithal to be hilarious and passionate about her work–and let us tell you: her work is goooood. She’s a vintage silverware upcycle jeweler (that’s a mouthful!) and she created an organizer that makes everybody from mom’s to doctors say, “what did we do before this existed?!”  And how cool is it that the woman with all these fabulous ideas wanted to collaborate with the two of us Queens on her new line, Culinary Chic. What an honor! We can’t wait to see the amazing pieces she comes up with. So, of course, when we were looking for a person to interview for the ol’ blog, Elizabeth was the obvious choice. You’ll definitely love her as much as we do after reading this interview. Enjoy!

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1. Hi Elizabeth! We’re so excited to talk to you. You’ve got 3 sentences—what’s your story?

I’m a mom, jewelry artist, chauffeur, DIY fanatic, author, Starbucks addict, on-call plumber, wannabe organic gardener, sometimes hostage negotiator, ongoing dog trainer (they don’t listen), and strong disliker of olives. I don’t like hearing the word No. I asked my kids what my story is; they replied, “You’re a very busy woman.”

2. You say on your website that you have been working with metal for years. What triggered the interest in the first place?

Some people punch pillows or punching bags when they need to get rid of pent-up frustration; I hammer metal. The day I realized I could use a compressor tank in my work as a jewelry designer was a happy one indeed; do you have any idea how loud those are? I can drown out 99.7% of the ridiculous arguments over which kid has ruined another kid’s life by having 2 tbsp more ice cream!

Joking aside, the way metal responds to a hammer fascinates me. It doesn’t always do what I want, but that’s (almost) always an issue with the hammer I’m using or the way I’m striking the metal. It’s taught me to have more of an appreciation for what something needs in order to do what I’d like for it to do, which is a most helpful lesson for being a good friend and a mom of many!

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4. If you weren’t a fabulous jewelry designer, what would you be doing?

Oh gosh, the list is long. I would love to be a speech pathologist, working with children who have had cochlear implants. I’d also like to be Lisa Ling, reporting from the trenches on unfortunately disenfranchised people with amazing stories to tell. Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel has a ridiculously amazing job: being paid to stay at and report on the fabulous resorts and hotels in the world? That would not suck.

5. If your personality could be described as any casserole, what would it be?

For real? You’re going to make me admit to my limited knowledge not only of casseroles but anything that is baked, whisked, or poached? I suppose Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a combination of a whole slew of things you might not necessarily think would go well together but, somehow, it works.

6. The Queens love our vintage pearls, but what other recommendations do you have for fun, 50’s flair? Maybe something from this Culinary Chic line we hear all about? 😉

Well, I LOVE using vintage silverware to create rings, bracelets, and necklaces. I’m working with a client right now who purchased spoons from her grandmother’s silver pattern from Replacements, and I’m making them into bracelets for her, her mother, and her three aunts. It’s such a fun way to reuse a meaningful piece in a way that allows the wearer to appreciate and enjoy it daily!

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7. What has been the most interesting design request you have ever received from a client?

Everyone loves unique pieces that reflect what’s most important to them. One client asked me to make matching spinner rings for her sister and her with a phrase that holds special meaning for the two of them engraved on the inside. Those were amazing pieces to create. I have a number of “stock” leather wrap bracelets, but many people don’t know that I happily accommodate custom requests for those, too. Clients send me sayings that empower them, inspire them, or simply crack them up. Some of my favorites so far: The Only Way Out Is Through, Never Give Up, and Molon Labe.

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8. Family is in town unexpectedly and coming over for dinner. Quick – what is your go-to meal?

P.F. Changs. Okay, if I HAVE to whip something together, it would be gluten-free enchiladas and corn bread. Do those even go together?

9. What dish from your childhood brings you the most comfort and why?

Interestingly, Shepherd’s Pie! The answer is really deep and revealing: I love mashed potatoes and cheese, and my mom’s version was topped with both. My mom also used to make a dish called gooey buns. It was a hamburger mixture combined with lots of cheese and onions and baked inside hot dog buns. My sister and I practically threw parties when we learned we were having gooey buns for dinner!

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

I Don’t Get It. For real, that would be the name of the book.

11. You’ve got 5 kids —what’s one thing you cook that makes everyone equally happy?

Enchiladas and corn bread; are you noticing a pattern here? I just surveyed my children. George (9) replied, “Cake.” I asked what else, and they unanimously replied, “That’s it.”

12. Do you have any other entrepreneurial endeavors besides jewelry making?

I’m the author of 3 books (the first two are about raising twins in the first year and the toddler years; the third details rules for finding balance and maintaining a sense of humor as a busy mom). I also invented the Hold It Baby On-the-Go Toy Organizer (www.HoldItBaby.com) after I got tired of products that only secured my kids’ sippy cups to their car seats, strollers etc. My kids wanted to have far more with them than sippy cups, and I got tired of having to pull over the car or grab stuff off the floor of the grocery store! The Hold It Baby is the only product of its kind exclusively designed to hold not only sippy cups but also board books, stuffed animals, smart phones, small toys and small blankets, and secures those items to a car seat, stroller, high chair, shopping cart, bike trailer, or backpack carrier.

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13. What would you say to someone wanting to start a company?

Go forth and do it! The entrepreneurial road is rarely (if ever) smooth; it will have twists and turns you could never anticipate, so stay flexible. Think outside the box. Stay true to yourself. Never compromise your principles. Never lose sight of the brand you are building — successful companies don’t thrive long-term because of their products alone; they thrive based on the brand that’s built as the foundation of those products. Most important, never, ever give up!

Could there BE any better words with which to finish?! To find out more about Elizabeth and her jewelry, go to http://www.elizabethlyonsdesigns.com/.

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July 3, 2013

Elote: Roasted Corn with Mexican Crema

by Crystal Cook

In the July issue of Woman’s Day Magazine we feature a corn pudding that was developed from our love of Elote – so we thought it would be a great idea to re-post this how-to for the dish! Enjoy! Mmmmm…..Elote!

Casserole Queens

It’s technically not summer yet, but most of us seem to use the Memorial Day weekend as the “unofficial” kick-off!  So in honor of summer, I decided to do what most Americans do, and grill up some grub!

When I first moved to Austin, I discovered something fabulous at a street vendor that very well may have changed the way I viewed life – gigantic ears of roasted corn smothered in Mexican crema and sprinkled with lots of spice and lime juice. They call it Elote, but I call it delish!

Naturally I have been trying to perfect this dish for sometime, and this is the closest I have come to recreating the magic. The corn makes an amazing side dish, but is so decedent that it may steal the show!  I served it with cilantro lime chicken breasts (also done on the grill) and a black bean salad.

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April 11, 2013

Daddy’s Dumplings

by Crystal Cook

People are continually asking us all kinds of food-related questions and we never tire of answering them because, well, we just really love food. Things like, “What is your favorite casserole?” or “Can you make a cookbook where the main ingredients of every dish are butter and sugar?” or “Do you dress up as 50’s housewives when you’re alone at home doing your taxes?” But the one that always tends to stump me is “What would you want your last meal to be?” The problem I always have with that question is it depends on who is making the food. For example, Chicken and Dumplings is my favorite meal in the world, but if and only if my Daddy is making them. No prison cook is going to know how to make them taste the way he does– unless perhaps they learned a thing or two from Martha while she was in the joint. Yes, everyone, that’s the second Martha-Stewart-In-Prison reference I’ve made in less than a month. What can I say, locked up or on the streets, the woman gets to me.

Now back to the dumplings—there are just certain things my Daddy does to make them special. Unlike when he makes biscuits, he substitutes the buttermilk in dumplings for whole milk. Why? Using buttermilk can make dumplings too fluffy/doughy. You’re welcome, frustrated Dumpling Artisans of America! Now I will admit, most of the time my Daddy cooks with dried herbs, but he always opts for fresh thyme and rosemary for the dumplings. He adds a little bacon grease from his can by the stove to the mix, as well (yes, my parents still collect bacon grease! We are authentically southern, lest you forget!)

But, let’s say hypothetically I get thrown in the slammer for somethin’ I swear I didn’t do, Judge! And let’s say hypothetically that you were the prison cook and there were regulations against having my father enter the prison kitchen and cook them for me one last time. Here’s how you do it:

Chicken and stock ingredients

Ingredients for the Chicken.

chicken collage

Combine broth, water, chicken, thyme and rosemary sprigs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done and no longer pink. Remove pan from heat.

strain collage

Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids and set liquid aside. Remove chicken from bones and shred chicken.  Set chicken aside.

celery garlic carrots and onion

veggie collage

Heat oil in the same Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is tender.

add reserved broth and herbs to veggies

Add reserved broth mixture and 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon rosemary; simmer 10 minutes.  Keep warm.

dumpling ingredients

While the broth simmers…it is time to make the dumplings! Grab your ingredients!

herbs to flour

Combine flour and rosemary in a bowl.

flour collage

Cut in shortening and bacon drippings with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

milk collage

Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.

knead collage

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.

dumpling collage

Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.

add chicken and dumplings to pan collage

Return chopped chicken to the broth mixture; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Bring broth mixture to a boil. Drop dumplings, a few at a time, into boiling broth, stirring gently. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, for 25 minutes. Add additional salt and black pepper to taste.  Fold and serve and garnish with fresh parsley.

Finished product

I can leave this world happy now!

How about you? What would be your last meal?

Daddy’s Dumplings:

Approximately 8-10 servings

Chicken:

6 cups chicken broth
2 ½ cups water
1 pound chicken drumsticks, skinned
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 thyme sprigs, plus an additional one tablespoon chopped
2 rosemary sprigs, plus an additional one tablespoons chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish

Dumplings:

3 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1/3 cup shortening
2 teaspoon reserved bacon fat/drippings
1 cup whole milk

Combine broth, water, chicken, thyme and rosemary sprigs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done and no longer pink. Remove pan from heat.  Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids and set liquid aside. Remove chicken from bones and shred chicken.  Set chicken aside. Heat oil in the same Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is tender. Add reserved broth mixture and 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary; simmer 10 minutes.  Keep warm.

While broth is simmering, prepare dumplings. Combine flour and rosemary in a bowl. Cut in shortening and bacon fat with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.

Return chopped chicken to the broth mixture; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Bring broth mixture to a boil. Drop dumplings, a few at a time, into boiling broth, stirring gently. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, for 25 minutes. Add additional salt and black pepper to taste.  Fold and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley.

March 29, 2013

Hippity Hoppity Happy Easter Day! Homemade Robin’s Eggs!! YUM!

by Sandy Pollock

I might be the only person that is super stoked for the Valentine’s Day candy to leave the store shelves. The reason for this excitement is that I LOVE the thing that will be taking its place on the shelves: ROBIN’S EGGS!

Look, I know you think Robin’s Eggs are just glorified Whoppers, but that my friend is where you are wrong. Robin’s Eggs have an outer candy shell and that makes them totally different and special.

I took on the task of making the very best version of this candy that I could. I am a BIG fan of the malted center and really started out with that being my main focus. This recipe is very easy and if you are a malt fan, like me, you will be very VERY pleased. Maybe too pleased. Let’s get going…

storebought - homemade

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2 egg whites

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder

2 tablespoons chocolate malt powder

2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar


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Pre-heat oven to 225

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the whisk attachment until frothy.

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Slowly add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until you reach firm peaks.

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Sift powdered sugar, cocoa powder, malt powder, and turbinado sugar into the firm egg whites.

Gently fold the mixture together. The batter is going to deflate some, but the easier you are with it, the larger the cookie. I will say that I made this recipe MANY times and was more aggressive with my folding than the average bear. This was not a bad thing, the cookies still ended up delicious – just flatter and  crunchier (I love them and will make them this way again – perfect for ice cream!)

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Place batter in a pastry bag if you have one, but if not just use a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.

Pipe batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for an hour.

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Turn off the oven, prop the door open, to allow the cookies to continue to cool and crisp up for a couple of hours.

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In a double boiler, melt chocolate.

Once the chocolate is melted, dip or spread chocolate on your cookie. The chocolate is a fantastic addition, but does not overtake the amazing malt taste of the cookie.

robin's eggs

Really really delicious!

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Start an Easter tradition today by making these with your family!

Homemade Robin’s Eggs

2 egg whites

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1  tablespoons dutch cocoa powder

3 tablespoons chocolate malt powder

2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar + more for sprinkles (this add amazing crunch and texture)

Pre-heat oven to 225

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the whisk attachment until frothy. Slowly add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until you reach firm peaks.

Sift powdered sugar, cocoa powder, malt powder, and turbinado sugar into the firm egg whites.

Gently fold the mixture together. The batter is going to deflate some, but the easier you are with it, the larger the cookie. I will say that I made this recipe MANY times and was more aggressive with my folding than the average bear. This was not a bad thing, the cookies still ended up delicious – just flatter and  crunchier (I love them and will make them this way again – perfect for ice cream!)

Place batter in a pastry bag if you have one, but if not just use a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.

Pipe batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for an hour. Turn off the oven, prop the door open, to allow the cookies to continue to cool and crisp up for a couple of hours.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted, dip or spread chocolate on your cookie. The chocolate is a fantastic addition, but does not overtake the amazing malt taste of the cookie.

Really really delicious! Start an Easter tradition today by making these with your family!

March 29, 2013

Inside the Queens Studio with Melissa Guerra

by Sandy Pollock

I have to admit that I kinda wanna be Melissa Guerra. Melissa is such an inspiration to me for so many reason. First of all, she is a food wiz!  She lives and breathes the stuff and her knowledge in the realm of Latin foods is hard to match. Melissa has been a wonderful sounding board for me through the years and I really appreciate that.  She’s a dear friend of my family and an all around awesome person!

If you are in the San Antonio area you MUST go to her store in the Pearl Brewery. It is fantastic and the area is so super fun! It is not to be missed.

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Melissa Guerra is an 8th generation Texan, born and raised on a working cattle ranch in South Texas. She is a self taught culinary expert and food historian, specializing in the food ways of the American continent, especially Texas regional, Mexican, and Latin American cuisine. Her cooking show, “The Texas Provincial Kitchen,” was produced in San Antonio at KLRN, and aired on PBS affiliates across the U.S.

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Guerra has worked as a bilingual spokesperson for Kraft, Coca-Cola, Goya and Mazola. In 2005, Melissa Guerra served as a consultant, and was featured as a culinary expert on the PBS reality show “Texas Ranch House.” Guerra also teaches cooking courses and is often a featured public speaker.

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Her second cookbook Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert: Norteño Cuisine of South Texas  was published in 2006 by John Wiley and Sons. Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert was a finalist for a James Beard Award in the category of Foods of the Americas, and for an International Association of Culinary Professionals award in the same category.

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Since 2000, Melissa Guerra has owned and operated a website and storefront dedicated to providing top quality Latin American kitchenware and ingredients. Guerra’s newest store opened in  November, 2008 at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, the location of the new Culinary Institute of America’s Center for Foods of the Americas (focusing on Latin American cuisine)

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about_img

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Where you work:

Owns Melissa Guerra, a Latin American culinary store in San Antonio, Texas. Voted the #2 destination to visit by Lonely Plant Travel Guide in May 2011

How you got started:

Taught cooking lessons in my home

What is your “recipe” for success?

Still working on that…

If you weren’t an amazing Entrepreneur, Chef, Cookbook Author you would be…

A mom, and if that hadn’t worked out either a professional singer or a nun.

If your personality could be described as any casserole what would it be?

Not sure, but cheese would definitely be involved.

Your spouse called and his Aunt Edna is in town and coming over for dinner. Quick – what is your go to meal?

If turning off the porch lights and hiding didn’t work, our second option is that we always have frijoles and tortillas in the fridge, maybe Arroz con Pollo as we always seem to have a frozen chicken on hand as well. I would probably make a pie or cake too, which I would consume by myself after Aunt Edna left.

Name one kitchen disaster you’ve had.

I burned my toast about a month ago and set off the fire alarm. Four policemen showed up. They asked what I did for a living, and got a big kick when I told them I was a food professional. Aside from that, a kitchen  set caught fire once when taping a show. My home kitchen blew up during our remodeling, but technically, that had nothing to do with me cooking. Lost 500 sq ft of my house. My restaurant caught on fire too. Take your pick.

What dish from your childhood brings you the most comfort and why?

I am a potato chip FREAK! I love salty, crunchy stuff. Apparently, these snacks love me back as they permanently take up residence on my ever widening rear end.

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

Head in the Fridge – A Psychoanalytical Case Study of A Low Functioning OCD Food Savant.  Not sure if this would be a book or a doctoral dissertation

March 28, 2013

The Deviled Egg Tray and Easter – It’s a Southern Thing

by Crystal Cook

In the deep South, some things are just a given.  For instance, every type of soda is always (and I mean ALWAYS) a Coke®, all tea is sweet tea, and you always will find a deviled egg tray in the cupboard. Over the years, my deviled egg tray has brought me much joy.  At times when I could not get home to Georgia for the holidays, breaking out my tray and making a batch of eggs was a simple way to bring the spirit of home to me.

Below is my favorite twist on the southern deviled egg recipe. I highly suggest that you make them a part of your appetizer spread this Easter.

Enjoy, and now go call your momma!

Southern (as in the South of France)  Deviled Eggs

  • 12 hard-cooked large eggs, shelled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Additional chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Ok, so the hardest part about this recipe is boiling and peeling the darn eggs. Seriously, it has taken me years to master this task! If you have already earned your hard-boiled egg scouts’ badge, feel free to skip over the following “how-to section.”

To achieve perfect eggs, rule number 1 is NOT to use super fresh eggs. If you bought the eggs that day – you are in serious trouble. That fresh egg is guaranteed to have more craters than if it were hit by an asteroid! I recommend using eggs that are about a week old, or, if in a bind, go purchase your eggs from the local convenient store down the street. I find they do not stock, as umm, frequently as the grocery store.

Place eggs in a large enough saucepan so that they have plenty of room in between them, then cover with enough cold water by at least an inch. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a medium boil and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and place eggs in a bowl of iced water. (Think blanching!)  The ice is an important step, as it helps not only with the peeling, but it cools the eggs down fast enough to keep the yolk yellow – no green eggs here!  Chill for a few minutes until the egg is completely cooled.

Now let’s get to the moment of truth – peeling!  To peel, crack the egg on all sides and roll it between your hands and a hard surface to loosen the shell. I find that if you start at the larger end, that you will discover a little air pocket and it is easier to get a hold of the membrane. I also tend to shell the eggs under water. Not sure why that helps, but it sure seems to! Ok – that’s all I got.  I hope you all have 12 perfectly gorgeous eggs. Now on to the easy part of the recipe!

Combine boiling water and sun dried tomatoes in a bowl. Cover; let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks. Place yolks in a medium bowl.  Add tomatoes, mayonnaise, and next 7 ingredients (through pepper); stir well. Place egg white halves onto your adorable deviled egg tray and spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons egg mixture into each egg white half. (Use a pastry bag to keep things neat!) Sprinkle with additional chopped parsley for a lovely presentation.

Yield: 2 dozen (serving size: 1/2 egg)

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