Posts tagged ‘Kitchen Gadgets’

December 13, 2013

A few of our favorite things: The Queen’s online gift guide for the foodie in your life!

by Crystal Cook

Gift Collage

(Gift descriptions, clockwise)

1. Pineapple Beverage Dispenser $68.00: If you grew up in the south like I did, then you know that pineapples are THE symbol of southern hospitality. In fact, my mom had more pineapple decor than any one woman should ever have. This pineapple beverage dispenser from Anthropologie, reminds me of my childhood and is perfect for some sweet tea or lemonade!

2. 10-Piece Glass Bowl Set $39.95: Contain yourself if you can! This 10-piece glass set from Williams Sonoma is my favorite! Simple, beautiful and functional, they’re very useful for preparing your mise en place and for storing in small kitchens.

3. Charles Viancin Silicone Food Storage Lid Covers $7.95–$12.95: Plastic wrap be gone! I am in love with this silicone creation that provides an airtight seal, and works with any smooth-rimmed bowl or pot. Oh and did I mention it is dishwasher, microwave AND oven safe?!

4. Personalized Casserole Dish $54.00: The beauty of the casserole dish is its variety. Not just the ingredients you fill it with, but the shape, size, color or pattern of the dish. Go on, girl, get crazy—express yourself! With so many fun hues, sizes and shapes, even on the busiest of occasions or the dooziest of days, placing your meal in a sunny container can change your entire mood.

5. Dotty Match Potholders $12.00: They’re cute! They’re colorful! They’re comfy! And let’s face it… a girl can never have too many pot holders.

6. Jalapeño Corer $10.95: How many times have you removed the seeds from a jalapeño and then neglected to wash your hands before rubbing your eyes? It burns! Oh, how it burns! Never make that mistake again with this gadget gem!

7. Casserole Carriers $38.00: Made from amazing chevron-printed fabrics, these totes make for easy transport and real down-home appeal. They’re chic and sassy! Want to make one of your own? Check out our latest cookbook or this YouTube video and learn how to craft your own!

8. Scalloped Celebration Cake Stand $24.00–$38.00: You worked hard on that sweet treat, so show it off! From a cake to cupcakes, even a big pile of cookies, every day is a special occasion with these adorable stands.

9. The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook: Mix and Match 100 Casseroles, Salads, Sides, and Desserts & The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin’ in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes Come on, you knew these would make our list!

10. Custom Heirloom Silverware Jewelry, starting as low as $30.00: Order custom-made, or ready-to-wear one-of-a-kind pieces, from Elizabeth Lyons Designs this holiday season. These unique silverware-to-jewelry pieces make for a very special holiday gift and are so very culinary chic! (Hence the name!)

Happy shopping!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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)




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

December 4, 2010

How to make corn tortillas

by Sandy Pollock

My awesome boyfriend Michael knows me pretty well. I know that because I found this beauty when I went to check the mail today.

A brand spankin’ new corn tortilla press! It’s a nice heavy cast-iron beauty (far superior to the lighter aluminum version).

Ain’t she pretty paw?

So shiny and new. I think it is time to get her messy! Let’s make some corn tortillas!

Ingredients: masa de harina mix (1 cup), water (2/3 cup) , and salt (1/8 tsp). Yields 8 small tortillas.

Put masa in a large bowl.

Add the water.

Put your pretty paws in there and mix.

Mix until dough comes together in a ball.

Divide the dough into equal balls. I made enough dough for 8 tortillas, because if we made any more than that Michael and I would make ourselves sick. We tend to eat them straight off the comal as fast as we can!

Now for the really fun part. Place a piece of plastic wrap on each side of the press.

Place one dough ball in the center.

Now PRESS! I like a thicker more dense corn tortilla so I keep mine just a smidge thicker than what you are probably used to seeing in the grocery store.

Seriously, how easy is that? I felt guilty that is wasn’t hard and more laborious.

My trusty comal. I use it all the time! Daily even. Love this skillet. Crank the heat to high heat.

Drop tortillas on the comal. No overlapping.

Cook for 30 seconds to a minutes per side. You are looking for the little brown spots of deliciousness to appear. Remove from comal. Cover with cloth napkin to keep soft and warm.

I am a very happy woman!

Now let’s turn these small disks of yumminess into a full blown snack!

So this is what I did. First cook the tomatoes:

Slice cherry tomatoes in half  (I used a whole pint) and mince the garlic (2 cloves). Heat olive oil in a sauté pan (about 2 tablespoons). Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add some quality balsamic vinegar to the garlic (about 1/4 cup). Add the tomatoes and mix to coat. Let them cook away. The balsamic vinegar will reduce and become syrupy and the tomatoes will start to release their juices. You will suddenly have way more juice than you started with and that is all good. Just let it reduce down. You don’t want the end result to be soupy. You are looking for a thicker sauce.

Refer to this blog post for step by step photos on preparing the tomatoes.

Melt cheese (I used Monterrey Jack, but go with whatever makes you a happy camper) on a cooked tortilla and put it in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted. Top with some of the sexy tomatoes, jalapenos, and your favorite hot sauce.  Easy, tasty, and a lot of fun to make.

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