Archives for July 2010

Uno, Due, Tre




















Hi ya’ll!!! I know it’s been a couple of days or so but that is because I have been busy, busy, and did I mention…busy? Anyhow…I made up for it in the kitchen today by creating a three course meal for my dinner tonight! These are three of my original recipes…and believe me I really “slaved” in the kitchen this time…creating these recipes back to back. I have actually never made any of these recipes before and I was really surprised at how fantastic they turned out!!! YAY ME! The first recipe is a Baked Tilapia encrusted with Parmesan, Pistachios, and Herbs. Get ready…I am known for my obsession with Parmesan (I usually go through a bottle of Kraft in about a week)…and this recipe really takes the cake. Not to mention, the pistachios add just the right amount of subtle crunchiness…love it! The second is a quick and easy side dish: I call it the “Bambino (Baby) Bella” Mushroom Saute with baby Roma tomatoes and Parmesan (once again…I warned you..I am an addict). Now the last dish is special…a little while back I stayed a weekend with my best friend Sanna and her family at their lake house in Kingsland, Tx, which is about 45 minutes to an hour from Fredericksburg. One thing I noticed when I arrived at the lake house was all the peaches sitting on the kitchen windowsill. Just my luck…Mrs. Bettis, Sanna’s mom, informed me of the peach tree in the back yard, which just so happens to produce some of the sweetest and juiciest peaches around. Needless to say, I went home with a bag full of these sweet little gems. Ever since then…every where I turn in Austin, I am greeted by these huge tents with the sign “Fredericksburg Peaches,” where peaches are known for being the “bomb-diggity”. Anyways…I have had this huge craving for peaches ever since my trip out to the lake…so naturally, I decided to give in to my craving and create a little dish of happiness, that I must say is peachy keen. It’s my Peach Raspberry Crumble…don’t forget the Blue Bell people!

Dish Uno:
Ingredients:
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 TB non-fat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
1 TB melted unsalted butter (I used Smart Balance Light)
Juice and zest of one small lemon (about 2 TB juice)
1 tsp. dried Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 TBS. crushed pistachios (I used pistachio meats…that was the name…don’t know if it means the inside of a pistachio…google it)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 6-8oz. fresh tilapia fillets

Directions:
1. Combine 1/4 c. parm with the remaining ingredients (except the fish), in a large bowl.
2. Coat fillets with mixture and place in a baking dish and let marinated for 15-20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Place fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet.
5. Spoon a few TBS of the marinade left over from dripping off of the fish…on top of the fish and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. Parmesan.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fish is flaky and topping is slightly browned. Do not overcook!
This serves 2, easily could be doubled for a family of four.

Dish Due:
Ingredients:
8 oz. Kitchen Pride Baby Bella sliced mushrooms
2 TBS. olive oil, plus 1 TBS. unsalted butter (I used Smart Balance again)
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 small shallot, grated
dash of salt and pepper
10 baby Roma tomatoes (sliced into 1/2’s or 1/3’s) (usually Roma’s aren’t small but I came across these at Central Market, cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes would also work just fine)
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Heat oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, be careful…don’t burn the butter.
2. Add mushrooms and saute for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in garlic and shallot and reduce heat to medium; saute for a couple of additional minutes, until mushrooms look brown or “caramelized.”
4. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
5. Lightly squeeze tomatoes onto the shrooms’ and drop them into the mixture, saute for an additional 3-5 minutes.
6. Remove from skillet, toss with Parmesan and serve.

Dish Tre:
Ingredients:
For the ooey-gooey filling:
6 Texas peaches, cut into small chunks
2 6 oz. cartons of fresh raspberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar (i used Splenda)
2 TBS. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. of lemon juice (I used half the juice of one lemon)

For the crunchy topping:
1/3 c. chopped almonds
2/3 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. rolled oats (the ones I got just so happened to be organic…but any other day, I would use the Quaker)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar (I used Splenda brown sugar)
4 TBS. butter (Smart Balance…again)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a 9×11 glass baking dish (at least I think it’s a 9×11) with PAM cooking spray and set aside.
3. Prepare the fruit (i.e. cut the peaches up), and layer into the bottom of the dish, layer the raspberries on top of the peaches.
4. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar, and flour evenly over the top of the fruit.
5. Squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the fruit.
6. Using a spoon, combine the fruit/sugar/flour/cinnamon/lemon together.
7. For the topping, chop the nuts if they aren’t already pre-chopped (I put mine in a Zip-loc and let out some steam with the rolling pin…so much fun).
8. Put the nuts in the mixing bowl along with the other dry ingredients, and combine.
9. Add the butter and combine until fully incorporated into the crumble.
10. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it entirely.
11. Pop it into the oven for an hour, or until the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is a golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Well…I hope ya’ll enjoy my three dishes…because let me tell ya’, I sure did! Mangia!

My Big Fat Greek…Tzatziki Recipe




I hope every one is having a relaxing Sunday because I sure am. Sunday’s are always lazy days for me…a day where I look back on what I have accomplished during the week, and then thank the Lord that he has given me another day of life. I have started reading a book entitled Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (by the way they are about to make a movie about it). I love the books message, it is about a woman who is recently divorced and is trying to find herself. So, she jets off on a year long tour to three different countries abroad, Italy, India, and Indonesia. I just finished the first section of the book where Elizabeth is in Italy. Needless to say, I loved it…Elizabeth’s writing makes me feel like hopping a jet to Italy, meeting a sweet, loving Italian man, and completely devouring Italy’s culture, one gelato shop at a time. Most of all, the way that Elizabeth describes her encounters with the various Mediterranean dishes of Italy is absolutely breathtaking…from the ricotta to the pizza…every taste is simply succulent (you can tell because Elizabeth gains 23 pounds while she is there, ha ha). So, the book has got me thinking a lot about Mediterranean dishes. Basically, over the past couple of years Les and I have become quite the Greek food connoisseur’s. We go on the hunt for the best Greek food…whether it be from a restaurant, or from the grocery store. We are absolutely obsessed with hummus, baba ghanoush, and tzatziki sauce. I was purchasing this one tzatziki sauce for a while from this “greek” restaurant…but then I learned the evil truth about the one ingredient that the “tzatziki” had in it…the dreaded sour cream. Now, don’t get me wrong sour cream is great, especially for baked potatoes, and things like onion and ranch dips. BUT…not for tzatziki…which is made with the one and only…Greek yogurt. If it’s made with anything else…it’s an impostor. In this case, don’t buy your tzatziki sauce from a place run by Spanish cooks. Being a purist, I decided to make my own tzatziki…and if I must say so myself I have pefected it. If I had a Greek grandmother, I know she would be soooo proud. Honestly, I seriously would have no objection to immersing myself in the Greek culture because their food is something I eat on a weekly basis (make that a daily basis (at least with the tzatziki). Anyways…here is my tzatziki sauce and I hope ya’ll enjoy it! (P.S. no need to worry about the extra pounds with this dish, it’s pretty healthy, so indulge)!

Ingredients:
1 cucumber (I use 1/2 of a seedless cucumber, depending on the size), diced
1 bushel of fresh basil
1 bushel of fresh mint
1 bushel of fresh dill
5-10 cloves of garlic
1 35.5 oz container of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (I use FAGE (pronounced FA-YEH) because it is pre-strained, so it’s pretty thick) (If you buy any other Greek yogurt, I recommend straining it in a cheesecloth over a bowl during the night…or at least a couple of hours, so the yogurt can have enough time to thicken)
1-2 TBS. freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt
pepper

Directions:
1. Cut the cucumber lengthwise and discard all of the seeds using a spoon.
2. Dice the cucumber and place it in a strainer over a large bowl for 30 minutes and sprinkle with salt (this strains the water from the cucumber, allowing it to lose some of it’s moisture).
3. Using a food processor, combine the cucumber, garlic, mint, dill, and basil (you can try cutting these herbs, but I find it a drawn out process…so I just tear the leaves off the stems and throw them in!) (By the way, you don’t have to use all of these herbs..traditionally, tzatziki contains mint, dill, or both…and on occasion I have seen recipes with basil…I prefer all three, but you can adjust to your liking).
4. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the food processor, blend well.
5. Place in a sealed container in the refrigerator for two hours to chill.

I recommend serving this with pita bread. You can buy pita bread at the store and pop it in the oven for 5 minutes to warm. Also, I love this dip with any raw vegetable…mainly carrots and cucumbers. I also drizzle it over a fresh green salad, layered with tomatoes, and topped with feta cheese! Opa!

“I love you and I bless you”








Well, today is a special day…6 years ago, on July 17, 2004 my Peepaw (or “Peeps,” as we liked to call him), William H. Ethridge, lost his battle with leukemia. You know it’s funny how sometimes we remember things so clearly that happened so long ago…yet this morning I forgot my grocery list that I had spent 25 minutes putting together, ha ha! In this case, I remember the events of the very day Peeps died, but most of all I remember the moment I heard of his passing. It was very late at night, and my sister and I were staying at my Aunt Liz and Uncle Eric’s house with their four kids. We were all pretty worn out from the days events…I had practically been at the hospital the entire day until my father told me to go home and rest. Anyways…all of us kids grabbed the mattresses in the house and drug them into my Aunt Liz’s room so that we could all sleep together. It was as though none of us wanted to be alone because we knew he was going to die. I remember the look in my Uncle’s face when he heard the news and immediately…i knew. It’s amazing though…I was feeling so much pain, but being surrounded by the warmth of my cousins and my aunt, I felt protected. I have a lot of fond memories of my grandfather, he is the one who got me eating burnt toast with butter (now I practically char my toast before eating it). One of the memories I enjoy the most is watching him make a big pot of his pasta sauce and signature meatballs. I would spend the night at my grandparents house and my grandfather would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to stir his pasta sauce and meatballs, that had been slow-cooking in the oven for hours. I remember hearing the creaking of the wood floors as he trudged sleepily down the hallway. Then he would bend over the oven to taste the sauce, smiling from ear to ear at perfection. Sometimes I would even act like I was getting up to use the restroom, just so that I could sneak a peak. My Peeps taught my Dad how to make his meatballs, and my Dad in turn, taught my sister and I. Today would have been a perfect day to make his meatballs…but if you think I’m sharing those ingredients you’ve got another thing coming. That recipe is sacred and it STAYS IN THE FAMILY…so fuh-get-aboutit! One last thing that I enjoyed about my Peeps is that he would always hang up the phone the same way by saying “I love you and I bless you.” While I can’t bring myself to share my Peeps’ meatball recipe, I do have an excellent recipe to share today that I saw in a magazine a while back…but of course I had to make a few changes to make it my own unique dish. Today I decided to channel my inner Latina and make a Catfish dish baked in a Homemade Green Salsa. Here it is!

  • Ingredients:

    1 tablespoon butter

    2 tablespoons flour

    3/4 cup coarsely chopped tomatillos

    1/2 of a yellow onion, coarsely chopped

    2 fresh poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped

    1/4 cup packed, coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

    1/2 cup chicken broth

    1/2 cup Non-fat Greek Yogurt (the recipe originally used sour cream but Les has extreme allergies to heavy dairy products, plus Greek yogurt gives the dish that zing that it needs)

    1 to 2 tbsp. lime juice

    2 boned and skinned Catfish fillets( the recipe calls for Halibut, but at 19.99/lb, Central Market can throw that fish back in the ocean…I prefer 2 LARGE pieces of Catfish for $1.36, this recipe might also work well with Tilapia)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large frying pan, melt butter over high heat. Stir in flour, remove from heat, and mix to form a smooth paste.

    2. Scrape flour paste into a blender. Add tomatillos, onion, chiles, chopped cilantro, chicken broth, and Greek yogurt. Whirl until smoothly pureed. Pour green sauce back into frying pan; add salt and lime juice to taste.

    3. Rinse fish, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Set pieces slightly apart in an 8- by 12-in. baking dish.

    4. Bring green sauce to a boil over high heat, stirring. Pour evenly over fish.

    5. Bake fish until it flakes but still looks moist in the center of the thickest part (cut to test), 15 to 20 minutes.

    6. With a wide spatula, transfer fish to plates. Spoon sauce over portions, sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

    I hope ya’ll thoroughly enjoy this recipe…the sauce pairs excellent with the fish…it has a creamy texture and a zesty/spicy taste to it. I would serve it with a small side salad topped with cotija, or feta cheese. Also, it would be great over a bed of Mexican rice. Also, this salsa is amazing and could be used raw with any of your favorite tortilla chips. Now…give me some queso, a margarita, and I am ready to party! Ole!

    P.S. I love you and I bless you all!

Even with pie a la mode!






Hey ya’ll!!! Lately me and my sis Les have been watching a lot of old movies…most of them being the ones that made a significant impact on our early years. A couple of weeks ago we watched My Girl…a classic. I remember that Les and I wanted to be Vada Sultenfuss, the “all-American girl”, with her blue jean shorts, paisley white cropped blouse, and her signature mood ring. I can even remember going straight to the dollar store to purchase my mood ring after watching the movie for the first time. Anyways…my favorite part of the movie is when Vada is reading the poem she wrote aloud to her poetry class, and to her hunk of a teacher, Mr. Bixler. She gets to the last verse where she is talking about ice cream, and she says “even with pie a la mode.” Every time I hear this verse I think of pie, apple pie in particular, mainly because I love mine with ice cream. So…today I made an “all-American” dessert to go with that “all-American” girl. The pie isn’t your normal apple pie…you know I had to branch out from the usual. Here is my Apple Coconut Custard Pie. I hope ya’ll enjoy (by the way the crust is my favorite part)!

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. finely chopped pecans
1 stick butter, I used 8 Tbs. of Bummel and Brown butter with yogurt (it’s all I had on hand and it has a really creamy texture)

For the filling:
1 can of apple pie filling (I used Lucky Leaf brand)
2 Tbs. cinnamon
2 Tbs. sugar

For the custard:
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. hot milk (I put it on the stove, but I’m sure it would work fine in the microwave)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9-inch pie pan or a spring form pan with cooking spray (I used a spring form, but next time I will use a pie pan).
2. Using a stand mixer, beat the flour, butter, and pecans together until fully incorporated to form a crumbly mixture.
3. Press the crust into the pie pan, working up the sides of the pan if using a pie pan.
4. Pour the can of apple pie mix over the crust.
5. Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the apple pie mix.
6. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the cinnamon/apple pie mix.
7. For the custard, beat the eggs in a bowl with a whisk.
8. Heat the milk and pour into the eggs, whisking very fast.
9. Pour the custard over the pie.
10. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

Now, enjoy with your favorite ice cream…I recommend Blue Bell homemade vanilla…it’s always a winner!

A walk down Kerbey Lane….

All righty ya’ll, I don’t have a recipe of my own to share with you today. However, I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects: breakfast. I LOVE BREAKFAST! I honestly think it’s the best meal of the day. Seriously….when I was young I looked forward to waking up to a big bowl of piping hot, thick, cream of wheat, or if it was my birthday….a stack of shortcakes with a candle in the middle (prepared by my dad himself). Sometimes I even get a little teary-eyed just thinking about my mamaw’s homemade biscuits with a slab of apple butter. Delish! To this day…even when I go back home I try and make breakfast the most memorable meal of the day. I enjoy those mornings sitting in the kitchen with my parents, sipping on a fresh cup of hot Jo, and sharing great conversation. When I go home to Houston, my sister and I have made it a habit to leave on Sunday mornings so that we can grab breakfast with our parents and hit the road. Usually, we go to a little joint off telephone road that we have been going to since I was a youngin’, Franks Grill. This place is the mecca of all breakfast places. The coffee is A+, and not to mention the food, which is spectacular. I am talking waffles and pancakes bigger than my head. I never stray from my usual, a gigantic 3 egg veggie omelet, stuffed with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, served with a side of the best hash browns in the world (made especially crispy by Chef Juan himself), buttered wheat toast, and a side of homemade picante. Needless to say if I was on my deathbed…this would be my last meal. Now I live in Austin so Franks only comes around once in a while when I visit Houston. So….what’s a girl to do in this situation? Find a makeshift breakfast place, of course! Almost two years ago I found my substitution breakfast joint, the Austin landmark, Kirbey Lane Cafe. This is Frank’s little sister with an Austinite feel. Anyways my sister, and partner in the hunt for awesome breakfast, Les have made this our go-to joint around every two weeks when we are missing home. We usually find ourselves at Kirbey on Sunday mornings, trying to tackle the crossword puzzle in the local newspaper, while conversing with our usual server MOTT MAN. While Kirbey is known for their variety of pancakes, I am a purist and prefer their omelet stuffed with spinach, artichokes, and mushrooms. A few months ago in November…Lessy and I woke up on a freezing Sunday feeling like a “Kirbey morning”. So, we hopped in the car and took a short drive to Kirbey. I was all set to order my usual when I walked into Kirbey and saw the daily special. I was a little weary of going outside of my comfort zone, but this plate looked phenomenal, so phenomenal, that I had to take a picture of it’s perfectness the moment I was served. The dish was an open-faced egg white omelet layered with sauteed mushrooms,onions, and Kirbey’s signature Verde salsa. The topping was the finale, with crumbled crispy bacon, strips of avocado, and a garnish of cilantro (see dish above). After one mouthful, I was SOLD! The flavors of the dish left me speechless. There were simply no words for such a special dish. Indeed…this meal was a “special” dish that would sadly never be served at Kirbey again. So, I decided that I needed to cherish every bite while I could and then go home and re-create it. I have tried to recreate the flavors of the dish and have come so close. I think the key ingredient I am missing is Kirbey’s Verde salsa, which is a secret that will never be given up. Anyhow, I thought I would just share one of the best breakfast’s that I have ever enjoyed with ya’ll. To end, I encourage ya’ll to venture beyond the old bowl of cereal or the original pop-tart, and enjoy breakfast with your loved ones every chance you get!