Archives for April 2011

Meatless Monday

Happy Monday,
I hope that you all are starting your week off on the right foot…whichever foot that may be. I know this week is bound to be eventful as I am headed to Houston at the end of the week for Easter. I can only imagine what chaos is to ensue with my family…there is always something going on. Not to mention, my poor little sister will probably be laid up in bed for a couple of days after getting her wisdom teeth taken out…perfect timing! Moving on…with spring here, and summer on it’s way I can only take this time to utilize the seasons freshest produce…the main ingredient today being sweet shucked corn. Now when thinking of corn, the first image that pops into my mind automatically is the beautiful rows of corn fields along Texas highway 71 each time I travel from Austin to Houston. The rows are just breathtakingly abundant, with each row perfectly aligned. Sometimes I just want to pull over on the highway and play a game of hide-and-seek beneath the gigantic stalks swaying in the Texas breeze. It truly makes me appreciate my state of Texas just a little bit more. Now, I used to be a corn phobic, but that was until I discovered corn bread, my favorite chili utensil…and now these little corny cakes have become the object of my affection. I am in love with the idea of combining sweet corn, fresh chopped green onion, and tangy buttermilk all in one cake. Whoever came up with the idea is purely genius…maybe his name was Johnny (this is a job for Google). I have noticed that some of the food blogs that I follow occasionally post a “Meatless Monday” blog showing how satisfying a meatless meal can actually be. I figured that since today is Monday, and this meal is Meatless, I would make this my first Meatless Monday. I hope that y’all enjoy this great meatless recipe for my debut and thank Johnny for his cakes.

Fresh Corn and Green Onion Johnnycakes

1 c. yellow cornmeal
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour (for gluten-free use almond flour)
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/2 c. chopped fresh green onions
1 large egg
12 oz. bag frozen corn, defrosted (you can also use fresh or canned corn (about 1 cup))

1. Combine cornmeal and next 6 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add buttermilk, green onions, and egg, stirring with a whisk until blended.
3. Heat a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Coat pan with cooking spray.
5. Spoon batter by heaping tablespoons onto the hot pan (I actually used a tablespoon measure, I did 1 Tbs. for small cakes and 3 Tbs. for the larger cakes).
6. Turn johnnycakes over when the edges begin to brown (about 2-3 minutes).
7. Cook an addition 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.
8. Remove johnnycakes from the pan; cover and keep warm.

I serve these johnnycakes garnished with fresh chopped green onions and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. These pair great with a fresh veggie omelet or for those of you who refuse to try a meatless diet, a nice heaping bowl of Texas chili. Try these cakes with my White Chili recipe…sooo yummy!


Humming a Springtime Tune

Happy Sunday,
I hope everyone has enjoyed the past week. My week has been pretty busy and I apologize for waiting until today to post something. Anyhow, spring is upon us and with Easter fast approaching I thought I would share one of my all-time favorite desserts with y’all. I first discovered a delicious Hummingbird Cake at one of my favorite tea rooms, The Pear Tree. I believe I have praised this place once before in another blog post. While their lunch plates are to die for, The Pear Tree really satisfies my sweet tooth, especially with this cake. Now, the first time I had this cake at The Pear Tree it just so happened to be my birthday, I believe around two years ago. I had just finished a “light” tea room lunch with my grandmother, mother, and aunt, and was feeling quite stuffed. I soon began to feel as though I wouldn’t be able to look at food for days, much less even think about ordering dessert. Nevertheless, just as I was loosening the top button on my jeans for a little breather, the charming older waitress came barreling through the kitchen doors carrying a gorgeous three layer cake. I could actually feel my mouth begin to water as the cake sat elegantly on the cake stand, peering into my soul beneath the glass dome that encased it. It was as though it were a famous portrait in a museum with a warning sign reading “Please look, but don’t touch!” At first glance I assumed that the cake was one of my faves, Italian Cream Cake, but I soon learned that this cake was something greater beyond my imagination. Apparently the “I want that one” expression on my face was obvious because in less than a minute my grandmother had ordered two slices of the stuff. Before digging in I analyzed the glorious masterpiece sitting in front of me. The cake was iced with cream cheese and covered in chopped walnuts and pecans, and with a name like “Hummingbird” I just knew I was in for a real treat. With first bite I fell in love, the cake was super moist with a lovely combination of banana and carrot (gotta love a cake with fruit and vegetables…getting my daily serving). Then came the tropical flavors of sweet and flaky coconut accompanied by the real kicker to this cake, pineapple. Suddenly I felt as though I were on the island of Hawaii, basking in the suns rays and sipping on an ice cold pina colada. Not to mention, chopped pecans and walnuts were nestled in the cakes dense layers, giving it a real crunchy/nutty factor. All this and did I mention the cream cheese icing? Oh my lanta! This cake is out of this world, and lucky for you I have decided to share with you the “bite sized” version of this cake, Hummingbird Cupcakes. Now, because I have a sister with food allergies and I want her to be able to enjoy the cupcakes too, I have included a gluten-free option within the recipe that uses almond flour. However, normally I would use cake flour or all-purpose flour with this recipe. However, surprisingly the cake tastes the same all together. Absolutely delicious! I can hear the hummingbird’s humming their sweet tunes with each mouthful of this stuff.

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Honey-Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing


For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 c. cake flour or all-purpose flour (use almond flour for the gluten intolerant)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. almond oil (you can also use vegetable oil)
2 eggs
2 medium-sized mashed bananas
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. shredded carrot
1/2 c. canned pineapple, with juice
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

For the Honey-Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing:
8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3 Tbs. honey or agave nectar
2 tsp. Mexican vanilla


For the cupcakes:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. Using an electric mixer, combine the sugar and oil.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the sugar/oil mixture.
5. Add the bananas, coconut, carrot, and pineapple to the mixer and combine until fully incorporated.
6. Transfer the wet ingredients in the mixer to the flour mixture, folding the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula.
7. Fold the pecans and walnuts into the mixture.
8. Pour the cupcake batter into a muffin pan lined with individual cupcake liners, the recipe makes 12 cupcakes exactly.
9. Bake the cupcakes for 18-25 minutes or until risen and slightly golden brown.
10. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

For the Honey-Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat all of the ingredients together on high speed until fully combined.
2. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, core the center of the cupcakes using a cupcake corer (you don’t have to do this step, you can just simply ice the cupcakes on the top…but I like to fill them with icing on the inside and continue to cover the top of the cupcake with icing as well).
3. Fill the cupcakes with icing using a piping bag (or you can fill a plastic sandwich bag with the icing and cut off a tip of the bag to distribute the icing).
4. Finish icing the tops of the cupcakes, sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped pecans, walnuts, and coconut.

I would serve these cupcakes with some hot tea, coffee, or a nice big glass of cold milk! FYI: You can find a cupcake corer at Williams-Sonoma for around $5.


Product Review

Moroccan Chicken with Apricot and Coriander
extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 11.7 oz. jar Al’fez Moroccan Tagine Sauce with Apricot and Coriander

1/2 c. of water
1. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat on the stove, drizzle with evoo.
2. Place the tagine sauce, chicken breasts, and water in the dutch oven.
3. Allow the sauce to come to a boil, cover the dutch oven with the lid, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
4. Cook the chicken for 30 minutes, turning each chicken breast over halfway through the cooking process so that they cook evenly on both sides (the chicken is finished cooking when the center of the meat is completely white).
5. Turn off the stove and allow the chicken to remain in the dutch oven.
6. Serve the chicken and sauce plated over a bed of rice or mashed sweet potatoes.

Wordless Wednesday

Fluffy Almond Flour Flapjacks

4 eggs
1 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. Mexican vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. almond meal
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
powdered sugar, for dusting

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and vanilla until fully combined.
2. Add the cinnamon through the salt to the mixing bowl and combine everything together with a spatula.
3. Heat a non-stick pan over low-medium or medium heat on the stove.
4. Add the flapjack batter to the pan using a ladle or a cup measure, working in batches, about 1/4 c. of batter at a time, creating small “silver dollar” size flapjacks.
5. Cook the flapjacks until small bubbles begin to form in the batter, about five minutes on each side.
6. Serve the flapjacks dusted with powdered sugar, fresh maple syrup, and a dollop of butter. If you are feeling more like dessert, add some homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries to the top, bada-bing, bada-bing-bang-boom!

Note: Do not cook these flapjacks over high heat! The lower the heat, the better! They will burn easily if cooked past a medium temperature.


Simply Tart

Howdy everyone!
I hope that you all enjoyed the weekend thoroughly. I know that I sure did!!! I spent half my weekend in the kitchen, and half my weekend at the grocery store…so, you can imagine that my bank account is slowly but surely dwindling down…just kidding!!! Anyhow, today I will share with you a recipe for what is possibly one of my favorite go to desserts…Tart Frozen Yogurt! I first discovered my love affair with tart in Santa Monica, California. I was there visiting some family and of course we had to explore all the local restaurants, which meant dining out at every single meal. One night after gourging ourselves on a rack of ribs, half a chicken, and all the fixin’s at a local barbecue dive (of course the place was owned by Texans), we got it in our crazy heads that there was still room for dessert. So, we headed over to a local California landmark…Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt. Now, me being a Texas gal I had no idea what to expect, after all, I was accustomed to eating homemade Blue Bell right out of the carton and on occasion, heading over to one of the still existing TCBY’s for an ice cream sandwich. When we arrived, I knew instantly by the long line of people standing outside of the door that we were in for a real treat. And a treat it was…I loaded my carton up with tart fro-yo and raided the topping bar, filling my cup with fresh strawberries, shaved coconut, and some cinnamon toast crunch cereal…out of this world!!! Now, I was disappointed upon my return to Texas seeing as we hadn’t jumped on board the fro-yo train…until now that is. Right now, the Yogurt Spot here in Austin is my addiction for fro-yo. You can find me here almost any night of the week, getting my fro-yo take-out for my after dinner dessert. I absolutely love this place, not only do they have the best tart around, but they have 16 different flavors of fro-yo and 30 types of toppings to go crazy with. My other faves of theirs include the Strawberry Fields Forever, which is a play on their original tart, but with strawberries. I also love the Tiki Taro, Green Tea Envy, and of course, the Peanut Butter flavor. Not only is this stuff absolutely delicious, it is really, really, ridiculously healthy for you, so you can feel great about your daily indulgence. Here are some of the nutritional facts to convince you. While the Yogurt Spot has definitely won my heart over, they have also won over my wallet. So, in order to recession-proof myself I have created a recipe for my own tart fro-yo. This is the most simple and delicious tart fro-yo that you will ever make in your life. It has two ingredients: Greek yogurt and sugar. It’s the Greek yogurt that really makes the fro-yo “tart.” One bite of this fro-yo and you will be hooked! Now, if only I could find myself a nice Greek husband with a boat load of this stuff…now, that’s an idea.

Simply Tart Frozen Yogurt:

24 oz. Greek yogurt
1/2 c. granulated sugar

1. Place the bowl of your electric ice cream maker into the freezer, wrap with plastic wrap, and allow to freeze overnight, or for 24 hours, otherwise your yogurt will not freeze when it is being prepared.
2. Place the Greek yogurt and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and combine with a spatula.
3. Pour the yogurt into the freezer bowl and place the bowl on the stand of the electric ice cream maker.
4. Turn the mixer on and allow the yogurt to churn for 30-45 minutes, or until thick and creamy.
5. Pour the fro-yo into an airtight container and place in the freezer.

Toppings: Be creative!!! I go crazy with toppings, usually it’s kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and coconut for me. I would suggest having a fro-yo party and serving several different toppings, such as a variety of cereals, fruits, sprinkles, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and whipped cream. The sky is the limit!