Monday, June 6, 2011

Pecan Pralines

Growing up, pralines were by far my favorite dessert. On the rare occasions my mother would make them my sisters and I would savor each and every bite. They never lasted long in our house and to this day my mouth waters when I think of them. I finally had the chance to make them with my mother the other day and despite having to throw out the first batch we had so much fun. The following recipe is quite easy if you have all your equipment set up ahead of time. Everything happens pretty quickly so it is key to read through the recipe before beginning. It is also pretty important to use a candy thermometer (we learned this the hard way) to get the perfect sugar consistency.

Pecan Pralines

3 cups brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups pecan halves

Begin by spreading wax paper or silpat across your counters. Bring the first 5 ingredients to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 236 degrees F.
Remove from heat, add pecans and vanilla and stir vigorously until mixture begins to thicken. Drop by spoonfuls onto the wax paper, reheating mixture slightly if it becomes too hard. Allow to firm completely and store in an airtight container. Yum!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kale Two Ways

Kale. I have never cooked it before in my life because I was intimidated. Now that Trader Joe's offers it prewashed, stemmed and chopped I thought I'd give it a try. My sister has been raving for months how amazing and healthy baked kale chips are. In the supermarket kale chips are around $6 per bag so the following recipe will save you a few bucks. I also tried a more traditional sauteed kale which turned out so good I downed it in about 3 minutes flat. The chips? Well, the chips didn't even stand a chance. They were gone before they even had a chance to cool. Give these recipes a shot; if you've never tried cooking kale before I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sauteed Kale

1/2 # kale, stems and leaves chopped coarsly
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup heirloom baby tomatoes, optional

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes (adding the pepper while the oil heats brings out more flavor and heat from your spice). Raise heat to medium high, add kale and water and toss to coat evenly. Cover with lid and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove lid, add tomatoes and vinegar and stir until tender and all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and black pepper.

Baked Kale Chips
1/2# kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Wash and dry kale, toss in the olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay kale out on lined baking sheets being careful to not overlap the leaves. If the leaves are touching they will steam, not bake. Bake until the edges are just brown about 15 minutes. If you can resist, let cool and enjoy.

Annual LSU Crawfish Boil

What better way to spend Memorial Day weekend than attending a ragin' cajin crawfish boil? For the past two years my friends and I have attended the annual Louisiana State University crawfish boil in San Diego. Its put on by the local LSU alumni and this year attendance reached over 3,000! Live music, authentic cajun food, free beer and spicy mudbugs draw the masses. The crawfish are shipped in live and very fresh straight from Louisiana and are boiled on site. You can watch the whole process while sipping a beer and throwing a football with friends.
My friends and I kicked it up a notch this year by bringing in games, snacks and what ended up being the highlight of the day: tequila lime jello shots re-envisioned into wedges.
I found and amazing step by step guide here and tried it out at home. It was trickier than normal jello shots but well worth the effort. The end result wowed the crowds and made us a few new friends along the way.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

currently snacking on...

Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar with caramel and black sea salt. Deep dark gooey caramel cut with just the right amount of salt. It's seriously addicting so watch out.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Brownies with Strawberry Ice Cream

What better way to end a barbecue than with homemade brownies a la mode? Since I've been seeing strawberries everywhere lately, I decided to incorporate some into my go to vanilla bean ice cream recipe. This can be d0ne with most fruits and berries, simply macerate them in a little sugar or sauté them for a few minutes to bring out their natural sweetness. Then you simply fold the fruit into the churned ice cream. I'm going to try this recipe with peaches as soon as I start to see them in the store. I love how easy it is to manipulate a basic ice cream recipe and create new flavors. Feel free to alter the following recipe by infusing the cream with a spice or adding different mix-ins. Have fun and be creative!


8oz dark chocolate
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Melt butter and chocolate together in microwave.
2. Stir in eggs.
3. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda.
4. Spread into a greased 13X9 inch baking pan and bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pint strawberries, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean*
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

1. Sprinkle the first measurement of sugar over the chopped strawberries, mix well. Sauté half of berries in saucepan for 2 minutes. Refrigerate and allow to sit while you prepare the ice cream.
2. Combine milk and cream in saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the pan. Add the pod and bring to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a bowl.
4. Whisk 1 cup of the boiling liquid into yolk mixture to temper it. Bring the remaining liquid back to a boil and whisk the yolk mixture into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture continually for about 2 1/2 minutes on medium heat.
6. Strain liquid into a clean container and place in fridge until chilled.
7. Pour liquid into ice cream maker and churn until thickened about 25-30 minutes. At this point, stir in the strawberries and place in freezer to set.

*Vanilla beans are much more expensive than vanilla extract, but they impart a richer flavor and are definitely worth the splurge when it comes to real homemade ice cream. Save the pod when you strain the ice cream. Simply rinse it off, dry it out and place it in your sugar bowl. Over the course of the next few days your sugar will take on a light vanilla scent and taste. It's a fun and easy way to enhance your morning cup of coffee!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blood Orange Jalapeño Margaritas

My sister and I created these margaritas last weekend at a barbecue. They were really fun to serve the quests because they made for lots of funny faces and wild guesses as to the components of the drink. When the ingredients of the margaritas were revealed, everyone was shocked but genuinely impressed that a jalapeño could add so much to the classic margarita. There is no extra sugar added to this recipe, so those of you who have qualms about the over the top sweetness of margaritas might want to give this a try.

You can alter the spice factor of the drink depending on how long you infuse the tequila with the jalapeño. We left it in the tequila for about two hours and the drinks had just a slight heat which was a really nice contrast to the sweetness of the blood oranges. The pink juice of the blood oranges gives a really pretty color to the margarita. If you have trouble finding blood oranges, you can substitute regular oranges. Have fun and enjoy!

Blood Orange Jalapeño Margaritas
makes about 3 drinks

4oz tequila
1 jalapeño
3oz blood orange juice
1oz lime juice
3oz grand marnier

Chop the jalapeño and remove the seeds. Let it sit in the tequila for about 2 hours. Strain the jalapeño. Add rest of ingredients, pour over ice and enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Need I say more?

Okay, maybe I do. For my birthday this past weekend, my sisters and my friends all drove up to Idyllwild, CA to play in the snow and celebrate. We had so much fun sledding, building snowmen, cooking big family style meals and playing board games by the fireplace. We were all thrilled when it began snowing upon our arrival at the cabin. Being raised in southern California, we were all quite impressed by the snow and the majestic calm and quiet that settled over the neighborhood (at least until the snow plow came). The snow inspired many fun activities and ideas, one of which where the Snowgaritas. Pretty simple stuff: pack a cup full of freshly fallen snow, add margarita mix and a splash of tequila and you're set!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...