Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kitchen Sink Pretzels

Last night I had to make over 30 caramel apples for a work Halloween party. It was fun but exhausting. Not to mention my entire kitchen was covered in caramel and bits of chocolate. Luckily, everyone loved the caramel apples but I don't think I want to look at them again anytime soon!

At the end of the night, I finally ran out of apples but I had all this yummy melted caramel leftover. I looked in my pantry to find a half eaten bag of pretzels and voila!

I laid the pretzels on a cookie sheet and then drizzled them with the leftover caramel. But then I couldn't resist and threw some marshmallows on there. And then I had some leftover chopped up candy from the caramel apples so I threw that on. O and some peanuts. But then I needed chocolate of course, so I drizzled chocolate and then white chocolate.

Needless to say, I threw pretty much everything but the kitchen sink on those bad boys. Ironically, you could even add apples in there, if you were eating them immediately.

So be sure to make these the next time you have leftover caramel...or anytime really! 





Kitchen Sink Pretzels
The Apron Gal

Ingredients

Rod shaped pretzels (although any kind would work)
Melted caramel
Melted white chocolate
Melted semi sweet or milk chocolate
Marshmallows
Nuts
Candy bits
Anything else you can think of!

Directions
Spread pretzels on a silpat or parchment paper. Top with candies, nuts and marshmallows and then drizzle with melted caramel and chocolates.

Let set in refrigerator and then break up into pieces.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Austin to Boston Food Swap: Part 1

As part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance I participated in the Austin to Boston food blogger swap. I collected local Austin items (and some Texas) to send to my new blogger friend, Elizabeth from On Tap for Today in Boston. The idea was we both received some new food to try and to also help us get to know what our own cities have to offer.

I had so much fun shopping for local Austin things. Some were new to me and others were old Texas favorites.

So, here they are! If they can be purchased online I have included a link. Enjoy!
If you live in Austin, these would be great gifts!

This is literally one of my favorite foods/sauces. I originally found this at Costco but turns out it is made locally! I also made my own copycat version -Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. Fischer and Wieser also has lots of other cool jams, jellies and sauces. I prefer to serve this on crackers with cream cheese-amazing! Or you can serve it over pork or chicken.
 Local honey from Austin from Goodflow Honey.
 Peach jam-so great on toast or used in a sauce. New Canaan Farms is located in Fredericksburg. They also make jellies, jams and salsas.
 Another literal favorite food of mine, not from Austin but still Texan! Get the hot ones, they are even better! Also, my husband doesn't like pickles but he likes these! They are crunchy, a little spicy and just fun to eat! Don't be scared, try them! Buy them at Texas grocery stores or from Talk O Texas.
 This is a famous green sauce from the HEB . It is great mixed with sour cream as a dip or cooked with chicken and veggies for a Tex Mex meal.
 Chewy pralines made with caramel and nuts. So delicious! Make sure to get chewy pralines, those are the best, not crunchy! I had pralines as our wedding favor and it was such a great Texas treat!

I got these at HEB but you can find them all over here in this great state!

 Stubb's BBQ sauce since 1968. They have great BBQ sauces and rubs. I also love Rudy's sauce. What can I say? Texans know their BBQ!
 I bought this air freshener on a recent trip to San Antonio and thought it was hilarious so 
I sent it along to Elizabeth!
 Whole Foods magazine, Edible Austin.

 Of course she needed a Texas cookie cutter too!
Central Market Hatch Green Chile Salsa. Austin-ites love their Hatch Chiles! They only come around one time a year so the bottled version will have to do!

I hope these give you some fun ideas for your next grocery store trip or for the upcoming holidays! Everyone loves getting food instead of fuzzy socks or blenders!

Do you have any favorite Austin brands or foods? Have you tried any of these?

p.s. I hope you liked your box Elizabeth! Soon, I will share my loot from Boston!
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Crock Pot Pork and Green Chile Stew

I just got back yesterday from my trip to Boston to visit two of my best friends. It was so fun getting to talk for hours on end, eat cannolis and pizza and to enjoy the crisp fall weather in Boston.

Why is it that old friends make you feel like life will work out? You can reminisce about the past, laugh about the present, and worry about the future together. I don't know what it is but there is something so comforting in a close friend. I look forward to growing old with these friends. I know we will laugh until we cry even when we are 80 and wrinkly and I look forward to that day (of course, I'm in no rush!).

Needless to say, I had a great trip with those ladies and was sad to say goodbye and come home.

I was even sadder to come home to an empty fridge.

So while I contemplate when I will have an hour to go to the grocery store this week, I leave you with a recipe I made last Sunday that was seriously amazing. I pinched and pulled a great recipe from Skinny Taste to fit with what I had in my pantry.

The pork in this is so tender and I love that you can make it as spicy as you want by adding more chiles and jalapenos. 





Crock Pot Pork and Green Chile Stew
slightly adapted from Skinny Taste

Ingredients

2 lbs (ish) pork tenderloin or boneless pork loin roast, lean, all fat trimmed off
2 tablespoons flour (optional or use rice flour)

3/4 cup diced onion
2 cans (4 ounces) of diced green chiles or whole green chiles (cut into rounds)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 7 or 10 ounce can of Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles)

1 can corn
1 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
 or garlic salt
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste



Directions

Cut pork into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat
a large skillet on high heat; when hot, lightly spray the pan with oil and brown the pork over medium heat on all sides, about 3 - 4 minutes total. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of flour over pork and stir to cook 30 seconds, sprinkle remaining flour over pork and cook an additional 30 seconds. This step is optional, if you don't have time to brown the meat, just throw it in the crock pot.


Add browned pork to the crock pot, along with the remaining ingredients.

Cook
on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours (if using a Dutch oven, cook on low heat for 3-4 hours). The pork should fall apart. If you want a thicker stew instead of a broth, stir in a few tablespoons of flour to thicken the sauce.


Serve over white or brown rice. Top with freshly chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Cowboy Cookies

I think I, like most healthy Americans, am always searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I don't think I have a "must have" list but I do like a soft cookie with lots of chocolate and a little crunch. I also try to avoid shortening whenever possible so it helps that this recipe doesn't have that!

Luckily my husband totally supports my desire to constantly try new cookie recipes as we search for some of the best! He is probably an ever tougher judge then me since he wants the perfect softness and is a traditionalist when it comes to ingredients.

These are definitely in our short list of current favorites. We made a bunch and totally intended to deliver them to people and of course, failed miserably--very typical of us. This always upsets me because 1. Jason and I proceed to eat way too many cookies if they are in the house 2. Inevitably, we can't eat ALL of them, so we end up throwing cookies away and I hate wasting food-particularly cookies! 

So don't be like me. Make these. Eat a few. Deliver the rest. Rest easy. Guilt free from eating 7.25 cookies. 

Happy Weekend everyone! I am visiting two of my favorite girlies in Boston this weekend but I will be back again on Tuesday! 






Best-Ever Cowboy Cookies
recipe courtesy Disney Family
 
Makes around 2 dozen large cookies


Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Directions 

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, blend the butter and sugars with a mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until fluffy, about 1-1/2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla extract.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture one half at a time. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Refrigerate the dough for 1 to 2 hours. This is crucial! It helps the dough stay together better for when shaping into balls. 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large, preferably light-colored baking sheet with aluminum foil, then grease the foil.Using a scant 1/4 cup per cookie (for me this was almost the full ice cream scoop size), shape the dough into balls and place them on the sheet about 2 inches apart.

Use your fingertips (or the bottom of a glass coated in flour) to flatten each ball to 1/3 inch thick. 


Bake the cookies on the center oven rack for 13 to 14 minutes, turning the sheet about halfway through. When they're done, the cookies should be very lightly browned and still look moist. Don't overbake them.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. 


Best served warm with a big glass of milk! 


Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thai Cooking Class

A few months ago, I saw a Groupon for a Thai Cooking Class for Two at Thai Fresh in Austin!
I snatched it up as an anniversary present for my husband and I. The classes only hold 12 people and are very popular so we had been waiting a few weeks to go!

Thai Fresh is a little Thai restaurant with cooking classes and a mini Thai grocery section. They offer classes several times a week like Thai Noodles, Thai Favorites, Street Foods and Thai Curries.

We chose the "Thai Favorites" class so we could see how our favorite Thai dishes are made. It was 2.5 hours long and we had 4 courses.

Here is the menu from our class:
  •  Coconut soup with chicken and mushrooms
  •  Pad Thai w/ chicken
 

  • Red Curry w/ chicken and seasonal vegetables



  •  Sticky rice with mango 

We had a blast hanging out with the other attendees, learning all about Jam-our awesome Thai instructor and of course, eating our creations!

If you ever have a chance to take a cooking class in general, I definitely recommend it! And if you live in Austin, I definitely recommend this fun class. Thai fresh is a no frills kind of kitchen but each couple gets to help make the foods and Jam explains about each ingredient. She also sells a lot of the harder to find Thai ingredients like Tamarind juice, Galangal and her favorite curries.


It was so nice to be able to buy some of the ingredients from the grocery so we could have everything we needed for when we made it at home!

 Our awesome instructor, Jam.
My husband definitely enjoyed all the food he got to eat!




I will share some of the recipes from the class soon! 
We had a blast and met some awesome people!
Thanks Jam and friends for a great day!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Beau Monde Dip

This dip is one of my favorite appetizers from growing up at my Dad's house. We would make this dip and stand around eating it for far too long! I still love it to this day and when I made it for a party last weekend, I made Jason take it away from me because I could eat it with a spoon or a fork or a knife...

We traditionally served the dip in a round loaf of bread, the best is pumpernickel-but since none of my grocery stores ever have that, the next best kind of bread is rye bread. Then if you can't find either of those, a whole grain or sordough will do. Feel free to eat the bread bowl once you run out of dipping bread or if you want to supplement the bowl, add veggies or buy an extra loaf of bread.

Dip the bread chunks and veggies in this and you will swoon! I love the dill flavor. Beau Monde is a spice that you can find in the spice aisle at most grocery stores. We pronounce it Boo-Monty in my family (much to my French speaking husband's dismay!) but feel free to say it the proper way if you prefer.



Beau Monde Dip
The Apron Gal

Ingredients
1 16 ounce container sour cream
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons beau monde seasoning (mine is Spice Islands)
1 1/2 tablespoons dried dill weed
1 1/2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley

Round loaf of bread (pumpernickel or rye preferred, but any will do)

Directions

Mix together dip ingredients.

If serving inside the round bread make a large hole in the bread (using a serrated knife). Reserve the bread from the inside and tear into small pieces to eat with the dip! Serve dip inside the "well" You can also skip the bread and just serve this with veggies but it is to DIE for with a good loaf of bread!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Insta-Yum September

Just another month of mouth watering photos for you to enjoy!

 If you are ever in Austin, you have to get a burger at Hopdoddy!

Yes, I finally went to Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin and was converted! 

The Llano Poblano made with Angus Beef, Pepper Jack, Roasted Poblano Chiles, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Chipotle Mayowas delicious. 
Jason had the Primetime with Texas Akaushi Beef (Learn more about Akaushi!), Brie Cheese, Truffle Aioli, Arugula, Caramelized Onions, and Steak Sauce. 

This burger literally melts in yoru mouth. It is more expensive because of the quality of the beef, but definitely worth it! We also had yummy fries with the chili cheese sauce that was to die for. Not to mention yummy fountain sodas. A great experience, and only about a 20 minute wait on a Saturday at noon-a miracle!
Our friend tried this seasonal goat cheese pumpkin milkshake. It was good but a little too tangy for my liking (even though I like goat cheese!).

 We also ate at Gordough's- famous for it's fun donuts!  They have donuts with fried chicken or donuts like this one covered in brownie batter!
This one was delicious: cream cheese frosting with strawberries.
My favorite burger place just down the street-Little Red Wagon.
Also, I just discovered their onion rings and they are fabulous!
Spicy tortilla soup from Little Deli.
Brazilian pizza from Sandella's Flatbread Cafe, it was good! (but you have to like thin crust pizza!). Jason had the Thai Peanut wrap and it was really really good!
Fish tacos from Z'Tejas. These were good! Their chicken quesadillas also had really great flavors. Not to mention the Austin 6th Street location is the original...very cool!
Chicken burrito bowl from Chipotle. I was surprised at how well I enjoyed this and didn't really miss the tortillas I normally have with the tacos. 

Okay so this isn't eating food, but I did get my 2nd cookbook from my favorite food bloggers, Our Best Bites. They are my #1 inspiration for my blog and I hope to be like them one day! You can get their cookbook from Amazon, Wal-mart or Costco.

Queso Flameado from Morelia's Mexican Grill. This wasn't nearly as good as the one we had in San Antonio. Still can't beat their fajitas though!
Edamame and miso soup from Beluga
Very low in points so that I didn't eat as much sushi!
Harvest salad from Corner Bakery. 
This was good, but the dressing was a lot of points and left me still hungry!
Mango Sticky Rice from Thai Fresh. More recipes and info from my Thai cooking class to come!

Orange peach snow cone from Austin Frigid Frog Shaved Ice. Good but snow cones rarely move mountains in my book. I would always prefer chocolate!
Chicken Satay with vegetables, brown rice, and peanut sauce from Whole Foods Market.

My husband and I both have October birthdays so hopefully that means lots of good food to come!

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