Thursday, October 31, 2013

Can Salmon Cakes

Salmon cakes are just not my thing. I'm not sure what it is about them that turns me off but I generally turn my lip up, make a sick face and flair my nostrils at them. Mr.Perfect, on the other hand, loves salmon cakes. So... I've had to make my peace with salmon cakes and find a recipe that works for me. I like the ease and convenience of using canned salmon and I love this boneless skinless wild caught red canned salmon I get at my local grocery store, HEB.
What you need:
  • 1 can salmon (6oz) drained
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • olive oil for frying
What you do:
Combine the first eight ingredients in a bowl. Add more mayonnaise or breadcrumbs as needed.

Form the salmon mixture into patties. Place the patties on a wax paper lined pan or plate and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the salmon cakes until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.

I like to serve the salmon cakes over a spinach salad.

I topped the cakes with a little plain Greek yogurt mixed with horseradish, lemon juice, garlic and dill.
Now these, I'll eat!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup or Meatball Soup

I'm not sure if I've told you about my Italian grandmother? Anyway, she was a fabulous cook. I loved her homemade macaroni & cheese, cheesecake, potato salad and anything Italian. As Italian as she was, she hated garlic. I always thought that was strange. I, on the other hand, love garlic and use it everywhere, especially in my Italian wedding soup. My dad says Grandma made a soup similar to this (minus the garlic) and that she'd be proud (minus the garlic).

What you need:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½  teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon GARLIC powder
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup dry pasta (I used tortellini)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced yellow squash (or zucchini)
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 clove minced GARLIC

What you do:
Combine first seven ingredients and shape into small ¾ inch balls. Set meatballs aside.

In a large pot, heat chicken broth until it boils. Stir in spinach, pasta, carrots, squash, tomatoes, garlic and meatballs.

Return soup to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Allow the soup to slowly boil for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is done and the meatballs are no longer pink inside. 
Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, if you're into that kind of thing.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cake Mix Cookie Bars

Have you ever been desperate for a quick and easy dessert? So desperate that you'd throw out your halfhearted vow to cook only real, unprocessed foods. Yeah I'm guilty of that. I used box cake mix and pudding to make some chocolate chip cookie bars to take to a friend's house. They were good and so easy! 

What you need:
  • 1 box cake mix. I used white
  • 1 small box (3.4oz) instant pudding mix. I used vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1  1/2 cup chocolate chips or any add-in you'd like.
What you do:
Mix the first six ingredients together.

Fold the chocolate chips into the mixture.

Spread the mixture in a 9x14 greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven.

Let cool completely before cutting.
This recipe is quite flexible, any flavor cake mix, any flavor pudding, any add-ins. The flavor combination possibilities are endless...
Strawberry cake with white chocolate chips,
Chocolate cake with peanut butter chips,
Cherry Chip cake with chocolate chips,
Butter Pecan cake with pecans,
you get the idea!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Refrigerator Pickles

I’ve had a love affair with pickles this summer. It all started when someone brought a big jar of sour pickles to the beach. They were the perfect snack for a hot Texas day. After eating countless jars of store bought pickles I decided that it was time to make my own.

What you need:
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt
  • 2 cups ice
  • 3-4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion (red, white, yellow, whatever), thinly sliced
What to do:
Bring vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper flakes to a boil.

Boil until the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Toss 2 cups of ice in the pot and let the ice melt.

Pack the cucumbers and onion tightly in a jar. They are just regular, not special at all, cucumbers.

I used my mandolin to slice the cucumbers and onion super thin. (I love my mandolin slicer!)

Pour the vinegar liquid over the cucumber mixture and store in the fridge. They will be ready to eat tomorrow!

These sweet and spicy addictive little babies should keep for a couple months as long as they are kept in the refrigerator.

PS- These guys are quite spicy... and I love 'em! If you are not a fan of spice, use less red pepper flakes.

Here's a link to my mandolin.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rogness Brewing Company

I love visiting breweries, especially small craft breweries! Each brewery is unique and has a interesting history. Of course my favorite part of the visit, is the sampling of the yummy beer! This month I had the pleasure of taking a tour of Rogness Brewing Company. They are a small craft brewery in Pflugerville, TX.

Acquiring tickets to a tour at Rogness is super simple, just check out their website. When you arrive at Rogness you can buy a cool pint glass for $10. With the purchase of the glass you are able to get six generous samples.

As you sample their beer you are encouraged to explore the brewery, enjoy their picnic tables with friends, or even play a round of ladder ball in their outdoor biergarten. Children and dogs are free to attend.

Six beers were available to sample. Each beer had a very different and unique character. My favorite Rogness brews were the Ost, a delicious coffee porter, and Bella, a Belgian golden ale.

The owners, Forrest and Diane Rogness gave us our tour. They are passionate about their brewery, their beer and boy they sure do know their stuff!

I can't think of a better way to spend the afternoon, sampling some amazing beers with the brewers themselves.
So grab your bestie and head on over to Rogness for a tour and tasting. You'll be Hoppy you did!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Longhorn Cavern

We enjoyed a stay-cation this spring break. Each day Trouble and I did something interesting in our neck of the woods. It was fun to visit places we've been meaning to check out but just never got around to. One of my favorite trips was to Longhorn Cavern State Park, in the Texas Hill Country. Mr.Perfect even came along as he couldn't miss a cavern exploring adventure.

The cavern at Longhorn Cavern State Park was created by underground streambeds that carved out the rock. From 1934-1942 the men of the CCC, The Civilian Conservation Corps, excavated much of the cavern and built it's beautiful entrance and a building leading to the cavern. 

The cavern has a very interesting history. It has been used since prehistoric times by Indians, Confederate soldiers and outlaws. During prohibition the cavern was used as a speakeasy. Trouble loved hearing the stories our guide told of the caverns' past.

Walking through the cavern we marveled at the beautiful rock formations and imagined what interesting tales the cavern would tell if rocks could talk.

What a fun way to learn a little about geology and Texas history!
Guided tours are scheduled throughout the day. For more information on tours and fees, call (877) 441-CAVE (441-2283) or visit  Longhorn Cave Tours.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Blanton Museum of Art

I thought Trouble needed a little more culture in his life so this spring break we made a trip down to The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. Truth be told I'm a huge fan of Claude Monet's Water Lilly series. The Blanton Museum currently has a special exhibition that features art from the private collections of University of Texas Alumni. One of the pieces just happens to be a Water Lilly!

Trouble wasn't as excited at the prospect of going to an art museum as I was. He thought it was going to be boring. But once he saw some of the whimsical pieces featured at Blanton he changed his tune. Here's Trouble under Passage by artist Paul Villinski. Trouble loved the idea of a thousand black butterflies taking over an airplane.

They had an interactive area for further art exploration. Trouble learned about how color looks different in light. I learned about art in architecture.

Trouble brought along his i-touch and snapped a few pictures of some of his favorite pieces.
 Like this chocolate syrup version of The Last Supper...

and this mound of green candies shaped like a pickle.

The Blanton Museum of Art has so many unique and interesting pieces to see. Young and old would enjoy exploring the museum. Heck, Trouble was not bored at all. In fact he really enjoyed himself!

Trouble was so inspired he decided to give painting a try. My mom, Nana, gave Trouble a little mini acrylic painting lesson.
Thanks Nana for helping Trouble create his masterpiece, 
Papa Fishing!