Friday, March 30, 2012

The Spice of Life

One of my favorite stores is the Savory Spice Shop in Austin, TX. This store has every type of spice you can possibly imagine.

The inviting aroma outside the shop beckons you to come inside.

Once inside, you are greeted with rows and rows of wonderful spices.
Customers are encouraged to smell and taste the products before purchasing. 

They have an assortment of sampler boxes that would make fabulous gifts. 
Wouldn't this "Best of BBQ" be great for a man that loves to grill?

How about this for the baker in the family?

In addition to spices, they have a great selection of extracts.

I've purchased this "Lake Barkley Fried Chicken Seasoning" and honestly it smells just like fried chicken.

They also have the hottest chile pepper known to man. The revered Ghost Chile. I was offered a smell or taste, but I wanted to still have my taste buds for lunch.

These would make great hostess gifts.

Check out their selection of Chile blends and Chiles. I never realized there was such a variety. I purchased a container of some Aleppo chilies and some New Mexican mild green chile powder. I'm looking forward to experimenting with these. 

If you don't have a store in your area, you can always order off their website at: Savory Spice Shop. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coq Au Vin

 I have recently challenged myself to move beyond my culinary comfort zone. For some reason Coq Au Vin seemed very intimidating to me. In French, it literally translates to "Rooster in wine". Maybe because it is a French dish or because of the whole rooster thing, I would always shy away from making this dish. After reading through a couple of recipes, I realized it was basically chicken cooked in red wine. Now that is something I am comfortable with. This is a very hearty and warming dish. The veggies, wine, slow cooked chicken and fresh herbs all meld together into one big pot of deliciousness.

Coq Au Vin:

4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
2 chicken breast, skin on, bone in
4 slices Applewood Smoked bacon
1/2 small onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1/2 cup of button mushrooms, washed & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary
2 tablespoons flour
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a large Dutch oven on the stove. Add in 4 slices of bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon and add in chicken. Cook chicken, skin side down, for 5-7 minutes. Flip chicken and cook an additional 5-7 minutes. Remove chicken and place on a plate. Add in onion, celery, carrots and whole garlic cloves. Cook for 4 minutes. Add wine, chicken broth and salt & pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and add in fresh herbs, mushrooms and tomato paste. Mix well. Add chicken back into the pot. Place in oven, without lid and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and pour 1/2 cup of cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add in flour and mix well. Add flour mixture into pot and stir well.

Note: I served my dish over egg noodles. Garlic mashed potatoes would work well too.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

One Year Anniversary in our new home

I promise this will not turn into a decorating/remodeling blog, however, I wanted to share with you some before and after pictures of our new home. Sometimes it is nice to look back to see how far you have come. Thank you to my dear hubby for all your hard work and for making our house a home.

Living Room

Dining Room

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Potato Crusted Salmon with a Mustard Dill Sauce


My husband loves the potato crusted salmon dish that my mother makes. When I asked him what he wanted for dinner the other night he said, "Why don't you make the potato fish thingy". Of course it couldn't have been something easy like a turkey sandwich. This was my first attempt at making this dish. I can tell you the hardest part about it is trying to get the potatoes to stick. You are basically making hash browns on top of fish. I tweaked the original recipe to try to get the crust to stick to the salmon. I tried using a good binding agent, which fortunately, did not include super glue. Egg, flour, oil and mustard, along with a hot pan did the trick. Happy first day of Spring to you!

Potato Crusted Salmon:
4 medium Salmon fillets, skin removed
2 large potatoes, peeled and shredded (I used a food processor for this)
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg white
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large, shallow bowl combine shredded potatoes, flour, egg white, salt and pepper.
In another bowl, combine olive oil and mustard. 
Place salmon in the mustard/olive oil mixture, coating it on all sides
Place salmon in potato mixture, mounding and shaping potatoes on top of the salmon. 

In a large skillet (I used a cast iron), melt butter on medium high heat. Once skillet is hot and the butter is melted, add the salmon, potato side down. Make sure there is enough space between the fish to cook (I cooked 2 at a time). After 4 minutes, or once potatoes have started to brown, flip the fish and cook another 3 minutes on the other side. Finish baking in the oven for 3-5 minutes. 

Mustard Dill Sauce:

2 tablespoons salted butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in Dijon mustard, curry powder and heavy cream.  Whisk together to combine ingredients. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in fresh dill and remove from heat. 



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St.Paddy's Day Cupcakes w/ Buttercream Frosting


There is nothing better than pure, unadulterated buttercream frosting. As you already know, baking is not my forte, so I usually make my cupcakes with a pre-made cake mix. This buttercream frosting is rich, simple to make and all homemade. I always use this frosting recipe when I'm making cupcakes.

Buttercream Frosting:

2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar on low in a mixer. Add rest of ingredients and mix for about 5 minutes.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guest Post: Spicy Tandoori Meatballs & Cooling Yogurt Sauce

Hi, everyone! I’m so thrilled to be guest posting on Stephanie’s blog today! We recently started following each other’s blogs, and it’s been SO nice getting to know a fellow San Antonio food blogger!! I love Stephanie’s recipes, and her beautiful pictures always make me drool. The recipe I’m sharing today is Spicy Tandoori Meatballs & Cooling Yogurt Sauce. Meatballs are evidently one of the current hot food trends. That may be partly due to The Meatball Shop, a New York restaurant that specializes in a wide variety of tasty meatballs. It’s been on my list of restaurants to try for our past two trips to New York, but we never made it by. Fortunately, The Meatball Shop Cookbook just came out...I bought it a couple of weeks ago. Until I can make it there to eat in person, for now I can now make their delicious meatballs right here in Texas. After flipping through the cookbook, this was the first recipe that I decided to try.

These unique meatballs are flavored with a robust, earthy seasoning blend and roasted the oven. I opted to use ground turkey in place of lamb since that's what I had on hand, and I added some finely diced red onion to the meatball mixture. I also added granulated garlic and reduced the amount of cayenne pepper in the spicy seasoning blend. While the meatballs roast in the oven, you have a pocket of time to make the delicious cooling yogurt sauce that accompanies them. These meatballs are super-spicy – even with a reduced amount of cayenne, so this sauce is a must to serve on the side in my opinion! I opted to serve the meatballs as a mezze plate for dinner…I served four meatballs on a plate, along with toasted pita triangles, the yogurt sauce, lettuce topped with feta and zatar seasoning, and some hummus.

Spicy Tandoori Meatballs & Cooling Yogurt Sauce
adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 425. Make the spice blend by combining the following ingredients in a small bowl: 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. granulated garlic, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and set aside while you assemble the rest of the meatball ingredients.

Step 2: Make the meatballs by combining the following ingredients in a large bowl: 1 lb. ground turkey (preferably 85/15), 1 large egg, 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 1/3 cup finely diced red onion, the juice of one small lemon, and the reserved spice mixture. Use clean hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Roll the mixture into golfball-sized meatballs, and place them nearly touching in an 8x8 pan. You should end up with about 18 meatballs. Roast the meatballs for approximately 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and browned.

Step 3: While the meatballs roast, make the yogurt sauce. Add the following ingredients to a small bowl: 1 container plain Greek yogurt, 2 tbs. finely diced purple onion, 1 tbs. finely chopped cilantro, 2 tbs. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. salt, and the zest of the lemon used in the meatball mixture. Whisk well to combine and put in the fridge while the meatballs roast. When the meatballs come out of the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Assemble the mezze plates. Place four meatballs on a plate. Then, add toasted pita triangles, some of the yogurt sauce, hummus, and lettuce topped with feta cheese and zatar seasoning around the plate. To eat, you can make little pita-meatball bites or eat the meatballs with a fork and enjoy the pita triangles with the dipping sauces. Just have fun with it!

We really enjoyed these Indian-inspired meatballs…the exotic spices were different from the seasonings that I use on a day-to-day basis, but that's part of the fun of cooking! But beware…even reducing the cayenne in half, these meatballs are still REALLY spicy!! If you don’t like super-spicy foods, I recommend further reducing the amount of cayenne to ¼ tsp. FYI…I’m not a huge cilantro fan, so I significantly reduced the amount I used in both the meatballs and the sauce. Feel free to add up to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro to the meatballs AND up to 1/4 cup to the yogurt sauce. I personally find that a little cilantro goes a long way and that too much can overpower…but I realize that some people really love the flavor and might want a stronger cilantro presence in this recipe. The next time you’re looking for something just a little different for dinner, I hope you’ll give these delicious meatballs a try. They’re simple enough to make on a weeknight, but fancy enough to serve to (adventurous) guests!


I just wanted to say a huge, "Thank you" to  Wendy @ Wendy Weekend Gourmet for her guest post this week. I really enjoy reading her blog and I'm so glad I recently discovered it. The past couple of days have been difficult for me since I lost a dear, loved one. Wendy was kind enough to offer to write this post when I did not have it in me to write about food. Never underestimate the ability food has to bring people together. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Food Cuteness

{Image via}
 {Image via}
{Image via Fabulously Broke in the City}
Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Make ahead Meals for Friends and Family

 The way I express my love and support for friends and family who are going through a difficult time is to cook for them. I've come to realize there are several important tips when planning a make ahead meal. Here are some things I have learned.

 5 Tips for Make Ahead Meals:
  1. Ask about food allergies. Nothing worse than making a pasta salad for someone who has a gluten allergy.
  2. Ask what sounds appealing. Some people crave comfort foods while others might like a light soup and salad.
  3. Make sure the meal is easy to transport. For your sake, you don't want your casserole or large bowl of soup to end up on the floor board. Yes, this has happened to me.
  4. Make a meal that is easy to freeze. They might not have an appetite for a large casserole at the moment. This way they can always stick it in the freezer and eat it later.
  5. Cook something that will go a long way. This will provide for a large family meal. It also can be shared with neighbors or friends who might drop by. 

What are some of your favorite make ahead meals?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Garlic, Rosemary and Red Chili Infused Olive Oil


This is a great oil to dip bread into, drizzle over steamed veggies or cook with. It is the secret ingredient to my Tuscan white bean dip. I have no idea what the shelf life is because after I make it, it is gone!

Garlic, Rosemary and Red Chili Infused Olive Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
salt & pepper to taste


 In small saucepan, heat oil over low to medium heat. Add in garlic and saute until golden brown. Add in rosemary, red chili flakes and salt & pepper. 


Friday, March 2, 2012

A Tuscan Tasting

Tuscan White Bean Dip with seeded bread sticks and Olives with Lemon and Rosemary

Garlic, Red Chili and Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Kalamata Olives with Meyer Lemon Peels, Fresh Rosemary and Olive Oil

A little teaser for you of recipes to come...

Happy Friday!