Sunflower Brownie

IMG_1379.JPGDon’t you love reasons to get creative? What’s better is when your vision comes pretty close to what you envisioned!

One of my daughters teachers has brownies listed as her favorite dessert. She also listed sunflowers as her favorite flower.

There is a brownie recipe that I discovered (and loved) several years ago. I loved the idea of “scratch” brownies and there was a great recipe on the back of Swans Down Cake Flour Box. I cut  it off and use it all of the time. I omit the Mint extract and add extra vanilla. Holla!FullSizeRender (12).jpg

So of course this time, I poured it in a round cake pan to make the center of the flower.

Then I researched a lemon cookie recipe that “seemed” good… and it is/was once I remembered to add the sugar. (oh dear…)

Lemon cookie recipe: https://www.modernhoney.com/lemon-sugar-cookies/

I haphazardly shaped the cookies into petal shapes and instead of crystal sugar I made a lemon cream glaze to make it more vibrant for the petals. For the lemon glaze I used powdered sugar and half and half. I mixed it well and then added lemon juice and yellow food coloring gel.

It was so fun and I think it looks adorable. After a careful quality assurance (lol) of the cookie taste and texture, I wanted to post this so I could recreate and find it later.

Yum and FUN!

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

soup

My wingding version that I loved.

Ingredients:

2 stalks celery

1 large onion

2 TBS butter

1 whole chicken

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 can of Rotel tomatoes with cilantro and lime

1 can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp of cumin

1/2 Mexican oregano

Corn tortillas sliced into thin strips and fried in canola oil

shredded Monterey jack cheese

Chopped cilantro

Sliced avocado

 

Directions:

Saute 1 cup chopped celery and 1 large onion in 2 TBS of butter until soft.

Add a whole Chicken and fill with water to cover chicken. Boil 1 hour.

Remove chicken and let cool before removing meat from bones. Strain broth and return broth to pot. Add all 3 cans of tomatoes and the can of black beans. Add chili powder, cumin and Mexican oregano. Add chicken back to soup and boil 45 min.

Serve soup topped with fried corn tortilla strips, cilantro, Monterey jack cheese and sliced avocado

Texas (quinoa) tabbouleh salad

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My mother-in-law and Texas native replaces parsley in many recipes with cilantro. This to me seems very Texas like so, with inspiration from her I made a Texas version of tabbouleh — with quinoa ❤️
Cook 1 cup of quinoa. Once it cools mix in:

A cup of cherry tomatoes sliced (or more)

1 whole cucumber diced

A bunch of cilantro chopped

1 mashed and minced garlic bulb

Juice of a half lime

1/4 cup olive oil mixed in

Salt to taste.

Mix and eat with or without sliced avocado.  Drizzle more olive oil on top and more lime juice if needed. (for intensity and moisture)

(This is fast metabolism diet friendly)

Yee haw!

Texas Chowgirl’s Pomarita

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This year, at our annual Give Party with The Gypsy Wagon, that benefits The Rise School of Dallas, we decided to serve up some Pomegranate Margaritas as our specialty cocktail for the event. One of the shoppers asked me what my secret was, and I told her that even though it should remain a secret that I would share. ha!

So here are the secrets to make these delicious, now coined by Carley of The Gypsy Wagon, Pomaritas.

Note: Don’t skimp on the pomegranate liquor. I already tried the cheap stuff for you and you will want to pass on it… unless you think cough syrup is delicious. If you are going to skimp, you can on the tequila. A good, inexpensive, one is Sauza.

Ingredients:

Pom (pomegranate juice)

PAMA (pomegranate liquor)

Tequila (any brand but I love Sauza)

Triple sec

Margarita mix ( Central Market makes the best fresh squeezed when you can’t squeeze your own)

secret

Shake together:

1 1/4 oz margarita mix

1 oz tequila

1/2 oz PAMA

1/2 oz POM

1/4 triple sec

Shake and serve over ice with a sugar (for Claire) or salt rim. Enjoy!

Pan-a-cakes

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Pan-A-Cakes

My daughter used to call them Pan-A-Cakes so now I do too. This recipe is from Better Homes New Cook Book. The tricks I learned along the way are not.

I cup flour

1 cup milk

1 egg

2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs vegetable oil

 

Mix it together —BUT wait— No too much.

Trick 1: Leave it LUMPY.  Really.  I learned  this one on a Food Network show.

Trick 2: Now let it sit for 15 minutes before you spoon any out on your skillet. Thank you Bobby Flay.

Trick 3: Your skillet should be medium high so you can cook the thick and fluffy cakes slowly.

Enjoy—Especially you Aunt Ilse!

 

Really Red Vegan Chili

Red Red Veg Chili
1st.
Soak dried red kidney beans overnight and them cook with salt and water for 2 hours the next day.
2nd.
Cook  red quinoa in vegetable stock (1 cup of quinoa  2 cups of veg stock)
3rd.
Saute carrots, onions and green peppers in canola oil. Add chili powder and cumin during the saute. Stir with a fun guitar shape spoon. Get one at http://the-gypsy-wagon.com

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Then  add 2 jars crushed san marzano tomatoes ( in  glass jars from whole foods)
Add about a table spoon of chipotle’s in adobo sauce
Add a little more veg stock (1/2 cup or so)

4th
Put in the cooked quinoa and cooked red kidney beans and simmered some more.
Option: add jalapenos and cilantro as a topping

I also think it might be nice with some red pepper to balance the sweet of the carrots. (next time)

Serve with a fun guitar shaped spoon!

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Brushetta time!

What to do with all of those home grown maters…..

Best of summer!

Ingredients:

 

2 tomatoes chopped (remove seeds if you are my sister…her recipe)

2 chopped garlic cloves

1/8 extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

12 (or way more) basil leaves

Mix all–spread on bread!

1/2 loaf of french crusty bread toasted with olive oil and rubbed with a clove of garlic

Shrimp Lomein

When I lived in Astoria Queens for a short stint, there was this chinese restaurant that had the most amazing shrimp lomein. I would order it every time I went. When I was at a Spec’s store in Temple TX the other day where I pick up my Udon noodles of all things, I noticed that they had Lomein noodles! Ha, I thought—there is my next quest!

This recipe is a work in process but I had to borrow from a few to make my own. I will try to improve upon this but I have to say, if I made it like this every time, I would still crave it. I just want to get more creative with the veggies for next few iterations.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. of shrimp cut up into pieces, peeled of course..
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (or more…I don’t believe in “too” much ginger)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup stock homemade or store bought
1 red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves chopped/minced
1 cup or more sugar snap peas
6.4 oz (approximately or more )lomein noodles
6 tablespoons of canola or peanut oil
Scallions

Directions:
Marinate prepared shrimp in cornstarch and rice wine vinegar for 15 minutes

Meanwhile, mix oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock, and sesame oil in a bowl. Let stand. (or sit if that is more comfortable : 0 )

Boil the lomein noodles but remove just before being all the way done…al dente style.

Saute ginger in canola or peanut oil and let the kitchen get all gingery! Then add shrimp until they turn pink. Remove.

Add a little more oil and saute red bell pepper and garlic. Once it starts to soften, add sugar snap peas and enjoy the beautiful colors as they swirl with your wooden spoon.

Add the lomein noodles in with the vegetables and pour in the soy/oyster/stock/oil mixture. Let noodles absorb the liquid.

Add the shrimp and ginger back to the pan and stir in.

Cut some green onions/scallions with some scissors over the dish before serving.

Serve immediately!

Yummers baby!

Mi Paella

Paella (Valencia) or (Dallas)

8 chicken thighs
1 kielbasa  14 oz slice on a diagonal or angle 1 “ wide (roughly)
2 onions diced
2 red peppers cut in strips
2 pinches toasted saffron
smoked paprika sprinkled generously or not on chicken thighs
3 garlic  cloves
2 Tbs canola/olive oil
3/4 cup frozen peas
6 lemons wedges
splash white wine
2 1/4 cups paella rice or short grain rice  2 1/4 cups
32 oz chicken stock

 

My love affair  with paella started when I lived in NYC. After having the he best paella I have ever had is in Bayonne NJ, I became obsessed. I kept trying different restaurants over and over trying to find some as good as what I had in NJ. Even when I was in Spain, I found it hard to find a dish as good as the one in the Spanish restaurant in NJ. My quest did lead me to my second favorite version of paella– in Amsterdam.. This recipe is closest to the Amsterdam paella that I had several years back. After several attempts and various recipes. I settled on this one. It is very much a comfort food dish!

Steps:

-Sprinkle smoked paprika on chicken thighs. Sprinkle lightly for a touch of smokiness and coat somewhat generously for more smokey flavor, let sit for an hour at least before browning.

-Brown chicken thighs, skin side down first in canola or olive oil. Brown each side. Remove from pan.

-Saute 2 chopped onions, 2 red bell peppers cut into strips, and garlic smashed and chopped until softened.

-Place browned chicken on top of sauteed vegetables.

-Add paella or short grain rice place around the chicken (not on top of chicken) but on top of veggies. Try to get each grain to touch the oil.

-Lightly toast the saffron  and add it to the warmed chicken stock.

-Add stock a little as you go. Use about 16 oz first. Once it appears to be absorbed, add the additional stock. You may not need all of the stock but you will probably use most of it, if not all.
-Once the rice starts cooking, add the kielbasa. I like the sausage cut at an angle in about 1 inch increments.

NOTE: I rotate my paella pan because I cook it in the paella pan over 2 gas burners. With my sister, we cooked it over 2 burners too on your glass top stove. Traditionally, paella is cooked over open flames much like an outdoor grill. This method works indoors if you don’t have the fancy 6 burner stove where each burner is side by side.

Let cook (while rotating, if necessary) for about 1 hour.

-The carmelizaation on the sides and bottom of the pan that happens is what to strive for.

-DO NOT stir this dish while it is cooking with the rice.

About 15 minutes before it is done, add frozen peas on top and lightly press into the rice.

-Serve with sangria! (see other post for that recipe)

Jalepeno Corn Dip

This came in an email to me and some friends from my sister.

Okay– this one is so good and so easy, I thought I would share with everyone!

Jalapeno Corn Dip (warm)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 -1/2 cup frozen organic corn
1/4 cup chopped jalapenos (jar) with some juice (to make it a less thick and spicier)

Add all ingredients to one bowl and Microwave until heated through. Stir. (may need to do this a few times– heat, stir, heat, stir)

Serve warm with with tortilla chips!  YUM!!
I bet someone will ask for the complicated recipe!!

Merry Christmas all!
Julie

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