Monday, June 30, 2014

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Don't waste your money on taco seasoning packets any more! This recipe is quick, simple and cheap! I usually make a big batch and just stick it in my spice cabinet so I always have it on hand. Recipe is from One Hundred Dollars A Month.

4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp salt

Real simple directions, throw everything in a small bowl, give it a stir and season away! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brownie Bombs

These are called brownie bombs because once you bite into them, there is an explosion of deliciousness! Edible chocolate chip cookie dough (no eggs), wrapped in a brownie, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with M & M's. Yes, they tasted divine and yes I may have ate one (or two...or more) but once you make them you'll understand why! So as I've stated before, I don't bake very often. I find baking to be a science while cooking is an art. I'm not too good at science but I get a lot of good tips from my friend, Linda, who blogs at TodaySheloves. I merged two recipes to create this awesome bomb of deliciousness, the cookie dough recipe adapted from SeededAtTheTable (which you should try in it's entirety some time) and the idea came from The Domestic Rebel though I didn't follow the recipe. So here is the tasty treat I know you're dying to try!

For the Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

You can either use your own recipe or cheat a bit like me and use a box! Make sure it fits an 11 X 8 pan

16 oz of premium white chocolate baking chocolate
mini M & M's 

These take a little while to make but trust me they are worth it! First you need to make a pan of brownies. I used 1 box and put it in an 11 X 8" glass pan. I cheated and used a brownie mix but if you have a home made recipe you can use that. I baked them in foil so that I could just pull the foil out of the pan and it makes it easier to cut into squares.

You have to let them cool completely once they are done. So set aside and start working on your cookie dough.

If you have a cookie dough recipe you can use that but here is a great one if you need it. If you do use your own, make sure it doesn't call for eggs because we will not be cooking the cookie dough. Add the 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar to a bowl.

Cream together until smooth

Next add the 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the sugar and blend until a ball forms and flour is fully incorporated

Then pour on your 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Kneed the chocolate chips into the dough 

Take a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon and then roll that until a ball. Pop it into the freezer for about an hour.

Once your cookie dough is hard in the freezer and your brownies are completely cooled, cut the brownies into 1 inch squares.

Take one of the squares and squash it down with the palm of your hand. Sorry for the blurry picture, it didn't seem blurry on my camera.

Take one of the cookie dough balls and stick it on top of your smashed brownie.

Then roll the brownie up around the cookie dough. You might have extra and you can tear that off to smash into another brownie if you need to. 

It's also alright if your brownie doesn't cover the cookie dough completely. It will be covered in chocolate and you won't see it. Or you can add extra bits of brownie if you have them 

Once they are all wrapped up in brownies, stick them on a foil wrapped pan and in the freezer for about 30 minutes. A tip, if you put them in two separate pans, keep one in the freezer while you work with the other so they stay cool. If they start to warm up the brownie will fall off when dipping in the chocolate.

When the brownies are frozen, it's time to melt your chocolate. I used 4 of these for all of my brownie bombs (16 oz of chocolate). 

So next dip your brownie in your melted chocolate and place back on the foil baking sheet to harden.

While it is still wet, sprinkle with mini M&M's. I put some on top immediately after I dipped them and then I added some to the sides after it hardened a little bit. If you put them on the sides too soon they will slide down to the bottom. 

Pop them in the fridge so they harden and then enjoy! I kept them in the fridge, I'm not sure how they will be if you take them out but my husband took some to work and they were fine (but they were eaten quickly!)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Scrumptious Strawberry Soup

A few years ago, I worked at a wonderful museum in a little town in Oklahoma. There was a restaurant nearby that for a just a few weeks in the summer they would sell strawberry soup. On days they sold it (every 2 or 3 days, not everyday), the line was out the door. It ranks up there with one of the best tasting, most mouthwatering thing I have ever. I found this recipe on NoBigDill and adapted it slightly. And although this doesn't taste quite like the little restaurants, it's still very good. And it's simple and quick, I like that. It can be made as a side dish or used as a dessert, it's so versatile! I make it every few weeks in the summer time. Life is too short to not indulge in this summer time treat!

1 pint strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup honey
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of salt
a few mini chocolate chips (optional)

Cut the strawberry tops off and cut them in half 

Put them in a blender

Pour a 1/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup orange juice into the blender with the strawberries. Blend until smooth

Add the pinch of salt and 1/8 tsp ground cardamom. Blend again until smooth. Taste. If desired add more cream for a creamier flavor, add more honey if you want more of a sweet flavor (if using as a dessert do this).

You can add whole strawberries as a garnish if desired. Use this as a side dish to dinner.

If making this as a dessert, sprinkle a few chocolate chips in the soup. Tastes delicious! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Simple Sushi

Sushi looks so hard but it's really easy! And the fun part is, you can put whatever you want in the middle so it's super fun to play around with new foods. I've been making sushi for almost 3 years. When my husband and I got married, we eloped (without notice) and didn't have a registry. Although we never asked or expected anything from anybody, our wonderful friends and family gave us lots of gift cards because they didn't know what to give us. It ended up being great because I ordered things I probably wouldn't have normally spent money on otherwise. One of those things was a bamboo sushi mat (they average about $7) and sushi stand (average $9). When they arrived in the mail, I thought "I suppose I need to learn to make sushi now." My husband was in Korea so I thought I had a few months to practice but I ended up with a perfect Sushi roll on my very first try! That's when I realized sushi was easy peasy. So try it out soon and let me know how it goes! I love hearing your stories!
1 cup of rice = 3 large sushi rolls (which get cut into smaller rolls

For 9 rolls:
3 cup of sushi rice (AKA Shari)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
9 sheets of Nori (seaweed) wrap

For 3 rolls:
1 cup of sushi rice (AKA Shari)
little less then 1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

fish, crab, avocado, cucumber, carrots, bell pepper are traditional. I like grapes and avocado the best.
Anything you want to try, experimentation is great!
Wasabi (Optional) 
Soy Sauce for dipping (Optional)

Bamboo sushi mat
Bamboo spoon (supposedly the flavor of the rice changes if you use a metal spoon. I have no idea, I've only used a bamboo spoon).
Chopstick (optional)
Sushi Mat and Bamboo Spoon

First thing you have to do is to wash the impurities out of the rice. Rinse the rice in water until the water turns from cloudy to clear, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Next, put the rice in a rice cooker. You can also cook it on the stove top, you just have to pay attention to it more.

Now add water. The rice to water ration should be 1:1.15 in favor of water. Basically, you just barely want to cover the rice with water.

Pop it on cook and let it go. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes. While the rice is cooking, you can go ahead and get the rice mix ready and cut your fish/veggies/fruit for the sushi stuffing.

Mix together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir together well.

This is how it should look when it's done. You only want to scoop out the soft rice, the parts that are stuck to the sides and bottom you can't use for the rolls. But feel free to scoop it out as a side of rice. It will mess up the texture of the sushi.

Use a bamboo spoon (or wooden spoon if you don't have one) and scoop out the soft rice.

Put the rice in the bowl

Pour the rice vinegar into the sushi rice.

Stir together well.

So I decided to use fruit! And since it's almost the 4th I decided to make some red (strawberry), white (Rice) and blue (blueberries) sushi! And then I cut up some grapes just because they taste so good in sushi!

Here is what nori sheets look like in the package. I got these at my local grocery store.

Take it out of the packaging and feel which side feels rough. You want that side facing up when you put it on the bamboo mat.

Now you need to get your hands wet. Always keep them wet when working with the rice and dry when working with nori. Get a handful of rice and make a ball in the middle of the nori sheet.

Gently start to spread it out until it reaches the edges. You want to leave about 2 cm in the upper margin clear of rice so that it can roll properly. Don't compress the rice, just spread it out until you have a thin layer.

Next put your toppings at the bottom (side closest to you) in a nice neat line. I put grape halves face down.

Next I added strawberries. You can add a few things to each roll but don't add too much or you won't be able to close it. About 4 things if they are thin, 3 if they are thicker.

Here is my 2nd roll just so you can see the red, white and blue sushi!

Take the bottom of the bamboo and fold it over. Roll it until the nori touches the rice. Tuck the seaweed into the rice and let the bamboo slide on top of the rice.

Tuck it in with your fingers. Firm but not super hard. Here is a side view. Don't worry, it will round out if it looks a bit square.

Next roll the nori and scoot the bamboo on top of the sushi.

Pinch the roll again and keep it tight as you roll

Continue to repeat until you get to the end of the nori.

At the end, be sure to pinch the end so that it's nice and tight. The rice will stick to the nori and keep it closed.

Ta-da! This is what it will look like when you're done.

Move it to a cutting board. Get a sharp knife really wet. Saw through the roll being gentle but firm. If it starts to stick, put the knife back in the water. Stick it in the water after each mini roll cut.

Do that for the rest of the roll and when you're done you'll have some delicious sushi rolls!

Fruit sushi close up!

Grape & strawberry and strawberry & blueberry sushi. Delicious and patriotic!