Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hunger Awareness Blog Project - Day Three: Healthy Dinner ala Leftovers

Last night I surveyed the fridge and decided there was little need to make meal out of raw ingredients when I already had the makings of a good meal tucked away in my fridge and pantry. With a fresh tomato (purchased at the Farmers Market...hothouse tomatoes, yea!), some lettuce, ground turkey (which will be re-purposed in another meal later this week), the seasoning packet from a Hamburger Helper Crunchy Taco package (or taco seasoning), leftover mashed potatoes and a can of black beans, dinner was served!

Meat & Potato Pancakes
1 LB Ground Turkey
1 LB Mashed Potatoes*
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Egg
Taco Seasoning/Hamburger Helper Crunchy Taco Seasoning Pack*
Vegetable Oil, enough to fill about 1/2 inch of the pan you use to fry the pancakes

1. Brown the turkey, after it is browned, pour seasoning packet over meat, mix thoroughly.
2. Mix mashed potatoes and egg, once egg and potato are incorporated, slowly add flour until mixture is slightly sticky.
3. Mix in 1/2-1 cup of the cooked turkey.
4. Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet, once oil is sufficiently hot, drop large spoonfuls of potato mixture into the oil. Allow it to brown on both sides (approximately 3 minutes per side).
5. Remove from oil after cooked and allow pancakes to drain on paper towels.

*Hamburger Helper and Potatoes are on the list of items from the Foodbank.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hunger Awareness Blog Project - Day One: Breakfast

Many times we forget what it means to be without, no offense to the great food that my comrades in blogging put together but posting a recipe that involves popcorn and truffle oil (while tasty) is far from the norm. I have been lucky, food was never scarce in my childhood nor has it been in my adult life. In the Austin area that's not always the case, the Capital Area Foodbank (in conjunction with its many partner agencies) provided 18.4 million meals in 2009. Texas has the second highest rate of food insecurity in the nation at 16.3% (USDA - Household Food Security in the United States, 2008). More disturbing is the fact that most of the families served by the Capital Area Foodbank are not without employment, these families struggle to make ends meet and have to make the excruciating decision between paying for necessities like electricity and water or buying food.

Like I said, sometimes we forget. I am embarrassed to admit that I was shocked at the information I heard when at the Foodbank last week and extremely happy to join in an effort spearheaded by Addie Broyles (author of the column Relish Austin published in the Austin American Statesman) to raise awareness of hunger in the Capital Area, Hunger Awarenes Blog Project.

So I have taken up the gauntlet and have joined forces with my Mom to cook within the confines of an average week of food from the Capital Area Foodbank. Here's the list:

2 cans spaghetti sauce
4 canned veggies
4 canned fruits
1 meat selection example: 1 lb. of ground beef (the Capital Area Food Bank said they receive everything from hams, chickens to pig trotters)
3 drink items (choice of lg. bottle of cranberry apple juice & or powdered milk
1 bag spaghetti or egg noodles
1 bag of beans
1 bag of white rice
1 package of jalapeno slices
1 ready-made dinner (example: Hamburger Helper)
1 bag/container of oats
1 bag of cheerios
5 lb. bag of potatoes

This list can be offset by many of the food bank recipients being able to use Lonestar/WIC to help modestly augment the food at local grocery stores or even the Austin Farmer's Market. So Mom and I decided to offset with a small amount of fresh produce and dairy from the Austin Farmers' Market and our local grocery stores. Throughout the recipes I'll denote what comes from the box and what doesn't. I have used small amounts of things that are pantry staples (butter, sugar, flour, salt, pepper, etc.) that one would expect in an average kitchen but even those may be luxuries.

One thing I find extremely intriguing is that the Capital Area Foodbank strives to provide a well balanced and nutritious package to it's customers, even though they get a lot of non-perishable goods those items are all ranked based on their nutritional value and each box is given with health in mind. In the spirit of that idea I have attempted to keep my recipes very healthy, I may fail (we'll see) but that's my plan.

First on the list to tackle, Breakfast!

Oatmeal Pancakes with Brown Sugar Syrup

3/4 Cup Oatmeal**
1 Cup Prepared Dry Milk**
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Vanilla (optional)
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Melted Butter/Margerine

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tbsp Butter
Pinch Salt

1. Mix oats and milk, let stand 5 minutes.

2. While oats are soaking, combine all ingredients for syrup in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil, once sugar is dissolved syrup is ready (approximately 3 minutes). Let sit until you are ready to use it.

3. Combine dry ingredients with oat/milk mixture. Mix well.

4. Add egg and melted butter. After incorporated, pour batter onto hot griddle and allow pancakes to brown on each side, serve immediately.

Items marked with ** are included in the weekly distribution from the Foodbank

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Goodies!

Sometimes I luck into goodies, recently I've had the opportunity to taste two of Bertoli's new sauces, Four Cheese Rosa and Arrabiata. For both I decided it was high time I learn to use the pasta machine and make some homemade pasta. The first attempt at pasta was a simplistic situation, a little flour, a little egg and a little salt VOILA! pasta emerged :)

First I went searching for a good recipe, I ended up trying the first thing I saw on Google, it was a little egg-heavy but it tasted good. I went simple, shaping the dough and running it through the machine a few times to create a fettucini.

Pasta Rosa with Bacon and Onion

1 Jar Bertoli Pasta Rosa Sauce
1 Medium Onion, Thinly Sliced
6 Slices Bacon, Chopped
Parsley, for Garnish

1. Crisp the bacon in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Remove once it is crisp and set on paper towels to remove excess grease.
2. In bacon rendering, caramlize the onion until it is golden brown. Don't rush this process, allow it to slowly cook over medium heat until it's nice and browned.
3. Pour pasta sauce over onion, add 1 Tbsp reserved pasta water to the sauce and stir until incorporated. Add bacon and incorporate well.
4. Mix in pasta and allow it to sit in the sauce for a few minutes. Serve topped with parsley.

A very simple but very tasty use of the Pasta Rosa. The next dish I pulled together was a little more inspired as I went the Ravioli route, but that'll have to wait a day or two before it gets posted.

Thanks again to Foodbuzz and their partner Bertoli!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The. Best. Egg. Sandwich. Ever.

I'm not usually this dramatic about much but this is far and away my favorite version of an egg sandwich, it is flexible in what you can top it with and so good after a night of too much fun (ehm...not like I ever have one of those), the bacon, egg and bread hit the spot!

There's not much to say except TRY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT! This is one delicious sandwich :)

The Tastiest Egg Sandwich in Town
1 Fried Egg, cooked to taste (but best over medium or easy)
2 Strips Crispy Fresh Bacon
Sliced Tomato
Sliced Extra Sharp Cheddar
Fresh Lettuce
Bread (see note below)
Butter or Margarine
Salt & Pepper

1. Cook your bacon and your egg (not together) to the degree of cooked-ness you prefer.
2. Lightly butter your bread and pan toast until it is warm through.
3. Lightly spread mayo on one piece of bread, add cheese, tomato and lettuce. Place egg and bacon on the other side.


I've made this on everything from fresh french bread to ciabatta (like the one in the picture) to a fresh burger bun, the pan toasting is the key step you don't want to miss. I typically don't post things this simple but this is such a delicious treat I had to share!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

3 Guinness Night

So I might be a day late and a dollar short here...ok maybe few days late :) but after the St. Patricks Day fail I was determined to make the whole Guinness Bread thing work....which in turn means I had to figure out a way to dispose of more Guinness. I'm not a huge fan of really dark beer for drinking so I set about looking for recipes to use up my new found stash of Guinness. I settled on the re-make of the Guinness Bread, a Guinness BBQ Chicken Marinade and Guinness Brownies. So it really ended up more like a 4 Guinness night!

Speaking of Guinness, have you ever noticed the draught cans have an object in them...really something to the effect of a half-crushed pingpong ball. Well after opening and using so much Guinness I was desperately curious about the ball (aka 'widget') in the can. Interestingly enough it has something to do with creating more carbonation in the can and giving the beer more head. Well thanks Wikipedia for saving me the hassle of cutting the can open to figure out what's inside :)

On to the recipes:

Guinness Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
12 ounces Guinness
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 stick of butter(melted)

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add beer to dry ingredients and mix.
3. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.
4. Drizzle butter over batter.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Guinness BBQ Chicken Marinade
Seasoned Salt & Pepper
4 Chicken Breasts, Skinless and Boneless
1 Can Guinness
2 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Tbsp Dark Molasses
1/8 Tsp Tabasco Sauce

1. Season chicken with season salt and pepper.
2. Mix together remaining ingredients, pour over chicken. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
3. Cook chicken on grill or under broiler 20-25 minutes, marinate often with liquid.

Now, drumroll please, for the grand finale......

Guinness Brownies
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Natural Processed Cocoa Powder (I used Hershey's)
1/4 Tsp Salt
6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Cut into Cubes
8 oz Dark Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped
4 oz High Quality White Chocolate, Chopped
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 Cup Guinness Stout, at room temperature
3/4 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a 13 x 9 baking pan (grease and flour).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt; set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate in the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is nearly melted and still smooth.
4. Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and mix on high speed until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate slowly in two additions, beating on medium until combined.
5. Add one-third of the Guinness and the vanilla and whisk until combined. Repeat twice more until Guinness is done.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Spring chocolate chips over the top and bake for 23-27 minutes. Cool completely before eating.

All of these recipes are easily found all of the web but after much scouring and a little mixing and matching these seem to be the best compilations of these three types of recipes....definitely room to keep trying though!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Here Comes Peter Cottontail...

Spring time in Texas means wildflowers, beautiful fields of wildflowers. Driving on a back road to my house I saw these, I'm not really sure what they are, but they were stunning.

Spring also means Easter, a big family meal and bunnies.....so without much ado, here is my version of a carrot cake with one creamy delicious cream cheese frosting!

4 Eggs
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ginger
1 Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3 Heaping Cups of Carrots
1 1/2 Cups Coarsely Chopped Pecans
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Small Can Crushed Pineapple, Drained

1 8-oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 Cup Margarine
1 16oz Container Sifted Powdered Sugar
1 Pinch of Salt
1 1/4 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Chopped Pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Beat eggs, oil and butter with mixer. Gradually add sugar.
3. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
4. Combine the gg mixture with the four mixture, mix 1-2 minutes.
5. Stir in carrots, pecans, vanilla and pineapple. Mix until blended.
6. Bake in two greased and floured cake pans (8 inch) 45-50 minutes.
7. Allow cakes to cool to room temperature.

1. Blend cream cheese and margarine with mixer.
2. Add sugar, salt and vanilla.
3. Add chopped pecans. Mix until well blended.

Frost cake and chill.

I didn't use as much of the frosting because of the shape of my little bunny cakes but they still tasted delicious! For more details on what Easter was like for my family, check out the photos on my mom's blog, it definitely encapsulates how we spent our day.