Sunday, December 18, 2005

Muscle Milk 'n' Oats - Vanilla

Last night Monika exchanged an early Christmas gift – why not? My pre-Christmas surprise was a few bowls of Muscle Milk ‘n’ Oats. That’s (Muscle Milk), the brand, for those of you not familiar with it.

I’m always looking for ways to increase lean mass, and what better way to do so than by taking in a lot of carbs early in the day, but with the added benefits of minimal fat, 4 grams of fiber, and a whopping 30 grams of protein! Not to mention, Muscle Milk, in my opinion, is by far the most delicious protein drink on the market (it should be – at 20/10 grams of unsaturated/saturated fat). But I digress – how was the oatmeal?

I popped off the lid, added 2/3 cup of water, and 90 seconds later, I had a steaming bowl of oatmeal that smelled fantastic. I waited a good 5 minutes or so before taking a first bite, since I could tell the stuff was retaining heat with astonishing efficiency. Finally, my spoon took its inaugural journey into a mass that thought of oatmeal, but with the relative thickness of spinning a spoon in a vat of honey. In other words, this is thick stuff.

Chewing it feels somewhere between chewing oatmeal and taffy. It did taste good though, just like sweet, milky oatmeal infused with vanilla should taste. And frankly, with the nutritional benefits you gain from it, this product is a home run. The only true drawback I thought of was that I couldn’t eat this in the morning on the run, because it took a good 20 minutes to take it all down. Because it’s so thick, it retained heat ‘till its bitter end, so I had to let it cool as I ate.

Rating: 9/10 on the “protein food” scale, where Promax and Muscle Milk shakes are 10s, and something like EAS MyoPro Banana Crème is a 1.

Chipotle Enchilada Casserole

I *really* wanted to make Tortilla Soup today, but at last nights grocery trip to Central Market I realized I forgot my recipe. So, I ended up with an enchilada casserole because Adam suggested it.

I derived this recipe from the back of the Dorthy's enchilada can for two reasons.

1. I hate taking the time to actually make enchiladas and the casserole is so much easier.
2. I love my Le Creuset dish my mom got me last Christmas and try to make everything in it.

1 lb hamburger meat
2 tbls garlic powder
1 tbls chipotle chile powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbls cumin
1/2 c. onions
how ever amount of cheese you want (I used one 12 ounce package)
1 can of Grandma Dorthey's enchilada sauce (yeah, i know from a can..I HAD to try it cause it looked good).

Brown the meat with the onions and all the seasonings.

Then pour the sauce in the sauce pan with the meat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. In a small greased casserole dish, put one layer of corn tortilla. Then put some sauce over the top. Finish the layer with cheese (I used sharp and asiago). Repeat.

The "top" of the casserole will be a layer of corn tortilla and cheese. Put under the broiler (set at high) for about 4 minutes, or until the cheese is browned.

Let set 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream if you wish.

I tried to get a picture of the finished product, but Adam was too quick and made a dent in the food before. So, this is the "final product" before it went into the broiler.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mini Retro Snoballs

Tomorrow night Adam and I are attending a Champagne and Dessert Christmas party given by some co-workers and I have decided to bring my Retro Snoball Cupcakes – the mini sized version. My first attempt at these cupcakes was a huge success, but I think a bite size cake would be much better. The coconut will have less chances of falling onto the ground and more chance of falling into your mouth!

I doubled my original cake recipe, but left the marshmallow frosting the same. I changed the dark chocolate to Ghirardelli vs. Valrhona and used a Wal-Mart powdered sugar over my standard brand. The recipe came out as expected – fantastic. The cake is dark, rich, & buttery flavor which is the flavor every adult should look for in a chocolate cake. There is a subtle hit of sugar, but believe me, this is not missed because of the marshmallow frosting.

I've updated the frosting recipe in the other Retro Snoball post so please make this as much as possible!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

12 Days of Foodie :: A Holiday Wish List

These are a few of my favorite things...

12. Callebaut Cocoa Powder ($20 for 2.2 pounds). This is the best cocoa you will EVER put in a cookie.

11. Dinner Party Journal ($26). Keep track of what you served and to whom with this chic & stylish journal.

10. Fran's Pure Chocolate Cookbook ($35). Fran knows her chocolate. While you're at it, order some of her Dark Chocolate Truffles.

09. Hang-Tag Ornaments (Set of 6 $12.95). Make sure your giftrecipientss know who the gift came from with these cute and cleaver gift tags.

08. Penzeys China Cassia Cinnamon ($3.19 for 2.2 ounce glass jar). A good addition to any household. (I got these from my mom last Christmas)

07. Hostess Apron by Jessie Steele ($35.99) . An updated look for this generations Mrs. Cleaver. Super sexy, but oh so classic.

06. Riedel Spirit of 'O' Stemless Glasses (Set of 2$19.99). Love, love, LOVE these! Great for entertaining.

05. Wusthof Grand Prix Kitchen Shears ($35.99). Yes they are a little pricey, but think of all the money you will save by buying the whole chicken and cutting it yourself.

04. Nielsen-Massey Vanilla ($19 for 8 ounce bottle). The ONLY vanilla I allow in my house.

03. Subscription to Bon Appetit. Great recipes & great articles. How could you go wrong?

02. Rachael Ray: 365 No Repeats A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners. My fave & inspiration for all my cooking. I had to do a plug for her!

01. Taylors Classic Oven Guide Thermometer, Model 5921 ($13.95). You cant call your self a baker without one!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Beef Burgundy with Herbed Noodles

Sundays are always my favorite day of the week and today was no exception. After a quiet morning of coffee & eggs, Adam and I hit up Target to get some much needed groceries. When we got back to the apartment, Adam went straight to the books and I went straight to the oven. Don't you love how domesticated we are becoming ;0?

Last week, I Tivoed a Rachael Ray episode on Beef Burgundy and I thought it sounded fantastic given our weather has been on the chilly side (for Texas, that is anything below 50 degrees). I was shy a few ingredients such as parsley, beef stock, Burgundy wine, and pearl onions, so I improvised and added a few things that I did have.

I gotta say, for not having all of the ingredients on hand, this recipe still came out as a winner.

4 slices bacon, chopped
4 tbls butter, divided
1 box white mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
1 c. frozen onions
2 lbs lean sirloin, 1-inch thick, trimmed and cubed into 1 inch pieces
3 tbls all-purpose flour
1 c. Burgundy wine (I used the Target cube Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 1/2 c. store bought beef stock (I used Chicken Stock)
Bouquet of 3 or 4 sprigs each sage and fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string

Herb Egg Noodles:
12 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tbls chopped fresh dill leaves
12 blades fresh chives, snipped or finely chopped

Heat a large deep skillet with a heavy bottom and a lid over medium high heat. Add bacon to the pan and brown. Remove crisp bacon bits with slotted spoon. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan and melt into bacon drippings.

Add mushrooms to the pan and turn to coat evenly with butter and bacon drippings. Season the mushroom slices with salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms 2 to 3 minutes and add onions to the pan.

Continue cooking onions and mushrooms 2 to 3 minutes longer, then transfer to a plate and return pan to the heat. Add remaining butter to the pan and melt it, then add meat to the very hot pan and brown evenly on all sides, keeping the meat moving. Add flour to browned meat in the pan and cook the flour 2 minutes.

Add wine to the pan slowly while stirring. When the wine comes up to a bubble and you have scraped up the pan drippings, add the stock and bouquet of fresh sage and thyme sprigs to the pot. Cover the pan.

When the liquid boils, reduce heat to medium. Cook covered 5 minutes, remove lid and add mushrooms, onions and bacon back to the pot. Simmer with the cover off until sauce thickens a bit. Adjust seasoning and remove herb bouquet.

Toss hot egg noodles with butter and herbs. Place a bed of noodles in a shallow bowl and pour Beef Burgundy over the noodles and serve.

I was a little worried with the final product when I saw how liquidy this dish was, but after once in the bowl, the sauce began to thicken.

Overall, the flavor of this meal was pleasant and by no means over powering. It didn't have the deep wine taste I had imagined; it had a more delicate flavor. I blame this on the chicken stock. The dill added some dimension to the dish and paired well with the buttery noodles.

The only changes I will make for next time will be to use beef stock instead of chicken stock and to use Burgundy wine. I think the additions of those two will give this a rich & deep flavor that will compliment the wintry weather.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Knottie Mexican Get Together

No, I didn't mean naughty ;)...

I got together with some fellow bride-to-bes and a few married ones at Joe T. Garcia's last night. We munched on cheese enchiladas, beef & chicken fajitas, margaritas, & some of Monika's Mexican Wedding Cookies.

This is one of the first recipes that I ever made with my KA Mixer and it's one of my no-fail favorites. The dough is easy to make and always tastes great. My God-mother would make these during the Christmas holiday and I always thought they were wonderful.

1 c. pecan pieces
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar (divided)
2 c. flour (divided)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Beat butter and 1/2 c. powdered sugar in a bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 c. flour, vanilla, & salt. Beat at low speed until well blended. Stir in the remaining 1 c. flour and pecans with a wooden spoon. Shape the dough into a ball; wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour (or until firm). I only had to do this for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Put the remaining powdered sugar into a shallow bowl or 13x9 baking dish. Shape tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake these for about 13-15 minutes. They should appear a pale golden brown. Let the cookies stand on the cookies sheet for about 2 minutes.

Transfer hot cookies to powdered sugar. Roll cookies in powdered sugar, coating well. Let the cookies cool in the sugar.

I normally serve these cookies in small baking cups so that people don't get powdered all over their clothes, but you can do it how ever you please!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tis the season

While snooping around I ran across a food blog called Simply Recipes, which then pointed me to the following site:

"Over the month of December, we're going to ensure that people recognize the quality writing and photography that go on in our community.

Here's how it's going to work - Between now and Friday, December 16th, we're accepting nominations in several categories, that are listed below. After the 16th, a group of judges will review the nominations, and submit five sites for your approval. From Dec 21st through December 31st, the polls will be open for people to vote.

We're excited about these awards. Last year, the awards and some of the winners were featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines world-wide."

WHOA! You mean I could win an actual award for baking & eating?!?! I think my 2006 resolution has been made!

I also stumbled upon another foodie blog called Chocolate & Zucchini. ( . This website will now be one of my favorite places. It is chalk full of recipes, reviews, & humor. Even though, they were the clear winner for the 2004 Food Blog awards, I think they will (and should) take the cake again this year. Not to deter any of my faithful readers, but you should visit their site if you get a chance.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chicken Balls & Rice with an Apricot Sauce

I made these for an appetizer at a holiday party one time, but I made them with venison. I called them Bambi Balls. Adam thought they would be better made with chicken so for his Monday & Tuesday lunch I made him Chicken Balls with rice. (When making rice make sure you use chicken stock instead of water. It makes a much richer flavor.)

These turn out great and are a good alternative to that fattening party food you normally serve.

Chicken Balls
1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lbs ground chicken
3 tbls chopped fresh sage, 4 or 5 sprigs, slivered
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 c. apricot all-fruit spread
1/2 c. spicy brown mustard
1 & ½ c. Italian bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls

Preheat a small pot over medium heat and the oven to 425 degrees F.
To the pot, add oil and onion. Saute the onion for 3 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, 1 cup bread crumbs, and chopped sage.

Next, add balsamic vinegar to onion and reduce by half, 3 minutes. Remove vinegar from heat and combine with apricot all-fruit spread and spicy mustard. Stir until mustard is fully incorporated. Dip will be glossy and brown in color.

Add 4 tablespoonfuls of apricot dip to meat and mix. Form meat into bite size nuggets, coat in remaining bread crumbs then place on nonstick cookie sheet. Recipe will make 20 to 24 pieces. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, until evenly browned, turning occasionally.

Once done, dip them in the apricot sauce. Mmm Mmm Good.