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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas Treats: Gingerbread Men, Christmas Kisses Thumbprint cookies, Magic Bars, Peppermint Bark, No-Bake Chocolate Bon-Bons

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What's in your Christmas cookie tin?  In previous years, I usually just do gingerbread mean, but this year I was really in the holiday spirit and baked gingerbread cookies, Christmas Kisses thumbprint cookies, magic bars, peppermint bark, and no-bake chocolate bon-bons.  I gifted these to the techs, receptions, and vets at my work and my family.  Each of these recipes are relatively easy and simple, and I even used a mix to cut down on work for the thumbprint cookies.  The peppermint bark especially, was very tasty to test-try.  The peppermint bark rivals the famous William-Sonoma ones. The gingerbread men are my favorite recipe for producing perfectly crispy on the outside, but chewy on the inside gingerbread men.   The no-bake 5 ingredient bon-bons are great because they use almond butter instead of peanut butter which means my peanut-allergic-self can make them without fear that my fingers will swell up!

Gingerbread man recipe from Food Network Kitchen, Christmas Kisses Thrumb…

2 Step Homemade Dog Biscuits

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As a veterinarian, I was really concerned about the tainted jerky treats that were coming from China a few years ago (although some deaths still being reported today).  There were a lot of dogs that got really sick, some going into kidney failure and dying, from chicken jerky products coming from China.  Since this has happened, PetCo and PetSmart have been trying to only stock American sourced treats, so it makes me sleep a little easier.  Of course most of the general public aren't reading the back of the treat backs to see where the sources come from, like me, so if you want to be extra careful, make your own treats!

I've seen loads of homemade dog treat recipes and yes, they are cute! But who has time to really make your dog biscuits from scratch? I can hardly convince most dog owners to brush their dog's teeth because most of them don't even have time to brush their own teeth!  You can also buy really cute, gourmet treats from boutique dog stores (like Woof Gang B…

Uncle Brent's Award Winning Chili

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A while back, I posted my turkey quinoa "chili" and though it is absolutely delicious, and I've had several people tell me they make it all the time, the reason I couldn't call it chili without the quotations is because of this chili recipe.  Like I'd mention before, Reid is a chili purist.  There should not be beans in chili, or TURKEY, and especially not quinoa!  And that's because Reid had this chili growing up.

His uncle Brent and his father perfected this recipe years ago and used to enter it into (and win) chili competitions.  So, yea.  It's pretty stinkin' good.  Reid's version uses the fattiest meat (ground beef or cubed) that you can find, but I try to 'healthify' it up by using 1.5#'s ground sirloin (95% lean) and 1.5#'s ground beef for chili.  I found the ground beef for chili at HEB and it's a thicker grind and appears pretty fatty.  I've also made a few other tweaks to the recipe by decreasing the onions.  The…

Fully Loaded Nachos

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What kind of cheese doesn't belong to you? Nacho cheese!  Heehee, I love really bad jokes.   Nachos, synonymous with football games and fairs, these guys have gotten a bad rap.  Those stale tortilla chips and processed cheese toppings from the concession stands are kinda gross.  But homemade nachos are delicious!  Nachos for dinner are one of Reids favorite dinners.  There are a few variations I've made, but the following is a more classic one.  Homemade nachos are also wayyyyy healthier than processed-cheese-squirted-out-of-a-squirt-bottle-nachos.  I also use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream which also cuts back on the calories a lot.  I also like to add a little taco seasoning to the Greek yogurt to add some additional flavor.  I got the taco seasoning substitute recipe from AllRecipes.  This is a really quick and easy weeknight meal, and I'm sure it would be a hit with kids (because my husband is basically I giant kid ;) )
Fully Loaded Nachos
Ingredients: 1 bag of to…

BBQ Ramen

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Nothing is better in the cold than a piping hot bowl of ramen!  There are a few really excellent places in town (Ramen Tatsu-ya, Daruma, Kome at lunch) and one of the places we frequent is called Michi Ramen.  There, they have a 'Texas' style ramen, which is served with Texas toast and has brisket in it.  Yesterday I made pulled pork sandwiches (2 lbs pork butt, salt and pepper, 1/2 sliced onion and 1 c. chicken broth in slow cooker on high for 4 hrs, then shredded with a fork and mixed with bbq sauce), had some left over pork and pork broth so I made this copy-cat ramen.  The bbq sauce in the pulled pork gave the ramen lots of flavor.
Homemade ramen is soooo much better than store bought.  It tastes better and it doesn't have all that awful sodium and MSG most of the packaged stuff has. That stuff is bad for you!  I remember when I was younger, my mom, sister and I would go to France to visit our grandparents.  My dad stayed back to keep his pharmacy open and he basicall…

Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

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I think my immune system is broken.  I usually only get a little snuffle and headache during sick season, but I've been fighting cold after flu after stomach bug for the last few weeks.  So, it's been soup city here in my kitchen.  One really comforting soup I've been craving is pho ga, chicken pho.  Many people are familiar with pho, which is a beef noodle soup.  It's great, I love it, but sometimes I crave something a little lighter.  Pho bo (beef pho) also takes days to make a good broth, whereas I can cook some pho ga even while I'm fighting TheraFlu drug haze.  This is my sister's pho ga recipe, and it is really delicious!  As she has put it, the keys are 1)smashing the marrow 2)using fresh bouillon and 3)using good nuoc mam (fish sauce)

Ingredients 1 yellow onion plus 1/4 more sliced for serving (can also use red onion for serving)4 inches of fresh ginger1 whole chicken2 cubes pho ga seasoning*2 tsp. of 'Better than Bouillon', or 2 cubes chicken b…

La Madeleine Tomato Basil Soup

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You know that classic tomato basil soup from La Madeline, the casual French dining chain? Well, it's the perfect meal (with Rustic Rosemary Bread) for when you're fighting the flu or cold, which Reid and I had the joy of doing all last week.  It was also a great way to use up some of by fresh basil, which I'm trying to trim down for the winter.  This a copy-cat recipe that I created by combing two tomato soup recipes I really enjoy.  One was found in a cook book my friend Laura's mom gave me in college, called Survival Cooking for Students.  It was a compilation of easy and tasty recipes that she and Laura's dad had printed.  The recipe for La Madeline's Tomato Basil Soup was from the Houston paper.  The second recipe that inspired this was the Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup from William Sonoma's Soup cookbook.  Both recipes have the option of buying fresh tomatoes, roasting or peeling, coring and chopping tomatoes or using canned.  I use canned because it'…

Rustic Rosemary Bread

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Oh man, there is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread wafting through your house.  So warm, comforting, and delicious!  I've been making a lot of soups lately, so needed to make a few loafs of bread to go with that.  This bread recipe is super simple and there's not much, as in no, kneading involved.  Hurrah!  Don't need a fancy bread machine, just an oven, roasting pan, and if you have one, a baking stone.  If you don't have a baking stone, you can easily just use an upside-down cookie sheet.  Make sure everything is pre-heated.  
I generally add rosemary to one half, and bake the other half as regular white bread.  You can also substitute the bread flour with all purpose flour or whole wheat flour.
Rustic Rosemary Bread Ingredients 6 1/2 c. bread flour3 c. water1 package instant yeast1 tbs. salt2 tbs. chopped fresh rosemary Directions
In large bowl, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees).Stir in flour, mixing until dough loose and no …

Banh Xeo: Vietnamese savory crepe

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Banh Xeo, which literally translates to sizzling cake, is a savory Vietnamese crepe-like meal.  It's one of my favorite southern Vietnamese dishes.  It's made by using a batter of rice flour, tumeric, and water and stuffed with pretty much anything (shrimp, bean sprouts, pork belly).  There is also a similar dish, called banh khoai, which hails from the central region of Vietnam.  I actually prefer banh khoai, because it's cruchier and smaller but my mom is from the southern region so I'm a little more familiar with banh xeo.  
Like pretty much every Vietnamese dish, it's eaten by wrapping some banh xeo in lettuce and herbs (basil and/or mint) and dipping it in dipping fish sauce, nuac cham.  
This was my first attempt at making it, and I don't think it came out as I'd like.  The batter was way too watery, and I didn't get a good enough fry on it.  I did use a shortcut, and used a pre-made batter mixture from the Asian grocery store.  Live and learn an…

Egg Fried Rice

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I love making fried rice when I've got any leftovers I need to get rid of quickly.  You can sub pretty much any protein or meat and as long as you've got a few basics in the fridge and pantry, you've got dinner on the table in a few minutes.  I usually keep some lap cheong or peas in the freezer for this. Reid loves Americanized Chinese food, so this is a great compromise for both of us.  I like to make this in my wok, but any large pan would work as well.

Egg Fried Rice
Ingredients

2 c. rice, cooked1 tbs. vegetable oil1 egg, lightly beaten1/2 c. cha siu (Chinese barbeque pork), sliced or lap cheong (Chinese sausage), sliced on the bias*1/4c. frozen green peas2 tbs chopped green onion1 tsp. soy sauce1 tsp salt**optional: 1/2 tsp. garlic chili paste * you can substitute any protein.  I've used leftover shrimp, chicken and/or pork before
**I use my Muoi Tieu Hue (smoked salt and pepper)

Directions

In heated wok or pan over medium-low heat, add 1 tsp of oil and pour in egg.…

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It's national veterinary technician week! So give all your pet nurses a hug, because they work hard to help make your dog/cat/horse/goat/cow/snake/guinea pig feel better!  Sometimes as vets, we get busy trying to diagnose crazy illnesses (I diagnosed my SECOND case of Addison's in the past 3 months, what?!) that we don't get to love on your pets.  That's why we have awesome staff who help us provide the TLC your pet needs to feel better, help restrain animals during exams, pull blood, run labwork, and take x-rays.  They work hard, often coming home bruised, bitten, scratched and smelling like who-knows-what, but still manage to come in the next day with a smile on their faces.  
I brought in cookies and pumpkin-ginger snap bites to the office as my little way of saying thanks to all our awesome vet techs.  A few of our vet techs are vegan or vegetarian, so I had a bit of a baking challenge.  Usually, I'd be all about adding 1/2 lb. of butter to make my chocolate c…

Spaghetti and Vegetarian "Meat" Sauce

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Meatless Monday is here! Reid and I occasionally do a meatless Monday since I like to decrease the amount of meat we eat in a week.  It's kind of insane how much meat we eat as Americans, compared to many other countries.  Since my parents are vegetarian, I'm used to not eating meat when I'm home, but things are a little harder when I'm on my own.  I don't have my moms amazing vegetarian Bun Bo Hue to eat, or any of the other countless creative dishes she makes.  I wanted to do something other than just fried (although the Sirachi Honey Glazed Fried Tofu recipe I made the other week was ah-mah-zing!) or broiled/sauteed tofu, so I picked up some vegetarian Italian sausage.  Definitely does not taste like meat, but it is tasty!
Pairs well with homemade garlic bread.  I made a loaf of the four-ingredient no knead bread yesterday and used some of that for the garlic bread, but any rustic type bread would work.  Just smeared it with some butter, Italian seasoning, and f…

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

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There is something about the fall that makes me want to buy every vegetable I see in the grocery or farmer's market and stuff it with some kind of grain/meat/cheese combination.  Once that 70 degree cold-snap happens (yay! Texas!), I'm buying zucchinis, acorn squash, and bell peppers.  I've posted about my chorizo stuffed acorn squash  and my stuffed green peppers, but I keep forgetting to post this recipe I've been putting into rotation lately.  I came across it in Martha Stewart Living (thanks for the subscription, Amy!).  It's pretty tasty and easy for the week night.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
Ingredients
4 zucchinis, halved length-wise1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed1 c. chopped onion3 garlic cloves, minced1 tsp. salt1/8 tsp. red chili flakes3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese1 egg, lightly beatenzest and juice of 1 lemon1 c. coarse chopped fresh breadcrumbs (or 3/4 c. dried breadcrumbs) Directions

Using a spoon, scrape seeds and soft flesh from each …

Banana Muffins

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Sometimes, it's hard being a morning person.  Like on weekends.  As much as I try, I have to get up at around 7 or 8am.  Every once in a while, I can go back to sleep after feeding the animals breakfast and letting them out but for those weekend days where I can't get back to sleep, making a big breakfast keeps me busy while Reid sleeps in.

This morning, I made banana muffins and a mango-strawberry-orange-banana smoothie.  This banana bread recipe came from my mom's recipe box.  It had been clipped out of the Houston Chronicle who knows how long ago.  I've tried a few other recipes (usually when I can't find this one), but always come back to this one.  It's the perfect balance of moist, sweet, and banana-y.  This morning I made them in a cupcake pan instead of a bread pan and I think I prefer it this way.  It doesn't seem to dry out as much, because I didn't have to bake them as long.  The bread would always get a little more crispy around the edges be…

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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"Wow! That doesn't taste like Mylanta!" -Reid

Mint chocolate chip ice cream is my favorite classic ice cream flavor, but my husband never shared my love of that Blue Bell mint chocolate chip with it's garish in-your-face-green color and a flavor he associated with heartburn/stomach medication.  I think I've converted him with this recipe.

That deserves making another pint.  And another. And another.  It's now a summertime staple, especially when our mint plant needs some pruning (you can only make so many Mojitos...).  The great thing about using fresh mint in any recipe, especially ice cream, is that it does what extracts can't do: provide that subtle, cool, refreshing feeling that is exactly what you want on a 100 degree Austin August summer day.

Adapted from David Lebowitz's recipe.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Ingredients:

2 c. heavy whipping cream1 c. whole milk2 cups fresh mint leaves2/3 c. sugarpinch of salt5 egg yolks, beaten6 oz. semi-…

Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

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It has been reaching the 100-110*F temperatures here in Austin.  And you know what that means...time for some frozen delights.  Oh, also, we got an awesome Cuisinart ice cream maker for our wedding so I had to bust that thing out.
With fourth of July coming up (haha, oops, published this post a little late!), this would be the perfect dessert to bring to a backyard BBQ.  I found the recipe via a Pinterest post about all these different fun ice cream recipes.  http://www.somethingswanky.com/cinnamon-graham-cracker-ice-cream/
The recipe can be found at this blog, which probably has the prettiest background and font ever.  http://shewearsmanyhats.com/2011/06/blueberry-pie-ice-cream-recipe/ I used canned blueberry pie filling, but if you have the time, you can use homemade too.  I thought about it for a while and had a pint of blueberries to make some, but then got lazy.  Since this was the first time I'd made homemade ice cream, I pretty much just followed the recipe exactly, so no …