Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Farmers Market Omelette (Road Trip Recovery)

I took a road trip to New Mexico for the holiday weekend.     Naturally food and drink (along with sun, pool time and friends) were on the very unscripted agenda.    We knew that we would eat.   We didn't always know where.   We knew it would likely include chile.    We knew that we would indulge in some cocktails.   We didn't know that would include prickly pear margaritas. 

Mole Enchiladas at Casa Chimayo
German Chocolate Whoopie Pie

Now I'm back to the real world.   And my kitchen.   I've got "vacation is over and now I have to eat and cook like a real person" -itis.   So it was time to ease back into things with an omelette.    A quick and easy dinner choice - I was thinking about it in the car and it was done with a fork in it about 10 minutes after I pulled into the garage.

I say farmers market because I used ingredients from my recent visits:  Goat Chevre, Citrus Pesto, Pine Nuts (straight from the roadtrip) and Basil.    Take what you have on hand, whether its from the farmers market or your favorite grocery store and omelette away!

What You Need
2 eggs (per omelette)
salt, pepper, hot sauce, spices to taste
a splash of water
omelette fixings:  veggies, cheese, herbs, meat

What You Do
The good news is that an omelette always tastes good, even if it isn't Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant pretty.   The first couple times, if it doesn't go well, you'll end up with scrambled harm there.   Practice makes better (perfect is a rough standard...especially post vacation).  

You want to use a small fry pan - often sold as a omelette pan (maybe 6-8 inches at across the bottom).     Preheat the pan on the stove before starting to cook - medium is good.

I once had a roommate say that if you clean your non-stick pan properly (meaning just water), you'll never need to use oil/butter/cooking spray.     I still used a little cooking spray.

In a small bowl, break your two eggs, add a splash of water and your herbs/spices and whisk with a fork.    Pour egg mixture into your pan that is already pre-heated.    Use a spatula to push the edges in so that the liquid spreads to the edges so that all the egg cooks and you don't have scary runny whites in the middle.   Once the majority of the egg is cooked/set, add your fillings.    Allow the omelette to cook for just a minute or two - long enough to melt the cheese.    

Use the spatula to gently pick up half the omelette to fold over the side.   This also gives you one last chance for remaining egg or cheese to ooze to the edge and cook.  Let cook for a minute or so.          Slide your omelette onto a plate.

That's all.   

If you can't have margaritas, "Christmas" chile, or fancy desserts, at least you can have an omelette.

More road trip stories and pictures are up on Facebook...go ahead and like Traveler in the Kitchen and Traveler for Good - it's the next best thing to being on vacation. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Every time I try a new baking recipe, I put a few pieces in a bag for each of the girls in my office.   These were no exception and they got the "fun and games department" seal of approval.  Since they have oats,  they were voted the ideal breakfast food for the week.   Paired with coffee, it's a definite win.   Add a banana and you have the trifecta of baked goods, fruit and caffiene. 

These are guaranteed good road trip treats.   They haven't been on one yet, but they will later this week.     When I celebrate a little vacation by eating out instead of cooking in.    Rest assured that great New Mexico treats will be documented and shared here or on FB (go ahead, like it).  
Do you ever cost out ingredients at the grocery store?
I checked out the price for the bag of Reese's minis (8 oz) versus a 6 pack of regular Reese's cups (9oz).     The cost was just about the same, so I opted for the convenience of the minis that didn't need to be unwrapped or chopped.   King Soopers shows the cost per ounce on the labels, so you can make a quick calculation when comparing products or package sizes.    Had there been a real savings to buying the full size ones and chopping them up, I would have done it. 

What You Need
1 1/2 sticks butter/margarine
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used the Kroger store brand roasted peanut and honey crunchy pb - so good in everything)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup oats (I used quick oats)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 (8oz) bag of Reese's miniatures (leave most whole, coarsely chop a few)

What You Do
Preheat oven to 350.   Line your 13x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray (hello easy cleanup and slicing).  

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.   Add peanut butter and keep at it.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg.   Then add vanilla.

In a smaller bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt.     Add flour mixture to butter mixture slowly, stirring until well combined.     Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread 2/3 of the dough in the bottom of the pan.   Top with the Reese's minis.    Then drop the remaining dough over the top.   You don't have to smooth it and it doesn't have to cover everything.

Bake for 30 minutes.   Cool completely and then cut into bars.
Recipe slightly adapted from Mom On Timeout

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Biscotti Again (it's becoming a habit)

It sneaks up on you.   
5:30am on a work day.
A compelling desire to brew coffee.
Not because you want coffee.  
But because you want to dip your biscotti into coffee. 
It's happening.   Right here in _________ (wherever you live).    
Coffee is being brewed solely as a dip to delicious baked goods. 
After my first attempt with biscotti, I knew I wanted to do it again.   With more chocolate.  
Because I can.     Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti.     We got this!
What You Need
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.    Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. 
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and extracts.   Beat in the sugar.    Combine the flour, almonds, cocoa and salt.   Gradually add to egg mixture.    Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon/scrape dough into the center of the baking sheet and form into a 14x3 inch rectangle.    Just know that this is not a super firm dough and it's not going to hold a perfect shape.    It's still going to taste great.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm.    Your original "rectangle" will spread when baking, so you will have a bigger finished product that you can slice into nice long biscotti slices (about 1 inch wide).      If you want a softer biscotti - call it quits now  (this is what I did - no regrets).
If you want a traditional hard biscotti,  place your slices back on the baking mat and bake for another 15-20 minutes (flipping once half way through).
Do you have a new favorite 'thing' that you can't stop making?   Share!

Breakfast Pita

It's hard to say what will catch your eye when you skim through a cookbook or a food blog.
Is it what you are hungry for? What you wish you could have for breakfast? What uses the ingredient that's been lurking in the back of your pantry for a months?

Anything crazy lurking in your pantry right now?   Feel free to share in the comments.

You know what always catches my eye? Nutella.
I'm immediately compelled to read on and learn more about the hazelnutty chocolate delight.


This recipe is not about Nutella.
Nutella would probably be an unexpected and unwelcome surprise if it was hiding in the pita or under the salami.

When I was reading through Weeknights with Giada , courtesy of my public library, the breakfast pita recipe caught my eye because it was different than anything I have made. For breakfast or otherwise. And it used marscapone cheese. An ingredient that I haven't cooked with. But one that I wanted to try. And now I am on a hunt for recipes to use the rest of's like really rich and smooth cream cheese. Most likely bound for some kind of dessert. Maybe with Nutella.

Real quick to make and I ended up with extra olive oil / lemon juice dressing that was good for salads later in the week.

I made a few modifications and substitutions from the original recipe. I cut the recipe down since I only needed to serve 2 (but in reality, it made enough for a bonus third pita).

What You Need
2 whole wheat pitas, grilled (I used my little foreman grill)
2 eggs
1/4 cup marscapone cheese
zest of 1/2 small lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from said zested lemon)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups baby spinach, washed with stems removed
4 thin slices of salami (2 pieces per pita)
salt and pepper

What You Do

Grill your pitas. Feel free to brush them with olive oil if you want.

Combine marscapone cheese, lemon zest, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Make your dressing by whisking the olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt (to taste - start lightly), and fresh ground pepper.

Put the spinach in a large bowl and drizzle the dressing. Dress to to taste, you do not need to use it all.

Spread half (or a third...your call) of the marscapone mixture onto each pita. Top with two thin slices of salami and then a cup of the dressed spinach salad.

Fry an egg for each pita and gently place on top of the salad. Garnish with fresh ground pepper.

Breakfast is served.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Toulouse Petit - Seattle

Social media can be a beautiful thing.   You can share with friends all over the world or connect with a complete stranger a block away. The stranger thing can be fun or scary - depends on the stranger.
After seeing a friend check-in and post pictures from Toulouse Petit when she was in Seattle, I asked her if she would recommend it and the answer was a definitive yes!   We didn't have much on the agenda when our plane landed, but breakfast here made the short list.  
I love going out for breakfast, but I don't like getting up early on a day off to do it.
Fortunately on this vacation we never got to breakfast before 10am.
They have breakfast happy hour! 
That's right.   Breakfast happy hour.   Monday - Friday from 8am-11am.  

This is the Dungeness Crab with Fine Herbes (yes, herbes with an e)
Savory awesomeness.  
In the background is the Creme Caramel French Toast. 
Yum again.

Beignets with chicory cafe anglaise
Just saying beignet makes you a classier person 

What was the last place you tried based on a friend's recommendation? 

*apparently total strangers agree about this restaurant as well - it's currently ranked #8 of over 2,000 restaurants in Seattle on Trip Advisor

Don't be shy....LIKE Traveler for the Kitchen on Facebook.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Coconut Cream Pie Pops

The 2013 Colorado Bike MS is less than two months away.   As a part of my Bake MS Campaign, I promise to make treats for friends who donate to my ride.   These treats are for my friend JP.    She suggested that I could make her store bought slice/bake chocolate chip cookies or I could make her a coconut cream pie.      These are portable coconut cream pops that are good to go.
Cake pops are not as intimidating as they look - but they do take a little time.  You can do it!
What You Need
1 box yellow cake mix (and the eggs, water and oil the mix calls for)
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 (small) box Jello Coconut Cream Cook and Serve Pudding (and the 2 cups of milk the box calls for)
1 bag of shredded sweetened coconut (how much you use is up to you)
white candy melts / candy coating
lollipop sticks (I usually buy these in the baking section at Michael's)
What You Do
You're going to bake a cake (whee!).    Follow the instructions on your box of yellow cake mix.   Add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to the other ingredients your particular mix calls for.    You're going to follow the directions for the 13x9 pan.    Enjoy the fact that your cake doesn't have to be beautiful.   You're going to be tearing it up.
While your cake is baking, prepare the pudding according to the package directions.   You're going to let both the cake and pudding cool before you start making your cake/pie pop filling.   
While the cake and pudding are cooling, go ahead and toast your coconut.    The key thing is to watch it like a hawk.   It goes from toasty goodness to something not as attractive in the blink of an eye.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone bake mat (or parchment paper) and spread out the coconut so it is as close to one layer as tiny shreds of coconut can be.   Preheat your oven to 350  (it may already be there from baking the cake).   Set your timer for 3-5 minutes to toast the coconut.   The coconut around the edges will turn brown first - when that happens, take the coconut out and put it in a bowl (cereal size is fine). 
Cake Pop Assembly
Step 1
When the cake and pudding have cooled, it's time to tear it up.   Use your hands, or a spatula, and break the cake up and dump it in a large mixing bowl.   Crumble it up.     Add one cup of the prepared coconut pudding and mix (with your hands or a spoon).

It will look like this

Step 2
Roll the cake/pudding mixture into balls, about the size of a ping-pong ball.   To make them easier to work with after I roll them and put the stick in, I put them in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Step 3
Once you have chilled pops ready to go it's time to melt the candy coating in the microwave.   Similar to the coconut, start slow and watch it constantly.   Use a smaller microwave safe bowl (again a cereal bowl is fine).    Microwave the candy on low and stop every 30 seconds to stir.    When most of the chunks have melted, stop microwaving and just stir the candy until it is smooth.   You don't have to do large quantities of candy at a time.
Step 4
Dip your cake pops in the candy coating.   You may need to use a spoon to make sure the coating covers the entire pop.     Because the cake is cool from the freezer, the candy coating will harden pretty quickly, so don't delay.   After you dip the pop and allow the extra candy coating to drip off,  roll in the coconut.   Make sure coconut gets on the top.    You can also use your hands to pat the coconut on.     Unless you have lots of people around who are willing to hold the cake pops while the coating dries, use a metal cooling rack.   You can tuck the sticks into the wires so that the pops aren't resting on one side while they dry.   Depending on the size, you'll probably be able to make 25-30 cake pops.

Store your cake pops in an air-tight container in the fridge until you're ready to gift them to a friend or serve them to your family.   

Like cake pops?   Try my Strawberry Party Pops!

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Baking it Old School: Blueberry Buckle

What in the world is a buckle?   Trusting wikipedia to give me the truth about this strange name for a baked good, I found out that the buckle is in the cobbler family.   Oh yes.   There is a family of Cobblers that includes not only the Buckle, but the Betty, the Grump, the Slump and the Sonker.
I'm not sure about how I feel about the Grump, but I think the Sonker is an awesome name for a dessert.   Just tell your friends that you're bringing your world-famous Sonker and you're guaranteed to get their attention. 
This recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens and it first appeared in their cookbooks in the 1940s.   A 70+ year success rate with this recipe means that it is pretty much fool-proof.   No crazy hard-to-find ingredients.   No special equipment.  Without even planning, you may have all the ingredients in your pantry already.   And if you don't have blueberries, you can make this with other fruits.    You can buckle how you want to.   Time to get on it. 

What You Need
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if you use frozen, you don't even have to thaw them)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.   Use a 9x9x2 pan, I use either a silicone pan, or a metal one lined with foil for easy cleanup.   Spray your pan with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. 
Beat shortening with a n electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds.  Add the 2/4 cup of sugar.   Beat on medium/high speed until fluffy.   Add egg and beat well.   Add dry mixture and milk alternating to the shortening/sugar/egg mixture, beating until smooth.    Spoon batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with blueberries.
Combine the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.   Cut in butter until crumbly.   I usually use two knives to cut in the butter, but if you have an official pastry cutter, you can use that too.   Sprinkle over the berries and bake for 50-60 minutes until golden.
You can either serve it warm straight out of the pan, or let it cool and slice it into squares for a traveling buckle (your co-workers will be happy if you take your buckle on the road...true story). 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mexican Chocolate Crunch Brownies

Since making one Cinco de Mayo inspired dessert wasn't enough, I thought I should make two.  And I am taking them places so that the calories treats are shared throughout the Denver metro area.

If I haven't mentioned it before, King Soopers (the local grocery store) knows me.  They send coupons to the house periodically that are customized based on your previous purchases.   Rather than coupons for things that I don't ever buy (diapers, brand name ketchup, spray starch) this go-round it was for a dozen free eggs, a free box of store brand cereal, and $3 off makeup.   Hooray!

So pull out your favorite brownie mix and cinnamon and get baking.   Happy Seis de Mayo!

What You Need
1 box of cinnamon toast cereal (I used my coupon for a free box of store brand)
1/2 cup butter/margarine melted
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 box brownie mix and the necessary eggs/oil/water indicated on the package (I still had a box of Trader Joe's truffle brownie mix from the last TJ shopping spree in Wisconsin...fortunately I'm only weeks away from the next TJ adventure in New Mexico)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips, divided
Cinnamon Sugar (3 tablespoons granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In your food processor, finely crush the cereal.   In a large bowl, combine the crushed cereal, melted butter and corn syrup.    This is the base of your brownies.   Press down into the bottom of your pan.

Make the brownies according to the package directions, adding 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/3 cup chocolate chips (you can certainly use more chips, but the TJ's brownie mix already had chocolate chips included). 

Spread brownie batter over crust.   Sprinkle 2/3 cup of chocolate chips on top of brownie batter.    Bake for 20 minutes.   Pull the brownies out and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.    Put the brownies back in the oven and bake for another 14 to 18 minutes until the brownies are set.   Cool.    Use the foil to pull the brownies out of the pan and cut with the knife of your choice (I usually use a chef's knife). 

Recipe source:  Slightly adapted from Pillsbury

What's your take on cinnamon and chocolate together?   Do you like it?

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Margarita Cupcakes

Margaritas are a long standing tradition in my family. When we get together, especially if we're out on a deck or patio, the tequila and lime are at the ready. Mom isn't the "Margarita Mama" for nothing.  

So, with a margarita in hand, I present a cupcake that you can enjoy all summer long - no need to limit it just to Cinco de Mayo.

What You Need

For the cupcakes:
1 box lemon cake mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tequila
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 eggs
1 small box lime gelatin

(in addition to the tequila you are drinking, you need a little to brush on top of the cupcakes when they come out of the oven)

For the frosting:
1 cup butter
5 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
1 teaspoon lime zest

What You Do

For the cupcakes:
It's real easy.   Preheat the oven to 325 (for a non-stick pan), line your muffin pan with liners.   I was able to make 24 full size cupcakes and another 12 mini's with the batter.  

Combine all cupcake ingredients in a big bowl.   Mix with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds.    Use a quarter cup measuring cup to fill the muffin cups.   Fill them only about half full so they don't bake over the top of the muffin pan.   Bake for 18-22 minutes until it passes the traditional toothpick test.    If you're making mini-cupcakes, 10 minutes is all you need. 

When the cupcakes come out of the oven, lightly brush the top with tequila.
Let your cupcakes cook before frosting.

For the frosting:
Beat the butter in a large bowl until fluffy.    Add the lime juice, tequila and lime zest.   Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, continuing to beat until smooth and full of butter-creamy goodness.   The frosting is pretty stiff, so I found it easier to use a pastry bag to pipe it on so that I didn't tear up the cupcakes.   If you wanted to thin it out, you could slowly add a little more tequila or lime juice (or even milk).

Garnish with green sugar, sprinkles, lime slices, or cocktail umbrellas.   Salud!

Cupcake recipe slightly adapted from Betty Crocker.  
Awesome frosting recipe from Sweet Pea's Kitchen.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Latte Art and Doughnuts in Seattle

I love doughnuts.   I associate them with vacation - a traditional pick up en route to the airport.  I had not looked up doughnuts in advance, but had the good fortune to see a giant doughnut sign while riding the historic monorail that was built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.    You don't look a gift doughnut sign in the mouth.  
You go for doughnuts. 
Only now, after visiting the Top Pot Doughnut site, do I know that I had the good fortune to visit their flagship cafe!   (That's the one on 5th and Blanchard).   It has a library/coffeeshop feel, and I definitely enjoyed my pink feathered boa, chocolate maple, and latte complete with art.
There you have it. 
By sheer monorail luck, I have now tried the Best Doughnut in Western Washington. 
When was the last time you discovered something delicious by accident?


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