Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quickest Yellow Cake Ever & A Special Bday!

Did you know that you can type the word desserts with one hand? It's a fabulous convenience.

Another fabulous convenience is this mini yellow bundt cake mix. It popped out of my head (based on lots of attempts to bake a cake in under 25 minutes, from start to finish) and, with these awesome little bundt pans, it is now possible! And this makes 3 bundt for you, one for your spouse/roommate, and fight over. Yes.

Quickest Yellow Mini Bundt Cake
Makes 3 mini bundt cakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 TB butter/margarine, softened
1 egg + 1 egg white
Dash of salt
1/2 cup skim milk
Toppings: Frozen berries, whipped cream, caramel or chocolate sauce (you choose)

step one: Take the berries out of the freezer. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. (I know, this breaks all baking rules)

step two: Pour batter (no bumps) into 3 nonstick mini bundt cake pans. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes, then flip cakes onto a dessert plate. Top with cold berries, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and/or chocolate sauce.

"Why do we need cake today?" you might ask.
My sweet husband takes care of Sam and me every day, so it's time we treat him. Here are some of the highlights so far...

Sam dressed up in a bowtie for the occasion.
Balloons filled with "choices" (this or that) for the day's activities.

Some of the day's plans...yay!

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Panko-crusted Chicken Tacos

Tacos are big here in the big D.

I was surprised to learn that as there are taco establishments all over Dallas. I know, it's Texas, but tacos  here are like clam chowder or burgers or toasted ravioli in other parts of the country. You have gourmet tacos and simple street tacos, with prices that match. We've been really good about eating at home the last few months, going out to eat every 3 weeks or so. (I know, this might make some of you cringe.) It means more dishes to clean, but it also means yummy leftovers and more creative meals.

Ever use panko? I had not, until now. It's the crunchy Japanese breadcrumbs used in many dishes, particularly for coating in frying and as thickening agents in soups. It is made by sending an electric current through a loaf of bread(!), yielding crustless breadcrumbs. It is fluffy, inexpensive and really fun to work with. Back to the tacos. The dip and coat 2-step system is fool-proof. The chicken is baked. It is moist and good. The "dip" is simply this:
This stuff is great...thick enough for dipping but not too overpowering or spicy in flavor. I've seen this at grocery stores, World Market-type stores, etc., but I think a thicker honey mustard or dijon with a little chili powder could work well, too. Your choice.

Panko-crusted Chicken Tacos
The Japanese panko breadcrumbs lock in the chipotle honey mustard sauce even after 20 minutes in the oven. These tenders are easy to prepare and easier to devour, a great quick dinner for a busy family.
Makes 8 tacos, or 4 servings

1 pound chicken tenders
1/2 cup Frontera chipotle honey mustard or honey mustard with 2 TB chili powder
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Optional (Panko seasonings: 1 TB chili powder, 1/8 t. salt, dash of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 can (16 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup cheese (your choice, we used mozzarella)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (optional) or salsa
8--10 tortilla (flour or corn)

Preheat oven to 375. Put panko breadcrumbs into one small bowl (with optional seasonings) and honey mustard into a second small bowl. Have a lined baking sheet (nonstick) ready nearby. Using one hand, dip a chicken tender into the honey mustard sauce and use the other hand to coat it in panko. Lay on the baking sheet. Repeat the dip-and-coat method until all are ready for the oven.

Bake at 375 for 15--20 minutes, or until fully cooked (you might want to cut open one of the larger tenders with a knife). While baking, chop the cilantro and tomatoes and prepare the other toppings. Heat the black beans in a small saucepan or bowl until heated through.

Once the chicken is cooked, pile the tenders and toppings onto each taco (1 taco=1 or 2 tenders). You can serve chips and salsa/guacamole, veggies or salad on the side. Ole!

Happy eating!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Garlic Turkey Sliders

Friends. Sliders. Dinner.

I'm on a slider kick as I try to incorporate--little by little--protein via meat back into my diet. My stomach is just weird about meat, so I'm taking it slowly. In small in sliders. And it's working. But why keep the slider recipes to myself? It's time to share.

Sliders are these little nuggets that are on so many menus at our neighborhood bars and grills lately. They are delicious, sometimes gourmet, burgers without the commitment of a honkin' Texas-sized monstrosity. Isn't that good? Isn't that great? And these little burgers are great as appetizers, for kids, or for cookouts (on the grill or inside on the grill pan!). Note: I made these one night (using 1.5 pounds of turkey), and Matt and I reheated these for lunch or dinner for 4 more days! AKA They make great leftovers. YESSS. On to the food...

Garlic Turkey Sliders
Enough garlic to taste it, but not enough to lose friends over. These sliders are made with lean turkey (but you can sub ground beef, lamb, buffalo, chicken, soy crumbles even). Just be sure to adjust your binder--less or more eggs or breadcrumbs. Serve on the 'bun' of your choice (see below for ideas) and watch them disappear.

Makes 12 sliders = 4-6 servings

4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1 pound of ground turkey (90/10)
1 large egg
2 green onions, chopped (1/4 cup-ish)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

Chop the garlic and onions. Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, spray with nonstick cooking spray and add the garlic and white onions. Let cook for 3 minutes, stirring halfway through.

After cooked, add to a medium bowl, along with the turkey, egg, green onions, rosemary, salt and pepper, red pepper (optional), and breadcrumbs. Use a spoon or get tough and use your hand to stir around with your hand until all ingredients are combined.

Form the patties in your hand (about the size of an egg, 1--2 ounces of meat) and pack into a patty shape. Place them on the hot grillpan and let cook 5 minutes on each side. (I cut into the first one that is "ready" to make sure it is cooked pink!)

Serve hot on a 'bun' and top with your favorite condiments. Yum!

Sliders 'Buns'
This can be a tricky question because slider patties are much too small for regular hamburger are some easy ideas:

  • Baguette sliced and toasted (see pic above)
  • Whole wheat bread sliced into quarters (2 slider buns/slice)
  • Store-bought slider buns (in the deli or bread aisle)
  • Hawaiian rolls
  • Small dinner rolls

And for a little fun...check out the hail we were surprised with in Dallas last week!
Ours was only grape-sized, but some got baseball-sized hail. Crazy summer weather...

We went to the Rangers-Astros game yesterday. It was SO STRANGE to hear people cheering when an Astros player struck out. We were totally outnumbered. I do love the 'Stros...maybe next time on winning, too. It was fun either way.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Curry Chicken with Mango Salad

Do you ever come up with a dish based on someone else's title?

I saw this on Curried Chicken with Mango Salad

It sounded really good, really filling, really healthy. And we had chicken, mangos and couscous...why not?

But that's as far as I got with the recipe from Eating Well. I noticed that the chicken was glazed in a mango chutney and closed the computer. It was time to get creative, even if it isn't the most authentic curried chicken on the planet. The results? One of Matt's favorite meals that I've made. Surprisingly good. Hope you can use this beautiful, sweet mango fruit in your next dinner!

Curry Chicken with Mango Salad
4 servings  *12 oz. Tofu can be substituted for chicken

1 TB olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 t. + 1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
Dash of salt and pepper
1 cup orange or pineapple juice
1 mango, sliced into bite-sized pieces + 1 mango (for salad)
2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise (total of 1 pound)
1/3 cup honey mustard
2 TB curry powder
1/2 cup rice crisp cereal, breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
2 TB chopped mint

Step One: Make the chutney

  • Preheat oven to 375. In a saute pan on medium-high, heat the oil and then add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Let heat for 1 minute, or until flakes are toasted.
  • Then, add the red bell pepper and salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Then add juice and mango slices, and reduce to medium heat, letting cook for 10 minutes.

Step Two: Make the chicken

Chicken + Tofu
  • In the meantime, mix the honey mustard, 1/8 t. red pepper flakes and curry powder in a small bowl. In a second small bowl, pour the breadcrumbs (or other coating). Dipping the chicken in the mustard mix, roll it in the breadcrumbs and place on a lined baking sheet (use foil with cooking spray or parchment paper). 
  • Bake at 375 for 18---20 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and cooked in the middle. (I turned a piece of chicken over and cut into it slightly to see no pink.)

Step Three: Make the couscous

  • Boil 1 1/2 cups of water in a pot. Once the water is boiling, immediately remove the pot from the stove and add 1 cup of couscous and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork, and add a dash of salt and pepper.

Step Four: Add couscous or rice to a plate and place the chicken on top. Drizzle with mango chutney and serve sliced mango "ball" on the side (see photo below). Sprinkle raw mango with chopped mint. Eat. Be merry.
Mango Salad "Ball": 
1) Slice one side of the mango.
2) Holding the slice in your palm, slice vertical and horizontal lines into the mango, without cutting through the skin (and cutting your hand!).
3) After cutting, turn the mango inside out...voila!

Happy eating!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breakfast Tips

Judging from my Recipes page, it is clear that breakfast is king. I could eat breakfast every day for every meal for quite a while without getting tired of it. Perhaps you're like that, too. But even if you're NOT a breakfast person (perish the thought!), sooner or later you'll have house guests over that will wake up hungry and you really want to deal with grumpy people in your casa? You'll need to make breakfast at some point (and avoid the brunch wait time at nearby restaurants). 

I think it's safe to say that I've made pancakes more than any other "dish" ever, and I still have not mastered the art of pancake making and flipping. Sometimes they're thin and runny or thick and cake-y; but now I have a bit of a routine for CONSISTENCY. 

  • Turn the heat to medium or medium high on the stove. As you cook the pancakes (in rounds, like a boxing match), the pan will actually get hotter as you go. Keep that in mind...too high heat = pancakes that burn on the outside and are still raw batter in the middle. You want nice, even heat.
  • Sticking is always a problem, as are those little crispy bits and old oil left in the pan after a couple of "rounds" of pancake making. To avoid problems, initially heat the pan, THEN add the oil, let the oil (or cooking spray or butter) heat up, THEN add the batter. If you add batter with cold oil, no good. In between "rounds," I use a paper towel to quickly wipe down the pan and remove the excess oil and crispy bits left behind. This gives you a clean slate to work with before each round.
  • Flipping: Oo, this one's not as hard as we make it. DO NOT FLIP until the pancake is bubbling in the CENTER and appears to be 75% cooked overall. Then........flip. You just can't rush it. 
  • Consistent pancakes: This is much easier to do when your batter is filled with oil, butter, milk, eggs, and lots of other artery-clogging indulgences. However, when you're using wheat, spels, oat or any other heartier flour, little or no fats or oils, this gets a little harder. As the batter sits out (while you're cooking), it tends to get thicker over time (even in a matter of 5 or 10 minutes). To thin out the batter, add 2 or 3 TB milk and stir well. Also, I use a measuring cup--1/4 or 1/3 cup--to scoop out the batter and pour it into the hot pan in a circular motion (to form a nice circular pancake). This gives you consistently sized pancakes each time, which stack up quite nicely.
  • Thin or thick? Your choice, but be aware of how much baking powder you use if you prefer thinner cakes.
  • Toppings: If you're using berries of any kinds, stick them in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before adding them to the batter. This will keep them from oozing and burning while cooking in the pancakes. If I am adding nuts, I like to toast them first for that added crunch. 
  • Syrup: Of course, maple is wonderful but we never can keep it in the house (and it's pricey). So boiling some apples, pears, berries, or even bananas with sugar or honey and water can make really lovely, bubbly syrups. Much better than the fake butter syrup in the bottle.

Don't ask me anything about sausage because I don't eat it (unless it's veggie). But bacon? Oh yes, I know this. I have burned too many bacon slices to count, even when I use my dad's "fail-proof" method--he ALWAYS makes great bacon in the microwave, but it tends to come out burnt or soggy and greasy in the microwave for me.
  • THE OVEN. That's the secret. It takes 20 minutes but it's WELL WORTH IT. Preheat the oven to 325. Line the bacon (I prefer lower sodium with little fat) on a cooling rack and place that on a rimmed baking sheet. This will allow the grease to drip off. Bake for 15--20 minutes, rotating halfway through to ensure even baking. You will have delicious, crispy, wonderful bacon. Easy, right? (I learned this from my mother-in-law, Pat, but I'm seeing more people use this method lately.)

That's enough info for now. Do you have any suggestions? Would LOVE to hear them, and I'll add them onto the Breakfast Tips.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Friends, I'm back.

I tried to be responsible and take a week off from blogging to clean out stuff, donate stuff, and generally cross off those pesky to-do list items I've been avoiding. But it's waited this long, why not another day? Truth is, I can't stay away from the blog because I truly enjoy it. While we shouldn't let our interests take over our lives, we deserve to enjoy them, right? So I'm back. And it's gonna be a staycation around here...finishing the to-do lists and playing with an incredible new gadget to share with you!

I have wanted a 'real' camera for years, and I'm not even sure how long. But I don't like spending lots of money and, with other priorities, it honestly was put on the back burner. However, my parents generously gave me a camera for graduation...what a surprise! (Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!) And so now I'll share what a difference this will make for the blog. Yippee! Sorry for all the exclamation I'm not!!
Note: No editing on any of these photos...all straight from the magic camera.
So I knew my husband was cute before, but this camera brings out his dimples in a great, clear way!

And **caution to all of you pondering adopting a feline or canine** pets with black faces are really difficult to photograph in most light. With most cameras.

But now Sam is ready for his close up, Mr. Deville. He is bright and you can see that he actually has shiny eyes amidst the shiny black fur.

And here's where the camera benefits you...


Open-faced Protein Power Lunch
3 minutes prep, 7 minutes of cooking

1 wheat tortilla
1/2 zucchini, chopped
Dash each: pepper, garlic powder and salt (optional)
1 egg
1/3 cup black beans
2 TB salsa
3 strips red bell pepper, garnish

Toast the tortilla (optional, in the toaster oven). In a saute pan or small pot (not kidding), heat on medium high and spray with non-stick spray when hot. Add the zucchini, flipping and shaking to avoid sticking.

After four minutes, crack the egg and use a spatula to move around. This will scramble the egg and keep the egg/zucchini from sticking. When the egg is almost fully cooked, add the beans and stir for 1 more minute.

Serve on a tortilla with salsa and bell pepper on the side. De--vou--r. It's filling, it's quick and yum.

Happy weekend, friends! Staycation with me...or do like my mother-in-law and take a 10-day cruise to Greece and the surrounding islands this week. Your choice... :)

Happy eating!



Memoir Munchies (and I) will be away for a little bit, but will be back soon, I promise. No, my need for a vacation to a beach is not happening this week, but a lady can the meantime, do spend some time in the kitchen and let me know what you're making!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

10 Factoids

My awesome sister-in-law has this's funny and a bit quirky and informs me on 4 of my active nieces and nephew, whom I love dearly. She's led a 10-day blogging challenge. It's day 7, so I've missed the boat. HOWEVER, I thought it might be fun for 10 random facts. Sip that cherry cocktail from Sunday's post, and I hope you don't get bored by this one...
UNO: I am an only child and, when new friends are surprised to learn this, I take it as a compliment.

DOS: My Willy Wonkaland would consist of a queso fountain with chips falling from trees, as well as cannoli, French macarons, and anything by Jean Philippe Maury. And a bird bath of blackberry cobbler, Blue Bell vanilla on the side, please.

THREE: The concept of riding bikes in your neighborhood and going to school with kids on your street is completely foreign and strikingly idyllic. (Note: Cleavers) I loved commuting into town with my parents and went to schools with kids from all sorts of neighborhoods while growing up, so I sometimes wonder what Matt & I'll end up doing with our own kids.

FOUR: If I could have tea with any two people (because tea is the classy way to go), it would be Ella Fitzgerald and my dad's mother, both of whom I've never met but owe a ton of gratitude.

CINCO: Fear is my biggest obstacle. It paralyzes me sometimes and whispers poison about failing, falling short and never finishing a task. I would never, under any circumstances, invite it to tea.

SEIS: Matt is much more visibly organized than myself; however, I know where 99.8% of our belongings are at any moment.

SEVEN: I honestly think there is innate good in all people, even the really, really difficult ones. (And I've worked in prison ministry.) Copying from people smarter than me, I've observed that 99% of all upset people can be calmed down if you just make is blatantly obvious that you are LISTENING to them and (if you can) that you're on their SIDE.

EIGHT: I love to dream. Fantasy vacations, restaurants and houses. Granted, I'm also very cheap, so the perfect scenario would be a six-week grand voyage to Australia or Italy with friends to meet in each town, incredible food and hotel stays, and all for under $99. And we'd come home to our open, airy, modern apartment in the middle of Manhattan with grandfathered rental rates. Sure, a lady can dream.

NUEVE: I'm not the type that laughs out loud at corny jokes, movies or slapstick humor. However, sarcasm or silly time with old friends always causes a giggle or two. Sometimes snorting.

DIEZ: I dream in colors. And butter, flour, chocolate, raspberries and orange peel. It's so much fun. Do you?

Okay, that's enough for now. Happy evening, friends.

Happy eating!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Citrus Cherry Cocktail

It's June already. Thank goodness. And with the official start of summer, it's nice to have an adult beverage to sip on the veranda...or on the couch.

Matt made this one for me, but he's graciously sharing this simple treat with us. 3 ingredients, sweet and tart, and great for a hot summer evening.

Citrus Berry Sipper
2 servings

2 ounces cherry vodka
1/2 cup lemonade
2 strawberries, chopped into bits
5 ice cubes

In a shaker or a tightly sealed cup/bowl, combine the vodka, lemonade and ice for 30 seconds.

Pour into 2 glasses and sprinkle half of strawberry bits into each glass. Sip and soak in your summer.

Happy Monday (tomorrow), Friends!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Roasted Garlic

Roasted. Garlic.
Two words that are music to my ears. It's also a great way to encourage those of us who are not big on heavy garlic flavor or heavy garlic breath after an Italian meal. Roasting garlic is easy, and the cooking process mellows out the garlic flavor (aka mild garlicky taste). Some people add it as a side to a dish (can you imagine eating an entire bulb of garlic? Oo, I can.), while other use it as a spread for crusty sliced bread or on top of a good steak. For Memorial Day, we mixed it into "loaded" mashed potatoes (recipe later).

Roasted Garlic
1-12 bulbs of garlic
1 TB oil for each bulb
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400. On a cutting board, peel the outer skin of the garlic bulb (not the skin around each bulb, but the layers wrapping the entire bulb together). Then, cut the top layer of the garlic head across, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. This will expose all of the tops of the cloves so they can cook more evenly.

Using a muffin tin, place each bulb into a muffin cup. Drizzle with 1 TB olive oil (roundabout) and spread with your fingers or a brush to ensure it coats the top of each bulb. Cover each bulb with a tiny piece of foil and let cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Let cool in the muffin tin for at least 5 or 10 minutes before handling. In order to remove the soft, piping hot garlic, use a cocktail fork or my Push Pop Method: Lay the bulb on its side, top away from you. Using a large spoon on its side, push down from the bottom of the bulb and toward the top. Voila, you have roasted garlic for bread, potatoes, meat, or whatever!

Health benefits of garlic:

  • Increases our natural supply of hydrogen sulfide (antioxidant), protecting us against cancers like colon, breast and prostate.
  • Can protect against heart disease
  • Helps improve our iron metabolism
  • Consumption of garlic may help regulate the fat cells that are formed in our bodies
  • Middle Eastern and Asian cultures consume an average of 9--14 cloves a day, but most doctors recommend 5 or more cloves daily (easy to do if you're cooking with it!).
  • Sources: New York Times and WHFoods

Happy eating!