Saturday, August 13, 2011

Slacker, Party of One

If you've checked my blog recently and found that there are no new posts, I apologize. My life has been organized chaos lately (minus the organized part).

I came home from nearly a month in Texas with my family and though I've been home a week I am still getting resettled. It doesn't help that I have a severe case of undiagnosed ADHD that prevents me from just unpacking. You see, I'm trying to unpack, clean, plan and prepare for a dear friend's baby shower at my house tomorrow, and, contradictory as it may be, I'm also starting to clean my house out in preparation for packing for our upcoming move. I just might have one too many irons in the fire right now.

So, needless to say, cooking has taken a back seat for the time being. I'm still cooking and documenting, but the process of actually blogging and uploading photos is beyond my reach right now. I'm hoping to settle back into my cooking and blogging groove next week. So stay tuned for photos of my jalapeno hummus recipe as well as a new punch recipe, an iced coffee recipe, a couple scone recipes and a classified recipe that will stay secret until after the baby shower.

Thanks for being patient, and try me again in a week or so for some new material!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

H-E-B Fix

If you've noticed the month-long gap in my blog posts, rest assured I have been cooking...occasionally, but I took a blogging break because I was visiting my hometown of Corpus Christi, TX. It's no shocker that I spent a lot of time enjoying the comforts of home, including all of my favorite hometown foods.

I remember as a little girl how I would dread, seriously dread, going to the grocery store. It was boring, it was crowded and there was a pathetic selection of toys. LAME-O!

I think my mom's first instinct was to feel my forehead for a sign of fever when I said I couldn't wait to get back and walk around H-E-B Plus. See, my mom has never had the convenience of H-E-B and then had to move away from it. Classic case of you don't know what you've got til it's gone.


Corpus has two H-E-B Plus locations, one on the south side and one in Flour Bluff (The Bluff) to those who know it as well as I do. The Bluff population is a special bunch. I am a Bluff native, so I am allowed to poke fun. Bluff Rats, as they are affectionately called, are notorious for being beach bums, and going barefoot and shirtless even into the grocery store. After being away for so long, I'll admit I grew out of touch with my roots. I got a little over confident and thought I could jump right into a solo (well, almost, my son was in tow) trip to The Bluff H-E-B Plus.

Big Mistake...I wasn't ready.

I had shoes on and my infant son was fully clothed, so I immediately drew too much attention to myself as I walked in. Hand to God, I could feel people staring at me like I didn't belong there. I wanted to reach out to the masses and say, "Do not be afraid. I am one of you. I come in peace."

After my grand entrance, the trip itself was relatively uneventful. I gawked at the huge selection of produce, local salsas, and the miles of Fiesta brand seasonings and occasionally stared at the folks campaigning for the role of Bluff poster child.

I could have spent more time cursing the aisles, but Jack let me know with one of his little mini tantrums that generally precede the real thing, a warning shot if you will, that it was time to go.

I jump in line behind a family, yes the entire family shops together. Although I tried desperately not to pry, I gathered that this particular family was made up of a pregnant woman, her husband and/or baby daddy, her sister (perhaps by blood, perhaps not), and her daughter, who, if I had to eyeball it, was about five years old.

I notice that they've emptied their cart and their is room at the end of the conveyor belt, so I move into position to start unloading my groceries. I am forced to retreat when the five year old plows through my cart area in a mad dash for the impulse candy rack in the check-out line.

As I looked up to this family with an expression of, Hello? Control your child, please I realized that they were all busy totaling their bill in their heads and counting up their cash to make sure they had enough to pay for everything. I pass no judgement. Everyone is on a budget, some are more extreme and some more lax; it's none of my business. But when there is a surplus I don't necessarily recommend sending the unpregnant sister to fetch an armful of Capri Sun and chips.

At this point I've just about reached my boiling point. I have yet to unload a single grocery because there is an economics lesson happening right in front of me, my son is now in the middle of a full fledged tantrum which is louder than usual because he's in close proximity to my ears thanks to the Baby Bjorn and this little girl has bumped into me or my shopping cart a minimum of four times. Factor in the chocolate frosting smeared all over her face and it is like playing with fire trying to dodge her as she skirts passed me to select a candy that her mom might agree to (even though she's turned down the last 11 attempts). Look, little girl, if anyone is going to ruin my shirt today it is going to be my own son who had a large lunch of formula, peas and sweet potatoes. There is literally no color shirt in existence that can mask all of those things or the hybrid color they all create when mixed.

Finally the family gets their total. They seem incredibly pleased with their ability to balance their grocery allowance with their bill. Just before they hand over the money the cashier, who shall remain nameless (but kicks ass like only a grocery store checker can) leaned over the counter and asked, "Did I see someone running around who enjoyed a chocolate doughnut in the store?"

AH Huh! So, I wasn't the only one who noticed that chocolate goatee! I was amazed to hear the pregnant mother, baby daddy and adult sister of the pregnant mother all play dumb. Really? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that your daughter enjoyed some food in store. And for them to lie in front of this little girl really irked me. What kind of message does that send? Stealing is fine as long as you don't get caught? Wow.

So the checker cuts to the chase at this point and says, "How many doughnuts did she have." One conscious spoke up and said two. And the cashier charged them for two doughnuts, just as she should have in my opinion. But, get this, they hadn't factored in the cost of the doughnuts, so they obviously had no intention of paying for them. This resulted in them having to return the Capri Sun to the custody of the cashier and my son's screaming to reach a decibel that only dogs (and his mother) can hear.

The family left. I checked out and paid for all of my groceries, thank you very much. And I thought about how long I'd been away from The Bluff. Even though those are my roots I can't say I was proud in that moment. I was a bit shaken and more than annoyed. How could these people care so little about the lessons they teach that very impressionable mind? How are they allowed to bring another child into this world? And how can the be OK with continuing to drag the name of my Alma Mater into the ground? What a disgrace.

As I exited the store, not sure how to feel about my experience I saw a baby about my son's age sitting in a shopping cart, naked with the exception of his diaper. I couldn't help but laugh out loud. It's just The Bluff. If you aren't humiliated at home, then you aren't getting the full effect!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jalapeno Hummus

We all know that everything is bigger in Texas, but it's a slightly lesser known fact that everything is hotter in Texas. OK, obviously I'm getting at the fact that there is an overwhelming availability of spicy food, but can I just take a moment to say, "Holy hell it is H-O-T here!" I have been away from home too long, I spent much of my trip trying to readjust to the triple digit temperatures. What a warm welcome...literally.

Now onto the spicy food. Two words: Jalepeno Hummus. Do it. This stuff is awesome! If you know anything about Texans you know that we like to put our own stamp on just about everything. It's quite possible that no food is less Texan than hummus, but somehow I've transformed it into something that Texans can claim.

I made this during my first week of vacation when my mom accidentally opened up one too many cans of chick peas while making Mississippi Caviar (which she still refers to is bean salad...whatever, mom). I'd seen a recipe for jalapeno hummus before heading to the great state and was already on a mission to try my own version, and opportunity she came a-knocking.

This recipe omits theTahini that is traditionally found in hummus because I didn't have any on hand. Consequently it has a fraction of the fat usually found in hummus. What a serendipitous dilemma!  Also, I originally used only one fresh jalapeno because that was all we had on hand, but when I make this recipe again I'll use two fresh or one can for extra kick.

Yee-haw, Shalom!

Jalapeno Hummus
Recipe and photos by Pinch, Dash and Sprinkle

  • 1 Can Chick Peas, drained
  • 2 Fresh Jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped (or 1 small can, drained)
  • 1/8 C Olive Oil
  • 2 TBSP Lemon or Lime Juice 
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt (or, my personal favorite, sea salt)
  • 2 Heavy Dashes Cumin
  • 1/8 C Water
Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor except for the olive oil until there are no remaining large pieces of chick peas or jalapenos.

Continue to process as you stream the olive oil into the mixture through the opening on the lid of the food processor. Process just until smooth.

Serve immediately with toasted pitas, pita chips, tortilla chips or warmed tortillas. Alternately, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve for a better meld of flavors and serve the same way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What-A-Burger

Well, I couldn't stay away all vacation long. I wanted to check in and reassure everyone that I am, in fact, having a great time (like there was any doubt).

A little known fact about my hometown of Corpus Christi, TX is that it is also the hometown of Whataburger. If you've never heard of it you can't possibly understand what you're missing! Anyone who's ever had it can understand, as far as fast food goes, it's the best; end of story.
If you're thinking of giving it a try I would like to recommend my personal favorite, the #8 with gravy and a Diet Dr. Pepper. If you're not in the mood for food, try their strawberry milkshakes. It doesn't get much better than that!

So, as the picture indicates I'm having a great time on vacation. And as far as readers of this food blog are concerned, I am indulging in all of my hometown favorites including TCBY, La Playa (twice...so far), Padre Island Burger Company, Whataburger (obviously), and, a new favorite Papa Murphy's. Thanks to all this nostalgic dining I'm also bringing home a slew of new recipes to keep me busy in the kitchen. Luckily these recipes don't take up a whole lot of room in the car because I'm also coming home with a lot of goodies from several nostalgic shopping trips. There's no place like home!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Vacation

OK...here's the official "I'm on vacation" post, even though I jumped the gun a bit and skipped out last Friday!

Sometimes a girl just needs to go home...I'll be "vacationing" back home in Texas for a few weeks and out of my own kitchen, so I won't be whipping up any new recipes for a while. I'm sure I'll have plenty of new recipes to try when I get back.

In the meantime, I'll be enjoying all of my favorite foods from home: Mexican food, BBQ, Whataburger, and so on...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Kitchen Closed Until Further Notice

I planned to start my vacation from blogging on Monday, but since I haven't cooked anything since the burgers from the previous posts I have literally no recipes to share! Next week I head home to Texas for some much needed time with family and old friends, and apparently my brain has already clocked out. My kitchen counter is now being used as a packing assembly line instead of a vital part of food preparation.

And I do need all the counter space! How do babies need so much "stuff"?! If it were just me going home for a month I would only need one suitcase (OK...2)...(FINE, 3...and a half). But our son weighs 16 lbs and he easily needs quadruple that weight in stuff! Just say a little prayer for us while we're loading the car on Tuesday that everything fits!

Crowded car aside, I can't wait to spend some time at home. It's been over a year since I've been back and that is a long time for a girl who lived in one place for 24 years. One of the hardest parts about being a military spouse is being so far away from the people and places (and, yes, the food) that you love. So, during my time at home I plan to take full advantage of all of the comforts of home. And I'll be back to blogging at the beginning of August (unless I get a wild hair and throw in a post from Texas). Have a great July! See you soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sauteed Mushrooms


I whipped these up for a fancy pants burger "condiment", but they could really be used on anything from pizza to omelets to salads or even tossed with brown rice.

Please excuse the absence of pictures for this post. These were a complete afterthought, took literally 5 minutes to make, and, to be perfectly frank, I didn't expect them to become a recipe worth sharing. What a nice surprise!  So, if you're feeling a little fancy and you want to dress up your mushrooms before you toss them into whatever you're munching on, give this a shot!

Sauteed Mushrooms
Recipe and Photos by Pinch, Dash and Sprinkle

  • 8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Raw Sugar
  • Sprinkle of Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Parsley, and Red Pepper Flakes
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When warm, add the mushrooms and season with the spices. 

Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes. Stir and add the balsamic vinegar. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar begins to thicken slightly and the mushrooms are crisp-tender.

Stir in the sugar, cook 1 minute more and remove from heat. Add to your favorite dish for a tangy twist!

Click for a printable version of this recipe.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stolzen-Burger

Along with the turkey burgers I made for myself over July 4th weekend, I had to make something to please my extremely carnivorous husband. Typically we don't fancy-up burgers too much because my hubs is usually in charge, but I took the reins this time.

He did request that I still add his secret ingredient, which I'll now disclose (Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning). So, along with a handful of other items, I whipped up the most gourmet hamburger that this house has ever seen. Which doesn't say a lot, but it does explain why it is named after us!

Best Burger
Recipe and Photos by Pinch, Dash and Sprinkle

  • 2 lbs. 93% Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 TBSP Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning (we use McCormick)
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon. Make sure that all of the spices are evenly distributed so that your burgers are consistent.

Lay a sheet of wax paper on your kitchen counter. Then, scoop a handful of the meat mixture into your hands and roll into a ball about 3-inches in diameter. Add more, or subtract some if need be. 

Set the ball on the prepared wax paper and cover with another sheet of wax paper. Use your hand or a flat kitchen utensil (I recommend a glass Pyrex measuring cup) and press gently down on the ball to form your patty. Be sure that the patty is evenly flattened to about 3/4-1-inch thick. Reshape the edges if necessary.

Grill over medium heat until the burger is cooked to your liking. Serve on wheat buns with all the traditional burger fixings! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers

Over July 4th weekend we put our grill to good use. On Saturday we had some of our favorite people, the Brooks, over for burgers and hot dogs. Between Adrienne and me there was a lot of yummy food to be eaten. I will never understand the need I have, and that most women have, to make enough food to feed an army when the dinner table only has four chairs. Needless to say, we're still eating burgers, but I haven't heard many complaints!

Wanting a little change from the traditional burger I made a turkey burger for myself with a little something extra. What I like about this burger is that you really don't need to add anything to your burger because it's all in the patty (that didn't stop me from building a burger, though).

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers
Recipe and photos by Pinch, Dash and Sprinkle

  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey
  • 1/2 C Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 1/4 C Reduced-Fat Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Heavy Dashes Tabasco

 In a small bowl, combine ground turkey,
and spinach.
Stir with a wooden spoon until the spinach leaves are well incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to stir until the mixture is well combined.
Of course, I forgot to include an ingredient in the "ingredient picture". This time it was Tabasco.
Place a large sheet of wax paper on your work space, and scoop up some of the mixture. Form a ball about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter (it should fit in the palm of your hand) by rolling the mixture in between your hands.
Place the ball on the wax paper. Either cover with another sheet of wax paper or just fold excess from the same sheet over the ball to cover it. Use your hand or a kitchen utensil of your choice (I found that my Pyrex liquid measuring cup worked well) and press down on the ball to form a patty. You want your end result to be about 1/2-3/4 inches thick. You may have to reshape the edges a bit after you form the patty.
Cook using an outdoor grill, grill pan or skillet. Cook over medium heat just until the center is no longer pink and the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. Serve on wheat buns with lettuce or spinach, tomato, onion and spreads of your choice!

Click for a printable version of this recipe.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Nothing says 4th of July like a good old fashioned cook out while you wait for the fireworks to start. So, I'm putting the "Grill Master" in charge of cooking today.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Independence Day!
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