Saturday, July 7, 2012

San Antonio Experiences

I've lived in San Antonio just more than a year now.  I've spent that time visiting places with local flavor and experimenting in the kitchen.  See picture slideshows of my experiences below.

South Texas Roadtrips

 Kitchen Experiments

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Whoopie Pies

I've seen whoopie pies gaining popularity and I've been dying to try them.  I finally found a recipe for peanut butter banana whoopie pies that I couldn't wait to try.

Banana Whoopie Pie 
adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup sour cream, room temp.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, room temp.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350 F.

Mix the banana and sour cream together in one bowl (I used a big measuring cup).  Combine the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt in another container.  Whip the butter and both sugars together until light and creamy.  Then add egg and vanilla extract.  When it's well incorporated, alternately mix in the dry ingredients and the banana mixture, ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix only until it's together.

Put the batter in a pastry bag and pipe it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in 1 1/4" circles.  Try to make them even.  Bake 9 - 12 minutes, until the ends are golden brown.  Take them out, transfer to cooling rack, and put more in the oven!

**The one thing I'd change in this part is more banana!  I think that flavor can get overpowered by the peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling
adapted from same site as pies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temp.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup smooth peanut butter

Whip it all together until smooth!  Put it in the pastry bag and generously pipe onto the flat side of one of the pie circles.  Leave some space on the edge so when you squeeze the second pie on top, the frosting doesn't flow over the edges.  Squeeze on the second pie!  Makes about 40 whoopie pies.

Try not to each all the frosting before you get the whoopie pies together!  I'm using my extra filling as a dip for Oreos! Hmmmm... my favorite snack!

Key Lime Pie

Last weekend's experiment? Key Lime Pie! I've only had it once before so it was kind of a gamble!  I found Emeril's recipe and used it as a base.
Best idea of the day
 The recipe calls for 1 cup of key lime juice.  I started squeezing the first one and the pulp and seeds kept popping into the juice.  Putting a mesh strainer over the measuring cup turned into my best idea of the day!  By the time I was done, I had a large collection of seeds that I didn't have to fish out - which saved me time too!

When I was done with the pie and it had cooled, I topped it with a sour cream and confectioner's sugar frosting.  The sweetness of that paired well with the tart pie.  Next time, I'll probably make the frosting sweeter.  Using a spoon to spread the frosting around gave me control and put a nice pattern on top (not shown very well in this photo)!

It disappeared well at work the next day!

Question of the day: How many key limes did it take to get 1 cup of juice?
Answer: 33

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pearl Farmer's Market

My farmer's market purchases
I took my first trip to the Pearl Farmer's Market this past weekend - and I'll go back many times.  I love farmer's markets because it's local and fresh produce.  Also, it's usually cheaper than the grocery store!

Here's what I picked up on Saturday:
Loaf of bread: $4
Basil plant: $4
Peach jam: $5
3 Roma tomatoes: $1
16 Peaches: $2
2 zucchinis, 1 squash: $1
Eggplant: $2
2 Peppers: $1
Total: $20

Vendors I Visited: Oak Hill Farm, Sol y Luna Baking Company, Marrs Gardens, Braune Farms, and HGD Foods.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Heresy by S.J. Parris

I don't read many thriller or mystery books but I really enjoyed Heresy, by S.J. Parris.

The Italian Inquisition is after Dr. Bruno, a monk, for reading a banned book but he escapes to France.  When there, he gains the favor of the French Court and the king sends him to England, where most of the story takes place.  Bruno gets drafted as a spy into the service of the English court.  His personal quest to find a book thought to be lost leads him to Oxford, where the English court wants him to discover hidden papists.  It's in Oxford that Dr. Bruno takes on a third title, detective, to solve a few murders.

Just when you think you've got the plot figured out, a wrench is thrown into your imagined plan and you have to keep turning the pages to create a new plan.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hidden Tomato Smoothie

Fresh strawberries and cantaloupe were super cheap at the grocery store tonight so I thought I'd make a super fruity smoothie!  I already had blackberries, oranges and peach yogurt at home.  I made a meatball-stuffed tomato for dinner so I had the insides of the tomato too.  I hadn't ever put a tomato in a smoothie but thought I'd give it a try!  It turns out you can't even taste the tomato - hence the name!  Someone who doesn't like tomatoes could drink this, have no idea tomatoes are in it but still get the vitamins from the fruit!

Look at the color of this smoothie!
Here's what I had in my smoothie:

1 peach yogurt
1 orange
1 big handful of blackberries
4 strawberries
splash of orange juice
1/2 cantaloupe
1 tomato (whole or the insides)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of honey

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe or ingredient combo?  I'd love to know what it is!  Smoothies are one of my favorite parts about summer!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Millennials Celebrated

September 11, 2001.  I was in Mrs. Kiser's 7th grade English class when I found out what terrorists and the Twin Towers were and that the Towers had fallen.  And, I was 12 years old.  Osama Bin Laden instantly became "The Bad Guy."  Soon after, Saddam Hussein was "The Other Bad Guy."

Jump forward to May 1, 2011.  My classmates and I have grown up with two wars, the death of The Other Bad Guy, and the ongoing search for The Bad Guy.  We learned about our grandparents' bad guys (The Axis Powers) in history books.  We heard about our parents' bad guys (Cuba, USSR and Communism) from their stories (and the occasional textbook).  Our grandparents had big celebrations on VE Day and VJ Day.  Our parents celebrated the fall of the Iron Curtain.  When word came that Bin Laden was killed, my generation celebrated because now The Bad Guy had joined The Other Bad Guy.  We know the wars aren't over, but this is a major victory, for our country, for our military, and for the world.  America's big-name enemies from our lifetime have been defeated, giving us a reason to celebrate.