Kitchen Concoctions: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy National Oatmeal Cookie Day

While I was reading Rachael Ray's Cookbook Cooking 'Round the Clock I saw this recipe for Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes. Even though there was no pictures of them in her book the recipe sounded so yummy. I mean come on Oatmeal Cookies and Pancakes all in one! I also knew that National Oatmeal Cookie Day was coming up so I waited to make these until now. What a perfect way to celebrate a national holiday for Oatmeal Cookies- Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes!

I changed up the recipe, just a bit, to use things I had on hand (I made notations on what I did differently). They came out great and made my whole apartment smell so sweet and good. I recommend drinking a large glass of milk as you eat them!

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
by Rachael Ray
Serves 4 (12 pancakes)

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces, 1/4 cup, chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up (I only used one)
3/4 cup raisins (I used dried cranberries)
1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup, melted, plus additional for buttering skillet
Maple syrup or honey, for drizzling

Mix dry ingredients, the first 7, in a bowl. In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients, the next 4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then fold in the mashed up bananas and the raisins. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter. Cook pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot. Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top.

Some interesting facts about oatmeal cookies:
  • Oatmeal cookies are the #1 non-cereal usage for oatmeal, followed by meatloaf and fruit crisp. (
  • "Oatmeal cookies, as we Americans know them today, descend from ancient bannocks and oatcakes known to peoples of the British Isles. The raisins, nuts, and spices commonly found in today's oatmeal cookies date to the Middle Ages. Oats, and their recipes, were introduced to the New World by European explorers in the 17th century. In 19th century America, oats were considered health foods. They were recommended to invalids and served as hearty breakfast fare."(
  • The first recipe found for oatmeal cookies appears in the original Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896). However, one could barely call them oatmeal cookies since they only contained half a cup of oatmeal. (
  • Most of the oatmeal cookie recipes that we see today, are loaded with oats. These more common oatmeal cookie recipes, full of oatmeal, are adaptations of a recipe first developed by The Quaker Oats Company during the Second World War. (

Hope you all have a oat filled day!

A little side note: The majority of "National Holiday" and "National Food Holiday" websites said today was National Oatmeal Cookie Day. However, one or two said National Oatmeal Cookie Day was back in March and said today was National Raisin Day. I am choosing to honor oatmeal cookies today, but since the recipe calls for raisins you can celebrate them as well!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Cooking 'Round the Clock"

On a recent expedition to the bookstore I picked up a copy of Rachael Ray's cookbook Cooking 'Round the Clock. Now I realize that this is not her newest book (in fact it came out in 2004), but since I was at Half Priced Books (one of my favorite places to be, besides the kitchen of course) the selection is limited (there are still TONS of great finds and at a great bargain).
The recipes in the book are designed to be made at particular times of the day (hence, Cooking 'Round the Clock). There is a section called "Rise and Shiners", "Let's Do Lunch", "Early Bird Specials", "Sit Down Suppers", "TV Dinners and Snacks", "Bistro Meals" and last "Late-Nite Bites". The ingredients, procedures, and amount of work involved for each recipe is supposed to be reflected by the section it is.

There were several good recipes; with quite a few of them I will be trying very soon. The different sections are cute and have appropriate recipes. Rachael Ray includes entries, drinks, salads, appetizers, snacks, and even desserts (even though she claims that baking is not her thing). On most recipes she gives a fun or interesting fact or explains where she came up with the recipe. I like this little personal touch, which is not found in most cookbooks.

However, my only complaint is that there are only a handful of pictures. I love pictures in cookbooks for many reasons. First, pictures help give you guidance as to how your product is supposed to turn out. Also (as I have stated before) I believe good pictures of food can make you smell the food, taste the food, want to make the food. So pictures in cookbooks are BIG for me. Another complaint I have about Rachael Ray cookbooks are the recipe set ups. She likes to list all of the ingredients and directions all together. My preference is to have the different parts to the same recipe separate. If there is a topping for a muffin, I would like the ingredients, as well as the directions, for the muffin and the batter to be separate.

One recipe in Cooking 'Round the Clock did have me laughing and reminiscing about my childhood. It is for something Rachael calls "Polish Smash". Her personal note and the actual recipe is what got me laughing.

This is what Rachael Ray writes about this particular recipe:

"Thanks go out to my good friend Emily for this one: When she went to her grandma’s as a kid she had a yummy concoction similar to this recipe. When she returned home, she told her mom all about it. Mom thought it was quite gross, indeed! Me? Love at first virtual-bite as I cooked it up in my head!"

Now this is the recipe:

Polish Smash
from Cooking 'Round the Clock By: Rachael Ray

1 large baking potato
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
¼ c. milk
1 scallion, chopped, or 2 Tbsp. chopped chives
1 tsp. dried dill
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Sausage: ¼ lb. kielbasa or 2 hot dogs or 1 knockwurst or bratwurst, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 c. frozen peas

Prick potato several times with fork and microwave on high for 8 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

Cut potato in half and scoop all the flesh into a small bowl. Mash with 2 Tbsp. butter and milk. Add scallions, dill, salt and pepper.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and remaining butter. When butter has melted into oil, add sausage. Fry meat in pan until crisp and brown. Add potatoes to the pan and smash them together with sausage. Add peas and continue to cook another 2 to 3 minutes, to get potatoes hot and the peas heated through.

Serves: One

The reason I laughed about this one is because MY grandmother (Mama Kitty) made something like this one time for my siblings and I. However MY grandmother's version could be called "Red-Neck Smash" as her ingredients consisted of hot dogs, mashed potatoes, corn, and cheddar cheese. Mama Kitty would take a 9x13 inch pan and line the bottom with the hot dogs, and then the potatoes (which where mixed with the corn) and then topped it with cheese and bake it in the oven. I remember LOVING it as a kid but I am not too sure now (mainly because I am not a big fan of hot dogs, only occasionally)!

Anyways, I will be posting a few recipes soon from the book (my pictures included). I also recommend checking it out next time you are out the book store or library.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas

My good friend Stacy (My Favorite Recipes) made these amazing enchiladas for me, many years ago. So when I saw that she started a food blog I requested that she post the recipe for those amazing enchiladas that she had made so many years ago. I could only hope that she remembered those yummy cheesy goodness that she called enchiladas. So per my request she posted Creamy Sour cream Chicken Enchiladas. She states on her blog that she got this recipe from a restaurant in Dallas called Durning House, who published their recipes into a cookbook. If ALL the food at Durning House is this good I want to try it handmade by them at their restaurant AND buy their cookbook.

Of course when I saw her posting I just had to make these enchiladas again. However, I changed up the recipe a bit and made mine a little more spicy. Below is my version of the Creamy Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas; I call them Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas. If you want the original check out Stacy's blog, My Favorite Recipes ( You will NOT be disappointed in either version!

Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas

1 (7 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
½ cup yellow onion, chopped (approximately half of one small onion)
½ cup green onion, chopped
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 package flour tortillas
1 small can cream of chicken soup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1cup jalapeño jack cheese, shredded and divvied
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, diced

For Filling:
In a large bowl mix chilies, jalapenos and both onions. Reserve ¼ cup of this mixture for sauce. Add softened cream cheese and prepared chicken to remaining onion mixture. Mash everything together using fork or the back of a large spoon. Once mixed, spread a generous amount of the chicken mixture into a tortilla. Roll tortilla up and place in a 9x13 inch pan. Repeat until chicken mixture runs out.

For Sauce:
Heat cream of chicken soup, cumin, sour cream, and ½ a cup of each of the cheeses; making sure not to boil. When cheeses are melted, stir in cilantro and the reserved ¼ cup of the onion/jalapeño mixture. Pour sauce over prepared enchiladas.

Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of jalapeño jack and shard cheddar cheeses. Place back in the oven and bake for 5 more minutes- until cheese is melted and sauce is hot and bubbly. Makes about 12 enchiladas.

*****Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated; for this add 10 minutes to the baking time. Rotisserie chicken can be used for your convince.

The next thing I must work on is my food photography skills. I have always seen beautiful pictures of food in magazines, on blogs, and on restaurant menus. The photographers make the food look so delicious you can 'smell' it in front of you. Unfortunately I don't have a fancy, super expensive camera. So I hope that I can learn how to take pictures of food so that when you see them you can actually 'smell' the food. I know a picture is worth a thousand words; so hopefully I am not making my delicious food look bad by my lack of skill with the camera.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Eating Trash

Literally that is what we are doing, when we pollute our world!

Continuing Earth Week and our affects on the plant and wildlife around us, I would like to draw attention to our oceans. If you missed it, Wednesday on Oprah was all about Earth Day. One of the guest speakers was Fabien Cousteau, famous undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau's grandson. He talked about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a cluster of garbage in the Pacific Ocean that stretches from Japan to California and is the size of Texas. I live in Texas so I can truly imagine how big this actually is.

This massive garbage ball is affecting all sorts of animal and plant life. Animals are ingesting OUR garbage; which is causing never before seen cancers and disease in our wildlife. Fish and birds are being found with trash in their stomachs. The same fish and birds that we turn around and eat! Fabien Cousteau made a good point. He asked the question 'Would we let our children eat chemicals or trash?' The answer is of course NO but that is what we are doing when we pollute and poison our wildlife, our Earth.

This post is not to discourage you from eating fish. I will always eat fish; it can be extremely healthy for you and provide many nutrients. The purpose of this post is to not only make me realize the damaging effects we are having, as humans, on our world, but also to help others have the same awaking.

Things WE all can do to help (specifically in the kitchen):
-use reuseable shopping bags

-RECYCLE (many cities even pay you for your recycled goods)

-buy a water filter and stop using bottled water (HUGE investment- you can buy one of those water filters for about $20-30 bucks and have fresh clean water every time you turn on the sink. Tap water is what is actually found in the majority of bottled water!)

-upgrade to Energy Star Kitchen Appliences

-replace paper towels with spunges and cloth towels that can be washed (an area I am personally working on)

-install a water aerator which will reduce that amount of water coming out of your faucet (saving gallons)

-use enviroment friendly and non-toxic cleaners

-grow your own fruits, veggies, and herbs (not only will this save the plant but it will also save your pocket book)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

H-E-B Earth Day Give-away

I love using my reusable bags when I go shopping. I actually have quite the collection. Big ones, small ones. Plan ones, colorful ones. Ones from H-E-B, from Target, from Half-Price Books.

Unfortunately sometimes I forget and have to use the plastic ones. So to help me feel less guilty for using them I try to bring the plastic bags up to H-E-B and drop them in the plastic bag recycling bin. On April 22, Earth Day, from 3 - 7 pm if you bring at least 5 plastic bags up to H-E-B you will receive a FREE special Earth Day reusable shopping bag. FREE guys, FREE! I know it is just a bag but I have plastic grocery bags that I need to recycle anyways so why not take advantage and get a bag that I can use over and over again, for free. Hopefully I can do better at bringing my bags when I shop-to help our environment. Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Kind Of Cupcake Are You?

So I was just surfing food blogs and websites and came upon the Betty Crocker website. I am a frequent reader of this website because of all the great recipes it has.

Anyways one of the icons on the first page was entitled "What Kind Of Cupcake Are you?". Curious I clicked on the link and took the short quiz. Based on my answers it says I was a Toasted Almond Cupcake with Caramel Frosting. The reason they said this cupcake fit me because "It's only appropriate that the cupcake representing you also represents spirit and adventure. The caramel, almond, cupcake combination isn’t what you expect – it’s better."

If I do say so myself that they are dead on. I would like to think that I am full of spirit and adventure. This cupcake looks so yummy and interesting; I will absolutely give it a try.

from Betty

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract

Caramel Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. In shallow pan, bake almonds 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Reserve 1 cup almonds for garnish. In food processor, grind remaining almonds until finely ground.
In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, eggs and almond extract with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. (Batter will be lumpy.) Fold in ground almonds. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.
Gradually stir powdered sugar into brown sugar mixture. Place saucepan of frosting in bowl of cold water. Beat with spoon until smooth and spreadable. If frosting becomes too stiff, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Frost a few cupcakes at a time with 1 tablespoon frosting each; press reserved almonds lightly into frosting. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Make 30 cupcakes.

So What Kind of Cupcake are You? Take the quiz, find out and let me know!

I REALLY need to stop surfing the web and get back to work, and do laundry, and most importantly clean my kitchen so I can make these cupcakes.

Garcia's Cafe

First off I apologize that I have neglected this blog for quite a while. Between the Easter holidays, friends in from out of town, and the normal every day grind, it has been hard to keep up. However, I have lots of new food information, recipes and restaurant reviews on the way!

Garcia's Cafe Restaurant Review:
Yesterday my boyfriend, his friend and I went to this little Mexican restaurant in Round Rock, Texas for breakfast. It is off the beaten path in downtown Round Rock just off of Main Street.

The atmosphere:
The place doesn't look like much; with it being a old house that has been turned in to the cafe. With that being said, indoor dining is limited and a tight squeeze. There is a nice patio with lots of shade trees however, it was not open when we were there.

The food:
We were there to eat breakfast, and that we did. They had traditional Mexican breakfast foods and then an American breakfast menu. I ordered the breakfast beef fajita plate with beef, eggs, potatoes, and refried beans. The beef was seasoned and cooked perfectly, in fact it left me wanting more. The eggs were cooked to your liking and I requested scrambled in which they also turned out great- not too runny and not over done- just light and fluffy. The beans were average and the potatoes were al dente and could have been cooked a little longer. It all came with warm flour and corn tortillas. The portions were great- very filling but not leaving you with that over stuffed feeling.

The service:
Our food came out quickly and hot; our drinks were always full. All of the staff was super friendly especially our server. I have to admit though that our server is my boyfriend's brother, so I guess I am a little bit partial. The owners are extremely nice and all about family; which comes through in their restaurant.

The price:
Amazing. All breakfast items are less than seven bucks and I would have to say just glancing through their menu that everything else looked extremely reasonable as well. They also had daily specials advertised. Defiantly a steal.

Other random bits:
They only serve breakfast on the weekends and close at three in the afternoon on Sunday. During the weekday they are opened for lunch and dinner; however, don't expect to eat late since they close regularly a 9 pm.

Great food, great service, and extremely great prices; you can't beat that. Highly recommend Garcia's Cafe if you are in Round Rock and if you are staying in Austin it is defiantly worth the quick drive up I-35 to Round Rock. I will be back for more and to try the lunch and dinner menus.

Restaurant Information:

Garcia's Cafe
(512) 671-7733
410 W Main Ave
Round Rock, TX
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