Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dressed up Brownie Bites!

I was in a pinch and needed a quick treat to take to Ryan's school for his birthday celebration.  For the kids whose birthdays are in the summer, they set aside a special day to celebrate them during school.  I thought about bringing cookies or cupcakes, but then I would have to buy 2 containers to ensure one for each child (pricey!). My eyes wandered to the brownie bites, most likely since I personally love them, but it was also the perfect amount in one package.  The only problem is that they looked a bit boring, for kids at least.

I thought about what I had at home - sprinkles.  What child doesn't love sprinkles?  I made my way over to the baking goods aisle and picked up an "easy cheese" bottle of priced-to-sell yellow frosting.  Ryan probably would have preferred red frosting, but for some reason the yellow was reduced to move stock.  Don't worry, I checked for an expiration date, but couldn't find one - that must mean it's still safe.

I was also tempted to look in the snack aisle for a true bottle of sharp cheddar easy cheese.  I may be a foodie, but there are some strange processed foods that I enjoy!  The great thing about these containers of frosting is that they come with 4 tips to create some fun shapes and patterns.  If I was talented, I may have used more than one tip, but alas, that didn't happen.  Ryan helped me squirt the frosting, shake the sprinkles, and then handed them out proudly to his friends at school today.  It was a success and an easy one at that!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fish Tacos

There are so many ways to make fish tacos, from grilled to fried, with white sauce or salsa, and from shredded cabbage to pickled vegetables.  I must say, I honestly have no preference.  I guess it is more my mood that determines what I want, versus not liking it one way or the other.  Living in San Diego, it is quite simple to find an excellent fish taco in practically any part town, which is why I've never made them at home until now.

This recipe for healthy Fish Tacos peaked my interest due to the marinated fish, the pickled vegetables, and the avocado & mango salsa.  I'm not even a fan of mangoes, but thought I would give it a try.  The ingredients may look lengthy, but the steps are broken up into 3 easy segments, beginning with pickling radishes and red onion in red wine vinegar, sugar, and chili powder.

Once they have boiled on the stove, the pickled pink vegetables rest until the other ingredients are ready.  The next step in the process is to marinate the fish.  I used halibut since we had that on hand.  The fish sits in a simple mixture of lime juice, chili powder, and garlic.  The recipe calls for a 10 minute marinade, which is probably just about right.  Unfortunately, I completely misjudged when Mark was going to be home, so my poor halibut bathed in the acidic marinade for too long.
The remaining step is to make the salsa.  In this preparation, the avocado & mango are mixed with chili powder, lime juice, and cilantro.  What intrigued me most about this recipe is the uniqueness, yet consistency, of the ingredients.  The chili powder is used in each of the three components.  The lime juice is used in both marinating the fish, and in the salsa.  And even after letting all the components sit for a bit, this turned out to be a very bright-tasting and refreshing fish taco.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Herbed Beer Bread

Thanks to the eCurry blog, I found something quick and delicious to do with my self-rising flour that had expired!  I was worried about the "rising" power since it was past the expiration date and I hadn't kept it in the freezer, like I do with some of my other less-used flours.  This recipe was so simple and versatile, that I thought it would be a perfect way to use up my flour. 
On the eCurry blog, the author creates her Herbed Beer Bread with Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and ground black pepper.  I chose a different route, since I had some fresh herbs to use up - dill and parsley, along with some dried Italian seasoning.  As you can see, I used a decent amount which made the bread incredibly flavorful.  For the beer choice, I went with Karl Strauss Amber Lager
After mixing together the flour, herbs, and a few teaspoons of sugar, you pour the only liquid ingredient (beer!) into the mix.  I love seeing the amber bubbles appear at the surface as it hits the flour. 
This remaining step is key.  During the last 10 minutes in the oven, the top of the bread is brushed with melted butter.  Yum.  The crust transforms into this crunchy, buttery, wonderfulness.  Subsequently, as I have made this bread (still using up my expired flour), I've experimented with different fresh herbs, like tarragon, and also stronger beers.  All combinations have been excellent which is why this bread is so versatile.  Use it to make an egg sandwich in the morning, or into some bruschetta in the evening.   This bread is a good staple to have around.