Archive for March, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Yea, that’s right…I said Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies!! The best friend’s birthday was coming up and I wanted to bake her something so yummy that she would forget that she was turning 27.

I got the recipe from the Betty Crocker website. I have this Betty Crocker Recipe of the Day gadget on my iGoogle homepage. I LOVE it.

The recipe was so insanely easy…

Make brownie mix and cookie mix as directed on the package.

I buttered the pan and dusted with cocoa powder for anti-sticking insurance!

Drop the cookie dough onto the brownie batter and press it in a little bit. The picture below shows perfect little rows of cookie blobs, but in fact, I still had more cookie dough, so I had to plop it in more randomly…

Let it cool completely. Then put on the icing!!

Cut into squares and ENJOY!

While I was cutting the brownie squares, one of them looked too rectangular, so I was forced to cut off a piece to even it out…and then I was forced to eat it for quality assurance purposes, of course.

Honestly, this was the BEST brownie I have ever eaten. It made me so happy, I was squealing with joy…really….squealing….

Homemade Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepes)

The next item on our agenda was Banh Xeo, or Vietnamese crepes.

First, I roasted a pork tenderloin the night before:

We bought a banh xeo mix at the Asian grocery store. Just add water, coconut milk, and chopped green onions. It comes with a packet of turmeric, for color. My mom, of course, would have soaked rice and grind it herself…but we are lazy…

My sister painstakingly shelled and deveined the shrimp and steamed them.

Heat up a big, non-stick skillet and put in a heaping tablespoon of canola oil.

One ladle-full of banh xeo batter into the pan…

A handful of pork tenderloin slices, steamed shrimp, and as much bean sprouts as you like.

As soon as the edges are crisp and the bottom is golden, fold it over the filling and slide out onto a plate!

Serve with leaf lettuce, basil, cilantro, and any other herbs you like (such as dandelion leaves, purple basil, etc)…those are home-grown!!

Don’t forget the nuoc mam!

We also like to have some rice paper (banh trang) on the table to wrap it all up and eat, but lettuce wraps alone would be fine!


Homemade Bo Bia

My mom is visiting family in Vietnam right now, so my sister got the bright idea of making some authentic Vietnamese cuisine for my dad while my mom was away.

What spurred this idea was my sister’s discovery of the Wandering Chopsticks blog. There, you can find a dizzying plethora of Vietnamese recipes and recommendations, all fully documented and photographed!

We adapted the Wandering Chopsticks recipe for Bo Bia, recalling our mom’s variations.

– Saute the julienned jicama along with julienned carrots.

– Slice the Chinese sausage crosswise and saute it with the reconstituted dried shrimp, along with a bit of green onions. (They actually make “extra lean” Chinese sausage now! Even a chicken variety too!)

– Spread a little sauce directly onto the rice paper as you wrap it. No need for dipping sauce on the side…for the ultimate street food experience!

– Omit the omelet…there’s already enough flavors going on in there…

Here are all the ingredients, ready for assembly.

It helps if you have these stackable plastic thingies for the rice paper…so you can avoid using a bunch of plates:

Everyone loves macro shots…

We added garlic chives for garnish…totally optional.

Yummm…salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy…

Diaper Cake, Jungle Safari

A co-worker was going to attend a baby shower and asked me to fashion a diaper cake for her. She said the baby’s room was decorated in a jungle theme and they didn’t know the sex of the baby.

Here’s what I came up with!

Here’s the final product wrapped in tulle and tied with rafia.

Homemade Oreos and Thin Mints

I saw this picture in a Food Network newsletter and I knew what I’d be doing this weekend!

The recipe was given by Trois Pommes Bakery in New York. It is definitely a keeper!

Here are some of my observations:

It calls for Dutch process cocoa powder, which isn’t sold in regular grocery stores, so I headed over to Whole Foods and picked some up for a hefty $8.99. I figured I shouldn’t try to substitute regular cocoa powder and mess up the recipe. Wondering what’s the big difference? Here’s your answer.

It doesn’t say “Dutch Process” on the box. It just says imported from Holland. Here’s a picture of what it looks like:

It says to only re-reoll the scraps once, but I did it maybe 3 or 4 times to use up all the dough…no big deal. (Especially since I spent $9 on the cocoa powder!!)

It says the recipe yields 64 cookies or 32 when sandwiched together. I got about 100, probably because of all the re-rolling I did.

I used a 2-inch round cookie cutter like the recipe suggested, but I think a smaller bite-sized one would be better.

I used my linzer cookie cutter set (just the heart) to make decorative imprints in the cookies. Since the cookies don’t rise, you can take a lot of creative liberty here. You could use rubber stamps (with not too much detail) or even just prick them with the tines of a fork.

It also says to space them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. This is totally unnecessary since they don’t spread. You can just space them 1 centimeter apart!

Here are all the cookies: plain round, imprinted round, and round with fluted edge.

Since Girl Scout cookie season ends on March 29th, I thought this would be a good time to experiment with making Thin Mints. I melted some Andes Mint chips in the microwave and dipped all the ones with a fluted edge.

I sandwiched the rest with the creme filling:

The final product!

They don’t really look like the ones in the Food Network picture, but hey, I am really proud of them!!

Austin, Food Dossier

Whenever I plan a trip, the first thing on my mind is what I want to eat!! Weekends are too short, so we could only hit up a few of the places we wanted to eat at…just another reason to go back to Austin!!

Trudy’s – Mexican martini, Queso Especial, Sopapillas de Maiz

This is one of the places I miss most since I moved away from Austin! We were definitely craving a Mexican Martini. I didn’t snap any pics here, but the food is amazing and worth the wait.

Flip Happy Crepes – Chicken & Mushroom crepe, the Cuban, french press coffee.

This little trailer on Jessie Street was made famous back in August 2007 when it was on Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I never saw this episode, but I bet they kicked Bobby’s butt because those crepes were amazing! (We had to eat in the car because it was so cold outside!!)

Hey Cupcake – 24 Carat (carrot cake with cream cheese icing), Michael Jackson (chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate sprinkles)

This sno-cone stand turned cupcake mecca is located on South Congress. There was a really long line, but for a good reason! The carrot cake was the best I have ever had.

Pluckers – Popeye Dip, Waffle Fries, & wings (Spicy ranch, Caribbean Jerk, Gold Rush, Spicy BBQ)

Another “must” for us when we go to Austin. We went to the original location, which had been completely renovated since we were there last. I don’t even eat chicken wings anywhere else because once you’ve had Pluckers, all others fade in comparison…

Juan in a Million – Don Juan

This place has always been popular among the locals and they’ve gotten even more of a boost since they were featured on the Food Network’s Man vs. Food. This guy tries to beat the record of eating seven Don Juans. I don’t think he got close. One is more than enough for me!

Random Brenham gas station – Blue Bell Country Cookie

I know it may sound silly, but I had to stop at a gas station and get one of these. A friend introduced me to these and you can’t find these anywhere in the city. You can easily find a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, but not oatmeal cookie. Yummm…I may have to make these at home!


March 2009