Monday, May 31, 2010

What Have I Baked Lately? Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Mmm...

Last weekend I baked brownies and a golf ball shaped cake. Since it just looked like half a ball (I baked it in a bowl), I didn't take a photo to share. It tasted pretty good - red velvet with one-and-a-half containers of Betty Crocker's cream cheese frosting - yum! It was my turn to make a co-worker's cake. Anywho...

This weekend I baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and I have to say, OMG! These cookies were delish! I found the recipe on the blog Baking Bites which I found via The Motherload blog.

Actually, the original recipe is for Peanut Butter Oatmeal and I added the package of chocolate chips. The recipe also called for a peanut butter glaze but since I don't keep milk anymore (stupid lactose!), I skipped it and they tasted just as good.

So if you want to try the recipe, follow this link to Baking Bites. Or, if you come visit, I have a stash in the freezer but not sure for how long I can resist them.

Oh, and check out what else I've been doing on my Solo Travel Girl blog.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Celebrity Sighting: 'Pawn Stars' in Port Charlotte, Fla.

I've never been in a pawn shop before, now I have one more thing to tick off the bucket list. I spent a bit of my evening at Westchester Gold and Diamonds in Port Charlotte. No, I haven't fallen on financial hardship, I was meeting a couple of reality television celebrities from History Channel's Pawn Stars. Austin "Chumlee" Russell (pictured) and Rick "The Spotter" Harrison were on hand tonight and will be there Saturday. You can check out my article, "History Channel's 'Pawn Stars' Meet Fans in Port Charlotte, Fla.", for deets.

I confess I didn't know who they were but I'm always up for some celebrity spotting. The best part was meeting the show's publicist. She looked familiar and it clicked (after she told me), she appeared on an episode of "How Do I Look?", the one when the Chippendales requested the make over. I peppered her with questions but a burning one I always wondered was, "Do they really make you throw away all of your clothes?"


But she said the quality was much better. She also has ties to Charlotte County. Great chatting with her and an overall cool evening.

FTC Disclosure: Clicking the links will generate revenue for me to support my traveling habit. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Celebrity Sighting: Ahmed Hassan of DIY Network's Yard Crashers

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival wrapped up Sunday and since I was in Orlando visiting friends, I swung by to check it out (I'm a season pass holder). In addition to incredible topiaries and gorgeous floral displays, weekends during the festival included educational workshops including those with celebrity gardeners.

I wasn't able to arrive as early as I would have liked but I did catch a glimpse of the host of DIY Network's Yard Crashers, Ahmed Hassan. He seemed to have great rapport with fans and took his time chatting and laughing with them. Seemed like a really nice guy.

The other highlight of the day was enjoying a Disney turkey leg for lunch. Yum! This has got to be the best theme park comfort food. Unfortunately, they're too darn big and I can never finish one. Next time I visit (which will be next month during a Hollywood Studio's Star Wars Weekend (the one with Billy Dee Williams!) I'll be bringing a baggie to save it. Is that gross?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Adventures in Making Beef Jerky

Now I understand why beef jerky is so expensive. It takes a lotta meat, sometimes complicated ingredients and patience. The June issue of Food & Wine magazine included an article about 28-year-old New York City baker Rachel Graville (and proprietor of Iris Cafe in Brooklyn) and the beef jerky she's been making for the past couple of years.

I'm a fan of the dried meat and following the article were three beef jerky recipes so I decided to tackle the "Sweet & Spicy Jerky" recipe, which wasn't the simplest recipe, but sat in the middle in complexity of ingredients.

You can follow this link to the Food & Wine website for the recipe. Shopping at Wal-Mart, I found most of the ingredients except whole anise (I purchased anise seeds and used 1/2 teaspoon) and fish sauce.

Yes, the fish sauce for beef jerky sounds disgusting and I substituted oyster sauce. Okay, probably not the best choice because after reading cooking boards, oyster sauce is thicker and sweeter than fish sauce.

Slicing the meat was pretty easy and ended up marinating the meat about an hour more than recommended (recipe called for no more than 8 hours. Since I made this during the week, it soaked for 9). Baking at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours was about an hour short but I'm pleased with the end product, although when I travel to New York next month, I'm planning a visit to Iris Cafe to pick up Graville's real stuff.

Pictured is the final product atop the Food & Wine article.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cooking Up My Fresh Seattle Fish

If you've been keeping up with my travels over on Solo Travel Girl blog, you know I visited the Pacific Northwest last month for my 40th birthday celebration and made a trip to Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. If you haven't seen the video of the experience, check it out on YouTube.

I shipped back $XX amount of fish (I'm purposely refraining from revealing the amount because although it was a deal, some may find the price a bit exorbitant) from the trip and have enjoyed fresh seafood just about everyday I've been back.

I purchased wild salmon and halibut. Salmon's now in season and all I can say is OMG! It is so tender it practically melts in my mouth. And the halibut is pretty delish, too.

How have I prepared these fish dishes? Up top is a snapshot of halibut with a caper butter sauce with tomatoes, inspired by watching Food Network and seeing the chef for the governor prepare her halibut in a similar sauce.

Here's my recipe for caper butter sauce (and next time I'll dice the tomatoes):
  • In a skillet, melt a tablespoon of butter, brown both sides of the halibut then transfer to pan and bake in oven at 350 degrees until done (15 minutes maybe?);
  • In the same pan on medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of butter (this may be excessive, but good) and melt;
  • Add a tablespoon of capers;
  • Add chopped tomato to the mixture and stir so melted butter does not melt;
  • Garnish halibut with the sauce and enjoy!
That's Oregon wild rice accompanying the dish, purchased during the Portland Farmers Market.

For the salmon, I combined some of my favorite things to make a sweet and spicy berry sauce (pictured above).
  • First, I grilled the salmon on my George Foreman Grill.
  • While grilling, combine 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (I used the real stuff from Western New York); 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam; 2 tablespoons of green onions and 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes in a saucepan and cooked over medium heat until well blended together;
  • When the salmon is finished grilling, transfer to a plate and top with the sweet and spicy berry sauce.
Yum! I love the combined flavor of sweet, spicy and savory.

I have a many more fillets and steaks to enjoy and will have fun experimenting with recipes.

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on some links and making a purchase may generate revenue for me and support my traveling habit. Thanks!