Saturday, December 19

::peppermint mocha with starbucks via::

an at home use for starbuck's instant coffee using microbrewed beans. omit coffee for peppermint hot chocolate and substitute peppermint extract for vanilla extract for simple hot chocolate.

{peppermint mocha}
8oz milk
1 packet starbucks via instant coffee
1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener
1/4 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
in very small pot, heat milk slowly, stirring often, over low heat. when just warm add all ingredients and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until dissolved. pour into mug.
heat mug filled with milk until just warm, about a minute. stir in all ingredients and mix well. heat about 45 seconds more, stirring briskly once in between and again at the end.

top with whipped cream or marshmallows!

pesto rubbed trout

for my pizza and pasta adventures, central market's dip slash sauce bar thing is perfect for purchasing the exact amount of pesto needed for one or two dishes. their pesto is SO good. this is even better when you can find trout on sale, like i did, and salmon can easily substitute as well.

pesto rubbed trout
serves 3-4
1 lb fillet trout
1/4 cup basil pesto
Rub the pesto generously over the fish. Really rub it, like with the back of a spoon. Cover and marinate 30 min. Heat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil. Bake skin side down 8 - 10 min until fish begins to look slightly opaque and flakes with a fork. Use a metal spatula to slide fish off skin, as skin will stick to the foil.

Saturday, December 5

gingerbread men

these were yummy, fun and made my kitchen smell like christmas!
molasses cookies slash gingerbread men
adapted from all and betty crocker
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar and 3/4 c. white
1 egg
1 tablespoon water or orange juice or orange liquor
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.
{for gingerbread men}
Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

 Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Cut into desired shapes.
{for molasses cookies}
Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, December 1

chicken and root veggies with wine & rosemary

i think this is called braising. it was good and i think next time i will try it with a non-non-stick pan to be sure that the chicken as well as the carrots and potatoes, or whatever root veggies i use next, really brown a bit before adding the liquid. i think a big pot or dutch oven may be best, rather than a large covered nonstick sauce pan --which is what i used and it got a little crowded. i also think after browning everything, you could throw all this in the oven and it would turn out just great. i, however, was interested in minimizing clean up. but then that brings us back to the dutch oven idea.
anyway, this was good and is something i am interested in perfecting since, as i've previously mentioned, we have rosemary growing wild around here.
i think i'm done. here's the recipe.
chicken and root veggies with wine & rosemary
adapted from all recipes & the two of us and friends by jessie carry saunders
4 bone-in chicken breast thighs or breasts, with skin
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 small potatoes chopped into bite sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced & divided
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
{optional sauce}
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour

this would have been even better if i had NOT used a non-stick pan. more crispy goodies.
Season the chicken liberally with pepper and seasoned salt. Loosen skin and stuff half of diced garlic and chopped rosemary into skin. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter’s foam subsides, add chicken and cook until well browned on all sides. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Lower the heat, add the onion, and cook and stir until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, carrot, and potato, and cook and stir an additional 3 minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into the pan {I added only about 1 1/2c. because my pan was getting crowded}, and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the wine and reduce heat back to low.

Return the chicken to the pan and place rosemary sprigs among them. Simmer covered on low until chicken breasts are no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Serve chicken and vegetables with sauces from pan or make separate sauce {it's just thicker}
Remove chicken and vegetables from pan and remove pan with liquids from heat. Allow to cool enough to skim off some fat and remove rosemary sprigs. In another pan, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat and once glistening, add flour, stirring or whisking continually. Add slowly until desired thickness: chicken and wine juices from pan, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over chicken.

Sunday, November 29

pumpkin bread

as much as i love it, i can't believe i've never made pumpkin bread. surely my mom has and i was at least present. since i've decided vegetable & fruit purees are not an excellent substitute for butter in scones and cookies {just because crispiness is more important to me than healthiness in these things}, pumpkin bread and muffins are really the only way to go to get that yummy spiced pumpkin fix.

pumpkin bread
adapted from
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
2/3 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans. {or one 9x5 in pan and one muffin pan}
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. {muffins for 30} Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 17

pork tenderloin with rosemary and red wine glaze

pork isn't particularly photogenic so here's the wine. this spanish wine I used and enjoyed drinking after was found at costco, and it's called chapillon cuvee harmonie.

my, and most people's, usual complaint with pork is that it's dry. however, this was not dry. i didn't trim my one pound cut and allowed it to marinate 2 hours. then coated it with and actually cooked it in the remainder of the glaze, rather than saving the glaze for serving. I had plenty of sauce since i was cooking 1 one pound cut rather that the amount called for. all the extra that cooked with it in the pan made a great au jus that i definitely recommend pouring over the meat. dryness can also be avoided by paying attention to the time and temperature so that it doesn't overcook and dry out.

pork tenderloin
with rosemary and red wine glaze special equipment: meat thermometer
2 (3/4-lb) pork tenderloins or 1 1lb tenderloin
1 cup dry red wine
1 (2-inch) sprig fresh rosemary plus 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Boil wine, rosemary sprig, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small heavy saucepan until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 7 to 8 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, then transfer rosemary sprig, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a sealable plastic bag along with 1/4 cup wine marinade and tenderloins. Marinate, chilled, turning bag occasionally, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Return remaining 1/4 cup wine marinade to saucepan and add vinegar, honey, and chopped rosemary, then boil dressing until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes.

Take the tenderloin out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Film an ovenproof skillet with oil and sear the tenderloin over medium-high heat to brown all sides, about 5 minutes in all. Apply glaze generously. Save remainder for serving or pour over meat and into skillet for cooking. {i'll try reserving it as a glaze for next time...with all the "stuff" left in the pan from browning the meat, however, it was tasty. but. there would probably be a more sufficient amount for serving, had i reserved some of it.}

Anyway. Place skillet in the oven and roast 15 to 20 minutes, until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent the pork with foil and let it rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 28

happy birthday vittles!

the 23rd marked the one year anniversary of {vittles!} i missed it!

happy birthday vittles!

and now a recipe for my loyal readers having nothing to do with cupcakes.

fall roasted veggies part deux
1 zucchini
1 squash
1/2 red bell pepper, large dice
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup / can of chickpeas, drained
1 carrot, peeled
seasoning salt
garlic salt
olive oil
3T finely grated parmesan cheese
1 T dried parsley or other similar seasonings such as italian
oven to 425, cover rimmed baking pan with foil. cut squash and zucchini in to large yet bite-sized pieces. cut carrots into pieces half the size of zucchini and squash pieces. if you are adding any potatoes or sweet potatoes {which would be good} cut them the same size as well.{see note} add veggies with peppers, onions and chickpeas to mixing bowl

drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with a few shakes of each of the seasonings, mix well and spread onto baking pan. bake 30 min.

the toasted chickpeas with the bell peppers is such a treat!!

note {the carrots and potatoes take about 20 min longer to cook than the squash and zucchini if they're all about the same size. i tried making the soft veggies larger than the root veggies and it worked fine, but be aware.}

{image belongs to pinkbow}

Sunday, October 25

vegetable pasta toss

wondering what to do with all those great vegetables from the stuffed peppers?? here's a yummy, fresh, flexible pasta sauce and you don't even have to turn on the oven. next time i try this, i might put a little white wine in there with the tomatoes.

{vegetable pasta toss}
serves 4
a few drizzles of olive oil

2 small, diced

1 T minced garlic

1 slender zucchini, small dice
1 slender yellow summer squash, small dice

1 sweet bell pepper, small dice
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed {or 1 c cooked ground beef}

1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved {or 1 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes}
1 T ground cumin

1 T ground coriander

1 t cinnamon

1/2 lb whole wheat penne pasta or pasta of choice
juice of one lemon, divided

salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

 Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat up a large skillet with a lid on medium high heat. Depending on whether it is nonstick or stainless steel, drizzle a very little oil or a tablespoon or 2 into the pan, and heat it up. When it is shimmering, add the garlic and let it toast briefly, 15-30 seconds. Do not let it burn. Add the onions and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with salt.

Add veggies {and chickpeas if you're using them}. When the onion has totally caramelized and the zucchini is a little tender, add the spices and stir. Do not allow the spices to stick and burn. Add the juice of half of the lemon to the pan to deglaze it. Then add the tomatoes. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Let it cook for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Uncover and stir to allow tomatoes to break up and liquids to evaporate. Add breadcrumbs if you want it thicker. Remove from heat and add meat if you're using it, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and cheese. Toss the cooked noodles with the juice from the remaining half of the lemon. Serve combined or separately.

{image belongs to themarmot}

Monday, October 19

stuffed red bell peppers

Turns out I was inspired after my sad farewell for a bit and decided to cook dinner. I'm on a bell pepper kick now that I've decided I like them after 23 years of marked repulsion to even the smell of them sharing space in a salad with similarly colored tomatoes.

This came from smitten kitchen who had it as a vegetarian dish. I added meat based upon some other recipes. You're just going to have to guestimate the vegetable quantities based upon the size of the veggies you end up with and what you like more. Don't skip on the spices though and save yourself some time by just throwing all your parsley leaves in a food processor. I've decided I hate washing, drying, pulling leaves off and cutting herbs like parsley and cilantro. So I just lightly washed them, barely dried them and threw them in the food processor. Now have a parsley pesto foundation for later and am not picking herb leaves out of my nails.

These were good and very flexible.

roasted vegetable stuffed peppers
inspired by

5 bell peppers halved and seeded {see note}
2 bell peppers - small dice {see note}
1 zucchini - small dice
1 summer squash - small dice
1 onion - small dice
6 cloves garlic - minced
1 c frozen corn
1 c grape tomatoes halved or quartered
4 tbs chopped fresh parsley
3/4 c panko breadcrumbs
1 tbs essence {i used a dash of paprika and cayenne pepper}
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1/4 c parmesean plus more for sprinkling {or whatever cheese you have... but i strongly recommend using GOOD freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and this will change your life.}
1/2 lb ground beef or turkey



oven to 375. cook meat in a skillet with a few dashes of coriander and cumin and a bit of salt and pepper. set aside. saute onion in butter and olive oil over med high heat until translucent. add garlic and cook til fragrant. add vegetables and saute until just softened. add salt, pepper and essence. {don't be shy with your spices! taste it!} add parsley and breadcrumbs. you may need to add more breadcrumbs if the liquid is not absorbed. add parm and meat and take off heat. combine.

stuff the peppers with the vegetable stuffing mix. place in baking dish with a little olive oil in bottom. put in oven and bake until peppers are softened (about 20-25 minutes). just before they are done (5 minutes early) take out and sprinkle top with parm.
{note} I cut the top off of my peppers, then diced the de-stemmed, de-cored top as the “diced” pepper. I then stuffed into the topless peppers.
{post note} BUT I think this recipe was designed so that each pepper would equate two halves for stuffing if you cut each lengthwise. Since I made them stuffable by cut the tops off, one pepper only equaled one pepper, rather than one turning into two, if that makes any sense. I halved all the quantities shown here, didn't add corn and added only a few cherry tomatoes and it filled three peppers perfectly. We each ate one as a meal.

Taylor said these were good because the "bell pepper tasted fresh" I think the yummy, gooey innards were a good contrast with the cooked but still crisp bell pepper on the outside.

{image belongs to tdfl}

Friday, October 16


fall! and well, recently i've been finding it much easier to muse over at my other blog {tied up with string}. but do not be dismayed, coaching season is nearly over and that {hopefully} means a bit more culinary adventures for {vittles} to dutifully document!

until then,
i'll be over there!
so come visit!

{image belongs to marthastewartliving}

Saturday, September 26

cheater pancakes

A similar sentiment to crumblies I feel for these, being, at heart, fundamentally opposed to baked good mixes. Baked good mixes truly epitomize the "what is it worth to you?" question because real, homemade, from scratch baked goods are so cheap and so yummy to make yourself. However, said homemade baked goods require energy for me to not only actually bake but clean up after as well.

I mean, besides when the clean up fairies sweep in.

So this mix is really useful for when I let the clean up fairies go on vacation.

It's also really useful for when I'm interested purchasing a boxed Make-Your-Husband's-Week mix for about $6 at Central Market. But I imagine if I put Bisquick in this tub when we're done with it he may never know...

When we stayed at a friend's parent's house in Houston, Taylor was introduced to this Stonewall Kitchen Pancake & Waffle Mix. My understanding of Mr. Reeve's love affair with this brand is that he orders essentially their entire line of fruit preserves spreads and this pancake mix by the case load. The secret that he passed on to Taylor is to add a bit of sugar to the mix. When I made this for Taylor he reminded me about seventeen times, from the time we stood in line at Central Market and saw the light from heaven shining on this mix in the fourth isle to the minute I poured the batter on the griddle, that the secret was to add a bit of sugar.

make-tay's-week pancakes
1 cup Stonewall Kitchen Pancake & Waffle Mix
1 tablespoon sugar
Follow directions on package. Add sugar. Don't forget the sugar. Continue to follow directions on package. Read clean up fairies' postcard sent from their vacation.

Monday, September 21

baked bbq chicken

My dad makes his dad's excellent bbq sauce from scratch. The first time I made this dish it was because my dad gave me nearly a gallon of leftover sauce. If you don't have a stellar family recipe sauce to use, pick out your favorite, quality bbq sauce.

baked bbq chicken
INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)
4 chicken drum sticks, bone in
4 chicken thighs, bone in
2 - 3 cups good barbecue sauce

{spice rub slash marinade}
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
2 teaspoons cracked pepper
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or red wine

{spice rub option} combine all seasonings without liquids (vinegar, butter or oil) and rub into meat and under skin immediately prior to cooking
{spice marinade option} combine seasonings with oils and rub into meat, allow meat to marinate in seasonings 2 - 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 and in large baking dish arrange chicken pieces in a single layer and cover completely and generously with sauce. It may be necessary to flip pieces to ensure the tops are coated in sauce. Bake uncovered 30 to 45 minutes.

Serve with rosemary roasted potatoes, twice baked potatoes, or baked macaroni and cheese

{image belongs to judithsweet}

Monday, September 7


Happy Labor Day! Taylor and I enjoyed ourselves a late breakfast at Magnolia Cafe this morning with our friends, M & C. I got the "Economical" --scrambled eggs, homefries, black beans with a large side of salsa. Tay go the "T-Rex Omelet" with pico de gallo, avocado, cheese and smoked turkey. He also got a short stack of gingerbread pancakes, which I hadn't had in years. They smell like fall and like my highschool breakfast dates with my dad.

On another note, on to dessert. My mom got these as a teacher gift years and years ago. I was rereminded of their greatness a few weekends ago. Homemade Reese's essentially.



1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 cups confectioners' sugar

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips


In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and confectioners' sugar. The dough will look dry. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping) and chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until smooth. Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick. Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeyes. Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.

Wednesday, September 2

utilizing your freezer

Check out this post from Whole Food's blog on how to utilize your freezer! Great for both weeknight meals and cooking in small portions. Clicking on a picture in the post will take you to its recipe. HEB sells bags of frozen shrimp that are perfect for portioned grabbing.

Monday, August 31

have you tried greek yogurt?

This summer, through various sources, I heard all about the wonders of Greek yogurt. It's strained differently so it's thicker while still having fat free options, and it's packed with protein. This week I've been enjoying the plain version and putting diced up fruit in it. I have the blueberry in my refrigerator waiting for lunch tomorrow. Check it out:

5.3 ounces of Stoneyfeild Farm's Oikos blueberry flavor has 120 calories 13 grams of protein. The plain version of the same size has 90 calories and 16 grams of protein which is a whopping 32% daily value of protein.
Fage is another brand that's a few cents more expensive at my local HEB. They carry both of these at the HEBs and Randalls near me, in addition to a few other brands. If you can't find them at a "normal" grocery story, I wager you won't regret the trip to a nearby Central Market or Whole Foods.

You can't get much more nutritious than that, and I think they're pretty yummy as well!

Thursday, August 27

rosemary brie parmesan scones & friends

Wow I can't believe I left those ugly chicken bags on the top for over a week! Ick! Forgive my blog neglect. School and volleyball coaching have both started, and I have hundreds {literally} of papers I should currently be grading. Rather, I blog.
Here are some variations of my basic {and still favorite scone}. When adding juices and zest, add them to the liquid part --the sour cream and egg mixture. Basically mix wet and dry separately. I'm fairly certain this is basic tenet in cooking. I, however, did this incorrectly and so my cranberry orange scones were less than ideal, pictured here in this first attempt. Just not as crispy. Dough was very gooey.

Aren't you thankful I mess up basic tenets so I can pass on wisdom to you? The explanation for my error, that I won't burden you with, involves a long saga of double and a halving a recipe, yes, "double and a half," and then thirding it.

Regardless, do these right and you'll be obsessed. Add more or less of anything according to your preferences.

recommended variations on this recipe
::cranberry orange::
{add to wet ingredients}
1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries chopped, food processor recommended
2 T orange zest
2 T fresh squeezed o.j.

::rosemary brie and parmesan::
{add to dry ingredients}
1/2 cup grated brie and parmesan {reduced fat brie is very easy to grate}
1 - 2 tsp. chopped rosemary

::sweet citrus::
{add to wet ingredients}
2 T. orange zest
1 T. lemon zest
1 T. lemon juice
use at least 1/3 cup sugar, see recipe
sprinkle extra sugar on top before baking.

::almond spice::
{add to dry}
1/3 c. crushed or sliced almonds
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. all spice
1/4 t. nutmeg
{add to wet ingredients}
1/2 t. almond extract

I make no promises about vittles' fall prospects. Sadly, vittles may be sparse until mid-October.

Taylor accepts sympathy in the form of Mr. Gatti's and Chipotle gift cards.

Monday, August 17

cooking in small portions

This attractive picture is that of a de-meated rotisserie chicken. An entire cooked chicken for $6.99 at HEB or $4.99 at Costco. Each baggie has about a cup of meat and will be frozen in a larger, dated ziploc bag.So I can grab an individual baggie from the freezer and make a fresh pasta or summer salad for one or both of us. Easily adding tasty, sometimes even flavored chicken without cooking enough meat for a family of 5.

Thursday, August 13

rosemary roasted potatoes

Do you live in Texas? Are there plants growing around where you live? Chances are you have rosemary growing nearby. I think since it's very resilient and stays green despite droughts, many neighborhoods have rosemary planted all over the place. Our apartment complex certainly has about a dozen gigantic rosemary bushes that I smell all the way up to my walk to the pool. So I found this recipe in a new Tapas book I got and walked out my front door with a pair of scissors. 90 seconds to free and fresh rosemary.
rosemary roasted potatoes
5 "old" potatoes {the white small ones, the size of new potatoes but not red skinned}
the leaves from 1 large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped {about 3 teaspoons}
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 small scallion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
Oven to 400. Cover roasting pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Skin potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces, and toss with all remaining ingredients in mixing bowl. Pour into roasting pan. Pour or spread with spatula any remaining liquid, onions, etc. from the bowl over the potatoes.

Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes. Stir in the middle but not necessary -- I like one really brown and crispy side rather than a couple lightly crisped sides. Remove from oven and make a pocket over the potatoes with the foil. Allow to sit about 4 minutes. Dump into serving bowl.

I've found that creating that foil pocket for roasted vegetables to cool in allows the moisture to gather and makes it easier to remove the veggies along with their crispy sides, rather than scraping them off the foil and sacrificing that crispy side while it sticks to the foil. But. To each his own.

Don't worry about the neighbors when you go boldly snip your rosemary. Some may realize and admire your genius...and bravery. And don't forget to wash it.

Monday, August 10

steak salad

Hey look! A man salad.
This was a great summer dinner that kept Taylor feeling he'd been heartily cooked for and involved a tasty little portion of red meat that I didn't mind eating. {read: not ground beef}

steak salad
serves 2
3/4 lb strip steak
2 heaping cups arugula
2 heaping cups baby spinach
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 to 1/3 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup red bell peppers, diced
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
red wine vinaigrette dressing {recipe below}
cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Heat skillet to high heat. Season steak generously with Worcestershire sauce and cracked pepper and rub in to both sides. Add steak to skillet and cook about 2 minutes on each side, until internal temperature reaches around 130 degrees. Transfer to cutting board and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. While meat is resting, divide vegetables evenly among two rimmed plates and toss with desired amount of dressing and seasoning salt.

Cut meat into thin strips, trimming as desired, and then cut each strip in half. Top tossed salads with steak.

red wine vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Add all ingredients together and whisk in the oil.

I served this with some roasted "old" potatoes, kind of a twist on steak and potatoes, but it probably would have been better with some good, toasted crusty bread.

Friday, August 7

baby molten chocolate cakes

I have yet to figure out where these have been all my life. MAN they were good. I hope you have custard cups. Mine came with my Pyrex set and I think they're around 6 ounces. You can probably pick up some Anchor brand version on your next trip to the grocery store.

Do not be deterred! Make these!!
Another reason this was awesome was that it only required one bowl and minimal clean up. Great for a weeknight dessert when you don't want to bother with messing the kitchen up after dinner.
Oh and I made whipped cream. So easy and so tasty. Whipping cream stays good longer than milk, I discovered. I had about a cup sitting around from a quiche experiment with Ellen and it still had weeks left to live.
Reason number three why these were fantastic was that the recipe makes individual portions. Great for serving guests or easily saving for another day.
baby molten chocolate cakes
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
yields 4 cakes
4 pieces (squares) Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
½ cups Butter
1 cup Powdered Sugar
2 whole Eggs
2 whole Egg Yolks
6 tablespoons Flour
2 cups Real Whipping Cream {seriously, please do this}
2 tablespoons Sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 4 custard cups with cooking spray and place on cookie sheet.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large bowl on high for about 1 minute, until butter is melted. whisk until chocolate is also melted.
Stir in sugar until well blended.
Whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour. Divide between cups.
Bake 13-15 minutes until sides are firm and center is soft. Let stand 1 minute.

Combine sugar and heavy cream and whip until stiff. {I made half of what was called for and it was plenty}

Invert cakes on dishes and top with whipped cream.

Leftovers! Perfect for a little taste of sweetness sometime tomorrow. This was rich enough that neither of us finished our little serving.

Wednesday, August 5

orzo pasta with chicken, peppers and arugula

I'd never had, much less made anything with orzo pasta. I really liked it, and a little bit goes a long way. One serving size is 1/2 of a cup dry and I found that, once cooked very satisfying. I also liked that I could buy exactly the amount I wanted in HEB's bulk section and only pay a dollar and some change. That section is great when I need a little special ingredient but don't want to buy a large portion of it; or if I want to try something new --like orzo!
This is a great base for any veggies you have sitting around. I've been into arugula and have been finding tons of places in which to throw it. Definitely toast the pine nuts.

orzo pasta with chicken and arugula
{serves 4}
2 T. olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 of a red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups arugula
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon vinaigrette dressing**
*{toasting pine nuts: add to dry pot on medium heat, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and fragrant}

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add orzo pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Add to large bowl with toasted pine nuts and set aside. I toasted the nuts in the same pot, once the pasta was finished.

While pasta is cooking, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into non-stick or cast iron skillet. Stir in onion, peppers and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, stirring often. Increase heat to medium high, pour in white wine; cook about 3 minutes. Liquid should simmer and reduce significantly.
Reduce heat to low, stir in chicken and arugula. Cover, and cook to warm through, about 3 minutes. Uncover and stir until arugula is wilted. Add mixture to orzo and pine nuts and toss with dressing.

You may need a little less pasta than that and perhaps a bit more dressing. I plated ours and added the chicken, pepper, arugula mixture and dressing separately to each plate to be sure the proportions were right. Then tossed.

**{if you don't want to make my lemon vinaigrette, you can also toss this with about 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a squirt of dijon mustard, or go a different route and do balsamic vinaigrette}

Monday, August 3

banana nut bran muffins

So sometimes my cooking tends to be a little haphazard.
frozen banana vs. knife: knife - 0 banana - 1

Oh! there's a glimpse of the oft maimed Vittles herself! My friend Kristen came to visit and play and brought her out-of-this-word camera. Don't get used to these pictures, friends. Because the Elph is loyal and has no hope of being replaced anytime in this decade.
... keep sifting. Savor the image quality.I added some banana and nuts to a basic bran recipe, I think next time I'll do a whole banana and cut the sugar to about a fourth of a cup.

banana bran muffins
yields 12 muffins
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons dark molasses {I substituted brown sugar... but will do molasses next time}
1/2 ripe banana
1/3 cup crushed almonds, walnuts or pecans
Oven to 400. Prep a muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray or lining with cups. Sift flour, bran, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until. smooth and light, about 3 minutes. Whisk milk, egg, molasses. Gradually add egg mixture while mixing and continue mixing until smooth. Stir flour mixture, banana and nuts into creamed butter mixture until batter is evenly blended, but do not overmix.

Fill muffin tin. Bake 16 - 18 minutes.

Great shots. Don't you think? Check her out on my side bar under "kwwisten's pics."

Sunday, August 2

lemon vinaigrette dressing

Homemade dressing is a pretty simple way to make a simple salad feel more special.
I tossed this dressing with arugula, chopped tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese. It would be great poured over steamed asparagus or even as a light topping for a summer pasta.
lemon vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Whisk all ingredients in bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

{photos belongs to mharvey
75 and wineandchocolate}

Saturday, August 1


Wow. It's nearly been a week and I have nothing to show for it. What have I been doing with myself?
Nothing. Eating Hot Tamales and mourning my last days of summer before I have to be a crazed, working woman again.

So today, since I'm mourning the loss of my youth, today I leave you with this antiquated relic. Note the headphones, please.

Sunday, July 26

pumpkin spice summer scones

I had some canned pumpkin leftover from an overambitious holiday grocery trip and wanted to bake something on Saturday morning.
This is a healthier scone than my favorite plain one but is still really good. I was pleasantly surprised that it actually got a little crispy, despite having significantly less butter. I think the use of parchment paper or a Silpat mat, gave these a nice crispy bottom. And pumpkin is a good source of fiber, basically fat free and low in calories. So feel free to feast! You could do a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour to make these even healthier, and I think the pumpkin puree is moist enough that you wouldn't have to make any accomodations for the wheat flour.
Maybe a little out of season? Regardless. These were good and made my kitchen smell like Thanksgiving!

pumpkin spice scones

1 tbsp butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
 In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and salt with a whisk. Beat in egg, then pumpkin. Stir until smooth.
 Sift in flour, baking powder and spices. Stir until flour is completely mixed in. Dough should be slightly sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough, with floured hands, into a circle and press into a 3/4 inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into about 8 triangles and place all on prepared baking sheet.
 I used a metal spatula to transfer them. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until golden.
 Cool on a wire rack, or eat warm.
I decided I wanted pecans in them once they were already shaped into triangles. I recommend mixing in about 1/4 cup chopped pecans before adding the dry ingredients. They just fell off the top once baked....

Friday, July 24

a new toy

Just recently acquired these with the last of some wedding credit (yes, we've been married over a year. It happens to the best of folks) And oh the possibilities are endless! I could put them in little pots and label foods other than cheese. I could make a little window sill herb garden and label my loot. Maybe I could put them in cupcakes and write little notes or greetings or silly faces.
Oh what fun. When crafts and food collide.

Sunday, July 19


I had been planning to make a pizza with goat cheese and squash last week, inspired by SmittenKitchen but never had time. Still hoping to get my dough making practice in, {still overcoming that aforementioned fear of yeast} I conjured up a way to turn the pizza into an appetizer for our Friday night dinner guests. I decided to further flavor the squash with butter and sugar, reminiscent of my grandma's "squash" that I loved, though it was probably more butter and sugar than squash.
Roaming through the store, I encountered my friend brie and knew I must take action. Brie is heaven on earth. Seriously. So I decided to try out brie as well and think I found some pretty good toppings to "compliment the flavors," if you will. Check it out, they turned out really good and were pretty fun too.
One more thing. If you've never ventured into the realm of exiting cheeses, it's really so very worth it. Proof that there's a God who wants us to enjoy life and eat good food. In my opinion, good cheese is truely a manifestation of heaven on this fallen rock. They may be expensive, but since they're so flavorful and textured and rich and all that great stuff, you really only need to eat and serve and savor them in small portions. Your guests won't expect to be served a plateful of brie, but it's amazing how a tablespoon or less of good cheese can make anyone say whoa, heaven has come to earth, please invite me over for dinner more and I don't care what you make me eat after this because that made my night.

Or maybe that's just me.....

It's possible.

goat cheese & sugared squash pizzaschettas

half of this prepared and risen pizza dough, or about 1 1/2 cup (12oz) pizza dough
1/4 cup soft goat cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup very thinly sliced and quartered yellow zucchini squash
2/3 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons sugar
Oven to 450. {note} I used goat cheese with the lemon already in it. Found at HEB. Combine lemon and goat cheese. Rub both sides of squash slices with butter and toss with sugar. Or, in small, microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Mix in sugar. Add squash slices and stir, coating evenly in sugar and butter.

Roll out pizza dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick, cut with small biscuit cutter into circles about 3 inches in diameter. Stretch them with your fingers to help them keep their shape and thinness and place on pizza stone or pan. Generously spread about a tablespoon of cheese on each dough circle, leaving a little "crust." Top with one to three squash slices, depending on how many fit.

Bake 10 minutes or until dough begins to brown.

brie & toasted pecans pizzaschettas
1/2 of this prepared and risen pizza dough, or about 1 1/2 cup (12oz) pizza dough
8-10 oz softened brie cheese {heeeaaavenn. do you hear the angels singing?}
1/4 cup chopped raw pecans
chipotle raspberry dressing
Oven to 450. Roll out pizza dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick, cut with small biscuit cutter into circles about 3 inches in diameter. Stretch them with your fingers to help them keep their shape and thinness and place on pizza stone or pan.

Top each round generously with about a tablespoon of cheese. I flattened a chunk of cheese in my fingers then pressed it into the dough, helping keep the dough flat as well, but still leaving a "crust" of dough. Then I topped the flattened piece with another, more thick chuck right in the middle. Place as many pecans on top as fit.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until dough is browned and looks like pizza crust. Can be baked a longside the goat cheese ones on the same pan, if you're making both types, While still warm, top with a few more little chunks of brie. Once cool, top with a teaspoon or two of chipotle raspberry dressing {a little bit goes a long way} or place dressing on the side with a spoon for self service.... Some weirdos like my husband claim to dislike this stuff.

That's the only picture I got of the brie ones with the raspberry chipotle. Please excuse the fact that half of it is missing.

Wednesday, July 15

kiwi lime tart

Don't you love it when your food matches your kitchen decor? Oh, me too.

After much eager anticipation on your part due to much delay on my part. . . we have tart.
This time we ventured into Ellen's Williams Sonoma Desserts book. There was a little bit of confusion regarding the making of the tart "curd" part. {we don't like the word curd so much. cuuuurd} The book said that if one elected to use a candy thermometer one could heat the tart mixture over low heat until it reached 170 degrees. Well after about 15 minutes of stirring on low, the temp wasn't budging. We unpatiently upped the heat and began to discover that we were going to make scrambled egg whites if we kept that up. So we decided to just go with the filling how it was, because it had definitely "thickened to cover the back of a spoon."

A few recipes that we looked up called for straining the tart filling {cuuuurd} through a mesh colander after heating. So we didn't feel too dumb that we had to strain it . . . to perhaps, or perhaps not, remove a few cooked egg particles.

All that to say, I think you can just cook this on low heat, stirring constantly, until it's thickened. If you want to be safe in the way of egg white scrambling and get adventerous with your kitchen gadgets you can us a double boiler. But that's, like, way too many extra pots to clean up for me.
Look how great my sous-chef chopped up her kiwis and documented the adventure!

kiwi lime tart

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, diced
grated zest of 3 limes
1/2 cup lime juice
4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 fully baked 10 inch pastry shell or pie crust
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 or 5 kiwis peeled and thinly sliced
Combine sugar, butter, lime zest and juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, whisk in eggs, and pour into a heatproof bowl or bowl of double boiler. Set over a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water. Stir constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes. Strain though mesh strainer if necessary. Let cool, cover surface with parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming and chill until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350. Brush inside of pastry shell with egg white. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes to set egg white. Let cool completely.

{go lay out by the pool while your cuuuurd is in the 'fridge getting cool}

Spoon chilled lime curd into cooled pastry shell and arrange sliced kiwis on top. Serve immediately.
Really good and refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day! The sweet kiwi complimented the tangy lime. Very easy to make in advance as well since you can store the cuuuurd, well covered, until you need it.

Sunday, July 12

happy birfday!

Lime and Kiwi Tart coming up next. I promise there's still vittles here at vittles for the voracious. But it's summer; my life is less routine and I feel like shaking things up.


Happy Birthday to my dear little brother! I loved growing up with you and playing your Playmobile and Legos with you. I remember walking across a parking lot with you when you were little toddler sized you and Mom telling me to hold your hand. So I held out my finger, as a much wiser and mature 4 or 5 year old and you held onto just my finger with your little baby hand. Can't believe you're 21! I'm so proud of the man you've become!
aaaand. since you better be reading my blog from time to time...
Happy Birthday, to my sweet, adventurous, whimsical and fun beyond fun friend Meridith! Love you and miss you lots!


As soon as I get over my lazy self and plug my camera into my computer we will have lime kiwi tart extravaganza! Try to contain your excitement.