Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

April 9, 2014

Tips for Homemade Marinara Sauce

by Sandy Pollock

Editor’s note: This guest blog post is written by Jenny Corteza. Jenny Corteza was shopping for a double vanity unit for her house and was surprised at all the different options available. When not fixing up her home, she’s writing articles about food!

3189998806_ab73685609_b.jpgPhoto by:  Bill Holsinger-Robinson

Sophia Petrillo of the Golden Girls once told her daughter Dorothy that her secret to great marinara sauce was singing to it. While it’s worth a try to sing to your marinara sauce, there are other ways to create a zesty, delicious marinara sauce that is sure to give your family something to sing about.

1. Picking tomatoes

Fresh is always best, but when it comes to marinara sauce unless you’re picking them off the vine it may be better to use a canned or jarred tomato. Canned San Marzano and Cento Passata in glass jars are highly recommended brands of store-bought tomatoes to use for marinara sauce. Canned San Marzano and Center Passante tomatoes are picked at peak season from the volcanic soil where they grow in the Campania region of Italy.

Canned San Marzano are the most ubiquitous tomatoes to find at local supermarkets. It is best to use pureed tomatoes. The lower the acidic rate of the tomato, the better. If you have a highly acidic tomato, try adding sugar to the mix to lower the acidity, if you’re watching your sugar consumption, grated carrots can also help lower acidity.

2. Be sure to Puree

Pureed tomatoes help make the best marinara sauce. Pureeing helps bring out the deep flavor of the tomato and grinds up the seed. If you end up buying whole canned tanned tomatoes are use fresh tomatoes be sure to puree first.

3. Spice it up!

Again, fresh is always best. Chopping up fresh basil and garlic really helps to bring out the flavor. It’s best to choose freshly chopped spices over pre-packaged spices.  The best marinara have very few ingredients and the very freshest ingredients.

4. Choose the best ingredients.

In order to make a great marinara, you may include the following ingredients” chopped onion, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil leaves. You may already have many of these ingredients in your pantry. Try growing your own basil leaves, to have fresh basil for all of your Italian dishes, or to make a refreshing mojito after you’ve created the best homemade marinara sauce!

Ingredients for Marinara sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper (sprinkle to taste)
  • 1 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes or
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Fresh basil leaves

Directions:

In a large pot heat olive oil, onions, sea salt and pepper. Sauté these ingredients over low heat until the onions are soft and clear. Add tomatoes, and mix with sautéed ingredients. Be sure to mash the tomatoes, much like mashing potatoes.  Lastly, add the herbs. Simmer all the ingredients, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. If you’d like to make extra marinara, this recipe is easily stored in the freezer and will remain fresh for up to one year.

Be sure to sing to it a little too, it never hurts!

March 18, 2014

Learn How to Make Artisan Bread with no Kneading

by Sandy Pollock

Editor’s note: This guest blog post is written by Jenny Corteza. Jenny Cortez recommends Homejoy to all her single friends in Chicago. As a writer, she knows it can be hard to get everything done if you’re writing articles to remove complaints about negative falsehoods on the Internet.

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                                           Photo credits:  victoriachan

Homemade bread is a wonderful addition to any meal say most food bloggers. Taking time-out to bake a delicious bread from scratch provides a wonderful opportunity for you to de-stress and create! This recipes is easy for beginners, and very forgiving. This recipes let’s you play with your food and eat it too. Here’s a simple recipe for making Artisan bread and there’s no need to knead!

4 simple ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ cup cold water

Tools you will need:

1 large mixing bowl

1 wooden spoon

2 oven ready pots with lids (substitutes listed in recipe!)

parchment paper

extra flour

Directions:

Step 1. In a large mixing bowl, add 3 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached flour is preferred. Bleached flour is OK and bread flour is the best.

Step 2. Add ½ teaspoon of instant or rapid-rise yeast. You can use regular dry yeast by proofing it first. To proof regular dry yeast, combine and mix ½ teaspoon yeast with ¼ cup hot water, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, and voila – instant rapid-rise yeast.

Step 3. Add 1 ¾ teaspoon kosher salt to your flour and yeast mixture. To substitute table salt for kosher, reduce the amount of salt to ¼ or ½ teaspoon. Stir the dry ingredients in mixing bowl.

Step 4. Pour 1 ½ cups cold water to mixed dry ingredients. Cold water is preferred, but any temperature will work. This recipe is very forgiving!

Step 5. With a whisk or dough whisk, mix the dry ingredients and water together to create the dough. You can also use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix the ingredients by hand. Mix the dough until it reaches a soft doughy consistency, but do not overmix. This is no-knead to need bread!

Step 6. Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours. The dough can sit from 10 – 24 hours and still be OK.

Step 7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Find an oven ready pot with a lid and let the pot heat in the oven for at least 30 minutes. The pot must be able to hold 3 – 6 quarts. Oven ready pots include glass Pyrex dish, stainless steel pot, clay bakers, pizza stones along with two stainless steel bowls, or a heat-resistance bowl with aluminum foil.

Step 8. Remove plastic wrap from the dough. At this point, the dough will be very sticky. On a floured surface, begin to form the dough into ball. Do not knead out the bubbles, this is no-knead bread, so there’s no need to! When making Artisan bread, holes are preferred, and this pockets of air bubbles will provide authenticity.

Step 9. Ensure your surface has a good amount of flour and flour your hands. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it upon a sheet of parchment paper. Begin to smooth the surface of the ball of flour.

Step 10. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes, (preferably while the oven-ready pots are heating).

Step 11. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough. Place the dough in heated oven-ready pot with parchment paper, place lid over dough. Place covered dough in oven and let bake for 30 minutes.

Step 12. Bake an additional 15 minutes without lid. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes and your no-knead Artisan bread is ready to serve!

 

March 4, 2014

Shrimp Gumbo Casserole

by Crystal Cook

This Mardi Gras take a page from our latest book (page 44 to be exact) and celebrate with this gumbo inspired casserole! The Creole-spiced shrimp filling and satisfying biscuit topping will have your guests partying in the streets in no time!

shrimp gumbo

Shrimp Gumbo Casserole

Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped

3 celery rib with leaves, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 pound fresh okra, sliced

1 pound shrimp (31/35), peeled and deveined

2 teaspoons gumbo file

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 6 minutes until soft.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of the salt, pepper, chili powder, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Add okra, shrimp and the gumbo file and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, sugar, baking soda, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Using a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture just comes together. Knead until a soft dough forms.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick.  Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, stamp out 12 biscuits.
  5. Pour the hot gumbo into a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Arrange the biscuits on top of the gumbo. Bake until the biscuits are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
October 24, 2013

Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

by Crystal Cook

pumpkin shot final

There is something magical that happens in the fall: pumpkin-flavored foods are suddenly everywhere you turn. There are pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin breads, pumpkin beer, and hold on…there are even pumpkin flavored pop tarts!  To all of those things, I say: yes please! I love fall for this pumpkin flavor explosion, so I decided that I wanted to cook something that celebrates the pumpkin in all its natural glory. Behold the glorious Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup, served in a pumpkin bowl of course!

Typical me, I always seem to make things a lot harder than they need to be, so just know that this soup is delicious even without all the bells and whistles (but hello! sage oil and homemade crème fraîche) so it is up to you how crazy you want to get (that goes for the pumpkin bowls too)! But if you want to go all out (and trust me it is worth it!) then know there is some prep involved.

As seen in the previous two posts, the first thing I did was make my crème fraîche and sage oil the day before. This garnish is optional, and you can always buy the prepared product at the store if you don’t want to make it from scratch. I promise I won’t tell.

Now onto pulling out all my soup ingredients! Pie pumpkin, butternut squash, olive oil, vegetable oil, unsalted butter, onions, fresh sage, shallots, garlic, chicken broth, Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Are you hungry yet? You should be.

Ingredient shot

Cut pumpkin in half to seed pumpkin, then cut each half in half again (so your pumpkin is now quartered). Rub flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper. Peel butternut squash and cut in half to remove seeds. Cube squash into about 1-2 inch pieces, toss pieces in olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake each on a baking sheet lined with foil for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

roasting veggie Collage

Melt 6 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and 1 cup of the shallots in butter until translucent about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape flesh from pumpkin (I used a melon scoop to do this) and add to the onion mixture. Also add the butternut squash. Cook for about 5 minutes.

saute onion garlic shallots Collage

Add 6 cups chicken stock, 1 tablespoon chopped sage and salt to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

squash broth sage salt Collage

If you decided to make pumpkin bowls, here is how I did it, but remember this step is completely optional (but completely adorable). When the soup is simmering, it is a perfect time to get these made! I chose a few smaller pie pumpkins than the size of what we use in the soup recipe – they were more around 2-1/2 lbs instead of 5. I guess you could do 5 pound pumpkins, but you had better be really hungry! All you have to do is cut off the tops of the pumpkin or cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin. Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. I then coated the inside flesh and outside of the pumpkin with olive oil and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet cover with foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

bowl Collage

Using a large measuring cup take batches of soup and purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return to pot. Repeat as necessary. It is ok to have some chunky pieces. I actually enjoy that texture in the soup!

Puree Collage

Take the remaining ¼ cup of shallots and the 20 sage leaves and fry in 1 cup vegetable oil until crisp (you will see the shallots turn a nice golden color). Drain on paper towels.

fry sage and shallots

Now that your soup is done, let the garnish games begin.  I promise each one counts! First drizzle on some of the sage oil. Just look how lovely that green color is! The drizzle with crème fraîche, and finish with the crispy shallots and 2-3 sage leaves.

Garnish Collage

Now celebrate fall with your loved ones!

Final pumpkin 2

Pumpkin Bowls: (See method in post)

4 or how ever many small baking pie pumpkins you want to make – up to 2.5 pounds each
Olive Oil
Kosher salt & Cracked black pepper

 
Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

Serves 8

1 small (about 5 lbs.) pie pumpkin, cut in half then quartered
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cubed
4 -5 tbsp. olive oil for roasting pumpkins and squash
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped + 20 sage leaves for garnish
1 1/4 cups diced shallots, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
Sage Oil for Garnish (optional)
Crème fraîche for Garnish (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half to seed pumpkin, then quarter. Rub flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper. Peel butternut squash and cut in half to remove seeds. Cube squash into 1-inch pieces, toss pieces in olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake each on a baking sheet lined with foil for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Melt 6 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and 1 cup of the shallots in butter until translucent, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape flesh from pumpkin (I used a melon scoop) and add to the onion mixture. Also add butternut squash. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 6 cups chicken stock, 1 tablespoon chopped sage and salt to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a large measuring cup take batches of soup and purée in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return to pot. Repeat as necessary. It is ok to have some chunky pieces – I actually enjoy that texture in the soup!
  6. Take the remaining ¼ cup of shallots and the 20 sage leaves and fry in 1 cup vegetable oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then garnish each serving starting with sage oilcrème fraîche and then the crispy shallots and 2-3 sage leaves.
October 23, 2013

Make Your Garnish Count!

by Crystal Cook

Yesterday we started the prep for garnishes for our upcoming Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup post with learning how to prep crème fraîche, and as promised, today we will make a sage infused olive oil. (Remember folks, baby steps!) And don’t think I don’t know what y’all are thinking! You are thinking I MAY have gone overboard with the garnishes, but I truly believe every single one of the garnishes used in the soup recipe count! In fact, a garnish should always count. If it does not enhance the flavor of the dish, then simply don’t bother.  I am also a big fan of making sure that if I am creating a garnish from scratch, that I have plenty of ideas on how to use any leftover product. I hate to waste anything, so like with the crème fraîche, ideas for additional use are at the end of the post. Besides, when it is this good – you will find lots of ways to incorporate it!

Now let’s get back to the sage olive oil and the heart of this post.  Just think about it…a simple drizzle of good quality olive oil is both delicious and elegant, add a gorgeous herb like fresh sage – and you have magic! With that said, be sure to spring for a good quality olive oil for this recipe. It only has a few simple ingredients, is really easy to prepare and just requires a little forethought.

sage oil ingredients final

With that said, the first thing is to take a cup of good quality EVOO and place it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour. (That’s all the forethought you need folks!)  Once chilled, take about a cup of fresh sage leaves (leaves only) and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the leaves until they are very fine and coarse. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the chilled olive oil.

Sage Oil Collage

When all of the olive oil has been incorporated and the mixture is a bright green color throughout, pass through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Finish off by seasoning with kosher salt to taste.

discard and salt

Store the olive oil in an airtight container of your choice and keep in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. We purposely made this in a small batch so that you can easily find uses for it. Aside from garnishing our pumpkin, butternut squash and sage soup, here are some other ways I love using this:

  • Drizzle this over your favorite mushroom pizza to make it sing! Bada Bing!
  • Dress up your favorite cheese or pumpkin ravioli by tossing it in this flavorful oil along with some shaved Parmesan cheese. And guess what? You can do the same with risotto!
  • Goes great on earthy creamed soups such as a cream of mushroom, butternut squash or potato leek soup.
  • Simply splash on roasted root vegetables to pick up a subtle hint of sage.
  • Rub it onto chicken or turkey breasts before cooking, and it will taste like Thanksgiving!

Note: The refrigeration will cause the oil to become a bit cloudy and slightly solid. It will return to its liquid state once removed from the refrigerator and placed on the counter for a few minutes. Give it a quick whisk before use.

October 8, 2013

Miss Elsie’s No-Bake Candy!

by Sandy Pollock

Small towns and small town churches are great places to grow up. I was raised in Hargill, Texas and attended the Hargill First Baptist Church every Sunday (whether I wanted to or not).

My mom played the piano, my sister led the singing, and the elegant and amazing Miss Elsie taught my Sunday school class. I was about 5 years old and Miss Elsie was simply magic to me. She was kind and gentle and the bearer of stickers and happiness. I miss and think of her often.

Miss Elsie was an AMAZING cook and I could spend many days on this blog recreating some of her dishes (her chocolate pie and cabbage rolls are the stuff of legends), but today, I’m sharing her no-bake candy that she made for us kids.  It’s a sugar-on-sugar extravaganza with an accent of peanut butter — super sweet and super awesome! We all LOVED it. Not sure where the original recipe came from, but here is how my beloved Miss Elsie made it.

Enjoy!

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4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

IMG_7329Combine everything in one bowl

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IMG_7344Roll into bite size balls

Miss Elsie’s No-cook candy

4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

Mix all the ingredients. Roll into small balls and place on wax paper to harden. Eat them with your face.

September 18, 2013

For the Love of Ramekins: Pot de Crème

by Crystal Cook

Have I ever told y’all about my deep affection for ramekins? If not, you’re about to find out.

Ahh ramekins…the oh-so-versatile dish that is a must in any kitchen. Perfect for individual sized meals and desserts, ramekins also have a number of other uses. In fact, ramekins help you organize recipe ingredients so that you‘re ready to go once the oven is fired up (professional chefs refer to this practice as mise en place). You can also use them for condiments at the dinner table like dipping sauces, toppings, or fresh sea salt or cracked black pepper. (Yes, I am in love!) I am constantly finding ways to use them since my friends and family tease me about the sheer amount of ramekins that I own. I admit, it may be excessive, but you never know when a gal might just want to whip up some Pot de Creme! Am I right?!

Which brings me to this tasty post. Pot de Creme is one of those crazy simple recipes with an end result that feels so indulgent. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up, and requires only 5 simple ingredients. The only potential drawback you could possibly find is that it takes time to set in the refrigerator (about 2 hours). But I don’t even find that to be a negative, since I love things that you can prepare before hand. You can’t be a “hostess with the mostess” when you’re all stressed out. I like having more time with my company to do the things I want, like enjoy a glass of wine!

So let me show you how easy this really is!

5 simple ingredients: Milk, Vanilla Bean, Egg, Sugar & Dark Chocolate.

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Cut the bean lengthwise and scrap out the good stuff!

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Pure heaven!

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Add milk and vanilla bean to a saucepot and scald. To do this heat over med-high heat and remove pot from heat right before milk comes to a boil or reaches 180F.

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Place the remaining ingredients in a blender.

photo 8

Pour milk into a blender along with the sugar, chips, and egg. Blend for 1 minute.

photo 9

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Pour into 6 ramekins and chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator or until set.

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Garnish with favorite toppings. We used our caramel sauce, berries and powdered sugar – but we have even more suggestions in the recipe below!

photo 12

Voila!

Pot de Crème

3/4 cups milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped lengthwise

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

1 egg

6 (3-4 ounce) ramekins

Garnish suggestions: powdered sugar, caramel sauce, berries, mini marshmallows, chocolate covered espresso beans, cocoa powder, shaved chocolate.

Method:

1. Add milk and vanilla bean to a saucepot and scald. To do this heat over med-high heat and remove pot from heat right before milk comes to a boil or reaches 180F.

2. Pour milk into a blender along with the sugar, chips, and egg. Blend for 1 minute and pour into ramekins, chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator or until set. Garnish with favorite toppings.

July 26, 2013

Inside the Queens’ Studio with ELizabeth Lyons

by Crystal Cook

Queen's Studio

We met Elizabeth Lyons when we were in Arizona  for a Lunch & Learn demo at the fabulous Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Scottsdale last year and immediately fell in love with her for a thousand reasons. First of all, she’s adorable. Look at her! Second, she came bearing gifts! She had read our bios and took a line of ours “Part Kitsch. Part Dish. All Apron.” and made us these amazing leather wrap bracelets.

AZ meeting_n part kitsch_n

In addition to being generous, she’s this amazing mother to nearly half a dozen kids and yet still has the wherewithal to be hilarious and passionate about her work–and let us tell you: her work is goooood. She’s a vintage silverware upcycle jeweler (that’s a mouthful!) and she created an organizer that makes everybody from mom’s to doctors say, “what did we do before this existed?!”  And how cool is it that the woman with all these fabulous ideas wanted to collaborate with the two of us Queens on her new line, Culinary Chic. What an honor! We can’t wait to see the amazing pieces she comes up with. So, of course, when we were looking for a person to interview for the ol’ blog, Elizabeth was the obvious choice. You’ll definitely love her as much as we do after reading this interview. Enjoy!

LizHeadshot

1. Hi Elizabeth! We’re so excited to talk to you. You’ve got 3 sentences—what’s your story?

I’m a mom, jewelry artist, chauffeur, DIY fanatic, author, Starbucks addict, on-call plumber, wannabe organic gardener, sometimes hostage negotiator, ongoing dog trainer (they don’t listen), and strong disliker of olives. I don’t like hearing the word No. I asked my kids what my story is; they replied, “You’re a very busy woman.”

2. You say on your website that you have been working with metal for years. What triggered the interest in the first place?

Some people punch pillows or punching bags when they need to get rid of pent-up frustration; I hammer metal. The day I realized I could use a compressor tank in my work as a jewelry designer was a happy one indeed; do you have any idea how loud those are? I can drown out 99.7% of the ridiculous arguments over which kid has ruined another kid’s life by having 2 tbsp more ice cream!

Joking aside, the way metal responds to a hammer fascinates me. It doesn’t always do what I want, but that’s (almost) always an issue with the hammer I’m using or the way I’m striking the metal. It’s taught me to have more of an appreciation for what something needs in order to do what I’d like for it to do, which is a most helpful lesson for being a good friend and a mom of many!

ForkRing1a

4. If you weren’t a fabulous jewelry designer, what would you be doing?

Oh gosh, the list is long. I would love to be a speech pathologist, working with children who have had cochlear implants. I’d also like to be Lisa Ling, reporting from the trenches on unfortunately disenfranchised people with amazing stories to tell. Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel has a ridiculously amazing job: being paid to stay at and report on the fabulous resorts and hotels in the world? That would not suck.

5. If your personality could be described as any casserole, what would it be?

For real? You’re going to make me admit to my limited knowledge not only of casseroles but anything that is baked, whisked, or poached? I suppose Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a combination of a whole slew of things you might not necessarily think would go well together but, somehow, it works.

6. The Queens love our vintage pearls, but what other recommendations do you have for fun, 50’s flair? Maybe something from this Culinary Chic line we hear all about? 😉

Well, I LOVE using vintage silverware to create rings, bracelets, and necklaces. I’m working with a client right now who purchased spoons from her grandmother’s silver pattern from Replacements, and I’m making them into bracelets for her, her mother, and her three aunts. It’s such a fun way to reuse a meaningful piece in a way that allows the wearer to appreciate and enjoy it daily!

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7. What has been the most interesting design request you have ever received from a client?

Everyone loves unique pieces that reflect what’s most important to them. One client asked me to make matching spinner rings for her sister and her with a phrase that holds special meaning for the two of them engraved on the inside. Those were amazing pieces to create. I have a number of “stock” leather wrap bracelets, but many people don’t know that I happily accommodate custom requests for those, too. Clients send me sayings that empower them, inspire them, or simply crack them up. Some of my favorites so far: The Only Way Out Is Through, Never Give Up, and Molon Labe.

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8. Family is in town unexpectedly and coming over for dinner. Quick – what is your go-to meal?

P.F. Changs. Okay, if I HAVE to whip something together, it would be gluten-free enchiladas and corn bread. Do those even go together?

9. What dish from your childhood brings you the most comfort and why?

Interestingly, Shepherd’s Pie! The answer is really deep and revealing: I love mashed potatoes and cheese, and my mom’s version was topped with both. My mom also used to make a dish called gooey buns. It was a hamburger mixture combined with lots of cheese and onions and baked inside hot dog buns. My sister and I practically threw parties when we learned we were having gooey buns for dinner!

10. If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be?

I Don’t Get It. For real, that would be the name of the book.

11. You’ve got 5 kids —what’s one thing you cook that makes everyone equally happy?

Enchiladas and corn bread; are you noticing a pattern here? I just surveyed my children. George (9) replied, “Cake.” I asked what else, and they unanimously replied, “That’s it.”

12. Do you have any other entrepreneurial endeavors besides jewelry making?

I’m the author of 3 books (the first two are about raising twins in the first year and the toddler years; the third details rules for finding balance and maintaining a sense of humor as a busy mom). I also invented the Hold It Baby On-the-Go Toy Organizer (www.HoldItBaby.com) after I got tired of products that only secured my kids’ sippy cups to their car seats, strollers etc. My kids wanted to have far more with them than sippy cups, and I got tired of having to pull over the car or grab stuff off the floor of the grocery store! The Hold It Baby is the only product of its kind exclusively designed to hold not only sippy cups but also board books, stuffed animals, smart phones, small toys and small blankets, and secures those items to a car seat, stroller, high chair, shopping cart, bike trailer, or backpack carrier.

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13. What would you say to someone wanting to start a company?

Go forth and do it! The entrepreneurial road is rarely (if ever) smooth; it will have twists and turns you could never anticipate, so stay flexible. Think outside the box. Stay true to yourself. Never compromise your principles. Never lose sight of the brand you are building — successful companies don’t thrive long-term because of their products alone; they thrive based on the brand that’s built as the foundation of those products. Most important, never, ever give up!

Could there BE any better words with which to finish?! To find out more about Elizabeth and her jewelry, go to http://www.elizabethlyonsdesigns.com/.

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July 3, 2013

Elote: Roasted Corn with Mexican Crema

by Crystal Cook

In the July issue of Woman’s Day Magazine we feature a corn pudding that was developed from our love of Elote – so we thought it would be a great idea to re-post this how-to for the dish! Enjoy! Mmmmm…..Elote!

Casserole Queens

It’s technically not summer yet, but most of us seem to use the Memorial Day weekend as the “unofficial” kick-off!  So in honor of summer, I decided to do what most Americans do, and grill up some grub!

When I first moved to Austin, I discovered something fabulous at a street vendor that very well may have changed the way I viewed life – gigantic ears of roasted corn smothered in Mexican crema and sprinkled with lots of spice and lime juice. They call it Elote, but I call it delish!

Naturally I have been trying to perfect this dish for sometime, and this is the closest I have come to recreating the magic. The corn makes an amazing side dish, but is so decedent that it may steal the show!  I served it with cilantro lime chicken breasts (also done on the grill) and a black bean salad.

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March 29, 2013

Hippity Hoppity Happy Easter Day! Homemade Robin’s Eggs!! YUM!

by Sandy Pollock

I might be the only person that is super stoked for the Valentine’s Day candy to leave the store shelves. The reason for this excitement is that I LOVE the thing that will be taking its place on the shelves: ROBIN’S EGGS!

Look, I know you think Robin’s Eggs are just glorified Whoppers, but that my friend is where you are wrong. Robin’s Eggs have an outer candy shell and that makes them totally different and special.

I took on the task of making the very best version of this candy that I could. I am a BIG fan of the malted center and really started out with that being my main focus. This recipe is very easy and if you are a malt fan, like me, you will be very VERY pleased. Maybe too pleased. Let’s get going…

storebought - homemade

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2 egg whites

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder

2 tablespoons chocolate malt powder

2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar


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Pre-heat oven to 225

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the whisk attachment until frothy.

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Slowly add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until you reach firm peaks.

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Sift powdered sugar, cocoa powder, malt powder, and turbinado sugar into the firm egg whites.

Gently fold the mixture together. The batter is going to deflate some, but the easier you are with it, the larger the cookie. I will say that I made this recipe MANY times and was more aggressive with my folding than the average bear. This was not a bad thing, the cookies still ended up delicious – just flatter and  crunchier (I love them and will make them this way again – perfect for ice cream!)

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Place batter in a pastry bag if you have one, but if not just use a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.

Pipe batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for an hour.

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Turn off the oven, prop the door open, to allow the cookies to continue to cool and crisp up for a couple of hours.

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In a double boiler, melt chocolate.

Once the chocolate is melted, dip or spread chocolate on your cookie. The chocolate is a fantastic addition, but does not overtake the amazing malt taste of the cookie.

robin's eggs

Really really delicious!

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Start an Easter tradition today by making these with your family!

Homemade Robin’s Eggs

2 egg whites

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1  tablespoons dutch cocoa powder

3 tablespoons chocolate malt powder

2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar + more for sprinkles (this add amazing crunch and texture)

Pre-heat oven to 225

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the whisk attachment until frothy. Slowly add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until you reach firm peaks.

Sift powdered sugar, cocoa powder, malt powder, and turbinado sugar into the firm egg whites.

Gently fold the mixture together. The batter is going to deflate some, but the easier you are with it, the larger the cookie. I will say that I made this recipe MANY times and was more aggressive with my folding than the average bear. This was not a bad thing, the cookies still ended up delicious – just flatter and  crunchier (I love them and will make them this way again – perfect for ice cream!)

Place batter in a pastry bag if you have one, but if not just use a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.

Pipe batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for an hour. Turn off the oven, prop the door open, to allow the cookies to continue to cool and crisp up for a couple of hours.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted, dip or spread chocolate on your cookie. The chocolate is a fantastic addition, but does not overtake the amazing malt taste of the cookie.

Really really delicious! Start an Easter tradition today by making these with your family!

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