Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barefooting again!

Today, we, the Barefoot Bloggers, are supposed to blog about making the Barefoot Contessa's Creme Brulee, but you see I have my mother coming to visit on Sunday.  We both adore Creme Brulee, so I just have to wait until Sunday to make it for her.  I've never attempted it on my own, but have ordered it plenty of times in resturants.  The first time I had Creme Brulee was in Paris when I was about 25 years old.  We were in a small cafe on a rainy afternoon during Easter week.  I didn't think that the cafe was all that wonderful, but I had know idea how special simple French cooking could be!  Needless to say, I had never tasted anything quite like Creme Brulee before and even the sensation of cracking that amber shell of sugar on top melted my heart!  I've been in love ever since!  Come back on Sunday and I'll post how they turned out!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Oh my! Oh my! How I love butternut squash.  I know I shouldn't have such affection for a squash, but I do.  Now, the Barefoot Contessa loves to add all the rich stuff that just takes the simple to the sublime!  Her Caramelized Butternut Squash was so so good.  I offered it to a table full of teenagers and asked if they liked butternut squash.  Silence.  Then, they confessed that they had never had it before.  After tasting, one guy said that it was one of the best things he had ever tasted and that it tasted like Thanksgiving!  I made the recipe just as written this time but I think when I make it again I might reduce the amount of butter and sugar just a bit to make it a bit.  Not because it wasn't perfect they way Ina designed it but because my hips would be grateful!

I might just bring these beauties along on our Thanksgiving tailgate!  They would be so much easier to reheat on the grill than whipped sweet potatoes.  And besides don't you just love the name butternut squash!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Continuing the week of Barefoot Contessa recipes, I tried the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.  Really,what's not to like about a bake PB & J!!!! These were super yummy.  Very dense peanut butter batter with a jelly layer to add some more sweetness.  The cookie batter almost didn't make it to the pan!!  I used strawberry jelly and some jam too because I never really know when to use jam, preserves or jelly.  I thought that I would just use a little of both and see how it turned out! I think that you could actually use a little more jelly in the recipe and definitely use the parchment paper.  Wherever the jam oozed over the paper, it stuck really hard to the pan.  My daughter really likes honey roasted peanuts so I sprinkled some unchopped over the top instead of the chopped salted peanuts that Ina used in her recipe!

Are these a good choice for tailgating?  Heck yea!  They are dense and firm so they would pack and travel well.  Everyone tends to love the peanut butter and jelly combo so it's got to be a crowd pleaser!

Come to mama!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

French Green Beans

I made French Green Beans as part of the Barefoot Bloggers "A Week of Barefoot Contessa Recipes".  I love, love, love green beans and was excited to have a new recipe with them as the star.  The recipe also uses one of my other very favorite things - roasted veggies!!  I liked that I could cook and blanch the beans and roast the veggies ahead of time.  Then when my family was actually ready to eat, I could just heat and serve.  I will admit a good amount of the green beans did get munched on while they were waiting on the counter to be reheated! It's quite possible that this could be on our Thanksgiving tailgate menu!  The beans and veggies could be cooked at home and then given a quick reheat in a pan on the grill.  Everyone would love them along with all the heavier Thanksgiving dishes!


Bright green after blanching!

Love the flavor that developed in these roasted veggies!  I did use the whole peppers.  Why just use half like the recipe called for?  The more peppers the better!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So Sweet Giveaways!!

Here's a great blog to check out  So Sweet Giveaways!!  I'm hoping to win the beautiful dishes from!! 

Dishes that are designed to help with portion control without sacrificing beauty!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

Next week, we have another home game and along with that comes another fun time tailgating.  We haven't done cajun food for a few years so we think it's high time to "let the good times roll"!  To spark menu ideas, I've gotten several books from the local library.  What's fun about these books is the storytelling that comes with the recipes.  Cajun country breeds great food and also great storytellers!

Eula Mae's Cajun Kitchen  - lovely stories of life on Avery Island, the home of Tabasco sauce.  I would like to make her Shrimp and Sausage gumbo but I'm not sure that's the right one for the tailgate.

Louisiana Real and Rustic - much simpler recipes than I expected from the master chef, Emeril.  Plenty of ideas to work with here.

Brennan's of Houston in Your Kitchen - Oh, how I miss Brennan's of Houston.  It burned down last year during Hurrican Ike.  This was the place we loved to go for special occasions because the old world atmosphere mixed with perfect service and beautiful food was not like anywhere else.  The crab cakes that my mother had at lunch one day were memorable!!  I haven't had crab that tasted like that since I was a child and we went crabbing on the Gulf Coast.  I enjoyed reading the cookbook, but the recipes were more geared to fine dining than the more rustic food I need for the tailgate.

Arnaud's Restaurant Cookbook - This was the most elegant looking cookbook from a historic New Orleans restuarant but I think it has some real gems in the recipes.  Red Beans and Rice that "serves a crowd" sounds perfect!!  A 2 gallon recipe for Sausage and Turkey Gumbo!  The recipe for Creole Jambalaya is straight forward but does add the use of fish stock which might give this dish an added depth of flavor.  Creamy Pralines is definitely one I am going to try out.  I've made pralines plenty of times but this recipe gives more tips and insights on getting the sugar mixture cooked just right  so that your pralines turn out perfect!

Next week, I'll let you know how the recipes turned out!  Until then, Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blue Cheese Souffle – not recommended tailgate food :)

This is a blog for the Barefoot Bloggers and definitely not a dish I can translate for tailgating!!
Okay, I'm going to admit it. I didn't want to make the soufflé. I didn't think I liked soufflé (unless it involved a lot of chocolate!). I didn't think the blue cheese sounded good. I didn't think I had the right dish to make it in. I heard it was hard to do and I didn't know if I could make it work out.
Tonight, I was making dinner for my husband and my daughter who is home from college on fall break. We were grilling some salmon that my husband had caught in Alaska back in August. As a side dish, I was jumping ahead to one of the dishes on the "A Week of Barefoot Contessa Recipes" – French String Beans. THEN, I remembered that today was October 22nd and the Blue Cheese Soufle posting was due today! Oh dear, I had to face it but I was still looking for a way out.
But, I had the dish, had the cheese, had the time and so I gave it a shot. Guess what? It tasted really wonderful with the grilled salmon and Green Beans!! It wasn't hard to do and turned out really well. I think that having to do some recipes that I don't want to will really push me to try some new things! I asked my husband for a quote for the blog regarding the soufflé and he said, "It tastes good." Yep, that's it. That's all. He's a man of few words, but he ate a man-sized portion of soufflé! Can you say man-sized and soufflé in the same thought??

Right out of the oven!

Two minutes later!

A few more minutes later!!

"I'm shrinkinnngggg!!!" but I still taste great!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Overnight Taquitos

For our breakfast tailgate last Saturday, I made about 40 taquitos. I learned this trick from a friend who went to an early morning tailgate at a Texans game. Most everyone knows how to make an egg, sausage or bacon and cheese taquito, but the technique to get them ready the night before is the trick! Every one enjoys a nice warm breakfast at the tAdd Imageailgate and these are easy to grab and eat while getting other things set up and ready to go. Since they are made the night before, there is little to do the next day except to reheat. Delicious and a crowd pleaser!!

Egg, Sausage or Bacon and Cheese Taquitos

2 18-count large or extra large eggs
2 packages of bacon
1 package of breakfast sausage ( I like Jimmy Dean Hot!)
Grated chedder and Monterrey Jack cheese
40-50 6" flour tortillas
foil sheets cut in half or regular foil torn into 5 in pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place bacon strips on foil lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until bacon is crispy and browned. Place on to paper towels until cool and chop into 1/2" pieces. Set aside. Wrap about 20 tortillas in a stack in foil, repeat 2 times and place all 3 into the oven to warm. Place sausage in large nonstick skillit and cook throughly, into little crumbles. When sausage is cooked thru and nicely browned, place on to paper towels to drain. Wipe out skillet and spray with cooking spray, heat on medium. Crack 18 eggs into blender and mix until lightly frothed and completely combined, pour into skillit and cook eggs, scrambling on medium heat until just cooked almost dry. Cool slightly.

Set up an assembly area with warmed tortillas, eggs, bacon, sausage, grated cheese and foil. Take a tortilla and place about 2 T of scrambled eggs, then either bacon or sausage, then grated cheese. Fold in both sides and roll tightly like a burrito. Roll in foil tightly and close ends of foil. Use 2 half-size aluminum pans to hold the rolled taquitos.

Half size aluminum pan

Put bacon taquitos in one pan and sausage in the other. Cover the pans securely with heavy foil and write "Bacon" on the top of one and "Sausage" on the top of the other. Put into the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, either warm in the over for about 45 minutes. If you want to warm them at the tailgate, place both pans in a full size aluminum pan that has 1/2" water in the bottom.

Full size aluminum pan

Put the full size pan holding the 2 half pans into your preheated grill. Heat 30 minutes on 350 degrees, checking the ones in the middle every so often to see if they are warmed.

Remove and place into warming tray and serve with Salsa.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ina’s Cheddar Corn Chowder

Soup is not my first choice for tailgating in Texas because it's usually too hot for soup. However, the Barefoot Bloggers are making the Barefoot Contessa's Cheddar Corn Chowder as one of the October recipes. Since it makes a big pot and got rave reviews on the Food Network, I thought I would give it a try for the tailgate this Saturday. I'll have to make some adjustments to the recipe because I can't in good conscience use bacon fat, olive oil AND butter in one soup! I think we'll just go with a little bacon fat!!

Find your inner prep chef, because there's a lot of chopping to do! Chop the BACON, chop the ONIONS, chop the potatoes and slice the CORN off the cob! The recipe called for TURMERIC which is not a spice that I use often. It was expensive to buy a whole jar, so I headed to the bulk spice section of the store. I only needed a ½ t. but bought about 2 t. for ONLY $.06!!!

I didn't use the olive oil to fry up the bacon, just a little spray of PAM in the pot to keep the lovely bacon from sticking!

Whew! 4 large yellow onions chopped is a lot of onions!!

If you cut the corn off the cob while standing it up in a large bowl, the corn will end up in the bowl and not all over the kitchen!!

Stirring in the flour, salt and pepper into the lovely sautéed onions!

After adding the broth!! You know it's really hard to get a good photo of a steaming hot pot. The steam kept fogging up the camera lens J

Okay, I AM taking the soup to the tailgate BUT I had to try a bowl!! Yummy! Ina knows how to make great chowder! I think it will even taste better after sitting in the frig for a day. The sweet corn will meld with the potatoes and onions to become a dish of delish! Be prepared. This recipe makes a BIG pot! Personally, I might like a little hot sauce because we Texas girls like a little spice in everything! The only alterations I made to the original recipe were to eliminate the olive oil and butter, and I also took out 2 cups of potatoes before adding the corn and pureed it in a blender. I added the pureed potatoes back into the soup to give it a thicker texture. What's not to like about a little crispy bacon on top!!

On Saturday, I will heat the soup at home and put it in a beverage cooler to keep it hot, but we we'll use a ladle to serve the chowder and not the beverage spout!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TV messes with my menu

At the beginning of the season, I make a tentative schedule of what the menus will be for the tailgate. I take into account time of year (how hot it will be!), the opponent, crowd favorites and usually something different to keep it interesting! However, there is always that one little issue - TV. As soon as the game is picked up to be on TV, kickoff time is usually moved and then I'm back to the drawing board! Plan A - BBQ before the game and Baked Potatoes after the game. Plan B - now that kickoff is at 11:30am, we'll have Taquitos for breakfast and BBQ after the game. It's all good, remaining flexible is the key. . . that and remembering to check for schedule changes!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Houston Chronicle and Tailgating

Here's a good article on tailgating from today's Houston Chronicle. Most media articles are just the same ol' same ol', but this one is well written and includes recipes!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dessert Ponderings

On Saturday, we are having a Burger Buffet before the game and Breakfast in the Park after the game. I am trying to decide on a dessert to bring and I'm considering I think they will come out in our school colors of maroon and white! I'm wondering if they will be too much trouble but I think it's kind of fun, especially since the shape of the cookie mimics a burger :-) Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers and Chocolate Cake!

Recently, I joined a blog group called the Barefoot Bloggers,, fans of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Every 2 weeks, we make and review a preselected recipe of Ina's. This week, we were to try Beatty's Chocolate Cake Oh, what a chore - making deep dark dense chocolate cake with a light fluffy chocolate frosting with a hint of coffee!!!

Buttered and floured with parchment paper in the bottom of pan!

The batter looked very runny for a cake batter so I was a little worried, but Ina's recipes are usually perfect so I didn't worry too much!

yummy, chocolatey goodness! Try taking a photo while pouring cake batter!

A delicious duo ready for the oven!

Ready to take to the tailgate! The layers came out of the pan completely level and had a lovely texture. The frosting was a little light for me, but held up in the heat of the afternoon! I like a thicker buttercream but this frosting was lovely.
*I used 9" pans because I didn't have two 8" pans and it worked just fine. However, I reduced the baking time by a few minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gameday #2

Always a crowd pleaser, Fiesta Fajitas are my gameplan for this week's tailgate. You just can't beat the flavors of Tex-Mex while getting ready for the big game. It's kind of amazing that nation-wide people enjoy fajitas and queso on gamedays. It doesn't matter if you are from New England, Oregon or Beaumont, Texas, fajitas just make for good eating! We'll have the usual chicken and beef fajitas with all the fixin's, but I usually shake it up a little by adding in some well seasoned shrimp, squirted with a little fresh lime and cooked up quickly on the grill. My friend, Mary, is also thinking of doing some pork fajitas, and Robin is bringing her uber-delicious homemade quacamole (seriously kids, I could eat an entire bowl of her quac!).

Usually, we grill everything at home, slice it and store in ziplocs which are easy to pack in the cooler. Then, we reheat everything at the tailgate. This week, we are bringing the new grill and special caddy. I'll have to post some pictures of this grill that we won last year in the HEB and Texas Beef Up Your Tailgate contest!!

Who's ready for some football! ME!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gameday 1!

Sandwiches and salads may sound lame to some of you tailgating fans, but let me assure you that in the Texas heat it's really a good idea to eat cool and light at the first game of the season. Everyone really brought some great food to share and one of my favorites was some great chicken salad wrapped in a flatbread brought be a newcomer to our tailgate. I always like to bring a little something fun and new. This week it was White Wine Sangria with Fresh Peaches and Strawberries! My friend, Robin, just texted and asked for the recipe because she's craving another glass! After the game we brought out the more and added a few things like a crock-pot full of Pioneer Woman's Chile Con Queso, Revved Up! You got to try this!! YUM!


Italian "Brick" Sandwiches, Club Croissants, Chicken Wraps, subs, Chicken Salad w/flatbread, Baked Potato Salad, Build your own salad, Michelle's yummy broccoli salad, 2 pasta salads, melons, berries and fruit, watermelon, cheeses, Wings, tamales and cookies (oatmeal raisin, four chocolate-chip, molasses, Snickerdoodles, and peanut butter)!

White Wine Sangria with Fresh Peaches and Strawberries

1/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of water

1 bottle of white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, dry Riesling, French white table wine)

½ cup Grand Marnier

2 medium ripe peaches, cleaned and sliced into thin wedges

1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled


Bring water and sugar to boil in a saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn heat to low and cook for 4 minutes. Place mixture in a heatproof container and chill in the refrigerator.

Pour wine into a pitcher, add Grand Marnier, chilled sugar mixture and fruit. Lightly stir and serve over ice. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve after allowing the flavors to meld together.


Pioneer Woman's Chile Con Queso


Pressed Italian Sandwiches – a great choice when you need to make sandwiches the day before!

1 Ciabatta loaf

1 lb. sliced oven roasted turkey

8 slices of good Italian salami

4 oz goat cheese

6 oz cream cheese

1 jar of roasted red peppers

1 jar of marinated artichockes

¼ cup black olive tapenade

¼ lb provolone sliced thin

Basil and flat leaf Italian parsel


Slice Ciabatta in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the fluffy bread in the middle of the top and the bottom. Cream the goat cheese and cream cheese together in a food processor or with a mixer. Spread cheese mixture in a thin layer on the inside of both halves of the bread to make a seal to keep the other ingredients from getting the bread soggy. Then, spread a thin layer of tapenade on the bottom bread half. Next, blot the roasted red peppers with paper towels to remove excess moisture and chop coarsely and arrange over the tapenade. Now, layer on the turkey and then, add a layer of sliced and blotted dry artichokes (if they were canned in water you will need to blot and squeeze out the excess water). Place on half of the provolone cheese topped with the salami. Arrange basil and parsley leaves on top of the salami and the remaining provolone cheese. Place the top of the ciabatta on top and wrap the entire loaf in parchment paper tied with twine. Place the sandwich back in the plastic bag that the bread came in and close with a twisty tie. Put the sandwich on a tray or baking sheet and place in the bottom part of a cooler with heavier containers on top. This will compact the sandwich by "pressing" all the ingredients in together. You can also put the sandwich in the refrigerator and put a brick or cast iron skillit on top. The sandwich can be left in cooler with ice or in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving cut into squares!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tailgating Supplies Southern style

I can't put it off any longer. Today is the day for getting out all the tailgating supplies and checking to see that we have everything ready to go for the first game on Saturday! I know there are lots of lists out there for tailgating, but I find most of them have to do with areas of the country that have a considerably cooler football season than here down south. We pack everything in clear plastic totes and just restock as needed thru the season.
Here's my list for Tailgating Supplies Southern Style:
  1. Hard top plastic folding tables
  2. Pop-up tents/canopies w/requiste team logo!
  3. Hand sanitizer, Bug Spray and Sunscreen
  4. Garbage bags
  5. Extension cords
  6. Coolers with wheels and handles for pulling
  7. Hand truck that converts to a trolley (you can find at Home Depot or Lowes)
  8. Grill, camp stove, with propane bottles
  9. Lighter
  10. Battery operated camping lanterns
  11. Flashlights (helpful when packing up after a night game)
  12. Twinkle lights and S-hooks (which make hanging the lights around the tent frame a breeze)
  13. TV and Satellite dish
  14. Marine battery and invertor (much nicer than a noisy generator)
  15. Multiple chairs in a bag in team colors
  16. Rain gear
  17. Tablecloths in team colors
  18. Paper goods (Plates, napkins, paper towels, cups, foil, plastic wrap, and ziplocs)
  19. Utensils caddy with plastic forks, knives, spoons
  20. Container with spatulas, cooking and serving spoons both regular and slotted, a good knife, can opener, bottle opener (preferably one that plays the school fight song :), wine corkscrew, tongs
  21. Hot pad or mitt, apron
  22. Cutting board
  23. All-Purpose cleaning wipes, small container of dish soap
  24. Simple First Aid kit
  25. Dominoes, cards, horseshoes, Frisbee, football, or washers
  26. Camera
  27. Koozies
  28. Bungee cords
  29. Fan (did I mention that it's hot outside?)
  30. Tickets to the game!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And so it begins . . .

Saturday afternoon you can find me outside ready for some football action AND some great food. It's always really hot here in Texas at the beginning of football season so we've learned to keep the food light and cool. We'll break out the new grill soon, but for this week it's sandwiches and salads - with of course some oh so sweet desserts! I'm going to make an Italian Brick Pressed sandwich for the first time. I know this type of sandwich has been around for awhile but I wanted something that I could make a day ahead and this just fits the bill! I'll post some pictures and the finished recipe later this week!