Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Steak BBQ On A Budget" & A $25 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

I was contacted earlier in the month asking if I'd like to try Walmart's new USDA Choice steaks.  Mr. H is a huge meat eater, so of course I said yes! Have you seen the commercials on TV where the people are dining in a steakhouse and a guy comes along telling them they've just eaten Walmart Steaks? Well these are those steaks!

I was given two $25 Walmart gift cards. One for me to create a "Steak BBQ On A Budget" and one to give away to a lucky reader! I went to Walmart and immediately spotted the USDA Choice steaks since they are easily identified by the black tray packaging.  There were several different cuts of meat to choose from, but Mr. H is partial to filet mignon, so that's what we got. My one complaint about the filets were that they were packaged individually rather than in pairs (like the rib eye steaks) so it was difficult finding two that were similar in size. I like to pan sear my steaks rather than putting them on a grill, so while the cooking times varied because one steak was larger than the other, it did not affect the flavor one bit. 

The steaks were fresh and well trimmed and tasted like any others that I would get from the butcher counter at my local market only at a lower price point. The steaks we chose were $14.99/lb. We purchased two steaks, but ended up getting three servings out of them. In addition to the seared steaks, I made rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes and in lieu of a salad, I set out fresh veggies and dip. A fruit salad served as dessert. It was a perfect Summer meal and it was affordable. I spent just over the $25 limit because I got a little carried away with the fruit but if you think about it- a filet mignon steak dinner for three people under $25 is a great deal! It would be at least three times that at a restaurant. 

I simply seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper and seared them in a super hot pan with a tad of butter until they were medium rare. I don't have a recipe for that, but I am sharing my favorite way to make roasted potatoes. These are delicious, if I say so myself :-)

Rosemary & Garlic Oven Roasted Potatoes from Monica h

  • 2 lbs. new potatoes, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely minced
  • 3-4 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2-3 tsp. kosher salt
  • black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and set aside. If using foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray. 

Cut your potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks. You want them to be all about the same size (quarter the smaller potatoes, cut the larger ones into 8 pieces). Place them in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. 

Once the potatoes are well coated, place them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. 

Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning them with a spatula every 10-15 minutes, until uniformly golden and tender. 

GIVEAWAY:  I have one $25 Walmart gift card for one lucky reader to purchase Walmart's USDA Choice Steaks so that you can create your own "Steak BBQ On A Budget". All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post telling me what your ideal steak dinner is. I want details- what kind of steak do you like, how do you like it cooked and what are your favorite sides? 

I'll announce a winner later in the week. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blondies, Bars, and A Cookbook Giveaway!

I've been in a funk lately and haven't been cooking or baking. I'm not really sure why. I haven't had much of an appetite either and I think that's probably why the lack of interest in being in the kitchen. Thank goodness for Mr. H and his ability to prepare a meal or we would have starved this past week. (Thanks babe!) Last week, I went to visit my friend, Maranda of Jolts and Jollies. We baked together while her son and Hayden "played" together. We pretended that we were getting the kids together for a playdate, but really is was so we could play in the kitchen with sugar and flour!

We baked from the new cookbook, Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook from Cheryl and Griffith Day. If you haven't checked out this book yet, put it on your list because there was not one thing in there that I didn't want to make. It's a great cookbook- the pictures are bright and clear and the recipes themselves are not overly complicated. I chose to make Drunk Blondies that were cram packed with toasted coconut, chocolate chips and pecans but they were so perfectly balanced in flavor that not one ingredient stood out over the other.

These blondies were so buttery and chewy and delicious. My absolute favorite part was the edges though- oh my goodness, they're good! There's also a healthy dose of Bourbon in these too, hence the name, Drunk Blondies, but the alcohol taste was subtle. If you're not a fan of baking with spirits, simply leave it out, but I thought it was a nice addition. Maranda chose to make Lemon Pie Bars that were perfectly tart and sweet and had a melt in your mouth crust. Both recipes were winners! Are you interested in winning a copy of Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook? Scroll down to the end of this post to see how!

Drunk Blondies from Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. 

Put the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut the blondies into bars. The blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

TIP: The easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the coconut in a baking pan and bake for 5-8 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes with a heat-resistant spoon to ensure even browning. Keep a close eye on the coconut, because it can burn easily. 

For the recipe for Lemon Pie Bars and for a chance to win your very own copy of Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook please visit my friend Maranda at Jolts and Jollies. Tell her your most memorable back in the day baking memory and this book could be yours! While you're there, kick up your feet and stay awhile. Happy Baking!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Browned Butter- Making Rice Krispie Treats Better!

I  used to think my mom made the best rice krispie treats. That is, until I made these. Now don't get me wrong, I still love my mom's version because she doesn't measure anything and keeps on adding more butter or marshmallows as she sees fit, which makes them extra buttery and gooey to the point where the marshmallows stretch apart well after they've cooled. They're so good. But these are different. I've made them 4 times already and have yet to blog them because they disappear so quickly and there's never any left. Today is your lucky day!

Golden Browned Butter- see the solids stuck to the pan?
These rice krispie treats are made with browned butter. Browned butter is exactly what is sounds like. It is butter that has been browned. You start off by melting the butter in a pot, as it boils, sputters and foams slightly, the milk solids cook, resulting in brown bits at the bottom of the pan and the butter turns a lovely hue of gold and it smells rich and nutty. You can use in in place of regular butter and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It just kicks up the regular rice treats to a whole new level-  makes them more than just an after school treat. 
This little stinker tried for weeks, unsuccessfully, to get to Autumn's water bowl. Well he finally got into it and loved every second of it until he turned the bowl upside down and was completely soaked. I love the look on his face!
The addition of the spices makes these special too. The spice is subtle and not overwhelming and compliments the browned butter so nicely. I don't know about you, but spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are welcome in my kitchen all year round, not just in the Fall. If you're looking for something just a little bit different, give these a try. I promise you will not be disappointed. In fact, now my mom requests I make these for her :-) 

Browned Butter and Cinnamon Spice Rice Krispies Treats adapted from Let's Dish

Printer Friendly Version 
  • 7 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1- 10 ounce bag (about 5 cups) mini marshmallows 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Coat a 9x13 inch pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Measure out the cereal and set aside. Pour the marshmallows into a large bowl and set aside.  

To make the browned butter: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter boils and turns golden brown and smells slightly nutty. Keep an eye on it because you don't want  it to burn. This could take 5-10 minutes. 

Once the butter is brown and nutty, immediately pour it into the large bowl over the marshmallows- some brown bits may go with it, and that's okay. Stir to combine then place the entire bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and reheat for an additional 30 seconds until the marshmallows have completely melted. Be careful because the mixture will be hot. Repeat if necessary.

Stir the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger into the marshmallow mixture and mix until combined. Quickly add the cereal to the marshmallow-spice mixture and stir until everything is well coated. Working quickly, scrape the mixture into your prepared dish. With buttered hands, press the cereal evenly into the corners and smooth the top. 

Let cool completely and cut into bars. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Fun At The Pool

Whew! It has been a week, let me tell you. Hayden caught a virus that gave him a high fever for several days. He was okay until Wednesday night when he couldn't keep food down. Then he stopped eating and drinking and started to get dehydrated so we took him to the ER Thursday afternoon. The doctor there gave him some anti-nausea medicine that helped settle his stomach, which in turn allowed him to eat and drink and keep it down. It worked, he took a nap, drank milk, felt better then started flirting with the nurses. The doctor was happy with his progress so he didn't have to be hooked up to an IV afterall. Thank goodness. After the fever broke, he got a rash for a few days and that is finally going away. He is just about back to normal and acting like his silly self again. 

Over the weekend we went swimming at a family friends' house. Hayden has never been in a swimming pool before but we hoped he would like splashing in the water. He loved the water and was so relaxed by it. Instead of splashing around and having fun, he took a nap- twice! The water was so soothing and he was so relaxed in my arms that he just drifted off. He did have fun lounging in his floaty too. And I have to tell you, he is so darn cute in swim shorts and a cap :-)

I made these bars about a week before my birthday and they were freaking delicious. If you like key lime pie, you will love these. It's essentially the same recipe but in bar form and it uses lemon juice in stead of lime. These bars also have the summery addition of blueberries too, but raspberries or blackberries would be just as good. Heck if you want to use lime juice, go ahead and make them your way. These bars are the epitome of summer- they're bright and citrusy, fruity, tangy and creamy. I made them on an ordinary day but they're the perfect treat to enjoy poolside to beat the heat. 

Blueberry Lemon Bars slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Printer Friendly Version 

For the crust: 
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
For the filling:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14 ounce can) sweetened condensed milk 
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Stir until graham cracker crumbs are moist. Press crumbs firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of prepared pan. Bake the graham cracker crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the filling, combine the egg yolks and condensed milk in a medium bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until mixture is smooth and begins to slightly thicken. Gently fold in the 3/4 of the blueberries, reserving some for the top. 
Pour the lemon blueberry filling evenly over the graham cracker crust then top with the remaining blueberries. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just set.
Cool for 10 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate until completely chilled. Cut into bars and serve. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Birthday Recap

Turns out turning 30 wasn't all that bad. I don't feel any different, and didn't think I would, it's just a mental thing. But I'm embracing my new age and eating plenty of cake. 

My husband got me my favorite Chocolate Italian Cream Cake and my mom made me a Funfetti Jello-Poke Cake covered in whipped cream and topped with strawberries. Didn't she do a great job?! I requested a pineapple upside down cake before I realized she was making the other so she decided to make them both and then there was a cheesecake! Actually the cheesecake was for my cousin- he and I share the same birthday 16 years apart. There was plenty of sweetness to go around so I didn't need to make my own cake this year. Thank you Momma!

Me and Josh- My birthday Buddy!
All that leftover cake means I haven't baked anything in about a week. But there are two tiny slices of cake left so I'll be back in the kitchen whipping up something soon. By the way, I realized that the trick to feeling  young on your birthday is to have your momma make you funfetti cake. I felt like a kid again :-)

On a side note, my little boo bear is sick. He's been running a fever since Sunday evening and I've been giving him Tylenol but it hasn't gotten any better. This is the first time he's been sick and I hate it. Yesterday his temp was about 101F but it was 103.3 today so I called the doctor. He has a great temperament, is eating well and playing like normal, he's just really warm. He isn't coughing, sneezing nor does he have a runny nose so we're not sure what's going on. They had to insert a catheter into him today in order to get a urine sample from him and he cried a cry that made my heart hurt.  His urine sample came back clear so at least we know his kidneys are working well and he doesn't have an infection. We'll just wait til it out and see how he's doing over the holiday.  If he still is feverish on Thursday, then they'll have to do blood work and further tests. Cross your fingers that he gets better. 

This is Hayden's new picture taking face. As soon as the flash goes off, he immediately makes this cheesy grin. Look at those toofies- I love it!

Hope you all have a great holiday. I'll be home snuggling with my Babes. See you back here later in the week. 


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