33 Cookbooks

I love cookbooks. I never go into a bookstore without visiting the cooking section—and usually have to talk myself out of buying one or two or ten. As such, over the years I have collected quite a few. Thirty-three to be exact. And by 33, I mean that’s the bare-minimum-absolutely-must-have number.

The problem is that—in addition to the amount of precious space they take up—I rarely use the majority of them. And by majority, I mean all but 5 books—and for 4 of those, I only open to one recipe.

But, of course, I can’t bear to part with any of them. Thus I have decided to make it a point to dust these babies off and use them more often! What better way to help me stay on task than to rope you in as well by chronicling my navigation through all of them?

First up, I decided to start with quick breads…because, why not? Okay, so the idea wasn’t completely my own: awhile back Becca texted me that I should write about quick breads—and since I love them, it seemed like a logical place to start!

Quick breads are those which do not use yeast, but rather use other ingredients, like baking soda or baking powder, to leaven them. When I hear “quick breads,” the first thing that comes to mind is banana bread (or zucchini or pumpkin), but quick breads also include muffins, biscuits, scones, beer breads, and pancakes/waffles.

I mean, who doesn’t like at least something on that list? Or in my case, everything on that list! But I’m going to start with the one I make the most: banana bread. Actually, that’s a lie—I make pancakes and waffles the most, but I’m just rolling with it because my brain has already committed to banana bread.

For the record, I’m not being lazy when I say banana bread rather than Banana Nut Bread because I’m weird and I generally don’t like nuts in my baked goods. So if you’re not weird and do like nuts, then go ahead and add a cup of chopped nuts. Perhaps it’s the Texan in me, but I think if you are going to add nuts, pecans are the way to go.

This recipe comes from the Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book, 13th Edition. Or as it’s commonly called in my family “The Light Blue One”. My mother has the 12th Edition aka “The Yellow One.” Ironically you can find “The Yellow One” on Amazon, however, we (aka The Family) have always gotten our books—usually gifts for special life events, like moving into your own place—from Der Kutchen Laden (unless one of my aunts texts me after reading this to tell me otherwise!), which is a great little kitchen store on Main Street in Fredericksburg.

As you might have guessed from the picture, it is easily my most used cookbook (and yes, that’s coffee at the top and no amount of scrubbing will get it off). The original Banana Loaf Bread recipe was written by Mrs. Robert F. Heiden and debuted in the 9th Edition (I’m not sure what color that was)—so it should be in all subsequent editions.

A couple of things about the original recipe: it calls for shortening but since that isn’t always the easiest thing to find depending on your geography (like when I was living in Australia), I switched it for butter and never looked back. But if shortening is your jam, by all means, use that. Also, I upped the mashed bananas by ½ cup because I like that it keeps the bread it very moist (FYI dried-out banana bread is considered a tragedy in my house).

Banana Bread

  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.5 cups of mashed bananas (about 3-4 bananas)
  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan (or set of mini loaf pans). Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add bananas and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add flour and baking soda and mix they are fully incorporated. Pour into pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes (less for mini loaf pans) or until golden brown and inserted toothpick is clean. Flip onto a cooling rack and remove pan to allow to cool completely.

Or don’t because warm banana bread with a little butter slathered on top is divine. 😋

Mmmmm…Chhhhocolate…

Holy shitballs y’all!

Last week while looking for a new dessert for Fourth of July, the following words caught my attention: Chocolate Angel Food Cake.

yeah…you read that correctly: CHOCOLATE ANGEL FOOD CAKE!

Did you know this existed? I had no clue! Which seems very negligent of me, since angel food cake is one of my favorites.

I’m sure Pinterest and Google can provide you 7 gazillion from-scratch recipes, but if you’re short on time or the wherewithal or you just don’t want to, then add ½ cup of cocoa powder to a box of angel food cake mix and follow the directions on the the box.

Below is my version of the trifle recipe I found using chocolate angel food cake. And by “I found,” I mean Ann found and sent to me with an enthusiastic suggestion that I make it. I think it’s a great summer dessert for special occasions. Or any time, really, since it’s so easy to throw together. And honestly, what pairs better than strawberries and angel food cake except strawberries and chocolate? I mean, AFTER strawberries and champagne, of course.

Okay, okay…one quick note if you hate strawberries: please do NOT let that stop you from trying this. I think any berry, particularly blueberries, would make a good substitute.

Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

• 1 Angel Food Cake Mix
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• 1 ¼ cup water (or amount listed on cake mix directions)
• 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
• ¼ cup honey
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 1 ½ cups frozen strawberries, thawed
• 5-6 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together cake mix and cocoa powder. Add water and with a mixer, mix on low for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and then mix on medium for one minute. Do not over mix. Pour batter into an ungreased 10” tube pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cake looks dry and cracked on top. Allow to cool completely and then cut into large chunks. Try not to “sample” too many chunks.

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, honey, and vanilla. Purée the thawed frozen strawberries, using a food processor, blender, immersion blender, or your preferred implement of destruction. Add to yogurt and mix thoroughly.

In a trifle (or large glass) bowl, place ½ of the cake chunks along the bottom. Layer with ½ of strawberry yogurt mixture, spread evenly (read: as evenly as you can). Top with a layer of strawberry slices. Repeat layers. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving (note: the longer it’s refrigerated, the mushier the cake will be. Not necessarily an issue, however, your layers will start to lose their shape but definitely not their deliciousness!).

bon appétit!

Sunday Comics: Cooking a Turkey

The countdown is on to what has become over the years my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving.  I mean, how do you not love a holiday dedicated to food and family and friends and football?!?!?

Of course, it is all too easy to go overboard and completely stress yourself out: how to prep the turkey, how to bake the turkey, whether or not to brine the turkey, what sides, how many desserts, which wine, comparing yourself to that one person in your life who goes over & above so much they make Martha Stewart look normal, and on and on…

STOP THE STRESSING!

All you need to know is in this video from Mary Risley (Tante Marie’s Cooking School) (namely don’t stress and pour more wine!). It is on the longer side, but you definitely get the gist in the first few minutes!  Also a word to the wise: if you’re listening to this at work, perhaps you want to put in your headphones.

Happy cooking!

Thirsty Thursday Luau Edition

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

You cannot go to Hawaii and not go to a Luau.  Even if you don’t like pork or BBQ or don’t eat [insert random item here]. YOU’RE IN HAWAII–GO TO A LUAU!

We went to the Smith’s Garden Luau on Kauai–I can’t remember exactly why we picked that one, other than the fact that the Smith Family also conveniently ran the boat tours to the Fern Grotto.

It was very much a touristy place and the luau accommodated a large number of people, but it was such a fun evening: the after dinner show was entertaining, the pork was AMAZING!, and the drinks were flowing–especially the mai tais!

Plus we got big chunks of pineapple in our Mai Tais….how can you go wrong with that?!?!

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We laughed. A lot. We got lei’d.  We saw hula dancing.  We learned how to hula dance (much easier after a few Mai Tais, btw!).  And there was a plethora of food items from which to choose (I mean, you know how I am about food!).  Also, if I didn’t already mention it–the Kalua pig was divine!  I may have gone back for thirds.  We were good little tourists and tried the poi–it was interesting, I’m so glad we tried it…but THE PORK! I’m drooling just thinking about it!

Yes, it was touristy and there were a lot of people–but it was such a great way to spend an evening.  Here are a just few more pictures:

Aloha!

Thirsty Thursday To A Tea…

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

On our last day in Kauai, we decided to take a drive–all the way around the island.  Well, as far as the road would let us go (although–we did see the parts we couldn’t drive to by boat, so technically I’d say we made it completely around the island!).

As usually happens in a road trip, we reached a point where we were eager to stretch our legs.  Conveniently, we found a roadside drink truck advertising pineapple tea.  How does one say no to pineapple tea in Hawaii? One does not. 


It was definitely a refreshing & tasty reason to get out of the car!

Aloha!

A Yo Ho Ho Thirsty Thursday

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

I know, I know: I’ve already featured the Koloa Rum Company on Thirsty Thursday before…and yes, I’m featuring them again.  I mean, is there such a thing as too much rum?  I think not.

Please note that any and all complaints will be actively ignored while drinking from my stash of Koloa…

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Here we are congregated at the tasting bar as our lovely bartender took us through all the rums that Koloa offered: White, Gold, Spiced, Dark, and Coconut.  We all graciously took turns finishing April’s tastes, as she would take a small sip of each for prosperity’s sake and then would slide her glass down to each of us in turn–we couldn’t let delicious rum go to waste!

After running through the line-up, we got a brief lesson on the Mai Tai and Koloa’s version for anyone who wanted one (yes, please!).

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Tastings are daily–but there are a limited number of slots per tasting, so the first thing you need to do when you get there (of course you’re going to go–why wouldn’t you?!?) is sign up for a tasting.  After that, do take the time to walk around the picturesque grounds and visit the gift shop (just don’t miss your tasting!).

For the store and tasting room hours–not to mention directions, recipes, descriptions of their current rum selections, and their e-gift shop can all be found on their website.

The best part of perusing their website is that I noticed that they’ve added a new rum to their collection since we visited: coffee.  Helllllllloooo gorgeous!!!!  Could there be a more perfect rum for me?

My only question (because the previous one was rhetorical) is: who wants to go to Kauai?!?

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Aloha!

Uncle’s!

In addition to tubing, another thing you must do in Kauai is go to Uncle’s Shave Ice and get, well, shave ice!

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Cool and refreshing shave ice is something that is a must-do when you’re in Hawaii (regardless of which island you visit!) and Uncle’s definitely offered up some tasty flavors.  Okay, yes, it looks like a snow cone.  But an awesome snow cone.  An awesome snow cone that you are eating WHILE IN HAWAII.

Don’t argue, just go–you’ll be thanking me half way through your first bite!

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Despite the name, Uncle’s offers up more than just shave ice.  And one of the most interesting things on the menu was shave snow.  Shave snow is similar to shave ice but rather than adding flavoring to ice, shave snow is a mix of flavoring, milk, water, and sugar which is then frozen and shaved into ribbons and served topped with condensed milk.  They liken it to Taiwanese shave ice and it tastes like the shaved ice you get here in Koreatown.  But honestly, they had us at “topped with condensed milk.”

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Uncle’s has two locations: Lihue & Koloa.  Since we were staying about a 6 minute drive from Koloa, that’s where we went..and I’d be lying if I said we only went once!

We all got different flavors and then shared so we could try as many flavors as possible.  We stuck to mostly flavors that reminded us of Hawaii: Blue Hawaiian, coconut, pineapple, and piña colada to name a few.  It was hard to narrow down the flavors (thus multiple trips and sharing!), but regardless of what you order–it’s going to be great!

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Aloha!

 

Eggs ‘N Lava Java

If you are thinking I’m going to talk about eggs or maybe even coffee, you would be wrong.  Today I’m going to talk about pancakes.

For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pancake that I didn’t like.  But, OMG, Hawaiian pancakes are just absofuckinglutely amazing.

You might say that it’s just the scenery.  And I can’t argue, the views are spectacular–and we did make it a point to visit as many restaurants with an ocean view as possible.

But no, you would be wrong.  What makes them so scrumptious are macadamia nuts + coconut syrup.

That’s right, macadamia nuts and coconut syrup.

Like these that we got on the Big Island at Island Lava Java in Kailua-Kona.  The pancakes were light and fluffy and the macadamia nuts and bananas and coconut syrup just made them sing!

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But ever so slightly better are the Macadamia Pancakes at Eggs ‘N Things in Honolulu.  The macadamia nuts are cooked into the pancakes, which make them taste even creamier.  Apparently they were so good that we totally didn’t get a picture of them!  But I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I went to their website and pulled this picture.

eggs and things

You would think (I thought) that the coconut syrup would be too sweet and cloying, but it wasn’t.  However, you do have to like coconut.  If not, both places offered a variety of fruit syrups, which we also tried and liked.  We just thought the macadamia + coconut combo worked the best together, which then led to a hunt for the perfect coconut syrup to bring back stateside…

If you asked me, I don’t think I could actually choose which breakfast spot I preferred.  They were both delicious and thankfully, they are on different islands (Oahu and Hawaii), so I don’t actually have to choose!!  😉

Aloha!

 

 

Margarita Monday: Hawaiian Style!

I wasn’t actually planning on Margarita Monday to be a regular thing, but I figured what the heck–who doesn’t like margaritas?!?!?  Btw, if you’d like a picture of your tasty margarita to appear here for Margarita Mondays, please tweet it to me @epicurioustexan or send me a message on FB!

I know, I know…it’s been awhile since I’ve posted for Margarita Monday and honestly, I didn’t think I’d have a margarita post whilst posting about Hawaii.  But in looking through all the pictures, I realized that we did have margaritas while we were there.  And by “we,” I mean Christi and Tracy–but I had a tasty sip, or perhaps two…or maybe four.  I mean how could you not when pineapple margaritas are on the menu?!?

These are from the Goofy Cafe & Dine in Honolulu, where we stopped to indulge in a bit of poke, bibimbap, and corn penne before we departed for the Big Island.  Goofy doesn’t have an extensive menu, but everything was fresh, delicious, and locally sourced!

Aloha!

Room With A Rainforest View

As previously mentioned, our stay on the Big Island was split by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then packing up to head to the eastern side of the island to Hilo.  Actually we didn’t quite make it to Hilo, as we opted to spend the night closer to the volcano and stayed at the Volcano Inn, which is on Kilauea.

If you are expecting to see lava fields when staying at the Volcano Inn, then you’re going to be disappointed because it sits smack dab in the middle of a lush rainforest.  But we knew that going in and were excited by the completely dramatic shift from our Kona views.  All the colors were so vibrant–especially these red flowered plants–that they almost looked fake.  I totally kept touching them to make sure they were real!

Even more foreign was waking to the sounds of the rainforest.  We wandered down to breakfast, which included fresh banana bread and baked papaya with yogurt, bananas, and pineapple.  Since we were flying out to Kauai later that afternoon, we thought it was the perfect time to sample our fruit we purchased the day before from the South Kona Fruit Stand–and we didn’t want any of it confiscated at the airport!

After breakfast we went for a small hike into the rainforest, but were warned to stay on the path–which we did.  No one wanted to get lost because ain’t nobody got time for that: we had a helicopter tour and to find the Tsunami Clock of Doom before our flight to Kauai later that afternoon!

Soon it was time to pack up and depart from this perfect little hide-away spot, but adventure was calling!

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PS–I would like to take this time to clarify a certain picture (above) floating around Facebook that was taken at the Volcano Inn.  Despite what the picture shows–we did NOT make April ride in the trunk of the car!  I assure you she made it safely back to Minnesota!

Aloha!