Friday, April 27, 2012

Now on Facebook and Twitter!

Hello my fellow foodies! You can now connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. I would love you hear from you and keep in contact with you!


I have a couple really cool recipes to share with you soon! Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Biscochitos (New Mexico's Official State Cookie)

Bisochitos (New Mexico's Official State Cookie)

This is a very special recipe that I'm sharing with you today! This is one of my favorite recipes in the whole wide world! Ever heard of biscochitos? These delightful little cookies are the official state cookie of New Mexico. There are several variations of this recipe, but the flavors are the same... cinnamon sugar and anise. Some people use shortening instead of lard. Some people use anise oil instead of the real thing. Some people use brandy or rum instead of white wine. And then there's the measurements of the ingredients.

I'll be honest with you. When I was growing up, I just didn't get why people liked biscochitos. They were boring. I only liked them when my grandma put frosting on them. And depending on who made them, sometimes they weren't sweet. So I spent the first 20 years of my life not really eating biscochitos. And I loved that they seem to be a holiday treat or a special occasion treat, which now seems like a crime! (Though I have to admit that I usually only make them for Christmas because they can be time consuming. But I really should make them more often!)

As the story usually goes with me, one day I found myself craving biscochitos. Homemade biscochitos. My mom took a recipe we found and asked my grandma how she made hers. With my grandma's adjustments and hints, I made my first batch of biscochitos.

Now every year, I make biscochitos to give away during the holidays. And it seems like every year I never make enough, even though one batch makes about 8 dozen cookies.

My biscochitos are the sweeter kind, but not overly so. There are some that make them that aren't sweet at all or mildly sweet. I also make mine a little more thin-- a little less than 1/4 inch thin (some people make them like 1/2 or more in thickness). I find that when they're thinner as well as creaming the lard (have to use lard!), the cookies melt in your mouth a little bit more. And I also dip them in the cinammon sugar mixture before AND after they bake.

I hope that you'll give biscochitos a try. They're different, but they're homey for me. New Mexican comfort food, definitely!

If you like this recipe, please try my Biscochito Tiramisu recipe!! These cookies and the tiramisu recipe were featured in Albuquerque the Magazine in the September 2012 issue!

Secrets to my family's biscochitos:

Before: Whole anise seeds
After: ground anise seeds
1. Grind the anise seeds to release the oils.

2. Use lard! I know it sounds gross, but you gotta use it.

Creamed lard
3. Cream the lard until very fluffy. Kinda like frosting consistency. About 5 minutes.

St. Clair's Riesling
4. Use good inexpensive white wine. I like to use a sweeter wine & to support New Mexico wines!
My grandma says to use the cheapest thing or stuff you wouldn't drink, 
but why would you want to have that on hand?
(Though hers were good and she used to use my grandpa's AWFUL homemade wine!)

Official state cookie of New Mexico

One of my favorite cookies!

Check out the detail of all that goodness!

A T&H family recipe

6 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 tsp. anise seed (freshly ground or smashed to release the oils)
2 eggs
2 c. lard (a small 16 oz. carton)
1/4 c. white wine (I like to use a semi-sweet wine, like a Riesling)

3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbs. cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift flour with baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream lard with sugar and freshly ground anise seeds until fluffy. (This is a very important step because you want a lot of air incorporated into the lard because it helps make the cookies lighter.)
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  5. Mix in flour mixture and white wine until well blended.
  6. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. (Cover with plastic wrap so the dough doesn't dry out.) (Also, this is NOT a type of cookie dough you want to eat raw. So don't even try it!)
  7. Turn out portions of dough out on a floured surface and roll out to desired thickness (I usually like it about 1/4 of an inch thick).
  8. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter.
  9. Mix the 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp of cinnamon in a small bowl.
  10. Dip tops of the cut out cookies in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  11. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges start to turn a golden color.
  12. Remove from oven and immediately dip the tops of the cookies again in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  13. Place cookies on cooling sheet and allow to cool completely. (Don’t try to taste them right out of the oven… they’re only good after they’ve cooled completely.)

Makes about 8 dozen cookies, depending on the size.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Can I Have Both" Gooey Butter Cakes

"Can I Have Both" Butter Cakes

Want to know a great way to share without having to really "share" these puppies? Just be truthful and tell them it has two sticks of butter in it. And if that still doesn't work, say it has a pound of powdered sugar in it as well. :-)

I took these to family dinner and everyone thoroughly enjoyed them until I told them what was in it. Then you would have thought it was kryptonite. (I've made these for them several times before and never had that type of reaction. I guess I never disclosed the ingredients. Oops.) My dad, who usually complains that I never leave him leftover desserts, literally told me not to leave any in the house when I went home. So I made my brother take the rest home, who did so reluctantly-- but you know he secretly wanted them!

So, yeah, this is a Paula Deen recipe. The queen of butter herself, so it's fitting these are called gooey butter cakes. Two sticks of butter, no lies. And, seriously, a box of cake mix and a box of powdered sugar. But, it's so worth the tight-fitting pants this week and the extra workouts. Even if I'm trying to be good before my cousin's wedding in two weeks.

I can't really accurately describe this recipe, it's just awesome. It doesn't taste like cake or cookies or dessert bars. You can mix up the flavors for the bottom layer and the top layer, they're all awesome. My favorite it still the original (yellow cake mix and the basic top layer), but these are a close second because you get a little bit of both-- you get the bottom layer of the original and the top layer that tastes similar to a brownie. So if you can't decide between the original and the chocolate version, now you can have both of them in one! You gotta give these a try!

Kind of an ugly dessert, but they're so good!

These are very deceiving!

"Can I Have Both" Gooey Butter Cakes
slightly adapted from Paula Deen

1 18.25 oz. package yellow or white cake mix
1 egg
8 Tbs. butter, melted (1 stick)

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
4 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
8 Tbs. butter, melted (1 stick)
1 16 oz. box powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs, unsweetened cocoa, vanilla, and butter and beat together.

Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bunny Tails Popcorn Mix

Bunny Tails Popcorn Mix

I didn't have a lot of energy this Easter (yup this post is coming at you over a week late!), so I wanted to make something simple and colorful for my family.

One of my favorite things is my air-popped popcorn maker. We had one when I was little and nearly everyday after school, I would come home and make popcorn. I mastered the perfect combination of butter and salt for popcorn at a young age! While I love microwave popcorn and movie theater popcorn, for me, nothing compares to homemade popcorn with real butter and salt!

When I moved out of my parents house (the first time in college), I took my popcorn popper with me. But in the process of moving back in and then back out of my parents' house (the second time after college), my popcorn maker was lost. I've gone for several years without a popcorn maker, but this past Christmas, my mom surprised me with a brand new popcorn maker!

I'm excited to make homemade popcorn again and try some new recipes with my new popcorn maker. This is actually the first recipe that I've made that wasn't just the standard butter and salt popcorn with my new popcorn maker. I already have more recipes lined up to use with the wonderful gadget as well!

I've seen this recipe used with several names: bunny booty, bunny bait, funfetti popcorn, etc. I'm adding my name to it too... bunny tails! The recipe itself has also evolved with the addition of more and more ingredients, from just M&Ms and again with pretzels. I'm adding on to this recipe also, incorporating Whopper Robin eggs as well. (I had the jumbo Whopper Robin eggs on hand, so I just cut them in half.) I loved the addition of the Whoppers because the malt flavor went really well with the white chocolate in the recipe, so I definitely recommending adding them if you have them on hand!

My popcorn maker, one of my favorite appliances!

Whoppers were my favorite!

A cute and spring-y snack

Close up of the all add-ins

Bunny Tails Popcorn Mix
adapted from RavieNomNoms, originally from Nest of Posies

1/2 c. unpopped popcorn, popped using popcorn maker (or 2 bags of popped microwave popcorn)
12 oz. white candy melts
1/4 c. butter flavored shortening
2 c. pretzels broken into pieces
12 oz. bag of plain M&Ms (used pastel colored for Easter, other colors for other holidays)
1/2 of a 10 oz. bag of Whopper Robin Eggs (mini ones are probably best, but cut the jumbo ones in half if that's all you have)
sprinkles in assorted spring colors

Place popcorn (make sure you take out unpopped kernels), pretzels, and candies in a large bowl and mix together well.

Heat the white candy melts and the shortening together until they are melted. You can do this on the stove using the lowest heat possibly and continuously stirring. Or you can do this using the microwave, heating at 30 second intervals until they are melted and incorporated together.

After candy melts and shortening are melted, pour over popcorn mixture and mix thoroughly. On two baking sheets lined with wax or parchment paper, fold out popcorn mixture onto the sheets. Sprinkle all the sprinkles you want on top and let sit until the chocolate hardens and cools.

Once cool, you can put in a bowl and serve or put in little goodie bags to give away!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Aparagus, and Walnuts

Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Aparagus, and Walnuts

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes that I've been making for several years. One of my old co-workers (who is one of the best cooks and one of my favorite people in the world) suggested Giada's Family Dinners to me. This pasta was the first recipe that I tried in this cookbook because it sounded so different and interesting. I was a little apprehensive about the walnuts (not my favorite) and the nutmeg (don't like a lot of it), but I think they complement the other ingredients perfectly.

I've seen many reviews on other sites saying that this recipe is bland, but I think it could very possibly be that the dish wasn't seasoned enough. You really have to season it well with salt and pepper. Keep tasting and seasoning until you get the right seasoning for your palate.

This is definitely a pasta that you can play with the flavors... add ingredients you like, take out some you don't like, maybe adding a little protein would be good too. This last time, I decided to add about a teaspoon of truffle oil to the pasta to add an extra oompf to it. I liked the flavor that it added, but if you don't want to add it or you don't like truffle oil, the pasta is still very good without it. I'll eat it either way. :-) In the past, I've also added toasted pinon (pine nuts) in lieu of the walnuts and that came out good as well.

Another thing to note is that this makes A LOT of pasta! The book says it serves four, but it's four very large servings. So I'd say it makes between 4-6 servings.

My weekend lunch!

Close-up the asparagus and walnuts

Served with a New Mexican wine.

Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Aparagus, and Walnuts
Slightly adapted from Giada de Laurentiis (Giada's Family Dinners)

1 lb farfalle pasta
3 Tbs butter
1 lb cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced (button mushrooms also work well in this recipe)
1 lb asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 c. mascarpone cheese (8 oz. container)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 c. walnuts, toasted
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1 tsp truffle oil (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and most of the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the farfalle. Stir in the mascarpone and nutmeg and toss until the cheese coats the pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time to moisten. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Add in truffle oil, if using. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. (This pasta needs a lot of salt to flavor it, so be very liberal with it!) Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Believe it or not, we just got snow yesterday. In April! In New Mexico! When I left to work in the morning, I had about an inch of snow and it didn't look like it was going to stop any time soon. But, of course, being New Mexico with all of its crazy weather, the snow was completely gone by the time I got off work. And today it's supposed to be in the 60's-- that's New Mexico weather for you! :-)

I was introduced to The Cooking Actress blog just yesterday and found the perfect hot drink recipe to enjoy on a chilly April night in my pink and black polka dot flannel pajamas, under a blanket, and watching The Voice. This drink is so easy to put together, it's likely that it will take you more time getting all the ingredients out than it takes to make it. And you can totally make it during a commercial!

This recipe really doesn't need any tweaking, but if you like it sweeter you can add more sugar, if you like it more chocolate-y you can add more chocolate, and if you like peanut butter you can add more peanut butter (though keep in mind more peanut butter will change the texture). Add marshmallows, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, whipped cream, and whatever you'd like!

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
from The Cooking Actress

1 c. milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter

Whisk together milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla in a small pot on your stove over med-high heat and bring to a simmer.Whisk in peanut butter until it melts in the hot liquid. Pour into mug, top with any garnishes you'd like and enjoy! (Makes one serving.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Birthday Cake Oreo-Stuffed Brownies

Birthday Cake Oreo Brownies

I just got back from vacation and needed to do some baking to get me back into the swing of things. This recipe was just the thing for that! I had all the ingredients so I didn't have to go to the grocery store. With all the unpacking, laundry, cleaning, and going to back to work, the last thing I wanted to do was tackle the grocery store. So not only did I not have to go to the grocery store, I had an end product that was yummy-yummy too!

So before I get into the recipe more, I must share with you some of the most awesome drinks I've ever had while we were in San Antonio! The Dos-a-Rita at the Original Mexican Restaurant and Bar and the drink sampler at Pat O'Brien's were amazing. We had some great food while we were there, but the drinks definitely made a lasting impression. :-) I also learned that you can drink a heck of a lot more at a lower altitude because, believe it or not, these drinks didn't faze me as much as I thought they would. Or maybe I just didn't realize it if they did, haha.

Dos-a-Rita on the Riverwalk

Drink sampler at Pat O'Brien's

Back to the brownies! Everyone has been raving about the new Birthday Cake Oreos that have come out to commemorate Oreos' 100th birthday and recipes including these new Oreos have been flying around. I bought a package of these special Oreos so that I can try out some of these recipes and incorporate them into a recipe or two of my own.

There was one recipe that I found online that I was going to try, but when I saw this recipe on Bake at 350, it trumped everything and knew I had to make these brownies ASAP. Brownies and Oreos sound amazing in the first place, but imagining them with Birthday Cake Oreos was just incredible!

I stayed true to Bridget's recipe, but after preparing the brownie batter, I decided to put it in a 9x9 pan rather than a 9x13 pan, which is reflected in the recipe below. I didn't think the brownies would come out as thick I as like them, so I put them in a smaller pan so thicken them up a bit. :-) I also made the mistake of not increasing the baking time, so they weren't done when I took them out which made them sink in the middle when I put them back in. Nonetheless, these brownies were delicious!

It also might just be me, but I think these are better at room temperature than warm. I couldn't taste the birthday cake part of it when they were warm, which made me really disappointed, but the flavor really came out when they were at room temperature. But that could just be me and my taste buds being all weird. :-)

Birthday Cake Oreos

A close-up of the awesome filling

Adding in the Oreo layer

Ready to be cut into squares!
And now they're ready to eat!
Check out that layer of Oreo filling!

Birthday Cake Oreo-Stuffed Brownies
Slightly adapted from Bake at 350

1 c. dutch-process cocoa (such as Hershey's Dark)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
1 Tbs vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
16 Birthday Cake Oreos (or regular Oreos)
1 tsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. water

Preheat oven to 325.  Grease a 9x9" baking pan. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low, until melted.  Add the sugar and stir to combine.  Continue heating about 1-2 minutes, until hot. 

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cocoa mixture, stirring until combined.  Add the eggs and vanilla; stir until totally combined.

Add the flour and stir again until smooth. 

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Top with 16 Oreos.  Cover with the remaining batter; spread gently with an offset spatula.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the brownies are done, but the center still looks soft.

Set the pan on a wire cooling rack and let cool at least 10 minutes. (I let the brownies cool nearly completely.) Meanwhile, stir together the corn syrup and water.

After 10 minutes or when brownies are cool, lightly brush the corn syrup mixture onto the cooled brownies.  Scatter on the sprinkles.  (Adding them before baking will cause the sprinkles to discolor and become misshapen.)

Let the brownies cool completely before cutting.(Or eating! I think the flavor comes out more when they've cooled!)


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