Saturday, December 31, 2011

(Oh My Darling) Clementine Smoothies

I've talked before about my grandparents' incredible green thumbs.  From cucumbers, squash, and potatoes to lemons bigger than grapefruits (literally!), they  grow anything and everything.  Each time I visit, my grandpa is sure to send me home with a sack full of something delicious.  As we left our Christmas gathering, he gave us a mess of the sweetest, juiciest Clementines I've ever eaten.  We enjoyed most of them straight from the fridge, and the rest in the form of these creamsicle-inspired smoothies.  Yum!

Don't have Clementines?  Substitute 2 small, seedless oranges instead.

An Ommy Noms Original

3 Clementines, peeled
1 banana
1/2 cup yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup milk
6-7 ice cubes

1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth and well-incorporated.  Pour into glasses and enjoy!
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

28 by 28

My cooking ability has come a long way since I first started this blog over three years ago. The first year of our marriage, the Mister and I survived solely on frozen tamales and corn dogs. My uncle's jabs that the only things I could make were toast and boiled water weren't terribly far from the truth. Although the learning curve has been steep at times (see exhibits A and B), I am now more comfortable in the kitchen than I ever thought possible.

In about 15 months, I will be turning 28. In anticipation of the occasion, I've put together a list of 28 foods I'd like to tackle in the coming months. I hope you enjoy this journey with me!

1. Croissants
2. Sandwich bread
3. Focaccia
4. Custard bread

Appetizers & Sides
5. Hummus
6. Stuffed artichokes
7. Panzanella

8. Roasted chicken that actually tastes good
9. Homemade pasta, preferably a filled one
10. Gumbo from scratch
11. Mo Mo's chicken stew
12. Pad Thai
13. Enchiladas verdes
14. Spring rolls (or egg rolls- haven't decided yet!)
15. Bolognese sauce


16. Chocolate flan
17. Something piped
18. Baklava
19. Panna cotta
20. Gelato
21. Linzer cookies
22. Luby's cheesecake

You made what from scratch?
23. Butter
24. Ketchup
25. Sour cream
26. Peanut butter
27. Chocolate milk mix
28. Ricotta

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

World's Best Sugar Cookies

You know how we tend to associate certain tastes and smells with special times in our lives?  Well readers, this is what Christmas tastes like to me.  As a child, I looked forward to helping Mom roll out these sugar cookies each winter.  I always had my own assortment of cookie cutters and decorating sugar to choose from, and I relished each crumb of my creations.  When rolled-out, these cookies are thin and slightly crisp- perfect for decorating with royal icing.  These days, I usually make them with a cookie press, which yields a thicker, softer cookie.

From Mom

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until well-blended. Stir in flour.

2. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350.

4. For cut-out cookies, Roll out dough on lightly floured board or pastry cloth to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters.  (To use with a cookie press, stuff dough into press and form cookies according to package directions.)

5. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 10-12 min or until light golden brown. Cool and decorate as desired.

Yields about 6 dozen

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Banana Bread Foster

Awhile back, I told you how much I love Gaido's, a historic seafood restaurant in Galveston, Texas.  A few weeks ago, Mr. Ommy Noms and I took a day trip to Galveston and made a beeline straight for the restaurant.  After stuffing ourselves full of shrimp and oysters, the Mister handed me a dessert menu and told me to pick one.  The winner was Banana Bread Foster, and we certainly did not regret the decision.  In fact, we loved it so much that I went to the gift shop and bought the cookbook!

To make this impressive dessert, a thick slice of moist banana bread is griddled in a brown sugar and rum butter until it develops a crisp candy-like coating.  It is then finished with homemade creme anglaise and ice cream. 

You can use any dense banana bread as a base for the dish.  (I used this one.)  Do be aware that this is not the most beginner-friendly recipe.  As written, the recipe calls to burn the alcohol off of the rum over high heat.  I wasn't comfortable with that technique, so I simmered it over medium-high for a few minutes instead.  In addition, there is a fine line between a perfectly caramelized coating and a burnt one.  Keep a close eye on the bread, checking after 1-2 minutes per side.

Adapted from Gaido's Famous Seafood Restaurant Cookbook
Serves 3 (Recipe has been scaled down)

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp rum
3 1/2-inch thick slices of dense banana bread
Ice cream and creme anglaise (recipe following)

1.  Burn off the alcohol from the rum in a saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium when the alcohol has burned off.  Add the butter to the saucepan and stir to melt.  Add the brown sugar and mix well.

2.  Cook the banana bread slices in the butter mixture until a caramelized coating forms.  Turn to cook the other side.

3.  Remove to a plate and drizzle with creme anglaise.  Top with ice cream and enjoy!


Creme Anglaise Ingredients

2/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split)
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar

Creme Anglaise Directions
1.  Bring the half-and-half and vanilla just to a boil in a heavy saucepan.

2.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add one third of the hot mixture to the egg mixture; stir well.  Stir the egg mixture into the half-and half mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce coats a spoon.  Do not boil.

3.  Strain through a fine strainer in to a bowl and chill over an ice bath.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! (And 'nanner bread!)

First of all, I would like to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas!  I've had an incredible two days with family and friends and I hope you've enjoyed the same.

Today, I am sharing an incredibly moist banana bread, complete with butter and heavy cream.  (Oh yeah!) Tomorrow, I'll be sharing an incredible way to take this banana bread from bake sale to upscale- so stay tuned!

From Gourmeted, originally from Maria H's Sphere


5 tbsp butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas 
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
optional: 1/3 cup chopped walnuts


1.  Preheat oven to 350F. Use a non-stick or greased 9×5×3-inch loaf pan.

2.  Beat butter in large bowl with an electric mixer set at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add both sugar and beat well. Add eggs, egg whites and vanilla and beat until well-blended. Add mashed banana, beat for 30 seconds on high speed.

3.  Add all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add this mixture to the banana mixture, alternatively with cream. Add walnuts, mix well.

4.  Pour batter evenly unto the prepared loaf pan. Baked until browned and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour to 1 hour & 15 minutes.

5.  Cool completely and serve. To store, cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Bread becomes more moist after resting overnight.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Today was Polar Express Day at work- one of my favorite days of the school year.  After a morning full of reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, my students and I spent the afternoon watching Polar Express while sipping hot cocoa in our jammies.

It was also the afternoon of my teaching team's annual Christmas gift exchange.  I was planning to make homemade hot chocolate mixes for them, but I saw these little guys on Dainty Chef over the weekend and just couldn't resist the adorable presentation.  If you are in need of any last-minute homemade gift ideas, look no further.  They were quick to whip up and taste delicious.  (I kept one for myself, of course!)

Be sure to visit the Make and Takes link to find printable directions for your lucky hot chocolate recipients.

From Make and Takes, originally from King Arthur Flour, via Dainty Chef
Yields 36 squares

* For gluten-free recipients, use Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk and Kraft marshmallows.

1/2 cup heavy cream
One 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups semisweet chocolate
One 4-oz bar unsweetened chocolate (broken or chopped into smaller pieces)

For assembly:
Wooden or cookie/lollipop sticks
Cellophane bags
Pretty ribbon

1.  Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside. Heat the cream and sweetened condensed milk over medium-low heat until it starts steaming, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, put the chocolate mixture back on medium-low heat and stir with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted and shiny. Pour chocolate into prepared pan and spread chocolate as level as you possibly can. Let sit overnight (12 hours or so).

2.  Remove chocolate from pan and cut, top side face down, into squares. Divide the block into sixths each direction, so your squares will be a bit larger than 1″ x 1″. Use a long, thin knife. Heat the knife under hot water, wipe dry with a towel or paper towel, make a few cuts, then repeat the knife-heating procedure.

When ready to use, stir into 3/4 cup of piping hot milk until melted and well-combined.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baked Oatmeal- Healthy and Delicious!

Awhile back, I told you guys that I was really not a breakfast food person.  I'd like to go ahead and take that back now.

A couple of years ago, my parents built a vacation cabin out in the country.  Its kitchen has over four times as many cabinets and drawers as mine.  Nope, I'm not bitter at all!  Aside from being a wonderful place to slow down and relax for a few days, the cabin is synonymous with a good old fashioned spoiling.  While we're there, I wake up most mornings to the smell of a delicious breakfast on the stove or in the oven.  On our last trip, my mom cooked up this tasty baked oatmeal and I recreated it at home this morning.  I love everything about this dish from the bursting-with-flavor blueberries to the crunchy pecans.  I'm looking forward to having leftovers for breakfast tomorrow. 

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, via Annie's Eats

* For gluten-free diners, use 100% pure maple syrup and vanilla extract along with gluten-free oats, such as those from Bob's Red Mill.

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted, divided
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 ripe bananas, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries, divided

1.  Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir with a fork to combine.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.  

3.  Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with half of the berries.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top.  

4.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three-Ingredient Grape Sherbet

Okay, so I'm about as attention-deficit (deficient?) as they come.  When I was a kid, I'd go to my room to make up my bed, but then I'd notice my closet door was open.  So I'd walk over to close it and spot that Bop-it I hadn't played in a couple of months.  By the time I got through playing a few rounds of that, I'd set it down only to glimpse the sleeve of my missing favorite t-shirt hiding behind a pile of yearbooks.  So I'd try it on and prance my preteen self in front of the mirror before sprawling out on the floor to flip through the yearbooks.  But then I'd stumble across a picture of dear friend Betty-Sue ("Wonder how she's doing these days?") and go BACK to the closet for stationery and my gel pen set.

By the end of my bed-making expedition, I'd walk out of my room wearing different clothes with a sealed envelope in hand, the contents of my closet scattered hither and yonder, and my bed as unmade as the day it was purchased.

True story.  My mother can attest to this.  (Mom?  You out there?)

So that should explain, at least in part, how I went to to buy a bathrobe last weekend and wound up on a Google results page for "Why in the world have I never seen grape ice cream?"  (As it turns out, the majority of the grape flavor is contained within the skin, which does not good ice cream make.  Thanks, Google.)

Anyway, I came across this recipe for grape sherbet and had to try it right away.  This stuff was a dream come true, let me tell you.  I used a tart not-from-concentrate grape juice that shined in the final product.  It had light and fluffy texture, which surprised me given the short ingredient list.  This is a must-try if you're a sucker for grapes like me.  :-)

Adapted from Taste of Home 

 * For gluten-free diners, use 100% grape juice or Welch's juice.

1 3/4 cups grape juice (preferably the fancy-pants no-sugar-added kind)
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar

1.  Combine all ingredients.  Pour into the cylinder of ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer directions.  For soft-set sherbet, serve immediately.  For firmer sherbet, transfer to a container and freeze for at least four hours.
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