Sunday, April 23, 2017

Taco-Mex Homemade Hamburger Helper (One Pot Wonder)

When I made the recipe for Homemade Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper, it was a big hit with my family. I was reminiscing how my my mother used to buy a Mexican-themed one. It's been a very long time, but I remember a taco-style flavor to the beef.

I thought I'd tinker with the recipe and see if I could adapt this with a Mexican/Southwestern theme and see if I could create my own version of my childhood memory.

I discovered Avocado Oil at Trader Joe's and like using it in lieu of olive oil, because it has a higher smoke point. If you ever spot it, buy some! It's great.  Once I browned the ground beef, I added a chopped onion and red bell pepper.

I love black olives, so a drained canned of those was added to the mix.  Some taco seasoning (I make my own but packaged is fine), tomato paste would give some color and flavor the sauce.

I always keep a can of mild diced green chiles in my pantry. They are very mild, since I'm sensitive to really hot peppers.  Okay, then, we mix this right up...

 So, now we build the "sauce" by adding some flour...


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Ultimate Sugar Cookie - and my best cookie baking tips

A few months ago, one of my students brought a plate of sugar cookies to share with my office. For me, it was love at fist bite and I had to fight the urge to not share the cookies. However, in good conscience, I passed them around and everybody raved about them. I asked her if she'd get the recipe from her dad-- and after constant a few reminders, she brought me a recipe card. Score!

The recipe card was hand written with the name "Aunt Esther's Sugar Cookies". I asked who she was, and my student said she had no idea, and her dad couldn't remember how he got the recipe.  Well, Aunt Esther, whoever you are-- thank you so much!  The recipe only had ingredients and no detailed instructions. The few instructions said to squeeze the dough into one ball and pinch some dough and shape them into balls and roll in sugar. However, I was able to find a way to make the batter so that the dough turns out soft enough to scoop...



...and then gently press down with the palm of my hand.

 
I have baked many sugar (or vanilla) cookies in my lifetime and they are all good. But this cookie recipe ranks #1 favorite with my family now.  Every time I bake a batch (and I've made these a few times) my intention was to  photograph them, like most food bloggers do-- with a pretty mat or napkin, the classic milk jar with a colorful straw...but these cookies disappear way too fast! I give up. I just need to share the recipe with these quick photos,  because you'll thank me.

Whenever I post photos of cookies I've just baked, I am asked how I get my cookies to look just like a professional bakery.  Here are some "tricks of the trade" I've picked up over the years that have improved the results of my cookies:


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