Old Fashion Root Beer Cookies

20120227-115529.jpg Being that I was born and raised in Spain, I don’t have a taste for root beer. I think the first time I tasted root beer was in my late teens, several years after coming to the States.

In a recent brand immersion trip as a Zatarain’s 2012 Ambassador, I was given a bottle of their original product: Root Beer extract. I had never heard of root beer extract before nor did I know what to do with it! I don’t drink root beer… so flavoring anything with it was out of my expertise. Then, I had my own epiphany… what if I swapped out the vanilla extract from my favorite sugar cookie recipe and replaced it with the root beer extract?

This sugar cookie recipe is my grandmother’s “plain” cookie recipe. It was her starter for many cookies, I just replaced the vanilla with the RB extract. The “old fashion” is my fancy term for “lazy” since I don’t roll out the dough like traditional sugar cookies (although you can do that) and cut them into your desired shapes. I use a table spoon to scoop out the dough. The result is an edible version of a root beer float. There is no need to wait for the cookies to cool off to eat them. As soon as you get them out of the oven, top them with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and enjoy! I know you’ll thank me later (printer friendly recipe).

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Root Beer Cookie Ingredients

  3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter -2 sticks (softened at room temperature)
1 egg, lightly beaten (egg should be at room temperature)
3 Tablespoons half-and-half
2 teaspoons Zatarain’s root beer extract

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You can smell the root beer in the dough #delish!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)

2. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

3. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

4. With a fork, stir in lightly beaten egg, root beer extract and half-and-half. Blend well with fork, then your hands to ensure thorough blending.

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Ready to rest in the fridge for 15min

5. Chill dough for 15 minutes.

*If you are rolling the dough, chill dough for one hour and then roll and cut into desired shapes.

6.  Scoop out with 1TB spoon and lay on a baking sheet.

7. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until lightly brown.

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Use a 1TB spoon to measure them out evenly

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Yummmm -makes 2 1/2 dozen

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You know you want to take a bite...

Jazzing it up in New Orleans with Zatarain’s

Every once in a while, life hands us opportunities that leave us thinking how fortunate we are.  This past weekend,  I joined four other VIP bloggers as part of the 2012 Zatarain’s Ambassador Program, aka the Zatarain’s Krewe.  In New Orleans, a krewe (pronounced “crew”) is an organization that puts on a parade or a ball for the Carnival season.  And let me tell you… the five of us paraded around town from restaurant to restaurant with the fantastic people of Zatarain’s and had a ball!

We began our weekend with a tour of the corporate office and the facility.  Wow! just upon entering you could smell the spices! If you’ve ever opened a box of Zatarain’s jambalaya, you know what I am talking about!  We learned many interesting facts about the brand that even an imported “local” like me didn’t know.  For example: Mardi Gras traditions, the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking, and some interesting uses for root beer extract.

The Krew in protective gear to take a "spicy" tour: Myself, Kristen, Jim, Rachel & Steph

We also enjoyed an amazing jambalaya for lunch made in a big, I mean… BIG pot! It was… delicious.  What’s great about jambalaya is that you can literally add anything and it usually comes out great.  Because I am only a southern “import” I still personally rely on the Zatarain’s box when I make it; and so do most locals unless you are Chef John Besh.

I’ll admit that I rely on the jambalaya, dirty rice or gumbo mix when I’m entertaining at my house.  When I am cooking for large crowds (like our monthly family get togethers or tailgating parties) I like that Zatarain’s captures authentic local flavor that is consistent to what southerners are used to.  Hey, if I lived in San Francisco like Steph and Jim my guests wouldn’t know the difference… but I have the most experienced and pickiest palates for Cajun and Creole cooking!

The weekend continued with exquisite meals at Borgne, Domenica, August and Brennan’s restaurants.  We were treated to a historical culinary tour of New Orleans that was beyond informative and fun.  We also closed the weekend watching a Mardi Gras parade with the Zatarain’s team and our amazing hosts (Desta and Mananya).

Although I’ve been living here for over ten years, there were many things I didn’t know about the New Orleans culinary culture and Mardi Gras.  Ok, it is true that New Orleaneans live to eat… and that we possibly have some of the best and oldest restaurants in the nation in one place.  Since I can’t possibly share all the fun in one post… stay tuned for recipes from this past weekend, more photos, restaurant reviews, and a little culinary history.  Like they say down here… “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez”

Zatarain's Krewe: Jim, Rachel, Myself, Steph & Kristen **photo credit

A few teaser photos:

Dessert table at August. Bloggers = cameras & phones at all times **photo credit

Pizza at Domenica

Made just for us with Zatarain's at Borgne

Turtle Soup at Brennan's **photo credit

Zatarain's Boiled Crab pizza & Amazing pasta Carbonara at Domenica

My Strawberry Crepes at Brennan's

Brennan's famous bananas Foster

So much good food will leave you licking your spoon! **photo credit

 

**Starred with Photo Credits thanks to the Amazing Steph at Lick My Spoon

Disclaimer: I wrote this post while participating in the Zatarain’s 2012 Ambassador Program.  I was compensated for my time but all opinions are my own.

The Amazing Sandwich: Herbed Farmers Cheese

Everyone knows my life revolves around food.  Lunch is one of my favorite meals and I love to get creative with sandwiches, pitas, grilled anything… I actually welcome a challenge.

A couple of weeks ago, a MOMables subscriber emailed me to ask me what she could do with farmer’s cheese.  Her neighbor has goats and gives her a container almost every week.  She mentioned that she has grown tired of the plain flavor and texture.

My grandmother, was a HUGE fan of farmer’s cheese.  It’s a soft white cheese made from goat, sheep, or cow’s milk that has a lot of live bacteria; therefore, loaded with good for you properties.   She used to make an herb version but sadly, I never wrote it down.  After days of scouring Google and purchasing over 6lbs of farmers cheese, I found a recipe that is worth sharing.  It was…heavenly.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup farmer cheese
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt, dash of pepper

Directions:

Stir cheese and yogurt in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper; stir. Cheese spread can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Spread over your favorite bread slices and sandwich it up! It’s delicious with thick slices of ripe tomatoes and turkey.

recipe source

photo credit

My Family Table: Real Food Calls To Be Shared

Have you ever purchased a cookbook because the pictures inside looked mouthwatering? You are not the only one.  In fact, you are probably considered a coffee table cook.  You know, someone who browses through the pictures of the nicely bound book and then returns it to the coffee table.  You tell yourself that they are good conversation pieces.  What if you actually cooked some of the recipes?  Then you would have something to talk about!

It’s no secret I own many cookbooks.  I go through phases where I am a cooking maniac and cook new things out of cookbooks and other times I am in recipe testing mode.  This November, I received My Family Table by John Besh.  Every recipe has been incredible thus far.  I am not sure if it’s because the pictures are gorgeous, the stories take me inside his kitchen, or if the food reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking in Spain.  Either way, it’s a must buy book and if I had the time, I’d cook my way through the book and blog about it.

With Chef Besh in his Kitchen

This weekend, I cooked Coq Au Vin from his book My Family Table with my friend Christy.  She marinated the chicken overnight in the red wine and some vegetables.  By the time I arrived at her house, her cast iron skillet was hot and we were ready to get cooking!  This is where had I not been 39 weeks pregnant I would have poured myself a big glass of vino.

Reducing marinade

One of the many reasons I fell in love with the book is the relatable stories Chef Besh narrates with nearly every recipe.  He makes the case for the importance of home cooked meals not only from a nutrition standpoint; but from the joy and “togetherness” that sharing meals with our families bring.

Browning Chicken

There is so much more to food than eating.  Cooking with friends and family is an experience and a joyful time; specially if we are going to gather and share the meal together.  The book is not one recipe after another but a narrated story of how food is part of his family’s every day life.  From busy weeknight dinners his wife prepares before loading the boys in the car to take them to sports to Sunday family gatherings, brunch and breakfast recipes.

Sautéing the Vegetables

Even with its shiny cover and beautiful pictures the book makes the point that you don’t have to be a chef to make the recipes.  Besh tells us to forget about having all the right ingredients and just get cooking.  I highly suggest cooking the risotto, you won’t want it any other way.  And for a real treat… the Nutella stuffed french toast. Oh my!

Adding crushed tomatoes and the reduced marinade to the sauteed vegetables

I had more fun cooking this meal with my friend Christy than I’ve had in a long time.  I’m used to cooking for my family in the afternoons with two kids running around and pregnant; often juggling homework, packing lunches, and testing a recipe or two for MOMables.

Now the chicken goes back in

While this wasn’t a 30 minute weeknight meal, the simplicity and richness of flavors made this the perfect Sunday dinner.  The house began to fill with with rich aromas that brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen.  Yes, she used to cook meals like this often.

I have to admit that we were so excited to finally eat this dish that we forgot to take a picture of our plate!  The good news, is that the next day the flavors married within the food longer and the bowl I had for lunch was just as delicious as the night before.

Want to get a copy? You know you do…

 

Last Photo credit

Orange & Port Cranberry Sauce

Do you buy your cranberry sauce, make your own, or purchase a fancy already-made one?  Until I came to the States, I had no idea that cranberries existed.  The first time I tried cranberry juice I thought: why would anyone drink this? It was taaannnnggggy!  Once I tried my Auntie Colleen’s Orange & Port Cranberry Sauce, my opinion on cranberries completely changed.  It’s so good I make it year round.

It is no joke I spend a lot of hours in the kitchen testing our MOMables recipes, contributing recipes to other websites, making lots of stuff from scratch, food for my family, snacks… the list goes on and on.  Last week, I decided to purchase a 17lb turkey because I have 14 recipes to test out this week!  Six of them are on a deadline by Wednesday.  Kitchen crunch!  If you think I must be really organized… you just have to ask my husband.  I remembered the turkey around 9pm Saturday night!  Yes, please do the math… the bird went in the oven around 9:45 and I actually set a timer to wake myself up at 1:30am to take it out! Crazy, yes… but I am also 30 weeks pregnant… and there are a lot of things I can’t even begin to explain.

Back to the sauce….  a good turkey recipe needs great sauce.  Yesterday, I set out to make lots of my Auntie’s cranberry sauce (just enough to last me this month and give a few away).

Aunt Colleens Famous Orange, Port & Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 12oz bags whole cranberries
  • 1 cup 100% orange juice -not from concentrate
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ruby port

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse cranberries.
  2. Add all ingredients in a 4qt pot and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.
  3. Lower heat to medium-high heat (so it continues to boil) for 12-15min stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat.  Allow sauce to cool.
  5. For “chunky” sauce pour in glass jars as is.  If you like a “smooth” cranberry sauce pour in blender and blend until smooth (once cooled). Then transfer to jelly mason jars.  Makes between 6-7 jelly sized jars.

Don’t you just want to take your finger and lick that drip from the plate??