Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bruxie's Gourmet Waffles

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

If you're in Southern California this Memorial Day, or any time in the near future, check out Bruxie, an awesome new find in Orange County. They have three locations - Brea, Rancho Santa Margarita, and the City of Orange. We've been to the one in Orange two times now, and have NOT been disappointed. Everything we've tried is tasty and "crave-worthy." That is, it's food that I crave on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I'm a bit too far to go out there every time I want it, but it's been a treat in my recent life, and I like it.

If you love waffles (like I do), then the thought of a sandwich made with waffles instead of bread is like heaven. This place is just a little shack. Seating is available outside only and you won't miss it because there's a line around the corner at any given time of the day.

They fill these folded waffles with everything from PB & J to a classic burger, from pastrami to prosciutto to pulled pork. It's glorious.

Here's the cheeseburger...simple lettuce, tomato, and cheddar, but so juicy and good.

Of course they have to have a fried chicken & waffle too - served with maple syrup and pictured here with a side of waffle cut fries.
Then, there's dessert...

You can do it simple with lemon cream & berries, or nutella & banana, OR, you can do it up in a sundae with frozen custard and the works...

This is what we demolished...a traditional Belgian-style waffle, the batter studded with sugar crystals so that they carmelize in the waffle iron, topped with frozen custard, peanuts, chocolate and caramel sauce, and lots and lots of whipped cream.

They also serve housemade old-fashioned sodas, lemonade, and shakes. There are always specials too...of course there are!

It's different, it's really good...and if I have to list a negative, it's that there's no onsite bathroom. But, trust me, it's worth the walk to the local Starbucks for a restroom just to have your tummy full of this goodness.

Try it. You'll like it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Bloggeversary To Me!

It's hard to believe it's already been ONE WHOLE YEAR of sharing
my kitchen and travels with you!
I've learned a few things along the way:

1. Blogging is a great creative outlet for whatever one is passionate about
2. I love trying new recipes and sharing them with others
3. Don't take food pictures on blue plates - not very appetizing
4. iPhones make great cameras when you misplace
your primary camera for 6 months
5. Don't be afraid to click, "Publish."

My greatest reward has been hearing from you, my readers, throughout the year. I wouldn't keep it up if it weren't for your encouragement! Thank you!

Here's to another year of good food and cookin' with whatcha got!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

North African Mixed Grill

In my travels, I spent about six weeks total (over two different trips) in North Africa. I think I'm the type of person that falls in love with different cultures pretty easily. It doesn't take much for me to be wooed and wowed by the food, music, and people of places that are different than what I've grown up with. I love trying new things and, honestly, a good food experience can make me a fan in no time.

That's what happened when I went to Tunisia. Settled on the Mediterranean/North African coast, just below Italy, it is a culture infused with olives, hot chili peppers, lamb, seafood, and pungent spices. My love and tolerance for spicy food was birthed in Tunisia, and I will be forever grateful for the experience.

One of the staples of Tunisian cuisine is merguez, a rich and slightly spicy lamb sausage that is often served with couscous and vegetables. So, when we found some of this sausage at the public market in Seattle, we took some home and stored it in the freezer for a special dinner.

I defrosted it overnight, and planned to grill them up with some great zucchini and asparagus that we got in our CSA box. We also had spring onions, so I threw those in as well.

I had also just made a Costco trip and had some rotisserie chicken ready to eat. I cut up the breast meat and sprinkled it with a little spice rub made up of coriander, cumin, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, and some paprika. Then I put that on the grill just to heat it through.

To accompany the grilled fare, I made a coucous, also with some fresh ingredients from the CSA box. We got mint (another inspiration for the meal) and then I saved some of the green parts from the spring onions to add to it.

To make the couscous, I used Trader Joe's Whole Wheat CousCous. I follow the intructions on the box and use a 1:1 ratio, couscous to liquid. I didn't have any chicken stock, but wanted to make it more flavorful, so I added 1/2 a cube of chicken bouillon to the water as it cooked, along with a 1/2 tsp of olive oil and a dash of salt.

As the water boiled, I gathered some other fun ingredients to put into the couscous: raisins and slivered almonds (which I toasted lightly in a dry sautee pan).

When the water boils, you turn off the heat and cover the pan to let it steam. After a few minutes the grain is ready to be fluffed up with a fork and then you can add all the goodies - in went the raisins, almonds, onions, and mint.

Paired with the merguez, chicken, and veggies, this made for a filling and healthy meal. The sausage was a little on the game-y side, so my husband wasn't a huge fan, but that just meant there was more for me! He did enjoy everything else though (note: that was everything that I made!). And, it was a fun way to literally spice up the Costco chicken. It's amazing how easy it is to bring ingredients that seemed a little random together to make something tasty and nostalgic at the same time. It brings back great memories of eating with my North African friends!

May you be inspired to cook up something that reminds you of your travels or just good food experiences of the past - to share them with others and relive the memories...happy cookin'.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brownie + Cookie = Brookie!

I wish I had a better with a cross-section of the treat would have been good...sorry!
I first saw these on an episode of Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel. Then about a week later, my cousin posted a picture of the ones she made and called them "brookies." That was it. I made it my next baking mission to try out these little genius treats.

A chocolate chip cookie baked into a brownie. The best of both worlds. No need to choose one over the other. Or feel guilty for having one of each. Just eat one of these yummy baked goods and you'll be least for the moment before you contemplate having another.

I used a boxed brownie mix by Duncan Hines - Dark Chocolate Brownies.

Follow the directions exactly as the box says...

I did make the cookie dough from scratch, although you could do the same and use a mix. It doesn't really matter.

I used my personal favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from Kitchen Aid. It's my fave because they are really chewy (lots of brown sugar), soft, and a little cake-y. Not crispy or flat.

Here's the recipe:
Kitchen Aid's Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup softened butter (thanks Eleanor for noticing this was missing before!)
2 eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a medium-large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in your stand mixer (like a Kitchen Aid - wink, wink). Blend it for about 2 minutes until everything is well incorporated. Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now, you'll notice, that is the normal cookie recipe. For the brookies, instead of dropping spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, I greased two muffin tins with cooking spray, and then put in one heaping spoonful of brownie batter and one spoonful of cookie dough.

Here's what they look like after baking for 15-20 minutes:

It made exactly 24 muffin-sized brookies. They would be awesome served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. But, they are so good on their own too!

Happy bakin'!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Baked Egg Cups On The Go

When I first got married, I was in graduate school and worked part-time. For the first four months or so, I would wake up each day when my husband got up for work and make him an egg sandwich to eat on the way to work. Toasted bread with a little bit of butter and cheesy scrambled eggs, all wrapped up in a papertowel and a cup of coffee in a travel mug. I was ambitiously domestic.

Five years later, even though I work at home, let's face it...I'm not always motivated to make breakfast early in the morning. However, I've discovered a few shortcuts in order to still have a healthy, filling meal on the go for my man. :) Food is my love language.

One of my shortcuts is the baked egg cup. I found the idea in the South Beach Diet book. You can make a bunch of them early in the week and they will last for a few days!

They are like mini omelets that you can fill with whatever you have on hand. I use egg substitute or just egg whites, but you can just as easily scramble up whole eggs and fill up the muffin tin in the same way.

Preheat your oven to 325F. Generously coat the muffin tin with cooking spray. Add 2-3 tablespoons of veggies and cheese (and meat if you like) - whatever you have in your fridge.  Then pour in the egg so there's about a 1/4 inch from the top of the tin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you like it spicy, you can add a dash of hot sauce too.

These egg cups had sauteed asparagus, green onion, and shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake them in the oven for 30 minutes or until the egg sets. They will puff up quite a bit, but they deflate once you let them rest on the counter. They keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or can be stored in the freezer for a couple of months. The muffin size is great for portion control. Two or three of these heated up in the morning will fill me up for the entire morning. Kids will love them too. And, they are carb-free. Try adding these to your breakfast repetoire...happy cookin'!