Pretty in Pink

Palmiers or elephant ear cookies are pretty standard fare in bakeries her and abroad. They are fun, easy and extremely tasty, but I wanted to try something a little different. I wondered if you could infuse them with flavor besides sugar and cinnamon. I've seen some savory versions made with paprika, chili powder and cheese. Could a alternative sweet version work? You bet!

By grinding freeze dried raspberries along with the sugar and cinnamon, I created a tart-sweet mixture to spread on the puff pastry to add a some umpphff to this classic bakery favorite.

What I really wanted besides the extra flavor, was some vibrant color. The raspberry definitely did the trick. The cookies turned out beautiful and delicious in the end. They would be pefect for a pink or red themed wedding or baby shower. For a mom-to-be expecting a boy, you might even be able to use dried blueberries in place of the raspberries for some bright blue cookies. Anything's worth a try.

Father's Day tribue

Thinking of Father's Day, I was reminded of a simple candy my grandfather would often make. It is quick, rich and satisfying when you want something sinful and sweet. This was my first time making this candy and the first taste brought back plenty of wonderful family memories. Here's to hoping all of the fathers and grandfathers out there had a wonderful day. I made a peanut butter version with some chocolate toffee bits and pecans sprinkled on top, but it is just as easy to add cocoa instead for a chocolate version.

Quick Peanut Butter Candy
3 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp chopped pecans (optional)
2 tbsp chocolate toffee pieces (Heath bar, optional)

Combine sugar and milk in heavy saucepan and cook at medium to high heat until it reaches soft ball stage (240°F). Remove from heat to add peanut butter and whisk to incorporate. Pour candy into buttered 8x8 square pan and sprinkle nuts and toffee pieces on top. Leave candy to cool either on the counter or in the refridgerator. Once the candy is cool, cut into 1/2 squares and enjoy.

Note: In retrospect, I would choose a larger pan for the candy and thus have a thinner layer of candy. This recipe is very rich and extremely sugary. So small portions are key.

Top Chef Stop

Has San Antonio finally made its mark on the culinary map? Well if not, it at least made its mark on the Top Chef Tour this time around. Former cheftestants Ryan Scott and Dale Talde where in town June 11 to show off their skills and treat fans to a few "Quick Fire" demonstrations.

I had pretty much bailed on the idea of attending because I figured the first-come-first-served atmosphere would be a total mess and not worth the bother. But on a whim I changed my mind and started waiting in line at 7:50 a.m. (along with a few diehard fans who had been there since 4 a.m.) to secure a spot during the 10:30 demonstration. In the end it was worth the wait, crowds and heat. Both chefs were extremely personable, entertaining and very gracious. I was even lucky enough to be one of just a handful to be spontaneously invited inside the Top Chef mobile kitchen for quick look around while they cooked.

During the cooking challenge both chefs were required to use beef as their main ingredient but had 10 other ingredients from which to choose and use. Dale's dish was an Asian-inspired Beef Salad (left) and Ryan made his take on Steak Au Poivre with a melon salsa verde.  I really enjoyed both. But I favored Dale's more for the it's unusual flavor and  subtly with the coconut. While Ryan's had a lot of the heat that Texans are used to in their dishes, plus the watermelon salsa was a nice chilly accent. I'll link to the recipes as soon as they are posted to Bravo's website.

Granola has competition

One of the things that send a dish over the edge for me is texture. I relish things with crunch, chew, snap—something to keep me guessing (in a good way).

And that's one of the reasons I love granola especially in my yogurt. Although I'm not a milk or yogurt fan and find the flavor almost unpalatable, I'm trying to eat more of it for its health benefits. So fruit, nuts and anything crunchy like granola are my culinary saviors.

When I saw this recipe for Quinoa Crunch in Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, it was the tipping point for me scooping up the cookbook and heading to the checkout line.