Thursday, October 13, 2011

Banh Mi Cravings

Every weekend my husband and I get asian foot massages (not as weird as it sounds, they are actually quite AMAZING), and then treat ourselves to vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) at either Don's, with the best chicken, or Givral, which is right behind Don's and actually accepts credit cards, something rare in the Bellaire Chinatown area. If you are ever in the Bellaire area definitely grab a sandwich. I promise you will not be disappointed by either establishment. They use fresh ingredients and incredible, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, french baguette that is either baked in house or ordered from a bakery. Not only are these sandwiches so delicious and fresh, but also inexpensive at around $2.50 per sandwich. Subway $5 subs have nothing on banh mi sandwiches!

I was craving these sandwiches the other day and thought, why not just make these yummies at home? They were pretty quick and easy to assemble and oh, so good. They were not as traditional as what you may find at either Don's or Givral because I did not use pate or fresh baked french bread, but they definitely hit the spot. Also, if you would like to know where to go for the best asian foot massages, send me a message!


1/2 c. shredded carrots
2 tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. beef milanesa steaks
1 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. hot sauce
garlic powder
sea salt
black pepper
red pepper flakes
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 tbs. chili garlic paste
2 tbs. butter, softened
1 tbs. srirarcha, or to taste
4 small loaves of french bread
cucumber cut lengthwise
sprigs of cilantro
jalapeno, de-seeded and de-veined, cut into slivers
lime wedges, quartered

- Preheat oven to 400*

- Marinate shredded carrots in rice wine vinegar and sugar, and set aside.

- Whisk together soy sauce, hot sauce, and spices. Rub marinade over steaks. Grill on high heat 'til tender. Let steaks sit before cutting into slices.

- Mix together mayo and chili paste. Set aside.

- Mix together butter and sriracha. Set aside.

- Slice open french bread and spread bottom with the spicy mayo and the top with spicy butter.

- Lay strips of steak on bread and pop in oven until the bread is nice and crispy. Remove from oven.

- Top steak with shredded carrots, cucumber slices, slivers of jalapeno, and sprigs of cilantro. Squeeze a quarter of lime wedge if desired onto the sandwich.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

German Chocolate Cake and Pretty Shoes

Birthdays, birthdays, and more birthdays! My kitchen aid mixer is working hard this month baking up goodies! My brother in law's birthday just recently passed this past weekend and he requested a German chocolate cake, a cake I've never made. So I was pretty excited to bake something new!

Also, my past week has been pretty crazy with a major layoff at work and over 1/3 of our staff facing unemployment. They are all definitely in my thoughts and I hope the best for all of them. So to calm my nerves and seek some relaxation, I gladly took this opportunity to bake and treat myself to some pretty shoes :). Both are pictured below. I felt my new buy matched my new cake, how perfect! I have absolutely no self-control when it come to pretty and shiny shoes...

I began first with making the coconut and pecan custard filling, so that it would cool for a couple of hours and thicken. Then I made my chocolate cake with Baker's German chocolate. I did not frost the sides of the cake because I thought the effect of the custard peeking out through the layers gave the cake more depth and more of a tower effect. Isn't it purrrrtyyy?!?

German Chocolate Cake


Cake layers
- 4 oz. Baker's German chocolate, roughly broken into pieces
- 2 1/4 c. cake flour
- 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 c. strong vanilla coffee, brewed
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 2 c. sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

- 4 egg yolks
- 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter
- 1 (7 oz.) package sweetened coconut
- 1 1/2 c. chopped pecans
- candied pecans for garnish

For cake layers:

Preheat oven to 350* and line 3 round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray pans with butter and dust with cocoa powder, shaking off excess.

In a double boiler**, melt chocolate. Remove from heat and cool in the fridge.

**create a double boiler by placing a clean, dry bowl on top of a pot of boiling water**

In a bowl, whisk cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large measuring cup whisk together coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla.

In your mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition. Add flour, on a lower speed, alternatively with coffee/buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Turn off mixer, remove bowl, and fold in the melted chocolate.

Divide batter between the 3 pans and bake 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Once cool, remove cakes and let cool completely on wire racks. Let cool completely before adding the filling.

For filling:

Toast coconut and pecans in oven until coconut is lightly golden in color.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Add sugars and butter. Stir often until thickened. Turn off heat. Stir in coconut and pecans and let cool. I put my filling in the fridge to thicken and cool.

To assemble the cake, I filled each layer with a 1/3 of filling and topped the top layer with candied pecans.


Sunday, October 2, 2011


Cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween costumes and candy, football parties, CARDIGANS, boots, and one month closer to Thanksgiving! October has finally arrived!

In celebration of October and all things brown, orange, green, and purple, I made pumpkin muffins last night. What better way to bring in the season of fall than with some pumpkin and spice?

Not too many people in my life are fans of pumpkin, especially my husband and sister, so I rarely make anything pumpkin, except, during Thanksgiving linner (that in-between time of lunch and dinner), I make pumpkin pie cheesecake. I'll post that recipe as we near the holiday. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

These muffins are long overdue payment for a brother's friend. Probably should get these delivered before I start getting collection calls :/. I ended up making a few extra for my family and a couple of friends who said they like pumpkin things. They went over really well with them! The taste isn't overwhelming with pumpkin, which is good. I felt they had a nice spice mixture and were VERY moist, always important! Plus the added dollop of cream cheese icing was sooo yummy. I will definitely be making these more often.


Pumpkin and Spice muffins

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup pure pumpkin (out of 15 oz can)
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. white sugar
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
1 tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda in bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar, and spices.

Gradually add flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until smooth.

In a small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. Sprinkle brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Bake for 20-25 min, or until toothpick comes out clean.

You can enjoy them plain or add a dollop of cream cheese icing, which I've posted in my carrot cake post.