Helvella's Profile

Title Last Reply

My favorite things from HEB

I've been using my gas grill every day lately and here's my favorite HEB items for it:

The dollar a pound chicken legs with the red rub on it - I forget how it's labeled, we just call it sprinkle chicken and they ALWAYS have it at a good price. I grill it over low heat starting skin side up for 20 minutes, turn and wait another 20 minutes, turn again and coat with BBQ sauce, cook another 10-20 more minutes or until the sauce is nice and dark. Even my husband who normally hates dark meat loves it.

The marinated pork tenderloins and all the various meats for fajitas are great on the grill. I prefer the beef for fajitas.

Southside sausage is fantastic cooked low and slow on the grill in one long string of links.

1015 onions. I love all things onion anyway and these are my favorites. Whole green onions are also awesome. I've also grilled peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, and squash lately, all very nice.

Their premade guacamole has been excellent lately. Very fresh.

Jul 07, 2012
Helvella in Austin

Seeking a restaurant in Austin with both a good beer selection and a tasty macaroi and cheese

Actually this sound perfect. Their whole family are huge sports fans. Thanks for the suggestion!

May 10, 2011
Helvella in Austin

Seeking a restaurant in Austin with both a good beer selection and a tasty macaroi and cheese

I know it's an odd request, but I've got family coming to visit and I'm hoping we can find the perfect place for one of our nights out. My brother and sister-in-law love good beers and my nephews are obsessed with macaroni and cheese. Are there any places perfect for both? Thanks for any help!

May 08, 2011
Helvella in Austin

Do you REEEEALLLLY enjoy gardening?? - OR - My eternal gratitude goes out to America's farmers!

Interesting article. The only thing on there that seems off to me - based on reading a lot of first hand accounts from other gardeners in Texas - is that he recommends a high nitrogen fertilizer. As I understand it, using high nitrogen can be bad for production because it stimulates the plants to do more vegetative growth instead of producing fruit. Instead you should use something with good phosphorus and apparently tomatoes especially like calcium, a lot of folks (myself included) will plant them with a bit of bone meal or finely crushed up eggshells.

Thanks for the article, my Sun Gold cherry tomato plant is flowering and I'd forgotten about thumping them!

Mar 19, 2011
Helvella in Gardening

Do you REEEEALLLLY enjoy gardening?? - OR - My eternal gratitude goes out to America's farmers!

I'm on a gardening forum quite a bit with a few other Texans, and the one variety they rave the most about for standing up to our heat is Porter, or Porter's Improved, or any variation on Porter. It's a plum sized tomato, not a big slicer. I'm trying it this year too. I've always had better luck with cherry tomatoes myself, I'm outside of Austin.

Mar 18, 2011
Helvella in Gardening

Do you REEEEALLLLY enjoy gardening?? - OR - My eternal gratitude goes out to America's farmers!

I seriously doubt I save any money on my grocery bill from my garden, but I keep pouring money into it. Why? Because I love it. I love being out in the yard, working the soil, tending them plants, observing their growth, finding all the critters in they attract. The ornamental garden was already sucking up my spare $$ before I even started trying to do vegetables. So even though it's all a bit of a folly since my entire yard is shade and I won't cut any trees down, thus limiting my production, I'm on my 4th year now of tending a vegetable plot, beating off deer, endlessly amending, and trying to keep it from withering in my Texas heat. I've learned a bit of what I can manage in my conditions and I celebrate greatly every little success and meal we manage to scrape from it, but I would garden either way.

BTW, I highly recommend fencing the area where you're gardening. It helps a lot with the critters.

Mar 18, 2011
Helvella in Gardening

Tomatoes in container problem

Leaf curl can be a sign the tomato is getting too much water. If you are watering the same and the drainage isn't as good you might have more water in the soil in the smaller pot. Something to consider.

Mar 16, 2011
Helvella in Gardening

Chocolate icing advice

Well I ended up whipping up a quick American buttercream that was pretty pedestrian. But, I was ready to be done with it at that point! Next time I'll try something different!

Feb 15, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Chocolate icing advice

I'm making a German chocolate cake for my friend's birthday tomorrow, and I really want a chocolate icing for the sides of the cake. I have the coconut-pecan filling made and cooling, along with the cake layers. I just need to decide what to do about the sides.

Any suggestions for icings to use? I was going to use a buttercream recipe in a cookbook I have, but I realized it calls for 5 egg yolks that are not cooked at all. Normally I am not wary of raw egg, but several guests at the party are just getting over a stomach flu, including one child, so I don't want to do anything too risky. Would an American buttercream be too sweet? Should I try to do some sort of a chocolate whipped cream? Help!

Feb 13, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Veggie Burger Fixins, Toppings?!?

Wow that sounds really good. Do you have a particular brand or recipe for the veggie burger you use for that?

Jan 21, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

please suggest slow cooker recipes ...for newbies

Like DiveFan said, a pot of beans is so easy and so good. I do it like this:

2 cups pinto beans
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp + minced chilies
Meat pick from any two: 1/4 lb diced bacon; 1 smoked ham hock; 1/4 lb pork butt, 1/2 lb beef short ribs.
2 tsp cumin
1 TB chili powder or paprika
Black pepper
1 bunch cilantro leaves (optional)
1 tsp salt + (add to taste)

Put the beans in a bowl and cover with water until it is about 4 inches over the beans.
Chop up the onion, garlic, and green chilies.
The next morning, drain and rinse the beans. Add to the crock pot with the meat, vegetables, and spices.
Add in enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
About 15 min before serving, add salt to taste, then add the cilantro if using.

Jan 21, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Salvaging really watery broccolli soup?

Yes thank you. I left off "doesn't burn".

Jan 18, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Salvaging really watery broccolli soup?

Let's see, you have a few options:
You could use a potato. Use a russet potato that will fall apart completely. Simmer it very, very gently and stir often to make sure it doesn't
You could make a roux to thicken it - cook a couple spoonfuls of flour in a couple spoonfuls of butter than slowly incorporate into your soup simmering very, very gently.
Maybe some spices to balance the flavor? Or a little soy sauce?

Jan 18, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Easy Dinner Party Ideas for Five?

Quiche is very easy to make in advance; any kind of savory tart or pie that doesn't exude a lot of sauce would give you a nice easy clean up. You can buy pre-made crusts and just concentrate on the filling. Side with a nice salad of pre-mixed greens and a bought dessert. Voila.

Jan 08, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Sauces for Fish

I am very fond of teriyaki and other soy based sauces. Good soy sauce, a little brown sugar, a little lemon or rice vinegar, finely chopped garlic and ginger, brush over the fish a before and a few times during broiling. Course you can find about a zillion variations if you search.

Jan 04, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Recipes using Asian noodles?

I like to use mung bean noodles to make Chop Chae even though I think sweet potato starch noodles are more traditional. I use the recipes from my Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks (I have two from her, one vegetarian and one with meat) but this one is similar (and I love her blog): http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/japchae

Jan 03, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Matzoh Ball Soup Recipes, please!

I like dense balls, so I don't have a recipe for you. But, be sure to use the schmaltz from the soup for your fat.

Jan 03, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Make me a sandwich...

Cinnamon raisin bread makes for a great pb and j. Sweet on sweet.

Jan 02, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Care Package for New Mom

Oh yes... the gift certificates are a great suggestion. When I had both my babies I had a good friend get me a meal right afterward - both times it was a great pasta dish from a local restaurant with lots of meat and vegetable and I swear it was the best food I'd ever tasted. When a friend of mine was due a while back we sent her a gift certificate for a fantastic pizza place close to them. It was greatly appreciated and they were able to get several meals that first week out of it.

Jan 01, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Care Package for New Mom

Nice gift! When I was breastfeeding I wanted lots of protein. My first thought is various roasted nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc., although you can work those into banana bread and trail mix. I used to crave hummus when I was breastfeeding, but that might be too perishable for shipping. What about a good quality summer sausage or dry salami, and some crackers or flat breads to go with?

Jan 01, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

New Years Party Menu - please critique!

Sure! I'd never made them before. For all the recipes I tried, I cut the recipe in half and I still made two balls of each, and kept one in the fridge until the first was almost gone.

Sharp cheddar with roasted bell pepper
I used this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Aprils-R...
I didn't add cayenne because there was in enough spice in the other dishes. This was my favorite of the three. I used an 18 month "Special Reserve Extra Sharp" white cheddar from HEB that I really liked for the cheddar. I drained the bell pepper a bit after chopping on a paper towel. I used about half a bunch of fresh flat leafed parsley for the rolling so the coating was pretty complete.

Blue cheese
I used this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/blue-che...
Same cheddar as above, no Worcestershire. About 1 tsp onion power instead of fresh. I ended up adding more blue cheese since the one I got was mild. Next time I'll try to find a more memorable blue cheese for it. Some people really liked it but this was the only cheese ball that was not entirely gone by the end of the party.

Smoked Gouda and Chipotle
I started with this recipe: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/eggs-cheese...
Instead of steak sauce, I used the sauce from a jar of chipotles in adobo - I used 2 tsp of the sauce in my batch, which was 1/2 the amount of the linked recipe. Also, first I rolled this ball in paprika. It looked awful, especially the next day when the paprika looked almost greasy. So I let it come back up to close to room temp, worked the paprika back into the cheese, and re-rolled it in finely chopped pecans. I think the paprika was a good flavor addition.

Jan 01, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

New Years Party Menu - please critique!

Thanks, a Happy New Year to you too! The party was great and the food was a hit!

Jan 01, 2011
Helvella in Home Cooking

Good Side Dishes for Burger Bar Party

How about an a-typical potato salad or slaw? Sorry, but when I saw the title those were the first two things that popped to mind! They just go so well with burgers!

I'd say any vegetable salad that could be served cold or room temp would go well. I'm making a Texas caviar aka a black eyed pea salad for New Years, that would go great plus you'd have something traditional. Also a good corn salad comes to mind.

Dec 31, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking

New Years Party Menu - please critique!

It's the day of the party and this is the final menu we settled on. After much reflection on the comments here and from friends we decided not to do a soup or stew after all - considering the inconvenience for guests with a drink in their other hand. Instead, this is what we're having:

Pulled pork - this is what we finally decided to do for the hearty crock pot dish. I made a huge batch that cooked all night Wed night and will just reheat at the party. I'm making a batch of creamy coleslaw right before the party to go with and we have slider rolls and BBQ sauce for the side. Maybe not as "classy" as the original intention, but hearty, easy for the guests, and apparently pork is tradional for New Years.

Cheese balls: sharp cheddar with roasted bell pepper, blue cheese, and smoked Gouda with chipotle. They're all made and ready to go, but I'm a little concerned about the appearance of the smokey/spicy one since I rolled it in paprika and the surface is not smooth and pretty. I might just re-roll it in pecans today.

Texas Caviar - traditional black eyed peas for New Years, plus this gives us a veggie dip.

Mexican style shrimp cocktail - or should I call it Bloody Mary shrimp cocktail? I've got different sized shrimps and they will marinate in Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix with some red onion, cucumber, and avocado starting about 3 hours before the party. Served with a spoon on the crackers. I tested this out last week and it was delicious.

Relish tray - we've got olives, pickles, pepperocini, radishes, celery, and grapes for it, I just need to finish the prep today.

Assorted crackers, candied nuts and assorted cookies.

Some other friends will be bringing cake and Irish coffee.

Thanks again for all the suggestions - looking forward to tonight!

Dec 31, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking

Chuck Roast Recipe

Turn on the oven to 300. Heat up some oil in a pot with a tight fitting lid or dutch oven. Rub the roast all over with a little salt and pepper and brown on all sides in hot oil. Set aside. Add about 1/2 a diced onion (or equivalent amount of shallots), 1 diced celery stalk, and 1 diced carrot to the oil and saute until starting to caramelize. Pour in enough of a nice full-bodied red wine to go up to about half the roast and bring to a simmer. Add the roast back in with a bay leaf and some fresh thyme and parsley stems tied together. Cover and roast in the oven for 3-5 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove roast from the pan, remove and discard the herbs from the pot. Skim off excess fat from the juices, add back to the roast, and serve. If you want you can strain out all the vegetables and reduce the sauce, but I like it as is.

Dec 20, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking

Tamales and Ham...what to serve with it?

If there are not beans in the tamales, I'd make a nice pot of pintos to go with.

If it's a special occasion and the food is Mexican I'd make a batch of pickled red onions... my family goes crazy for those.

Dec 18, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking

Crabcakes

What about a heavily seeded cracker? I've been snacking on some sesame and flax seed crackers lately, they've got a lovely nutty flavor that I think would go well with crab.

Dec 17, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking

Three Weeks Remaining to Eat Gluten - FOREVER! What would you include??

My cousin has Celiac's. The symptoms are rough for her. She scrupulously avoids cross-contamination.

I would go for as many different types of good fresh breads as I could possible find. I would seek out bakeries for all kinds of breads with chewy crusts, brioches, Challahs, bagels, sweet breads, olive breads, multigrain breads, ryes, anything that looks especially good.

I'd have a hard time giving up crackers. So many good crackers and flat breads.

There would be a different beer every night.

I use soy sauce a lot, but I'd make sure to use some every day for those three weeks.

Dec 17, 2010
Helvella in General Topics

Creative infusions?

My husband likes to put ~4 strands saffron, 1cardamon pod, and a sugar cube in a cup and pour over hot water. He had it served to him that way in India.

Dec 16, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking

Vegetable Dishes for Holiday Party

Think about a vegetarian antipasti plate - marinated mushrooms, artichokes, pepperoncinis, garlic, roasted peppers, olives, etc. etc.

Dec 15, 2010
Helvella in Home Cooking