July 27, 2014

Whole Wheat Beer Biscuits

In a week and a half both of my kids will be in school. My youngest is super excited about starting kindergarten and has been talking about it non-stop for pretty much the last two months. I'm excited, but also nervous. I have stayed home with my kids for 8 years and for the first two years after graduate school I looked for work and found nothing. So basically for the last 10 years I have stayed at home. I'm more than a little nervous about both of my kids being in school. Originally I had planned on going back to work when my youngest started kindergarten. However, my area has absolutely no jobs besides fast food and Wal-mart, and when I factor in the additional amount my student loans would go up and child care I probably would probably only break even. So for now I will be staying at home. It will be a time of transition for both my youngest and I and I'm hoping that the next couple of weeks bring lots of positive changes for my whole family.

My family loves biscuits. They are one of their favorite breakfast foods and my youngest will eat two at a time if I let him. I try to add whole wheat flour into my family's diet whenever I can and this morning I made Whole Wheat Beer Biscuits.

Whole Wheat Beer Biscuits

Recipe Type: Breakfast
An easy biscuit recipe using beer and whole wheat flour.
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 20m
Total Time: 0h, 25m
Yield: Serves 8

Adapted from The Sunset Cookbook.

Whole Wheat Beer Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup beer
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. With your fingers or a pastry blender cut in the butter.
  3. Beat egg and then add to flour mixture.
  4. Add beer and mix just until dough comes together.
  5. Pat dough into a 1-inch thickness.
  6. With a 2-inch biscuit cutter cut out biscuits.
  7. Place on a greased or parchment papered baking sheet.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.

That's it! They have a beautiful rise in the oven and are great either with butter or jam. Any type of beer would work, I used a wheat beer that I already had in the fridge. Have a great week everyone. 

July 26, 2014

Basil Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting

I wish that the internet would turn into a more grown-up version of its current self. As many of you may have noticed I have taken a little time away from blogging. The last year blogging has lost some of the charm it had when I first started (which was a while ago now). My kids were younger when I started, my youngest still took naps, and my oldest hadn't yet started school. I also feel that the internet has changed dramatically. While I love to talk about certain aspects of my life, I am a little burnt out of the over sharing and general debate nature that the internet and social media in particular have taken on. I really hate controversy. When possible I avoid it because 99 percent of the time I have vastly different opinions than everyone else. I grew up in Seattle in a very liberal household, went to a beyond liberal arts school (the same school k-12 with only 300 students), paid my own way through undergraduate and graduate school, and became the first person in my family to graduate college. I grew up very poor, we stood in line at the church food bank most weeks and my father worked his whole life in jobs that barely paid enough to survive. My opinions are a little crazy according to my husband, I rarely agree with any political party and would be perfectly happy avoiding contact with people with overzealous opinions (debating other people rarely leads to any kind of change of opinions). So the internet and I have had to have less contact. I honestly find social media and the internet a little tiring these days. I wish that people could learn the fine act of knowing when to keep their opinions to themselves, not everything has to be made into an argument or debate. Sometimes a simple 'Have a nice day' is just that and nothing more. I guess I am waiting for the internet to grow up, I'm too old to deal with all the drama.

My garden has been growing like crazy and I am swimming in fresh herbs. While I love basil, I get tried of making pesto over and over again so I decided to try a dessert recipe using the abundance of fresh garden basil I currently possess. I came up with the following recipe for Chocolate Basil Cake with Buttercream Frosting. Enjoy!

Basil Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Recipe Type: Dessert
Preparation Time: 0h, 15m
Cooking Time: 0h, 25m
Total Time: 0h, 40m
Yield: Serves 9

Adapted from The Food Network and Powerhungry.com

Basil Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten free replacement)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a food processor chop the basil and sugar until finely chopped.
  4. Combine the basil/sugar mixture, melted butter, and cocoa powder until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. In another bowl whisk the baking soda, salt and flour until blended.
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
  8. Add hot water and stir just until combined (do not over stir or your cake will be flat).
  9. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. After the cake has cooled make frosting.
  11. In a standing mixer whisk butter and sugar together on low speed until blended. Turn up speed to medium and mix another 3 minutes.
  12. Add cream and vanilla, beat for another 1-2 minutes on medium. Add more cream if consistency is too thick to spread.
  13. Spread cake with frosting and enjoy!
My boys both start school in a week and a half so for the first time in 9 years I will have the house to myself for at least a couple of hours a day. I should have more frequent posts in the next couple of months I promise. 

July 5, 2014

Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

In my house bacon is it's own food group. I live with three males and they can be sound asleep, but when I start frying bacon they suddenly appear out of thin air. The same goes for their enthusiasm for menu ideas. If I mention most recipes I get complete disregard or an occasional quick comment. However, if I casually mention that I'm making a recipe that involves bacon for dinner, suddenly they become very interested in everything I'm doing. Occasionally my oldest goes so far as to run around the house with a crazy voice shouting the word bacon over and over again. It's a little odd, but the boy knows what he likes and bacon is at the top of the list.

There is something very appealing about a delicious and juicy burger. My whole family loves them and I make some burger variation at least once or twice a month. Last week I made a new recipe for Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from the July 2014 issue of the Food and Wine Magazine

Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Recipe Type: Main
A tender burger recipe using ground beef and minced bacon and served with a delicious yogurt sauce.
Preparation Time: 0h, 10m
Cooking Time: 0h, 8m
Total Time: 0h, 18m
Yield: Serves 8

Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound bacon, minced *see note
  • 6 scallions white and light green parts minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  1. Puree the yogurt, jalapeƱos, cilantro, ginger, onion, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a food processor. 
  2. In a separate bowl combine the ground beef, scallions, mint, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, cayenne, and remaining salt. 
  3. Form into 8 burger patties. 
  4. Either using a grill or a griddle, cook the burgers for 6-8 minutes or until 180 degrees. 
  5. Serve the burgers on hamburger buns topped with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, ketchup, and/or Sriracha and the yogurt sauce spread on the bottom of the bun. 
*Note: In order for the bacon to be fully minced either use a food processor or cook the bacon until crisp, crumble, and then add to the recipe. Alternatively you can used real bacon bits. 

Be very careful that you fully mince the bacon. If the bites are too large the burgers will end up with large grease pockets. When properly minced the bacon keeps the burgers moist and is a great addition to the ground beef. 

July 4, 2014

Milk Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I may have eaten a bowl of icing out of the fridge this morning. Last night I made a basil chocolate cake (which was actually very good!) and made a big batch of homemade buttercream frosting. This  morning it was calling for me to eat a bite, and then another, and before I knew it the bowl of leftover frosting seemed to have disappeared. This afternoon I made a batch of cream cheese frosting and had the same problem. There is something about frosting that makes me have to eat it, I can go without cake, but frosting is a completely different story.

So now that I have babbled on about frosting, it's time for a cupcake (and frosting) recipe. My husband loves trying new kinds of beer and our fridge normally has a variety of brands and types. For the last six months my husband has been nagging me to try a cupcake recipe that he found using Milk Stout online. So I finally gave in and made them today for my mother-in-law's birthday. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Left Hand Brewing.

Milk Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle Milk Stout
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl mix together dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt).
  3. In another bowl combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla.
  4. One at a time add eggs.
  5. Add sour cream and mix until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients and stir until mixture come together (do not over mix or your cake will be less fluffy).
  7. Pour batter into 24 muffin cups (greased or with liners).
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for another 8-12 minutes.
  9. Combine the cream cheese and confectioners sugar to make the frosting.
  10. After the cupcakes have cooled frost with the frosting.
  11. Store in the refrigerator.
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July today! These cupcakes were a great dessert for the steak, mashed potatoes, and salad that we had for dinner tonight. For a party they would be a nice way to have a dessert that both beer and chocolate lovers would like. Plus according to my family they are pretty yummy! 

July 3, 2014

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

I hate fireworks. I have never have liked them and I don't understand the fascination. Part of the reason goes back to when I was little and my mother's family thought that buying m-80's and setting them off would be fun. It wasn't and it pretty much cemented my hate of loud noises. In college I tried going to one of the huge fireworks displays at night and people were paying more attention to each other than the fireworks (if you get my drift, there more clothes on the ground than on the people). Thankfully my kids and husband aren't big fans of fireworks either so it has been almost 9 years since I have seen fireworks on the 4th. I do like sparklers, but with only males in my family they have no appeal to anyone in my house except me. So my family will be celebrating the 4th without fireworks, which is just fine in my book.

The 4th of July always makes me think of cookouts, and cookouts make me think of corn on the cob. While I would love to fire up the grill everyday, sometimes the charcoal grill is just too much effort (and my husband will not allow a gas grill anyone near our house). It's during these times that I grill my corn in the oven. It's easy and literally only takes 30 minutes. The recipe is as follows.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Simple and easy recipe for oven roasted corn on the cob. Never soggy like boiled corn.
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 30m
Total Time: 0h, 35m
Yield: Serves 4

Adapted from The Food Network.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

  • 4 Ears of Corn
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Keeping husks on corn place directly on the middle oven rack.
  3. Roast corn for 30 minutes.
  4. Pull out and season with salt and butter.
  5. Alternatively you may also rub the ears of corn with butter and pull the husks back up before placing them in the oven.
That's it. They turn out great roasted in the oven without the soggy taste that often happens when corn on the cob is boiled. I have a huge corn on the cob obsession and when it gets cheap in the middle of the summer we eat corn almost everyday. 

Have a happy 4th of July tomorrow everyone! 

June 24, 2014

Homemade Iced Sweet Mint Tea

I have a horrible time making female friends. As far back as I can remember I have had one very close female friend and than a small group of female acquaintances. At parties in college I was more likely to be talking about political theory or science than where I got my nails done (for the record I have never actually been in a nail salon, shocking I know). To this day I have a hard time discussing 'typical' female topics. I fully admit a large part of it is my fault. I grew up with male cousins that were obsessed with professional wrestling and computers. To make matters worse I was an only child and I loved spending time with my dad, we went to sporting events, on hikes, and watched movies. Now I live in a house full of men. Most conversations in my house involve video games or bodily functions, not necessarily in that order. As I've gotten older I've realized I need to be better and more patient with forging female friendships. I have a horrible habit of getting mad at close female friends and then cutting off contact, or just losing contact through my total lack of being great about remembering to make phone calls. We all have things we can work on and one of mine is definitely being better about getting along with other women. I'm a work in progress.

Our weather has been hot and very humid. Our humidity was 83 percent today and it was 93 degrees. It was horrible. Due to the lovely summer weather I have been making lots of cold drinks. Iced Tea is a family favorite and Mint Iced Tea is a great way to use garden mint. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Food.com.

Iced Sweet Mint Tea

Recipe Type: Drink
A refreshing sweet iced tea recipe using fresh mint.
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 20m
Yield: 2 Quarts

Mint Iced Tea

  • 12 black tea bags
  • 10 mint sprigs
  • 2 gallons water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
Cooking Directions
  1. Boil the 2 gallons of water.
  2. Once water has boiled add water to mint and tea bags.
  3. Let steep for 20 minutes.
  4. Discard tea bags and mint.
  5. In a heat proof pitcher add sugar (or sweetener) and then pour iced tea over.
  6. Place in fridge until cold.
  7. Serve over ice and with sliced lemon if you prefer.
This tea is strong and sweet. My husband and I are both fans of strong tea, so if you like your tea weaker reduce the amount of tea bags. The same goes for the sugar. If your like your tea sweet add the amount listed, alternately you can make the tea unsweetened or reduce the amount of sugar to meet your needs. When I make this for my whole family (including my kids) I use decaf tea bags and it turns out just as good. 

June 23, 2014

Oat and Nutella Cookies

Nutella and Oat Cookies, recipe
Gluten Free Oat and Nutella Cookies

I am jealous of adorable well behaved kids. My house seems to play by another set of rules, or at least my two boys seem to think it does. While I love my kids to no end, they can be the kids that other parents dread. You know the kids, the ones that fight at the store, touch everything they see, talk non-stop (really I don't think they breath in-between sentences), and think that having a MMA fight in the middle of the store is something that should happen. I have those kids. They are adorable, but since they travel in a pack it's like trying to tame wild hyenas. Then every once in a  while I run into another parent with multiple boys, and we share a moment. In a glance, a smile, or a joke we have instantly bonded over having all boys. The world seems a little less crazy, and then I realize my boys are currently on the floor trying to tackle each other. My word realigns back to normal and I realize I don't have perfect kids, but I love them just the same. Hopefully they will one day turn into the adorable well behaved kids that other parents seem to have, in the meantime they are still my off center version of perfect and that's just fine with me.

I have a slight Nutella obsession. I can't keep full jars in the house or I will eat them (normally with a spoon straight out of the jar - is there any other way..). So in order to avoid my waistline from becoming non-existent I only buy Nutella for recipes or as a very seldom treat. My Nutella obsession happens to work perfectly with my cookies obsession, they are a match made in heaven. Today I tried a new recipe for Oat and Nutella Cookies from the May 2014 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. Here is the recipe with changes.

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

Oat and Nutella Cookies

Recipe Type: Dessert
A delicious combination of Nutella and oats that makes for a great snack or dessert.
Cooking Time: 0h, 10m
Total Time: 1h, 0m
Yield: 60 Cookies

Oat and Nutella Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 13 ounces Nutella (one jar)
  • 2 cups quick cook oats
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the shortening and sugars until creamy (2-3 minutes on medium).
  4. Add the eggs one a time and then add Nutella.
  5. Beat the mixture until smooth (another 1-2 minutes on medium).
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll the cookies into balls (1 tablespoon for each ball).
  8. Place the cookies on the baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake these cookies. They should be just barely set, if you bake them too long they will be way too crunchy. 
The original recipe has a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I made the cookies as written in the magazine and I found that the cinnamon flavor was a little much. Now, that may just be my tastes, if you love cinnamon go for it. My husband thought that the cinnamon was the best part of the cookie, so you might love the cinnamon like he did. I also reduced the amount of salt. I found a full teaspoon to be too much for my tastes, so I reduced it to 3/4 of a teaspoon. However, I under salt everything so I'm a little strange. If you aren't a fan of vegetable shortening I would assume that coconut oil (you might need to reduce the total amount), butter, or another fat would work just as well. The version I made I used gluten free all purpose flour that had xanthan gum already added. If you use another type of gluten free flour I would suggest adding xanthan gum to the mixture (about a tablespoon).
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