Friday, January 29, 2016

Beer Bread

Why would anyone buy beer bread mix from a retailer when it is so easy to make?  Seriously, it is crazy easy to make yourself.  No lie.  Just a few simple ingredients . . .and voila!  Beer Bread.  Great with soups, stews, dips etc etc etc.  Or by itself . . .with a thick layer of butter.  Just sayin'.

Beer Bread
Yield:  1 Loaf

3 Cups Self Rising Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 and 1/2 Cups Beer (12 oz)
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted and divided (3 TB + 1 TB)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Step 2:  In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients:  the flour and sugar.  Once blended, add in 3 tablespoons of the melted butter and the beer.  Stir until mostly smooth (don't worry about having it a little lumpy).

Step 3:  Pour the the batter into the prepared bread pan and spread out evenly.  Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter on top of the batter.

Step 4:  Place the filled bread pan into the preheated oven and bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of the loaf comes out clean.  

Step 5:  Remove the bread from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Then, turn it out of the pan and let it finish cooling on a rack.  Once cooled, slice and serve!

I prefer a good dark beer and used Guinness for this recipe.  But, use what you like for beer.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Healthier Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yep, me and my oatmeal . . back at it again!  I'm beginning to think that my face should be on the oatmeal canister . . .but nobody wants to see that ;)  Any how, I ran across this recipe on Pinterest  and it intrigued me.  So, I modified it a bit to what I had in the house (regular oats, not quick cooking ones) - and it resulted in soft, puffy-yet-chewy, super yummy cookies.  I also used honey as the sweetener (which is different than the original recipe as well).  Furthermore, I portioned my cookies out with a tablespoon-sized scooper - and the recipe then yielded 21 cookies for me.  If you are an oatmeal raisin fan and love a more healthy alternative to the traditional recipe - this one is for you!  And truth be told  . ..I've been eating them for breakfast.  Hey, they are oatmeal and fruit!

Healthier Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Approximately 20 Cookies

1 Cups Oats
3/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour 
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Raisins

Step 1:  In a large bowl, combine the the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined. 

Step 2:  In a separate bowl, add the melted butter, egg and vanilla stir until well combined.  Next, add in the honey and stir until combined.

Step 3:  Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.  Fold in the raisins. Place in the fridge and let it chill for 30 minutes.  This will give the oats time to soften and have the batter turn thick and more dough-like.

Step 4:  Preheat the oven to 325°Fahrenheit.  Prepare a baking sheet as needed.  Scoop out the cookie dough - 1 Tablespoon at a time.  They will spread a little, so don't put them too close together (no need to flatten them).  Bake at 325°F for 9-10 minutes, just until the edges are beginning to slightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing them.  Once removed, let them finish cooling before putting away.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon and Mushrooms

Carbonara . . you know the one..'s on every Italian menu but no one ever really knows what the sauce is made of . . .is it creamy?  Is it cheesy?  Well, I'm here to help you with that today.  This dish is incredibly amazing.  Carbonara pasta sauce is actually egg . . .yes, you read it right:  EGG.  Don't let it scare you . . .it will turn out very velvety and when you add the bacon and mushrooms - oooo la la!  Faaaaaaaaancy!  You mouth and stomach will thank you!

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon & Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 Pound Bacon
1 Pound Mushrooms, Sliced
6 Garlic Cloves
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 Cup White Wine
8 oz Pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
Black Pepper (optional)
Parmesan (optional)

Step 1:  Cube the bacon into small bits.  In a large fry pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat.  Do not rush this - you want it to render the fat. 

Step 2:  While the bacon is frying, fill a large pot with water (for the pasta) and bring to a boil.  Cook the pasta as directed on the instructions, but do not toss the water!  You will need some of the pasta water for the sauce.  I recommend reserving about 2 cups worth of water.

Step 3:  Once the bacon is nice and crispy, drain it on a cookie sheet lined with several paper towels.  Before dumping it on the cookie sheet though, reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.  

Step 4:  In the same fry pan you used for the bacon, add the mushrooms and garlic along with the reserved bacon grease.  Add the wine and cook the mushrooms until soft.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to collect any of those tasty bits of bacon that may have stuck to the bottom!  Once the mushrooms are softened - add the bacon back to the pan and turn off the heat (burner).  

Step 5:  
Once your pasta is cooked and some water is reserved and the pasta is drained . . . it's time to temper your egg yolks!  In a bowl or large measuring cup, beat the egg yolks with a fork until broken up and a bit frothy.   Add a tablespoon of the still-hot pasta water to the yolks and beat with a whisk or fork until fully incorporated.  Repeat this a few times, until the egg yolks are warm and not too thick.

Step 6:  Add the drained pasta to the bacon/mushroom mixture and then pour the tempered egg yolks on top.  Mix or toss thoroughly.  The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs leaving you with a very velvety sauce.  If it seems too thick, add a little more water and toss until your desired consistency.  Remember, carbonara is not a sloppy sauce - it is something that should stick to the pasta, but not leave a puddle at the bottom of the dish or pan!

Step 7:  To serve, sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Note:  If you are unfamiliar with how to temper eggs (or egg yolks as in this recipe) - here is a good explanation.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Potato Chip Crusted Cod

Here is a super simple recipe for cod.  The fish remains moist and the crunchy outside provides a tasty contrast of texture and flavor.  The saltiness from the chips seasons the fish nicely and adds such a yummy crunch.  I am very finicky when it comes to fish and this is so very, very good.

Potato Chip Crusted Cod
Serves 4

24 oz (1 and 1/2 pounds) Cod Fillets
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
2 oz Potato Chips, Crushed

Step 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick spray.

Step 2:  Divide the fish into 4 portions (if not already portioned out).   Evenly divide and spread the mayonnaise over the top of each fillet.  Gently press the crushed chips onto each fillet.  

Step 3:  Place the prepped fish into the oven and back for 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  

Serve this with a side of vegetables and you have one delicious meal!