Monday, October 31, 2011

Beer Bread

Tastefully Simple first introduced me to beer bread, and now I'm quite addicted. I love it accompanied with some soup or in fondue. I also love using different beers and seeing how it affects the taste.

Recipe from

3 cups (12.75 ounces) flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can beer - I like using a dark or heavy beer, try to avoid light beers
1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine, I used 1/4 cup melted butter in the batter and pour the 1/4 cup on top)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients and beer.
Pour into a greased loaf pan.
Pour melted butter over mixture.
Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.


Happy Halloween!

It's been quite a while since I posted a "kids safety" topic, but with Halloween here, I think these tips from Healthy Children are perfect for today.

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help ensure they have a safe holiday.

All Dressed Up:
  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
Home Safe Home:
  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
On the Trick-or-Treat Trail:
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom).
  • Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
Healthy Halloween:
  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

I love pumpkin. I love the fall weather. I wish the days were still longer, but overall, fall is nice. When I saw this recipe in Penzey's fall catalog, I knew I had to try it. I didn't have any evaporated milk on hand, but I think buttermilk worked just as well. I would add some nutmeg to the recipe to give it a little more spice, but over, I really enjoyed it!
Recipe adapted from Penzey's Spices

1/2 Cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 Cup (7.5 ounces) packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 Cup canned plain pumpkin
1/4 Cup evaporated milk (I used buttermilk)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
11/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 2/3 Cups (7.08 ounces) flour

Streusel Topping:

2 TB. flour (I used almond flour)
21/2 TB. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 TB. butter

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and blend.
  • Mix together the pumpkin and evaporated milk and then mix into the butter/sugar mixture.
  • Add the baking soda and SPICES and gently mix.
  • Lastly, add the flour and stir; don't over stir, it makes the muffins tough.
  • Pour the batter into 8 greased large muffin tin cups or 12 regular.
  • In a small bowl, blend the streusel ingredients together with a fork until the topping is about the size of small peas.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the muffins and then bake at 375° for approximately 22-25 minutes for an 8-muffin batch, 18-22 for a smaller 12-muffin batch.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

When I saw this recipe, it reminded me of a curry soup I made last year, Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup. I loved that soup. I made it twice last season. I always love to try new things, so I thought I'd give this one a try. I'm not that big of a fan of it. I added cinnamon, which helped, but it still just doesn't have enough flavor for me. I have at least two bowls still in my freezer. I hate wasting, so soon enough I'll eat them.

Recipe from Joy the Baker

Curried Sweet Potato Soup from The Essential New York Times Cookbook
serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (my addition)
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
6 cups chicken broth, or slightly more as needed.
salt and pepper to taste

6 to 8 teaspoons goat cheese (I used sour cream)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Add the sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup, in batches in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. The soup can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Reheat over a low flame. If the soup is too thick, add a little more stock.

Ladle into bowls and crumble goat cheese on top.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beer, Coffee, and Wine

I have random thoughts run through my mind quite often. Last week I realized I like beer. This is new for me. I remember 5 years ago I would always, always, choose a sweet drink over beer. It's amazing how we can acquire tastes as we get older and the more we try something. It was the same way for coffee and wine. Now I crave coffee every time I smell a fresh brewed pot.

So, that's my random thought for the day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Roll

I originally posted this recipe in November, 2010. At that time, I didn't have a chance to take a photo. Since I love pumpkin and cream cheese, I just had to make it again this year and this time I took a photo for our viewing pleasure. Now I want some more of this delicious pumpkin roll.
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

* ¾ cups Flour - 3.2 ounces
* ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
* ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
* ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
* ½ teaspoons Cloves
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* 3 whole Eggs
* 1 cup White Sugar 7 ounces
* ⅔ cups Pure Pumpkin (I use Libby's.)
*1/4 tsp vanilla
* Powdered Sugar (for Powdering Your Kitchen Towel)

* 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, softened
* 6 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
* 1 cup Sifted Powdered Sugar - 4 ounces
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 17 x 11 jelly-roll pan. Line with wax paper; grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

In a bowl combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

In a separate bowl mix the eggs and white sugar until thick. Beat in the canned pumpkin. Stir into the flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately turn cake onto prepared towel. Slowly peel off the wax paper. Roll the cake up in the towel, starting with narrow end. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling: Beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Unroll cake and remove towel. Spread cream cheese filling over cake. Reroll cake. Store in a container with a lid. Keep refrigerated.

If you can refrain from eating the deliciousness of this roll right away it’s better when it’s been refrigerated for at least an hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if you like.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Marshmallow Cookie Bars

I love trying new cookie recipes. This recipe calls to make them in a pan, which I did. I found the middle too mushy, however. I think these would be great made as cookies instead of a large pan. I really liked the added flavor of marshmallow.

Recipe from How Sweet Eats, makes one 9 x 13 pan

2 cups (8.5 ounces) of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (7.5 ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup (4.74 ounces) sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chunks
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup crisped rice cereal (omitted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 over-safe baking dish.

Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the butter and sugars until they are mixed. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. Fold in chocolate chunks. Gently fold in marshmallow fluff until you have a thick “ribbon” throughout the dough. Finally, fold in rice cereal.

Press dough in the baking dish evenly. Bake for 30-35 middles, or until edges are golden and middle is just a little jiggly. I covered my dish with foil about 25 minutes in so the top would not get too brown. Let cool for 30 minutes, then cut!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is more of a 3.5 book, but not good enough for 4 stars, so 3 stars it is. I really enjoyed the story, but I felt the book overall was too long and at times slow moving.
View all my reviews

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brown Sugar Corn Muffins

I'm still in search of the perfect corn bread recipe. These look delicious, but they were still a little two dry for me.
Recipe from How Sweet Eats
makes 12 muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup creamed corn
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 egg
1/3 cup freshly & finely grated cheddar cheese (omitted)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder together and mix with a spoon. Add the egg, corn, heavy cream, melted butter and milk, stirring until smooth. Fold in cheddar cheese. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray (or use liners) and using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon batter into each muffin tin. Bake for 15-18 muffins, or until tops are golden and muffins are cooked through. Serve hot with cinnamon or honey butter.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Adobo Chili

Although it's quite warm here in Maryland today, it was quite brisk a couple of weeks ago. With the chilly weather, I love making some hearty soups and opted to give a new chili recipe a try.

I had purchased ancho chili powder and wanted to give it a try. Instead of replacing some of the chili powder called for in the recipe, I added an additional 2 tablespoons. THAT WAS A MISTAKE! I swear, my mouth is on fire every time I eat this. I also added some frozen corn to help dilute the spiciness. I'm realizing I love corn in my chili. I doubt this is my go-to chili recipe, but with lots of cheddar cheese and sour cream, it's still pretty darn good.

Recipe from Crepes of Wrath

1 lb. sweet pork sausage
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced (I used 1)
5 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces dark beer
5-6 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (canned), pureed in a food processor or a blender
28 ounces diced tomatoes, with juices
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoon ancho chili pepper - my mistake, I think
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 cans beans, your choice (I used black beans and kidney beans), drained and rinsed

1. Saute the onion, jalapeno pepper(s), and garlic in two tablespoons of oil until softened over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and ground beef, breaking it up with your cooking utensil and cooking until almost cooked through, about 8 minutes.

2. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the beans) and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour (if the chili starts to boil or bubble too much, turn down the heat).

3. Rinse and drain your beans, then after an hour of simmering, add them to the chili. Cook for another 30 minutes to an hour, until thickened. Serve with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, or crusty bread. Serves 6.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

I can't believe how quickly I'm posting this entry--I usually have a turn around of at least one month. However, I'm quite excited about showing you the benefits of natural light and my set up from yesterday. I wish I could take my photographs with natural light more often; it makes it so much easier to edit.

Well, now moving onto the star these photographs - blueberry buttermilk cake. The density is more like a muffin and I think this recipe would be great in muffin form, plus it would be easier for me to freeze. However, I used an 8x8 pan and a mini loaf pan. I'll freeze the mini loaf. I loved how moist this dish was, but I felt like it was missing something. My gut says cinnamon, but perhaps all spice? I think if I make this again, I'll add some baking/all spice. Oh! I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh and it turned out fine.
Recipe from Alexandra Cooks

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup + 1 T. sugar - 6.13 ounces plus 1 T
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour - 8.5 ounces
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries - I used 12 ounces of frozen (they were cheaper out of season)
½ cup buttermilk
**I suggest adding some all spice, but I didn't in this recipe and have yet to try what it would taste like

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 3, 2011

When the Cat's Away...

..the mice will play. Ok, I'm not quite a mouse, but I had a blast taking some food photos today. I had an unexpected day off, so I was able to take advantage of some natural light. I wish it was sunnier out, but oh well.
This weekend I made this table-top. It was inspired by Love and Olive Oil and Confections of a Foodie Bride In this photo, it only has the stain. I've since added some white paint. Despite how hard I tried, I couldn't get an aged look with my paint. I'll see how it looks when it dries, but I think I used too much paint. I still have to stain the otherside of the table top, but I haven't decided if I'm going to paint it or not. (The table top is just the planks, I have it sitting on a tv-dinner stand.)

If you're going to make one of these table tops, which I highly recommend, go straight to Lowe's for the wood. I didn't find it at Home Depot and it was about a third more expensive at the craft stores. Over all, it was super easy to make.
Well, back to taking food photos. From reading food blogs for a couple of years now, I've learned white boards help bounce the light. I agree, they add such an affect. It was nice having the natural light and my "studio" set up for two sittings before hubby came home. No fear, deary, we have our dining room back.

Curious Westie

We've been using a screen to keep Winston in the kitchen. Metal on paint is not a good combination. We're trying something else now, so Joe wanted to touch up the scratches. As I was taking these photos Joe said, "please do not put these on the internet." Umm, sorry babe--Winston's curiosity is too precious to keep to myself.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

Leave it to me to forget one of the key ingredients in a recipe. After I had finished my meal and put the other half in the freezer for a later time, I realized I forgot to add the sour cream. Overall, I'd give the recipe a B. It wasn't amazing but definitely enjoyable. I think it would be a great topping for a nice steak. I need to work on cooking my beef cubes in such a way they don't turn tough.

Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

1-¼ pound Sirloin Steak
1 whole Onion, Chopped
8 ounces, weight Mushrooms
5 cloves Garlic
¼ cups Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Pepper Or More Or Less To Taste
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Beef Broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Sour Cream
8 ounces, weight Egg Noodles, Cooked According To Package Instructions


Chop onion, mushrooms, and garlic and set aside. Cut steak into bite size pieces a little larger than your desired size, as they will shrink.

Mix flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper. Coat the beef in this mixture.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, add onions and caramelize until brown. Then add mushrooms and garlic. Cook until mushrooms start to have a nice brown color. Remove this mixture to a medium sized bowl.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat add steak and flour mixture and cook until steak has a nice brown crust on all sides. Remove to the bowl with mushroom mixture.

Slowly poor into pan the 1/2 cup of beef stock scraping brown bits and forming a sauce over medium heat level. When smooth add the other 1/2 cup of stock, the worcestershire and then add in the meat mixture. Cook until everything is heated through.

Turn stove to low and add sour cream, mix thoroughly until heated and enjoy over noodles or rice!
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