August 31, 2011

A German Feast. Rouladen, Knodel and Red Cabbage with Black Forrest Cherry Cake for Dessert.

Oh yeah, we wore these while we cooked.

I have Oktoberfest on the brain! Last weekend Ron and I slaved away in the kitchen making a German feast. I am excited to compare it to what we have in Germany. We usually only make this meal for a special occasion like Christmas dinner but I just couldn't wait! If you have some time on your hands you should give this one a try. And a special thank you goes to Ron's parents who introduced me to this dish and taught me how to make it.


August 29, 2011

Beer + Vacation = Brewcation. A Dogfish Head Brewery 360 Degree Experience.

In honor of some upcoming trips I have planned (Savannah Craft Brew Fest and Oktoberfest) I wanted to share the Brewcation that started it all. Before this trip I had visited breweries while on vacation, but not until this trip had the ONLY purpose been to drink beer. What a great time!

The beer delivery truck guy actually pulled over to take this picture for us

August 23, 2011

It Takes 2 to Mango (Mango Double IPA)

My new mango obsession along with an upcoming trip to the Savannah CraftBrew Festival recently inspired me to brew a Mango Double IPA.  This morning I finally got the finished product into bottles and shipped off to  the homebrewers contest at the festival. I will let you know the results when the come in. I tasted a bit before I sent it off and I am very happy with the results so far (beer changes flavor a bit as it ages so hopefully it will still be awesome when the judges taste it). There are an INSANE amount of hops in this beer! I am a hop head though, so the more hops the better for me. The mango is pretty mellow and comes out more in the smell than in the taste. You can also taste the citrus hints from some of the speciality hops I used. Overall, its not too sweet and not to mango-y. I am even more excited than usual about this beer because this is the first beer I brewed all by myself (Ron was working late) and it is the first beer I will ever have professionally judged. Hopefully its a winner! 

August 22, 2011

Beer Can Chicken and Roasted Acorn Squash

Sunday Ron and I spent the day at the beach. When we got home all I felt like doing was drinking some champagne and reading my book. Luckily Ron felt like cooking (or should I say grilling?)! To my surprise, he even picked out acorn squash as our side. I have never had acorn squash before and it turns out it is great :)

Bellini

Perfectly simple...

Puree some peaches and simple syrup in a blender. Stir into a glass of Prosecco or Champagne.

August 18, 2011

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce and Artichoke Hearts

 
I love this combination of sweet butternut squash with the earthy sage flavored butter sauce. And the best part of this recipe is that the ravioli freezes REALLY well so you can make this when you have time and/or when it is in season and have the raviolis ready to go whenever you want an easy dinner night.  Just boil the frozen raviolis, make the sauce and voila, dinner in 5 minutes!




 

August 17, 2011

Camp Bagels


This idea came from a restaurant in DeLand, Florida where I went to undergrad. (Go Stetson!) I guess it is something they were served at camp when they were little.  It seemed like a strange combination of ingredients but I and everyone else who has tried them has liked them. You can even make these on those miniature bagels for a cute brunch or party food. I used to make them for my Christmas Cookie Swap brunch when I lived in Jacksonville (sniff sniff, miss you guys).

August 15, 2011

8 Trips for Animal Lovers

I had to share this great article I just read. Thanks to CNN and this article, 8 Trips for Animal Lovers, my bucket list for travel just got a lot longer.

My favorite trips mentioned include researching koalas in Australia (you get to hold them!), rehabilitating lions in Zimbabwe (walk and work with the lions), conserving sea turtles in Greece (monitor nesting, snorkel and a 2 day catamaran tour), volunteering with lemurs in Madagascar (helping an endangered species), washing elephants in Thailand (feed, bathe and learn about elephant families and communication) and saving sharks in South Africa (cage diving anyone!?). 

For some reason the trips focused on horses don't peak my curiosity at all. Maybe because I don't have to go too far to see a horse. Or maybe because I went horse back riding in Alaska and that stupid horse wanted to throw me off the mountain.  Who knows. But the rest of them are SO up my alley! And if you throw in a bit of volunteering it seems more meaningful somehow. Who's in?!

August 11, 2011

Grandma v. Good Housekeeping: A Banana Bread Bakeoff

I have always loved my grandma’s banana bread. It’s the one I grew up with and the one I judge all other banana breads against. As I was preparing to bake it I realized I had four bananas going brown on the counter and my recipe only needed two. So, I decided to put my grandma’s recipe to the test. I made both her recipe and one out of my GHK cookbook (circa 1965). While mixing up the dough I actually got pretty nervous. The GHK version looked so light and fluffy while my grandma’s looked dense and dark. After I baked them the nerves got worse! Again, the GHK version was a beautifully light yellow color that reminded me of yellow cake. My grandma’s was brown. Not a very exciting result for sure.  What had I done?! Had I just unintentionally insulted my grandma’s recipe?! Was she looking down from heaven chastising me with her look and signature phrase “Oh Boy”? Well, it turns out that beauty is in the eye of my belly.  That light & fluffy GHK recipe turned out to be unbearably dry and my grandma’s was just as good as I always remembered it, very moist with a great banana and vanilla undertone.  I asked Ron to do a blind taste test to make sure I wasn’t being biased and he agreed “the brown one is better”.  

 
So the winner of the first “Versus” challenge is My Grandma’s Banana Bread!  Oh Boy!
Ingredients
·         ¼ lb butter
·         1 cup sugar
·         2 eggs
·         2-3 bananas (smashed)
·         1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         4 tablespoons milk
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
·         1 ½ cups flour (sifted)
Directions.  Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs. Combine powder, soda, vanilla and milk into butter mixture. Add bananas, nuts and flour. Crisco and flour pans. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350. 
Top is Grandma's / Bottom is GHK.
I really hope you enjoy! And if you want the GHK version just send me an email or leave me a comment and I will get it to you (but I don’t think you will like it, HA).

August 9, 2011

Savannah CraftBrew Fest



Still looking for Labor Day travel plans? You should check out the Savannah CraftBrew Fest, a three day festival set in the gorgeous city of Savannah, GA. What could be better than a long weekend, southern food and craft beer!? Some of the breweries (there are MANY more) attending are Abita, Brooklyn, Dogfish Head, Harpoon, Magic Hat, Sweetwater, Cigar City, Left Hand and Terrapin. There is even a homebrew contest! I have a Mango Double IPA fermenting right now that I hope is ready in time to enter. (I will share that recipe later if it turns out like I planned.) Fingers crossed.

Will I see you there?!

August 8, 2011

Irish (Tennessee) Coffee Caramel Sauce

 I was watching food network the other day and the Barefoot Contessa was making caramel sauce for ice cream sundaes. It automatically triggered this odd habit I have. If I see a food that looks good and I have never made it myself I have to try to whip it up on my own. But plain ol' caramel sauce was not going to do it for me. I had to make this one my own. So the thoughts started going through my head of how to flavor this caramel sauce. Looking through recipes I saw whiskey flavored caramels and coffee flavored caramels so I figured why not combine the 2 and make an Irish Coffee caramel sauce?! And so, this wonderful creation was born. It is actually a Tennessee Coffee Caramel sauce (I was out of Irish Whiskey) but I think any whiskey will work.



Ingredients


1 cup granulated sugar


1/4 cup water


6 Tablespoons whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)


1/4 cup heavy cream


1/4 teaspoon salt


1 packet Starbucks Via Irish Roast Instant Coffee
(any instant coffee should work)
 

Directions
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium–high heat. Some recipes say to stir. Some say you will screw everything up if you stir. I went with a 'swirl the pan' method and it seemed to work fine. There are also recipes out there that say to brush the sides of the pan down with a wet pastry brush in order to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides. I tried this once and it seemed impossible to do. I gave up on that theory, and again, everything turned out fine.

    
Sugar water beginning to boil
While the sugar water is coming to a boil combine the rest of the ingredients. Stir to dissolve the coffee.


Continue 'swirling' the sugar over medium-high hear until it starts to caramelize. Be VERY careful! This stuff is HOT!

Sugar water caramelizing


Once you get a nice caramel cover turn off the burner and remove the pan from the heat. CAREFULLY pour in the coffee mixture. I would suggest using an oven mitt to hold the measuring cup (or whatever your coffee mixture is in). When you pour the coffee mixture into the sugar water mixture it steams and boils up rapidly and you could get burned. Stir the mixture together as best as you can. You may get a few lumps in there at this point but don't worry. Just mix it the best you can.

It turns really dark at this point because of the coffee

Put the saucepan back on the warm burner (don't turn it on) and stir until any lumps dissolve. You should end up with something like this.



Pour the sauce into a mason jar and let cool (until just warm).



Serve over anything you want! Or just eat it off the spoon. I won't judge. 
It is super sweet so a little goes a long way!

Irish Coffee Caramel Brownie Sundae



Recipe adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Irish-Coffee-Sundaes-with-Caramel-Whiskey-Sauce-365219#ixzz1URTX3HhW


August 5, 2011

Buttermilk Scoop Biscuits




A few nights ago, I had the best intentions of making shrimp and cheddar grits with buttermilk biscuits for dinner. When Ron got home from work we made up a few batches of mango peach daiquiris and went for a float in the pool. Ever notice that time seems to go a lot faster when you are drinking daiquiris and floating in the pool? When we came in it was close to 8:30 and we were starving.  Luckily shrimp and grits is an easy meal, right?! Wrong, not that night!  I ended up with some sort of grits soup (Ron didn’t realize I was halving the recipe when he read me the liquid ingredients). Those went straight down the drain. I had an old-bay boil over on top of the impossible to clean glass top stove in our apartment and I was out of self-rising flour to make the biscuits. (As I read that back to myself it doesn’t seem nearly as bad or dramatic as it was in the moment.)  I wasn’t willing to accept total failure though and quite to my surprise I made up this “scoop” biscuit recipe that seemed to salvage our otherwise bland meal of boiled shrimp and some steamed veggies.  It is not your traditional biscuit but it was yummy and is probably a good recipe to keep around for when you are out of the ingredients for 'real' biscuits. Two lessons I learned: (1) make dinner before daiquiris and (2) a ‘disaster’ dinner can be saved with a buttermilk biscuit.
Ingredients
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder (plus a pinch more)
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
2 Tbsp cold butter
2 Tbsp Crisco
¾ buttermilk (make sure to shake it before you pour it)
Directions
Preheat oven to 500. Stir together dry ingredients. Cut in butter and Crisco. Pour in buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moist. Scoop the biscuits out with an ice cream scoop on to a baking sheet. Bake at 500 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

August 4, 2011

Hoppy International #IPADay



Today is International IPA Day! This is a grassroots movement started by the Beer Wench and Ryan Ross to celebrate craft brewing. They picked IPAs because the "style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice." There are so many varieties of IPA out there you are bound to find one you love. So tonight after work, or while at work if you can get away with that kind of stuff, grab your favorite IPA (none of that fizzy yellow cr@p) and join me in a virtual toast to craft beer. Cheers!

August 3, 2011

Red Curry Snapper over Jasmine Rice

This is the last of the fresh snapper we caught. The rest of it has been vacuum sealed and put in the freezer for when friends come to visit (hint hint).  Ron and I made this one up based on a bunch of other Thai recipes we read. It has a tiny bit of heat in the beginning that adds up as you eat it. If you don't like things spicy you may want to cut down on the hot chili sauce when you make it.


Ingredients
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 red bell pepper
1 lime
Snapper fillet
Jasmine Rice






Directions
First, start the rice cooking according to package instructions. I LOVE using a rice cooker because I never end up burning the rice.


In a large frying pan or wok spoon out the 'cream' from the top of the coconut milk can. I would guesstimate that the cream forms about an inch layer on top. Add in red curry, brown sugar, garlic, sweet red chili sauce, hot chili sauce and the fish sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add in the rest of the coconut milk, sliced red bell pepper and fish.



Continue to cook over medium heat until fish is cooked through and flaky. Add the juice of the lime to the pan and stir. Serve over the jasmine rice.

August 2, 2011

Simple Dinner. Fish Tacos with a side of Sweet Plantains (Platanos)

The key to good fish tacos is fresh fish. Our snapper went from boat to table in under 4 hours. That's the way to do it! Random thought: isn't it odd that fish is the only thing that smells like itself when its gone bad? Anyways....

For my fish tacos I rubbed the filet down with some taco seasoning

Then into the frying pan until cooked.


Serve in taco shells or tortillas with your favorite condiments. I like to use coleslaw mix instead of lettuce for an extra crunch.


The plantains are just as easy. Make sure you buy ones with bruised and dark skin like below. If your store doesn't have them you can buy green ones and wait for them to ripen on your counter.



 Peel the plantains and slice on an angle. Put them in a warm cast iron skillet with melted butter. Flip once they start to brown.



Don't these look awesome!

August 1, 2011

Oh Snap-per! Blackend Snapper Sandwich with Southern Style Potato Salad

We have a lot of freshly caught mutton snapper in our house right now so expect to see a few fishy dishes over the next few days. For this one the side dish takes longer than the main course, but all in all it was pretty easy to do.

Sandwich
Making blackened fish is really pretty simple. I don't know if I do it the 'right' way but it always turns out great! All you need is some fish, blackening seasoning (I use Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic) and a skillet.  Rub your fish down with a little olive oil and then sprinkle on the seasoning. Give it a good rub down and then put it into a hot skillet with some olive oil. Cook on both sides until the fish is cooked through and flaky. If you have a thick piece of fish you may want to use the oven. In this case you would let the fish sear on each side and then put the whole skillet in the oven to finish off. I served the fish on fresh baked (by Publix, not me) egg rolls, with lettuce tomato, a squeeze of lemon and homemade dill tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce
This one you can easily adjust to taste, I used the following: 1/2 cup mayo, spoon full of sweet relish, spoon full of dill relish, one slice of onion finely chopped, 1 sprig of fresh dill and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. (Hint. If you have left over tartar sauce mix in some canned tuna for a dill tuna salad sandwich the next day)

Potato Salad
This recipe is from Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, or as I call it the "southern bible". Unless you are feeding an army of hungry boys or are taking this to a potluck I would recommend cutting the recipe in half. It made WAY to much.

Ingredients
  • 4 lbs potatoes (boil them about 40 minutes or until soft, cool, peel, cut into cubes)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs (the recipe says 'grated', but I just chopped 'em up with a knife)
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped (I think it could use a little more)
  • 2 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet relish
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
Directions
Stir together all ingredients except potatoes and eggs. Add potatoes and eggs to the mayo mixture and stir. Cover and chill. Sprinkle with bacon before serving.