Tag Archives: bake

Eat Your Suds: Beer bread and spreadable beer cheese

Eat Your Suds: Beer bread and spreadable beer cheese
Incredibly easy recipes for all you beer (and carb) lovers.

Incredibly easy recipes for all you beer (and carb) lovers.

Confession: I love craft beer and I’ll drink just about any kind, but I also enjoy eating my suds. No, not in a bowl with a soup spoon, but actually in food. Beer can be used in cooking, much like wine and spirits, to add flavor to dishes. Braising, stewing, poaching — you can really do just about anything in the kitchen with beer. And believe it or not, you can even bake with it.

I was recently looking for a new vehicle in which to enjoy my suds and came across a recipe that uses beer in a bread recipe. Not being an avid baker, I usually steer clear of recipes that require lots of exact measuring and mixing, but this dish caught my eye as it only requires a few ingredients and very little mixing. This beer bread is very similar to Irish soda bread: soft on the inside with a flavorful, crusty exterior. I recommend using a strong-flavored beer for this recipe, like a stout or porter, so that the flavors in the beer can really shine through.

After baking the bread I realized that it needed an accompaniment: beer cheese! Creamy and dreamy with a hint of beer flavoring, this condiment is also incredibly easy to make and the only special equipment needed is a food processor. I recommend using a lighter beer for this one, like a pilsner, wheat beer or low IBU pale ale, as you don’t want the cheese’s flavor to overpower or clash with the strong notes in the beer bread.

My biggest piece of advice when making these recipes: Please, do yourself and your guests a favor and don’t use crappy beer. You wouldn’t use a foul-tasting wine or spirit to cook with, right? (Your answer should be “no”.) Then steer clear of using any macro brews (e.g.: fizzy yellow water type beers).
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Bacon-wrapped chicken with sage

Bacon-wrapped chicken with sage

Bacon Sage Chicken

Here’s a twist on the classic chicken/veal/beef “saltimbocca” that replaces the Italian prosciutto with bacon. I also added an extra kick of flavor using Stubb’s Texas Butter Injectable Marinade before wrapping and cooking the chicken. It’s as easy as inject, wrap, sear in a pan and finish baking in the oven. The marinade is optional, but I recommend giving it a try as it adds flavor to the inside of the chicken breasts and help ensure that they don’t dry out when cooked.

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Shades of Verde: Baked egg in avocado with pepita pesto

Shades of Verde: Baked egg in avocado with pepita pesto

Makes for a healthy, filling breakfast.

I must admit that two of my favorite things in the food world are avocados and breakfast. I could eat the soft, green fruit (yep, it’s a fruit) on just about anything and even by itself, and breakfast to me isn’t just a meal that can only be eaten during one time of the day.

Recently, I’ve been pondering: How can I incorporate avocados into breakfast? Yeah, I could chop it up and put it on top of my eggs or slather it on toast, but what about using an avocado as the star attraction on my morning plate? Then it came to me. Instead of putting avocado on top of the eggs, why not put the eggs into the avocado? So I baked an egg inside an avocado half. Think ‘Toad in a Hole’ minus the toast and replaced with an avocado.

Now I’ll admit that I’m nowhere near the first person to attempt this, but the recipe I used below is a fresh and jazzed up way to eat huevos en aguacate (free Spanish lesson for ya there). By itself, the dish is a bit plain, so it definitely needs to be topped with a salsa or sauce. I whipped up a batch of pepita (pumpkin seed) pest with basil and cilantro, and the culinary marriage was a match made in heaven, as the tangy pesto cuts through the fattiness of the avocado and egg. Finish it off with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or hot sauce and you’re set.

Now don’t limit this to just a breakfast — this could easily serve as a lunch or dinner main dish as well. It’s also very filling, so one half of an avocado and one egg per serving is plenty. Bonus: for you folks with dietary issues or on special diets, this recipe is vegetarian, gluten- and nut-free, and perfect for someone following the Paleo diet.
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Sinful Sides: Indulge in this creamy kale and butternut squash gratin

Sinful Sides: Indulge in this creamy kale and butternut squash gratin

Your waistline may hate me, but your taste buds will thank me.

Forget the lean turkey and ham, the holidays all about the tasty, rich side dishes. These are some of the only days of the year that most folks let themselves indulge in rich, indulgent foods without a second thought on the calorie count (until the following day). Even healthy vegetables like sweet potatoes, green beans and kale get an oleaginous makeover with additions of bacon, butter and cream. Why? Because they make foods taste better!

If you’re going to load up on calories, it had better be worth it and taste amazing, and this following side dish is just that. So don’t even bother trying to make a “lightened up” version of this butternut squash and kale gratin with skim milk and light butter spread, go all the way with whole milk, cream and good quality cheese. Your waistline may hate me, but your taste buds will thank me.
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Savory makeover for a Thanksgiving classic: Sweet Potato and Smoked Gouda Gratin (with a secret ingredient)

Savory makeover for a Thanksgiving classic: Sweet Potato and Smoked Gouda Gratin (with a secret ingredient)

Cheesy, smoky, creamy and downright delicious!

Many people associate sweet potatoes as a sugar-sweet side dish for Thanksgiving — swimming in butter and brown sugar, and topped with marshmallows. While this classic dish is fantastic, I decided to give it a savory makeover this year with the help of a secret ingredient.

Instead of boiling and mashing the sweet potatoes, I went for a twist on the classic baked gratin dish. I thinly sliced the raw sweet potatoes into 1/8″ thick rounds (a mandoline would make this job even easier) and layered them in a baking dish, scattering grated smoked Gouda cheese in between each layer (ending up with three layers of potatoes). For a typical gratin, cream is poured over the layered potatoes before baking. To spice this up a bit, I added chopped garlic and Stubb’s Pork Marinade — which contains spices garlic, lemongrass and ginger — to the cream.

The result: a tasty casserole that’s cheesy, smoky, creamy, slightly spiced and with a hint of sweetness from the sweet potatoes. After tasting this, I may never go the typical brown sugar and marshmallow route for Thanksgiving again.
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East Meets West: Enjoy a twist on a classic with these Indian-inspired enchiladas

East Meets West: Enjoy a twist on a classic with these Indian-inspired enchiladas

Not the prettiest enchiladas, but the bold flavors make up for its looks.

Experimenting with food and flavors is a passion of mine and I love to “explore” the globe through its cultures and their cuisines. Sometimes, I like to be region-specific with my cooking, and other times I, in the immortal lyrics of Fleetwood Mac, like to “go (my) own way” by using a basic flavor profile and letting the creativity flow.

This past week, my culinary journey was at a fork in the road. You see, I had a craving for cheesy Mexican enchiladas with tomato sauce, but also had the itch to experiment with some Indian flavors and wanted make the dish a little healthier. Thus, these vegetarian, gluten-free Indian enchiladas were born. I used a few basic spices that can be easily found in the spice aisle at most grocery stores — save for the Indian chili powder that can be found at an Indian grocer or easily substituted with regular chili powder — and some easy-to-find ingredients commonly found in most Indian cuisines, like butternut squash, chickpeas and tomatoes.

Paneer cheese, a fresh farmer-style cheese that doesn’t melt, is a star ingredient in the filling. It holds up to high heat cooking and adds both bulk and protein to the filling. Paneer can be found at specialty and Indian grocery stores, but can be easily substituted with firm tofu (this would then make the dish vegan as well).

Even if you’ve never cooked Indian food before, this recipe is very approachable and can be adjusted to your taste and spice level: leave out the spicy chilies for a milder sauce or add more if you’re a heat-seeker, substitute the kale with spinach, and you can even use different types of winter or summer squash in the filling if you please.
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Sweet and easy comfort food: Strawberry bread pudding recipe

Sweet and easy comfort food: Strawberry bread pudding recipe

Bread pudding is one of my favorite throw-together, quick and easy recipes. If you have at least these three items on hand, you can make the base pudding: bread (preferably day old and dry), eggs, and milk or heavy cream. It’s also a great go-to because it works for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. It just depends on the extra ingredients you throw in: sweet for breakfast or dessert, savory for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Plus, prep time is ten minutes or less. How great and versatile is that? Read the rest of this entry

The sweet and the savory: One basic recipe for bread pudding, two ways to make it

The sweet and the savory: One basic recipe for bread pudding, two ways to make it
Bread pudding duo sm

Broccoli, ham and cheddar (top) and pear-cranberry bread (bottom) puddings

Who doesn’t love bread pudding? It is warm, comforting, inexpensive and incredibly easy to prepare. It also makes for a great last-minute or make-ahead brunch or dessert dish, as you can have the ingredients prepped in no time and either throw it together and pop it right into the oven, or let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and bake it off in the morning.

With the following basic base recipe for bread pudding, you’re free to experiment with all sorts of sweet and/or savory combinations. I’ve also listed recipes for both a sweet and a savory bread pudding using the base recipe. I usually use French or Cuban bread, but if you’re feeling extra naughty (and not counting calories) challah bread and croissants make a great substitute. Heck, I’ve seen Paula Deen use a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in her bread pudding!

The base recipe for bread pudding is all about the ratio and simple math. For a basic custard base, you’ll want to use a 2 to 1, milk to egg ratio. A large egg is about 2 ounces, so for every egg you use, you’ll need 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of milk. (And the ratio is the exact opposite if you’re ever making a quiche.) Instead of using just milk, sometimes I’ll do half milk and half heavy cream for a richer custard base. But if all of this math is too much for you, just follow my recipe below.
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