January 29, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

My dad hates brussels sprouts, so I was never forced to eat them as a kid.  I don't blame him because I think my grandma boiled most vegetables.  I think the first time I ever ate one was at Joshua's in Wells, Maine - the favorite restaurant of our honeymoon.  Of course those brussels sprouts came from the chef/owner's backyard garden, but I hoped the pioneer woman's holiday recipe for roasted brussels sprouts would turn out something ok with the ones I could find at Kroger.  



video
I cut her recipe by a third since it was just us and had a laughable mistake along the way.  The brussels sprouts turned out great - Allison actually ate half a dozen or more.  I liked the cranberries mixed in, though Kevin would have preferred it without.  My problem was the balsamic glaze - I cut the ingredients by a third, but didn't make any changes to the cooking time and way overcooked it.  It thickened so much when I went to go drizzle it I had to chip it out of the pan.  So instead I put the pan in the sink to soak with hot water and we had ours minus the glaze.  Laugh with me and learn from my mistake.  

January 28, 2012

Granbury Trip

After lunch today we drove down to Granbury for the afternoon.  Our first stop was at Barking Rocks Winery.  Kevin loved the giant cactus out front, and Allison's favorite part was playing with the owners dog while we did a wine tasting.  They offer live music the first Friday of every month, and based on their setup looks like it could be fun - www.barkingrockswine.com.  We came home with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for Kevin.

These new best friends shared kisses, cuddles, and goldfish snacks


Next up was a windmill farm the winery owner recommended touring which ended up being a bed and breakfast with over 40 windmills on display on the property.  It was fun to drive through - they had an info packet at the property entrance with descriptions and facts about each of their windmills.  www.thewindmillfarm.com.  I now have 5 pages of info about windmills.  Fun fact: Metal chickens (not pictured) aren't functional to the windmill - they are purely decorative and help sell more windmills.

We walked through the town square with the usual coffee shops, antiques and such.  Dublin Dr. Peppers were priced from $10-$15 a can, so buy them now if you are so inclined.  Allison started getting a little fussy so we cut our window shopping a little short, got a hot chocolate for the road and headed back to the city.

January 27, 2012

Dancing in the Morning

videoSuch a cute video, I wanted to share. Hope you are having a great Friday morning too!

January 22, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake


This is what happens if you cut if before it cools
I had very good plans to make a savory dish this week.  In my fridge are ingredients for both balsamic glazed brussel sprouts (pioneer woman recipe) and shrimp jalapeno hush puppies (Pinterest).  However Wednesday night I succumbed to either bad allergies or a cold.  This weather can't decide if its winter or not and the result is killing my sinuses.  

So any elaborate cooking over the past few days has gone out the window.  We did however have some frozen blueberries left over from last summer and I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, so here was my excuse for something quick and easy to make sure I still managed to get in a new recipe this week.

Here is the link to the recipe:
http://www.alexandracooks.com/2011/06/29/buttermilk-blueberry-breakfast-cake/

This one I made straight from the recipe and it turned out fine, nothing super special.  It would be good for a brunch, or a weekend breakfast, but not sweet enough to count as a dessert for me.  I will say the batter was incredibly thick, much more than I expected, but it came out very pretty.  I have adapted it below. 


 Ingredients:
½ cup unsalted butter softened
zest of 1 large lemon 
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tbs for topping
1 egg, room temperature
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease or coat a 9 inch pan.  
Cream butter, lemon zest and 1 cup sugar until fluffy.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  
Toss blueberries with 1/4 cup flour (this will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom).  
Mix the rest of the flour with the baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.  
Add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating each one with buttermilk.  
Fold in the blueberries.
Pour the batter into the pan and top with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Bake 35 minutes, testing with a toothpick - mine took longer.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.  

If like me you don't keep buttermilk on hand you can make it:  add 1 tablespoon vinegar OR fresh lemon juice to 1 cup milk, stir and let sit 5 minutes.  Done.  I usually put the vinegar in my measuring cup, then add the milk to get 1 cup for a precise measure.  

January 16, 2012

A keen sense of balance

Allison wore herself out at playgroup this afternoon and has fallen asleep during our walk around the subdivision.

January 15, 2012

Allison and Bailey

Here's a photo from Allison's playdate with Bailey and Aunt Stacey yesterday. Allison is so good about sharing with the dogs, other kids not so much!

January 14, 2012

Chuys

Kevin and I spent the day clearing our our rental property to get it ready for the next tenant. Hopefully the next one will work out better than this one did. While we were cleaning Allison spent the day with her aunt Stacey and Bailey dog.

Now we are at Chuys in College Station. You can see how excited Allison is. She's starting to color on the kids menus so that keeps her entertained.

January 13, 2012

Beer Bread

This one is dangerous.  My dad sent me the recipe after he saw it in the Houston Chronicle in November. Here is the link I found, but its an easy one to google: http://www.chron.com/life/food/article/Kitchen-to-kitchen-Beer-Bread-2307013.php
Start to finish in 1 hour.  This is a great way to make a
simple dinner feel special.
I used Miller Lite since it was in the fridge and I didn't want to touch any of Kevin's 'good' beers.  Only change I made versus the link was to add an extra tablespoon of sugar.  Even though I served the bread with beef stew I wanted it a little sweeter to turn leftovers into breakfast toast and it was great both ways.  I say this recipe is dangerous because it will be ready to go before your oven finishes preheating and its incredibly addictive.  I've already made 2 batches this week, and have it on my menu for next week to go with my mussels steamed in white wine to soak up all the delicious sauce.  Now that I've corrected the issue of my pantry not stocking self rising flour I'm only an hour away from fresh bread at any given time.  I probably need to take up several calorie burning hobbies to offset this.

Do not use a whisk as pictured - it took longer to get all the
batter out of the whisk than to mix the batter.  Just use a spoon.  Trust me!

Recipe:

BEER BREAD
3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
12 ounces beer
1/4 cup butter, melted

Batter took under 1 minute
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, sugar and beer until blended.
Spoon into lightly greased 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Pour melted butter over the top and bake 5-10 minutes longer or until done. (my oven needed the full 10 minutes)
Remove from pan after about 5-10 minutes.





January 9, 2012

Caramel Apple Cake

I love to cook and especially bake, but I tend to fall back on the same recipes that I know from memory or know will be winners with my family.  For 2012 I'm making a commitment (note how I avoid the word resolution) to try a new recipe every week and share the results here to help keep me motivated.

You can just see the pecans through the caramel glaze on top
My first new recipe was a Caramel Apple Cake recipe I adapted from a recipe I found on Pinterest.  Here is the link to the original: http://lickthebowlgood.blogspot.com/2010/09/caramelly-appley-delicious.html
I made two cakes last week, one for me and Kevin, and then one for a girls brunch, so got to play with the recipe a bit.  I increased the apple, chose to grate it (personal preference - I think it gives you more apple flavor per bite), and added raisins.  When I made it in the smaller dish it was too thick and got dried out as it baked.  It's pretty enough and moist enough you could skip the glaze, or dust it with powdered sugar in a time crunch or if you wanted something to freeze (also skip the powdered sugar if freezing).  We definitely enjoyed it and I hope you will too.
All my ingredients and equipment
Apple Cake:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 5 apples, peeled and grated - any kind you have on hand, I used a mix
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup pecans chopped 
Brown Sugar Glaze:
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream


  
Out of the oven - before glaze
 For the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an   9x13-inch pan and set aside.
 In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt   and cinnamon.  
 In a large bowl, mix the eggs until light in color and foamy  (2- 3 minutes with an electric mixer). 
 Add the oil and vanilla and beat well.
 With a spoon stir in the apples, raisins, and flour mixture and  stir until just combined. 
 Pour batter into prepared pan, top with pecans and bake for  30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes  out clean.  By placing the pecans on top they toast while the  cake cooks saving the extra step of toasting the pecans and  then mixing them into the cake batter (plus they look pretty on  top).
 As soon as the cake comes out of the oven prepare the glaze.  



For the glaze: Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes.
Spoon the hot glaze over the still hot-from-the-oven cake. Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving.  

Variations:
  • Depending on the flavor you want to bring out, you could try substituting maple extract for the vanilla
  • Substitute pumpkin pie spice for cinnamon for a more complex spice flavor
  • Kevin has suggested a cream cheese frosting as an alternate to the caramel



    January 8, 2012

    A new home for the SUV

    My car has officially moved into the garage. Even if we had room for it Kevin's truck is too long to fit so it will remain in the driveway.
    We had church this morning, pizza at Double Dave's, and a trip to Lowes to scope out materials for our next project - framing our bathroom mirror. After Allison's nap we took a family walk despite the overcast and windy afternoon.
    Hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for the next week.

    January 3, 2012

    I blame Kevin

    He insisted on teaching her to stand and climb on things. She then fell off and cried. Briefly. She is now playing again happily. What scares me is that she only got this kitchen this morning and it only took a few hours for her to figure out climbing from her chair onto her kitchen counter.

    January 2, 2012

    A new home for the canoe

    Kevin had the day off today and spent most of the morning in the garage. One of his Christmas presents was an elevated canoe storage system. It's really almost a present for me because this should finally get my car into the garage. The garage needs a few more hours work but I'm hoping my car can move in by the end of the weekend. This is a great start to our new year - we have a lot of DIY house projects on the list of things we want to do in 2012. More updates and pictures to come!