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Thirsty Thursday — Classic Lime Margarita

24 Mar

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Well, hello there! How have you been? Things have been great in my neck of the woods even though I haven’t checked in in more than a few months to let you know. Sewing has been a little less frequent because of the sewing room situation but I have made a bathing suit coverup and drawstring shoe bag recently. I will try to share some pics soon if I can bring myself to model the coverup ūüėČ

We’ve also been cooking more frequently but it’s been with the help of some meal kit services. So far we’ve tried out Plated and Blue Apron and we’re liking Plated better for our family of 3 adults — actually, the 17 year old eats more like 2 adults!

We took a little vacation last month and spent two weeks aboard the Celebrity Summit. I used a gallon of sunscreen but had the best time lounging on the deck or on the shores of countless Southern Caribbean beaches. I still dream about it every night and keep hoping I will have another opportunity to go back soon.

But at some point we’ve got to get the new house built. We are getting closer. I think we’ve settled on a contractor and the plans are done and the budget seems pretty finalized. Maybe by the end of the year I can have something to show you (fingers crossed until they’re blue!).

I guess that’s about it for catching up. How about a delicious libation to make up for my extended absence? Who doesn’t love a good classic margarita? Especially one without any artificial flavor or dyes? And, I’m getting it to you waaaaay before Cinco de Mayo so you will have plenty of time to prepare. You may also want to check out some Guacamole, Fish Tacos, or Pina Coladas. I also have some other margarita recipes here and here.

I think you will love this margarita recipe as much as I do because it has just the right balance of sweet, sour, and tequila. And the salt rim is great, too, because it has a little sugar and citrus zest to offset the harsh salinity of the salt.

Give it a try soon and let me know what you think of my concoction!

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Thanks to my beautiful friend, Jessica, for being the margarita model and taste tester!

Classic Lime Margaritas

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Heat the water and sugar in the microwave on high until the sugar is dissolved, stirring every 1-2 minutes. Cool to room temperature then stir in the juices. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For salt rim:

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lime
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 orange

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until well combined.

To make one margarita:

  • 2 oz silver tequila (I prefer 100% blue agave)
  • 1 oz orange liqueur (I usually use Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  • 3 oz homemade margarita mix (recipe above)
  • salt rim (recipe above)
  • crushed ice

Fill a small saucer with a little bit of tequila. Fill another small saucer with a little bit of the salt mix. Prepare your glass by dipping the rim in the tequila then dipping it in the salt mix. Fill the glass with crushed ice.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in tequila, orange liqueur, and margarita mix. Shake vigorously until the shaker is frosty. Strain the margarita over the ice in the prepared glass. Enjoy responsibly.

 

My Favorite Brownies | Foster’s Market Cookbook

4 Aug

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Saying I have tested a lot of brownie recipes looking for the best one would be an understatement.¬†I have tried at least 8 versions claiming to be the world’s best brownies but none of them lived up to the hype in my book.

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I want a brownie that is chocolatey without being too gooey but still has a nice moist and tender crumb. Basically, I wanted the brownies from the local bakery. I’m not naming any names because I didn’t specifically ask permission, but if you live around here, you know where I’m talking about if you’ve ever eaten one. They are thick and chocolatey and the size of your head. Basically heaven in brownie form.

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So one day I asked for the recipe and the owner shared her source, the Foster’s Market Cookbook.¬†I ordered it from Amazon and made the brownies immediately. They are perfection!

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My only modification to the recipe was to scale it¬†down by 50% and add some toffee chips (as the bakery owner mentioned she did). Plus, I substituted pecans for the walnuts because that’s what I always have on hand since my family owns a small pecan orchard.

I love this recipe because it is quick to throw together and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients. Plus there are no tedious steps and you can even use your hand mixer. And clean up is a breeze, especially when there is a teenage boy hovering waiting to lick the beaters and bowl ūüôā

I hope you give this recipe a try. Let me know what you think!

My Favorite Brownies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch processed is best but natural, like Hershey’s, works too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8″x8″ square pan with parchment paper or spray it with nonstick cooking spray (I think lining it makes it easier to remove and cut the brownies).

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt and set aside. In a medium bowl, cream the eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended.

Add the flour mixture and mix until all the dry ingredients are moist and blended but do not overmix. Fold in the pecans, chocolate chips, and toffee chips and stir to blend evenly.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the brownies are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 30-40 minutes before cutting into 16 squares.

Enjoy!

Adapted from The Foster’s Market Cookbook.

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Thirsty Thursdays | Bailey’s Banana Colada (aka BBC)

4 Jun

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Howdy, Friends! I hope your summer is getting off to a good start. We have been very busy in this neck of the woods and computer problems have kept me from chatting with you as regularly as I would like. But I’m back today to get caught up and to share a delicious frozen drink recipe I discovered on a recent Caribbean vacation. Sound like a plan?

As you may remember, we sold our house and moved into a small condo 6 months ago while we build a new home. The new home building is going very slowly as we had to work many kinks out of the plans and we are now waiting on bids to come in from the contractors. Hopefully once that is done we can get the ball rolling a bit faster.

On the computer front, my iMac died and I had to get a new one. In the process, the Apple store caused me to lose everything on my hard drive when they told me they had performed a back up to my external drive (which I paid them to do), then turns out the external drive was empty and they had deleted the old hard drive trying to repair it. So I have been trying not to focus on all the lost pictures and such and come up with a game plan to salvage as much as possible from Flickr, old phones, old PCs, etc.

On the sewing front, remember me telling you that I submitted my Bombshell dress for the Butterick pattern contest? Well, I came in 3rd place and won several Gertie patterns. Some of them are duplicates of ones I already own so we will have a giveaway the next time I post a finished sewing project (of which there are a few).

I have continued to receive a few Stitch Fix boxes because I have found that to be fun (thanks to those of you who have signed up with my link!). If anyone is interested, I will post another review or two, although some of my pictures may have been lost…

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In beautiful St. Lucia

And on a happy note, Mr. Homemaker and I went on a week long cruise through the Southern Caribbean a couple weeks ago and it was divine! While we were in St. Thomas, we took a private charter boat out for the day and did some snorkeling in St. John then headed over to Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands for some R&R. We shared our boat with a few other passengers who ended up being some fellow southerns! And the youngest of the group was even a student at the University of Alabama. Small world!

We loved making new friends and spending the day with Carol, Ruth, and Trey and our captain Kevin. Ruth grew up in St. Thomas and in her youth spent some time as a bartender, during which time she invented the drink, the Bailey’s Banana Colada, or BBC for short. I had tried this drink before on a prior cruise but meeting it’s inventor made me even more keen to recreate it at home. Turns out my existing pina colada base made for a great starting point!

I chatted with Ruth once we got home and she gave me her original recipe which I hope she doesn’t mind me taking the liberty to tweak just a bit for my taste and to present to you here.

Thanks for the recipe, Ruth, and we look forward to seeing you, Carol, and Trey again soon!

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Bailey's Banana Colada (aka BBC)

  • Crushed ice
  • 2 ounces gold rum
  • 2 ounces Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • Homemade pina colada mix
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled

Fill two glasses with crushed ice. Divide rums and Irish Cream evenly between the two glasses. Top both glasses with pina colada mix just to the top of the ice. Pour contents of both glasses into a blender container and toss in the banana. Blend on high power until smooth and the outside of the blender container is frosty.

Pour back into the glasses and garnish as desired. Enjoy immediately and responsibly.

Courtesy of my friend Ruth.

Thirsty Thursdays | Kentucky Saint |La Petite Grocery

18 Sep

Happy Thursday again, friends! I hope the upcoming weekend holds promise for being fun and relaxing for you. I am here to tell you about another ingredient that may fit right in to said weekend.

 

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This beverage is called the Kentucky Saint and the recipe is courtesy of La Petite Grocery, a James Beard award-winning restaurant on Magazine St. in New Orleans. Mr. Homemaker and I took a day trip to NOLA earlier this summer (for fabric shopping and eating), and this is where we chose to have a late lunch. Thank goodness we did because the service was friendly, the drinks were refreshing, and the food was delicious.

That afternoon, I went and purchased the ingredients that were listed on the menu. But no matter what ratio I tested, it didn’t taste quite right. So I sent an email to their bar manager, Julia (who happens to be from my hometown), and she graciously provided me with the official recipe. And the missing ingredient? A splash of orange juice.

As I mentioned last week in the Thirsty Thursday post, this is the recipe I originally purchased the St. Germain liqueur for. So now you have two excuses to buy some ūüôā

This cocktail makes bourbon taste good even to the bourbon-averse among us. It has just the right amount of sweetness and citrus to compliment the bourbon. I didn’t think I would like this one but surprisingly, it is now a favorite.

Give it a try and let me know if you find it as much of a palate-pleaser as I do.

 

Looking for a few other refreshing cocktails? Try one of these:

La Recolte

Meyer Lemon Drop Martini

Cuba Libre

Absolut Stress

Blood Orange Martini

 

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Kentucky Saint

  • 1 ounce¬†Noah’s Mill bourbon (or other bourbon of your choice)
  • 1/2 ounce St. Germain liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce Aperol
  • 1/2¬†ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice (original recipe called for 1/4 ounce)
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside surface of the shaker is frosty.

Strain into a martini glass straight up or pour over ice in a rocks glass.

Garnish as desired and enjoy!

 

Courtesy of La Petite Grocery.

Thirsty Thursdays | La Recolte | Pear and St. Germain Martini

11 Sep

From what I hear, some parts of the world are starting to show signs of fall — autumnal leaves, crisp evenings, and don’t forget all the Christmas decorations in the stores (ugh!).

Here in the Deep South, Fall hasn’t even scheduled his airfare to our area. Highs are still in the 90s and humidity is always 100% (or close to it). We have rain showers most days.

Although I have not dusted off my boots or pulled out my sweaters, I would like to keep the spirit of the changing seasons and bring you an appropriately flavored cocktail that is still palatable and refreshing when your backyard is a sauna.

 

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Enter La Recolte (The Harvest en anglais). This is a cocktail that evokes thoughts of golden leaves, holiday gatherings, and cuddling up by the fire. It is also a cocktail that isn’t too sweet or too tart and has a refreshing effervescence that you can enjoy after swimming in from the mailbox or melting while carrying in your groceries.

 

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I love the styling of this bottle!

 

I found this recipe while searching for things to do with St. Germain liqueur — a French libation flavored from elderflowers. I had purchased a bottle for another recipe I will share with you later, but I like for things in my pantry to do double or triple duty if possible. Enter the Pear and St. Germain Martini.

This cocktail is a nice clear drink that is great made 1 or 2 at a time but would also work well mixed up as a punch for a cocktail party or bridal shower (consider adding a bottle of ginger ale to the mix to bring down the potency). The lemon juice and champagne help balance the sweetness of the St. Germain and pear vodka.

So if you find yourself with this random assortment of ingredients in your pantry, or if you just fancy a new, refreshing cocktail, give La Recolte a try and let me know what you think!

 

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La Recolte

  • 1 ounce pear vodka
  • 1/2 ounce St. Germain liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Champagne or sparking wine
  • Thin pear slices

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosty.

Strain into a martini glass and top with enough sparkling wine to fill.

Garnish with a pear slice and enjoy!

 

Adapted from St. Germain website.

Our Favorite Biscuits | Gruyere Biscuits | The Ravenous Pig

9 Sep

Last fall we went to Orlando, Florida for work/fun. While there we tried out the restaurant Cask and Larder. It was delicious and before leaving I purchased the cookbook from their sister restaurant, The Ravenous Pig. I perused the book on the trip home and decided the first thing I had to make were these Gruyère Biscuits. And I have made them at least a dozen times since then.

They are great for any meal. I love them for breakfast with a little butter and homemade peach jam. But they are also good with dinner in the place of your traditional biscuit. I have even cubed the leftovers and made croutons for salad!

This recipe employs some basic pastry making techniques that may or may not be familiar to you. But don’t let that stop you from trying these out. They are definitely worth the effort. You can also make a double batch and freeze the uncooked biscuits to pop in the oven later. Just put the frozen biscuits on your baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. You will need to bake just a few minutes longer.

 

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First, combine all your dry ingredients in a bowl.

 

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Then, grate your frozen butter using a box grater.

 

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Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. This shouldn’t take too long since the butter is already in such small pieces.

 

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Now stir in the cream and buttermilk just until mixed. The dough will look rough and shaggy but will pull away from the sides of the bowl.

 

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Sprinkle your counter top with a nice dusting of flour and spoon your dough on top.

 

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Gently shape the dough into a rectangle and roll it to about 1″ thick.

 

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Sprinkle the dough with half the cheese mixture.

 

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Fold the dough up into thirds like you would a letter.

 

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Roll the dough out to about 1″thick. Repeat sprinkling the rest of the cheese, fold and roll to 1 1/2″ thick.

 

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Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 12 equal squares. Or get fancy and use your round biscuit cutter.

 

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Transfer the biscuits to a parchment lined or buttered baking sheet and brush the tops with a little cream.

 

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Bake at 375F for 12-14 minutes until golden on the tops.

 

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Enjoy in whatever manner you prefer. With homemade peach jam and a side of homemade bacon (recipe from the same cookbook) and Conecuh sausage. Or make a bacon or sausage biscuit sandwich.

 

How ever you enjoy them, just promise me you will make these biscuits ASAP!

 

 

Gruyere Biscuits

  • Servings: 12 biscuits
  • Print

  • 3/4 cup shredded Gruy√®re cheese*
  • 2 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup briefly frozen¬†butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing**
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or brush with butter.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together to combine. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Blend the butter and dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pour in the cream and buttermilk and stir just until combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Pat into a rectangle and sprinkle lightly with flour. Roll the dough to 1″ thick.

Sprinkle the dough with half of the cheese mixture. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter.

Lightly flour the surface of the dough and roll again to 1″ thick. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and fold into thirds and roll to 1 1/2″ thick.

Cut the dough into 12 squares (3×4) and place 2″ apart on the prepared pan. Lightly brush the tops with the remaining heavy cream.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking, or until the tops are golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving warm.

 

*We have used other cheeses in this recipe with success (Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, etc.).

**I have substituted half-and-half for the entirety of the heavy cream with perfectly tasty results. We couldn’t really tell a difference so consider subbing if you are trying to be healthier ;)-

 

Adapted from The Ravenous Pig: Seasons of Florida.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake

26 Jun

As I was looking at my last several posts, I realized y’all must be starving! All we’ve been talking about is sewing and I have been a bad hostess by not offering you something to eat or drink ūüôā

 

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I am going to remedy that today and then some with this decadent chocolate and peanut butter layer cake. I could probably stop with that and give you the recipe and we would be in good shape. However, I will tell you a little more about it so your resistance will be even further weakened.

I made this cake two weeks ago¬†for an employee’s going away party. A little bird told me she liked the chocolate/peanut butter combination so I pulled out this recipe that I had made once or twice before several years ago. Everyone at the office really enjoyed the cake and we ate over half of it at the party (9 of us girls there).

The recipe comes from the cookbook Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. It is a great cookbook to have in your collection because many of the recipes look like something you would want to try (I have made several so far and all have been delicious).

It starts with sour cream and chocolate cake layers that mix up easily in a single bowl and without an electric mixer if you don’t want to use one. You then fill and frost the layers with a cream cheese peanut butter frosting that reminds me of decadent peanut butter cheesecake — YUM! Finally, you top it with a thick layer of chocolate and peanut butter glaze.

This cake is great because you don’t have to be a professional cake decorator to make it look impressive. And if you keep a decently stocked pantry, you probably already have all the ingredients on hand. Cake for supper? Absolutely!

 

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Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

  • Servings: one 8-in triple layer cake, serves 16-20 generous slices (the author states 12-16 but I think you can get more out of it because it is so rich)
  • Print

 Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare three 8″ round cake pans (I used Baker’s Joy spray, but the recipe suggests buttering the pans then lining with buttered parchment).

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl and whisk together to combine. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk by hand or blend with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the water then blend in the vanilla and vinegar. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well-combined. Divide evenly among the three prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes then turn the cakes out on the rack to finish cooling.

To finish the cake, spread 2/3 cup of the frosting between each layer and use the rest to frost the top and sides. You can also save a little to decorate the top after you apply the glaze. Next, spread the glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with remaining frosting, if desired. Enjoy!

Frosting:

  • 10 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural type)

Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing thoroughly for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Glaze:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

In the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave like I did), combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup and heat until melted and smooth, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

 

Adapted from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes.

 

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Heavenly Dark Chocolate Waffles

6 Mar
I am stealing Bon Appetit's photo because it looks so much more appetizing than mine. But I promise mine were delightfully tasty!

I am stealing Bon Appetit’s photo because it looks so much more appetizing than mine. But I promise mine were delightfully tasty!

Are you prepared to enter breakfast Nirvana? If so, go ahead and make these waffles this weekend, or tomorrow, or maybe even for dinner tonight. They are that good!

Keeping up with my recent habit of finding recipes in magazines, this one came from the February issue of Bon Appetit. Out of the entire section of chocolate recipes, these waffles spoke to me the most. So we had them for breakfast that very Saturday. And Sunday. And the next Saturday. And my stepson heats the leftovers up in the toaster on school mornings…

Suffice it to say, this recipe will become a permanent staple in our weekend breakfast routine. Yes, it is a little fussy, but if you prepare everything before you start mixing, it really doesn’t take that long to throw together. And the effort is SO worth it!

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At first I thought the idea of syrup on a chocolate waffle was abominable but it ends up that it is quite delicious. And with some bacon and a glass of milk on the side, it is perfect.

The original recipe makes about 12 waffles but I reduce it to 1/2 or 1/3 most of the time to serve 2 or 3 people (2 or 3 waffles apiece). But I am including the full-sized version here — waffles for 6! Plus, if you make a full batch but don’t eat them all, they do freeze really well and are easy to pop in the toaster to heat back up (just stick it in frozen).

So what are you waiting for? Add this to your shopping list and you recipe queue immediately!

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Dark Chocolate Waffles

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¬Ĺ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed)
  • ¬ľ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¬Ĺ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), finely chopped
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Unsalted butter and warm pure maple syrup (for serving)

Preheat oven to 250¬į. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center

and add egg yolks, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Blend with a fork, then gradually incorporate dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Working in 2 batches, fold egg whites into batter just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.

Heat a waffle iron until very hot; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, cook waffles until cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.

Serve waffles with butter and syrup.

DO AHEAD: Batter with egg whites can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Cooked waffles can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen then reheated with one or two rounds in the toaster.

Adapted from Bon Appetit February 2014.

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Oven-Roasted Bacon

5 Mar

Or, the only bacon I can cook without burning…

Me cooking bacon had become a joke in our house — it always ended up burned no matter the method I employed. Enter the oven-roasting technique. Now my bacon cooking is no longer a laughing ¬†matter. Instead it is a finger-licking, lip-smacking matter. My husband may never fry bacon in the skillet again, either.

The method is great because it yields consistent results, practically no mess, and — the best part — flat bacon slices!

To get started, line a baking sheet with foil, making sure to completely cover the pan. This step ensures clean up takes about two seconds.

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Next, lay your bacon flat and not overlapping on the baking sheet. We like Wright’s Hickory Smoked Bacon, but you can use your favorite.

Put the sheet in the oven on the center rack and shut the door. Turn the oven on and heat to 400 degrees (you do not have to preheat). At the same time, set your timer for 18 minutes.

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When the time is up, check the bacon. It should be sizzling and just starting to brown/curl around the edges. If it’s not, give it a few more minutes but watch it closely.

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If it is, take it out and transfer the bacon slices to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Cool briefly then chow down.

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To clean up, drain your bacon grease into a small cup or bowl if you want to save it for future recipes; discard it if not. Next, carefully peel the foil off the pan and throw it in the trash.

Now sit down to your delicious breakfast. And stay tuned, I have another breakfast delicacy coming your way soon!

Adapted from this recipe.

DIY Moon Pies — Totally From Scratch

28 Feb

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Ever since I was a kid, I have associated Mardi Gras primarily with MoonPies — not beads, parades, etc — just the tasty treats with marshmallow sandwiched between two graham cookies and enrobed in chocolate. Yes, there are other flavors of MoonPies, and even more choices in recent years, but I have eyes only for one variety.

From what I have read, our area (Mobile, Alabama), seems to be more fond of the MoonPie because we throw them more at parades than New Orleans does. We even have a giant, light-up MoonPie drop over the city on New Year’s Eve.

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The MoonPie was not created as a Mardi Gras throw, however. In the early 1900s a bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, concocted the treat in response to requests from coal miners. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the MoonPie became the preferred throw of revelers. You can read more about the MoonPie’s history here.

I have been going through a big cooking phase lately, and one of my favorite places to get recipes has been magazines — Bon Appetit, Garden and Gun, Food and Wine, etc. When I saw this recipe for DIY MoonPies in a recent Garden and Gun, I knew I had to try it. It would satisfy my sweet tooth and let me try my hand at homemade marshmallow for the first time.

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The recipe is simple although it does involve multiple steps best conducted over a couple of days. It yields a tasty, satisfying treat reminiscent of the holiday classic but without the near stale texture that packaged MoonPies always seem to have. The graham cookie in this recipe is light and tender, the marshmallow sweet and fluffy, and the chocolate rich and silky.

Can you see my reflection in the chocolate? It was so shiny when it was first poured!

Can you see my reflection in the chocolate? It was so shiny when it was first poured!

My only modification from the printed recipe was to cut the cookies with a 2 1/4″ cutter rather than a 3″. This yielded 19 sandwich cookies. The recipe also made a ton of marshmallow so I have scaled down the recipe here for you so you won’t have a ton of leftover fluff.

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I also wanted to make mention of two fabric acquisitions recently added to my stash. The first was a gift from a very special lady who is a blog reader and mother of a sweet little patient. She is from Brazil and brought these fabrics back for me from her recent trip home. Each fabric represents different parts of Brazilian history and is made from very soft cotton. Can’t wait to use these in a project. Thanks, Bruna!

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The next two pieces of fabric were bought on the US Virgin Island, St. John, during my recent cruise. On our way back to the ship, we stopped in a little retail area for a bite to eat. Walking in, I noticed a store called the Fabric Mill. Of course I had to check it out! It was owned by a nice lady from New York City who had studied fashion design but moved to St. John (I am guessing for the weather or when she retired).  The wall behind her register was covered with bolts of beautiful rayon and cotton batiks. I picked up a few yards of my two favorite rayons. She also carried a nice selection of clothing and accessories, and I bought a cute sun hat to shade my pasty white face.

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Homemade MoonPies

Cookie Dough

6  ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
¬ľ¬† cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¬ľ¬† cup cane syrup (I used Alaga)
¬ľ¬† teaspoon vanilla extract
1¬Ĺ¬† cups all-purpose flour
1¬ľ¬† cups graham cracker crumbs, ground fine (approximately 1 whole sleeve of crackers)
¬ĺ¬† teaspoon kosher salt
¬Ĺ¬† teaspoon baking powder
¬Ĺ¬† teaspoon baking soda
¬ľ¬† teaspoon ground cinnamon
2  Tablespoons whole milk

Cream butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low speed; slowly stream in the milk.

Continue mixing until the dough comes together. Press the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour (I refrigerated mine for a day and let it thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Turn out the chilled dough onto a floured surface, then roll it to ¬ľ” thick. Stamp out cookies using a 2- or 3-inch round cookie cutter (yield will depend on size and thickness).

Place cookies 2″ apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet¬†and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely.

You can start the marshmallow while the cookies are cooling if you are making it all at one time.

 

Marshmallow

2 3/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water, ice-cold, plus ¬ľ cup at room temperature
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites

Sprinkle gelatin over ice-cold water and set aside.

Combine room-temperature water, corn syrup, honey, and sugar in a small pot, insert candy thermometer, and simmer until mixture reaches 240 degrees. When the thermometer reaches 200 degrees‚ÄĒbut not before‚ÄĒplace egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on high.

Once the sugar mixture hits 240, remove it from the heat, and stir in the bloomed gelatin. Then, while egg whites are whipping, slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture down the inside of the bowl to avoid spattering the hot syrup. I find this easiest to do using a glass measuring cup with a pour spout (like a Pyrex). Continue whipping for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the mixture stiffens. The mixer bowl will still feel warm to the touch but no longer hot.

Match up the cookies in pairs according to size. Flip over half of the cooled cookies. Lightly coat a spoon with nonstick cooking spray, and spoon approximately a quarter cup of marshmallow onto each flipped cookie (less if you used a smaller cutter). Use the remaining cookies as tops; gently push down until you can see the marshmallow come just to the edge. Chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes while making the chocolate coating.

 

Chocolate Coating

1¬† lb. bittersweet chocolate (61%‚Äď70% cacao)
2  tbsp. vegetable oil or canola oil

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Once only a few unmelted chunks remain, remove from microwave and stir until chocolate is smooth. Let it cool slightly and once the chocolate is no longer hot, slowly whisk in the oil in a steady stream. Allow the chocolate to cool for about 5 minutes before proceeding with assembly. Depending on your cookie yield, you can probably get away with 12 ounces of chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. With my 19 two-inch cookies, I had a fair amount of chocolate left over.

 

Assembly

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil and place a cooling rack inside. This will allow extra chocolate to drip off the cookies while they set. The lining will make clean up easier. Submerge chilled cookies in the melted chocolate, using a fork to gently lift the sandwiches out of the bowl, scraping excess chocolate on the side of the bowl. Place on cooling rack and let set until shell hardens (several hours in my case). Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Garden and Gun Feb/Mar 2014.

 

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