Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Salted Caramel Root Beer Floats

Bubbo wanted Root Beer Floats. I wanted Salted Caramel Ice Cream. And thus was born Salted Caramel Root Beer Floats.

I made the Salted Caramel Ice Cream and it could not be easier. (Seriously, it barely qualifies as home made.) But you could just as easily use a good quality vanilla ice cream, then drizzle a bit of caramel on top.
We scooped the ice cream into frosty mugs, topped with Root Beer and . . . Voila!
Delicious.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbs. Vanilla Bean Paste or 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
3/4 Caramel dessert topping
1 Tbs Sea Salt

Mix first 4 ingredients together. Whisk until Sugar dissolves. Process in Ice Cream Maker according to manufacturers directions.
10 minutes before end of ice cream freezing cycle place Caramel topping in microwave safe container. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until topping becomes very pourable. Mix in the sea salt. Set aside to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, remove the ice cream to a freezer safe container; alternating layers of ice cream and thin layers of Salted Caramel drizzle, finishing with caramel. Freeze at least 12 hours before scooping.

Monday, June 8, 2015

He Belongs to All of Us Now

photo from usa today
Something happened Saturday evening that had not occurred in my entire lifetime. A horse won the Triple Crown. Not just any horse.
A Kentucky horse.
American Pharoah, bred and foaled at Stockplace Farm in Winchester. He will retire at stud at Ashford Stud in Versailles.
But not so fast.
American Pharoah still has some run left in him, or so say his owners the Zayat family.
In an interview on The Today Show this morning the family patriarch, Ahmed Zayat, said that he wanted to race American Pharoah a few more times for the fans. "He belongs to all of us now," he said.
You see, Zayat gets it. He's a true fan of the sport and he knows that this Triple Crown win is bigger than big. It's bigger than any one owner, trainer, or jockey. It's all about the horse. American Pharoah IS horse racing.
And, yes, Zayat has been involved in controversies over the years. Namely financial and gambling related type things that he has been cleared of, but which still may tarnish his image. But I say, 'who cares?' I'd much rather listen to a man who is a true fan of horse racing than that overstuffed Yosemite Sam knockoff, Steve Coburn. The owner of last years, oh so close, California Chrome. That jackass acted like a spoiled little girl who didn't get voted prom queen.
So Congratulations to the Zayat family!
Congratulations to Victor Espinoza!
And even Congratulations to Bob Baffert, you shady bastard.
But most of all Congratulations to American Pharoah! You have made Kentucky proud.

Friday, June 5, 2015

National Doughnut Day

APPARENTLY it considered somewhat suspect to drink at breakfast. (Except for Mimosas right? I mean Mimosas totally don't count!) So what is one supposed to do?
It being National Doughnut Day and all, I thought I'd help a person out, and since it's Flashback Friday (or so I'm told) I thought I'd throw it way back with this post about Bourbon Glazed Doughnuts.

 
Bourbon Glazed Doughnuts

1 pkg. active dry yeast (please don't get the Rapid Rise kind - it sucks!)
2 Tbs. warm water
3/4 Cup warm milk (Microwave for about 1 min. is just about right)
1/4 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 large egg
2 1/2 Cups bread flour*
Vegetable Oil

Combine yeast and warm water in a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, let stand 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn't proof after 2-3 minutes try adding about 1 tsp. sugar and try again.)
Combine yeast mixture, milk, and next six ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add 1 cup flour, mixing completely. Use an electric mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down using rubber spatula. Dough will be sticky! Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead several times. Roll dough to 1/2" thickness, and cut with 2 1/2" doughnut cutter. (If you don't have doughnut cutter, cut into 2" x 3" strips with a pizza cutter) Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Pour oil to depth of 2-3" in a heavy pan; heat oil to 375 degrees. Cook doughnuts 2-3 at a time. Do not crowd your pan! Cook for 1 minute on each side. Drain well on paper towels.
Dip each doughnut in glaze while still warm, letting the excess drip off. Cool on wire racks. If you have excess glaze you can brush it on the doughnuts. Don't waste that stuff!

Bourbon Glaze
3 Cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 milk
1/4 Bourbon
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Use immediately. Place in shallow dish such as a pie plate to allow for easier dipping.

* A quick note about bread flour. It is totally worth buying. The difference is that bread flour contains more protein than regular flour which leads to more gluten production. This gives a lighter texture to the dough. This is how you get that pig pillow-y texture in things like doughnuts, rolls, and the like.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When Life Hands You Strawberries . . .

Peanut is in High School now (lets not dwell on that too much, ok?) and a member of the Future Farmers of America - otherwise known as FFA. A less likely farmer I've never seen, but that's beside the point.
The point is that Peanut is in the FFA and one of our local FFA's most popular fundraisers is selling fresh strawberries. They've partnered with a grower in Florida to ensure that we get the first and freshest strawberries of the season.
When they sent the order form around there was about a foot of snow on the ground and fresh strawberries sounded pretty dang good. So, what did I do? I ordered a flat. A whole flat of strawberries. That's eight quarts of strawberries.
They pick the berries on a Thursday, drive them up I75 on Friday, and we pick them up on Saturday. On Sunday I was up to my elbows in Strawberry Jam.
Because, you know, what else are you gonna do?
I made a double recipe of Strawberry Jam and still had two quarts of Strawberries left over. I must say, they were the freshest, juiciest strawberries I've had in a while. And they made the most beautiful, ruby-red jam.

This is the recipe I used. It's just the regular old Sure Jell recipe that comes in the box. But I do recommend Sure Jell and not any other brand. I have tried a couple of different brands and my jam never sets up as good as with Sure Jell.

Strawberry Jam
5 Cups Prepared Strawberries (trimmed, hulled, and mashed)
1 Box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
1/2 Tbs. Butter (not Margarine) to prevent foaming
7 Cups Sugar

Follow directions on box of Sure Jell for cooking and processing. If you have more jam than you have jars, or if you have any jars that don't seal correctly just refrigerate for up to 3 months.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Squirrel Brownies


Tuesday is Cream Cheese Brownie Day. A completely made up arbitrary holiday, to be sure. But one worth celebrating nonetheless. When I noticed it mentioned online it reminded me of a recent kitchen exchange between The Captain and myself.
The Captain: Whatcha makin' there? (After seeing me get out the cream cheese, eggs, and sugar)
Me: Cheesecake Swirl Brownies.
The Captain: What did you say?
Me: Cheesecake. Swirl. Brownies.
The Captain: (Busts out laughing) I thought you said 'squirrel brownies'!
Me: Oh, that's what we're going to call 'em from now on! (with one eyebrow raised and a slow head nod)

Even though there's not really a recipe, they're super easy to make. Just use whatever your favorite boxed brownie mix is (the 13x9 family size). Mix according to package directions and pour into lightly sprayed baking dish.
In separate small bowl mix together one 8oz. package of softened cream cheese, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Add 1/4 tsp. vanilla if you're feeling fancy. Mix together with a wire whisk. Really put your arm into it. It might take a minute, but I feel that it's enough of an arm workout to justify eating the brownies.
Pour cheesecake mix on top of brownie mix. Using a skewer or sharp knife gently swirl the two ingredients together, without actually mixing them into one another.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the center is slightly set. Let cool before cutting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

National Cheese Day - My Favorite Beer Cheese

Today, January 20, is National Cheese Day. Seriously, that's a thing. So I thought I'd introduce you to my very most favorite Beer Cheese. Yes, Beer Cheese. The awesomeness is pretty much right there in the name.
Beer.
Cheese.
Beer.
Cheese.
Beer Cheese!
You could make your own. It's pretty much Beer and Cheese and a little bit of Worcestershire and usually Cayenne Pepper. There are a thousand different variations playing up different spices and types of beer and/or cheese. Beer Cheese really is a thing of beauty!
Like I said, you could make your own. But why would you want to when there are so many delicious commercial Beer Cheeses available. And today in honor of National Cheese Day I'm sharing with you what I consider the very best of the bunch.
Double-Dip Beer Cheese

image from beercheesefestival.com
They won the People's Choice Award at the 2014 Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester and I can totally see taste why. This stuff is deliciously addictive!
They have four varieties. Original. Original Hot. Stout. and Stout Hot. The Stout Hot is my favorite with pretzels. So Yummy! Or try the Stout on a fresh-grilled Burger. The Original makes an outstanding Grilled Cheese Sandwich. And the Original Hot elevates Mac-n-Cheese to Next Level status.
Seriously, people, check out Double Dip Beer Cheese. Or go on Double-Dip's website -  they have some pretty tasty looking recipes that you can make at home. You can find it at Liquor Barn all around Lexington, Liquor World in Richmond, and Bluegrass Farmers Market.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Crawfish Chowder

It has been a good long time since I've waded barefoot through the creek catching craw dads.
OK, that's a lie. It was last summer with the kids.
But when it's cold and drizzly like this winter has proven to be, summer sure seems like a long time away. Soooo. . .
Soup is a go to in the winter time. Classic comfort food. We go through Chili and Broccoli Cheddar and Cheesy Potato and Vegetable Beef and even Chicken Noodle fairly regularly and I was looking for something new to place in the repertoire. Enter Crawfish Chowder.

Yes, the ingredient list looks long and complicated. And no it's not exactly cheap. But it is surprisingly easy to make and it makes a LOT. So cook up a pot, invite over a few friends, and bask in the compliments.

Crawfish Chowder

Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, diced (about 1/2 - 3/4 Cup)
1/2 Cup diced Celery
1/2 Cup diced Red Pepper
1/4 Cup minced Ancho or Anaheim Pepper
6 Large Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. Ground Thyme
1/2 tsp. Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 Carton Chicken Stock
1 Small Can Tomato Paste
1 Cup Crushed Tomatoes
2 Cups diced Red Potatoes, skin on
1 Can Lump Crab Meat, with juices
9-12 oz. Craw Fish Tail Meat *
1 Can Whole Kernel Corn
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
Salt

In a large Dutch Oven saute onions, celery, peppers, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onions become translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent over-browning. Add thyme and cayenne pepper, stir.
Slowly pour in chicken stock, stirring to dislodge any bits on the bottom of pan. Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and potatoes stirring to combine all ingredients. Add crab and crawfish, stir to combine. Bring to a light boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
About 1/2 hour before serving add corn and cream, stirring to combine. Keep heat on low and leave uncovered. Salt to taste.  Serve with thick-sliced crusty bread. Refrigerate any leftovers.