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Sunday
Jun082014

S'mores Scones

Smores Scones

Do you like camping? We used to camp when I was a kid, but to be completely honest, the only part I really liked was sitting by the fire and making s’mores! Even now, whenever I have the chance to make s’mores, I get excited. The melty chocolate, crunchy cracker, and creamy marshmallow with the slightly burnt flavor is the perfect summertime treat. My cousin Bridgette is getting married this summer, so my aunt hosted a shower and asked us all to bring a sweet treat to share. I immediately turned to my favorite summertime treat and made mini scones. I even tried to make them cute by using a flower shaped cookie cutter, but the shape got a little lost once they were topped with the marshmallow. They sure were a hit, though! There are only a couple left and if you’ll excuse me, I think it may be snack time for me...

For the Scones
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt
6 tablespoons Butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 Eggs, beaten
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Chocolate Chunks

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter cubes and rub them into the dry ingredients until they are the size of peas or oat flakes. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the chocolate chunks and continue to stir until incorporated. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and pat the dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Use a biscuit cutter and place the cut out scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put the baking sheet into the fridge while the oven preheats to 375 degrees. Bake the scones for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

For the Topping
2 Egg Whites
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Fill a sauce pot with 2-inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk as it heats. The sugar will dissolve within about 5 minutes. Don’t let the bowl get hot enough to cook the egg. Transfer the sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla. Once the mixture is smooth and glossy, generously spread it on the top of the scones. Place the scones under the broiler for a few minutes until the marshmallow topping has become browned. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably the day that they are made.

SOURCE: Joy the Baker

Shower

Happy Shower, Bridgette!! 

Sunday
Jun012014

Banana Bread Granola

Banana bread granola

Two years ago, both of my sister-in-laws had babies within a few months of each other. This year, it's happening again! My brother and his wife are having baby #3 in less than a month, but while we wait for that little one, Joel’s sister and her husband had baby #2 this past Tuesday! So, once they were home from the hospital on Thursday, Joel and I gathered a few things and walked over to meet our adorable new nephew, Lucas. Since time isn’t something that parents of newborns (and young children) have, I whipped up some mac and cheese, as well as some granola, so that they didn’t have to think when it came to meals for the first few days. As soon as Kim saw the bag of granola, she got excited and asked if it was her favorite (a recipe she had given me years ago that I had made for her when our first nephew was born). While this isn’t the same recipe, I thought it sounded delicious and knew they would all like it. Hopefully, I’ve introduced her to a new favorite granola. In all honesty, who couldn’t love a granola that tastes exactly like banana bread! It might just be my new favorite…in fact, as soon as we came home from meeting the baby, I mixed up a second batch for us to enjoy at home, too! 

3 cups Rolled Oats
3/4 cup Walnuts
1/2 cup Pecans
3 tablespoons Raw Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Flax Seed
1/4 cup Coconut Oil
13 cup + 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup, Agave, or Honey (I used maple syrup)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Ripe Banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)

In a large bowl, mix the oats, walnuts, pecans, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and flax seed. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the coconut oil, syrup, and vanilla until the oil has liquified. Remove from heat and whisk in the banana puree until well combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Dump the mixture out onto a large baking sheet and spread it out into a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes, or until the granola is visibly browned, tossing once during baking. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheet before breaking it up and storing in a jar. Granola should keep for a few weeks, but I guarantee it won’t last that long!

SOURCE: Minimalist Baker

Tuesday
May272014

Homemade Shake Shack Burgers - Guest Post

I surprised Melissa with a trip to New York for her birthday. It was mostly a foodie trip, taking in the sights and smells of Lower Manhattan with notable visits to some of the Momofuku-family: Ssam Bar, Booker and Dax, and Milk Bar, the beautiful West Village restaurant August, taking a pilgrimage of sorts to Sullivan Street Bakery (whose pizza recipes we've featured on this very site), Bouchon Bakery, and a couple very good old fashioneds at the famous jazz club The Village Vanguard. One of the highlights of course was the Madison Square Park mainstay Shake Shack. After all the food we ate over the long weekend, the thought that we couldn't shake (cough cough) were the fries and burgers we ate under a clear blue sky in the shade of a tree. I'm sure the specially-brewed Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister Ale helped.

With the help of this article on Serious Eats I was able to recreate the burger with great results. While the author of the article calls for a specific blend of meat to be ground for the patty, I just grabbed a pound of 90% Lean Ground Sirloin instead of the custom mix. Most of the Shake Shack flavor is in the sauce anyway, so I don't think you'll really notice, but feel free to comment and convince me otherwise.



Ingredients

Burger

1 pound 90% lean ground beef sirloin
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 Burger Rolls
4 leaves of green-leaf lettuce, clipped
8 center-cut slices ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 slices yellow American cheese


Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 slices kosher dill pickle (I used on whole pickle quarter)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper


Recipe 

Sauce

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

Burgers

Roll the ground sirloin into two inch thick pucks. Place the four pucks on a plate and season the top side with salt and pepper. Put the oil on the pan by rubbing it in with a paper towel (The key to a good brown crust is to use only as little oil as needed). On medium-high heat, place the one of the pucks on the pan, seasoning side down. Salt and pepper the other side of the patty, the one facing you now.

Take a spatula and place it on the puck and firmly push down (You can use another spatula or spoon for leverage) so that the puck spreads out into a proper burger size. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook in batches.

Brown the patty on one side, cooking about two to three minutes, and flip it over, cooking an additional two to three minutes. Melt one cheese slice on each burger patty.

Buns and Assembly

Slice the buns in half but not all the way through. Brush melted butter on each side, and toast or broil so that they have a nice browned surface. 

Apply ample amounts of the Shake Sauce to the roll's toasted surface. Place the lettuce, tomatoes and cooked patties on the roll. Serve with french fries, preferably crinkle cut for that authentic Shake Shack Feeling. I even covered a small Amazon box in wax paper to serve them outside in our yard. 

Monday
May262014

Garlic Potatoes with Garlic Sauce

Garlic potatoes and sauce

Happy Memorial Day, and Happy Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! This month, I was assigned to K&K Test Kitchen, a collaboration between mother and daughter team Kim and Kelsey! What a great way to stay connected with each other, especially since Kim is in VA and Kelsey is in Ottawa! I truly enjoyed reading through their blog. There were so many delicious recipes. As per usual, it was difficult to pare down my choices to just one, but in the end these potatoes won. They were perfect as a side dish for our grilled burgers. Now that summer is here and grill season is in full swing, the next time you fire up the grill and need a side dish, look no further than these potatoes! 

For the Potatoes:
Small Red Potatoes
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Cut the potatoes into quarters and toss with the oil, garlic, and spices. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on a baking dish and roast at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 1/2 tablespoon Tahini
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend on high until mixed. Pour sauce over the top of potatoes  and serve.  

SOURCE: K&K Test Kitchen

Sunday
May182014

Spring Vegetable Minestrone 

Spring minestrone

We’ve been spoiled. This past week it has been pretty warm. People at work were complaining about how hot it was! Then Friday came…it was back to being pretty darn cold. So cold that we turned our heat back on, and that is pretty much unheard of past April 1st in our house. After a week of no-cook salads for dinner, I decided to make soup to warm us up. Since every time I use my crock pot, the food is mediocre at best, I adapted a crock pot spring soup recipe and made it on the stove top instead. Great move on my part, if I do say so myself. The meal was done in under an hour, was incredibly delicious, and made more than enough to freeze half the batch for whenever Mother Nature tries to throw some colder weather our way!

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Sweet Onion, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 (28 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) cans Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups Water
8 ounces Ditalini Pasta, uncooked
1 bunch Asparagus Spears, stems removed and cut into thirds
1 cup Frozen Peas
6 ounces Baby Spinach
1/3 cup Grated Romano Cheese, plus more for topping
Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrot, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, beans, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the asparagus, spinach, peas, and pasta and cook for 15 minutes, or until the pasta has cooked through. Stir in the grated cheese and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with additional cheese on top. 

SOURCE: slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is