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Cotopaxi Questival!!!!

Doing an awesome festival sponsored by Cotopaxi. Having a freaking blast getting to know this city even better than before. And just being ridiculously silly in front of strangers.

 

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I <3 Raised Waffles + Oven Bacon

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Holy cow am I having a sugar craving….I don’t know what it is…maybe all the fudge I ate in Colorado. I think there is probably enough fudge in Colorado alone to feed the entire world. EVERYONE sells fudge, what a wonderful place.

I’m sitting dangerously close to the kitchen where the sugary cereals reside and I’m totally jonesing for a huge bowl of honey nut toasty o’s and some ice cold milk. I figured writing a post might keep my hands occupied and prevent them from wandering into the bag of cereal.

Back to the point..this post is about raised waffles. Delicious, buttery, yeasty, light, crisp, maple syrup hoarding waffles. I know I’m probably the hundred millionth person to blog about these waffles but I have to, because, everyone should know about them and everyone should make them and maybe just maybe you hadn’t heard about them before and now you know and your life is like 150% better now that you do. (talk about a run-on sentence) So here goes.

Raised Waffles

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This recipe is really nothing new. I think it was actually in the original Joy of Cooking, but until I read about it on eatmakeread I was completely ignorant to it’s existence and now I am in love. The steps and ingredients that I modified from the original recipe have been noted.

Ingredients

dry

  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast. (If you have instant yeast go ahead and add it in with the dry ingredients and if you only have active dry yeast dissolve it in the 1/2 cup of warm water)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

wet

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%, but you can use whatever milk you like, the original recipe calls for whole milk)
  • 1 stick of butter, melted

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl (emphasis on large because the yeast will cause the batter to rise) combine the flour, yeast, melted butter, sugar, salt, milk and water and, using a standing mixer or some old fashioned elbow grease, beat until smooth.
  2. Cover the mixing bowl with saran wrap and let sit on your counter overnight. If you’re living in an extremely hot climate without adequate AC, say over 75 degrees F, go ahead and put it in the fridge, but otherwise the counter should be fine.
  3. the next day

  4. Pre-heat your waffle iron.
  5. Beat in the eggs and baking soda.
  6. Ladle batter onto your hot waffle iron and cook until lightly golden and crisp.
  7. EAT! 🙂

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This was the awesome, I’m guessing 70’s, waffle iron that was provided in the rental home. What I liked most about it was that it made square waffles! My waffle iron does the big round ones, which are fine, but I like square better.

Oven Bacon

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This is really simple, but you have to have patience, it takes about 20 minutes. Take it from me, be patient, it’s well worth the wait.

Ingredients

  • BACON!!!!

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. Arrange bacon on a cookie sheet. It’s ok if the strips are slightly over lapping.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until desired crispiness.
  4. Eat!

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Bacon in action! This is a dish dubbed “The Murph Pack”. I’ll post this recipe another time.

Enjoy!

Father’s Day

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After getting harassed by my mother in the comments section of my recipe index, I decided it was time for another post. Part of the problem is that we haven’t been cooking super awesome stuff lately. I’ve been pretty busy at work and have just wanted fast, filling, and easy meals. It’s been a lot of stir fry and salads. However, I am currently in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and I have had time and incentive to try some new recipes, many of which have been hanging out in my bookmarks folder for a while now. So here we go!

The first day of our vacation was father’s day and I knew I needed to get up early and make something awesome for my dad. A few days prior to our departure I decided on biscuits and gravy, with a side of pancakes to accommodate those guests who did not want to stuff their face with sausage and cream.

Buttermilk Biscuits

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As a relatively new home chef, “cutting in the butter” terrified me. I had made biscuits once before and they were not flaky like I wanted, and I knew it was because of my lack of skills when combining the butter and the flour. I don’t own a pastry cutter, but I think I will change that soon. Anyways, I was nervous, but I made a game plan.

  1. Put the bowl I would be using for this treacherous operation in the freezer the night before.
  2. Cut up butter (that had been living in the fridge) and then put it into the freezer to get EXTRA cold, and left it in there until I had stopped hyperventilating.
  3. Say some prayers to the biscuit and pie crust gods.
  4. Get to work.

I used Paula Deen’s biscuit recipe because, seriously, I can’t think of anyone who loves butter more than this woman (except maybe the pioneer woman). The only thing I tweaked was that I used buttermilk instead of regular milk.

Ingredients

dry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

wet

  • 8 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, then take a deep breath and begin cutting your butter into your flour mixture. Check out this website for the instructions I used.
  3. Slowly add the milk to your flour mixture and once it has clumped up a bit, do your best to lightly knead it into once cohesive little lump. I had to add a little milk as I went along until it reached the consistency I wanted.
  4. Roll out the dough as thick or as thin as you like it and cut it with whatever circular, biscuit shaped, object you have laying around. I used a coffee mug and closed my eyes pretending it was a biscuit cutter
  5. Butter the bottom of a cast iron skillet and place as many biscuits as will fit.
  6. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned on the top.

For me this recipe made 8 biscuits, but this will vary greatly depending on how thin you cut them and how big your circular cutting object is.

Before

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For my dad’s biscuit I wanted to do something special, so I used a pine tree cookie cutter to make sure he knew which biscuit was all for him.

After

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Yay for biscuits!

Sausage Gravy

This recipe was adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe for Sawmill Gravy.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 cups half-and-half

Method

  1. In a hot cast iron pan, or a non-stick skillet, throw in the sausage, bacon, and garlic. Cook, over medium heat, until the sausage is crumbly.
  2. Once the sausage was done, I removed the bacon strips because all I wanted was a hint of that awesome bacon flavor.
  3. Next, combine the flour, salt, and pepper and stir that into the sausage mixture.
  4. Stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute, then little by little, stir in the half-and-half.
  5. Continue stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened.
  6. Serve hot, preferably on top of biscuits.

Unfortunately I don’t really have any pictures of it other than the first picture of this post. It was, however, amazing. The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of butter to be stirred into the gravy once it had thickened, but, I deemed that unnecessary.

Seriously One of the Best Buttermilk Pancakes I’ve Ever Had

I originally saw this recipe on the Evil Chef Mom blog and it was titled the best ever buttermilk panackes and I have to say I completely agree. This will probably be my go-to pancake recipe for a while.

Ingredients

dry

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

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Look everyone, the dry ingredients…they’re socializing.

wet

  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

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Oh and here we have the wet ingredients hanging out in they’re pre-whisked states.

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and mix them together with a whisk.
  2. In a different bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together.
  3. Slowly, in small-ish batches, incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. DO NOT I repeat do not over-mix these pancakes. Only mix it enough to get most of the dry mixed into the wet. LUMPS ARE GOOD PEOPLE.
  4. Let this batter sit in the fridge or on the counter, depending upon how cold/hot it is where you are, for about 30 min to 1 hour. This will allow all the ingredients to get to know one another really well and provide you with a wonderful pancake.
  5. Heat a large pan, I used a cast iron one, over medium-high heat.
  6. (So, since we were on vacation, I didn’t have any of my pots and pans to cook with, and I was left maneuvering a large cast iron pan that wasn’t seasoned, super bummer…EVERYTHING stuck to it. Because of this fact, I used a pretty huge amount of canola oil in the pan with every batch to ensure there weren’t too many messy looking pancakes. This lead me to the realization that the key to lightly crispy pancakes is..OUTRAGEOUS AMOUNTS OF OIL….noted.)

  7. Once your pan is hot,( I suggest doing a tester pancake) pour about a 1/4 of a cup of the batter into it.
  8. Flip pancakes once they show a good amount of bubbles along the surface.
  9. Stuff your face.

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And then it all comes together. Horray!.

I hope everyone enjoyed their father’s day!!

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Hello out there! It’s been a while, and I’ve been a bit lazy when it comes to this blog. I think I lost momentum once school ended, but I am back and ready to get on top of this thing again. A few updates….I finally got a job, yipee. I also start summer school June 7th, so I’m trying to get all my relaxing in before that begins. We’ve been out of town a lot, two trips to Flagstaff and a few to Phoenix. It’s been a very fun beginning of summer.

Now that you’re up to speed, lets talk about jam, strawberry rhubarb jam to be exact. If you’re like me and follow about 70 food blogs (totally not joking), you would have seen the explosion of rhubarb recipes. Rhubarb Raspberry Betty, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, Rhubarb Sponge Pudding, and even a Rhubarb Cocktail!. I had never had rhubarb before and I began to feel extremely left out of the party. I decided to jump right in and try and make jam. First of all, it’s very easy to make, and second of all its freaking delicious. I’ve now countered any excuse you would use to try and get out of making this.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Adapted from this Blueberry Rhubarb Jam recipes

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Ingredients

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  • 2 c. Rhubarb, chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 c. Strawberries
  • 1/2 Tsp. Lemon rind, grated
  • 1 Tbs. Lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. Water
  • 2 c. Granulated sugar

Procedure

I halved the original recipe because I didn’t need a lot of jam, but if you do just double the recipe provided here. Also, because I was using strawberries instead of blueberries I had to account for the increased moisture content of the strawberries. I did this by cutting the amount of water in half.

  • In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, lemon rind, lemon juice and water. Stirring it frequently, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in sugar and increase heat to high letting it rapidly boil, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches between 218-220F. I didn’t have a thermometer at that moment so I just let it go for about 10-15 minutes. Also, this part did make a mess so if you’ve got a very large sauce pan I would recommend using it so you don’t end up with jam ALL over your stove.
  • Remove the jam from the heat and skim off the foam that has developed on the surface and stir for about 4 minutes to evenly distribute the fruit.
  • At this point I cooled the jam in an ice bath and then let it sit in the fridge over night.

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Pane Italiano

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I am on a bread roll (wink wink…nudge nudge…ok I’ve fulfilled my bad pun quota for today) What I mean is, as soon as I wake up, I start thinking about what loaf I want to make, what recipe challenge I will conquer today…but then I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that there are still 2 huge loaves of bread from yesterday, that we still have to eat, before I can make more. ITS TORTURE! It’s not even that I don’t want to eat the bread, because I do, and I am, but I am only one woman and there is, unfortunately, a limit to the amount of bread I can stuff in my face on a daily basis. That physiological limit is truly limiting my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations, of baking bread everyday!

Or maybe I’m being dramatic, that happens every once and a while.

I shall persevere, but for now here are some photos from my Italian bread experience. It turned out well, and I have been enjoying some delicious lunches of pesto, provolone, and goat cheese toast w/ a side of olive topped cucumbers. Mmmmm.

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This was a relatively straight forward bread recipe. It calls for a biga which is a preferment. For the biga, you basically use the same recipe for the bread but you mix it up a day before and then add it to the main recipe the next day. It adds a more developed flavor, which is always a plus. I kind of want to see what happens if I let the biga sit for two days prior, but I’m a little concerned it will end up tasting too yeasty.

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I wanted to include this image for you because I thought it looked like intestines (teehee) and I’m kinda immature like that. You take the biga and cut it up into ten or so pieces and mix it into the main dough. Mine just happened to look like entrails.

Happy last day of classes all you U of A students! I know I’m excited…OH OH and it’s Cinco de Mayo, happy that too!

Yellow Butter Cake + A Frosting to Fight Over

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This is installment II of the recipes from last week.

CAUTION: the following recipe involves a dangerously addicting combination of sugar, butter & chocolate, but holey moley is it delicious.

Sadly, this past wednesday was the last practical in the lab. I am now forced to invent some new excuse to bake sweets. Since I had only ever baked cookies for the class, I wanted to finish this semester off with something more special and I think cakes are special, especially when made from scratch. It couldn’t just be any old cake, I wanted the perfect cake. I needed to create the most righteous flavor pairing between cake and frosting. So off I went to get some inspiration from the internet. After days of searching and bookmarking I made my decision: Yellow butter cake with a dark chocolate, espresso, cream cheese frosting. HOLY CRAP, it was good. I didn’t really get any good pictures of it because it was dark by the time I started to make the cake and the iphone has a hard time in the dark. Regardless of my inability to capture this cake in it’s full glory, please take my word for it and bake this cake.

The recipes were adapted from two different blogs: Slow Like Honey and Tasty Kitchen.

Yellow Butter Cake

Recipe from: Slow like honey

Fills: two, 9 inch cake pans

ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) (or make your own by subtracting 2 tblsp of flour and adding 2 tblsp of corn starch and then sifting that mixture three times!)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Procedure

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray cake pans with oil and lightly flour the entirety of the inside. Then, revert back to kindergarten and trace the shape of your pan bottoms onto parchment paper, and using your safety scissors cut out the circle you have just made. Then set the cut out circle inside your pans and lightly oil and flour that as well.
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  • Now, sift together the two kinds of flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until it becomes fluffy and beautiful.
  • Add the eggs to the mixer bowl, one at a time, with the mixer on low speed.
  • Add the vanilla.
  • Now add the flour mixture, in three parts, and the milk, in two parts. You want to make sure you begin and end with the flour mixture.
  • Portion your cake batter between two pans (and possibly some in a bowl for yourself…). I underfilled my cake pans so I could make a third smaller cake in my heart shaped spring form pan, which I got on my birthday because I made the boyfriend buy it because it was probably the cutest thing I’d ever seen. Hey it was only like 7 dollars, don’t judge me. Pop them in the oven and rotate halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. The whole cake bakes in about 32-35 minutes depending on your oven. You’ll know its done when a cake tester can be inserted into the middle of the cake and comes out clean.
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  • Once done transfer cakes to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes and remove parchment paper from the bottom. (so here is where I kinda messed my cakes up…I don’t own a wire rack to cool things on so I tried to cool it on my inverted dish drainer, which didn’t work and I basically destroyed the right side of the first cake layer. Then, too afraid to screw the next one up, I just put second cake layer upside down on a plate thinking I would just let it cool and then try and flip it over. WRONG. Instead the top of the cake stuck to the plate.
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    But always remember…..frosting covers/fixes almost all cake issues 🙂

  • Let cool completely before frosting.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from: Tasty kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter (softened)
  • 8 ounces, cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cups dark chocolate cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 tbsp brewed coffee, cold ( I used an espresso roast)

Procedure

Make this ahead of time so it has at least 5 hours to set up in the fridge and become the right consistency. If you find that it’s not thick enough, go ahead and add more powdered sugar and when you’re ready to frost, throw it in the mixer and beat it until it becomes more fluffy!

  • Sift together the powdered sugar and dark cocoa powder.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until combined and lusciously smooth.
  • Add the vanilla.
  • Add the sifted sugar/cocoa mixture, 1 cup at a time and beat until incorporated each time.
  • Add the coffee.
  • Put in a container and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Or eat it all that moment, which is fine…because I said so.

As a side note, this makes a crap ton of frosting and I still have some left over in my fridge (shhhh the boyfriend doesn’t know about it though). I would say you could half the recipe but I don’t know if that would mess it up or not…for those of you daring bakers out there give it a shot, let me know how it turns out!

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The final product! I didn’t manage to get a picture of the main cake, but it really was amazingly delicious.

Focaccia

Wow, it seems like it’s been forever since I last posted…blame school for that one. Finally, it’s all winding down and I plan to assume the coasting position. While I’ve been less than prompt about posting new recipes, I have been cooking/baking a lot! In the next few days I’ll be posting a few of the things I have made in the past week, starting with focaccia. Enjoy.

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One of my new years resolutions was to bake my way through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I think out of the fifty different formulas, I have made five. Not so bad, but not so good either. In my defense school ends up taking precedence to bread baking. However, I can’t use school as my only excuse for the lack of loaves popping out of my oven. First of all when I made the resolution it was winter break and I had oodles of time on my hands. Now, the weekends come around and it seems like they only last for five minutes so, devoting an entire day to bread kinda gets me un-psyched. Today I will once again resolve to bake my way through this amazing book; I will bake focaccia. Because this came from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice there will be no recipe. But I would be kind of a jerk if I just left you hanging like that! Click here for, what looks like, a great recipe.

Note: this baker uses a pre-ferment called a poolish, the recipe I used, did not. A Pre-ferment, made and proofed prior to the combination of the main ingredients, helps to improve shelf life and develop a wonderful flavor for your bread. It’s usually just water, flour, and yeast.

I had never attempted focaccia, let alone, remember it tasting that great, or being particularly impressed by it. I know now that whatever focaccia I have had in the past was made poorly because this bread tasted incredible. Crispy and flakey on the outside, but soft, almost gooey, on the inside. I probably ate 6 ounces of it once I took it out of the oven.

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My dough came out having a slightly green tint because of the the olive oil I was using.

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The picture on the left is after I had “panned” the dough and poured half of the herb oil on it. After this point it gets popped in the fridge over night. The picture on the right is the dough waiting to be put in the oven.

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Here it is! Fresh out of the oven. I wish everyone could have been there for this moment. It would have prevented me from eating so much of it.

That’s it for now. We went climbing all day and my fingertips almost hurt too much to type. More recipes to come!