Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Birthday Dinner

Another new recipe success! My birthday was this past Saturday and I decided to try this alfredo recipe. It's been staring at me for a while, but the butter content has been keeping me from making it. That, and the boyfriend said he wasn't a big fan of alfredo. I am, so it was a treat to myself. It was SO creamy, and SO easy! Oh, and the boyfriend ended up liking it too! I servied it with baked/seasoned chicken breasts and whole wheat italian bread with a store-bought tomato spread.
The only modification I may make for next time is to try it with that liquid I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray instead of real butter. That would cut the calories at least in half!

Fettuccini Alfredo
(Adapted from Two Picky Eaters and Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments)

18 oz fettuccini pasta
4 cups heavy cream
2T lemon juice
4-5T minced garlic
2 sticks unsalted butter
4-5 cups grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a large pot per package instructions and drain. Leaving pasta in the strainer, stir together the heavy cream, lemon juice, minced garlic and butter in the pot. Cook over medium/high heat until the butter is melted and the garlic loses its bitterness. Reduce to low heat, add the pasta back to the pot and toss. Add the grated parmesan, salt and pepper and toss pasta until sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pesto and 4-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

First of all - I'd like to apologize for my photography. In the first place I'm not looking to have any fancy photography, but I'd sure like the lighting to be better than it has been. It must be something about the compact fluorescent lights I have that makes everything glow orange and hardly allow for a non-blurred pic. Anyhoo - on to the mushrooms. These were good, though I'm not sure they were the best choice to go along with BBQ and Risotto (and I'm sure some folks would scoff at the thought of BBQ and risotto together...). Something about pesto thrown in that flavor set just didn't bode well with me. I'll have to think of another meal these could go with.

Pesto and 4 Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
(Adapted from Taste of Home bulletin board)

2 pkg large fresh mushrooms
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6T jarred basil pesto
Olive oil for coating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash mushrooms and remove stems. Using a Tablespoon or Teaspoon measurer (depending on size of mushroom) hollow out the inside of the mushroom by twisting the measuring spoon back and forth, discarding debris. Brush inside and out with olive oil.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine cheeses and pesto reserving 1/4 cup parmesan cheese for later. Stuff the cheese-pesto mixture into the mushroom caps. Arrange the caps on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

The side dish...

Prior to last fall, I'd never had nor heard of risotto (hangs Italian head in shame). The boyfriend and I went to a local bed and breakfast where we were served a multi-course dinner that included risotto. Yum! Unfortunately, arborio rice is not sold nearby (nor is saffron) - so it took me a while to acquire some. Then well, time flies, recipes go on the figurative back burner and I never did make it. That, and I was under the impression that it was a difficult dish to make. Ha! It so is not. All it involves is just a bunch of stirring. That's it. So if you've never made risotto out of fear of difficulty--fear no more and try it! I've made it twice now and I am an impatient, low-talent cook! If you're the type that needs more photos, check out this site--it shows step-by-step photos (although you'll see I skip at least one step and I do not use wine).

Risotto Alla Milanese (Double Batch)

10 cups (80 oz or 2 1/2 boxes) chicken broth
1/2 tsp saffron powder
6T butter + 2T
2 pkg (4 cups) arborio rice
6-9 oz. (1 wedge) parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Black or white pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan or pot, melt the butter on medium heat until butter becomes foaming. Add the rice and stir for about 3 minutes, until rice is well coated.

Add 1 cup of broth to the rice, constantly stirring to prevent the rice from sticking. When the rice begins absorbing the liquid, add more broth. Hint: Keep the burner's heat on medium, not high. High heat will cause the broth to evaporate more quickly and not be soaked into the rice. Repeat this step of adding broth and stirring, keeping the rice at the consistency of a dense paste (~2 minutes per cup). About midway through the amount of broth, add the saffron and pepper with one of the broth additions. Continue the process until all of the broth is gone. Add the 2T butter and the freshly shredded cheese and stir to combine fully. Serve immediately.

Another Great Meal

Last week it pained me to try and pick a meal to make. So many recipes, so little time (and tummy space!). I finally whittled the Saturday night dinner down to Barbecued Chicken, Risotto, and Pesto and 4-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms. All three recipes were keepers. I'll split them up between 3 posts.

So first we have the Barbecued Chicken. I've never made my own BBQ sauce before (unless you count the olde standby of ketchup/mustard/brown sugar) and had seen a recipe out there that was balsamic vinegar based. I had doubts, as I was worried it would taste like vinegar since that is the main ingredient. Turns out that vinegar taste boils off with cooking. The original recipe called for medium heat, but at that rate it was never going to boil/reduce. So I just used high heat for the duration. I kept checking on it to stir but that was really unnecessary--it didn't need any attention until it began reducing. Anyhoo - definitely a keeper! Although next time I'll spring for the boneless/skinless thighs instead of bone-in/skin-on, only for the sake of packaging the recipe. (Imagine trying to eat a barbecued chicken thigh with bone in a cubicle with dress clothes on--not too convenient!)

Barbecued Chicken
4 cups balsamic vinegar
3 cups ketchup
1-1/3 cup brown sugar (or Splenda mix)
8T minced garlic (in a jar)
4T Worcestershire sauce
4T dijon mustard
Black pepper, to taste (if desired)

Combine all ingredients in a medium to large saucepan and stir to incorporate all. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil mixture at medium to high heat until it reduces by about 1/3, or reduces to desired thickness--about 20-25 minutes.*

*I had this at a full rolling boil on high heat for at least 20 minutes. It did not seem like it was going to reduce, then all of a sudden it took off. It required very little stirring.

Note: This was a rather large batch. It will cover 2 large packages of chicken thighs or drummettes which breaks down to ~3-3lb bags of frozen chicken breasts (thawed!). So it caqn easily be halved.

Cover 4 standard cookie sheets with foil. Using tongs or a fork, dip each piece of chicken into the pan of sauce, then arrange on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-40 minutes (drummettes ~20, thighs 20-30, breasts 30-40).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Honey Orange Spice Muffins

I made these muffins this past Sunday morning as fuel for our annual Christmas-tree-cutting expedition. They're very good, very moist, and the orange peel is just enough without being overpowering. If you strongly dislike the flavor of orange marmalade, then I would omit the orange peel. I always seem to say this, but next time I make these I may add dried cranberries or chopped walnuts.

Honey Orange Spice Muffins
(Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine cake recipe)

1 1/2 cups honey
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
4 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Cinnamon, nutmeg to taste
Grated peel of one fresh orange

In a mixing bowl beat honey, vegetable oil and orange juice. Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange peel. Gradually add to honey mixture and mix well.
Drop batter into muffin cups, filling them 2/3-3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until muffins test as done. (I leave mine a little squishy on the top so they don't set dry.)
This made 12 jumbo and 4 regular muffins.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

This is so easy to make! Until recently, I'd shunned cheesecake making. Special pan? Water bath? Worrying about cracks on the top? Too much stress and work, I'd always thought.
Not so! Not so at all. I've always had a springform pan but never used it. The water bath is nothing...I just bought one of those aluminum foil disposable roaster pans to fill with water and set to spring form in. And I've not had any cheesecakes come out with cracks on the top, either--even after baking them more than required.
So if you've been reluctant to try your hand at cheesecake in the past, I swear it is not as hard as it sounds. And if you don't have a spring form pan, they are cheap enough. I picked up a set of 3 for like $9 at WalMart (my old one got bent up because I didn't store it properly).
This pumpkin cheesecake is wonderful! It isn't overpowering on the "canned pumpkin" flavor, as a regular old pumpkin pie can be. I've made it 3 times in the last month or so, and brought it as my dish to pass for Thanksgiving. My relatives were topping it with Cool Whip, which I'd never considered. I tried it that way myself and it was even better than plain!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
(Slightly modified from the Barmy Baker)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I buy the pre-packaged kind)
2 T sugar
3/4 stick (6T) butter, melted

Prepare a 9 or 10" spring form pan by spraying the bottom and sides with baking spray. In a small bowl, mix together crust ingredients. Press crust mixture into the bottom of spring form pan and bake for ~5 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2 lbs. room temperature cream cheese
1 1/2cups sugar
4 T flour
1 t salt
6 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
Cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, to taste

In the bowl of a large food processor (or I am sure this can be done in a large bowl with a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt and process until smooth--scraping down the sides as needed. (If you didn't let your cream cheese come to room temp, you'll definitely need to scrape--I am guilty of that!) Add the eggs, one at a time (I got away with 2 at a time), processing well after each addition. Add the vanilla, pumpkin and spices and process until well blended and smooth. Pour the mixture over the crust in the spring form pan.
Place the spring form pan into a very large baking dish that is deep enough to hold water that will come about 2 inches up the sides of the spring form pan.
Bake for ~1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the cheesecake is slightly pulling away from the sides and jiggles a little in the middle. It will continue to set as it cools. (The last 2 times I've baked this cheesecake for 1 hour, 40 minutes until it didn't jiggle and it turned out fine. I was too paranoid it wouldn't set.)
Turn off oven and allow the cheesecake to cool inside with the door propped open until it is "safe" to remove from the water bath. Remove and cool at room temperature for ~ 45 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mexican Lasagna

This was another kitchen experiment gone good. The boyfriend went back for seconds, and drooled thinking about leftovers. I wasn't as impressed at first--I thought it much better the 2nd day. (And even better being reheated from frozen--I divvy up the leftovers from each week's meals into plastic freezer containers to eat throughout the week.) Either way, this dish has been added to my dinner recipes rotation. There are a couple of modifications I may make next time, though:
I may omit the ricotta cheese--it added a different texture to the beans but I may be able to go without
I'll probably add another bag of shredded cheese--there didn't seem to be enough to have that ooey-gooey effect I love so much

Other than that, I think I'll keep it the same!

Mexican Lasagna
(Inspired by Our Sweet Life)

3.25 lbs ground beef
2 pkg (1.25 oz ea) Taco Bell taco meat seasoning
31 oz can refried beans
16 oz ricotta cheese
1- 15 oz can black beans, rinsed/drained
2- 26 oz jars mild chunky salsa
2- 8oz bags Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 small pkg corn tortillas
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
Sour cream, chopped green onions (optional, garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground beef and drain. Add taco meat seasoning and stir to combine uniformly.
Heat/stir together refried beans and ricotta cheese (in microwave-safe bowl or on stove top).
Pour a light layer of salsa over the bottom of a large baking dish. Layer 6 corn tortillas, slightly overlapping. Spread 1/2 of the refried beans/ricotta mixture over the tortillas (this wasn't as hard as it sounds).

Crumble 1/2 of the taco meat over this, then sprinkle 1/2 of the black beans over the meat.

Pour the remaining open jar of salsa over this then cover with ~1 bag of shredded cheese. Repeat the tortilla/beans/meat/black beans/salsa/cheese layer, reserving about 1 cup of salsa and shredded cheese. Top with 6 more corn tortillas, the remaining salsa and cheese, and the can of sliced black olives. Be sure to coat the top layer of tortillas with salsa so they do not harden with baking.

Bake 30-45 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions, if desired.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

Aha! Something that isn't so terrible for the waistline!
I whipped these up last Sunday morning and brought them over to the boyfriend's place. We devoured them all over coffee, and just hung out and watched TV. Just the right muffins to counter inactivity, haha. I'm thinking these could be modified next time--not that there's anything wrong with them--I just have visions of perhaps dried berries, nuts, or flax seeds added in. Mmm!

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
(Slightly modified from Sugar & Spice via SparkRecipes)

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Few dashes salt
1T cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

In a medium sized bowl, soak the oats in the milk for ~ 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray, or line with muffin liners.
Combine the oat mixture with applesauce and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until done. (I left my tops a little "squishy".)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Carrot Layer Cake

I'm on a roll!
This cake was wonderful. Delicious. And of course, not very good for you at all. Never had I made a carrot cake, or a layer cake so I've knocked two new things out at once. I love carrot cake! Every once in a while I'll get a craving for it and buy one of those packaged versions by Dolly Madison at a convenience store and yeauck! Rigid frosting, dry cake, augh! There's just nothing like home made.

Carrot Layer Cake
(Modified a teeny bit from Carrie's Cooking Adventures/Tish Boyle's the Cake Book)

2 cups all purpose flour
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2T ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1T vanilla extract
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat to 350F. Butter and flour two 9-inch pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugars together on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. At low speed, add the oil, melted butter, milk, and vanilla and mix until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just blended. Add the carrots and walnuts and mix until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.

Bake cakes for 25-30 minutes until they are dark golden brown. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely. Frost with your choice of frosting, I (just like Carrie) used the cream cheese recipe below.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Milk, to desired consistency

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat well until smooth. Makes enough cream cheese frosting for a 2-layer cake.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas

Oh my heavens...this is my favorite meal--hands down. I've made it twice now in the last month or so (I'd never made these before). And of course, it's sooooo not the healthiest of meals! I served it with Mexican rice (courtesy of Rice a Roni) and refried beans (a can of Old El Paso with green chiles stirred in). Oh great...thinking about it has made me hungry again!
The recipe was "inspired" by a few different posters in the food Blogosphere, and their recipes can be found here: Two Picky Eaters, What Did You Eat, and two versions from The Cookbook Junkie (scroll to recipes--I couldn't figure out how to get individual posts there). So thanks for the ideas!
Chicken Enchiladas
(Inspired by multiple food blogs)

1 pkg 10" flour tortillas (Qty 10)
3lb bag frozen chicken breasts
2 cans (10.5 oz ea)cream of chicken soup
16-24oz. sour cream (depending on how gooey you want the filling!)
3 bags (8 oz each) shredded colby/jack cheese
3-4 cans (4 oz each) chopped green chiles
1 can (28 oz) red enchilada sauce
1 can (10 oz) green enchilada sauce
Garlic powder, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake or grill chicken breasts, seasoning heavily with garlic powder. Let chicken breasts cool, then shred them into desired size pieces.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, 2 bags of shredded cheese, and green chiles. At this point I recommend tasting the mixture--seriously--too little garlic powder and it will only taste like cream of chicken soup. Boring and Ew. Add extra garlic powder if desired.

Line 2 baking sheets with tin foil and pour 1/2 can red enchilada sauce over each, turning the to coat the bottoms. Lay a tortilla flat on a plate and fill it with 3/4c-1c mixture. Roll or fold tortilla (everyone has their desired method--I tuck the sides in as I roll) and place on foiled pan, seam side down. Repeat until you run out of filling.

Pour can of green enchilada sauce over enchiladas, dividing of course between the two pans. Sprinkle enchiladas with remaining bag of cheese. Cover pans loosely with foil and bake for 25-40 minutes--until topping cheese is melted and the enchilada filling seems melted (it's a judgment thing, really).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake

Scratch another thing off my list--baking something with apples. I've been baking since I was a kid, and only once have I baked with apples--an apple pie out of apples a local farmer had given me, and it didn't turn out very well. (I didn't know to really fill up the crust, so the apples sank while the top crust stayed high up. When you tried to cut into it there was just a big collapse--but at least it didn't taste bad!)
This cake, on the contrary, held together perfectly and tasted wonderful. I've made it twice already--once with Saturday dinner (and the boyfriend and I polished it off after a round of golf Sunday), and again Monday night to bring to work Tuesday. The original recipe does not have the applesauce in it. The first time I made it, I had to add a little water to get everything moistened, so the 2nd time, I used applesauce. Perfect! Moist! Yummy!

Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake
Adapted slightly from Finding My Inner Cook

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 T cinnamon (or to own taste, I use a LOT)
1 1/2 cups sugar or Splenda baking mix
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 large apples, peeled/cored and chopped (I used Jonagold)
1 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if you are using a black pan).

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients. In another bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients (no need for a mixer, just a wooden spoon for all). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just moistened.

Spoon batter into a greased (I like Crisco with Flour spray) bundt pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top has set to the touch (does not sink if you touch it quickly). Remove from pan and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Honey Spice Doughnuts (Or Quick Bread)

These are one thing I do absolutely love to make for others. Made by using quick bread recipes, these donuts are a sure-hit novelty. Everyone always seems like they're amazed--as if these were difficult to put together. Most recently, I brought the pictured batch to the golf course I belong to on a chilly fall morning, along with a gallon of milk. Success! The secret is in the baking pan!
Earlier this year I thought it would be funny to make "healthy" donuts for two police officer friends of mine who were dieting together, and ended up getting this pan. It worked so well that I now own 3 or 4 of them (for big batches). Totally worth every penny of the $13.99 each.
So. You can use seemingly any quick bread, bundt cake or muffin recipe you have and adapt it to donut form. So far I've tried 4 different recipes and they've all worked--2 were quick breads, 2 were bundt cakes. What's great about homemade donuts is that you control what goes in them. Whole wheat flour, applesauce, Splenda for Baking--you get to decide what goes into your snack!

(3 doughnut varieties pictured)

Honey Spice Doughnuts
Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine's Honey Spice Bread

2/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c milk
2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
2 eggs
1/2 c honey
1/3 c vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a small saucepan over low heat, cook and stir the brown sugar and milk for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, honey, oil and brown sugar mixture; mix well. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.
Fill doughnut pan cups ~3/4 full. Bake until doughnuts begin to pull away from the pan sides, or until the tops spring back when touched. Flip doughnut pan onto waxed paper or tin foil and allow doughnuts to cool. Store in airtight container. Makes ~dozen doughnuts.


I'm such a terrible blogger. While reading the 30+ food blogs I have bookmarked almost daily, I seemed to have neglected my own. Again.
It's not that I haven't been cooking...on the contrary I've been cooking and baking up a storm! I just can't seem to remember to take photos of what I've prepared. Photos, for me, are pretty much a "must" in order to choose a recipe, so I wouldn't post any without them.
Off the top of my head there's been chili, white cheese chicken lasagna, chicken parmesan (twice! Forgot photos so I made it again...and forgot again!), peanut butter cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, rolled-stuffed chicken breasts, risotto, spinach-cheese squares, apple-cinnamon cake and chicken enchiladas (also made twice--the 2nd time got pics).
I've been on a mission to try out all the recipes I've been hoarding over the years, and that's a daunting--yet fun--task. I've got 10X13 Tyvek envelopes stuffed with clipped and downloaded recipes! So, as I go along I will TRY HARDER to remember photos so I can post the recipes and results here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Basic Meal

I made the following on Labor Day. Actually, I browned the beef Sunday night and refrigerated it, then on Monday morning I assembled and baked it--out of the oven by 8am! The accompanying bread was made at mealtime (mmm! super-fresh!). I wasn't sure what plans the boyfriend and I had for the day (I ended up going for a bike ride, then we played golf in the afternoon) so I figured getting a jump on things would be a good idea. Besides, dishes like this sometimes taste better as "leftovers".

Boy, I do miss the days of having homemade spaghetti sauce! (Someday I'll get a yard again with a giant garden...for now my garden is a small plot at the boyfriend's house.)

Basic Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
2lbs. ground beef
1lb. ground sausage (mild, medium, or spicy)
2 large jars spaghetti sauce of your choosing
1 large container ricotta cheese
2 regular-size bags grated of mozzarella or white cheese blend
1 small bag finely grated parmesan cheese
Any combo of the following: dried basil, oregano, red pepper flakes,
pepper, parsley and/or thyme to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown/drain ground beef and sausage in a large skillet. Meanwhile, cook/drain noodles according to package directions. In a deep-dish 13X9 baking or foil pan, pour a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Layer 4 noodles across the pan. Spread 1/2 container of ricotta cheese over the noodles, then sprinkle with herbs of choice, 1/2 the meat, the rest of the 1st jar of sauce, and 1 bag of mozzarella/white cheese. Add another layer of 4 noodles, the rest of the ricotta, some more herbs, the remaining meat, all but about ~1cup of the 2nd jar of sauce, the 2nd bag of mozzarella/white cheese, then the remaining 4 noodles. Pour the reserved ~ 1cup sauce over the noodles and sprinkle with the entire bag of parmesan cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30-50 minutes, until bubbly.

**I microwave my ricotta in it's container for about 1 minute, then using a rubber spatula mix it up really good. It makes it much easier to spread.

Farmgirl's Beyond Easy Beer Bread
(as seen at Farmgirl Fare, link above)

Basic Bread Mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
12 ounces beer
Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

**If batter is SUPER-thick, add some water to it. It should not be like a dry "dough", it should hold together and be moist. I've had to add water each time I've made this. (Well, I didn't once and it was hard as a rock!)

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Flavor Variations:

Garlic & Herb: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped Tablespoon of each.

Dill & Chive: Add 2 Tablespoons fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.

Italian: Add 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano (or 1 Tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and oregano), 2 minced cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese to the basic mix.

Other Additions: Any dried or fresh herbs; 1/2 cup freshly grated asiago (or other hard cheese); 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped scallions; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or 1/2 cup oats in place of 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. Or practically anything else you can think of--use your imagination.

**I used minced garlic, dried thyme, and about a cup of shredded 5-cheese (white) blend this time.

Friday, August 31, 2007


Here's to a relaxing Labor Day weekend!