I feel like I always have to start off these posts about Ben and I with a questions? Do you and your hunny do this? Or do that? Does he say this, and then you get really frustrated with him? Does he say stuff like this and then you laugh at in his general direction? So, here is today’s “do you and your hunny?” question… Do you guys have a problem planning date night? We’re terrible at it. We both have varying ideas of what a date night consists of. One of us, *cough* him, likes to go out to dinner places we’ve already been. The other of us, me, usually likes to try and find new places to go. I like to change it up, bob and weave a little in our daily life. Inevitably, we end up going to one of three places, and either going out to a movie, or more accurately Redbox-ing something that I found while I was doing my mad morning dash to the store in yoga pants and a really bad messy morning bun.
I wear the yoga pants so it makes people think I worked out… Also it’s like the weekend uniform around our town during the weekends, so I’m not too conspicuous. Most women look slightly more done up than me, with fresh makeup and straightened hair, when I’m trying to cover up my raccoon eyes from last night’s makeup and the fact that I hadn’t showered because I was going to workout later that morning… which usually doesn’t happen. Whoops.
Date night comes around, and one of the three options we usually resort to is pizza. If it’s not homemade, it’s from Papa Murphy’s. And then date night devolves from there. Ben is staunchly in the meat-on-pizza-or-its-not-pizza camp. I’m in the fruit-is-totally-a-pizza-topping camp.
My husband is notoriously cheap. No, he’s not frugal. He’s cheap. What do little chicks say? Cheap, Cheap, Cheap. Okay fine, they say “cheep”, but that’s not my point. Saturday night I refused to succumb to his cheap man squabbles and told him, firmly, I did not want a Cowboy Pizza, that I was finally going to try the thin crust Thai chicken thing I’d had my eye on forever, and that we could get *GASP* TWO pizzas. The horror!
Well, that’s simply just not acceptable. So he went to find our pizza coupon card, to see who’s was cheaper and determined to find a cheaper pizza if I was going to be so stubborn as to want my own. And he found one – a $3 cheaper pizza. In full on Pizza Martyr mode he was determined to save us a whopping $3 and sacrifice his own pizza-bliss we went to the shop to get our ‘zaw. Upon a five minute drive of me telling him to get the pizza he wanted, and that $3 wasn’t worth sacrificing his tastebuds over, he went with his original – and I told him not to forget to use his coupon, to which he insisted there was no coupon for in the Cowboy Pizza. Oh YES THERE WAS!!!
And it was FIVE Dollars off his pizza… So the moral of the story is,
a) Just listen to your wife. In all things, especially coupons.
b) Your pizza bliss is not worth saving $3 – because inevitably you’ll find a coupon to save $5 on the one you wanted and be really mad about it.
c) The Papa Murphy’s Thai Chicken deLite is Ah-mazing.
To prove to you all that we do in fact agree on other food choices, we both ravenously devoured this Roasted Garlic Southwest Veggie Dip!! It was like two lions and a Huck over a dead zebra, just devoured it! I mean, wait…that’s probably a bad analogy. But the sentiment remains. It’s amazing and going as Dip Number 2 for this week’s Bowl Game.
Individual No-Bake Tagalong Peanut Butter Cheesecakes are decadent and easy to make for a quick sweet fix, especially with Girl Scout Cookie season coming up soon!
I’m the first to admit that my dog is easy to make fun of. I make sport of that poor hound every day. Someone please come take pity on him. I squish his face to make all the wrinkles gather at the top of his nogin. I pull his skin back and give him a face lift, I tickle his paddies when he’s asleep and I hold his squeaky toys hostage behind my phone to snap selfies of us on a random Thursday afternoon. Someone, please, feel bad for this dog. It’s just so hard to be loved so dang much.
But futzing with puppies isn’t anything new. It’s like my other calling.
A month ago, Huck’s friend, the original puppy in the family, my childhood dog, my mother’s child of the furry variety, our Charlie “went off to college”. At nearly 18 years old, he was old enough to have his driver’s license and vote! He was part of our family for literally half of MY life, and a constant source of Awww’s and OMG-Look-At-Charlie-He’s-Smiling squeals from the female contingent of the family!! He really did smile. It looked like a snarl, but the wagging tail was a dead giveaway. Even our mail lady at the time had to come to the door and ask my mom, convinced he was being angry. After a short visit and a pat on Charlie’s nogin, she was a goner and would make routine visits to see him.
And there was one summer, my sister and I got him really, really fat off of peanut butter.
Charlie – Yes, he is 17 in this photo.
My bonus dad always made fun of my sister and me, mostly me, that he’d have to tie a steak around my neck to get the dog to play with me. Well, there was a reason Charlie didn’t play – he was a pound puppy who didn’t even know what to do with a tennis ball when he came home with us – but that didn’t stop him from giving me a bad time. Uh huh.
So, as industrious young humans, my sister and I decided that feeding Charlie peanut butter by the spoonful was an ingenious plan. Swipe a finger full of peanut butter onto the roof of Charlie’s mouth and we’d be entertained for hours. And he was our friend. Our plan worked. But perhaps, a little too well… By the end of summer Charlie was looking like a furry foot stool and my mom was wondering why the Costco two-packs of Jif were disappearing mysteriously.
Whoops. But hey, at least he would play with me! No? Not the same?
I loved that dog and we had a mutual affinity for the peanut stuff. We were soulies. An I have no doubt he’d sit right next to me and wait to lick the dish of one of these cheese cakes. How could I resist his snarles. I mean, smiles.
Because February is rapidly approaching and it’s the time of year we share our love, I’ve teamed up with some fantastic bloggers to bring a little something your way. Something wrapped in a little teal box. Celebrate love in all ways and enter to win a $500 gift card to Tiffany’s just in time for Valentine’s Day!! Yes, THAT Tiffany’s!
We are painting the town blue!! Red is so last year. This year, is the year of the Hawk, if you believe in football lore and legend, and Seattle is in the Superbowl! It’s kind of a big deal for us. If you’ve never been to Seattle you really ought to see it now, the entire town is lit up in blue and green. Christmas morphed into Superbowl and our lights never came down!
Superbowl game day is a big deal in our family. Every year around 30 members of our family cram into the living room, with half of us on the couches, and the others parked in any chair they could find or the younger crowd parked in the middle of the floor. And of course, as per Superbowl party rules – balancing a plate of goodies in one hand and cheering with the other.
This year, it will be a Superbowl party on over drive!
There are three very important components that go into making a Superbowl party great. One, having your hometown team in the Superbowl. Check. Two, epic commercials that we wait all year to see! Check. And three – the FOOD! Double check!
When it comes to the food you need several categories including savory snacks, grilled meats, something healthy for that one aunt who just has to have her veggie platter wherever she goes, and DIPS! It’s not a complete game day without dips.
The road to the Superbowl was paved through Wisconsin, as Russell Wilson was a Wisconsin grad, so naturally incorporating Wisconsin cheese into the party is a must. High quality and a variety of flavors means you can pack your game day cheer face with flavorful, versatile, and utterly gooey Wisconsin cheeses. For this dip, I went with what I know – Northwest flavors and creamy cheeses. The people of the PNW loves their smoked salmon, and some Apple Wood Smoked Gouda from Wisconsin was just the right flavor combo for this dip.
After one bite, I asked Ben if he liked it and he all but shoved me out of the way, and said “I could eat this whole thing a spoon!”. Sounds like a game day winner to me!
With Superbowl coming up quick, the folks at Wisconsin Cheese and Dairydips.com want to make sure you’re pumped and ready for the big game and the big feast with a Variety of Artisan Wisconsin Cheese and a Bamboo Triple Dip Party Tray. Below, be sure to leave me the name of your favorite game day dip and enter to win!
Introducing a new monthly contest for all Country Cleaver readers and how-to cooking lovers! Read below for all the details and how to win a $25 Target Giftcard!
2014 is the year to be inspired. And happy. Those two feelings go hand in hand. 2014 is the year that amazing things are going to happen and we’re going to do it together! And I have a plan. Do you want to join me? Do you want to know how? I hope the answer to both of these is “YES!”
Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot in the kitchen and I’ve told you guys again and again how much I love How-To Tuesdays – it is hands down my favorite post of the week. Best of all, you have all responded and said how much you love it, too! It’s so great to see the e-mails roll in about the latest how-to’s and the tricks you always wanted to learn, but never tried.
How does this all tie together? Well, we’re starting a little game! What do you think? Because it revolves around YOU, it will be called *drum roll please * …
C’mon you knew that I had to throw a pun around in there somewhere? Right? You all know me so well.
Here is how it works.
Every month you will get a new How-To to try, and it’s up to YOU to get into your kitchen do try it out yourself. Take a photo of it and share it with me and all the how-to fanatics out there! It’s like selfies – but with food – so, automatically better!
What’s in it for you, you ask? How’s a $25 gift card to Target sound?
To participate, go whip up the how-to of the month, take your photo and share it with me and everyone else following #HowToYOUsDay!
Share Your Photos Here -
On Facebook – Tag my Facebook page and use the hashtag #HowToYOUsDay
On Twitter – Tweet me a Photo and use the hashtag #HowToYOUsDay
OR on Instagram – Tag me, CountryCleaver, and use the hashtag #HowToYOUsDay
One winner will be selected each month from all of your entries. The final day for entries this month will be January 31, 2014 at 5pm PST. The winner will be selected by me, myself and I. Now, as for my judging – this is notabout the prettiest photo – It’s a trying something new and expanding your horizons in the kitchen and being confident in your new skills. And trust me, all your photos will be amazing – they can’t be worse than Martha Stewart’s… Bazinga. The winner will be chosen and notified by me directly on their winning photo.
This Month’s Inaugural HowToYOUsDay Recipe
As the first HowToYOUsDay of the year, we’re starting with yesterday’s How-To Tuesday – How to make Balsamic Glaze! I’m madly in love with it. If one can be madly in-love with a condiment. Balsamic glaze is a one ingredient treat that has incredible versatility. It goes amazingly drizzled over roasted Brussels sprouts (my favorite) and it is incredible and gleek worthy on strawberry ice cream. Balsamic glaze is tart, tangy and slightly sweet. If you haven’t tried it before – do it now!
I food driven magpie. It’s awful. Instead of being attracted to shiny things, its food. Lately it’s been all about the balsamic glaze and Thai food. Right now I’m on a SERIOUSLY concerning Thai food bender. Ben might need to break out the intervention banner soon. Just wait for the recipe I have for you for healthy Thai food next week. I’m still eating it as lunch leftovers – I can’t get enough. But I digress – because my focus today is Balsamic Glaze. I could sip this with a straw!!
Maybe the intervention banner isn’t far off…
But there is a reason for it – Balasamic Glaze is amazing!! I’ve seen it in stores for outrageous amounts. I saw a 6 ounce bottle for $15. You be jokin’, right? Pass. Nab yourself a bottle of regular ol’ balsamic vinegar and make your own for a fraction of the cost!!
I have a supply of balsamic vinegar on hand at all times. This one from STAR is my favorite.
To make the glaze, get a sauce pan, or skillet and a bottle of vinegar. Over low or medium low heat, pour 1-2 cups of vinegar into the sauce pan. This will reduce ALOT, so use double the amount of vinegar you want to end up with.
If you need ½ cup glaze, use 1 cup of vinegar.
I prefer using a round bottomed sauce pan or skillet, because the vinegar won’t get stuck in the corners and burn. Bring the vinegar to a VERY light simmer, make sure it’s steaming and gorgeous. Constantly stir the vinegar until it begins to reduce.
My tell tale sign to tell you when it’s done – is to keep your eye on the edges of the pan. The stickier and more “glazy” the vinegar gets, it will start to stick to the sides of the pan a little more. The more syrupy it is, the closer it is to done!
When your vinegar is nice an syrupy, it’s done!! Remove it from the heat and let it cool.
And that’s all there is to it!! Remember, low heat and a round bottom pan or skillet. That’s how I get fail proof balsamic glaze every time and you can too.
My favorite way to eat balsamic glaze is over roasted brussels sprouts. AH-Mazing!! Give it a try today for dinner.
These will be your new favorite breakfast treat – packed with fruits and veggies, they will start your day off right. These morning glory muffins freeze well for later eating!
There is so much going on right now, I can’t even think of where to start!!
1) Muffins. They are important and I will discuss them in one second.
2) OH Em Gee, the Seahawks are going to the SUPERBOWL!!
3) I got my first shellac manicure this weekend – Life. Changer. And as I was so lovingly *cough* told, no one gets regular manicures anymore… *insert eye roll of the manicurist here* I have always been tardy to the party, so being the last to find out about the amazingness of Shellac manicures is nothing new for me.
4) Okay, back to the muffins.
As much as I try to curb the deep seeded love I have for all manners of carbs, it just isn’t working. My affinity for carbs, is long and tortured, wrought with heartache and tight jeans. But I can’t quit them, like a T.Swift song about some silly high school crush.
But these muffins!
Work has been throwing me for some loops lately – including a new schedule that starts at 10:30 now instead of my usual 6 am. I’m an obnoxious early bird, so starting my day off early and getting to enjoy the sun after work and walking the mutt after work is important to me. But since it’s off kilter now, I’m getting all the afternoon chores done before work, and I’m even finding time to bake before work!
These muffins do hold true to their second name “Twice-A-Week” muffins from the Butter Bakery in Vancouver. Because of the switcharooed schedule, I’m trying to find my morning groove and maximize my time to get everything into a short amount of time. I recently got a brand new MagiMix food processor that made incredibly short work out the fruits and veggies into these muffins. Oh, I didn’t mention there were VEGETABLES in these muffins? They’re practically a health food! That’s legit right? Bake on dear friends, bake on.
*Sung to the tune of Raspberry Beret* I ate a raspberry beignet. The kind you find at a NOLA pastry store. Raspberry beignet. And if you pass it up, we can’t be friends much more. Raspberry beignet. I think I’d love one more.
Okay, fine – 10 more. I’m a glutton.
Granted, the only words I know from that whole Prince song are the “Raspberry Beret” part – I still couldn’t help but sing that chorus over and over and over while I was making these. I’m a failed product of the 80’s if I can’t sing all the words to Raspberry Beret…but I am a champ at eating Raspberry BEIGNETS!!
All week we’ve been celebrating our favorite doughnuts, deep fried carbs, and what you can do with them. But you know as the saying goes – save the best for last – and buddy, THESE ARE THE BEST!
I have always wanted to go to NOLA, hear the music, tour the cemeteries (I know, it’s random, but I’m drawn to the history, culture and knowing who literally came before us.) and of course, duh – the food. Beignets have always been top of the list of NOLA-Must-Haves so, since I’m not planning any trips down there in the immediate future (jots onto list of places to go. Yes, I have a list.) I had to try and make them myself.
Beignets always seemed like some daunting, mystical Only-To-Be-Made-In-NOLA kinda food. But I couldn’t help it, they needed to be made. Such a rebel. And I have to tell you all – MAKE THESE, MAKE THESE, MAKE THESE! Did that convinced you yet? Well, if that doesn’t – then the fact that this is a single-rise dough should. It means less rising time from start to finish, unlike the other doughnuts from this week. Less time rising means more time eating and that’s all that matters, right? Right!
Beignets are light, fluffy, yet crunchy on the outside, and the perfect vehicle for mountains of powdered sugar and raspberry glaze. My life changed. Also, I’m looking into trips to NOLA. Im convinced that as good as they are in when consumed in the PNW, they will taste 73,213 times better actually consumed in New Orleans. The atmosphere totally does something to the taste of things.
If you can’t make it to New Orleans any time soon, give these a try for an authentic NOLA feel. You’ll be jonesing for a second batch as soon as you finish the first.
If you’re just catching up to the Doughnut Week shindig, be sure to catch up now!
And don’t forget to enter the giveaways for each day of Doughnut Week, too! Look below for our Promosimple Widget! Today enter to win a Deep Fryer from Park & Main for all of your future doughnuts! And beignets, of course!
The story of my freebasing pastry cream continues. The history that pastry cream and I share is long and torrid, if a 28 year old can have an emotional and borderline sinful imaginary relationship with cream, butter and egg yolks all mixed up with vanilla bean all devoured ravenously with a very large spoon…
Problems, I have ‘em.
There are certain foods that I have a methodical way of eating. There is strategy, specific components and reasons to eat certain foods a certain way and in a certain and very particular order. When it came to Monday’s Chocolate Stout Maple Bars, my method always began with eating the entire bottom half of the doughnut first. The squishy carbs had to stand on their own, be crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the middle without being too pillowy. That’s the measure of a good doughnut – substance. Then of course, it was the top of the maple bar that went next. It still had some residual doughnut dough, but it was half dough and half maple frosting. Equal portions that would send my teeth ringing with sweetness.
The same thing goes for me eating Reese’s Peanut Butter cups – eating the entire edge of the cup, and saving the middle for last.
And it happens with Bismark doughnuts. Except well, maybe not the same-same, but method is applied to the madness.
Consider this a bonus to How-To Tuesday, because today needs to be titled “How to Eat a Bismark Doughnut”.
Step one. Find the injection site of the pastry cream filling.
Step Two. Suck all of the pastry cream filling you can out of that port of cream. *also, that sounds skeevy*.
Step three. Proceed to shove the entire rest of the bismark doughnut into you doughnut face shaped hole and embarrass yourself and anyone in your immediate vicinity.
Bismark doughnuts are probably one of my favoritest favorite doughnuts. I can never pick out if I love the carbs and chocolate, the chocolate and pastry cream, or the carbs and cream or all of the above. They’re the perfect doughnut. So I made some for you to celebrate the second day of Doughnut Week!
If you’re new to our Doughnut Week party – be sure to check out Monday’s edition where I made Chocolate Stout Maple Bars and enter to win a Keurig Brewer and Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup Pack! Doughnuts and coffee? Duh.
And if you didn’t see yesterday’s How-To – all about making pastry cream, which fits so perfectly in with this recipe – be sure to check it out before diving in! You can’t have a Bismark without pastry cream!
So go forth young Doughnut-Wan and learn your ways of the Bismark.
And be sure to catch up on all of the other Doughnut Week creations below and enter to win your own doughnut making kit from King Arthur Flour, Cabot and Red Star Yeast!
Here is another thing to add to the list of “Things Not to Leave Alone with Megan” and this vanilla pastry cream is it. Just couple it with, a jar of Nutella, all the seasons of Downton Abbey on DVD, and a room full of puppies. I will lose my ISH. Hide all the spoons, because if it’s awfully likely that I will be spoon deep in my jar of itAnd since I’m a nursing school widow right now, it’s a constant struggle to keep my time occupied while Ben is hitting the books, or his clinicals and having a jar of pastry cream around is d.a.n.g.e.r.o.u.s. It’s especially dangerous because it’s so dang easy to make! And versatile. It’s amazing in these Boston Cream Pie Pancakes, or in between layers of cake in this Rose Ombre Cake- which also has a step-by-step tutorial in cake decorating!
Check out the step-by-step photos below to learn how!
First, split a half vanilla bean and using the back side of a knife, scrape the seeds or “caviar” out. In a large sauce pan over medium heat whisk together the half and half and milk together. Add the vanilla caviar and pod to the milk mixture to infuse the vanilla flavor. Once steaming and hot remove from the heat and let the mixture rest to finish infusing. As it is sitting, move onto the next step.
Crack and separate five eggs. If you’re sick of getting egg shells into your eggs, try my tried and true How to Crack and Separate Eggs How-to! To the eggs, whisk in the sugar until the egg yolks have turned a nice, light butter yellow color. Then add in the corn starch, whisking until smooth.
Slowly, I mean slowly, whisk in the heated vanilla milk infusion into the eggs, whisking as you go bringing the eggs to a warm temperature gradually. If you just pour all the hot milk at once the eggs will curdle and you will have to start all over. And that’s a bummer. Once the milk and eggs are whisked together pour them all back into the saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat. With a strainer set over a large bowl, pour the whole mixture through and use a spoon to push it through and remove any curdled bits.
Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap by pressing the plastic directly onto the cream and place in the fridge until set and cool.
And that’s all there is to it! Give it a try as soon as possible. I can’t make any promises that you won’t be eating it out of the jar with a spoon. There are no heroes here. Just go for it.
Ben and I are so predictable. Friday night is Gold Rush night, we crack a beer, I fall asleep on the couch before the episode even starts, I wake up 10 minutes before the end to find out the totals of the week and then I trudge off to bed to curl up with the mutt at my feet and sleeping in ’til 7. So predictable. Please tell me I’m not the only one that this happens to. Right?
Ben loves his stouts. I’m more of an “everything, but stout” kinda gal. But sometimes, a stout is what you need. Especially with chocolate. You can count me in on anything with chocolate any day of the week. My daily post-lunch ration of chocolate is what makes sitting behind a desk 40 hours a week bearable every day.
And maple. I love maple.
I had a boyfriend in college who would swear up and down that his mom mad the best maple bars ever. Like, ever. He’d wax poetic about these maple bars. I always wanted to know how to make them and schemed to learn to make them so I could impress him one day and prove that I could do just as good as she could. That day never came. But really, size years later – I think I just one upped his mother.
What now, what now? Chocolate stout and maple. Where are the angels singing in the background and lights shining when you need them? Well, cue them immediately – because you will need them on stand by when you bite into one of these.
These maple bars and glaze are based off of the original Maple Bar from Top Pot doughnut from here in Seattle. These are the end all be all of doughnuts. Slightly crispy on the outside and so perfectly pillowy on the inside – you will be yelling “amen”!! And who doesn’t love a little food sin with beer mixed into ever day foods? No one, that’s who!
Because it’s DOUGHNUT WEEK, there are a who heap of your favorite bloggers and myself who are gearing up for it with deep fried carbs. Who really cares about New Years resolution when you have doughnuts? No one, that’s who!
Check out these other fantastical doughnuts below and be sure to enter the giveaways below!’
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