Skip to main content

Chocolate Stout and Bacon Skillet Brownies

 

I hope you don’t mind my excessive use of stout over the past few weeks, but to be honest I’m really not sorry. I love stouts, I’m  unreasonably excited about stouts being back "in season," and we are only about 2 weeks away from International Stout Day.

I’m geting you all stocked up on stout recipes, in case you want to celebrate via beer infused baked goods.

Which, of course, I hope you do.

You can use a chocolate stout for this, and that will be perfectly fine. You can also use a smoked porter or stout, or you can use a coffee or espresso stout.

Whatever you choose, this is best served warm, in the middle of a table full of fun people, each with a spoon in one hand and a stout in the other.

Chocolate Stout and Bacon Skillet Brownies

Ingredients
  

  • 2 strips thick cut bacon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3.5 oz 100g dark chocolate (60%), broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup stout chocolate or coffee stouts work best
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Preheat oven to 350.

Instructions
 

  • In a 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet cook the bacon until done. Remove bacon from skillet. Swirl the bacon fat to coat the pan, discard the excess bacon fat.
  • Add the butter to the skillet, return to heat and cook until melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add beer and stir.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined. Sprinkle the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and espresso powder over the eggs, whisk until just combined.
  • Add the egg mixture to the chocolate skillet and stir until just combined. Chop bacon and sprinkle over the top.
  • Bake until the top has set (don't over bake) about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, top with vanilla ice cream if desired (and I'm pretty sure you should desire) set in the middle of a table full of hungry people. Add spoons.

Chocolate Mint Stout Lava Cake

 

 

 

Let’s talk about mint for a second.

If you know me well, you know I have an issue with mint. Although it would be hard to tell, given that I’ve made you Chocolate Porter Brownies with Mint Frosting, Chocolate Mint Stout Ice Cream, and our neighborhood beer float hussy, The Dirty Girl Scout. You could have even assumed that I LOVE mint by all of those recipes, but the truth is that this is my culinary equililant of Exposure Therapy.

The devolution of mint in my life happened in Morocco. I was traveling though Middle Atlas a few year ago with my sister, being carted from one town to another in the back of what was surely the car of a Moroccan drug dealer (or at least drug dropper-offer-guy, *actual term). I can’t even really pinpoint which incident linked Mint with Morocco in my brain. Maybe it was the cave dweller in Middle Atlas who made me mint tea, or the three Moroccan rug makers who locked me in the back of the factory plying me with mint tea in an effort to convince me to spend $6000 on a rug, or maybe it was the mint vendors waving their wares at me in the walled maze that was the old City Medina.

To be honest, the experience wasn’t entirely bad. Terrifying and life changing, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to have gone to the other side of the world, even if it did involved running for my life through the late night streets of Fez. The rumor is that your sense of taste is more strongly linked to memories than images. Which makes sense. Because even when I see my photos from that trip, it doesn’t even come close to evoking the memories that come screaming back when I smell or taste fresh mint.

I want to like mint, it’s an incredible flavor. It’s fresh and bright, and makes me gag. But I’m working on it. Exposure therapy, one chocolate mint dessert at a time.

Months ago, when I found out about the Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout I was excited that my self imposed mint affliction could extend into my love of craft beer.

This might do it. And with a bold and creamy taste, and a gentle, but not sweet, mint flavor, I have high hopes that I will someday be the cure to my mint aversion. I think I need to send Ken Schmidt a mint flavored thank you card.

 

Chocolate Mint Stout Lava Cake

Ingredients
  

  • 3.5 oz 100 g Dark Chocolate 70%
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter 10 tbs
  • 2/3 cup Chocolate Mint Stout or chocolate stout
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 eggs plus 3 additional yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp espresso powder this will not make the dessert taste like coffee. Espresso intensifies chocolate
  • 2 tbs dark chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Butter six soufflé dishes very well. The best way to do this is to soften butter (or use vegetable shortening or margarine) and a wadded up paper towel, smear a large amount inside each dish, making sure to get into the edges.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, add the chocolate and butter. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add beer, and peppermint extract, stir to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks and powdered sugar.
  • Pour chocolate mixture over egg mixture, stir to combine.
  • Sprinkle cocoa powder, espresso powder and flour over chocolate mixture, stir until just combined.
  • Divide equally between souffle dishes, making sure not to fill more than 2/3 full. Press about 4 to 5 chocolate chips into the very center of each cake (can be made one day ahead, cover and chill).
  • Bake at 425 until the outside is set, but the center is still liquid, about 9 minute no more than 13. (Note: Glass baking dishes cook much faster then ceramic dishes. Take these out of the oven when it looks as if they "need a few more minutes," you want a very runny center.)
  • Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Place a plate on top of each ramekin, turn upside down, lift ramekin to reveal cake. Serve immediately.

 

Sweet Potato Beer Biscuits With Maple Sage Butter

 

 

I didn’t grow up eating Sweet potatoes.

I never saw them on my Thanksgiving table or at Sunday dinner. They just didn’t exist in my world. Until one chilly afternoon in College when I stopped by the dorm room of a Souther friend of mine who had just pulled a Sweet potato, covered in butter and brown sugar out of the microwave. She was nuts. A Vegetable with sugar on it? I couldn’t get over how strange it was to enjoy a vegetable as if it was some kind of dessert. She offered me a bite, and my instinct to recoil was overtaken by my overwhelming curiosity. I was hooked.

I shocked at how much I love it. It was a comfort food, and it was a vegetable. Biscuits, made from scratch, are a bit the same. Although I didn’t grow up with anything other than a biscuit from a tube with a fear inducing opening method, those always seemed amazing to me. Another incredible comfort food.

And the beer isn’t just here for the novelty of it. Beer is a mild leavening agent, giving this biscuits a lighter, more tender texture. For this recipe, I like a Hefeweizen or a Pumpkin Ale.

Sweet Potato Beer Biscuits With Maple Sage Butter

Ingredients
  

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 stick butter cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbs melted butter

For the Butter:

  • 3 tbs butter room temperature
  • 1 sage leaf minced
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Pierce the sweet potato all over. Microwave on high until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to work with. Remove and discard skin, add sweet potato to a bowl (should be about 3/4 cup of sweet potato mash).
  • Add the beer to the sweet potatoes and using a potato masher, stir and mash until completely combined.
  • In a bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Mix to combine.
  • Add the butter cubes and using your fingers or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour until completely combined.
  • Add the sweet potato beer mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Form dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Form into a square, about 1 1/2 inches high, and about 1 foot long. Cut into square biscuits. Place on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush with melted butter.
  • Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, add the maple syrup ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Serve biscuits warm, with maple sage butter.

 

 

 

Broccomole: Broccoli Guacamole

 

It’s broccoli guacamole. You’re skeptical, I can tell. But this is really great, and with a creaminess that was slightly shocking, I will be making this again.

And, if you set a serving size at an ounce, as Livestrong is telling me to do, it’s only 22 calories a serving. And only about 250 calories if I eat the entire bowl, which I am prone to doing.

I love guacamole. I profess honest culinary devotion to avocados and guacamole. It is chocked full of healthy fats, vitamins, and protein. A great food that can not be improve upon. This recipe isn’t about improving guacamole. It’s a new food, a lower calorie creamy green dip that is about 1/3 the calories of that guacamole I love. But with twice the protein and less fat.

And broccoli is known cancer fighter, bone strengthener, cardiovascular health champion, bone-fide superfood and one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. We could all stand to be a wee bit addicted to a bowl of this stuff.

And it was so tasty, I ate it for lunch. And dinner. It’s like a dip with a mission, you don’t even have to feel bad about it. You are preventing heart disease and stroke one bite at a time. Really, it’s like medicine.

 

This recipe was inspired by Ludo Lefebvre. While giving an interview about his book, Ludo Bites, he spoke about a Broccomole he made. This is my version.

Broccomole

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped, seeds removed
  • 2 tbs green onions
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 ounces fat free cream cheese (or silken tofu, goat cheese, sour cream, cashew cream, something creamy)
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbs cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Cook the broccoli in lightly salted water until very soft. Overcook the broccoli in comparison to the al dente cooking that most recipes recommend.
  2. Drain broccoli very well.
  3. Transfer to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth, add additional olive oil for a smoother texture.
  4. Serve warm

 

 

Pizza Stuffed Pretzel Rolls

 

I’m going unprocessed this month. Which, as my favorite byproduct of this exercise, has pushed me out of my grocery buying comfort zone and reminded me to wander into local bakeries and specialty food stores to rely on what they have to offer. I love supporting local mom & pop shops, and even though I eat a very unprocessed diet on a regular basis, this is a great way for me to double check all of my eating habits.

When I had the idea for these stuck in my head, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for the both of us. I found out a few interesting short cuts for pizza dough. While I am working on perfecting a pizza dough recipe, I realize that good dough takes time and my pizza making cravings don’t allow me the requisite 24 hours that good dough really needs. I did learn that most pizza places will sell you raw and ready to use pizza dough if you just ask, but don’t count on them delivering. Also, look for an Italian deli, I have two really great ones in my neighborhood. They usually sell homemade pasta, home cured meats, homemade cheese AND (you guested it) raw and ready to go pizza dough. Sometimes you even get handmade recipes passed down from generation to generation shipped over from the Motherland. So much better than I could ever do myself. As much as I WANT to make everything from my own hands, even on my best day I could never top an Italian Grandmother on her worst. So, my secret to these is "store bought" dough is getting it from my local Italian deli.

You can also look at your local regular-guy markets (Trader Joe’s, Fresh & Easy, Whole Foods) if you don’t have any Italian culinary entrepreneur  in your neighborhood. But it’s worth a Yelp search, just incase they flew under your radar, or call the nice folks at your local pizza restaurant to see if they will break you off a hunk of their dough.

 

Pizza Stuffed Pretzel Rolls

1 batch Pizza dough

1/2 cup marinara sauce

2 oz peperoni, chopped

1/2 cup cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, whatever you want)

1/4 cup baking soda

2 tbs sugar

3 tbs melted butter

course salt

 

Preheat oven to 350.

Start by placing the hunk of dough on a lightly floured surface.

 

Shape the dough into a long log. Cut into two equal halves, then cut each half in half (giving you four equal logs)

Then cut each log in half the other way

Now you have 8 pieces! Cut each piece in half and you are finally done with the cutting and you have 16 dough pieces ready to be filled.

Roll each dough piece on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Top with about 1 to 2 tbs sauce, 2 tbs cheese and 1 tbs pepperoni.

Wet the edges of the dough (the best way to do this is to place a small bowl of water near you and wet your fingertips) and pinch the edges tightly together.

Place on a baking sheet, covered with a Silpat.

Fill a large pot with water, making sure you have enough room for it to bubble up, but deep enough for the rolls to fit in. Add the 2 tbs sugar and allow to boil, add the baking soda (there will be lots of bubbling), add the buns (about 4 at a time) and allow to boil for about 30 seconds, remove with a large slotted spoon and return to baking sheet.

Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until a dark golden brown.

*Note: if you want to freeze these, allow to cool, place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 weeks. To re-heat, bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cooked though.

 

Triple Berry Blueberry Beer Cobbler

You inspire me. You really do. One of my favorite moments of my day is reading emails from you, those of you who read my blog and like what I’m doing.

And sometimes,the emails have a common theme. A thread that runs through out the world, across the internet, and remind me of how we are all connected, in one way or another, and more similar than we all think.

In the past month I’ve received four emails from all over the world about blueberry beer. Not so much along the avenue of, "I love this, you MUST try it!" but more in the vein of, "This is interesting, but not totally drinkable, what do I do with it?"

And to be honest, I feel the same way. At a beer event six months ago, an overly zealous beer server shoved a glass of Shipyards Smashed Blueberry into my hand. And, as one who will never let a beer go untasted, I began to drink. It was interesting. The presence of blueberry with bready, toasty notes that where really well balanced. It wanted to love it, but it just wasn’t for me. It’s a great example of a blueberry beer, one that you should go out and drink, if fruit beers are your thing, but just not for me. Even still, it stayed with me, because in my world there is a different place for cooking beers. And this was a great cooking beer. One that I believe in, in theory, a well crafted beer with great flavors, but one that I wasn’t eager to run home and drink.

So here we are, me and you, with blueberry beers that we find interesting but not necessarily ones we want to fill our glasses with.

So here is what I propose: an easy berry cobbler made with this intriguing beer. And here are some great ones to go out and try:

SLO Brewing Blueberry

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Beer

Bluepoint Blueberry Ale

Shipyard Smashed Blueberry

Triple Berry Blueberry Beer Cobbler

Ingredients
  

  • Six cups of berries I used 2 cups each blackberries, strawberrries, and blueberries Frozen is fine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar plus 2 tbs divided
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberry beer
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 tbs butter 1 1/2 sticks cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs beer

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • In a pot over medium high heat, add 4 cups berries (reserve 2 cups mixed berries for the end), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, corn starch and beer. Allow to simmer until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add reserved 2 cups of berries, stir to combine. Add to a deep dish pie pan.
  • In a bowl, add 2 tbs brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and stir to combine.
  • Add the butter, rub into the flour until well combined and resembles course meal.
  • Add the milk and 1/2 cup beer, stir until combined.
  • Gently add the flour topping, a bit at a time, to the pie pan until the berries are covered.
  • Bake at 450 until the topping has turned a light golden brown, about 18 minutes.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbs beer. Whip on high until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  • Serve the cobbler topped with whipped cream.

 

How To: Make Corn Tortillas From Scratch

Homemade corn tortillas are one of the perfect food trifectas: easy, cheap & delicious.

SO much better than anything you have ever found at on a store shelf, takes about 5 minutes, and only a few cents each.

This needs to be added to your "To Make" list. Right now.

Check out the step by step guest post I did for Andrew of Eating Rules, and sign up for the pledge if you get a chance!

 

Get the recipe here!

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I spent the morning interviewing ex-cons.

For them, the employees of Homeboy Industries, it’s a second chance and fresh start. A non-profit that works with gang members, fresh out of jail, provides culinary training, GED prep, job placement, parenting skills and so much more. "It’s like a big family, but everyone believes in you." Said one guy, back for a second chance at his second chance.

But sitting at the front of the Homegirl Cafe, interviewing and photographing the employees, it felt like a second chance and fresh start for me too. I was hired to write an article about food. Paid to go there, talk to people and take photos. A rare opportunity it seems for me to bulldog my way into this food writing world that I’ve been fighting so hard to be  a part of. An article I hope to do justice to, undoubtably spending the better part of the next week working on.

So here we are. Me and them. My transformation so much less dramatic, so much less important to my survival. They inspire me. When I asked the man I met, the one who is back for his second time and only 3 days out of jail, how he is going to do things different this time around, he shrugs, "I’m just going to keep showing up. That’s all."

I think he’s on to something there.

Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Makes 2 dozen

Instructions

  1. In a pot over medium high heat, add the butter. Stir until butter has melted. Continue to cook, swirling the pot continuously, until the butter has turned an amber brown color and remove from heat. This will take about 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar. Add the vanilla and the browned butter, stir until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined, don’t over mix.
    Line two baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  5. Form dough into balls a bit larger than a golf ball. Place on the baking sheets.
  6. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, and up to 24.
  7. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for about 18 minutes or until light golden brown. Keep an eye on your cookies at about the 12 minutes mark. Cookies that aren’t as chilled will cook much faster.

 

Pumpkin Ale Cheesecake with Beer Pecan Caramel Sauce

I conducted a very non-sientiffic study on my Facebook page about pumpkin beer. To be honest with you, I have always been a touch hesitant of fruit flavored beer. And although pumpkin is a squash, therefore  not a fruit, it seems to fall under the same umbrella in my mind since I make pies out of them.

But I love nothing more than trying new and exotic beers. And I always want input and feedback from other craft beer fans. So, my very un-scientific study yielded the final conclusion: based only on comments and likes, I want to search the town for the following Pumpkin Beers for another non-scientific Beer Tasting Study:

Dogfish Head, Pumpkin

Avery, Rumpkin

St Arnold, Pumpkinator

Southern Tier, Pumpking

If you have any suggestions, please chime in. I’m looking to expand the reach of my non-scientific study.

Pumpkin Ale Cheesecake with Beer Pecan Caramel Sauce

5 from 1 vote

Ingredients
  

For The Cheesecake

  • 9 standard sized graham crackers
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 4 tbs melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 16 oz cream cheese softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup pumpkin ale
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs flour

For The Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin beer
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup pecans

Instructions
 

  • In a food processor add the graham crackers and brown sugar, process until only crumbs are left. While the food processor is still running, add the melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand. Dump into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Press into the bottom until well compacted.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar, white sugar and cream cheese. Mix until well combined. One at a time, add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined, scraping the bottom, before adding more.
  • Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon nutmeg and salt, mix until very well combined.
  • Add the beer and stir until combined.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the bowl, stir on medium speed until just combined.
  • Pour over the crust.
  • Bake at 350 for about one hour or until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the rack the cheesecake sits on, it will still look wet in the center. The secret to a great cheesecake is not to over bake it, it's better to slightly under bake it for a smooth mousse like texture.
  • Chill until set, about 3 hours.
  • To make the caramel sauce, add the sugar, beer and corn syrup to a pot and stir over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Stop stirring and allow to boil, untouched, until it turns an amber color, about 10 minutes (230 on a candy thermometer). Add the butter and cream, stir until combined. Add the pecans and stir. Allow to cool to approximately room temperature before serving over chilled cheesecake.


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups

 

 

 

I’ve got a bone to pick with Reeses. First, they make the only store bought candy that I can’t stop eating. The only Halloween treat I’m actually tempted to eat in bulk.

But my real issue is with their so called Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkins.

On first glance this Halloween treat seems like it contains, or at least tastes like, pumpkin. Which lures me into breaking my self imposed ban on store bought candy only to be left with the realization that the only thing Pumpkin about it, is the shape.

So I give to you the exact opposite. An Unprocessed, homemade treat that is not shaped like a pumpkin but contains real life, home roasted pumpkin.

If you want to make it a touch easier, you can combine canned pumpkin pie filling with peanut butter until it tastes right to you, but I like to roast my pumpkins myself. I just love real life produce that much, I pledge my allegiance to the framer and not the factory.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

(you will also need mini muffin tins and mini muffin papers)

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Line a mini muffin tin with mini muffin papers. Add about 1 1/2 tsp of melted chocolate to each paper. Using the back of a spoon, gently "paint" the chocolate up the sides of the papers, making sure to leave enough on the bottom for a sturdy base.
  2. Place muffin tin in the refrigerator, chill until set, about ten minutes.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. (Taste filling, add more honey for a sweeter filling.)
  4. Once the chocolate has set, add a small amount to the middle of the cups, making sure to avoid the top edges.
  5. Remelt chocolate if necessary.
  6. Top the muffin papers with melted chocolate, tap the muffin tin lightly on the counter to evenly distribute chocolate. Make sure the pumpkin filling is completely covered.
  7. Chill until set, about 10 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen.

 

Pumpkin Ale Waffles & How To Roast A Pumpkin

 Although most of you are in the giddy early stages of fall, here in Los Angeles it’s still over 90 degrees. So what the rest of the country is referring to as "Fall," I am calling Pumpkin Season. And to curb my near constant urge to shove as much pumpkin into everything I consume, I have elected to only make pumpkin from scratch, no cans.

It’s only really helped a little. It’s pretty easy to roast a pumpkin and turn it into massive quantities of pumpkin treats.

If you haven’t roasted your own, don’t be intimidated, its pretty simple.

Start with a pie pumpkin. They go by various other names, but they are not Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins used for carving. They are small, about the size of a cantaloupe.

Preheat oven to 375.

Remove the stem by running a butter knife around the edges and then prying it off. The most stubborn one I removed by whacking it on the edge of the counter. Popped right off.

Cut the pumpkin in half, right through the hole left by the stem.

Scoop the seeds out with a spoon.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place pumpkins on baking sheets, cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast at 375 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until a fork can easily slide into the skin.

 Allow to cool and sccop the flesh out.

For a smoother texture, process in a food processor for about 3 minutes.

See, that’s not so hard. You can totally do that.

Pumpkin Ale Waffles

Ingredients
  

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Ale

(Makes 6 to 8)

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat waffle iron.
    • Get out three bowls.
    • In the largest bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, stir until well combined.
    • Divide the eggs between the last two bowls, egg whites in one, yolks in the other.
    • In the yolks bowl, add the milk and pumpkin puree, stir until well combined. Add the melted butter and stir.
    • Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes.
    • Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined, don't over mix. Add the beer and stir until combined. Gently fold in the egg whites.
    • Spray waffle iron with butter flavored cooking spray. Cook waffles according to manufactures directions.

     

     

    Skinny Baked Potato Soup 210 Calories

     

    Raise your hand if you ate way to much this weekend.

    I finally found pie pumpkins in my city wide search and participated in hours of pumpkin glutton. Those posts will be up later, but I needed a bit of a pumpkin detox before jumping back in for more. I have no plans to stop my fall pumpkin worship, but I needed a break.

    I am also preparing for October Unprocessed. Have you taken the challenge? I signed up. Andrew of Eating Rules has asked if we could all go just one month without eating processed foods. I did it last year and found that it was both easier and more challenging that I had thought. What is processed food? That’s quite the debate, but it gets you thinking. It was, more than anything, a great reminder to read every single label on every single package I buy. Why am I buying a jam with ingredients I don’t recognize when I can just buy the one with only two: Strawberries, sugar.

    Why don’t I just buy my bread from the baker down the street, with his 4 ingredients rather than the  package from across the country with 17 ingredients?

    More produce, less cans, no Doritos. You can do it.

    There is no fixed answer to the question, "What is unprocessed?" but the simple answer is: do you have (or could you have) all of those ingredients in your kitchen and could a person reasonably make it themselves.

    For instance, I have lots of friends who are home brewers and they make beer themselves. So that makes beer OK to have, it passes the Kitchen Test. If you could reasonably assume you COULD make it, it’s OK.

    However, I have no idea how to pronounce half of the ingredients in Oreos, I don’t have those in my kitchen, I could not make that product, with those exact ingredients, so sorry, no Oreos for me. For more in depth answer to the questions, you can read this.

    The best thing about this challenge, is that it gets us thinking. About what we eat, who we "vote for" with the dollars we spend, and what we are training our bodies to crave.

    And if you can’t go a month with eating just real whole food, then why not? Why is that hard for you?

    I encourage you sign up, even if you know you can’t be perfect. Can you do Unprocessed Wednesday Night Dinners? Sign up and give it a try. It will get you thinking about what you’re eating, and what you are feeding your family.

    This soup recipe could even be debated (although it is not yet October). While some ingredients easily pass the kitchen test, it reminds you to read the labels on the brands of sour cream and cheese you buy. Some will only have three or four easily recognized ingredients while some brands will have several more. It’s just about being mindful of what you buy.

    Skinny Baked Potato Soup 210 Calories

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1 leek, chopped (only white and light green part)
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 cups fat free chicken broth
    • 4 cups cauliflower, chopped
    • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 cup milk

    Garnishes:

    • 1/2 cup light sour cream
    • 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1 large tomato, chopped
    • 1/2 cup green onion or chives, chopped

    (Makes 4 servings)

    Instructions

    1. In a pot over medium high heat, add the leeks and onions, cook until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic and stir. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, and cauliflower and allow to boil until vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes.
    2. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, puree until smooth. Stir in the spices and milk, return to heat and allow to simmer until thickened to desired consistency (the longer you simmer, the thicker the soup will become).
    3. Divide among 4 bowls, top each one with 2 tbs sour cream and stir. Top with remaining garnishes and serve.

     

    DIY Glow In The Dark Halloween Ghost Craft

    DIY Glow In The Dark Halloween Ghost Craft


    Maybe you don’t know this, but the first post I ever did for this blog was a craft post on how to make Homemade Paper Lanterns. It wasn’t too much longer that I was sucked into the food blog scene and haven’t really looked back.

    I do still love to get my crafting hands dirty, and this little DIY is so easy, I hope you forgive me for my break from those food posts I love so much.

    Make a dozen or so to hang from your trees on Halloween, they turned out a little creepy in the best way.

    Materials (for 1 ghost):

    1 large clear plastic christmas ornament (I found this at Michael’s Arts & Crafts for $1)

    1 to 3 glow sticks (or glow necklaces) that are small enough to fit inside the ornament

    Round black felt stickers, or black felt cut into cricles

    6 feet of cheese cloth (most grocery stores sell this in the baking section)

     

    Remove the metal top from the ornament. Place the glow sticks inside (but wait until dark to break the glow stick). I found that two or three work better once its dark.

    Replace the metal top.

    Add the black felt stickers (or cut out circles and glue them) to the ornament to resemble eyes.

    Cut the cheese cloth into 2 foot strips. You can also cut it into various lengths to add a bit of dimension.

    Layer the cloth over the ornament and push the metal ring through the cloth.

    DONE!

    That’s it, takes about 5 minutes.

    Here is day time creepy ghost:

    And night time creepy ghost.

     

     

    Beer Pretzel Bread Bowls & Oktoberfest

     

    Although Oktoberfest has morphed into a festival of beer, it began as a celebration of a royal wedding more than 200 years ago. It starts in September, last for 16 days and ends on the first Sunday in October.

    I can assume that most of you won’t be making it to Munich to participate in the festivities at the celebrations birth place. But, if you want to throw yourself your own little Oktoberfest, I have some facts for you that can help you celebrate in a more authentic fashion than those American street fairs in late October with macro beer and  sorifity girls in period inaccurate midriff baring wardrobes.

    First, you’ll need some local beer, Oktoberfest only serves beer brewed in the Munich city limits. Follow suit and find the breweries closest to your own home, or talk that home brewer you know into making you a batch, those guys are always up for sharing.

    Second, learn the opening salute. For the past 60 years the celebration has been kicked off by the mayor of Munich yelling, "O' zapft ist!" (it’s tapped!) after the very first keg of Oktoberfest beer has been tapped.

    Make fun of people who can’t hold their liquor. Really, this is always a good idea, but at the festivals in Munich, those who get too drunk and pass out are teased with  the label "Bierleichen" (beer corps). Please, know your limits.

    Traditional foods include:  Roast pork, sausages, pretzels, potato dumplings, cheese noodles, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, and  spiced cheese-butter spread.

    Although not technically a traditional Oktoberfest food, beer cheese soup has made it’s way onto Oktoberfest menus all over the word. Throw in some sausage and sauerkraut and serve it in a pretzel bread bowl to make it a little more credible.

    Beer Pretzel Bread Bowls & Oktoberfest

    Ingredients
      

    • 3 cups bread flour
    • 1 packet of dry active yeast
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1 1/4 cup wheat beer
    • 2 tbs olive oil
    • water
    • 1/3 cup baking soda
    • 3 tbs melted butter
    • 2 tbs coarse salt

    Instructions
     

    (Makes 4 bread bowls or 8 dinner rolls. Bread bowls are fairly small and only hold about a cup of soup each.)

    • Add flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachement. Stir to combine.
    • In a microwave safe bowl, add the beer. Microwave for 20 seconds, test temperature and repeat until the beer reaches 110 degrees (if the beer is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Sprinkle the beer with the yeast and wait for it to foam (this is called proofing the yeast, if it doesn't foam the yeast is bad).
    • Pour the beer into the bowl and stir at a low speed until well combined, turn the speed up to medium until the dough gathers around the hook and is smooth.
    • Oil a large bowl with olive oil. Remove the dough from the mixer, form into a ball and place in prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm, dry area until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
    • Remove the dough from the bowl, knead on a light flowed surface until smooth, about 2 minutes. Break into 4 equal pieces (you can also make 8 dinner roll size portions) form into balls. Cover balls with plastic wrap, allow to sit until doubled in size, about 20 mintes.
    • Preheat oven to 375.
    • Fill a large pot with water, making sure there is room for it bubble up without spilling over, but deep enough for the large dough balls. Bring water to a boil, add the baking soda. Cut an X into the top of each bread ball. Place gently in the baking soda water and cook, turning once, for about 30 seconds. Remove from water and place on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat, or sprayed with cooking spray, cut side up. Repeat for all bread balls.
    • Brush liberally with melted butter, sprinkle with salt.
    • Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until a dark golden brown in color.

     

    Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Bacon Hollandaise

    I think we know each other well enough by now that I don’t have to try and pretend. If a dish is easy, I’ll tell you. If it’s quick, I’ll tell you. If it’s healthy, I’ll tell you.

    This is none of those things. It is, however, worth the effort. It’s a special occasion breakfast to keep in your back pocket, for, you know, if Bradley Cooper stops by for breakfast. It could happen.

    It’s actually not that difficult. Although, I do hesitate to say that since my "not that difficult" is someone else’s "Oh my GOD, is she nuts??"

    But really, you can do this. I even gave you a food processor version of a hollandaise, which is SUPER easy, you don’t even have to worry about turning your sauce into scrabbled eggs, which is what I did the first time I tried to make it the traditional way.

    If you want to make this in stages, you can assemble the crab cakes ahead of time, put them on a plate, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then cook the following day. You can also make the sauce ahead of time, and then reheat slowly in a double boiler. You can EVEN replace the poached eggs with fried eggs to make it even easier. But really, it’s not that difficult.

    And I believe in you.

    I think all food people have a small stash of items that we buy at Gourmet Food Stores that we save for special recipes. Spices, the good salt in those fancy containers, crab meat, things like that. This is a recipe I found worthy of breaking into my Gourmet Food Store stash. Rare for a breakfast recipe, but this one made the cut.

    Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Bacon Hollandaise

    Ingredients

    For The Crab Cakes:

    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbs green onions, chopped
    • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
    • 1 tbs melted butter
    • 8 oz lump crab meat
    • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, plus one cup divided
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • pinch cayenne
    • 1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning

    For the Hollandaise:

    • 4 strips bacon
    • 4 tbs butter
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 2 tbs lemon
    • pinch cayenne
    • 4 eggs (for poaching)

    Makes 4 servings

    Instructions

    1. Combine all the crab cake ingredients in a bowl (reserving one cup of Panko for the coating). Form into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick. Place remaining Panko in a bowl. One at a time, place the patties in the Panko and press until well coated on all sides with bread crumbs. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. In a pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon, turing frequently, until crispy and cooked trough. Remove the bacon and set aside. Once the bacon is removed, add the crab cakes to the pan, cooking in the bacon grease until golden brown on the underside, flip carefully and cook on the other side until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat.
    3. In a food processor, add the bacon, process until only crumbs are left. Add the egg yolks and process for about 3 minutes. Melt the butter in a pot on the stove (or in the microwave) until hot and steaming. While the food processor is running, slowly, slowly add the butter until well combined with the yolks. Add the lemon and the cayenne, process until combined. If your sauce is too thick, add water to thin, about a teaspoon at a time.
    4. Poach the eggs in simmering water.
    5. Place one crab cake on each plate, top with poached egg, then sauce.

     

     

     

     

     

    The Dirty Girl Scout: Chocolate Mint Beer Float

     

    This isn’t a recipe. Not really, it’s more like assembly instructions for how to make a float that tastes like a Girl Scout Thin Mint, but with beer.

    Boozy, chocolatey, minty.

    But there really isn’t a recipe involved. Add more ice cream if that’s what you like. Add more beer, if that suits you.

    I used my homemade Chocolate Mint Stout Ice Cream & a lot of Bison Chocolate Stout.

    It tastes like beer. In case you were hoping for one of those overly sweet concoctions they sell at diners.

    But, more or less, this is how you do it:

     

    Step one:

    Add a few scoops of chocolate mint ice cream to the bottom of a mug.

     

    Grab some beer, chocolate stout is preferable.

    Pour beer over ice cream.

     

    Enjoy.

     


    Chocolate Mint Stout Ice Cream

    There are two ways to look at this.

    It’s either the summer death rattle manifesting itself in an ice cream during the first week of fall, or it’s the nexus of the best of summer treats and the best of fall beers joining forces at the perfect moment.

    For this, I used Bison Chocolate Stout. Rich, dark and beautiful. Although I did try and hold out for the Stone Chocolate Mint Stout that I’ve been teased with for months now, I may have to give this recipe another try when the red tape is lifted and the world is able to indulge in that.

    I also used Green & Blacks Mint Dark Chocolate, adding a smooth peppermint flavor.

    Resulting in a rich, smooth ice cream that’s like a Girl Scout Thin Mint, but with beer. And, that’s really what those cookies need: beer.

     

     

    Chocolate Mint Stout Ice Cream

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 3 fresh mint leaves
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup chocolate stout or chocolate mint stout
    • 7 ounces of 60% dark chocolate with peppermint oil such as Dark Chocolate Mint from Green & Blacks, broken into chunks
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1 1/4 cup white sugar

    Instructions
     

    • In a pot over medium high heat, add the cream, milk, mint leaves cream and stout. Bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, remove and discard mint leaves, and stir in the chocolate until melted.
    • In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks and the sugar, whisk until well combined. Slowly add the chocolate milk, whisking continually, until about 1/2 the mixture has been added to the egg yolks. Add the egg yolk mixture back into pot, whisk until well combined. Return pot to heat and bring to a mild simmer.
    • Refrigerator until chilled, about 3 hours.
    • Churn in ice cream maker according to manufactures directions. Chill until firm.

     

     

     

    Green & Blacks provided me with a sample of chocolates used in this post. I was not monetarily compensated for this recipe. All thoughts, opinions and ideas are my own.