Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beer Brownies with Spent Grain Flour

Oh jeez, it's been over a month since I posted here! Sorry! I have been so busy with school, grad school, and wedding planning!  Life just gets in the way, you know?

However, I have still been cooking/baking up a storm over here. In fact, I have made some pretty great recipes recently.  For example, for the Super Bowl, I decided to make a bunch of stuff that I was craving and just sit around and eat while I watched the commercials (err...I mean the game?).  I made Vegetarian Buffalo Dip, Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites, and Beer Brownies.

Yep...Beer Brownies!  Also, they just happened to be the best brownies I'd ever consumed.  I adapted the recipe from Joy the Baker and used my own Spent Grain Flour and new favorite, dark beer.  They are just AHHHMAZING!  Finch's Stout for the beer, Spent Grain Flour from the time I homebrewed, and lots and lots of gooey chocolate. How can you go wrong?  I even made this again for Valentine's Day!

Let's talk beer.  I am usually not a Stout kinda girl, but this beer from Finch's is pretty fantastic.  It has this amazing coffee flavor that I just adore.  Plus, Finch's is local (right in the heart of Chicago) and so the Mariano's grocery store down the street carries their beer!  If you are not a beer fan, you can also use coffee and the brownies will still be fantastic, you just can't call them Beer Brownies then!

Beer Brownies with Spent Grain Flour

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup spent grain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark beer (I used Finch's Stout)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, spent grain flour, cocoa powder and salt.
3. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of boiling water with the butter and bittersweet chocolate.  Stir until melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the beer.
4.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs with both sugars until pale yellow and well combined.  Pour in the warm chocolate mixture while continuing to stir.  Beat until combined and then mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool for 20 and then cut into pieces.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream

So, I am sitting in the cafeteria because it is finals week and I am supposed to "supervise" aka babysit the children who do not have a first period final and do not want to go to the library to study.  It's times like these where I just love my job....

After this awful time of doing nothing, my finals actually begin and I have a geometry final and algebra final later today.  Although this morning time is pretty much the worst, I am excited to see how my students do on their finals today.

To pass the time, I am sitting with my English teacher friend and we are grading/chatting.  This is really not as bad as it could be.  I could be the person who has to walk around and ask students to settle down even though  it is a totally free time in the cafeteria...I mean, do we really expect them to study in here?

Of course, I am also sitting here thinking about food.  If I wasn't, I wouldn't be writing this blog post.  When I was thinking about what to write, I realized that on a cold day like today, it would be nice to think of something awesome like ice cream!  I can't put into words how much I miss summer and therefore how much I miss ice cream.  A while back, I decided that I wanted Moose Tracks because it is the best and so I made homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream.  It was freaking amazing.  I spent a day eating it while watching a Sex and the City marathon on HBO and I truly don't have any regrets about it.  I forgot to share the recipe here, but I figured that its never too late or too cold to talk about ice cream.

Moose Tracks Ice Cream

1 egg
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup skim milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
20 mini peanut butter cups, halved
1-2 cups fudge sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Make the fudge sauce: place the sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder in a medium pot.  Heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil while whisking constantly.  Cook while boiling for about 1 minute while continue to whisk.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Transfer to a container and let cool completely in the fridge.
2. In a large sauce pan, pour 1 1/2 cups of half and half and heat over medium until steamy and then remove from heat.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.  Pour in 1/2 cup of the warm half and half and beat until combined.  Pour the entire mixture back into the half and half saucepan.  Heat over medium, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon. Don't let it boil.
4. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and whisk in the rest of the half and half, skim milk, salt, and vanilla.  Cover and place in fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  
5. Once your ice cream mixture is chilled, freeze in ice cream machine according to directions.  Once down, pour into a bowl and stir in the fudge sauce and peanut butter cups.  Place in freezer to harden.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cauliflower Stir Fry

My first day back went pretty much as expected.  Kids didn't want to be there, they complained about having to "do math" and they were annoyed that we had to get ready for finals.  Like any of this is my fault.  I would love to have finals before winter break.

However, in general school has been going really well this year.  I can't believe we are at the end of the semester.  This year seems to be flying by.  With the end of the semester, I am thinking about about my teaching and what to change/keep for next semester.  It's important to always improve and I think that I have already seen great changes from my first year to this one.  Next semester, I am excited to see how I continue to change and improve my teaching practice.

I have also been spending a lot of time looking for new recipes.  These new recipes are frequently inspired by new restaurants.  For example, I recently ate at Cumin, an Indian restaurant in the Wicker Park area of Chicago.  It was amazing!  I can't even remember what I ordered, but everything was fantastic and the service was great.  Our waiter made great recommendations and we had a delicious experience.  I definitely want to try out some Indian cooking in my future.

Today I am sharing a recipe for Cauliflower Stir Fry.  I found the original recipe over at one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman.  She is so awesome and her food always looks amazing.  I just took her recipe and lightened it up a little bit.  Plus, I added some flavors that I just love.  So, run out to the store, buy a whole head of cauliflower, and whip up this recipe for your next meal!

Cauliflower Stir Fry

1 whole head of cauliflower
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp siracha or other hot sauce

1. Break off pieces of the cauliflower so that you don't have any green pieces and then chop it up so that you have small florets.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add in the garlic and cauliflower.  Stir until your cauliflower begins to brown.  Turn the heat to medium-low and add in the soy sauce, lime juice, green onions and siracha.  Continue to cook until the cauliflower is evenly coated in the sauce.  Feel free to add more hot sauce if you want a spicier flavor.

Enjoy :)


Monday, January 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Fudge

Well, it's time to go back to school and I don't know about you, but I needed a little something sweet to brighten my day.  The Monday after winter break is typically pretty rough, so whip up a batch of this yummy fudge so that you can shake off the blues a bit.  For high school, the Monday after Winter Break also marks the beginning of getting ready for finals.  Let me tell you, it is not pretty.  Student minds are still on break (and lets be honest, so are teacher minds) and we all have to get ready to start studying pretty intensively.  I try to make class as interactive and fun as possible so that students actually want to come to class....we will see how it goes!

This fudge was absolutely delish!  It was the perfect mixture of chocolate and with the sea salt sprinkled on top it became truly special.  I made this for my new years party and everyone was raving about it.  Plus, it is crazy easy to make! You don't need a candy thermometer or anything.  simply dump the ingredients into a crock pot, stir, and then pour into a pan to set and cool!  Done! When, I saw the recipe over at Creme de la Crumb, I was skeptical.  I thought this fudge was going to take forever, but then I saw that you only have to wait an hour and I was thrilled! I don't like waiting for dessert...

Slow Cooker Fudge

slow cooker fudge

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
sea salt for topping (optional)

1. Place milk chocolate, dark chocolate, honey and cream into your crock pot and cook on high for 1 hour.
2. Line an 8 by 8 baking dish (or a smaller pan for thicker fudge) with foil.
2. After 1 hour, stir in the milk chocolate chips until you have a smooth and creamy mixture.  Pour your chocolate mixture into your baking pan, sprinkle with salt if you are using it, and let the fudge set at room temperature.  Once set, cut into squares.

Enjoy :)