Touch of Grace Biscuits

Graceful Biscuits

There’s no graceful way to say this, so I may as well just be blunt…I can be a complete ass sometimes.  And by sometimes I mean when I just react instead of stopping and thinking about how I want to react.  It’s the dark side of living in the moment.  Because in that precise moment, it’s a head spinning, furious fisted meltdown.  I was swallowed whole by  that moment this morning at breakfast.

That’s right.  I had a tantrum over a plate of scrambled eggs.

And here’s the kicker….as soon as I started, I knew I was over reacting.  I knew it and knew that it was easier to just be swept out by the rising tide of my anger than it was to dig my heels into the shifting sand and ground myself to a halt.  And while I see progress in the fact that I’m not sitting here stewing mad hours later, listening to the looping rant in my head about “why can’t you just listen to what I say?”, this place of saying I was wrong is uncomfortable.

Wasn’t I just talking about being a student of life and the continuing education that has come courtesy of the Tater Tot?   What is the saying about pride coming before the fall?  Yeah, the Universe has a way of keeping us humble and in check.  So maybe I should expand this particular life lesson plan to include being mindful enough in that moment to consciously choose how to react.

Since the Universe also has an uncanny knack for giving us repeat opportunities to try and get things right, I have a hunch this won’t be the last time I get quizzed on this particular life lesson.  I can only hope that my scores improve so that I get to move on to the next chapter in the lesson plan.

And what exactly does this have to do with a pan of biscuits?  Well I’ll tell ‘ya.  Once upon a time, I tried to make Touch of Grace Biscuits.  There were  multiple attempts.   And they all failed to make a passing grade.  Really, click that link and take a look at the best I could do.  That’s no biscuit.

But thanks to putting my pride aside and paying attention to the lesson as the Universe presented it to me, I was able to create pans of graceful biscuits.  So while I still have a ways to go with some of life’s lessons, I’m going to say that I’ve gotten a passing grade on this one.

Thank you Shauna Server for bringing me face to face with perfectly graceful biscuits.  I am in your debt.  Not only did you get the right recipe in my hands but your photos gave me great visual cues to how my biscuit dough should look.

Touch of Grace Biscuits

Adapted from BakeWise

BAH Note:  I don’t typically say you need to use a specific brand of anything…unless it really makes a difference.  And in this case, I think it does.  So look in your grocery store for White Lilly self rising flour.  Once you get to know these sinfully graceful biscuits I don’t think that bag of flour will go unused in your pantry.

Oh, and if you were inclined to brush a tablespoon or so of melted butter on the tops of the biscuits when they come out of the oven, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice.

  • 2 cups self rising flour, preferably White Lily (see the note above)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening (yup, shortening)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (don’t substitute any self rising flour here)

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix the heavy cream and buttermilk in a measuring cup and set aside.

Place the all purpose flour in a pie plate or dish and set aside.

Whisk together the self rising flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Use your fingers to work the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles wet sand with no large clumps.

Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.  The dough should resemble wet cottage cheese.  To tell if you have the right consistency, use an ice cream scoop and scoop out some dough into your plate of all purpose flour.  It should hold its shape.  If not, return the test scoop to the mixing bowl and add self rising flour one tablespoon at a time and gently stir it in.

As soon as your dough holds its shape, place a few scoops of it in the all purpose flour.  Working with one scoop of dough at a time, pick it up, dust it with flour from your plate, and gently toss the dough from hand to hand to form your biscuit.  Place the formed biscuit in your prepared pan and repeat the process with the remaining dough.  Fit your biscuits as close together as you can…they need to be snug up against each other to get a really good rise.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes  or until the tops are light golden brown.  Allow the biscuits to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before turning them out and serving.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Baking, Breads, Cooking, Food, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Crockpot Char Siu Pork

Asian Pulled Pork

“It’s in the ‘Freezes Beautifully’ section of my cookbook, and I want to make something that freezes beautifully.”  – Annelle, Steel Magnolias

The Mistah and I have only recently begun to seriously budget.  Until now, budgeting meant making sure we had enough money in savings to cover our over spending from checking.  I know  that’s not the best approach…I knew it as we were in the midst of it.  But it was easier than having the conversation about getting things under control.  Now that our family has grown, the money talk can’t be avoided.  I guess I should consider this practice for the other “talks” that wait for us down the parental road.

Have you ever tried to convince someone to do something the way you think it should be done?  Then you know that if you and the other person don’t think alike, that can be a hard sell.  Not to mention seriously frustrating for you both.  That’s how all of our previous attempts at having the money talk went.  It was my way or your way, but not our way.

Something had to change.  So we took a page from organizational management tools and formed a committee.  We meet monthly.  We keep minutes.  We look for ways to meet our goals and objectives without having to be right.

The reason I’m oversharing this with you is because at our last Finance Committee Meeting, one of the ideas presented for consideration was to buy a separate freezer.  The thought behind this is that our refrigerator/freezer can’t accommodate a gallon of ice cream without a fight.  Trying to buy frozen foods in bulk, or heaven forbid actually cooking and freezing individual portions of meals is completely out of the question without additional cold storage.

We haven’t fully committed to this plan.  Do you know how much an upright freezer costs?  They ain’t cheap.  So I’ve been trolling Craigslist.  Until I either land my white whale used or suck it up and drop some serious cash for a new one, my “freezes beautifully” selections are done on a small scale…and our Frigidaire is an ice cream free zone.

Crockpot Char Siu Pork (Asian Pulled Pork)

Adapted from Cooking Light: The New Way to Cook Light

BAH Note:  I scored a deal on a 4 pound pork roast and doubled the recipe.  If you scale it up, be prepared for a longer cooking time.  My 4 pound roast took nearly 12 hours to fall off the bone.

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (lower sodium recommended)
  • 1/4 hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 pounds Boston butt pork roast, trimmed of extra fat
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Combine the soy sauce, hoisin, ketchup, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and five spice powder in a small bowl.  Stir to fully combine and then transfer to a large zip top plastic bag.  Add the pork roast and refrigerate at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.

Place the pork and the marinade from the bag in a crockpot.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until the meat falls apart.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board or sheet pan and let it cool before you shred it with two forks.

Meanwhile, carefully ladle the liquid from the crockpot into a saucepan.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce reduces a bit.  Taste for seasoning and spoon the sauce over the shredded pork.  Stir to let the sauce get reacquainted with the pork before shoving it in your face.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Main Course, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Chilled Avocado Soup

Chilled Avocado Soup

Lately I feel like I’m on the verge of becoming the stereotypical crotchety old lady.  The one who mutters under my breath about “kids these days” and “hell in a handbasket” and then wonders why people avoid making eye contact with me as they pass by.  All I need to complete the transformation is a housecoat, hair rollers, and a coffee mug full of gin as I sweep my porch.  Ok, maybe that is a bit of a stretch.  Because anyone who knows me knows that my coffee mug would be hiding vodka or wine….never gin.

Who knew that I would feel so old and tired at 42?  But when you’re young and daydream about what the future holds, you totally gloss over the unglamorous parts of being an adult.  Things like pulling weeds, taking out the trash, paying bills, and navigating the tough patches in relationships.  What you think about is the freedom of being an adult when you get to call the shots.

You certainly don’t imagine what it will feel like to work a full day, slog through rush hour traffic with a cranky toddler as your backseat driver, and arrive home to discover hair balls and cat vomit deposited throughout your house.  Or as I like to call it, Wednesday.

Oh, and when you do finally get in the door, clean up the vomit, change a diaper, and set the toddler up with enough toys to stock an aisle at Target, you are expected to make dinner magically appear.  After dinner there are dishes to wash, clothes to fold, emails to return, bed time for the toddler, lunches to make, and deep breaths to take.  Glamorous, right?

Some days I handle this with more grace than others.  And on my best days, I have dinner mostly prepped and ready to go in the fridge.  Because let’s be real, if I didn’t we would have cereal for dinner as often as we have cereal for breakfast.  And as glamorous as that may sound when you’re young, at 42 I can tell you that it’s really not.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Shrimp
Adapted from Cooking Light Good Mood Food

BAH Note:  Cooking Light calls for low fat sour cream.  I got feisty and used regular. Let your conscience (and your waistline) be your guide.  Yes, this dish has several components.  But they can all be made ahead of time.  When you’re ready to serve, just put all the pieces together.

Soup:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced peeled avocado (about 2)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

Lime Cream:

  • 3⁄4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, unpeeled
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears if using fresh)
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped red onion

To prepare soup, place chicken broth, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Cover and chill.

For lime cream, combine sour cream, cilantro (if using), lime juice and zest, and salt in a bowl.  Stir until combined and add additional lime juice to get the consistency you like.

To prepare shrimp, heat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Spread the shrimp into a single layer on the sheet pan, coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until the shrimp is firm and cooked through.  Allow to cool thoroughly before peeling.

While the shrimp roasts and cools, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions begins to soften.  Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally to allow the mixture to brown and char a bit.

Serve the chilled avocado soup garnished with the shrimp, lime cream, and corn mixture.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Main Course, Photo, Recipe, Soup | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

How To Make Grilled Cheese

Perfect Grilled Cheese

It’s funny how if you stop and think about it, you never stop having opportunities to learn.  I am well past my days as a student in the academic sense.  And yet I continue to be a student of life.

In the last year alone I have learned important life skills such as how to change a flat tire, how to snake a drain, and how to reset my garbage disposal.  These are all good things to know and can get you out of a jam from time to time.  So I lump them into category of things I know and hope that I won’t have to use.

But maybe just as important are the things I’ve learned from our Tater Tot, and these I consider to be life lessons with daily applications.  What’s the number one lesson I’ve learned from my child?  It is that I can have a bad moment but still have a good day.  Many of you already know this lesson but for me this is like trying to master a new language.

All my life, if something didn’t go exactly according to plan it threw me off.  A disagreement left me disagreeable for the whole day.  A perceived slight had me fuming and indignant.  I got good at being prickly and stabby. I might say “let’s agree to disagree” but in my head I would be listing the ways that you were wrong and I was right.

And then I began to see how Libby could go from a full on meltdown one minute (or two, or ten) back to happy the next.  Thanks to her developing understanding about wanting everything she sees, she gets upset in the morning when she sees us walking around getting dressed and ready for the day while she is left in her crib.  There are tears.  There are sobs. Sometimes, there is wailing.  And it goes on for what seems like forever (especially at 6:30 in the morning). But eventually she pulls herself together, sits down in the crib, and plays with a toy.  And you would never know that only minutes before this happy, content, singing baby was a shrieking, whirling dervish.

So what does my 10 month old know that I don’t?  Maybe that it is ok to be upset or angry but once you’ve said as much it’s time to let go and move on.  She doesn’t hold a grudge against us because we put her in the crib, won’t let her crawl into the dishwasher, or keep her hands out of the cat food dish.  Granted, I won’t give you an up-arms hug or wet kiss the way Libby does after she’s calmed down but I might not be shooting mental daggers your way either.  Let’s call that progress, shall we?

Grilled Cheese

Adapted from Bon Appetit

BAH Note:  This is more a process than a recipe.  But the two step approach produces perfectly browned toast on the outside with melty cheese goodness on the inside.  No flipping required.  Of all the life lessons of the past year, this one comes in just below not letting a bad moment lead to a bad day.  Can you blame me?

  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Cheese

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add two slices of bread to the pan and cook until the bottom of the bread is crisp and browned.  Transfer the bread to the sheet pan, toasted side down.  Top one slice of bread with the cheese and place the second slice of bread, toasted side up, on top of the cheese.  Bake for approximately 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Carefully remove from the oven and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Recipe | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Jargaritas

Jargarita

These Jargaritas would have been perfect for Cinquo de Mayo.  But since that ship has sailed for another year, you’re just going to have to find another excuse to make them.  Like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or the random weekend cookout.

But they come with a warning…these adult slushees have a way of sneaking up on you and knocking you on your arse.  So proceed with caution.

Jargaritas

Adapted from Bluebonnets and Brownies and Souffle Bombay

  • 12 ounces frozen limeade, thawed
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups tequila (I prefer patron silver)
  • 3/4 cup triple sec
  • 1 cup chambord
  • 4 cups cold water

If you plan to freeze these in individual portions, go ahead and get your jars and lids ready.  Otherwise find yourself a nice big pitcher or jug and combine all your ingredients.  Stir well.  Give it a taste and add more lime juice or tequila as desired.

Drinks can be portioned into jars, sealed tightly, and stashed in the freezer for about 4 or 5 hours or until they reach your desired level of frozen.  Or they can be enjoyed in a completely unfrozen state.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Drinks, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Weeknight Chicken and Mushroom Sauce

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I mentioned how my friend Amber is responsible for my rather manic fascination with making strawberry shortcake crumb topping to recreate a childhood food memory.  I briefly mentioned how she readily shares the arsenal of tools that she has, sometimes having Amazon dropping an unexpected box of exactly what you need on your door step.  That’s how I came to have Weeknight Chicken and Mushroom Sauce.

No, Amber didn’t have dinner delivered to my house.  What she did was hear me say that I was overwhelmed by the struggle to be back at work (even if it was just one or two days a week at that time), take care of the Tater Tot, and cook dinner on a regular basis.  She heard me and she took action.  Thanks to Amazon’s freakishly quick ability to get product delivered, a day later there was a smiling Amazon.com box sitting on my doorstep.  Inside was a survival guide with recipes and strategies for how to keep The Mistah and I fed in spite of the crazy new demands on our time and attention.

A. Freaking. Men.

Better than a casserole that freezes beautifully (but that won’t fit in my poorly chosen side by side), Amber gave me the tools to fit cooking back into my routine.  I still have days where I struggle with it.  But I also have days where I thaw some chicken breasts, chop some mushrooms, and call it dinner.  Amber, I hope I can return this act of kindness to you because it’s made a world of difference to me.

Weeknight Chicken and Mushroom Sauce

Adapted from Parents Need to Eat Too

BAH Note:  This is what I scribbled on a piece of paper and tucked into the book at this recipe’s page – “easy weeknight supper  can cook chicken 3 minutes / side then cook 5-10 min @ 350 degrees”  In my scribbles, capitalization and punctuation seem to be optional.

If the idea of having to wash two frying pans makes you want to cry, once you remove the cooked chicken breasts from the oven (carefully, that handle is going to be HOT), wrap the chicken in a bit of foil to keep it warm and use that pan to make the sauce, omitting 3rd tablespoon of oil.  You’ll get to the same place, it will just take a little longer.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons agave or honey
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with a pinch of kosher salt and some black pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe frying pan over medium heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the chicken breasts to the pan and cook for three minutes on each side.  Transfer the pan to the oven and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the chicken is done.

While the chicken finishes cooking in the oven, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to another skillet and heat until it shimmers.  Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms is mostly evaporated.  Add the sherry, agave (or honey), and vinegar to the pan and raise the heat to high.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and add the butter to the sauce, whisking to combine.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt to taste.

Add the cooked chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan and serve the chicken topped with mushrooms and sauce.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Chicken, Cooking, Recipe | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Strawberry Shortcake Crumb Topping

Strawberry Shortcake Crumb Topping

I often find the words “back in my day” tumbling out of my mouth.  As enjoyable as I find these trips down memory lane, I’m not sure the person I’m forcing the reminiscence upon would say the same.  Unless we happen to have a shared or similar point of reference…and then I need to watch out.  Because this leisurely stroll can quickly become an all out sprint that leads to things I never expected.  Case in point?  Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Bars.

My pal Amber spoils me.  Seriously.  For as long as I have had the good fortune to know her, she has been a cool breeze on a warm summer day.  In the midst of pain she is ready with a comforting embrace.  When the Universe smiles on you, she celebrates your good news with joy and enthusiasm.  When you say that you don’t know how you’re going to get through this, she reaches into her bag of tricks and gives you the tool you need [or has Amazon deliver it to your door ; ) ].  And when you randomly start talking about the Good Humor truck from back in the day, she not only skips down memory lane with you, she plants the seed in your head to recreate your favorite offering from the ice cream man.  This is how her visit through town resulted in me reuniting with my old friend Strawberry Shortcake.

For me, Strawberry Shortcake was all about the outer crumb coating.  The rest of the ice cream was merely the vehicle to get the crumbs in my mouth.  So I got excited when Amber alerted me to the fact that there was a recipe for Strawberry Shortcake AND the Crumb Topping in a new cookbook, Classic Snacks Made From Scratch.  It pretty much sparked an obsession to drown out the voice in my head screaming “I WANT IT.  MAKE IT NOW!”

There’s no clever or interesting side story here.  I bought the cookbook.  I bought freeze dried strawberries.  I bought a pint of Breyer’s Strawberry Ice Cream.  I had the rest of the ingredients so I got down to business.

Eventually, the crumbs were just as good in my kitchen as they were in my memory.  I say eventually because Strawberry Shortcake Crumb Topping is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  I dipped a damp finger into the crumb to give them a taste and thought they were good…but something was missing.  Turns out that something was the ice cream.  There is a dynamic between the crumb and the ice cream that brings the crumb topping to life.  Just add ice cream and it goes from being “eh” to being “hell yeah”.

By the time I had worked my way through that pint of ice cream I wasn’t just topping my Breyer’s with the crumbs.  I was mixing them in like my own private Ben and Jerry’s flavor.

Strawberry Shortcake Crumb Topping

Adapted from Classic Snacks Made From Scratch

BAH Note:  You’ll have to search around for freeze dried strawberries.  I found mine at Wegmans.  If you have a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods nearby, I’d start there.  Or you can save yourself some searching and just hit the online bazaar that is Amazon and have them delivered to your door.

To make the strawberry powder, pulverize the freeze dried strawberries using your method of choice – food processor, mortar and pestle, or plastic bag and rolling pin.  You want the powder to be fine.  Approximately 3/4 of an ounce of freeze dried strawberries will net the 3 tablespoons you need for the recipe.

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 3 tablespoons freeze dried strawberry powder (see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add the melted butter and use a fork to stir until you get clumps of crumb.

Serve on the ice cream flavor of your choice.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Dessert, Food, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Bacon Cheddar Waffles

Bacon Cheddar Waffle

Back in the day….and by that I mean 2012…I was on Twitter.  All.  The.  Time.  Why?  Because I could.  And because I wanted to.  In the virtual world I don’t need to worry about being socially awkward.  It’s hard to stumble over your words with only 140 characters.  But it’s easy to join in a conversation, or better yet, to spark one.

Most of the time in real life I stand back and listen to conversations go on around me.  But on Twitter I can be witty and lively in the conversation.  And I can sound as though I know what the hell I am talking about….in real life, that’s not the case much of the time.

For example, let’s consider a recent tweet…”All waffles should have bacon and cheese in them.”  That statement is A) clever; B) authoritative; C) truth; D) common sense.

Actually it is all of those things, but it’s not the kind of statement that I would make in the course of casual conversation.  Unless our conversation was about waffles, bacon, or cheese.  Or you had previously resided in a dorm, house, or apartment with me.  But the odds of that happening are pretty low so I’m confident in saying that it’s unlikely I would say that to you in an ordinary conversation.

And yet it led to a conversation on Twitter where RunningOnButter believed that I spoke as a waffle authority.  RunningOnButter doesn’t know me outside of Twitter.  ROB doesn’t know if I have any credentials to present myself as a waffle authority.  But ROB took my pronouncement that bacon and cheese are integral waffle components as the truth.

Twitter Grab

So now, thanks to Twitter, I am a waffle authority.  I don’t think I will add that to my resume.  But it’s the kind of thing I would use as small talk…if I were inclined to make small talk.

As it is, most of my free time and conversations are with a pre-verbal toddler.  And until she realizes otherwise, I am an authority on everything!

Bacon Cheddar Waffles

Adapted from Shutterbean

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Set a wire rack inside a sheet pan and heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until blended.  Add the cheese and bacon to the flour mixture and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and oil.  Add the flour mixture to the milk and egg mixture and stir to combine, being careful not to over mix.

Grease your waffle iron and get it heating.  When ready, pour 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup batter into your iron and cook until done.  Transfer the waffles to the prepared sheet pan and give them a 10 minute rest in the warmed oven.

Slather with butter and syrup.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Cooking, Food, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip

Disclaimer:  The good folks at Kerrygold provided me with a copy of Coldagh’s Kitchen Diaries and coupons for their fantabulous butter.  I highly recommend both.

I have found a new outlet to get baked goods out of my house….it’s called daycare.  Not that my coworkers have tired of being on the receiving end of what comes out of my kitchen.  It’s just that it’s good to have options. And now that my daily activities include daycare drop-off and pick-up, I can spread the love (and the calories) around a little further.

When The Mistah and I became parents, it was with less than 48 hours notice.  So where most parents have nine months to plan, prepare, and make arrangement for life after a baby arrives, we were winging it.  Our heads were still  spinning at the idea of a baby as we swept through the aisles at Target and Babies R Us to get the stuff that we thought we might need.  And even though the list of what you really need to bring a baby home can be rather short, those carts filled up pretty damn quickly.

So the buying tons of stuff part of becoming parents got taken care of.  And then we brought Lib home.  And the taking care of a little person got underway.  Which led to buying more stuff to take care of our little person.  It went on like this for a while.  And then one day, two and a half months had gone by and I needed to go back to work.

It was only after we became parents that I had any understanding about how hard it is to get an infant into daycare.  When you are able to estimate your child’s arrival in the world, you’ve got the luxury of time on your side.  You can go to a daycare and get a spot in their infant program.  When your family grows by +1 overnight, the stars need to align, the Universe needs to smile on you, and you need to make a wish upon a falling star to find a daycare center that has openings for an infant.

And as if I needed further proof that the Universe was smiling on our adoption, we managed to do just that. Now our child is charming her way into the hearts of the folks at daycare, one day at a time.  Seriously, she has her own fanclub at daycare…teachers from other classrooms come by to see her and say hello.

As her parent, I want to make sure I acknowledge the people who spend their day caring for my child so that I can spend my day at work.  And it never hurts to build a little goodwill for those days when my normally charming child chooses to be a devilish handful.

If you find yourself hankering for a little mint chocolate fix, wanting to say say thank you, or maybe even apologizing in advance for something that your child may or may not do in the days to come, these cupcakes have your back.

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

BAH Note:  If you don’t have self rising flour in your pantry, you can substitute 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt.  My cupcakes sank in the middle as they cooled….that could have been my doing or not….I just used the frosting to camouflage that and nobody was the wiser.

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 2 ounces mini chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 or 10 baking cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next one.  Add the mint extract and then use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture until combined.

Divide the batter among the baking cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out and cooling completely on a rack.

{printable recipe}

Mint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Abby Dodge

BAH Note:  If you want a richer frosting, add up to an additional 1/2 stick butter.  Taste the frosting and if you want a mintier flavor, add another 1/2 teaspoon extract.

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 3/4 powdered sugar
  • 1  teaspoons mint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • green food coloring (optional)

Combine butter and marshmallow in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until completely smooth.  Reduce speed to low and add confectioners sugar, mint extract, and salt.  Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.  If using food color, add it a few drops at a time and mix until the color is distributed.  Add more food color to get your desired shade of green.

Frost your cupcakes, garnish with mini chocolate chips, and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Food, Photo, Recipe, Sweets | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Easy Mac and Cheese

anti easy mac

I swear this rambling is going to get to a point….and a recipe.

Parenting styles.  Seems like there is a new one every week.  I hope to avoid becoming any type of parenting caricature…tiger, helicopter… by embracing the things that work for me and creating my own style.  That may mean…and this may sound crazy…that I don’t tell Lib she has to share her toys, books, and what have you.  What if I teach her the value of taking turns so that she understands you don’t automatically get something just because you want it?  How about if I get her to understand that sometimes you have to wait your turn?  And that she also don’t have to give something up just because someone else also wants it.  They also need to wait their turn.  Crazy right?

How many ideas sounded crazy at first?  Electricity? Cars? Flight?  Once upon a time they were fringe ideas.  Now they are taken for granted as being universally true and necessary.  And dare I say, they make life easier.  As someone who is for things that make life easier…I’m down with all that.

I am also down with mac and cheese.  Not that mac and cheese is revolutionary in any way.  But we have come to expect it to be quick and easy.  It is even packaged in uber easy single servings.  Here comes the crazy.  Single serve mac and cheese can be easy even when you make it from scratch.

Crazy? Universally true and necessary?  You decide.

Easy Mac and Cheese

Adapted from The Salt

BAH Note:  If you have more than one mouth waiting to get some of this, go ahead and double the recipe.  And even if you only have one mouth waiting for this, you still might want to make a double batch.  If you don’t tell, I won’t judge.

  • 1/4 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon flour

Combine the macaroni and water in a medium size microwave safe bowl, preferably one with handles.  Microwave on high for 4 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until the pasta is almost al dente.  If your pasta starts to dry out before it is done cooking, add an additional two tablespoons of water and continue cooking.

Add the milk, cheese, and flour to the bowl and stir to combine.  Microwave in 30 second increments until the cheese, milk, and flour have turned into a sauce.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt to taste.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Pasta, Recipe | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments