Monday, March 31, 2008

Apple Cardamom Cupcake with Caramel Frosting

So being this is what my pantry looks like.
It doesn't look to bad until you look down and realize the steep steep basement stairs are right there. And then you realize to get a can of tuna you have to do some kind of wild monkey wriggling to get to it. And that's just not possible right now.
SO while the Brain endures making me my meals let me bring to your attention a delicious cupcake I made this fall.
This is what I call my Apple Cardamom Cupcake with Caramel Frosting. I actually made it shortly before I decided to start having a blog of my own. I only took a picture because I wanted my best friend T. to know what it looks like. OK, then I had to make them again to bring to DC for the hotel room that my sister Super G and I shared for my brother J's wedding.

So here's the Apple Cardamom Cupcake recipe. It's directly copied off Vanilla Garlic. They were such lovely and delicious cupcakes that I didn't change a thing about them. I suggest they are made exactly as so really because they truly are that good. Make sure you go and check out Vanilla Garlic because he has tons and tons of interesting, delicious, unusual cupcake recipes. It's really spectacular. And I think he manages to find the stupidest people on earth who make really bizarre comments to him. Garrett usually manages to give me a giggle.

Apple Cardamom Cupcakes
Makes 22 cupcakes / 350F oven

What You'll Need...
4 cups chopped apples (varieties that are good for baking - i.e. granny smith, gravenstein, Fuji)2/3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups of sugar
4 egg whites
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of ginger

What You'll Do...
1) Chop the apples and combine them with the sugar and let them macerate for one hour. Next add the oil and stir.
2) Preheat over to 350 degrees F (165 C).
3) Slightly beat egg whites just until a light foam appears. Combine them with the oil and apple mixture.
4) Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together. Stir into the apple mixture, and then place into cupcake papers about 3/4ths full.
5) Bake for 15 minutes undisturbed, then rotate the pan and cook for another 3-7 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Careful, as if the toothpick goes into an apple it will not come out clean, but cupcake may be done.

Then for the frosting I used Peabody's frosting from her Oh Lordy Good Pumpkin Butterscotch Cake. Really the cake as written is unbelievably delicious. Honest. I might try walking just to get a piece right now. OK, maybe first make the cake and then make more frosting for these cupcakes. Really she's got loads of distracting and yummy baked goods over there, but as usual I'm now distracted. Now go check out Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and see all her yummies. Back? Good. Anyhow, I made the frosting again as the perfect accompaniment to Garret's cupcakes. So here's that recipe and again, don't change it a bit from the original. So delicious I could just eat it with a spoon...

Brown Sugar Icing
2 cups tightly packed brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ pound unsalted butter, cut into 8 1-ounce pieces
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Heat brown sugar, heavy cream, 2 1-ounce pieces of butter, and ¼ tsp cream of tartar in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently while bringing the mixture to a boil. Allow the mixture to continue boiling while stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Transfer the bubble hot mixture to a 3-quart stainless steel bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding. Place the cooled mixture int the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Then beat on medium for 2 minutes, while adding the remaining 6 pieces of butter, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for an additional 1 minute until light and fully. Transfer 1 cup of icing to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake!

It's that time of the month again. Daring Baker Challenge time! Hoooray! This month's Daring Baker Challenge was Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake and was picked out by Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts. When I first saw the recipe I thought, well this isn't very challenging. I can make a cake. I'm actually pretty good at buttercream frosting. And I can deal with the amount of fruit in jam. But then I noticed that I would have to cut the cakes in half. So AHA! It was going to be a challenge after all.
I remembered a photo from an old Betty Crocker cookbook of my mother's that had toothpicks along the outside of the cake and they used the toothpicks as a guide to cutting the cake. I was pretty impressed. That worked out pretty good. Well it worked pretty good for about 1 1/2 cakes. The last half cake wasn't so hot. I also realized it was a challenge to spread frosting on top of jam. I will have to experiment more to get this just right. But overall this wasn't too difficult.

So what did it taste like? Well I was expecting a pretty boring cake to be perfectly honest. But this is no ordinary boring cake. This was a light fluffy super lemony cake! We gobbled it up after Easter dinner. Even the leftovers were fantastic. This was indeed a perfect party cake.

Make sure you check out the other Daring Bakers here.

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
grated lemon zest from 1 whole lemon
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream:

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable

Getting Ready

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out cleanTransfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream

Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake

Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.Spread it with one third of the preserves.Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.


The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.


The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Some Fun Stuff

So, I'm still not cooking, but I have some interesting stuff to share with you.

The first, and I should have pointed this out a while ago when I first found out, is that I am not the only Shazam in the kitchen. I'm not even the first. There's Calamity Shazaam in the Kitchen. She and I both visit this particularly funny blog from Massachusetts. At first I didn't tell you about her, because I was stupid and I wanted to be the ONLY Shazam. And then I realized that she had the name first and I was embarrassed. And now that I've become a somewhat habitual lurker on her site, I'm even more embarrassed I didn't spread word of her because she's really really funny. So please go check out Calamity Shazaam. I promise she's worth it.

Then I thought I'd also share with you the Potato Song, which, maybe it's the drugs or maybe it's the artistry, fascinated me so much that I had to play it twice. This lovely piece of performance was found on Amanda's blog, Mrs. W's Kitchen. You should also check out what she can do to deviled eggs!

Then this lovely bit of fun is from Batter-Splattered, another blog I lurk on. You can find out what type of donut you are. This is me...

You Are a Glazed Donut

Okay, you know that you're plain - and you're cool with that.

You prefer not to let anything distract from your sweetness.

Your appeal is understated yet universal. Everyone dig you.

And in a pinch, you'll probably get eaten.

Seriously. I'm drooling on myself now. Could be the drugs. Or it could be all the marvelous types of fish and recipes to go with them she's got on her blog. It makes me wish we could even fish for the humble Lake Erie Perch or Walleye right now.

And finally, go check out my lovely friend Lisa's blog because not only is she just fabulous, but she's got the roundup for the WCC challenge going. And there are some fantastic looking foods to make in your pressure cooker, slow cooker, or dutch oven right now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Couch With A View

The "less is more" concept does not apply to Percocet. Well, not to Percocet and my knees after this latest surgery. See Vicadin makes me ill, unfortunately, so I don't get to experience the wonders of it in recovery. Well, it would make for a tough recovery. How do you keep your knee from swelling while sticking your head in the toilet? So I'm on Percocet. I'm not finding it terribly effective. I could probably write a tome on the different kinds of knee pains I'm experiencing, but frankly that would be a bit of a downer and nobody can really do anything about it so what would be the point. So a very nice friend of the Brain's who has had knee surgery before pointed out to me this morning when he called that perhaps I should take the 2 every 4 hours instead of just the 1 especially if I'm not really feeling any effects of the one. I should also point out the bottle says take one or two as needed every four to six hours. Well they're still not killing the pain, but this is definitely more fun.

So let me show you around my view from the couch...

This is my foot in the lovely sock that the hospital gave me that has rubber grippers on the bottom. They gave me two pairs because they happen to be really really nice people. My other foot and leg are somewhere in the pile of the wedding quilt that my mom made for me and the Brain. The big blue thing is an icy water pack. Thus the nozzle and the little towel to catch the leaks.

These are my bears standing guard because I am awake. If I were asleep they'd be down on the couch with me. The "white" one is Bear. I've had him since 1986 (I'm not telling how I old I was then, but it was probably too old to get a stuffed animal.) The brown one is Travel Bear. I got him from the Brain this Christmas, and I'm definitely too old to be getting a stuffed animal. But they are good bears and they stay out of trouble.

This is everything I need. Well with the exception of my mother in law and the Brain. I can safely say that I need them too. But everything else is on the coffee table and keeps me occupied, safe, relatively comfortable, and hydrated while I'm all by myself. Yep, there's the get well card I got this morning with the fluff magazine and some chocolate bars. I have to say that I think Jennifer Lopez is seriously beautiful. And I spent a frightening amount of time trying to decide which parent those twins look like more. (This was after following M's advice to up the amount of Percocet I'm taking.) Also on there is my cell phone with a new alarm set for when I can take more drugs and the home phone all charged up. There's also the empty soup bowl and Easter napkin from the homemade corn chowder I got to eat for lunch. My wonderful mother in law made it for me and the Brain came home and heated it up. ((It was really really good too!) There's also my glasses, Diet Coke, Sprite (in case I get nauseous), aspirin to prevent clotting, Percocet, a pen and paper (to write things down I want to remember), and my Life is Good water bottle. The beautiful yellow mums are from my friend the Queen Geek, and the pretty Hydrangea plant is from my sister in law. Oh yeah and there's the thermometer and the the Robitusson.

Now here's the area between the couch and the coffee table with the rest of the necessities. Here's my crutches, so I can move around if I have the energy to get off the couch. and a hair brush that I've pretty much given up on using. (I have no idea how pioneer people did it, but going 5 days without a shower is torture for me. I don't smell because I'm washclothing off every day, but boy do I feel gross.) Here's where my current selection of library books are too. As well as another fun magazine and a fleece in case I suddenly get shivery.

So why would I get shivery? And why wouldn't I have any energy to get off the couch? And why do I have a thermometer and Robitusson on the coffee table? Because I can never do anything small and managed to catch the flu. Yay me! I'm such an overacheiver. But at least we know I won't be pushing myself to do things I shouldn't be doing yet. Like walking.

And really I can't complain. I'm really blessed that although this is by far the most painfull knee surgery I've ever had, and I have the flu, and I'm completely dependent on other people, that I have wonderful and loving people taking care of me. I'm not alone. And I'm not living far far away from my family. These are things that make the whole thing a lot better. And I have you commenters who are expressing so much support. I'm really really blessed. Thank you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cupcake Shipping part 1

Maybe you have stopped by I Heart Cuppycakes blog before, if not, then shame on you. Go check it out. I'll wait. Really I can't get too far. dum de dum de dum de dum. Ok? You're back?

So you may have noticed Clara had been working a while on figuring out the best way to ship cupcakes to people. And she is brilliant! She figured out that if you let gravity work for you the cupcakes will stay lovely. The secret involves an inverted disposable plastic cup. Now I usually make far more cupcakes than I really need to eat and so I've been fearlessly handing them out around town. The new cupcake shipping method however opens a world of opportunities for me. SO I decided I would give it a try. I modified Clara's method some. She loosely wrapped her cupcakes in plastic wrap and had cardboard inserts in her box. You can read about her method here. I decided that if I put the cup in a tightly fitting Ziploc baggie that it would hold the cupcake in and I wouldn't have to worry about it escaping from the the cup. I also used a smaller cup I think. Like so...

I also froze the cupcakes before shipping and then packed them in a box that I stuffed with crosscut shredding from my shredder in the home office. I figure if the people on CSI and CSI Miami can't put cross cut shredding together again it would be a safe bet that no identity thieves out there will be able to. And really I know the people I send cupcakes to have much better things to do than put my shredding back together.

So, we are testing an effective and economical method of shipping cupcakes. I must say that my first attempt was a definite success. I mailed these chocolate orange cupcakes with chocolate orange ganache to my friend S, the Queen Geek. She says the were delicious and that there was very little damage to the frosting.

It occurred to me that these were a very sturdy cupcake and frosting and even though it was shipped with a small loaf of Julia's French Bread, (that bread is SO yummy!) that these had a very good shot at coming through unscathed. Tune in next time to see how a softer cupcake and frosting did.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
adapted from A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp orange extract
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in 18 cupcake pan wells.

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter until creamy about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually and continue beating for 3 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Beat in the orange extract. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition and allowing each egg to become completely incorporated. Add the flour in 4 additions, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the flour. Beat briefly until smooth after each addition.

Divide the batter among the cupcake wells and bake in preheated oven for 22 minutes.

Chocolate Orange Ganache Frosting
adapted from A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes

2/3 cup heavy cream
10 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Heat the cream until just at a simmer. While cream is heating place chocolate chips in a medium mixing bowl. Pour hot cream over chips and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is all melted and mixture is smooth. Add orange extract. Chill chocolate mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then using a handheld mixer beat in 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add more powdered sugar as necessary to get frosting to spreading consistency.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hello my Lovelies!

So I'm not going to be doing a lot of cooking for the next couple of weeks. I'm pretty much on couch rest until April 4th (at least). Fortunately I have a lot of backlog. It was a sucessful knee surgery though. They seem to have fixed all the problems, but I can't put hardly any weight on it and I'll be on crutches for a while. Like a LONG while. It also hurts like no pain I've ever had before.

SO let's take care of some old business shall we?

Laurie at Quirky Cupcake gave me a You Make My Day Award. Isn't she so sweet? Seriously check out her blog for a healthy amount of food porn. She consistently makes me want to lick my screen.

SO who am I passing it on to?

Well, I'm passing it on to Marti at Standing Still. She's a super talented potter, has a pissy cat (honestly) and has really been supportive of me.

And I'm passing it on to LIsa at La Mia Cucina. Because she is so super sweet. She's let me know that I'm not a complete idiot for simply standing up and ending up with a massive injury. I just love her.
And to Mrs. W because she's got seriously the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen and I'm so excited to try her spice packets. And she's super nice too. And it's her birthday. So go check out her website and donate to Shaohannah's Hope, Inc. I would, but I'm fairly drugged up right now. And I'm not aloud to pull out the debit/credit card when I'm drugged.

And I'm passing it on to Pixie who is cute as a button and brings New York to Britain.

And Lisa Rene, because seriously for vegetarian cooking, yes NO bacon, her blog is seriously mouthwatering.
And Mrs. White at Pretty to Think so because her book reviews are spot on and give me loads of ideas. That and she's hillarious.

And to Deb at Taste and Tell who understands how hard it is to find some products when you live in unusual places.

And I Heart Cuppycakes who sent me a prize today and introduced me to an amazing cupcake shipping prototype system that I'll be blogging about tomorrow.

And to my mom because she came down on Monday and stayed through this morning and took really good care of me (and cleaned my house!)

And even though she doesn't have a blog, to my mother in law because she's seriously awesome. She changed my dressing without getting squeemish or anything. And she was super compationate without making me feel like an invalid. (Even though I might qualify right now.)
And to all you lovely people who have wished me such kindness. It's for you too! I'm going back to the couch now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Secret Garden Cupcakes

I read a lot. And my favorite book so far this year is a little surprising. It's the Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. It's not what I thought my favorite book would be. And I've read some other books that were really good. I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Which is very strong book that has an interesting story line, and lots of violence and language. It would be an R rated book. I read Love in the Time of Cholera which dragged and dragged and made me think twice about Oprah's reading list. My sister Super G loved it though. So if you're into super descriptive long stories this might be the book for you. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore was pretty funny, like laugh out loud and almost pee your pants funny, but it wasn't a book that I kept thinking about or a book that gave me a whole lot of hope.

The Secret Garden is a "Juvenile" book. Yep that's right, my favorite book so far this year is a kid's section book. I always knew about it. My stepmom gave me a copy of it a long time ago. But it wasn't until I was driving along listening to NPR and they reviewed it that I got really interested in it. The NPR review pointed out that this was a book about neglect. Here I thought it was a book about a spoiled girl and a garden. It is a book about a girl who gets whatever she wants, but nobody wants to spend anytime with her. She meets a boy who also gets whatever he wants, but nobody wants to spend time with him either.

Once they find each other Magic begins to happen. Mary and Colin play constantly in the forbidden and secret garden with another boy, Dickon, who happens to be well loved and well adjusted and the animals of the moor are very fond of him. It's a British story so of course there's a moor. And by the use of the Magic, or really through the power of positive thinking Colin begins to get well...

"And the sun felt warm upon his face like a hand with a lovely touch. And in wonder Mary and Dickon stood and stared at him. He looked so strange and different because a pink glow of color had actually crept all over him- ivory face and neck and hands and all.

'I shall get well! I shall get well!' he cried out. 'Mary! Dickon! I shall get well! And I shall live forever and ever and ever!'"
Although there are no actual cupcakes in the story, there was a garden, so I made what I hope to be a floral and semi-British tasting cupcake. It's a lavender and cardamom flavored cupcake with a honey and confectioner's sugar icing. These are my entry into the Novel Food. It's a quarterly event that celebrates the connection between books and foods. Two of my greatest loves. And I am late. I was supposed to have posted this morning. But last nights cupcakes had too much lavender and tasted sort of like, um, soap. SO make sure you look for the roundup on briciole, or Champaign Taste. Check for the roundup in the next few days!

Secret Garden Cupcakes

Lavender Cardamom Cupcakes:
1/2 tsp lavender flowers
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
yolk of 1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp lemon extract

Place paper liners in 6 muffin cups.

Gently pulse the lavender and sugar in a mini processor until lavender is thoroughly integrated into sugar.

Whisk the buttermilk, egg yolk and lemon extract together in a small bowl.

Whisk together flour, salt, cardamom, baking soda, and lavender sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and half the buttermilk mixture. With electric mixture beat until light and fluffy. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture and beat for about 1 minute.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake until tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Honey frosting:
2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp milk

Place the butter and powdered sugar in a bowl and mix with handheld mixer. Add honey and milk and continue beating until the mixture turns into a spreadable frosting. If it is too thin add more powdered sugar.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bulgur Pilaf with Lamb

Being that there's just the two of us, frequently there are leftovers when we have a roast. It's not like when I was a kid and Mom would buy loads of groceries and the fridge would be empty within a week. Where we went through a side of beef every single year. When 4 gallons of milk was about average consumption. Those were the days of learning to cook for 8 and not ever having leftovers. Unless Mom made her "experiment" of noodles, corn, pork, cheese and cream of celery soup. Oh how I hated "experiment". I don't think it ever officially had a name even. But I digress. Remember how we didn't have corned beef for St. Patrick's Day because we'd be eating if for a week? Well we had a leg of lamb and thus we have leftovers. But what does one do with leftover lamb?

Well after two days of searching I finally found the best recipe for leftover lamb. Well, leftover medium to medium rare lamb. It's Bulgur Pilaf with Lamb and I found it through the magic of Yahoo Food. It was the bright spot in my day.

Did you know today is the first day of spring? It is also my sister in law W's birthday. W is seriously a fun girl and I really like her. Fortunately for W, she lives in South Carolina. She doesn't live up here in the land winter won't let go of. Yes it snowed last night AGAIN. And my ice scraper broke this morning. Oh yeah and we just got the warning across the TV that we're in for a winter storm watch tomorrow night. Where do I live? Alaska? I wish! Alaska is beautiful. I think to date it is my favorite state to have visited. And I've been to every state, but Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado and Idaho. I'm sure those are beautiful states too, but Alaska was amazing. Moose and bears and super tall mountains (I actually took a plane up to a glacier on Denali!)

No I don't live anywhere near as exciting as that. I live in flat North Central Ohio. People do come visit here, but only because we're near an amusement park.And yes. It is still winter here. Unfortunately I don't think we're getting out of winter any time soon. Last April, when the Brain and I got married, it snowed during our reception. So I think we're looking at another month of snow. sheesh.

Bulgur Pilaf with Lamb
modified from All Recipes

2 Tbsp butter
3/4 lb leftover lamb cut into small pieces with fat and gristle removed
1 small onion cut into quarters and thinly sliced
2 cup fine bulgur
1 quart home canned tomatoes with juice (or 4 large peeled tomatoes cut up)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Melt butter in saute pan over medium high heat. Add lamb and onion and saute until onion starts to brown. Add the bulgur to the pan and cook for 3 minutes to toast, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down so it barely simmers. Let cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and bulgur isn't crunchy. If bulgur is still crunchy and liquid is absorbed add another 1/2 cup broth. Once bulgur is not crunchy and liquid is absorbed remove from heat and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Marshmallow Here and There and Oh Yeah Over There Too...

Sometimes, when I'm all by myself, playing in the kitchen, I like to imagine that I'm one of those women that are all together. My kitchen is clean and my dishes are piling up as I use them in the sink. There are times when I even have all the rest of the dishes done by the time whatever it is comes out of the oven. I just don't like messiness terribly much when I'm cooking. I even have trouble kneading bread because I have to keep washing my hands because of all the goo stuck to them.

Normally I at least feel like a Martha in training. An almost, but not quite. Good, better best, never let it rest. Till your good is better and your better is the best! For better or worse that little sing song-y phrase is implanted in my head. It has been since childhood. So I drive myself a little nutty trying to be the best I can be.

These cupcakes were an episode in humility. What started as an attempt to fill my cupcakes with homemade marshmallow and bitter caramel, swiftly turned into minimizing the stickiness of my kitchen. I had marshmallow in my hair, maybe a little caramel too. There was marshmallow all over the counters. Caramel all over the stove. Marshmallow on my toes. Sprinkles on the floor. Marshmallow underneath my sweatshirt. By the time I finished these cupcakes I was in desperate need of a shower, the floor needed mopping, and the counters needed scrubbing. AND I had to do laundry. Actually it was pretty impressive.

I also have to let you in on a little secret. This was my second attempt at this month's marshmallow cupcake hero. Yes, Laurie, and TW picked the super challenging MARSHMALLOW as the secret ingredient. Totally off topic, my sister M's first word was marshmallow. The first try at this month's cupcake hero, I tried to infuse a yellow cupcake with the subtle flavors of lavender and honey. But the cream cheese frosting completely overpowered the entire marshmallow experience. We ate them, but they didn't seem right.

But these cupcakes, (once I blacked out the memory of my sticky sticky kitchen) were delicious. They were marshmallow yet grownup. The bitter caramel balanced the sweetness of the marshmallow. And the hint of orange elevated it to a new level. The marshmallow heart on top, which were formed after I gave up on trying to make peeps (that could be how I got marshmallow in my ears) turned nice and crispy. I could have just eaten a bunch of those hearts with the spot of caramel. Except after two tries at marshmallow cupcakes, I'm really done with marshmallows for a while.

Bitter Caramel and Marshmallow Cupcakes
by me

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest from one orange
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp orange extract
6 large eggs
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 18 cupcake cups with paper liners

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and zest together and set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed beat butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add sugar gradually until fluffy, another 4 minutes. Beat in orange extract. Then add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl before adding another egg. Add the flour in 4 additions, beating just until smooth on low medium speed after each addition.

Divide batter evenly among the cupcake wells. Bake for about 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs.

Cool cupcakes in pans for about 1 minute. Then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

2 Tbsp gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
colored sugar

Soak the gelatin in the cold water until it has taken up all the water. Boil the sugar and water to the soft-ball stage (238°F). Add the vanilla and salt to the gelatin. Pour the syrup slowly over the gelatin, beating constantly with an electric mixer. Continue to beat until marshmallow has cooled and is thick and white. Put half of the marshmallow in a oiled gallon sized Ziploc bag. Spread the other half of the marshmallow thinly on a well buttered cookie sheet that has been generously coated with colored sugar. Don't worry if the marshmallow doesn't go all the way to the edges of the pan. Just try to get a smooth, fairly thin sheet of marshmallow. Generously coat the top of the marshmallow with more colored sugar.

Bitter Caramel Sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp Triple Sec (or Grand Marnier)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup whipping cream
juice of one orange

Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, triple sec, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber, almost brown color, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add cream. Stir sauce over low heat until any caramel bits dissolve and sauce is smooth. Add juice and stir again until smooth.

Bitter Caramel Buttercream
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature butter cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp bitter caramel sauce at room temperature

Place egg white, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer over a simmer pot of water and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved and mixture reaches a temperature of 140°, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whip by machine until thick and cooled. Beat in the butter a little bit at a time, continuing to beat until creamy and smooth. Beat in the caramel sauce until combined.

Using a small paring knife cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake being careful to set the tops aside in an order such that you can put the top to each cupcake back on it's original bottom. Fill each cupcake hole with a scant 1 tsp caramel sauce. Have a partially filled glass of water nearby and snip a corner of the Ziploc of marshmallow with kitchen shears. Allow excess oil to drain out. Then using like a piping bag, fill each cupcake hole with approximately 1 1/2 tsp marshmallow. Use the kitchen shears wetting them in between cupcakes to snip the marshmallow so that you don't get strings of marshmallow going from cupcake to cupcake. Once all the cupcakes are filled replace the tops on the cupcakes. It may be necessary to cut the bottom of the cone off so that the top lies flat. Spread with buttercream to cover. The buttercream will cover any marshmallow strings or uneven tops. If you are going to pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcakes you will need to make a double batch of the buttercream. About now you will really feel the urge to have a drink or scrub yourself, but resist the urge because you aren't done yet.

Take a small heart shaped cookie cutter to the thinly spread colored sugar covered marshmallow and cut enough marshmallow hearts to have a 1:1 ratio of hearts to cupcakes. Place one heart on each cupcake and add a drop of the bitter caramel sauce to the center of each heart.

Now go clean the kitchen and take a shower.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cabbage and Potato Bundles

Just to mess with your heads, today's recipe features no alcohol. Yep, that's right. No beer, no whiskey, no wine. None. And it's still tasty. Really really tasty. Even though I resisted the urge to alter the recipe by throwing in some bacon. So to sum up... No booze, no bacon and still damass good.
It's Cabbage and Potato Bundles! I have been eyeing this recipe for several years. It's mashed potatoes that I had a hard time resisting licking right off the spoon, mixed with buttermilk, cheddar and horseradish. And there's cabbage that has been sauteed with onions and garlic that are all yummy and caramelized, which I have to admit I was snitching while waiting for the potatoes to be done. And those mashed potatoes and cabbage are layered in a dish lined with a cabbage leaf. Then there are these really good garlic breadcrumbs sprinkled on top and it's stuck in the oven to warm up and get the outer cabbage leaf all roasty in it's goodness. The only problem was that I think I used a remarkable amount of dishes. Note, I am remarking.

It's a far cry from the humble boiled corned beef and cabbage that I've had pretty much every year for about as long as I can remember. I happen to love boiled corned beef and cabbage, or as my mom calls it a "boiled dinner". And I came surprising close to having it again tonight. The only problem was I couldn't find a corned beef brisket that was less than 3 pounds. 3 pounds of corned beef is a LOT for 2 people. And although I really like a boiled dinner, it's not one of those dinners that I like enough to eat day after day after day. Although that would have been only one pot.

Fortunately they are also pretty filling. Otherwise I could eat them all. And color me happy, Dancing with the Stars is back on!

I should also point out that the lamb on the dish with the bundle was not raw. It actually was medium and it tasted great. Thank you Trader Joe's and your pre-marinated lamb leg.

Potato and Cabbage Bundles

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise (1 cup)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large head cabbage
1 clove garlic crushed
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup water
2 lb large boiling potatoes
1 cup well shaken buttermilk
3 oz extra sharp Cheddar (grated)
2 Tbsp bottled horseradish
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp crushed garlic

Cook onion in oil in a 10 inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. (6 to 8 minutes).

Bring a 6 to 8 quart pot of salted water to a boil. Core the cabbage and remove any damaged outer leaves. Carefully lower the cabbage into the boiling water.

Boil the cabbage and gently remove 4 leaves being careful not to tear them. Continue to boil the head of cabbage and the loose leaves for 5 minutes. Then remove them to a colander and let sit under running icy cold water. Drain and coarsely chop half of the head of cabbage (save the rest for a future use). Pat the loose leaves dry. Butter 4 dishes that are approximately 1 cup in size. (Giant muffin tins work well for this). I don't have any of those, so I use small Pyrex dishes. Then place a strip of parchment in each dish to help remove the bundle when it's done cooking. Once the dishes are prepared, line each dish with a cabbage leaf.

Add the chopped cabbage to the onions in the skillet with the crushed garlic clove, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cabbage is tender and browned, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes, then cover with cold salted water by 1inch in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then set potatoes in colander over saucepan to steam0dry, uncovered, 5 minutes. Mash potatoes in a large bowl, then stir in buttermilk, cheese, horseradish, 1/2 stick butter, and remaining 1.2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper until combined well.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 10 inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook bread crumbs and garlic, stirring frequently until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Fill each cabbage leaf with 1/8 potato mixture, then with 1/4 cabbage mixture. Top with remaining potato mixture and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Finally fold edges of cabbage leaves in over filling, but do not cover completely.

Bake until heated through and edges of cabbage are well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer stuffed leaves to plates using parchment overhangs.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day! Have some Bourbon.

Yes I am a geek. I'll say it proudly. I have a bachelors in statistics and I know that Pi, π, commonly known as 3.14 is merely an approximation for a never ending, never repeating number. It is also one of the most important mathematical constants. It represents the ratio of any circle's circumference to it's diameter. It is also the ratio of a circle's area to the square of it's radius. It's where the pie are squared formula comes from. HAHAHAHAHAHA! math humor. You gotta love it.

So it's Pi Day. Get it? 3.14? March 14? Math geeks get ridiculously excited about silliness like this. Just like October 23rd is Mole Day. OK this one might be a little harder, but if you think of Avogadro and his constant, another of the most important mathematical constants, you should be able to get it.

So yeah. I'm a geek. And I tried to think what kind of pie geeks would eat. And I came up with a few ideas. The Statistics and Math geeks I hung out with in college tended to drink a lot, party hard, and stay up the entire night before an exam eating pizza, drinking beer and learning the concepts of multi-variable calculus from the smartest girl in class who happened to be stoned at the time. She's now a very good math professor, but I'm not telling where.
Geeks like to drink. My friend S has an aeronautical engineering degree and works on tertiary Internet systems. I don't even understand what that means, and she's explained it to me numerous times. She is the Queen Geek. And in the days were both single we could get plowed on some very nice wine or good quality beer.

My whole family seems to be engineers and they all like to drink. Seriously, Mom, Dad, Step dad, Uncle J., Uncle J., Uncle T., Grandpa, Papa, Great Uncle Bernard. These are a bunch of engineers who all like their booze. Heck some of them were deans of engineering at very good schools. I should point out here before Mom gets annoyed that to say they like their booze does NOT mean that they are all alcoholics.

My sister Super G is also a major geek. She actually graduated from college in 4 years (it took me 10- my geekdom didn't come easy) and she has a combined math and Spanish literature bachelors degree, and a master's degree in education. She teaches high schoolers in Brooklyn mathematical concepts like spacial geometry through quilting. She also likes her booze.

And the Brain. Yeah, he's a lawyer. But did you know he was a mechanical engineer before he became a lawyer? It's really funny coming from a family of engineers, because I can recognize that he THINKS like an engineer. He approaches problems logically and in a step by step fashion. Analyzing away. He, the love of my life, is a big geek. He also really likes his bourbon.
So today for Pi Day, I made a Bourbon Pie. Yes, you read that right. I didn't know it existed either. I happened to be leafing through the Joy of Cooking last night, wishing I was more prepared because a pot pie cannot be eaten on a Friday in Lent. And although I found a Fish Pie recipe, I wasn't quite that brave. So Bourbon it is.

The decision was cemented when I went to the doctor today and he surpassed my worst case scenario. My surgery is set for March 25th. The best case would be a little teeny surgery. But they measured me for a brace while I was in the office. And given what the doctor implied, most likely I'm looking at months on crutches.

Bourbon it is.

Bourbon Chocolate Pie
sort of from The Joy of Cooking

One 9 inch prebaked pie shell in pan.*

4 large eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp bourbon
2 oz. dark chocolate chips
2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2 oz. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, honey, butter, salt and bourbon. Mix in all of the chocolate. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes until the pie is set. Cool the pie until firmed. Slice and serve.

I topped mine with Black Walnut Ice Cream.

* I purchased my pie shell, so I'm not eligible for the Pi Day Pie Roundup at Kitchen Parade. Go check it out though. There are some really yummy pies listed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beet and Beer Salad

So, in case you haven't noticed (like the Brain) that I've been on a teensy bit of a bender this week. This week has been all about beer. But why? Why not really. Well actually there are a couple reasons.

First, it's the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day, and while that may seem like a good enough reason, Emeline over at Sugar Plum is hosting a fabulous Pub Crawl blog event.

Second, I'm Catholic so drinking is definitely not forbidden. It's what we do. Heck it's almost encouraged. Come to Church and have some wine with us. (As a side note, this is not technically the case, Catholic doctrine says that the wine through a miracle becomes the blood of Christ so it's not actually wine anymore.) One could extrapolate that if wine is OK then beer must also be OK.

Third, beer tastes really good. And when I was searching for something for Emeline's blog event I found a whole bunch of delicious recipes I wanted to try.

So why am I submitting tonight's recipe for the Pub Crawl? Well, it's damass good. I mean really surprisingly beerily delicious. Beer and beets. Who would have thought. And it's also really original. Although it's not very original of me to submit it being that I took inspiration from a recipe on Bon Appetit. Really, although I really really liked all of the beer recipes so far, I think this one is so unexpected and almost healthy (really- go to and check out the nutrition info) that I like it the best. Maybe it's been a while since I've had a fresh vegetable and I was craving them. Even the Brain, who doesn't care for beets, ate his whole salad up. That says something.

Of course you could probably slather a brick in beer, bacon, and feta and I'd eat it all up.

Warm Beet and Beer Salad
Inspired by Bon Appetit

3 beets, peeled and cut into thick wedges
3 thick cut bacon slices
1/2 large onion sliced thinly
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp anise seed
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 cups spring mix salad blend

Cook beets in boiling salted water until tender, approximately 12 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile saute bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. Once cool, crumble the bacon. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the skillet and add onions and saute for about 3 minutes or until they start to caramelize. Add the beer, vinegar, sugar, and anise seed and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beets and cook for 5 more minutes until the dressing is reduced and thick.

Spread the salad blend over two plates. Heap the warm beet and onion mixture on top of the salad mix. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon and feta on top and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rye Beer Bread

Emboldened by my success with the Julia Child French Bread, I decided to give another yeast bread a try. I wanted to try one from the beautiful King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook that my wonderful mother-in-law gave me, but first I have to find some instant yeast. So I played around on the Internet and found this recipe for Beer Rye Bread from Sunset.

It's really good. The taste of the beer is subtle, but it's there. I used Bass Ale because it was the closest thing to a Belgium style ale as we've got. I think if I had a good Belgian ale, this bread would be just that more delicious. As always quality ingredients make quality products. But please, it's not like I used the Michelob Ultra in the beer fridge. That would make an interesting beer bread for sure.

The texture of this bread is dramatically different than the Julia Child French Bread. Where Julia's bread was sticky as dough and air bubbles consistently popped up on the surface. This dough was stiff. I had a hard time telling for sure when it was rising even. Julia's bread has such lovely holes and a light and chewy texture. This bread is dense and has a thick and hearty texture. Please don't misunderstand me though. This bread would be ideal slathered with butter accompanying these beans, or with no butter and a hearty soup. It would also be excellent with a slab of onion and some liverwurst.

Call me nutty, but I think I just got hit over the head with my German heritage. I don't mind, I'm munching away on my bread.

Beer Rye Bread
from Sunset

1 package active dry yeast
1 (12oz) bottle Belgian style ale
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp caraway seeds
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 Tbsp coarse Kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups rye flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water)

In a mixing bowl, combine yeast with 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in beer, brown sugar,butter, caraway seeds, molasses, 2 tsp salt, and 1 cup of each flour. Beat well, then gradually add remaining flours until dough is stiff and no longer sticky.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to grease the top and bottom. Cover, put in a warm draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down, divide in half, and shape halves into balls. Put balls on a large baking sheet, cover, and let rise until almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp salt. Cut a cross in the top of each loaf with a very sharp knife.

Bake at 375° for 35 to 40 minutes, spraying occasionally with a water mister, until crusts are well browned and loaves make a hollow sound when tapped. Transfer loaves to rack and let cool.

Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices per loaf.

Per slice: Calories 144 (17% from fat); Fat 2.7g (sat 1.3g); Protein 4.1g; Cholesterol 14mg; Sodium 271mg; Fiber 3.2g; Carbohydrate 27g

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hot and Smoky Beer Beans

I volunteer to work funeral luncheons at church. It started as a way to get out of the house and have something to do. Now, I really really like it. I get to cook recipes I either never get to cook, like mac and cheese, or recipes that would be dangerous to keep around the house, like these cookies. But also I get to feel helpful, which I really like.

Today though was different. Today a very popular older man was buried. And while there were a bunch of little old ladies at church for the funeral luncheon who reminded me of Grandma Mazur in the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels. You know, the downright tiny old women who go to funerals because they're the most exciting things in town. Anyway, so it was a standard funeral until the end. I put on my coat and grabbed my plate of leftover brownies for my husband. They always push the extra food on me and sometimes I take it for the Brain. So the recent widow saw me start to leave and came over and hugged me and thanked me for working the funeral luncheon when I'd never met her before.

I felt so SAD all of the sudden. It was like here was this nice woman and suddenly her husband was dead. And yet she handled it with such grace. I have never felt so touched. Here this woman was dealing with her grief and her family and the funeral and she thought to come over to me, the girl she didn't know pouring coffee for people and thank me. Really impressive.

So tonight I needed some comfort food. And what better comfort food is there than some spicy baked beans? Spicy baked beans with bacon and beer! OK, if you were a vegetarian, or for some other reason willingly deprived yourself of bacon, then you could leave the bacon out and just use some olive oil. But seriously this is good. I rinsed the beans because I have unnatural fear of bean goo. I have issues. I know. But bean goo is just beyond gross to me even if it would make the liquid thicker. These beans, some nice thick slices of this bread slathered with butter makes the ultimate in comfort food. So delicious.

Hot and Smoky Beer Beans
adapted from Bon Appetit

3 bacon slices
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 cup purchased barbecue sauce (such as Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/2 cup dark beer (such as Elliot Ness Amber Lager)
2 Tbsp dark molasses
4 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 (15oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain. Transfer bacon grease to large bowl. Finely chop bacon and add to bowl. Add onion, barbecue sauce, beer, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce and whisk to blend. Whisk in cayenne pepper. Stir in beans. Pour bean mixture into 8x8 inch dish and put in the oven to bake for about an hour or until it gets bubbly and thickens.

Cool 10 minutes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lamb Chops in Beer

Finally I have cooked something delicious in the slow cooker! Yippee!

You see, I may or may not have sneaked into the Borders last time I was in the next county. It's the only Borders in a 50 mile radius. And I had a coupon. A 25% off coupon. Borders Rewards is a wonderful thing. So while I cannot confirm (because I may spend more than I possible should there) that I was in the Borders, I can tell you that I have this cookbook I really like so far. It's called Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two. And whoa, there's some nice looking recipes in there.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I have a small food hoarding problem. We're also buying a quarter of a cow in the next couple weeks. So getting some of the food out of the freezer would probably be a good idea. We could buy a deep freeze, but chances are we would probably fill that if we had it. Anyhow, I was poking around in the freezer and came across 4 little lamb chops. Not the Frenched fancy kind, but the more choppy kind.

So here I was with 4 little meaty pieces of lamb and a slow cooker book that didn't belong to my momma. OK, my momma never used a slow cooker and my only childhood memories of a slow cooker were for grandma's baked beans on a buffet and my Hungarian aunt's oh so delicious cabbage rolls. So I pulled out my little 2 quart crock pot. Which I'm guessing may have been a wedding present, because it still had the plastic thing on the plug. I know we got a mammoth one as a wedding present, but I can't use that with a slow cooker book for 2 people. We don't eat THAT much. Well, we could probably try, but that would be gluttony. Interestingly enough gluttony in food isn't considered one of the seven deadly sins anymore.

OK I'm off topic again. Sorry. I had my book, my little slow cooker, my lamb chops and a cold Michelob Light. And I had the perfect recipe. Lamb Chops in Beer. I popped the vegetables and chops in the slow cooker poured a beer on top and off we went to church and then to Walmart. Church in the middle of the early afternoon because after the double whammy of 14 to 18 inches of snow and daylight savings weekend, we simply didn't wake up early enough to dig ourselves out for morning mass.

After we cleaned Walmart out of a sizable chunk of groceries, we came home to a delicious smelling house and some of the best lamb chops I've ever had. And I'm entering this into a fun food blog event called Weekend Cookbook Challenge (WCC) which this month is being hosted by the oh so lovely Lisa at La Mia Cucina. The theme is Crock Pots, Dutch Ovens and Pressure Cookers.

Lamb Chops in Beer

1 medium sized onion, sliced
2 medium sized carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/8 tsp dried thyme
4 lamb chops
2 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 Michelob Light
1. Combine the onion carrots, potatoes, garlic, parsley, and thyme in the crock. Sprinkle the chops with the flour and season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray, heat the chops over medium high heat. Sear both sides, about 2 minutes total. Place them in the crock, laying them side by side. Add the tomato and pour the beer over the top. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork-tender.