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The Best Mac & Cheese You Have Ever Eaten?

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Control yourselves.

Look, I’m sure you have your favorite mac & cheese. Maybe you are a kraft purist and don’t even consider something cheese if it isn’t powdered. Maybe some homemade or restaurant version blew your mind and you call it the best ever. Previous to perfecting this recipe, mine was from Slows BBQ in Detroit. This is better. Much better. In my opinion. I am going to take the Glenn Beck approach to this statement. I am not saying definitively that this is the best mac & cheese in the world, but it might be.  I didn’t say it was better than any other cheese and pasta concoction you ever put in your mouth, but shouldn’t we ask ourselves if there’s a possibility that it is? Shouldn’t we? I take no responsibility for this comments if they prove to be untrue. After all, this is just an opinion blog. A delicious, delicious opinion blog.

Chives and cheese about to do battle

That’s it.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s unhealthy to just eat mac & cheese for dinner. Also pictured is some cheddar herb beer bread, which I may post a recipe for at a later date, but you don’t really need anything else.  Eat until you feel somewhere between guilty and uncomfortable.

Moving to the City, Gonna’ Eat Me a Lot of Peaches.

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I always have a hard time knowing when certain fruits are in season. I can be found squealing in the produce department whenever I see the first good pomegranate of the year, and who the hell knows when you can get a decent plum? But apparently it is peach season now, because they are filling up stalls at the farmers market and practically spilling out the doors of every grocery store. Whole Foods was selling them at 99 cents a pound, and when Whole Foods sells something that cheap, you know they have got to move that product. So I said to myself, “Self, I want to make something delicious with these peaches, but I am feeling very lazy.” And then it hit me. Refrigerated biscuit dough.  A key ingredient in many lazy concoctions in this house (ghetto donuts, anyone?) So here I present you with a surprisingly good peach tart-like-thing. It’s the easiest tart since Bristol Palin. **rimshot** .

Surely you can obtain these things:

* A couple pounds of peaches

*1 can of refrigerated biscuits

*2 tablespoons butter, softened

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*1/2 cup mascarpone 

*1 tablespoon honey

*As much cinnamon you would like

Surely you have 10 minutes to spare:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Mix together brown sugar, butter, and some cinnamon.

In a separate vessel, mix mascarpone, honey, and some more cinnamon.

Take 1 biscuit if you would like a small tart, 2 if you would like a larger tart. Smoosh together well if you have two.

Roll out the biscuit until it is pretty thin. 1/8 of an inch? I’unno, this is supposed to be easy here.

Spread some of the butter/brown sugar mix on the dough, then arrange the peaches in middle as beautifully as you have patience for.

Fold over edges of the dough to create a tart-esque treat.

Bake on parchment until dough is brown, I think I did like 10 minutes.

Top your tart with the mascarpone mixture, eat, and have a good, hearty laugh at all those schmucks out there laboring over a legitimate pie crust.

Bonus relevant music video. Hello, nostalgia:

The only banana bread recipe you will ever need.

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Would I lie to you?

What’s that you say? You already have a trusty banana bread recipe? This one is better…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What’s that? It’s your great great grandmother’s recipe that won the blue ribbon at the Oklahoma state fair in 1909? This one is better.

Banana bread seems so simple, yet there seems to be a lot of bad banana bread out there. Dry, bland, nutless excuses for possibly the king of all quick breads. Here I present to you the king of kings, a recipe borrowed from here and there, perfected over years. You want to argue with me, you better be able to put your bread where your mouth is.

What you need:

*1 cup pureed RIPE bananas. Now, a lot of recipes specify a number of bananas, but how is that going to be consistent? Usually between 2-3 yields a cup. I just whisk the hell out of them in the stand mixer, but do whatever works for you, don’t just mash them with a fork though. This will not do.

*1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

*3/4 cup white sugar

*1/4 cup brown sugar

*1/2 cup European style butter. This is important. Always use “European Style” butter for baking. Need an explanation why?  Plugra is available just about everywhere.

*2 eggs

*2/3 cup sour cream

*1 teaspoon baking soda

*1 teaspoon baking powder

*1 teaspoon orange zest

*1 tablespoon orange juice

*1 big handful pecans (not optional.) What, you usually use walnuts? Inferior nut.

*2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*1 teaspoon cinnamon

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*dash of nutmeg

*dash of salt

Lets get it on:

Preheat oven to 350, grease a normal sized loaf pan.

Toss your pecans in a small pan with the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Toast on low until sugar has melted and caramelized and you nuts are toasty. Once cool, chop ‘em up.

Cream together your softened butter and sugars. Get it good and fluffy.

Add eggs, vanilla, orange zest & juice, mix well.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well.

Fold in sour cream, banana, and pecans.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes.  It is crucial not to overcook and dry out your ‘nana bread. Take it out of the oven just at the point where you think it MIGHT not be done. Trust.

Let cool, at least mostly, before you start grabbing it with your grubby paws. At top is pictured with butter and TJ’s apple honey butter. Top with whatever you wish, or just top with more banana bread.

Side note: is it normal that Moriarty LOVES bananas? You can’t eat one in peace without him wanting to get at it, and he sat in the kitchen with this look on his face most of the time I was baking this.

You're going to share, right?

I Scream. You Scream. We All Scream For Milk Chocolate-Stout-Pretzel-Bacon Ice Cream.

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It’s almost June, and after completely skipping Spring, Chicago is refusing to accept the oncoming Summer.

 

So while it is storming like crazy outside, I am defying the gods and making ice cream anyway. An ice cream that is actually pretty perfect for a day such as this. We got the ice cream maker attachment for our stand mixer as a wedding gift, and it has probably gotten more mileage than any other gift. If making ice cream is new to you, but you are interested in getting started, I highly recommend starting with David Lebovits’  “The Perfect Scoop” and from there you can tinker and experiment as you wish. Go crazy. With that in mind, I present to you:

Milk Chocolate, Stout, Pretzel & Bacon Ice Cream

What you need:

*Ice cream maker

*Candied bacon chunks. “Hey, how do I candy bacon?” you ask. Sigh, must I do everything for you? 

*Pretzel bits

*4 ounces quality milk chocolate, chopped

*4 egg yolks

*1 1/2 cups heavy cream

*1 cup whole milk

*1/2 cup sugar

*8 ounces stout of your choosing. When in doubt, go Guinness.

*2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*Pinch of salt

What you do:

Heat milk, sugar, and salt until warm

Add egg yolks and heat on medium until it thickens slightly. You do NOT want scrambled eggs here.

Pour mixture in a large bowl over your chopped up chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted

Add cream, stout & vanilla.

Chill your mixture for at least a few hours. From here, it depends on your ice cream maker. The stand mixer attachment is about as easy as it gets, you just need to make sure your batter is thoroughly chilled and the bowl is completely frozen. If you have something else, do whatever those instructions say to do.

Make your ice cream, but wait until it is done before you fold in your bacon and pretzels. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of pretzel crumbs gritty-ing up your ‘scream.

Now, I know some of you may be skeptical about this ice cream flavor combination but you are just going to have to trust me. Think about it, do you like bacon? beer? pretzels? chocolate? Okay, then what’s the problem? If you have any further doubts, the following image should erase all your concerns.

How could anything possibly be wrong with this?

The Genesis of Moriarty

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First day home, lots of sleeping and being confused.

So this is our dog. His name is Moriarty. We named him after Dean Moriarty from Jack Kerouac’s On The Road because we knew he would be an energetic, mischievous, manipulative so and so. Corgis are like this some by nature, and our breeder described him as particularly ornery. The Wife liked him the best regardless and it was to be. Which brings me to the topic of breeders. It seems that recently, people have some disdain for getting a dog from a breeder. Obviously, if you got your dog from a pet store you are still a complete monster, but now getting a dog from a breeder seems to be looked down on by some, especially in our neighborhood. We observe this as we take Arty out for walks and people often, more often than I would think, ask where we got him from.  We say we got him from a breeder in Indiana and about 50% of the time, people tend to give a slight nod or look of disapproval, then introduce us to their wonderful rescue. “We think he is part corgi!” they often gush.  Now, let me state that I have nothing against rescue services. I think that for the most part they are doing a fantastic service. I just don’t think they are for everyone.  In our case, we had a size limitation, we wanted a dog that would be compatible with our lifestyle and we wanted to raise a dog from puppyhood.  For these reasons, a breeder was the obvious way to go. After carefully selecting a breed, we diligently researched breeders in our area, had extensive phone communication with the chosen breeder, made the four-hour drive to middle-of-nowhere Indiana to visit the pups when they were just four weeks old, then returned a month later to take him home.  I would venture to say that if prospective dog owners went through the process we did, there would be less dogs in shelters. Not every dog is right for everyone, and I think a lot of the time you are taking a gamble by getting a rescue, not knowing exactly what it’s personality or temperament may be beyond what the shelter says. This is why those same dogs often end up back in the shelter. Reading over this to myself, it comes off as somewhat self righteous and preachy, but it’s not intended to be. Rescues are great for some people, especially those with experience raising dogs. For first time pet owners, like ourselves, I truly believe the breeder route was the more responsible way to go. I don’t even hold resentment towards the rescue foster pitbull that bit two holes through our dog’s ear on the corner. I just wish that it didn’t seem like we have to defend our decision to peeps on the street.  Anyway, that post seemed pretty heavy, so here are some adorable puppy pics to lighten the mood.

Caught mid crazy dashing around session

Corgi butt

A puppy is not a practice baby.

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Sure we have plans for kids, somewhere down the line. But we knew as soon as we found a place, a puppy was a top priority. After finding out our condo’s dog weight limit, realizing our ideal dog (English bulldog) is basically a chronically ill creature that would never exist naturally–they can’t even conceive or give birth without human assistance.  We did a bunch of those online dog matching surveys and came up with mostly things we didn’t think were cute, and a corgi, a dog neither of us really ever knew about. Turns out they are the most awesome dogs in the world, as evident by the internet’s recent obsession with them.  So after much negotiation and heartache, we found a good breeder in the middle-of-nowhere, Indiana and anxiously awaited the day our dude was old enough to take home. Maybe I will gush more about this later, but the point of this post is how many people have made mention of how dogs are like practice babies. This is a very popular thing to tell newlyweds who have just acquired a puppy apparently. It is not the case, and I am here to lay out the similarities and differences between the two.

Things puppies and babies have in common:

*Cute, mostly.

*Lots of pee and poop. Lots.

*Demanding of your attention at all times.

*Is it hungry? Sleepy? Upset? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW? THIS THING CAN’T TALK!

*You will lose a lot of sleep

Things puppies and babies do not have in common:

*Puppies enjoy being shaken up a little bit. On the other hand, Never. Shake. A. Baby!!!

*Baby food is free for the first several months.

*Babies have an attached receptacle  to catch aforementioned pee and poop. Puppies don’t.

*When people stop on the street to admire or tickle your baby, you don’t have to worry about baby peeing on them or biting their gloves.

*Biting. As far as I am aware, babies aren’t born with a mouth full of tiny razorblades.

All told, yes, both are cute and cuddly, but I don’t consider our dog to be practice for a human freaking being that I am responsible for it’s entire life. You screw up with a puppy, maybe it turns out to be a growler. You screw up with a baby, maybe it ends up being the house slut on MTV’s Real World, or worse.

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