Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

What a fantastic Thanksgiving! Between the fellowship, eating, games, cooking, coffee, and watching the adorable little cousins play, a wonderful time was had. Next time we'll have to have a designated photographer. 

Here are the recipes that were requested:

Ina Garten's turkey recipe
The video is superior to the written instructions. They vary slightly. I used the written instructions for the first turkey, which was inferior to the second turkey. 

Center Cut Cook's Green Bean Casserole
I omitted the mushrooms, cheese, and panko crumbs, and included the bacon. 

Roxana's Home Baking's Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
I didn't include the gingersnap crumbs in the crust, but I imagine such an addition would be delicious! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

For the Love of Chocolate!

Dairy products (except butter) are completely out of my diet, and sugar has taken a significant hike. Morning coffee has transitioned to morning tea, and there is nary a sign of sweets in the house. Oh, chocolate, thou art missed!

Thankfully, I found this recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction. It was so easy to throw together! Here's the version I went with:

1/2 cup cocoa powder, overflowing 
4 T melted coconut oil
1/4 c honey

-Mix honey and coconut oil well
-Add cocoa powder, stir until mixed thoroughly 
-Place parchment paper in a smallish container
-Spread chocolate onto parchment paper
-Freeze about 30 minutes, store in refrigerator 

Using honey as the sweetener gives the chocolate a smooth consistency, as well as a hint of elasticity. 

If you are a fellow coconut hater, don't fret! There's a slight coconut taste with the first bite, but from there on it seems to diminish. Perhaps oil pulling has softened my heart to coconut flavor a tad. Either way, if you're looking for a dairy and sugar free chocolate, the downside of the slight coconut flavor pales in comparison to the delight of the chocolate indulgence. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Steak, Glorious Steak!

A few weeks ago, I decided to compete with myself to see how little of our grocery budget I could spend. After two weeks of eating ridiculous amounts of beans and rice based meals, I was grumpy. I was easily annoyed. I was (more) impatient. Clearly, going mostly meatless is catastrophic to my sanctification.*

The next grocery excursion, my competition came to a screeching halt with the purchase of meat, meat, and more meat. The most exciting prospect was steak, as we recently added a cast iron pan to our kitchen. The steak and pan both failed to disappoint! 

The marinade:
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c olive oil
1/3 c lemon juice
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
2 T garlic powder
3 T dried basil
2 T dried parsley 
1 t ground white pepper
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 tsp minced garlic

I like to marinate the steak as soon as I get home from the grocery, and toss it in the freezer until we use it. Make sure the steak is up to room temperature before cooking. 

This method yielded perfectly medium rare steaks (one inch NY strip cuts):

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-Heat cast iron pan over medium high heat with 2 T butter, until butter gets foamy
-Sear the steaks for two minutes per side
-Transfer to oven, cook four minutes
-Transfer steaks to a plate, let rest 10 minutes

Oh, so delicious. 

*I don't actually hold food accountable for my actions. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Asher is Two!

    It seems unbelievable that Asher is two! Yet, it seems as though he's always been with us. What on earth did we do before we had him? He has filled our lives with such joy! 

   So much has happened between his first and second birthdays. He lost his Papa Sutton and cousin Ryker.  He gained cousins Willow and Rhett, as well as a little Peruvian cousin due in June.  He became a big brother to Jackson Scott in September. He learned to walk (first step on February 22nd). He learned to climb on the coffee table and dance (one of his few words). He went from crying at Bible study to running into his class without telling me bye.  He grew from a baby to a toddler. *sniff sniff*

   Asher has such a sweet spirit. He gives hugs without abandon; everyone is his friend! He almost always gets complimented on his behavior by strangers while we're out running errands. His energy level seems to never fade.  

    Asher's two year old favorites:
       (Real) Food-Spaghetti
       Word- Please 
       Activity- Wagon rides, pretending to drive 
       Sibling- Jackson :)
       Instrument-Piano, but prefers to play it with the drumsticks
       Toy- Trucks
       Day- Sunday (a whole day of socializing is what Asher considers heavenly)

Happy birthday, Asher bud! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pecan Pie

    There's something about having visitors that makes trying new recipes seem like a great idea. My parents came up for the Thanksgiving weekend, and they were my gracious guinea pigs for about five new recipes. Pecan pie/crust, buffalo chicken chili, pancake squares, cinnamon pancake squares, chicken pesto pasta (including a new pesto recipe), chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, biscuits and sausage gravy...okay, so technically eleven recipes. I love it when my parents visit! They're such willing guinea pigs, wonderful company, and somehow turn their vacation into a vacation for us. I seriously doubt Asher would notice if Alec and I left while my parents were here, and my kitchen is still basking in the ambiance of my mother's touch.

    To be fair, the true guinea pigs for the pecan pie were our Henson friends. Gotta test Thanksgiving recipes before the big day, right?  This Pioneer Woman recipe is delicious! I might have added a bit more vanilla than Ree recommends...I'm a bit of a vanilla fiend. The pie crust recipe yields quite a tasty concoction. I split it in half, as it created enough dough for two pies. And, as the recipe suggested, I froze the dough. It turned out flakey as promised! As this was only my second attempt at homemade crust, moving the rolled out product from the counter to the pie dish was interesting. 


       But, it's fixable!


    Tasty tasty. Pecan pie is the bomb diggity!  

    The second time around, Dad helped me transfer the crust dough:

    Much better!

    The final product is pretty similar to the recipe in the back of Karo syrup bottles. This recipe seems to have just a bit more depth. Mayhaps it will show up around Christmas time in miniature pie form!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cookies for Breakfast?

    You read that correctly, the Suttons now eat cookies for breakfast! I ran into this gem of a recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction. The recipe itself is a cinch, gathering ingredients was the hardest part. I ended up finding cranberry apple butter at Trader Joes (and picked up some pumpkin butter to try out in the next few batches).

    So far I've made two batches. Each batch received the basic ingredients of the recipe, with the exception of cranberry apple butter instead of plain, honey instead of syrup, and peanut butter instead of almond butter. The additions were slightly different. I ditched the cranberries, as I don't like cooked fruit. Or dried fruit. Have I mentioned I'm a super picky eater? Our cookies received a healthy dose of Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips, chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup of ground flax seed. In one batch I added a tablespoon of cocoa powder, which I would definitely do again. 

    The cookies are delicious! Their consistency reminds me of no bake cookies, but really thick. Asher loves them, which is wonderful. He needed something to replace yogurt, and this more than does the trick!

Pulled Pork Barbecue

    Have you ever wondered where the Boston Butt got its name? The moniker originated around the Revolutionary time period. The Boston aspect comes from the way pork shoulder was cut in Boston, and the latter word comes from the barrel in which the pork was packed. Barrels were also known as butts. Somewhere along the way, Boston Butt stuck. Seems rather unfortunate for shoulder to get stuck with a rump label, doesn't it?

    Tangent aside, let's talk pulled pork. My dad is a barbecue master. The Cornish hen, the ribs, the steak (oh, the steak!), and the pulled pork... For the pulled pork enjoyed at many a family gathering, Dad trims the meat, uses a dry rub and injects marianade, sits it in the fridge overnight, and smokes them on a low temperature for a long time. My apologies for the scant details--I'm not much of a smoker myself. Hehe. The dry rub (Sorry Boys) has a delicious flavor, and is the creation of a friend of Dad's (he also happens to be my former dentist).  On smoking days, Dad has the whole neighborhood smelling amazing. Once they're cooked, Dad uses the butcher knife method of 'pulling', which works exactly as you're picturing. He then juices the meat up with a tasty concoction and lets it sit in the slow cooker to stay warm until the party gets started. 

    We moved to South Carolina about two years ago. South Carolina is basically the Holy Land of pulled pork barbecue. It's even broken into four regions based on flavor prevalence. 

   Vinegar and pepper is my personal favorite, likely because I only had it growing up when visiting my grandparents in South Carolina. Interestingly, this flavor was brought to South Carolina by the Scots. Mustard style, here thanks to German immigrants, seems to be the prevalent flavor in the Charleston area, and happens to be Alec's favorite. Light tomato is a mix of the vinegar and pepper and ketchup, more or less. Finally, the heavy tomato flavor is what most people in the country associate with barbecue. If you want to read about barbecue history, click here. It's an interesting read!

    Given the state we moved to, I decided I'd better become adept at making barbecue. The first method I tried consisted of throwing a boston butt in the slow cooker overnight, defatting it the next day, and shredding it in the KitchenAid. We added sauce as we ate it. The only way this method changed over the past two years was that I started adding mustard sauce while shredding it. Using the slow cooker almost guarantees the pork is going to end up tender and juicy. The one dry batch I made was due to over shredding it in huge KitchenAid. I imagine it's much harder to attain the same tenderness using a smoker, though Dad certainly comes close. 

    Recently, my cousin Rachel shared this slow cooker pulled pork recipe with me. The new flavor was wonderful; it seemed to have a Moroccan flair to it. My favorite difference was the smell while it was cooking. When a boston butt is cooking without the additions of this recipe, I spend the whole day checking for dirty diapers. The end result is always delicious, but the smell of it cooking...ick! This recipe had me dying to taste test the meat within the first two hours of cooking. After it was done, I went ahead and used the suggested shredding methods of two forks. The KitchenAid is definitely more effective, and it allows you more options in regards to how finely shredded the barbecue is. 

    As you can see, there are countless ways to prepare barbecue. The cooking process, the flavor, the pulling method...there's so much potential!