Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ancho Seasoned Burgers

My friend Anna, from freshman year of college, came to visit this past weekend. I decided to make her Red Chile Rice with Sweet and Spicy Ancho Seasoning Paste. I had some left over ancho seasoning paste and decided to try it mixed in with ground beef to make hamburger patties instead of just making myself more rice like the last time I made it.

The burgers turned out very moist, with just a hint of spice and chile flavor. This is the kind of burger that a guest or friend will ask, "What is in this burger?". It also turns them red, making it harder to tell when they are done by sight. I served them on tiger rolls (rawr!) with grilled onions, avocado and homemade queso fresco. A delicious way to use up leftover ancho seasoning paste!



Serves 4-5, depending on how big/small you make your burgers
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1-2 tablespoons ancho seasoning paste (roughly a teaspoon per 6 ounce burger)


  1. In a medium bowl combine the ground beef and ancho seasoning paste, mix it just enough to combine.
  2. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Loosely form each portion into a 3/4 inch patty with a deep depression in the center (this helps them to not bulge in the center when cooked). 
  3. Heat a gas grill to high heat. Placing the burgers on the grill and cooking on each side for about 4 minutes or to desired doneness. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daring Bakers: Tiger Rolls

Sara and Erica of Baking Jds were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara and Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread.

This bread tastes as good as it looks. The pattern on the top is supposed to resemble that of a tiger, maybe it does on a loaf of bread, on these rolls it is closer to a giraffe pattern. This type of bread is very popular in the Bay Area of Northern California. Technically Dutch Crunch is not the type of bread but the topping. In Dutch, it is called Tijgerbrood or "tiger bread". After it comes out of the oven you get the lovely pattern on top. The topping gives these rolls a slightly sweet and crunchy finish.

I decided to use the finished rolls to make spicy ancho seasoned burgers, using leftover sweet and spicy ancho seasoning paste. If you make these for burgers, you may want to try dividing the dough up into 8 rolls. My dad felt they were a bit too big for his tastes. The bread would taste delicious with sliced turkey, cheese and avocado too. The rolls can also be made without the topping, but the topping is very straightforward to make. The roll itself is moist, slightly dense and delicious. 



Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible
Soft White Rolls
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (lukewarm to hot to the touch)
1 cup warm skim milk (lukewarm to hot to the touch)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 to 4 cups all purpose flour (I used about 3 1/2 cups)

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the yeast, water, milk and sugar, stirring to dissolve and combine. Let it stand for 5 minutes. The mixture should become foamy and smell yeasty.
  2. Add the vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups flour into the mixer.Using the dough hook attachment, mix at medium speed until everything is well combined. It should be very wet and sticky.
  3. Add the remaining flour a 1/4 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Stop adding flour at this point and continue to knead in the machine for 4 minutes at medium speed. Place the dough in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F before you form the rolls. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, dividing the dough into 6 balls and placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try not to work with the dough too much at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you make the Dutch Crunch Topping.
  5. Generously coat the top of each roll, using a spoon, with the topping. Place the rolls into the oven and bake for 15-25 minutes (I baked mine for the recommended 25 minutes and the bottoms got a little to done)
Dutch Crunch Topping
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rice flour (brown or white)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, beating vigorously with a whisk. It should be the consistency of royal icing and drip off the whisk slowly. Let stand for 15 minutes, while the rolls are rising.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Car Bomb Cupcake

Think of these cupcakes as a boozy deliciousness wrapped up in a pot o' gold. What could be better? These cupcakes are fashioned after the popular Irish Car Bomb drink, which is a variation on the Boilermaker cocktail. The Irish Car Bomb cocktail consists of dropping a shot of whiskey and Baileys into a 3/4 pint of Guinness. You have to drink it quickly or it will curdle! They are actually pretty tasty. If you have never tried one, you're in luck! There will be enough Guinness leftover to make your own while the cupcakes bake. 

Surprisingly these are not too boozy tasting. The Guinness in the cupcake batter enhances the flavor of the chocolate, similar to the way adding coffee would. These cupcakes have great flavor on their own. Make just the cupcake batter and top with your favorite frosting. You can pick up the flavor of the whiskey and Baileys in the chocolate filling and frosting but not in a bad way. If you are not into the boozy part of these cupcakes, substitute the Baileys with milk and don't add the whiskey. Happy St. Patty's day!

For the cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cups sour cream

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. In a small saucepan, bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, beat the sour cream and eggs until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat to combine. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup. Bake for about 17 minutes and cool on a rack.

For the whiskey ganache filling:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey

To make the ganache filling:
1. Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a medium bowl. Heat the cream in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, just until bubbles form around the edge of the measuring cup. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for one minute and then stir it until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until well combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.
2. To fill the cupcakes, cut the centers of the cupcakes out, to make a 1-inch circle that is 2/3 deep. Fill a sandwich bag with the cooled ganache and snip one corner of the bag to pipe into the cupcake holes.

For the Baileys frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

To make the Baileys frosting:
1. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Add the baileys, increasing the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daring Cooks: Olive Oil Braised Carrots

The March 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Carol aka Poisonive--and she challenged us all to learn the art of braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman's Technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book "Ruhlman's Twenty".

This is my first Daring Cooks Challenge! I was very excited to see that the challenge was braising. In the January/February fine cooking magazine, they featured olive oil braised vegetables. I had been wanting to try some out and this presented the perfect opportunity. Braising is very simple and fast. Most of the time spent is inactive. The flavor is amazing for such minimal effort. The same is true of meat dishes. I made braised short ribs, but failed to take any pictures. The short ribs were assembled and put into the oven for 4 hours, in under 20 minutes.

These carrots are a great way to add variety to your average vegetable side dish. They are such little work, for huge flavor. Try slicing them and drizzling them with red wine vinegar, it adds a nice tang. Enjoy them!

Recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking
1 pound carrots (about 4-5 medium carrots), peeled and halved lengthwise
2 medium cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 scant teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Mint, roughly chopped or torn

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Fit the carrots in a single layer in 9 x 13 baking pan. Sprinkle the garlic slices over the carrots.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the broth, olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and salt and drizzle over the carrots. cover the baking pan with aluminum foil.
  3. Braise the carrots in the oven until fork tender, about 30-40 minutes. Garnish with mint.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Banana Muffins

What do you do when you have browning bananas? Make banana bread, or chocolate chip banana muffins, of course! I'm pretty picky when it comes to eating bananas. They can't be too green, but they can't be too ripe, either. I guess my pickiness for bananas rubbed off on my boyfriend because he let a banana bushel get a little on the ripe side and he didn't want to touch them. So, he gave them to me to turn into a delectable pastry treat!

The recipe I found for these muffins is simple and (with an alteration) calls for ingredients that are normally staples for a household. So, when those bananas sit on the counter too long, you won't have to  throw them away nor will you have to run to the grocery store before turning them into a perfect baby shower munchie, book club snack, or just a simple breakfast treat!

Banana Muffins

1 1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
1 stick butter
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas
1 tsp. lemon juice*
1/2 c. milk*
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. mini chocolate chips

*The milk and lemon juice can be replaced with buttermilk. I can never seem to use up buttermilk when I buy it so I went with the milk/lemon juice alternative. 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners into cupcake pan(s). This recipe will make about 20 muffins.
2. Put the teaspoon of lemon juice in a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill the rest with milk. Set aside.
3. Blend in a large bowl sugar and softened butter. 
3. Mix in eggs, milk (with lemon juice), bananas and vanilla. 
4. Stir in the dry ingredients (besides the chocolate chips) slowly. Try not to over blend - just mix until the batter has a even consistency. 
5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Enjoyed best when warm!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Skinny Macaroni and Cheese Soup with Broccoli

I was trying to plan ahead last time I went to the grocery store and picked out two recipes that used similar ingredients, chicken and broccoli noodle casserole and this skinny macaroni and cheese soup with broccoli.  Turns out I didn't plan too well on the broccoli part though, because I still have probably two-thirds of what I bought.  Be warned, you get a lot more out of a head of broccoli than you think!

  • 4 oz dry elbow macaroni (try Ronzoni Smart Taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken brother
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups (about 10 oz) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  1. Cook noodles in salted water according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter.  Add chopped vegetables and sauté on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add flour and pepper to the pot and stir until smooth.
  4. Slowly add chicken broth, milk, nutmeg and dry mustard; whisking constantly.  Set heat until medium-high until it comes to a boil.  Cover and cook on medium-low about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli florets, parmesan cheese, and stir well.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked, about 5 minutes or to your liking.
  6. Add cheddar, mixing well until cheese melts and immediately remove from heat.
  7. Add cooked noodles and mix well.
  8. Adjust salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  9. Serve right away before pasta absorbs broth.
Recipe slightly adapted from Skinnytaste.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roasted Garlic

I love garlic. It is spicy when it is raw and as you cook it, it becomes sweeter. You can use for a lot of things. In my family, we mainly use it on crostini with goat cheese, kalamata olives and roasted red peppers. It is also a great way to get garlic evenly distributed over a pizza, instead of scattered pieces. Depending on what you are using the roasted garlic for, you can individually take the cloves out with a knife. The other option is to simply squeeze it out. Squeezing it out, is probably the easiest way.

1 medium head of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
Tin foil

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Cut the top 1/2 inch off the head of garlic (you want most of the cloves to be exposed). Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap in tin foil.
  2. Place the tin foil wrapped head of garlic directly on the oven rack, for 35 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the garlic from the oven and cool for 10 minutes, still wrapped. After 10 minutes, unwrap it and serve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole

One of the things that I enjoy doing to give myself little breaks between during studying or while I'm drinking my coffee in the morning is to peruse around on Pinterest, Foodgawker, or other similar sites.  I have repeatedly come across recipes from a blog called Skinnytaste and I decided to check it out a little more closely.  Turns out this is a really awesome site and I suggest you take a look at it if you have never heard of it.  Gina, the author of the blog, posts low fat recipes complete with nutritional information, weight watchers points, and plenty of flavor!  This chicken and broccoli noodle casserole was the first recipe of hers I've tried, but don't be surprised if I post about more in the future.

  • 6 oz. Ronzoni Smart taste noodles (I used whole wheat egg like noodles, or you can use no-yolk)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 12 oz (or about 2 1/2) cups fresh broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (I could not find a shallot, so I just used some yellow onion)
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup 1% milk (I used skim)
  • 12 oz (I used 2 chicken breasts) shredded chicken breast*
  • 4 oz shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions until al dente.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet.  Add garlic and cook on medium heat until golden, about 1 minute.  Add broccoli and a little salt, sauté covered for about 3 minutes on medium heat until the broccoli begins to soften.  Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9x12 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. (I used my 9x13 pyrex dish.)
  4. In a large pot, heat butter over medium-low heat.  When melted add the shallot and cook until soft 2-3 minutes.  Add the flour and a pinch of salt and stir well, cooking an additional 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
  5. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth until well combined over medium heat, making sure to whisk well for about 30 seconds.  Add milk and bring to a boil.  Simmer on medium heat, mixing occasionally until it thicken, about 6-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and add reduced fat sharp cheddar and 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese.  Mix well until the cheese melts.
  6. Add the shredded chicken, noodles and broccoli to the sauce and mix well until evenly coated.
  7. Pour into casserole dish and top with remaining parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.  Spray a little more cooking spray on top and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Place the casserole under the broiler a few minutes to get the crumbs crisp and golden, being careful not to burn. (I did not do this last part with the broiler.)
Recipe courtesy of Skinnytaste.

*I decided to boil my chicken in water to keep it nice and moist.  This was the first time I had every cooked chicken this way.  I put the chicken breasts in a medium pot and covered them with water.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let chicken breasts simmer for 7-9 minutes.  Remove a piece and cut a slit in it to check for pinkness.  Cook more if needed.  Drain water and pull apart chicken with two forks.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Traditional Mojitos

There are a couple of reasons for this blog post. First, a couple of weekends ago, I tried my first sip of a mojito. My boyfriend had gotten one when we were at Tutto Pasta, which is a local Italian restaurant (that I highly recommend if you're in the Madison area). It was delicious! Second, badger kitchen doesn't have any drink recipes! What better way to break the non-drink trend by featuring mojitos! Lastly, it is March now and all I can think about is springtime and warm weather. So, in the midst of a snow storm, I gathered all the ingredients and my new muddler and made some delicious mojitos.

Traditional Mojitos 
adapted from various recipes, including the one that came with my new muddler, but ultimately I added the ingredients to taste

3 to 4 lime slices
4 to 6 mint leaves
1 to 2 shots white rum 
2 tsp. sugar
club soda or sprite 

1. With a muddler, mash the mint leaves in a glass. Add the lime slices and do the same. 
3. Pour in the sugar and use the muddler to mix.
4. Fill the glass with ice.
5. Add the rum and then add soda to top the glass.
6. Stir and enjoy! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Whole Wheat Bran Muffins

Muffins are among one of my many favorite baked goods! These ones happen to be on the healthy side, but surprisingly good. If you don't care for things that "taste healthy", I would say these aren't for you. That is not to say they are not good though. Strangely, my dad didn't think they tasted healthy. Normally when something has whole wheat in it he is less than pleased. I know that completely contradicts my feeling that they taste healthy. It is a mystery to me how he doesn't think these taste "healthy", but I guess I shouldn't complain.

The original recipe said they were a bit dry. I added extra applesauce to fix that. I also decided to add some nuts. I would toast them next time, but I made these on a whim and didn't think of it until after the fact. You could add any type of nut that you wanted. There is no sugar added to these. Even with the applesauce and maple syrup, these are just barely sweet. Next time I may add dried apricots or cranberries. Get creative with these and add nuts, dark chocolate or dried fruit. Try serving them with a little butter or cream cheese.

Adapted from Living Lou
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4, scant, teaspoon nutmeg
1/4, scant, teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (2.25 oz bag)
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 real maple syrup
1 egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with liners or grease with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, oats, bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and walnuts in a bowl, to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the apple sauce, milk, syrup and egg.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing to just combined. Be careful not to over mix it!
  5. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle the tops with bran and oats. 
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. These were best fresh out of the oven, just reheat them in the microwave! Try them with a little cream cheese or butter, delicious.


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