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Summer Sangria

August 18, 2011

Sangria, one of the tastiest beverages on a hot summer day, yet always so expensive when you go out to eat. Bertucci’s why don’t you take a page from Tasca’s book and offer $5.00 pitchers of sangria? I’ve come up with a tasty homemade recipe that also helps you out if you have any fruit about to spoil.

Summer Sangria

1 bottle red wine (I have found Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Shiraz work best)
A few cups of Club Soda (I usually use half a 33 oz bottle)
1 Orange
1 Lemon
1 Lime
1 Apple (non granny smith variety, I like Fujis)
Cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup Sugar

Basically add all the ingredients to a big pitcher or carafe, mix up and little, chill for at least 2 hours but up to 24 (the longer the better) and serve over ice. Do be careful if your sangria vessel is airtight, once you mix things up, open it to let out the gas from the club soda.

 

For a little fun after you have enjoy all the sangria, pour some vodka (or gin if you are my dad) over the fruit, allow to steep for 24 hours, and then enjoy pink vodka. After this little adventure, we went to a vodka and gin distillery to learn about making alcohol. Fun fact if you want to infuse alcohol with a flavor, don’t use the fruit you already infused sangria with! Distillery pictures to come!

 

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High Desert Breakfast of Champions

July 28, 2011

High Desert Breakfast of Champions

Greetings and Salutations avid readers, this post is brought to you from the wonderful Central Oregon High Desert as Baker Girl and Grill Boy are once again visiting Baker Girl’s parents in Oregon.  While Boston and the rest of the country have been sweltering with temperatures over 100 degrees Central Oregon has been a wonderful daily high of maybe 80 degrees.  This morning Grill Boy woke up to a wonderful sunny cloudless sky at a beautiful 50 degrees and decided that it was the perfect opportunity for a grand and full breakfast.

Bend Oregon - Lava ButteWhile Baker Girl slept, Grill Boy thought it was a great idea to start off with some bacon.  After hunting around the kitchen for a useable pan for the cooking of bacon Grill Boy was shown a terrific device by Baker Girl’s father; a great 1960’s vintage electric cooking “griddle.”  Now it was probably a great thing that Baker Girl was still asleep as she had previously voiced concerns about the waffle maker of the same vintage “exploding.”  Now of course there was no explosion with either device and Grill Boy set to work making up the bacon.

French Toast

As the bacon sizzled and fried Grill Boy decided to make some french toast.  The first step is to find the necessary ingredients.  The next step is to make up some sort of measurement system because why the hell not, if Kelvin and Mr. Metric can invent their own measurements why cant Grill Boy.

  • (4) Eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Milk
  • Several dashes of Cinnamon
  • Slightly fewer amount of dashes of nutmeg
  • (1) small chunk butter

So once the ingredients are gathered toss them into a bowl that is large enough to dip a whole piece of bread in.  Now a tip for those of you who are unfamiliar with eggs not only are they delicious, nutritious and can stand on their bottoms at the equinoxes they also need to be beaten once cracked.  For cracking Grill Boy still recommends the one handed crack because it picks up chicks (especially if you can make said lady breakfast while she is still sleeping.)  [See earlier post for the full joke].  Right so back to the beating of eggs for french toast, while it is necessary to have a vessel for your ingredient mixture that will allow for adequate bread soaking that vessel is probably not the best one for beating eggs in.  When you really want to become a hardcore egg pugilist  it is recommended a small diameter bowl with high sides (this could also be a drinking glass Grill Boy reckons.)  Now while he was awake Grill Boy was not functioning enough to do that on this round but it still worked out.  So toss all the ingredients together and do the next logical thing and heat up a fry-pan, soak the bread on both sides and then do a nice frying of the bread in said pan and serve with some maple syrup.

 

 


Simple Hash-Browns

This was of course NOT what Grill Boy did he decided that he should make MORE food and looking around the kitchen he found a container of small red potatoes that needed to be used up, so home-fries it was.  Now for anyone reading this and trying to think of a nice timeline for cooking and serving breakfast should have realized at this point that making potatoes LAST was incredibly foolish because potatoes take a damn long time to cook, but alas as previously mentioned Grill Boy was not thinking he was just sort of meandering around the kitchen making food.  Right so here is a nice little collection of ingredients for simple home-fries.

  • Several Red Potatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 of a Sweet Onion, diced
  • (1) clove of garlic, minced
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of fresh cracked pepper (YES FRESH CRACKED IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE….ummm not really but maybe?)

Now an important cooking tip especially when pan cooking is that you want to slice your food up into evenly sized parts so that they all cook up the same.  This is why the giant cubes of potato are cold and raw while your tiny little julienne onions are burnt….size does matter…..So cut up all of those potatoes and onions into some what similar sizes, the potatoes in long slices seems to work very will for home-fries with onions because it is hard to cube an onion.  (Most breakfast joints have cubed potatoes for the home-fries, but then again most breakfast joints are not making Simple Grill Boy Home-Fries now are they?).  Now put all of the ingredients into a bowl with high sides so you can toss them all together so that the potatoes themselves are getting a nice coating of all the other ingredients.  Take a fry-pan with a cover is you have it and toss some cooking oil into and allow to heat up, once accomplished take a sip of your Bloody Mary.  Don’t have a Bloody Mary? Take a sip of your Mimosa.  Now with your pan properly heated toss the seasoned spuds into it.  Now potatoes are a wonderful and delicious starch but they really can take a while to cook so this is why you should do what Grill Boy didn’t and cook them FIRST.    You might even want to par-boil the potatoes first to speed up the process.  Once they are all done toss some shredded cheese on them, serve and enjoy.

Grill Boy lives to grill another day

July 7, 2011


                     

The Joys of Charcoal– by Grill Boy

Now there are many opinions on what is the best fuel to use for grilling and Grill Boy finds the uses for all to be great in different situations.  Currently the apartment the Grill Boy & Baker Girl live in does not allow propane gas grills so charcoal it is.

A fun fact is that the first charcoal briquettes were sold in combination with Henry Ford’s Model T.  Now the Model T was revolutionary for many reasons, but one way to look at it was that people now could go on picnics and this was not just your pack a tuna sandwich in a plastic bag with a red and white checkered blanket sort of picnic.  Back in the day people would want a hot meal to go with their picnic and thus a need for mobile cooking heat.  Now the body of the Model T like most cars of the age were made of wood and Henry Ford being the penny pincher he was wanted a way to sell the scrap wood that was procuded after the car body was cut. So he put all of this together and the charcoal briquette and the Great American Cookout was invented.  Thanks Henry!

Now for many of our instant information age, charcoal can be a confusing and frustrating experience but the key is to stack and have patience.

Step #1 – Get a grill — Weber’s are always fantastic …great story on how that was created later on

Step # 2 – Fill the grill with a large portion of briquettes, do not skimp on this step you really want to try and fill the grill that you have.  If you are not cooking a lot of food you might want to get a smaller grill.

Step #3 – You need to stack the briquettes into a pyramid because you want them to be close together and burn upwards (heat rises after all).  This is also a very important step, if you have them too spread out it will take a very long time for the briquettes to get hot and most likely a lot of lighter fluid.

Step # 4 – Add lighter fluid, you want to soak them coals, but don’t be stupid just enough to give most coals that wet look.  Then light with a match and BOOM FIRE!!!

Step # 5 – Do not touch it until the briquettes have changed to gray coals and when the center of your pyramid is glowing red/orange.

Step # 6 – ITS TIME TO GRILL

BBQ Sauced Chicken ~ by Grill Boy

Step #1 – Marinate the Meat – You want to try and get the meat juicy and tender before grilling sucks it all out.  A good marinade should have three basic parts, an acid, an oil (or liquid), and spices. Grill boy as a rule does not ever measure his marinades ….that is true in this recipe. BUT….there is a great list of ingredients.

  • Canola Oil
  • Honey
  • Spicy Mustard
  • Maple Syrup
  • Ketchup
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • White Vinegar
  • Garlic Powder

Step # 2 – Let the marinade absorb into the meat for a while (this time it was for two days)

Step #3 – Get your sauce ready – This time Grill Boy wanted to keep the same sort of flavors that he used in the marinade but wanted to thicken it up.  So instead of the vinegar and oil he used brown sugar.

  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Spicy Mustard
  • Maple Syrup
  • Ketchup
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Garlic Powder

Step # 4 – Time to put it on the grill and use some really fun tools.  Baker Girl’s parents gave Grill Boy the plastic brush and meat hook pictured here and they are wonderful.

Step # 5 – You don’t want to flip meat too often so try and get one side cooked without trying it out.  Once you flip the chicken slather on some sauce.  This will help keep the meat juicy and also give a nice caramelized crisp to the outside of the chicken…..Repeat until it is cooked and ready to serve.

Step # 6 – Now we should be honest, chicken can be hard to time and REALLY bad if under cooked…so don’t do that.  A way to check if you cooked it all the way and make it look like a nice presentation still, cut a few pieces and put it on the plate neatly.  This way you know you are not serving raw chicken and it looks a little fancier.  You can also add more sauce on top of the chicken once it is plated. 

Meanwhile, the carb portion of the meal, because Baker Girl LOVVVVESSS carbs

Israeli Couscous with Vegetables (aka Stoplight Couscous)

1 cup red or sweet onion diced
1/2 cup pepper diced
1/2 cup zucchini diced
1/2 cup yellow squash diced
1 1/2 cups pearl style couscous
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Fresh Garlic
Any other misc. spices you want to throw in (onion powder, paprika, extra garlic, parsley, crushed red pepper)

          

1. Heat oil in a large skillet that has a lid. Add the onions and garlic, saute for 2 minutes until the aromas begin to make you drool. Add some salt and pepper as well.

2. Add the couscous, and lightly toast for around 3 minutes. Stir often, until some of the grains turn slightly brown. Make sure you use the big grain type, Near East doesn’t make a plain kind of the large pearl variety, so you probably will have to buy an unknown brand. Hormel (yes as in the chili) has a brand called Marrakesh Express that I’ve found to be really good.

3. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a simmer. For a lighter option use fat free broth.

4. Add the peppers, zucchini, squash, bring to a simmer again, turn heat to low, cover and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is gone. You’ll want to keep an eye on it, and stir occasionally so the couscous doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan.

5. Serve and enjoy, feel free to garnish with more salt, pepper, and fresh parsley if you have it.

Couscous is ready, note the stop light colors of the veggies.

Time to Eat!! Chicken, Couscous, and corn because its summer and DELICIOUS


Simple Blueberry Crisp

July 5, 2011

Giant Costco container of blueberries about to go bad in the fridge? Check

A few extra minutes while our caramelized onion, feta and tomato flatbread pizzas cook up in the oven? Check

And poof dessert is created.

Simple Blueberry Crisp

2 cups fresh blueberries
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter.

2. Combine butter, rolled oats, brown sugar and flour together in a bowl.

3. Place blueberries in a small baking dish, cover with rolled oats and sugar mixture.

4. Place pats of the remaining butter on top of the rolled oat mixture.

5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until the smell of tasty fruit and butter hit you.

6. Enjoy tasty snack and know that buying a pound of blueberries at Costco was in fact not a waste, despite what Grill Boy says.

WINGS PAGE IS UPDATED

June 19, 2011

Extra Extra Read All About It

The Wings Pages has been updated with the Spring Selection of Wings visits by Grill Boy and they are now ranked as follows.

Wings Rankings

  1. Buff’s Pub – 90%
  2. Saddie’s Tavern – 88%
  3. Wings Express – Waltham – 83%
  4. Shopper’s Cafe – 75%
  5. Boston Beer Works – Fenway – 68%
  6. Cityside – 56%
  7. The New Landing – 54%
  8. Bison County – 52%
  9. Game On – Fenway – 50.5%
  10. Pizzadoros – 49%
  11. Tavern in the Square – Allston – 47%

But do go over to the wings page and check out the stories and pictures behind it all.

Triumphent Return in Cupcake Form

April 27, 2011

The long awaited return of Baker Girl. Alas work, aka admitted students have been occupying most of my brain space for the last couple months, but fear not baked goods have still been baked, grilled goods have still been grilled.

In the spirit of Easter last week, and after several episodes of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, I set to making 40 Easter themed cupcakes for a double Easter Weekend with my relatives and Grill Boy’s.

I made both Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes, pretty simple recipes and with the help of Grill Boy did some bangin decorations.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Courtesy of TheBakingPan.com

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1. Cream the butter and sugar together.

2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly mixed.

3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

4. In another bowl, or measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla extract.

5. Add one third of the flour, mixing until nearly combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

6. Add half the milk, and mix until combined.

7. Add another third of the flour mixture, mixing again until nearly combined.

8. Add the rest of the milk, mix.

9. Add the remainder of the flour, and mix until just combined. As I learned unfortunately with the chocolate cupcakes, while I like to mix, overmixing causes the gluten to break down and it makes the cupcakes super dry.*Note to self, do not make cupcakes before dinner. The batter will ruin your appetite.

10. Fill 12 cupcake liners two thirds full.

11. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges.

Chocolate Cupcakes

From Hello Cupcake

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks of butter

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 cup buttermilk (or milk with a splash of vinegar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking power and salt in a medium bowl. Or skip the whisk and use your hands.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar together in a mixer, until fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Beat in the melted chocolate. I didn’t have any unsweetened chocolate unfortunately so I used chocolate chips, more sugar is never a bad thing.

5. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour, similar to the Vanilla Cupcakes recipe above.

6. Stir in the vanilla.

7. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Frosting

For the frosting I used my Simple Buttercream Frosting, made a triple batch. Split it in half and colored one half leaf green from Wilton and the other half robins nest brown.

Using a piping bag and a leaf decorating tip I made “grass” on half the cupcakes, assisted greatly by Grill Boy, as my hand started cramping up after only a few grassy knolls.

For the nest cupcakes I used a Round decorating tip (I think a #3) and made a few circles and then all kinds of wonky lines to make it look twiggy.

Then we added yellow peep bunnies with toothpicks to the green cupcakes along with some jelly beans and blue peep birds to the nests along with some whopper Robins eggs.

And presto an Easter Army is born!

Mint Creme Brownies

April 2, 2011

Another tasty marriage of chocolate and mint.

Mint Creme Brownies

Brownie Layer:

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/4 cups  granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mint Layer:

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 – 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Ganache:

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cream

Brownie Layer

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 inch pan. Meanwhile place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add the diced up chocolate and butter and melt.

 

2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and sugar.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in after each addition.

4. Mix in the flour and salt, and beat or stir until the batter has a glossy look to it.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the side of the pan. Allow to cool completely before proceeding to the next layer.

Mint Layer

1. In a bowl with an electric mixer or in your stand mixer (grill boy was using mine) beat the butter, sugar, cream and peppermint extract together.

2. Add a few drops of green food coloring and mix in throughly.

3. Spread over the cooled brownies evenly and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Ganache Layer

1. In another heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate chips and cream until smooth.

2. Spread over the mint layer.

I added an extra layer of crushed up Andes Mints for some extra flair.

These were AMAZING, super rich, chocolately, but pretty dense, definitely needs a giant glass of milk.