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Published on 1 February, 2012, by

We love Buffalo wings at my house. When my hubby and I were dating we enjoyed noshing on these spicy wings often. Since then I have learned to make them at home, including some deliciously insane variations like my take on Portland restaurant Pok Pok’s Thai wings (I’ll post this soon!) and the boneless Buffalo hot wing, as well as experimented with other bloggers yummy hot wing dishes like Can You Stay for Dinner’s Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls(these are insanely good!)

BJs makes a great hot wing plate

So when Lewis Bear Distributing approached us to share three of the beers on their roster for a SuperBowl tailgate recipe party my first thought was– Hot Wings!

Now, I’ve seen loads of recipes for beer battered and beer marinated chicken around here on the “internets,” but none seem to pair the beer marinated chicken with Buffalo sauce. I wondered why– seems like such a natural fit to me. Which is why I decided to do it. And the results were not disappointing!

Photo courtesy of Donna Currie of Cookistry

Some of you may be thinking– where did your Build a Better Me ideals go? How can you go from A Tasty and Healthy New Year to deep fried butter n’ beer basted hot wings?

Two words: Myth and Moderation

THE FRYING MYTH

Yes, frying in oil can be bad for your health but the type of frying we’re talking about here is either shallow frying or frying at the wrong temperature– both of which cause the food to soak up that excess oil, and help to clog your arteries. The kind of frying we’re going to do, done at higher temperatures in a deep fat fryer, happens so quickly that the oil creates a crust, locking in the moisture and creating a seal that keeps the oil from soaking into your food.

You can also use healthful oils like coconut (though in this recipe I’d don’t recommend it because of its unique flavor and the fact that you want the Beer-y goodness to come through.)

From Wikipedia:

If performed properly, deep-frying does not make food excessively greasy, because the moisture in the food repels the oil. The hot oil heats the water within the food, steaming it from the inside out; oil cannot go against the direction of this powerful flow because (due to its high temperature) the water vapor pushes the bubbles toward the surface. As long as the oil is hot enough and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long, oil penetration will be confined to the outer surface. However, if the food is cooked in the oil for too long, much of the water will be lost and the oil will begin to penetrate the food. The correct frying temperature depends on the thickness and type of food, but in most cases it lies between 175 and 190 °C (345–375 °F).”

MODERATION

Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation– even moderation.” This woman really knew how to suck the marrow out of life– quite literally. ;)

I like to follow that advice and occasionally throw caution to the wind and have a good hot wing, a gooey hot fudge sundae or a few cocktails.

Though, we’ve already established that deep fat frying is not necessarily bad for you and its generally accepted these days that butter is preferred to trans fats, a whole stick of butter is a little excessive, but NOT if you’re looking for flavor and heat that stays through to the bone. So don’t make these all the time. But make them.

THE OUTCOME

These came out amazing and using the Headwaters Pale Ale by VictoryBrewing, gave them a juicy hoppy goodness that did not overpower the Frank’s Red Hot but rather complimented its heat and flavor. They were Beer-y good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Lbs of Fresh Chicken Wings
  • 1  24 oz bottle of Peanut Oil
  • 1/2 cup or 1  stick butter
  • 1 1/2 Cup of Franks Original Red Hot (nothing else is as good and nothing artificial!)
  • 1 bottle of Victory IPA
  • 1 plastic or paper bag of unseasoned flour

Directions:

Using poultry scissors, separate the wings at the joints, discarding the wing end nub.

Marinate the wings in the beer for 2 hours to overnight depending on the depth of beer-y flavor you want.

Preheat oil (use a deep fat fryer and making sure your temperature is right before submerging your wings.

Put the some of the wings in the bag of flour (if using paper, double bag to avoid breakage)

Shake the bag to coat all the wings evenly with flour. Do this in small batches so as to not overload your pan and decrease the temp of your oil.

Once the is hot, place that small amount of wings in the fryer (your fryer should be comfortably full with no wings piled on top of each other — be careful not to overload.)

Fry until they are golden brown

Remove the wings from the fryer and lay them on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch any excess oil that drips off.

Melt the stick butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add the Frank’s Red Hot, whisking to ensure it’s properly mixed and not separating.

Serve the wings tossed or drizzled in the sauce or for those who want a little less heat, serve sauce on the side .

Accompany with ranch or bleu cheese dressing, celery, cucumber and carrots to cool the mouth and an ice-cold beer.

Makes 32 wings

If you like hot wings as much as I do– you might want to check out this Tumblr site called Fuck yeah, hot wings!

For a chance to win some Beer-y tasty swag from Lewis Bear visit the host page at 30AEATS.

The beer was provided for the express purpose of this recipe by Lewis Beer Distributors.The photos are not of my actual hot wings (they looked amazing!) due to a camera malfunction — I hope to get my baby back from the shop today.
 
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Published on 26 January, 2012, by

It’s no secret, we love Italian food around my house — specifically, a great homemade pizza. I have perfected the art of pizza making in The GrooVy Foody household, trying out tons of dough recipes until I came across one that is, our idea, of perfection. So for my last recipe entry in Bob’s Red Mill(BRM) and California Olive Ranch(COR) Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge I decided to put that crust to the test — in a Calzone.

Crimini mushrooms, red onion and Italian herb blend

An Un-Whole-y Confession

Red onion, Crimini mushrooms, spinach and herbs

Though, we prefer and mostly eat whole food, cooked from scratch in our house, I will confess, that after a busy day, I have been known to pop into Trader Joe’s for pre-made doughs (in whole wheat, regular and herb), a jar of their vodka sauce, a package of nitrate-free prosciutto and some free range chicken in order to throw together my chicken, prosciutto and vodka sauce pizza, topped off with TJ’s fresh-in-the-bag organic arugula. This pizza is a crowd pleaser and it’s some that if you make it for guests, they will think you are something of a culinary mastermind, when indeed you just threw together some high quality, but pre-packed goods for a quick and easy, tummy pleasing meal.

Layered filling ingredients

Best, Quick Pizza (Calzone) Dough EVER!

But, had you just a few minutes more or a wee bit more energy, you could make your own crust and sauce (or as I do, pull some of my famous Bolo-Nessie sauce out of the freezer or grab that jar of organic sauce off the shelf at TJ’s) for a truly memorable pizza experience. Not surprisingly, the best pizza crust recipe I have EVER come across for the quick and easy variety, is one by Bob’s Red Mill (told you, I was a fan before they sponsored me!) TIP:they also sell a really great gluten-free pizza crust mix.

Into the oven

Now, there are many crust recipes on BRM’s website (many contributed by fans) but let me tell which one I prefer out of all of them — it’s Bob’s own Quick and Easy Pizza Dough and here’s why:  it’s quick AND easy just like it says. Plus, it has a wonderful chew to it, as well as the perfect texture for folks, who like a thin, floppy, New York style crust with a good pull to it.

But the REAL secret to good pizza dough is in the yeast — and BRM’s is some of the freshest, most active yeast I’ve ever worked with. Just beautiful and it lasts a long while. One 8oz bag, when stored properly, can last you for months. (If you can keep it that long because once you learn how easy this great crust can be, you’ll never call out for pizza or as in this case, Calzone, again.)

 

Finito

I used BRM’s Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and COR’s Arbequina Olive Oil for a Calzone that high in flavor but also packed full of fiber and good nutrition. My hubby and son love pepperoni, so we filled our Calzone with a thin layer of soft goat cheese, the nitrate-free variety of pepperoni you can find made by Applegate Farms or Hormel’s new preservative-free line of products, sautéed red onion and Crimini mushrooms, and topped it with a layer of grated whole milk mozzarella. I serve  this with a marinara or Homemade Bolo-Nessie sauce on the side for dipping.

Mangia!

QUICK & EASY PIZZA or CALZONE DOUGH

Adapted from: Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods 

  • 1 cup Warm Water (110°F)
  • 2 tsp 1/4 BRM’s Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp  sugar
  • 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups  BRM Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp California Olive Ranch Olive Oil (plus more for top and pan)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease pizza pan with a light coating of COR olive oil; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water — let bubble for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously 20 strokes and let rest 5 minutes.

FOR PIZZA:

On a floured work surface with a floured rolling-pin, roll out the dough until it is the size of the pan you will be using.

Place dough on prepared pan. Spread sauce over dough and top with your favorite toppings. Bake on middle rack of oven for 15-20 minutes. Makes one 16-inch pizza crust (12 slices).

FOR CALZONE:
  • Tear or cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out dough on floured surface or stretch and toss by hand until it is double the desired size of your Calzone.
  • Fill with cheese, herbs, veggies and desired meat of your choice, keeping a 1 inch lip around the edge of the dough, filling-free so that you will be able to seal it properly. Be sure to take care not to over-stuff your Calzone and to get a nice balance of flavors.
  • Next, crimp, fold or otherwise seal the edge of your Calzone with a fork along 1 inch lip all around the edge. This will ensure your filling stay tidily inside.
  • Then, lightly coat the outside of you Calzone with olive oil using either a pastry brush or your hands and cut three venting slits in the top of your Calzone and place it on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake on middle rack of oven for 12-16 minutes.  Makes 4 medium-sized Calzones.

YOUR LAST CHANCE TO WIN!!!

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 
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Published on 26 January, 2012, by

A delight for an anniversary or Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Virtual Potluck is going to show you how to make more than reservations this year. Each week until Valentine’s Day four of our 12 bloggers will be putting their best food forward as part of a 4 course lovers feast and what Valentine’s Day is complete without a TASTE-y libation? So we teamed up with Otis over at Taste on The N8tion.com to make us custom cocktails to go with each course — they even whipped up some yummy non-alcoholic beverages to help you celebrate, even if you don’t imbibe.

About Taste on The N8tion

Taste is a new mixology show that features cool cocktails from the common guy. From the creative minds at N8tion.com, our resident “booze head” Otis showcases classic and not-so-classic cocktail recipes. Who is Otis???? We found him under a bar in downtown Atlanta nursing a Corona while holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No seriously, after tending bars for countless college parties, he honed his bartending skills in local taverns on the nights he wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer. Taste is a product of N8tion.com, an independent television and radio network founded by brothers Myron and Otis McDaniel.

This week’s participating VP blogs and their dishes

Check them all out and keep an eye out for next week’s 4 course Valentine’s Day Menu.

*APPETIZER by  Diabetic Foodie:  Sweet Potato Wontons

This dish is paired with a  non-alcoholic and low carb drink called A Night in Old Mandaly

*INTERMEZZO by Thyme in Our Kitchen  French onion soup

This dish is paired with a non-alcoholic drink called Light La Garda.

 

*ENTREE Cookistry: Noodles with Tomatoes, fresh basil and artichoke hearts

This meal is paired an alcoholic drink called a Grand Ginger.

 

*DESSERT by Farm Girl Gourmet: Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

This dessert is paired with an alcoholic drink called A Peace of Heaven

 
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Published on 17 January, 2012, by

Best choco-cupcakes in Bella Cupcake Couture Wrappers (Meisha Bird & Blossom)

Now, you’re probably thinking, “OK, GF, now that’s a mighty big claim you’re making — BEST. . .EVER? and did you say, with QUINOA!??!”

Yes, I did and BTW, did I tell you it’s flourless and gluten-free?

No, I will not back down from my claim.

These cupcakes are so rock your socks delish that I cannot see me making a traditional chocolate cupcake ever again.

Yes, you read that right.

Yes, I put these on a pedestal –one by Sarah’s Stands http://sarahsstands.com/

The Search for the Best Chocolate Cupcake

For years, I have been looking for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe and though I have found some great cakes along the way, none even comes close to this one.  That’s because I am SUPER and I mean, SUPER picky about chocolate cupcakes. It can’t just be chocolate and sweet. And frosting — I hate traditional buttercream– too sweet and heavy for my tastes and it overwhelms the kind of cake I prefer.

When it comes to chocolate cake, I need depth of flavor in my chocolate– midnight black, preferably. I want to taste the night sky that the cacao pods grew under in each dark mouthful. But that density cannot come at the expense of the cake’s crumb or moisture. I would rather not have cake than eat a dry piece, trying to choke it down with lots of milk. I have ditched many a cupcake over this issue.

Naked cupcakes — In food porn, this is the money shot (Bella Cupcake Couture’s Lu Lu Damask)

My Chocolate Cupcake Criteria:

  • Deep, dark chocolate flavor (night sky, remember?)
  • Delicate crumb but not crumbly
  • Moist, but durable enough to frost and carry without a crumby trail following you
  • The frosting must be rich in flavor and mouth-feel without being greasy, heavy or over-sugared

I told you I had high standards. ;) 

Which is why, when I tell you this is IT — you’d better believe me.

Grab your notebook and jot this recipe down or turn on your printer and print it out. . . NOW!

I’ll wait.  I am not joking. I wouldn’t joke about a thing like this. I take it –much– too– serious.

Cocoa, quinoa and sugar– the new cupcake trinity

A Happy Accident

I fell into this recipe, sort of by blissful accident. As you may know, me, and the 12 other VP bloggers, are spending the month using Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch products in recipes for the Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge. At the same time, most of us have also pledged to Build a Better Me (our own year-long effort to get healthier in 2012) — for my part, I decided to go gluten-free for a while. (Which was fine,because my recipes containing flour for BRM/COR promo had been completed in December, before I went gluten-free.)

Except . . . in a twist of fate, 30AEats blogger, Susan, found herself out of town (and away from her BRM products) when she needed to post last week. She ran out to procure her ingredients for last week’s challenge, except she couldn’t find the Grande Grains that were scheduled. Being resourceful, Susan opted for this week’s grain, Quinoa (read all about her adventures here) and as luck would have it, unbeknowst to Susan,  decided to make the same dish, I was going to share with you this week — Quinoa Tabouleh.

I had to start from scratch, again. I wanted to do something out of the box, something that maybe none of my other blogger friends would be doing. I thought– dessert! But the obvious choice (a grain pudding) I just did last week.

Quinoa batter before dry ingredients

Meanwhile, being gluten-free for going on three weeks was beginning to take its toll– I craved cake, cookies, bread and pasta. I knew there were gluten-free cakes made with quinoa flour and thought maybe I could make the flour myself from the dry quinoa.

I began to search for gluten-free recipes online, typing in “gluten-free cakes” and “quinoa flour cakes.” There were a lot of ingredients in these recipes and a variety of match-ups of different kinds of gluten-free flours — I couldn’t decide.

But then, I accidentally forgot to type in “flour” on my next search. I just typed “quinoa cake,” and found myself staring face to face with, what looked in pictures, to be the richest, moistest, chocolatey-ist cake I’d ever seen.

I read the post on babble.com, it said it was delicious. But, you never really know about these things. I read the comments, people were extolling the virtues of this cake– still, I wasn’t sure. There wasn’t a morsel of flour in this recipe. Just whole grain, fully-cooked quinoa and the other usual suspects– cocoa, eggs, butter, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla. Really? REALLY??

Now, I’ve been a fan of quinoa for years but as a replacement for rice or cous cous — never in baking. I was intrigued. Would it work as cupcakes? Or would they dry out too much? Would it be chalky, gritty or flavorless. Would there be a lingering bitter bite?

What the heck, I thought, I decided to dive in.

After the dry ingredients

I admit, I tweaked the recipe, just a smidge along the way, substituting some of the butter for California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Fresh Olive Oil to bring a few extra flavor notes and some heart healthy goodness to the recipe. I also whipped up a frosting (after tasting how great the cake was) that would complement the cake, but not overwhelm it.

The results were amazing! Thank goodness (like Bob Ross used to say) for happy little accidents.

If Susan had not forgotten her grains, if we had not decided to make the same dish — I may NEVER have found the world’s most perfect chocolate cupcake, which means, I woudn’t be passing it along to you. (Thank you Susan!)

Into the oven

I KNOW you want to kill me now — “Where’s the damn recipe!!” you’re shouting.

OK, OK pipe down — here it is.

But when you taste this and you inevitably swoon with delight, remember who brought it to you and think of me kindly from time to time –the girl with the perfect cupcake.

Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever w/Honey-Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

The frosting is entirely my own creation and something I just whipped up out of thin air, tasting as I went until the desired consistency and flavor was reached. It is very much like a fluffy, light, chocolate mousse — rich, chocolatey with a touch of honey-kissed sweetness. It glides on smoothly and floating on top of the moist, light but deeply flavored chocolate cakes.

Cupcake Batter

  • 2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soymilk (you can use dairy or sub other milks if you like)
  • 4 large organic brown eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Rinse and prepare the quinoa according to directions using the water measurements above. Once the quinoa is done, turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool. (Do not rush this.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the cups of two 1 dozen non-stick cupcake pans (no flour) or use cupcake wrappers.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooled, cooked quinoa and blend until smooth. Add the oil and melted butter and blend to incorporate.

In the meantime, mix together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. scoop the batter with an ice cream scoop into the cupcake pans and bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired (these are delicious without frosting as well.)

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Frosting

4oz cream room temp cheese

1/2 cup room temp butter

1/4 cup honey

1tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar (depending on desired consistency)

1tBsp almond milk

Cream butter and cream cheese together in a mixing bowl, slowly adding your honey as you continue to mix. Then add carefully add the cocoa and powdered sugar, bit by bit, alternating between the two. Add vanilla and almond milk until desired consistency is achieved. I like mine light, fluffy and mousse-like. If you like yours a bit more stiff add more powdered sugar or cocoa to firm it up a bit.

Frost cupcakes when cooled.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Frosted Per Serving — Calories: 234, Dietary Fiber: 3.2g, Sugars: 15.3g, Protein: 4.5g
Un-Frosted Per Serving — Calories: 158, Dietary Fiber: 2.0g, Sugars: 8.4g, Protein: 3.7g

Trust me, 3 year olds are picky and he LOVES ‘em!

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 
formats
Published on 13 January, 2012, by

I have an affinity for the layered, exotic flavors intrinsic in Indian food — heady mixes of Garam Masala or curry, the darkly- scented lushness of cardamom, coriander and caraway and the vibrant colors of turmeric, saffron and red chilis — these warm me, belly and soul. But it wasn’t always so.

I grew up tasting Italian, Chinese, Mexican, German, French and American style dishes, home-cooked, lovingly by my mother. While this is much more variety than some (like  my husband) grew up with, it still excluded many kinds of food that my son is  growing up with the tastes and smells of, such as Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern, Greek,  Japanese, Soul Food, Vietnamese,  Ethiopian, Thai and just about anything else we can get our hands on.

No South Asian spice for this girl - GrooVy Foody pictured here in Bamberg, Germany age 3

The point is, I never tasted Indian food as a child, so the spices used regularly in these dishes, tasted, fittingly, foreign to my tastebuds. They had a depth that my palate was not yet able to decipher. So at 24, when a dear friend of mine, who was also a vegetarian began telling me how great Indian food was, I was interested — but reluctant. The smells were strong, oniony and sweaty, I was unsure of the tofu curry dish he had whipped up but I gave it try. It was, in a word — icky.

Spices in the open air market in Arles, France

No disrespect to my friend, but he wasn’t a culinary wizard and that dish contained improperly drained tofu (bitter) and way too much curry, as well as carrots and peas that were still — crisp. I didn’t try Indian food again until I was 31 and backpacking throughout Western Europe. Sick of bangers and mash, roast and veg, jacket potatoes and the Ploughman’s served up at every pub throughout England and Scotland, I decided to give Indian food another go. No better place (except India, of course) to dive into the sensual flavors of Indian food, than the UK.

Unwittingly(and thankfully), I just happened to pick a restaurant  that is considered one of the Top Ten Indian food restaurants in Scotland for my second taste — Pataka.
Pataka Indian and Bengali Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland is unlike any other Indian restaurant you may have been too, mostly because of its odd choice of decor, which is completely resplendent in  Glasgow native, Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s artwork, with beautifully carved wooden booths and high back chairs. But it was the food served there that made me a believer. If you’re ever in Scotland, I highly recommend stopping by Pataka.

The dish I’m making here is based upon Kheer (also known as Payasam or Payesh depending on the region it’s being served in) which is a loose pudding, traditionally made with rice and sometimes vermicelli (I like to use shredded coconut in place of vermicelli.) It’s often served during or at the end of celebratory meals and accompanied by raisins, saffron (for color), cashews, pistachios or almonds. To me, the milky richness and sweet, dusky flavor of this dish makes it great for ending a spicy meal, as it both calms and revives the mouth and tongue after doing battle with the heated flavors of well-seasoned Indian food.

The beauty of making Kheer at home is that you can also eat it for breakfast the next morning, a meal time that I always feel speaks of comfort to begin with.  For additional health benefits (and 5g fiber 6g protein), I decided to put a spin on this soul-satisfying dessert.

Since the Grande Whole Grains from Bob’s Red Mill are whole grains ranging from wheat, rice and barley to oats, buckwheat and sesame seeds you will have some additional thickening, due to the continued absorption of liquid, making for a slightly thicker pudding (this is why the arrowroot powder/cornstarch is less than a TBsp for a pudding.) This also means that the grains need to be pre-cooked before entering your pudding batter.

The balanced flavor of California Olive Ranch’s Miller’s Blend, with its fruit and spice, pairs perfectly in this toothsome treat.

Whole Grain Kheer (India Rice Pudding)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Grande Whole Grains (cooked)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp butter (or ghee)
  • 1tbsp California Olive Ranch Miller’s Blend Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 shredded coconut
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Powder (or cornstarch) to desired thickness
Optional: 1/4 cup raisins, dried cherries, dried apricots, almonds, cashews or pistachios.

Directions:

Follow the basic cooking instructions on the package for BRB’s Grande Whole Grains.

Once done cooking remove from the burner and leave the lid on as you begin to assemble the other ingredients — this will ensure the grains continue to soften, as they absorb any leftover liquid.

Combine 1.5 cups of the milks, brown sugar,  salt and COR Miller’s Blend into a pot and bring to a boil.

Add the BRB Grande Whole Grains and return just to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in coconut (and/or raisins, dried cherries or dried apricots cut into small pieces, if desired), allowing it to cook uncovered for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. The grains will still retain some of their chewiness but should be cooked through and quite a bit softer now.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining 1/2 cup of combined milks and 1-2 tsp of arrowroot powder.

Remove 1/4 cup of the hot grain mixture, whisking it, little by little  into the egg/milk mixture.

Once incorporated, pour the egg mixture into the rest of the hot grains, whisking to mix it quickly and keep the egg from scrambling.

Cook, stirring constantly, for one to two minutes or until to desired thick and creamy consistency.

Remove from heat, stirring in butter, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon.

Breath in that luscious scent and lick the back of your stirring spoon — you deserve this taste.

You can serve this dish warm, room temp or cold ~ it’s delicious no matter what but my favorite is when it’s set but still warm. Happy Eating!

Makes 6 servings.

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

WINNER Announced!

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 
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Published on 10 January, 2012, by

Raising a toddler and juggling the full-time feast-or-famine-always-gotta-hustle solopreneur lifestyle of a freelance writer can be taxing enough, but with all that’s going on around here on The GrooVy Foody — creating new recipes, partnerships, promotions and giveaways and plans for more, I need good energy more than ever before.

Being a food blogger, of course, hasn’t helped matters — I cook, I take photos, I eat, I sit and write. Know what all of this translates into — besides awesome site stats? Pounds on my ass.

This is where my renewed commitment to healthful eating and a healthier lifestyle (exercise anyone?) comes into play. Apparently, others have these thoughts of renewal at the start of a new year and call them (wait for it!). . .resolutions?! ;)

My friends in the Virtual Potluck are no exception, which is why we’ve all decided to help each other in our journeys for balance and a healthier us in 2012! So, in addition to the awesome promo going on all month here (and on the 11 other VP Bloggers sites) for A Tasty and Healthy New Year, we’re launching Build a Better Me, a year long challenge to eat more healthfully, blog about it, get a bit of exercise and try and maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Well, you’ll still get the occasional decadent dessert post  (watch out this Valentine’s Day for chocolate and cocktails!) It’s just that you’ll also be getting plenty of healthful and delicious (if it’s not delicious — we don’t eat it!) food recipes to help you stay on track with your resolutions too!

For all of the members of VP and foodies everywhere — eating healthfully means finding a balance between nourishing and nurturing — between being painfully stuffed or pleasantly satiated and as always it means local and organic (when available) whole foods ingredients. It also means stepping away from the computer for a 15 minute power walk a couple of times a day, stretching and drinking lots of water.

For me,it will also mean that I’m cutting gluten from my diet for a bit — so for readers who are looking at reducing gluten in their diets or for those that have Celiac disease, I’ll be exploring the world of gluten-free goodies and recipes for a while here on the site.

(I promise it won’t be every post!)

Happy Eating!

 
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Published on 4 January, 2012, by

California Olive Ranch

By now you’ve seen my “Host Page,” for the Virtual Potluck Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch. I love doing these promotions, and not just because we get to try out some truly fabulous products (gratis) but because, as a foodie I absolutely adore seeing what everyone else comes up with using the same ingredients.

Same Ingredients, Same Recipes? No Way!

Inevitably, yes, there will be some similar recipes but they are NEVER exactly the same. Cooking, for those who truly love it, is like creating art, or loving someone, or leaving your fingerprint behind — there’s always an inimitable piece of you in there. And knowing that always makes me smile.

Bob's (Actual) Red Mill

So when charged with 12 of us making 4 dishes (one each week for the month of January) and given the same ingredient pairings each week — we didn’t skip a beat and decided to jump in with both feet. (You should all know that we do not discuss what we’re doing prior to posting — so the fact that are recipes differ to such great degree is a testament to the creative cooks I’m working with here and I hope you will go to the host page and visit them all — because if you don’t you’ll be missing out on a KILLER GIVEAWAY!!

That’s right, Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch are giving away an ingredient prize package each week — on each blog! That’s 48 recipes and 48 chances to win — pretty great chances. (See details below)

So what did I make for the first week? (I’m glad you asked.)

Good Health and Good Fortune for the New Year

Since we’re kicking this promo off in the New Year I tried to think of a dish that had New Year’s connotations but that just made me think of Chinese New Year, which made me think of dim sum and once we get into dim sum, then it’s all over.

But seriously, the idea for these rolls came from my love of dim sum. Oh, how I adore those lovely little chewy sesame balls filled with red bean or lotus paste and topped with crunchy, nutty sesame seeds. No dim sum visit is complete without satiating my yearning for shrimp (loads of it) and for great Hum Bao — both steamed and baked. Not only are the doughy (Hum Bao) or chewy sesame balls delicious and both savory and a little sweet but they are also filled with the most wonderful surprises — it’s like a gift and a dish. What’s not to love?!

But I needed my own twist, because sesame rolls are made with rice flour and I would be using BRM’s Hard White Whole Wheat Flour and COR’s Arbosana extra virgin olive oil. This week’s oil, as assigned, was to be Arbequina (and that’s what you’ll win if you get the prize this week) but I chose to go with the Arbosana because of it’s peppery notes and greater complexity.

The recipe for these rolls is rather basic (some might say bland) which is why I wanted a more flavorful oil to take center stage, without overwhelming it, the way sesame oil would, when coupled with sesame seeds, upon the canvas of hard white whole wheat flour (which you’ll find is surprisingly light and supple when used in baking, as compared to your average whole wheat flour.)

In any case, because of the flour and oil flavors, I decided to fill my light and fluffy, Asian-inspired Sesame Rolls with cheese — yes, I said it — cheese. I know this may not seem a typically Asian choice for these buns but trust me — it works!

As for the cheese, I used shredded Gruyere (I had it on hand) and it was lovely, but I could easily see Mozzerella or cheddar working equally well.

Cheesy Asian-Inspired Sesame Rolls Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Hard White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1.5 tsp Bob’s Red Mill dry active yeast (their yeast is the best by far!)
  • 1/4 tsp honey
  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or regular milk whatever you drink)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup California Olive Ranch Arbosana Olive Oil

Filling:

  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere, Mozzerella or Cheddar cheese

Exterior:

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Prepare the dough:
Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve. Set it aside 5 minutes or so, until the mixture gets bubbles.

Mix flour and salt in mixing bowl with dough hook. Add milk,  egg and olive oil, mixing on low. Slowly add the yeast mixture, on medium speed dough is mixed, increasing your speed at the end until a ball forms and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl about 2 to 3 minutes.

Coat a glass bowl with olive oil, and set the dough to rest in the bowl, rolling it around to coat it in the olive oil. Cover and set to rise in warm place, until it has risen and doubled in size — 1 hour.

Form and bake the rolls:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Fill a small bowl with the exterior olive oil and pour your sesame seeds on a lipped plate. Coat your hands and a round spring-form pan (like the kind used for cheesecake) with olive oil.

Punch the dough down and pull off a piece about the size of a golf ball. Flatten the dough enough to make a hollow for your cheese to reside. Place a tablespoon of shredded cheese in the center and gather the edges around it, twisting and pinching the dough together like you would to seal off the end of a balloon. Holding the tapered end closed, dip the smooth side down, into the olive oil, then roll into the seed mixture, never letting go of the sealed end. Place the roll, sealed side down, in your pan, working from the outer edges in. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling your pan and nestling the dough balls tightly together (this will keep them from unraveling.

Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing the outer springform ring. The rolls will be pillowy soft, with melted cheese nestled in the center (NOTE: Some cheese may escape from a roll or two but no matter as it won’t go far– a neighboring rolls may be wearing it!)

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

WINNER Announced!

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 

 
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Published on 4 January, 2012, by

It’s a new year and that means people all over the world are gearing up to be the very best they can be. Instead of just focusing on weight loss in 2012, some of us are focusing on better overall health. That’s why the Virtual Potluck Bloggers have teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill (BRM) and California Olive Ranch(COR) (like this GrooVy Foody did back in December for their “Bake a Better Holiday”) to bring you “A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge.”

Each week the VP participants will cook up their fabulous BRM/COR Healthy New Year offerings and GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO WIN A BOB’S RED MILL/CALIFORNIA OLIVE RANCH PRIZE PACKAGE! (See details below.)

Virtual Potluck’s January 2012 mission

Duration: 4 weeks during January 2012

Challenge: To develop, inspire, create – 1 recipe per week for a 4-course meal, over course of month’s time

Ingredients: 1 new California Olive Ranch Olive Oil paired with 1 fresh Bob’s Red Mill product every week  (see schedule below)

Participants:  Virtual Potluck Members at 12 blogging outposts around the country

Week 1: Appetizer – Hard White Whole Wheat Flour – Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
Week 2: Side Dish – Grande Whole Grains Blend – Miller’s Blend extra virgin olive oil
Week 3: The Main Event– Quinoa Grain – Arbosana extra virgin olive oil
Week 4: Dessert – Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – Everyday Fresh California extra virgin olive oil

(Some may branch off from this schedule, so don’t be surprised to find different pairings or different types of dishes.)

The Virtual Potluck Bloggers


A little extra focus on health is always in fashion over at Diabetic Foodie where Shelby whips up culinary creations that won’t spike your blood sugar but still taste divine.

Warm Herbed Goat Cheese with Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Breadusing the Arbequina and Hard White Whole Wheat Flour. I made the pita bread dough in a bread machine, then rolled it out in individual rounds and baked it. It was so much fun to see it puff up in the oven. Once it puffed, it stayed puffed – even after it cooled – so when you sliced it in half, there was already a built-in pocket (no trying to peel the two layers apart and then tearing the bread as with store-bought).For our second week, Shelby has set out to dazzle you with her sumptuous Onions Stuffed with Grande Grains, Currants and Pine Nuts and week 3 brings a hearty Quinoa and Lentil Chili.

Proving that healthy doesn’t have to mean deprivation, Heather over at Farmgirl Gourmet decided to make an orange infused baked (not fried!) donut using the Hard White Whole Wheat Flour and Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The donuts came out light and moist and needed only a quick dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Coming up for Weeks 2-4 will be a “Homemade Spicy Sausage & Grande Whole Grains Stuffing”, a Pear and Bacon Quinoa Pizza and lastly a “Peach Upside-Down Whole Wheat Olive Oil Cake”.

Over at Not Rachel Ray‘s, our resident Rachel has whipped up quite an assortment of recipes for her Healthy New Year including:
Dessert: Yogurt Tart in a Whole Wheat Crust

Donna at Cookistry bakes her way to health with mini-flatbreads served with hummus and warm olive salad and says,” Just a few bites, but packed with flavor. Even better, you can make this in advance, and assemble just before your guests arrive. Or, let the guests assemble their own.”

As an accomplished baker, Donna put a new twist on the second week’s grande grains by baking them into her Grande Grain Miller’s Blend Muffins. Check out Week 3’s Rice-i-Noa– a healthier alternative to a familiar box.

The “Miss” of Miss in the Kitchen used Bob’s Red Mill Hard White Whole Wheat Flour to make blinis topped with homemade ricotta, fresh rosemary, pine nuts and a good drizzle of California Olive Ranch Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it sounds fancy doesn’t it?  Well, it’s super easy and will be the appetizer that is totally impressive to your guests!
For week two, using the Grande Grains and Millers Blend Olive Oil, Miss made a healthful and tasty Sesame-Stir Fry Vegetable Grande Grains Pilaf that she says is, “perfect along side a grilled chicken breast, fish or even steak.” Quinoa takes center stage in Miss’s Week 3  Smoked Salmon Quinoa Patties and lemon tartar sauce.

Looks like Nelly (our newlywed) over at Cooking With Books, has some scrummy treats in store for us this month:

Appetizer: Lemon Thyme Cookies with Roasted Pepper Spread
Side: Cape Cod Cranberry Grande Grain Salad
Main Dish: Quinoa and Sausage Casserole
Dessert: Olive Oil and Marzipan Spiced Brownies
Our resident Celebrity Chef, Jay DuCote of Bite n’ Booze (He was on MasterChef, did you catch him?) put together Elk Sausage and Black Bean Soup.  Jay made a roux for the soup with BRM whole wheat flour and COR Arbosana olive oil.
For week three Jay has whipped up Toasted Pecan and Parmesan Quinoa plus a Giveaway!
If you know Theresa over at Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine you know she hunts down and serves up with the best of ‘em. For this challenge, Theresa baked up fresh whole wheat bread from scratch for her Caprese Bruschetta.
“I made whole wheat bread with the flour and an amazing pesto with the oil.  I also, drizzled the oil on the bread before constructing.  This was one of the best wheat breads I’ve ever made and the oil was also very flavorful.”
Theresa’s second week entry over at Food Hunter is a Mediterranean Whole Grain Salad and for the third week a fresh Quinoa Primavera to set your heart aflutter.

Any meal with family or friends deserves an appetizer that really kicks things off. This Olive Oil Flatbread from Matt at Thyme in Our Kitchen is easy to make and can be adapted to fit any health goal. The flatbread is made with Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour and the fruity Arbequina olive oil from California Olive Ranch. Toppings on this heart healthy version include caramelized shallots, roasted egg plant and fresh spinach. It’s drizzled with a cilantro chutney and of course a bit more olive oil. Week 2 saw Matt whipping up Curried Whole Grain Pilaf with Bacon, Mushroom and Cabbage and in Week 3 he wowed with Quinoa Cakes with Walnut and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette.

Susan at 30AEats  brings us a Sundried Tomato, Kalamata Olive and Basil Pesto Focaccia. Since Susan’s whole family works in healthcare (so they know health!)  she solicited input from her husband and daughter to come up with this recipe, “My daughter is a huge fan of pesto, and we all adore kalamata olives, we came up with our Sun-dried Tomato, Kalamata Olive and Basil Pesto Focaccia. . . I paired it with a beautiful salad of local greens from my Seaside Farmer’s Market. I  also used the Arbequina drizzled on top as a dressing.”

For Week 2 Susan made Whole Grain Quinoa Tabouleh With Peppers  and for Week 3 Grande’ Grains Jambalaya.

Tara over at Foodie just took on a new promotion at work that’s keeping her busy — but not too busy to take part this challenge! Watch as she wows you with Prime Rib and Shrimp Whole Wheat Fried Ravioli. Look for Tara’s second week entry of Grande Whole Grains with Spinach and Serrano Ham and the Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa with Ribeye and Roasted Brussels Sprouts she just cooked up for week 3 .

Week 1 Cheesy Asian-Inspired Sesame Rolls right here on The GrooVy Foody.
Week 4

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the sites listed above!

 
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Published on 31 December, 2011, by

There’s something about having lil noshes on New Year’s Eve, even if you’re just staying home with the fam, that makes it all feel extra festive. In fact, most years of my life that’s what I’ve done on New Years — stayed home, noshed on little bites and watched the ball drop, kissing my sweetie at midnight.  As a woman who settled down early and took up cocktails late (I was 30! Gasp!) New Year’s Eve never meant much more than Dick Clark and banging pans. There were a few other years where I attended someone’s party or went out for dinner but it was always mostly low-key.

That is until New Year’s Eve 2006. It was the first NYE I ever spent with the love of my life, my hubby,Todd.  We were just dating at the time, but since I had settled down so young the first time around and never experienced what the nightlife and true party atmosphere of NYE could be, he decided to take me out on the town.

Pom Honey Bear (Pomegrante juice, lemon and Barenjager honey liqueur)

We went from venue to venue that night, making our rounds to all the hot spots — drinks and appetizers, dinner, dancing, dancing and more dancing. Dressed in new jeans, boots and a black blouse with sparkly trim, I felt like the hot girl, for once, no small feat for a lifelong chubby gal and bookworm. (The men must have agreed because I got picked up on all night long — even with a date!) It was as if, suddenly, I was transformed into one of those people in the movies who have something to do on NYE — and it was actually something fun! Not the party of a friend of a friend that’s supposed to be, “so awesome,” but turns out instead, to be a total dud.

Brazi Bites -- review coming soon!

The last club we went to, we stayed at for several hours. It was big, 15,000 sq ft, with a HUGE dance floor and two stories. By the time we rang in 2007, it was packed. Filled with people dancing, laughing and having a great time — just like those ultra hip club scenes in the movies set somewhere cool like Miami, NYC or LA (don’t get me wrong, I’d been dancing before, lots of places, but none were as cool and big and packed, as this place was NYE 2006-07.)

To cap it all off, when the crowd finished counting down, they released tons of confetti from the ceiling, followed by bubbles — setting the scene for the most perfect New Year’s kiss in the history of my life. We all returned to our drinks and dancing and by 2am, as the club began to thin out, I was floating on air.

A NYE staple - even the most ardent food snobs swoon in their presence

Since that night, my hubby and I have talked about doing it again, but I have to admit, the night was so perfect, that I fear trying to recapture it could tarnish the wonderful memory. For once in my life, I was the princess (in blue jeans) in my own stroke of midnight fairy tale and I loved every moment of it.

This year, my son is 3 and it will be the first year he’ll attempt to stay awake, banging on pots and squealing, “Happy New Year,” at our hopefully (fingers-crossed) wide-awake neighbors. It will be another first in my life– no less magical than that NYE I spent behaving like the hot ingenue in your favorite party movie — just different.

(Two shots of Apple Schnapps! Love that Otis!)

We’ll mix a few drinks (like the cinnamon sparkler above, whipped up by Otis over at Taste and some plain sparkling cider for the tot.) I’ll put together a few bites for us to nibble on throughout the night — some frozen and some homemade — but all delicious. We may even put on some colored wigs and dance around the living room. Tomorrow, we’ll begin again trying to be our very best selves for as long as we can, until it all unravels sometime before, this time next year.

It's a colored wig dance party!

This is the beauty of a new year– a fresh start. The chance to be your very best self — even if, for just one bright and shining moment, before the clock strikes 12.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe 2012!

 
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Published on 28 December, 2011, by

The Virtual Potluck gang is at it again and this time we’re serving up the best of Bärenjäger’s honey liqueur for a cocktail party that sure to be sweet! Check out all the posts from the VP gang and really explore what you can do with this key ingredient.

GrooVy Foody Goes for the Gold

Since ancient times, honey’s golden-throated siren song has been beckoning man. This glistening syrup has served as both food and medicine — and also, libation. Bärenjäger’s amber-hued Honey Liqueur, for the uninitiated, is as sweetly scented and sensually flavored as pure honey in the raw, though, it’s not for your average bee. Packing a wallop at 35% alcohol (70 proof) it’s perfect for adding a bit of smooth honeyed flavor to any cocktail or for sweetening your favorite dish.

Long regarded as sacred (it’s been used in religious ceremonies, as well as to embalm the deceased) honey’s use in cooking was once reserved only for the rich — thankfully, today, both honey and Bärenjäger are widely available.

We’ve been abuzz (and buzzed) all month over Bärenjäger’s many uses over at The GrooVy Foody household, trying it in drinks, in a Honey Bundt Liqueur Cake and adding it’s nectar to a dark toffee sauce for use in Banoffee Pudding.

But just what is Bärenjäger? In a nutshell, it’s a mead-like liquor but really it’s so much more. Not just in its rich history with roots in the 15th century but also in its flavor. It tastes great in a straight shot or with seltzer water and lemon but I really loved it mixed with hot tea and lemon for a winter warmer that’s sure to soothe your throat and open up your chest.

Ooooh Honey!

Honey Bundt

I love a good rum cake during the holiday season but most recipes call for a boxed cake mix and Bacardi rum. The second I tasted Bärenjäger I knew it needed to be used in a dessert. That’s when lightning struck and I thought, “Oh, I need to make a honey liqueur cake!” But I didn’t want a crummy boxed cake mix screwing up my delusions of grandeur — so I sought out the best vanilla cake recipe I could find, one that was moist and had a great crumb but that could still hold up to being soaked with a butter liqueur syrup.

After trying quite a few cake recipes, I settled on Andie’s Perfect Yellow Cupcake Recipe, from Can You Stay For Dinner? (one of my fav food bloggers.) Hers is an adaptation of Cook’s Illustrated’s yellow cake recipe but I think much easier and to great effect for this recipe. It’s truly decadent and the sweetly hued honey flavor is out of this world and of course, the alcohol gives it just the right holiday kick! Perfect for any New Year’s celebration you may be planning and SO simple. (Recipe below.)

Yum!

Honey-Toffee Banoffee Pudding

The last minute entry came by way of whipping up something tasty for my mom as a little holiday gift. My mother is a HUGE fan of bananas. The whole of my life, I have watched my mother’s passion for bananas – go well, bananas! She loves a perfectly ripe banana on its own but, most especially, she enjoys banana cream pie and Southern Banana Pudding. My mom likes bananas so much, that her grandkids call her “Nana Banana” instead of Grandma — nuff said.

Anyway, when I was in the UK several years ago, I came across a dessert called Banoffee pie, which is very much like a banana cream pie but with the addition of toffee (great idea!) and since my mother is also a fan of caramels, butter brittles and toffees — I thought — perfect match!

So, I set about to make something for mom that would incorporate the Banoffee, the cream pie and her most treasured Southern Banana Pudding and then inspiration truly struck — “I’ll add some honey liqueur to the toffee.” I made the crust from Nilla wafers, homemade banana pudding (you can use vanilla, if you don’t wish to go bananas), ripe bananas, fresh whipped cream and honeyed toffee.  The effect was dazzling and I’m happy to report mom was over the moon about it.

Hot Honey’d Lemon Tea

  • 80z brewed green or black tea (even decaf works!)
  • 2 shot glasses of Bärenjäger’s Honey Liqueur
  • Juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon

Add lemon juice and honey liqueur to hot tea, stir and serve in a mug with a slice of lemon on the rim. Breathe deep and enjoy!

Bärenjäger Honey Bundt Liqueur Cake

Perfect Yellow Cake (adapted from Can You Stay for Dinner?)

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup sour cream

2 large eggs , room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butter Liqueur Syrup

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil or non-stick spray a bundt pan (no need to flour.)

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Bring eggs and sour cream to room temperature and mix together or whisk them together in a bowl set inside another bowl of warm water to bring them to temp. Add butter to flour mixture and mix until all the butter is incorporated. Then add the sour cream and eggs, followed by vanilla. Beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no clumps of flour are visible.

Pour into bundt pan and bake for 20 to 22 minutes.

While cake is baking, melt butter in pan and add sugar and water — bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes then, remove from heat to stir in liqueur, then return to the heat and bring just to boil again before removing and setting aside to cool a bit.

When cake springs back to touch or checks with toothpick inserted into center, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Then pour over a third of warm butter, liqueur mixture. Let the cake sit in pan until the liquid is absorbed and cake pulls away from sides of the pan. Then invert onto a serving plate and poke the cake with a fork all over. Then spoon over the remaining syrup, a bit at a time, so as not to flood the cake and plate. Let sit until syrup is absorbed (about 10 minutes) before sliding onto your serving platter. Reserve any sauce that did not absorb to spoon over cake slices.

Honey-Toffee Banoffee Pudding

Crust

  • 1 box of Nilla wafers (run through the food processor)
  • 1 stick of butter (softened)

Mix butter and Nilla wafers in processor line the bottom and sides of a deep casserole pan with this crust and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pudding

  • 4 cups milk (or 2 cups milk 2 cups cream)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 roasted, mashed banana (roast skin-on in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes)
  • 2 fresh ripe bananas, sliced for layering
  • Whipped cream for topping

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat milk/cream until bubbles form at edges. Meanwhile combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl and set aside. When milk has reached proper temp, whisk the dry ingredients into hot milk, a little at a time, until dissolved. Continue to cook and stir (with a wooden spoon) until mixture thickens. Do not boil. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, mashed banana and butter. Pour warm pudding into casserole dish, which at this point has been lined with Nilla crust, then a layer of sliced fresh banana and toffee. Add fresh banana slices on top of pudding and cool down in the fridge before adding whipped cream. Once the pudding is cool. Whip fresh cream and spread over the top of the pudding obscuring it from view. Drizzle cooled toffee sauce in designs on top and chill to set completely (at least 3 hours) before serving.

Honey-Toffee Sauce

  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (85 g) butter
  • 1/2 cup and 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur

This recipe is adapted from the one I regularly use for caramel sauce. Brown sugar gives this sauce its toffee quality without using sweetened condensed milk. Follow the caramel recipe and then remove the sauce from the heat when complete and add the liqueur and return to the heat, stirring to incorporate the liqueur, bringing just to a bubble and then removing it to cool.

Disclosure: Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur is 35% alcohol by volume (or 70 proof ), please drink responsibly.

All Virtual Potluck members were provided with the Bärenjäger for review, but all opinions are our own.