Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Katie!

Today's my roomie's birthday.  She loves all things salted caramel and all things chocolate.  Like Starbuck's salted caramel hot chocolate.  So when my September Cooking Light featured brownies and one of the recipes was for a salted caramel version, I knew exactly what Katie's birthday treat would be.
 And here they are, with a few modifications.  The largest being I baked them in an 8 inch cake pan because I wanted to be able to cut it like a slice of cake instead of the usual square pieces.

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Same amount flour as chocolate?  Can you say amazing?)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*
Mix flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.  Set aside
Blend white and brown sugar, melted butter, and eggs until creamy.
Add vanilla.  Beat.
Add dry ingredients slowly while beating.
Transfer batter into greased pan 9 inch square pan.
Bake at 350* for 19 minutes.
Or bake for about 25 minutes if using 8 inch round pan.

 Caramel Topping
1/4 butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk (the recipe says evaporated, but any dairy product will work)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Melt better in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Add brown sugar and milk.
Cook for 3-5 minutes while stirring.
Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
Remove from heat and whisk until well blended.
Spread evenly over cooled brownies.

Chocolate Drizzle
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons milk
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Coarse sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave on high in 20 second increments, stirring between, until chocolate is melted.
Addition of a little more milk may be needed to make it drizzle-able.
Make an artsy design on the caramel topped brownies.
Sprinkle with sea salt.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peach Pie

We're a little behind in posting here at Simple Baking Machines as KW has started back to school and I take Step 2CK tomorrow (eeek)!  But since the experts recommend taking a break the day before a big exam to relax your brain and since it doesn't take much to convince me not to study, we're getting a little caught up.

It just happened that peach season was in full swing during the week I spent back at home after returning from the Yukon.  Mom had nearly a bushel of sun ripened, sweet smelling fruit on the kitchen counter.  And may I add that these peaches were grown directly across the street from our house!  While fresh peaches are perfect to eat plain, they also have endless possibilities for more involved preparation and enjoyment.  Oh, like grilling with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and serving with vanilla bean ice cream (the kind with the little black flecks in it), peach and blueberry crisp, or peach cobbler (a childhood favorite, especially the ooey-gooey biscuits!).  But this is not a post about any of those things.  Its a modification of our secret ingredient strawberry pie.

Mix and Press Pie Crust
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cold water
Combine all the ingredients except butter.
Stir together with fork or pastry mixer.
Add water.
Dump dough into pie pan.  Press evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Bake 12-15 minutes at 450* until the edges start to brown.

Pie Filling
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons peach Jello
6-7 peeled, sliced peaches (Carefully slide in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and then transfer to a bowl ice water for easy skin removal.)

Put water, sugar, and corn starch in sauce pan over medium heat.
Stir constantly until thick, about 15 minutes.
Add peach Jello.
Transfer to another bowl to cool.
Fold in peach slices.

Extra layer of goodness
4-5 oz. cream cheese (the secret ingredient!)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Beat in mixer until well blended.

Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture in the bottom of the cooled pie crust.

Pour Jello and peach filling on top.

Cool in refrigerator for several hours until firm.
Top with whipped cream.

Cut into extremely large pieces and serve.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Greek Beef Stew dinner

Sometimes I go a little overboard when I am at the grocery store. Especially if I go somewhere like Whole Foods. Well, this past trip was no different. I found myself driving home with 2.7 lbs of grain-fed beef shank in my car, along with an assortment of fresh herbs, veggies, and fruit. I decided to take on a full-fledged gourmet meal. I found this recipe: on a paleo website recommended to be my a friend. I paired it with this:
And a dessert that I invented in my head.

For the beef stew, since I had never made anything similar to it, I followed the recipe pretty closely... except that I made it in a crock pot since I do not have hours to cook, nor do I have a dutch oven....*hint hint* my birthday is in a week... :)

Greek Beef Stew (Adapted from theclothesmakethegirl)

3 tablespoons fat (I used coconut oil.)
2-3 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1.5-inch cube
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 organic carrots
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 leek, washed, drained, and cut into coins
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine (or beef broth, if you’re strict about that kind of thing)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3-5 cups water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh sage
2 cinnamon sticks
grated orange zest (I forgot to add this at the end, but it sounded good)

1. Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and pepper.
2. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven (I used a wok), heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the meat in batches and sear on all sides. Remove the browned pieces to a bowl to catch the juice and repeat until they’re all finished.
3. In the now-empty pan (except for the lovely drippings), sauté the chopped carrot, onion, celery, and leek for about 2 minutes, the stir in the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute.
4. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and vinegar and stir with passion, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Reduce until it gets thick like a sauce. At this point, if you are using a crock pot, transfer the beef into the pot and then add the veggies/red wine reduction sauce on top.
5. Put the meat and whatever drippings and juice it’s expended back into the pot. Add 3 cups of water, 2 teaspoons salt, a healthy dose of pepper, and the seasonings: rosemary, thyme, sage, and cinnamon sticks.
** If you are like me, then you will have made this the evening before you wanted to eat it. If that is the case, put the whole thing in the fridge. Then, in the morning, all you have to do is take it out of the fridge, turn on the crock pot, and walk out the door. I put it on high for about 4 hours, and then turned it down to low for the rest of the day. It turned out perfect: the sauce reduced, and the meat and veggies were tender.

6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer with the pan only partially covered for about an hour. (NOTE: It might take longer than an hour, so if you’re making it on a time schedule, budget 90 minutes, just to be on the safe side). If it starts to dry out, add more water, about a 1/2 cup at a time. You want to simmer until the meat is fall-apart tender and the liquid in the pan has been reduced to gravy-like status. This is not a soupy stew; it’s more like pot roast with delicious wine and herb gravy.
7. Remove the leaves and cinnamon sticks from the pot. Top the stew with grated orange zest before serving. (Oops, missed that step...)

Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Some garlic powder (yeah, just add how much you like. I like lots)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry chives, for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter


Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.
Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower very dry between several layers of paper towels.
In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the sour cream, Parmesan, garlic, butter and pepper until almost smooth.

Pao de quiejo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)
So just a word before I share a picture. These failed miserably. I am so sad. When I was in Brazil, Rita made these a few times (not from scratch though, she bought them frozen). They are supposed to puff up and be crispy on the outside while being cheesy goodness on the inside. Well, mine did not do that. They were sort of puffed when I pulled them out of the oven. And then they collapsed. So, I figured, well, I will eat one anyway. Poor choice. They were a horrible consistency. Greasy, slimy, and altogether unpleasant. I'm not sure what went wrong. It could be that the oven was supposed to be at 400, and mine was at 350 at first. Boo. But, enough with the sob story, here is a picture:

Ice cream with red wine-dark chocolate reduction

This recipe came from the depths of my mind, which is a scary place. I wanted to use up some of the red wine I had to buy for the beef stew, and I thought it would be perfect to end the meal with something that tied it all together. So this is what I created.

Pour however much red wine is left after making the stew and pouring 2 glasses to drink into a pot.
Add about a tablespoon of brown sugar (or more, depending on how sweet you like it).
Simmer until the wine is thick.
Remove from head and add in about a half of a bar of really good, really dark chocolate.
Stir until the chocolate melts.

Serve over ice cream (or in this case, frozen coconut milk with little chunks of coconut in it) with fresh berries.

**As a note, you may have noticed the quality of the photos greatly improved... This is because a friend (EL, you're the best) was generous enough to take pictures for me. He of course was compensated with food :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Apple Brie Garlic Bread

Apple brie bread is amazing.  Kristi's research advisor from Albion also shares our culinary obsession and passed this recipe on to her.  Since she has gone Paleo, I'm the only one left to make (and enjoy) this great appetizer.  An appetizer that I turned into a meal by adding a pan fried turkey burger!

Preheat oven to 375.
Slice french bread into 1/2 inch pieces.
Spread both sides generiously with butter.
Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Bake for about 5 minutes and turn.  Watch closely until the bread just starts to brown.
While the bread is toasting slice your apples and cheese.  I like a tart red apple like Braeburn.

Remove bread from oven.  Rub a freshly peeled garlic clove on both sides of the bread for extra flavor!  Rubbing it on the bottom allows direct contact with your tongue for extra deliciousness.
Top with a slilce of brie (or use the spreadable stuff) and one or two apple slices.  Let the cheese melt just a little before enjoy the first bite.  Yes, I know, this takes A LOT of self control.
Add a turkery burger to create a main course instead of appetizer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cooking Adventure in Brazil

I am attempting to get caught up on my posts. I have the picture collages all made, but the writing is slow going. The following is a "recipe" that I taught to Rita (my wonderful host lady in Brazil) on my last day in Fortaleza. (Woke up around 9, showered and packed and made marinara sauce and ate lunch before I left for the airport at 2). It was crazy hectic, but so much fun to pass along an "American" recipe.

Rita was quite impressed that I knew how to handle a knife. She was a little miffed that I didn't inform her earlier that I was good at cooking. My response, I didn't know how to communicate earlier in Portuguese that I knew how to cook...

Marinara Sauce (KWeage style)

I apologize in advance for the lack of measurements type of recipe this will be. In fact, most of my cooking recipes are more like guidelines, i.e. stick to them if you want, or change whatever you like (thats how I cook).

olive oil
bell pepper (preferably red/yellow/orange... but use green if you like)
tomato (we used fresh, you can use a can if thats all you have)
yellow squash

more garlic
fresh basil
salt, pepper, and brown sugar to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar (more on this in a coming recipe)

Saute diced onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft. Add chopped bell pepper. (If you are going to add additional veggies, go ahead and throw them in now). Toss in tomatoes (If they are fresh, put on a lid and let the tomatoes break down a bit). Season with oregano and thyme (and basil if not fresh). Let simmer until tomatoes break down. You can add tomato paste if you like a thicker sauce, or simmer with the lid off to reduce. Then taste it. If its too acidic for your liking, add some brown sugar. If you want a little something extra, add some balsamic vinegar. Add some fresh cracked pepper and salt. If using fresh basil, throw some into the pot a few minutes before serving to let the flavor soak through.

We served it over some whole-wheat pasta. Serve it with some parm up on top and fresh basil to make it look good. You can totes add some meat for all you carnivores. Or serve with some garlic bread, if you are into that sort of thing.

What I Ate But Didn't Make: Fortaleza Cont.

I realize that I have been derelict in my duties of posting for this blog. EW has made all but one of the posts so far! (I blame it on the fact that I was out of the country for a month...) Speaking of being out of the country, this post will be about more of the foods that I ate in Brazil.

Starting from the top left is the Americano Burger with some deep fried starchy vegetable. It was delicious. (I blogged about it before on kweageinbrazil, but it was so good, I am blogging it again. Deal.) Here's the scoop: bun. burger. cheese. bacon. lettuce. tomato. presunto. annnndd a fried egg.
Blew. My. Mind.

Next, a "typical" lunch I would have at Gira Sol (The restaurant owned by the woman I stayed with in Brazil). That day included vegetarian feijoada, rice with veggies, cauliflower, and an omelette with a mango chutney on top. There were different foods every day, so I got to try a lot of dishes. Most of them I had no idea what they were. Most of them were yummy.

The next two I ate together. Camarao com alho (Shrimp with garlic) and Arroz com feijao (Rice with beans). Probably one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The first time I ate the shirmp it weirded me out a bit. They still had their heads on. They were staring at me... I attempted to eat it like I would eat a shrimp in the US, by pulling off the head, pulling off the tail, and attempting to peel the thing. Not so effective in removing the exoskeleton. Quite effective to get the brazileira you are with to stare at you like you are crazy. Apparently the proper way to eat them is to pull off the head, suck out the juicy brainz, and shove the rest in your mouth (but bite off the tail while making sure you get all the meat). I do have to say, these brazilians know what they are doing when it comes to seafood. They take a bunch of oil, slice up a bunch of garlic (NOT minced, but big beautiful slices), throw the garlic into the hot oil, and toss in the whole shrimp. Fan. Tastic.

Finally, the national cocktail of Brazil, Caipirinia. I figured I should try it on my last night in Fortaleza. It is made with cachasa (alcohol made from fermenting sugar cane. different from rum which is made from molassas), fresh squeezed lime juice, and sugar. It was actually pretty tasty on account of the copious amounts of lime and sugar. I was looked at strangely though when I fished out the lime wedges and started eating them.... EW would have told me that was not allowed...


I spent my last few days in Brazil at the beach. It was marvelous. Sun. Sand. Sea. and of course, Scrumptious Sustenance. (check that alliteration.) We walked for miles and miles and the beach, and so I was naturally famished and needed to refuel. (Ok, lets be honest, even if I hadn't walked a long time I would have been hungry). Pictured are a few of the delicacies that I ingested. From top left: Cheese on a stick. (yup, its literally just a chunk of cheese on a stick. But theeennn they toast it on these coals they carry around in a pail. brilliant. Crab. Two for Rita, two for me. You get a wooden cutting board and a wooden stick to bash open the crab. mmmmm. Annndd, fresh coconut water drank from a hole punched in a coconut. (EW thinks its gross. I think she is gross. Ok, not gross, but certainly her taste buds are malfunctioning.)


Now, for those of you who read my other blog ( to keep track of my shenanigans in Brazil, you will be familiar with the story of my host family thinking I was starving. Madriana said I ate as much as a baby chick. Rita thought when I got home Mom would call her up and say she had starved me. Elaine (Rita's niece) refilled my plate because she said I needed to eat more... So thats the quick background to be an explanation for the breakfast that follows. Mind you, this was my last morning in Brazil, but, it was not much different from any other breakfast either in types of food or quantity.

Here is a list of what was on that table. (Also please take note that this was not to feed a family of four, it was in fact all for me):
Plate of fruit (usually pineapple and cantaloupe, and sometimes mango or papaya)
Homemade yogurt with some sort of prune jam (actually quite delicious)
Grilled cheese sandwich (yes, I did say breakfast)
Fried egg
Bread and cheese spread (in case I was hungry)
Freshly liquidifiador-ed fruit juice (In this case, I think it was guava)

I certainly do miss having breakfast made for me each morning by Madriana (The adorable 84 year old woman pictured with me in the bottom left)

Chocolate Cherry Coke Cupcakes

More evidence that box cake mixes aren't completely evil.  Replace the water with your desired flavor of pop (read soda if you're from the East coast), add a little filling, top with this amazing frosting recipe (thanks, Mom!) and no one will know it only took three minutes to whip up the batter.

The story goes that the frosting is the original Waldorf Astoria recipe for their red velvet cake.  Not sure if I believe it.  But either way its my favorite.  Light and fluffy and not too sweet.  Unfortunately I had tried, six years ago (Almost to the dot.  Happy Birthday, EJ), to make a birthday cake for my best friend and failed miserably at the frosting.  I hadn't tried to make the frosting on my own since.  So this was the year to face up to my fears and do it again.  At home with mom "on call" I tried... and succeeded!  And don't be scared, I think the failure was a fluke because it really is simple.

Your favorite chocolate cake mix.  I used Duncan Hines Devil's Food.
Your favorite pop.  I've seen on a few other blogs that even diet works.
Eggs and oil as called for by the box.
Handful of mini chocolate chips.
Cherry pie filling.

Mix up the batter.
Add chocolate chips.
Scoop one large tablespoon (or use mini ice cream scoop) of batter into lined cupcake pans.
Spoon in cherry filling.  I put two cherries in each cupcake.
Please focus on the cherries and not the well-loved pan!
Scoop another tablespoon or so of cake batter on top.  Spread around so the filling is completely covered.

Bake for 20ish minutes.  Usually I encourage gooey centers, but these will collapse into the middle if they are excessively gooey.

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat milk and flour over medium high heat.
Stir constantly until a thick paste forms.
Transfer to bowl.  Set aside and let cool.
Beat butter, shortening, and sugar.
Add cool flour mixture.
Mix a bit.
Add vanilla.
Beat until you can no longer feel the sugar granules on your tongue.

Frost cooled cupcakes.  Decorate with colored sugar crystals and a cherry.  I would also suggest the sour patch kid like chewy cherry coke bottles if you can find them.
Try these cupcakes, pretty please with a cherry on top.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What I Ate But Didn't Make: Alaska and the Yukon

Did you ever play the "Would You Rather?" game?  As a child I foolishly picked oceans over mountains every time.  But that was only because I had never seen mountains.  Well, now I have.  And there's no turning back.  Mountains certainly win now.  There are no words to describe the beauty and majesty of what I experienced in the Great White North.  Even pictures can't do it justice.

But since this is a food, not a travel, blog (seriously though, go on an Alaskan cruise!), let's talk about what I ate.  There were sadly few opportunities to try out local restaurants.  I did, however, enjoy a bison burger at Legends in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.  Complete with french fries and malt vinegar.

Joshua got a little impatient with my food photography.
Our host family did an amazing job of incorporating the local wildlife in our meals.  Grilled moose brats for our first lunch and then plenty more moose sausage for Sunday brunch and in lasagna.  We even had caribou barley soup.

Our travels home included a longish layover in Portland, Oregon.  Not wanting to sit in the airport, we ventured out on the train and hopped off when Rachel saw an Irish pub.  Amazing.  I wasn't even hungry, having just eaten a large lunch a few short hours previously.  But I needed to prevent getting hangry (for those unfamiliar that's being so hungry you're angry) as I had previously on the trip.  Really more for the sake of my traveling companions than myself.  Man, I'm glad I love them so much because this was quite possibly the best meal I had the entire adventure!  The girls shared a broiled melty cheese, garlic, and onion spread on an array of bread and crackers.  I had a traditional lamb and Guinness stew.  Rachel and Meredith were kind enough to spare a few bites of their chocolate Guinness cake with homemade whipped cream.  For not being hungry, I sure packed in a lot of food.