Friday, April 30, 2010

Rhubarb Strawberry Pudding Cake

I wanted to take more pictures of this cake.

I wanted to show you the pink/green/white loveliness of the spring rhubarb stalks I harvested during an evening rain shower, dirt still clinging to the ends. I wanted to show you the gorgeous pale yellow cake batter and the lickability of the spatula after cleaning out the batter bowl. I wanted to show you how I ate this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so half of this cake was eaten up within 24 hours of making it (mostly my doing, I'll admit).

But then there's this:

If you have kids, you may remember this stage. The leg-grabbing 'What are you doing? Pick me up! Hold me! I want to see too!' stage.

My sweetheart. When I'm trying to cook, get dishes cleaned up, and keep my home in a organizational order I call controlled chaos, sometimes the whole baby-on-leg thing forces mom to make compromises. This time, my compromise was the blog photos. Fewer pictures. Happy child. I thought you'd understand.

But for every moment of compromise, there's a moment like this of pure joy. Baby's first steps! So cute, I had to share.


Rhubarb Strawberry Pudding Cake
The original recipe from Gourmet Today called for 1/2 the ingredients baked in a 8x8 pan. If I'm going to bake, I'm going to make it worth my time, so I doubled it and threw it in a 13x9. Worked great, just remember to put a rimmed sheet pan on a lower rack while baking to catch any possible juice spill-over.

1/2 cup water
3 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Butter 13x9 glass baking dish. Set aside.

Stir together water, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup sugar in a pot, then add rhubarb. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 3 mins. Remove from heat, stir in strawberries.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1 cup sugar in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Whisk in flour mixture just until combined.

Reserve 1 cup fruit mixture and pour rest in baking dish. Pour batter over fruit, spreading it evenly. Spoon reserved fruit over batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 mins with a rimmed sheet pan on a lower rack to catch any juices that may spill over while baking. Serve warm.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Raisin Bran Muffins

You all are so funny. It's good to hear that many of you appreciate a good bowl as well. Or, as Ms. Mae so concisely put it:

"I like bowls."

Yes, I like bowls too. I'm glad we can share our bowl enjoyment together. :)

So thanks to the handy number generator on, zee winner is...#14: Steph! I'll get in touch with you shortly!

And for the rest of my lovelies, you can always get the bowl (or many many other bowls, for that matter) at CSN Stores - thanks to them for sponsoring our giveaway!

In the meantime, it's time to mix up some muffins. No fancy equipment needed; just a big bowl, a big spoon, and thou.

Raisin Bran Muffins
Makes 24+ muffins. From Gourmet Today - nope, these aren't the Joy the Baker raisin bran muffins, but like hers, you can store this batter in the fridge for a week (kept in an airtight container with room to expand)! Just stir it up and pop some more muffins in the oven for fresh toastiness whenever your heart desires. PS - you should find wheat bran by the flour in the baking aisle of your grocery store.

2 cups wheat bran
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbls. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 and 1/3 cup raisins
4 large eggs
1 stick (8 Tbls) butter, melted and cooled
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin pan with paper liners.

Spread wheat bran on large shallow baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Cool completely on pan.

Stir together toasted wheat bran, flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and raisins in a large bowl.

Whisk together eggs in another large bowl until well combined. Add butter a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in buttermilk, applesauce, honey, and vanilla, then fold in flour mixture until well combined.

Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup, almost filling the cup. Bake until puffed and golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 mins. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Favorite Bowl...Just For You!

This is my favorite bowl. I use it for everything. Everything. "Like what, Beth?" Like:

- the ultimate fruit bowl
- the ultimate popcorn bowl
- the ultimate salad bowl
- the ultimate pasta bowl
- mixing up pie crust dough...or at least I did before baby when I had time for stuff like that
- letting bread dough rise...or at least I did before baby when I had time for stuff like that
- steaming my face...or at least I did before baby when I had time for stuff like that

You get the idea.

Want one??

Yes, it's giveaway time!

I promise not to go all Pioneer Woman on you with the giveaways (you only wish, right?), but whenever freebies for my lovely readers come about, I pounce on it. The very fine people of CSN stores (check them out - they sell everything, like lighting, baby gear, cookware...everything) are sponsoring our giveaway, find all the details on this bowl right here.

To enter the bowl giveaway, just leave a comment about whatever you want. "Lovely day we're having" is a perfectly acceptable comment. "Pick me! Pick me!" is also perfectly fine. Any words of praise and/or adoration are also accepted. Leave your comment before Tuesday at 9 pm CST, I'll post a randomly selected winner on Wednesday AM.

And coming up, a lovely muffin recipe that will be perfect for mixing up in your spankin' new bowl.

Thanks for stopping by, all. You bowl me over!

Ok, that was lame. But I got a chuckle out of it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roasted Chickpeas

There is so much wonderfulness going on in this picture, I don't know where to start. To you, it's a pile of beans (and that ain't much to most). To me, it's heaven in pixel form. Here's why:

1. Chickpeas. As a card-carrying member of the bean fan club, I must say that chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) just might be my most favorite of all beans. I know. It's a bold statement. I might change my mind tomorrow, so don't have a cow when you see me inhaling a black bean burrito at Qdoba tomorrow.

2. Smoked paprika. That red dusting there on the chickpeas? That ain't no ordinary paprika. That's smoked paprika, a new revelation in my kitchen. Regular paprika was always more of an ornament than anything to me, something to be tapped onto deviled eggs for a pop of color. I finally picked up a jar of smoked paprika and now I'm putting it on everything. Grilled veggies, cottage cheese, eggs, chickpeas, my child's face just to give me another reason to kiss his adorable cheeks - and instant rosyness to boot!

3. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. That's the beer in the back. I love citrus in beer, and this is summery lemon beverage is only available in the spring/summer. And it's practically local, with Leinenkugel's hailing from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Been there. Sampled the goods. Then left to ride the waterslides in the Dells. Brewery tour + waterslides = basically a perfect vacation.

So put it all together and you have some good good goodness. Roasting chickpeas makes them crispy on the outside, like delicious little bean popcorn or something. Perfect finger food with the beverage of your choice.

Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 15-oz. can drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 Tbls. olive oil
Kosher salt, fresh pepper and smoked paprika to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Place pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, stirring the chickpeas occasionally, until starting to brown in spots. Remove from oven, crack fresh pepper over, sprinkle with paprika, and serve warm.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sure Signs of Spring

The rhubarb is coming. Ring the bell, spring has now sprung!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poor Man's Lobster

Have you ever heard the term "a mess of fish"? I love that term. It means a whole lotta fish. I suppose you could use it for other things. A mess of chocolate. A mess of split ends. A mess of a mess. I just know that a mess of fish makes for a mighty fine meal and this is one of the quickest ways to get a nice mess of fish on the table for dinner.

I found this recipe in a Ducks Unlimited cookbook and had to try it. At the very least, I figured it would be easier than frying fish. I have found that baby on hip + splattering oil in a cast iron skillet does not happy family make. But chopping up a few walleye fillets and throwing them in a simmering pot? Now that I can handle. Maybe instead of Poor Man's Lobster, we can call this Poor Beth's I'd-Rather-Play-With-My-Kid-Than-Bother-Frying-Fish-Tonight Missouri River Lobster. Catchy.

Better yet, it's pretty darn tasty. The seasonings and vinegar make a broth that adds a little extra flavor to the fish. And then dipping the fish pieces in melted butter? You gotta love that. Real, golden liquid nectar deliciousness butter. Julia Child would be proud.

Poor Man's Lobster
No, there is no lobster involved. It's just cooking fish like lobster and eating it with little ramekins of butter. If you're the fancy type, click here for the recipe for Red Lobster biscuits as a side.

1 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. Old Bay seafood seasoning
2 cups water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 lb. walleye fillets, cut into chunks
Melted butter

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Add fish. Cover and cook 10 minuters. Drain and serve with melted butter.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cupcake Follow-up

Your cupcake is all packaged, ready and waiting for you to pick it up!

Geez, ladies. Such lovely comments - and I'm having a major cupcake craving now thanks to all your fav flavors. Maybe Julie can whip up a chocolate-coconut-red-velvet-wedding-buttercream wondercake and make all of us happy campers?

Thanks to a little number generation, here are our lucky cupcake winners:

1 - JJ and EJ (wish your mom happy bday from me!)
2 - Robyn, the Patisserie superfan
4 - Corrine, the wedding crasher (don't deny it, we've all been there - there's no telling how far a person will go for cake)
5 - Cupcake Dreamer - now will she pass on the love to her mom, dad, sister...? Hmm...
6 - Megan, a fellow Bis-bang-food-picture-taker-cupcake-fan
7 - And finally Jana, for her dad (awwww, luv it)

Is it strange that I get immense pleasure from stuff like this? This was too much fun, we ought to do this more often. In the meantime, if you have an extra minute, take a moment and fill out Julie's cupcake survey...yes, a cupcake survey. Click here. Much obliged. :)

And winners, if you don't see an email from me, check your blog, I left a comment for ya.

And don't forget to help control the pet population. Have your pets spaded or neutered.

Good night. And good luck.

Over and out.

Ten four good buddy.

Ok, I'm really done now.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Cupcake Giveaway!

Have I told you lately how great you are? Seriously folks, I’ve been so charmed by all the new names and faces popping up in the comments and the followers list, along with my near and dear blog buddies. I realize that taking pictures of my edibles and posting them on the internet is weird to most sane people, but you still accept me as I am, country bumpkin food geek and all. You make my day. Thanks for stopping by.

Another thing that makes this food geek’s day: Patisserie on Fourth here in Bismarck. Have you been there yet? Have you seen the gorgeous desserts and sampled the heavenly bread and scones? Crust and crumb, come hither. I adore this place and I think you will too. If you haven’t been there yet, now you have no excuse because dessert’s on me. Free cupcakes! Interested? Here are the details.

Julie from Lone Prairie Cupcakes, who sells her lovely confections at Patisserie, is whipping up a half-dozen picture-perfect made-from-scratch RED VELVET cupcakes for our little giveaway. Just check out this sweet little number.

If you like cupcakes (check!) and will be in the Bismarck area this week (check! check!), leave a comment naming your favorite cupcake flavor by Tuesday night by 9:00 pm Central. On Wednesday, I’ll contact a random six of you with a coupon valid this week to pick up your free luscious red velvet cupcake at Patisserie on Fourth in downtown Bis-bang! That’s it! Easy peasy, right?

And I promise your cupcake won't have a bite taken out of it, k? I just had to taste test...for your sake, of course.

Maybe you are not in Bismarck but your mom/dad/best friend/cupcake-loving former high school gym teacher lives here - you can still enter and pass on the coupon to your favorite Bismarck resident (besides me, of course) if you win. That’s cool.

Even if you don’t partake in the giveaway goodness, know that Lone Prairie Cupcake deliciousness is always available at Patisserie on Fourth as well as directly on the LPC website. Click and drool.

So: what’s your favorite cupcake, Cupcake?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Elk and Pineapple Kebabs

Confession time: I scheduled a few of my recent posts in advance. I feel like it’s almost cheating to write up a blog post and then schedule it to pop up later. But I hope you’ll forgive me, because I have a really good reason for it.

I was on VACATION! In HAWAII! Does it get any dreamier than that?

Yes, the land of sun, sand, surf, hula dancers, rainbows, pineapple, palm trees, luaus, tropical drinks with umbrellas, sunsets, ukuleles, and shirts that look tacky if worn anywhere but on the islands – it was all there and we soaked it up.

Living in the geographical center of North America, going anywhere with a beach is a big deal. Living in a town that requires multiple flight connections to get out of the Midwest, going as far as Hawaii for vacation is a really big deal. And to get the entire family out there at the same time is unheard of, so please excuse me if I bask in the afterglow of it all for a bit. We had a fantastic time.

Here's the whole fam-damily at the luau. Can you say "Christmas card"?

Of course we brought little Benjamin came with. Seriously, what's cuter than a baby in swimming trunks?

We stayed on Oahu the whole time. I’ve heard the other islands are lovely, so I only hope to return someday to check out Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. If you are a lucky ducky that gets to go to Hawaii in the near future, here are my favorite things from our short week on Oahu:

Take a surfing lesson, enjoying the fact that the lessons are taught by handsome tanned firefighters. That's me. See how the front tip of the board is dragging in the water? That means I fell off approximately 3.8 seconds after this picture was taken. But that's just between you and me, k?

Snorkel at Haunama Bay. Look for sea turtles. I didn't see any because rumors of an octupus in the area that day freaked me out, so I didn't stay in the water long. I hate tenticles.

Lose the Waikiki crowds and spend a day on the windward side of the island, visiting Waimanalo Beach. Picture perfect and practically nobody there.

On the North Shore, stop by at Ted’s Bakery. Best. Bread. Pudding. Ever. And on the windward east side, don't miss Keneke's, the beach bum lunch joint you've always wanted to stumble upon. However, no guarantees that my studly brother will be standing outside like this when you visit Keneke's.

On Saturday, go to the Honolulu farmers market for Kona coffee and fresh papaya. Eat something you’ve never tried before. Buy flowers.

And above all, relax. It’s a vacation, after all.

Elk and Pineapple Kebabs
Marinade adapted from Gourmet Today. We didn’t lug pineapple back from vacation, as we already had too much baggage with baby in tow to boot, but we ate plenty of it during our island adventure and adding it to these kebabs takes me back to the Aloha state, if only for a moment. I love the Asian influence in Hawaiian food and this marinade reflects that...with the down-home twist of Badlands elk, of course.

1 lb. elk steak, cubed
1 large red pepper, cut into chunks
1 large yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 pineapple, cut into chunks
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbls. sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbls. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbls. minced garlic
Wooden skewers, soaked in water

In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic; add steak and marinate for 15 minutes.

Preheat grill on high. Make kebabs by skewering marinated meat, peppers, and pineapple. Place kebabs on grill and reduce heat to medium/medium-high, adjusting temperature as needed. Cook until black grill marks appear, about 6-8 minutes (or more or less, depending on heat of grill and how you like your meat cooked). Rotate and cook on other side until meat is cooked and additional grill marks appear, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Candy

It's very possible that Easter has the best candy out of all the holidays. Think about it. Valentine's boxed chocolates? Halloween Mary Janes and candy corn? Christmas candy canes and peppermint bark? Can any really compare to the goodies of an Easter basket?

Well, I really like peppermint bark, but frankly, Easter candy is in a class of its own and like most fond food memories, this is mostly due to nostalgia. Picture a little girl in a pastel dress at 9 am in her grandma's living room, arranging her newly discovered plastic eggs by color, unwrapping and consuming as many foil-covered chocolate Easter eggs as she could before leaving for church, then squirming in the pew awaiting the hot cross buns that would follow after the service. That was me.

The pastel dress may not apply anymore, but I'm still consuming unusual amounts of chocolate candy at 9 am. To keep my hands out of the candy, I'll do what I do best: make pointless lists. So, ahem, may I present: The Top Three Easter Candies (in a very particular order, starting with bestest...yes, I said bestest).

#1: Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Reese's now does a Christmas peanut butter tree, which weakens the special nature of the peanut butter egg, but the egg is still by far superior.

#2: Marshmallow Eggs. Best enjoyed before they get smushed in transit from grandma's house to your own home, so eat them right away, just in case.

#3: Cadbury Creme Eggs. Certainly the most controversial of those included in this list as many disdain the overly sweet gooey center, but it earns bonus points due to the Cadbury commercials, replayed every year, making it ok for us to imagine these eggs coming from a bunny's hind end.

Honorable mention: old school jelly beans. They can never compete with chocolate, but Easter just wouldn't be complete without them.

Peeps need not apply.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake Revisited

I pulled up my chocolate zucchini cake recipe today and realized that it's been exactly one year since I last made it. Wow, things have changed just a tiny bit in the past year. For example, instead of this snowy scene from a year ago this time of year:

We now have these lovely April showers:

And instead of this lovely belly shot:

I now have this little guy, taste-testing zucchini (yes, he ate it. I will be sure to remind him of his early acceptance of raw green vegetables three years from now):

What a difference a year makes! But throughout it all, the chocolate zucchini cake remains, unchanging in its goodness.

Have any shredded zucchini left in the freezer from last summer? Thaw it out and whip this up! It's one of my favorites.

Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake
I like this more as a snack cake - no frosting. But if that's your bag, frost to your heart's content.

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
6 oz. melted dark chocolate
3 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, sugars, cocoa, coffee granules, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, oil, applesauce and melted chocolate; mix well. Place zucchini in a colander and squeeze out some of the moisture with a paper towel. Fold zucchini into batter along with nuts until evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely. Chocolate frosting optional.