Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beer Bread

While I've been getting more confident with baking since I started my blog, bread has always been something that's intimidated me. The other day though, I got a craving out of nowhere for beer bread. My (irish) Grammy used to make it when we were growing up.

I found a recipe online with lots of good reviews and sounded pretty simple - it actually was super easy, I was surprised! This bread was so delicious, moist and sweet.

I did add cheese in the bread as you can kind of see from the pictures. Actually a question for all you bread bakers out there - I wanted to add the cheese on top of the bread but didn't think that I could put it on top right away because I thought with an hour of baking time it might burn.

I went to add it halfway through but the top was already too crusted to make the cheese stick. Joe helped me do some surgery and sliced through the top layer of bread and put the cheese in the middle. It actually worked out fine but I would have preferred to put it on top.

So - is it okay to put the cheese on top for the whole baking processes?

Beer Bread


  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients and beer.
  • Pour into a greased loaf pan.
  • Pour melted butter over mixture.
  • Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp and Pancetta

In case you didn't know - there is a pumpkin shortage this fall. If you want a little hint on where to find it, higher end stores like Whole Foods seemed to be pretty well stocked on organic canned pumpkin. You'll pay a little more for it, but hey what's fall without pumpkin?
Pumpkin in hand, I wanted to make a savory dish and found this risotto recipe via Tastespotter.
I really just used that recipe for inspiration and decided to do shrimp instead of crab and add pancetta. The pancetta was a great addition, the saltiness of it was a great contrast with the sweetness of the cinnamon in the pumpkin.
This was a delicious, one dish meal that I will definitely be making again!
Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp and Pancetta
1 cup arrabrio rice
olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
8 - 12 pieces shrimp
4 strips pancetta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in heavy bottomed pan and saute the onion about 5 - 10 minutes over medium heat with salt and pepper to season.
Add the rice, cinnamon and cloves and allow rice to brown slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine and let simmer until all the liquid is gone. Then add one cup of the chicken stock, one cup at a time, cooking until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup (about 30 - 40 minutes total). While the risotto is cooking, brown the pancetta in a separate pan and set aside, reserving the grease in the pan.
Cook the shrimp (seasoned with salt and pepper) in the same pan as the pancetta, about 3 minutes on each side. If not enough grease in the pan add a bit of olive oil. Once the last cup of stock is almost absorbed, add the pumpkin, shrimp and cheese and mix to combine. Top with the pancetta and serve.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Marathon/Anniversary Party

This weekend, we had a lot to celebrate. Sunday was our first anniversary and after heading back from Cleveland where we celebrated my cousin's wedding, we had a post marathon party for two good friends who ran the Chicago marathon on Sunday .

Since my friend Melissa put off her marathon plans for a whole year in order to attend our wedding, I figured it was the least I could do to support her. When I asked her what she would want to eat post - race, her immediate reply was "Cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake."

Not wanting to disappoint, I planned a menu around her request (apologies in advance for the lack of "recipes" in this post, but its pretty basic stuff and kind of self explanatory) :


Italian Sliders: Fried pancetta, mozzarella cheese, tomato, basil and pesto

Americana Sliders: American cheese, tomato and onion

Swiss Sliders: Swiss cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms & truffle aioli

French Fries with Dipping sauces

Honey Mustard: Equal parts honey and whole grain dijon mustard

Truffle Aioli: Mayo, a tiny bit of truffle oil, lemon juice (about 1 tsp), dijon mustard (about 1 tbsp), whisked together with olive oil drizzled in until desired consistency

Rosemary Garlic Ai0li: Similar method as above, mayo, dijon mustard, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic (minced very fine) and olive oil drizzled in while whisking

Pesto: Basic pesto recipe

Fries: Russet potatoes cut into slices, tossed in olive oil and seasonings. Baked at 400 degrees until cooked through and then broiled until crispy.

(Again, I did not really measure as I was making the sauces but just keep tasting till you get it right)

Milkshake Martinis

Made with mint chocolate chip ice cream and vanilla vodka!

Joe helped out by making one of his famous cheese balls, and (reluctantly) allowing our friends to share the top layer of our wedding cake.

Congrats Melissa & Lindsey on finishing the race!!! I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for being a super spectator and making it to five different spots along the race - I'm exhausted : )

Monday, October 5, 2009

German Chocolate "Thank You" Cupcakes

I've previously made this in cake form, and have been visualizing these cupcakes in my mind ever since just waiting for the opportunity to make them.

Luckily, someone did Joe and I a HUGE favor, so of course we owed them baked goods. Once I confirmed that said person was a fan of German chocolate cake, I got down to business.

I made these using the same recipe as the cake (omitting the syrup), baked the cakes for 20 minutes and decorated just like you would the cake.

These were slightly less time consuming than the cake but not much. I was really pleased with the way they came out, this is a fun, more portable way of making one of the most delicious cakes ever!