San Tan Brewery

I debated about whether or not to file this as an “Eating Arizona” post.  This recipe utilizes a craft beer from this sunny state but technically it was prepared in my backyard so it’s sort of a mix between Eating Arizona and “Shit my dad cooks”.  I’ll get to the recipes in a minute but first, some back story.

My dad and I generally get the groceries together because we both approach shopping the same way.  We slowly meander through the aisles sampling things, reading labels, and trying to find unique ingredients with which we can cook new and interesting meals.  This weekend we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up some cheese and bulk items when we got horribly sidetracked by a salesperson from San Tan Brewery offering free beer samples and brisket mac n’ cheese.  This mac n’ cheese was UN-REAL!  I’ve never had such a cheesy, comfort-foody, slightly tangy bite in my mouth and I immediately turned to see my dad making the same “ohhhhhh wow this is delicious” face.  The San Tan Salesman offered to give us a few recipes from their brewery that both utilize their brews as well as pairing well with their flavors.  Count me in.  Below is the recipe I chose.  If you live in a state where San Tan’s beers are unavailable choose a craft.

San Tan Smoked Chicken

This is an ale smoked chicken with a sonoran desert rub and the amount of delicious it is cannot be quantified.

San Tan Smoked Chicken

This recipe is not my own, but for me to keep it from you is truly sinful.  So, I give it to you…

San Tan Brewery Sonoran Smoked Chicken

ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (you can use pork as well for an equally delicious dinner)
  • 2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. Granulated Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. Granulated Onion
  • 1 Tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Oregano

Make the magic happen:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 200 degrees F. (if you’re using an oven preheat to 350)
  2. Use one whole chicken, discard the giblets inside, and rinse it off.
  3. Sprinkle your rub all over the chicken.  Give your chicken a serious massage–get that flavor in there!
  4. If using a smoker, pop open your beer & insert it, full, into the cavity of the meat.  If you’re using an oven, drink 1/3 – 1/2 of your beer before inserting it into the cavity.
  5. Place the beer can chicken into your smoker or oven and start cookin’.  If you’re using a smoker this should take around 6 hours though cook times will vary depending on the type and weight of the meat you chose.  In the oven cook for 1.5 hours at 35o.
  6. When your chicken has about an hour to go, start prep on some baked mac n’ cheese for the side.  I used this recipe but mixed cheddar and mozzarella and sprinkled some bread crumbs on the top.  It was the perfect side to this meal.

I’m all about the baked mac now that I’ve been reminded of how much I love it so stay tuned for a companion recipe to this meal.  Do you all eat baked mac’ n cheese?  What do you like to add to your recipe?

Blueberry Maple Sausage & Mushroom Breakfast

Breakfast

One of my favorite pass-times is finding odd ingredients and using them in a traditional way.  Maybe that’s kind of a boring use for these ingredients but nothing is better than spicing up a tried and true recipe with something new.  It keeps my taste buds on edge!  This dish came from a lack of my regular ingredients and the desire to use something new in my kitchen.  I’ve been eating it all week and I can’t wait to make more!!

Breakfast

Breakfast

Blueberry, Maple Sausage & Mushroom Breakfast

ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 maple, blueberry pork sausage patty (I found mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 egg
  • 5 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of jalapeno cheese curds (Arizona Cheese Co.)

make some magic:

1) Start by breaking up your sausage patty with your hands.  Throw the pieces into a saute pan set to medium-high heat until slightly browned.

2) Next, throw your sliced mushrooms in and stir so everything is coated evenly with the olive oil.  Brown your mushrooms

3) While your mushrooms are browning, fry or poach your egg.  I’ve made it both ways and can’t endorse one method over the other.  If you don’t like a runny yolk I’m sure this would be equally delicious with scrambled egg in it.  Pick your poison!

4) Throw it all together in a bowl and add your cheese curds.  Break up the yolk and rejoice over your delicious breakfast.

Breakfast

I will admit.  At first I was hesitant to mix the sweetness of the sausage with the spicy kick from the jalapeno cheese curds but it was INCREDIBLE.  The play of the blueberry against that bite from the peppers was unreal.  I’m having dreams about where else I can use this combination.

Chocolate Ice Cream with a Bacon Caramel Swirl

Chocolate Ice Cream with Bacon Caramel Swirl

You guys, my love for bacon is serious.  I don’t play games when a pig is involved and I find a way to slip bacon into just about everything I make.  Sure, it’s not the healthiest food in the world and yes, maybe I do feel a little guilty about eating so much bacon when I see celebrity pigs like Glitzy but then I catch the scent of a freshly fried piece of bacon and know that I’m doing the right thing.  If I had to pick my top five favorite foods, they would look a little something like this:

1) Cheese
2) Bacon
3) Chocolate
4) Pizza
5) Cheese (it’s just too good to only make the list once…)

Chocolate Ice Cream with Bacon Caramel Swirl

I’ve been on a bit of a caramel kick recently and though I haven’t quite mastered it, I’m getting close.  I attempted to make a batch of bacon caramel and ended up with a bacon caramel sauce instead.  I realized I couldn’t wrap it in cute parchment paper rolls and gift it like I had originally intended but I also knew it was too delicious to get rid of.  Then, I thought that maybe combining it with some ice cream would be a good solution.

Turns out, it was a GREAT solution.  This ice cream….  It’s just so good.  It combines two of my favorite foods, fits right in with the “put chocolate on bacon” trend, and makes my taste buds do a little happy dance in my mouth.  It’s the perfect hit of sweet with just enough of a savory balance.  I love salt on all of my sweets because it really plays with the flavor in the most magical way so you can only imagine how great the salty flavor of the bacon is against the rich chocolate backdrop of the ice cream.  I die.  And now?  It’s your turn.

Chocolate Ice Cream with a Bacon Caramel Swirl

recipes slightly adapted from Not Without Salt and Bi-Rite Creamery

ingredients:
for the caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 8-12 strips of fried bacon, crumbled

for your ice cream:

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa butter, measured then sifted
  • 1 cup of 2% milk
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

make the magic:

  1. If I might make a suggestion…  This ice cream is rather time consuming and seems far more manageable if broken into two sessions.  On the first night, let’s make our caramel and ice cream base, shall we?  You’ll thank me later!
  2. Start by baking your bacon.  Lay your bacon in one layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the oven until crisp.  Your heat can range between 350-400 and your cooking times will vary based on the heat.  Keep an eye on it and add more time as needed.  When the bacon is fried nice and crispy it’s ready to roll.  Sit it on a paper towel to get rid of some excess grease and allow it to cool.
  3. Reserve 1/2 cup of your cream then, in a non-reactive saucepan, combine the rest of your ingredients.  Stir until combined then place over medium-high heat.  Stir it constantly until it reaches 235°F.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining cream then place it back over the heat until it reaches 240°F.
  4. Remove your pan from the heat, stir in half of your crumbled bacon, then pour into a buttered dish.  Sprinkle the remaining bacon on top and sit it somewhere out of the way to cool.  Allow it to cool overnight.
  5. Now, start on your ice cream base!!  In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break them up then add half your sugar (6 tbsp).
  6. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, combine the cocoa powder with the remaining sugar.  Whisk in about 1/4 cup of the milk until you have a paste.  Whisk in the remaining milk, cream, and salt then place the pan over medium-high heat.  When the mixture is at a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
  7. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks.  Repeat adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks.  Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
  8. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula.
  9. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container.  Set the container into an ice-water bath stirring occasionally until cool.  Remove the container from the ice water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

the next day:

  1. Ah, you’re back at it feelin’ fresh now.  Your ice cream base has cooled overnight and your caramel is cool as well.  Let’s pick back up with your ice cream base…
  2. Remove the base from your refrigerator and mix in the vanilla extract.  Pour your mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. When your ice cream is all frozen and beautiful, scoop alternate layers of your caramel and ice cream into an air-tight container.  No need to create perfectly even layers, just try to make sure you’ll get an even amount of caramel and cream in each scoop!  Freeze your ice cream for at least 4 hours then serve.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Bacon Caramel Swirl

Classic Margherita Pizza

I adore pizza.  It’s one of those foods where you can eat it a million different ways.  Just make a basic dough and pile on whatever sounds good to you at that moment.  You can make sweet pizzas, savory pizzas, pizzas with lots of ethnic spices, and pizzas that are simple but perfect.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I tend to order the same thing whenever I go out because I’m always trying to find the best version of my favorites.  My absolute favorite pizza is margherita pizza but I’ve found that 9 out of 10 restaurants absolutely butcher this Italian classic.  Most places slice average-tasting tomatoes and arrange it on a bed of shredded mozzarella cheese from a bag then add some ribbons on basil at the end for a sad, wilted finish.  I am almost always disappointed by this pizza but when its done right it is the most amazing thing you’ll ever taste.  It leaves you wanting more.  Dare I compare it to cocaine?

Margherita Pizza

So after being let down by one too many margherita pizzas, I decided to just make my own.  And you know what?  It turned out beautifully.  I’m no longer reliant on questionable margherita pizzas from strange restaurants.  When I have a craving I can just make my own!

Margherita Pizza

Classic Margherita Pizza

ingredients:
for the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (I microwave mine for 30 seconds and find this to be the perfect temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

on top:

  • 14.28oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes
  • light drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 slices of prosciutto
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • fresh basil to taste (8-10 large leaves)

make some magic happen:

1) Start by making your crust.  First activate your yeast in your warm (not boiling!) water.  Next, combine the dry ingredients and pour the water/yeast concoction into it.  Add the olive oil and stir until the dough mostly forms a ball.  It won’t be perfect but most of the large clumps should have formed.  Dump the contents of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for a minute or two until it forms a large ball.  Lightly coat the outside with olive oil, place it back in the bowl you mixed it in, and cover it with plastic wrap.  Let it sit for a couple hours until it doubles in size.  Next, punch it down, knead the ball for another minute, then allow it to rest for 20 more minutes.

2) While your dough is resting the second time, start preheating your oven.  Turn it up as hot as it will go–the hotter the better.  If possible, preheat your oven to 500.

3) You can start prepping your toppings.  One of the best parts about this recipe is the simplicity in it.  Pull the whole tomatoes out of the can and put them in a bowl.  I found it easiest to just crush them with my hands.  Set them aside.

4) Roll out your dough onto a floured pizza stone, coat with a drizzle of olive oil, then pour the crushed tomatoes on top.  Place your slices of mozzarella around the pizza then tear off pieces of prosciutto to fill in the blank spaces.  I like to tear the prosciutto with my hands because it gives the pizza a more rustic look and is much easier to eat in the end.  Because San Marzano tomatoes have such incredible flavor, I chose to forgo salt and pepper.    If you are unable to find San Marzano tomatoes you might need to add seasoning to taste.

5) Bake your pizza for 10 minutes.  The crust will bubble and turn a gorgeous golden color and the cheese will melt into the crushed tomatoes.  It’s a really beautiful pizza!  Top your finished pizza with as much fresh basil as your heart desires then dig in.

Corn, Bacon, and Mushroom Hash

When I first started cooking on my own (you know, something slightly more involved than throwing ramen in the microwave) I turned to Smitten Kitchen.  The recipes looked divine and Deb writes in a way that invites you to give even the more challenging concoctions a try.  I’ve been cooking recpies from her kitchen ever since the beginning–I think the first thing I ever tried was a bean and tomato salad that was such a hit that its become a staple in my kitchen, along with many other recipes that originated on her blog.  Her book is coming out soon and I CANNOT wait until it gets here.  But until then I’ll be making the deliciousness that I find every time I click over to her site.

Bacon, Corn, Mushroom Hash

I had a day off from work in the middle of the week and I devoted it to my kitchen and my job search.  I pulled the ingredients for her bacon, corn, hash out of my refrigerator to make a kick-ass breakfast for myself.  A few MINOR modifications later and I was indulging in one of the best breakfasts I’ve made in a long time.

Bacon, Corn, Mushroom Hash

Corn, Bacon, and Mushroom Hash

adapted VERY slightly from Smitten Kitchen
 

ingredients:

-3/4 lb. bacon

-1 lb. red potatoes, cubed (I used three medium sized potatoes)

-3 cups corn (I used four ears of corn)

-1 1/2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

-1 bunch of scallions, sliced

-salt & pepper to taste

-1 fried egg

make some magic:

1) This recipe is somewhat time consuming for a weekday morning meal.  My suggestion is to prep all of your ingredients the night before (cube your potatoes, cut your corn off the cob, and slice your mushrooms and scallions).  It’ll save you a lot of time in the morning and your stomach will appreciate the extra effort.

2) Start by frying your bacon.  My knives are NEVER as sharp as they should be so I don’t even try to chop my bacon before I cook it.  You want it to be crispy all around–it took mine about 15 minutes.  When your bacon is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan and set it on a paper towel to cool.

3) Using the delicious bacon grease left over in your pan set the heat to medium or medium-high and begin to cook your potatoes.  Dump them into your pan in an even layer and move them every five minutes or so for the next 20 minutes.  They’ll get this gorgeous golden crispness to them and you’ll love yourself for utilizing the bacon grease.

4) Add your corn and mushrooms to the skillet along with some fresh pepper and a pinch of salt.  Stir it so it cooks evenly and let the corn and mushrooms brown up a bit.  It took mine a little more than 5 minutes to achieve this level of perfection.

5) Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in your scallions, and top with a fried egg if you so desire (I hope you do, the egg takes this dish from great to REALLY GREAT).  Taste a bite to test your seasoning and adjust as necessary.