Beer bread is always a favorite in the winter and a perfect addition to serve with chili or stew.  I wasn’t sure how the 4-ingredient beer bread recipe would turn out, but figured I might as well try it.

When there are only four ingredients, you have to use high quality stuff.  So I used a bottle of Magic Hat Jinx Ale.  I think it’s important to use a thick, heavy ale with this recipe.

I didn’t have any self-rising flour, but I did have a lot of bread flour.  If you want to make your own self-rising flour, someone recommended using 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1.5 tsp of baking power, 1.5 tsp of salt.

Once I mixed everything together, I didn’t think the dough was super sticky.  But I sprayed my bread loaf pan and put it in the oven. 

4-Ingredient Beer Bread Dough 

The bread didn’t come out as high as I thought it would (maybe if I used self-rising flour it would have). 

4-Ingredient Beer Bread  4-Ingredient Beer Bread  4-Ingredient Beer Bread

But the flavor?  It was surprisingly sweet and really tasty.  It’d be great as a side with soups or used as sandwich bread.  I definitely recommend trying this one!

You’re going to find a lot of recipes for sour cream now because I had thought I was going to make this biscotti during the holidays.  I ended up making others, but found myself with a lot of sour cream! 

Anyway, I found this recipe from Daisy Brand Sour Cream for their gingerbread cake.   I didn’t have any allspice or lemon zest, but figured I’d still make it. 

Sour Cream Gingerbread Cake Dough  Sour Cream Gingerbread Cake  Sour Cream Gingerbread Cake

When the cake came out, it was super moist and full of spice flavor.  The cake did fall down a bit in the middle, but that was OK since I wasn’t going to serve it (instead, it was getting shipped to someone). 

This would be delicious with a brown butter or cream cheese frosting.  Whipped cream or ice cream would be good too!

I had about 3 cups of pumpkin leftover and was happy to find this recipe for pecan pumpkin biscuits that would help me use the remaining pumpkin puree. 

Pumpkin Biscuit Dough  Pumpkin Biscuits  Pumpkin Biscuits

As with any biscuit recipe, make sure you don’t overmix and you are going to find yourself enjoying some fluffy pumpkin buttery biscuits!  These are highly addictive and would definitely recommend trying them.

Next to So’s Your Mom is Astor Mediterrean, a neighborhood joint that prominently thrives on takeout orders.  Here’s their menu.

  • Food:I’ve ordered a lot of their chicken kebobs and lamb (or chicken) gyros in the five years I’ve lived here.   Despite their sometimes dry chicken, it’s still delicious.  The fries are super crispy and hot — a must in my book.   

Astor Mediterrean - Lamb Gyro and Fries

  • Service: When you walk in, they have a large display case with their various sides and above that, a huge menu of options.  When you’re ready to order, go to the cash register to order and pay.  Then you huddle around the counter (or run other errands) while you wait for your number to be called.
  • Atmosphere:In the summer, they have 3-4 tables and chairs, and if you like to people watch, it’s a perfect spot to go.  You’re on the sidewalk by the Bank of America ATM line.  They did a renovation to the restaurant a few years ago, which greatly improved the interior, but it’s still not that conducive to sit-down dining.  Instead, most pick-up their food orders and take it back to their respective homes. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:If you’re new to the Adams Morgan neighborhood, this is a must.  And if you’ve lived here for decades, chances are you’ve visited this nondescript restaurant because the food is good and reasonably priced.  At least that’s why I keep coming back. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11 AM-10:30 PM; Sun 11 AM-9:30 AM
  • Address: 1829 Columbia Road NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-745-7495

Instead of throwing out the maraschino cherry juice, I thought I’d see if there was another recipe that needed it.  I found a recipe for maraschino cherry loaf, but really, it should have been called “tiny maraschino cherry loaf.” 

The recipe itself was easy to mix, but when I poured it into my standard 9×5 loaf pan, it was only 1/4 filled with dough. 

Once the loaf was done baking, there was a nice light brown crust on the outside and a soft cherry flavor inside. 

Maraschino Cherry Loaf Dough  Maraschino Cherry Loaf  Maraschino Cherry Loaf

I don’t know if I’d necessarily make this again, but considering it did use up some of the maraschino cherry juice, I am happy. 

I’d definitely make the maraschino cherry cake before I’d make this tiny cherry loaf recipe again.

As with most of the recipes I try out, I like it when you can mix everything together in a bowl, pour into a pan, and bake.  Now that’s a recipe! 

This one for cranberry nut bread is exactly that kind of recipe.  It’s a heavy and hearty kind of bread which isn’t too sweet.  It’s great for breakfast!

Cranberry Nut Bread Dough  Cranberry Nut Bread

I had some buttermilk leftover and when I typed in “buttermilk recipes,” I found this one for buttermilk cookies

As one would expect, they were very easy to make.  I used a small cookie scoop and found they were slightly chewy with a rich and buttery flavor.  If you added lemon or orange zest, it’d be delicious!

Buttermilk Cookie Dough  Buttermilk Cookies

I don’t think I’d necessary run out to make these again, but if you’re looking for something different to help you use up your buttermilk, you won’t go wrong with these.

I love my Cooking Light subscription.  I really enjoy the photos and the numerous healthier recipes.  In their Septembere 2008 issue, a woman from Anninston, AL submitted this recipe for her favorite low-fat chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies. 

Since I couln’t find it posted anywhere, I thought I’d share it with you here:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix everything together in a bowl and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. 

When I was making it, I had to add another egg the dough would combine, but you may find you don’t need it.  I used a small cookie scoop and the cookies came out perfect! 

Lower in fat Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookie Dough  Lower in fat Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies  Lower in fat Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

They were absolutely delicious with a pleasant coconut and chocolate taste — a perfect combination!  You have to try these!

A few years ago (2-3), I went to Odeon Cafe and had a really great Italian dinner.  The food was delicious, service was good, and had an overall positive experience.  When a couple of friends wanted to go to brunch one Sunday, I didn’t hesitate to mention Odeon Cafe since a different friend had recommended the place.  Since I enjoyed my meal the last time I was there and so did she, I thought this would be a great brunch…

  • Food:I ordered the Cafe Odeon Benedict eggs.  The entire plate was cold and the poached eggs were terribly overcooked (the yolk was completely hard).  The potatoes had no flavor.  One friend ordered the salmon crepes which was the loser of the table.  The crepes were too thick, doughy, and chewy.  There was no salmon flavor whatsoever.   The winning plate was the salmon egg white omelet, but it was also cold.  However, the eggs were nicely cooked with a nice salmon flavor. 
  • Service: Despite an empty restaurant, the server rarely appeared.  When he did stop by the table, he was nice.
  • Atmosphere: There are two stories and in the summer, the windows in the front open.  On the left-hand side, there’s a bar (about 12-15 stools). 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Did the restaurant change owners?  Did they get a new chef?  Who knows?  Stick to the egg white omelet with salmon for brunch and it’ll be OK.   I haven’t been in a long time for dinner but would love to hear from you about your experiences…

Details:

  • Hours: Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 9:00am – 4:00pm; Lunch: Daily: 11:30am – 4:00pm; Dinner: Nightly: 4:00pm – 12:00am
  • Address: 1714 Connecticut Ave N.W.; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 328-6228

I actually made this recipe for overnight coffeecake on Christmas, but I haven’t had a chance to post it until now. 

Anyway, my dad flew out on Christmas afternoon and so I decided I’d make breakfast before he left.   Since we were in a bit of a rush, I was annoyed that it needed to be baked a lot longer than the recipe called for (about 60 minutes plus 10 minutes for cooling down). 

Once I cut into the coffeecake, I forgot about the additional baking time. 

The cinnamon and brown sugar topping was perfectly crunchy.  The dough was moist and tender.  It was a perfect coffeecake that was very easy to mix.  I didn’t make any icing since I thought it was going to be sweet enough — and I was right. 

 Overnight Coffeecake Dough  Overnight Coffeecake Dough  Overnight Coffeecake  Overnight Coffeecake

Definitely recommend making this recipe!

Why do the British always have such brilliant TV show ideas?  I’ve never watched it (honest!), but they had American Idol first.  They had The Office first.  They had Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.  And now, they have Last Restaurant Standing.

I love this show.  The title is exactly the premise — 10 couples (2 people, not necessarily married/dating) — have the chance to open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc, world renown and two-Michelin star chef.

In the 2 hour second season opener, these 10 couples had to create dishes that would show their vision of their restaurant and prove to Blanc and the other two judges, that they should move on to the next round and open a restaurant. 

Then 9 couples get keys to restaurants in various locations, but all relatively the same size, and they have 1 week to open.  You follow their trials and tribulations (one restaurant had a gas leak so they couldn’t even open!).  Then the other two judges (inspectors and industry experts Sarah Willingham and David Moore) go and see how opening night is working for each restaurant.  They report back and then one of the couples, gets their keys taken away.

The last restaurant standing wins money and support from Blanc.  Absolutely a brilliant show concept and it’s fascinating.  I think it gives folks a wonderful peak at what it’s really like to be “in” the restaurant business.  Love this show!

If I don’t have a shopping list, I’m aimless in the grocery store and I end up buying things I don’t really need.  This is why I found myself with a couple of purposeless lemons.

I thought I’d try to make this recipe for lemon spritz cookies since the recipe looked easy.  But there’s no call for baking powder, baking soda, or eggs.  A strange recipe but one that I thought I’d try anyway.

When I was mixing everything together, I realized that the mix was too crumbly and was never going to work.  So I added 1 egg.  When I noticed it was starting to come together but still needed more, I added one more egg. 

Lemon Spritz Cookie Dough  Lemon Spritz Cookies  Lemon Spritz Cookies

Also, my lemons must have been very juicy too because I squeezed the juice from 1 lemon which meant there was about 3-4 TBSP of juice. 

The cookies were tart and lemon-y.  I liked them!

For the last five years, I had been dragging my feet in going to Rosa Mexicano.  To me, when you’re repeatedly told that there are only a few good things on the menu, it’s not exactly a great endorsement.  Well, after reading numerous reviews and since I wasn’t paying, I finally went.

  • Food: We ordered guacamole which came with thick chips which were good.  There were nice chunks of avocado, but I still think my recipe would win in a guac contest.  I ordered the short ribs since it was the only thing that received constant praise and I was not disappointed.  They were so tender and made a knife completely unnecessary.  There are three HUGE pieces of short ribs on the plate.  Next time, I’d split the ribs with a couple of friends since it’d be more than enough food.  They brought black beans to the table which I thought were under-seasoned while the rice was completely over-seasoned and had too much lime juice. 
  • Service: Our server was OK, but as the restaurant got busier, he became more and more absent.
  • Atmosphere: The interior has bright colors and a comfortable atmosphere.  The bar is packed after work for happy hours (I couldn’t find any information that they offered drink/food discounts). 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$/$$$
  • Overall:  Since I didn’t pay for dinner,  I didn’t care.  But I think if I ever go back, I’d definitely order the short ribs again to share with others…and yes, the guacamole.

Details:

  • Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-3pm; Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 11am-3pm; Dinner: Sunday-Wednesday: 4-10:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 4-11:30pm; Sunset: Daily 3:00 pm-4:00 pm
  • Address: 575 7th St NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: (202) 783-5522

Since I’ve been cooking, I’ve realized my cooking style leans more towards the “mix it and leave it” mentality.  Meaning that I like to throw things together, but then leave it to stew/bake/cook.  I don’t like high maintenance cooking that require a lot of time. 

With that being said, here’s my 4 person recipe for beef barley tomato soup/stew.  The reason for the stew part at the end?  If you don’t use all 4 portions right away, then the barley will “drink up” all the tomato juice and water which means there won’t be a lot of liquid.   

  • 1 lb of Angus beef chuck
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 can (28oz) of chopped diced tomatoes, don’t drain!
  • 2 cup of water
  • 1 TBSP beef bouillon (or 2 cubes)
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP Italian Seasonings
  • 1 cup of uncooked barley
  • Salt & pepper

Brown the beef in a sauce pan with2 tsp olive oil and on high heat.  You want to brown the meat, not cook it.   Once the meat is brown, set aside.

Beef Barley Tomato Soup

Now using the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil (about 1 tsp-2 tsp).  Add the shallots and garlic until brown.  Next add the tomatoes, water, beef bouillon, Bay leaves, Italian Seasonings, and barley. 

Return to the meat that’s cooled down and chop into bite-sized chunks.  Add to the soup. 

Beef Barley Tomato Soup

Let it cook for at least 1 hour on low, but stir occasionally.  Don’t let it boil. 

Beef Barley Tomato Soup  Beef Barley Tomato Soup

It has a nice tomato-beef flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the senses with spices and it’s an easy soup to make!

A friend was raving about Daily Candy’s recipe they sent out in December from 1789 pastry chef Travis Olson.  In case you didn’t get the email, here’s the recipe that serves 8-10.

It is easy to make, but make sure to follow the directions!  There are a lot more directions than I usually care to follow, but it was worth it.  The result?  Wow.  It really was amazing.  It’s sweet, rich, and full of pumpkin and spice flavors.  It’d be perfect topped with ice cream or whipped cream. 
 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf challah bread, with crusts discarded (I made my own challah bread, but definitely can use store-bought!)
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. whole milk (I used 2% and it worked, but it wasn’t as creamy as I’m sure it would have been if I used whole)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Cut bread into ½-inch cubes.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • Combine the spices in a small bowl and then evenly sprinkle the mixture over the bread cubes.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • Toss the seasoned bread cubes with butter and then spread the cubes on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for about twelve minutes, until just golden.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • Reduce heat to 325° and place an empty two-quart baking dish inside to warm.
  • Add the granulated sugar to a small sauce pot. Whisk in about half of a cup of water until it makes a pourable consistency. Boil without stirring until the mixture turns amber, about twelve minutes.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding Sugar Mixure

  • Remove the warmed dish from the oven and coat the bottom with a thin layer of the caramel mixture. (There may be leftover caramel, which you can save and use as ice cream topping.)
  • For the custard, add the pumpkin to a mixing bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients, one at a time in the order listed.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding Custard

  • Add the toasted bread to the baking dish and pour the custard on top. Press down on the bread (yes, with your hands) to help it soak up the custard like a sponge, cover, and let sit up to an hour.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding  Pumpkin Bread Pudding After 1 Hour Soaking

  • Return the dish to the oven at 325° and bake until puffy and no liquid appears when pressed, about 45 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding  Pumpkin Bread Pudding  Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • Enjoy warm with ice cream.

I found this recipe in Jewish Women’s magazine for authentic challah bread.  You can make it using your bread machine or by hand — either way, it’s super easy! 

This recipe made two loaves and I used them to make tomorrow’s recipe for pumpkin bread puddingJust wait, you’ll see that recipe, well, tomorrow.

Unlike my previously posted challah bread recipe, this one is going into my book because I know it’s authentic.  The  loaves were sweet and chewy. 

Here are  step-by-step photos:

Challah Bread Dough  Challah Bread Dough  Challah Bread Dough  Challah Bread Dough  Challah Bread  Challah Bread

Perfect!

Since I am a party of one, I always have a lot of leftover rotisserie  chicken.  I usually make sandwiches with them, but this time, I decided to make some white bean chicken chili.  You could also substitute turkey.

To use up some of my rotisserie chicken, I thought I’d make a super easy white bean chicken chili.

  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 jalapeno (or a full one if you like it hot!)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 of a green pepper (red, yellow, or orange works too)
  • 1/2-1 cup of water — DON’T ADD RIGHT AWAY
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Remaining rotisserie chicken
  • 2 regular cans Northern white beans, drained and rinsed 

Put everything except the water, rotisserie chicken, and Northern white beans in a sauce pan (mine is 2.5 quart).  You’ll want to make sure there’s enough liquid so you don’t burn everything, but not too much so that there’s a danger of overflowing.  In mine, I put enough water so it’s about 1″ away from the top. 

Now put the pan on the stove medium/low heat for an hour.  The jalapeno simmering will make the water spicy so be careful and don’t use too much!

Finally, add the rotisserie chicken and Northern white beans.  Let this cook for another 15 minutes. 

White Bean Chicken Chili

Serve with cornbread (my personal favorite).  This makes about 5-6 servings.  It’s so good and healthy!

Rotisserie chicken is the best.  I love it for the winter and heck, it works really nicely for the summer too.   It’s one of those meals that screams “home-y” and who wouldn’t love that?  Vegetarians…OK, good point.

Anyway, I threw together this recipe and baked it.  It was so delicious smelling when it was cooking and even better tasting.  There was a little heat — perfect!

  • 1 chicken, rinsed under water and patted dry
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP fresh Thyme (or 1  1/4 TBSP of dried Thyme)
  • 3 TBSP of dried Rosemary, crushed (just use your fingers to break-up and make it aromatic)
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (or more if you like heat!)
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt

Mix the Thyme, Rosemary, Cayenne Pepper, and salt together in a bowl.  Now the chicken has been washed and dried, now put the lemon juice over the chicken — including underneath the skin!  Do the same with the spice mixture.   I had a lot of extra Thyme so I put the remaining in the big “cave” of the chicken.  I like to let my chicken marinate for at least an hour,  but it’s just fine if you don’t.

Cayenne Pepper, Thyme and Rosemary Rotissiere Chicken  Cayenne Pepper, Thyme and Rosemary Rotissiere Chicken

Now put the marinated chicken in your rotisserie according to your manufacturer’s directions. 

Once it’s cooked, let the chicken sit and cover with aluminum foil for 10-15 minutes.  This will let the juices sit but also keep the chicken hot. 

Cayenne Pepper, Thyme and Rosemary Rotissiere Chicken  Cayenne Pepper, Thyme and Rosemary Rotissiere Chicken  Cayenne Pepper, Thyme and Rosemary Rotissiere Chicken

Serve.  Delicious! 

I have a Betty Crocker recipe book from 1982 that my grandma gave to my mother.  It’s so awesome and I love this cookbook.

Anyway, I decided to try some of the recipes from the book, including this one for coconut chews.

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening (half margarine or butter softened)
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnut
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350.  Mix powdered sugar and shortening.  Stir in 1 1/2 cup of flour.  Press in an ungreased 13×9 pan.  Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

Betty Crocker Coconut Chew Dough

Mix remaining ingredients.  Spread over baked layer.  Bake for 20 minutes; cool.  Cut into bars about 3×1.  32 cookies. 

Betty Crocker Coconut Chew Dough  Betty Crocker Coconut Chews  Betty Crocker Coconut Chews

There is a recipe for a frosting with the chews, but I didn’t make it because the bars were rich enough without.  They are seriously awesome. 

Heads up — for the second baking, you may want to bake the bars only 15-20 minutes.  You’ll need to check it so the ingredients don’t get overbaked.

After I made the dry almond cherry biscotti, I had a jar of maraschino cherry juice left.  Before I threw it away, I thought I’d see if there was a recipe that might use some of it up.

Here’s the recipe I used for maraschino cherry cake.  It was pretty good — sweet (but not too much) and a pleasant cherry flavor. 

Maraschino Cherry Cake  Maraschino Cherry Cake  Maraschino Cherry Cake

It would be a great cake for Valentine’s Day!  You could add a cream cheese frosting and red sprinkles!