Easy Baking: Jalapeño-Cheese Beer Bread

As I recently alluded to in a previous post, I have been working on perfecting my very first bread. Fortunately, I have been able to test drive the same “base recipe with a few tweaks (and a few times) and I have arrived at something that is absolutely DELICIOUS, Jalapeño-Cheese Budlight Beer Bread.

Although some of you may think it is odd to go with Budlight… I married a HUGE Budlight fan. Yes, weird I know. It is particularly odd when there are so many options of beer these days… but he is a simple man and he loves himself an ice cold Budlight, any day & any time. And since we are always stocked here at our house…it made it easy to jump into testing this recipe.

AND NOT ONLY did I include Budlight, but I included two of the Hub’s other FAVORITES: Jalapeño & Cheese. Just sayin’…I think I’ve got this wife thing down!

Jalapeño-Cheese Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour

(FYI – self-rising flour contains baking powder & salt, hence why you don’t have to add those to the recipe)

3 Tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup cheese (I used a Colby & Monterey Jack mix, pepper jack would probably be AMAZING)

3 Tablespoons diced deli-style, tamed Jalapeño

1 12 oz. beer (Budlight preferred in this home)

3 Tablespoons water

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 375*
  2. In a bowl, combine the self-rising flour, sugar, jalapeño & cheese. Mix together to combine.
  3. Then, slowly pour your beer into the mixture, stirring often. I usually do four pours at about a quarter of the beer at a time so that I can spread the wealth of the beer into the bowl. Once the full beer is poured, mix to combine evenly (but be careful to not over-mix).IMG_5722
  4. Once ALL combined, you will notice that there is a bit of flour still in the bowl. I found that when I added the water (one at a time), the dough came together well. Add water until all the flour is fully incorporated into the dough.IMG_5723
  5. Spray a loaf pan (I use a 8.5 x 4.5 pan) with non-stick spray and then plop the dough into the loaf pan. Try to gently spread the dough so that it is even in the loaf pan.
  6. Melt the butter and then proceed to pour the butter over the dough in the pan, but DO NOT MIX in with the dough. This will leave that beautiful golden crust on the top of the loaf once baked.IMG_5730
  7. Pop into the oven for 45 minutes. When the bread is ready, it will be golden, and a bit crisp/firm.
  8. Allow the bread to COOL before cutting (or it will crumble).IMG_5871

To me, this is a “flexible” recipe. You can add / change whatever you like, but I do caution that you add water to make sure the dough is not dry which will lead it being crumbly once it is baked. I also just totally talked myself into using pepper jack when I mentioned it above…..

The BASE recipe before adding “goodies” is:

3 cups self-rising flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 12 oz. beer (Budlight preferred in this home)

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

(THANKS to Tracy who writes one of my very favorite food blogs!)

You can add whatever you’d like from there!

Let me know if you try it & if especially if you mix it up!

Wedding Planning: Where do you even start!?

Although our wedding was already over a year ago, I thought perhaps it might be helpful to pass along some tips, tricks and strategies we learned while planning our big day.

When you are engaged for 14 months you have A LOT of time to plan and strategize how to make your day absolutely perfect. I also do highly recommend ordering this wedding planning binder that The Knot created, it really helped me to remember all of the little things as well as keep me on task and not let me forget the “little things” which were all very “BIG THINGS” to me. When we first began planning, I found it very helpful to focus on the THREE of the biggest details right off the bat.

  1. Venue (picking your venue will help you determine the date based off of their availability)
  2. Catering (caterers can get booked out far in advance, so I wanted to make sure we nailed this down before someone “stole” someone I wanted)
  3. Rentals (Plan this step early to make sure you get exactly what you want – even if it means 20 farm tables)

Deciding on your PERFECT Venue

The husband and I wanted to choose a venue that felt like “us.” Seems like a pretty difficult task, but when a Facebook acquaintance happens to get married at a beautiful farm wayyyyy before you are engaged, trust me and “like” that venue’s page on Facebook so when your time comes, you have an option.

We were married at Jacobs Family Berry Farm which is located in the small Nevada town, Gardnerville. The farm house, the berry farm, and the huge barn were all the perfect setting for our day. The location was also rich in history and had other small buildings on the property including a dairy, a bunkhouse, a Victorian home, an INCREDIBLE historic barn, etc., etc….

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Not only did we love our venue, but our venue also came with an INCREDIBLE wedding planner, Brooke who works out of My Wedding Library in Reno. Part of the contract with the venue was using Brooke as the pre-wedding planning & the day-of-coordinator, which was phenomenal. Brooke new the ins and outs of everything on the farm, which made planning SO easy! Although I did most of the planning with my Mom, I would say that Brooke helped all of our ideas come to life – she was incredible and was there the entire day of our wedding. Dear Brides – please DO hire a DAY OF coordinator so that you can enjoy your day!! And on the day of your wedding, just let it go and remember, it is what it is, you (and maybe your mom) will be the only people who know if something is not just right.

We could not have picked a more perfect place for us – the location reflected our love story and also provided a lot of the “decoration.” We wanted the farm to be the most central piece of our wedding (besides ourselves, ha!) and our decorations that we added, we only wanted to enhance what was provided at the farm. It didn’t hurt that the owners of Jacobs Family Berry Farm are also some of the kindest people – I feel like after all of our planning, they are like family!

Choosing a Delicious Caterer

At first we wanted to go with straight BBQ, but they we sat back and thought about how we wanted the ambiance of the day. This was such a special and nice event, we wanted people to have a lovely sit down meal where they were worried about BBQ sauce splattering on their nice clothes/eating with their hands.

For our wedding, we had Magic Mountain Catering serve our absolutely delicious meal. We checked a few other caterers in the area, but this company is actually a company my family had worked with in the past. Here is a peak at our menu….

Appetizers:

  • Ensalata Caprese bruschetta. Mixed early girl tomatoes layered on grilled sourdough with fresh mozzarella and basil.
  • Spice rubbed Filet of beef tenderloin on roasted garlic crostini with gorgonzola and herb crème fresh.
  • Smoked chipotle, red wine and olive oil marinated Flank steak skewers. Flash grilled and presented with honey, lime and chipotle sauce.

Meat:

  • Alder wood smoked Beef Brisket, dry rubbed and smoked. Thin sliced with our wet green jalapeno and pablano sauce.
  • Seared breast of chicken marsala.

Sides:

  • Farmer’s market grilled baby vegetables.
  • Steamed organic Couscous salad with lemon basil vinaigrette. Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted sweet peppers, green onions, and baby spinach and crumbled goat cheese.
  • Warm bow tie pasta. Farmers market tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, chiffonade of basil, steamed spinach, smoked gouda. And roasted artichokes.

Although scary to eat in a white wedding dress – I didn’t spill once and it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!

And of course, I have no pictures of the food because I was… you know, BUSY!

Finding Rentals that compliment your Venue & Theme.

Once you have your venue and date nailed down, the rentals really help you to form what you want your event to look like. When you have a longgggg engagement, you can reserve what you like early so 1) you get what you want 2) you can create an image in your mind of how your day will look right off the bat.

Our goal was to bring a lot of “wood” tones and spring colors enhance the venue rather than cover it up. For the ceremony we went with crisp white folding chairs on the lush green grass under the apple trees. For dinner we went with Farm tables and wooden chairs. We topped the tables with floral antique china to add a splash of color, lace table runners to allow the wood to be front and center and simple silverware with light pink napkins. We topped the plate with the gift for our guests, a jar of jam from the venue which is insanely delicious.

Our goal was to enhance the surroundings by incorporating both a simple design & decor for the day. And… since we book rentals SOOOO early, they had all the farm tables available that we would need!

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Although these were my top 3 items, there were MANY things that followed that were absolutely just as important, you just have to have a moment to step back and tackle your top priorities.

I will be posting a whole lot more about the wedding day, but I figured I better start somewhere!

Simple Grilling: Steak & Arugula

Grilling season is upon us, aka it is WAY TOO HOT to cook inside and nothing will make you want BBQ more than the smell of grills cooking up some yummy dinners during your evening walk!

Although my hubs doesn’t remember eating this meal before, I can’t believe I have NEVER made it for him. Realistically it doesn’t seem possible, and also realistically I can’t depend on his memory recalling those details.

If you are looking for a quick & easy BBQ steak idea, here is a winner…….

New York Steak & Arugula (for two): 

After letting the steak warm to room temperature, prep the New York steak by giving it a GENEROUS sprinkle of salt & pepper on ALL sides of the steak. (I like to envision making a “thin crust” on the steak). Cook on a medium-heat grill to your preferred temperature based off of how “done” you like your steak, we prefer medium-rare (We use this Omaha Steak chart for grilling) .

Into a salad bowl, throw 2-3 handfuls of arugula, a few shakes of salt & pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and squeeze nearly half a lemon over the arugula. Mix together with your hands & taste test.

Once the steak is done, allow it to rest for ~5 minutes before cutting. While you wait for the steak, put a generous pile of the arugula onto your plate (this will also serve as your salad course for the meal). Once the steak is well-rested, cut into thin-ish slices (half an inch?) and lay a few pieces over the arugula. If you LOVE lemon, you can add a fresh squeeze of lemon over the top (also depends on how much lemon you put on the arugula).  After that, go ahead and EAT!

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Super simple, but there is something about the mixture of flavors that is outstanding & refreshing. The arugula as well as the salt & pepper crust give it a bit of spice while the fresh lemon gives it a bit of a pop.

Shopping List: 

New York Strip (large enough for two people), Arugula, Lemon, EVOO, S&P

We love this recipe… judging that we have eaten it twice in the last week, I think this might just become a summer staple!

We also like to cook our veggies in a foil packet on the grill while the meat cooks (again, avoiding cooking anything inside that requires the stove to be turned on). In this picture we have a zucchini sliced into ½ inch slices, coated with olive oil, salt & pepper, a few shakes of Italian Seasoning, and just a bit of sliced Parmesan cheese. YUM. Since the zucchini slices are a bit thick and the zucchini starts off raw, put them on the grill in the foil packet 5 minutes before you put the steak on the grill. Hopefully that will mean everything just happens to be done right at the same exact time!

Oh… and you might wonder what that is in the upper right-hand corner. That is my homemade beer bread. I am currently working on perfecting that when it isn’t “too” hot to bake. Once I perfect it, I will definitely be adding it to the blog!

Enjoy & eat on!!!

Grandma’s Sweet Summer Sundae

It has been a HOT minute since I posted my last blog……. It has also been a HOT few weeks here in Northern Nevada. But what I am about to share is NOT HOT, it is a cool summer treat that is extra tasty when the weather is warm and the fruit is at its peak of deliciousness!

In the not too distance past, my Grandma would make me the most delicious summer sundae when I would visit. It helped that they had a lemon tree in the backyard, but it was most special because it was a sweet treat from my Grandma.

Special shout out to my Grandma, that little cutie in the middle in the blue! 

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With the weather too hot, I wanted to make a scrumptious little dessert for my friends post-happy hour – and baking was not an option (oven + hot weather = boiling inside temperatures). So it was fun to pull this little sundae from the archives in my brain for my girlfriends & hubs who so graciously obliged to taste test, and they HIGHLY APPROVED!

What you’ll need: Your favorite fruits!

What I used to make two small-ish sundaes for me & the hubs:

5 Strawberries (chilled)

1 Apricot (chilled)

2 Tablespoons of your favorite Jam

(Ours just happens to be the most delicious Mixed Berry Jam from Jacobs Family Berry Farm – where we got married!!!)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Making it is not science, but there is a little trick: Once you spoon out your Jam into a small (separate) bowl, add a bit lemon juice to the jam to make it more “liquid-y.” This will help it to be more like a “syrup” on top of your ice cream.

To assemble your Sundae: Slice strawberries & apricot and divide between the two sundae bowls. Scoop a scoop (or two) of ice cream into the bowl. Drizzle the jam-lemon juice mixture over the ice cream. Devour.

sundae2

That IS IT! YUM!!

Other fruit ideas: peaches (Grandma used peaches but they were not ripe at the store), blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…. Whatever your heart desires!

Oh, P.S. here is my cute dog Ellie.

Ellie

Oh, and pray for us here in Northern Nevada – I will survive by just eating sundaes 🙂

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Starting off 2018 with FRENCH TOAST!

Hi 2018.

The start of 2018 has come and gone and the year has been off to an interesting start. Fortunately, I expect the rest of the year to be filled with fun and exciting times for Mr. H. and me – including Bryan’s first trip to the South for his cousins wedding is one of the “biggies” I am really looking forward to!

Anywho… in 2018 I am hoping to cook & bake a whole lot more, which in turn I hope turns into more time on my Blog, which makes me extra happy! From our wedding to welcoming our first niece in 2017, I have a long list of blogs in my head I would like to get down, and I will in time.

First off this year…. Leftover Restaurant Bread – you know, the bread in the basket that never seems to get finished. Well, my hope is that this quick French toast recipe with leftover restaurant bread will have you asking for a REFILL of bread before you leave!

Leftover Restaurant Bread, French Toast:

2 eggs

½ cup milk

¼ tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. sugar

2 T. butter

Syrup

Powdered Sugar

Leftover bread slices (I had 6 pieces, but I had enough egg mixture for probably double the bread)

In a bowl big enough to dunk your bread, mix together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar. Once well combined, dunk each side of the bread into mixture; I recommend a slow dunk so there are a few seconds for the mixture to “soak” into the bread. Set bread aside and quickly heat up a pan with butter on med-high heat. Once butter is melted, place the slices into the pan and keep at medium-high heat to help the bread to toast / brown. Once I could hear a good sizzle in the pan, I checked the bread and it was a light brown toasted color, and flipped it over. Then do the same routine on side #2. When side #2 was done, I did few an extra minute on the first side to warm it back up. When it is the perfect color for you, move it over to your plate, and top with syrup & a sprinkle of powdered sugar – YUM!

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Finished Product – YUM!

Ours turned out nice and crispy on the outside, and still soft on the inside – Didn’t think I could pull that off!

I always feel bad about leaving the leftover bread in the basket, but with this recipe in my pocket, I will never have to feel bad again!

Happy 2018 – thanks for joining me on this ride 🙂

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Nevada Strong 

Being a Nevadan is something I’m proud of – I love this state, the people in it, and everything it brings to my life. This week has been indescribable, one that has shaken all of us in many different ways. But after seeing everyone giving, helping, and reaching out, I find myself once again thankful not only be a Nevadan, but a citizen of this beautiful country.
I asked a family I know who owns this Etsy shop, Carli’s Closet, to create these Nevada Strong hats – something to remind each of us how strong we are and the pride we have in this amazing state.


“Dear hate…love’s gonna conquer all.” Thank you Maren Morris for these words this week – please remember to share love & kindness with those around you ❤️🇺🇸❤️ #NevadaStrong #homemeansnevada
Also, in advance of posting about these hats publicly, I donated $2 per hat for the first 100 hats sold to benefit families who are currently in Las Vegas to be with their loved ones.

Jalapeno Pinwheels!

As I have written about in the past, not only does the hubs love peanut butter, but he also has quite a thing for JALAPENOS. Not together though… that wouldn’t be right.

One of my brilliant friends happened to know this little secret and decided many moons ago to make the most delicious Jalapeno pinwheels, ever. I try to have get-togethers at our house with friends as often as I can, which mostly means two things: wine & appetizers. If Hannah is not bringing the pinwheels, there is a high chance I will make them, in the case of this past weekend when I was able to quickly whip them up for a spur of the moment BBQ with a couple friends.

Ingredients (makes 20 pinwheels):

Tube of Crescent Rolls (can be regular or low-fat)

½ Brick of Light Cream Cheese

1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons minced Tamed Jalapenos

ingredients

Directions:

On a flat surface, roll out crescent roll dough and pinch together all of the “stitch cuts” that would generally be used to pull apart crescent rolls.

Crescent

Next, spread SLIGHTLY heated or room temperature cream cheese over crescent dough. You will then top the cream cheese with more cheese, of the cheddar variety. Lastly, add the minced jalapenos on top of the cheddar.

Steps

To roll, I recommend having two people to maneuver the dough and ingredients into a nice and tight roll. You want to roll the dough as tightly as possible so that all the goodies stay inside when you bake it. With a hand on each side/end of the roll, slowly roll the dough over itself into a tight cylinder.

roll

To cut… use the sharpest knife you have available and SLOWLY (if you cut fast you will smoosh the circle) cut 1-inch thick pinwheels. Spread pinwheels across a non-stick pan and cook on 350* for about 13 minutes, or until the dough begins to turn a golden brown.

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You can then pop them out of the oven, give them a minute or two to cool and then serve them up to your guests!

One thing I have really been wanting to try… but the stars never align when I am making these last minute, is to add bacon bits into the recipe – doesn’t that sound GOOD!?

I am assuming that with this recipe you could really add any sort of toppings you’d like, maybe make a pizza variety with pepperoni and olives!? The possibilities are endless…. YUM!

Hope you enjoy one of the husbands quick and easy favorites!