Friday, January 31, 2014

Beer To Pick Up This Weekend: Sam Adams Hop Tour

Well, it's that time of year again: Superbowl Time. Who are we rooting for? Honestly, I don't know anything about football (I'm more of a basketball girl), but I love watching it with my brother. He's so into it that I find myself cheering and screaming along with him. So, that's what I'll be doing this weekend: watching the Superbowl with my brother and lots of out-of-town friends, and making fun of Bruno Mars.

One thing I do love about football is that it gives you an excuse to eat too many snacks and drink too many beers. I know most of you will be picking up a few six-packs this weekend, so I thought I'd give you a recommendation: Sam Adams Hop Tour. This is a combination pack of three very delicious beers. To be honest, I normally avoid Sam Adams mixed packs like the plague. Not that Sam Adams doesn't make good beer, they most certainly do. But they make a few really really bad beers that they always sneak into their mixed packs (White Christmas is a seasonal beer to definitely avoid and Cherry Wheat may be the most disgusting beer I've ever had). The Sam Adams Hop Tour, however, is quite different. It includes 2 Latitude 48 IPAs, 2 WhiteWater Pils, and 2 Noble Pils. This is just a nice little collection of beers. Yes, they are all a bit hoppy (hence the name), but they will go really well with all of the salty snacks you will be eating on SuperBowl Sunday. This is a great collection to share with a friend, since there are two of each beer. My husband and I split this pack while we were painting our guest bedroom the other day (home improvement is always better with a little beer). It's also great to bring to a party, since it gives guests some choice. The Latitude 48 IPA is my favorite, but all three are delicious.

Have a fun and safe SuperBowl Sunday! I'm rooting for the Broncos! You know....Peyton Manning is awesome. I am from Tennessee, after all.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Doughnut Muffins

If I ever wrote a cookbook, I would make sure that every recipe had a picture to accompany it. One of my biggest pet peeves (besides Netflix constantly asking me if I'm still watching. Netflix, when has the answer ever been no?) is a recipe in a cookbook that has no picture. How am I supposed to know if I want to cook it or not!? It's just an empty page full of numbers and ingredients and oven temperatures and it's just depressing. Yes, I know this is a bit ridiculous. I mean, I order food on a menu without a picture. But I never make a recipe in a cookbook that has no picture. Well, never until now.

Two words: Doughnut Muffins.

No need for a picture. I was immediately intrigued. Doughnut muffins? What the hell is a doughnut muffin and where can I get one right now?!

I was a bit skeptical. The little blurb at the top of the recipe said that these muffins taste exactly like cake doughnuts. While I wanted this to be true, I was pretty sure they would just taste like cupcakes. And while a cupcake is delicious, it will never touch a cake doughnut (cake doughnuts are the most delicious food on earth, closely followed by crab legs and brie cheese. I can never say no to a cake doughnut).

The verdict: these taste exactly like cake doughnuts. Exactly. They even dunk like a doughnut. I almost wish I had never made them. They are very simple, quick to make, and are made with ingredients I always have on hand. Which means I will probably start making them all the time.

Give these a try next time you get a doughnut craving (so, later this afternoon). They aren't exactly healthy, but at least they aren't fried, right?

Doughnut Muffins (from Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 stick butter (this is a bit excessive, so if you don't have a whole stick, don't worry about it. I used about 1/4 of a stick)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin tin. (These would also be great as mini muffins, or as mini bundt cakes).

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and buttermilk. (I never have buttermilk on hand, so I just used 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons regular milk, and added a tablespoon of vinegar to it. Let it sit for five minutes and you are good to go).

Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high for about 5 minutes. The mixture should turn a pale yellow color and be a bit fluffy. Sometimes my butter and sugar aren't as fluffy as I would like. As long as you beat it for at least five minutes, you should be fine. Sometimes butter is just funny like that. Then, beat in your eggs one at a time until just combined.

With the mixer of low speed, add 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Beat in 1/3 of the milk mixture. Continue to alternate adding ingredients until all are incorporated, ending with flour. Don't overmix!

Fill your muffin tins just to the rim with batter. The batter is very thick, and doesn't smooth out as it is baked. So, if you want your muffins to be prettier than mine, use an ice cream scoop to get nice rounded muffins. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 or 20 minutes.

You are supposed to let the muffins cool on a wire rack, and then coat them with melted butter and top with cinnamon and sugar. I was so eager to eat these that I just brushed them with butter while still in the pan and doused them in cinnamon and sugar. You'll probably be in the same boat as I was.

I'm so glad I didn't let the lack of a picture keep me from making these muffins. I'm starting to wonder what other treasures are waiting for me in my other cookbooks. You know what they say, never judge a recipe by the fact that it has no picture to show you how delicious it is. Ok, maybe they don't say that, but that is now the proverb that I will cook by!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Buttery Brioche

Have you ever had brioche? It might just be the best bread ever. It's buttery and flaky and dense and amazing, but what makes it really great is how versatile it is. You can bake it in a loaf and make sandwiches out of it or you can stuff it or roll it with sweet fillings and make pastries with it. It also makes great cinnamon rolls. If you ever see 'brioche' anything on a menu, go ahead and order whatever it is. Sandwich, pastry, whatever. You'll be glad you did.

My first attempt at baking brioche did not go well at all. About a year ago I tried to make some brioche stuffed with chocolate and it just didn't turn out. I don't know what I did wrong, but my bread didn't rise and I was left with a sad excuse for a pastry: a sad, small, greasy lump that was oozing chocolate. I mean, that didn't stop me from eating them, but that's a different story.

So I decided it was time for another go. This time I thought it best to just make a loaf of brioche. No filling, just simple, buttery deliciousness. I have to say, I was very pleased with the results. It is a bit of a long process, but the steps themselves are simple (as with most bread making). This isn't the sort of bread you should eat all the time; no one needs all that butter. But every once and a while it's a great treat. Now that I have mastered the process, I'm itching to try a myriad of brioche concoctions.

Get ready for awesome bread. Your whole house will smell like butter as the bread bakes, which is, without a doubt, the best smell in the world. (Side note: why hasn't that been made into a perfume? If I could smell like butter and sugar all the time, I think I'd have more friends. I'd probably have to beat them away with a stick). Grab a slice and spread Nutella on top and prepare to be amazed. Or whip up a batch of French toast that might just be delicious enough to bring about world peace. Whatever you do with your bread, you'll be happy, trust me.

I got my recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I find it best to go to Joy when I'm cooking a classic.

Brioche Loaf (from the Joy of Cooking)


1/3 cup warm whole milk (I used 2%)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm milk and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast has dissolved. Note: the yeast will not bubble and foam. I was deterred by this, but it's fine. It just needs to dissolve into the milk.

Add 1 cup of your flour, eggs, sugar, and salt to the milk and yeast mixture. Mix on a low speed. Gradually stir in the remaining flour. Mix for about 5 minutes, until all of the ingredients are blended. Use your dough hook to knead dough for 7 to 10 minutes on low speed. Knead until the dough cleans the side of the bowl.

Turn the mixer to a medium speed and gradually add your butter in small clumps. Knead the dough until all of the butter is incorporated.

Place the dough in a large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and knead briefly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours. If the dough has doubled, punch down and shape it. If not, let it finish rising in a warm place, then punch it down, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then shape.

Now, I didn't do a great job shaping mine. I just kind of threw it in a loaf pan. Martha Stewart suggests separating your dough into 8 equal pieces and rolling them into balls, then placing those balls in your loaf pan side-by-side. That's what I would do. I think you'll get a more even loaf.

Brush your loaf with egg wash and place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake until deep golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Warm And Fuzzy

Sorry for being so quiet this week. I have so many projects I'm working on right now, I haven't had a single moment to post. But I have so many delicious (and unhealthy) foods to post next week. So get ready. Maybe go to the gym today in preparation.

This is actually what I wore New Year's Eve. Super late, I know, but I loved this outfit so much I had to post it. Remember when I said that I was trying to wear the clothes in my closet, instead of buying new items? Well, I get an A+ for this one. I wore this dress to my senior prom! I went to a very low-key NYE party, so adding boots and a casual jacket made this the perfect outfit (bonus: I could hide leggings underneath for extra warmth!) Plus sequins and too much jewelry. It was NYE, after all.

Have a great weekend! I'm looking forward to a friend's B-day tonight. Happy Birthday Emily!

Jacket: Forever 21, Dress: ??, Boots: DSW, Chunky Necklace: Zara, Earrings: BCBG, Other Assorted Jewels

Friday, January 17, 2014

Beer To Pick Up This Weekend: Abita Grapefruit Harvest IPA

I'm an IPA freak. If it's an IPA, I will like it. IPA's have a citrus-y taste that turns a lot of people off. To me, it's complex, aromatic and incredibly pleasing. To some, it's just bitter. Enter Abita's Grapefruit Harvest IPA.

Now, in general, I think Abita beers are pretty underwhelming. I thought their Strawberry Harvest was incredible, but with the overproduction, the quality was gone way down (I miss the days of driving to Mississippi and racing customers through a small-town grocery store to get it. Maybe the beer just tastes better when you have to fight for it). I picked up this Abita Grapefruit Harvest IPA on a whim, because my favorite IPA's have a grapefruit-y aftertaste. This is a great beer for IPA newbies. It's sweeter than some and the grapefruit flavor tastes genuine, not like an additive squirted in at the end (the problem with so many fruity beers). This beer is fruity and delicious, but still has the bite of an IPA.

Is this the best IPA ever? No. But it's good (Beer Advocate gave it a score of 81, which they classify as good). If you've been avoiding IPA's, or you're just getting into them, give this a try. Or, if you are like me, and can't get enough of a good, grapefruit-y IPA, you'll love this.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blueberry Corn Muffins

So, it's Christmas Eve, and I'm sitting on my in-laws' couch watching the Food Network. Not a very Christmas-y thing to do, but I don't have cable, so any chance I get to watch the Food Network, I take it. The Pioneer Woman happened to be on. I've seen her blog (of course) but I had never watched her show. A mere ten minutes of watching and my mind was blown by the most simply amazing recipe ever: Blueberry Corn Muffins.


Where have these been all my life?!

Take two super awesome things, put them together and what do you get? Something way awesomer!

I didn't use her recipe, I just stole the concept. I have a great cornbread recipe that I just added a cup of blueberries to.

My usual go-to blueberry muffin recipe is a great one by Martha Stewart. However, they are very involved. You have to cream the butter and sugar, and then alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients in parts (it's actually structured like a cake recipe, which is why it is so delicious). Then, on top of all that, they cook for about 45 minutes! What's great about this recipe is how simple and quick it is. I made these muffins with less than ten minutes hands-on time and then they are in the oven for 25 minutes. These Blueberry Corn Muffins are just as delicious as Martha Stewarts, but so much easier.

Some people are Jiffy Cornbread purists. My mom swears by Jiffy cornbread. I swear by the recipe on the back of the Quaker cornmeal box. It's perfectly sweetened and has a great texture. I actually buy Kroger corn meal, but I keep the Quaker package around just for the recipe. But feel free to use Jiffy if you want. Cornbread is really easy to make, so Jiffy isn't really saving you many steps.

Blueberry Corn Muffins. What more can I say? This is an instant classic.

Recipe adapted from Quaker's cornbread recipe

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Corn Meal
1/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling tops of muffins)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen is fine. The Pioneer Woman used dried, which seems like a great idea, but they are pricier when dried)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients (flour through salt) and whisk together. Mix your remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients using a spoon or rubber spatula.

Grease a muffin tin, or add those little muffin papers to a muffin tin. My batter made 9 large muffins. Distribute batter evenly among 9 muffin tins. Sprinkle generously with sugar (don't skip this step! The sugar makes a nice sweet crust on the tops of the muffins).

Bake muffins for 25 minutes. Get ready to be shocked by how great these are. I can't believe I had never thought of this before. I'm in love.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chambray and Zebra

I'm trying to shop my closet a bit more. I love clothes, but sometimes I find that the only reason I buy them is because I want something new and that I'm never satisfied with all of the great clothes already in my closet. Instead of indulging this tendency, I want to rediscover great pieces that I already own. Like these pants. I had such a fit over them when I got them, but I hardly ever wear them. So I threw them on for a get-together with friends the other night.

I think the reason that I never wear these pants is that not only are they a loud print, but they are an unusual shape. I find that when I have an article of clothing that is a bit bold, the best thing to do is mix it with something I feel really great in. In comes the chambray button-down. I always feel good in a chambray button-down. They really balance out these pants and make them more casual and toned-down. And a red lip makes everything better.

Speaking of crazy pants, Forever 21 has some great ones right now. I'm really loving thesethese and these. Forever 21 is a great place to get bold clothes that are not for everyday wear, because they are so cheap. Buy your classic clothes at more high quality stores, but get your fun stuff at Forever 21.

Shirt: Zara, Pants: Forever 21, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Linked Bracelet: J. Crew, Earrings: Guess, Assorted Bracelets

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cooking Light's Cream Cheese Danish

I'm a huge fan of Cooking Light; I've been a subscriber for years. I have found that their baking recipes are always really good. They are lightened up, but they never sacrifice flavor for calories. A Cooking Light cookie is going to taste like a cookie, not a granola bar or a dried up piece of wood.

This Christmas I was looking for something amazing to bake for my family's Christmas breakfast. After pouring through magazines, cookbooks, and scouring the internet, I decided on this Cream Cheese Danish. I took a risk and baked it without ever trying it before (not really a good plan for Christmas), and while the recipe appears complex, it really isn't.

The bread dough requires making a sponge, which I had somehow never done before. All a sponge is is a bit of dough, yeast, and liquid that is allowed to ferment for a period of time before being added to the rest of the ingredients. After letting the sponge rest for 15 minutes, I found that it was incredibly foamy and bubbly and felt sure that my dough would be perfect. I really liked this method of bread making, because it really gives you confidence. Seeing the yeast really go crazy let's me know I'm in for good bread.

I loved this recipe so much that I decided to bake it again for my birthday. I was going to make myself a birthday cake, but I didn't really want a birthday cake. I wanted more cheese danish! I was going to bake it and freeze half of it, but then I decided that it's my birthday, so I'm gonna eat this whole cheese danish if I want to! My husband doesn't really eat dairy, so this baby was all for me.

This recipe is actually pretty versatile: you could always fill the bread with Nutella, jam, etc. I'm thinking apricot preserves would be divine. And the braiding is so simple, but really makes an impact. When I pulled the first danish out on Christmas Eve, I cried out in surprise! My husband thought I had burned myself, but actually I was just so shocked that I had baked something so beautiful. I was pleased, to say the least.

The recipe isn't hard, but there are a lot of steps, so I'm going to link you to the original recipe (click here). You make a sponge, then the dough rises, then you braid it and fill it, then it rises again, then you bake it, and then there is a glaze to be made at the end.  A bit more involved than usual. But the steps are very simple, and I promise you can do this. The recipe calls for part all-purpose flour and part whole-wheat pastry flour, but I just used all all-purpose. Turned out totally fine. The recipe also calls for kneading the dough by hand, but I used the dough hook on my mixer and it was also fine. Either way you will have delicious cheese danish.

Thank you Cooking Light for another baking classic!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Beer To Pick Up This Weekend: Sofie by Goose Island

You may or may not know this, but I am a beer fanatic. I think there is no greater joy in life than sitting down after a hard day and opening a delicious beer with friends or family. I'm not a beer snob: I love all types of beer. I love cheap beer, I love pricy beer, I love heavy beer, I love light beer. I just love beer!

Shopping for beer is like shopping for wine; it can be very overwhelming. So, I had a brilliant thought: why don't I share some of my beer knowledge with you guys! I don't claim to be a beer expert, but I'm always trying new beers and adding to my list of favorites. When I try one I really like, I want to share it with you here on The Starving Artist.

Over the holidays, I was introduced to the most fabulous beer: Sofie by Goose Island. It's a Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale and it is, as a friend eloquently put it, "delightful." It's light, crisp, and very flavorful. This is a great choice if you are an avid beer drinker, but also if you're not a big beer person or are just starting to like beer. It has a slight champaign-y taste to it that is unusual but very pleasing. It has a score of 92 on BeerAdvocate, which is classified as outstanding (95-100 is world-class). I have to say, it is probably one of the most surprisingly delicious beers I have tasted in the past year.

There is one drawback: it is a bit pricey. One $8.99 bottle (that's the price here in Memphis) fills about 3 pints. That is about the price of having a beer out at a bar, which is generally not the case when drinking at home. However, it is so darn tasty that it is totally worth it. Pick one bottle up for a romantic night in, or pick up two for a girl's night. This beer will appeal to your girlfriend who is not that into beer.

And, as always, drink responsibly. And don't drink and text! Never a good plan!

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Is That Your Grandma's Coat"

I wore this all day Tuesday, which was my 26th birthday! My husband and I don't generally give each other birthday presents; we always spend the whole day together doing all of the things that the birthday boy/girl wants to do. And since it is bitter cold here in Memphis, a large, ultra-warm, and very outrageous coat was in order (especially since I'm still fighting off this cold, but that's not gonna stop me from having a good birthday). It was perfect for a long lunch at Hog and Hominy, a little afternoon shopping, and then 2 for 1 margaritas at Swanky's with friends that night.

The whole day, I kept singing Macklemore's Thrift Shop, because this coat made me think of the little girl in the end of the song that says, "is that your grandma's coat?" (possibly the cutest thing ever!). This coat actually was my grandmother's coat. Like most grandmother's, mine is constantly worried about if I have enough winter sweaters, scarves, coats, balaclavas, etc. So she brought over this coat that she hardly ever wears to see if I wanted it and I immediately fell in love! It's just the right mix of fabulous and ridiculous. And it is totally impenetrable to the cold.

One of my New Year's Resolutions (I always have about 15) was to start dressing more like myself. My style really evolved in 2013, but I also became a little timid when dressing. I found myself worrying about what other women at parties or events would be wearing and what people would think of my outfit. Consequently, I was dressing more to fit in than stand out. But that is not my style. So, I'm looking forward to a year of more outfit posts like this one! I love this whole look: it's stylish, it's bold, and I felt great all day. What more can you ask for?

Anyone else have any fashion/beauty resolutions this year?

Coat: Vintage, Blouse: Forever 21, Skinny Jeans: BDG via Urban Outfitters, Tights: Old, Boots: Zara (similar on sale now!), Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Trying Something New: Serrano Peppers

Well, I have a cold. Not just any cold, this may be the worst cold I have ever had. I don't get any better or worse, I just maintain a constant state of awful. We're on day five of laying on the couch, marathoning Monarch of the Glen (it's not very good, don't watch it), and constant tea drinking, and the only thing I've been able to get off of the couch to do is make some Turkey Noodle Soup (yes, I said turkey). Probably because I needed it so badly.

Now, because of the major blockage in my head, nose, and throat I can't seem to taste anything. So when I was planning this soup, I knew I wanted it to be hot. Like.....really hot. So I did a little homework. I knew that jalepenos weren't going to cut it, but I was terrified of jumping into habeneros. I found a nice little chart that ranked peppers by their spiciness, and found that serranos were a step up from jalepenos  (the chart is based on a logarithmic scale, so really serranos are more like ten steps up from jalepenos. Or something like that, I'm horrible at math. So be careful). I knew my local grocery store stocked them, so off I went! I pulled myself off of the couch, wrapped myself in as many scarves and jackets as I could find, put on some lipstick (this was fruitless, I looked like a zombie werewolf) and went to the store for my peppers.

When I first cut into the pepper, I could tell that it was very hot. I could feel it in the air; my eyes started tingling and it made me cough a little bit. Once again, be careful! I bought three peppers, but after cutting into one, I decided that for a first-timer, one was plenty.

My final verdict: loved them!  If you're over jalepenos, this is your new pepper. It's very hot and very flavorful.

So, onto my soup. I used turkey instead of chicken, because after the New Year turkeys were on sale (like super duper sale, 78 cents a pound), and I bought one. I roasted it up, stripped all the meat off, and froze it in individual bags. Then I took the bones and made a ton of stock. Oh yeah. Swoopin' on some deals. I love it in this soup, because it didn't dry out like chicken can. And I just love turkey, I never get enough at Thanksgiving.

Spicy Turkey Noodle Soup

So, here's what you need:

2 carrots
1 onion
2 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
1 serrano pepper
1 jalepeno pepper
4 cups turkey (or chicken) stock
about 1 pound cooked turkey (or chicken), shredded
about 3 tablespoons salt
about 2 teaspoons pepper
about 2 teaspoons thyme
1 dried pepper (it doesn't matter what kind of pepper, just whatever your grocery store has)
macaroni noodles (I like a lot of noodles, so I used about 4 big handfuls)

Ok! Let's pull our sick butts off the couch and make soup!

First, cut up your onion, carrots, and celery. I like chunky soup, so I went with bigger pieces. But it's totally up to you.
Now, add a little oil to a soup pot, and saute these vegetables on medium-high heat for about 8 minutes. While that is cooking, mince up your garlic and pepper. Be careful! Don't touch your eyes, mouth or nose!
Add your minced garlic and peppers to the pot and let saute for another minute or two. Then add your stock, turkey, and seasonings, and dried pepper. Let this simmer on a low heat for 15 to 30 minutes, just to let the flavors get to know each other.

When you are ready to eat your soup, turn the heat up to medium and add the macaroni noodles. These will take about 8 to ten minutes to cook. When the noodles are done, you're good to go.

Very simple, tasty Turkey Noodle Soup. So simple, you can make it while you are sick, as I did. I added a lot of salt, because when I'm sick I want salty food, but feel free to adjust that, as well as all of the seasonings. Taste your broth and see if it is seasoned well, and then adjust. You can always add a little water or stock if your soup isn't wet enough, but be sure to taste and reseason after you do this.