Lavender Gin Fizz

DSC03884

Any one who knows me well, know that my drink of choice will always be a gin and tonic.  Not only is it a Steube side of the family drink, but it’s just down right refreshing.  My dad refers to them as “habit forming.”  It’s not hard to see why; sweet tonic water, a shot of smooth gin with its signature juniper flavor and a big squeeze of lime, all poured over ice cubes makes a drink that will cool off anyone on a hot day.

This summer, I’ll still be drinking gin and tonics, (especially at my aunt’s wedding this weekend!) but I’ll also be adding this drink to my go to list.  I made my sister one of these delightful Lavender Gin Fizzes yesterday evening and she had no trouble polishing it off.  The lavender simple syrup plays really well with the gin, enhancing the herbal-ness of it.  It comes together in no time and you’ll be sipping away on this Lavender Gin Fizz and wondering why everyone’s still complaining about the heat.

DSC03885

Lavender Gin Fizz

makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

Lavender Simple Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons dried lavender

In a small pan combine water, sugar and lavender.  Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.  Let mixture steep for 30 minutes and then strain the lavender leaves out.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Drink:

1 8 ounce glass (Ball Jars work great!)

1 shot of your favorite gin ( I used Dancing Pine’s gin)

1 shot of lavender simple syrup

½ a shot of fresh lemon, lime or a combination of lemon and lime juice

Sparkling water

Ice Cubes

Add 6-8 ice cubes to your glass.  Pour in the ingredients, starting with gin and ending with lemon juice.  Pour sparkling water over top of mixture, until in reaches just short of the top of the glass.  Stir with a spoon and enjoy!

Advertisements

Oatmeal Pancakes

DSC03849

My favorite cookbook growing up was Cooking From Quilt Country, Hearty Recipes from Amish & Mennonite Kitchens.  Yes, I definitely had favorite cookbooks when I was little.  The thing that made this one particularly special was the pictures in it, in addition to the recipes.  Every few pages or so, there are beautiful, full page pictures of women, men and children living their lives on their farms and cooking.  My favorite picture was of a girl that was probably 10 or 11.  She was standing in a wagon, filled with hay bales and was directing her horse to move forward.  Her lips were pursed, making a kissing noise, reins gathered in her hands and her wispy blond hair escaped from her white bonnet.  She stood there, tall and defiant on those hay bales and it made me want to drive a horse around on a wagon.  I wanted to stand tall on hay bales and cook the food this girl was eating.

My family loves this cookbook; it’s the cookbook that’s stained on our favorite recipe’s pages and the spine is cracked so it automatically opens to the most used recipes.  The oatmeal pancakes are one of the first things we made out of there, and I still request these when I go home.  They are perfectly fluffy and rise tall and proud on the griddle.  Oats make these pancakes hearty.  Buttermilk adds a nice tang.  Have lots of syrup on hand when you make these; they soak up a lot of it!

DSC03850

Oatmeal Pancakes

recipe from Cooking From Quilt Country

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups buttermilk

½ cup all purpose flour

½ whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat a large, flat pan, or a griddle over medium heat.

Combine oats and buttermilk and let sit for as long as possible.  The original directions say to let these sit overnight, but we never had the foresight to do that.  A good 15 or 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients should suffice.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, eggs, butter.  Add the oat and butter milk mixture to the eggs and butter and stir.  When fully combined, add wet ingredients to flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.

Lightly grease your preheated griddle.  Drop spoonfuls, 3/4 to 1 cup of pancake batter on hot griddle.  Flip when the underside turns golden brown.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Serve with maple syrup and a steaming cup of coffee.

DSC03853

Brown Butter Banana Bread

DSC03818

My literary heart fills with glee at the title of this post. I love a good alliteration. Besides having an awesome title, this banana bread also tastes awesome. If you’re not on the brown butter train, get on it! It adds depth, and nuttiness to this bread that plain butter won’t. Oats add texture and cinnamon and nutmeg add warmth.

For months, I’ve been trying to perfect my banana bread recipe and you know what the secret is? Butter. Oil doesn’t give the bread the moistness it needs like butter does. Plus, butter tastes better, especially browned!

Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker’s Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread.

Ingredients:

6 ounces unsalted butter

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup oats

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup buttermilk

1 ¼ cups mashed bananas, about 3-4 medium bananas

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside

Melt butter in a small pan. It will start to crackle and foam as it gets hotter; once this stops the butter starts to brown. Swirl the butter in the pan to prevent it from burning and when the butter turns brown and starts to smell like nuts, remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl to prevent butter from continuing to cook. You should end up with about half a cup.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla extract, buttermilk, bananas, and cooled brown butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until the top in golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

DSC03838

Infused Water: Cucumber/Mint & Strawberry/Mint

DSC03833

The warm weather is finally here!  I think we can safely say that there will be no more snow this season.  If one of those freak June snow storms happen, I’m going to blow my lid though.  Give me flip flops, tank tops and happy hour on the patio.  The snow was really interfering with my gin and tonic drinking and pool side lounging.  When I’m not drinking G&Ts, I’m trying really hard to drink enough water.  I don’t know who said that eight cups of water a day was the magical number, but I find it nearly impossible to drink that much water in one day.  Also, the employee restrooms at work are all the way across the building from my office, and I’m not making 7 trips a day over there.

DSC03842

 

These delightful infused waters make it easier for me to drink more water though.  I’m not really down with the flavored waters filled with sugar, so I made my own this weekend.  The first one, picture above and below was strawberry mint.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup strawberries, small dice

10 ish mint leaves

3-4 cups water

Method: Combine all the ingredients in the vessel of your choice.  Refridgerate over night or for several hours.

 

DSC03845

 

The second infusion I made was cucumber mint.

Ingredients:

1/4 medium cucumber, thinly sliced.

10 ish mint leaves

3-4 cups water

Method:  Combine all ingredients in the vessel of your choice and refrigerate over night or for several hours.

 

DSC03837

 

I’d think of these as more of “guidelines” not real recipes.  Like more mint?  Add more!  Don’t like strawberries?  Use a different fruit!  The possibilities are endless.  I definitely drank more water the days I brought these waters with me to work.  The mint adds a super  refreshing taste to the water and the cucumber gives it just a hint cool, mellow flavor.  The strawberries give the water a slightly sweet taste, without all the weird additives in some waters.  Up your water game as the hot seasons approaches and make some fancy, infused water!

Happy Hydrating!  It’s almost Friday people!

Buttermilk Waffles with Macerated Strawberries

DSC03828

My husband-to-be’s favorite breakfast is waffles, hands down.  When I asked him on Sunday morning, which would he rather have, waffles or oatmeal pancakes, I knew the answer before I even asked it.  We usually have an arsenal of frozen waffles in the fridge, which he will eat at any point during the day.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, waffle time is any time.  His parents gave us a waffle maker for Christmas though, so it’s time to elevate our waffle.   It’s time to make waffles that are crisp and buttery on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  Waffles that are worthy of Sunday breakfast, because if the weekend is only two days long, we better be living like we want waffles from scratch!

This recipe is my mom’s, the one that I’ve eaten countless times at home.  Try using the leftovers the next day to make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  Everyone in high school was always jealous of my fancy peanut butter and jellys.  Happy Monday!

Buttermilk Waffles with Macerated Strawberries

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of strawberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Method:

1. Plug in your waffle iron so it can start to heat up.

2. Dice strawberries into a small dice, about ¼ of an inch.  Combine strawberries with sugar and stir.  Set aside until after the waffles have finished cooking.

3. Place butter in a small dish.  Melt in microwave, but keep a careful eye on it.  Butter likes to explode in the microwave.

4. Combine the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.  Combine the wet ingredients, buttermilk, eggs and the melted butter.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until uniform.

5. Ladle spoonfuls of batter on waffle iron and cook until the waffles become a golden brown color.

6.  Serve waffles with macerated strawberries on top and a drizzle of real maple syrup.

DSC03829

Mom’s Special Day

One time, I decided to do something insane and run 26.2 miles with my mom.  You kind of have to be insane, or at least have something slightly wrong with you, to want to run a marathon. I don’t know how well anyone’s first marathon goes, but I wouldn’t say that mine was awesome, or that I felt spectacular at the end.  Quite the contrary.  It’s totally true that the race starts at mile 20, when you’ve gone further than you’ve ever gone.

When I had a complete mental breakdown at mile 25 and was sobbing uncontrollably about why some idiot put a hill in the last few miles of the race, she just nodded and we trudged on.  I said the F-bomb more times than I ever have in front of my mother and she didn’t even flinch.  The last few miles of a marathon are a completely acceptable place to curse like a sailor.  Than again, I think almost any time is perfectly acceptable to curse like a sailor.

CIMG3773

 

We finished that race, and then went on to do more together.  Almost every race I’ve run has been with my mom.  It feels weird when I run a race without her now.  The first race I ever did with her was the Bolder Boulder in 2007.  We all wore matching Spongebob Square Pants nighties and even made it onto the big television in the CU stadium.

CIMG0793

 

We ran the Horsetooth Half marathon and survived the hills together.  My feet were on fire during this race and were quite painful, but my mom once again stayed with me.  I have a bad habit of hurting myself during long distance race training…  There was New Belgium beer at the end, an excellent motivator when running long distances.

 

 

 

CIMG5091

 

 

Then there was that time where a freak shard of glass sliced my left Achille’s tendon.  My mom had a house rented and was driving out here before I knew it.  She waited through my surgery, took me home and fed me.  She woke up every four hours with me to feed me Vicoden and anti-nausea medicine.  It was a rough year last year for me, but I am lucky that my mom was there to take care of me.

IMG_0595

 

I am not with my mom on her special day, but if I was, I’d be whipping up a huge feast, complete with sangria and her signature pomegranate cocktail.  I am so very lucky to have a mom who sets an incredible example for me, my sister and brother, who can run circles around me and is a fabulous cook.  See you in a few weeks, Mom!  I love you!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

DSC03809

We’ve made it, us 9 to 5-ers.  It’s Thursday and we’re on the home stretch, inching closer to Friday.  Here’s some weekend inspiration for you-chai spiced cinnamon rolls.  Treat yourself, since you made it through the work week and all, and take a little while in the kitchen to whip these up.  These rolls use a traditional cinnamon roll dough, but the filling is made with some non-traditional ingredients.  Cardamom, ginger, black pepper, a little sprinkle of nutmeg and of course cinnamon all make for a warm and slightly spicy roll.  Drizzle with a little lemon icing and you’re on your way to a perfect weekend breakfast.  I bought the leftovers to my coworkers on Tuesday and it made for a happy weekday breakfast too.  Here’s to the weekend and it’s leisurely breakfasts!

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • ¼ cup warm water.  (Slightly hotter than bath water.)
  • 1 package of active dry yeast ( 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 – 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1-2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar

Glaze:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 – tablespoons milk

DSC03797

Method:

1. Combine the yeast and warm water in a mixing bowl.  Set aside and allow to stand until yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Add ½ cup flour, sugar, milk. eggs, butter and salt.  Using the paddle attachment, mix until throughly combined.  Exchange the paddle for the bread hook.  Put your mixer on low speed and half a cup at a time, add the remain flour.  (I used all 2 ¼ cups of flour, but it’s super dry where I live.) The dough is ready when it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and forms a uniform ball.

3. Place dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise until double it’s size, about 1 ½ hours.  While the dough is rising, combine the filling ingredients, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper and brown sugar.  Reserve melted butter.

4.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll it to a 16 x 12 inch rectangle, or something close to that.  (I just eyeballed my measurements.)  Brush with melted butter and then sprinkle filling on.  Roll up into a cylinder, starting from the longer end of the dough.

5.  Cut the log in half, then cut the halves in half.  You should have four pieces now.  Cut those four pieces into four pieces.  Arranged in a  greased cake pan, or in a rectangle pan,  so that the buns are touching.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size again.

6.  Uncover and bake rolls for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on the top.  Combine glaze ingredients, powdered sugar, and lemon zest.  Add milk slowly, until the glaze runs off a spoon.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the rolls.

 

DSC03799

 

DSC03811