Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fantastical Food Fight: Earl Grey Shortbread

Time for the second Fantastical Food Fight!  This month's assignment was shortbread cookies.  A friend of mine on Facebook recently mentioned making shortbread cookies with earl grey tea in them.  I love earl grey (and basically bergamot anything), so really didn't even consider making any other type of shortbread.  My friend used a different recipe that had thumbprints filled with jam.  That sounds delicious, but I wanted something simpler so the earl grey flavor could shine.  This base recipe was originally called Scottish Shortbread and comes from Taste of Home.  I added the tea.
Verdict?  Yum!  I used only one tea bag and couldn't taste much tea, so I put 2 tea bags in the instructions below.  Better to start out with not enough than too much, right?  Regardless, this is some tasty shortbread.  Very buttery and crunchy.  The brown sugar adds a lot of flavor and you'd never guess how few ingredients are in the recipe.  I can't wait to make these again with more tea.

Unrelated, but I finally got a new camera so the iPad food photos will be no more.  Enjoy the still terrible, but slightly less terrible food pictures!
Earl Grey Shortbread
1 C salted butter, softened
1/2 C brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
about 2 C flour
contents of 2 earl grey tea bags, crushed (I used a mortar and pestle and Tazo brand earl grey)
Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar.  Add flour and tea, mix until well combined- it will look dry at first.  When dough comes together, remove it to a clean counter and knead for 5 minutes.  You can add a little more flour if you need to.  The goal is to have a rather stiff, but not dry or crumbly dough.
Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into 1 by 3 inch pieces.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange 1 inch apart.  Poke cookies with a fork.  Bake until light golden around the edges, about 20 to 30 minutes.  Allow to cool, then store in a tin.
Yield:  About 24 cookies

Monday, December 5, 2016

BBQ Mac & Cheese

I've mentioned this before, but I was a very picky child.  My mom is a good cook, but ungrateful little me had very particular taste buds.  My palate expanded hugely when I was a foreign exchange student my freshman year of high school, and I returned to the US as an adventurous eater, but my parents separated while I was out of the country and my mom didn't cook much after that.  That's pretty much when I started learning to cook!

Because all of my years of being fortunate enough to have my mom cook dinner every night coincided with me being a picky eater, there aren't actually very many recipes in my "lifetime favorites from Mom" recipe category.  I've always loved her white chicken chili, 57 Meatballs, a mushroom chicken casserole recipe I haven't had since I was about 13 years old, an herbed chicken and potatoes recipe I haven't made yet, pumpkin spice cookies, and... this recipe.  (Side note: why haven't I shared any of these favorite on this blog in the 5 years I've been posting?)
It's not really the kind of recipe my mom would usually make and I'm not sure why she chose to make it since the ingredients are a bit odd, but make it she did.  As a mac and cheese lover from the start, even the rather strong flavors appealed to me and this was one of my favorite things my mom made when I was a kid.  The original recipe was apparently called Macaroni for Morons (mean!), but young me named it BBQ Mac & Cheese and that's how it has been known ever since.  There isn't any BBQ sauce in it, but it has a slightly similar flavor and apparently 6 year old me thought it tasted like BBQ sauce.  My mom's version actually has more butter, more cheese, and no mustard, but my husband and I like it this way :)
BBQ Mac & Cheese
1 lb macaroni
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 C chili sauce (Heinz chili sauce, not the spicy asian kind)
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
black pepper and seasoned salt to taste
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add macaroni.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is tender.  Drain and return to pot.  Add butter, place pot back on burner over low, and cook until butter melts.  Add chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard, and stir to combine.  Add cheese and stir until melted and hot.  Stir in pepper and seasoned salt to taste.
Yield:  About 8 side dish servings.