Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beer Cheese Sauce

Alaska, the nation's largest state by far, doesn't have very many people.  However, we do have a lot of microbreweries--22 of them, in fact.  Our favorite is Midnight Sun Brewing Company.  With a regular rotation of unique and flavorful beers, this wine lover actually gets excited for barley and hops!  Great beer, exceptional service, and great food!  Every single thing on the menu is delicious--trust me, we've tried every item.  A favorite among locals, visitors, and pretty much anyone that visits the establishment is the beer cheese sauce that accompanies their soft pretzels.  The pretzels are great, don't get me wrong, but I am obsessed with the cheese sauce.  While dining with friends (or even with strangers!), it is not uncommon and certainly not frowned upon to lick all of the remaining remnants of the sauce from the dipping cup.  I imagine that some people have even drank it like beer before.  It's that good.

I am not sure why I haven't attempted to try my hand at beer cheese sauce before.  Maybe because the stuff at Midnight Sun is so good that I figured I could never even come close?  I don't know.  Well, I gave it a shot last night to go with chili and my perfectly soft pretzel sticksSUCCESS!!!!  The beer cheese sauce was everything I wanted it to be--creamy, cheesy, tangy, bold, and packed with flavor.  Better yet, it took approximately five minutes to make.  By the end of the night, we were all lying on floor or dog bed making exclamations regarding belly explosions, too full to walk, bellies and mouths disagreeing, and more.  Although clearly a diet killer, it was worth it.

I will always love Midnight Sun's beer cheese sauce best, but only for nostalgic reasons.  As for taste, my beer cheese sauce is equally as good as theirs. 

Beer Cheese Sauce:
(This made a lot.  You could easily cut the recipe in half if you want.)
  • 24 ounces of amber beer (I used Fat Tire)
  • 4 cups of good quality grated sharp cheddar cheese (if you want a milder flavor, you can use a milder cheese)
  • 4ish tablespoons of flour (I am not really sure how much--I just stuck my hand in and grabbed)
  • 1ish tablespoons of dry ground mustard (you could leave this out....but it wouldn't be as good)
  • pinch of salt
  • a number of turns of fresh cracked pepper
  1. Pour the beer into a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  You'll need to watch carefully or it will grow into a frothy dome and overflow. 
  2. In the meantime, mix the flour with the cheese. 
  3. Once the beer is boiling, add the cheese/flour mixture.  Reduce the heat and stir constantly.  
  4. Once it reaches the perfect consistency (you will know when that is), add the mustard, salt, and pepper.  Taste and adjust if needed.
  5. Serve with chips, pretzels (hard or soft), veggies, or even mix it into your chili like we did.
  6. ENJOY!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Decadent chocolate.  Gooey caramel.  Crunchy nuts.  Hint of sea salt.  Mmmmmmm.  


I made these chocolate turtle cookies sometime in the dead of winter.  They were so good that I have been thinking about them for the past six months!  Not only are they gorgeous, but they are absolutely delicious.  They are certainly some of the best cookies I have ever made--and that's saying a lot from a girl that loves her cookies and all things chocolate.  This little beauties are show stoppers.  I can't wait for an excuse to make them again!  

On another note, the backlog of blog posts is quite extensive.  I am hoping to get back to posting once or twice a week.  I am hoping that this school year will be more balanced and that my sanity will be more stable.  :)  Thanks for hanging in there with me this year as I started my school administration journey.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies:
Adapted from a variety of recipes I found on Pinterest.

For the cookies...

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg, the egg white of an additional egg
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups of pecans, very finely chopped (i.e., in the food processor)

For the caramel filling...
(This is the same filling as in the pumpkin pie bites with salted caramel sauce.)

  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

To make the cookies...

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment on your mixer.
  4. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.  Mix.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.
  7. Whisk the egg whites in a shallow bowl until frothy.  Place the pecan bits in another shallow bowl.
  8. Roll the chilled dough into one-inch sized balls.  Then dip in the egg whites.  Finally dip in the pecans.
  9. Place the balls about two inches apart on a large baking sheet.  I then used the back of a measuring spoon to make the indentation in the center of the cookie, but you can use your thumb or whatever implement you see fit.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees until set, about 12 to 15 minutes.

To make the caramel filling...
  • Gather all of your ingredients and have them ready to add quickly. 
  • In a large non-stick skillet or sauce pan, heat the sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly.
  • Once the mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow the mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color.  Give it a final whisk or two.  
  • Once the mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add the butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. 
  • Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). 
  • Whisk until the mixture is smooth, which could take a couple of minutes. 
  • Allow the caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a ziploc bag.  

The final touches...

  • Snip off the tip of the ziploc bag and squeeze the caramel into the prepared indented cookies until the caramel is just below the rim of the cookie.
  • Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  • Enjoy and dazzle your friends!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Creamy Cheesy Corn Dip

Yummmm.  I am always looking for different dips to make for get togethers.  My go to favorite is my own tried and true Crack Dip that has feta, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and dill.  It is magical and I am sure you are tired of hearing me rave about how awesome it is.  My other favorite--that is now a favorite post on the blog--is The Jalapeno Popper Dip.  I wanted to expand the list of easy-but-crowd-pleaser dips and came upon this Inspired By Charm Corn Dip on Pinterest.  Winner!

It's creamy, cheesy, crunchy, and flavor-packed!  I love that it is versatile with spices, add-ins, and more.  My favorite part of the whole dish was the corn because of the subtle hint of sweetness it added.  Also, we all determined that the dip got better with age as the spices all married together.  We served it cold, but the resounding consensus was that it would be great hot too.

Overall, this is definitely a dip that will be making many an appearance at many BBQs, sports get togethers, and more.  Super tasty.

Creamy Cheesy Corn Dip:
Adapted from this recipe.
  • 3 (11 ounce) cans of sweet corn and diced peppers, drained
  • 1 (7 ounce can) of chopped green chilis, drained
  • 2 (4 ounce cans) of chopped jalapeno peppers, drained
  • 5 or 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 heaping cup of light sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • a dash of cayenne
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican blend
  • (a dollop or two of softened cream cheese would be great too)
  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cool and let sit for two hours or more (over night is best!)
  3. Serve with tortilla chips or cut up sourdough bread.  Also cut up veggies are great!
  4. ENJOY!