Archive | February, 2012

The DIY Life: Bacon Vodka

28 Feb

Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. It does in fact say “Bacon Vodka”. Infusing vodkas is a fabulous way to switch up the flavor of a drink and make it all your own. Why buy fancy infused vodkas when you can do it yourself?

Onto bacon infused vodka. Why bacon vodka you ask? Because I think it will be totally delicious in a bloody mary. That smokey flavor from the bacon. Mmm.

I searched the internet long and hard and the length of time to leave the bacon in your vodka as well as the amount of bacon was all over the place. So I collected the totals and did my own version. Sure, you can buy bacon flavored vodka, but it’s just artificial flavoring. Meh. I’ll stick with real deal flavoring.

What you will need:

1 clean quart mason jar along with the ring and lid

3 pieces COOKED bacon

vodka to cover the bacon and fill the jar

3 weeks

Place the cooked bacon in the clean mason jar – I used the precooked kind because it was just easier. Fill the jar with plain vodka of your choice. I used the brand you see in the photo. It was on sale for $10 a bottle. Top with a lid and screw band, shake it up, and stick in in a dark place for 3 weeks. Yes, 3 weeks out of the fridge. The vodka will essentially pickle the bacon so it’s safe. I stuck my jar in the cupboard that holds my drinking glasses and would shake it when I went to put away clean glasses. Now, just a warning. It looks gross as it goes through the infusing stage. Really gross when you shake it. But not to worry. All the gross will filter out.

^^^^bacon soaking in vodka. oh joy!

After 3 weeks, put your jar in the freezer. Once all the fat has had a chance to firm up, strain the vodka through a coffee filter into another clean jar. You can also use cheese cloth, but you will need to most likely strain it more than once. You want the vodka to be clear of any floating stuff and oils.

Now you’re ready to get your drink on. Bloody Mary anyone? I used my bacon infused vodka in my favorite bloody mary mix -Zing Zang brand. And it was amazing!

Strained and clear bacon vodka...look at that golden hue!

A celery stick and a crispy piece of bacon for garnish. Bliss.

Bagels!

20 Feb

Chewy inside, crispy outside, with a swipe of cream cheese getting all melty from the heat. Oh yes. Bagels. But not just any bagels, HOMEMADE bagels! Homemade bagels that are quick and easy to make. Yes, I had to eat one right out of the oven. I was just making sure they were edible of course.

These also are great from the freezer. I sliced them from side to side, leaving a little bit unsliced in the center of the bagel to keep the two halves together. You’ll want to do this prior to freezing so they can be easily popped into the toaster. If you are anything like me and like bagels as much as I do, make a double batch, and freeze half of them. It’ll be like Christmas morning all over again.

Bagels
yields 8 bagels
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  With mixer on low, slowly add the water.  Continue to mix until the dough comes together, about 4-6 minutes.  Swap the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead on medium-high until dough is smooth, about 8-10 minutes.   take dough out of the bowl, spray down the bowl with nonstick cooking spray or gently wipe in olive oil and add dough ball back. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size in a warm place.
Punch down the dough and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425º F and bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce it to a simmer.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces.  Roll dough into balls, rolling the balls between your palm and the work surface, until the are smooth.
Poke your finger through the center of the ball creating a ring.  Twirl the ring around the index of one hand and the thumb of the other, stretching the dough and widening the hole to about 1/3 of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat and cover with a towel, letting them rest for 10 minutes.
Gently lower the bagels into the water in batches, 4 bagels at a time. Boil uncovered for about 1 minute on each side.  Using a skimmer, remove the bagels from the pot, shaking to drain any excess water – return to the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container to preserve freshness.

Are you an english muffin addict? Try english muffin BREAD!

14 Feb

Ah, the english muffin. The nooks. The crannies. That chewy soft interior with the crunchy exterior. Now, in walks english muffins, in bread form. There aren’t any nooks. Or crannies in the bread. But it’s totally ok. Trust me. Butter and jelly melt into this bread after you toast it. It’s bliss. It’s great at breakfast. It’s also great to have as a sandwich bread for egg salad or turkey. Or grilled cheese. Ya, it’s that good. Now, this is not full size pieces of bread like a sandwich loaf – it’s more half a piece of bread. So 2 pieces = 1 piece of bread.

It freezes fantastically. I always freeze one loaf after it cools since it takes us a few days to eat the first loaf. Store in a sealed container on the counter for 4 days, or in the fridge for one week. If it lasts that long.

English Muffin Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk ( I used Dean’s Skim Choice)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • cornmeal for sprinkling bread pans

Directions

  1. Heath the milk and water in a small saucepan until it reaches 125 degrees. Lightly grease two loaf pans. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom of the pan, shaking out any excess.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda. Stir the heated milk and water into the flour mixture, stirring until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time (last addition being 1/2 cup), until a batter like dough is formed. Divide dough in half, shaping it into prepared pans. Spray top of bread with cooking spray then loosely place a piece of saran wrap over the pans. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from pans and cool.

Yes, I ate a piece at night with some homemade strawberry jam. and butter. it was divine!

Late night jam session....

The DIY Life: Vanilla Extract

8 Feb

I know that you all probably know how to make your own vanilla extract, but I feel the need to share it anyway. Just in case someone doesn’t know how.

It’s pretty simple, and also very affordable. You may shell out more cost up front purchasing the vanilla beans, but over the long run? Cheaper than purchasing in the store. And you control it! I purchased my vanilla beans in bulk – from eBay! eBay is a great resource for  things that you would otherwise spend a ton of money on! I paid $10 with shipping for 50 Madagascar vanilla beans. It would have cost me to same price to get just 3 vanilla beans from the grocery store. On sale! Now I can make vanilla extract whenever I need to – as well as vanilla bean scones, vanilla bean whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream…you get what I’m saying! We even add a vanilla bean to some of our beer recipes to give them even more flavor. At $0.20 per bean, we can afford to put them in everything!

Another idea: Make up a bunch of them and give them out as gifts!

You don’t have to use a crazy expensive vodka – I used Svedka because it’s what I had. Buy whatever is on sale, whatever your fave is, or the $5.99 bottle at the bottom of the shelf. Just don’t feel like you have to use $50 a bottle vodka.

You will need:

1 jelly jar

3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

vodka or rum

Put your split vanilla beans into your mason jar, top with vodka or rum and seal with a lid and screw band.

Let sit in a dark place for 1 month, shaking the jar at least once per week. If using vodka or light rum, you will know your vanilla is ready when it’s a warm brown. Used dark rum? It’s ready when the rum is nice and dark, similar to a weak coffee.

You can choose to remove your vanilla beans when your mixture is the color you want it to be. I leave mine in so that it continues to flavor it. Use as you would store-bought vanilla.

This is what the vanilla will look like after you have let it sit. Like I said, I kept my vanilla beans in my vanilla but feel free to remove them. They will continue to infuse the vodka until they have nothing left to give.