Tailgating with Cheese

5 May

Tailgating, er I mean baseball season is well underway. And that means grilling out, coolers full of beer, and hanging out with friends in a massive parking lot. Don’t get stuck in a tailgate rut – whip up these recipes for a cheesy, successful tailgate experience all summer long! Head over to the Wisconsin Cheese Mart blog for these recipes and more.

Tailgating with Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Jalapeno Popper Pasta Salad

Tailgating with Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I don’t know about your city, but Milwaukee is filled with sports bars. Almost every corner has a neighborhood sports bar, with tap lines, bar food, tons of TVs, and memorabilia from every possible local team you can think of. Most bar menus are packed with deep fried foods, burgers, fries, and pizza – certainly nothing meant for tailgating. Which is why I created a pasta salad version of jalapeno poppers! This salad is overflowing with the spice of jalapenos, which are included in three ways: sautéed, fresh, and within this delicious Monterrey Jack jalapeno cheese. What’s more: this is so easy to make the night before you head out tailgating, and the flavor will only intensify overnight! It’s the perfect side to whatever you throw on the grill.

Beer Cheddar Dip

Tailgating with Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Traditional beer cheese dip is delicious, but also gooey, hot, and messy. Not exactly tailgate-friendly. But the flavors sure are! This take on the classic brings out the taste of the beer and increases the amount of cheese. Take the time to reduce down a bottle of beer on the stove – it makes all the difference in this dip, as the flavor remains but the liquid evaporates. Add an entire block of sharp cheddar, and your tailgate party clamoring for more. It’s great with pretzels, raw veggies, or to spread on a bun for your grilled eats!

Sausage-Mozzarella Rollups

Tailgating with Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

These cute rollups are reminiscent of baseball bats, as slices of summer sausage get rolled around smoked mozzarella sticks. This goes out to all my meat-eating friends. Vegetarians, enjoy this smoked mozzarella on its own, it’s so flavorful!

Oatmeal, Almond & Cranberry White Cheddar Cookies

Tailgating with Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I usually opt to bring something sweet to a tailgate party, because one can only eat so many grilled foods. These treats are like oatmeal raisin cookies to the extreme. They’re packed with oats (so they’re obviously healthy), chopped almonds for crunch, and cranberry white cheddar cheese. Yep! Cheese IN cookies! An entire block of cranberry white cheddar is chopped up and folded in, as you would do with raisins or chocolate chips. This sweet-salty cheese lends the perfect flavor profile to a cookie for tailgating. It’ll go great with that cold can of beer you just cracked open, and travels nicely with no mess. Make a batch and knock it out of the park with these sweet treats!

Tailgating with Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Chris and I enjoying the first Brewers game of this season!

Belgian Ale Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 May

The word is getting out! Yep – I love to bake, and it’s even more fun when those baked goods are packed with booze😉 This past weekend, my friend recommended my cupcakes for a joint bachelorette & birthday party. The bride-to-be wanted to surprise her sister, who was celebrating a birthday, with beer-infused cupcakes.

As soon as I learned that the birthday girl’s favorite beer is the Belgian Tripel style, I knew what I had to do: bake La Fin Du Monde into a cupcake and smother it with creamy, dreamy dark chocolate ganache frosting and a sprinkling of pink sea salt. For the non-beer lovers out there, La Fin Du Monde is a Belgian ale from Canadian brewery Unibroue. It’s effervescent, sweet, banana-y, clove-y and rather high in alcohol content. Certainly an obvious choice to bake into, and soak onto, cupcakes!

Belgian Ale Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

With that flavor profile in mind, I packed these treats with fresh bananas and ground clove. I view the frosting almost as a pairing – like what you’d get at a good beer bar. And what goes better with banana than dark chocolate? So of course, I had to frost these cakes with my simple yet indulgent dark chocolate ganache frosting. Whipped to perfection, this frosting is piped on and sprinkled lightly with sea salt, to bring out the natural sweetness of the chocolate.

Belgian Ale Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The end result? Let’s just say I could SMELL the beer in these goodies as they baked in the oven. The cakes are sweet, with hints of banana and clove, and you can absolutely taste the inclusion of the beer. Especially because I employ the “poke and soak” method post-baking: poke each cupcake with a skewer or chopstick and soak 1/2 tsp beer right on top. It really provides that extra punch, which is just to die for. Which is good, considering that La Fin Du Monde is French for “end of the world.”

Buy a bottle of Belgian ale, bake these cupcakes, and impress everyone at your next party!

Belgian Ale Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

  • 1-1/4 C heavy whipping cream
  • 15 oz dark baking chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp flaked sea salt

Heat heavy cream in a pan on medium heat until it comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped baking chocolate until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

Transfer the chocolate to the bowl of your stand mixer and allow to cool in the refrigerator for one hour. Bake the cupcakes while this chills.

Belgian Ale Banana Cupcakes:

  • ¾ C butter, room temperature
  • 1 C white sugar
  • ¾ C brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C La Fin du Monde Belgian Tripel beer + more to soak
  • ¼ C milk
  • 2 medium bananas

Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with paper liners.

Beat butter with sugars until creamy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground clove.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs with vanilla, beer, milk, and mashed bananas.

Alternate adding the dry and the wet ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Beat until just combined.

Scoop batter into 24 lined muffin tins.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 18-23 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through baking. Let cool completely before frosting. TIP: speed this up by popping the cupcakes, still in the baking tins, straight into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Poke four holes into the top of each cupcake using a skewer or chopstick. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon additional beer on top and allow to soak in.

While the cupcakes cool and soak, whip up the ganache frosting.

Use the paddle attachment with your stand mixer and beat the ganache for 5 minutes on medium speed, or until it starts to create stiff peaks. Scoop the whipped ganache into a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing 30 minutes out of the fridge before enjoying.

Belgian Ale Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Spent Grain Waffles with Chocolate Clementine Sauce

2 May

I just love waffles on the weekend. A lazy Sunday morning is the perfect time to bust out the waffle iron, whip up a delicious batter while coffee brews, and enjoy a filling breakfast in plush robes and slippers on the couch. Ok, that’s not the reality for us every weekend, but when those rare days come around with nothing significant planned, I take full advantage and go all out.

Spent Grain Waffles with Chocolate Clementine Sauce | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This waffle recipe goes to the extreme, using spent grain flour. For the non-brewers reading this, spent grain is the leftover grain from brewing beer. It can be made up of any variety of wheat, barley, oats, and more. Homebrewing leaves you with several pounds of spent grain, which is perfectly edible. And in an effort to reduce food waste, I took some spent grain, dried it in a low-heat oven, and then ground it as finely as I could in my food processor. The result is a course flour with a TON of flavor, and just a hint of beer taste. Note, you can totally use ground oat flour in place of the spent grain flour if you’re not a homebrewer.

Spent Grain Waffles with Chocolate Clementine Sauce | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

These flavorful waffles are topped with a creamy chocolate clementine sauce, made completely vegan with avocado, cocoa powder, clementine juice, maple syrup and nondairy milk! It’s a delicious sauce for just about any dessert or even just fresh fruit! But let me tell you: it’s WAY better than plain old maple syrup on these waffles. Don’t skip this one:)

Spent Grain Waffles with Chocolate Clementine Sauce | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Speaking of things not to skip, it’s almost time for Star Wars Day!! If you didn’t know, May 4 is officially Star Wars day because of a pun. And I LOVE puns…it’s May the Fourth. Get it? Like, “May the Force be with you.”:) Yep, I’m a huge nerd, and this means there’s a themed virtual run!! Level Up Virtual Runs is hosting a May the Fourth Be With You run – you pick the distance, run it when & wherever you want, and then log your time on their website. AND you get this super adorable BB8 medal – everyone should have a BB8, ’cause he’s just so darn useful! Register today and use the code SAVE10 for 10% off the price. And when you tweet and share on Facebook, you can get an additional $1 off registration for each social media action!

may medal

So basically, make some waffles, register for the Star Wars run, and get out there! Let the spent grain fuel your run for the Rebels:)

Spent Grain Waffles with Chocolate Clementine Sauce, adapted from The Pretty Bee

Makes 6 waffles

  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C spent grain flour
  • 1/3 C coconut sugar (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 1-3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-1/2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt (dairy or nondairy)
  • 1-3/4 C water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Chocolate Clementine Sauce

  • 1/2 medium avocado (could sub 1/2 cup of ripe mashed banana)
  • Juice of 1 clementine
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 3 tbsp nondairy milk

Preheat your waffle iron.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk in the water, melted coconut oil, yogurt, and lemon juice. Let sit 5 minutes to hydrate the flours.

Spray the hot waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop 1/2 cup of batter into the center. Press down the lid and cook about 3 minutes. The waffle is done when the exterior is crispy, which you’ll hear when you tap with a fork. Transfer the cooked waffle to a cooling rack – this will ensure the waffles stay crispy on the outside, rather than becoming soggy on a plate from residual steam.

Repeat the process with the remaining batter. You should yield 6 waffles.

While cooking the waffles, make the sauce:

In a blender or mini food processor, combine all the sauce ingredients. Puree until smooth. Add more milk to reach desired consistency. Transfer to a small bowl or ramekin.

Serve the waffles warm and drizzle with the chocolate clementine sauce. Let any leftover waffles cool completely before storing in a freezer-lock bag in the fridge or freezer. Extra sauce should also be kept in the fridge in an airtight container.

Spent Grain Waffles with Chocolate Clementine Sauce | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Linking up with Running on Happy & The Fit Foodie Mama, and Confessions of a Mother Runner & A Whisk and Two Forks for #MeatlessMonday!

Chipotle-Pumpkin Vegan Quesadillas

29 Apr

As much as I LOVE cheese, it has its time and place. Following last night’s run, all I wanted was a hearty, healthy, low fat, and quick dinner. I always keep multigrain tortillas stocked in the fridge, just like I keep canned pumpkin puree in the pantry. This base got my creative juices running WHILE I was running. Quesadillas are simple meal that’s easy to whip up when I’m sweaty and only thinking about a shower.

Chipotle-Pumpkin Vegan Quesadillas | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

To add some heat and flavor, I blend chipotle peppers with the pumpkin. This still needed a filling and a dose of protein, so I saute an onion with peas. The final product is a delicious, flavorful quesadilla that’s packed with complex carbs, potassium, protein and healthy fats. Make this the next time you need to refuel, or just want to get a quick dinner on the table for your family. This would pair nicely with any kind of salad, or even just sliced fresh vegetables!

Chipotle-Pumpkin Vegan Quesadillas

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1.5 C frozen green peas
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 4 10″ multigrain tortillas
  • sea salt, to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook the sliced onion and peas together, 5-7 minutes. You’re going for a slight char on the onion to provide flavor.

In the meantime, puree the pumpkin with the chipotle peppers in a food processor, scraping down the sides as necessary. NOTE: use more or fewer chipotle peppers depending on your spice preferences!

Once the onions & peas are cooked, transfer them to a bowl. Spread 1/4 of the pumpkin mix onto the surface of two tortillas. Top one with half of the onion mixture and sandwich the other tortilla on top. Spray the same skillet with PAM or melt more coconut oil – heat over medium-high again. Cook the quesadilla 2-3 minutes on each side; transfer to a plate, sprinkle with sea salt, and repeat the process with the other two tortillas and the rest of the mixes.

Slice each quesadilla into four quarters, serving two quarters to everyone. Enjoy hot!

Chipotle-Pumpkin Vegan Quesadillas | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Tahini-Honey Flourless Brownies

28 Apr

My office is almost always abundant with treats and snacks. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, a holiday, or a big team meeting, the temptation is rampant and usually difficult to resist. So when my manager asked what she could bring to a two-hour long team meeting this week, I quickly volunteered to bring a pan of brownies – healthy, whole food brownies that I knew everyone would love, and I wouldn’t feel guilty enjoying!

Tahini-Honey Flourless Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

These brownies are based on my flourless peanut butter swirl brownies – a recipe I’ve made frequently because they’re so darn good. This updated version uses half the sugar and is swirled with a mixture of tahini and honey. The result is an insanely fudgy brownie, with the nutty-sweet flavor of the tahini-honey swirl. I promise, no one will know they’re healthy, they’ll just know they will want more than one!

Tahini-Honey Flourless Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Tahini-Honey Flourless Brownies, adapted from this recipe

Makes 16 brownies

  • 1/4 C nondairy or skim milk
  • 3/4 C nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg or flax egg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C old-fashioned rolled oats (uncooked!)
  • 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 C tahini, stirred well
  • ¼ C honey or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8×8 inch pan with PAM.

In the jug of your blender, first add the liquid ingredients, and then the dry ingredients, but leave out the tahini and honey (this is for the swirl on top). Blend until completely smooth – you may have to scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula once or twice.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan – the batter will be thin. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the tahini and honey and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well and drizzle over the batter. Use a knife to create a marbled effect.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove to a cooling rack to let the pan cool down. DO NOT cut them yet! You must let these chill in the fridge at least a few hours or overnight before slicing into 16 brownies. Serve and enjoy!

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