Cheese adventures

Riverwalk

Hi guys!

I know it’s been a while really since I’ve posted, and since I’ve updated you on what I’ve been up to! Life has been completely crazy, and I have had no time to blog or do anything other than run around in circles like a crazy person. I have been working for an amazing cheese company called Roth Cheese, which is currently the winner of the best cheese in the world for 2016 (first time since the 1980s an American company has held that honor). We spent 17 days in Texas during June on a PR tour, giving out blue cheese guacamole and cheese quesadillas to get our name out there. My favorite city in Texas was San Antonio. The River Walk was gorgeous, and I got to cross a few restaurants off my bucket list, like Hot Joy.

Crab fat caramel wings

I got back, had a few days in Madison, then it was off to Milwaukee for the Tour of America’s Dairyland cycling races!

July has been completely crazy, too. GT and I officially moved up our wedding, so we have less than 100 days until we tie the knot in October. We’re both really excited and a little terrified. Since I’m in active denial that I have too much to do, I’m going to leave you with a list of my favorite things in Texas and a couple cool pictures.

gordough's donut

My favorite restaurants in Texas

We ate a LOT of great food while in Texas. Our team visited Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Here are my favorite places, and the menu recommendations.

  1.  Barbaro, San Antonio. Amazing pizza and phosphates (old fashioned sodas). Get the carbonara and the kale/taleggio pizza with honey.
  2.  Hot Joy. Easily my most favorite restaurant on the whole trip. This San Antonio restaurant was featured in Bon Appetit for their crab fat caramel wings (pictured above) which were amazing, but also order the tater tot chaat, and the brisket dan dan noodles. Everything is good here. Drinks are also solid. The drink with the plum wine and scotch went down super smooth. 
  3. Rhea’s Ice Cream. This is in San Marcos, but I highly recommend you visit San Marcos anyway to go tubing on the river. They have a bunch of amazing ice creams but my favorite was the burnt caramel.
  4. Gordough’s Big Fat Doughnut Trailer. These Austin doughnuts (donuts?) are legendary. I got the Heavenly Hash, which has marshmallow, chocolate frosting, and brownie bits. Make no mistake: these doughnuts are the size of your head (pictured above). Bring a small army to share with.
  5. East Side King in Austin was amazing. Order one of the bento boxes to sample everything. The bao (steamed buns), brussels sprout salad, and karaage chicken are all mind-blowing, and the outdoor patio is super chill.
  6. Salt Lick BBQ. For real deal pit barbecue in Austin, Salt Lick is the only place to go. It’s a really cool, sprawling place, and the vineyards are gorgeous. Go, bring some beer, listen to the band, and stay a while.

That’s it for now. I’m off to Iowa next for a cheese conference (how cool is this job??)! Until next time!

-Kara

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

I am so excited to bring this recipe to you guys! My friend Kate Carley and I have teamed up to bring you this chocolate cake recipe, born right out of the pages of her new novel, Challenged. Kate is not only a phenomenal writer, she’s also a good friend, so when she came to me with the idea of an old-fashioned chocolate cake, I promised to deliver.

cakes in pan

Challenged takes place in the fictional town of Krysset, Minnesota, and follows two people, Sophie and Jackson. Sophie is a social worker who finds out her estranged grandfather has died and left her a resort in Krysset. She meets Jackson, her grandfather’s heir-apparent, who is non-too-thrilled that Sophie has showed up after years out of the picture. Without giving away anything else, it’s an excellent summer read, and I highly suggest you check out Kate’s book. What I can tell you is that in Krysset, there is a small bakery called Annie’s Bakery, known for their chocolate cake. That’s where this guy comes from.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

Coincidentally, my great-grandmother was named Annie and is known in the family for being an amazing baker. My grandmother and mother taught me how to bake and passed on the love of pastry and frosting to me. This chocolate cake is tender, oh-so-chocolatey, and too easy to eat. When I sent GT back with some of this cake, his roommates told him that he needed to marry me for this cake!

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake 2

Make sure you check out Kate’s post over on Jonel’s website!

Old-fashioned chocolate cake 3

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Special equipment needed: 8 inch by 2 inch round cake pans

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup very hot fresh coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of your pans with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together and whisk until very well combined.
  2. In a second bowl, beat together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and oil, then add it to the dry ingredients. Pour the coffee over the batter and allow to sit for 15-30 seconds, then stir, scraping the bottom of the bowl well. The ending batter will be very thin.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack completely before removing from the pan. Frost and serve.

Fudge Frosting

Adapted from Sweetapolita

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate

Directions

  1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  2. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Reduce to speed to low, and add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, water, sour cream, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Once the frosting looks whipped, it’s ready to use. This frosting works best at room temperature, but must be kept refrigerated, so don’t forget to put your cake and frosting in the fridge when you’re done decorating!

Madison, Houston, and Galveston

kona shave ice

Hey y’all! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve been off playing cheese intern on a truck and figuring out how to live in Wisconsin. For the next two weeks, I’m with the rest of the intern squad down in Texas, driving the truck around to give away samples. I’m so happy to be back cooking in a commercial kitchen and developing recipes. This whole post is basically going to be a photo blast. I’ve gotten to do everything from feed over 1500 people at a food truck festival in Madison, to take a cheesemaking course, to eat goat tacos in Houston. We’re heading to San Antonio and Austin next week, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Until then, enjoy these pictures!

grand cru

cheesemaking

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goat tacos

houston mural

It’s adventure time!

Minnehaha

Hey guys! You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Life has been really busy the last few weeks, and it’s about to get even busier. GT just graduated from college and is getting ready to move. I’m moving to Wisconsin to start my internship with an amazing cheese company (henceforth known in my posts as “The Big Cheese” company) in just a few days. Between it all, it’s been stripping my childhood bedroom, finishing my finals, saying goodbye to friends and family, and cramming in every last second errand that I can fit into my schedule. It’s unfortunate, but blogging has taken a back seat for the last few weeks.

There is however, good news! While I am going not going to be able to post a lot of recipes this summer, I will be doing some travel posts, since my internship will be taking me to food events (like the Food and Wine festival in Aspen, Colorado!!!!) all over the country. I’ll be writing about all my adventures aboard the food truck I’m working in, and, of course, the different foods I get to experience. Once I’m back home in September, recipes will start showing up again. Make sure to pop in and check out my adventures!

Love,

-Kara

Favorite Friday Things

Sushi burrito

It’s been a crazy week! GT and I signed on our first apartment, and I bought my wedding dress! It’s also pre-finals week, so I’ve been studying like crazy to get ready for my last finals ever. There hasn’t been time to make anything and post it, but I did have time to put up this week’s Friday things post! Check out what the rest of the internet has been up to!

Sarah made Japanese dirty tater tots! OMG, do these look good, or what?

Michelle put matcha in her egg creams.

Adrianna swirled together some buttery potato roses.

Sarah made these awesome 15 minute lazy Asian noodles, which is pretty much my go-to lunch when I’m starving and there’s nothing in the fridge.

Erica took inspiration from Turkey and made Cilbir (Turkish eggs), also known as the only way to get me to eat yogurt.

Outside of food, this BB-8 car charger is so dang cute! I’d love to have a little co-pilot with me when I drive.

Who doesn’t need a sushi shirt?

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Favorite Friday Things

Winona

GT and I are off doing adult-y things this weekend like apartment hunting and looking at the new town where we’re going to be living! It doesn’t feel real yet. It’s been a whirlwind, and I haven’t had too much time to post, but I did have a couple minutes to whip this post together. Take a peek at what other bloggers were up to this week!

I hate kale, but Jessica’s kale Caesar salad on pizza crust looks amazing!

Steph made tiny California sushi cones, and they are adorable!

Linda took some gorgeous flowering broccoli rabe and turned it into crostini with bagna cauda and burrata.

Heather created this gorgeous explosion of a birthday cake to celebrate the release of Tessa’s new book!

Deb made a batch of the perfect garlic bread and my carb-loving heart wants to try this ASAP.

Megan made a stunning hibiscus, lime, and mint spritzer that is perfect for spring/early summer.

Michelle also jumped in to help celebrate Tessa’s book with this beautiful chocolate earl grey london fog cake!

Outside of food, Minnesota has lost a legendary musician, and all of Minneapolis came out to mourn on Thursday night on First Ave. Even if you didn’t like his music, if you’re Minnesotan, you still grew up as a Prince fan. When I was driving down to Winona, all the radios were paying tribute to Prince by playing his music.

Currently obsessed with these tiny dessert pins from Urban Outfitters. So cute.

This bowtie is shaped like a taco! My brother G would die for this.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Favorite Friday Things

IMG_4713

It’s been a crazy week, and I have about five minutes to put this up so I’m going to say: check out these awesome posts from this week!

One of my first drinks was an amaretto sour, and Jessica’s amaretto bourbon punch sounds amazing.

Sarah made these glorious passionfruit cheesecake malasadas and since I can’t to go to Hawaii, these are the next best thing.

Rosie made a gorgeous chocolate glam rock cake and has fueled my late-in-life sprinkle obsession.

Danielle got her hands on some ramps and made pickled ramps with ramp butter and aleppo to celebrate spring.

Jen took inari and stuffed it with spicy ahi tuna and it’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in sushi.

Thalia baked some chocolate chip espresso kiss cookies with homemade chocolate kisses!!!

Michelle made a passionfruit curd pie that is beautiful and sunny.

Outside of food, Vans just came out with a Late Night Crew line and I want to buy the donut pair so bad!

I’m just starting to get into makeup (I bought myself the Naked 2 palette as a birthday present) and several of my friends have talked about how great this Smashbox primer oil is.

Back at it again with the Modcloth, but here is the world’s punniest lunch bag.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

PB&J Pullapart Bread (GF)

PB&J Pullapart bread

It’s the little things that count right now; the peace in the chaos that I can find at random moments. April has been a really busy month, and my life just got infinitely more crazed. GT just got a job, and that means that I will not be moving home after my internship. So, I’m in the process of packing to move for my internship, and packing away my childhood bedroom, on top of finishing all my homework and beginning to study for finals. Free time doesn’t really happen any more. There’s packing to do, homework to finish, wedding planning to worry about, and errands to run. I had an hour today, one blissful hour of free time where I didn’t have any obligations. So I baked. It is one of the last times I’ll get the chance to roll dough out in my mother’s kitchen; to use her green marble rolling pin. To bake for my brother and hear his excitement over something I whipped up. It’s bittersweet.

pb & j

G has always loved peanut butter and jelly, ever since he was little. When he was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, it meant that all of his beloved jellies and jams had to go away, since the sugar and pectin were making him sick. My family has never been one to can things, but I starting making quick jams after his diagnosis. Just fruit, a little cane sugar, some lemon juice. Squash the berries and simmer until jammy and dribbling off the spoon. Let it cool, and smear on toast or fill a cake. It helped make up for the loss of so many things. This peanut butter and jelly pullapart bread might not be able to make up for me leaving, but it’s at least a start. 

PB&J Pullapart Bread 2

PB&J Pullapart Bread 3

PB& J Pullapart Bread

For the dough

2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Pillsbury)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes, very cold

¾ cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, ice cold, plus more for brushing

For the jam

1 pint fresh blackberries

½ cup natural cane sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp sea salt

Splash of vanilla

For assembly

Biscuit dough

Jam

Smooth peanut butter

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  For the dough, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Using a food processor or pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the mix resembles cornmeal. Pour in the milk and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Roll the dough out in between two sheets of floured parchment paper. Cut the dough into even squares.
  2. For the jam, combine all ingredients together in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and turn on medium heat. Squash the berries with your spoon. Cook until thick and jammy. Let cool before using.
  3. To assemble, alternate dolloping about a tablespoon of peanut butter and jam on each square, then stack horizontally in a parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Brush with a tablespoon or two of buttermilk. Bake at 375° F for 35-45 minutes until lightly brown.

Favorite Friday Things

Sugar Loaf in spring

Hey guys! It’s been quite the eventful week! GT and I finally set a date for our wedding (and I went back and LOL’ed at my old posts about how we’d wait until May to touch wedding planning), and picked a venue, so both sets of parents are happy we’ve finally decided on when we’re getting hitched. I tried on a ton of wedding dresses, and my mom put me in the world’s prettiest ballgown that made me look like Cinderella, but could also stand up by itself. My sister-in-law-to-be also just turned 17, so I made her the birthday pie to end all birthday pies to celebrate. The weekend should be nice and relaxing, but I just remembered I need to start packing to move for my internship, so maybe not! I’m not the only one who’s had a busy week. Check out what my fellow bloggers have been doing!

Mandy teaches us all the correct way to cook in a hotel room with this Cantonese porchetta sandwich.

Sarah made one of my favorite take-out dishes, dan dan noodles!

Betty whipped up these amazing kimchi ahi poke bowls and I’m in love.

Karen baked a pb & j bread pudding that GT would die for.

Michelle made a cake out of chocolate chip pancakes and be still, my breakfast loving heart.

Thalia created the prettiest white chocolates you’ve ever seen.

Alana churned out this incredible coffee halva chocolate chip ice cream.

Posie made these adorable mac and cheese muffins.

Outside of food, I tried on a lot of wedding dresses this week. If you’re ever looking for a place with good prices that will treat you like a princess, check out The Wedding Shoppe in St. Paul. They’re awesome and their dresses are unbelievably beautiful.

I need to buy myself a travel jewelry case, and this envelope organizer is too cute! Gee, you can’t tell I’m obsessed with Modcloth at all, can you?

 Finally, this sweet little guy was rescued by firefighters and received an appropriate name.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Food of the Gods (Bacon Jam)

Bacon Jam

I have to admit to you right off the bat that these photos are crap, but they’re all I’ve got since I was too busy trying to cram as much bacon jam into my mouth as I could possibly fit. I’d also intended to make some gluten free buttermilk biscuits to go along with this recipe, but that plan went out the window as soon as I took my first taste.

Bacon Jam 2

It’s like my eyes opened for the first time and I could see in color. Everything in my life has been pointless up until now, because I haven’t been making and eating this bacon jam. The food of the gods wasn’t ambrosia, it was this delicious porky spread, probably eaten on whatever they could spread it on. Honestly, I would eat a flip flop if you smeared some of this stuff on it. Half the batch ended up in my stomach in less than 10 minutes, and I can’t be bothered to feel the slightest bit of shame about it. Seriously, it’s that good. You need to go make this right this second. It takes an hour, start to finish, and requires chopping. That’s it. Why are you still standing here? Go! Make the bacon jam, and spread the gospel!

Bacon Jam 3

Bacon Jam

Adapted from Wild Greens and Sardines
1 pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into thin strips
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
¼ cup dark coconut sugar

¼ cup grade A pure maple syrup
1/4 rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup freshly brewed (strong) coffee

½ cup water
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet, 10 to 12 minutes, until it starts to crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to drain the bacon fat), add the shallots and sauté 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the syrup, sugar, vinegar, coffee, water, and bacon. Add in the cayenne, garlic powder and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, 50 to 60 minutes, until the onions are well caramelized. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little more water.

Cool and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse a few times until thick and chunky. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.