Beer Bread: Baking in the Spirit of Fall

 

Even though Oktoberfest celebrations around the world came to a close, we’re still inspired to raise our glasses to new ways to enjoy beer – in our bread! From afternoon tailgating to Halloween parties and fall festivals, we welcome beer’s rich malt in the fall, often accented by seasonal flavors like pumpkin or warm vanilla.

Whether you’re hosting your own fall gathering, or just want to get into the spirit of things, beer bread is incredibly tasty and easy.

Ingredients:

3 c. all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp. Clabber Girl Baking Powder
1/4 c. sugar (may substitute with 3 tbsp. honey)
12 oz. beer (your preference)
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan by lightly wiping with oil or spraying with non-stick spray.

2. In a medium bowl; combine the flour, sugar or honey, Clabber Girl Baking Powder, and salt. Add beer to bowl with dry mixture and stir just until combined.

3. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the middle is set.

That’s not a mistake; beer bread really is that simple. The beer’s yeast assists the baking powder in the leavening, so all you have to do is mix the ingredients and bake.

If you’re worried about alcohol content — don’t be! The alcohol evaporates during the baking process, making beer bread a fast and simple family-friendly seasonal side. And don’t be afraid to experiment. Try a pumpkin beer for an extra layer of savory flavor in every bite.

You can also try these Cheesy Beer Biscuits, made with tangy cheddar and hearty oats. And for those intrigued by the concept but don’t want to make beer the star, Herb Cheese Quick Bread includes enough to enhance the flavor without overpowering the herbs.

But don’t limit your brew to just bread. Even beer that’s gone flat can make a flavorful batter for your onion ring fix. Or try it in dessert! The richness of beer pairs well with these dark, chocolate brownies with buttercream frosting.

Cheers!

DIY Baking Mix

 

We can’t control what our family eats during the day. Sure, we can try, but the one real shot we have is when we all sit down at dinner for a healthy, happy home-cooked meal.

But who has time for that?

From your full-time hectic job to balancing homework and soccer practice, there is hardly time to take a breath, let alone cook a healthy dinner. It may seem far easier to throw some tube biscuits in the oven; however, with a little planning ahead of time, you can be the home-cooked dinner hero, bringing warm, delicious homemade bread straight to the table in minutes.

Baking mixes are an easy way to get bread to the table fast. In the grocery store, baking mixes come in little bags or boxes, some labeled with ingredients you can hardly pronounce. But it’s incredibly simple to create your own baking mixes at home. Start with this simple one:

Clabber Girl Basic Baking Mix

Ingredients:

9 c. all-purpose flour (may substitute up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour or your choice of bleached or unbleached flour)
1/3 c. Clabber Girl Baking Powder
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 c. shortening

Instructions:

In a large bowl combine flour, Clabber Girl Baking Powder, salt, cream of tartar, and sugar. Stir together until thoroughly combined. Cut shortening into mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. Place mix into a sealed container to be stored, in a dry place (plastic containers work fine).

Storage Tips:

  1. Place mix into a tightly sealed container in a dry place. Plastic containers work fine.
  2. Counter or cupboard: 3 months
  3. Refrigerator: 6 months
  4. Whole grain mix: store in a refrigerator to avoid spoiling.

This basic blend is the first step in creating a warm, relaxing kitchen, filled with Blackberry Oatmeal Bars, Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake and savory Garlic Cheddar Biscuits.

Click here for more recipes that use the basic baking mix!

Secrets to Using a Cast-Iron Skillet

Ingredients for cooking and empty cast iron skillet
Ingredients for cooking and empty cast iron skillet

Inexpensive and durable, naturally nonstick and nearly indestructible, cast-iron skillets are a kitchen essential.

They last for generations, so the same skillet that brought you grandma’s juicy fried chicken now helps you whip up a decadent Apple Pecan Skillet Cake. The best part? The more you use it, the better it gets.

Cast-irons season over time. The oils and flavors from everything that’s touched its surface help the skillet become naturally nonstick. Regularly seasoning your cast-iron skillet will keep it in prime condition to bake for years. Here’s a quick how-to:

1. Wash the skillet with warm water and a sponge or stiff brush. Only use soap if you’re preparing to season it. Otherwise, use only water!

2. Rinse and dry the skillet thoroughly, then coat it with a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening.

3. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Let the skillet cool completely, then store away.

Here are four ways you can put the cast-iron to work in your own kitchen.

Searing and Sautéing

Take advantage of cast-iron’s reputation for being stovetop and oven-friendly. Begin cooking dishes in the piping hot skillet on the stove, and finish the process in the oven.

Braising that Bursts with Flavor

Since cast-iron skillets heat evenly, and at a steady temperature, they’re perfect for braising meat or vegetables in stock and spices. Try this Braised Winter Vegetable Gratin as a comforting side dish.

Baking – Browned and Buttery

Because the surface of a cast-iron heats evenly and continuously, breads come out toasty and moist, while pies swell with rich, golden crusts. Baking with cast-iron creates sweet and savory dishes that everyone will enjoy. We love the rustic touch of Skillet Buttermilk Biscuits, slathered with warm honey butter. You could also pair a hearty stew with this Easy Mexican Cornbread or finish off a meal with this Blackberry Lime Cobbler.

Frying – The Golden Standard

With cast-iron’s steady, even heat, just an inch or so of oil is all it takes to conjure up some Home Made Corn Dogs or Fried Chicken Wings, two of the most delicious comfort recipes we know.

Using a cast-iron skillet with some of your favorite recipes can open a new world of flavor to your food. A cast-iron skillet that’s well-used and well-loved is more than a kitchen utensil – it’s a treasured family heirloom.

Fried Chicken Conquers Menus Worldwide

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Who knew that the “it” dish of the past few years would be served in the form of good, old-fashioned fried chicken? From major cities to small towns, from trendy gastropubs to mom-and-pop diners, menus worldwide are featuring some seriously creative combinations of this traditional southern fare.

Fried chicken has a unique history in the U.S. that goes back even before the Civil War. However, it was in the early 1900s that a special blend of herbs and spices revamped the popularity of the dish. It was then that Colonel Sanders, founder of the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, set his sights on franchising his recipe, putting the spotlight on this age-old comfort food.

While we never need a reason to celebrate food, we figure the Colonel’s birthday is the perfect time to celebrate this southern staple and try out some inventive and, of course, delicious, mouth-watering fried chicken recipes.

Branching out for the first time? Try Chicken and Biscuits: Fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits – comfort food doesn’t get much more comforting than that. Clabber Girl’s Good Ole Fried Chicken recipe is the perfect place to start. Since you already need buttermilk for that recipe, go ahead and pair it with our moist and flaky buttermilk biscuits.

Want something sweet and savory? Try Chicken & Waffles: You absolutely can’t go wrong — crunchy, juicy southern-style fried chicken, with just a hint of spice lingering on your tongue, and fresh baked waffles, all drizzled with warm maple syrup.

Focusing on the chicken? Get creative with the breading: Side dishes come and go, but fried chicken always remains. For many fried chicken connoisseurs, it’s all about the breading. Want to keep the sweet but ditch the doughnut? Pull out the graham crackers and cayenne pepper for Graham Cracker Fried Chicken.

Clearly, what fried chicken has done for food is what the little black dress has done for date night. It adds a layer of sophistication, without losing its original appeal. With a dash of creativity, you can create succulent versions of this spectacular fare right in your own kitchen!

Top 3 Biscuit Mistakes

Skillet-Biscuits-Full

It’s almost Sunday morning – time for biscuits! The mouth-watering smell of rising dough fills the house. Every second the aroma strengthens, enticing you to nibble on that flaky, buttery goodness. The timer goes off and you eagerly open the oven door, only to feel your mitt-clad hand lower and your mouth dry up. The dough is all spread out and hard as a rock, not to mention the burnt bottoms. Something obviously went wrong, but you followed the recipe to the letter. So what happened?

Even the best cooks have their moments. Environment and equipment play just as important of a role as ingredients and recipes. That’s why the baking experts here at Clabber Girl have come up with some clever solutions to the most common biscuit-baking mistakes.

1. I could build a house with my biscuits! They’re just too hard.

Overcooking or high oven temperatures yield brick-like biscuits that can appear to look just fine on the outside. Sometimes, using too many dry ingredients can harden the dough, too.

Solution: Lining your tray with parchment paper can help reduce the hardness. Also think about reducing the heat or cooking time. If this is a repeat offense, your oven is likely the culprit. Placing a thermometer inside will reveal if your oven needs calibrating. Try tweaking your process with these simple Skillet Buttermilk Biscuits.

2. My entire baking tray morphed into one giant, shallow biscuit. How do I keep my biscuits from spreading?

Using too much butter or hot baking trays can cause the dough to glide across the pan like molten lava. Overeager cooks too impatient to let the oven adequately preheat can also incur the dreaded biscuit spread.

Solution: Let the dough cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking and make sure your baking pan is cool or, at least, room temperature. Try your new techniques on these savory Cheddar and Chive Drop Biscuits, the perfect companion for soup night. If your biscuits still spread, try substituting half the butter with shortening. They’ll have the same rich flavor, minus the soft spreading agent.

3. My biscuits have the perfect shimmer of light brown on top, but the bottoms are burnt to a crisp.

If your oven is too hot or you’ve placed the tray too close to the heating element, your biscuits can look golden on top, but black on the bottom.

Solution: If your oven doesn’t heat evenly, try turning the tray at the halfway point and also place it on the middle rack, not the bottom. Parchment paper can also help prevent burnt bottoms. Pick up a roll as you grab the ingredients for Clabber Girl’s incredible Smoked Bacon Biscuits.

Biscuits are a food that should make you just as happy baking as eating. Few things are as disappointing as a baking disaster. Making these few simple adjustments can turn your biscuit breakdown into a kitchen conquest!

Fresh Ideas for Fresh Herbs

lavendar

One of the things we love about summer is the abundance of fresh ingredients. Whether we visit the farmers’ market, or grow our own, nothing beats locally grown fruits, veggies, and herbs. Fresh herbs are a particular treat this time of year because they’re way more economical than buying a few small sprigs at the grocery store—like we had to do all winter—and they bring an intensity of flavor that simply screams summertime.

One of the most commonly used baking herbs is rosemary, and with good reason! The aroma of rosemary baked goods is enough to make us swoon, and the flavor of fresh rosemary in a savory bread is off-the-charts delicious. We combined chopped rosemary with a little lemon zest to make simple biscuits extra fresh this spring. You could also try Mani Niall’s recipe for Bacon, Gruyere and Rosemary Scones, a Clabber Girl favorite. It’s bacon, rosemary and cheese combined into golden wedges of bliss.

Chives are another summertime favorite. We love adding freshly snipped chives to some of our savory favorites like these Chive and Buttermilk Griddle Cakes. And the pretty purple blossoms make fantastic garnishes!

Though most often associated with Italian cooking, basil gives all kinds of dishes a fresh, summery flair. We love it in everything from bruschetta to pesto, but basil is also a great addition to obvious choices like focaccia, as well as these Herb Biscuits.

The rule of thumb for substituting fresh herbs in place of dried is to multiply the measurement of dried herbs by three. For instance, if the recipe calls for a tablespoon of dried basil, use three tablespoons of chopped fresh basil. But if you like your biscuits even more herby, then add a little extra! Or, double up the flavor by adding chopped fresh herbs to your butter.

Is your mouth watering yet? Same here. So make the most of the summer’s bounty of herbs!

Graduation Party Ideas on a Budget

graduation collage

If you’re anything like us, you have a handful of graduation announcements and open house invitations posted all over the refrigerator door. Maybe you have a high school graduate this year yourself! If you’re in need of graduation party ideas, no need to search high and low for the best tips to keep costs down. Give your grad a memorable send-off while keeping the budget in line with these tips:

Pool Your Resources

One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to have a combined graduation party. A duo or trio of grads can join forces to split the party budget—and make it more convenient for party-hopping guests. It’s win-win, and this strategy will give party planners leeway to splurge on some items while still staying within the budget.

Timing is Everything

Food is likely to be the single biggest expense when it comes to throwing a graduation party. Save money without looking like a cheapskate by scheduling your party outside of regular meal times. Instead of dinner, treat guests to trays of cookies or even better, a sundae bar where they can customize to their heart’s content with sprinkles, hot fudge or candy crumbles.

Location, Location, Location

Warm weather makes it easy to host a graduation bash right in your own yard. But if you don’t have the space, consider other budget-friendly options. Local parks, community centers and churches often have facilities available to rent for a reasonable fee. And a park location will often have built-in entertainment for younger guests, like playgrounds.

DIY Decorations

Staying on budget doesn’t have to mean boring decorations. Chances are one of the best decorating options is right at your fingertips: photos. Celebrate your grad’s achievement with plenty of pictures. Photos provide a focal point, and they encourage conversation among guests. Use framed prints as table decorations. Tie it all together with dollar store frames painted in school colors. Don’t forget to scour Pinterest for more great photo display ideas!

Save on Snacks

Instead of catering, feed the masses with homemade fare. Stretch meats like pulled pork by serving with slider buns. Fill crockpots with bite-size snacks like cocktail franks and meatballs. Fill up guests’ tummies with chips and dips. Rather than a buying a decorated cake, make cake pops or cupcakes iced in school colors. Provide guests with dessert-sized plates—they’ll look full with less.

Some of our favorite graduation party recipes:

Home Made Corn Dogs

Mini Biscuits with Shaved Ham

Key Lime Bars

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes