Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beer for...dessert?!

Yup. You read that title correctly.

Today's featured beer recipe is a dessert.

And it is absolutely delicious!

I am talking about Beer Apple Fritters. Or Apple Beer Fritters. Or Apple Fritters with Beer. (I don't know how it sounds best because honestly, beer just doesn't seem to fit any place you put it!)
Sidenote: Check out last week's post to get the scoop as to why I am so obsessed with cooking with beer :P

I think I should just get on with the recipe rather than continuing on with my ramblings about beer...

Beer Apple Fritters (Click here for the original recipe)

12 ounces amber ale (I used Alexander Keith's and I think it turned out just fine)
1 1/2 cups white all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup peanut oil*
1/4 cup grapeseed oil*
2 cups canola oil
8 large apples**, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/3" thick rings
Icing sugar and ground cinnamon

*I used 2 1/2 cups of Sunflower oil instead and it worked just fine. 
**I cut up my apples into small pieces before reading this part of the recipe so I just mixed them into the batter instead like a real fritter is. Again, this worked just fine. I will print the recipe for the original way but just know you can do it this way also!

1. In a large bowl, whisk together ale, flour, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter. Set aside. Prepare apples.
2. Blend the oils and fill pan or deep fryer to a depth of 2 inches. Heat to 360ºF or over medium-high heat.
3. Blot apple rings on a paper towel, then dip in batter to coat evenly. (Or blot then mix into batter.) Dip and fry in small batches, turning once to cook evenly. I found about a 1/3 cup of batter made a decent size donut if you are doing it my way. Skim the oil of any pieces of batter that fall off during cooking and add more as necessary, maintaining a 350º temperature.
4. Remove fritters from oil and drain for a few minutes on a platter lined with paper towel. Dust with cinnamon and icing sugar and serve warm.

Sounds so good, right?

The only thing I found is that the temperature of the oil is important. If it is too high, the outside will look brown and ready but the inside isn't quite cooked all the way. We found this out the hard way, folks. And then it really does taste like beer. And that is no good in an apple fritter. But if they are cooked properly then they just taste like good, deep-fryed, donut shop deliciousness!

So be patient and cook longer at a lower temperature!

Finally, a picture:

I'm not even going to tell you how long these lasted in our house.

It definitely was longer than 2 hours.

Alright, it was a day. Maybe a day and a half.

But, come on, there's five of us here!

Ok, I know. Excuses, excuses! Maybe we should have invited some friends over to partake in the goodness with us...

Let me know if you give these a try! (And if you have more self-control than we did :P)

Next up....beer for breakfast. Ha ha ha it just gets better!

Have a great day!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cooking with Beer

As promised in the last post, I will be sharing recipes using up some beer we got for Christmas. (Click on the link to last week's post for more details!) Long story short, hubby received 6 cans of beer in our family Christmas draw. I wanted to just give them to somebody else that would actually drink it but I think he was just a little upset at the fact that he received beer and a glue gun and was not actually going away with something he really wanted! (You are all probably wondering what kind of Christmas we have that he would have received beer and a glue gun. We'll save that for another post, folks!)

Anyhoo...on with the recipes! (Just a quick note, these recipes are not my own, however I did adapt some of them. Original recipes can be found here.)

#1. Beer Cheese Soup (I made a double batch. Just cut in half for 4 servings.)

24 ounces beer (I used Alexander Keith's)
3 moose smokies (the original recipe calls for bacon. This is what I had on hand.)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced sweet red pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk (the original calls for half and half. Again, this is what I had on hand.)
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Open beer and let stand while dicing vegetables.
Cook whatever meat you are using and chop up into small pieces.
In a large pot, saute vegetables in 2 tbsp of olive oil or leftover bacon grease until soft. Add the chicken broth. Add 1/2 of the beer. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
Pour remaining beer into a small mixing bowl and whisk in flour. Gradually add to broth, stirring constantly, till thick. Add milk or cream, meat and cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I usually don't add salt and pepper right now but set it out on the table instead for each person to do to their own liking.)

Makes about 8 servings.

This soup was so good. I recommend using cream if you are able but even without this soup still had a nice creamy base. Definitely a nice warm you up, fill you up soup at the end of a cold winter day. Pair it with some fresh bread or buns from the oven and you have one delicious comfort food meal!

I will post the others throughout the week (I have four, people!) so be sure to check back in a couple of days to see the next one. I'll give you a hint - it's a delicious dessert! Or if you aren't already a follower, please check out the side bar and get these updates sent straight to your inbox!

Thanks for reading! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Update & Happy Friday!

Well, week one of becoming more disciplined is done...and it has been great! Here's how it went:

It started off a little slow. For the first couple of days it was mostly just about doing little things around the house. This worked out nicely since we had decided that the guest/storage room needed to be torn apart and reorganized earlier this month. (I say we because it was the hubby that really kept me motivated to keep going. Normally I would have taken one look at the room and just backed away closing the door behind me so I didn't have to see the mess. Just being honest here!)

Here's a mid-way picture:


As you can see, it was LITERALLY torn apart. We had so many baby clothes to go through since as they grew out of them they were pretty much just shoved into the first available cardboard box. So that was the first thing we tackled.  Now they are nicely organized by gender and size in storage containers. We then went through everything else and either got rid of it, put it in it's appropriate place in the house, or organized it in the closet. And this is what we now have:

The large pile of things in the corner of the room is the stuff we have gathered to get rid of as part of our 730 things challenge. The plan is to save it for a garage sale this summer. (Now just to make sure the kids don't discover any of it. I already took flak last week for throwing away memories!)

We are now also ready for company! (This is a not so subtle hint for family and out of town friends...)

Next up was the laundry room. (I realize that these aren't really little things that I was tackling this week but the point was that I just did little bits each day.)

Ugh. The laundry room.

It had just become the dumping ground for anything and everything. But, no more!

It's nothing glamorous but...ta da! Now I might actually feel like tackling the piles of laundry that are not so slowly growing upstairs. Hm. We'll see.

By the end of the week in the challenge I was to narrow down something that I really wanted to form into a habit. This was tough to choose JUST ONE to work on because right off the start I had a list of SEVEN things that I would like to be more disciplined in. I ended up choosing tidying the kitchen before going to bed because it seemed simple enough for me to manage to do without getting discouraged. And it was! But I changed my mind a couple days after because I had other things that I wanted so I could see more immediate results in myself, not just my house. Now my habit is waking up at 6:00 am to exercise and spend time with the Lord. This works out perfectly because I am able to listen to a podcast or audiobook while I honor God in my body through exercise. I realize I am only a couple days into this but so far (other than some mid-day tiredness) it has been really great and I feel really good!

Next week I'll be posting some recipes using...beer! What!? (For anybody reading this that knows us knows that we do not drink. However, we received a 6-pack of beer for Christmas through a random family draw and me becoming oh so frugal decided that I'm sure I could do something with it!) If you aren't already a follower, please consider it 'cause really, you know you don't want to miss it!

Seriously though, they were delicious.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Friday, 13 January 2012

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

I just got this new e-book called 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life (hence the title...) It is by Crystal Paine, author of the website Money Saving Mom. I have barely made a dent in searching around at all the different topics she has on there but from what I've read so far...it's a gooder, folks! And, really, who doesn't want to be a money saving mom? (Unless, of course, you are not a mom. Then maybe you just want to be a money saver...?)

When I look at my goals and resolutions for the year it pretty much all boils down to becoming more disciplined in the way I do life. (Losing weight...definitely needs more discipline, getting out of debt...probably even more discipline than losing weight, becoming more organized...yup, discipline.)

Anywho...the point of this post is to talk about what I am going to be doing over the next 21 days. So for the next little while I will update you on the challenge of the day and my progress in it all! Exciting, I know! So, today being day one...here goes!

Day 1: Choose one small project that you have been putting off for weeks (or months) and do it within the next 24 hours.

This was a tough one for me because I have many projects that I have started and not finished and probably even more on my to-do list. However, when I sat and thought about it for a few minutes I realized that in all reality most were not small projects (ie. clean and organize laundry room - HA HA HA!) So, I settled on one that has been put off for a good 4 - 5 (ok maybe 6) months - the kids coloring and craft stuff. Seriously, we have had coloring books out the ying yang people! Here is a before picture of the giant stack of would be art:

(I should have taken a before before picture of the 2 different places they were being stored but I didn't. And really this doesn't even look as bad as it was with papers strewn everywhere, but just trust me :)

Next I sorted through the stack and threw out anything that had coloring on it. (At which point I heard, "But mom! You're throwing away my memories!" Really? Note for future: Do this when children are not in the room.) I tore out pages and cleaned things up again so that they had fresh coloring books to start with. Then I put over half of what was left in a giveaway box (most likely to go on the "Free" table at the next garage sale or maybe to a doctor's office or something). This is what I ended up with:

Waaaaayyy better than before! And now when they go to color (which they can now) it's almost like they have brand new books to choose from! I didn't get a picture but I also sorted through the crayons, markers, pens, etc. and threw out any that were broken or had run out and then sorted into big ziploc bags to put in the drawers. Now everything is neat and tidy and ready to use!

Love it!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Week 1 (aka A Huge Pain!)

Well one week of no spending down, only 51 to go.

51 weeks.

357 days.

8568 hours.

Ok, ok I'm sure you get it. This week has been a long one.

It's not like I had great urges to go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money. What I found was the real challenge was really having to pay attention to every little detail. Let me explain.

Before, if I needed something from the store I would just say to hubs, "Hey, I need ________ from the store. Is that ok?" The answer was pretty much always yes unless he deemed it not a necessity. (What do you mean that magazines are not a necessity?!?)

Now, if I need something from the store I really need to think about whether it is a necessity. Ok, here's an example. Today, I wanted to do some baking for the week and we only have one egg in the fridge. Given that it's Sunday and only the convenience stores are open here that means that I would need to pay almost $5 for a dozen eggs. However, if I can wait until tomorrow then I could buy the eggs for about $2 less than that. Normally $2 wouldn't have made me think twice. I would have bought the eggs today because today was going to be my baking day. And that's that. But now, $2 is $2! So, I will have to wait until tomorrow and have that be my baking day instead.

Really this hasn't been complicated, just challenging the way we are used to doing things.

I am so thankful right now because things that I thought were so necessary for living I am realizing really aren't that important after all. I can't wait to see what the end of this year brings about in us as individuals and as a family. I am also looking forward to sharing all the little tidbits we learn over the course of this next year.

Have a happy week!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year!

I love the new year. It is always a chance to start fresh. Whether it's by giving last year's resolutions another shot or by just deciding that resolutions are overrated anyways and not making any at all! For me, I always make some kind of resolution and generally fail at it. I think because I tend to make them too specific and I don't really care enough to follow through. I think I actually used to think of them as wishes! (I WISH to lose weight this year...really I have little intentions on doing much about it!)

This year is different somehow. I don't really know what specifically happened but I can just tell that it is different. Hubs and I have actually made a plan and I have learned a lot and grown a lot in the Lord in 2011 that I just know that this year is different. That 2012 is a fresh start and a year to really make a change in my life/our lives.

So, here are my resolutions:

1. Simplify life. Pretty vague and general, I know. But this is just what I need. This is the phrase that has been ringing in my ears for months now and it is what I am going to hear as I get through this next year.  I don't really know what it means or how to make it more specific. It will mean most likely saying no to a lot more things. It will mean getting rid of a lot of clutter in our home. It will mean getting rid of a lot of clutter in my body. It will mean a lot of things so that in the end, life will be a lot more...simple.

2. Lose 60 pounds. Actually 59 (that sounds so much better!). Weight loss has been a wish resolution of mine for many, many years now but this is the year. God has really got ahold of me and shown me so much about myself. It is time for the weight to go. December 25th is my goal date. This is going to be a tough goal that I cannot slack on or leave for a few months to start. I have approximately 50 weeks to accomplish this, which means I have to lose just over 1 pound a week. Completely do-able, but I must stay on track. To hold me accountable, my weight as of this morning was 184 pounds. My goal is about 125 pounds. (Whenever you are reading this, please ask me how I'm doing!)

3. Grow with God. Another one that is pretty vague and general. I'll go into this subject further in future blog posts but as I mentioned above, God has done a huge work on my heart this past year and I am really looking forward to what is going to happen in 2012. My desire is just to really let God into my life. I feel like I have spent a lot of time getting to know Him, but not a lot of time letting Him get to know me. (Again, more on this in the future.) I am really just excited to be in the Lord this year. :)

Hubs and I also have given ourselves as a family a challenge. We are committing 2012 as a No Spend Year. *GASP* I know! I have this weird "I'm so excited yet so very afraid" feeling about it. (But mostly excited :) Basically what this challenge entitles is just no excess spending. What have a very specific budget laid out for us that will include the necessities only. Ok. The basics only. The only excessive thing we had to cut from our budget was the Netflix. (Hey, $8 a month is still $8!) We considered the cell phones and the long distance plan on our land line to be a necessity since majority of our phone calls are long distance and the cell phones enable us to communicate when hubby's at work. The main purposes of this challenge are 1. To develop self-control in our spending, and 2. To really kick off our debt snowball. (Yup, we are reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover...and loving it!)

(I also have some goals for the year that I would like to accomplish but that will be another day :)

What are your resolutions for 2012?