Mantry Unboxing: Bourbon Breakfast + November Favorites

So I missed posting about my favorites from the October Mantry box, GQ: How to Entertain in Style, but looking back, I don’t think it was as much “I forgot” as it was “I wasn’t that impressed.” The salami was good, as most cured meats are, and the chocolate “salami” was as tasty as it was an interesting concept but nothing really hit right-on for me. Thankfully our November Mantry box, Leftovers, was different and I want to share some of the things I enjoyed most:

  • Good News Cashews and Coconut Granola by Hudson Henry Baking, Co.
    Just before starting on this blog post I ate about a handful and a half of this stuff. Something about granola makes me think it’s going to be a terrible snack but if you can look past how messy it can be if you eat it by itself, it’s really not. I paired it this morning with a bit of blueberry Yoplait Light yogurt. The bag it’s delivered in is sizable – probably one of the most impressively large items I’ve had delivered via Mantry, and the flavor it provides is not lacking in either the cashew or coconut categories it draws its name from. Fresh and crunchy, this is some A+ granola!
    Buy it Here

  • Maplewood Smoked Bacon by Broadbent’s
    This was the first thing I tore into upon receipt of the box. The bacon is thick-cut and fries up beautifully. I added nothing to it or the pan aside from some fresh-cracked black pepper and even it wasn’t necessary. Mine and Erin’s tastebuds were assaulted with the strong, salty flavor you’d expect from country ham with a texture that was much thicker and sort-of chewier than your average bacon. There’s very little grease when you fry it up, likely because of how it’s cured, so you feel like you’re getting a nice fatty protein without as much of the fatty part. I enjoyed this bacon so much I ordered some for my parents and for my sister and her husband for Christmas.
    Buy it Here

  • “Ragin’ Rooster” Sriracha Mustard by Green Mountain Mustard
    Last week I made up some hamburgers that were equal parts lean ground beef and breakfast sausage. With a side of hand-cut cheese fries, the burgers didn’t need anything extra to assist with flavor but the addition of this Sriracha Mustard was a wise one. The mustard was a nice flavor compliment to the spice in the sausage while the Sriracha aspect provided a spicier “kick” while also adding a hint of sweetness that you don’t normally find in your average hamburger. We were both big fans of this one!
    Buy it Here

  • Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles by Brooklyn Brine
    Also going on the aforementioned sausage burger, these Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles stood well against the strong flavors of the sausage and Sriracha mustard, allowing for an even fuller range of tastes that basically attacked the palate on every front. I’m not a huge pickle-eater but these pickles along with the tiny onions floating around with them brought forth a nice extra bit of spice (but not too much) and a sweetness to the table. Again, not a big pickle eater, but I think these would stand well even on their own, let alone a kick-ass burger.
    Buy it Here

I’m trying to keep up the practice of utilizing my newborn Pinterest account to maintain a list of the Mantry items I’ve reviewed. You can find that board here.

December’s Mantry crate’s theme is Bourbon Breakfast and aims to give us a legit reason to look forward to waking up in the morning, especially during these cold, dark winter mornings most folks are currently experiencing (I say most because it was 53 degrees on the way to the gym at 5:30am here in east Tennessee). So maybe it isn’t as cold here as it is other places and maybe I’m more of a morning person than most but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to enjoy some of these bourbon-infused and inspired breakfast delights in this month’s box! Let’s get going:

Going left to right:
Hazelnut Whiskey Cookies from Whimsy & Spice, Brooklyn, NY
Bacon Spread from Skillet Street Food, Seattle, WA
100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from The Syrup Shop, Burlington, VT
Hazelnut Pancake Mix from Freddy Guy Hazelnut Farm, Monmouth, OR
Bourbon Blueberry Jam from Jam Stand, Brooklyn, NY
Spicy Borsellino from La Quercia, Norwalk, IA

Saying I’m excited to get down on some of these breakfast goodies is an understatement. I struck out when I made these Pumpkin Chocolate Chai Protein Shakes from PaleOMG this morning – a little too bitter for my taste and, according to Erin via text message, adding honey doesn’t do it any favors. I do intend to give these another shot on Wednesday, though, and will be adding some things I think will make them taste better (and still keep it Paleo-esque) since serving them in our Butterbeer cups we picked up in Diagon Alley back in October apparently didn’t do the trick on its own!

Fingers crossed for good results from everything and tasty breakfasts!

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Cookie Dough Cupcakes, Man

I’ve inherited a lot of things from my mother – my love of shopping, my silly laughter, my even sillier sense of humor, my occasional vanity, my love for classic rock, Prince and Madonna – not least of all is my sweet tooth.

While my sweet tooth has been tame for the last couple of years, there’s no doubt that any time I’m presented with either an apple or a seven-layered chocolate cake I’m going to go with the cake. I’ve been known to dine lavishly on a three-course meal and then go for a slice of cookie cake at a local Great American Cookie Company. There’s donuts in the house? I think I’ll have one…two…all of them.

I was recently able to take some time off work and make it back to Kingsport for a few days to spend some time with mom and get a new tattoo (Will post later), so in honor of the event I thought I would bake up something special for us to chow down on before and after dinner.

My friend and occasional blog contributor (though she’s rarely aware of it) Allison shared with me her “Food” board on Pintrest a few weeks ago and I was drawn to one particular recipe that ended up being the perfect compliment to three days with mom: Cookie Dough Cupcakes.

These cupcakes are made with a nice Browned Butter Cupcake recipe and have tiny divots carved in to be filled with Eggless Cookie Dough, a great rendition of a treat everyone loves even when it’s technically unsafe to eat otherwise.

But these cupcakes didn’t stop there. No, no – they were then topped with a chocolate chip frosting. Dammit, man, let’s get to the process and photos!


Starting out with the cupcakes, I rounded up the ingredients*:

1) Butter
2) Flour**
3) Salt
4) Baking Powder
5) Baking Soda
6) Egg Whites
7) Sugar
8) Vanilla Extract
9) Milk

I began by browning the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. This didn’t take long as I was assembling other ingredients while the pan heated up and was very, very hot by the time I dropped the butter in. Within minutes the butter had melted down and had gone from bursting giant butter bubbles to very tiny bubbles with a distinctive brown color floating across the top. While browning the butter I mixed together all of the dry ingredients into a small bowl followed by all of the wet ingredients (save for the milk) in a large bowl. Once the butter had browned and cooled a little, I poured it in with the wet ingredients, then took turns alternately adding the dry ingredient mixture and the milk until everything was combined and formed a nice batter.

I lined a 12 cup muffin pan with liners and filled each roughly 3/4 full and baked about 20 minutes at 350*. Once removed, I used a paring knife to carve tiny holes in the center of each muffin and proceeded to eat all 12 remnants because I have no shame.


While the cupcakes were baking I rounded up the ingredients for the cookie dough*:

1) Milk
2) Salt
3) Flour**
4) Sugar
5) Chocolate Chips (I used Mini Semi-sweet)
6) Butter
7) Vanilla Extract
8) Brown Sugar

Making the cookie dough was one of the easiest parts of this process. One step: combine all ingredients and stir. Done.

One thing I did that ended up being a happy accident was adding my melted butter while it was hot – this made a lot of my chocolate chips melt which made my dough have a nice chocolatey appearance. This recipe makes quite a bit of dough, which is a good thing.

Once the cupcakes finished baking and the holes were cut out, I used a tablespoon to make round balls of cookie dough and dropped (well, actually sort of smashed) in the dough. For 12 cupcakes I used roughly half of the dough. I reserved one cup of dough for the frosting and the remainder went into a tupperware dish for late-night cookie dough attacks.

The final part was also surprisingly simple. I took the reserved cup of cookie dough and mixed with about a half cup of heavy cream until most of the dough was “spreadable” and creamy, then carefully topped the cupcakes with the frosting. This unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it) didn’t leave a lot left over. I sampled it and gave Erin a taste and just tossed the leftover, which was very, very little.


And that’s it – a little bit of effort, yes, but worth every minute of it. Mom was happy, I was happy, and we now have a small tub of raw cookie dough in the fridge – safe to eat, of course!

*Please see above link for recipe for exact measurements
**Recipe called for cake flour, I used all purpose and they came out fine

This is post 1 of my very first time participating in NaBloPoMo, a “Blog a Day” project for the month of November.

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This Week’s FN Recipes + a Bonus (10/13)

This Week’s FN Recipes 10/13

One of the best things about having a blog with relatively few followers is I can make some freaky changes without anyone really noticing (yesterday’s 1 viewer may have noticed the change in appearance – probably not). If you’re an email subscriber then you wouldn’t notice anyway and I appreciate you not deleting my posts right away, assuming you don’t.

Anyway, another change I’m hoping to try out here is to consolidate my weekly cooking into one post when I don’t document the steps in photo-form. A lot of people come to food blogs to learn how to make something new and I rarely ever explain how to actually make something so I’m hoping to at least be able to give folks ideas and point them in the direction they need to go in to get a tasty dinner on the table that night.

If I’ve not mentioned it before, for the last three weeks I have switched my weekly cooking menu to include mostly items from Food Network Magazine’s “Weeknight Cooking” section and surprisingly the items are usually fairly low in calories, high in tastiness and somehow friendly on the wallet as my grocery bill has gone down by about $30-$50 per week.

And here are those items I put together this week, plus a bonus:

Monday Night: Chicken Stroganoff: Food Network Magazine, October 2012
Recipe Here

This was a quick and simple recipe. Erin and I have always been suckers for Hamburger Helper’s Beef Stroganoff (subbing ground turkey for the beef and adding some mushrooms) so it’s always exciting to try making one of our boxed-favorites from the ground up. This sour cream / chicken broth based sauce was creamy and a great compliment to the mushrooms and chicken that fried in the same pan minutes before.

Tuesday Night: Brats with Sauerkraut Potato Cakes: Food Network Magazine, October, 2012
Recipe Here

Everyone loves bratwurst. Grilled, baked, fried, seared, whatever – it’s awesome. This recipe calls for pan-seared brats with nothing else fancy going on. Simple. The surprise in this recipe is the potato cakes. Nearly equal parts grated potato and sauerkraut, I stood mixing together with some fresh chives and egg and spices wondering how these would turn out since they seemed to have barely enough potato to be considered a potato cake. Would a sauerkraut cake work? In the end, the combo was wonderful and paired well with the brats. The sauce was a nice addition, too, a simple combo of sour cream and spicy brown mustard.

Thursday Night: Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Peach Sauce & Green Beans: Food Network Magazine, April 2012
Recipe Here

We love pork chops – I’ve seared them, baked them and grilled them but never once have I dipped them in batter and fried them. These were a little bit of effort but was well worth it. The batter recipe creates a nice, biscuity outer layer to the chops that was soft on the inside and crisp on the pan-fried outside. My only gripe on this recipe is my own fault since I left the sauce alone for 30 seconds without whisking which is apparently just long enough to burn. Sauce was still good but came out a little more like molasses when the photo I saw looked more like sweet & sour sauce. I’d try this again.

Saturday Night: Sausage and Polenta Parmesan: Food Network Magazine, September 2012
Recipe Here

Last night’s dinner was probably my favorite this week. The spicy Italian sausage was super up against the chopped mushrooms and tomato sauce. This turned into a great meaty alternative to chicken or eggplant parmesan – I sliced some polenta and fried in some EVOO for a few minutes per side – done. My deviation from the recipe: This was supposed to be a one-skillet meal, frying the polenta, removing and adding the sauce ingredients, then adding the polenta again, layering on the cheese and then sliding in the oven. Instead, I assembled everything on a plate, added the polenta and cheese and slid the plate under the broiler. Extra step, yes, but your humble narrator doesn’t have an oven-safe skillet. Yet.

And here’s the bonus:

I’m sometimes afraid to bake anything to bring to work because a lot of folks are for some reason afraid to eat in front of each other. That’s a giant pet peeve of mine and it bothers me that I’m hesitant to bring baked goodies to work for fear of them not getting eaten. Sometimes I suck it up, though, and good things happen. After dinner Monday I busted out a great recipe from frequent blog feature Budget Bytes: a nice combo of sweet tooth satisfaction with fall pumpkin hipness, Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies.

These were a quick, simple recipe that I doubled to make enough cookies for my co-workers (around 12), for some of Erin’s close co-workers (6-8) and a few for us to much on at home (about 6). All disappeared quickly. I have a gripe about these delicious cookies: The batter is awesome and it was really, really hard for me to not just sit down in the living room with my mixing bowl and spoon, feeding my face with raw dough goodness.

Follow me on Twitter @justintfirefly