Monday, December 5, 2011

Cream Cheese Frosting

Sadly I have come to realization that there is no frosting that you can buy at a grocery store that is worth eating.  I remember as a kid my aunt coving Graham crackers in white glaze and sending me happily on my way to sugar land, but as I have gotten older I just can't stand the stuff.  So, I tried to do it myself and the results were spectacular.

Plus, the end product is easier to spread on whatever you may like than the store bought.  Seriously, that stuff is like spreading plumbers putty.

Cream Cheese       8oz
Unsalted Butter     1 stick
Powdered Sugar
Vanilla                  1 TEAspoon

The first and most important step is to let the cream cheese and butter sit out long enough to reach room temperature. Overnight is your best bet, and contrary to what the germ police might have to say butter and cream cheese do fine if you leave them out overnight.  Now, if you try to heat them up quickly so you don't have to wait go for it, but when you have melted butter and cream goo, just remember OVERNIGHT is your best bet.  I always use unsalted butter, because I hang with some people who can't handle their salt (me included)  I'm sure salted butter will work just as well.

For a double decker 9" cake I triple the recipe above.

Now put your butter and cream cheese into a mixing bowl and combine. You can use a wooden spoon, but I prefer to use my KitchenAid hand mixer, don't try this in the KitchenAid stand mixer, it's a nightmare.

The next step is to add the vanilla and powdered sugar.  I have seen some recipes call for a whole cup of powdered sugar, but I like to add a lot less than that. I like to be able to taste the cream cheese, but whatever floats your boat.

Congratulations you are now the proud new owner of an off-white wonder!

Spread this on a cake, cookies, waffles, pancakes or even just your fingers and enjoy!

If you want to get picky about the icing/frosting debate have a read here:

This is frosting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chile Rellenos

I found this great video from a wonderful woman who has great videos that will teach you how to make real Mexican food. Please see this video on how the bread the Chiles, I have left the way I do it in so you can choose which one you want to try. I am yet to try this new method, but will likely switch to it as it makes much less of a mess.

WARNING: Careful where you put your hands while making this, and if you can wear gloves.

Have you ever been to a mexican restaurant and ordered one of these?

Well, let me back up.... way back in graduate school I had the opportunity to go to Mexico to look at the overwintering site of the Monarch butterfly.  Yeah, it was amazing and you should do it if you get a chance, but let me tell you what else was awesome.  THE FOOD!!  I specifically recall this dish I tried for the first time called the chile relleno (pronounced ray-ay-no).  It was amazing so naturally when I gat back to states I wanted to eat another.  I ordered one in a local "mexican" restaurant and thought it was alright but not as good as the one I had in mexico.  I thought I would just go to another restaurant and see if they had better ones. A few tries later at different restaurants had me confused because no matter where I went they were all eerily the same.  So I went to Mexican food mecca, Mi Cabanita to get one, but they don't sell them.  

I knew something was wrong!  If the Cabanita doesn't sell it you usually don't want it, but I wanted one so of course I would just have to do it myself.  

I enlisted the help of Dr. Chiro and MutherMusk and after a few attempts I have ironed out the details of making the chiles, which are almost as good as the one I had in Mexico.

Now back to the eerily similar chiles I was getting in restaurants.  Once I figured out how long it took to make these (they are worth the effort) I realized the ones in the restaurants are frozen.  They are made in a factory somewhere! This epiphany explained why they were all the same no matter where I went.

Here is a list of ingredients.

Poblano Peppers
Your favorite frying oil
Your favorite rice
Your favorite meat
Masa Harina or just plain old flour
Your favorite cheeses

The lion's share of the work is done in prepping the peppers so prepare yourself.

You need to remove the skin of the pepper, but first you must blacken them to get the skin off. 

Fire up your grill and roast the peppers until all the skin is black, if you don't have a grill a large pan with high heat will also work just as well.

Now that your peppers are all black you need to put them in an airtight container so they can bask in their own steamy heat for at least 10 minutes.

Here are the peppers in the container pre-lid.

Now that your peppers have sat and are all wrinkled you need to take off their skin.   Don't worry about them coming apart as you will see in this photo there is no way to take the next step of getting the seeds out without splitting them open.  This is no big deal because when you fry them they will be fused back together.  Below you will see a closer view of the pepper after blackening and sitting, skinning, and deseeding.

Now once you pop open your pepper and get the bulk of the seeds out you'll have a few stragglers that can be a pain to get out, but I figured out a great way to remove them.  All you have to do is fill a bowl with malt liquor and submerge your pepper, the majority of the seeds will sink and you have a clean pepper.

Really it's just water that was colored by the peppers, but I'm sure malt liquor would work as well.

Now you can make your filling to stuff the peppers.  I like to use cheese, rice, meat, and onions.  I apologize for the lack of pictures, but all you do is mix your filling together in a pot.  It helps if the fillings are cold, that way the fillings will pack into a pellet that will fit right into your peppers.  This eliminates the the filling falling out when you are frying the peppers and rolling them in egg and flour.

Now prepare three stations of flour egg flour or if you can masa harina-egg-masa harina.  Masa harina is a type of corn flour, but regular white flour works well too.

Always work in the same direction when rolling your stuffed peppers in the stations.  It helps if one person can do the rolling and the other can keep an eye on your pan full of hot oil because the hands that do the rolling are going to get filthy.  The first round of flour gives the egg something to stick to, and the egg then gives the next round of flour something to stick to.

Place your peppers in carefully so you don't cook yourself and let them sit for about a minute. You can then roll them over so the other side is cooked, or whilst letting them sit you can spoon hot oil on them so you don't even have to turn them.  Cooking time is minimal, less than two minutes total.

Now plate your treasure and enjoy with more cheese.  These are plated with MutherMusk's famous black bean and lentil soup.

It's a wise idea to make as many as you have time for. They will freeze well after you stuff them. That way when you want some next time you just defrost and fry. Just like in the restaurant.

Cleanup NOTE:  I hate to waste things so I make dog treats with the leftover egg and flour. I combine all three stations into one and mix to make little dumplings. Then I put them in the hot oil until they are crispy.  After removing them from the oil you can do one of two thing.  You can give them to your dog, which I wouldn't advise, or you can put a bit of salt and sugar on them and eat them yourself.  I recommend eating them, the salt and sugar go well with the chile flavoured dumplings.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

This bread was a request of my wife.  I had only had this at the Irish Lion in Bloomington IN and I did not care for it at all.  In fact I didn't even bother eating any of the first loaf I made, but everyone loved it and my curiosity got the best of me so I tried it and seemed to enjoy it.  Much like greek yogurt  the name irritates me.  There is nothing particularly Irish about this bread, because it is not green, so I don't know why people love to add the Irish, but I'll call it that for the blog.  I just call it soda bread.


Gather these ingredients.

Gold Medal              5 Cups
Better for Bread
Baking Soda            1   TEAspoon
Salt                           ½  TABLEspoon

Honey                      3   TABLEspoons
Egg                          1   Large
Buttermilk                1 ½ Cups

Butter                       4 TABLEspoons (melted)

Raisins                     1 Cup

First thing to do is the set your oven to 325 F.  This may seem a bit low for bread, but this is a wet bread and it must be cooked slower and longer than most.

Next put all your dry ingredients into a bowl and combine. I like to use a whisk, but you can use whatever you like.

Next gather your wet ingredients and add the honey, egg, and buttermilk to the dry ingredients.  Don't worry about over kneading the dough.  Once you get it all together melt your butter in the microwave.  I like to cut mine into small pieces before microwaving to avoid having the butter explode instead of melting.


Some people like to drink the buttermilk which is nasty.  I can still remember an uncle who used to try to get me to drink it. YUCK! I still can't help myself because every time I buy a half gallon I always drink some, just to see if my taste for it has changed.  It hasn't.

I am lazy so I use the good ole fashioned dough hook on the KitchenAid to get my ingredients all together.  After adding the butter you can add raisins, or any other dried fruit if you want.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't and sometimes I just forget. Some say adding raisins is not something the Irish do, but this is my blog and Mother Musk likes her dried fruit.

Like I said before the dough is quite wet when it is ready, but you can always add a bit more flour to soak up moisture if you want.  The picture above is what you're aiming for.

If you want you can make slices in the bread before you bake it, but I prefer to have mine crack naturally.  You check this loaf like a cake by poking it with a toothpick.  Remember low and slow for this one. If you cook it too quickly the outside will burn or be done while the inside is still raw.  I bake the loaf for an hour and then check it every ten minutes.

If you're unsure about the loaf being done all the way through cut it in half to check.  If it's not done just put it back in until it's ready.

Also you should use a straight edged knife to cut this bread. If you use a bread knife it will make thousands of crumbs and rip the bread.

I found this out the hard way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

Do you like sweet potato fries?

I do!

I like the way they taste, so I eat them.

What I mean by that is my liking them is not based on pretentiousness.  I could give a handful of clams if they are "healthy for you" and taste great.  Whenever I hear someone talk about how things are healthy and taste great I can't think of a single unhealthy thing that doesn't taste great/er.  Healthy is a terrible excuse to eat something, or it's really just another way of saying I'm more sophisticated than you are because I can cram this crap in my gullet with smile on my face.

I actually like them so I eat them and I would like to share with you a recipe that Mother MuskOx makes.


Gather these spices:  corriander seed, cumin, curry, powdered garlic and ground ginger.

Next skin your taters with a KitchenAid peeler, or any other brand you might have.
Here is the part Mother MuskOx is great at, seasoning to taste.  I can hardly stand to add pepper without a measuring cup, but she doesn't hesitate to eyeball anything.  After you season them to taste drizzle a bit of olive oil all over and stir it up.

After you toss your spices on preheat your oven to 450F.  Then place your taters on a baking sheet.  This one has holes in it, I know you can't see them, but it does and they are magic.  This special baking sheet does something and makes the fries crispier than a plain sheet.  We tried a regular sheet because this one was dirty and were disappointed. I don't understand, we should have washed it.
 Put these in for about 15 minutes and then flip them.  Let them cook another 10 minutes or so, until they are crispy and before they completely char.  We like em' a little dark.  Again, you'll have to learn your own oven.

Alas, David Allen Coe-slaw, avocado, sweet potato fries, and catfish.
The cadillac of fish.

Coleslaw Co'sla' Coslawz or David Allen Coe-slaw

Coleslaw can make or break many-a-meal for me, especially when it comes to fish, chicken or any hot meat meal. I have become so fed up with lack luster trash that I'm hesitant to order it at any restaurant.  In fact I can't even think of a place I would go and order the coleslaw.  If it comes in a tub at the store the only reason I could think of buying it would be to throw at someone or to film a movie involving mock vomit.

In reality, I can rarely resist ordering coleslaw anywhere because I love it so much.  It tastes so good, when it's good, but it's rarely any good.  So, once again I have tried to do it myself, cementing my dissatisfaction with all other slawz.

If you think you got a recipe, let me have it. I'll try it, but if it sucks I'll spend the money to mail what I don't eat back to you because Mrs. MuskOx's composter doesn't accept bad slaw.


Gather these ingredients.

1 Fat Cabbage
Yellow Mustard 1 TABLEspoon
Mayonaise 1/4 Cup
Sugar 1 TABLEspoon
Apple Cider Vinegar 2 Tablespoons
Fresh chopped garlic
6-8 Cups shredded cabbage

When buying a cabbage make sure that it's not rotten, that's all there is to it.  Also, I'm cheap and cabbage is sold by the pound so you're best bet is to remove any leaves of the cabbage that are wilted or that you think you might remove after you get home (or after you've bought them).  That way you're not wasting your money.  Trimming produce in the store may make you feel like an old granny trying to make it on a fixed income, but the employees don't care.  The company doesn't care, as long as your happy you'll keep coming back, which means they're happy so DON'T BUY IT IF YOU'RE GOING TO THROW IT AWAY!

Now for the mustard, I like French's yellow mustard. It's a bit more at the store but I like the taste, and if you think it doesn't taste any different than the store brand go ahead and get that.  Just don't tell me how it tastes the same and costs less, cause it doesn't. 

I might suggest playing with the mustard, but one should never mess with the Mayo. I use Hellmann's because it's actually made in Hell, by the Devil himself and tastes like Heaven.  Again, if you like something else go for it, but I recently learned Kraft mayo is runny compared to Hellman's, and you won't find Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a Kraft jar of mayo. 

Why is he on the Hellman's jar you may ask?

Because nothing goes together like mayo and NASCAR, that's why!

Sugar, I use white.  If you have a beef with white refined delicious all American sugar get over yourself.

Vinegar, any will do, but garlic not so fast.  You need fresh garlic.  I peel a lot of cloves and grind them. Then I freeze them, because that minced garlic stuff you buy in a big jar has no flavour.  It's like spelling the word flavour without the "u". 

No flavour!

Now you need to shred your cabbage.  As you see here I have elected to demonstrate the way I used to make slaw with my old KitchenAid tater peeler, but wait what is that lurking behind the tater peeler?

That would be the blade to my other KitchenAid device.  The slicer shredder attachment which will make shredded splendor out of a head of cabbage, or your fingers, in no time flat. 

 You can use the tater peeler but I like to use this thing.

Ahh, shredded splendor!
Now you have two choices you can mix up all these ingredients before you add it to the shredded cabbage or you can add it right into the bowl.  As for me, I just add it into the bowl and flip on the KitchenAid mixer.  This helps push the water out of the shredded cabbage so your slaw is not dry.  You may have initially been concerned that my sauce recipe was lacking in liquidity, but the majority of slaw liquid comes from the broken cabbage cells.

The mixer is on the first setting, I just didn't bother to increase my shutter speed.
Finally I like to chill the slaw before eating it, and top it off with a bit of Sriracha, or rooster sauce if you please.  This meal consisted of David Allen Coe-Slaw, sweet potato fries, avocado and catfish.  It's the cadillac of fish!

References Cited:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Greek Yogurt


In the pictures below I recommend using an old shirt for straining.  I have finally invested in a yard of unbleached muslin from the store (Hobby Lobby or Jo Anne Fabrics).  When buying muslin go for the heavier coarser stuff that is twice as expensive as the lighter stuff. It runs 5.99 a yard, but take a coupon and get a yard for way less.  The advantage of the muslin is that it's size makes tying it off much easier, it's easier to clean than the shirt and the larger weave lest the whey come out much faster than the tight knit of the shirt.

Are you tired of store bought yogurt that has the consistency and flavour of snot? 
Well, I've got the solution.

My Greek Yogurt!

I think a more appropriate name would be strained yogurt, because there is nothing "Greek" about it.

Before we get started let me tell you that I hated yogurt until I tried plain Greek Gods yogurt.  That stuff with fruit at the bottom always reminded me of dog vomit, so I was opposed to it. Next, my foray into vanilla yogurt was another flop, I think because it tasted nothing like vanilla anything.  Then it was on to fat free, not only was there no flavour the texture was like runny Jell-O, but then I tried the Greek Gods and was hooked.  Then next step of my relationship of yogurt was to figure out how to make it myself and after many YouTube videos and a couple trial batches and a tasting by the official MuskOxMaven Test Piggies, I present to you my recipe.






Now for the recipe!

2 Cups Nonfat Dry Milk
1 gallon Whole Milk

First you need to get a gallon of WHOLE MILK.

That's right whole milk, don't try to skip the fat factor, or you'll end up with Elmer's Glue yogurt.  It's not as bad as store bought snot, but it's easier to just get glue/snot from the store.

Now that you have your whole milk pour it into pot and bring it up to 160F.  Keep it at that temperature for 10 minutes.  Keep stirring so the milk doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan. This won't affect the flavour, but it keeps cleanup to a minimum.
Now that you've heated your milk, you have two options.  You can either let it sit out on the counter until it reaches 100-110F or you can use an ice bath.  The first time I made the yogurt, I let it sit out on the counter, it takes forever, so if you've go the ice use it.  It takes about 5 minutes to cool the milk down.
Then next step is to add 2 cups of nonfat dried instant milk. If you don't make a gallon, you can do the math.
After you stir your milk in you can add a bit of your starter culture (already made yogurt), which you can buy at the store or use a couple (2-3) of TABLEspoons from your last batch.  I started my culture with Greek Gods, but since then I have just been using the batch before. This is the last of my last batch.
Now you're ready for fermentation. I use this fermentation chamber pictured here for my making of yogurt.  It consist of a cooler, a heating pad and a towel.  The towel is not necessary.  I poured my liquid into a KitchenAid stand mixer bowl, because my other pot will not fit in the cooler.  I then covered the bowl with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap is handy, because you can poke your thermometer through right into the yogurt to monitor the temperature.  

I know that my heating pad will keep the temperature between 100-110F so I don't worry about over heating. If you get the temperature up over 120F or so you'll kill the bacteria from your starter culture and your yogurt will not turn out. You may want to keep an eye on your fermentation vessel the first time through.  Since my vessel is tested I just close it and turn the pad on, I don't worry about the temperature.  You can also use an oven if yours is fancy and will keep a constant temperature. You'll just have to find out for yourself, I know my oven is not to be trusted with yogurt.

After you close your vessel you let it sit for at least 14 hours.  I usually do mine overnight, and my heating pad will only stay on for an hour, but the cooler will keep the temperature up so there is no need to worry. I usually let mine go for 14 hours, longer won't hurt.

You can also let your yogurt sit at room temperature, but this will probably take forever. I use the vessel, if you decide to let it sit at room temperature let me know how it turns out.
Ah, 14 hours later.

Now you have two options, if you like runny yogurt you can stop now or you can strain your yogurt so it is thick and creamy.  I don't like snot, so I strain mine.  If you like snot you go right ahead and stop now. As for me and my house we will strain our yogurt.

You will need a colander, and a pot to put it in. You will also need a piece of cloth to line the colander with so your yogurt doesn't run through the holes.  I use an old shirt I have cut up (I cut the armpits off and just used the mid part of the shirt). Make sure you rinse it out well before you use it, so you don't get laundry detergent in your yogurt.  You will also see a bowl with canned goods in it.  I'll get to that shortly.
Line the colander with the shirt and put it in the pot. Now take your yogurt and pour it in the shirt. You may also want to taste your yogurt to satisfy your curiosity, but you've probably already done that by now.  To strain you can simply cover this with a lid and set it in the refrigerator, but that will take a longer time that using a weight to push the water out.
 To use a weight bundle up your yogurt in the shirt. I used a piece of string for this.
Then put your weight on top. Place in the refrigerator for 5- 6 hours. This allows time for the yogurt to strain and time for it to cool down.
After straining you can see all the whey in the KitchenAid bowl (about 2 QUARTS).  You can look up recipes for what to do with the whey if you like. That is for another time, but don't throw it away just yet.
After untying the yogurt you will notice it is similar to a big hunk of cheese. That is because you pressed all the whey out. NOTE: A dark shirt is better than a white one, becase when you HAND wash it you can tell if you get the yogurt off of it.
 So to add the whey back in just use a mixer of any sort. I use my KitchenAid, again any mixer will work. Start with a small amount of whey.  I start by adding a half cup back and turning the mixer on.  Depending on how thick you like your yogurt you might add more or you might add less.  I lean toward the less.
Now, transfer to your storage container and you're done.
I get just under 2 quarts of yogurt from a gallon of milk.
Let me know if you have questions, or if you actually use my instructions.

Nutritional information can be calculated at by putting in your ingredients. Serving size is 1/4 Cup, containing 90 KCal.

References Cited: