Monday, June 30, 2014

Beer is Proof that God Loves Us

Many would postulate that "beer is proof that God loves us." Now I don't know if that's true, but having a husband who likes a good cold one and living in...well...Bend, one has to think that there is some validity to the whole thing. (Bend has more breweries per capita than anywhere else...)

So for Tyler's birthday, when he sweetly told me, "I want you to bake whatever cupcakes make you happy," I turned to good ol' Pinterest to find something manly and acceptable for summertime.

The original recipe used either Blue Moon or Corona (with the appropriate citrus additions for each), but being a true Bendite, I quickly realized that I had no business baking beer cupcakes if it didn't involve local brew. I love Deschutes Brewery's seasonal additions of Twilight Summer Ale and River Ale, but while my favorite, River Ale, doesn't lend itself (at least to my perspective) to a dash of orange or lime, I thought Twilight would be delicious with a little citrus.

They turned out spectacularly light and fluffy like a champagne cake, with a little caramelization (as said by one of Tyler's friends) on top from the brushed on-while-hot beer. The orange flavoring pretty much overwhelmed any beer taste for those who don't love beer, but for connoisseurs (not me) there were enough lingering hints to be decidedly thrilled.

Twilight Summer Ale Cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
3/4 c butter at room temp
1 3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange zest (if you use Corona use lime zest)
1 c Twilight Summer Ale (or brew of choice that pairs well with orange or lime citrus)
1/4 c milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.–In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.–In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.–Add eggs, beating after each addition then add the vanilla and zest.–Combine milk and beer and alternatively add this mixture and the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture with the mixer on low speed, starting and ending with the flour.–Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.–When cupcakes are done, poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes with toothpicks and brush some beer on each while still warm.  

Ingredients for the citrus cream cheese frosting:
12 oz cream cheese, cold
6 tbsp butter, room temp
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange or lime juice
1 tsp orange or lime zest
4 c powdered sugar

Cream together the cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the citrus juice and zest and gradually add the powdered sugar until well-combined. Beat until smooth for about 2 minutes. Load frosting in a piping bag fit with a large star tip and pipe cupcake tops once cooled. 

I had a small runny-ness issue with the frosting, but my cream cheese was almost room temp. I just added more powdered sugar and a tad more butter and it resolved the issue nicely. You could also chill it slightly if it is too runny out of the gate.

Recipe yields 24 cupcakes. 

Do as us Bendites do and pair with a delicious local beer! Enjoy!


Friday, June 27, 2014


Tomorrow is my EIGHTH half marathon! After a tumultuous couple weeks I am so so so excited to put my head down and power through like I know I can.

I know we discussed my possible ninth and tenth a little while ago, but I'm officially signed up for them now (and they're different than what I had planned)! I'll be running number 9 at the end of August, again in Sunriver for the Sunriver Marathon. The Sunriver Marathon weekend is something to aspire attracts a lot of ultramarathoners and hard core runners because (a) it supports a good cause in gorgeous Sunriver (the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and (b) it offers a challenge race that you can sign up for. The challenge is: do a half one day and a full the next or visa versa!

Maybe some day, but I'm not that crazy yet.

It sounds badass though, doesn't it?

In the middle of September one of my inspire-rs for running is coming to stay with us as she runs the Flagstaff 50k, which is one of the most brutal races in the Pacific Northwest. I was told last year that the Down and Dirty Half that I did was tied with its sister race the Dirty Half and second only to the Flagstaff 50k for brutal terrain. I could be wrong, but that was what I was told. I just know there's lots of up.

Bendite runners and race coordinators have an obsession with running up the stupid mountain.

So I'll be CREWing for her (or at least cheering her on), which should be fun. I wish my lovely friend was here to come play too!

My tenth half will be in celebration for my birthday at the beginning of November. Last year, my birthday was celebrated with too much hangover, and as I enjoy having a little fun, I'd rather have fun running than have fun drinking like I'm 21. So I took matters into my own hands, and a dear friend who was one of my bridesmaids is coming up to Bend to run with me, which will be so fun!

Next year I'd like to do a full, simply to do one, and cut back on the number of races because I'll be busy with my wonderful little sister's wedding at the beginning of the summer. I will probably pick up the Dirty Half next year or Haulin' Aspen though...I love me a little trail running...simply for the strength of will that is required by it!

Hope you all got your run on recently!

Oh, and sneak preview of my next post! You know you want some...


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cooking in the Heat

I love my slow-cooker. I really, really do. I had some trials and a lot of error attempting some freezer meal crockpot recipes (they required a lot more babysitting than I expect out of a quick and dirty crockpot meal), and I've had some good luck with the easy stuff (shredded taco chicken anyone?).

But it's ideal for the high desert heat when turning on the oven makes you sweat just thinking about it. And our little house doesn't take much to heat up, and it retains heat like a champ. Which is excellent during the looooong cold winters here, but it's a bitch in the summer when there's no AC.

So I Googled "recipes for hot weather" and landed upon this nifty website that had lots of tasty recipes.

Two nights ago, I tried the Slow-Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken, with a little bit of trepidation because chicken can dry out so damn quick in the crockpot, and a whole chicken? Well...let's just say I've had my fair share of errors with cooking whole poultry.


I didn't love the gravy, but Bethany liked it. It was a bit too sour-lemony for me — I like my gravy rich and salty.

But when I pulled the chicken out of the crockpot for it's resting period I kept nibbling little pieces of meat that literally slipped off the bone, and it was so tender and juicy...oh my goodness.

The only alterations I made to the recipe were that I used dried thyme because I didn't have fresh, and I was too lazy to run to the store for it. I also didn't add the rosemary because I didn't see that part until it was too late.  I also used a whole can of chicken broth (15 oz or whatever) because I didn't want to waste it. I don't have any idea how that would have affected the end result.

Slow-Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken

Serves 2 to 4 with leftovers
4 to 5 pound chicken

For the seasoning rub:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped and minced

For the cooking liquid:
2 lemons, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves separated, but left in their skins
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 1 teaspoon bouillon paste, divided (optional for richer flavor)
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary

For the gravy:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Remove the bag of gizzards and discard (or reserve for stock). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
Mix all the seasoning ingredients together in a bowl. Gently work your fingers under the skin covering the breast meat and slide them back and forth to separate the skin from the meat without tearing it. Scoop up a dollop of the seasoning and work it under the skin covering both breasts. Rub any remaining seasoning over the drumsticks and thighs. Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker, breast-side up.

Squeeze and reserve the juice from one of the lemons. Stuff the rinds into the cavity of the chicken along with one whole bouillon cube and a few garlic cloves. Crumble the other bouillon cube over the chicken and rub it into the skin. Arrange the remaining lemon quarters, the rest of garlic cloves, and the thyme around the chicken. Combine the reserved lemon juice, the soy sauce, and the broth, and pour it over the chicken.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high heat for 4 or for 6 hours (according to your slow-cooker's instructions and particular settings). Thirty minutes or so before the time is done, add the rosemary sprigs.

Remove chicken from the slow-cooker and allow it to rest on a baking sheet, tented with foil, for about 20 minutes. The wings and drumsticks may fall away as you lift the chicken; this is normal.
While the chicken is resting, strain the cooking liquid into a sauce pan and bring to a rapid simmer. Scoop out a half cup of the liquid and whisk it with the flour in a separate bowl. Slowly pour the flour slurry back into the cooking liquid while whisking. Continue simmering and whisking until the gravy thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

When ready to serve, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Use your fingers to pull the meat away off the bones; it should come away easily with gentle pressure or use a knife as needed. Serve the breasts, thighs, and drumsticks right away and tear the remaining meat into shreds for using in leftovers. Serve with the gravy alongside.

So incredibly delicious. I highly recommend it. I'm going to try the Carnitas tonight, hopefully it will go as well as this! I'll let you know!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day

After being photobombed via text message this morning by the one, the only, the original lovely friend slash running buddy of images of the cardamom-laced cinnamon rolls she concocted, she proceeded to (unfairly) inform me that today was National Running Day.

So not only do I not get homemade-by-Heather tastiness, I get informed that the day I thought I ought to blow off my run I really should go running since today is, apparently, the Day.


She loves that I get up early, by the way. Since she now lives a time zone (or two?) over and 7AM her time is 5AM my time so even when she's up and perky at a (semi) decent hour, she knows I'm up at an even earlier (stupid) hour and she can text me.

So, in celebration of today, I shall detail my morning as it stands:

I reset my 4AM alarm to 5AM because I didn't want to get up that early. Because some mornings, it is in fact too early. I was taunted at 5:05AM by lovely friend's delicious looking homemade ocean rolls via text, that time zones and different states will prevent me from inhaling. I decided I'd rather keep doing homework than go run when 6:15AM rolled around and I wasn't at a good stopping point to stop to go run.

So far, no run for me today and it's supposed to be 80 degrees by my lunch break...which means I can either die a painful (hot) death and then crash and burn with heat-and-running-induced sleepiness all afternoon at work (which is unacceptable) or I can just not run until after work.

Unfortunately (and fortunately) I'm taking a seminar this evening with another good friend (and early morning gym buddy...though at 4:30AM when I finally roll in, sleepy and cursing, she's been at it for about an hour) that I've been looking forward to for a long time. That goes until 8 PM, which, for those of you who don't know me, is bedtime.

This girl needs her 8 hours of beauty rest, you know. Four o'clock in the stupid morning doesn't just happen naturally you know.

Hopefully my day will be rocky enough that I'll be pumped for a quick run after that seminar and then I can go to bed a little later. We'll see.  Do you think my 11-mile run this past weekend and yesterday can count as me celebrating? Every day is running day for this girl!

How are you celebrating National Running Day?