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Recipes

Not-So-Rotten Flesh from The Minecrafter’s Cookbook

We’re one week away from the launch of The Minecrafter’s Cookbook! I still haven’t seen the book in person, it should arrive any day. I can’t wait! In the meantime, I wanted to share another recipe from the book with you.

Today I’m sharing a recipe that sounds gross, but is actually quite delicious. This “not-so-rotten-flesh” is homemade beef jerky, and I promise you won’t take any damage eating it. This is great to make before a long gaming or Netflix session, to bring on a hike, or just to have on hand as a nice protein snack. I thought beef jerky would be super intimidating, but this is actually fairly easy! Just takes a bit of time and patience. Give it a try, and then check out the other Minecraft recipe: Grass Block Brownies.

(Want your own copy of the book? You can pre-order it at SkyHorsePublishing.com.)

Not-So-Rotten Flesh from The Minecrafter's Cookbook
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb flank steak (as lean as you can get it)
  • ⅔ cups soy sauce
  • ⅔ cups Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. To cut your steak into strips, freeze it for an hour and then have an adult with a large, sharp knife, cut it into as thin of strips as you can manage, less than ¼ inch thick. Cut with the grain is you want traditional chewy jerky, and against the grain if you want the jerky to be a bit more tender and brittle. Cut off any large pieces of fat you see on the slices. (A butcher may be able to do this slicing for you when you initially purchase the steak. Just ask!)
  2. Place the steak slices into a large, resealable freezer bag.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Pour the contents of the bowl into the bag, seal, and move around the steak so it's fully covered.
  5. Let the steak marinade in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 3 hours).
  6. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees F (or as low as your oven will go) and cover two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack over each baking sheet.
  7. Remove the steak from the marinade and gently pat with a paper towel to remove extra marinade.
  8. Lay the steak out on the wire racks and place into the oven.
  9. Cook for 4 hours.
  10. Check on the meat. Is it dry and leathery? It should crack when you bend it, but not completely break. If it's not dry enough for you, place back in the oven and continue to check every 30 minutes. (The time it takes to fully dry will depend on the thickness of your meat, temperature of your oven, and your personal preferences. It may take a couple more hours!)
  11. Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

 

Recipes

Grass Block Brownies from The Minecrafter’s Cookbook

My very first book, The Minecrafter’s Cookbook comes out on November 27th, and to celebrate, I’m sharing some recipes from the book for the next few weeks!

The book is for kids and families that want to learn how to cook the items they see in Minecraft. There are recipes for all of the food items you see, including steak, salmon, porkchops, baked potatoes, and more, and there are plenty of fun recipes to make food that looks like your favorite non-edible items. This is one of those. This delicious brownie recipe includes semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips and is topped with some bright green frosting. They look like the grass blocks you find everywhere in the game. Not a frosting fan? Keep it off for some more simple dirt block brownies. Whether or not you’re a Minecraft fan, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy these treats!

(Get all the details on the book and pre-order it at SkyHorsePublishing.com.)

Grass Block Brownies from The Minecrafter's Cookbook
 
Author:
Ingredients
Brownies:
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
Frosting:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • Green food coloring
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan.
  3. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a large sauce pan over low heat. Stir until smooth and then remove from heat. Let cool for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir the sugar into the chocolate butter mixture.
  5. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, stirring between each egg.
  6. Stir in the vanilla.
  7. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix gently.
  8. Stir in the milk chocolate chips.
  9. Pour the brownie batter into the greased baking pan.
  10. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (just a few crumbs).
  11. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
  12. While cooling, make the frosting: beat 1 cup of unsalted butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, mixing fully each time. Add the salt and vanilla, and mix for 2 minutes or until everything is light, fluffy, and the texture of a thick buttercream frosting. Add a few drops of green food coloring and mix until the color is even. Add more food coloring until you get the color of green you wish.
  13. Place the frosting into a piping bag with a grass or star-shaped pastry tip on the bottom. Pipe the frosting onto the top of the brownies. (Don't have pastry tips? You can also frost the brownies with a butter knife or spatula!)
  14. Slice the brownies into square shapes and enjoy!

 

Books, Recipes

Hungry Ghosts’ Saffron Risotto

It’s October, and I am ready for spooky stories and rich, warm comfort food. I was able to get both at the same time with Hungry Ghosts, a new horror graphic novel written by Joel Rose and Anthony Bourdain before his death. The graphic novel centers around a version of the Japanese Edo period game of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai–where warriors would gather in a room with 100 candles. Taking turns, they will each tell a scary story and then blow out a candle, until all of the candles are out or they’re too scared to continue. (Think of it as the orginal, much more bad-ass “Are You Afraid of the Dark”.) The stories in Hungry Ghosts focus around food and Japanese spirits and demons and they’re as dark and gory as you’d hope.

The novel includes a guide to the spirits mentioned in the stories and includes five new recipes by Anthony Bourdain inspired by the tales. I’ve been allowed to share one of them, a recipe for delicious, creamy saffron risotto. I always assumed risotto would be difficult to make, but it’s actually fairly simple. It is a bit laborious, as you’re stirring the rice almost constantly throughout, but it’s worth the effort. This risotto warms up your insides and makes you feel ready to take on anything spooky that may come your way. Check out the recipe below:

Hungry Ghosts' Saffron Risotto
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ quarts chicken stock
  • 6-8 saffron threads
  • ¼ cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1½ cups carnaroli rice
  • ½ cup dry Italian white wine
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into chunks
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine half the chicken stock and the saffron threads in a small pan and bring to a simmer to draw the flavor, color, and aroma from the threads into the stock.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, gently heat the oil and stir in the onion, taking care to get each piece coated with oil. Cook gently, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent; do not let it brown. Add the rice, stirring carefully so that it’s well distributed with the onions. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, to gently toast the rice. Stir in the wine and take the heat back down to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, as the rice eventually absorbs all the wine and the alcohol smell can no longer be detected.
  3. To this mixture, add a ladleful of the warm saffron-infused stock. Continue to stir and add more stock as it becomes absorbed, eventually also adding the reserved, non-infused chicken stock, a ladleful at a time. Once or twice before all of the stock is absorbed, check the rice for its state of doneness: at the end, it should yield to the bite and be cooked all the way through, but still maintain its structural integrity.
  4. Now, assess the texture of the risotto. Is it runny enough to cover the bottom of a bowl without coaxing? If not, stir in a little more stock until it’s the correct consistency.
  5. Now, add the butter chunks and the cheese and beat it with a light hand into the hot rice, incorporating some air and lightening the consistency somewhat as you go. Taste the risotto and season with salt if necessary. Serve immediately with the osso buco (see recipe in book).
  6. Serves 6 as a side dish.

Are you a fan of creepy stories? Which ones are your go-tos in October?

 

Blog, Board Games, Lifestyle

Your New Fave Subscription Box: UnboxBoardom

I’m a huge fan of game nights, but have gotten stuck in a rut. I’ve been playing a lot of legacy games with my friends, and while I love SeaFall and Time Stories, I wouldn’t mind changing up the game and the group I’m playing with occasionally. That’s where UnboxBoardom comes in. It’s a board game subscription box that delivers a new game to you monthly. You can choose to be surprised with a random game (with an average value of $35 or more) or you can choose between three options, allowing you to pick the type of game you want–something more strategic, family friendly, or more party-focused.

UnboxBoardom signed me up for a month of their service so I could check it out. I loved the email I received showing me my options: Each title includes the number of players, the average play time, and how family friendly, strategic, and party ready the game is. Each game has been vetted by the UnboxBoardom staff and includes their recommendations. Here are the titles I got to choose from:

I don’t know a whole lot about football and have played (and enjoyed) King of Tokyo before, so I chose Prowler’s Passage, a game I hadn’t heard of. It’s a strategic two player game, which made for a perfect game night with my husband.

In Prowler’s Passage, you and your opponent are rival thieves, claiming underground passages for yourself and stealing goods while bending the districts to your will. It’s highly strategic and math focused: Do you focus on making your passage the longest? Stealing all of the statues? Focusing on just one color district or all of them, or do what the additional achievement cards encourage you to do? It’s quick to learn the basics of the game, but I’m still learning all of the strategy. Each game only takes 25 minutes, so it’s something you can play multiple times in an evening.

I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn a new game and love the idea of getting the gift of gaming at my door each month. Wanna give it a try? Head to UnboxBoardom.com and sign up for a new game every one, two, or three months. Prices are between $29.99-31.99 a package and UnboxBoardom donates a board game to kids who can’t afford them for every 10 they sell. You can’t go wrong!

Have you been playing any new games lately? Let me know in the comments!

 

Blog, Recipes, Video Games

Fallout 76 Nuka Cola Cupcakes

While working at Xbox, I’ve started a tradition where I bring in cupcakes after we do an event. I pick one of my favorite aspects of the event and let that be inspiration for the flavor. At PAX West, we had a super cool area for Fallout 76 where people could guess the amount of bottle caps in an atom bomb and put their guesses into a replica Fallout computer. Those who completed this task were rewarded with Xbox and Fallout-branded bottle caps. I instantly knew I’d have to do a Nuke Cola cupcake!

For those not in the know, Nuka Cola is a blue cola available in the Fallout universe. It claims to be made with a variety of fruit flavors, but come on, it’s called a cola. So I ignored the fruit and made Coke-flavored cupcakes. I don’t think anyone minded. 🙂

I used blue cupcake liners and made a cupcake with a Coca-Cola reduction, but you could use cola flavoring or a cola concentrate/syrup you might have for your Soda Stream instead. I also brush the tops of the cupcakes with some Coke and incorporate a bit of the reduction into the buttercream frosting as well. The flavor is still fairly mild, but you get a good cola aftertaste.

Fallout 76 Nuka Cola Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cupcakes
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Coca-Cola, separated
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (plus an additional pinch)
  • 5 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, separated
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsps vanilla, separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • gummy cola bottles
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 cup of Coca-Cola in a small pan until boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until it's reduced between ½ to ¼ its original amount. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Place cupcake liners in the cupcake tins (I recommend blue liners for Nuka Cola).
  4. Mix the flour, baking powder, and 1 tsp salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Beat 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  6. Add eggs to the butter mixture, mixing fully between each egg. Mix in the vanilla and 3 tbs of the cola reduction.
  7. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Add half of the milk and mix. Continue with the rest of the dry ingredients and milk. Make sure everything is fully mixed.
  8. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, put one "scoop" of batter in each cupcake liner. They should be ¾ full.
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Brush the tops of each cupcake with Coca-Cola.
  11. Remove cupcakes from the tins and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  12. Make the frosting: Beat 4 cups of unsalted butter in a mixer until it's fully smooth and light colored, making a "slapping" sound.
  13. Mix in 4 cups of powdered sugar, adding 1 cup at a time until fully mixed.
  14. Add in 1 tsp of vanilla, 1 tbs of Coca-Cola reduction, and a pinch of salt.
  15. Mix everything together on high until frosting is super fluffy.
  16. Place frosting into a piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a gummy cola bottle.

Are you a Fallout fan? Will you be playing Fallout 76? Let me know in the comments!

Blog, Board Games, Books, Lifestyle

Play with your Food with the Edible Games Cookbook

If you’re like me, you love games AND you love cooking. No game night is complete without a few snacks or treats themed around what we’re playing. But what if you could combine both things into one and actually play a game with your food?

Jenn Sandercock did just this when she created the Edible Games Cookbook. She designed 12 different games centered around food and put it together into a beautiful 300 page hardcover book. And starting today, you can pledge for a copy of this book on Kickstarter! The book itself contains recipes, game rules, and modifications for both. Are you a beginner cook? A vegan? Playing with kids? Playing with grown-ups? There’s something for you. There’s even a game completely centered around getting kids to eat their veggies in a fun way!

I sat down with Jenn to talk a bit about the book and what led her to create it:

Why edible games?
It’s more like why not? It just seems so natural to me. As soon as I got into game design I was always trying to think of different ways to push games or use other things in my life I like, like dancing and food. Whenever I showed people the ideas I had around food games, people thought they were amazing, so I wanted to keep doing that. A cookbook is the best way to let other people play these games, because I just want other people to have fun.

 

What’s your favorite game in the cookbook?

The Patisserie Code. It’s the most annoying to make (it takes the most amount of time) but it takes cream puffs or profiteroles. My family, we called them petit choux. We ate them from quite a young age. My mom got them from a nearby bakery and when it closed, she started making them. I knew I wanted to make a game with cream puffs and I’m really happy with the game that ended up coming out of it. 

What would you say to someone who’s intimidated in the kitchen?
A lot of the games don’t require cooking at all, just go to the market and buy some ingredients.  Even for the more complex games (like The Patisserie Code), I’ve got a lot of cheat ways you can get around it, like you can buy things from the store. Even if somebody’s a total amateur, I ‘ve got options to help people be able to make them. 

 

When you’re not playing with food, what are your favorite games?
At the moment my favorite tabletop/card game is Just Desserts, so staying on theme! I bought it because I wanted to see what other people were doing around food games, but I really enjoyed playing the game.
In terms of digital games, I was recently playing a game on my phone called Hexologic, and that’s a really lovely puzzle game.
I’ve been playing through LA Noire on the Switch, I worked on LA Noire and never had the time to finish it, so that feels really good.

 

Check out the Kickstarter today and download a sample chapter of the award-winning “Order of the Oven Mitt” game. Let me know in the comments if you back it!

Blog, Recipes, Sci Fi, Space, Star Wars

Roasted Porg

Yes, yes, I know we all had the same reaction to those new creatures in Star Wars: The Last Jedi: They looked positively delicious! Chewie had the right idea when he decided to roast one up. Porgs are abundant on Ahch-To, have plump little bodies, and I have a sneaky suspicion they taste just like chicken when crisped to a golden brown. Give it a try yourself with this recipe. It’s a bit fancier than roasting over open flame, and would make the perfect main course for any early-April feast. (Star Wars-themed Easter dinner, anyone?)

Roasted Porg
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 porg (Can't find one? Substitute a small chicken, around 3 lbs)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 3 TBS olive oil, separated
  • 2 TBS honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Fully pluck and butcher the porg (unless it comes pre-butchered), and remove the giblets. Pat dry.
  3. Salt the porg fully on the outside and inside. Place half of a lemon inside the cavity.
  4. Place in a roasting dish with a rack. (Don't have one? Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil and place the porg in there.)
  5. Cover the porg with 1 TBS olive oil.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. While baking, mix together 2 TBS olive oil, 2 TBS honey, and 1 TBS fresh-squeeze lemon juice from the remaining half lemon.
  7. Remove the porg from the oven and brush the porg with the honey sauce.
  8. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the porg reaches an internal temperature of 165 and juices run clear when cut into it. (Not cooked all the way? Keep testing after 10 minute increments.)
  9. Remove the porg from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
  10. Serve with potatoes, a fresh salad, and a hearty glass of thala-siren milk.

Blog, Game of Thrones, Lifestyle

Drink and Know Things with “Hand of the Queen” Barleywine

I’m a sucker for licensed/themed food and drinks, and the Game of Thrones/Brewery Ommegang partnership is one of my faves. For the past five years, they’ve been making beers inspired by characters and events from Game of Thrones, and your viewing parties have never been the same.

Even though the show isn’t coming back for another year, Ommegang is still at it: they’re releasing the Royal Reserve Collection, a series of four new beers, in 2018. The first one is Hand of the Queen, a barleywine ale inspired by everyone’s favorite character, Tyrion Lannister.

HBO and Ommegang sent me a couple bottles to sample before it comes out, and I highly recommend you pick this up. The barleywine is bold, rich, and much smoother than I would have expected. Ommegang had this to say about the beer:

Brewed with a complex blend of specialty malts and carefully-selected old-world hops, Hand of the Queen is a rich, full-bodied version of a classic barleywine and comes in at 10.7% ABV. Malt forward and multifaceted, the beer balances the intense flavors of brandy-soaked raisins and dark fruit with the lighter notes of apricot. Hints of molasses and toffee are evident before a finish characterized by the classic yet distinctive barleywine alcoholic heat. Hand of the Queen, an old-world example of the style, attempts to balance these strong yet unruly opposing forces, much like the way Tyrion maintains the balance of power among his influential contemporaries in Westeros.

It’s the perfect drink to carry around with you while you make snarky comments about everyone else in your life. If you’d prefer to wait and enjoy the beer with the new season next year, grab a bottle now and cellar it. Barleywine can be aged like normal wine.

Hand of the Queen is available in stores in early April. The other three pieces of the Royal Reserve Collection will be released in July, October, and December. Are you going to collect them all? (I know I will!)

Recipes

Dave & Busters-inspired Brookie Sundae Tower Recipe

Dave and Busters recently opened up a location in Washington, and this opening allowed me to finally attend something I had heard about for years. While I had heard about the games and fun environment, no one ever told me about their outrageous food and drink menu. Seriously: it’s bonkers. They have adult snow cones, a mac and cheese and pulled pork SANDWICH, and something called the “Caveman Combo” that involves ribs and sliders. I’ve heard they have some salads and other healthy items there as well, but let’s be honest, I didn’t come to Dave and Busters to be healthy.

After sampling the most ridiculous items we could find, I couldn’t resist tasting a bit of dessert. My eyes immediately drifted towards the Brookie Sundae Tower. Chocolate chip cookies combined with brownies. Ice cream in between. Stacked in a tower. Drizzled with caramel AND hot fudge. I’m drooling just thinking about it. This item quickly became the favorite thing we had that night. And I realized I could remake it at home.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous and would prefer the call of your couch over the call of some awesome video games and glowing drinks (who are you?), then check out the recipe below to make your very own Brookie Sundae Tower.

 

Brookie Sundae Tower
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 box brownie mix (plus ingredients listed on the box)
  • 1 packet of refrigerated break-apart cookie dough
  • caramel sauce
  • chocolate sauce
  • vanilla ice cream
  • whipped cream
  • maraschino cherry
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, and then coat with flour and dump out the excess. Set the tin aside.
  3. Mix the brownie mix together as described on the box.
  4. Fill each muffin cup ½ full with brownie mix. Then, flatten a square of cookie dough slightly and place one in each muffin cup.
  5. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool.
  7. Prep the serving plate by drizzling chocolate sauce and caramel sauce in a pretty pattern.
  8. Place a brookie in the center of the plate, and then place a scoop of ice cream on top of that. Drizzle some chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream. Top that ice cream with another brookie and another scoop of ice cream, followed by another drizzle of chocolate sauce. If the tower won't stay upright on its own, Place a wooden skewer all the way through the center.
  9. Top the sundae with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry!

 

Do you have a Dave and Buster’s near you? If you want to check out the ridiculous menu for yourself, visit my Instagram. I’m giving away $50 in “D&B Dollars”!

Thank you to Dave and Busters for providing me with the sampling opportunity and additional dollars to give away. 

 

Blog, Lifestyle, Television

Custom Wine Bottles with Wine Greeting

Bottles of wine are such an easy, go-to gift, and if you’re like me, you often pick a bottle based off of the label/name. But sometimes, the right wine (and label) just doesn’t exist. For instance, what do you get your friend for Christmas that says “you’re more badass than a fictional character, and I hope you can Netflix and chill this holiday season”? WineGreeting.com to the rescue.

WineGreeting lets you entirely customize a bottle of wine. You can make a custom label or engraved bottle, and you even get to choose the color of the wax seal! You also get to choose between red, white, and sparkling wine, which means you can customize a bottle of bubbly for special occasions.

While the options for customization are fairly standard, I thought I would make one a bit geekier. I took their “Holiday Lights” option and turned it into a Stranger Things reference. The etching was deep and gorgeous on the bottle, and the red wax just made it look even more epic. 

The wine itself was a very drinkable and delicious red blend, and I now have a bottle I want to display long after the wine has gone.

If you’re looking for an awesome custom gift, I highly recommend WineGreeting. And if you use promo code “GEEKYHOSTESS” you’ll save $15 off your first order!

Let me know what custom bottle you’d make in the comments!

Thank you to WineGreeting for providing a bottle of wine for me to review.