Archive | May, 2012

Strawberry Pie

27 May

Before I dive into strawberry pie (take that literally or figuratively, either would be accurate) I want to let you know some crafting posts are coming up!

Yes, I know. “What? Crafting? You haven’t posted much of anything in that department, I thought you forgot.”

No, I didn’t forget.

I’ve just been very bad at posting about it. So, for those of you reading this blog for more than just the food, crafts are coming! For those not interested in the crafts…crafts are coming anyway. 🙂

Now…back to food. Pie.

Easy as pie has new meaning. This pie recipe is truly simple but doesn’t appear that it would be. Excellent. My kind of recipe!

Found this guy on pinterest, just like the other 83% of the recipes I post on here. I’m sorry, I may be obsessed with that website a wee bit. It’s a great place to stumble on blogs, recipes etc. Really, just about anything that has an image attached to it can be found on that site. Which is why I love it so very much.

The pin took me to a fantastic, new blog I haven’t read before: Mother Thyme. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the other recipes on her site, especially the Avocado Deviled Eggs. YUM.

But we’re focused on strawberry pie here.

Ingredients:

1 frozen pie crust (or you can be a big shot and make your own. I have yet to attempt homemade pie crust…someday.)

Filling:

1 1/2 quarts strawberries, sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons water

Garnish:

I gave Doug the choice between ice cream or whipped cream. Whipped cream it was for us! But the strawberry pie could go with anything, or, even nothing at all. (I’m sad for you if you chose nothing. Just sayin.)

That is all the ingredients you need to amaze people with your pie skills. I know. It seems TOO simple.

Trust me.

You must make this.

How to Make:

First, bake your pie crust according to the directions on the package. Mine had me prick it all over with a fork before popping it in the oven to pre-bake before filling it with strawberry goodness. Since we’re not baking the entire pie once assembled, your frozen pie crust instructions will most likely also be telling you to bake your pie crust first.

I have a solid hunch on that one.

Set your crust aside to cool while you work on the strawberry filling.

First, slice up your strawberries. All of them.

Then, take 2 cups from the sliced pile and pop them into a blender. Pulse/blend for a enough time to get a mashed pile of strawberries.

Next, grab a small bowl and combine the water and cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. It’ll look a little like glue at this point. Do not worry – it will not make the pie taste like glue.

Now, grab a small saucepan and combine your cornstarch/water concoction, the strawberry pulp and your cup of sugar. Stir it up over medium-high heat until it “becomes thick and transparent” according to the original recipe on Mother Thyme. You can see if it’s transparent by picking up a spoonful and watching it dribble back into the pan. Sounds weird, but it works.

Once you get to that point of “thick and transparent”, remove it from the heat and let it cool a little bit.

Once it’s cooled down for a few minutes, add in the remaining sliced strawberries. Stir it all up so everything is thoroughly coated. Then, pour into your awaiting pie crust.

You can see from the above picture that we had a rather fragile pie crust and a non-careful cook (guess who). Ah well, we were able to enjoy the pie crust crumbles before we were able to enjoy the real-deal.

Now that your pie is all put together, it needs to chill out for a bit. Since we made this before starting in on the main parts of dinner – parmesan knots and steakhouse pizza – we had our pie chilling for about 2 hours or so. I’m sure you could eat it after 30 minutes or so, but it’ll be best if the whole pie is cool.

Throw on the garnish that makes you smile most. For us, it was whipped cream.

Doug was excited about the upcoming consumption of pie. As were Laura and I. As you will be once you have a pie slice sitting in front of your face.


Now, if this doesn’t make your day/night/life a little bit better, I don’t know what will.


Enjoy!!

Steakhouse Pizza

23 May

I couldn’t fall asleep tonight, so a blog post it is.

Pizza. Steak. Pizza. Steak. Used to be a tough decision to pick one, right? No longer my friends, these two are combined into a fantastic, delicious, utterly divine concoction. This is another Pioneer Woman recipe, so you wouldn’t expect anything less. Right?!

Try to not drool while watching this pizza come to fruition. There may be a tad bit of drool on my keyboard before I’m done writing. Don’t judge me.

Here we go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 homemade or store bought pizza crust (We used a great store-bought dough, but you can make this from scratch if you’d prefer to be more legit. If you do want a good store-bought  type, look over in the cheese/bagel section, which I know sounds weird. That’s where we found our gem and it was GREAT.)
  • 1 whole skirt steak or flank steak (Big enough to have chunks scattered consistently around your pizza. You don’t want three sad little pieces. Get a new big one.)
  • Salt And pepper, to taste
  • 2 whole red onions, sliced thin (Trust me. This sounds like a lot. It won’t be.)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (Plain marinara if you can)
  • 12 ounces, weight fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin (Fresh mozzarella if you can!)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (Yes, this one you want to shred yourself. It’s so much better that way.)
  • 1/2 cup good steak sauce (If you’re a 57 sauce person, A1 person or whatever other steak sauce person, use that. This is where you get to personalize it a bit.)

After seeing that list of ingredients, I hope you’re already trying to keep in the drool. I know I am.

How to Make:

Before you do anything – grab your beverage of choice.The blackberry margarita was the perfect cooking beverage, but you may prefer something different.

Next grab that pizza dough…grab the pan it’s going on (have the debate with yourself of circle or rectangle?) and roll out your dough. I prefer the hand-roll/press method. It helps to throw a little flour on the dough and on your hands as you spread it out on the pan. (Please note I do have my tasty margarita close by.)

Just don’t take your floured hands and wipe them on your dark jeans. Who does that?!

Once you have your dough successfully pressed into the entire pizza pan, you may move to the next task. Onions!

Slice and slice some more. Try to keep them in rings. It’ll look prettier on your pizza than diced pieces would.

While you’re already slicing, slice up your fresh mozzarella. Don’t worry if it falls apart a little bit…it’s all getting melted anyway.

Back to the onions. Once sliced, you’re going to caramelize. Saute them up in your 3 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of your balsamic vinegar. Cook ’em up over medium-low heat until they look “dark and caramelized” (according to P Dub). This will take just about 10 minutes. Once they’re finished, bring ’em off the heat and set them aside.

If you’re exceptional at multi-tasking, you can grill your steak while the onions are caramelizing themselves. OR, if you have a sous chef like my wondrous SIL Laura, you can have her do this while you watch your onions and stir them, drink your margarita, realize you have flour on your dark jeans and then attempt to wipe them off, drink more margarita, stir the onions. Either method works however. I think you know my preferred method.

We unfortunately didn’t have a working grill, so we used the stove top. It was a great plan B. We cooked the steak until it was medium rare. Set it aside for a few minutes before you slice it up.

Last step before the assembling begins – make your sauce. So, because this is not your ordinary pizza, it doesn’t get an ordinary sauce. Mix your marinara with the Worcestershire and the remaining 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar.  Then….spread all that goodness on your awaiting pizza dough.

I was a very poor manager of my cooking surfaces, and resorted to using a chair for this sauce spreading. It happens. The chair worked very well. You must be flexible, right?

You may have a great spreading mechanism, but I’ve learned from a few people that by using the bottom of a large spoon or the bottom of a soup ladle works very well.

Once your dough has been properly sauced, it’s time to layer on your onions. Spread these out into a nice, thick layer. The caramelized onions will have a less stringent ‘onion-y’ taste so don’t stress about the vast quantity of onions. It’ll be delicious. Have faith.

Now you’re going to layer on your slices of mozzarella. Spread those out nicely so that when they melt, it all melts nicely together into one layer of cheesy wondrousness. (That’s not a word, I realize.)

Admire your work. Sip your beverage. Now, lets bake it!

Pizza needs to bake for 12-15 minutes. Look for the mozzarella to be nice and melty and the crust should start to look golden brown.

Now it’s time for steak! (You may have snuck a few pieces prior to this step. No one will know. It’s ok.) Make sure you cut your steak up into edible pieces so when you’re biting into a pizza slice you don’t choke. That would put a damper on the meal.

My brother Doug was very excited about this pizza. Or the steak. Perhaps both.

One more step before you dig in, shred your fresh parmesan all over the top to give the pizza  a nice dusting.

What a beauty this is! Shall we eat?

Before you slice this up, you can pour on your BBQ sauce of choice. We were all so dang hungry, we completely forgot about adding in the sauce. Silly. I partially blame the margarita.

Either way, this pizza is divine. It’s tangy…its got great chunks of delicious meat…melty, perfect cheese and if you’re not forgetful like me, you’ll have the sweet taste of the BBQ sauce intermixed too.

Make some steakhouse pizza tonight!!

Parmesan Knots

21 May

What a Monday! Gorgeous weather in Minneapolis – car windows down and sundress weather. Country music on the car radio. And the best part of today…grocery shopping!

I don’t believe I’ve shared how much I truly enjoy grocery shopping. I could lazily walk around the aisles in a grocery store for hours. I don’t know why I find it so cathartic, but it is hands down, one of my favorite things to do. I realize that’s a tad bizarre.

For instance, at a work function on Friday we had to do our normal round of introductions (who you are, how long you’ve been with the company etc. etc.) plus a fun fact that no one knows about you, that is memorable. I had to go 2nd and was frantically trying to think of something quirky and memorable. When I stood up, this was the first thing I thought of “I LOVE to grocery shop. Anytime. For anything. Sometimes for nothing at all. I would do it for other people for free, I love to do it so much.” There was a lot of laughter and a few people who harassed me from across the room to do their grocery shopping. It was memorable and it was TRUE. So fun fact for your Monday, I love to grocery shop.

Today was a mighty expensive trip as I was stocking up for the next 10 days at home instead of just a few weekend days. I’ve mentioned before I travel for work, so many times I don’t keep too much food in the fridge as it will usually spoil before I get to it. Today was all about buying lots of vegetables and protein – shrimp, steak, ham and turkey. To get good meat, well, cost a lleeeetttllee bit more than normal. But I’m STOCKED and ready to cook up a storm this week!

So enough about my weirdo tendencies, you’re reading this for FOOD.

Parmesan knots. What are those? Sent straight from heaven these bad boys are. Wow. Simple and mouth-watering. This was the side for the Doug and Laura dinner (thus far I’ve documented the blackberry margaritas and pico de gallo we also had) while I was visiting in Chicago.

I found this off of Pinterest (surprise, surprise). It’s from a great website for tasty, easy dinners. That’s my style. Another good one to explore.

Ready for some knots!?

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube (12 ounces) of refrigerated biscuits ( I used an off-brand but any brand will do – Pillsbury was recommended in the original recipe)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (It’s way tastier when it’s fresh – but if you must, the canned stuff can work too. But my personal challenge to you is to grate your own. Do it.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

How to Make:

So these look way more complicated and fancy than they actual are. Perfect to make as a bread side dish for any big or small meal where you’d like to do a little bit of impressing. Just a suggestion.

First things first – preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Locate a cookie sheet and spray it with some non-stick spray. Pam is my bff for this task. You may have a different bff.

Take your tube of biscuits and open it up. You’re going to take each of the round biscuits and roll it out into a foot long cylinder.

Once in their cylindrical shape, tie them into a knot…like you would your shoelace. (Unless you tie with two bunny ears, you may struggle.) You just need one “around and through” with these. Tuck the ends under and you’ll have a fancy knot that required 3.2 seconds of effort. Be impressed with your skills. Then tie another one.

Once you’ve finished with your whole tube of biscuits, pop ’em in the oven for 8-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done with they’re golden on top.

While your biscuits are cooking, mix up your remaining ingredients in a small bowl. When you take the knots out of the oven, you’ll want to put this on right away so the warmth of the biscuits melts this fantastic concoction all over the top. It’s hard to knot lick your fingers while working away. (See what I did there? Ha.) If you have a pastry brush – that works best. Otherwise, drizzle on the sauce with a spoon.

Eat these babies while warm and try to not have two…or three. Seriously, these are so good. And it’s just refrigerated biscuit dough shaped funny. I don’t know why that makes it taste SO. MUCH. BETTER.

Try the recipe and prove me wrong! 🙂

Pico de Gallo

20 May

This is an extremely easy and tasty recipe to make as an appetizer or snack. I’ve made this many times myself and realized it would a great one to share on the blog.

While visiting my brother Doug and my SIL Laura in Chicago, we had this to munch on while enjoying the blackberry margaritas as we created the remainder of dinner.

If you’re a guacamole person instead of a pico de gallo person, all you have to do is add some avocado and perhaps a little additional lime juice to this pico de gallo and POOF – enter the world’s best guacamole. Ok, maybe it’s not THE best, but it’s pretty darn close.

This is a recipe from my bff – Ree, the Pioneer Woman. That wondrous lady has so many easy and delicious recipes that I make quite a bit. What a genius she is.

Ingredients:

  • 5 whole Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a large white onion
  • 3 whole jalapeño peppers
  • a hearty bunch of cilantro (or for you weirdos out there who think cilantro tastes like soap…you can leave this out. But this MAKES it true pico de gallo. In my opinion. But we don’t want anyone thinking this recipe tastes like soap. So if you’re anti-cilantro…you’re weird…but you can leave it out. And we’ll still like you. Maybe. )
  • Lime Juice (fresh or bottled…whatever is on hand)
  • Salt To Taste

How to Make:

Depending on the ratio you’d like of tomatoes to onions, you can play around with how much you’d really like to use. We made slightly less than the full recipe version Ree created with the ingredient quantities above…with three tomatoes, just under 1/2 of the onion (I like onion, what can I say) and one big and one small jalapeño.

But the best part of this recipe is, all you must do is dice. Dice your little heart out. Well, don’t dice the lime juice or salt, but everything else. Once your dicing is complete, toss everything together in your serving bowl of choice. Sprinkle in the amount of lime juice that you’d like and the same with the salt.

Find some thick and delicious tortilla chips to dip – we used a really thick corn variety from a local Chicago spot. It was perfectly salty and a great compliment to the spice, lime and salt in the pico.

If you need something a little salty, with a good amount of veggies and want something most everyone will dig into and devour quickly – this is the perfect dish.

Grab a chip and dig in!

Blackberry Margaritas

13 May

I’m baaacck! (Please say that in the voice intended). I realize I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, my apologies about that. I hadn’t been in the mood to cook or blog in the last few weeks, but I got my groove back last night. Let me explain…

I’m visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Chicago this weekend. My brother Doug just had a birthday and my present to him was to cook up some tasty items over the course of my visit. A total of five items were made last night and I think they all turned out and tasted awesome. The key piece were these babies: blackberry margaritas. Nothing gets you a little excited and a little energized in the kitchen more than a tasty libation – am I right?!

We had the music up, the margaritas in hand, and made a real tasty dinner. That dinner will be shared over the course of the next few blog posts. Get excited. These are things you WILL want to make. I think. (I know.)

I found this recipe on pinterest (where else, right?). The picture was very enticing, plus I’ve had this recent curiosity about blackberries. The pin took me to this wonderful website. This looks like another cooking blog that I must regularly explore!

This recipe has only a few ingredients, but one part involves a little elbow grease. Ready? Lets make some margaritas!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

  • 1 cup Tequila (we used José but I’m sure any brand will work just fine)
  • 1 cup blackberry juice (where does one buy blackberry juice? Not sure…so we’re making our own. Read on.)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (we used bottled lime juice, but you may prefer fresh lime juice)
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau (we used Triple Sec instead – still gives a nice orangey flavor)
  • ice cubes
  • sliced limes (1 lime for every 4 servings would be sufficient)
  • salt

If you don’t have blackberry juice…

  • 2 cartons of blackberries
  • 1 piece of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer
  • a potato masher

How to Make:

Ok, so the blackberry juice is the only piece that requires a bit of effort. At the little specialty grocery store we shopped at they didn’t have any blackberry juice. Not sure if a big grocery store has any either. However, I knew that I could use real blackberries and smash/strain the juice instead. So my little creative experiment began.

We used cheesecloth, a strainer (which didn’t have small enough holes to be used on its own), a potato masher and a plate to catch the juice. This was my first experience with cheesecloth and it worked fairly well.

Prior to the mashing, be sure to rinse your blackberries…

Picture this…strainer sits atop a large plate…cheesecloth is draped inside the middle of the strainer…blackberries sit atop the cheesecloth. My sister-in-law Laura is wielding her potato masher and the rest…history. If you can’t picture that – here’s a visual:

Really all we did was mash the berries and press against the bottom of the strainer/cheesecloth bottom as to press the juice out on to the plate. We used two small crates of blackberries which equaled exactly 1 cup of juice.

It was very entertaining and really not as messy as it sounds. When we were finished, we just lifted the cheesecloth and berries right into the garbage. Everything else got rinsed. Success!

Now…add your cup of blackberry juice, Tequila, Cointreau (or Triple Sec if you have it instead) and lime juice to a pitcher. Stir. Stir. Stir! Add in ice cubes and if you want to be fancy…sliced limes. We went the route of slicing the lime into wedges for the edge of our glasses instead. But you could easily put them into the liquid instead. The lime’s green webbing WILL be stained though, just as an FYI.

Grab your margarita drinking receptacles and use lime slices to wet the entire edge of the glass. Pour salt in a flat dish and then take your lime saturated rims and rub them in the salt. Fancy schmancy results. Take your glass, pour in your margarita, pour in any extra ice cubes if needed and garnish with a lime slice. Ta Da!

Cheers!!

 

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