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Monday, July 28, 2014

Chew on This | Salted Caramel Whiskey Sauce

The Husband had a birthday earlier in the month. We celebrated his happy day several times over the days surrounding his actual birthday and then also on his true birth day. It was delightful! He was loved on by dear family and friends, which is always so precious and kind, and which he appreciates so much.

On one of those celebratory days, I made him all of his favorites for dinner. And for dessert, he specifically asked for a spice cake with cream cheese frosting. No problem - but I wasn't going to just leave it at that. I doctored up the frosting, added sugared pecans, and drizzled the cake with most delicious Salted Caramel Whiskey Sauce. Holy moly! 

Cake and frosting recipes will come later. However, this. This sauce is to kill for. No joke! You really do need to have this recipe in your life right now.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chew on This | Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles

My sister and I were having a lengthy discussion the other week about pickles. Surprisingly, we had much to say about the topic as, universally, my family are a bunch of pickle lovers. Funny though, neither one of us had ever attempted to make our own.

I remedied that this week.

Monday morning, while watering, I harvested our first 8 (!) cucumbers from our sweet little garden. Thus, the perfect opportunity to make my inaugural batch of refrigerator pickles presented itself to me. And when I say this process was easy…man, oh man…I could kick myself for waiting this long to make these pickles. 

This recipe is an amalgamation of ideas bounced around between my sister and I during that telephone pickle conversation. It's simple, basic. But the lovely thing about this recipe - and making pickles in general - is that you can certainly add other flavorings/items (onions, jalapeños, clove, coriander…) or even delete some items (garlic, red pepper flakes…). Whatever you do, you just can't go wrong. The pickles will be deliciously divine!

So, if you're like me, stop discussing pickles and just go and make some. You will not regret it!


Here's our recipe:

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles
8-10 pickling cucumbers
4 C water
3/4 C distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 t Kosher salt
1 C fresh dill weed
4 cloves garlic, crushed and divided between the six pint jars
peppercorns (I used five peppercorns per jar)
red pepper flakes (I used just a tiny pinch of flakes per jar)
6 one pint canning jars with lids

In a medium bowl, combine your water, vinegar, and salt. Stir this mixture (brine) until all of the salt dissolves. Set aside.

Divide between your six jars all of your spices - dill weed, garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Clean and slice the end tips off of your cucumbers. Now slice the cucumbers into spears or chips - which ever you prefer. Stuff the sliced cucumbers into the jars with all of your spices. Pack tightly. Now, pour your brine mixture over the pickles. Fill the jars until the cucumbers are completely covered. Lid each jar and place jars into the refrigerator. 

Allow the cucumbers to pickle for 24 hours before you enjoy! Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for a month. Eat up!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chew on This | Homemade Limoncello

It's the middle of July, right? I ask because the weather over this last week has been cool and pleasant with almost no humidity. Um, weird. Not that I'm complaining - I'm not. I have loved it. Windows open day and night. Grilling, patio lounging, s'mores….all good!

And this. This Limoncello has been good this week too. Really good. And it will probably be even better when the weather returns to the hot, steamy, almost oppressive heat we're accustomed to during July. 

This Limoncello is packed with a sweet and fruity lemon flavor. And it packs a serious punch! Whew - sweet alcoholy liquer! That's why most people serve this yumminess in chilled, small cordial, grappa, or shot glasses. But we're classy over here so we'll serve it in some small stemmed wine glasses. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chew on This | Crepe Cake with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Strawberries

When I was young we had a beautiful Irish Setter named Kassie. She was an incredibly smart and loving dog. And quite the wanderer. Before my parents fenced in our backyard, you would let her out and she would take off for a swim in one of the two lakes in the neighborhood. Often times she would choose to swim in the larger lake that had an overgrown island in the middle of it. This little island was the home of many Canada geese, and I'm sure Kassie was an unwelcomed visitor.  

Being a field dog, one with an inherent hunting instinct, you would think that she was causing all kinds of torture and maddness on that island. No, not exactly. As far as we know, she never chased, caught, or killed any goose on that fine island. However, one spring she did do something suspect. She brought home goose eggs. 

How, you ask? Well, she swam her hairy red body across the lake to the island. She very gingerly picked up an egg from a nest (you know, after frightening the geese away). She carefully held that egg in her mouth and swam back across the lake. She ran down the road, up the hill, onto the front porch, and precisely placed the egg on the top step. And…surprise!!…when Mimi opened the front door to let Kassie in, a perfect, intact egg was presented to her. 

Done once, and this would be considered an amazing feat. Kassie did this 6 times. Six times that pup place a perfect egg on the door stoop for Mimi to discover. We did our best to keep them warm so that they would hatch, unfortunately to no avail. We were all sad about that, though I think Kassie was the most disappointed that none of the eggs hatched. So much so, she never brought another egg home.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chew on This | Raspberry Custard Pie

The neighborhood I grew up in was considered semi-rural, back in the day. We didn't have sidewalks or street lamps. Lot sizes were an acre or larger and the land behind the houses was forest that eventually ran into some farm land. We lived on a hill (which was perfect for sled riding) and at the bottom of the hill there was a creek (which was a fun obstical to try to avoid while sledding). The creek ran under the street through a culvert and then finally emptied into a lake. Also along this side of the road were black raspberry brambles, wild roses, Weeping Willow trees, wildflowers, and all sorts of wildlife. 

Summertime exposed the beauty that lived across the street, and it was gorgeous. Those wild roses smelled like no other rose I have whiffed since. The Weeping Willow trees were huge and whimsical with their drooping tendrils. And the black raspberry brambles were always bent to the ground with fruit that tasted like heaven. Wild summer happiness grew around us, but especially across the street.

Riding our bikes up and down the road, or walking the street barefoot, popping tar bubbles with our toes, we would always be on the look out for a black raspberry snack provided by nature. Sometimes we'd have a feeding frenzy on those delectable morsels. Other times we'd just make a quick stop to snag a small handful and be on our way to go build a fort. And then there were times Mimi would send my sister and I out with brown paper lunch bags to collect as many berries as we could find.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chew on This | Grilled Portobello Steak with Brie and Vegetables

All that garden talk the other day got me craving something fresh, light, and summer-ish for dinner. My sister has been urging me to try this simple mushroom dish, that she eats often, for ages. I did try it about a month ago and now it's the meal I want when my cravings turn veggie centric. And yes, if you know me but at all, you know that veggies and I haven't always been the best of friends. But alas, when I find a veggie dish that speaks to me we become fast and favorite friends for life.

This Grilled Portobello 'Steak' is a new favorite friend. I call the mushroom cap a steak because it's substantial - it's hearty and satisfying without being bulky. Without weighing you down. And when topped with sautéed onions and peppers and melty brie cheese - geez, it's good. Serve an arugula salad with balsamic dressing on the side and you've got yourself a perfect meal.

My sister knows what it's all about. 


Here's the recipe:

Grilled Portobello 'Steak' with Brie and Vegetables
(serves four)

4 large portobello mushroom caps, gently wiped clean and gills removed
1 medium purple onion, sliced into strips
2 red bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed, sliced into strips
6-8 ounces brie cheese, rind removed
balsamic salad dressing (I used Trader Joe's)

In a sauté pan, over medium heat, toss together your onions and peppers. Add salt and pepper, to your taste. Cook until vegetables are softened, but still tender. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.

Fire up your grill to a medium heat or place a grill pan* over medium-high heat on your cook top. Once the grill/pan is warmed up, place your mushroom caps onto the grill/pan, gill side down. Allow the mushrooms to grill 2-4 minutes before carefully turning them over. At this point, add about 2 ounce of brie cheese onto each mushroom while the other side is grilling. Grill the second side for about 2-3 minutes, the brie cheese will begin to get melty. 

Plate the mushrooms and top with sautéed onions and peppers. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with arugula and gingerly douse the mushroom steak and arugula with balsamic dressing. Enjoy!!

*If you don't want to fire up the grill or you don't have a grill pan you can certainly use a sauté pan, on to stove top,  just as easily - you'll only miss the grill marks. No big deal!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Chew on This | Oatmeal Bread

We planted a nice garden this year. Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, lots and lots of different types of peppers, celery, zucchini, and many types of herbs. Things are growing beautifully! Mimi has helped greatly with our garden success thus far because she cared for our tender seedlings while we were away on vacation.

It's always a delemia planting a gorgeous garden and then going away for days right when the vegetables and herbs need your care the most to get established. Mimi happily came to our rescue and watered and weeded daily while we were away. The result of her dedication is a thriving plot. Thank you, Mimi - bundles of fresh veggies coming your way in the near future!!

Each one of us is looking forward to something different that will be harvested from our little garden plot. The Sprite can't wait to pick and pickle the cucumbers. The Boy specifically wanted to plant celery for peanut butter and celery snacks. The Husband is thrilled for the tomatoes and the Easy Roasted Salsa I'll make from them. I planted the eggplant for Mimi (for this recipe). And I long for all the types of peppers I've planted, for all kinds of dishes. And the zucchini. Oh, the zucchini….yum.

Though I'm certainly not wishing this fabulous summer to move any faster, I do look forward to harvesting some goodness. So while I wait for things to grow and ripen, I guess I'll make some delicious Oatmeal Bread. This recipe is easy, quick, and bonkers good. Bread now, veggies later. Win.


Here's the recipe:

Oatmeal Bread
(recipe via Pennies and Pancakes)
1 1/3 C. lukewarm water
2 tsp. dry active yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. oil
3 cups flour 
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl (or standing mixer with bread hook), combine the water, yeast, sugar, and oil. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, or until mixture has foamed a bit. Next, add the flour, oats, and salt. Mix thoroughly, then knead by hand for about 8 minutes (if using a stand mixer, just knead about 5 minutes). 

Cover the bowl with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Let dough rise 90 minutes, or until double in size. Punch down the dough, and knead by hand, turning the dough over on itself several times.

Coat a 9x5" bread pan with non-stick cooking spray and shape the dough into a loaf. Place the dough into the pan and cover with a dishtowel. Allow dough to rise about 45 minutes.
While the dough is rising in the pan, pre-heat an oven to 375℉. When the dough has risen about 1-2 inches above the pan, coat with some honey and place the pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove bread from oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!!