Welcome to my corner of the world. I believe our experiences are not only for our benefit, but should be shared. I hope you will find something in my journey to encourage and inspire you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mom's BBQ

Growing up in Delaware we didn't eat real pulled pork, or beef. I thought Mom's version was the real thing. I was disappointed when I first had pulled pork. I still prefer Mom's.  I think of her every time I take my leftover bits and pieces of meat and simmer them with barbecue sauce.

Really, it's that easy. When I have a leftover piece of chicken or beef or pork that sits in the refrigerator for a few days, you know the ones -too big to throw away, but too small to do anything with - I wrap it up and put it in the freezer. A gallon size bag keeps all of them together. When there is enough for a meal, I put the frozen meat in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and some BBQ sauce and simmer it for several hours. The slow cooker would probably be perfect for this, but I always do it the way Mom did. After a while you can start to shred the meat as you stir it. And you need to stir it occasionally. The sugar in the sauce makes it easy to burn. (I guess the slow cooker would solve that problem.) I frequently make my sauce these days, but there is always a bottle of store bought in the pantry just in case.

I remember putting pickle slices on the sandwiches when we were growing up. I married a southern boy, so now I make Cole slaw for our sandwiches. French fries are a classic side and they frequently are served here too. Though those are almost always frozen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chocolate Pie

Last night, we went to Towson to take Carrie out to celebrate her birthday. It is nice that she is nearby so we can celebrate with her. Dan and I got to have dinner out with five beautiful young ladies. (Carrie, her sisters, and her roommates. Then we went back to her apartment for dessert and presents.

Two thirds of our family love this pie. The other third might if they didn't know it contains tofu. I also love that it is ready to be chilled in fifteen minutes or less, and there is no cooking. This is one of very few recipes that I actually follow as written. It is Alton Brown's Mooless Chocolate Pie. Follow the link to get the measurements for each ingredient.

 There are just six ingredients, if you buy a chocolate cookie crust instead of making one. You could use 1/3 cup of coffee instead of the Kahlua, or a little less than 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee mixed in 1/3 cup of water. Leave it out altogether if you must, but coffee brings out chocolate's flavor, so it will make a difference. If you are not using Kahlua, taste the filling after everything is blended.  You may want to add another tablespoon of honey since the Kahlua would have added some sweetness.

 A B uses a double boiler to melt the chocolate chips with the Kahlua. I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir and microwave another 15 seconds. I stir the honey into the chocolate with the vanilla extract since I sometimes have a problem with honey sinking to the bottom of my blender and not getting mixed in.

Pour the chocolate into the blender with the tofu and mix until smooth. Stop and scrape the sides once.

Finish blending and pour into the crust. A note about the tofu: Silken tofu makes a creamy pudding-like pie. I have used firm tofu when I can't find silken and like the firmer texture almost as well. The firmer pie is a lot easier to serve. Chill for two hours before serving.

There wasn't room for all the filling in this crust, so I got to sample the pie without waiting. Some whipped cream or berries would have been good on top. I wish I had thought of that yesterday. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pizza Night

Setting pizza dough on the island to rise is a sure way to get my family involved in making dinner. Everyone wants to help and choose what goes on our pizza. Pizza night often becomes movie night when we decide to take our dinner in the family room. Finding a movie we all want to watch can be a challenge, but that's another story.

Around here anything goes on pizza. Michael has even used macaroni and cheese - which was surprisingly good. It is a great meal for cleaning out the refrigerator. We don't often use pizza sauce or Mozzarella.

I always start with fresh pizza dough, but pita bread, tortillas, English muffins,... can become pizza crust.  A lot of stores have pizza dough available. (Wegman's is our favorite.) If not fresh, then try in the freezer cases. I used frozen bread dough before I discovered pizza dough at the grocery store. For a while I made my own pizza crust, but with inexpensive, delicious fresh dough available it doesn't seem worth the time and energy involved. Bake according to package directions until just beginning to brown.

Thinly slice 1 medium tomato and place on paper towels to drain before seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella and place between layers of paper towels to drain. Lightly spray or brush crust with olive oil and top with cheese and tomatoes. Add about ½ cup arugula leaves then spray with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Place in oven for 2 minutes to heat everything through.

Pizza Margherita
This is similar to the arugula and tomato, but just top the pizza with olive oil, tomato and cheese before returning it to the oven for 2 minutes. When it comes out add thinly sliced basil leaves. (The easiest way to slice the basil is to roll the leaves together into a cylinder then slice.)

BBQ Chicken/Bacon
Spread BBQ sauce on cooked crust. Top with diced cooked chicken, crumbled cooked bacon and grated sharp cheddar cheese. Bake for 5 more minutes.

 This one takes some planning ahead since the onions take so long to cook, but it is our favorite right now:
Caramelized onion/goat cheese
Cook 2 or 3 medium onions in 1 or 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until golden brown. I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, which adds flavor and draws moisture out of the onions. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, which will help with the browning. (It's not enough to make them sweet.) You have to watch them and stir every few minutes or they will burn. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. (It is worth it. – Really) Spread cooked onions over baked crust. Top with 5 ounces of crumbled goat cheese. Place in oven for 2 minutes to heat everything through.