The Hills Have Pies

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Have you ever seen the movie(s) The Hills Have Eyes, by Wes Craven? If not, I highly recommend you don’t…unless you love to be on the edge of your seat and scared out of your mind. The 2006 movie was a remake of the 1977 classic of the same name. Wes Craven really knows how to tell a scary story…one that stays with you…pretty much forever. Scared and scarred for life.

The story is basically about a family who is on a cross country, and is purposely detoured, and drive unknowingly into an abandoned U.S. nuclear testing site. There, they are terrorized and almost all of them killed by mutant “hill people”.

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It’s a movie that always comes to mind when we are at the cabin….because, of course… our cabin sits on a 57 acre hillside. And what makes it even creepier…is that there is this man who has suddenly appeared in the last few months while we are on a hike, or a four wheeler ride. Although the land is posted, there are still some of the local neighbors who use the trails for their four wheelers, or for going on walks.

But this man… he’s just plain scary. He’s rather elusive, which makes him even more creepy….and when we come face to face in the woods, he just disappears into the trees. One minute he’s there… the next minute…poof. He’s gone.
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We did find out from the local neighbors that he’s harmless. But that doesn’t make him any less scary, especially when he’s there… and…you know he’s there because you saw him…but then all of a sudden he’s not there anymore. And then you have to walk by the spot in which he disappeared because that’s the way back to the cabin….

And it always makes me think of the end of the movie, when the remaining family members think that they’ve killed off all of the mutants…and unbeknownst to them, there is a mutant hill person silently watching them through the trees…is he watching me through the trees as I pass by? It’s quite unnerving.

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I really need to stop watching scary movies.
And I need to start making more pies.

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So anyway… up in the woods along the trails are wild strawberries. They’re everywhere…And if I’m lucky enough, I can grab a few before the mutant hill man, or a chipmunk finds them first. What better way to calm my jittery nerves, than a rustic strawberry pie, and a scoop of fresh ice cream on top…

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The hills have pies.
And that’s not scary at all.
It’s delicious.

It’s delicious especially with my quick (cheater’s) fresh vanilla ice cream, which is basically frozen whipped cream, and a cute little pastry heart garnish (Because every pie should have a heart). This is enough bring a smile to even the crankiest of mutant hill men!

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….And…. I’m bringing my rustic strawberry pie to Angie’s Fiesta Friday today… and have the honor once again to co-host! Today, I am thrilled to be co-hosting with Elaine from Foodbod! This is going to be one lovely party, because not only is this lady one highly talented chef, her sweet personality is like a magnet.  It’s truly love at first sight as soon as you meet Elaine, you just can’t help it…she is so darn adorable!

A special thank you to Angie from The Novice Gardener for hosting Fiesta Friday. I know I say this all the time…but how time flies when we’re having fun…. Can you believe that we are at week number 22 already?? Our beautiful Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds every single week! But how can it not? Angie is true blue…with a kind heart, and a hilarious outlook on pretty much everything! And not surprising, her funny and entertaining manner keeps people coming back each week! And don’t get me started on her absolutely gorgeous photography and mouth-watering recipes. Seriously. You’ll become instantly smitten. I promise.

I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week…you’ll be amazed. We have some truly talented people there!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Elaine or Angie, if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!

Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…

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I truly hope to see you there!

Life is good, it’s a “I wonder if mutant hill man likes strawberry pies, because maybe I’ll make him one someday” kind of good…

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Rustic Strawberry Pie with Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream

Just a quick note…if you’re planning on making the ice cream for this recipe, although it’s simple, then you’ll need to plan ahead. You’ll need to freeze your ice cream maker bowl for at least 8 hours, to overnight!

1 quart fresh strawberries (Because let’s face it. Wild strawberries aren’t readily available to everyone.)
1/3 cup Sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
dash salt
Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust (Recipe Below)
Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream (Recipe Below)

Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust:
If you haven’t tried this pie crust….you honestly need to. It will be your “go-to” pie crust forever.
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar

In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir. The dough will be sticky.
Roll out on a generously floured surface, a little on the thicker side. Maybe about a ¼” thick-14” square. Spoon the strawberry mixture into the middle of the crust, leaving about a 2-1/2” edge. Cut around the square so that the edges are perfectly straight. Save the scraps. Fold the edges up over the strawberries, overlapping the corners, so that it folds into a perfect square. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Roll the scraps again to about ¼”, and using a heart shaped cookie cutter…cut a heart out of the pastry dough, and place it in the middle of the pie (Because all pies should have a heart).
With a smaller heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many pastry hearts as you can. Sprinkle all of the hearts with course sugar, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch them, so that they don’t burn! These hearts will be used to garnish the pie and ice cream later.

Quick Vanilla Ice Cream:
Just a quick note:  This is basically frozen whipped cream.  You want the heavy cream to be cold when you start this. Make sure that you keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to make the ice cream!  I only add 1/4 cup of sugar, because I just don’t care for it when it’s so sweet, especially when it’s going to top a very sweet pie. If you like it a little sweeter, then by all means, add more sugar.  It won’t change the texture of the ice cream at all.
2 cups heavy cream (Just out of refrigerator, you want it to be cold!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Combine the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Since the heavy cream is right out of the fridge, then you can go ahead and pour it into your ice cream maker’s bowl. Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. It takes a good half hour or so.

As soon as it’s frozen to your desired consistency, serve it with a square of fresh strawberry pie, and garnish with a pastry heart.

Enjoy!

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Raspberry Rose Sorbet: My Guest Post for Frugal Foodie Mama!

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I had the honor of writing a guest post for my friend Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama today! I was so thrilled when she asked; it took me a matter of a millisecond to say “Yes!”   And it was another millisecond before I knew exactly what I wanted to make!!

I think it’s safe to say that we are officially in the heat of the summer….and what better way to cool down, than with raspberry rose sorbet?

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Seriously…this sorbet made with fresh raspberries and a hint of rose is so, so delicious….and it’s just one of those things that makes you feel happy to serve to your very surprised guests when they see the floral ice bowls that you made! Just sit back and listen to the “Ooh’s and Aah’s” while they proclaim you to be the master of desserts for the day!

But only you know the truth…and that’s just how easy this pretty dessert was to make!

It’s posted today, so if you’d like to see more photos and get my recipe, please visit Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama! While you’re there… browse through Carrie’s beautiful blog…I know that you will love her, and her many wonderful ideas and recipes…

….such as Carrie’s:

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry & Ricotta Ice Cream

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… or her

Frozen Strawberry Key Lime Margaritas 

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Seriously…Crazy delicious!

A special thank you to Carrie for giving me this wonderful opportunity. It has been a pleasure. Truly a pleasure.

Life is good… it’s a “raspberry rose and flowers in ice” kind of good…

A Chocolate Chip Cookie By Any Other Name Would Taste As Sweet…

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Have you ever had a craving so bad, that it calls out to you all day?  I mean, I get cravings… but then I get cravings.  Take last week for instance, I wanted cookies. But I didn’t want just any cookie…I wanted a chocolate chip cookie with nuts and raisins.  It was one of those cravings.  No other chocolate chip cookie would do.

Now, you know that I cannot bake to save my life…but what else could I do?  I had to have the cookie.  I had to bake the cookie.

I’m actually quite famous with my kids for my lack of baking skills. I want to be a baker, it’s just not meant to be.  I’ve accepted that.   But once in a while…it just has to be done…knowing full well that I’m walking down the path of possible ridicule and rejection.

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And while I was very pleased with my cookies in both taste and appearance…. My son Mike came walking into the kitchen and took one look at them…and then turned around and took one look at me, shaking his head…

I braced myself for the worst…

He grabbed a couple of them, and walked out of the kitchen. I think you know Mike by now…he’s so fussy…it was a small miracle that he even tried them! A few minutes later, he comes back into the kitchen..

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“These are really good for being as ugly as they are” he said, grabbing a couple more cookies.
“I don’t think they’re that ugly, Boy” I replied.
“Yeah, they’re pretty ugly, I don’t know why you keep trying to bake” he said.
“I hope you burn your tongue” I answered as he walked out.

Let me translate that conversation for you:

“These are really delicious cookies, mom…” is what he really meant.
“Thank you Boy, I had a feeling you’d like them…” is what I really meant.
“Your perseverance in baking is really paying off..” is what he really meant.
“I love you too, Boy” is what we both really meant.

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Anyway…getting back to the cookie craving… I’m glad I made these cookies. There is something about that creamy milk chocolate, with a bite of toasted walnut, a chewy sweet raisin, and a sweet glaze that just makes a cookie complete.  It makes the cookie complete…and it makes me happy.

The next time you get that craving…I hope you try these cookies. They’re foolproof for the non-baker, and they’re delicious enough to please even your biggest critic! And…they’re not ugly.

Life is good, it’s a “Warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven with an ice cold glass of milk” kind of good…

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Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes Two Dozen Cookies

Just a quick note: This recipe was adapted from Crisco’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie. I changed up a couple (ok… a lot) of things to suit my taste (baking skills).

3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (See below)
1 cup raisins

Line one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts, and raisins.

Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough into a ball, and place each ball about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 11 minutes for chewy cookies, or 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 4 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

Drizzle with vanilla glaze. Store in an airtight container, or leave them on a plate on your table. They won’t last long!

Toasted Walnuts:
So simple…. place the walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 6-8 minutes, watching them closely so that they don’t burn.

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp heavy cream (or more, until it reaches desired consistency)

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and heavy cream until smooth and glaze consistency.

Enjoy!

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Citrus-Ade

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I have the weeding just about finished around my house. I’m so happy, and so relieved…but I am also very aware that it’s just in time for the next round.  I’m so good at growing weeds, that I’ve given it some strong consideration to pull the flowers, and just grow weeds! And I do admit…some weeds that I grow are very pretty. They’re highly invasive and destructive, but some of them do have a beautiful flower on them!

You know, it’s funny… up to about ten years ago or so, I could have started the weeding on a Saturday morning, and would have pulled all the weeds, planted flowers, and mulched by Saturday night. One day is all I would really take to blast through those pesky weeds, but now it takes me a full day to do just one side of the house! And then it takes me another full day to get rid of the aches and pains that my body has suffered from all the bending and pulling the weeds!

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There is such a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that I enjoy when it’s all finished, I just love to sit out on the porch on a warm summer’s evening, and appreciate the . Yep, I pop three Ibuprofen; sit on a pillow with my arms wrapped in ice bags, my neck wrapped in a microwavable heated neck thingy, an over the counter pain patch on my lower back, and my feet soaking in the foot bath!

Ok, I exaggerate…the Ibuprofen is the only true thing from that whole paragraph… but at the rate I’m going with this whole weeding gig…I can see all  that stuff  in my near future!

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Seriously though, I do love to sit out on the porch on that warm summer’s evening, with a platter of cheese and fruit…and something cold and refreshing to drink. Sometimes it’s wine..sometimes it’s iced tea..and sometimes it’s this citrus-ade.  I’m going to be honest here, I’m not very good at making lemonade.  I’ve tried it throughout the years, and it always tastes bitter. Not tart, but bitter.  So I got myself into the habit of mixing citrus fruits together,  and it always comes out perfectly tart, perfectly sweet…and perfectly refreshing!

I think what I love the most about this “ade”  is that you can use whatever citrus fruits that you happen to have on hand that day!  When I made this, I had grapefruit, lemons, and limes, so that’s the recipe that I’m giving you today.  Honestly though, it’s so easy, and it’s so quick to make, that you won’t mind throwing it together after a long day in the weeds… just add about five cups of water to the fruit juice, add the amount of sugar to make it your desired sweetness, and then sit back, relax, and enjoy your flowers (or weeds, in my case) in their glory!

Life is good, it’s a “Where the heck do those weeds come from anyway, and when did I get so old that it takes me four weeks rather than one day to get rid of them?” kind of good…

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Citrus-Ade
Makes About 1-1/2 Quarts

3 pink grapefruit
4 lemons
4 limes
5 – 6 cups water (Use 5 cups if the fruit doesn’t have much taste. Use 6 cups if the fruit is juicy and flavorful)
1 to 1-1/2 cups sugar (This all depends on how tart or sweet you like your beverage)
Ice
Strawberries for garnish

Juice the grapefruits, lemons, and limes into a pitcher. Add the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to serve….and then add ice. Garnish with strawberries.

Enjoy!

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100th Post Celebration with Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream Sodas!!

IMG_0907Well…here we are.

100 posts.

I know that so many people have hit this milestone a long time ago…and have gone above and beyond already….but I still feel the need to celebrate my 100th post…with you…because it’s you who have helped me get to this point in my blog…

When I started this blog, I wondered what it would be like when I reached 100 posts. I wondered how long it would take to hit 100, I wondered if I’d even make it this far, and most importantly, I wondered how many people I would meet along the way…

And, boy oh boy… did I meet people! So many wonderful people…so many new friends!

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I’ve learned one very important thing along the way… that this blog really isn’t about me. It’s about you. I reached out, and you took my hand and walked down this path with me. With your kind encouragement, and sometimes friendly critique, you’ve helped me to learn and grow. So now, when I prepare a recipe, or write a post, it’s always with you in mind..

So this celebration is for you…
To you, wonderful readers…I am forever thankful.
It is because of you, I’m here.

And it’s because of you, that I plan on 100 more posts, and 100 more posts after that, and even 100 more posts after that… I still have so much to learn…and so much more growing to do… and I look forward to doing just that…. with you.

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So, you’re probably thinking…”Why on earth would you celebrate with ice cream sodas, when you could have made cake, or cupcakes, or something like that??”

Well…first of all…..you know full well that I can’t bake to save my life…. and second…there are actually a couple of things going on today…not only is today my 100th post, but it’s also National Ice Cream Soda Day, and it’s Fiesta Friday!

So what better way to celebrate, than with Ice Cream Sodas, on National Ice Cream Soda Day?! And what better party than Angie’s Fiesta Friday to celebrate this milestone?

There is no better way!

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The ice cream soda, (float, snowball, or spider) was invented in 1874 by Robert McCay Green, who owned a small soda fountain in Philadelphia. There are a couple of different stories behind his creation. The first is that his big selling cream sodas were selling quickly on a warm summer’s day, and he ran out of cream. In order to meet the demand of his customers, he used ice cream in place of the cream, and it became a big hit!

The second story that I found was that Mr. Green’s soda fountain couldn’t compete with the larger soda fountains down the road, so he came up with this new concoction to pull some of the competition’s customers to his shop. He succeeded, but for a short timeframe, because his competitors started serving ice cream sodas soon after!

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Fast forward about 30+ years, to when there was a ban placed on ice cream sodas because prohibitionists were working really hard to sober the country up, so they started with Sundays and Holy Days. It was believed that soda contained medicinal ingredients, containing what we now consider controlled or illegal substances such as cocaine, cannibus, and opium.. which they placed in the same category as booze. Because booze couldn’t be consumed on a Sunday.. well, then neither could ice cream sodas.  So what did they do?  They served the ice cream sodas without the soda, and that’s when the ice cream sundae was born!

People had no idea that they were actually getting high, they just thought that soda was a great medicinal tonic that was good for them, because it made them feel good!

Reality was, they were hooked on narcotics.

Druggies.
Junkies.
Victorian Smackheads.

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My ice cream sodas don’t contain any narcotics of any kind. Just fresh ingredients that I can’t promise make a healthy ice cream soda, but they do make a wholesome one.

They’re a special treat once in a while… a refreshing drink that you eat with a spoon! The next time you decide to treat yourself to an ice cream soda, think of me while you’re enjoying it…knowing that I thought of you when I wrote this post.

A special thank you to Angie, our beautiful host of Fiesta Friday….and to Julianna from Foodie  on Board, and Elaine from Foodbod for co-hosting this great event!  I hope that you stop by, and if you are a blogger…then please…link up with us!  We welcome you to our party!!  It’s always a great time…and I’m always blown away by the wonderful things that everyone brings to the table!  Click here to go to the party!

Thank you for 100 posts of pure bliss… I look forward to the next 100…

Life is good, it’s a “Celebrating 100 posts with my wonderful readers” kind of good…

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Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream Sodas
Serves Four

Just a quick note: If you are planning on making homemade ice cream, then plan for it! Make the ice cream early in the morning so that you have enough time to cool the custard and churn the ice cream!

Vanilla Ice Cream (Recipe below)
Hot Fudge Sauce (Recipe below)
1 liter Club Soda
Whipped Cream
Sprinkles (Not optional. Necessary. This is a fun drink, for goodness sake!)
Maraschino Cherries (Again. Not optional. Necessary. Let your hair down, man!)

Brown Eyed Baker’s Vanilla Ice Cream:

Another quick note: The best homemade vanilla ice cream recipe, hands down, is the one that I found on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog. It’s foolproof, and it’s delicious! This is Michelle’s recipe, copied from her blog…and…this recipe makes the perfect amount for four ice cream sodas.

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream and the salt in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk mixture and add the bean to the mixture as well. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and place a fine-mesh sieve on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.

3. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula, a few minutes. The mixture should register 170 to 175 degrees F on an instant-read digital thermometer.

4. Pour the custard through the fine-mesh sieve and stir it into the cream. Place the vanilla bean into the custard, stir in the vanilla extract, and place the bowl over an ice bath. Stir occasionally, until the mixture is cool. Cover and transfer the custard to the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean from the custard and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer.

Hot Fudge Sauce:

This recipe is one that I have written on an index card in my recipe box.  I don’t know where it came from, or how long I’ve had it.  I just know that it’s well used, one of those tattered and stained recipe cards!  It’s so easy, and so delicious!

1 cup chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the chocolate chips, and stir until melted. Add the sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until combined, and cook on low for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

Assemble the Ice Cream Sodas:
Add about 1/4 cup of the hot fudge sauce into the bottom of four tall glasses.  Using a fork, start whisking the hot fudge in the glass, while pouring the club soda into the glass, until it’s about 2/3’s of the way filled.  Add two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top of the soda (yes, it will sink).  Top it off with another dollop of hot fudge sauce, and whipped cream (yes, the whipped cream will float on top!).

Garnish with more hot fudge sauce, sprinkles, and a cherry on top!

Enjoy!

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Layered Peach Rice Pudding

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A couple of months ago, I had Jessica run to my beloved Wegmans for me to pick up a few groceries. One of the items on my list was a bag of rice.

Ok.
It was my fault.
I didn’t specify.
Jessica came home with a 10 pound bag of rice.

Yes.
10 pounds.
Of rice.

Well, in her defense… I did say “bag” of rice.

What does one do with 10 pounds of rice?
Well…one cooks it.
And cooks it…
Aaaannd…cooks it.

I laughed, of course, and started cooking rice….and have been cooking it ever since. I’m almost down to the end of it; and I surprised myself at how quickly I actually did use it up!

Much to my son Michael’s dismay, I made rice quite often as a side for dinner. He’s not a fan. In fact, he hates it. (I know…there’s a surprise….)

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I also made quite a bit of rice pudding. Jessica loves it, and so do I. It’s definitely a wonderful dessert; or a little snack for the evening…. But I find myself taking a little container of it to work for lunch…or grabbing a few spoonfuls for dinner.

I think that a lot of people underestimate rice pudding. There isn’t much you can do to it to make it pretty. So it’s a dessert that many people might not serve to their guests simply for aesthetic reasons.

It’s boring.
I mean, let’s face it…if you’re not a fan, then rice pudding can be very boring.
I totally get that.
But I also get that those people are totally missing out on a very delicious dessert.

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So, I’m going to be that person. I’m going to be the one that serves rice pudding to her guests… and with confidence….because I know that they’re going to love it. I’m going to pretty it up a little, and serve it with fresh peach jam, and fresh peaches on top…all layered on top of a graham cracker crust.

Delicious.
A perfect summertime dessert that even the “non-rice pudding fans” will even love.

Except for Mike. He still hates it.

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I’m bringing my Peach Rice Pudding to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to share with all of you. I hope you love it as much as Jessica and I do!

We have reached a milestone at Fiesta Friday! It is our 20th week! And this week, we have two larger than life bloggers co-hosting the party! The lovely Suzanne from APugintheKitchen,  brought an ice cream cake to the party.  I mean seriously… she made an ice cream cake!!  And the lovely Fae from Fae’s Twist and Tango made Nazouk  which is an Armenian Pastry ! I know, right? Beautiful!!  I am so looking forward to this….I know that they’ll make this party memorable!  As for Angie… Everyone loves Angie!  She’s polished. She’s sophisticated.  She’s hilarious…and she’s the kindest host you’ll ever want to meet.  A special thank you to Angie, Suzanne, and Fae for hosting this milestone event!

If you have never visited Fiesta Friday, I hope that you do stop by to see what everyone has to offer…there’s always something delicious cooking from so many people from all around the world! If you are a blogger..or new to blogging, please feel free to link up with us! This is a great way to meet other bloggers, and gain more exposure! We are always happy to welcome new people into the mix!  Just click here  to get there!!

Life is good, it’s a “You can never have too much rice in the pantry” kind of good…

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Layered Peach Rice Pudding
Eight 5oz Servings with a Whole Lotta Rice Pudding Left Over

This is my mom’s recipe for rice pudding. It’s one of those recipes that comes from a telephone call, that really had no measurements …. “Mom, how do I make rice pudding?” … “Oh, throw some rice in the pan, throw some milk on top, throw a can of sweetened condensed milk in….” It took me a while to learn how to make a decent rice pudding… but I do have to say that it’s never as good as my mom’s. She makes it the best.

3 cups cooked long grain white rice
1 quart whole milk
1 – 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, mix the white rice, the milk, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, and salt. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t brown on the bottom. A browned bottom means brown flecks all throughout your pudding. It’s still edible, just not pretty. Cook until it has thickened.

There really is no time frame for me to tell you exactly how long to cook this. It takes a good hour or so to thicken, maybe to a runny yogurt consistency. Remember that the rice will continue to absorb the liquid, so you don’t want it too thick, or it will dry out. I have found a quick remedy to dried rice pudding… just stir some heavy cream in until it becomes the thickness you desire!

While the rice mixture is simmering, crack the egg into a bowl, and whisk it with a fork. Once the rice mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat, and you’ll want to temper the egg before you add it to the saucepan. Add about a cup of the hot rice mixture to the bowl with the whisked egg, and stir it quickly so that the egg doesn’t cook from the hot mixture….and then add the egg mixture to the rest of the rice mixture in the saucepan. Stir it until it is well blended. Add the vanilla, and stir until blended.

Pour into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Serve when cooled.

Peach Jam:
2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and diced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice

Cook the peaches, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small sauce pan over low heat until the peaches have broken down, and thickened. This doesn’t take long…about ½ hour. Remove from heat, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Fresh Peach Garnish:
1 peach, skin on, diced
1-2 tsp granulated sugar

Mix the peaches and sugar in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp sugar

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Assemble the Dessert:

Add 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs to the bottom of each glass.
Layer 2 tablespoons of peach jam on top of the graham cracker crust.
Fill with rice pudding to the top of the glass.
Garnish with fresh peaches.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!!

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Frozen Raspberry Peach Bellinis

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I had the honor of writing a guest post for Nancy from Feasting with Friends this week. She has a few people doing some guest appearances while she is recuperating at home from surgery, and I am thrilled to be one of them!  Our prayers were truly answered with a successful surgery, and will continue with her recovery.  Nancy is truly a wonderful friend…one that is held in high regard in our blogging family.

In other words… we love her.

We are all so thankful, and so, so very happy that every day brings a little more healing and strength to our lovely friend.
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As soon as she asked me, I knew immediately that I would be making something summery and refreshing for Nancy…and it didn’t take me long to decide on these Raspberry Peach Bellinis…

To see the recipe, please visit my guest post at Nancy’s Feasting with Friends today! While you’re there, say hello to Nancy…she would love to hear from you!

Click Here or on any one of the photos to see and print the recipe!

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Life is good, it’s a “praying that each new day brings renewed strength and recovery for our lovely friend”..kind of good…

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Writing Process Blog Tour, Part II: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from Nancy Creative

IMG_0235About a week ago, I did a Writing Process Blog Tour with a few of my blogging friends, including Nancy from Nancy Creative.

I decided at that time that I wanted to share something from each of them. Last week, I shared Dimples Cheese, Cauliflower, and Broccoli Patties… and this week, I’d like to share Nancy’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

It was about three or four weeks ago, when I was flipping through Pinterest on my phone, trying to find a recipe for chocolate chip banana bread. There was one that looked especially good to me, and when I clicked on it; guess whose recipe it was? Yep! The link brought me to Nancy’s blog!

I’ve gone bananas over Nancy’s banana breads….and I can tell you that I now have a favorite chocolate chip banana bread recipe because of her! I always know when a recipe is going to be a winner, because I find that my kids hang out with me a little longer in the kitchen than they usually would. So, I’m not kidding when I say that my kids were hovering when I was photographing it, and it lasted a matter of five minutes after I was finished taking photos! There was no doubt in my mind that I had to share this winning recipe with all of you…

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It’s so easy to throw together…and…

It’s moist.
It’s chocolatey.
It’s deliciously banana!

Honestly, you need to stop by Nancy’s blog to see just how many banana bread recipes this girl has. You name it, it’s there…

Double Dark Chocolate.
Whole Wheat Honey.
Pomegranate Walnut.
Disney.
…And that’s just to name a few…. the list goes on and on!!

Nancy is such a joy… she is pure sunshine. Just one visit to her blog will have you returning time and time again. You’ll never know what each day brings, because this girl does it all….it could be a beautiful photo with flowers with a scripture quote, or it could be a delicious recipe, or an uplifting saying. No matter what it is, I can guarantee that you will walk away smiling…

Life is good…it’s an“it’s about the people we meet along life’s path, who truly make an impact on how we view each day…”..kind of good…

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The recipe, copied from Nancy’s blog: Nancy Creative:

CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Lovin’ from the Oven

Makes one 8×4″ or 9×5″ loaf
◾1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
◾1 cup granulated sugar
◾2 eggs

◾1 Tablespoon milk or half and half
◾3 very ripe medium-size bananas, mashed
◾1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
◾1/4 teaspoon salt
◾1/2 teaspoon baking powder
◾1 teaspoon baking soda
◾1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8×4″ or 9×5″ loaf pan (I’ve tried it in both size pans, and an 8×4″ loaf pan makes a nicer-looking, fuller loaf but you need to add about 10 more minutes to your baking time).

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well, then stir in the milk and mashed bananas. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Blend the flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir just enough to evenly combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 65-70 minutes for an 8×4″ loaf or 55-60 minutes for a 9×5″ loaf, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cooled, you can top with a glaze if you like…

CREAMY GLAZE (optional)
◾1 cup powdered sugar
◾1 1/2 Tablespoons half and half
◾1/4 to 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

In small bowl, blend powdered sugar and half and half until smooth and creamy. Spoon over the loaf, then sprinkle the mini semi-sweet chips on top. Let glaze set before serving.

The bread is so moist, dense, and chocolatey that it tastes wonderful even without the glaze, if you prefer it that way!

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It’s Fiesta Friday #19, and I’m Co-Hosting and Bringing My Smoked Baby Back Ribs!

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I’ve been looking forward to this Fiesta Friday #19, because I have the honor of co-hosting this week with the lovely Sue O’Bryan from Birgerbird! I’m thrilled to be co-hosting with Sue… she’s such a sweet, sweet girl, and the recipes and stories that she shares are always delightful!

A special thank you to Angie for hosting Fiesta Friday; and I cannot believe that we are at week number 19 already!! How time flies when we’re having fun, and Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party! I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Sue, or Angie if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!

Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…

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So, I have been working on mastering the art of smoking. Like I mentioned the other day….not the nicotine or cannabis type… but the art of taking a beautiful cut of meat, and rubbing glorious spices all over it, and placing it in a box in which wood burns and smokes to create a most delectable and juicy inside, but yet that crispy black bark on the outside that we all adore.

I am by no means a certified professional smoker. When it comes to the art of charcuterie…well…let’s just say I’m no Picasso. Far from it. But I’m learning.

It has taken a good year to figure out how to properly smoke baby back ribs. Ok, I use the word “properly”, but maybe I should just say that I figured out what works the best for me when it comes to smoking ribs.

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I have spent so much time researching and reading up on rubs and smoking, you’d think that I’d know what I was doing by now, but there is no doubt that it takes patience and a little bit of experience to get it perfect.

Low and slow.
Nope.
That just cooks shoe leather.

185° for “x” amount of hours… That’s what everybody says. And that truly did not work for me. I don’t know if it’s the smoker that I use, but every piece of meat that I tried that method on, dried out. Maybe I kept it in too long. I tried the method of smoking it for 6 hours, and then wrapping it in plastic wrap, and then again in foil, and throwing it in the oven for another 2 hours. It burned.

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And then finally, I stumbled upon this 3-2-1 method. If you Google 3-2-1, a ton of links will pop up. It works, it really, really works!! Rub the piece of meat with spices, and smoke it at 225° for three hours. Wrap it in foil; throw it back in the smoker at 225° for two more hours. Remove the foil, slather it with barbecue sauce and place it back in the smoker at 225° for one last hour. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become really comfortable with this method or what, but it seems to me that this is the easiest method that I’ve ever tried (aside from leaving it in the smoker for hours and hours, only for it to become shoe leather!).

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As for the rub, I’m sharing mine with you, but you’ll find that you probably change it up to suit your taste. I tend to like mine sweet, and a little on the spicy side. It’s a simple rub, but does the trick.

If you are thinking about buying a smoker, I highly recommend it. I went back and forth for the longest time, unsure if I’d really use it….would it be one of those things that I buy, but ends up sitting in the back of the garage filled with junk? I can promise you, I use mine all the time. It’s right at the front of the garage, ready to go whenever I’m ready! ..And clean up isn’t as bad as I thought it would be… it isn’t instant clean up, but I soak the racks overnight, and by the next morning, everything just washes right off! Trust me, I think everyone who owns a smoker, will attest that it’s one of the best things that they ever bought.

While I finally feel confident in smoking baby backs, and sharing them with you… there is still so much that I have to learn… brisket being my next challenge! So, stay tuned!!

I’m taking these ribs to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to meet up with Sue, and welcome everyone who has brought something to our table. I hope to see you there!

Life is good…it’s a “Friends getting together, sharing and laughing, and meeting new friends… just a happy and fun time” kind of good..

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Six Really Generous Portions

Just a quick Note: The recipe for the rub is just the right amount for three racks of baby backs. Adjust it accordingly to the amount of ribs you will be making.

Plan on preparing the ribs the night before you’re going to smoke them. You will need jumbo zipper disposable plastic bags to brine them in.

The Night Before:
3 racks baby back ribs
3 cans Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or Root Beer
Your favorite flavor wood chips. I tend to use Apple, Jack Daniels, Cherry, or Maple

Remove the ribs from their packaging. On the back of each rack, you’ll find a silver membrane that you’ll want to remove. You don’t have to, but you’ll find it more of a yucky inconvenience if you don’t. Been there. Done that.

Take a sharp knife, and beginning at one end of the rack, slice just beneath the membrane so that you can get your fingers underneath it. Once you do that, you’ll be able to peel it away from the ribs with your fingers. Just continue to work it up until you’ve removed the whole thing. It’s pretty easy to do.

Once you have the membranes removed, cut the ribs in half, by finding the middle, and cutting in between the bone. Place the rib halves into the jumbo plastic bag, and place the bag in a very large bowl (just in case it decides to leak, you won’t have a huge mess all over your fridge!). Pour the three cans of pop or soda, (Yes, I say pop, I’m a Western NY girl) over the ribs. Seal the bag, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, prepare your smoker per manufacturer instructions and heat it to 225°. Remove the ribs from the brine. Discard the brine. Generously rub the spices all over the rib halves, and place on the racks of the smoker. Add the wood chips to the smoker per the manufacturer instructions. Close the smoker, and leave it for 3 hours. Continue to add wood chips as often as the instructions indicate.

After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap each one in foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs back into the smoker, and leave for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours, remove the foil wrapped ribs from the smoker, and remove the foil. Generously slather your favorite barbecue sauce all over the ribs, and place the ribs back into the smoker for one last hour. Continue to add the wood chips as the instructions indicate.

After that last hour, the ribs will be absolutely juicy, fall off the bone perfect!!

Serve immediately with your favorite picnic sides, such as this German Potato Salad, these potato chips, and these Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs!

The Rub:
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp cayenne

Blend the brown sugar, and all of the spices together until combined. Generously rub all over ribs. This is delicious for any type of meat that you plan to smoke!

Enjoy!!

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Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs

My plan for today’s post was to talk about my smoking adventures…(No silly…. Not of the nicotine or cannabis kind!)… but I received an email telling me that today is National Egg Day, so I have switched gears mid-flight, and we will talk about smoking another day…

egg-1-4So instead, let’s talk about deviled eggs for a few minutes. I’m a deviled egg girl. I love them. You can skip the egg salad sandwich, just serve me a couple of classic deviled eggs, and I’m in heaven. Throw a green olive on top, and I’ll probably ask you to marry me!

I think it was about 15 years ago when I first tried “flavored” deviled eggs. One of my co-workers brought some eggs in for a work party, and she had prepared them with salsa. I think that’s when I made my first marriage proposal…and she let me down easy…letting me know that it just wouldn’t work out as we were both already married…and I was letting her salsa deviled eggs rule my heart…

She was right of course…and for many, many reasons, it wouldn’t have worked out. It seems that I tend to let food rule my heart…and I have offered many proposals of marriage**…only to be let down time and time again…but that’s ok, because the proposals are always made while I’m lost in the throes of food!

**Disclaimer: My proposals of marriage are always in fun, and I have absolutely no intention of marrying anyone!!

egg-1-2Not too long ago, I was at the Griffin GastroPub in Niagara Falls with my friends for dinner, and on their appetizer menu, they had Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs. Hmmm…. Even I, the girl who loves a gazillion flavors going on at once, was a little hesitant, wondering how that would even taste. But my hesitation was fleeting, and I ordered them.

Wow.
Holy Smokes.
I didn’t know who to ask to marry me.
The waitress?
The chef?
The owner of the restaurant?
Could I ask all three, and if I did….if three is a crowd, what would four of us be?
That was way too much to process while I was trying to enjoy the eggs…

egg-1-3The marriage proposal was quickly forgotten…because as I was eating the eggs, I was studying, examining, and considering every ingredient in them. I knew that I’d be trying to recreate them at home. And…I did. And…they are delicious.

This is such a great recipe. They’re perfect to take to parties as a finger food, grab a couple for lunch in place of a sandwich, or put them on the table with some chips (Homemade!) to go with your hot dog or burger! The beauty of this recipe is that you can make these so quick and so very easily…shred up a rotisserie chicken that you can purchase fully cooked at the store…boil up a few eggs, mix them with mayonnaise, hot sauce, and blue cheese… chop a little parsley, or cilantro (if you’re brave enough) for a little garnish… and boom, you have a great little deviled egg to share, or keep for yourself (I prefer the latter!).

And then sit back, and wait for the marriage proposals to start coming in…

Life is good… it’s a “Deviled eggs make me feel really devilish” kind of good…

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Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs
Makes One Dozen, or 24 Halves

1 dozen hard boiled eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp yellow mustard
3/4 cup shredded or chopped cooked chicken (rotisserie chickens work perfectly!)
1/4 cup hot sauce
4 tbsp finely chopped celery
3 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish
Finely chopped celery for garnish
Reserve about 4 tbsp of chicken for garnish
Crumbled blue cheese for garnish
Hot sauce for garnish

Mix the chicken and hot sauce together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Carefully slice the eggs in half lengthwise, and remove the yolk to a medium size bowl. Set the egg halves aside.  To the bowl of yolks, add the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the chicken mixture, celery, and blue cheese, and stir by hand until fully mixed in. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the eggs, using a cooking scoop, add one scoop of yolk mixture to each egg white half.

Sprinkle droplets of hot sauce over each egg. Sprinkle celery, more chicken, blue cheese and parsley (or cilantro) for garnish. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Serve chilled. Enjoy!

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