Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They were eating out of my hand

Well, almost.

When I saw this posted on Noble Pig, I knew it would put to perfect use the apples I had received from a co-worker, whose family owns a local apple orchard. Cathy had seen the recipe over at The Cutting Edge of Ordinary. Every person who tried this pie could not say enough good things about it. You will see two pies above (and below). One of my co-workers does not like nuts, so I totally spoiled him and made him his own pie. Yeah, I'm crazy like that.

Upside Down Apple Pie
6 TBSP butter, melted and divided * see notes below
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract * not in original recipe*
2 refrigerated pie crusts
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking spice *not in original recipe*
5 large apples, and for the life of me I can't remember what kind I used, but Scott brought me crisp apples for baking-peeled, cored and sliced into pieces, mine were about 1/3 inch slices
Coat a deep dish pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. I used my Grandma's tin deep dish pan, which is about a quarter inch deeper than my Pyrex deep dish pan. Line pie plate with parchment paper and coat that with the cooking spray also.

In a small bowl, combine 4 TBSP melted butter, the brown sugar, vanilla and the pecans. Mix well and spread onto parchment paper. Cover with one of the pie crusts, pressing the crust into the topping and up the sides of the pan. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking spice (if using) and remaining butter. Mix well. Add apple slices and stir gently to combine. Spoon into pie crust. Top with remaining crust and fold the crust over other crust and crimp or press edges to seal all the juicy goodness inside. Put small slits on the crust to vent. Place on a baking sheet and place in a 375 degree F. oven. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Mine baked about 70 minutes.
After baking, let pie cool for 5 minutes, then place a plate larger than the pie over the top and invert so now the pecan caramel topping is face up.
Prepare for oodles of ooohs and aaaahs from your adoring fans.

**Notes: I used a full half cup of butter and upped the brown sugar by a couple tablespoons because I wanted to make sure I had enough of the topping to use in my single serve pie for Bob.

Also-use a baking sheet under the pie. I used my regular pie guard and because of the parchment paper sticking out over the sides of the pie dish, the caramel crawled up and over and was not caught by the pie guard. Lesson learned.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pan roasted Steaks

Sizzle, sizzle.

Can I have a show of hands of those who love the smell of onions browning in butter? Holy Flying Fig Newtons, I love that smell. Nothing makes my stomach growl more than that smell. Since it was cold and rainy, I didn't want to fire up the grill to cook steaks. I have seen the chefs on TV cook them on the stove top and then finish in the oven. All I can taste in my memory were those old cheap round steaks that grandma would fry in a skillet and that strange flavor I associated with the frying pan. I thought I would give it a go-round.

Pan Roasted Steaks

2 Rib eye steaks
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP oil
steak seasoning
salt and pepper
1 bag refrigerated red potatoes

Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt butter and place onions in the pans. Brown onions 6 to 7 minutes. Add the oil. Sprinkle the room temperature steaks with steak seasoning, a little salt and pepper. Place seasoned side down and season the top side. After a nice sear has formed on bottom of steak, flip over. Add bag of potatoes to pan. Cook about 6 to 8 minutes, getting some color on the potatoes. Flip the spuds and brown up other side for a few minutes. Have oven preheat to 400 degrees F. Place skillet in oven to finish cooking. Time will depend on how done you like your steaks. I left mine in about 12 minutes or so and they were just a little over medium. Still pink but not mooing.

Suffice it to say we scarfed these bad boys down quick!

Here is Tofu. She is like most cats and loves to get into things-bags, boxes, laundry baskets, lunch boxes. Here she is after I had gone grocery shopping. She climbed in the insulated bag and decided to take a little nap. Have I mentioned how weird she is?
Tomorrow is set for the double crusted layered apple pie that Cathy posted a few days ago. I don't know that I have ever had that many compliments on a treat ever. Be warned-my photography and presentation are nothing like Cathy's!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On the horizon

Coming up Monday and Tuesday.....pan roasted steaks and the double layer apple pie that Cathy over at Noble Pig made. I did a small variation on it. It smells incredible in the house right now. Off to work with a warm pie!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apple-Pear Crisp

I hadn't baked for quite awhile and everyone at work was wondering if the stove was broken. I told them on Monday that I would bring treats on Tuesday. One co-work met me in the parking lot and saw my hands were empty and said "Hey, you said we were getting a crisp........ahhhh" as he saw he grab my pan out of the back seat. I was a little concerned because I dotted some butter up on top and it just made pools of liquid and the crisp didn't look crispy. It was finished by second break, so it must have tasted fine, or they were being polite!

Apple-Pear Crisp
4 apples, peeled and sliced
2 pears, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 quick rolled oats
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 butter
cinnamon sugar

Place sliced apples and pears in an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over fruit and shake dish to cover fruit. Mix remaining ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. Really good with ice cream but I didn't have a freezer at my disposal at work, so they had to eat it plain.

Off to make dinner for Dude. He went to pick up the vehicle we got for Drama Queen to drive. She has been taking my Caddy, which I am not thrilled with, but we sold our 'teen driver' car to our best friends so she needs something until the Jeep gets fixed. Have I told you how many heart attacks I have each day when she drives? Oi vay!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sometimes you just want to throw in the towel

My weekend at my sister's house. I brought my 'friends on a stick'. It is a joke that started when people couldn't make the pre-reunion party and the reunion, and other various events. I brought all those involved in the 'on-a-stick' program with me! We had way too much fun and spent two days hung over. At 43, I should really know better by now!
Drama Queen passed her driver's test this morning. Let me tell you what dread I had handing her the keys so she could go to school. I did laugh when she called and asked which gas she was suppose to put in the car!

This is what she did when I was at my sister's house. Apparently alongside learning how to make meth on the computer, you can also learn how to pierce your own ears. Sometimes you just shake your head and hope you don't have to call the doctor for a penicillin shot.

Here is my take on Chicken Parmesan.
Tami's Italian Chicken Bake
Boneless chicken breasts, however many you need to feed your family
Poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper
Spaghetti sauce
Shredded cheese, amount up to you
Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Brown in a skillet on all sides. Place chicken in a baking dish to accommodate the amount of chicken you have. Spoon spaghetti sauce over the top of each breast and pour rest in pan. Top with shredded cheese. I used some Mozzarella and a Co-Jack blend. Bake at 350 degrees F. until chicken is cooked through and cheese has melted. I think mine baked about half an hour. Serve over your favorite pasta. I had a pic of the pasta, but can't find it now. We used a penne.
The Dude liked it, but was picturing the chicken cut up in cubes, tossed with the sauce, top the noodles and cheese and baked. I will try that next time.
On a personal note, when I returned from my weekend drunkenness party at my sister's house my husband had received a phone call from his parents. Three years ago his father had eye cancer and they had to take his eye. He goes in for scans every year to make sure everything is okay. Last year he had a little melanoma removed from his face. When he had his scan last week, they found the melanoma has returned and is on his lungs and liver. It is inoperable and will have him do a regimen of a chemo pill. At this time we don't know what stage it is in or how fast this type of cancer spreads, but his eye cancer doc said that it could be 9 months to a year. We knew that with our parents aging this was on the horizon, but you never expect it. He has always been pretty healthy and very active. He will be 85 this winter. I can't even tell you how my hubby is dealing with it because he is very quiet on a normal day. He was pretty matter-of-fact when he told me and I just couldn't get a read on him. We have only lost grandparents in our 21 years together, so this will be a whole new area to tackle. Sometimes you just want to throw in the towel and say 'why us again' but we will get back on that horse and say 'what do we do next'.
We love you Howie and will be standing by your side whatever happens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

See you in a week

Hi all~
I had planned some fun stuff to bake (fun for the family and co-workers, at least) but I have had a killer headache for 3 days, so my days off are going to be spent in bed. I'm going to Wisconsin to party with my two sisters and my brother this weekend, so I'll see you all when I come back full of beer and hopefully have a trunk full of pumpkins and apples!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Here Piggy, Piggy

The car thermometer said 28 degrees this morning when we got in after work and there was SNOW on the car. Hello, isn't it still October? I love fall-it is my favorite time of year. Somehow it came for 5 days and now it is winter! On the flip side-the frost (and snow!) killed all the junk outside that contributes to my allergies.
Four years ago, Drama Queen went away for the first time with a friend for a week at a cabin up north. Doncha love when we in the northern Midwest say 'up north'-like we are headed to Canada. Oh, wait, sometimes we do. I digress. She spent a week fishing and swimming and having fires and catching fireflies. The friend's mother made BBQ ribs one night for dinner and apparently they were the best thing since sliced bread. I got the recipe from the mom, but after I lost my job I realized it was on my computer at work that I no longer had access to! What to do, what to do? Made it up as I went along. Smelled spices in my cupboard that I thought would be good and went from there. They were pretty good, although I think I cooked them too long.
Oven BBQ Ribs
1 rack of pork ribs, cut in half to fit in roasting pan
2 tsp Southwest Seasoning *
2 tsp Pork Chop Seasoning **
2 tsp Chipotle pepper spice
1 cup BBQ sauce, your favorite
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Rinse ribs and thoroughly pat dry. Mix spices in small bowl and then pat the dry rub into the ribs, pressing hard to work it in. Place ribs in roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast for about an hour and a half. Peel back foil and brush the BBQ sauce on top of the ribs. Cover back up with the foil and cook another 30 minutes or so. I baked mine about 3 hours since I had to go get Drama Queen from bus stop and had to do a few things for her when I got home so didn't get them out when I planned-two hours should be good for this amount-it was about 3-1/2 pounds of ribs.
I love Penzey's spices, which I have mentioned often. All the seasonings I used were from there. Here is what is in the two:
*Southwest: Ancho pepper, onion, garlic, black pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, chipotle and cilantro
**Pork Chop: garlic, white pepper, onion, ginger, hickory smoke flavoring
In case you don't have these spice blends, you could make something close to it with the spices in your cupboard.
On the menu tonight: Chicken Italiano. My take on Chicken Parmesan. It was so cute this morning. Some days after work I can talk Dude into running to the grocery store after work, but only if I have a list and we can be out in 15 to 20 minutes top. He Hates the grocery store. He would rather pull his rather blond eyelashes out one by one. But today when we were picking up the ingredients for tonight he spied some dishes on the clearance rack. They had run one of those deals where every week they showcased one of the dishes from the set and gave you a special price. They were depicting Italian men as chefs and waiters and wine bottles and grapes, etc. He said "These would a nice change from your regular dishes for taking photos for the blog. They are still spendy-we should look in another couple weeks and see if the price comes down". And all the teasing he gives me when I photograph food!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I want a Nutta

I was visiting my list of blogs yesterday getting caught up on what everyone was doing and cooking and baking. When I stopped by Vanilla Sugar, I saw that Dawn is having a giveaway-a good one too! Cookbooks. I think I may have mentioned my love affair with cookbooks before. I read them in bed like people read novels. I have about 100 on my shelves. I would love one of those-especially the baking one! You needed to leave a comment about how you kick it up a notch. I'm a Swedish Lutheran girl who gets heartburn from hamburgers-I'm kind of mellow in spices. I did leave a comment on how I was going to change up something a little: the humble s'more. I love s'mores. I make them in the winter over my gas stove. It's the little things in life. A friend of mine had seen Nutella on Food Network and hadn't seen it in her local grocery store. I know her grocery store-it sucks. I told her that I had picked up a jar in the town I work and shop in so she could get it easily. She said they actually found it in a small store up north where her family cabin is and they decided to make s'mores with it instead of Hershey bars. I gave it a try last night and it was great!
Spread some Nutella on the graham crackers, toast up the marshmallows and squish!

Over at Diary of Foodie Fanatic, Heather was reviewing some marshmallows that are like the kind that you would make at home-big, thick and delicious. She had a link on there to the website that you can order from. Our oldest daughter who just left for college (who called with a list of things for me to send her again) loves marshmallows and devoured the tin I got her last year from Williams Sonoma, so I want to order some and send them in a care package to her. They would be fantastic in s'mores, so I may need to order some for myself too!
Here's Tofu. She had a hard day today. Took her to the vet for her follow up shots and she was not happy at all. They must have given her the first dose while she was under for her spaying. It took two assistants to hold down a 5 pound cat while the doctor stuck her! I took a bubble bath the other night and while I was filling the tub I went to get my jammies. When I came back, she is swatting at the bubbles. She is really an odd cat-but makes me laugh everyday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wine Review

When we went camping this past weekend, we didn't plan it out very well. Because of our rotating work schedule, we worked Wednesday and Thursday-didn't leave time for shopping for fresh ingredients. We picked up our daughter from school and stopped at a grocery store on the way back to the camper. We had gone earlier and set up the camper and made beds and all that good stuff. Never take a hungry Dude or a crabby Drama Queen to the grocery store at 5 PM when you have no idea what you are going to do for breakfast or what you want to grill when all your cousins show up the next day to the soggy, cold campground. But I saw my salvation, glowing at the other end of the market: Liquor Store.

Here in Minnesota you can only get 3.2 beer in stores and our liquor stores are not open on Sundays. It is an old Blue Law. If you forget to stock up during the week, you are making a run to Wisconsin if you live close enough! The liquor store was 'attached' to the market, but has a separate entrance.

We walked around and thought about what we could make to warm us up. We couldn't come up with anything so it was beer and wine. I bought another bottle of Bitch, which I had posted back in September that I had found it up in the town our daughter went to college in. I also picked up a bottle of of Sommerau Castle Sweet Red that is from Germany. I have said time and time again that I don't have high falutian taste in wine, with the exception of my favorite Rosa Regale. I like sweet wine; not a big fan of butt puckering, tannic wine. I picked up the bottle and thought it would fun to try. The Dude smelled it and said "smells like communion wine" so he passed. It is soft and silky and plummy. The notes on the back also described raspberries, but I didn't really pick that up. I had it with a hotdish-type dish I threw together. It was nice with the meal and nice on it's own. Best of all? About 8 bucks. It would be nice for a party when people are not sure if they like reds or if you know they like a sweeter wine but want to switch it up from a white.

helps if I actually attach the picture before posting!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Potluck by the campfire

My cousin and his wife
My cousin and his wife

Dude grabbed my camera around my neck and clicked

Dude smiling-he hates pictures

I can't remember what kind, but really good!

Peanut Butter cereal bars

Cheesy Crock Pot Potatoes

Potato Soup

We lucked out and it finally stopped raining before everyone got to the campground to meet for our cousin reunion. Unfortunately, 2 cousins could not join us as they had sick kids. We think we need a mid-winter redo with a fondue party! Everyone brought something to grill and something to share. Both of my cousins' wives brought a dessert (which is good because I was so disorganized I forgot to bake). G brought a potato soup that was so good and she said it was Bear Creek dry soup mix. It is fast and delicious-she has three kids and a hubby that works an opposite shift so she can have it ready for the kids and he has some when he gets home later in the evening. It was really good-almost as good as my Mom's potato soup! I made the Cheesy Crock Pot potatoes. Easy, peasy. I doubled it but here is the original recipe
Cheesy Crock Pot Potatoes
1- 2 pound bag of frozen hasbrowns
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Cheddar Cheese soup
1 small can of French Fried Onions
1 cup of milk
1 cup Cheddar Cheese
Pour hashbrowns into slow cooker. Top with the two cans of soup, one cup of milk, half of the French Fried onions and half of the cheese. Stir to combine so all the spuds have some mixture on them. Put lid on slow cooker and put on low for 6 to 8 hours. One hour before serving, top with rest of onions and cheese.
These were all gone save for a scoop in the bottom that I ate after we came in from the fire.
I had to laugh. On my last post I stated that we were camping, it was raining, we ordered pizza and watched movies and I played Mafia Wars on the computer. There was a comment from "A Year on the Grill" indicating he was amused by my 'camping'. We live in the country and were not able to get high speed access so we bought an Air Card which plugs into our computers via USB post so we can use it on our home PC and my laptop. I brought it with so I could communicate with the cousins as we are all on Facebook and I can message them all at one time. I needed to let them know what was happening with the party and if we were still on. Mafia Wars was because I don't like scary movies and that was what they were watching. Dude and Drama Queen went home to get our DVD player since it was raining and a 16 year old girl wasn't hip on playing card games with her parents-we only live 6 miles from campground we were at. This is an annual event we do and it close to all of us save one cousin. We ordered pizza because it was raining to hard to have a fire to cook over or use our small portable gas grill, and yep we have heat in the camper. I'm too old to sleep on the ground especially when it is only 40 degrees out. You will be happy to know that we cooked our meat over the open fire, made smores and drank wine around the campfire-out of plastic wine glasses that won't break. The kids even ran off a little energy, one went into the lake to retrieve his father's fishing pole and had to go home to change clothes (no fish was caught) and the adults had a little time together around the fire. It was a nice day but sad since all of us were not together. We said a thank you to our grandparents in Heaven for starting us on our tradition of a cousin get together 20+ years ago when we grandkids started bringing our soon to be spouses home for Christmas and we all couldn't fit with our parents, so Grandpa and Grandma started having the grandkids on a separate day. Thanks guys because we are still doing it together!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Checking in...

Just checking in with everyone and catching up on everyone' s posts. We are camping this weekend, and here in Southern Minnesota it is about 48 degrees and raining. Yep, we spent the night in the camper with the heat on. I played Mafia Wars on Facebook while Drama Queen and Dude watched "Prom Night" and "Reservoir Dogs". I lost count of the F-bomb after about 100. Now Dude is snoring in my ear and the cat just jumped in the shower to use the litter box. Do we know how to party or what? We are having a family reunion here at the campground tomorrow with my paternal cousins. We are already down one family who is sick and one more is iffy. There may only be three families here eating and trying to stay warm! I will post what we ate later this weekend. I also have a photo of the pot roast I made with a marinade that included another bottle of POM. It was delish! But my daughter switched out SD cards in the camera, so it is somewhere in her room right now. Will have to post that soon too.

Have a good weekend, I hope my fingers don't freeze to the grill tomorrow~