Thursday, May 30, 2013

Caramelized Pineapple Ice Cream Sundae

Since I started this blog 3 years ago yesterday (Yay! Happy Anniversary!), I have been collecting recipes and compiling them into a giant binder so I have all of my favorite recipes in one place. Every couple of months I sit down and clip out the most intriguing recipes from my favorite food magazines and add them to the collection. If I didn't do this I would have piles upon piles of magazines stacked up everywhere because I have a food magazine problem. I'm addicted to them!

I was flipping through my binder this afternoon and found a recipe for a pineapple ice cream topping that I had saved from one of the many many foodie magazines I've had in my magazine rack. Since it has been raining non-stop for over 24 hours, I needed a little bit of tropical flavor in my life to brighten the gloomy mood of the constant rain. Plus I needed to break in my brand new pineapple corer/slicer gadget thingy that I had just purchased recently. It is amazing by the way! How have I lived without this little doohickey in my life???? 

So just after coarsely chopping up the fresh pineapple, mixing it with 5 simple ingredients and broiling it for 8 minutes...

I discovered an amazingly sweet, fruity and unique ice cream sundae topping that I absolutely love! 

Forget the boring old chocolate and caramel sauce the next time you sit down with a big bowl of ice cream. You gotta try this caramelized pineapple topping with your favorite vanilla ice cream! This sundae topping would also be awesome with some plain/vanilla yogurt for breakfast too. YUM!

Caramelized Pineapple Ice Cream Sundae
{Serves 4}

-2 cups coarsely chopped fresh Pineapple
-3 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
-3 tbsp fresh Orange Juice
-1/2 tbsp Honey
-1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
-1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
-Vanilla Ice Cream

Preheat the broiler to High and place the oven rack on the highest level, closest to the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl add the dark brown sugar, orange juice, honey, ground cinnamon and ginger. Whisk to combine. Add in the pineapple to the mixture and toss to coat. Spread the pineapple mixture onto the baking sheet and broil for 5-8 minutes until golden bubbly. Remove the caramelized pineapple topping and spoon it over your vanilla ice cream. 

Recipe Inspired By: Cooking Light 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Casserole Baked Chiles Rellenos

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I get up with Dusty and make him breakfast before he heads off to work for the day. I've been trying to get creative with my breakfast dishes and not get stuck in the rut of making the same old over-medium eggs with toast everyday. I was browsing through my recipe index for some inspiration and found my recipe for Chiles Rellenos.

It's funny how you make something so long ago and forget how good it is. This is definitely the case with this casserole baked version of chiles rellenos. As much as I absolutely love chiles rellenos, I'm surprised I haven't made the tradition version yet with the poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and dipped in the egg batter. I'll just have to add it to my to-do list! 

When I made the chiles rellenos this morning I upgraded them a bit from when I first made them in my original blog post a couple years ago. Instead of serving them as is, I placed it on top of some buttered toast and added a dollop of sour cream and salsa. This made the chiles rellenos SO MUCH BETTER! It took the already delicious casserole baked chiles rellenos to a whole other level

You gotta make this for breakfast! You just gotta! 

For the in-depth, step-by-step tutorial of how to make the casserole baked chiles rellenos, you can visit my original blog post by clicking on the link HERE. Just remember you gotta serve it on a slice of buttered toast with salsa and sour cream to make it awe-some!

Casserole Baked Chiles Rellenos
{4 Servings}
-5 Whole Roasted Green Chiles
-1 cup Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese
-3 Eggs
-1 cup Milk
-1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
-1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
-1/4 tsp Kosher Salt 
-1/8 tsp Pepper 
-Toast, Sour Cream, Salsa and Cilantro (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F) and grease a 8x8 baking dish. 

Lay your whole roasted green chile peppers on a cutting board and slice them in half. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Lay a layer of 5 chile halves and sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat with another layer of chiles and cheese. 

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour them over the chiles in the baking dish. Place the baking dish into a rimmed baking sheet and fill it with 1/2 inch of water in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the chiles rellenos are completely set. Cut into 4 servings and serve on top of buttered toast and finish with sour cream, salsa and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
Inspired by: The Pioneer Woman

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Meet Duke

I'd like to introduce you to Duke. He is 6 week old black and tan doberman pinscher that has quickly become the second love of my life. Duke was born April 9th and is already 15 pounds of cuteness at just 6 weeks, 4 days old. He has puppy breath, velvet soft ears and paws that smell like fritos. I'm in love. 

Here he is at 20 days old.
Such a little chunk!
I sent this picture to my parents to surprise them with their new grand-puppy!

Dusty has always wanted a doberman since we have started dating and when we found the ad for Duke in the newspaper at the end of April, we knew we had to have him! He was the only black and tan male in a litter of 3. He was such a chubby baby! 

Last week when Dusty and I were at the administration conference, I got a call from the breeder and they said that he had become HUGE! She told me I couldn't believe how big he was compared to his other siblings. She said he was the size of a 10 week old puppy at only 5 weeks. I needed photo evidence and this is what I got in my email...
That is one big puppy!!!
Look at the paws on that little guy! He is going to be at least 90 pounds of fun, just like his daddy. 

So after a month of waiting and more waiting, we finally got to meet our baby Duke in Helena yesterday. The moment we met Duke, we instantly fell in love!

We drove home after getting him and we were so surprised he slept the entire 2-1/2 hours of the trip. He was so excited when we got home because we had tons of toys waiting for him and a yard to play in. Duke settled into his new digs instantly. When bedtime came, I didn't know exactly what to expect with it being his first night away from home, but he did fantastic! He would yelp when he had to potty every 3-4 hours and didn't have any proud!

Besides having his crate that he uses for sleeping at nighttime and for travel, he absolutely loves the giant soft bed we got him from Costco. I can't get him out of it this morning! He dragged all of his toys up onto his puppy bed and has been lounging and playing all morning. 

I'm in love with this little guy!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Creamy Garlic Margarita Pizza

I have something embarrassing to confess. Up until high school, I use to eat pizza like a complete weirdo. Whenever my mom would make her fantastic homemade pizza on Friday nights, I would scrape off all the cheese and toppings. Then I would eat the pizza crust alone with a fork, and follow by eating the cheesy toppings separately. I don't even know why I did it and when I stopped doing it, but I'm glad I did because pizza is so much better when all of it's components are combined together in pizza goodness!

Although, I do still eat pizza with a fork. Please don't judge me.

One of my favorite pizza's of all time is a classic margarita pizza. Nothing beats the simplicity of mozzarella, basil and tomatoes on a golden crispy pizza crust.

What makes this pizza extra special and out of this world is my creamy garlic sauce. My first job right out of high school was working at a pizza place and this sauce has stuck with me ever since. I love everything about this pizza, especially with the summer arriving bringing its fresh herbs and produce. 

Change up this weekends pizza night with a creamy, gourmet pizza that your family will absolutely love. You might even want to make two pizza's because it is that good! I bet you can't stop at two slices!

My Mom's Classic Pizza Crust
{Makes 1 Large Pizza}

-2 cups All Purpose Flour
-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
-1 tbsp White Granulated Sugar
-1 packet Yeast
-3/4 cup Warm Water
-Olive Oil 

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (F) and then turn off the oven. This will create the perfect "warm environment" for the dough to rise. Combine all the ingredients (flour to warm water) in a mixer over medium-low speed until smooth and elastic. Place approximately 1 tsp of olive oil in the bottom of a glass bowl and coat the dough and bowl with the olive oil so that it doesn't stick to the sides as it rises in the oven. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the oven to rise for 1-2 hours. Once risen, sprinkle some cornmeal onto your countertop and roll the dough out to fit your pizza pan. 

Creamy Garlic Sauce
{Makes 1 cup Sauce}

-1 cup Ranch Dressing
-3 cloves Garlic (1-1/2 tsp minced)
-1 tbsp Italian Seasoning

Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Spread on your pizza!

Creamy Garlic Margarita Pizza
{Makes 1 Large Pizza = 8 Slices}

-1 recipe of Mom's Classic Pizza Crust
-1 recipe of Creamy Garlic Sauce
-8 ounces grated Mozzarella Cheese
-6 fresh Basil Leaves-chiffonade
-1 Roma Tomato-thinly sliced
-Olive Oil (cooking spray)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (F). Arrange the prepared pizza crust on the baking pan and evenly spread the creamy garlic sauce leaving a border for crust. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over top the sauce, followed by arranging the thinly sliced tomatoes and chiffonade basil leaves.

Using a misto filled with olive oil, spray the crust with the olive oil. This will make the crust golden brown. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Once the pizza is done baking, switch the oven over to "broil" mode and let the cheese get bubbly and slightly burnt/browned from the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and slice up into 8 equal slices.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Perfectly Baked Bacon

Living in a small town with a small grocery store can be a challenge for a lover of food and food blogger. The produce at the grocery store is ah-mazing and fresh, but good luck finding specialty items! I've quickly learned how to become creative with ingredient substitutions and how to create my own ingredients on the fly.

For example, I made an awesome recipe from my Picky-Palate cookbook requiring a Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning packet. Apparently in Chester those little packets of seasoning don't exist, so I had to do some googling and searching to make it myself. Another example is marsala wine. I'm going to need to stock up on TONS of my favorite marsala cooking wine next time I go to the "big city" because that doesn't exist either. Sherry? yes. White wine? yes. Red wine? yes. Marsala? nope!

That's okay...I've got a list a mile long of my favorite things I need to get in Great Falls. It's a small price to pay for living in such a wonderful community and plus it challenges me and makes me get really creative in the kitchen.

Although pancetta and proscuitto may not be available, one thing that you can always count on is LOTS of bacon. There will never be a shortage of bacon in Chester because they have tons of it and in lots of different varieties. Personally, my favorite is the reduced-sodium smoky variety (just in case you were curious).

I always thought my Dad was the king of making bacon. He would always tell me "go low and slow" when pan-frying for the perfect bacon. Being very impatient and wanting bacon ASAP (who doesn't???), I always burned it and would somehow always get burned from the splattering grease. After years of burning bacon and myself, I discovered BAKING BACON!

Have you tried it before? 

It's ridiculously easy and no one gets burned! BONUS! The bacon turns out perfect EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It's revolutionary. You will never want to pan-fry bacon ever again once you bake your bacon.

Perfectly Baked Bacon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). Place a wire (cooling) rack on top of a large baking sheet. Lay the slices of bacon on the wire rack. Once the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet with the bacon in the oven for 15-25 minutes (depending on bacon thickness and desired crispiness). After the bacon has reached its desired crispiness, remove the bacon with tongs to a plate with paper towels to remove excess grease.

Oh yeah, baby. Gimme some bacon. 

So now that you have some perfectly baked bacon, why not make the perfect BLT sandwich while you are at it?  All you gotta add is some toasted bread, lettuce, tomato and mayo to the mix for a simple and delicious sandwich that always hits the spot. 

I know this is a simple post with nothing too complex or fancy. But I wish someone had told me years ago about baking bacon. It could have saved me from a lot of grease burns! So I'm telling you now....bake your bacon!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Settling In

Slowly but surely, Dusty and I are settling into the adorable town of Chester. After 5 straight days of packing and eating out for every meal (the kitchen was packed up), we are thrilled to be in our new home. On Thursday, the movers showed up at 9:00 am to load up our tiny "hobbit hole" of an apartment with this giant thing...
Seriously?!?!? Really?!?!?
Was that necessary?
Our poor neighbors. There was no where for this humongous truck to park, so they had to block some driveways. Let's just say the truck had to get moved a few times to let out some angry neighbors : /
But hauling and loading only lasted about 1-1/2 hours because our apartment was small and ready to go. After that Dusty and I hit the road in our separate cars, following each other through miles and miles of farmland to head up north to our new home.

Once we got to Chester we were greeted by one of the hospital administrators and she handed us over the keys to the house we will renting. When I opened the door, this is what I was greeted with....
My dream kitchen!!!

If you don't recall, this was my previous kitchen....
Nasty! I couldn't wait to say good-bye to that dark-tiny area!

Since we have moved in, I have been spending a ridiculous amount of time in my dream kitchen. But can you blame me??? Overall, I am so excited to be living in Chester. Everyone so far has been incredibly friendly and welcoming. It's crazy, we have been doing more socializing in these past 4 days than we ever did in Billings for the 2 years we lived there and Dustin and I are absolutely loving it! 

On another note, today was Dusty's first day on the job. It was so nice that he was able to walk home for lunch and when he comes home tonight, the lucky guy is going to have his favorite brownies waiting for him!

Life is fantastic and exciting right now! I am so thankful to be joining such a wonderful farming community, as well as living closer to family and friends. I look forward to sharing even more recipes and my experiences of life here on the Hi-Line. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Almost-Famous Caramel Sauce

If you are from my hometown or the Ravalli County area of Montana, then there is a 90% chance that you know what this recipe is.....

It's the recipe of the homemade caramel sauce from the local county fair and football concession stand at the high school football games!

I have always wanted this recipe and finally I have it! It's so ridiculously easy and instantly reminds me of all the fun times at my high school football games and the county fair. I was the weird kid at the fair that didn't go for the rides, I went for the food. Boy Scout elephant ears with butter and cinnamon/sugar, homemade orange julius drinks, ridiculously long hot dogs and this caramel sauce with sliced apples. Yummmmm. Good times. Good times.

I know this week I have been eating "real food" but this week is also a special's Caramel Week! To celebrate all things sweet and creamy, me and my blogging buddies, the Theme Weavers, have come up with a weeks worth of seriously delicious and super creative ways to make, bake and use caramel! Get your sweet tooth ready for a ton of fantastic recipes involving have been warned!

On the line up for the week of all things caramel includes....

{Comfortably Domestic} Crockpot Dulce de Leche
{Kvetchin' Kitchen} Caramel Apple Pie
{La Petite Pancake} Caramel Banana Bread Pudding

{Decadent Philistines Save the World} Salted Caramel Pork Loin with Shaved Brussel Sprout & Apple Salad
{Bakeaholic Mama} Chewy Milk Dud Brownies

{Inside NanaBread's Head} Chocolate Alfajores with Salted Vanilla Bean Caramels
{Comfortably Domestic} Alfajores Caramel Sandwich Cookies
{The Girly Girl Cooks} Almost Famous Caramel Sauce (this post!)
{Climbing Grier Mountain} Dulce de Leche Milkshakes with Caramel Drizzle

{Tenaciously Yours} Popcorn Crunch Sundae
{Kvetchin' Kitchen} Red Wine Caramel Sauce

{Country Cleaver} Pear Caramel Mini Cheesecakes
{Munching in the Mitten} Caramel Cake

{Comfortably Domestic} DIY Dulce de Leche Coffee Creamer 

Did I not warn you???? These ladies are my favorite and are so incredibly creative. Did you realize you could use caramel so many ways!?!?!

If you are looking for a great made-from-scratch recipe for caramel sauce, this is going to be your go-to recipe. Once you make this recipe, you can use it to make all the other wonderful recipes provided by the Theme Weavers, or you can just simply drizzle it over ice cream or enjoy it with sliced apples (my personal favorite)!

Almost-Famous Caramel Sauce

-1 cup Butter (2 sticks)
-1 cup Light Corn Syrup
-1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
-2 cups Brown Sugar
-1 tsp Vanilla Extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Heat over medium-low heat and stir the ingredients until all is melted and blended together. Once incorporated, add in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil. When it begins to boil, let the mixture boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat.

Serve warm over ice cream or with sliced apples and ENJOY!
{Store the caramel sauce in an airtight container and it will keep for 3 weeks}

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