June 9, 2012

Spiced Peach Crisp

For starters, I am a huge fan of peaches. I love everything about them except the skin honestly. So when it comes to just eating a piece of fruit, I do opt for a nectarine, but that is no substitute for a peach in cooked or baked creations for me.

Back in December, while browsing around online I found some information on canning spiced peaches and just absolutely loved the idea and still very interested in doing so (though it seems like that is a dream for next summer seeing as I have none of the equipment yet). Still, the idea of spiced peaches has been lingering in the forefront of my mind.

Well, with all the cooking I did for family visiting at the beginning of May, I was feeling a little burned out and decided to pick up an 'easy-make boxed peach cobbler' from the store as a short cut for dessert. As with most things that come from a box, it was good (they usually do something right or they wouldn't keep selling them), but it wasn't home-made good. It felt like it was missing something for me.

I decided that it was missing spiced peaches. Now, quick make spiced peaches can in no way replace spiced peaches that have had the opportunity to mature for several months (this is the first thing I'm doing with my first jar of spiced peaches by the way), but they made the house smell amazing and added a little something extra.

This last week I made my second spiced peach crisp and it came out just as good as the first, even though I altered the recipe a little bit. In the first try, I only had peaches and cream oatmeal packages in the house, so I used those instead of regular oats and found that it made for a much prettier topping with the little chunks of peaches, but did nothing else for me on flavor.

 Spiced Peach Crisp
(Traditional Topping)

Spiced Peach Crisp - Take 1
 (Topped with peaches and cream oatmeal topping)

Spice the peaches in a pan of apple cider vinegar, brown
sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and all-spice.

Pre-baked crisp topped with traditional oats.


Spiced Peach Crisp

     - 2lbs peaches (fresh, frozen, or drained canned)
     - 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
     - 1/2 cup brown sugar
     - 4 tablespoons cinnamon
     - 3 tablespoons nutmeg
     - 2 tablespoons cloves
     - 2 tablespoons ginger
     - 2 tablespoons all-spice
            *Adjust to personal preference

     - 1/2 cup brown sugar
     - 1/8 cup sugar
     - 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
     - 3/4 cup oats (for prettier topping us peaches and cream instant oatmeal)
     - 1 teaspoon nutmeg
     - 2 tablespoons cinnamon
     - 1 stick unsalted, softened butter (cut into several pieces)

     - Mix apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and all-spice in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.

     - Add peaches into the sauce pan, cover, and cook on low heat (stiring occasionally) for 15-20 minutes. For frozen peaches, toss into the pan mostly thawed and let simmer for 30-35 minutes.

     - While the peaches cook, in a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the brown sugar, sugar, flour, oats, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Toss in the chunks of butter and mix with hand until crumbly.

     - With a slotted spoon, remove peaches from juice and place in a greased 8x8 baking pan. Drizzle as much of the spice sauce over the peaches as desired.

     - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and let the peaches cool while the oven heats.

     - Once the oven is preheated, evenly top the peaches with the oat mixture.

     - Place in oven and let cook for 30-35 minutes (or until golden brown on top). Let cool a little before serving and enjoy.

Corned Beef Cheese-steak

June 6th was my boyfriends birthday, so for him, I defrosted one of the several corned beefs that he picked up on sale after St. Patrick's day and decided to do something a little different with it for him. Thus, the corned beef cheese-steak experiment began.

I unfortunately don't have too much to say about that except that I actually forgot to start the meat in the morning before I had a full day of running around and was lucky my boyfriend started it for me. Beyond that, it was pretty simple and just thrown together before I crashed when I got home.

Hope you enjoy this variation as much as we did. 


Corned Beef Cheese-steak

     - 1 1/2lbs corned beef
     - 1 package steak rolls
     - 1 green pepper
     - 1 onion
     - 1 package american white cheese or provolone

     - Cook corned beef in slow cooker with seasoning as directed on package.

     - Slice green pepper and onion thinly and cook in skillet until tender. Then remove corned beef from crock pot and shred with forks. Throw in with the vegetables and cook lightly.

     - Place slices of cheese on top and cook until melted (or tear and melt into the meat and vegetables). 

     - Remove from skillet and place on steak roll. Enjoy.

June 3, 2012

The Secret Tortellini (An Aaron Thomas Original)

 The Secret Tortellini

While I absolutely love to cook, there are days that I sit back and think, "Man it would be nice to have a home cooked meal that I didn't have too cook.". It is very nice to have a guy that also enjoys cooking and is pretty good at it for times like that.

His favorite things to make, and a favorite thing of mine to eat, is a tortellini dish that he is very proud of. It is a nice, simple, easy, and delicious dish for those nights you just don't feel like dirtying every dish in the house! So with his permission, I now share with you, "The Secret Tortellini":

Start off by tossing the Italian sausage into the pan and get that cooking on a medium heat.

Because I like the vegetable chopped up into rather small pieces, I always end up doing this part of the dish. Go ahead and slice the peppers and onion up to a size you like best. We usually use a red and a green bell pepper, but when the green is 3x as much and they aren't very pretty, a yellow will do just fine.

One day I might get ambitious and try to make my own tortellini, until then, meet our tortellini. :)
 Add the vegetables to the meat and cook until the sausage it browned thoroughly.
Serve over cooked tortellini and enjoy!

Don't you just love a guy that can cook and looks great doing it?


The Secret Tortellini

An Aaron Thomas Original

     - 1lb Italian sausage
     - 2 bell peppers (2 different colors - red / green recommended, but yellow works)
     - 1 medium onion
     - 1 bag of cheese tortellini

     - Brown Italian sausage in a large pan on medium heat. Dice the bell peppers and onion to desired size and then toss in the pan with the Italian sausage and turn up to medium-high heat.

     - Follow the directions on the bag or tortellini and boil until done.

     - When Italian sausage is completely browned, turn off heat, and serve over tortellini. Top with a little parmesan cheese if you like and enjoy.

May 29, 2012

Hoagie Rolls & Steak Sandwiches

"If I had bread, we could have steak sandwiches ..."

"You have the stuff to make bread don't you?"

And that was how I ended up making bread for the first time on Sunday night. While I had never made bread before, I did know it made quite the mess so I made arrangements with my boyfriend that if I made the bread, that he would do the dishes. Win!

Rather than making a basic loaf of bread, I decided to find a steak or hoagie roll recipe and was rather successful. Go check out this amazing hoagie roll recipe from Food.com member kzbhansen. The only alteration I made was when cutting the ingredients in half, I halved the yeast as well with no issues at all even though when you alter the servings on site it still asks for 2 packages of yeast.

With the rolls turning out a success, I started in on the steak part of my steak sandwich. Of course, since this was a 'no plan week', the steak had to come out of the freezer and get thrown into the sink under running water so we could eat at a reasonable time.

In my opinion, a steak is a steak. Yes, some cuts are much better than others, but I saw no issue with using a '7 bone steak' that we picked up from Safeway. So, once the steak is done and on the roll, just add a little bit of your favorite steak sauce and you're good to go!


Steak Sandwich

Yield: Makes 4-5 sandwiches

     - Hoagie Rolls (recipe below)
     - 1 lb steak (Sirloin, London Broil, or other favorite cut of steak)
     - Salt
     - Pepper
     - Seasoning salt
     - Basil
     - Worcestershire
     - Steak sauce (A1)
     - Liquid Smoke (optional)
     - Vegetable toppings: tomato, onion, etc (optional)

     - Prepare hoagie rolls (or buy from store) and let cool.

     - Slice steak along the grain in thin strips or chunks depending on preference. Coat the sliced steak with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt. If you're a seasoning nut like me, go ahead and toss and coat again. Place in a dish or baggie, top with a sprinkling of basil, a tablespoon or two of the Worcestershire, steak sauce, and liquid smoke, and then store in the fridge for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

     - Remove from fridge and dump into a frying pan on medium-high. Carefully watch and stir the meat occasionally until desired doneness.

     - Slice hoagie rolls in half and layer the base of the rolls with a healthy serving of meat. Add any tomato, onion, or other desired vegetable slices. Top with steak sauce and enjoy!


Hoagie Rolls

     Recipe by: kzbhansen

Yield: 8 or 9 rolls

     - 1 package active dry yeast
     - 1 1/2 cups water
     - 1 tablespoon sugar
     - 1/8 cup vegetable oil
     - 1/2 tablespoon salt
     - 4 to 4 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

     - Dissolve yeast into into mixture of 1/2 cup water and and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Make sure the yeast is thoroughly dissolved.

     - Mix in the remaining water and then stir in oil, salt, and 4 cups of flour until dough is smooth. On a smooth, floured surface, knead the dough for 6-8 minutes, or until elastic.

     - Place in a greased bowl, being sure to cover the entire surface of the dough in grease before covering and setting it aside to rise for about an hour.

     - Punch the dough down and divide into eight or nine pieces (recipe is said to make 9 rolls, but it separates easier into 8 rolls). Shape them into long ovals and cut a shallow slit in the top of each roll, and then place on greased baking sheet to rise for an additional 20 minutes.

     - While the dough is rising again, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

     - Bake for 13-18 minutes (or until golden brown). Let cool thoroughly (or burn your finger-tips tearing a piece off to dip in butter like I did).

Ovenbaked Pork Spareribs: "You're the one gettin' fancy with the spices!"

So, on Saturday night, my stomach convinced me that diving into the freezer and pulling out a pack of ribs that was frozen solid for dinner in 3 hours was going to be a good idea. Obviously my stomach has a mind of it's own because even now typing that out still sounds like a bad idea.

Well, I did what my stomach commanded, instantly transferred the ribs from the butcher rap to a zip-lock bag under running water in hopes of eating sometime before I starved to death. About thirty minutes or so later I basically emptied my spice cabinet onto the counter top and hoped for the best.

Being from Texas, it's drilled into you at a very young age that good ribs have to sit in the marinade for several hours or else you are ruining perfectly good meat. Personally I do like to let my ribs soak at least 4 hours, if not 8+. Heck, if I'm planning ahead for family, that rack of ribs sits in a dry rub for 12 hours and then a marinade for another 12.

Whelp, despite my better judgement and fear of exile from the good graces of the meat gods, I went ahead and seasoned that meat and threw it in the fridge for about an hour before reluctantly putting them into the oven to cook. When it comes down to messing up a perfectly good rack of ribs and starving to death, I'll risk the ribs every time. :)

However, the one thing these ribs weren't, after only sitting for an hour in the fridge, were flavorless.

I promise pictures next time, but I wasn't even really planning on 'cooking' or 'inventing' so I kind of forgot. Be that as it may, I feel this recipe is too good to keep to myself. I would have taken pictures this time, but my boyfriend and I devoured the whole rack of ribs rather quickly.

By the way the title is a work in process and suggestions are appreciated. And beware, this does sound a little wacky, but it is definitely a winner when it comes to quick ribs. So, go get fancy with the spices!


3 Hour Spareribs

     - 1 rack of pork spareribs
     - 1/4 cup brown sugar
     - Seasoned Salt
     - Creole Seasoning
     - Garlic Salt
     - Salt
     - Pepper
     - Oregano
     - Basil
     - Cinnamon
     - 1/4 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire

     - Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

     - Rinse and pat dry your rack of ribs before seasoning. Flip over to the back side of the rack and remove the membrane.

     - On the back side of the ribs, sprinkle and rub about half of the brown sugar into the meat. Afterwards generously sprinkle with the seasoning salt, creole seasoning, garlic salt, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Personally I also added lemon pepper seasoning and all-purpose seasoning. Feel free to add in anything from your spice cabinet that sounds tasty. Top with plenty of cinnamon.

     - Flip the rack of ribs and repeat on the front side. On the front however, after you top with cinnamon, rub the seasoning into the meat (seasoning doesn't rub into bone very well so doing so on the back doesn't always go well).

     - Place ribs in a 9x13 baking dish and top with Worcestershire. Use between 1/4 and 1/2 cup depending on personal preference, but just make sure that you coat the top of the meat completely.

     - Cover with foil and put in the oven for 1 hour (this is high altitude cooking time so check on it at after about 45-50mins). Pull out of the oven and enjoy straight from the pan or with your favorite BBQ sauce.

May 28, 2012

Let the blogging begin!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you just didn't feel like doing anything so you didn't plan ahead, yet you find yourself cooking every night? It might just be me, but this has been one of those weeks. I started out thinking to myself, "Oh, we'll just do frozen pizzas or we'll throw a frozen meal into a skillet and be done with it". Boy was I wrong ...

I long ago acknowledged that my stomach is the 'Lord & Master' of me and I must do as it says. I even often jokingly refer to being hungry as, "My stomach demands the sacrifice ...". So, it is easy to see where my original plan went wrong.

While wandering around the kitchen on Saturday night debating what easy cook meal I was going to do for dinner, my stomach took control. A can of soup didn't sound good. A frozen pizza didn't sound any better. And god forbid I even think about pulling a Bertolli meal out of the freezer.

My stomach dragged me over to the deep freezer and convinced me that digging to the bottom for a package of pork spareribs was going to be a good idea.

That is how I ended up here. The grand success that was 3 hours ribs (thaw, marinade, cook) lead me to actually starting the food blog that I've been telling myself that I want to do for the last 6 months or so.

Whelp ... Here I go ... Wish me luck! :)