Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glazed Peach Pie: Because Even When Tragedy Strikes You Must Eat

I had a rough week.  I mean a really rough week.  Our kitten passed away very unexpectedly Saturday morning.  This was after a week of working outside in extreme temperatures, so I was worn out both physically and emotionally.  Still, I knew we needed nourishment, and my parents were coming to visit.  I still had part of the 1/2 bushel of peaches I had bought from the farm market, and knew I wanted peach pie.  I used the recipe here substituting peaches for strawberries, and using real butter.  I really like the shortbread crust and the fact the most of the peaches remain uncooked.  A little tip: place cut peaches in a little water with lemon.  It helps keep them from turning brown in the pie.  Also, I don't peel my peaches, but I know for some people this would be a problem.  On top of the pie is whipped cream.  I took a cup of heavy cream and whipped it at high speed in the stand mixer and added in powered sugar to taste.  This only took a few minutes and tastes much better than the packaged stuff.  If you're not whipping your own cream, you should.

I also made Philly Cheese steaks that night, but I forgot to take a picture.  I will make the sandwiches again and post my recipe.  Even though this wonderful meal did not take away the pain of our loss, it was something I could throw myself into and give those around me at least a little comfort.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stuffed Jalapenos

I made these a few weeks ago, but I forgot to post.  I bought some jalapenos for a salad dressing, and I only needed one, but they came in packs of four.  My husband doesn't like anything too spicy, so I didn't want to throw them into the other dishes I was making, but I knew I needed to use them.  I decided to split these in half and remove the seeds. Then I stuffed them cream cheese, finely diced fresh mozzarella, minced garlic, salt, and a tiny bit of mayonnaise.  After they were stuffed, I baked them at 375 for about 20 minutes.  The longer they are baked, the milder they will be.  These were delicious and very mild until you got close to the stem.  All the heat seemed to linger at the top.  I think these would be great for a party.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Peach Martinis

The time has flown by now that I'm working all day in the heat.  By the time I get home, go back out to the gym, make supper, and clean up, it's almost time for bed.  This isn't an excuse for my lack of posts lately, but I promise I will try to do better.  Now that we have that out of the way, I've been waiting for peaches.  I saw them in the grocery store a few weeks ago, but they were hard and scentless.  Finally, after weeks of anticipating, and smelling every peach I saw, the peaches are here!  I bought a half-bushel, which is probably way more than I need, but the price was right and like I said, I really wanted peaches.  Essentially what I'm trying to say right now is to expect some upcoming posts featuring peaches.  Saturday night when I came home with my bounty of peaches I decided to make a drink.  These martinis are pretty strong, but you could use less vodka or even completely omit it and serve over ice as a peach-ade.

Peach Martini

  • 2 cups chopped peaches (I left the skin on, but this is optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water cooked on the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Please make this yourself.  It's easy)
  • 1 to 2 cups club soda
  • 1 to 2oz vodka per drink depending on how strong you want your drink (the above recipe made 6 very full martinis)
1st: chop peaches while your husband stands on a chair and takes 30 pictures.  

 2. Place peach slices in blender
 3. feed slices of peach to dog.
 4. Add simple syrup to blender.  Start with 1/2 cup, blend and taste.  I only needed 1/2 cup because the peaches were sweet.  You can use leftover syrup in lemonade or iced tea.  If you bake a cake you can pour the leftover syrup over the cake after you pull it from the oven.  This will keep the cake moist.
 5. After peaches are blended, and the sugar level is correct, pour into a pitcher.  Add 2 cups club soda and stir.  Chill mixture.  Add 1 to 2 oz vodka to ice filled shaker and add some of the peach mixture.
 6. Pour into martini glass and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Homemade Ricotta and Stuffed Shells

I made cheese.  That's right, homemade cheese, and it was really easy. I never even considered making cheese, but after reading about it I wanted to try it out.   I followed the instructions here.  I will never buy ricotta again.  The product I got was unbelievably creamy and wonderful.  Since I had ricotta, I needed something to do with it besides eating it straight from the bowl (which I certaintly could have done), so I decided to make stuffed shells after reading this recipe.  Warning about the recipe!  If you do not like spicy foods either omit or reduce the amount of red pepper flakes.  I thought the amount of spice was great, but it was almost too spicy for my husband.  I also didn't have any lemon, so I left it out, and I substituted basil for the chives because I didn't have that either.  The stuffed shells were a great dinner, and I'm sure they would be great even if you don't make your own ricotta, but really you should.  

The shells right out of the oven.

Close up of a shell.  Look at that ricotta!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Will I Use the Leftovers? (Shepherd's Pie)

Considering that I only cook for two people, but I make enough to feed 6 to 8 at each meal, we ate a lot of leftovers in this house.  Lunch is always leftovers from the night before, and we have a leftover night on Thursday.  After Thursday everything is finished, frozen, or thrown away.  Last week I had some leftover roast beef.  I considered slicing it up for sandwiches, but there really wasn't enough.  I stuck it in the freezer and waited for inspiration.  That's when I thought of Shepherd's Pie.  If you've never had it, Shepherd's Pie is meat, vegetables and gravy, topped with mashed potatoes and baked.  It's extremely easy to make especially if you have leftover potatoes and vegetables.  All I had was the roast in its juices, but this was still very easy to pull together.  

Here's what I did:

First I made a batch of mashed potatoes.  I made sure to make these like I always do with plenty of garlic and salt.  Each layer should be able to stand alone, so don't skimp on the seasonings.  While the potatoes were boiling, I separated the meat from the broth.  The meat was shredded, and the broth was put on the stove to boil.  I chopped one stalk of celery and one large carrot and added these to the broth.  I let the carrot and celery cook until tender.  Next, I added a 16oz bag of frozen peas to the broth.  Once the broth came back to a boil and boiled for about 5 minutes, I added a few tablespoons of corn starch, whisking while it was added.  When the vegetable/broth mixture was thickened to a gravy, I checked for seasoning and added the beef.  This was placed into a baking dish and topped with the mashed potatoes.  Finally, I sprinkled the potatoes with cheese.  The cheese is optional, and once again, it was a leftover that I needed to use.  I baked the dish at 375 for 20 minutes.