My new obsession

Tapioca Pudding
I was one of those kids who would decide something didn’t look good, and then convince myself it tasted terrible.

At least I know I’m not the only one, but now I kick myself for cheating myself out of years of delicious foods.

Like Tapioca pudding.
Tapioca Pudding

It looks lumpy. And maybe a little slimy. It must be gross! *Sigh*

I’ve now become obsessed with the stuff. Fortunately for me (and you), it’s really easy to make!

Although I’ve learned the hard way that there is a huge (huuuuuuge) difference between quick-cooking and regular tapioca pearls. (Duh! Are these honestly things I still struggle with? Apparently.)
Tapioca Pudding

You get to temper eggs, so you’ll feel very fancy. But that’s the hardest part.
Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pudding
Milk bubbles

Tapioca Pudding
Frothy foam!

Tapioca Pudding
This seems like it should be at least 6 servings, but it’s really just one. For me.

I’d better get more pearls soaking!

Tapioca Pudding
Indeed, this recipe will make 6 servings. Use that knowledge as you will.

Place 1/2 cup tapioca pearls (NOT the quick-cooking kind***) into a bowl and cover them generously with whole milk. Allow the pearls to soak for AT LEAST 8 HOURS. You may have to add more milk periodically as the pearls soak it up. The pearls will expand and become soft. After soaking, you will need:

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Place the soaked tapioca pearls, milk, sugar and salt into a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir fairly constantly and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook for about 5 minutes longer.
Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture in with the beaten eggs to temper them. Then pour the egg mixture back into the milk mixture and bring everything to a gentle simmer for about 2 more minutes. The pudding will start to thicken considerably.
Remove the pudding from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

At this point, you can serve the pudding warm, or you can refrigerate it for later. I found that the pudding is best served the day you make it. Which is great because it doesn’t usually last longer than a day or two at my house.

***If you use quick-cooking tapioca pearls, skip the soaking process and just start the pearls, milk, sugar and salt in the saucepan together.

Pineapple Chicken with Coconut Rice

Otherwise known as the most tropical dinner I’ve ever made. Aloha!

I feel like this also got me out of my chicken rut. Lately, my chicken dinners have been so blah. Completely edible, but not exciting and only just…decent. I’ve just gotten out of my groove, and chicken has been pretty dry and flavorless. Of course this was something I had to fix.

Pineapple Chicken
Voila!

This was easy to throw together. An excellent weeknight dinner when you’re starving after work. The chicken and the rice can cook simultaneously, so it won’t take more than 30 minutes for this meal. And although I cooked everything on the stove top, it went quickly enough that I didn’t heat up the house too much.

I marinated the chicken ahead of time, but I’m not sure if that’s truly necessary. I think it would have been great either way. I’ll make it again and find out.

I also had a bit of trouble with the rice. I felt like it absorbed all the liquid so fast, but then it was still a bit crunchy. That’s never happened before, so I wonder if I have old rice? Or if we had extremely dry air that day? (This is Montana, after all.) I’m going to call it a fluke and hope it doesn’t happen to you. Let me know how it goes, ok?

Pineapple Chicken with Coconut Rice
Serves 4

For the Chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (for the marinade)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (for the marinade)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for the marinade)
  • 1 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (I used a fresh pineapple, but canned will work too! Just drain the juice first)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

If you’re going to marinate the chicken, add the olive oil, lemon juice and salt together in a large ziplock bag. Give it a little shake to combine. Then add the chicken and refrigerate for an hour or several hours.
In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until melted. Add the sliced chicken and onions and cook, flipping the chicken slices as needed. When the chicken is close to cooked all the way through, add the pineapple slices and sweet chili sauce. Turn the heat down a bit, and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and your rice is done.

For the Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add more water if necessary a 1/2 cup at a time. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Place the rice in a bowl and top with the pineapple chicken. I used more sweet chili sauce to garnish, and we ate with chopsticks for fun.

Banana with Honeyed Mascarpone & Caramel

Mascarpone Banana
Bananas are not my go-to dessert.

I do not like banana splits. Just give me the ice cream!

I’ve had Bananas Foster once, but I prefer apple crisp.

But my friends served this dessert a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it!

It’s like a song that got stuck in my head. And the only way to stop obsessing about the creamy mascarpone and drizzly caramel was to make my own. Obviously.

The banana isn’t just a vehicle for the cheese and caramel, either! The textures pair perfectly, and the banana and mascarpone blend together in a creamy, soft goodness.

Maybe I should take another look at bananas, huh?

Bananas with Honeyed Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce
Makes 6-8 portions

8 oz Mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp honey
6-8 ripe bananas
Caramel Sauce

Whip the mascarpone and the honey until everything is thoroughly incorporated and fluffy. Put a dollop of the cheese on a plate, and top with a banana and generous amount of caramel sauce.

Game of Thrones Pie

Strawberry Almond Galette
I’ve read the Game of Thrones series. Twice.

I really enjoy them, and I was trying to bide my time until the next book in the series came out.

Oh poor, naive Jo.

Can we please please please have the next one? Pretty please?

I’ve also watched the HBO series (which is finally back for season 4!), and have been seeing all the Buzzfeed quizzes about “Which GoT character is your mom’s second cousin?”

Don’t let me fool you, you know I LOVE those quizzes.

You might call me obsessed with Game of Thrones, but I disagree. Everyone knows that my real obsession is food, and those books read like hard core foodie porn! George RR Martin is so tantalizingly descriptive of the food that the characters eat, that people have been able to create whole recipe books based off of the GoT series. The food ranges from brown mystery meat stew to entire royal feasts. Food serves as the great equalizer between peasants and monarchs. Everyone’s gotta eat!

So what better way to pass the time until episode 2 on Sunday than by recreating GoT food? And while I’m not willing to attempt lamprey pie or the raw heart of a stallion, strawberry galette I can do.

And you should too!
Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette

Strawberry Almond Galette
Makes one rustic pie

Crust
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
1/3 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, measure out your milk and add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar)

Add the flour, sugar, cornmeal and salt together in a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Pulse several times. Then add the butter and pulse until the mixture starts to look like gravel. Turn the food processor on low and slowly pour in the buttermilk. Stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides, and continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. Press the dough together, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 45 minutes–up to 24 hours.

Filling
2 1/2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp corn starch

1 egg white whisked together with 1 tsp of water
Extra sugar and slivered almonds for topping

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the strawberries, almonds, sugar and corn starch in a bowl. Set aside.
Roll the dough out into a large circle and place it onto a baking stone or sheet pan. You may want to use parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Pour the strawberry almond mixture into the center and spread it out, leaving a 2 inch edge. Gently fold the edge over the strawberries and press the dough where it overlaps to make sure it stays together.
Brush the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle sugar and extra almonds over the top.
Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

How I Survived the Blizzard

Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

You all know that I hate the cold.

I would take 97F over -25F EVERY. TIME.

And spending two hours shoveling my driveway, while a great workout, is not my idea of time well-spent.

But I have to say, getting a four-day weekend is pretty spectacular.

Guys. We got snow days!! Not one, but two!!

If you’re from Montana, this is basically unheard of. It could snow an entire foot over night and we’d still have to go to school.

Last week though, we got Friday off because it snowed a foot over night and then we had 50mph wind. I had to pretend I was hearing ocean sounds in order to sleep. It actually worked really well. There still weren’t enough streets cleared by Monday to safely open the schools, which meant that we got to stay home again.

So my mind naturally came up with this frozen treat. If you’re all bundled up and you don’t have to brave the cold, why not?

All you have to do is make some whipped cream
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches
We make whipped cream by adding heavy whipping cream and maple syrup into a mixing bowl. Beat until fluffy and add maple syrup in small amounts until it tastes right.

Get some graham crackers
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Spread on some peanut butter
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Then the whipped cream
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Sprinkle on some chocolate chips. Drizzle on as much caramel as you can.
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches
More caramel! Caramel recipe can be found here.

Top them off and freeze them for a couple of hours.
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

These sandwiches don’t get rock hard like you’d expect. Even after they’ve been in the freezer overnight! They were shockingly easy to break in half and bite through. The whipped cream retains its fluffy texture, and frozen caramel might be the best thing in the world. As my husband says, “These things will change your life.”

If I would have known I could celebrate the cold with treats, I would’ve had a completely different outlook on winter.

Keep It Simple

Bacon and Onion Pizza
I love making pizza.

I have this magical bread machine that makes the pizza crust for me. It’s so fluffy! I highly recommend getting a bread machine. Even if all you ever use it for is pizza dough, it’s totally worth it.

Rising Pizza Dough
I do stray a little from the original bread machine’s recommended whole wheat pizza crust recipe. I’ve found that an extra 20 minutes of rising time makes a huuuuuuuuuuge difference in the ease of shaping. And whole wheat pastry flour has consistently turned out softer, crispier crust than regular whole wheat flour.

Pizza Stone
I also find that scattering cornmeal on my pizza stone is essential. There is nothing worse than a pizza slice that won’t come off the stone. Truly a sad business.

Pizza Dough
I roll the dough out right on the stone. That way, I know exactly what size to make it, and I don’t have to try to transfer the dough. We all know how **awesome** I am at working dough.

**Ha!!**

Curled Crust
Just roll the dough out slightly larger than the stone, and then curl the edge back onto itself.

Pizza Sauce
When it comes to sauce, less is more. You need to make sure it touches all the edges, but too much sauce gives you pizza soup when you take it out of the oven.

Pizza
I make no judgements on how much cheese you want to use. Cheesiness is a personal choice, and I believe that we should never judge each other’s choices.

I tend to love pizzas that don’t have too much going on. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s pizza, I will like it. But my favorites tend to have only one or two toppings. Bacon and onion; pineapple and Canadian bacon; arugula and prosciutto; just olives.

In the oven
And whatever you do, do not take your pizza out of the oven before your cheese is bubbly and starting to brown! It’s important.

Bacon and Onion Pizza
Pizza and salad. The perfect, simple dinner.

Bacon and Onion Pizza
Makes one medium pizza. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

Pizza Crust:
**Every bread machine will probably have different instructions, so be sure to read the directions. The way mine works, it takes about an hour and a half from the time I throw in the ingredients to the time I’m pulling out the dough for an extra rise.

1 1/4 cup of warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in order into the bread machine. Use the “Dough” setting.
When the machine is fully through the cycle, place the dough into a greased bowl and let it sit, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes. Then spread some cornmeal onto a pizza stone, and roll the dough onto the pizza stone, draping the dough over the sides of the stone. Curl the edges of the dough back onto itself, pressing gently.

Toppings:
3/4 cups pizza sauce (I made a batch of this sauce, and then pureed it in the food processor)
1 1/2 to 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella
2 strips of bacon, diced
1/4 cup of thinly sliced onion

Preheat the oven to 400F. Assemble your pizza, in ingredient order, onto the uncooked pizza dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is crispy and browning. Slice with scissors or a pizza cutter, and serve hot.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Apple Cookies
I’m not sure what happened to all of my cookies. These lasted all of two hours before they vanished.

Apple Cookies
I restrained myself from eating the dough, which was no easy feat.

Apple Cookies
And they definitely came out of the oven…

Apple Cookies
They made it to the cooling rack. But then?

Apple Cookies
One by one, they disappeared!

Huh, I guess I’ll just have to make more.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Makes approximately 36 cookies

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (this is the amount before blending), blended
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 large apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F

Start by making oat flour. Place 2 1/2 cups of oatmeal into a blender or food processor. Pulse on low until the oats resemble gravely sand.
Cream butter, applesauce and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.
Add flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda and mix. Add the apples and gently combine.
Drop onto a cookie sheet or stoneware pan, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, just until golden brown.

These cookies are perfect on their own, but you can add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for an extra decadent dessert.