Well, if this isn’t inspiration

Then I don’t know what is.
New Oven!

I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.

I took some time to take photos just for fun. And because I wasn’t trying to get any kind of photo in particular, it helped me improve my skills a little.
Hellooooooo F stop!
Dandelions
Exhibit A

My Bubble
Exhibit B

And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.

I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.

Or an epic failure.

And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)

But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.

Dude, we got a new oven!

New Oven!
It bakes! (And doesn’t take 40 minutes to preheat)

New Oven!
It cooks! (Well, I guess technically I cook, but that’s beside the point)

I’m in love.

Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.

Watch out world!

A new take

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Remember those bacon things?

Sometimes I like to mix it up, without having to work or think too hard.
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Quick and easy, same steps, sweet not savory.
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Should I be calling these apple turnovers?
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That just doesn’t seem like something I’d do.

Call something by its proper name? Not me!

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Breakfast just got fancy.

I made bacon things and apple things, which is why there’s bacon in the photos. I briefly considered combining everything into bacon/apple things, but I was lazy. It will happen soon, don’t you worry!

Apple Things
Makes 8

2 apples (of your favorite variety) sliced thinly
1 can crescent rolls
8-12 tsp cream cheese
brown sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375F.

I’ve made these with baked apples and raw apples. Honestly, there isn’t much of a difference, so if you’re pressed for time, just slice the apples and go.

“Bake” the sliced apples by gently heating them in a skillet or griddle over medium heat. You may want to use a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking.
In the meantime, spread out the crescent rolls. Drop a teaspoon to teaspoon and a half of cream cheese on each. Sprinkle the cream cheese with brown sugar and cinnamon. Top with several slices of apples, and roll up the crescents.
Bake for 16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for several minutes before serving.

The things I do for love

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I should like cherry pie.

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I really, really should.

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But I just don’t.

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It’s ok, you can call me crazy.

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There are just some things I cannot like.

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No matter how sweet and pretty they are.

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you on something mediocre! I’m told this was an excellent pie.
The bite I tried was…cherry pie.

If cherry pie is your thing, this one shouldn’t disappoint. It has a nice balance of tart and sweet, decadence and simplicity.

But man, it’s still…cherry pie.

Cherry Pie
Makes one pie

2 chilled pie crusts (making your own is easy!)
4-5 cups of frozen pitted cherries
1/3 cup sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling on top
juice from one medium lemon
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk mixed with 1/2 tbsp cool water

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Toss together until all the cherries are covered.

Roll out one pie crust, and place it in a 9 inch pie pan. Fill with the cherry mixture. Roll out the other pie crust and top, crimping the edges together to seal. (If you don’t want to mess with a lattice top, I don’t blame you! Just make sure to cut slits to vent the steam) Brush the top with the egg wash, and then sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake for at least an hour, and as much as an hour and a half. Cover the edges of the pie with tinfoil after a half an hour to prevent them from getting too brown. You will know the pie is done when the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Allow the pie to rest at room temperature for several hours before serving. It’s even better (I’m told) the next day, so if you have time, make it a day ahead and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Chicken Sausage Calzones

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Calzones are so great for those times when you have a lot of random ingredients that you need to use up.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
For instance, we bought some chicken and apple sausages from Costco. I really liked them, but Nick didn’t care too much for them.

When you buy something at Costco, you don’t just end up with one package. So, the other package of sausages have been sitting in our refrigerator long enough that I was worried we’d have to throw them away if I didn’t come up with something.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Our broccoli was the same deal. We had a lot of it, and although we’d been slowly nibbling on it for awhile, (and adding it to a few dinners) I knew that if I didn’t use up a big portion of it, a big portion of it was going to go in the trash.

Unacceptable!

Chicken Sausage Calzones
And cheese! How did we end up with four different kinds of cheese? There’s no possible way we can eat that much cheese!

Ok, so we totally can, but we needed to use it up faster than nibbling would allow.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
The solution? Roast the sausages and vegetables, add two kinds of cheese…

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Make pizza dough ***and then play with the perfect pillows***

Chicken Sausage Calzones
***I mean*** Roll out the individual portions of dough and then package everything up like so…

Chicken Sausage Calzones
And voila! You’ve just used up a ton of ingredients and made something far fancier than pizza.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
And if you’re going to go, why not go all out and make a lot?

You can freeze what you don’t need right away, thereby not wasting any food, and you have back up dinner or lunches when you’re pressed for time.

And Nick thought the sausage taste was disguised enough that he didn’t even realize it was the same sausage. Win one for me 🙂

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Serves 8

1 pre-made pizza dough (I used my bread machine, but lots of stores have ready made stuff in the freezer aisle)
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 sausage links (3 oz each) sliced into rounds. I used these
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
cornmeal to sprinkle on the baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 350F
On a cookie sheet, spread the sausage out to create one layer. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes (or until done), making sure to move the sausage around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
On a separate cookie sheet, spread the broccoli and the onion out to create one layer. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for about 15-20 minutes, moving everything around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
Set the vegetables and sausage aside to cool slightly before adding the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir everything together until fully combined.

Increase the oven heat to 400F
Prepare a stone baking pan or cookie sheet by sprinkling cornmeal onto it.
Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal portions, and roll or spread the dough to create little circles. Add a few spoonfuls of the filling onto one side, leaving about 3/4 of an inch edge. Fold the other side of the dough over to create a pocket, and use a fork to seal the edges. Cut a slit or two in the top, and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Cornbread Quiche

Cornbread Quiche
Ah, comfort food.

Cornbread Quiche
You know that scene in Amelie where she reaches her hand into a sack of beans because it’s one of her life’s simple pleasures? That’s how I feel about a bag of cornmeal. I have to resist the urge to dip my fingers into it every time I get it out of the cupboard.

It’s ok. I know I’m an odd duck.

Cornbread Quiche
I don’t have a fancy recipe for cornbread, I just follow the directions on the cornmeal bag. Maybe that will be a future project–fancy cornbread.

Cornbread Quiche
Run of the mill cornbread, baked for about 10 minutes.

Cornbread Quiche
In retrospect, I should have decreased the amount of cornbread and increased the eggs.

Cornbread Quiche
Not that it really mattered a ton, but it would have been a better egg to crust ratio.

Cornbread Quiche
The cheese was perfect though. Just a little will do.

Cornbread Quiche
And in my book, broccoli will always be classified as a comfort food.

Cornbread Quiche
Cornbread Quiche
serves 8

8 eggs
1 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Cornbread**

Preheat the oven to 425F
**Follow your favorite cornbread recipe, omitting most–if not all–the sugar. Add enough batter to an 8 inch round pan to fill the bottom about a half inch. (Use the leftover batter to make cornbread muffins!)
Bake the cornbread for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in the broccoli.

Pour the egg mixture over the cornbread, top with the cheese, and reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Put the quiche back into the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes. Just until the eggs are firm and everything turns a nice golden brown color. Serve hot.

If you want a little more kick or moisture, feel free to add some salsa as a topping.

Travel Food

Blueberry Muffins

I’m going on a road trip this week, and I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I’ll be performing “Views from Grandma’s Porch” with Bare Bait Dance, a fantastic modern dance company right here in Montana. I get to hang out with five of the loveliest ladies you’d ever meet, and dance till I drop.

Don’t you dare pinch me if this is a dream!

Because our schedule will get a bit hectic here and there, I’m going to be bringing some homemade snacks to get me through our techs and workshops. I was trying to think of what would be easy to make, easy to throw in a dance bag, and not be heavy in my belly.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Blueberry Muffins
From Good Housekeeping
makes 12+ muffins

1 cup oats, processed in a blender until mostly uniform in consistency
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, see the notes below)
3 tbsp olive oil (or substitute unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin tin with liners or non-stick spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl until fully mixed.
In a smaller bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk, then add the remaining wet ingredients.
When everything is almost fully incorporated, add the blueberries and fold them into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and then bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into a muffin’s center, and the tops should be golden brown before you remove them from the oven.

Blueberry Muffins
So quick!

Blueberry Muffins
So easy!

Blueberry Muffins
So delicious!

Blueberry Muffins
And pretty.

If you don’t have any buttermilk
Blueberry Muffins
Simply pour 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of milk into a bowl, and then add 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Let that sit while you prepare your dry ingredients, and you’re good to go!

So, what else should I make for my trip?
Blueberry Muffins

So not Sloppy Joes

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“Don’t tell my wife these are Sloppy Joes or she’ll hate them.”

I overheard this line coming from the kitchen after I’d thrown together what I thought was a brilliant new concept for dinner.

Seriously? How did I not catch on?

It was one of those nights where we had nothing planned for dinner, and no fresh ingredients. You know those nights? Where it would just be easier to go out to dinner because you’re starving and you couldn’t possibly go to the grocery store and then come home and cook dinner? (I’m the queen of the run-on sentence, by the way.)

Except we had company. And my husband and said company were in the process of making home brew, so they couldn’t leave.

What to do? What to do?
I got it! I’ll make biscuits. Those are fast and easy.
Not Sloppy Joes
Maybe I could even follow in my Aunt Patsy’s footsteps and make chocolate sauce! (True story. I’ll never forget that dinner as long as I live. I thought she was the coolest mom in the world.)

No, I can’t very well serve three grown men and a growing 6 year old chocolate covered biscuits. I don’t have her recipe for chocolate sauce 😉

Ok, what else? Tomato sauce! Perfect! Oh my gosh, we have ground beef! This is going to be so awesome!
Not Sloppy Joes

I get it now. Seriously, how did I not pick up on that?
Not Sloppy Joes

But they were delicious! And gourmet…or something.

Not Sloppy Joes
Serves 6

For the biscuits:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425F
Sift dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add oil and milk, and mix until all the ingredients are just incorporated. Don’t over mix.
Turn the dough out on a floured surface, and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick–you don’t want it to be too thin. Using a round cutter (mason jar rings work really well), cut out circles and place onto a stone ware pan or lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden brown.

For the *ahem* gourmet and totally fancy meat sauce:
1 pound ground beef
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (here’s mine)
Brown the meat in a skillet, draining the juices periodically. Add the sauce and heat through completely.

Serve the biscuits warm, covered in the meat sauce.
And don’t tell anyone I made Sloppy Joes. It would ruin my street cred…or something.