Pizza & Beer

Pizza & Beer

IMG_2779 iPhone Pictures 275I’m hungry now. We made this pizza one night: it’s pesto, goat cheese and tomatoes topped with fresh arugula. Oh yeah. Amazing how much the arugula adds too. I think arugula is my favorite leaf now. It used to be cilantro, which I’m still in love with, but ah… the flavor, the spice, of arugula! I tried this pumpkin patch ale from Rogue Farms and was expecting it to be flavorful, but not near as smooth as it was. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to drink and enjoy without a bite or anything to jerk you as it went down. And wonderful pumpkin flavor. Win! Have some pizza and beer, people.

Let’s do a wine tasting!

That’s what I served up every weekend at my local vineyard and winery for about eight months. The copious amounts of wonderful wine, knowledge, lessons, educational experiences, smiles and laughter I took in throughout that time I am certainly grateful for. The world of wine is so big that I have yet to learn so much… but I have learned so much as well. Having worked at a winery and even helped in the wine-making processes, I like to believe I know something about it. In reality, I just know more than someone who doesn’t care about wine! But, I care and I loved the chances I got to involve myself in whatever they let me, from the grapes to the wine.

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I tasted grapes off the vine, freshly-pressed juices and unfinished wine. They even let me “break the cap” of the coveted Petite Sirah. What that means basically is that I stood on a tall ladder next to a 1500 gallon stainless tank so that I could reach the opening at the top. I had a large hose connected to the bottom of the tank, which was also connected to a pump. Said pump forced the juice from the bottom of the tank through the hose and out the end I was wielding back into the top of the tank. The grape solids had formed a floating cap, per say, on top of the juice. This pumping action stirred it all back together. Let me tell you, it was hard! That hose was heavy!

Picture 3883By the way, this winery grows about 85% of all the grapes they use to make their wine. It’s a gorgeous place. Harvesting was great fun- and work- as well! If you haven’t been out wine-tasting in awhile, get out there; there’s so much to taste and learn. I sure enjoyed the other end of it; and still got to taste a lot of really, really quality wine! I gotta tell you, I’m spoiled now: I can’t drink that cheap stuff in the grocery store anymore. I got used to drinking $30 whites and $45 reds. If you have the money, it’s worth it! Cheers! I’ll be back with food something soon; for now, here’s the food spread we had for our volunteers who helped us harvest and stomp the grapes.

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Butternut Squash Scones with Amaretto Soaked Raisins

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These are sweet scones, and my favorite¬† to date at that. I’m sure I’ve said that about several other scones in the past, but these are really it! How about this long title too- Butternut Squash Scones with Amaretto Soaked Raisins. Here’s the recipe , let’s talk about these for a minute. Above I’ve got my flour mixture, my raisins plump with amaretto and my pureed roasted butternut squash. I can feel the love coming together…

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Look at this messy circle of dough with my random triangle cuts; hey, I was able to make every piece a triangle! Okay, every piece but one. That was the one I ate right after they came out of the oven, you know, to test it. They were even better than I imagined!

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Somehow this combination just connected on every level in perfect foodlove harmony and I fell in love. Try ‘em!

Please pardon the lame iPhone pictures, as I did not have time to photograph this properly. Also, I did not have cherry Greek yogurt, so I used plain and it was fine. They were delicious without the glaze, but I’m sure if you made it, that would be awesome too. I did not have the time, sadly.

Bacon, cheese, chive scones- made with love, of course!

This past Thanksgiving I joined my coworkers for our own Thanksgiving meal and everyone brought something to the table. I asked my boss, who also loves food, whether I should bring sweet or savory scones- I had already decided on bringing scones… I love them… and they’re easy… but, mostly, I just love them. My whole point in even bringing this up, though, was that he asked me what a savory scone was. That really kind of totally surprised me. Even after I explained to him that it was the opposite of sweet, he seemed totally new to the idea of a savory scone rather than a sweet one. At this point, I was super happy to enlighten him of the wonderful and creative world of scones.

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So, to my most recent savory scones- they have bacon… everyone loves bacon, right? Well, I do too, but I don’t obsess over bacon and everything bacon-related like some people… am I weird?

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I love green onions. In fact, the coolest and most annoying thing about green onions is that they’re like two ingredients in one stalk- green onions and chives. Whoo.

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This love combination wouldn’t exist without the cheese to meld it all together. We all love cheese. Tangent… I got to have that ridiculously awesome and probably ridiculously processed nacho cheese at Fuddrucker’s last weekend and oh man, why is that stuff so good?!

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Alright, it’s time to get to the real baking here. I love when you get such color in recipes! Once you’ve got your flour, baking powder, salt and butter crumbled together, add the bacon, cheese and chives and get ready to pour on the love with the cream. Recipe here.

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The absolute best part about making scones is how you make them fluffy. Once the cream goes in, just barely stir everything around till it’s just incorporated, but lumpy and sticky. At this point, I just dump the lumpy mess onto the baking sheet and gently spread and pat the pile of dough into a circle like this. It’s all in the love you use now.

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Before popping your scones into the oven, give ‘em a nice brush over with the cream and crack some fresh pepper on top. I use a clean knife and cut triangles while it’s still dough too. Then, after it’s baked to golden perfection- wow, I sound like a clique cookbook- run your knife through the lines again and your triangles will be easy to separate once cooled. And super yummy delicious!

Life… and banana pudding

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Hey there! True life, every kind of elated high and miserable low therein… that’s where I’ve been. There’s been lots of delicious foodlove consumed on my part amidst the lessons I wouldn’t trade anything to have learned. There’s also been generous amounts of wonderful wine drunk with the love I wouldn’t trade anything to have found in the friends I’ve made. More on that later, but right now… the best banana pudding I’ve ever tasted! This was at a hip new bar downtown Dallas called Barter, where my brothers and I enjoyed the drink masterpieces of mixologist Stephen and this maple banana pudding to finish off the evening. Is that not pretty or what? And the vanilla waffers- or whatever cookie cracker they used in the bottom- were still crunchy like they’re meant to be… I’m not the only person who hates the soggy cookies in banana pudding. I’ll tell you what, this dessert actually made me excited about banana pudding for the first time ever. It’s just never been a big favorite on my list… nothing wrong with it, just never wowed me… till now. Mmm! I’ve got scones coming soon, so come back and see me here… please. :)

My Box Cake… (feeling self-conscious)

Just like a lot you, my mom means more to me than I can say. So, this past Mother’s Day I took over the dinner preparations for her. (The shrimp kabobs we had were pretty- totally- delicious!) This simple, old strawberry cake recipe that’s been in our family since I can remember was the dessert I made.

cake mixAdmittedly, when I purchased the cake mix in a box, I felt very self-conscious about it. Cakes come from flour and sugar from our pantries and cupboards and… not from a box of premixed ingredients! But, leave it to my mom to remind me that I still had to add ingredients like Jell-O and frozen strawberries and oil… the box cake was just part of the recipe. Okay, so I got over it… sorta. Making the contrary icing made up for any lack of effort I was feeling, but I’ll tell you about that soon enough.¬†

whipped butterThis above me is the butter whipped up for the icing. No, I do not like using automated help in the kitchen; I will stir it with my spoon in my hand if I can, thank you. It’s okay, I know you’re thinking I’m oddly stubborn here. Anyway, my cake layers baked up beautifully and here they are before my attempt to ice them over.layeringSo, with the juice from the strawberries, I stirred in about an entire bag of powdered sugar to finally come up with stiff icing. I even began icing the cake with what I thought was stiff enough icing before realizing I had to add more powdered sugar when it kept oozing down the sides of the cake. So, I scraped it off and started again. Eventually, I found enough success to hold my cake together for the day. Might I recommend using non-strawberry icing for this cake. This powdered sugar affair has happened every time to my mom in her history with this recipe too. Besides, the cake is so moistly delicious it doesn’t need overly sweet icing.

icingAnyway, I managed to get it here, covered in strawberry icing… with a lot leftover! This being a special occasion, I had to think of something to decorate the cake with.

prepping the decorationI liked the entire strawberry theme… so I added fresh strawberries on top in the shape of a heart! Since I’m not that good at free-handing symmetrical art, I made a pattern out of paper, laid it on the top of the cake and barely traced around it with a toothpick. Then, I laid out the strawberry slices according to my pattern.¬†

heart strawberry cakeCute enough, aye?! Oh, and placing a layer cake on a tall cake plate is totally a must. I’m trying to fool you into thinking this was some grand cake scheme… instead of a box cake that was super easy to make, aside from all the stirring of the icing!

almost all goneAnd the cake seemed to be the perfect dessert after our shrimp kabobs… this was all that was left after the six of us each had a piece… or two!

More Scones… Best Yet!

How I do adore good, homemade scones… perfectly puffy and flavorful. You with me? Good! Here’s the recipe:

recipeThere was way too much broccoli in the fridge… so, I made these scones to accompany breakfast bowl dinner. That turned out pretty tasty, by the way. Scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and cheese- cannot mess that up, folks!

ingredientsThis is already looking really happy, in my opinion. Broccoli and cheese is a natural marriage. Beautiful, my friends.

doughI think my favorite part of making scones is this right here. The part where you plop all the shaggy dough onto the counter and just barely, gently bring it together into a circle to slice into little triangles. Everything about it says love. I did brush these with a touch of milk/egg-wash and grind fresh black peppercorns on top.

goldenPerfection, just out of the oven, still warm… ah yes, I ate one right off! I need to go bake these again… you should too.

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A Keurig Tip

frothycoffeeI am a genius. Okay, that’s terribly inaccurate. But, if you didn’t already know this little Keurig trick, then for a brief moment I am a genius! See my frothy, foamy coffee up there? Instead of stirring in your milk or creamer after brewing your cup of coffee, pour into your cup the allotted amount before brewing your cup of coffee. Result: automatic mixing and added frothiness! (I really wondered if that last one was a word… but my computer didn’t put the little red squiggly line under it, so I guess we’re good!) It’s just a nice little bit of extra smoothness. And no wasted stirrer! Keurigs are just wonderful little machines… :)

My Little Go at Pasta Salad

Someone once told me that the reason children dislike so many (seemingly green!) foods is because our taste buds are more sensitive at a younger age. That some of our taste buds actually die as we age, meaning we have fewer of them to taste foods as well as when we were younger. Be that true or not, I am quite certain that there were some foods I wasn’t a big fan of when I was a child that I absolutely adore now. But, it really didn’t take me that long to start loving green beans and spinach and meatloaf. So, does that mean that I’m here to make you dinner of meatloaf and green beans? Not exactly. I’m here to tell you that I finally made something I honestly never gave a chance until recently. Maybe it was just that whole “adult food” theory that made my head turn away if it was ever mentioned in passing food conversations. Whatever the reason, I’m glad that I was served some amazing pasta salad at a picnic recently because I fell in love with it. Subsequently, I went ahead with my own creation the other day. After scanning a few quick recipes and searching the fridge for ingredients, I tossed my selections onto the counter and got to work. How hard could it be?

purpleonionPurple onion seemed like a good place to start once I’d dumped the leftover cooked pasta into a bowl with some Italian vinaigrette. Purple onions are so pretty. Hello, beautiful; let’s add your flavor, shall we?

beginningsTo add some body to the vinaigrette, I dolloped in some sour cream. Yes, it was Daisy. Sorry, now I have that jingle running through my head and you probably do too. My bad. Anyway, celery got chopped up like the purple onion and it was looking like something…

mixingSomething good, I was hoping. But, I was back to the fridge… it needed something more exciting. So, I tossed in some sun-dried tomatoes. Next came grated white cheese and I thought I might be getting somewhere successful. Taste… not bad… taste again… mmm, I kind of like this stuff! No, it was by no means the greatest pasta salad ever, yet it made me happy. And my mom, who loves pasta salad, really liked the flavor. Now that was a ‘win!’ :)

Budweiser still gets it done!

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I had an impromptu beer sampling today; so, I wanted to share it with you because if you haven’t already tried it, you should. I’d seen this new Black Crown from Budweiser and was curious as to its taste and my brothers had some in the fridge… perfect! Honestly, I was totally expecting a heavy lager. (I obviously never bothered to research it for real, haha.) But, it was a very flavorful amber lager that I instantly liked. As the label says, the toasty caramel notes give flavor while the lager maintains a smooth finish. Plus, the bottle and labeling looks super elegant; I love it! Cheers!

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Catch me on Instagram @allfoodlove for more random, fun food love pictures!