I reject the notion that pie is a seasonal treat.

This is one of the recipes that I should have blogged in November but got distracted and didn’t. Have you noticed that we treat pie like a season treat? We make apple pies in the late summer and fall, leading up to that pie extravaganza that is Thanksgiving. But seriously, you can make and eat pie ALWAYS. So really, I’m just making a statement about how we should be eating pie more often. You’re welcome.

Actually, as I’m sitting here finally writing this I’m wondering if I should wait until National Pi day in March….but NO. I’ve procrastinated long enough. Plus now I’ll just have to make something new for then.

Moving on.

I’ve been making pies for a while now. My aunt and I used to make all the pies for Thanksgiving starting when I was in high school to take some of the burden of the meal off my Gram and great-grandmother. So when my office decided to have a Thanksgivukah party and I got a Friendsgiving invite I decided it was time to bust out my pie magic.

squash

When I was in Peace Corps I developed an awesome pumpkin pie-esque recipe–except rather than pumpkin it uses butternut squash. And I love it.

Immersion blenders are made for times like these.

Immersion blenders are made for times like these.

Butternut Squash Pie:

1.5 c butternut squash
1 c light brown sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 c half and half or cream
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs melted butter
spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, vanilla)

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Peel and cut squash into cubes. Boil or steam until soft, add butter and mash. Beat in sugar. Add eggs, cream, spices, and flour. Pour into pie crusts. Bake at 350 for 40-55 mins.

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Most people can’t tell that its not pumpkin. Its easy and tastes good so its one of my faves.

In other news…I’ve gotten to do some cool stuff lately. First D, C, and I went to the aquarium a few weekends ago. I can’t really remember the last time I had been to the New England Aquarium…college I think. It was really fun. We even edged out the little 5 year olds to get spots at the tank where you can pet the rays–they feel so strange!

The face that haunts my dreams.

The face that haunts my dreams.

 

This past weekend I went to NH with C and 2 other ladies for the annual Pond Hockey Classic. There were over 20 rinks and loads of people. It was really cool to be a part of…and thankfully the weather was perfect. The coolest part was that there was a company running 5 minute-ish helicopter rides—so obviously I had to go on one. It was sooo cool. The whole lake was frozen and being in a helicopter wasn’t nearly as anxiety causing as I imagined it would be. Totally worth it.

View from the helicopter of the Pond Hockey rinks

View from the helicopter of the Pond Hockey rinks

Emerging from our ride like champions

Emerging from our ride like champions

 

In conclusion: f*ck cakes, make more pies.

 

 

 

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I Cook Turkey Whenever I Want…Take THAT Thanksgiving

So I love turkey. I may go so far as to say that is my favorite meat. But its not often that I get to get legit turkey. By legit I mean NOT deli meat…because deli turkey and oven roasted turkey are so different its weird they are both called turkey.

….Fade into a memory…..I spent two years in southern Africa and I can count on one finger the number of times I had turkey…ONE. I had dreams about turkey. My delightful grandmother (Hi Gram) offered to make me my favorite meal once I got home….she made me an amazing thanksgiving worthy meal in the middle of July. And it was AWESOME.

Flash forward to the present. I had yet to tackle a “whole bird” (chicken or turkey) in my crockpot so I decided that now was the time….and by time I mean Turkey Time.

*Let me preface this by noting that it was not just procrastination on my part that kept me from making a turkey. Availability is an issue. My grocery store almost never has the turkey breasts necessary for my cooking endeavors.  Until they finally did 🙂

So this guy is 6.5 lbs

So this guy is 6.5 lbs

I picked up a 6.5 lb turkey breast at good ole’ Stop&Shop. I could tell by looking that it would fit in my crockpot, but if you’re unsure you should measure before you buy. The one thing I really didn’t think about was Height. I had to hack a little piece off the top of the bird so that my cover could close tight…but that’s not a big deal.

I also cut up a small/medium onion and put it in with the bird, and about 2 cups of apple juice (about 2.5 juice boxes worth). Season with Salt and Pepper too.

Dump it and leave it.

Dump it and leave it.

Then you just put on the cover, cook on low for 8 or 10 hours and go about your business.

Look at this guy....Happy Thanksgiving...Said NO ONE.

Look at this guy….Happy Thanksgiving…Said NO ONE.

Look at all the tasty turkey meat.

Look at all the tasty turkey meat.

Dinner time for this girl!

Dinner time for this girl!

I just whipped up some stuffing and had a yummy dinner.

I found a wishbone!

I found a wishbone!

I found a wishbone so obviously we had to make a wish!…I didn’t win..womp womp.

As a final note: this is SUPER EASY. I recommend it to everyone who wants to cooks a turkey or whole chicken but doesn’t have the time to sit home and wait…or its summer and you can’t bare to heat your house up!

Apple Butter Pork Chops

So last week I bought a big ole’ pack of pork chops. I was weirdly craving them…weirdly because for no real reason I hardly ever eat pork. I don’t know that many ways to cook pork chops because, like I said, I hardly ever eat them. Since I had taken them out the freezer I locked myself into making them…I just didn’t know what HOW I would make them yet. So I did what I always do when I don’t know the answer to something…I googled the crap out of it.

And good old Google didn’t let me down. I saw a bunch of recipes involving apple sauce (because naturally pork chops and applesauce go to together…just ask those fun-loving Brady kids). Then LIGHTBULB! I remembered that I have my homemade apple butter in the fridge still! So I refined my search a little to look specifically for apple butter pork chop recipes. I was not disappointed. I found a tasty easy recipe pretty quickly.

 

The great thing about this recipe is that it has like 3 ingredients: pork chops, apple butter, and garlic. BOOM. That’s my jam. The recipe on blog I found is for 4 pork chops…but I only defrosted 2 so I just fudged it. I minced about 2 Tbs of garlic (I like strong garlic) and mixed it with about 1/2 cup of my apple butter.

 

I dunked the chops into the sauce so it covered the bottom. Then I spooned more onto the tops so the chops were covered 360 in the apple butter garlic goodness.

You cook them for 30-45 mins on 350 and you get these guys! The blog I found the recipe on says 25-35 mins but mine were NOT cooked at the 30 min mark so just check on them and go off how done they are.

 

This was my dinner. Here’s the thing. I love potatoes. I really do. For some strange reason they frequently elude my brain though. Its crazy. I can NEVER remember how to properly cook baked potatoes or how long it will take. I was at trivia at the bar across from my house last night and they randomly played Mambo #5…a song I have not heard in at LEAST 8 years…and I remembered every single word. Yet my idiot brain REFUSES to remember how to bake a stupid potato. I seriously call my mom and ask her how long it takes every single time lol. I guess that’s what mom’s are for…

In case you were wondering about how the above mentioned trivia went–we nailed it! First place! BOOM.

Suck it Betty Crocker…I Make My Cake from Scratch

okay…so the title of this blog is only partly true. I frequently make cakes from a box out of laziness and poverty. But when I DO make a cake from scratch BOOM. It’s all “Betty Who?”

I had to buy some carrots a bit ago to make some Beef Stew (I’ll be posting about it soon!). I’m not huge into carrots…I only like them cooked. I needed to use them or lose them, so I decided that there was no time like the present to whip up a sweet treat.

 

To be perfectly honest I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake. This post is making me seem super picky lol (I’m really not). For some reason I just never like carrot cake that much. But back in my Peace Corps days I had a garden and I grew some stellar carrots. Back then EVERYTHING I made was from scratch, so the idea of making a cake from scratch with carrots I grew all by myself was too good to resist. So I ended up finding an awesome recipe.

Blast from the past Peace Corps photo of the day I picked my carrots!

So the other night I decided to bring forth the magic….also I may have needed something productive to do while I drank my wine…

I used my carrot cake recipe and a great cream cheese frosting recipe from the one and only Martha Stewart.

Here’s the recipe:

1 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp vanilla (that’s pretty conservative)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (again this is conservative)
2 c grated carrots

Combine sugar and oil in a bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix. Add it all together and mix in the carrots.
Put batter into a greased pan (spring forms work great) and bake for about 35 mins at 350.

Ok so in reality you can be a little more relaxed with this recipe. I legit dump everything in one bowl in whatever order I happen to read the ingredients. I’m not dirtying any more dishes than it is absolutely essential that I do.  Also when they give measurements for things like vanilla and cinnamon I take that as more of a suggestion. Who am I? the spice police? you use however much flavor you like!

Check out the link for the frosting recipe. Its super simple with only a few ingredients (powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter).

Muffin Tin Madness: Individual Chessecakes

mmmm…cheesecake. Right?

I’ve never made cheesecake before. This is partly because many recipes are a bit intimidating…mainly because it can take a while and you really need a spring form pan…which I don’t currently own. YET.

But in one of my frequent ramblings through the depths of Pinterest I came upon this guy (click me!). Its such a great recipe and super easy. And best yet: you make’em in a muffin tin. BOOM.  Also there’s a great instructional video to walk you through it.

I topped mine with some Nutella. YUM!

Sometimes I’m a Spaz in the Kitchen…

So those of you who’ve met me know that I am not the model of balance and grace…quite the opposite in fact. And this has been especially true lately. An alternate title for this post was actually going to be “That time i became Frienemies with Pancakes” but then that didn’t fully encompass the span of my clumsiness.

So I had avocados and corn on the cob left over and I needed to use them. I found a great recipe for Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad (here) that would be perfect. Incident One of being a spaz. EVERYONE knows that when you de-pit an avocado you ‘chop’ the pit,not STAB. Even as I was doing I was thinking…this is dumb Kristine….and then OWWWWW. Yup…I stabbed myself in the hand. Nice going, champ. Kitchen Fail ONE.

Not even a week later the spaz in me struck again. I was just giving voice to my love of pancakes by whipping up some chocolate chip pancakes NBD right? WRONG. The pancake was essentially finished cooking when I gracefully flipped one right outta the pan. Without thinking I grabbed it to toss it back in…another genius plan. My middle finger, with laser sharp accuracy mind you, landed firmly on the molten core of a chocolate chip. OH.MY.GOD. That biz hurts….A LOT. I got a big ugly fiery hot blister on my that stayed on my finger for 2.5 weeks. I’ll spare you the photos…which exist because obviously I need to send things like this to people like my mom lol. I have a bit of a mixed history with pancakes. About a week before I returned to America from Peace Corps, I was fixing myself a batch of pancakes when I flipped a pancake onto the stove. MESSY. In my attempt to clean it up I rubbed my hand all up on the still-on-the-active-burner frying pan. I still have the scar on my hand as a momento. So this latest debacle places us firmly the frienemies category.

And I’ve been dropping just about everything I touch (and weirdly things I don’t touch at all) in the kitchen ever since.

Here’s a little something I whipped up the other day for my cousin’s baby shower. I made some chocolate cupcakes with Diet Pepsi frosting (Diet Pepsi being one of her fave things).

For the cake I just used a box and prepared it as instructed. HOWEVER, if you can sub out all the ingredients the box says to add with a can of soda for an extra light, lower fat, cake.

You can find the recipe HERE. Its a chocolate glaze that actually tastes like Diet Pepsi. I let the glaze dry and then dusted them with powdered sugar.

Remaking A Classic: Kraft Mac&Cheese

Here’s the thing: Kraft Mac&Cheese is great. I’m a big fan. And I know there are lots of you out there just like me who can’t resist the appeal of that Blue Box treat….and then eat the whole thing in one sitting cough cough…

But there are times when you want to eat something a little more dynamic. This was the case last night. My friend and I wanted to eat something good, but weren’t in the mood to go all out. So we decided to ramp up a classic. We decided to add some salsa and sour cream to our mac&cheese; thus prompting us to call it mex&cheese.

To make this fun revamp here’s the how to:

1. make the mac&cheese per box instructions
2. add about 4 Tbs of salsa (we used medium)
3. add about 2 Tbs of sour cream

Now this was a tasty creation. We did realize that for this to be truly magical we needed to add something crunchy. I recommend adding crushed fritos/doritos/torilla chips.

We also decided to make a classy yet super simple appetizer to snack on while the noodles were cooking: chabbata and brie with raspberry jelly. All you do is slice up the bread, slather on some jelly (fig jam is also INCREDIBLE with brie) and add a slice of brie. If you want to take it up a notch, toss that guy in the toaster over for a minute or two. BOOM.  Super easy and tastes great.