Monday, July 30, 2012

White Pizza with Herbed Goat Cheese & Fresh Basil

White Pizza with Herbed Goat Cheese & Fresh Basil 
I have never liked white pizza, but it was always because it had a whole bunch of ricotta on it. And I absolutely detest ricotta. Yuck. I can't really think of anything like with it in there. But you know what I do love... creamy, tangy goat cheese. Love love love goat cheese. So, I thought why not update a white pizza to include goat cheese instead of ricotta. Yes'um, it was so good. I bought some plain goat cheese at the grocery store, and then came home and turned it into a herbed goat cheese spread. It has lots of little goodies in it, like fresh basil, parsley, and chives, and some yummy roasted garlic. And just for some acidity, I also mixed in some grated lemon zest. This herbed goat cheese spread pairs beautifully with some homemade pesto, so make sure to put that on your pizza. Don't forget to garnish it with more fresh basil because it makes it sooooo much better!! Enjoy :)
Look at that toasty cheese :) 
Lots of yummy basil
For the Herbed Goat Cheese:
4oz Goat Cheese, Room Temperature
2T Fresh Basil, Minced
1T Fresh Parsley, Minced
1t Fresh Chives, Minced
1 Head of Garlic, Roasted
1T Olive Oil
¼t Lemon Zest
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

For the White Pizza:
1 Batch of Pizza Dough
2T Pesto
Prepared Herbed Goat Cheese
1C Fresh Mozzarella, Shredded
¼C Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Basil, For Garnishing

1. For the Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese:  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. The mixture should be smooth with the herbs mixed throughout. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and roll out the pizza dough as thinly as possible and place onto a large baking sheet.
3. For the Pizza: Spread the 2T of Pesto in a thin layer onto the pizza dough. Next, spread the softened, herbed goat cheese mixture on top of the pesto, making sure that it is evenly spread out and not in clumps (it will be sticky & difficult, but just gently work with it until the whole pizza is covered). Scatter the mozzarella cheese on top of the goat cheese, followed by the Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake the pizza for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and immediately garnish with fresh basil. Cut into squares or slices and serve immediately.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hot Caprese Dip with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Pesto Swirl

Hot Caprese Dip with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Pesto Swirl
There are a few certain dishes that I always crave during the Summer. And one of those would have to be a caprese salad. Especially when you can make the salad with some juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella. I mean, nothin' beats it. So, when I came across a recipe for Hot Caprese Dip, I knew I just had to make my own version. It seems simple enough... tomatoes, cheese, basil all baked in a dish and served with some bread, but there was only one problem. The tomatoes cause the dip to have a lot of moisture, making it somewhat watery. Well, this can easily be solved by roasting the tomatoes until they are concentrated and the excess moisture has been cooked out. I especially love roasted cherry tomatoes just because they are already perfectly sweet and bite-size, but you could use another tomato if you prefer. I loaded up the bowl with cubes of mozzarella cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, julienned fresh basil, and a drizzle of homemade pesto. I did this by layering all of the ingredients until all of them had be used up. I'd say I had about 3 layers total. Then, all you have to do is pop this bad boy into the oven until all the cheese has melted and it's ooey-gooey-delicious. After it's been pulled out, I garnished the top with a swirl of more homemade pesto and fresh basil, just 'cuz it's purdy like that. You can serve the dip with crackers if you really want, but the way to go is with some toasted bread rounds. I also made a honey-balsamic reduction to drizzle over the top of the crostini because we're fancy like that. This really is the perfect late-afternoon summer snack!! Enjoy :)
For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
2C Cherry Tomatoes, Cut in Half & Cleaned of Seeds/Juices
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

For the Hot Caprese Dip:
16oz Fresh Mozzarella, Cut into Small Squares
Prepared Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Homemade Pesto
Balsamic Reduction
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

1. For the Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepared the cherry tomatoes by cutting them in half and removing the seeds, as well as any excess moisture. I did this by spooning out the insides, and then placing the tomatoes onto a paper towel to dry slightly.  Next, toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out in one even layer on a baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and caramelized. Set them aside until ready to use.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place one-third of the mozzarella into a serving bowl, and then layer on top of it with a drizzle of pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, and pepper. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients have been used.
3. Bake the dip in the oven for 20 minutes, and then broil the dip for just a minute or two until the top is slightly golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and drizzle the homemade pesto in a swirl over the top of the dip. Garnish with some fresh basil. Serve the dip with toasted bread rounds and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Enjoy immediately with a big glass of wine. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Homemade Java Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches with Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans & Chocolate Macaron Cookies

Homemade Java Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches with Chocolate Covered 
Espresso Beans & Chocolate Macaron Cookies 
I'm finally done with Summer school, yayyyyyy :) I know I was supposed to post a recipe yesterday, but I had my final day of class and I was just super busy. And to top all of that, I have a really bad ear infection. So bad that it's causing me to have vertigo, meaning I can barely move without passing out or getting nauseated. Great way to celebrate being done, right? Nope. But, I have a recipe for y'all today and I'll post another one tomorrow... make sure to check back! 

Anyway, it's as hot as the dickens outside, which automatically causes me to crave ice cream. And I really love to make ice cream, it's just so much fun and the flavor combinations are endless. Lately though, I have been really wanting to make coffee ice cream. I would say that's one of my top three favorite flavors. Especially Starbucks' Java Chip. I crave that smooth coffee flavor with the bits of dark chocolate studded throughout the container. But, being a coffee fanatic, I knew that when I decided to make my own homemade version of Java Chip that I had to make it with a stronger coffee flavor...

By the way, have y'all ever been to a Starbucks and you just happen to be behind the really annoying person who has a million different requests for their coffee? 

That person you hate...
That person who takes 10 minutes to order...
That person who causes you to be late to work...

Yep, I'm that person. sorry, i'm not sorry.

The barista practically has to write a novel on the side of my cup. It's always a "grande skinny vanilla latte-in a venti-sized cup-with soy milk-split quad shots (or two shots of decaf, two shots of regular espresso)-extra hot-extra foam" for me. Wow, did that drink order even make sense? Probably not, yet they rarely ever mess it up. The one thing that I find hilarious about Starbucks is that they can never, ever get my name right. I mean, they almost always spell my name wrong. My name is not conventional by any means, I totally get that. I have lived with this name my whole life, so I'm used to it being butchered. It is spelled like Juliana, but pronounced like Julie-Anna. However, whenever I go to pick up my drink, I have something bizarre written on the cup... I've gotten Joanne, Judy Anne, Penelope, and even Napoleon. Really Starbucks barista? You think my name is honestly Napoleon? Do I really look like a boy and how does that sound remotely close to Juliana. I do not make this stuff up. Oh well, as long as I get my $10 drink, you can call me whatever you want, honey. Okay, so back to the recipe...

This homemade Java Chip ice cream is like a strong cup of coffee. The frozen custard base is infused with whole coffee beans, and then, for good measure, I added in crushed chocolate covered espresso beans. This just enhances the coffee flavor even more, while also giving it a much needed sweetness. I finely chopped some dark chocolate to throw in there too. After I made this ice cream, I instantly wanted to turn it into an ice cream sandwich. And I had been dying to make French Macarons, so I used those as the cookie sandwich component. I made them with the traditional, ground almond mixture, but made them chocolate. Because you always gotta have more chocolate, people. Mo'chocolate, Mo'problems. That was cheesy. Oh well, it doesn't make it any less delicious. The macarons are perfectly chewy, yet utterly crispy. The ice cream is creamy, bitter, and sweet. Just like a great cup of coffee should be. This is one perfect Summer treat, y'all!! Enjoy :)
For the Java Chip Ice Cream:
1 ½C Whole Milk
¾C Sugar
1 ½C Whole Coffee Beans
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 ½C Heavy Cream, Divided
5 Large Egg Yolks
¼t Vanilla
1T Coffee Liqueur
¼t Finely Ground Coffee (press grinds through a fine mesh sieve)
½C Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, Whole & Crushed
4oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Finely Chopped

For the Chocolate Macaron Cookies:
1 ½C Whole Almonds
2 ½C Confectioners’ Sugar
3T Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¾C Egg Whites, Room Temperature
¼t Fine Sea Salt
½C + 2T Sugar

For the Ice Cream Sandwiches:
1 Batch of Java Chip Ice Cream, Slightly Softened
12 Chocolate Macaron Cookies

1. Heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and ½C of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Pour the remaining 1C of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.
3. Reheat the milk and coffee mixture, on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.
5. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. Then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground coffee, and stir until cool.
6. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator and add in the crushed chocolate covered espresso beans and chocolate chunks, and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
7. For the Macaron Sandwiches: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter as a guide, trace 12 circles on the parchment paper. Turn the paper over. Grind the nuts with ¼C confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until a fine nut flour forms (do not let it become a paste). Add the remaining 2 ¼C confectioners’ sugar and pulse until incorporated. If necessary, strain the mixture through a sieve and discard any large pieces of nuts. Whip the egg whites and salt in a bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment until frothy. While the mixer is still running, slowly add the sugar 1T at a time, and whip until the meringue is shiny and holds medium peaks, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture one-third at a time until thoroughly combined. Add in your desired food coloring. Fit a pastry bag with a ¼-inch plain tip and fill the bag halfway with the batter. Holding the bag upright, pipe the macarons inside the traced circles in a spiral, beginning in the center of the circle and working your way outward. Let the cookies sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until they have risen slightly and look crisp and set on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Slide the parchment sheet of macarons onto another cookie sheet and freeze. Once they have frozen transfer to a freezer bag.
8. To Assemble the Sandwiches: Using a 4inch round cookie cutter, scoop softened ice cream into the cookie cutter and using a spoon, press the ice cream into the mold and smooth off the top until it is an even layer. Push the ice cream patty out of the cookie cutter-mold and onto parchment paper. Place into the freezer to harden back up. Next, lie out 6 frozen macarons upside down on a work surface and top each macaron with an ice cream, and then top with another frozen macaron. Gently press the cookies together until the ice cream comes to the edges of the macarons. Wrap in wax paper and freeze. You should have 6 large ice cream sandwiches. You can also just use an ice cream scoop and scoop it onto the sandwiches and press them together. They will not look as pretty, but it will be a lot faster. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strawberry-Basil-Bourbon Spritzer with Basil Simple Syrup & Macerated Strawberries

Strawberry-Basil-Bourbon Spritzer with Basil Simple Syrup & Macerated Strawberries
We have the cutest little herb garden outside our front door. I mean it's truly a-bloomin' out there. It always makes me so happy to open the door to a bunch of potted plants. I've actually gotten a lot of compliments for it, I guess because there's not much room to have a herb garden in the Downtown Historic District of Savannah. There are a few thieves from a couple doors down that occasionally steal some for themselves... sneaky neighbors. But that's okay, we're producing so much that I can't use it all up before it goes bad. So, that has forced me to make a bunch of recipes using fresh herbs or pesto. So so  so much pesto. The only herb that we're really missing is Mint, which is a major bummer because we love making Mint Juleps & Mojitos during the Summer. This made me think about what other specialty cocktails I could make to use up a bunch of our pretty greens. Well, I eventually decided on making a Basil drink, simply because we just have so much more of it compared to our other herbs. I used my Mint Julep recipe as a base to make a simple syrup, this time however, I would infuse it with a bunch of fresh Basil. My Mountain Man was hesitant at first, of course, I mean what guy likes herby drinks? Not many. But I assured him it would be good and he obliged. I figured I would pair it with a Summer fruit, and what's better than fresh strawberries? I love 'em. And that actually pair quite nicely with Basil. So, we picked up a big ole' bunch of beautiful ruby red strawberries from the farmer's market and headed home. I couldn't quite to decide what to do with them though... Should I puree them? Keep 'em fresh & simple? Maybe muddle them at the bottom of the glass? Turn them into a flavored simple syrup as well? Nope, that wasn't going to work. I sat there and tinkered with a few things before landing on the idea of macerating the berries. Well, my friends, it was the perfect choice. I cubed the strawberries up and tossed them in a bowl with some sugar, balsamic vinegar, and ginger ale. And don't you worry your little hearts though, you can't taste the vinegar. It just boosts the natural flavors. I let them macerate on the counter until there was a thick syrup drowning those fresh strawberries. I also liked that the berries became soft and concentrated, but yet slightly bubbly from the infusion with the ginger ale. All we did was muddle some more fresh Basil with ice and mixed it with bourbon, simple syrup, and macerated berries. We topped our drinks off with a splash of ginger ale just for that little somethin' extra special, and it had become an instant Summer classic. Who knew you could make a cocktail with fresh basil, strawberries, and bourbon? Not me. But we loved them. They are really similar to a Mint Julep, so don't turn your nose up at them quite yet, give 'em a good try first. I guarantee you'll be utterly surprised!! Enjoy :)
Here's a picture of our little herb garden outside our front door :)
For the Basil Simple Syrup:
2C Sugar
2C Water
1 Lime, Zested & Juiced
1 ½C Fresh Basil Leaves

For the Macerated Strawberries:
1lb Strawberries, Cut into Pieces
¼C Sugar
2T Balsamic Vinegar
2T Ginger Ale

For the Strawberry-Basil-Bourbon Spritzer:
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves (plus a few for garnish
1oz Prepared Basil Simple Syrup
3oz High Quality Bourbon
Syrupy Macerated Strawberries (the more strawberries you add, the sweeter the drink)
Ginger Ale or Soda
Crushed Ice

1. For the Basil Simple Syrup: Heat the sugar, water, and lime zest in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add in the fresh basil leaves and let the mint steep for 10 minutes. Next, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bottle. Discard the solids. Let the syrup cool completely at room temperature. Stir in the fresh limejuice. Refrigerate the syrup until chilled. Keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
2. For the Macerated Strawberries: Place the strawberry pieces into a large bowl and add in the sugar, balsamic, and ginger ale. Stir until they are completely coated. Let this mixture sit for a few hours at room temperature until they are syrup and soft. Refrigerate until chilled.
3. For the Strawberry-Basil-Bourbon Spritzer: Lightly muddle the basil leaves with the prepared simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add in the bourbon and shake to combine. Spoon some of the macerated strawberries mixture into the bottom of a tall, clear glass, and then fill it with crushed ice. Pour the liquid over the strawberries & ice. Stir until the strawberries are mixed throughout and a frost forms on the outside of the cup. Top with Ginger Ale or soda, garnish with fresh basil and fresh strawberries, and then serve with a straw.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Low Country Boil-Inspired Hash with Sausage, Corn, & Potato Hash, Roasted Shrimp, a Fried Egg, & Old Bay Hollandaise

Low Country Boil-Inspired Hash with Sausage, Corn, & Potato Hash, Roasted Shrimp,
a Fried Egg, & Old Bay Hollandaise
We love our Low Country Boils here in the South. I had posted a recipe for a Classic Low Country Boil in the Fall, and surprisingly, a lot of people hadn't heard of it, which I was shocked by because we love them so much. So, I thought why not make it into a brunch dish? Um yes!! I got inspired from this bacon corn hash from Smitten Kitchen a couple days ago, and knew I had to make it. I just decided to substitute sausage for bacon, and add in some roasted Georgia shrimp and an Old Bay Hollandaise. I think the Old Bay Hollandaise is crucial because it seasons the hash with the same flavors that a Low Country Boil is typically cooked in. The potatoes are utterly crispy, the sausage is smoky & spicy, and the corn is just so sweet. It creates such a balance of flavors without any one ingredient outshining the others. You can decide whether or not to poach the eggs or fry 'em up like we did, it's up to y'all. Just make sure to garnish the plate with a drizzle of the homemade hollandaise and some fresh minced chives. Oh, and wash it all down with a good ole' bloody mary. That's really important to do... especially to cure that hangover from the night before. Just kidding (not really). Well enjoy your Sunday everyone :)

For the Sausage, Corn, & Potato Hash:
2C Andouille Sausage, Cut into Small Cubes
3C Red Potatoes, Diced into ½inch Cubes
1 ½C Fresh Corn Kernels
1 Shallot, Minced
3 Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

For the Roasted Shrimp:
1lb Fresh Georgia Shrimp, Peeled & Deveined
2t Olive Oil or Melted Butter
¼t Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
½t Fresh Lemon Zest, Grated
For the Old Bay Hollandaise:
3 Egg Yolks
1T Cold Water
4oz Hot Melted Butter
1T Lemon Juice
1t Old Bay
Couple of Dashes of Hot Sauce

For the Low Country Hash:
Prepared Sausage, Corn, & Potato Hash
Hot Broiled Shrimp
Prepared Old Bay Hollandaise
Poached or Fried Eggs
Chives or Fresh Parsley, Minced

1. For the Sausage, Corn, & Potato Hash: Toss the cubed sausage into a large skillet over medium heat, no need to heat the pan first. Let rest for a few minutes until it starts sizzling, then move the bits around so that they begin to brown evenly. Again, wait a couple minutes before shuffling the pieces around; you’re looking for them to get evenly golden and crisp. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage bits with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan and transferring the sausage to paper towels to drain. Heats the pan to medium-high, making sure the fat is nicely sizzling, and then add your potatoes all at once in a single layer. Sprinkle them with a little salt and black pepper. Let them cook for a few minutes in one place and get a bit golden underneath before turning them over and moving them around. Repeat this process until the potatoes are browned on all sides; this takes about 20 minutes. Push the potatoes to one side of the pan and add in the minced shallots. Cook until caramelized. Then, remove some of the excess fat and add the corn to the skillet. Sauté the potatoes and corn together until the corn gets a bit brown but stays fairly crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the drained sausage, and stir the mixture together until it’s evenly warm, about 1 more minute. Remove the skillet from the burner and sprinkle the scallions over the hash. In two minutes, they should be warm and mellowed. Season the dish with more salt or pepper to taste, if needed.
2. For the Roasted Shrimp: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lined a sheet pan with a Silpat. Place the shrimp onto the pan and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them into an even layer and roast for 8-10 minutes, just until the shrimp has turned pink and firm (completely cooked through). Set the shrimp aside until you are ready to top the hash.
3. For the Old Bay Hollandaise: Place egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and Old Bay in a blender. Blend until mixture is frothy. While the blender is stilling running, slowly stream in the butter. Continue to blend until a sauce forms. Serve immediately drizzled over the Low Country Hash.

Friday, July 20, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos with Cheerwine-Chipotle Pulled Pork, Tangy Apple Coleslaw, & Pickled Red Onions

BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos with Cheerwine-Chipotle Pulled Pork, Tangy Apple Coleslaw, & Pickled Red Onions
Can y'all believe how fast Summer has flown by? I mean I realize that it's still Summer, but I mean it's almost over. I love Summer, but I've always been an Autumn girl myself. I just love everything about it. Especially the food. So, I really can't wait for October to get here and I can get to makin' those seasonal dishes. But, nonetheless, it's still Summer and hot as hell. It reached about 105 degrees last week, but luckily for us, Savannah has had a long afternoon shower every day this week. So, it's finally cooled off to the low 90's. And you know what I crave when it's hot outside? Tacos. Lots and lots of them. They are like the ultimate Summertime food for me. And the variations are endless. I mean I can just sit at home and think of a million different taco combinations & toppings. I think we actually might make some Asian-inspired ones this weekend. Haven't really decided on that, but leaning towards it. Well these are made with BBQ pulled pork and they are just so tender and juicy. I used the Pioneer Woman's spicy pop pulled pork as my recipe, but instead of using Dr. Pepper, I used a Southern favorite, Cheerwine. Cheerwine is like a really good cherry coke, and it used to only be sold in South Carolina, but it's spread all over the South now. After the pork was cooked & shredded, I tossed it in my favorite BBQ Sauce, and it was perfect. Then, I knew that I just had to make a killer slaw to top the meat off. I sat there thinking, what goes good with pork? Apple. Pork + Apples are perfect together. Why not a tangy apple slaw? It was perfect. I loved this slaw. And I think it would be a great side at a cookout or barbecue. It's crispy, sweet, sour, and everything spicy & nice. Also, it's not covered or slammed in a heavy mayo dressing, but a like olive oil vinaigrette. That just screams Summer even more to me. I had to make some pickled red onions to put on the tacos because I just love them with pork. Of course, we loaded ours up with a bunch of different components... guacamole, salsa, crumbled queso fresco, and a touch of my Alabama White BBQ Sauce that I made for our Beer Can Chicken. These tacos were hearty, yet refreshing, and perfect for a dinner out in our garden!! Enjoy :)

For the Pickled Red Onions:
2 Medium Red Onions, Thinly Sliced
1 ½C White Vinegar
½C Sugar
½ Cinnamon Stick, 5 Cloves, 1 Bay Leaf, 1 Star Anise
¼t Red Pepper Flakes  

For the Vinaigrette:
1T Dijon Mustard
3T Red Wine Vinegar
1t Salt
½C Olive Oil

For the Tangy Apple Coleslaw:
Prepared Vinaigrette
½C Pickled Red Onions
2 Jalapenos, Seeded & Thinly Sliced
¼C Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
3 Green Onions, Finely Sliced
2C Green Apples, Shredded
2C Coleslaw Mix

For the Cheerwine-Chipotle Pulled Pork:
1 Large Vidalia onion, Cut into Wedges
1 Pork Butt (between 5-7lbs)
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
11oz Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
16oz Cheerwine Soda
2T Brown Sugar

For the Pulled Pork Tacos:
Prepared Cheerwine-Chipotle Pulled Pork
Barbeque Sauce
Prepared Tangy Apple Coleslaw
Crumbled Cotija Cheese, Fresh Lime, Salsa, Guacamole, Cilantro, & Any Other Toppings

1. For the Cheerwine-Chipotle Pulled Pork: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the onion wedges into the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Generously season the pork with salt & pepper. Place the pork on top of the onions. In a small bowl, gently whisk together the chipotle peppers in adobo, brown sugar, and Cheerwine until mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Pour this mixture over the pork. Place the lid on tightly and cook the meat for roughly 5-7 hours depending on how big your pork butt is (make sure the turn the roast 2-3 times during the cooking process). The meat should fall apart easily and be able to be pulled with two forks. If it isn’t return the pork to the oven for another hour. Remove the meat from the pot and place onto a cutting board. Using two forks shred the meat into pieces, making sure to discard the fat (strain the fat off the top of the cooking liquid). Return the shredded pork to the cooking liquid and keep warm until ready to serve.
2. For the Pickled Red Onions: Blanch the thinly sliced red onions in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes, and then drain them in a colander. In a pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, and spices and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the blanched, drained onions into Mason jar. Once the vinegar mixture has cooked, pour it into the jar of onions, making sure they are all covered. Allow the jar come to room temperature and then refrigerate until cool and pink in color.
3. For the Vinaigrette: In a bowl, combine the mustard, vinegar, and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well blended. Set it aside.
4. For the Tangy Apple Coleslaw: In a mixing bowl, combine pickled red onions, sliced jalapenos, fresh cilantro, green onions, shredded green apples, and coleslaw mix. Toss until the ingredients are all combined. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat the ingredients. Season with salt & pepper. Cover and refrigerate the coleslaw until you are ready to put on the tacos.
5. Place some of the pulled pork on a flour tortilla, and then top them with the tangy apple coleslaw, pickled red onions, and any other toppings that you like. Enjoy. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Retro Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Butter Pie with Bacon-Peanut-Shortbread Cookie Crust, Peanut Butter Mousse Filling, & Chocolate Ganache Topping Garnished with Crushed Peanut-Candied Bacon Crumble & Bourbon-Maple Whoop

Retro Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Butter Pie with Bacon-Peanut-Shortbread Cookie Crust,
Peanut Butter Mousse Filling, & Chocolate Ganache Topping Garnished with
Crushed Peanut-Candied Bacon Crumble, & Bourbon-Maple Whoop
The title is a mouth-full isn't it? Well, trust me, your mouth will absolutely be full when you take a bite of this over-the-top pie. I have always loved peanut butter pie and it's kind of a retro, diner classic that my taste buds drifted towards as a child. When I ate it in the past, it was almost always made with an Oreo cookie crust and a simple dollop of whipped cream, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a bad-ass peanut butter pie... with BACON y'all. Lots and lots and lots of bacon. I mean there's even bacon bits in the crust. And by the way, the Bacon-Peanut-Shortbread cookie crust is the best part. It's peanut buttery and studded with crispy bits o' bacon that just makes my heart melt. It just has the best texture. I love the crust so much that I divide & conquer this pie into thirds, starting with the crust first. Oh yeah baby, this is what dreams are made of. The peanut butter filling is nothin' special, but so simplistic & delicious. It's creamy and silky, and sticks to the roof of your mouth like you're just eatin' a spoon of peanut butter out of the jar at midnight. Yes, I know we all do it. And what's better than peanut butter & chocolate? Nothin' y'all. So I knew that I had to add a thick layer of chocolate ganache to finish the pie, making it taste like a huge Reese's Cup. But that wasn't enough for me was it? Apparently not, since I made a ridiculous Roasted Peanut-Candied Bacon Crumble to shove into that chocolate ganache topping. I know that y'all can feel your chests start to tighten, but don't turn away now folks, it's just gettin' good. Finally, you hav'ta top your slice of pie with a big ole' dollop of homemade Bourbon-Maple Whoop (or whipped cream as some people call it). And you can taste that Bourbon mixed in there, and that's the only way it should be. I mean I think it's a state law in Georgia that you have to add in booze and bacon into any & every recipe that you can, and I'm totally on board because this pie is to. die. for. But, don't get me wrong, it's as rich as can be, so cut you a small slice, ya'hear? Glad I cleared that up. You can serve this just refrigerated, where the peanut butter is ooey-gooey, or you can do what we do, and freeze it, so it tastes like ice cream pie. Yum yum yummmm!! Enjoy :)
Isn't this pie just gorgeous?

Look at the Roasted Peanut-Candied Bacon Crumble Topping

You gotta have the whoop, y'all!
For the Bacon-Peanut-Shortbread Crust:
1C Peanuts, Unsalted & Dry-Roasted
½C AP Flour
¼t Salt
¼t Baking Soda
¼C Light Brown Sugar, Packed
¼C Sugar
2T Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1 Large Egg Yolk
¼t Vanilla
6 Slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cooked until Extra Crispy

For the Peanut Butter Mouse Filling:
1C Heavy Cream
8oz Cream Cheese
1C Creamy Peanut Butter
1C Confectioners’ Sugar
14oz Can of Sweetened, Condensed Milk
1t Vanilla
1t Fresh Lemon Juice

For the Chocolate Ganache Topping:
1C Dark Chocolate Chunks
½C Heavy Cream

For the Crushed Peanut-Candied Bacon Crumble:
½C Roasted Peanuts, Crushed
½C Candied Bacon
1t Rendered Bacon Fat

For the Bourbon-Maple Whoop:
1C Heavy Cream
¼C Grade B Maple Syrup
2-3T Bourbon

1. Spray a pie pan with Baking Pam and set it aside. 
2. For Bacon-Peanut-Shortbread Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse extra crispy bacon in a food processor until there are very fine pieces. Remove the bacon into a small bowl, and then peanuts into the same food processor and blend until a peanut butter forms, about 2 minutes. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda until incorporated. Using an electric mixer, beat together both sugars, peanut butter, small bacon pieces, and butter until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well blended, about 3 minutes (the mixture will be clumpy). Gradually add in the dry ingredients with your hands and beat until just combined (it will be crumbly, but do not over-mix). Gather dough with your hands, place into the prepared pan, and press evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Set this aside to let it cool completely before adding the peanut butter mousse filling.
3. For the Peanut Butter Mousse Filling: Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the piecrust. Refrigerate for a couple or until the peanut butter filling has hardened enough to spread on the chocolate ganache.
4. For the Chocolate Ganache Topping: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. Pour or spoon the ganache over the top of the chilled (or hardened) peanut butter pie filling. Smooth the top with a spoon. While the ganache is still melted, sprinkle the crushed peanut-candied bacon crumble over the top. Refrigerate the pie for at least 3 hours or overnight.
5. For the Crushed Peanut-Candied Bacon Crumble: In a small bowl, toss together the crushed peanuts, candied bacon pieces, and bacon fat until thoroughly incorporated. Sprinkle this over the top of the chocolate ganache topping.
6. For the Bourbon-Maple Whoop: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and maple syrup together on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Whisk in the whiskey 1T at a time. With the mixer on high speed, continue whipping until medium-stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
7. Cut a slice of the peanut butter pie (refrigerated or frozen) and serve with a dollop of the Bourbon-Maple Whoop on top. Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Mexican Style" Corn on the Cob

Corn is just the perfect summer side. You can make creamed corn, sauteed corn, succotash, cornbread, or just simple corn on the cob. Well, this corn on the cob ain't simple folks. Mexican Style Corn on the Cob is becoming really popular right now, and I know why... it's absolutely delicious. From the food carts in Mexico, corn is grilled or cooked and then covered in mayo, chili powder, cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. I decided to put my little spin on it by making a flavorful slathering mixture packed with cheese, spices, and other yummy goodies. I roasted the corn in the oven, but now looking back, I would definitely char it on the grill for some beautiful color and smoky flavor. After the corn is cooked through, spread the mixture on the ears of corn and top it with some crumbled Queso Fresco, a sprinkling of chili powder and fresh minced cilantro, and finally a squeeze of fresh lime. This was the perfect side dish of our Beer Can Chicken, but would really go well with any summer meal!! Enjoy :)
"Mexican Style" Corn on the Cob
This is yummy summer food, y'all!!
For the Mexican Grilled Corn:
4 Large Ears of Fresh Corn
4T Sour Cream
4T Mayo
1 Lime, Zested
½C Cotija Cheese, Crumbled
¼C Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
2T Cilantro, Minced (plus extra for garnishing)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1t Chile Powder (plus extra for sprinkling)
¼t Cumin, Cayenne, & Onion Powder
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
Queso Fresco, For Garnishing
Lime Wedges, For Squeezing

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and brush the corn lightly with butter.
2. Roast the corn for 20-30 minutes.
3. While the corn is roasting, make the coating mixture. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayo, and lime zest until smooth. Add in the Cotija, Pecorino, minced cilantro, minced garlic, and spices. Stir until incorporated and combined.
4. After the corn has roasted and cooked through, remove from the oven and immediately slather with the mayo mixture until completely coated.
5. Garnish each corn on the cob with Queso Fresco, chile powder, fresh minced cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
6. Enjoy immediately while still warm.