I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Fresh Strawberry Pie

I spent my morning out in the strawberry fields picking gorgeous strawberries. I remembered all the things I learned last year while picking – wore sneakers and sunscreen, brought water, used a cross over bag, and didn’t over pick (see my post last year!). It was a beautiful morning, actually a bit cool, which was perfect because it’s hot out in the fields. I picked 2 quarts of beautiful, bright red berries.
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About 10 years ago, I went to visit my family in California during strawberry season. My cousin Joyce made a beautiful fresh strawberry pie with fresh California strawberries, and I knew this is what I wanted to do this year. I still remember the first bite into this pie in her backyard in front of the fire pit, savoring every bite after that.

I found a couple of recipes, each with their own unique twist. Here is the recipe I followed, but added my own change. The recipe called for strawberry gelatin, but I used mashed strawberries to get the flavor through the glaze.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

recipe from tasteofhome.com

ingredients
1 pie shell (I used frozen, but feel free to make from scratch!)
1 cup mashed strawberries
1 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
1 qt strawberries, sliced in half

directions
Cook the pie shell to the directions on the package. Let cool.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring the mashed strawberries, water, sugar and cornstarch to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes to thicken. Let cool.
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Once the glaze is pretty cool, mix the strawberries in. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Pipe on whipped cream and decorate with sliced strawberries. Place in the refrigerator to set and chill. I made fresh whipped cream, but feel free to use already made.

Making whipped cream is pretty simple. Scroll down for the recipe I used. Enjoy!

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Fresh Whipped Cream

ingredients
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

directions

Chill a glass or metal bowl. Whip the cream with a hand mixer until it creates soft peaks. Add the vanilla and sugar and whip to stiff peaks. Place back into the refrigerator to keep.


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Roasted Vegetable and Sausage Pasta

Being sick the past few days, I craved something home cooked and healthy tonight that wasn’t soup! I’m not a big fan of Italian sausage, but flavored chicken sausage I like. I’ve shared some recipes with different types before. One type of sausage I enjoy getting from the supermarket is a chicken spinach feta sausage. This sausage is not precooked, so it’s perfect to deconstruct and make chop meat with.

To do this, just cut a slit in the casing and peel it away from the meat. Crumble the meat in a pan and cook like chop meat! Easy peasy!

Here is how I constructed the rest of the dish.

ingredients

1 spinach feta chicken sausage, with the casing removed
1 zucchini, sliced
2 garlic cloves with the peel still on
1 red pepper, diced in large pieces
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 small white onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound pasta of your choice
Red pepper flakes to taste

directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size rimmed cookie sheet place the zucchini, pepper, tomatoes and garlic. Cover with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake about 10-15 minutes until vegetables are soft and tomatoes begin to split.

Meanwhile, place the sausage meat in a sauté pan and begin to brown. After a couple of minutes, add the onion and sauté until meat is cooked through and onions soften.

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente.

Drain pasta and bring everything all together on the pot. Squeeze the garlic out of the cloves and mash in. Be sure to add in all the roasted vegetable juice which will become the sauce for your pasta. Season with red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste.

Easy and satisfying. Enjoy!
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Cinnamon Stewed Chicken

This dish is inspired by a dish I had at Cat Cora’s restaurant at Disney’s Boardwalk called Kouzzina. Kouzzina means kitchen in Greek, and the restaurant does make you feel welcomed with the open kitchen and warm comforting meals. This dish is so so good. And the smell of the cinnamon and tomatoes simmering on the stove is captivating. It smelled in my kitchen just as the waft of aroma came to my nose when the waitress placed this beautiful dish in front of me. Here’s how I recreated it.

ingredients
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken legs
1 can whole peeled tomatoes in purée, tomatoes diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small shallot, diced
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and pepper to taste

directions

Brown chicken legs in the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. Remove from pot. Add the garlic, onion and shallots and sauté about 8-10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Add the chicken back to the pot along with the tomatoes with purée, red pepper flakes, oregano, cinnamon, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 2 hours.
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Serve the chicken stew over orzo which has been cooked in chicken broth. Cooking the orzo in the chicken broth gives the orzo and bit more flavor. I shredded the chicken off the bone before serving to make eating easier! Serve with a crumble of feta over top. Enjoy!
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Happy 30th to my sister!

Okay I admit…This is a box cake with tub frosting. But they are just too pretty not to share! I almost had a panic moment when I realized I forgot my cake decorating tip at home! But resourceful me knew I could just use a ziplock bag and cut the tip to mimic a cake decorating bag and tip. Making something out of nothing – cupcakes saved! 🙂
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Have a beautiful Saturday!


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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Okay, a day early. But that’s because you need tomorrow to make this delicious dish! Sure you can make some tacos or fajitas (see below for my reposts!), but why not do something different in the crock pot? Slow cooked beef, onions, peppers and corn with a chile chipotle adobe sauce. Yum! I made this with rice, but you can even throw it in a taco shell for a different twist on a taco! And it is even perfect to share with a guest. 🙂

Here is my quick taco recipe if you want to cook something a bit quicker:
https://imjustheretocook.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/tacos/

And if you’re in the mood for fajitas:
https://imjustheretocook.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/steak-fajitas/

And if you’d like to try the slow cooker, here is what I did:

ingredients
1 lb bottom round roast
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bottle beer
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp chile pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 chipotle in adobe, chopped
1/2 cup frozen roasted corn

directions
Cut meat in 3-4 pieces and place in the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients and and cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve over rice.  Make a frozen margarita to go along with it and enjoy! Scroll down to see what to do with leftovers!

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Any leftovers? The next morning, cook up a fried egg to serve over the leftover meat and vegetables. Enjoy!

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Pickling Banana Peppers

I have to admit I don’t pickle correctly. I don’t use any pickling spices or salt, and I don’t preserve it right. So I have to eat my peppers quickly so they don’t go bad. But it’s the perfect way to get a nice fresh spicy pickled banana pepper for some sandwiches or a salad. It only really takes a day or two.

I started doing this with my sister when my mom would grow banana peppers on her garden. And now I continue, even buying peppers from the store. It’s really simple and I thought I would share with you all today how to get a quick pickle to your peppers. 🙂

To a glass jar that is used for pickling, add a clove of garlic and a small chunk of onion, maybe about 1/2 inch wide. Slice banana peppers thinly in circles, leaving the seeds in. Add these to the jar. Fill the jar with distiller white vinegar, enough to cover the peppers. Let sit in the fridge for a day or two to allow the vinegar to do it’s magic. Then enjoy on sandwiches, in salads, even in an omelet.

See in the below picture how the pepper changes in size and appearance once it’s pickled. The pickled ones are on the back right! Enjoy!

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Eating and drinking around the world in Epcot

Some people either love Disney or they hate Disney. And I know visiting the World Showcase in Epcot at Walt Disney World is not the same as visiting the actual countries, but I will say they do a very good job of making them true to that country. They scenery is beautiful and iconic, the cast members are recruited from the country in which they are working in, and the food and drink are regional. There are educational rides and shows for children and adults alike to learn a bit about the country they are walking through. And of course for us young adults and big kids at heart, drinking around the world has become a must and a challenge. I personally,being the food person I am, add eating around the world to that. So my recent girls trip to Orlando found me and my friend doing this very challenge! We also added a bit of fun to challenge ourselves to find an iconic hat in each country and take a picture in it – very fun!

Today I wanted to share with you my food and drink adventure. I didn’t get a drink and food in every country, but did get one of something in every country except Canada (oops!). By the time we got around the world I will admit I felt happy! But all the food I tasted along with the drinks were so good and I encourage you to at least try something to eat in every country on your next visit!

Mexico

Mexico is the first country when you begin the World Showcase going left around the lagoon. There is a wonderful restaurant and indoor boat ride which teaches you a bit about Mexico. There is also a Tequila Bar inside. First stop! There are quite a number of tequilas you can try – they even have tequila flights. There is also a large selection of margaritas. There are margarita stands outside in the quick service food stands, but you need to go inside. The selection is just so much better! I got the Avocado Margarita. Yum! Then I went out to the quick service stand for a pork taco.
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Norway

I’ve had the best cinnamon bun I’ve ever tasted in Norway. And I look forward to it whenever I visit Epcot. It has more if a Danish dough than a bready dough (such technical descriptions, right!) and is so good. This country also has my favorite ride in Epcot since I was a kid. I really have no idea why. It’s another indoor boat ride that teaches you about Norway. There are Vikings and trolls and I’ve honestly learned nothing from it lol but it’s such a relaxing ride and there is a part where the boat goes backwards and for some reason, unbeknownst to even myself, I love it!
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China

China is next and a Tipsy Love Duck it was. I will recommend sharing this drink if you get it as it’s very sweet and a bit heavy. It’s an iced tea and coffee combo with bourbon whiskey and chocolate. My cousin and I shared this the last time I was here and we loved it. This time, not thinking, I got my own and I couldn’t finish it. But it’s also partly because I had to get my favorite egg rolls from the quick service stand! China also has a lovely restaurant.
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Germany

Oktoberfest!! Oh yes, there is a themed buffet Oktoberfest restaurant which I’ve never done, but looks fun! In Germany I skipped the food, despite how yummy the Bratwurst from the quick service stand smelled and despite knowing how good the pretzels are. But I was just too full by Germany! I did get a lovely Gewürztraminer wine though!
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Italy

Who doesn’t love Italian meats and cheeses? Italy now has a cute little Wine Cellar with small plates. They have a few wine flights to try different wines and they also have food flights with items they feel pair together. You can also order ala carte. White wine flight for me! We also ordered the fresh mozzarella and some prosciutto to snack on. So fresh, so good. And the presentation was very nice! I love when wine flights come on a wooden board – so cute.
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America

America is next, and honestly we got nothing here because, well, we can always get American food! We did notice a bar cart which had some micro brews which was pretty cool. And I will admit, the funnel cake cart almost got is to stop! But I did need to take a picture of this menu because I really just thought it was hysterical! Bacon cupcakes – truly American!
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Japan

No food here again, but a very good, cold, refreshing glass of beer! Kirin light – so nice. In Japan they have some quick service spots you can get sushi, soup and shaved ice, and they also have a hibachi restaurant. I love the shops in Japan – they have the most beautiful bowls, soy sauce pots and little plates. And of course I bought a pair of chopsticks or two! 🙂
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We even caught a wonderful drum show while enjoying the beer!

Morocco

Morocco is another beautiful setting in Epcot with twists and turns of the sidewalk around the shops and restaurants really mimicking the streets! We even got a glimpse of Princess Jasmine here! Another glass of wine (Moroccan wine was how it was listed on the menu! ?) and a lamb roll from the quick service cart hit the spot here.
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France

France was next and I’ve heard the restaurant here is very good, but I’ve never tried it. Instead just another glass of wine served it’s purpose here. We also sheltered from the rain in the shops and I purchased a coaster for my collection!
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England

On to England, where I had to get chocolate! Because even I know it’s better from there. Cadbury Dairy Milk and Galaxy Bars were on my list. Then, on to fish and chips and a nice cold glass of Boddingtons from Rose & Crown Pub. Oh yum. The fish and chips were so good, the pub atmosphere was inviting, and the beer was refreshing. We didn’t want to leave! A great time for sure.
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Canada

So I admitted earlier, I got nothing in Canada except a hat picture. :/ Sorry Canada. Maybe next time. The steakhouse there is supposed to be very good though!

Hope you all enjoyed my tour of Epcot’s World Showcase. I certainly did! 🙂 Definitely make sure you check it out! Have fun!