Pizza Playgrounds

Pizza is a veritable playground.

Just when I think I can’t come up with another flavor combo, voila!

Sometimes I outdo myself…

Here ’tis before it became a “hot mess” (to quote a Southern phrase) — artichoke hearts, olives, toasted pine nuts, and mini-pepperoni slices. Basically, I was cleaning out my fridge, freezer, and pantry, and this is what went into the oven.

Hmmm. What sounds good together?

Better yet, what tastes good together?!

With a lil’ goat cheese for added interest atop a gluten-free crust, my taste buds were intrigued for two days. (Anyone else like leftover pizza for breakfast?) The pine nuts took it over the top… crunchy pizza… YUM.

No matter what life presents, there’s a flavor combo awaiting YOUR ingenuity.

Be creative!

Oh my, YES…

Enjoying pizza playgrounds,

~ Kim

It’s What’s For Dinner

It’s no secret I love living in Oklahoma, but did you know I’ve always wanted to be a chuckwagon cook?

Folks who feed the masses with cast iron pots and pans over a campfire (or on cookstoves like my grandmothers did) fascinate me — not only for their meticulous planning and timing, but for their dedication to quality food.

I doubt I’ll realize that dream now (being somewhat “old-er” and rather fond of my kitchen at the lake) but there’s one thing I emulate on a regular basis: quality food begins with quality ingredients.

Introducing McCutchen’s Cattle Call Ranch out of Checotah, Oklahoma. The name “Cattle Call” comes from a Country & Western song written by Tex Owens — made famous by Eddy Arnnold and many others — even Elvis.

You can’t go wrong with a name like that, or their beef. Locally processed and sold by whole, 1/2, or 1/4, their packages include steaks, roasts, short ribs, hamburger, and more. Ranch-raised with the utmost care, these folks put a lot of hard work into their product and it shows. Better yet, it tastes like it! (For ordering information, please email cattlecallranch@outlook.com)

Quick disclaimer: I don’t usually plug products here — it’s for FUN, not profit — but the Cattle Call Ranch gave me a package of ribeyes and hamburger to try, and what’s a wanna-be chuckwagon cook to do?

BEEF… it’s what’s for dinner. Break out your cast iron skillet and get ready to ring the dinner bell.

Enjoying some mighty fine vittles,

~ Kim

Fourth of July Frolics

Take one sassy slice of quiche…

add Albondigas (Mexican-style meatballs ala Ally’s Kitchen)…

plate ’em up (patriotically, if you’re so inclined) and ENJOY!

Many thanks to those past & present who gave us the freedom to do so, xo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last night we kicked off the weekend with an outdoor gathering on our neighbors’ deck — the first time we’d “partied” since the pandemic started. Social distancing, storytelling, and smiling resulted, not to mention satisfied bellies. Besides quiche and mini-meatballs, our hostess served a swoon-worthy penne pasta with grilled chicken drenched in a vodka cream tomato sauce. Can we say holiday happiness?

The Man Of Few Words only lasted an hour, having forewarned me his bedtime was 7:00 o’clock. (He’s on “trucker time” never mind holiday weekends or invitations.)

I stayed until 10:00!

What a treat to visit with neighbors once again, watch fireworks around the lake, and sip a cocktail or two with friends. After I walked home I bid TMOFW a silent “goodnight kiss” and sat on our deck to watch more fireworks, fireflies, and an almost-full moon for another hour. Blessings!

This morning told a different story…

Our fishing trip at the crack of dawn (never mind what time I went to bed…) was cancelled by unexpected/unpredicted thunderstorms. Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, and waves/whitecaps kicked up, thus preventing us from reeling in potential lunkers. (Oh well!) We needed the rain.

Plan B: We enjoyed coffee on the deck between lightning bolts, I made him breakfast (bacon, eggs, & fried potatoes), put the finishing touches on my prelude for tomorrow morning’s church service (SO blessed to “work” from home), and weeded the railroad ties by our driveway. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Speaking of “rolling with it”…

Here’s the recipe for my quiche. It was gone faster than a lightning bolt.

Kim’s Quiche Lorraine

1 (9″) unbaked pie shell (see recipe below)

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

1 c. grated Swiss cheese

4 eggs, beaten

2 c. half & half (light cream)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

Dash of hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana)

Freshly grated nutmeg (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange crumbled bacon and Swiss cheese in an unbaked pie shell.

Beat eggs, half & half, and seasonings; pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 more minutes and do the “jiggle” test. You’ll “see” when it’s set; if in doubt, insert a knife into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

My Tried and True (with FAB reviews) Pie Crust

1-1/3 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. Crisco (plain, not butter-flavored)

2 Tbsp. cold milk

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in Crisco with two butter knives until pea-sized crumbs form. Continue with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Sprinkle milk over the top; blend with a fork until the pastry forms a ball.

NOTE: You may have to add more (or less) milk depending on the humidity — your hands are the best judge. Don’t be afraid to squish it together with your fingers! I frequently abandon the fork and rely on the “hands-on” method.

Form the dough into a disk, place between two sheets of waxed paper (no clean up — easy peasy!), and roll into a circle. The thickness will depend on what you’re baking — thinner for quiche; thicker for a meat pie/pierogie.

Peel off top side of waxed paper and center crust over pie plate. “Ease” it into the plate, trim the excess crust with a paring knife, and crimp edges. Proceed per the recipe above. (Double recipe for a two-crust pie.)

FYI, the leftover pie crust trimmings make fabulous “pie crust cookies” spinkled with a lil’ sugar and cinnamon, or cobbler topping or mini-pies.

What a wonderful weekend it’s been so far! Wishing you the same. Be safe and share when you can.

Oops… the next monsoon is about to start (this one was predicted) so I better hit “publish” before my internet shuts down. Take care.

Enjoying socializing, cooking, writing, and baking again,

~ Kim

Summer Salad Soiree

Today I looked in the fridge, saw a little bit of this and a little bit of that (leftover from the weekend) and recalled the song “Anatevka” from Fiddler On The Roof.

As I was doing research to make sure I remembered the lyrics right, I discovered a song with a similar phrase: “Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That” by Canadian singer-songwriter Carolyn Dawn Johnson. (Excellent tune — look it up on YouTube.) Oh, the things we do to write a credible blog post

While I poked around online, I also learned that Miss Johnson sang (sings…?) background vocals for country superstar Miranda Lambert, who happens to be The Man Of Few Word’s favorite singer — if/when he listens to the radio. Talk about a triple play day. (Heavy emphasis on PLAY. )

It’s “Complicated.” :)

Above are the results: garden fresh tomatoes topped with potato salad and a sprinkle of paprika, a “BLT” minus the toast, and my ham salad garnished with a sweet pickle — all on a pretty plate, of course. It’s a party!

Music speaks to my soul and inspires my cooking. How ’bout you?

Enjoying summer salad soirees,

~ Kim

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast

The long holiday weekend is almost upon us and I’ve been pondering what to make. Company is outlawed and trips to get groceries have been few and far in between. Thankfully, strawberries are in season and I remembered a recipe from the days of yore… 2011. (Yup, “a little lunch” has been around that long.)

Feel free to peruse the archives in my side bar anytime.

The following is one of my favorites, re-edited. It’s almost the weekend ‘n’ all.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Ever notice how breakfast tastes better on a weekend morning?

I’m not much of a breakfast-eater during the week, but on Saturday mornings I’m in the mood for something decadent — not your ordinary breakfast fare.

The solution to my decadent dreams was Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast.

Filled with strawberries, sweetened mascarpone, cream cheese, and a hint of spice, it elevated plain ol’ French Toast into something extraordinary.

Quick to make, too — unless you happen to be out of Mascarpone cheese — in which case, you start the night before.

(Skip ahead to the Stuffed French Toast recipe if you have Mascarpone on hand.)

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

(Adapted from two tarts’ recipe on Tasty Kitchen)

1 c. heavy cream

1/4 t. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whisk together heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in a double boiler over simmering (not boiling) water. Using a wooden spoon, stir until it reaches 180° F. Add lemon juice and stir 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Set top part of double boiler on a pot holder; let stand undisturbed for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl; line sieve with cheesecloth. (In a pinch, use a coffee filter — same principle.)

Slowly pour the cream mixture into the sieve; let stand 20 minutes or until cool enough to refrigerate. Wrap sieve (bowl and all) in plastic wrap and chill overnight.

In the morning, scrape the fresh Mascarpone cheese from the filter — it doesn’t stick — and discard the liquid in the bowl.

Prepare to be amazed.

I’ll never lack for Mascarpone cheese again.  Or, Stuffed French Toast…

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast

6 slices French bread, approximately 2″ wide each

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. Mascarpone cheese, softened (homemade or store-bought)

1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for serving

1 pint ripe strawberries (reserve some for garnish)

1 c. milk

3 eggs

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

Create a pocket in each slice of bread by slicing through the middle without cutting through the crust; set aside.

Mix together softened cheeses and confectioners’ sugar until well blended.

Rinse and hull strawberries; pat dry and slice into 1/4″ slices.

Spread a generous portion of cheese mixture in each French bread pocket. Layer with sliced strawberries; set aside.

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, spices, and salt.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter on a griddle over medium heat.

Meanwhile, dip each stuffed French toast into egg batter covering both sides; drain slightly.

Fry three pieces at a time. When underside is golden brown, flip over and fry until golden on both sides. Keep warm in a 250 degree oven until remaining pieces are cooked. (Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to griddle before frying the rest.)

Serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and garnish with whole strawberries.

Weekend French Toast

This weekend treat your family (or yourself) to breakfast. You’ll be glad you did!

Remember to honor those who made it possible, too, xo.

Enjoying freedom and Stuffed French Toast,

~ Kim