#12NewTreats :: April :: Chocolate Pie

Chocolate Pie

So.  Here’s what I have to say about the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Chocolate Pie.

  1. It was really friggin’ easy.
  1. It was really friggin’ amazingly delicious.
  1. I am already salivating at the thought of making it again.
  1. I might just turn it into pudding next time and skip the pie shell.
  1. I might just make two batches next time so I have pudding AND pie for breakfast and dessert every day of the week.
  1. You should make this. And soon.  For no reason at all.  For any reason you can think of.  For someone special.  Because you made it through another week at work.  Because your baby is now sleeping through the night.  Because you love your spouse.  Because you love your kids.  Because you love yourself.  Because you probably already have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your house, right this very second.  Because any reason is a good reason to make this chocolate pie.

I could go on and on and wax poetic on this chocolate pie for y’all, but please, just do yourselves a favor and go make it.  It’s so ridiculously easy, there is no reason NOT to.

Thank you, Pioneer Woman, for this amazing chocolate pie recipe!  You can find the original recipe //here//.

Chocolate Pie

Ingredients
1 whole pie crust, Baked And Cooled (or Can Use Oreo Or Graham Cracker Crust – I used a premade shortbread crust)
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 whole egg yolks
6-1/2 ounces, weight bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely (I used semi-sweet and it turned out perfect)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
Whipped cream and berries, for serving

Directions
1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir or whisk together.

2. Pour in milk and egg yolks, and whisk together.

3. Stir over medium heat until the mixture just barely comes to a boil and becomes thick, about 6-8 minutes (maybe less, maybe more; just watch it!) The second it starts to bubble and thicken (note: It should be thick like pudding!) remove it from the heat. Add the chocolate, vanilla, and butter, and stir until everything is beautifully combined.

4. Pour the pudding into the pie crust (if there is extra, spoon it into small dishes for pudding) and place in the fridge to chill for 4 hours uncovered.

4. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired!

#52NewEats :: Week 17 :: Crockpot Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Crockpot Sausage Peppers and Onions

Who doesn’t like sausage, peppers, and onions?  It’s one of my favorite Italian dishes.  I was recently at a work teambuilding event and they had a catered lunch for us.  I have been following an 80/20 grain-free rule over the past couple of months and all I could eat at this catered lunch was sausage, peppers, and onions!  Everything else was grain- or pasta-based!  So I just filled up a plate with some sausages and the peppers and onions and ate with a knife and fork (instead of on a roll) and it was actually VERY delicious.  Everything appeared to have been simmered in a tasty tomato-based broth or sauce.  There were chunks of tomato in it, and it was seasoned very well with all your typical Italian flavorings.

It kicked off the wheels in my head and off I went to Pinterest looking for a similar dish, thinking maybe I could find something that could cook in the slow cooker all day and be ready for us when we got home.  And that’s exactly what I found in this recipe!  It’s exactly what I wanted.  I ate it that night without a roll, but I did top it with some provolone cheese and stick it under the broiler to melt for a bit (as pictured above).  It was just as satisfying as if I’d eaten it on a roll!

We used a mix of mild Italian sausages and hot Italian sausages, and found that we preferred the hot sausages.  Why?  Even though we browned the sausage links in a pan before slow cooking them, they still softened up enough that they didn’t have much of a ‘bite’ to them when you bit into them.  We found we didn’t miss that ‘bite’ as much with the hot Italian sausages, because the spice made up for it.  But it’s also something that maybe could be fixed by letting them brown a little longer in the pan before slow cooking them.

Either way, I was really happy with this recipe and will definitely make it again!!  You can find the original recipe //here//.

Crockpot Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 Tbsp oil
2 lbs sweet and/or hot Italian sausage links
2 bell peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Hoagie buns
Provolone cheese slices

Directions
1. Add oil to a large skillet over high heat. Brown the sausages well on all sides. Remove the sausages to the slow cooker. Add the bell peppers and onions to the same skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, getting them a little bit brown as well. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic to the veggie mixture for the last minute.

2. Add all remaining ingredients, except hoagie buns and provolone cheese, to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on LOW for 5 hours.

3. When you are ready to serve, toast your hoagie buns on both sides, then add the cheese to the inside of the buns and place back in the oven to broil until the cheese is melted. Add the Italian Sausage & peppers & onions to each hoagie roll. Serve with some of the tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

#52NewEats :: Week 16 :: Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Believe it or not, I never ate at an Olive Garden until I was well into adulthood.  I was in my early 20s and living in Spokane, WA with Aaron, and there is (or, was, rather) a major lack of non-chain restaurants in Spokane.  We couldn’t find a mom and pop pizza shop to save our lives, let alone a hoagie shop (ahem, “sub” shop) or a cheesesteak shop (Bruchi’s did not count).  So we worked our way through the chain restaurants on the scene – being on an opposite coast, many were new to us anyway.  And we finally landed on Olive Garden around the time they had some dish with balsamic-glazed steak medallions atop pasta with alfredo sauce, and it was THE.  MOST.  HEAVENLY.  thing I had eaten at the time.  So we began going pretty frequently.  We quickly found ourselves among the cult following of the neverending salad – mostly for the dressing, like everyone else in the cult.

So when I found this recipe, and I had all ingredients in the house but one, I thought, I gotta make it!

And the results were mixed.

It definitely tasted like a yummy creamy Italian dressing, but at my first bite I wasn’t ooooh-ing at the likeness of it to Olive Garden’s dressing.  You always kind of expect that first bite to be like, YEAH!  THAT’S IT!  But, in the recipe’s defense, it has been years since I’ve set foot in an Olive Garden.  And I will honestly say, that by the end of my hoovering this salad, that it really did taste like Olive Garden’s dressing.

So this one, I will leave up to y’all.  I didn’t not enjoy it, but I didn’t have the reaction I was expecting.  But it was a deliciously tangy, clearly Italian salad dressing that is nice to have in my back pocket, especially since there’s no super special ingredients!

You can find the original recipe //here//.

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Ingredients
1 (0.7 oz.) packet Italian Dressing Mix
¾ cup olive oil (high-quality yields much better results in this recipe)
¼ cup & 2 Tablespoons white distilled vinegar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ Tablespoon mayo

Directions
Whisk everything together thoroughly and refrigerate. Store in a mason jar or other tightly closing container. Shake or whisk well before using.

#52NewEats :: Week 15 :: Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

It should come as no surprise to any of you that I’ve been a huge fan of Grilled Cheese Social since the day I found her many years ago.  She is known for coming up with some of the most epic grilled cheese combinations.  I actually haven’t tried too many of her recipes, because they can feature some wild ingredients I’m not a fan of, or cheeses I just can’t find without taking a hike to Reading Terminal Market (which is harder now that I live so far out of the city).  BUT, I recently saw her recipe for Million Dollar Mac and Cheese on Facebook, and it shot straight to the top of my To Do list!

This recipe features several easily-attainable cheeses, and duh, burrata?!  In mac and cheese?!  I never would have thought.  I mean burrata kind of christens everything it touches with its lusciousness, so why not mac and cheese?!

I really loved this mac and cheese, and so did everyone I made it for.  Check out that cheese pull though.  👆👆👆  Who can’t get behind that?!

This recipe was such a hit that I’ll be making it for more of my family at Easter tomorrow.  It will probably be one of the only things I eat bc ew ham.

You should make this recipe too.  You should also go follow GCS on all the social media sites.  She is always posting delectable food pictures on Instagram, and she has recently started doing live videos on Facebook.  She’s adorable, and she makes hella slutty food.  What’s not to like?

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I wouldn’t change a damn thing!  Those toasted herb breadcrumbs are ABSOLUTELY worth the minimal extra effort of chopping the herbs – they completely made this dish!  In fact – I might even double that part of the recipe for tomorrow!

Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
For the mac and cheese:
1 lb rotini or fusilli
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp shallots, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup gruyere, shredded
1 cup muenster, shredded
1/2 cup burrata (about 1 large ball or two small ones)
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tsp hot sauce
salt

For the toasted herb breadcrumbs:
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp sage, chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp thyme leaves, stem removed
1/3 cup panko

Directions
For the mac and cheese:
1. Prepare pasta according to the directions and strain once it’s al dente.

2. In a large pot, add butter, chopped shallots, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the shallots start to soften. Right before they begin to caramelize, add flour and whisk constantly until a roux forms. After a few minutes, the roux will start to darken and the taste of the flour will have cooked out. At this point, add heavy cream and whisk. Let the heavy cream cook for 5-10 minutes or until it begins to reduce and thicken. Add the muenster and whisk in a figure 8 motion. Then add the gruyere and keep stirring with the whisk until all the cheese has melted. Cut the burrata in half and add to the cheese sauce. Stir until melted and combined. Last, add the hot sauce and the ricotta. Salt to taste and remove from heat.

3. Turn your broiler to high. Meanwhile, add the pasta to a serving bowl and mix in the cheese sauce, little by little until the desired creaminess is reached. Top the dish with grated cheddar and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese has crisped up and is golden orange.

For the toasted herb breadcrumbs:
Melt butter in a small pan over medium-high heat and add chopped sage, thyme and rosemary. Cook for a few minutes until the herbs have softened and the smell is irresistible. Add in the panko and continuously stir until it is golden brown and toasty. Keep an eye on this, I almost burned mine! Sprinkle toasted herb bread crumbs over broiled mac n cheese and serve!

#52NewEats :: Week 15 :: Buttermilk Cornbread

Buttermilk Cornbread

Holy cow!

Let me just start by saying that I don’t think I can say enough good things about this cornbread.  This buttermilk cornbread was absolutely amazing.  I love cornbread but I don’t often make it at home because it can be dry, crumbly, and just kind of generally unsatisfying.  BUT NO MORE!

This recipe was very easy to make, as it all came together in my stand mixer.  👍👍  I have to admit, though, as I poured the mixture into the baking pan, I couldn’t really see how it would come together in the oven and be a good cornbread.  The mixture seemed way too thin and much less like the batter I imagined.  But maybe that’s the very thing that sets it apart!!  This cornbread was moist, not crumbly at all, and held its shape very well.  We ate it warm right out of the oven topped with melted butter and I could have turned the whole darn thing into a meal right there.  This is a great way to use up that buttermilk you bought just for a few tablespoons for a salad dressing you were making, and now have almost a whole container of it left… 😉

I am already thinking of different ways to jazz up and use this cornbread – adding jalapenos and cheese, adding poblanos and fresh corn…

For now though, please go make this cornbread, because it was so frickin’ good!

You can find the original recipe //here//.

Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, somewhere between cold and room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup full-fat buttermilk (I used low-fat as it was all I could find, and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup mild olive oil (I used ‘extra light olive oil’)
2 tablespoons honey

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line an 8-by-8-inch metal pan with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.

3. Pause the machine and add the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, mix until incorporated. Then pour in the milk, buttermilk, oil, and honey and mix just until combined. This should yield a very loose, runny batter. (Small lumps of butter are no problem, but avoid any lumps of flour. If you see them, mix the batter just a little longer or work them out with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.)

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. You’re going to want to start checking the cornbread after 30 minutes, and if the surface turns perfectly golden brown before the time is up, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let the cornbread cool ever so slightly in the pan on a wire rack prior to slicing. This buttermilk cornbread is best served the day it’s made but keeps for up to 2 days if wrapped well.

#52NewEats :: Week 14 :: Copycat Chili’s Queso

Copycat Chili's Queso

My brother is not shy about proclaiming his love for specific restaurants or dishes.  In fact, he can be downright forceful in his opinion.  “NO.  D’ALESSANDRO’S HAS THE BEST CHEESESTEAKS IN PHILADELPHIA.  I DARE YOU TO FIND ONE BETTER.”  Sometimes, I have found him to be right, and sometimes I just think to myself, oh brother, if only you knew of the things I have had that top this.

Chili’s Queso is one of those things he’s been very passionate about over the years.  “You’re going to Chili’s?  You GOTTA get the queso.  OMG.  Like, GET THE QUESO.”  The caps are not for emphasis – he really does shout and emphasize as if he is speaking in all caps sometimes.  So when I saw this recipe for copycat Chili’s queso, I thought, well, let’s give it a go.

He’s a workaholic though so of course he couldn’t help me eat it and really judge for me whether or not it was a true copycat recipe of the OG queso.  I ended up eating some of it by myself in front of a losing Kansas game when I wasn’t really all that hungry.  It was kind of a sad moment.

But, this queso was pretty dang tasty.

I had Chili’s queso once, years ago, so far long ago that I couldn’t really tell you if it was a true imitation or not.  But it was good queso.  I was able to easily split the recipe in half, since it was only me eating it.  I’m not always a fan of Velveeta – mostly because when I have it in the house I do slutty things with it, like make //these tacos// – because it can go back to its plastic consistency pretty quickly unless you’re keeping it hot.  But this queso stayed pleasantly melty, at least for the duration that I was eating it.

All in all, I would be happy to recommend this recipe!  I cut it in half and it would be plenty for 2 people – so if you’re making a full batch, expect to feed more of a crowd.  Also, if you have a way to keep it hot – either keeping it warm in a slow cooker or maybe even in a fondue dish, do that.

Copycat Chili’s Queso

Ingredients
16 oz. Velveeta Cheese
1 cup milk (preferably half & half if you have it – I used whole milk)
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 15-oz can no-bean chili
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
Juice of 1 lime juice (about 1 tablespoon)
Tortilla chips, for serving

Directions

1. Cut velveeta cheese into cubes. Add all ingredients (except for tortilla chips) to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours or on high for 1 hour.

2. Stir until everything comes together. Cook on low for 30 minutes – 1 hour (As much time as you have before serving).

3. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

#52NewEats :: Week 13 :: Paleo Cinnamon Roasted Cashews

Paleo Cinnamon Roasted Cashews

I could eat cashews all day long.  I love them so much, but sometimes you want them to have some flavor, right?  So twice in the past 6 months I have attempted to make ______ Roasted Cashews, and I will now say, NEVER AGAIN.  Leave the flavored roasted cashews up to the experts, and just be content with plain cashews otherwise.

Why?  Well, let’s see.  The main issue is that they turn out so gooey.  Nothing like the pictures.  At least not for me.  I do not know what I have done wrong in either instance, as I followed the recipes.  The first time, I made these //spicy roasted cashews//, and while I found them quite tasty, I also found them nearly impossible to eat.  You see how in the picture, the cashews are nicely separated?  They look dry, right?  Like you could just scoop your fingers into a bowl and pop a small handful into your mouth.

Well that is NOT how they turned out.  When they cooled, they were all stuck together, and I had to pick them apart with my fingers and basically eat them one at a time.  They were tasty, but I couldn’t eat them.  What a waste.

I figured I must have had too much honey for the amount of cashews I had, or, maybe it was the honey and they were just too sticky.  I didn’t know.  So the next recipe I tried, the ones I made for this post, //cinnamon roasted cashews//, didn’t have honey, and I thought ok for SURE these would turn out better.

Nope!  All stuck together like a sticky delicious mess.  Again, I found myself standing over a bowl, grasping single cashews, or maybe even clumps, and prying them away from the others they were stuck to, in order to eat.

These are not something you could eat at your desk at work, unless you felt like licking your fingers after every munch!

So, internet, I am done with your homemade roasted nuts false hopes.  Forget it.  It’s not worth the money or the effort.

Again – I will say – these cashews WERE DELICIOUS!  But they turned out nothing like the picture, and I’m not interested in trying again to see if I get it right.  The only change I made to this recipe was I used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar, to make them Paleo-friendly.  They were plenty tasty, as long as I could get them apart to eat them!

If you try either of these recipes, please let me know how they turned out for you!  Maybe if you have a success story or know what I did wrong, I can give them another try!

Paleo Cinnamon Roasted Cashews

Ingredients
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water
1 cup whole or halved salted cashews
1/2 cup white sugar (or coconut sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with cooking oil generously.

2. Lightly beat the egg white with water until frothy.

3. Add cashews, then stir until well coated.

4. Mix together the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the coated cashews.

5. Toss to coat, and spread evenly on the prepared pan.

6. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden.

7. Allow cashews to cool, then store in an airtight container.

#52NewEatsFail :: Slow Cooker Texas Chili

Slow Cooker Texas Chili

It is with grave disappointment that I share with you today my very first #52NewEatsFail 🙁

Yesterday I went home rather excited to devour a bowl of thick, meaty, Texas-style chili, only to stir it up and find out it looked more like a Mexican beef stew than Texas chili!

I was REALLY bummed, and even went back to the recipe and the picture to make sure I’d followed everything correctly.  I sure did, but it looked NOTHING like the picture.

You see how the top picture has that thick, meaty texture?  Yes.  That’s Texas chili.  Texas chili has a thick, tomato-y gravy and no beans.  And this recipe turned out nothing like the picture.

FAIL.  😤

I will not call out the recipe here, I don’t think that’s fair.  Who knows, maybe I did something wrong, or they forgot to include a step or ingredient.  But if not, whatever that blogger did to doctor up their picture or style their food so that it looked a certain way, I’d call it false advertising.  I’ve just about lost all trust in that food blogger now!  This was not an accurate representation.

I’m no food or recipe n00b so trust me when I say I know what I’m doing in the kitchen.  I had my doubts when I threw everything into the slow cooker – how can this much stock cook down to that gravy?  Wouldn’t I need some tomato paste at least?  What’s going to thicken it?  But I thought well, maybe the flour coating on the beef would thicken it.  No such luck.

No worries, the food didn’t go to waste – my husband will eat it.  I even froze half of it so he’d have some for lunches another time.  But not me, that’s not what I wanted to eat!  On to find another Texas chili recipe, I reckon….