Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pizza Night: Philly Cheesteak Barbecued Pizza

We are crazed in our quest for gourmet pizza. This was the most heartiest (and dare I say best) yet! I had no idea Philly Cheesesteak was so easy to make, and I must say I liked it better on a pizza than in a roll.

Hubby pre-cooked the crust directly on the grill 3 minutes per side. I cooked the onion, red pepper and green pepper in a bit of olive oil and then added some Worchestershire sauce (my own take on adding extra flavour). Then I cooked the steak to medium-rare so it wouldn't get overcooked on the barbecue and finally added a pre-shredded mix of cheeses (with provolone in it) and mixed it in before we packed it onto the pizza.

We topped it with a sprinkling of cheese before it went onto the grill at 400°F for 20 minutes.

OMG! OMG, this was good! Completely decadent, but so tasty. Topped with my extra flavour boosting sauce, this went down so quickly, we couldn't wait for leftovers the next day. This is a fork-friendly pizza!

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Philly Cheesesteak Pizza
This is amazingly good as a pizza, but you can easily make it the traditional way, in rolls.
1 1b                                           good quality 1-inch thick steak (strip loin or rib-eye), semi-frozen
                                                   olive oil
                                                   seasoning salt
1                                                 large white onion
1                                                 large red pepper
1                                                 large green pepper
                                                   seasoning salt and pepper
2 tbsp                                        Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 cups                                provolone cheese, divided
Prepare pizza crust and bake directly on the grill at 400°F for 3 minutes per side. Place on a pizza stone.
Slice the semi-frozen steak as thinly as possible. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium in a large frying pan. Slice the onion and separate into rings. Core and seed the peppers, and slice into thin strips. Add the onions and peppers, sautéing for five minutes, stirring occasionally so the onions are cooked but not colored and the peppers are soft. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Transfer the onions and peppers to a bowl.
Drizzle pan with olive oil and add steak to pan, sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper. Cook until just pink. Turn off heat and return the onions and peppers to the pan. Mix the beef, onions and peppers well and then add 1 cup provolone cheese.
Load up the pizza and top with remaining half-cup of cheese. Bake on pizza stone in barbecue for 20 minutes at 400°F. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Kathy’s Philly Cheesesteak Pizza Sauce
1 tbsp Asian hot sauce
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup ranch dressing
Whisk all ingredients together and drizzle over cooked pizza.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies

My sweet treats folder is rapidly filling with deliciousness. But last weekend I was craving the lovely chew of a cookie and remembered a recipe I found at Gonna Want Seconds. I love the idea of coconut and lime!

Of course I forgot to take pictures of the dough, which is incredibly sticky. I forgot because it was steaming hot in the house, the oven was on, the cookies were sticking to the bottom of the glass. I decided to roll them without dipping them in sugar and instead dipped the glass into sugar after each flattening. Worked okay, but don't do what I did and dip it into the actual sugar canister. (I was hot and cranky and just wanted to finish.)

These cookies are really tasty, but in my humble opinion, there are a lot of additional ingredients (cream cheese, cooking oil?!) that simply aren't necessary when good old butter will do very nicely. I'd love more lime zest as well. I also think the dough has too much sugar in to be adding sugar on top. So, I've modified the recipe below. 

I froze these in zipper bags and have been pulling one or two out as the cravings hit. They last longer that way, but not that long :-)

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Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Kathleen’s “Gonna Want Seconds” (

3/4 cup                                     butter, softened
1 cup                                         granulated sugar
1                                                egg
2 tsp                                         vanilla
2-1/2 cups                               all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp                                     baking powder
1/2 cup                                    sweetened shredded coconut, chopped fine
1                                               lime, zested and juiced
1/2 cup                                    sugar in a flat-bottomed bowl

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer) cream butter and sugar; add egg, vanilla and lime juice.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, coconut, and lime zest. Add the dry ingredients into the wet in 2 additions, until the soft dough comes together.
Using a small cookie scoop form the dough into balls and place on cookies sheets. When cookie sheet is full, wet the flat bottom of a drinking glass with water then dip into sugar and gently flatten cookies down into a disk. (You may only have to wet the bottom of the glass once). (Alternately, flatten disk into a ball, wrap in plastic and allow to harden before rolling and using a cookie cutter. Sprinkle tops with sugar.)
Bake the cookies for about 11 to 13 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to turn golden. The tops will be puffy and slightly cracked. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes, then lift to prevent sticking and allow to cool completely.
These cookies freeze well when sealed in a zipper bag.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fajita Pork Roast

One of my favourite dishes is fajitas and anyone who has had mine likes them. I think the original recipe came from Canadian Living about 15 years ago. When hubby barbecues, his favourite tastes tend to be barbecued (he's the Rib King) or a teriyaki sweet/salty idea. He graciously allowed me to offer up a taste suggestion. I wanted something that involved lime or lemon, so as a compromise, I adapted the marinade for my fajitas to a pork roast. Lots of garlic, plenty of lime, with a twist of Worcestershire sauce. He marinated the pork loin roast for several hours and the on the rotisserie it went.

My goodness, it was soooo juicy, tender and flavourful. Even though he chopped the onion and red bell peppers to smithereens, he was good enough to make another batch for sautéeing once he saw the horrified look on my face.

So here we are pre-hoeing in of our lovely dinner on our deck. We used some of the leftover pork and peppers/onions the next day for traditional fajitas in a tortilla. I love the doubled duty dinners that come from a roast!

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Fajita Pork Roast
Adapted from one of our family favourites — chicken fajitas!
1                                                pork loin roast
1 tsp                                          grated lime rind
1/4 cup                                     lime juice
1/4 cup                                     vegetable oil
2 tbsp                                        Worcestershire sauce
3                                                 cloves garlic, crushed
1-1/2 tsp                                   ground cumin
1/2 tsp                                       salt
1/4 tsp                                       pepper
Pinch                                          hot pepper flakes
1                                                  onion, thinly sliced
2                                                  red peppers, thinly sliced

In large zipper bag, combine lime rind, juice, oil, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes. Add pork loin, seal, and marinate for at least 1 hour.
Remove pork loin from bag, refrigerating marinade. Rotisserie or grill pork loin over indirect heat at about 400°F until the internal temperature reaches 145°F to 150°F. When roast is done, remove from grill, tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before serving (to allow to roast to continue cooking).
Meanwhile, sauté peppers and marinade mix until tender. Serve as a side dish.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Watermelon Salsa

I love this salsa! I got the idea from using watermelon in my salads. I made it just like my mango salsa that I blogged about last year. I serve it as a side dish with fish.

Chop up a couple of green onions (or a 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion)

 Add some fresh cilantro. I love growing it in my garden...

 About 8 cups of watermelon, lemon juice, hot chili flakes and salt. Toss and eat. It's that easy.

 The G&T is definitely growing on me. I'm going through limes like a crazy woman!

 We ate this with ginger-glazed salmon that I blogged about last year. It was a yummy meal all 'round.

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Watermelon Salsa
So refreshing!
8  cups                                     diced seedless watermelon
2                                                jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes)
1/3 cup                                    chopped cilantro
1/4 cup                                    lime juice
1/4 cup                                    minced red onion, chopped (or 2 green onions sliced)
1/4 tsp                                     sea salt, or to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl, stir well to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Great with seafood. Serves 6 as a side dish, or 8 1/2-cup salsa servings.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Night Pizza: Gourmet Mediterranean

I love pizza night, mainly because I love to try new pizzas that I want to try, rather than order off a menu or buy frozen — which narrows the possibilities tremendously. With homemade pizza, you are only limited by your imagination.

Another highly successful crust (and another to spare for next time).

This time we went rogue and tried giving the crust a light bake on both sides and it worked brilliantly.

Oh yum! Fresh pesto sauce. This is starting out to be a good one.

Add sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, wilted spinach and kalamata olives...

Top with feta and a mixture of asiago, mozza and provolone cheeses (from a package for convenience).

And bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted.

Really good, but next time I would not put the feta, despite its Mediterranean flavour, because it made the pizza too salty for my taste. But the pesto was amazing and absolutely made the pizza! Will definitely eat this one again.

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Grilled Gourmet Mediterranean Pizza
Serves 4

1                                                pizza crust
                                                  olive oil
1 cup                                        pesto sauce
1 cup                                        chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 cup                                        chopped artichoke hearts
1 cup                                        wilted spinach
4 oz                                           grated feta cheese
½ cup                                        kalamata olives
1 cup                                         mixture of grated asiago, mozzarella, and provolone cheeses

Preheat the barbecue to 350°F.
Bake the pizza crust directly on the grill for 3 minutes on each side.

Brush the pizza crust with olive oil and spread pesto over the crust, leaving a ½ inch border.
Top with sun dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, and spinach.
Cover with cheeses.
Bake the pizza on a pizza stone in the barbecue for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Cool for 5 minutes then slice and serve.

Printable Perfect Pizza Crust

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday Night Pizza: Pepperoni and Mushroom

Mmmm... pizza! We have a Homer Simpson pizza cutter that speaks to us in Homer's voice when we cut into a pizza. We also have the voice of Homer as we open bottles of Corona with our special bottle opener. Never fails to bring a smile to my face when I hear Homer wax poetic about pizza, because he's right: It tastes good, so it must be good for you!

This is the leftover crust from my first foray into barbecued pizza. This time we put cornmeal underneath the crust so it wouldn't stick, but I think the fact that the crust didn't stay on the pizza stone for several hours really helped. 

I wanted to make a more traditional pie this time, and just happened to have mushrooms and pepperoni in the freezer. I used spaghetti sauce that I mixed with sun-dried tomato pesto for a richer flavour.

This is hubby's design and a bit of a raspberry to the work week!


Ready to eat after 20 or so minutes at 400°F.

As Homer would sing, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amoré!"

Hahaha! Of course this isn't our Homer Simpson pizza cutter! Oh well, you get the drift.

This was our most traditional pizza to date. What I love about homemade pizza (besides the taste) is that unlike store bought or ordered pizza, there are always leftovers. I've never been able to eat more than 2 pieces. So that means we have at least another meal the next day. Yum!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Strawberry Custard Tart

The best thing about summer is the fresh fruit pies. When I was young, my dad the baker, would make fresh strawberry tarts during strawberry season. He made individual tarts and they always had a thick creamy custard underneath the berries and sauce. I've tried to recreate his tarts over the years, using Bird's Custard Powder and a package of gel sauce. They were good no doubt, but definitely to eat with a fork.

This year I wanted to make the sauce from scratch (no dyes) and I found a recipe for old-fashioned strawberry pie at that sounded great. I used my own tart crust recipe because it's much firmer (and I like mine best) and Bird's custard powder again, and it looked like this:

Trust me, this pie still tasted beyond amazing (we each ate three pieces the first night it was so darned good!), but it didn't present very nicely: the custard was too thin and the gel sauce, which probably worked fine for its original non-custard use, was also too runny for my taste.

With friends coming over, I had an excuse to make another pie, without being tempted to eat so much of it.

I started by making the crust in the food processor. Even with cold chunks of butter, it makes the dough so quickly and easily, it's ridiculous.

Takes only a couple of minutes to spread into the pan.

I don't even bother to poke holes or blind-bake because I find this crust doesn't puff up like a shortening crust will.

While the crust is baking and cooling I started in on the strawberries. What a difference to use local vine-ripened strawberries! The fruit was so soft and flavourful!

 Again, using the food processor, I mixed the strawberries and the sugar until puréed.

The sauce starts off looking almost creamy. I kept whisking until the cornstarch was dissolved and then heated.

 This time I doubled the amount of cornstarch, and it got much thicker.

While the sauce was gelling, I made the custard, this time from scratch, using lots of eggs. It's a little browner than some people may like because I added a generous splash of vanilla. You could also use clear vanilla so it would look yellow. Putting the plastic wrap right on top of the custard kept it from forming a crust. When I tasted the custard I thought it was too sweet, but it was perfect with the strawberries and sauce.

And ta-da, the finished result (this is actually the first pie, I forgot to take a photo of it the second time). I tried to lay the strawberries in a pleasing pattern, but I did not get Dad's decorating gene, and I didn't want to just pour the gelled sauce on top, so I tossed everything together in a bowl and then gently spread the strawberry mix on top of the custard base.

Hubby thought this version was even better, and our guests were certainly happy to eat it. They had seconds, which left just one more serving for hubby and I — perfect!

This is a pretty labour-intensive pie, but in the end, so worth it, that I plan to do it again next year when strawberries are in season. 

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Fresh Strawberry Custard Tart
This brings back memories of the Strawberry Tarts my dad would make during our local strawberry season each summer. So fresh!
Recipe adapted from blog: Custard is adapted from Ina Garten’s Pastry Cream
Serves 8
1 cup                                         all-purpose flour
1/2 cup                                     butter, softened
1/4 cup                                     granulated sugar
                                                   pinch of salt

5                                                extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup                                     sugar
4 tbsp                                        cornstarch
1-1/2 cups                                scalded milk (milk heated until bubbles form on the pot’s outer ring)
1-1/2 tsp                                   vanilla extract
1 tbsp                                        butter
1 tbsp                                        heavy cream

8 cups                                       fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup                                     granulated sugar
2 tbsp                                        cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp                                  Pectin for low sugar recipes
                                                   Pinch of salt
1 tbsp                                        lemon juice

Crust: Preheat oven to 375°F. To make the tart crust, place all ingredients in food processor and process until dough just comes together. Press dough on base and up side of prepared tart pan with removable bottom. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Let cool.
Custard: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking frequently until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; continue whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick. Stir in the vanilla, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cooled.
Berries: Place 2 cups sliced berries in food processor; process to a smooth puree, scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour the berry purée into a medium saucepan; whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, pectin, and salt. Stir in the berry puree. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, and bring to a full boil for 2 minutes to ensure that the cornstarch is fully cooked (mixture will appear frothy when it first reaches a boil, then will darken and thicken with further cooking). Stir in lemon juice and let cool to room temperature.
Pour custard into the tart pan, coating the bottom evenly. Arrange berries on top of pie in a pleasing pattern. Carefully pour glaze over top of pie, using a pastry brush to spread evenly (you don’t have to use it all). Refrigerate pie until chilled, about 2 hours.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beer-barbecued Chicken

This is the first time we've made — or eaten — this now famous chicken and all we can say is, "what the heck were we waiting for!". This recipe, from EatingWell is very easy to make, and the results are better than the roasted chickens you get at your grocery store. The beer and the seasoning mix adds an almost southwestern flavour, which works in our family.

This recipe is also a little different because you don't rest the chicken on the full beer can, you add beer into the cavity and cook it on its side. Either way, a drip pan is essential.

Actually, it was hubby who made it because I was madly working away all weekend. This was definitely a treat and we had enough chicken for 3 full meals and a couple of chicken sandwiches. Not bad for a small amount of work!

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Beer-Barbecued Chicken From EatingWell: May/June 2009

Here's our spin on the roast-a-chicken-on-top-of-a-can-of-beer technique that's popular with barbecue aficionados. To simplify things, we just pour a little beer inside the chicken as it cooks. The beer keeps the meat juicy and a smoky-flavored spice rub both under and over the skin gives it extra flavor. Barbecuing poultry with the skin on helps prevent the meat from drying out. To keep calories and fat in check, remove the skin before serving.

6 servings | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 1 3/4 hours

1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 4-pound chicken
1 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably pale ale or lager, divided

Preheat a gas grill (with all burners lit) to 400°F or build a fire in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400°F).

Combine paprika, oregano, salt, brown sugar, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chipotle chile and pepper in a small bowl.

Remove giblets from chicken (if included) and trim any excess skin. Loosen the skin over the breast and thigh meat. Rub the spice mixture under the skin onto the breast meat and leg meat, a little on the skin and inside the cavity. Tuck wings under the body and tie the legs together with kitchen string.

If using a gas grill, turn off one burner (leaving 1 to 2 burners lit, depending on your grill). If using a charcoal grill, move the coals to one side. Wearing an oven mitt, carefully place a drip pan under the grill rack on the unheated side. Place the chicken breast-side down on the rack over the pan. Pour half the beer into the cavity (it’s OK if some drips out into the drip pan).

Close the lid and roast undisturbed for 45 minutes.

Turn the chicken breast-side up. Pour the remaining beer into the cavity. Cover and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, 30 to 45 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before removing the string and carving.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brown Butter Corn Muffins... mmmm

I saw this recipe for Brown Butter Corn Muffins at on Sunday morning and knew I had to make it. I L-O-V-E brown butter and I adore cornmeal breads. Poor hubby doesn't care for either, but thankfully he isn't my father, so I didn't have to think only of him on this Father's Day!

Start by gently melting, then cooking the butter until it foams and then clarifies to a lovely brown colour.

The smell is fantastic! Nutty and sweet. The first time I made browned butter the recipe specifically said not to make it too dark, but to rely on the heavenly, nutty smell to be your guide. However, I don't think it affects the taste, so whatever your preference.

After browning the butter, you first add add it to the wet ingredients, then add to the  dry ingredients.

The darker colour of the butter yields a darker, richer looking batter.

And ready for the oven!

Then get to work on the honey caramel. Take it slow and lower the heat!

Instead of brushing the glaze on I used a knife to poke a cross into the muffin and used a small spoon to carefully spread the glaze over top. Big bonus! When I lifted the racks up to put the muffins away, there were loads of lovely honey-caramel glazed bits that had cooled and hardened like soft toffee. So good!

These are very tasty muffins and worth the extra effort to me. I do wish I'd had some whipped brown butter that I made a while back for my No Knead Bread (recipe is included in that blog). Even hubby enjoyed his breakfast. So Father's Day wasn't so bad after all.

I hope you try them and enjoy. Thanks to Amira from Divine Baking for a great idea!


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Brown Butter Corn Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

Adapted from: Great served with whipped brown butter!

1/2 cup butter, plus soft butter for coating the muffin cups
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream (full fat or light), or plain yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup honey, for glaze

Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in the center. Smear soft butter in each cup of a standard, 12-cup muffin tin, coating them well (or spray with cooking oil).

In a small pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Allow it to cook slowly as it foams and sputters, then separates. When the butter turns a light brown color and nutty aroma. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and milk. Slowly whisk in the browned butter, combining well and reserving the pot. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and fold-in until the last bit of flour is moistened. Do not over mix. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through, until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean.

While the muffins bake, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the honey in the small pot. Allow the butter to slowly brown. This will happen quicker due to the honey, so pay close attention. When the bubbles clear up and the glaze is light brown, remove it from the heat.

Remove the muffins from the oven. Carefully turn them onto a wire rack and using a butter knife, poke a cross into them to absorb the glaze. Use a small spoon to drizzle the glaze over top. Serve warm or cold.