Friday, October 29, 2010

The very first Pizza Principle giveaway!!!

Yeah, you heard it. I'm giving stuff away. Just like a real, honest-to-god Pioneer Woman or MckMama-type blogger. Except with less traffic and probably way fewer hits. ;)

It had to be something pizza-related. I thought about a pizza pan or a pizza cutter. Those would have been great. I found a really cool one at the Gourmet Kitchen in the DuBois Mall in DuBois, PA. It rocked. Hand-held, very grippy, good blade. I may have purchased one for myself that I won't share with you. But it's a sturdy little thing, and I worried about shipping. You see, I'm not great with the packing and mailing, and to complicate matters, my post office could lose mail between one room and another...and they only have two rooms. So I wanted something light. Something I could stick in an envelope. But it had to be something worth.

That's where the good people at Country Home Creations came in. Have you tried their dip mixes? OMG. Easy and tasty and yum. Make them with just cream cheese and you have a rockin' cheeseball...or the perfect thing, coincidentally, to spread on a hot crust of some kind and make an impromptu little pizza-ish snack. And therefore, I went with the Pizza Dip Mix. Yum.

For those interested, I bought this with my own money scavenged from the cushions of my couch. Nobody gave it to me. I'm the only one doing any giving.

And how do you get this tasty treat? Follow me, Facebook link me, Twitter about me, and leave me a comment for each action. But also...for a fourth way to win...give me another comment suggesting something you'd like to see a recipe for. It doesn't have to be a pizza, or anything at all pizza related. Just tell me what you'd like to cook.

So go for it, people. I'll be accepting entries until Nov. 5 at midnight. Winner will be announced Nov. 6.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple of my eye

This is my son, Joseph. He is 3 feet of pure energy. Whoever said perpetual motion was impossible never met my kid. If we could harness what makes him go, we could end our dependence on foreign oil.

I'm not entirely sure what it is that makes him tick. I know that right now, a large part of his energy source is apples. He loves them. He eats them in any way, shape or form. He likes them with pork roast, or baked in apple cake, or roasted into a chunky baked sauce, but he's really a purist at heart. He particularly likes them stolen whole out of a big basket when he thinks no one is looking.

And if one apple is good, two apples are obviously better.

Oh, and if you come to my house, and feel like an apple, make sure you take a good look at it before you take a bite. He likes to stake his claim, taking a surreptitious bite, before putting it back in the fruit bowl for later. I try to stay on top of this, but he's stealthy.

He also has a special place in his heart for apples in their liquid form. Fresh cider from Way Fruit Farm in Stormstown, PA is his new best friend. (It used to be my favorite fall indulgence. This year, I have yet to finish a cup. Someone keeps drinking it when I'm not looking.)

And so, for Joseph, I give you my favorite recipe for pulled pork. With apples. Because it's damn good together.

First, you take a pork roast. I don't care what cut it is, except to say tenderloin is a complete waste of money here. Where other cuts will get more buttery and succulent as they cook, tenderloin will go from juicy to tough to sawdust, an unappetizing progression. So get yourself a nice hunk of cheap pig and throw it in the crockpot with lots of pepper and some salt. Then slice up one onion and one large tart apple. I like Cortlands, but Granny Smith is good, too. Add them to the roast with a cup of good cider. (Will apple juice work? Yes. So will a can of beer. But I think cider gives the best flavor.) Cook on low heat for 8 hours. Or longer. I like to put mine on before bed on a Friday night and by gametime on Saturday, I'm ready to eat pulled pork while I watch the Nittany Lions.

When it's done, shred with forks and return to the crockpot. This is where you can get creative. Some barbecue sauce is good. So is some spicy mustard and honey. But my favorite way to enjoy this is with just a few tablespoons of brown sugar, which plays up both the sweetness of the cider and the richness of the meat. It's good on crusty rolls, plain white bread, on a hot dog bun sharing star billing with a smoked sausage. But it's also good spread on a pizza crust, topped with some jack (or pepper jack) cheese, and cut into thick, drippy wedges.

It might give you as much energy as Joseph. And if you get that much energy, let me know. You can babysit.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin posting on the way...

Off to the pumpkin patch with Joseph this morning. Okay, it's actually an apple orchard ( that is having its big apple festival today, the highlight of which is...pumpkins. Yes, I know the logic is a little off, but I'm getting a hay ride out of it, so I'm not going to quibble.

This means I'll be bringing back pumpkins, but also a couple bushels of apples. And that means preserving them. Apple butter, apple jelly, apple pie filling. In my house, any one of those can end up on a pizza, so I don't think it's much of a stretch to include them here.

I'm trying a new apple butter recipe this year. In an effort to keep my other burners free, I'm making crockpot apple butter, courtesy of Stephanie O'Dea at A Year of Slow Cooking. Here's the recipe. I can't wait to try it. Several friends have tried it and tell me it's well worth the effort.

And for the original portion, of our evening, I'll tell you how I like to use apple butter. On a pizza.

Take 1/2 c. apple butter, combine with 1/2 c. barbecue sauce (you know these numbers are flexible, right?). Simmer together (maybe with a splash of cider) to let the flavors mingle. Toss with shredded chicken. Spread on pizza crust (or French bread...or tortillas...or English muffins...or get the idea). Top with sauteed red onion and shredded cheese. I like cheddar with the apple kick, but that's up to you. Bake until hot and bubbly. A great football snack, late night treat, quick dinner, or fun lunch.

See you after the pumpkin picking.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We interrupt this computer virus to bring you a blog post....and chocolate

This week has been just computer hell. Seriously. If there was something that could happen to my computer, it happened, then thought about it, then happened again worse. I am currently typing on my fourth-string computer because my star is down with a nasty Trojan horse virus, my back-up and its cord parted ways, and someone (I'd really like to blame my toddler, but it was me) splashed water onto my back-up's back-up and it's making a weird sizzling sound that alarms me.

Basically, my computers are the quarterback lineup of the Steelers. If my old Sony, a.k.a. Charlie Batch, doesn't pull through for me until at least one of the other issues is resolved, I'll be going to need grief counseling.

Or, perhaps I will need Smooth Road Brownies.

Let me give you some background. See...I love chocolate. I also love rocky road, with all the chunks of chocolate and nuts and chewy marshmallows giving you little pockets (or, I guess, in keeping with the metaphor, potholes) of flavor. Really, what's bad about that?

Well, according to my siblings, everything. When they were kids, they looked at any kind of lump in a brownie as a personal betrayal. Nuts were a hanging offense.

Look at this kid. Honestly, she ate three things when she was this age. French toast, cheese, and Lucky Charms. (Nice pic, huh? I snitched it off her Facebook page. Why? Well, all my pictures are stuck on the computer with the Trojan horse virus, so I'm making do with what I can get, and yet still fulfilling my commitment to give you people things to look at while you read. I'm dedicated that way.)

But even when I was in high school, I was unwilling to give in to culinary terrorists. I would, however, engage in some minor diplomatic compromise. And so, my rocky road smoothed out.

Here goes a super-simple equation for deliciousness:

Ghirardelli Chocolate Brownie Mix, Chocolate Syrup, 18.75-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)

Start with brownies. I like the scratch kind that are really dense and fudgy, but I would be lying if I said there were never boxes of brownie mix in my cupboard. There are. And they are good.

Mix up your batter the way you always do, whether you are melting chocolate and sifting cake flour or just adding some water and an egg. Pour in your greased up pan. NOW STOP.

Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme, 7-Ounce Jars (Pack of 12)

It's so smooth and white and puffy. I mean, it's MARSHMALLOW. How can anyone have a problem with that? Grab a spoon. Dollop some over the batter. Eat a big spoonful when no one's looking.

Hershey Hot Fudge Topping 16-oz. Jar (Pack of 6)
Yeah, that's hot fudge. In brownies. Is it overkill? Maybe. Do I care? No. More dollops of goodness, please.

JIF Peanut Butter Creamy 40 oz Jar

Oh, and that? That's the peanut butter. Because peanut butter is good with chocolate. And it's good with marshmallow creme. And it's good on radial tires. Put some on there! (I find it easier to melt it slightly first in the microwave. Just a few seconds.)

Now take a knife and swirl them all slightly. And then bake.

And then eat.

And then you might want to ask your doctor about some insulin.