Strawberry Pie with a Twist

Are you a fan of chocolate dipped strawberries? Strawberries dusted with cocoa powder? Strawberries and chocolate in any form? Then this might be the strawberry pie for you.

I borrowed a recipe from the Kroger website, and put my own spin on it. Sadly, I did not get photos of this delectable dessert.

STRAWBERRY PIE WITH A TWIST
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 pkg (+/- 14 oz) cream filled chocolate sandwich cookies
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 3/4 cups water
1 pkg (3oz) strawberry gelatin
2 pints washed strawberries halved
Optional toppings: whipped cream, chocolate syrup, chocolate sprinkles

Directions:
Crust:
– Preheat oven to 325F.
– Crush cookies by preferred method. Place in bowl, add butter, and stir until thoroughly mixed and a little gooey.
– Pat mixture into pie plate, making sure the bottom and sides are covered with no breaks.
– Bake for 10 minutes, allow to cool to the side.

Sauce:
– Bring water and sugar to a boil.
– Add arrowroot and mix thoroughly.
– Remove from heat and stir in strawberry gelatin until dissolved.

Final:
– Arrange strawberries in cooled crust.
– Pour gelatin mixture over the strawberries.
– Refrigerate at least one hour or until set.

Serve:
– Top with whipped topping.
– Drizzle on chocolate syrup.
– Add chocolate sprinkles if desired.
– Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

Keep in mind that if strawberries cut in half are too much of a mouthful, cut them smaller. The smaller the slices, however, the more space there may be to fill in the pie. Adjust accordingly.

Adding other fruit, such as blueberries, can add a twist to the textures and flavors in this pie. Adjust the spices used to taste and give it a whirl.

I hope you enjoy this fresh fruit dessert as much as my friends did – it went quick!

— Ann Cathey

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Brunch Cups featuring Hormel Natural Choice Bacon

Warning: This entry is photo heavy! As always, click on a photo to view a larger image.

Bacon. Seriously, other than folks with allergies and specific diets, who doesn’t like bacon? (I know there are a few of you out there, but what you don’t care for is our treat.)

34985143_10214773115775264_2706663659517509632_nI have had an opportunity through My Magazine Sharing Network to give a free sample of a Hormel product a try: Natural Choice Cherrywood Smoked Uncured Bacon. There are other flavors of course, but this one appealed to my partner in crime, so that’s what we took home.

 

From Hormel:

No Preservatives,* No Artificial Ingredients

The makers of HORMEL®NATURAL CHOICE® Bacon believe everyone deserves to eat better. That’s why they’re committed to making honest products you can trust that are both enjoyable and affordable. HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE®Bacon is made without artificial preservatives or ingredients. It’s gluten free, minimally processed and comes from pork raised without added hormones.** Whether enjoyed alone or in a recipe — it’s a delicious way to start your day.

*No nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in cultured celery and cherry powder
**Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in pork.”

 

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Look good, don’t they?

Now that you have the pertinent information, let’s get down to business. The recipe. I’d been wanting to make brunch cups sans pastry dough (my usual tactic) for a while, and this was a golden opportunity. There were a bunch of photos taken during this kitchen session, so you can get a step by step idea of how these lovely cups are built, if you are not already aware. The recipe is good for breakfast, brunch, or anytime you feel the need for these flavors, and can be a wonderful cooking project to share with kids at home or at Gramma’s when you go to visit.

As usual with any of my recipes, feel free to make additions, deletions, and alterations to suit your own dietary and taste needs. The more variations, the merrier!

 

BRUNCH CUPS
Prep time: minutes
Cook Time: minutes
Servings: 6

34874862_10214773116295277_866612718298202112_nIngredients:
1-12 oz package of bacon,
6 whole strips, the rest cut into thirds
10 large eggs
4-6 oz potato, pre-cooked
6 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
1 tsp parsley
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cumin
Sea salt, garlic, and pepper to taste

 

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Freshly washed yard eggs, medium to large in size.

NOTE:
-I used slices of baked potato (Golden) that had been stored in the refrigerator, tossed with sea salt and diced garlic).
-Olive oil baking spray is a standard in my kitchen.
-Cupcake pan should be larger than normal, but not cake sized. This handy chart helps with sizing.-The Cherry Wood Smoked bacon smells amazing!

Directions:

35080231_10214773116055271_8061552674270609408_nPre-heat oven to 350F. Spray cupcake pan liberally with olive oil.

Line baking cups with bacon in stages: 2 cut slices on bottom, one whole slice around the inside of the cup. Place slices of potato (with garlic and salt) into the bottom of the cup. Place a single slice of cut bacon on top of the potato. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest while other prep work continues.

34963243_10214773153696212_9215589916891676672_nIn a moderate sized bowl, crack eggs. Whisk briskly while adding parsley, paprika, and cumin.

 

 

Pour egg mixture into baking cups slowly, to allow any air bubbles to surface. Return to hot oven for 15 minutes.

 

Remove cupcake pan from the oven. Divide Swiss cheese evenly among the cups, making sure that coverage is even and no bits of cheese are hanging out to make cleanup a chore. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until the cheese is all melted.

 

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Emplated, with a dab of onion sour cream.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest a couple of minutes. Carefully remove the cups so as not to scratch up the pan. They may be plated individually or removed to a serving platter.

 

Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

The brunch cups may be served with fruit, a bit of sour cream on top, or however you prefer to emplate them. The meal is fairly low in carbohydrates and quite high in protein, making is a delicious main dish for diabetics. It is not particularly ketogenic friendly due to the potato content.

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Try this recipe with one of the Hormel Natural Choice bacons, and let us know how you like it. We, and our guests that morning, have enjoyed the experiment a great deal.

 

“That bacon is not too salty and not too sweet. Great stuff!” – Adrian
“I found the cups to be an interesting bit of breakfast. The egg mixing with the bacon and the cheese had a slight sweet taste. Yet, I found the cups to be soft and easily eaten with little mess. My furbaby even enjoyed a few nibbles that escaped from my plate! I would be interested in trying this again — maybe with sausage or a different type of cheese to see how the flavor changes.” — Billie Jean

 

– Ann Cathey

Koji Ramen Bar – Spring TX

We are all likely well acquainted with the ubiquitous ramen noodle packs found in most grocery stores. College students live on them, moms keep them available as quick lunches for their children on weekend and vacations, and writers seem to thrive on them. We eat them straight out of the package, cooked up according to the directions (noodles in broth), and we eat them dry (broth drained off and spice pack added directly to the noodles). Some of even get creative with ramen by adding broken meats, veggies, and other items that we have on hand at the time.

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Put what you think you know about ramen out of your mind. Koji Ramen Bar offers a whole new perspective on the ramen noodle and how it should be served, offering deep bowls of broth with perfectly cooked noodles, and the sort of things on top that appear to be pretty traditional and/or local favorites.

The décor is trim, neat, with wall art that is splashy and fun. We had the fortune to sit beneath a six foot tall mineki-neko – the Good Luck Cat.

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We started with gyoza (Japanese pork potstickers) and takoyaki (octopus balls), both of which were outstanding in flavor and texture. The gyoza were tender and fresh, with a firmness to the filling that was not hard or difficult to chew as at some restaurants. The takoyaki were rich and crunchy; very much a new and delightful experience for us.

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Gyoza – Japanese pork potstickers

 

I ordered the chicken version, and was not disappointed. In addition to the chicken, noodles and broth, there were green onion, leaf spinach, bamboo shoots, carrots, corn, nori strips, tea egg and a sprinkled topping of sesame seeds and spices. I topped bites with dried garlic flakes, and the various tasty sauces offered on the table. Delicious!

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Koji Chicken Ramen

 

The full menu is available online and makes me want to revisit the establishment every time I peruse it. There is so much to look forward to trying!

 

On the 1-5 scale, Koji Ramen Bar has earned:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 4
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 4.25

Koji Ramen Bar
25403 Interstate 45, Suite A
Spring TX 77380
832-823-5197

Enjoy! We certainly did!30531185_10214338556871563_6198082934243590144_n

– Ann Cathey

Private Selection from Kroger

I was recently sent some coupons for sampling free products from the produce section of my local Kroger. As it turns out, not only do I already love these products, I use a lot more than just the produce.

Private Selection® thrives on the notion that high-quality, culinary­ inspired foods and ingredients deliver amazing eating experiences. Private Selection’s Iove and appreciation for food is fueled by the culinary passion of their customers and the deep-seeded belief that food is truly at the heart of experiences with others. They have a desire to create delightfully unexpected flavors and bring joy and excitement to the Kroger Co. Family of Stores shopping experience. Private Selection invites you to join them in their journey to transform something to eat into something to savor.“

The Private Selection Line offers meat and seafood, dairy, deli and bakery items, pastas and sauces, spices and baking goodies, spreads, condiments, and dressings, produce, frozen goods, beverages, snacks and candy, and breakfast items. The available product line is growing all the time. If you check the numerous links in this blog, you will find that the products in the store are quite like the photos on the website – unlike a lot of advertised items from other companies.

Certain items, like the Himalayan pink sea salt are a constant in my kitchen, Just a twist or two and a rich, bold spark is added wherever I include it. I often have a Private Selection pepper grinder handy as well, for my partner in gastronomic adventure. He rpefer black pepper, though there are other blends available.

Whole grain garlic mustard coupled with the petite medley potatoes make a colorful and flavorful German potato salad. It goes incredibly well with BBQ, burgers and dogs, or any time you crave a hearty potato dish.

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German Potato Salad

The simmer sauces, notably the Tikka Masala, help create intriguing international dishes. We love curry in many forms, and these simmer sauces make for a delightful dinner plan any night. Add in a package of the gourmet blend mushrooms and quartered purple petite potatoes for color and texture, and serve over brown rice.

With the heat rising, I’m getting back into salads in a big way. With Private Selection, I was recently able to throw together a salad using Sweet Gem living lettuce, seedless cucumbers, sliced fresh strawberries, and sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms (hidden on the bottom, I think.) I also used a Private Selection lemon dill aioli for the dressing.

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I just can’t help making salads! Here’s another delicious toss from the Private Selection goodies I had on hand. I love the results I’m getting in flavors, textures, visual appeal, and consistency of the produce. With Private Selection, I was one again able to throw together a salad using Sweet Gem and Tango living lettuce, seedless cucumbers and sliced fresh mushrooms, I also used that Private Selection aioli for the dressing again. It’s truly tasty!

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I don’t eat raw tomatoes, myself, but my daughter claims the Campari tomatoes are “outstanding in texture and flavor”. Still on the vine and a ripe red, they are “incomparable”.

Here’s hoping you decide to give Private Selection a try. Their products are a staple in my own kitchen.

Ann Cathey

Anything for Your Pet?

The Kroger family of stores offers a little bit of everything needed for daily pet care for dogs, cats, and some small animals. From pet nutrition to treats, toys, and grooming, you can find all the basics in the Pet Care Aisle at your local store.

My Magazine Sharing offered a mission to sample some of the items available. The mission asks that you post a photo of your pet with an included caption card. While the card is cute, it won’t work for four animals! I had to make do with a composite.

Pet Lineup

Our Furbabies

 

There were both dog and cat free sample/coupon boxes available. We received the cat care sample box. Meow Mix Simple Servings, Purina Friskies Party Mix Gravy-licious cat treats, a coupon for a bag of Purina One True Instinct Cat Chow, and a handful of coupons for each of these items to pass along to other pet owners in hopes that they would give the products a try.

The cats immediately wanted to investigate the box – behind my back. They enjoyed all the goodies immensely, the box, the stuffing paper, and are insisting we go get more, especially of the treats!

Likewise, you are asked to post a photo (or two or more) of you pet enjoying the sample. I did another composite of the cats chowing down on the Meow Mix Simple Serving freebie. They very much enjoyed the food, and the serving size seemed to be perfect for each of them.

Meow Mix Composite

 

Check out your local Kroger family store and try out some of the items we sampled. I hope your furbabies are as delighted as ours have been.

– Ann Cathey

Smokey Mo’s – Austin, TX

On a recent trip to Austin, Texas, we rediscovered a BBQ joint that we first tried in Conroe: Smokey Mo’s. While I may have been enjoying them for a while and somehow never managed to blog about them, they are still producing very appetising and satisfying meals in multiple locations around Texas.

The run of side dishes is pretty standard, and everything is complimentary to BBQ meats, of course. Fries, potato salad, beans, fried okra, corn on the cob, right down to the self-serve bread, onions, pickles and jalapenos.

Trust me, I helped myself to the pickles.

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Two trays of pickles, just like this!

 

My partner helped himself to not one, but two chop sandwiches. The chop is loaded with sauce and chopped bits and pieces of meat. It’s mostly beef with the occasional turkey or sausage bits mixed in.

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Chop Sandwich before any fixin’s were added.

 

The three meat plate is an indulgent sampler of meats and sides. There’s plenty to choose from, too. I picked the turkey-sausage-sliced brisket combination with a double side of slaw. The second slaw was really for Christopher, but it sure makes the plate look as full as my belly got after eating all this.

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Three meat combo plate with two sides.

 

It’s always pleasant to find a bit of the familiar when travelling that’s not your run of the mill fast food. Visiting Smokey Mo’s was definitely a fit of comfort food in a weekend full of exploration.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

 

Elotes!

My partner in crime, Christopher, works with a company that indulges in company lunches once every month or two. Employees are encouraged to bring side dishes and desserts. One of his fellows decided to bring a favorite in Houston and other American cities along the Texas-Mexico border – Street Corn, also called Elotes.

While Christopher was too busy munching to get a photo of the dish, he did manage to bring home the recipe and permission to share it with our readers.

ELOTES – Grilled Mexican Street Corn
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:
6-8 ears sweet corn, husks removed
½ cup Mexican crema (or sub sour cream)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup minced cilantro
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
¼ tsp ground chipotle pepper, to taste
2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp lime juice
½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled (or sub crumbled Feta or grated Parmesan)

Directions:
Set up your grill as you normally do. Light your coals and get them good and hot.

While the coals are getting started, in a large mixing bowl combine crema, mayo, cilantro, garlic, ground pepper, lime zest and juice and mix until homogenized.

When grill is ready, place ears of corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides.

Transfer corn to cheese mixture and coat well on all sides. Set coated ears onto serving tray and sprinkle with additional cheese and cilantro before serving if desired.

Serve immediately. Lime wedges and crisp corn chips are good sides for this dish.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

If the specific dairy items above are not available in your area, please note the suggested substitutions.

 

Christopher enjoyed the elotes quite a bit, and hopes that you will, too.

Bon appetite!

– Ann Cathey