HER-bivore Pizza Bites

Her-bivore pizzas ready to go in the oven. Somehow they got eaten before I got a picture of the finished product.

At a carnival, Samantha instructs Theodore to get a slice of pizza. So Her-bivore pizza is no stretch of the imagination and really doesn’t need a recipe. I mean you all know how to make pizza, right?

I used a pre-made pizza crust and cut small appetizer-size circles out of it with a biscuit cutter. I brushed my little crusts with olive oil and pre-baked them for a few minutes. Then, I added sauce, cheese and veggies. Just don’t add meat, because then it wouldn’t be an Her-bivore pizza. Return pizzas to oven and finish baking.

Fresh Fruit with Raspberry Sauce

Fresh Fruit with Raspberry Sauce

Captain Phillips didn’t give me much to work with as far as food was concerned. Coffee and fruit. I guess I could’ve done some sort of Somalian food, like camel meat and rice, but I decided that might be going a bit too far! Seriously, I didn’t get creative because I like having a fruit dish, besides wine, at the party. It helps to have a dish or two that is easy to prepare and fruit adds color to the table.

The recipe for the raspberry sauce is from Taste of Home. I used melons, grapes, blackberries, strawberries and a few of the raspberries for my fresh fruit.

Raspberry Sauce

2 & 2/3 cup unsweetened raspberries
3 Tbls. honey
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot

Set aside a few raspberries for garnish. Place the remaining berries in a blender or food processor; cover and process until pureed. Add the honey, lemon juice and ginger; cover and process. Strain and discard seeds; set sauce aside.

Plate fruit and drizzle sauce over it.

Rodeo Beans

Rodeo Beans

Rodeo Beans was based on Matthew McConaughey’s rodeo cowboy character, Ron Woodruff, in Dallas Buyer’s Club. This is a simple, inexpensive recipe, made in the crock pot, that could be a meal in itself. It also works well as a side.

Here’s the recipe:

Rodeo Beans

1 (16 oz) bag dried pinto beans
2 Tbls. neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or vegetable
1 large onion, finely diced
1 (12 oz) package bacon, cut into small bite sized pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 – 1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
Kosher salt

For Garnish (optional)
Queso Fresco, crumbled
Cilantro, finely chopped
Pickled jalapenos slices

Pour beans into a colander and rinse. Look over beans and make sure they are clean and free of any stones or dirt that might have made its way into the bag. Place beans and approximately 2 quarts (8 cups) of water into a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once boiling, carefully transfer the beans and water into a slow-cooker. Add oil, onion, and season with about 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Cook for at least 6 hours on high, although you can leave for a few hours more. I’ve also had success cooking them on low for 10-12 hours if that works better for you.

When beans in the slow cooker are ready, cook the bacon in a large pot over medium/medium-low heat until crisp, stirring to avoid burning. Once bacon is crispy, remove some of the bacon grease, leaving only about 1 tablespoon in the pot. Don’t throw away that liquid gold! Store in refrigerator for future use.

Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the can of fire-roasted tomatoes and a pinch of salt, and with a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan from cooking the bacon. Let mixture cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the beans with a slotted spoon, and then add enough of its cooking liquid to cover the entire mixture. Add the pickled jalapeño (1/2 cup will definitely give you a nice kick, so use less or more according to your spiciness threshold) and simmer on medium-low for about 20-30 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

Serve in bowls topped with crumbled queso fresco, pickled jalapeños, and/or cilantro.

Cowboy Beans can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. They reheat very well in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

Recipe from Shared Appetite

Million Dollar Popcorn

Million Dollar Popcorn

Woody thinks he has won a million dollars when he receives a sweepstakes notice in the mail. He’s headed to Nebraska to collect it, even if he has to walk, in the movie Nebraska. I loved this movie. I knew it wouldn’t win best picture, but I sure wanted it to.

It was a given I would incorporate “million dollar” or “millionaire” into whatever dish I came up with. I got to thinking about Nebraska being the Cornhusker state and what I could do to good ol’ popcorn to make it Million Dollar Popcorn.

First, I bought popcorn boxes at the local party store and then I blinged them out!

Blinged out boxes.

I used a recipe from Martha Stewart that I’ve made many times, so I knew it was good. The boxes were million dollar worthy, but I wanted to do something to  jazz the popcorn up, as well. So, I bought some edible gold dust and gold stars in the cake decorating section at Hobby Lobby. Once I took the popcorn out of the oven, I let it cool just a little bit, broke it up some and then sprinkled the stars and gold dust all over it.

The pictures don’t show how really beautiful it turned out. It was up there with my golden Gingerbread Oscars from last year’s party.

Carmel Almond Popcorn

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheets
3/4 cup popcorn kernels
2 Tbls. plus 1 & 1/2 tsp. canola oil
2 cups raw almonds
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Butter 2 rimmed baking sheets; set aside. Place corn kernels and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; cover. Once kernels begin to pop, shake pot frequently; when popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops, remove from heat; uncover. Transfer to a large bowl. Add almonds; toss.

Cook sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until it reaches 255 degrees.

Remove from heat. Stir in extracts, salt, and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture; toss to coat. Divide between prepared sheets. Bake, stirring occasionally, 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

Popcorn sprinkled with edible gold dust and stars. I wish the picture showed how pretty it really was.

Irish Pub Salad with Little Toasts

Irish Pub Salad with Little Toasts

I try to bring some balance to my Oscar parties. You know, not just a table laden with desserts, or meat, or appetizers. I want people to feel like they’re getting a meal, even though some of the portions are small.  I found myself in need of a vegetable dish for this year’s party.

When I saw the scene in Philomena where she’s at a salad bar, somewhere in Ireland, filling her plate with “little toasts” (croutons), I knew I’d be serving a salad. And I pretty much had to make it an Irish salad, right?

I found the recipe for Irish Pub Salad, minus the little toasts, online at Kerrygold. and I found the Kerrygold Dubliner cheese at Sam’s, but I’ve seen at grocery stores, as well.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, optional
Salt and pepper

8 large butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped
6 to 8 oz Kerrygold Dubliner cheese,  sliced
2 or 3 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in wedges
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber
1 can (15 oz) sliced pickled beets, drained; or fresh-cooked beets

To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk or stir together oil, vinegar, mustard, tarragon if used, and salt and pepper to taste.

To make salad: Line 4 dinner plates with lettuce. Arrange equal portions of cheese, egg, cucumber and beets on lettuce. Drizzle dressing equally over salads. Add a few little toasts. . . or a lot.

Makes 4 servings.

For the little toasts:
I took a shortcut and bought prepared garlic bread, the sliced kind. Usually I make my own, but the store-bought in the bakery section is pretty good. Cut it into cubes. Place on a baking sheet and put under broiler. Turn cubes as needed to toast all sides.