Peach Pops

Michelle’s parents have some very fruitful peach trees and after she had sliced and frozen 20 quart bags and 24 pint bags and dehydrated another 6 pint bags of peaches, there were still plenty left. She gave two 5 gallon buckets worth to a cousin and I decided to use some of the very ripe ones to make a frozen treat.

These pops taste like peaches and cream but are made with milk and Greek yogurt. This recipe can be made with 2 cups frozen peaches, just thaw them out to chop some and dice the others.

Adjust the agave nectar up or down depending on the tartness of the peaches and how sweet you like your pops.

Peach Pops

1 cup of peaches, roughly chopped
½ cup peaches, diced
6 tablespoons milk
2/3 cups Greek yogurt
 – I used plain but vanilla is good, too
2 tablespoons agave nectar

In a blender, puree the 1 cup of chopped peaches. Add milk, yogurt and agave nectar and blend until smooth.
 Stir in diced peaches. Fill your pops molds.

Freeze at least 4 hours.

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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I wanted some cookies but I couldn’t decided between oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip. So, I made the best of both worlds with these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Chop the pecans pretty fine, so you get nuts in every bite.

Don’t be like me and grab the 1/3 cup measure when measuring the oatmeal – I thought I had put my hand on the 1/4 cup so I ended up with 2/3rds cups more oats than planned. The cookies were still delicious, they just were more oatie than planned (and Michelle seems to like them better that way). On second thought, maybe be like me.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 – 10 ounce package bittersweet chocolate morsels
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350° degrees F

Place flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter until light and creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract.

Slowly beat in the flour. Then add oats, bittersweet morsels and nuts and mix well.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 13 minutes for chewy cookies and 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow cookies to cool 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

 

Cheesy Chicken Calzone

I had been watching soccer all day Sunday (and don’t get me started on FIFA scheduling men’s final games on the day of the Women’s World Cup Final – here’s an article on why it is insulting. Here is another.) so I needed something I could eat in front of the TV. I decided a  calzone (basically a pocket pizza) was the way to go.

The entire dough recipe will make 4 good sized calzones. I divided the dough in half so I could have one calzone to eat, one for dinner later in the week and made pretzels with the rest.

I started on Saturday with an easy pizza dough in my new-to-me bread maker:

Basic Pizza Dough


3/4 cup tepid water
1/4 cup whole milk
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Place all the ingredients in order in the bread machine on the dough setting. When the machine is done with its cycle, divide dough in half and place one part in a well oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Use the other half, after an hour’s rest, for pizza or pretzels or wrap it well and put in the freezer for another meal.

I had a chicken breast thawed that I decided to use instead of more traditional sausage and pepperoni. After a quick browning of the chicken, I made a basic marinara sauce in the same skillet. I let the meat and sauce simmer together and then added to it cottage cheese (I was out of ricotta), mozzarella and Parmesan to make it very cheesy. All together, it resulted in a delicious meal that will stick to your ribs.

I used tomato sauce instead of tomatoes as I wanted to reduce the liquid in the dish.

Cheesy Chicken Calzone


1/2 recipe of pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 Parmesan cheese, grated
2 large eggs, divided

Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to rest and relax in a warm place for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sauté the onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. Lightly salt chicken. Add chicken to skillet and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce. Add basil, oregano, remaining salt and pepper, and bring to boil over medium-high. Add in red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Use a fork to pull apart any large pieces of chicken. Stir to coat with sauce.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and 1 egg. Mix in the cooled chicken mixture and stir to combine.

Divide dough into two pieces. Roll each piece out into about an 8 inch circle. Don’t make them too thin or it could blowout during baking. Set the rounds on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Place about a cup of filling on each round.

Lightly beat the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the egg wash on the border of the dough, fold over in half and press the edges together with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and score the tops with a knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Baked calzones can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen calzones in the refrigerator before reheating in a microwave. If you want the crust crispy again, get it mostly warm in the microwave and finish warming it up in a toaster oven.

Blue Oak BBQ

I, and most of the city, seem to agree that barbecue is the perfect food for July 4th. After I did my reading for the Star-Spangled 4th of July Marathon Reading of the Mueller Report, my friends Charlotte and Thomas took me out to Blue Oak BBQ in MidCity.

The place was packed!

I ordered a sandwich – the chopped brisket with a side of roasted garlic mac and cheese. There was a spicy rub on the brisket that was very tasty but a little spicy. The heat was cut by the coleslaw that was served on the sandwich. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the mac and cheese but that’s mainly because I didn’t think it wasn’t cheesy enough.

Charlotte got her pulled pork plate with baked beans and garlic mac and cheese. She tried all the sauces (Jerk, Carolina, House) and like the house bbq sauce best.

Thomas got his pulled pork with the spicy green onion sausage. His sides were the potato salad and baked beans. He was definitely a member of the clean plate club.

Blue Oak BBQ has a full bar but I stuck with soda.

There was a long line that extended out the door but it didn’t take more than ten minutes to reach the front and order. We waited just a short time for a table (the tables outside are cooled with misting fans but the theater was not air conditioned, so I wanted to stay inside). There were a ton of people who had ordered ahead and just came in and grabbed brown paper sacks of meaty goodness.

The staff was fast to bus tables and bring out the food – all of which is smoked in their on-site pit. I always judge a bbq joint by the smell of smoke and meats and this one place is wonderfully perfumed for carnivores.

For the size of the crowd and the lines, everything ran smoothly and everyone had a smile on their face.

I would definitely return to give the rest of their menu a try.

900 N Carrollton, New Orleans
504-822-BLUE (2583)
www.blueoakbbq.com 

 

Peach Bars

Michelle has been talking about picking peaches, so I went through my freezer and found a pint bag from last year that I needed to use up. We slice them and put on a little sugar and put them up for a taste of summer anytime.

I decided to make cookie bars with them. These sandwich the peaches between two layers of sweet crust. I used sliced peaches but I recommend you put chopped in the recipe as the slices were a little big for the bites I cut the bars into.

If using frozen peaches, let them come to room temperature and drain off excess juice (I just drank it!).

Peach Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, cut into 24 pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups peaches, chopped
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly butter an 8X8 baking pan.

In a food processor, pulse together flour, 3/4 cups sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Once mixed, cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk egg and vanilla until blended; add to flour mixture, pulsing until crumbly.

Press 2 cups of the crumb mixture onto bottom of a greased pan. Reserve the rest for the topping.

Toss peaches with lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 1/4  cup of sugar. Add sugar mix to peaches and toss to coat. Spread over crust and sprinkle with reserved topping. Press down lightly.

Bake until lightly browned and filling is bubbly, 40-45 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

 

Ham Salad Spread

You know when you’ve gotten toward the end of the ham you’ve cooked and it is too little to slice anymore? Dicing the remains and making ham salad spread is a great way to use up the rest.

I was out of stalks of celery, so I used ground celery instead. I kind of liked the added flavor without the crunch.

Use as a spread with crackers or slather between slices of toasted bread. I also stirred some into a skillet with some diced, parboiled potatoes for a quick and tasty hash.

Ham Salad Spread

2 cups cooked ham, diced
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, cut into pieces
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons ground dried celery

Place the ham in a food processor and pulse a couple times to chop it up. Add the eggs, cream cheese, mayo, relish, mustard and celery to the processor. Pulse until it is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Mississippi Style Potato Logs

One of the best things about getting off the highway is finding great food on the road less travelled. In fact, some of the tastiest boudin, barbecued brisket and fried chicken I’ve eaten has come from gas stations across the South.

One of things I’ve found in Mississippi gas stations (and some local fairs like the Okatoma Festival), are potato logs. These are large wedges of baked potato, dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried. You basically get the creamy interior of a baked potato plus the crunchy skin and coating of the best French fry. All in all, they make a really awesome appetizer or side dish.

I tried several versions at home and found I like best Creole Seasoning in the flour (1 teaspoon seasoning per 1/4 cup flour – each large potato cut into 5 wedges used about 1/2 cup flour). I also found that you only need a double dip of flour (toss in flour, dredge in an egg beaten with some oil, and then dredge through the flour again). I found using breadcrumbs was unnecessary and actually a little heavy.

I used peanut oil as that is my go-to deep fry oil but you can use your choice. I fried them after I brought the oil to 325 degrees F in a cast iron skillet. Fry for about 3 minutes per side or until the crust is golden brown. After removal from the heat, drain on a brown paper bag. Salt generously.

These are delicious as they are but, if you like them with a dipping sauce, I enjoyed them with ranch dressing with a little sriracha mixed in. They had a lovely kick.