26 February 2009

Pie in the Sky, Conroe, TX

I don't think I have given out five stars yet in my reviewing restaurants, but *DING DING DING* we have a winner. Holy cow this place is awesome. I have no idea what kind of building it used to be, but the Pie in the Sky people have transformed it in to a cute, quaint little cafe. It's got bold bright green, blues and oranges on the walls, complete with rustic doors lining the ceiling. EVERYONE feels comfortable here. There's a group of ladies spliting a pie at the table next to me, across the room are two men car salesman. No one is unwelcome here. Every dish that comes out of the kitchen looks spectacular, including the sweet potato fries. I instead opted to have their strawberry spinach salad and let me tell you. They don't play around. Served in a tall glass bowl, this was packed full with spinach and FRESH strawberries. The dressing wasn't too heavy or too sweet. Then, the killer, Mississippi Mud pie. Whoa man. It came out on a plate, warmed, drizzled with chocolate and caramel syrup, dotted with chocolate chips and pecans and huge scoop of ice cream AND whip cream. I think I'm gaining pounds just by looking at it. One bite and it's heaven. I'm not comparing, but it's better than a certain piece of "Heaven" in the Bryan/College Station area pie. I would HIGHLY recommend this place!

Bueno: EVERYTHING, even the wait staff
Cons: You have to leave/
Rating: 5/5

24 February 2009

Creamy Cajun Pasta

Ooooweee! 'Dis stuff is slap yo momma good. (That was my Justin Wilson impersonation.) Happy Fat Tuesday! I've been craving cajun food sooo bad. Maybe it's because Saturday was the Mardi Gras parade on the Bolivar Peninsula, which would normally result in a crawfish boil or some sort of cajun food happening. Or the fact that it's Fat Tuesday and I've heard all about it. Anyways, I decided to do something about it. I compiled a bunch of different recipes and it turned out sooooooo good!

6 chicken tenders, cleaned and cubed

1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
3/4 red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3T. flour
3 1/2 c. half and half
8 oz. white velveeta

1/2 pound small shrimp, cleaned, tails removed
12 bay scallops, cleaned

bowtie pasta

blackened seasoning
salt, coarse ground pepper

Start a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Warm a few tablespoon of olive oil in a large (read: deep) skillet over medium heat. Cover both sides of chicken with blackening seasoning. At this time, season the shrimp and scallops as well, but we will not cook them just let. They will marinate and be happy in the blackening seasoning for a while. Sautee chicken until light brown and cooked all the way through. This should not take long since the chicken is cubed. Once light brown, add the chopped veggies EXCEPT the garlic and save a little green onion tops for garnish. Also salt and pepper to taste. Once the onions turn opaque, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. [Now, just so you know, I combined about 7 different recipes and in my shuffling through recipes, I decided to cook my veggies first and forgot about the chicken. Needless to say, I added the chicken after the veggies were soft and it didn't affect anything except for it's ability to brown a little, but it really didn't matter that much. If I created this recipe again, I would probably start with chicken first though.)

Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and veggie mixture and cook until no longer white. Turn heat down to medium low (or low for those of you like me who are scared of burning milk) and add cream and velveeta. Increase heat to bring to low simmer. *This is a good time to add your pasta to the boiling water.* Keep it at a LOW simmer for 5 minutes. Around minute 3 or so, check your seasonings to make sure you have enough blackening seasoning, salt and pepper. (Make sure it is simmering or very hot) Add the shrimp and scallops. These should only need to cook for 5 minutes or so. You will know they are done when the shrimp curl up like a "C" and are a bright pink. The scallops will be white instead of opaque-y. Serve over pasta with fresh Italian bread.

Next time, I wouldn't change a thing!!! This was so excellent and even though it was MORE than 3 cups of half and half, it wasn't too heavy. I might use a little less flour because I was over paranoid it would turn more into a thick gravy than a creamy sauce. But other than that, nothing else. It was perfect!

17 February 2009

Recipe Bonaza!!!

It has finally happened. I updated! I am current with all my recipes, including my crock pot adventures! I back dated the recipes so you'll have to look for it. Be sure and check out the oldest from November.Here are the older posts you should check out:

Crock Pot BBQ Pork
Crock Pot Gumbo
Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu
Crock Pot Carnitas
Chicken Spaghetti
Crock Pot BBQ Beef Ribs and Sausage

As you might can tell, I'm obsessed with my crock pot. It was the best Christmas present I could have gotten!

Crock Pot BBQ Beef Ribs & Sausage

Sweet and melt in your mouth good without all the fuss. Need I say more?

2(ish) lbs beef ribs
Tex-Joy BBQ Seasoning

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. coarse grain mustard
3T. liquid smoke
3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, sliced

1/2 c. Dr. Pepper

1 lb. sausage, sliced on the bias

Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce

Trim ribs of skin and excess fat. Sprinkle on seasoning of your choice. Mix next group of ingredients together. Coat ribs with glaze. Layer ribs and onions in crock pot. Pour Dr. Pepper over the top. (I accidentally forgot to pull in my crock pot and it sat for an hour. I think it might have helped.) After that I realized I wasn't smelling my food like I should have, I went to check on it and then plugged in it. :D Let this cook on high for three hours.

After three hours, I pulled the ribs out and poured on BBQ sauce on the ribs and added the sausage. I then cooked for another two hours on low.

Next time, I would cook the sausage a little to lessen the fat. (And be more cautious when I trim the fat too). Either that or cook it the day before I wanted it, stick it in the refrigerator and then remove the fat and reheat the next day. I would also drain about half of the first liquid off before I added the BBQ sauce. I am assuming this would result in a thicker sauce that could top the BBQ. Don't get me wrong, the flavor was awesome! I will definitely make this again!

14 February 2009

Chicken Spaghetti

Valentine's Day was coming this year and I wanted something a little indulgent. We had lots of leftover chicken lying around and me being the frugal one I couldn't let it go to waste. Add cheese to anything and you have the perfect dish. So this might be a little odd, but this blog recipe will have two parts. The first part I made it in the crock pot. Then it wasn't cheesy enough so I tweeked it for leftovers. I'm crazy, I know.

2(ish) cups cooked chicken
1 (ish) cup chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can diced tomatoes (I used garlic and onion), undrained

1 pound (1/2 loaf velveeta)

cooked spaghetti noodles

Place the chicken in the crock pot. Add tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup and enough chicken broth to make it soupy. (This part makes it very adaptable to however much chicken you have left!) Then thickly slice the velveeta and lay it on top. Simmer on low for 5-6 hours. Serve over cooked noodles.

It turned out okay, not anything spectacular. It didn't become the oozy cheesy that I had expected it to. I think because I let it go for that long in the crock pot (I left the house to teach) the chicken stock boiled and didn't let the velveeta do it's magic. To fix, I would just cook it until it's reheated and all gooey.

Chicken Spaghetti, Redux

To maximize the cheesyness, (I like to add -y to words because I can!) I decided to make a cheese sauce to add to it. To do this, I took about 3/4 pound of velveeta, cut it into cubes and added chicken stock to think it out. If I had to guesstimate, I'd say I used about 1/3 cup of chicken stock. (Psst, I actually warmed this in the microwave until it became smooth and creamy.) Once smooth, I folded it into crock pot chicken spaghetti. This was DELISH!!! This was exactly the way I had planned it.

Next time, I would make this when I was at home so I could monitor and allow it to become creamy because I really think it would. Or if I had the time, I would just make the sauce, throw it in a casserole dish, top with cheese and brown it in the oven. Either way, the second go around was super tastey!!!

08 February 2009

Crock Pot Carnitas

Nothing beats authentic and simple Mexican food. These carnitas are super easy to make and with the simplest condiments make a fabulous meal. The best thing is you can use the leftover meat for quesadillas or enchilada casserole.

4 lb pork (shoulder, roast, carnita meat)
1 bottle Miller Chill beer
1/2 fresh orange juice
1/2 bunch cilantro
4 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper

Rub the pork with salt, pepper and garlic. Place in crock pot and pour OJ and beer in crock pot and place cilantro around pork. Let simmer on low for 6 hours.

Serve on corn tortillas with lime wedges, pico, fresh avocado, and crumbled queso fresco. Keep it simple! It's so tasty.

Next time, I would add 2 limes (cut into wedges) to the crock pot while simmering. I was afraid that the Miller Chill would be too limey but it wasn't at all. I would also use a different kind of beer. The Miller Chill just didn't do it for me. I don't know what exactly I'd use, but I'd try something different. I'd also just go ahead and add a whole bunch of cilantro (minus some for the pico). Why the heck not? :D