Cherry Cheese Pie

This pie has been a favorite of mine since my best friend Morgan introduced it to me a few years ago. It’s super easy – whipped cream, cream cheese, and cherry pie filling. Some chilling time in the fridge, and you’re set with a great dessert to take to a pool party or backyard barbecue.

I like to use a blind baked pie shell, because I feel they hold up the best. But, a graham cracker or Oreo crust are also excellent choices that work well with this pie. You can also feel free to switch around pie fillings – I’ve tried it with strawberry and blueberry as well. While I often reach for generic brands to save money, when it comes to pie filling – you get what you pay for. Lucky Leaf has been making quality pie fillings for over 60 years. You guys know I make things “from scratch” as often as I can, but I always keep a couple of cans of these fillings in my pantry – just because they’re such a great “go to” for desserts like this.

The good folks at Lucky Leaf are kicking off a fun Pinterest contest today, so make sure stop by and check it out. We could all use an extra $500 to burn a hole in our apron pockets, amiright?

Take Out Fake Out: Orange ChickenIt’s been a while since we shared a take out fake-out favorite here on the site – so I thought it was high time! I’ve made this orange chicken several times now over the past couple years, and we always really enjoy it. I hate deep-frying anything. Not that I don’t love fried foods, but it makes a mess, isn’t figure friendly, and the smell lingers in the air for hours. But, once in a blue moon it’s a nice treat that we all look forward to.

At first I was leery of the cornstarch batter. But, I’ll tell you – it’s totally the secret of the Chinese restaurants. Browns and crisps up beautifully, and it stays crispy. Even after spending some time in the oven while I fried the rest of the chicken, and saucing – it was still nice and crunchy.

And the sauce? Fresh orange juice and zest, a little tang from rice wine vinegar, and a spicy kick from cayenne makes for a perfect combination. I actually like to use whole dried small red peppers, but I couldn’t find any – so cayenne works in a pinch (heh, in a pinch – no pun intended). I’m looking forward to trying the sauce in other applications as well. I think it would be a fabulous basting sauce for chicken or pork on the grill – which we’ve been firing up a lot lately.

So let’s give your delivery guy a rest, and make this Chinese favorite in your own kitchen tonight!

Grapefruit CrushI’ve made mention of the Orange Crushes that are a favorite of our Delmarva beaches. But, have you ever heard of the grapefruit crush? It’s exactly like the orange crush. But, you guessed it! You’re using lots of fresh juice from grapefruits – in place of oranges, to get this lovely cocktail.

The good folks at Karlsson’s sent me a bottle of their Gold Vodka to try. Ya’ll know me – I’m not one to turn down a bottle of booze! The minute I opened the bottle and gave it a whiff, I was impressed. While most vodkas don’t smell or taste like much of anything – this had all kind of floral notes going on. That’s probably because it’s made by a single distillation and is unfiltered – a rarity among vodkas of today. What also sets them apart is that they only use baby new potatoes, of several Swedish varieties in the mash process. This leads to a vodka with plenty of great flavor – I mentioned the floral notes, but also fresh herbs, and grapefruit. Highly recommended!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! We’re looking forward to the Salisbury Festival here, a local event that’s held annually. I’ll be at Parker Place selling cupcakes, for any of you locals out and about! Stop by and say hello. Don’t forget to enter the Magimix Giveaway if you haven’t done so already. Winner will be chosen Monday morning!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

While some people don’t think of the warmer months as soup season, I can’t help turning the stuff away just because the thermometer rises. I just cook different kinds of soups than I do in the winter months! Lighter fare, full of good things – like veggies, and beans. Enter, Chicken Tortilla Soup. I still have a stockpile of whole chickens from my dad that I’ve been trying to use (there will no doubt be another 10 chickens soon to follow!) and making homemade chicken stock and soup is always my favorite thing to do with the small fryers.

Now, there are differing approaches to tortilla soup. Some recipes called for adding the uncooked tortillas right in the soup – which is okay. But, I kind of wanted them slightly crunchy. And, toasting anything totally brings out the flavor more – always a good thing.

So I did the soup on it’s own, then fried up some tortilla strips and served the soup on a few strips of those. They softened up, and released their tortilla-ey goodness into the soup, but still retained a slight crunch. I kept the ingredient list fairly simple. Chicken, black beans, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and corn – all in a delicious seasoned chicken broth. We all really enjoyed it. It was a meal that filled us up, without weighing us down. And, leftovers were great all week long!