4 Tips for Pineapple Selection

Have you ever been faced with the daunting task of finding the best pineapple in the store? Never fear! About 6 years ago Mark and I went to Hawaii on our 1 year marriage anniversary. One of our trips was to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We got to see where they grew pineapples, we watched them cut up a pineapple, plus the lady even gave us tips that I’d like to share with you today. Don’t worry, I know it was 6 years ago, but I take notes. Must be that studious part of me… Feel sorry for me or jump for joy that I can still share information with you… your choice!

4 Tips for Pineapple Selection

  1. Smell – you don’t want a pineapple to have a real strong “pineapple” smell.  The more smell you get, the more the fruit is actually fermenting, and getting closer to being bad.
  2. The “circles” on the outside of the Pineapple are called eyes. You want your eyes to be relatively the same in size and shape. This means that the Pineapple is ripe.
  3. Don’t pay attention to color. Color is not a factor in how ripe a Pineapple is. All the color does is show how much sunlight the pineapple received during the growing process.
  4. You don’t need to cut the top off a pineapple. If a Pineapple is ripe, just twist and pull up and the top will come out of a pineapple. Now the really cool thing is you can allow it to dry for a couple days and then place in water. Then you’ll create your pineapple plant. Just keep the temperature range between 70 and 90 degrees year round and you should be able to produce about 3 pineapple’s per pineapple plant.
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Reuben Nachos

I have to credit my love for cooking to my grandma’s yes, but later in life to Rachael Ray. Now I know a lot of people don’t like her and I have my moments where I just want her to come to reality because she always says, Your local store has blank blank blank. Well I live in Middle American and Rural America at that and our local store doesn’t always have things she refers to, example shallots. 

But the thing about her is she came up with the idea of 30 minute meals. I was home from college one Christmas and got in to watching her show. I guess there was nothing else on so I got hooked on Food Network but I believe one of the first recipes she ever made was Mexican Lasagna. Truth be told I love Mexican food and I love Lasagna so you combine the two in 30 minutes or less and I’m sold. I remember calling my mom at work and asking her to pick up ingredients (texting wasn’t really an option at the time). When mom got home I made it and fell in love.

From then on I was hooked on watching her show. I then branched out to others but like I said, I want to credit her. I think it was that 30 minute meals thing and the fact that even if we couldn’t find what she was talking about in Rural Middle America I learned how to substitute. As you can see from the above picture I also learned what a Rue is. It’s a combination of butter and flour cooked down and then added to liquid as a thickening agent. Oooo look at me go. Are you impressed?

Eventually Rachael Ray came into daytime TV. When Mark and I started dating I told him I really liked her and her show. I meant the one on Food Network but he thought it was the one on daytime tv. Because of that miscommunication I started watching her daytime TV show. 

Since 2010 I have quit watching her as much. In fact in the last year I can’t remember a time I’ve taken a minute to watch her daytime tv show or really any show of hers on Food Network. Is she even on Food Network anymore? I don’t know. One of the shows I did watch though, she made New York Deli Nachos.

I tried them once before, in fact it was early on in Mark and my marriage. It’s a combination of kettle chips and all the things that go into a Reuben Sandwich. Holy YUM! Mark loves Reuben Sandwiches so I knew this would be an easy sell for him. But here recently I was sitting here thinking, what are we going to have for dinner. Like I said the initial time we had these was early on in our marriage (we’ll have been married 7 years this year) and it hit me like a freight train I wanted these reuben nachos.

When he got home from work, I left our little girl with him and ran to the store after the ingredients. The only thing I couldn’t find was the shredded lettuce, but we luckily had a brand new package in the refrigerator. It’s a layer of kettle chips and meat and cheese sauce and sauerkraut and lettuce and just yummy stuff.

Let’s just say this hit the spot. Between the 4 of us who were eating on this for dinner, there wasn’t a bite leftover. Yes, they were that good. I’m just saying, go to the store, get the ingredients, and try them now. You won’t be disappointed!

New York Deli Nachos

Ingredients
  • Ridged, thick-cut or kettle potato chips or frozen waffle fries
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 3/4 pound thick-cut deli pastrami, about 3 slices, diced
  • 3/4 pound sliced 1/4-inch thick corned beef, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup chopped or grated Muenster cheese
  • 2 rounded tablespoons spicy deli mustard
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup relish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced or chopped deli pickles

Preheat oven to 250F.

Place potato chips on a large rimmed baking sheet and warm in oven or bake waffle fries to package directions.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Add beef and onions, and cook until crispy at edges and hot through. Add sauerkraut and saut until warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.

Heat a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat. Melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk in milk, season with salt and pepper, and thicken. Melt in cheeses and stir in mustard.

In a bowl, stir together sour cream, ketchup and relish; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange warm chips or waffle fries on a platter. Top with meat and cheese sauce. Drizzle with Russian dressing and top with lettuce, onions and chopped deli pickles.

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Solstice Quilt Block 17 & 18

Grandma’s sewing machine took a poop. She has an old, back up sewing machine, I’m talking kind of old fashioned. When I showed up yesterday she was like, oh you’ll love this little machine, sure sure do. I did “love” it… NOT! Oh my goodness, I spent more time fixing mistakes and trying to get it to work (i.e. putting the thread back in it) than I did actually sewing. The first quilt block I did took me over 2 hours and it should have been quick. I’m not sure if I was having a Monday or what… but gosh, I’m not a fan of that sewing machine.

I grumbled and complained way more than I should have. I then also lost quilt block pieces and sewed them incorrectly and everything else. Let’s just say I was having a Monday and it sucked! I love Monday’s because it means I get to spend time with my grandma and my little girl and we get to sew on this quilt top, but yesterday I was regretting that it was Monday. 

The goal was to try and incorporate some of the orange polka dot material into other quilt blocks. I would say we accomplished that with both quilt blocks yesterday. So I present you with Quilt Block 17. Oh and if you’ll notice I remembered to do these in order. I tried to print Quilt Block 19 and my silly printer ran out of ink. Good thing because after all the problems I had, I only had time to work on 2 quilt blocks.

Grandma actually picked out the material choices for these quilt blocks yesterday. Like I said, our goal was to incorporate the orange polka dot material. Here is Quilt Block 18. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this particular block, but once placed with the others I thought it looked a little better.

Here the the blocks in all their glory of falling off grandma’s bed. I think we need a big floor to piece it all together. As you can see, quilt block 9 is the reason to incorporate the orange polka dot, but I think in the end we’re going to modify quilt block 9. I’ll keep you updated!

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Corn Cakes

Corn is one thing my family can agree on liking. I know I know it doesn’t provide much nutritional value, yada yada, but it’s A-maize-ing. haha. You know, corn is Maize. Please tell me I’m semi funny? *crickets* Ok fine….

I stumbled across this recipe so many years ago that I’m not even sure when, where, or how. Like I mentioned above, my husband really likes corn and one night I came across this recipe and we decided to give it a whirl. OMG, I think we wound up having it 4 or 5 times in the next 2 weeks or something like that. Yeah, it’s crazy they were that good. Then we didn’t have any for I don’t know… years.

One night a couple weeks ago, however that changed. We were trying to come up with a side dish for dinner that was different that what we’ve been eating a lot of lately and that’s when I remembered about these Corn Cakes.

That night we invited our friend Jared over and asked if he’d ever had corn cakes. He kind of thought I was crazy I think until he actually tried them. Then he seemed to be sold. Now one thing I learned that night is these are a lot better when they are warm and fresh than when they cool off and sit there. So keep that in mind and maybe come up with a way to help keep them warn; then share your advice with me! Enjoy!

Corn Cakes

(adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, cooked and drained
    • What we like to do is place the corn in a skillet with a few tbsp of butter and some season salt. Just as the butter melts and gets a “sizzle” sound to it add the corn and sauté it up a bit. Adds another level of flavor!!
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • Don’t have? Don’t worry! Just add a splash of vinegar to milk (preferably low fat or skim but doesn’t have to be…)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Method:

  1. In a medium size bowl combine dry ingredients with grated cheese and set aside.
  2. In another bowl whisk together corn, buttermilk, egg, and melted butter.
  3. Pour corn mixture over dry ingredients and stir just until moistened, like you would for a muffin batter.
  4. Scoop batter for each cake on a hot grill (350º) which has been lightly greased.
  5. They will spread a bit so no need to flatten them.
  6. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes on one side, until brown at the edges, flip and cook another 4 minutes.
  7. Yield: 7 cakes
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Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

Do you ever just get it in your head you want to do something? Please tell me I’m not alone on that! Friday I spent the day decorating some cookies for a birthday party. I asked my friend Jody if she had a cake for her son’s birthday and she said that her kids don’t really like cake. Not like cake? What a sin. haha! Nah, not really.

I can’t always say I’m a huge fan of cake, but sometimes I just want cake. That day I just so happened to get it in my head I wanted cake. Earlier int he week I found a recipe for a cake I thought I might want to try but the “icing” has white wine in it and it isn’t cooked down. When you cook with alcohol, if you actually cook it, you’ll get rid of the alcohol. If you cook a cake such as a rum cake, the icing on it doesn’t get cooked either.

The other cake that really stood out to me was one of my grandma’s recipes for a Deep dark chocolate cake. This cake is friggin awesome! Now truth be told I’m not a huge chocolate anything fan. This cake though makes me want to eat every last bite. I found the recipe a few years ago in some of my grandma’s recipes. After she passed away I got all of her recipes/recipe books. I just stumbled across this and have loved it ever since. In fact, this is the best chocolate cake I’ve had I think!

The real kicker about the recipe is it said milk but there wasn’t a given amount. Later in the instructions it said it was supposed to be a thin batter. Mark and I set out to figure out how much milk was needed. We played around with it and decided the amount of milk is 3/4 of a cup. It works and we get a thin batter. When you bake it… Oh. My. Gosh!

Prepare your pan. I always use Bakers Joy. Like I’ve stated before, Food Network did a study to find the best and I swear it’s only like around $3 for the can. It’s not the most expensive. That makes it even better, right? Yeah, I thought so too!

The icing in grandma’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon milk. When I was making my icing the other day the humidity was really wonky. If you didn’t know, we’re kind of floating away here in the midwest. Hey, come dead of summer we’ll be asking for rain. Unfortunately a bunch of people have a lot of flood damage so I’m not writing it off or anything, just simply saying. One last thought, I saw on Wednesday we’re supposed to get more rain.

Anyway, back to the icing. Play with the icing. Sometimes you need a few more tablespoons of milk to make it thin out and other times you don’t. Weather has a HUGE factor on baking sometimes. Just make iced sugar cookies! You’ll quickly learn!

I have to say I couldn’t wait to dive in to this cake. Holy yum! It has a nice soft silky taste to it while the icing sets up and almost has a fudgy type consistency to it. And the chocolate isn’t overbearing. One factor when you are someone like me who isn’t a HUGE chocolate fan. I’m okay not having chocolate for months at a time, but every once in a while you just need chocolate and on top of that cake. So why not combine the two and have this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s dreamy! LOL

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water

Combine dry ingredients.
Add: eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, water
Pour into a 9×13 greased & floured cake pan. Batter will be thin.
Bake at 350 degrees. 35 to 40 minutes.

Fudge Icing

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

Melt butter. Add cocoa. Mix in milk and powdered sugar.

Frost Cake

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The Pineville Grill {Pineville, MO}

If there’s one thing I can tell you about myself on this rainy morning, it would be, I like Breakfast food. There, I said it. This coming from the person who is not now nor has ever been a morning person. I seriously can’t tell you my favorite breakfast food either. I like biscuits and gravy, I like omelets, I like pancakes, I just like breakfast food and sometimes it is difficult to go eat breakfast and make up my mind what I really want. I’m glad we got that out of the way :).

I woke up this morning and laid in bed watching it storm like crazy. Last weekend we were under flash river flood warnings and this weekend we are too. The only difference is we live on top of a hill here and last weekend we were camping at the Trails for Kids held at Crag O’Lea in Pineville, MO.

My husband Mark and I along with a bunch of our friends are on the Trails for Kids committee so we started camping on Wednesday evening so that we could be there to help check people in. Little did we know what our weekend was going to have in store for us. WOW!

But Thursday morning we woke up and we were all hungry so we decided to drive in to Pineville and eat breakfast at the Pineville Grill.

The Pineville Grill

Like I said, the girl who isn’t a morning person likes her breakfast food! This was an omelet that had pretty much everything. eggs, bacon, sausage (although I had them hold the sausage), ham, cheese, onions, bell peppers, and more cheese. Mine came with a side of either toast or biscuits and gravy or something else… I went for the biscuits and gravy. I’m actually glad I did because my darling little ate quite a bit of my biscuits and gravy. Apparently she’s a biscuits and gravy fan too.

She also likes pancakes so that’s what we ordered her. She even got it in the shape of Mickey Mouse… one of her favorites. Now this wasn’t a bad pancake but it wasn’t my favorite either. Yes, I tried a bite. It wasn’t nearly as sweet as normal pancakes. Like I said, not terrible but not the best either.

Mark and Jared got something called Skuttle Browns. It was a skillet that had hashbrowns and cheese and sausage and ham and eggs your way. They also got pancakes as a side. They weren’t impressed with their pancakes either. I didn’t try a bite of theirs… I didn’t need to, I could eat the little’s if I wanted pancakes. Hey, she was eating my biscuits and gravy.

Other than that, I’m not sure what else to tell you. I like breakfast food but we already established that. Today is another soggy wet day and we’re under another flood watch, maybe even warning now. Luckily we live on a hill, so we just have to worry about the bottom of our driveway because like the olden day phrase, I walked up hill both ways to school, I really did. down the hill to go up it to meet the bus then down the hill to go up back to the house. Does that make me old? Just a thought….

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Solstice Quilt Block 14 & 16

This has been one of my favorite days of the week… if it is possible for Monday to be your favorite day of the week… Every Monday as you know, for the last few weeks we’ve been going to my grandma’s to work on this quilt. Some days are a little trying because try keeping a toddler entertained while you’re sewing. haha! This last Monday grandma was teaching her how to sew by hand. Interesting! I’m not even sure I can do that.

But back to the quilt… I bought some material that probably doesn’t really go with the theme of the quilt but did you know this quilt doesn’t have a theme. I bought Frozen material, Minnie Mouse material, and Paw Patrol material. I was going to try and incorporate them all together but I can tell you… not going to happen. So I went to the website in search for some inspiration on how to use this material I bought that really doesn’t work anyway… That’s when I found it. One of the ladies posted a Mickey Mouse material themed quilt and I kind of took the idea and rolled with it. Instead of using the leaves, I made my own Mickey Mouse head. I still got what I was supposed to get out of the pattern but it does look a little different than what hers does. I made it our own.

The material that I’ve chose for this whole quilt has been from scraps grandma has in her sewing room. I say scraps, some are bolts of material but still I’ve just been piecing it all together. As I was looking through grandma’s material I found red birds. Since there is a huge running joke with my mother about red birds, I knew I had to incorporate that material into this quilt. So that’s just what we did… one block is dedicated to red birds.

So with this I present quilt block 14 (you know the one I forgot on the printer accidentally)

And quilt block 16.

I’ve been placing these quilt blocks in the order they’re supposed to be sewn. Grandma’s spare bed isn’t hardly big enough to hold it all. I’m not sure I’m liking quilt block 9, the blue/orange one. I may have to redo Block 9, but we’ll see.

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Cherry Pie

What is the best Pie Crust recipe without a good pie to go in it? Earlier this month I shared with you a recipe for PW’s Flat Apple Pie (also known as a Galette as we found out) and that was the pie crust I used for that. Really though, my favorite Pie when it comes to fruit pies is a Cherry Pie. YUM!

While you can buy cherry pie filling in the can, it’s almost just as easy to make your own. Now once upon a time I had a cherry tree in my yard. Boy I miss that cherry tree. The thing with Cherry trees is really the only time of year they give off cherries is late May early June depending on the weather. You also have to be especially quick so the dumb birds don’t eat all your fruit! The off time of year, where in the world do you find the tart cherries (or sour cherries as I like to call them)? 

When I went to Walmart, because as you may or may not know I live in one of those small towns in a flyover state where all we really have is Walmart, all they had were the big sweet cherries. They are okay to make a Cherry pie with, except you just cut down on the sugar added. But truthfully the tart cherries are the better tasting cherries in a cherry pie.

Finally I went to Reasor’s in Tulsa one one of my trips there and they had the tart cherries in bags. I may or may not have stocked up on them. Then once I came back home, I went to Food for Less and they have them too. <insert Happy Dance 💃> With that being said, all you need to make your own cherry pie filling is the cherries, water, sugar, and cornstarch. Yes, it is easy to open up a can, but it tastes so much better when it is homemade! And it is truthfully just as easy!

If you’ve noticed, usually a cherry pie has the lattice work on top. In the past, Mark and I have placed each piece right there on top of the pie, but the other day we decided to do the lattice work on a piece of parchment paper, place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, and then transfer it over to the pie. Do you hear those angels singing? OMG, that made all the difference in the world and it was super simple! Yey!

This particular pie was made for a Bake Sale for Trails for Kids. Trails for Kids is a trail ride used to raise money for our local CP Center.

Last year I made a giant chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron pan that went for $130. I felt the pressure to try again to outdo myself. This year it didn’t just rain but it poured! We had flooding and almost had to emergency evac due to rivers flooding and everything else. I’m pleased to announce that we were all okay and even with the horrible weather we had a great turn out. Numbers were down but you always have good and bad years.

Anyway back to this Cherry pie… I placed it in a Cast Iron Pie Plate that my friend Tracy introduced me to last fall. This particular pie brought $50. Okay okay, so not as good as last year but I’ll definitely take it! 

Here was my finished pie that went into the auction. Really, the real winners are the kids who benefit at the CP Center from the Trails for Kids trail ride and all the other fundraisers and activities throughout the year.

So my Cherry pie………

Cherry pie

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • approximately 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 Cup cornstarch matched with just enough water to make a slurry
Instructions:

1. Combine fruit and sugar in a pan and stir together. If cherries are soft and mushy, you won’t need additional water, but if cherries are firm, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil.
2. Mix cornstarch with some cold water (about 3 tablespoons of cold water with 1/4 c cornstarch making a slurry), whisking to remove lumps.
3. When cherries are boiling, add cornstarch slurry mixture while stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add enough thickening agent to make the consistency you desire. We like our pies fairly thick.  Stir until the juices are clear.  When the filling looks clear, it’s fully cooked. Over-cooking will start to break down the filling. If you want your pie to be more of a red color, add a couple drops of food coloring (optional; I never do this.)
4. Pour into pie crusts and bake pies at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until browned.

Additional Notes:

*You can use sour or sweet cherries for this recipe, but you will need to adjust the sugar if using sweet cherries. I would use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar for sweet cherries.
**Cornstarch thickens, and will continue to become thicker as your mixture cools. Do not make it as thick when hot as you would like it to be when it has cooled, or it will be too thick.

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The BEST Pie Crust

I have the Best Pie Crust Recipe for you today. How do I know it’s the best? Because I’ve tasted it obviously!
A couple years ago at our house we had a cherry tree, boy I miss that cherry tree! Mark and I went out and picked the cherries and then it was time to make a pie. That particular day we didn’t have any eggs so we were trying to come up with a recipe for pie crust that didn’t require it to sit in the refrigerator for hours upon hours AND didn’t require eggs. Finally I went through a cookbook that my grandma had placed some recipes in. I read through the list of ingredients and it didn’t say eggs so SCORE! We started measuring out all the ingredients and then as we got halfway or better through it, bam, 1 egg. Palm to forehead moment. At that time we had some friends who lived just around the corner so we went and grabbed some eggs from them.
At that time I think we remarked, this better be a good pie crust. Let me tell you, this pie crust is awesome! In fact, another story, my father-in-law wasn’t having the best of luck with pie crusts and one day was talking to me about that. I mentioned I had my grandma’s and told him to at least try it once. From then on he was hooked. With all that, I’m telling you, this is THE BEST Pie Crust.
If you are looking through the list of ingredients, you’ll notice 5 cups of flour. That seems like a lot. But one thing to consider is this makes 4 pie crusts. Perfect. Use 1 or 2 for your pie and save the other two for another pie. Just wrap tightly in cling wrap and put in a freezer bag, then place in the freezer for that next time you need or want a pie.
If you plan on blind baking this (aka nothing in it but pie weights) bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes. If you plan on baking with pie filling then bake at the temperature and time of the specified pie. Simple as that! And trust me, you’ll thank me for this recipe! It’s our go to pie crust and boy is it yummy!

The BEST Pie Crust

Ingredients (4 crusts)
  • 5 Cups Flour
  • 2 Cups Shortening (can use cheap kind and using part margarine works too)
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg
Instructions:
Blend to small lumpy stage.
Then put an egg in a 1 cup measure. Add 2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice and blend. Fill to top of cup measure with very cold water, stirring as you do. Then pour over above mixture and toss lightly until it rolls into a ball.
Divide into 4 smaller balls; flatten each slightly. Use what you need for your pie or pies and put remainder in a plastic zip lock bag and freeze until needed. Keeps very well.
Then fill with your favorite filling. If you’re making a cream pie of sorts, place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to bake, otherwise, bake the crust when you’re baking your pie (ie apple, cherry, etc).
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