Dark and Stormy Cocktail

I had my first Dark and Stormy when I was visiting Joanna Campbell Slan and she made drinks for us to enjoy on the back deck. The mix of rum and ginger beer was very tasty! And is there any better drink for two writers (“It was a dark and stormy…”)?

This week has been busy, between work, a day-long retreat for a non-profit board I’m on, and getting ready for vacation – sometimes it feels like it can’t come soon enough, and other times it feels like I’ll blink and be back home.

A Dark and Stormy sounded just what I needed to take the edge off a stressful week. I popped into the ABC liquor store, conveniently located to my bank, and lo! the ginger beer was front and center. The rum aisle was close by, and here I am with a drink by my side.

Dark and Stormy Cocktail

2 oz Dark rum

3 oz Ginger beer (NOTE: this is not the same thing as ginger ale, even though both are alcohol free)

Lime juice (Optional)

In a tall glass filled with ice, pour in the rum, ginger beer, and lime juice. Stir. Enjoy.

It doesn’t get any easier than this!

Enjoy summer’s last gasp, and have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

Pulled Pork Sliders

This past week has been a blur of working late and dinner on my own. My husband is moving into new office space and spent several weekday nights prepping and painting the walls. We had dinner to go from Olive Garden Saturday night, with leftovers for Sunday lunch.

August in Florida means the weather has been iffy, with a lot of late-afternoon thunder storms. We haven’t had pulled pork sliders in a while, so I thought having a lighter dinner after a big lunch would be good. This goes together fast when you use pulled pork that is already prepared; if you have leftover pork, shred it and heat it up with barbeque sauce. It’s delicious either way.

Pulled Pork Sliders

2 4-pack packages of Original Hawaiian sweet rolls, cut in half and toasted

1 1 pound package of pulled pork

1 or 2 slices of Swiss cheese, cut into roll-sized pieces (optional)

Bread and butter pickles, patted dry

Heat pulled pork according to directions (I bought a brand that was fully cooked and just needed re-heating; check package directions to make sure yours doesn’t need to be cooked through). Slice rolls in half and toast.

Put a piece or two of Swiss cheese on the bottom roll, add pulled pork, and top with bread and butter pickles. Pop the top roll on, and presto! You’ve got dinner.

I served them with mini sweet potato puffs, baked in the oven to cook. I put the rolls on the same pan for the last few minutes of their baking time, put the broiler on low, and toasted the rolls that way. I had two sliders (cheese) and my husband had four (no cheese). I’ve also served these with potato chips and cole slaw.

When the weather is hot and you don’t want to heat the kitchen up, pulled pork sliders are an easy dinner to make.

Summer Berry Crostata

I love using frozen puff pastry but had always stayed away from pie dough. Last week I made Apple Pot Pies with one crust of a two crust package of pie dough. I froze the remaining dough for future use.

The future is now!

I’ve been thinking about using some of the delicious summer fruit that is available for a reasonable price. Husband bought blueberries and strawberries last week, and I had an idea to use them in a Summer Berry Crostata.

Today we had an early breakfast and did errands, including grocery shopping. Items to round out the crostata were on the list and I got busy getting the berries together with their new friend, frozen raspberries. I like using fresh raspberries but thought the frozen ones would be good in this dish.

Summer Berry Crostata

Combine the following in a covered container and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours:

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

1 pkg frozen raspberries

Zest of 1 orange

Zest and juice of 1 lemon (collect juice in a separate bowl, use only 1 1/2 t and saving the rest for another use)

1 1/2 t lemon juice

1 t vanilla

1 T vanilla sugar

1/2 t kosher salt (if using table salt use 1/4 t)

Two or more hours later, put 2 1/2 cups of the fruit mixture in a bowl and add:

1 T all purpose flour

1 t ground cinnamon

Stir to combine and set aside while you prepare the crust.

1 frozen pie crust, defrosted

1 egg, beaten with 1 t water

1 t vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and lay pie crust on the parchment paper. Spoon fruit onto center of pie crust, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border. Carefully bring the edges of the crust up over the fruit, folding the dough in soft pleats.

Brush the crust with egg wash. Sprinkle vanilla sugar over the top of the crostata, including the dough and filling. Put into oven and turn down to 400 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and put on cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. I dusted the top with confectioner’s sugar, but ice cream would be delicious as well.

Apple Pot Pies

Have you ever seen something online or on Pinterest and thought it looked tasty? Today I was on Flipboard and saw a recipe for an apple pot pie.

I had never thought about making a sweet pot pie! I had an apple in the fridge, and needed to go grocery shopping. I like to take a recipe and make it my own, and thought adding the bit of fig jam I had left would go well with the apple.

The technique can be used with any combination of berries, stone fruit, apples…maybe not bananas 🙂

If you bake pies, use your favorite recipe and put the filling in a ramekin, top with a crust, and bake. Easy-peasy! Dessert is done in a flash.

Apple Pot Pies

2 Granny Smith apples, cut into bite size dice

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 T fig jam

2 T all purpose flour

1 T vanilla sugar

1/4 t kosher salt (or 1/8 t table salt)

1 t cinnamon

Pie crust cut to fit ramekins, cut with decorative pattern (I used Publix ready-made crusts, and used one and froze the other for another time)

1 egg, beaten with water for egg wash

Optional: 1 T vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top of the pot pies

Preheat oven to 390 degrees.

Combine the diced apple, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix the fig jam with the apples, and then add the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.

Fill the ramekins until level with the top. Dip a finger in water and run it around the top of the ramekin; place the pierced pie crust on top of the ramekin and press to seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Place ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet and put into oven. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

May be served hot, warm, or room temperature. To serve a la mode, top with the ice cream flavor of your choice. I also dusted mine with confectioners sugar.