What to do with all that leftover pie crust dough

So it was Pi day recently. March 14th, to be precise. To celebrate, I made pi. Or pie, rather. Pies, actually, two of them. And you’d think that this post would be about said pies, but no. It’s about what I did with the leftover dough from making said pies.

Growing up, I ate these things called rolly moes. Or roly mos. I’m not really sure how it’s spelled and the internet is useless in this regard at the moment. Thanks to my lack of success at googling them, I’m now unsure if anyone else out there has eaten said things? Anyhow, rolly moes are a glorious concoction of pie crust, butter, cinnamon and sugar. First, you roll out your dough. Then, you rub butter all over the dough. My butter, being a hard stick in the fridge, got microwaved and then dumped onto the dough. After that, you sprinkle cinnamon and sugar all over everything.

Rolled out dough covered in butter, cinnamon, and sugar

Next, you roll it up into a tube, and slice the tube into bite-sized pieces. At this point, I realized I used too much butter, as the process of rolling up said tube caused the excess butter to squeeze out all over the place. Mmmm bonus fat.

Stick onto a pan and bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes or so.

Rolly moes

Super tasty! And an excellent way to keep yourself from diving into a steaming hot pie that will inevitably singe your tongue!

Sushi, Now With More Bacon!

I’ve had this pack of bacon just sitting in my fridge waiting for a good idea. And bacon sushi is pretty much the best idea one can ever come up with. I’ve made it once before, where I cooked the bacon first, then added it to sushi. This time around, I made the sushi and bacon at the same time, and cooked them together for delicious and greasy results.

Bacon Sushi!

Considering I had an entire pack of bacon to work with, I decided to take it easy on the rest of the ingredients. I fried up some tamago (egg omelet) so as to complete the “breakfastiness” of this sushi. Also sliced up some avocado, because avocado is the Sushi Ingredient of the Gods. Some fish roe, spicy mayo, and black sesame seeds rounded out the ingredients list quite nicely.

I first rolled up your standard bacon roll:

Bacon roll

And if only “your standard bacon roll” was really a thing! Like, you could walk into your local sushi bar and it’d be as common as getting a california roll. Or maybe barbecue places would start serving up rolls as well. Barbecue sushi rolls, now there’s an idea to try…

Tubes!

So I dunno about you, but I grew up eating hot dogs wrapped in bacon on a fairly regular basis. So it’s a natural extension of that idea to want to wrap bacon around uncut sushi rolls, right?

Bacon roll with toothpicks

I wasn’t sure if the rolls should be sliced before or after cooking the bacon, so I did half and half. The first roll of raw bacon sushi I sliced up had raw bacon sliding all over the place. So, I stuck some toothpicks in the rest of the rolls to make things a little bit easier on myself. One toothpick per slice o’ sushi definitely helped with the cutting of this tube!

Pre-cooked sushi platter

The sushi, pre-cooked. Two rolls remained uncut, and I spruced up the sliced rolls as best I could. The set in the lower left got topped with spicy mayo and fish roe. Back in the day, there was a sushi bar called Tokyo Sushi that I ate at way too much, because how does one say no to a $10 sushi buffet? One of the rolls I loved there was a “lasagna roll”, a California roll covered in mayo and fish roe, baked. This was my pseudo-attempt to recreate that experience.

There was some extra bacon left, so I shoved some into the remaining rice to make an onigiri (rice ball). And the rest? I hacked it up and sprinkled it on top of the set of rolls in the top left. Bacon roll topped with bacon? Yes please!

Bacon sushi, cooked.

So if you get bored and try this at home, I definitely recommend not using thick-cut bacon, which I did here. The bacon didn’t get quite as crisp as I would have liked, as I was wary of burning the rolls. Nonetheless, it was still quite awesome. The Onigiri couldn’t take it though, and collapsed into a delicious pile of bacon, rice, and grease. The orange rolls on the lower left were soaking in a pile of their own grease. Actually, pretty much everything was soaking in a pile of it’s own grease.

All the sushi!

I put the nice rolls on some plates, and the messy rolls plus the so-messy-they-cant-be-called-rolls-anymore are left on the pan in the back. The latter fed me for pretty much the entire next day. As for slicing the rolls? Definitely better to slice them before cooking them. Well, unless you don’t really care if they look like sushi, and prefer a giant pile of ingredients. Tastes the same either way!

Incidentally, the bright orange roll tasted just as amazing as I’d hoped it would.

Dramatic closeup

And to end, a dramatic closeup. Have I mentioned how awesome this sushi was?

Posole Party in My Mouth!

So yeah, in the last post I made I mentioned trying posole, liking it, and then buying some from ye local grocery store? Well, first off, the price is certainly friendly. I got this 2 lb. frozen bag for about $1.50:

frozen posole

I then looked up posole on wikipedia. I had little confidence in my ability to eat soup, and even less desire to think about the fact that, 500 years ago, I’d be making this soup with delicious people as a main ingredient, so I opted to use the posole as a rice substitute rather than attempting anything traditional.

So I dumped about half the bag into a pot, figuring that would be enough for my purposes. Cooked it for 2 hours, and regretted having dumped half the bag into the pot. It swelled like crazy! We ate off of the posole for days and days, and even after that ended up throwing away some leftovers.

I’ve got sort of a regular “dish” I make that I refer to as “Mexican pile.” It’s mostly just whatever looks good from the fridge, things often found in Mexican meals, all dumped in a pile on a plate. I’d made some beans in a slow cooker, and Drew had acquired a bit of spicy chili from a coworker, and those plus the posole and some veggies and cheese made a delicious pile indeed!

Mexican Pile

It’s fun to sometimes use barley instead of rice for a meal starch, and I think posole definitely falls into that camp. I don’t see it replacing my standard rice anytime soon, but it’s an interesting change of pace for when I want to maize it up, as it were. Or, you know, decide to make people soup.

Café Castro: Mexican in Santa Fe, NM

So at some point in the vaguely recent past, we found ourselves on a short vacation in Santa Fe, NM. We ate out a bunch while there – I’d be tempted to say “too much” were it not for the excessive amounts of hiking we did there as well. Those are always the best vacations, where you eat like a glutton and then walk until utter exhaustion kicks in. It’s also a great way of being oblivious to the quality of your hotel room, because when you’re that tired, you could put a sheet on a rock and sleep soundly.

Anyhow, from what I read regarding eating out in Santa Fe, there’s two types of restaurants: New Mexican, and Other. We decided to go with the former on this particular evening, and soon found ourselves at Café Castro. There was a decent array of other possible Mexican places to choose from, but who could say “No” to a place where ole’ Fidel could show up at any moment?

We started off with drinks:

Margaritas

I got a Margarita and Drew went with a sangria house special. Nothing too special about the margaritas, but as this meal had been preceded by a long day of hiking, the size of the margaritas was much appreciated, and if I remember correctly, the price was quite delightful as well.

Entreewise, I went the “giant pile of stuff” route:

giant plate of stuff

I believe there’s an enchilada hidden under there, along with a chile rellano plus a third item I’ve completely forgotten. A taco? Who knows! I got both red and green sauce, apparently known as getting it Christmas-style. Green sauce was awesome. Red sauce…I think I’m just not into molé sauces. Or perhaps just haven’t met a molé sauce that really liked me yet. I ended up encouraging Drew to eat most of my red-sauce covered items, in fact. Guess I’ll stick to green chili in the future unless I’m feeling adventurous.

One thing I’d never tried before was posole. It’s a starch derived from corn, and is sitting in the lower left on the plate above. Pretty good stuff! A week later, I totally went and bought some from the grocery store, and the outcome of that little adventure shall be detailed in a future post.

My meal came with a ginormous sopapilla:

giant sopapilla

So I’m really liking this trend I’ve been seeing of restaurants having honey available to go with starches. I’ve seen pizza places with honey on the tables to slather all over your crusts, and there was honey at this place to slather all over your sopapilla. And slather I did. Honey is so freaking good. I’ll forget I have honey sometimes, then randomly open up the cabinet and see that little bear staring out at me, and I’ll just squirt some in my mouth right there. So good!

Drew decided to get fajitas:

fajitas

The giant plate of food above came with two paltry tortillas, and Drew ended up needing to ask for more. His entree was a tragedy waiting to happen, because despite Drew’s best efforts, there was a significant amount of leftovers that got carried back to our refridgeratorless hotel room. And despite my best efforts to construct a makeshift fridge using the hotel room’s ice bucket, by morning the leftover were warm (and soggy to boot!). Suppose it turned out alright though: the price was cheap enough that we didn’t feel too bad having to chuck some of the food, and while the fajitas were tasty, they weren’t knockout amazing or anything.

That was our general consensus for Café Castro, actually. Nothing really stood out as “Holy cow, this is super awesome!”, but it was really good for the price! And when you are a cheap famished bastard like me, sometimes that’s all that really matters.

Happiness, I Dub Thee “Bratwurst”

Who doesn’t love a giant meaty sausage every once in awhile? Well, aside from vegetarians. Hm, do they make tofu bratwursts? Three sentences into this post, and I already digress. Oops!

Anyhow, bratwursts. I used to be lazy and get the pre-cooked ones, but my taste buds refuse to let me do that anymore. They’re best when you cook them yourself. Got some beer brats recently (these, to be specific), and cooked them on the stove. I slathered mine with some German mustard and spicy salsa and voila! Deliciousness.

Slathered bratwurst

Ok, deliciousness obscured by the iPhone camera ambiance. You’ll have to just take my word for it that this was really delicious. I’d never thought to put salsa on a bratwurst before, but it works really well!

Tuaca + Red Bull = Yay

I have been in a state of low-grade perpetual mourning since Sparks got rid of it’s caffeine, several years back. Sparks was a bit of an acquired taste it seems, I loved it but knew plenty who thought it tasted rather awful. Rumor has it that there are still other similar beverages that would provide me with both caffeine and alcohol. Joose, specifically, which I really need to try one day. Or, I can just stick to the wonders of Red Bull + liquor. In this specific case, Tuaca.

Tuaca and Red Bull

I’d never really tried the Red Bull alcohol phenomenon before, mostly because the common combination involves vodka. My vodka needs to be mixed very well, otherwise it will taste like vodka and I will start having horrible flashbacks of when I was 19 and drank entirely too much of the cheap stuff (because that’s pretty much the Best Thing Ever when you’re 19 and low on common sense). For the most part, I avoid things with vodka to keep this sort of calamity from occurring. Tuaca mixes quite smoothly and tastily with the Red Bull, however, and I highly recommend it.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much about the dearth of “alcopop” and such, I mostly drink it at clubs and when was the last time I actually went to a club? Hmm. Awhile, it seems. I don’t drink much in general, and unless I’m out, or planning on going out, I’d rather my alcohol not be of the “make me all jittery” variety. Actually, in an ideal world, I’d just have someone follow me around handing me pina coladas and daquaris. Then again, in my ideal world I’d just be lying on some tropical beach all day long, and could just hop on my jet-propelled pegasus to get to the nearest bar should I really want something to drink that badly. Yeaah, any day now that’ll happen!

Chillin’ at the Thai Basil

So Asian restaurants in Denver are awesome. This is because pretty much every Chinese place I’ve eaten in thus far also has Vietnamese and Thai food. Which makes it significantly more difficult for me to default to my usual sesame chicken at such places, as it conflicts with my desperate desire to eat red curry as frequently as possible. I found myself at a Thai Basil recently, which is a local chain that also had Chinese and Vietnamese dishes on the menu. I managed to be strong and get neither sesame chicken nor curry of any sort (alas, there was no red curry, though they did offer green and panang).

I got all wild and crazy and got the Moon Harbor, partially because of the name!

Moon Harbor

My regular camera has been rather bitter towards me lately, thus causing me to forget it and instead have to photograph everything with my phone with it’s freaky flash. That’s your chicken on drugs, folks. Any questions?

Anyhow, that was some of the tastiest moon harbor I’ve ever eaten. Lots of flavorful chicken and crisp vegetables, plus surprise pineapple ring! Big serving, too, I took about 1/2 of that home, most of which ended up in Drew’s stomach. I also got a chai tea, which was pretty much the sweetest chai I’ve ever had. Which is great if you like a little tea with your sugar, but I had a tough time with it.

You know what makes up for overly sweet tea, though? These babies:

Crab rangoon

Gotta love crab rangoon. Or cheese wontons. I think the terms are interchangeable…? Maybe? I’ll pretend they are. Anyhow, I’m not sure if this is a standard thing, if we went on the right night, or if our server/the cook was feeling generous, but we got these babies on the house. I’m looking forward to going back again and seeing if we get free wontons again, because if that’s standard practice, then I know what my new favorite Thai/Asian fusion/whatever place is!

Adventures In Overeating At Red Lobster

I’m not usually huge on chain restaurants, but I totally have a soft spot for Red Lobster. This is because I have a giant soft spot for seafood, the sort of soft spot that encompasses my entire gastro-intestinal system. And, quite conveniently, I’ve recently discovered that a perk of doing a food blog is that people might hook you up in wonderful ways in order to lure you into their restaurants. So, disclaimer here, a PR group that works with Red Lobster totally sent me a $40 gift card, which ended up being super convenient last week when it was barely over 0 degrees out and my ambition to cook matched the temperature.

So we started off with drinks:

tasty beverages

I went with the ‘”Sunset Passion Colada” on the left, and Drew got the “Triple Berry Sangria” on the right. I am a sucker for all things pina colada related, so this particular Colada went down quite nicely. I could’ve gone with a touch more rum, but considering I was driving that night, it’s probably for the best that it wasn’t stronger. Drew’s sangria was good (though I preferred the coconut-tastic concoction I had) and he ended up ordering another one later. I also got all of his fruit, as for some bizarre reason, he does not like strawberries. More for me!

Salad

The salad was a standard house salad. Very specific number of slices of tomato, cucumber, and such. Nothing particularly wrong with it but, you know, iceberg lettuce isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. How convenient, then, that I had a large cup of Ranch dressing to douse everything with. Ranch makes everything better!

So, I’ve mentioned before that Drew’s not a big seafood person, and is oftentimes downright intimidated by it. However, all of this is overridden when these babies come around:

Red Lobster biscuits

The “Cheddar Bay Biscuits” are a glorious combination of butter and cheese and garlic. Well, probably flour too. I would love to get my hands on the Biscuit Bird they have that hatches these things, because they’re so freaking good. The first time Drew went to a Red Lobster, he ate seven of these. Seven. At 150 calories each, that is quite impressive! He only ate two this time around, which I find even more impressive, restraint-wise.

Here’s a glistening closeup!

Cheddar bay biscuits closeup

So quite impressively, I managed to not get completely full by the time the entree arrived. This is always the complication with appetizers – unless you come to the restaurant famished, you kinda don’t even want your entree by the time it gets there. I probably planned ahead and skipped lunch that day, so I was totally prepared.

Pecan crusted jumbo shrimp

I got the pecan crusted jumbo shrimp. Essentially, this consisted of two skewers of shrimp covered in a sweet sauce (greatly reminiscent of eel sauce, if you’re into sushi), then sprinkled with pecan crispies, which were pecans plus…something crispy? I’m really not sure what the crispies in the pecan mixture were, but they added excellent texture. All of this was sitting on wild rice, and I got broccoli for my side. Eaten by themselves, the shrimp were a little too sweet, but mixed together with the rice and broccoli, this was amazing. I kinda wanted there to be a little more rice, but it turned out to be moot since I couldn’t even finish all of my shrimp anyway. Ah, overeating.

Anything I get here I compare to the coconut shrimp, as that’s my default menu choice. You cannot go wrong with coconut shrimp dipped in pina colada sauce. I wanted to try something new though, so I had to compromise and get my pina colada in alcoholic drinkable form this time around!

And this might be very well one of the worst pictures I’ve ever taken that I’ve actually posted on here:

Parmesan Tilapia

Drew’s meal of choice was the parmesan tilapia, with broccoli and potatoes. I can guarantee that the potatoes were not that dark, and the tilapia was not that yellow. Even Photoshop let me down this time around, alas. Drew really liked this dish. Admittedly, it’s hard to dislike anything that’s coated in Alfredo sauce and parmesan, but even aside from that, the fish was good. Course, Drew’s been putting up with my sad and flaccid baked tilapia for a little while now, so it was probably quite refreshing to eat tilapia cooked by someone who, unlike me, is actually capable of cooking tilapia and making it taste good. (I gave up on tilapia awhile back, maybe I’ll try again and pray to the Fish Gods that it won’t disintegrate into flakes like it always does on me).

Anyhow, yay for overeating on seafood! Methinks it’s time to go catch a wild Biscuit Bird.

Waffles are the Breakfast of the Gods

I heart waffles. I can never make *just* waffles either. I always gotta be dumping stuff in them. Waffles are probably best made from scratch, but more likely then not I’ll make mine with Bisquick. I have waffley needs that must be met in a very immediate fashion, and Bisquick is often the easiest solution. Well, making a quick run to Waffle House or IHOP is the easiest solution, really, but I’m also rather cheap, so that happens a lot less than one might think! Especially if it’s a weekend morning, and I intend to stay undressed for as long as possible.

So I did the usual “read the side of the Bisquick box and kinda follow directions” thing. I added in some chocolate chips (can’t really remember the last time I made waffles without adding chocolate chips) along with some crushed pecans. So I’ve had this pumpkin spice creamer I’ve been working my way through. And, the waffle recipe called for 1 1/3 cups of milk. So I’m all like “Time to replace this 1/3 cup of milk with creamer!” And then the waffles stuck all over the waffle iron.

Waffles!

That picture was taken after I’d grazed rather heavily on the collateral damage from the waffle incident. Batter sticking everywhere is a ginormous pain! I mean, how are you supposed to clean that kind of thing off? Disgruntledly it seems, or at least that’s how I did it. And it’s not like the pumpkin flavor was all that strong, either. Waffles were still delicious, of course. Can’t go wrong with chocolate chips and pecans, after all. But here’s my plan for next time: make pancakes instead of waffles (easier to clean up after in case of screwups), and add in some canned pumpkin along with the creamer. Yum!

Also yum: if you make waffles with chocolate chips + pecans, I highly recommend dumping a large quantity of chocolate ice cream on top, then topping with chocolate syrup. There’s been quite the cold weather lately, and I’ve been doing the best I can to combat it via a nice insulating layer of fat!

Shogun Sushi in Arvada/Westminster/Denver, CO

First: Mmm, sushi!

Second: I’m not sure of the official location of Shogun Sushi. Google Maps places it smack dab in Westminster, but their mailing address says “Arvada.” So, I’ll just be vague and say it’s in the “Denver Metro Area.”

Anyhow, we got a check for Christmas that was explicitly meant to be spent on sushi. So, after staring at a Google map for five minutes as my eyes glazed over with hunger, I picked Shogun Sushi. It’s tucked away in a strip mall off of Sheridan, and upon walking in we were all like “Wow, this is teeny!” Japanese TV was playing, and we sat in a nice dark corner, thus occupying one of the 8ish tables in the entire place (plus teeny sushi bar).

So after getting some complimentary green tea (yay for complimentary tea!), we started off with some tasty gyoza.

Gyoza

Speaking of “Nice dark corner,” if the photos in this post all look like they had the “taken in a dark room with an iPhone + flash” filter applied to them, well, there’s a good reason for that. The problem with having an iPhone, it seems, is that it makes it so much easier to forget my actual camera when I go to restaurants cause I’m all like “I’ll just take pictures on my phone!” Which is fine if the lighting’s really good, but otherwise? Not so much. (Not that my regular camera photos are that much better, oops!). Oh well, I’ll just pretend bad iPhone photos are arty or something.

Anyhow, the sushi. It’s tough to figure out what to order at new sushi places, because there’s often a wide variety of sizes and price ranges depending on the restaurant. We had sushi money to use, so we ordered what we thought would be a little bit more than we could actually eat. Alas, we ended with enough for four people.

Sushi Platter

This plate was huge. It took up a rather significant area of the table we were sitting at. And the rolls? Huge. Ginormous freaking rolls. Like, if there are truck stops in Japan, this is what they’re serving there. Drew actually had a tough time with this, as I suspect anyone would who is of the “one roll = one mouthful” mentality. That’s pretty much impossible here, and it’s almost inevitable that the rolls will fall apart as you try to eat them.

As for the rolls themselves? Kinda mixed feelings on them. The avocado roll was really impressive in the vast amount of avocado they managed to stuff into them, but after eating one or two, you start wondering “Do I really want the avocado to rice ratio in my rolls to be this high?” The nigiri was fabulous (mackerel and eel), though the problem of having everything on one plate was that the eel sauce started running all over the futomaki rolls (the seaweed-on-the-outside roll on the far right in the picture above). And soon, the futomaki rolls were soaked in eel sauce, which made them overwhelmingly sweet. Seems that separating sushi onto different plates does serve a functional role, not just an aesthetic role. The spicy tuna roll (between the avocado and futomaki rolls in the photo above) was astoundingly good. Tuna is hands down my favorite fish, and in this case the high tuna to rice ratio was definitely a good thing. The blend was really interesting as well: your standard tuna/mayo/”spicy sauce” mixture, with the addition of fish roe. Quite tasty!

Topped sushi roll

We also got a special roll, which was essentially an avocado roll topped with all of those magical toppings you can see in the photo above. Aesthetically, the roll was great, but it again had the issue of “holy crap, too much avocado!” I feel so bad saying “too much avocado”, as I generally don’t believe in such a thing, but it seemed to be the case here! The fish on top was good, but it didn’t quite “mesh”, if that makes sense. Like, I wanted the fish to be sliced thinner and to adhere to the top of the roll when I picked it up. But the slices of fish were thicker, and kept wanting to fall off as I navigated the rolls towards my gaping maw. I suspect the excessive avocado issue might not have been so much of an issue had I managed to actually fit one of these giant suckers into my mouth along with the runaway fish slices.

And speaking of aesthetics…it is something that I’ve been noticing, how plate presentation really can make good sushi into great sushi (and is one of the things that keeps the otherwise delicious Namiko’s from being truly awesome). The rolls themselves were pretty at Shogun – the sprinkled herbs plus sesame seed added bonus crunch plus flavor to the rolls, though I’m not sure it needed to necessarily be added to every single roll. However, the plate presentation was still of the “piling everything neatly onto the platter in rows” variety, and not so much of the interesting artistry variety. But, considering you could get a giant 8-piece roll for about $7.50, I’m thinking the price balances out the lack of artistry. This isn’t a place you go for plate presentation. If there was ever a place you’d go to for “hearty sushi,” Shogun would be it.

And speaking of hearty, check out these leftovers:

Sushi leftovers

This was my breakfast the next day. And dinner. And Drew’s dinner. I loved how they packed us a separate container for pickled ginger + wasabi + soy sauce packets. Service was definitely good – another advantage of a tiny restaurant. And as it’s tiny, I’d recommend getting there early. We got there around 6:00 pm on a weekday and had our choice of seats, but when we left the place was packed.

As for going back there…Drew has no interest. But again, he doesn’t like big rolls, and is still new to eating fish, so the high filling-to-rice ratio did not make him happy. I’d totally go back again, though I might skip some of the rolls I tried this time around. Next time I’m craving grocery store sushi, I might just get a roll to go from Shogun instead. In terms of going there for a sit down meal, my recommendation is: get the giant 8 piece spicy tuna roll, one or two orders of nigiri, miso soup, and salad. And split some gyoza with someone, because you just can’t go wrong with gyoza!

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