The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

Seriously? This Is Getting Ridiculous: The Pioneer Woman’s Blue Cheese Steak

The PW is coming out with a new cookbook in the fall!

I am not sure if excitement is appropriate though.

The PW’s book is all about celebrations. That could be a great thing, as I see it. Paula Deen’s cookbook about celebrations, Paula Deen and Friends is one of my favorites. I have many tried and true recipes from it. Of course, all that was before Paula went and destroyed her career the old-fashioned way-by crying on national TV. Still, I like the recipes, so celebration recipes may be a plus for PW.

Also, the last PW cookbook was full way too many animal/kid pictures. I could just imagine the cat hair in my food as I looked at Miss Kitty while cooking. Same thing with all the dogs. And the kids. Blech. Plus, all the dang cows. Do you know why we call Beef beef? Because calling it cow is a little too uncomfortable. Know what? So is looking at beautiful pictures of them while cooking them. Too close to home, my friend.

Another thing, I have tried too many recipes from PW #2 that have not turned out like I (and hopefully PW) had planned. Case in point:

Rib-eye Steak with Onion-Blue Cheese Sauce.

My spin on this little recipe here went like this:

I decided to follow PW bit by bit except for one thing-the onions. Instead of one onion in a skillet, I made two on the grill along with the steak.

Lovely. We grill onions all the time. I followed everything else to a T. I added the cream and the seasonings. I had high hopes.
I also tweaked the steaks just a small bit. Instead of smearing the butter at room temperature, I melted it first. No big deal.
At the end of the grilling time, I added the blue cheese to the sauce as the steaks were all but done.
How was it?

Now, I love blue cheese. This was not quite what I expected, however. One could argue that I fixed the dish wrong because it was prepared totally on the grill.

One could also be wrong.

I used two onions over very high heat. I allowed it to bubble as the recipe said. So the sauce should have been thick like the non-cat photo of the sauce, right?

It wasn’t. It was a thin, liquidy, blue cheese gravy-type thing. Not what I had planned.

Taste-wise, it wasn’t bad, but the runniness nullified the deliciousness. A good steak needs very little help from a sauce. I can make a great steak without the extra work of making a sauce that may or may not be worth the effort.

So, the new PW cookbook is something I will purchase with caution. She’s just burned me one too many times with recipes that aren’t worth the pictures of her dogs.

On the bright side, cookbook number three might be the charm. We’ll just have to wait and see…



Shrimp Sandwiches
April 16, 2012, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Food I Make, Food Made by Other Food Folks | Tags: , , , ,

Sunday lunch was actually a good one yesterday, but it was even better today. I made The Pioneer Woman’s spicy shrimp from her new cookbook.

My mom made it before I did, and she mentioned the best part was the dipping bread. I agree. We had some crusty rolls from the deli that I warmed in the oven, and they were delicious with the butter from the pan. Too bad the shrimp wasn’t that great.

I followed the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, right down to the two sticks of butter. It was a lot of butter. Too much, to be exact. Next time I would cut it down to one if not even less. The shrimp just swam in the butter, and it lacked a lot of flavor.

We ate all the bread, but we had leftover shrimp. No prob.

Tonight, I shelled all the shrimp. I tossed them very lightly in flour seasoned with Old Bay and let them rest. Then, I fried them lightly for a few minutes just to brown the flour. I split the rolls and buttered them with the original pan butter. I toasted the rolls for just a few minutes, and then I loaded the shrimp on top with a little salt to boot.

Now, that was much better. The toast was crunchy, buttery, and garlicky and so was the shrimp. Much, much better.


It’s Here!

The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook is here!

I am so excited.

At work today, I couldn’t wait to show my friend my brand-new fancy cookbook. I said in an overly excited voice, “Look! Look what I got in the mail yesterday!” I held up my new PW book with glee.

She said in a much-less excited voice, “What do you want to do with that?”

I guess not everyone shares my excitement for all things foodie.

I myself wasn’t so sure if I even wanted to order the new PW book. Her first cookbook is a gem, and I do believe I have made every recipe at least once and some I have made an embarrassing amount of times.

Then, she released her tractor heels book and a children’s book. Yawn.

Then the TV show hit. I watched for a long while. After so many episodes featuring too much kids and not enough cooking, I have moved on and my faith in the PW has waned.

So when I was tooling around on Amazon recently, and the new cookbook popped up as a recommended read, I wasn’t sure. However, I was so close to free shipping that I didn’t have much to lose.

I ordered. It arrived. I love it. As she says in the introduction, the first cookbook delivered on “cows, kids, and canine companions.” She has definitely toned down all three for the new book. It is so much more organized with a list of recipes and page numbers at the beginning of each color-coded section. She has a nice variety of recipes, from man food to more girly fare, and each recipe also has a nice section of variations and other ideas. And thankfully, the cookbook also has way fewer pictures of random ranch activities/people/dogs/cows, none of which ever helped me make supper anyway.

My only gripe so far is that some of the recipes have already been on the show, and I bet many of them will be in the future. However, I don’t watch the show anymore, so I guess I’ll never know. Ignorance is Food Network bliss.

I dare say, even before I cook the first recipe, that this cookbook is a keeper.

Thanks, Ree. My faith in you is semi-restored.


The Pioneer Woman’s Christmas Special

Have you ever been at a family gathering when all of the sudden an argument erupts about who is better-Paula Deen or The Pioneer Woman?

Welp, it has happened to me.

On one side of the conversation was a relative who just gushed about the PW and her awesomeness.

On the other side was me. I talked up my gal Paula and how she built her empire and continues to make run a successful restaurant while teaching the masses via her super successful show. And other awesome attributes as well.  I could go on and on.

This is a battle that could rage forever.

Regardless, I caught up today on my shows recorded on the DVR. The PW’s Christmas Special was one of the shows on my list.

The special was better than some of the other shows during her regular run. I was really inspired when she made her cinnamon rolls. I may try to make them. I have the recipe from her cookbook, but I always thought they looked too stinkin’ complicated. Watching her and her BFF make them made the process seem easy especially since she gave the measurements and all.  You know, like a normal cooking show would.

The rest of the recipes and their lack of details were okay. I’m not a fan of Brussel sprouts or overly fancy potatoes. I also was not so entertained with the parade scene or Dirty Santa set up.

I think this episode helped my side of the arguement.

I am now prepared for our next family gathering…

Questions After Watching The Pioneer Woman Episodes Three and Four
September 26, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , , ,

Why do I like Ladd better than Ree? He was so uncomfortable looking in the first two episodes, but he seems to be loosening up.  She is still slightly awkward at times.

Why is Ladd on camera so much? His picture was barely in the cookbook and wasn’t in the memoir at all.  I thought he and the kids were hidden on purpose.  Now, he is talking and cooking.  He is like a co-star. 

Why does she have so many groceries at the Lodge when they live somewhere else?  The refrigerator was full. 

When exactly is this show a cooking show? She doesn’t tell us measurements or even spend that much time in the kitchen.  Watching her paint a fence won’t help me decide what to make for dinner tonight. 

How in the world can she cook for six people in only one skillet? 

What is the Farm? Their house? Why were they four hours apart in episode three?

Do their kids have to work so much? Child-labor laws, anyone?

Why did Ladd’s steaks look so much better than Ree’s fig pizza?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Is Ladd not the “Marlboro Man” anymore? Suddenly, Ladd and all the kids have names. 

Did you see the size of that grocery store?  Tiny. 

Finally, why do I not love this show? I love The Pioneer Woman, I really do.  I like her recipes, and her blog is amazing.  She deserves all the success she is getting.  This show, though, is not hitting me in the right spot.  When I watch, I don’t learn a thing about cooking, but I learn a lot about her.  When I watch a cooking show, I want to learn how to cook something.  I feel like her show belongs on the Biography Channel. 

Again, cook, Ree.  Cook.

Meatloaf-The Way to a Man’s Heart

Ah, the things a man will do for meatloaf.  The card says, “You’re pretty.  Please make meatloaf.”

The weather is turning.  I’ve already put away the filp flops and broken out the shoes and socks.  We made s’mores last night on the fire pit.  The Halloween decorations are out.  Football is on 24/7.  Time for fall food.

My husband’s first hankering for fall food this year was for meatloaf.  I have not always been a fan of meatloaf.   Growing up, it was not a welcome sight to me on the dinner table even though my momma’s a great cook.  It was just so meaty in a bleh topped with ketchup kinda way. 

As a cook myself, I never have had much success with the meatloaf.  As a matter of fact, I failed at meatloaf many, many a time.  But for some reason, I kept trying to make it.  The meatloaf incident of 1998 still sends shivers up my tastebuds. Yuck.  Meatloaf was just not a food friend.

I don’t even like Meatloaf the singer.

Yet, for some strange reason, I made a variation of the Pioneer Woman’s version of meatloaf last winter.  It was good.  Surprisingly good.  And, yes, I know that I have not been kind to PW on this blog.  And, yes, I have heard from some who disagree with my thoughts on her show.  I never said, however, that the girl can’t cook. 

Her meatloaf? To die for.  Probably because of the bacon. 

My version is just like hers-including the to die for part-with a few exceptions.

First, I half her recipe.  The first time I made it last winter, we almost ate ourselves into a food coma due to the enormous amount of meatloaf her recipe makes.  We’re not ranchers here, so no need for the three pound meat concoction her recipe turns into.  Half works for us. 

Also, I use Romano instead of Parmesan.   Just cause.  They are equal substitutes, but I like Romano better. 

For the sauce on top, I use one small can of tomato paste, a little worcheshire, and a little beef broth instead of all that ketchup that her recipe calls for. 

One more thing-she says that it takes an hour to cook. Mine usually takes a little longer even though it is smaller.  Peculiar, I know. 

For reasons of my own, but mainly because I am scared out of my wits of the conglomeration that is now The Pioneer Woman, I will not post a recipe here. I don’t want the Marlboro Man knocking at my door with their four kids ready to beat me up for sharing her best recipe.

Instead, I’ll just say that my husband wanted meatloaf, and meatloaf he got. 

Yesterday, he ran his first ever 5K.  He has been working and working out so hard lately.  I am so proud and so glad that I could help him replenish all the calories he burned at his race with this one dish. 

I also helped him further by serving the leftovers I forgot to take for lunch on a sandwich.  The sandwich is as good as the original dish.  Simply slice the meatloaf into sandwich size slices.  In a hot skillet, brown each side until a nice crust forms.  We eat our sandwiches with a little of the extra meatloaf sauce. 

It’ll warm you right up and make your husband/friend/dad/whomever a happy guy.

Happy Fall, Foodie Friends! 

Keepin’ It Real-A Review of The Pioneer Woman’s New Show

Needless to say, I am a little behind. I just now watched the debut episode and second episode of The Pioneer Woman’s new show on the Food Network.

My thoughts? Well, I wanted to like her…

I first heard about Ree Drummond many years ago from a writing teacher friend of mine who followed her then small blog. I started reading, and I liked Ree. I loved her photography tutorials, her cute kid pics, and her simple yet scrumptious recipes. I read her blog very frequently-probably a lot more than my boss would approve of.

Then, I got her cookbook. I was the food nerd who was there when the bookstore opened to buy the first copy. I was the only one there buying the book, but I got the first one! I went home and checked out the table of contents. It was a little disappointing. I mean, who needs a recipe for eggs in a basket with narrative to go with it? Still, I picked out several things and cooked and cooked. I can honestly say that I have made just about everything in the cookbook with great success. Everything is delicious even if some of her recipes are a little simple.

And, I have to give her props here for revolutionizing the whole picture in the recipe as you go format. At the time, it was a wonder to see all those photos for each step. Like, oh that’s what it is supposed to look like! She deserves credit for helping all us mediocre cooks with her helpful photo format that has spread far and wide. So much so, as a matter of fact, that it is now slightly annoying. Seriously, the other day I read on a food blog about making a sundae, and they included five pics for pouring the chocolate.

I loved the cookbook, and I loved the blog, and I loved the Pioneer Woman. I read her blog too much and bought three more cookbooks for Christmas gifts. Then came word of her memoir. Again I was the first and only one at the bookstore to get the second PW book. Somewhere in this, there is a sign.

The memoir stunk. Ree promised it to be full of suspense and drama. “A universal tale of passion, romance, and all-encompasing love.” She sweated in her Vera Wang wedding dress. Her childhood on the golf course was tough. Her fourth generation (fourth! I’m guessing things are paid for around the ranch) cattle ranching husband wanted meat for dinner while she was a vegetarian. She didn’t feel well when pregnant. Boo stinking hoo.

So, here comes the Food Network show, and I am having flashbacks of another beloved cookbook writer who is now at the bottom of my tolerance ladder due to her over-performance on her show, Paula Deen. Not good, Yaaaaaa’ll.

Both episodes were full of cute kids and lots of cute cowboys. She has a lovely family. Her cookware was great. Her home is beautiful. The lodge is unreal, and I do mean unreal. Her clothes were cute.

Unfortunately, none of this taught me how to cook anything.

She made chicken fried steak and gravy. That was fine. I’ve done that before. She made her mashed potatoes. I’ve made them plenty of times. Delish. She made sliders which she put heavy cream in. O-kaaay. Not sure why she did that. She also made sausage sandwiches. None of this was difficult or that original.

Then, her daughter made her chocolate sheet cake with no instructions for us. Whatsoever. She iced it and showed it to us, and that was it.

Ree made pancakes for her son’s birthday breakfast. They were beautiful, but strangely similar to the recipe on the back of my Bisquick box. Hmmm.

In contrast, on the show right after PW’s, Anne Burrell made ratatoulle. Ouch.

PW is now a corporation unto herself just like Paula. I only hope Ree does keep it real. I don’t want to walk into Target someday and see a PW spatula for fifteen dollars.

I’ll keep watching, but the cute kids and cute cowboys will only stay cute for so long. Cook, Ree. Cook.

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