Friday, December 30, 2011

Fresh Pasta Carbonara



 

In the spirit of destroying a perfectly clean kitchen, I decided to get out my pasta maker tonight to practice my technique a little. I found a recipe online for pasta carbonara, and modified it to make it suit my tastes. The pasta was much better than my maiden voyage!

 

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices slab bacon, diced
2 cloves diced garlic
2 tablespoons white wine
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken stock 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh linguini
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 eggs, separated
1 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into cutlets

Directions
  1.  Put salted water in a large pasta pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the oil and bacon to a large saute pan over low heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, being careful not to burn it, about 5 minutes.Remove bacon temporarily on onto a paper towel to drain.
  3. Season the chicken breast cutlets with salt and pepper, then cook for 5-6 minutes, or until cooked through. (Will depend on thickness of cutlets.) Remove from pan, to rest.
  4. Add the garlic and stir for 5 seconds. Add the drained bacon, wine, milk, stock and black pepper. Cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Drop the fresh linguini into water and stir to separate strands. When pasta is just undercooked remove it from the water and add it to the pan with the sauce. Gently stir for 1 minute.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, add 1/2 the cheese and the egg white and stir, being careful not to break the noodles. Add the egg yolk and lightly toss. Slice chicken thinly and toss in with pasta. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or platter and garnish with the remaining cheese.
Enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Curry Chicken Pasta


After our second viewing of A Christmas Story this evening, we decided we wanted a snack, so I raided the fridge and pantry in search of leftovers that could be made into something more. The key ingredient here is the chicken tenders that were left over from asian chicken salads earlier this week. This actually turned out to taste pretty good! And I got to use some of the other items I had in the pantry already.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c chicken broth, give or take
  • 1 cup leftover chicken, chopped or shredded
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/3 c almond butter (or peanut butter, but I just happened to have almond)
  • 1/2 a box of pasta - I happened to have ziti, but you could use whatever
  • 1/2 c frozen peas.

Instructions:

  1. Prepare a pot of salted water, and cook pasta - drain.
  2. In a pan, sautee the garlic in the sesame oil on medium low, for 2-3 minutes. Add almond butter, and stir until it is melted into the pan. Add chicken broth little by little, and stir until sauce loosens to the point of being able to coat the back of a spoon. Add soy sauce, peas, red pepper, and curry powder. Stir to combine. Keep on low heat.
  3. Shred left over chicken and add to pasta pot. Add pasta on top of chicken. Add sauce over top of pasta and chicken and combine until all is coated. Enjoy!
This made enough for about 4 servings, but we enjoyed it as a late night snack.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate Banana Souffle




I was looking for a reason to use my new ramekins for something, and I did some internet research for souffle recipes based on some random ingredients I had laying around. I give you: chocolate banana souffle! Yes, it should probably be fluffier, but it tasted delicious and I'll perfect my technique with practice. Definitely worth a try!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for preparing souffle dishes
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, or instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana, (1 large)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil six 6-ounce (3/4-cup) individual souffle dishes or ramekins or coat them with nonstick spray. Dust with sugar, turning to coat, and tapping out the excess. Set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate over barely simmering water or in the microwave. Dissolve espresso powder (or instant coffee) in vanilla in a small bowl.
  3. Sift cocoa, cornstarch and salt into a large bowl. Add banana, brown sugar and milk, whisking to blend. Add melted chocolate and the coffee mixture and blend well.
  4. Place egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl. Beat on low speed with an electric mixer until frothy. Add cream of tartar; increase the speed to medium and whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and beat on medium-high until the whites hold stiff, but not dry, peaks.
  5. Whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Gently but quickly, fold in the remaining whites with a rubber spatula. Spoon into the prepared souffle dishes or ramekins.
  6. Bake until souffles are well puffed and browned, but still jiggle slightly when shaken, 15 to 25 minutes, or. Remove from the oven and sift a little confectioners' sugar over the top. Serve immediately.

*recipe adapted from www.eatingwell.com

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Garlic Green Beans





Tis the season for potlucks! I was looking for a way to dress up green beans without making a green bean casserole, so I did some research online and came up with this hybrid for last night's Christmas party. Highly recommended - the balsamic vinegar makes the difference. FYI, this recipe makes 8 servings, but I doubled it for my efforts last night.

Ingredients
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
  • 8 small new potatoes, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
 

Directions

  1. Place the chopped bacon in a skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. Drain the bacon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet with a lid over medium-low heat, and cook and stir the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked bacon, green beans, potatoes, garlic, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat until the green beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with vinegar, salt, and

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake





Okay, I rarely make something that makes me want to really toot my own horn, but this one is a winner. I am one of those people who loves really, really chocolaty desserts. This is definitely one of those. It's super dense, and perfect for sharing, which is why I'm making it for a pot luck. Give it a try! Fair warning: it is NOT low calorie! :)

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch round cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.
  3. Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  4. Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
  6. Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chili Rubbed Tilapia


We just got some new plates! In the interest of showing them off, I rounded up a quick dinner of chili rubbed tilapia to cure us of our rainy day blues. No kidding, this took 20 minutes to prepare, it's cheap, and it makes use of items you probably already have in your pantry.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound tilapia
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine chili powder, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt on a plate. Dredge fillets in the spice mixture to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook until just opaque in the center, gently turning halfway, 5 to 7 minutes total.
  2. Divide onto plates. Immediately add lemon juice. Serve broccoli or other veggies with the fish.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Feast!








I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Something about holidays that celebrate cooking just makes me happy! While not directly responsible for all of the above, The corn pudding was mine. It turned out pretty well - and I highly recommend it!

Corn Pudding

Ingredients:
4 oz softened cream cheese
1 can creamed corn
3/4 c frozen corn, thawed
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 chopped onion
2/3 c milk
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 c shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease/butter a 1 qt casserole dish.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
3. Spread the mixture evenly into the casserole dish.
4. Bake 50 minutes, or until center no longer looks runny. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fresh Pasta & Meatballs


Tonight, I really wanted an excuse to use the pasta maker I bought today. I took a risk and invited 6 other friends over to enjoy the first attempt, and luckily the pasta wasn't terrible. I did decide pasta and meatballs was a good crowd pleasing meal. And the flourless chocolate cake that came afterwards wasn't bad either! I'm on a winning streak tonight.

Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground veal)
1 lb. italian sausage
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 sm. clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Instructions:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Form 1 1/2 inch meatballs with the mixture. Place them around a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, remove excess fat, and add meatballs to a pot of your favorite sauce. Simmer until time to serve.
 
If you have the time to make fresh pasta, I highly recommend it for this meal.

Teryaki Glazed Chicken


I'm back! After a very hectic 3 or so months of work craziness and wedding planning, I can finally think (and cook) again. We tried out our new rice steamer this week, and I made Teriyaki glazed chicken to go with. It's a bit messy, so next time I will probably adjust the amount of sauce, but it tasted good, and reheated well for the next day's lunch!

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons ginger (grated)
1 pound chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)
2 teaspoon peanut oil
4 servings cooked rice

4 tablespoons corn starch


Directions:
1. Toss bite sized chicken pieces in a bowl or bag with corn starch, until lightly coated. Heat oil in wok or large pan and cook chicken until crisp - careful not to overcook. Mix the soy sauce, pineapple juice, honey, sugar, ginger and

2. Mix soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, honey, brown sugar, and ginger in a bowl.
3. Add the marinade to the pan and saute until warm. Add chicken, and cook until sauce thickens. If you need additional thickening, add 1-2 tablespoons of a corn starch/water mixture and bring back to simmer.
4. Serve on cooked rice with whatever veggies you like.


Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Finger Foods








Y'all, I am so blessed. Two ladies who are very dear to me made a huge effort to throw me an amazing lingerie shower this past Saturday afternoon. I would have left out the "lingerie" detail if the "out with the old, in with the new" banner didn't have granny panties hanging from it. I felt like I should explain that one. Anyways, my fantastic roommate from college, Calene, did an amazing job rounding up delicious finger foods and drinks to serve to the all the attending ladies. Above are just a few pictures.

I know posts are few and far between, but they will resume normalcy once the wedding nonsense is over in a few weeks. :)

Thank you, Kendall and Calene!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spicy Soy Ginger Tilapia



Tonight's creation is sweet, salty, savory, and delicious. Paired with greens or with stir fry veggies and rice, it's sure to make your taste buds react. Here's how:


Ingredients:
1 lb fresh  Tilapia filets (about 4-5 filets)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs light brown sugar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs hoisin sauce
1 Tbs sweet chili sauce

2 tsp minced garlic
Juice of 1 fresh lime


Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a small dish that can accommodate all of the fish filets. Marinate fish in mixture for 1 hour maximum.

Remove fish from marinade, broil on high for 5-6 minutes or until no longer opaque. 


Boil the remainder of the marinade rapidly until thickened and reduced by half.

Serve the fish over the bed of greens and/or rice and drizzle the sauce over the fish.

You can strain the sauce prior to reducing if you don't like all of the "chunks" floating in it. I happen to like them so I left them in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spicy Parmesan Chicken Pasta


Whew! It's been a few weeks since I've had the chance to stop and cook dinner, which you must know stresses me out. However, after this rainy, droopy day, I was in the mood for comfort food! I just threw this together out of items I had laying around and it turned out well. Use caution if you don't like spicy food.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 box of ziti pasta (reserve 1 cup cooking liquid)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • 1/4 Cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preparation

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • While pasta cooks, heat a large nonstick skillet coated with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper; sauté 1 minute. Add chicken pieces, and sautee until browned.
  • Add reserved pasta cooking liquid to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in salt, black pepper, chicken, and balsamic vinegar; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta, and cook 1 for minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese.
Note: Sauce will thicken if you let it cool for a few minutes - delicious!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sausage Balls



Football is here! That means it's time to break out my favorite series of fall snacks, so I can share them with a house full of people crowded around my TV. This is my all time favorite game day snack: sausage balls. Simple, cheap, and easy.


Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 2 cups biscuit baking mix
  • 1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

           

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees               
  2. In a large bowl, combine sausage, biscuit baking mix and cheese. Form into walnut size balls and place on baking sheets.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and sausage is cooked through.

Enjoy!               

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Black Bean Soup


This is the simplest, most delicious crock pot meal that I would classify as "somewhat healthy." You should definitely try it if you like black bean soup.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag dried black beans
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 box chicken stock
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • sour cream for garnish
  • 1 ripe avocado for garnish

Instructions:
  1. In a large pot of water, bring dried beans to a boil, and let cook for 2 minutes. Let soak for 10 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.
  2. In your crock pot, pour 1/2 the box of chicken stock, and add all the seasonings. Chop onion into 1/2 pieces, and add to crock pot.
  3. To crock pot, add 2 cups of the bean-soaking water, then drain the rest of the beans and add to the pot. Cook on medium-low for about 6 hours. Add remainder of broth halfway through cooking time.
  4. When beans are tender, blend soup together with hand blender, to the desired consistency. Serve with avocado chunks and sour cream.
Its really yummy, and makes 4-6 servings!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Steak & Potatoes


Occasionally, I like to treat my other half to a nice steak dinner. I'm learning to cook steak in the house without completely smoking up the entire apartment and setting off the smoke alarm - but I am impressed with how this actually turned out. Mainly because of the mashed potatoes - possibly my favorite food.

Regarding the steak, I just seasoned a pair of ribeyes with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and seared them in bacon fat. (mmm) Save the bacon for crumbling on top of mashed potatoes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Ingredients:
  • 5-7 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c. Sour cream
  • 1/2-3/4 c milk, depending on the consistency you like
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cut potatoes into 1/2" pieces, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, then smash with a wooden spoon or masher. Add all other ingredients and even some cheese if you desire. Top with crumbled bacon - enjoy!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie


I don't make these so much anymore, because I want to eat them all, but when I'm in the mood for fresh cookies, this is my "go to" recipe. Try it - its very adaptable to your own favorite ingredients too! Ps - these turn out pretty soft and chewy. If you're looking for crispier cookies, this is probably not the recipe you want.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 bag semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli brand because that's what I had laying around)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare 2 cookie sheets. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chunks using a spatula.

To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough for each cookie. I was able to fit 12 per pan. Bake for 15 minutes for chewy cookies.

Allow the cookies to cool before consuming - although this is easier said than done!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Taco Soup



Wondering what to do with your taco leftovers? Here you go!

1/2-1 lb. cooked taco meat (leftover)
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg taco seasonings
2 large cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can Rotel tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn


Add everything into a pot and cook until everything has melded together - about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Veggie Quiche with Hashbrown Crust


Here is part 2 of the breakfast quiche experiment from Friday. While I'd rather have my breakfast casseroles full of pork products and cheese, I recognize that not everybody I work with eats pork. So I made a very similar recipe with a few changes.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups, shredded frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onions
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and chopped finely
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Gently press the drained hash browns between paper towels to dry them as best as possible. In a 9-inch casserole dish or pie pan, toss the hash browns with the melted butter into the plate. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown..

Sautee the onions and peppers until they start to soften and caramelize, then remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with the cooked veggies. When the hash brown crust is ready pour the egg mixture over it and return to the oven.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sausage & Cheese Quiche With Hashbrown Crust


Whenever I feel compelled to make breakfast for my office, I turn to casserole type dishes strictly for ease of travel. I made two quiches this morning, but this is the first. I love breakfast food, and I think this is a compact way to have a little bite of everything.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups, shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and drained

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

  • 3 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage cooked and drained.

  • 1 cup shredded cheese

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Directions

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    Gently press the drained hash browns between paper towels to dry them as best as possible. In a 9-inch pie pan, or casserole dish, toss the hash browns with the melted butter into the plate. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

    Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. When the hash brown crust is ready, pour the egg mixture over it and return to the oven.

    Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed.

    I recommend letting this sit a little while (at least 10-15 min) so it can "set up" before you eat it.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Herby Potatoes


    Forgive the hiatus, the past 2 weeks have been extremely busy, and I haven't had a chance to cook or blog much.

    This is up there with the top three favorite things my mom ever taught me to cook. They're easy, they're cheap, and they're a crowd pleaser. Here's how:

    Ingredients:
    • 1 net bag of baby golden potatoes (or regular yukon gold, 3-4 large)
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp butter
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced finely
    • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1 sprig of fresh dill
    Instructions:
    1. Cut potatoes so that they are all the same size; roughly 3/4". Put in microwave safe bowl, and cover with water. Cook on high for 11-12 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave.
    2. In large skillet, melt oil and butter together on medium heat. Add garlic.
    3. Drain potatoes and add to pan. Add salt and pepper.
    4. Toss occasionally. When potatoes are fork tender, and golden brown, remove from heat. Toss potatoes with dill, and serve.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Warm Potato Salad


    Yesterday, having been invited to a fantastic cookout, I went on the search for a potato salad recipe that did not involve the use of mayonnaise. I found one that was loosely based on Warm German Potato Salad, and then I tweaked it a little based on the ingredients I had laying around. It is definitely sweeter than your typical potato salad, but I think I ended up liking it. Here's how:

    Ingredients
    • 1 package tiny potatoes - I used a bag of the mini golden potatoes from the produce dept.
    • 3 slices bacon
    • 1/3 cup white vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 3 tablespoons white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

    Directions

    1. Place the whole potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool. (Note: the potatoes I used were the tiny variety - they did not need to be cut before boiling, but yours might.)               
    2. Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
    3. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon. Keep on heat until sauce thickens a little. Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and serve warm.               

    As a side note: if you don't eat pork, this probably isn't the recipe for you. I feel like you'd probably have to do a lot of changing to make up for the loss of the smoky saltiness that the bacon adds here. Try it!

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Super Summer Salad


    I know this isn't technically a recipe, nor is it very creative, but it is my favorite summer salad. Simple, delicious, satisfying! I could eat it for every meal some days.

    Ingredients: baby spinach, granny smith apples, strawberries, walnuts, mild goat cheese, balsamic dressing.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Crock Pot Pulled Pork


    This was my first try at pulled pork, and I was pleasantly surprised. Be forewarned, this recipe took me 12 hours of cooktime, but it is worth it. Prep is quite simple and easy - highly recommended!

    Ingredients:

    4-5 pound pork shoulder
    1 1/2 cups ketchup
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/4 cups brown sugar
    1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
    2 teaspoons liquid smoke

    Instructions:

    1. Trim pork shoulder. Mix together all other ingredients in a large bowl or dish. Place pork in dish with sauce, make sure all surfaces are covered, and let marinate for an hour or two.
    2. Transfer contents of dish (meat AND sauce) into crock pot and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until meat falls apart.
    3. Using tongs, remove chunks of pork, cool, and carefully shred, taking care to remove bone and any fatty bits.
    4. Serve on sandwiches, or however you please. Additional bbq sauce optional!

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes



    As a patriotic treat, I made red, white, and blue cupcakes for July 4th dessert. Please note my adorable cupcake model in the background. He liked them. Here's how:

    1. Bake up your favorite white cupcake recipe. Divide batter into three bowls. Use blue and red gel food coloring in two of the bowls.
                                                                                                                                                                                          2. For the layered cupcake, spread a tablespoon of one color of batter into the bottom of a cupcake liner. Add a second tablespoon in another color on top. Be careful when you spread it around so that the two colors don’t mix. Do the same with the final color. The other option is to place spoonfuls of batter into three different sections. Again, doing your best not to mix the colors.

    3. Bake, cool, and decorate!

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Balsamic Glazed Chicken


    Since we ate like piglets at the Braves game yesterday, we decided we needed some greenery and un-fried chicken. I was really excited to see how pretty the chicken turned out; especially since it was so simple. Here's how I did it:

    Ingredients:
    • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless is my preference, but you can do what you please
    • 3/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Instructions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a frying pan to medium high heat, and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. (I use the olive oil kind.)
    2. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts, and place them in the pan for roughly 3 minutes per side. After they have gotten some pretty brown color on each side, place them in a baking dish and into the oven until they are no longer pink. I think this took me 12-15 minutes or so.
    3. While the chicken is in the oven, add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and 1 tsp salt to a small saucepan and simmer until it is reduced by roughly half its original volume.
    4. Remove the chicken from the oven, let rest, then slice and top with balsamic glaze.
    This goes great with a summer salad. Yum!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Banana Nut Pancakes


    Again with the bananas! We just can't eat them fast enough, so I end up having to find ways to use very ripe bananas in baked items. This morning, I experimented by throwing a smashed banana into my pancake batter and voila! If you're looking for a way to switch up Sunday morning breakfast, I definitely recommend this. They have a lot of natural sweetness, but aren't too sugary.

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon white sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 chopped pecans (or walnuts)

    Directions

    1. Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil, and bananas.
    2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy. Stir in chopped nuts.
    3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Banana Chocolate Chippers


    It's been a busy few weeks lately, so I've used this weekend to kind of "come up for air" and do some cooking to help me relax. So worth it!

    Since I can never seem to consume a bunch of bananas before they get mushy and brown, I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to incorporate bananas into things. This is today's attempt, and has gotten rave reviews around my house.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
    • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
    • 2 cups of flour
    • pinch of salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
    • 1 cup of chocolate chips

    Method

    1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
    2 In a bowl, mix the mashed banana and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes.
    3 Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.
    4 Fold into the batter the chocolate chips. Drop in spoonfulls onto a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown.

    They are delicious! I doubt they will last long around my house.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Cheesecake Bites


    I am a huge fan of cute desserts that taste good and are quick to make. I made these little guys for a party back in December, but just ran across the photo of them here. So quick and easy!

    Start with phyllo tart shells - they come in packs of 12 or 15 in the freezer case at the grocery store. Bake them as directed on the box. Mix together 1 8oz container of whipped cream cheese, and 1 smaller container of marshmallow fluff. Put filling mixture into a plastic bag, then cut off the tip to make a makeshift piping bag. After the shells have cooled, pipe mixture into each shell and top with a quarter of a strawberry, or whatever topping you wish. These are delicious, and adorable. Plus they only take about 10 minutes total. A crowd pleaser!

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Sausage Bowtie Pasta


    Up until a year ago or so, you couldn't have paid me to eat smoked sausage. Then one day, I visited my mom as she cooked limitless amounts of smoked sausage for a huge breakfast. It smelled heavenly, so I stole a small bit out of the pan. Then another. Just one more. Now I love it! I love it so much that I've found a way to work it into a dinner treat.

    I start by chopping the smoked sausage into thin discs and cooking it in a skillet until the edges and sides caramelize. Then I add not-quite-perfectly-done bowtie pasta, a cup or so of pasta cooking liquid, a little chicken stock, a little white wine, some frozen peas and corn, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flake. Reduce until the pasta is tender and the liquid becomes a sauce. Its a great, quick weeknight meal!

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Chicken Tortilla Soup


    I love a good crock pot meal. Don't get me wrong - I love all cooking methods, but something about coming home to your house being filled with the aromas of long-cooked meals is just fantastic to me. This morning I prepped dinner in the crock pot and then proceeded about my day of laundry, spring cleaning, and some work. 8 hours later, here is delicious chicken tortilla soup!

    Into the crock pot: 1/2 diced onion, 2 boxes of chicken stock, 1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 can diced green chiles, garlic powder, chili powder, 1 lb diced chicken breast, 1 can black beans, 1 cup corn kernals. I even threw 3/4 cup of rice in the pot, and it turned out fab. Add fresh avacado at the end, and voila! Easy dinner.