How to Clog Your Arteries Part 1

For the past couple of years, one of my friends has thrown a Bacon Party.  (She’s evil, but obviously well-loved.)  If you don’t know, a Bacon Party is a potluck party featuring only foods that contain bacon (or fake bacon for the vegetarians).  Each year I gain at least 3 lbs from this party.  Let me tell you – it’s totally worth it.  This year I made a couple of dishes to add to the melee — bacon cheddar knots and a pumpkin pie topped with walnuts, brown sugar and, of course, bacon.   Sadly, Mr. Kitchen had to miss the party because he was working.  Luckily I came home with two giant Tupperware containers filled with treats.  (I know, I’m totally evil, but if I’m not gonna fit in my wedding dress — he’s not fitting into his kilt.)

The cheddar bacon knots were surprisingly easy, though in preparation for that and the pie, Mr. Kitchen and I fried up an entire package of bacon.  I could feel the cholesterol and fat seeping into my pores — kinda gross, but damn tasty!  For any of you who are thinking that a bacon party is a brilliant idea, it is, but I would recommend starting on some sort of cholesterol medicine now, followed by lots of fiber.   On the plus side (like bacon needs another plus side), at least I couldn’t actually feel the presence of my gallbladder after this year’s party.

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Knots Dough (Adapted Heavily From Nick Manglieri)

4 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 packet active dry yeast

1 2/3 cups warm water

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil to coat a baking (jellyroll) pan

3 baking (jelly roll) pans

Bacon Cheddar Filling

3/4 package bacon, cooked

1 8 oz package cheddar cheese (or any cheese you prefer)

Egg wash (1 egg, mixed with about 1 tablespoon water)

Combine flour and salt in large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix yeast into water and let stand for a few minutes until the water fizzes a bit (stir if it doesn’t begin to fizz). Whisk oil into water/yeast mixture.  Make a well in the flour and pour water into center.  Using a rubber spatula, begin to fold the flour into the water center, gently incorporating and mixing outwards until all of the flour is combined.  The dough will be very soft.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until the dough has risen to double its size (approx 2 hours).  After the dough has risen, scrape it into an oiled jelly roll pan.  Lightly oil your hands and press the dough into the pan so that it is evenly filled. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (oiled) and let the dough rise again, approximately 1 hour.  While the dough is rising, cut the 8 oz block of cheddar into approximately 2 dozen pieces.  After the dough has risen for the second time,  use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into approximately 24 squares (6 length wise, four depth wise).

Preheat the oven to 350º. Cover 2 baking pans in foil and lightly grease.

Take a square of the dough and place about half a strip of bacon and 1 piece of cheese in the center.  Fold two of the opposing corners over each other.  With the other two opposing corners, twist them together, forming a knot on top.  Place the piece in the pan.  Repeat with remaining 23 pieces of dough.  Brush all of the knots with the egg was and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

Bacon Cheddar Knot Dough

Bacon Cheddar Knot Dough

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Finished bacon cheddar knots

Finished bacon cheddar knots

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Filed under Appetizers, Baking, Party Food, Recipes, Tidbits

Mama Kitchen and The Universe Giving Back

I admit, I have been totally delinquent in my blogging, BUT! there has been good reason.  Mama Kitchen had surgery this week — everything went smoothly, but I wanted to be here to help take care of her and to help out during the recuperation.  So yes, delinquent blogger, but, also, good daughter.   I think these things even out.  Apparently, the universe has seen fit to reward me today and I couldn’t be happier.  You see,  I just won a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma.  (Did anyone else just hear a choir of angels? Cause I sure did.)  And who, you might ask, is the fairy godmother who hath bestowed this unbelievably good fortune?  It’s Merci New York, this fantastic resource for chic, sophisticated stylish brides.   And while Merci can plan any sort of event, their blog (Merci New York Blog) is an absolute must-read for brides.

Now – on to the recipes!  Mama Kitchen chose this next one, but it’s really a perfect fit with our recent focus on fall produce.  It’s getting chilly down here in South Carolina and the perfect cure for that? Chowder. Specifically — Chicken and corn chowder.

 

Chicken and Corn Chowder

2 chicken breast cutlets (I’m sorry, I forgot to weigh them), cut into cubes

6 cups chicken stock

2 15.25 oz cans of corn, strained

3 celery stalks, diced

6 small russet potatoes, chopped into chunks

1/2 medium onion or 1 small onion, diced

2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp dill

1 1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp olive oil

2 tbsp flour

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the diced onions until soft (about 3-4 minutes).  Then add chicken and cook together with onions over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.  Add celery, green peppers and spices.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring soup to a boil.   Let cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Ladle out 1 cup of the boiling broth into a bowl (or measuring cup).  Slowly stir in the 2 tbsp of flour.  This will help to thicken your soup.  After the flour has been completely incorporated into the broth, return the mixture to the soup pot and stir in and mix completely.  Add potatoes and corn.  Let cook for another 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  Add heavy cream, and mix into broth.  Let soup simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.  (Note, you can also use corn starch in place of flour to thicken the soup.)

 

Diced potatoes for chicken and corn chowder

Diced potatoes for chicken and corn chowder

 

 

Chicken and corn chowder

Chicken and corn chowder

 

 

Chicken and corn chowder

Chicken and corn chowder

 

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Filed under Chicken, Dinner, Recipes, Soups and Stews, Tidbits

Stew it up

I won a cookbook giveaway!  Since Mr. Kitchen and I have started planning our wedding, I’ve become a devoted wedding blog reader.  I recently entered a giveaway hosted by OneWed for the Dam Good Sweet Cookbook by Beard nominee David Guas, and I won!  The cookbook features New Orleans-style desserts and I can’t wait to give it a try.  (How I’m going to fit into a wedding dress, I have no idea.)  Mr. Kitchen is in for a yummy fall!  Speaking of yummy, Mr. Kitchen and I have been working tons and tons over the past few weeks, and we are plum tired.  So tired, that I forgot to buy tickets for today’s Vendy Awards.  So instead of spending the afternoon tasting the delicious fare of some of the city’s best food trucks, we’re heading over to Eataly.  Something tells me my bank account is going to be very angry with me later… Hey, some girls shop for shoes — I shop for food!

Anyway, on to fall produce!  Next up: Carrots.  Definitely one of the most versatile of the fall vegetables, carrots can go in, well almost any dish, and one of the easiest fall dishes to prepare is a hearty, stick to your ribs beef stew.  Seriously all you need is the ability to chop, brown and boil to make stew.  I’ve used lots of different cuts of beef for stews but I recently tried giving short ribs a try.  I really liked the way it turned out — the marbled meat was definitely falling off the bone by the time the stew was done and it was absolutely tender.  I’m also a firm believer (and perhaps this is my Irish heritage talking), that you can put in almost any vegetables you’ve got lying around.

Fall Short Rib Stew

Fall Short Rib Stew

Short Rib Stew

7-8 hearty-sized short ribs

3 celery stalk (roughly chopped)

3 shallots (roughly chopped)

2 medium sized carrots (roughly chopped)

2 Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into bite size chunks)

1 sweet potato (or just use 3 Yukons) (cut into bite sized chunks)

1 turnip (roughly chopped)

2 cups beef stock

1 small bottle red wine (I think it’s 375 ml?) (I prefer a cabernet sauvignon for beef stews)

1 tsp salt (to taste)

2 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp tarragon

Flour (for dusting short ribs)

2 tbsp olive oil (for browning ribs)

In a bowl, toss the short ribs with flour, salt and pepper.  In a large pot, heat oil and brown the short ribs on all sides.   Remove short ribs from pot.   In the remaining oil, saute shallots.  Once they are soft, add the meat back in and add the wine.  Cook over medium heat until the wine is halfway reduced, about 10 minutes.  Add beef stock, thyme, tarragon, carrots, turnips and celery and reduce heat, cooking meat until it is very tender (about 1.5 hours).   Add chopped potatoes and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until all vegetables and meat are completely tender.  Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Browned short ribs and shallots

Browned short ribs and shallots

Pour in the vegetables and herbs for short rib stew

Pour in the vegetables and herbs for short rib stew

Short rib stew

Add the potatoes and cook until tender

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Filed under Beef, Dinner, Recipes, Soups and Stews

Welcome, Fall

The weather in New York City has been glorious this past week (except for that whole freakish Tornado thing).   I’ve talked about how much I love this season, when it starts getting chilly and people buy new school supplies — I love the promise of an empty notebook!  Fall is also the season when Mr. Kitchen and I truly fell in love, so this season has all sorts of super happy memories for me.   One of our best dates was going to some of the OpenHouse NY sites.  Each year in the fall, there’s an “Open House NY” weekend, where sites that are generally not open to the public open their doors for everyone to visit.  We got to visit the garden rooftops surrounding Rockefeller Center and the Mason’s lodge in the city.  I love exploring the city and I was so so happy to discover that Mr. Kitchen did too.

Another reason to love fall?  The produce choices available in this season just can’t be beat.   So in honor of this fabulous time of year, where there are Apples! Pumpkins! Squash! All sorts of root vegetables! I thought it might be nice to focus on fall produce recipes for the next few weeks.

First up?  Apples.

Most people have an apple pie recipe, but apples make such a fabulous addition to all sorts of foods.  I’ve seen it added as a last step in stews, had it chopped and roasted with onions and celery with chicken, and all sorts of other mix-ups with turkey and other proteins.  My newest favorite is adding to it to a pork roast.  Actually, it’s more like adding a bourbon-infused apple pie to pork roast.

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Pork Loin with Apple Bourbon Topping

The rub

2 lb pork loin

1 tbsp salt

pinch cayenne pepper

generous pinch thyme, pepper and rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil,  another 2 tbsp for searing

The topping

1 apple (I like Granny Smith), finely chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp  cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp Bourbon (your choice, but a word to the wise — if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.)

A roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 325°

Mix together dry rub ingredients (salt, cayenne, pepper, etc.)  Rub down the pork loin with about 2 tbsp olive oil and then rub on dry ingredients.  Let stand 10 minutes.  In a pan large enough to fit the roast, heat the remaining olive oil.  Sear the roast on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  (For a good tutorial on searing, see here)

Once the meat is seared, place it in the roasting pan.  I like to use roasting pans that have an elevated roasting rack.  I also add water to the base of the pan, as an extra insurance that the meat will remain tender.  Cook the roast in the oven, uncovered, for about a half an hour.  (You’ll be adding the topping to the roast and will be returning it to the oven.)

To make the topping, finely chop the apple and add the lemon juice.  Add vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg and bourbon.  Stir together well.

After the roast’s initial 30 minute cooking period, remove from oven and pile the apple topping on top of the roast.  Return to oven (make sure there’s still water in the base of the pan!) and cook until the center of the roast reaches 160° .  Generally, this takes about 40 minutes per pound, but I’ve found that using this topping makes the roast cook a bit slower.   We’re also cooking this at a slightly lower temperature, to let the apple flavoring soak into the meat.  If you’re shorter on time, a good guideline is 350° and 30 minutes per pound.  Let roast stand for 10 minutes before carving (it allows the meat to firm up to make slicing easier).

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

The pork with the olive oil and herbs rub

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Searing the roast

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Pile the apple mixture on top of the roast

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Cooked and sliced pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

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Filed under Baking, Dinner, Pork, Recipes, Tidbits

Well that didn’t go as planned…

I know that I’m a bit late for the Labor Day BBQ recipes, but I was a little traumatized after my attempt to make peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, only to have them turn out like golden and slightly burned hockey pucks.

I have a baking disaster every once in a while and I guess I was due for one.   I painstakingly put these little babies together, carefully piping some jelly into the batter, topping that with more batter.

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter, pre-topping

I was worried that the oils from the peanut butter might bake quickly, so I took them out a minute before the low-end on the baking range, but to no avail.  Hockey pucks.  Mr. Kitchen said they were still pretty tasty.  That’s why we’re getting married.  Cause he’s got no problem eating my reject cupcakes.  He accepts my occasional baking screw-ups.  This pairs nicely with my usual ability to ignore the fact that his clothes never seem to make it into the hamper.*

Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

Sad peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

I think maybe I’ve figured out how to amend the recipe to fix the peanut butter oil problem, but it will take more testing and patience than I’ve got time for right now.  Instead, I’m giving you my absolutely no-fail Oh-My-God amazing butterscotch chocolate chunk recipe.

Super yummy and man-o-man is this perfect with a glass of milk.  Speaking of milk, did I mention that Mr. Kitchen’s family used to own a dairy farm? I’m trying to concoct a death-by-dairy recipe in honor of our recent trip to Michigan.  If you’ve got suggestions, let me know.  In the mean-time…. Butterscotch Chocolate Chunks!

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Adapted very heavily from Nick Manglieri’s Modern Baker

(Makes about 12 large cookies)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 tbsp softened butter (salted) (about 1 1/4 sticks)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

12 oz chocolate chunks (I tend to over-chunk my cookies, but I love em this way) — Note you can mix dark chocolate, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate

2 cookie sheets (I like to line mine with foil, but parchment is also an option)

Preheat oven to 350º

Stir flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla and beat with mixer until just mixed.  Then beat in egg.  Be careful not to over-beat this mixture, which will result in flat cookies.  With a large spatula, stir the flour into the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chunks and gently combine.  Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough on to cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.  Gently press cookies down.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies have risen a bit and are golden.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gently mixed dough for Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Giant cookies!

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Sometimes I go ape-shit over this.  Once it’s out of my system, I bake him cookies.

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, Desserts, Party Food, Recipes

Easy Does It

I’m on vacation this week, and we’re headed out to Michigan to visit Mr. Kitchen’s family.  We haven’t seen them since we’ve become engaged so we’re excited to go visit!  Also, I am very excited to not get up and schlep on crowded smelly super hot subways for a week.  I need to escape from the city, or at least work commuting, fairly regularly or else I get twitchy.  Does anyone else living in the city get that?  I’m generally a pretty happy person but every once in a while — generally after weeks of working overtime with no end in sight — I start getting irrationally angry at my commute.  Once I even kicked a subway car.  Guess what? When you do that? The subway car always wins.  I had a bruise on my foot for a few days.

Anyway, back to my vacation and visiting my soon-to-be in-laws.  I’ve never really cooked for my in-laws, but if I were hosting a meal, I would imagine I would serve something like this.  Really, this might be the perfect in-laws over for dinner recipe.  1) It looks impressive 2) It involves crowd-pleaser ingredients (unless your in-laws have nut allergies) 3) It’s pretty easy to make and 4) It’s fairly healthy!

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Makes enough for two breasts — Double for your in-laws!

Stuffing

2 tbsp butter

1/4 onion, diced

1/8 cup almonds, chopped or pulsed in food processor

1 tsp parsley flakes

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Topping

1/4 cup Panko

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shredded)

1 tsp butter (melted)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

A bit of olive oil, for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350º

To form pockets in the chicken:  With a very sharp knife, cut from the top (thickest part) of the breast from right to left and top to bottom at approximately a 30 degree angle, so that you’re forming an angled slit throughout the entire length of the chicken.  Make sure that you do not cut all the way through the chicken breast (otherwise you’ll have chicken breast halves).  Start out easy, making a slow, shallow cut.  You can always go back and cut deeper.

The stuffing:  Melt butter in sauce pan and saute onions and peppers.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow mixture to cool.  After it has cooled, mix cooked peppers and onions with almonds, egg and Parmesan.  Spoon mixture into chicken pockets.

The topping:  In a bowl, mix together Dijon and melted butter.  Brush some of this over the chicken breasts.  Mix remaining butter/Dijon with panko and Parmesan, and spoon on top of breasts, pressing the topping on gently to set it.  Drizzle tops of chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil.   Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Diced onions and peppers

Diced onions and peppers

Sauteed onions and peppers

Sauteed onions and peppers

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffing the chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed chicken breasts

Pre-bake Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Pre-bake Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

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Filed under Chicken, Dinner, Recipes

Lighten Up

As you may have noticed by the photos that accompany the recipes I’ve posted, I cook (and inevitably eat) everything that’s included on the blog.  So, while all the stick to your ribs food I’ve been posting has been an absolute joy to make and eat, my Wii Fit Mii has been looking pretty shameful lately.  Yes, that’s right, I’m being shamed by the Wii Fit.  My Mii has been looking pretty dejected this week and the game system keeps playing that “doh doh doh doh” “you lose” music, so I’m thinking this is a bad sign.  Everything in moderation right?  So next up is a delightful, light and actually good for you Herb Crusted Salmon.

Herb Crusted Salmon.  Is it just me or does that just automatically sound just a bit more sophisticated than your average mid-week meal?  Luckily, this recipe is incredibly easy and takes less than 20 minutes total to prepare.

herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with a balsamic parmesan vinaigrette

I paired the salmon with a white asparagus drizzled with a balsamic parmesan vinaigrette and dinner rolls

Herb Crusted Salmon

2 Salmon steaks (approx 3/4 lb)

2 tsp basil

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp rosemary

2 tsp flour

pinch salt

pinch pepper

pinch tarragon

Olive oil to drizzle on salmon

Pre-heat oven to 400º

Rinse salmon fillets.  In a bowl, mix the herbs together in along with flour.   Cover a jelly roll pan with foil.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on fillets, enough to just coat the top surface of the fillet.  Dip fillets oil-covered surface down into mixture of herbs, pressing gently to coat the surface.  Place fillets on pan.  Drizzle again with a bit of olive oil.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

White Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Parmesan

Half a bunch of white asparagus, rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt

pinch pepper

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shaved)

Rinse and trim asparagus.  In a shallow pot, blanch asparagus spears over medium-high heat for approximately 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and dijon.  Drizzle or toss with asparagus.  Top asparagus with Parmesan.

Pre-cooked salmon topped with herbs

Raw salmon topped with herbs

Mixing the white asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette

Mixing the white asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette

Herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette and Parmesan

Herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette and Parmesan

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Recipes, Tidbits