Monday, October 20, 2014

Crazy Ingredient Challenge - Bacon and Pumpkin

I just love a challenge, especially in the kitchen.  So when I saw that there was a group called the Crazy Ingredient Challenge, I had to learn more.  The concept is pretty simple, each month, the group votes on two ingredients, and then you make something with them.  I missed last months, since I apparently don't know how to read a calendar, but I'm in for this month, and the two ingredients are bacon and pumpkin.

So, I know that this is some what blasphemous, but I actually don't like pumpkin that much.  I mean, it's fine and all, but we need to calm it down with this pumpkin spice everything obsession.  First, pumpkin spice doesn't taste like pumpkin, it tastes like preservatives.  Second, it's not even that awesome.  I mean, pumpkin pie is delicious and all, but chill, it's just squash.  Bacon, on the other hand, now there's some good eats. 

Because I don't love sweets or pumpkin spice anything, I thought I'd go in much more of a savory direction with this.  I got a TON of peppers in my farm share, of all different kinds, so I decided to make Bacon Wrapped Pumpkin Jalapeno Poppers.  Not going to lie, this is probably my best idea to date.

Bacon Wrapped Pumpkin Jalapeno Poppers: 

1/2 Sugar Pumpkin, Roasted (or buy a can of pumpkin, just make sure it's completely plain, and not pre-flavored)
1 8 oz Package Cream Cheese (I used 1/3 less fat, but you can use whatever you usually use) 
6 Slices Bacon 
6-8 Peppers (Since mine were from the farm share, they're not all jalapenos, but if I was going to buy specifically for this, I'd get all jalapenos.  Make sure that they are fat enough to really hold some stuffing) 

To roast the pumpkin, pre-heat the oven to 375.  VERY carefully cut it in half (use a very sharp knife and lots of caution!), scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, and place into a pan, cut side down.  Mine was pretty big, so I had to cut it into a few pieces to get it to fit.  Put a little bit of water in the pan, to help it steam.  Cook for about 45 minutes, until it can be easily pierced by a fork (this is my preferred squash roasting method). 

While it's cooking, cut all the peppers in half and scoop the seeds and ribs out.  Then, wash your hands about 100 times before touching ANYTHING, unless you like getting burned. 

After the pumpkin is ready, mix it with the cream cheese.  I didn't add any other kinds of seasonings to this because I figured the bacon and peppers would help me out.  I was right. 

Blob some pumpkin cream cheese into the peppers, then wrap with some bacon.  I cut my bacon into pieces, because the peppers really weren't that big.  If I did this again, I would definitely secure with toothpicks, because they kind of fell apart.  Bake at 375 until the bacon is at your desired level of done - they could also be grilled, if you're into that.  

These would be a great party snack, or a nice addition to your tailgate.  They're a little bit labor intensive, but not too bad, and SO tasty that it is definitely worthwhile. 

Look at what my friends made!! 


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

You know how sometimes you see something in about a million different places?  But you're not sure what it is or if you should jump on board with the latest trend?  I mean, let's face it, trends aren't always the best idea - I mean, just look at this.  Eeek. 

So, when I kept seeing Chia Seeds popping up everywhere, I kind of wondered what the fuss was about.  I mean, is this new kale?  And as a society, are we ready for the new kale?  But, I'd heard good things about how healthy they are, how you can incorporate them into smoothies to bulk them up, and about pudding.  Shockingly, the pudding sold me. 

Now, let me remind you, dear reader, that healthified things aren't exactly like the unhealthified one. Kale chips are delicious, but they aren't chips.  That doesn't mean they're not good though, so give the chia pudding a try.  If you're worried, check the bulk bins at your grocery store and just pick up a few.  I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding - From Food Doodles

2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
1/2 Cup Milk (I used Almond, you can use whatever you have/usually drink) 
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sweetener (I used Agave, but honey, syrup, etc would also work)
1 Tablespoon Coco Powder (Make sure that it's unsweetened baking coco powder, not something like Nesquick, or else it's going to be insanely sweet) 
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla 

Put everything into the jar - I find it easier to put the dry things on the bottom and then top with the milk, like I do when I make hot chocolate.  

Stir everything up.  Be careful, or else the coco powder will blow up everywhere.  

Now, you have a few options.  You can either just let it sit on the counter for about a half hour, or you can put it in the fridge for several hours.  I've tried it both ways, the result is the same.  The chia seeds just need time to soak up all the liquid and expand.  That's how it turns into pudding. 

Top with strawberries and enjoy!  

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite afternoon snack? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Spicy Kale and Eggs

Is it odd that when I typed the title, I actually put "Kegs and Eggs" instead? Even though I'm entirely too old for such nonsense (jk - we just call it brunch now). Hopefully some college kids will make the same mistake, click on over, and realize what adulthood is all about. Kale, guys, it's about kale. There is really nothing in the universe that matches the feeling of moral superiority that comes with eating kale.

I'm not sure when it happened, but a few years ago, the universe went nuts for kale. NUTS. It's actually a little comical, except I shouldn't laugh because I was one of those people. I may or may not have had a kale smoothie a few times (not as enjoyable as I had hoped). However, I do love me some kale. Also, I feel that my stance on breakfast is pretty clear (that'd be PRO, for those of you who keep lists of my personal preferences on your fridge), so kale and eggs was a natural fit.

I mostly followed this recipe from Williams Sonoma, except I halved it and skipped the lemon, since I was out. And I used a very tiny about of regular onion in place of the green onion because I was out. Then I put it on toast, because hello. Why wouldn't you do that?

Spicy Kale and Eggs - from Williams Sonoma

1 Tablespoon butter

1/4 of a Small Red Onion, Minced (or green onions, or whatever you have)

1 Garlic Clove, Pressed or Minced

1 Bunch Kale, Chopped

1/2 Cup Liquid (I used veggie broth, you could also use chicken broth or water)

2 Eggs

Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes to Taste

In a large pan, melt the butter.  Add in the onion and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the kale and stir until it begins to wilt.  If it seems like way too much for one pan, do it half and half.  Once it's wilted, add the liquid, and some salt and pepper.

Simmer and stir occasionally until the kale is tender.  It took mine about 5 minutes.

Make a little pocket for your eggs with a spoon and crack them in there.

Reduce the heat to medium, season the eggs, and cover.  Let them cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on how done you like your eggs (I did about 3 because I like my eggs runny, but do you).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread - The Leftovers Club

Guys, I cannot believe how quickly time has passed this month!  It seems like I just made Leftovers Club treats.

For those of you who don't know, the Leftovers Club is a group of bloggy friends who send treats once a month.  It's a great way to get to know some new blogs and try some tasty treats.  This month, I was paired with Shaina from Take a Bite out of Boca.  She made me some DELICIOUS peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - with banana bread.  I can't even do it justice, you're just going to have to go check out her blog and see for yourself.  And, if you live in Boca (or the area), definitely check out her reviews.  You won't be eating poorly, that's for sure.

Since fall is coming (not ready, but Mother Nature has never seemed to care..), I thought I'd make something a little more seasonally appropriate this time around.  Although my parents, who live in Florida, but further north, have assured me that fall is no where to be found down there, I can't stop thinking about chili, soups, stews, and their sidekick cornbread.

This cornbread uses some of summer's farm share bounty to bump up the flavor.  There are many different ways to make cornbread, and I'm sure someone's lovely southern grandma is having a fit over the way I'm sharing.  But, if you send me her recipe, I'll do that next time.  It's all delicious.

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread - Adapted from Cookie and Kate

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1½ cups cornmeal (I actually used a touch more because didn't have quite enough flour)
1½ cups flour 
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Few twists' freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1½ cups buttermilk (you can make buttermilk yourself by adding vinegar to milk and letting it sit, so don't feel like you have to go out and buy special for this)
½ cup honey
3 large eggs
1 cup fresh corn kernels (feel free to sub frozen if it isn't corn season)
1 jalapeno, grated or chopped (I grated it, which I feel concentrates the flavor, so I actually only used half, which was plenty)

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Put the butter into a cast iron skillet or baking pan and let it melt in the oven for 5-10 minutes, just long enough to get nice and browned. 

While that's happening, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and half the cheese in a bowl.  Set aside. 

In a separate, larger bowl, mix together the buttermilk, honey, and eggs.  Combine the two bowls. 

Remove the butter pan from the oven and VERY VERY CAREFULLY slosh it around a bit to make sure the butter gets up the sides of the pan.  Seriously, be careful, it's hot.  

Add the corn and the pepper to the hot butter and let cook for a minute.  After about 1 minute, add the batter.  Stir to combine.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Check out what my friends have made! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cheddar Bacon Waffles with Fried Apples - Waffle Week 2014

So, yesterday I had the privilege of guest posting at Feed Me Seymour with my buddy Kim. Kim and I first bonded over a mutual love for our furbabies and a mutual loathing of raisins, especially those sneaky ones that hide in cookies.  ICK.  She also has some SERIOUSLY good recipes, like this Grilled Fruit Sangria.  So, obviously, when she invited me to participate in Waffle Week 2014, I was all like DONE - where do I sign (on a non-raisin covered line)?

Now, you guys kind of know that I don't have much of a sweet tooth.  Sure, I taste test all that I make (because I wouldn't want to be rude and give people gross food), but it's just not my thing.  Cheese on the other hand...oh boy.  I might have a problem.  True life: I once told my friend that the cheese section of Wegman's wasn't a safe place for me.  I love it that much.

Therefore, clearly, my waffles were going to involve cheese and not very much sugar.  Just a touch of sweetness somewhere to balance it out.  Growing up, my mom always paired apple and pear pie with cheddar, so I thought that would be a great starting point.  As always, I got by with a little help from my friends at Pinterest.  Seriously, you can find everything there.  Including a ton of awesome recipes for cheddar waffles.  Inspiration - BAM!

Cheddar Bacon Waffles with Fried Apples - Inspired by In Sock Monkey Slippers

For the Waffles:
2 Cups of Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
1 2/3 Cup Milk (I used Fat Free Half and Half, but had planned on using 1%....until I realized it was sour.  I'm pretty sure whatever you usually drink would work fine)
1/3 Cup Melted Butter
2 Eggs
6 Slices of Bacon. Crumbled (I used Thick Cut Applewood Smoked)
3/4 Cup Cheddar Cheese, Shredded (I used a combo of extra sharp and caramelized onion, which is just as good as it sounds)

For the Apples:
3 Apples, Sliced (I used Gala, but whatever your preference, you should go for a crisper apple, since you'll be cooking them for a while.  You don't want it to turn to mush)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, and Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Cup McGillicuddy's Apple Pie Liquor (You can definitely use apple juice if you're worried about alcohol content, or if you don't want to buy random booze for this one recipe)

Start out by making the bacon, so it has time to cool.  I do mine in the oven, on a baking rack.  Just pop it into a cold oven and set it to 375.  It should be nice and crispy about 10 minutes after the oven comes to temperature.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.  While that's melting, chop the apples and mix them with the sugar, spice, and everything nice.

Add them to the pan and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes.

Then, add the booze/juice and let it simmer until the apples are nice and soft and the liquid has thickened.

To make the waffles, begin by mixing together the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Melt the butter and mix with the eggs and milk.

Fold them together and stir in the bacon and cheese.  Don't over mix!!!  It should just come together; lumps, bumps, and my humps are all ok.

Try not to overfill the mess out of your waffle maker - it just wastes the delicious batter!!  And don't freak out if the first one turns out funny - mine stuck to the top and bottom and completely split apart.  I then asked my friend if he would like a waffle taco in exchange for helping me move a bookshelf - #problemsolver.

Serve the waffles with a scoop of apples on top and an apple mimosa on the side.

These can definitely be frozen and reheated later, if you want to make a big batch to impress your friends and family.  Added bonus of being able to yell, "and in the mornin', I'm making WAFFLES" at sleepovers.

The batter comes together quickly, and most of this stuff is a pantry staple (unless you have to find a million fancy cheeses).  I actually thought that waffles were difficult to make before this and was pleasantly surprised and how easy it was.  I will DEFINITELY be having more brunches from now on! Or just random waffles on a Tuesday, because, why not?

Now, go forth and impress people.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Tomato and Zucchini Pie

So, apparently many of my northern friends haven't heard of the delight that is a tomato pie.  For those of you who are uninformed, it's basically tomatoes in a pie crust with pimento cheese on top.  Then baked.  Don't think about it too much, you'll be sad about the calories.  I can assure you though, it is absolutely worth it.  It's kind of like a combination of my two favorite summer sandwiches: tomato and mayo and tomato and cheese.  Clearly, I enjoy summer tomatoes.

I thought that I'd try to lighten this up a little bit, and add in some other farm share goodies that are about to go bad.  So, I lightened up the cheese topping with Greek yogurt, and added zucchini.  The results?  Amazing.

Summer Tomato and Zucchini Pie:

For the Pie:
2 Medium Tomatoes
1 1/2 Zucchini
1 Pie Crust

For the Topping:
1/2 Cup Mayo (please God get the full fat - the low cal isn't worth it)
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
4 Sweet/Spicy Cherry Peppers (I found mine at Trader Joe's, but any kind of jarred pepper/pimentos would work)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Roll out your pie crust and place into a greased pie pan.  Poke a lot of holes in it, then pre-bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is a little brown.  Allow it to cool somewhat before filling, but do not turn off the oven.

While that's cooking, chop the zucchini into circles and the tomatoes into slices.  Place the tomatoes onto paper towels and salt both sides.  Allow to drain for 20-30 min; this helps the pie crust stay firm.

Next, make up your topping.  Since my peppers were large, I threw them into the food processor for a second, so they'd be chopped up.  Mix everything together, adding more cheese if it seems too loose. Salt and pepper to taste!

To make the pie, simply layer the tomatoes and zucchini into the pie crust.

Top with the cheese mixture and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

I like mine a little more on the crispy side, so I did about 40 minutes.

Allow to cool, then enjoy!

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite thing to make with summer produce? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Liebster Award

So, the other day, something really awesome happened.  I was nominated for a Liebster Award by the delightful Lizzi at Relish the Scoop.  I'm super excited, especially since I never win anything, and am touched that she nominated me.  Also, her name is Lizzi, so she's clearly amazing.  Thanks girl!  And, what a great way to get to know each other better.

The rules for a Liebster Award are as follows:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you. 
  • You have to answer all the questions you were given by the person who nominated you.
  • You must choose 5-11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers (I used Facebook likes), and come up with a new set of 11 questions for them.
  • Let your nominees know they are nominated.
I have chosen the delightful bloggers at:
Bagels to Broccoli

1. How did you decide what you were going to write about on your blog?

It was pretty easy for me; cooking was the only hobby I had that I felt would translate into a blog. I'm not super fitnessy (I go to the gym just enough to moderately offset the cookies), I don't really craft, etc. I do love to read, but I didn't think that would be a great blog topic for the long haul. So, cooking it was.

2. Do you have any children? How do they influence your blogging?

I don't have kids, but I do babysit a lot, so I'm around them. A couple of them have starred on this blog before here.  I try to cook with them as much as possible, since I want them to have good life skills, but I don't think they really influence my blogging. Definitely my life though.

3. What is your favorite thing to read?

Honestly, basically anything.  I just really, really love reading.  A lot.  Right now, I'm reading Conduct Under Fire, which is about 4 American doctors who become POWs under the Japanese during World War II.  I find that time period absolutely fascinating and kind of (definitely) wish that I had lived in it.  Before this, I read The Poisonwood Bible, which is about a Christian missionary family who goes to the Congo right before/during their independence.  I seriously love to read everything, so any suggestions are more than welcome.

4. How has blogging changed your life?

Well, it's definitely made me a more confident cook.  There are many things that I'm not sure I would have tried, had I not thought that putting them on the blog would be fun.  Some of them are fails, which is ok.  So that's maybe the other thing it's taught me - failing isn't the actual end of the world.  Even if you put in on the internet.

5. What is your favorite blog?

Ooooh, that's a tough one.  The first blog I ever read was Cheap Healthy Good, so that obviously has a special place in my heart.  But I think my current favorite is How Sweet It Is.  The women who writes it is absolutely hilarious.  Clearly, we share a sense of humor.  And her recipes...gah.  SO GOOD.

6. What is your happy thought/place?


7. Do you like to cook, bake, or both?

I used to prefer baking, but I think I've switched and now prefer cooking.  Don't get me wrong, I still love to bake, but I think cooking better lends itself to experimentation.  There is a lot more science in baking, and while I'm a good directions follower (which I swear is really the key to being a decent baker), to be a good cook, you don't have to be as precise to get a delicious result.

8. What could you talk about for hours?

Basically anything.  I'm chatty.

9. Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Oh so very many.  In no particular order: Applebee's, Wendy's, trash TV, day-long naps, Pinterest, Danielle Steel novels....I could go on, but it's just getting embarrassing now.

10. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Dog person all the way.

11. What is your favorite board game?

Cards Against Humanity.  I love anything that brings out the most ridiculous and sketchy in people.

Now, love ladies listed above, it's your turn!

1) Why did you start blogging?
2) What is your favorite Robin Williams movie?
3) Do you have any pets?
4) If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
5) What's your favorite book?
6) What do you do to relax?
7) If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want the most?
8) Did you go to college?  If so, where?
9) If you could chose to go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
10) What is your favorite 90's television show?
11) What is your ultimate comfort food?