Bacon Squash Sauté

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The other day, I was chatting with a lady that runs a stand at her local farmer’s market every Saturday. We were making each other salivate as we talked about food, swapping recipes, & sharing ideas when she told me about this recipe. A few days later I tried it out for lunch, adding my own touches, & ate every last little bit. I will definitely be making it again.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 1 small zucchini
  • onion, chopped, about 2-3 tbsps.
  • Lowry’s seasoning salt
  • garlic powder
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 slices bacon

Preparation:

Wash & pat dry the squash & zucchini, cut off the ends. Cut lengthwise in halves & with each half, depending on size of squash, cut lengthwise again, & then cut, dicing in 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl & season, to your liking, with seasoning salt, garlic powder, & fresh cracked black pepper. Stir to coat; add more if needed. Dice up a bit of onion, again to your liking. I used red, but white or yellow would work fine, too.  Toss in bowl & stir. Allow to marinate while you cook the bacon.

In a skillet over medium heat, cut slices of bacon using kitchen shears, into smaller than bite sized pieces. Cook until done & crispy. Transfer bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towels. Without draining the bacon grease in skillet, add the seasoned squash & onion mix to the skillet. Cook until squash begins to soften, but not squishy. You want it to still have a bit of crunch. Toss back in the bacon pieces, stir to incorporate in with squash, serve in a bowl, eat, & enjoy. You could also top with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese, if you want, but you certainly wouldn’t miss it if you opt not to.

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Another Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Another Choc Chip Cookie

Whenever I see a recipe labeled as “The Best Ever _____” I’m one part intrigued and other part eye roll because it’s touted entirely too much. Very seldom is something worthy of the title. I’m of the belief “Best Evers” typically only fall under the category of someone’s, “My Favorite” which, of course, they deem ‘Best Ever’. Right? We nurture our taste buds based on what we’re used to and quite likely, what we grew up with because food can certainly tease out a memory, a time, a place. Also, more often than not, recipes don’t vary enough to alter the taste of something to make a drastic enough difference.

When I came across this recipe and noted enough of a variation, I figured I’d give it a go. I opted out of using the maple extract because I’m not a fan of maple and have enough of a discernible palate to taste the difference, even at a half of teaspoon. Case in point: growing up during Christmas, my mom would make red, white, and green cookies using the cookie press and I could taste the difference – the only difference being the dye. My brothers refused to believe me and were somewhat awestruck after they blind folded me to the point I couldn’t even make out any light whatsoever and could; in fact, tell the difference between the cookies based exclusively on taste.

Is this a good cookie? Yes. Is it something I’d label Best Ever? No. What did I like best about it? Turbinado sugar, for sure. Try it for yourself to see what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened (I used unsalted)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar (aka Turbinado), more to top on dough balls
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract (I omitted this)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled
  • 4 tsps. cornstarch
  • 2 tsps. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 10oz bag mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation: 

In a large bowl, beat the butter until light & fluffy, about two minutes; scraping the sides and bottom. Add the brown, white, and raw sugar; beat for 1 minute. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and maple extract; beat until combined. On top of this mixture, add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt & use a small spoon to stir it in. Beat on low speed just until flour is incorporated; scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

At this point, you can tightly cover and chill the dough for several hours or a day, or not, do whatever floats your boat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle a little raw sugar on the top of each dough ball, and bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Recipe from: https://thefoodcharlatan.com/best-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

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Big Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast Sandwich

Most days I only eat 2 meals a day; this is always a given on the weekend. Typically, I’m not hungry for hours after waking, and a cup of coffee with cream, hot or iced, keeps me sated until lunch. That being said, I love brunch for the time of day and how it generally consists of a little bit of everything & then some. This breakfast sandwich (that I often make for brunch) is one that keeps me full until dinner. No particular recipe, per se, but always consists of a hearty bread (in this case Sourdough), one that can withstand the weight of thick cut bacon, breakfast potatoes, and cheesy scrambled eggs. Normally, when I make breakfast/ brunch it’s for a family of 4 and I’m the only one who assembles it all into a sandwich, whereas the others eat it all separately.

I always start by baking the bacon first at 425 degrees, especially since I use thick cut Hickory smoked bacon, it takes the longest. I line a baking pan with foil, spray with non-stick spray, and arrange the bacon on the pan, pop it in the oven for 12 minutes and get started on the potatoes.

One large potato is generally enough, sometimes two if they’re on the small side. I slice the potato, fairly thin and in a small pan, over medium high heat, melt a little butter and add a bit of extra virgin olive oil. I toss the slices of potato in and add some fine chopped onion and garlic as well. I give it a few stirs, before adding a bit of water as it helps to soften and cook them, and place with a cover. I stir and toss throughout, adding more water if necessary, and once they’re near done, I season liberally with salt, fresh ground pepper, and a shake or two of red pepper flakes.

At the 12 minute mark of the bacon, I remove from the oven and turn each slice over before returning to the oven to for another 12 minutes or so. Once it’s done, I transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the grease, and add another couple of paper towels to blot the top of the bacon.

I lightly beat the eggs, sprinkle with Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, and cook them in a pan coated with a little extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Once they are near scrambled, but still wet enough, I sprinkle with Colby jack cheese, stir to incorporate, and cook until finished.

Last, but not least, toast the bread, butter if you like, and assemble your very own big breakfast (or brunch) sandwich. Enjoy!

 

 

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Recipe Redux: Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream Frosting

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Have you ever made something and then allowed 6 more years to pass before making it again only to discover one of the prepackaged ingredients has changed and you have to guesstimate? That’s what happened tonight while baking these cupcakes for a friend. The base recipe is relatively unchanged, but because Kraft now makes little caramel bits instead of cubes of cellophane wrapped caramels, I had to instill the help of my sous chef, aka Leah, who surprisingly enough, remembered the approximate size of the cubed caramels, and decided 14 caramel bits are equivalent to one aforementioned cellophane wrapped caramels. Luckily, she obliged and only mildly gave me a hard time when I requested she help and promptly counted out 210 caramel bits. Of course now that I write that, I realize I should have added all the little bits to a measuring cup prior to melting them to make it easier for next time. Ah, hindsight!

Ingredients: 

For the cupcakes: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk, divided
  • 15 caramel candies, unwrapped or 210 Kraft caramel bits (I promise next time to measure)
  • Additional caramel bits, for garnish 
  • Sea salt
  • Sea salt

Preparation: 

For the cupcakes: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Cream together butter, cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, & oil until light & fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well until combined.

Beginning and ending with flour, alternate flour and buttermilk, mixing and scraping the  sides of the bowl down between each addition.

Distribute batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with few crumbs on it. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack completely.

For the frosting: 

Beat together butter, cream cheese, & vanilla extract until light & fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add powdered sugar & 3 tbsps milk, beating until well combined. Cover & refrigerate.

Melt the caramel bits and 1 tbsp milk in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, until caramel is completely melted. Set aside to cool. I have found transferring caramel to another bowl and stirring, will help it cool. You do not want to add hot melted caramel to your frosting otherwise you will have soup and need to start over! It needs to be cooled enough so that it’s soft and pliable. Using beaters, mix the caramel into the frosting; combining well.

Cover and refrigerate frosting for 30-45 minutes prior to frosting to help it set up. Frost cupcakes, garnish with extra caramel bits, & sprinkle with sea salt.

Note: Although I allowed the frosting to refrigerate for 45 minutes, after transferring it  into a piping bag & decorating accordingly, in an already warm kitchen, it didn’t take long for it to work against me. I say all of that to say: work fast!

Source: http://www.thekitchenismyplayground.com/2012/11/salted-caramel-cupcakes.html

 

 

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Chocolate Cupcakes

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What’s not to love about a little cup of chocolate cake for a birthday? I made these for a good friend’s birthday a few months ago.

Ingredients

for the cupcake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot water

for the frosting:

  • 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 3 tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and prepare cupcake pan with liners. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients; set aside. In a medium size bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Add the hot water to the batter and mix until well combined. Batter will be thin.

Fill the cupcake liners about half way and bake for 18-23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean, or with few crumbs. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling completely.

To make the frosting, beat butter in a large mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add the melted chocolate (after it has cooled slightly) and mix until well combined. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Add half of the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp of heavy cream and mix until well combined. Add remaining powdered sugar and pinch of salt and mix until smooth; add remaining heavy cream, as needed, for desired frosting consistency.

Note: I usually have a lot of frosting left over.

Source: http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com

 

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Chile Colorado Burritos

Chile Colorado Burrito

Mexican food is in regular rotation at our place. Like usual, we have our go to items, and every once in a while, I see something that makes me pause for consideration. This was one of those times.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. stew meat
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese

Preparation:

To make the enchilada sauce, whisk together tomato sauce, Caldo de Tomate, garlic powder, chili powder, and flour in a medium size sauce pan. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.

Place the stew meat in the crockpot, pour in the enchilada sauce, stir to incorporate, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Spoon some of the enchilada sauce from the crockpot into the bottom of a 9×13 pan, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Shred the beef, spoon into tortillas, roll, and place seam side down in the pan. Repeat until pan is full. Turn the oven on to broil Spoon more sauce over the tortillas and top with shredded cheese. Broil in oven until cheese is melted, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with beans and rice.

Source:  http://www.plainchicken.com/2012/07/chile-colorado-burritos-slow-cooker.html

 

 

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Coconut Cream Pie Bars

slice of coconut cream pie bar

I first tried my hand at this recipe several years ago and it was disappointingly lackluster. At the time, my mom jotted down tips and suggestions and it’s been hanging out in my 3-ring binder ever since. After consulting her notes, and viewing several different recipes, I came up with a conglomeration which resulted in a worthy post.

Ingredients:

for the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups ground Club crackers
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract

for the topping:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut toasted

Preparation:

for the crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine crust ingredients and press into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden brown; allow to cool completely. Since this is a dessert that doesn’t require further baking, now is the time to toast the coconut for the topping. Reduce heat to 325 degrees, spread 1 cup of sweetened coconut on baking sheet. Place in oven for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes to prevent the coconut from the burning; set aside.

for the filling: 

In bowl, whisk together half and half and egg yolks. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch slowly add in the half & half/ egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Turn the heat up to high and stir continually until the sauce has thickened, coating the whisk. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, coconut, & coconut extract until well combined. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, an hour or so. Once completely cooled, spread over the cracker crust.

for the topping: 

Beat together the cream, slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until cream forms peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the pie filling layer and top by sprinkling toasted coconut all over. Refrigerate until time to serve. Enjoy!

forkful of coconut cream pie bar

*Notes: in the future, I might double the pie filling and half the topping. Doubling the pie filling, but not reducing the topping would prevent the glass pan’s top from fitting properly.

Posted in Bars/ Brownies, Desserts, Pie, Uncategorized | 1 Comment