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Category Archives: Recipes

“Y’know, this pasta is delicious, but it could really use more booze.”

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That’s what I assume the thought process was for whoever invented vodka sauce. I didn’t know much about vodka sauce, until I made this and turned to my trusty friend, Wikipedia. Oh, Wikipedia, all those college professors said I couldn’t use you as a source, but they didn’t say I couldn’t use you as the primary way to find sources, but really just quote from you… I digress, I didn’t know much except vodka sauce is deeelicious. Turns out the alcohol in vodka, much like wine, enhances certain flavors, especially in tomatoes. This, combined with a bunch of cream and butter makes for a great time. I do the grocery shopping ’round here but usually ask The Wife for input as to what she would like to eat for the week. I don’t know why I keep doing this, since it seems to irrationally fluster her and she usually just blurts out “I JUST WANT SUSHI!!” but this time she contributed “a light pasta would be nice.”  Maybe it would, Wife, but light is not on the table tonight. I present you penne alla vodka with fresh basil and prosciutto.

Bonus prosciutto shot.

Ice Cream Sunday: Nutella & Peanut Butter Cup

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Mmmm, Nutella. Thank you, Ferrero, for making chocolate in spreadable form an acceptable condiment for breakfast, or anytime.  This ice cream is based off of my favorite college poor man’s desserts. Take a spoonful of peanut butter, spoonful of peanut butter, let them mate onto one spoon and you have a treat fit for a king. That’s your recipe right there, goodnight. But wait, it is ice cream Sunday so we will alter this up a bit and cram some cream in there.

Get some:

*half a jar of nutella

*2 cups whole milk

*1 1/2 cups heavy cream

*handful or two of miniature peanut butter cups from Trader Joes. If you don’t have a Trader Joes, you are on your own

*a couple Reeses cups

*3 egg yolks

*1/2 cup sugar

*pinch of salt

Do work:

In a large bowl, put your nutella and couple Reeses cups.

Heat milk with sugar and salt until warm.

Add egg yolks and cook on medium until thickened just slightly.

Poor mixture over nutella and whisk well until nutella and cups are melted.

Add heavy cream and stir.

From here, follow your ice cream maker instructions. Add miniature cups about 3/4 of the way through.

It’s a pretty simple ice cream, but super rich and indulgent, so that means try to limit yourself to a small bowl…and then go get more, so it doesn’t look like you have too much in front of you at one time.

Bonus pic of how I conquer every new Nutella jar I acquire.

The Best Mac & Cheese You Have Ever Eaten?

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Control yourselves.

Look, I’m sure you have your favorite mac & cheese. Maybe you are a kraft purist and don’t even consider something cheese if it isn’t powdered. Maybe some homemade or restaurant version blew your mind and you call it the best ever. Previous to perfecting this recipe, mine was from Slows BBQ in Detroit. This is better. Much better. In my opinion. I am going to take the Glenn Beck approach to this statement. I am not saying definitively that this is the best mac & cheese in the world, but it might be.  I didn’t say it was better than any other cheese and pasta concoction you ever put in your mouth, but shouldn’t we ask ourselves if there’s a possibility that it is? Shouldn’t we? I take no responsibility for this comments if they prove to be untrue. After all, this is just an opinion blog. A delicious, delicious opinion blog.

Chives and cheese about to do battle

That’s it.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s unhealthy to just eat mac & cheese for dinner. Also pictured is some cheddar herb beer bread, which I may post a recipe for at a later date, but you don’t really need anything else.  Eat until you feel somewhere between guilty and uncomfortable.

Moving to the City, Gonna’ Eat Me a Lot of Peaches.

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I always have a hard time knowing when certain fruits are in season. I can be found squealing in the produce department whenever I see the first good pomegranate of the year, and who the hell knows when you can get a decent plum? But apparently it is peach season now, because they are filling up stalls at the farmers market and practically spilling out the doors of every grocery store. Whole Foods was selling them at 99 cents a pound, and when Whole Foods sells something that cheap, you know they have got to move that product. So I said to myself, “Self, I want to make something delicious with these peaches, but I am feeling very lazy.” And then it hit me. Refrigerated biscuit dough.  A key ingredient in many lazy concoctions in this house (ghetto donuts, anyone?) So here I present you with a surprisingly good peach tart-like-thing. It’s the easiest tart since Bristol Palin. **rimshot** .

Surely you can obtain these things:

* A couple pounds of peaches

*1 can of refrigerated biscuits

*2 tablespoons butter, softened

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*1/2 cup mascarpone 

*1 tablespoon honey

*As much cinnamon you would like

Surely you have 10 minutes to spare:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Mix together brown sugar, butter, and some cinnamon.

In a separate vessel, mix mascarpone, honey, and some more cinnamon.

Take 1 biscuit if you would like a small tart, 2 if you would like a larger tart. Smoosh together well if you have two.

Roll out the biscuit until it is pretty thin. 1/8 of an inch? I’unno, this is supposed to be easy here.

Spread some of the butter/brown sugar mix on the dough, then arrange the peaches in middle as beautifully as you have patience for.

Fold over edges of the dough to create a tart-esque treat.

Bake on parchment until dough is brown, I think I did like 10 minutes.

Top your tart with the mascarpone mixture, eat, and have a good, hearty laugh at all those schmucks out there laboring over a legitimate pie crust.

Bonus relevant music video. Hello, nostalgia:

Wild Mushroom & Leek Risotto (It’s easier than you think.)

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This recipe doesn’t have any bacon in it. It does, however, have a lot of another favorite of mine, fungi. As far as I am concerned, mushrooms are pretty much the bacon of the forest. This recipe is a pretty standard risotto recipe and is actually very difficult to screw up as long as you are patient and attentive. Let’s get to the ingredients, shall we?

Gather:

*2 cups Arborio rice

*4 cups chicken stock

*2 1/2 cups white wine

*1 onion

*1 clove garlic

*1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

*a bunch of shrooms, whatever you can get. The wilder and fresher the better. In this case, I went with some fresh Brown Clamshells and Dried Wood Ear mushrooms. Get as exotic as you like here.

*at least 1 leek, more if you like it extra leeky.

*3 tablespoons butter

Pay Attention:

Chop your mushrooms to your desired size, this will vary depending what kind of forest bacon you have chosen. Sauté  your shrooms at high heat with a little butter and olive oil, maybe some salt and pepper, maybe some thyme, but don’t overdo it.

Finely dice onion, mince garlic.

Add chicken stock and wine to a pot and heat on low. Keep warm.

Add onion, garlic, butter, and rice to a medium sized pot, large enough that it will handle the ever-expanding risotto.

Sauté on medium-low heat until onions and rice are becoming translucent, but not browning.

Add a ladle of the stock & wine to the rice and stir constantly until it is absorbed.

At this point, it’s a matter of adding the liquid, one ladle at a time and stirring almost constantly. The slower you go and more you stir, the creamier and better your risotto will be. Don’t pour a bunch of liquid in and go watch Jeopardy (do people still watch Jeopardy?) or something and you should be fine. Total cooking time will be around 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast your leek whole, making sure to rinse it thoroughly beforehand.

When your risotto is about 2/3 done, add the mushrooms.

Wait until it is completely done to add the Parmigiano.

Roughly Chop leeks and put on top, toss a little extra cheese on there and bam, you have a damn impressive dish.

Word.

Bonus sexy parmigiano grating action shot.

Ice Cream Sunday: Lemon Blueberry Sorbet

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This week’s edition of Ice Cream Sunday isn’t ice cream at all, but sorbet. Why? Well maybe we still have seven pounds of frozen blueberries to get creative with, maybe somebody forgot to buy ice cream making ingredients this week, or maybe a certain somebody’s pants popping a snap put some things into perspective. Either way, this recipe counts. Plus, it is easy and delicious.

All It Takes:

*1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (bloobs)

*3 lemons

*1 1/2 cups filtered water

*3/4 cup white sugar

*2 tablespoons brandy

What to do:

Heat your frozen bloobs on medium until they all pop and are very juicy, but don’t reduce at all.

Strain blueberries through a mesh strainer, getting all the juice you can out of them.

While you are at it, juice the lemons over the strainer so it catches all the seeds.

Zest one lemon. Add the zest, sugar, and water to a pot and heat until boiling, then remove from heat and add to your juice.

Add one or two tablespoons of brandy. The brandy adds a unique depth of flavor, plus alcohol improves the texture of your sorbet.

Garnish with a candied lemon peel.

Chill the mixture really well, and then follow your ice cream maker’s instructions.  You could actually probably make this, or any sorbet, without an ice cream maker. Just put in a shallow dish, freeze, and pull it out to stir up every half hour or so. It may not turn out as gorgeous as the below picture, but it will probably pass.  Maybe next week we will be back to ice cream, maybe we will make frozen Weight Watchers shake pops, we’ll see.

¡Oye! Quieres Chilaquiles?

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Hola, bienvenidos a mi blog. Since Wife & I are both from Southern Arizona, we are constantly bitching to each other and to anyone who will listen about the lack of quality Mexican food out here in the Midwest (all Rick Bayless restaurants excluded.) I spent a good day researching and tracking down some legit tamales for traditional Christmas eve dinner. I don’t end up cooking Mexican food very often, but when I do, I guarantee it is better than 90% of the sludge served at overpriced cantinas around. Today, we are making Chilaquiles. Traditionally a breakfast, specifically hangover breakfast, Mexican dish, it is very flexible in terms of ingredients, so you may have had the dish before and it may only slightly resemble this dish. Since we often have breakfast for dinner, there is no reason not to have a Mexican breakfast for dinner, cierto? ¡CIERTO!

Ingredientes (for two portions):

*4 eggs

*6 corn tortillas

*as much chorizo as you would like

*1/3 pound monteray jack cheese

*1 avocado

*sour cream

*cilantro

*3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for fryin’

*red sauce. Now, if you want to get complicated, look up a Mexican red chili sauce recipe. If you want to be quick, do as I did and take half a jar of Frontera Chipotle salsa and pure with 2 garlic cloves until very smooth.

Bueno, vamanos. 

Cook up your chorizo until it is…cooked.

Fry your tortillas in hot oil. I prefer to leave them somewhere between soft and hard. You are going to be pouring sauce on them anyway, so fry to your liking.

Heat your sauce.

Finely chop cilantro, slice avocado.

Fry your eggs, in the chorizo grease, obviously. Do not flip, but when they are partially cooked, top with shredded cheese and then put under broiler until cheese is melted.

Compose as such:

Spread some sauce on plate, place 3 tortillas atop sauce. Put chorizo on tortillas, then eggs atop chorizo. Cover with remaining sauce and top with avocado, cilantro, and a generous dollop of sour cream.

 

Bread, a Love Story

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beauty

Oh, sourdough. I do not recall when we first met. Perhaps it was on a blustery San Francisco morn, perhaps it was on a simple sandwich. I do know that before I came to appreciate your holey intricacies, my love for you was growing slowly, steadily, deep in my belly.

There are few things better than fresh bread. I am not much of a baker, but I yearned to make bread. We got a bread maker for a wedding gift and I immediately set out making all the various loafs in the book. Something was missing though, it seemed too easy. The loafs, while good, lacked soul. As I watched through the small steamy window at the paddle kneading the dough, I wished I were that paddle, and though I ate the bread with gusto, I only felt more empty afterwards.

Okay, it’s not as intense as that, but I really wanted to start making some badass bread, and then I learned that you can make sourdough in a Dutch oven using a no knead method and did a little more research and found out how easy it is to maintain sourdough starter, so last week I set out on a mission. I obtained a starter from the reputable, Breadtopia and within five days of ordering, a beautiful, crispy hot loaf was upon our table. Here was the process.

“But wait,” you say. “You didn’t teach us anything. Is this just meant to gloat, why such a braggart?” I don’t want to take credit where it is not due. I pretty much followed exactly the instructions for the starter from Breadtopia, and then used this no knead recipe from the same site as a guide.  It really was super easy and I encourage everyone to bake your own bread, at least once. I could continue to wax poetic about my lust for yeast, but I will instead leave you with this, stated better than I ever could.

 

Bread, 

you rise

from flour, 
water
and fire.
Dense or light,
flattened or round,
you duplicate
the mother’s
rounded womb,
and earth’s
twice-yearly
swelling.
How simple
you are, bread,
and how profound!
You line up
on the baker’s 
powdered trays
like silverware or plates
or pieces of paper
and suddenly
life washes 
over you,
there’s the joining of seed
and fire,
and you’re growing, growing
all at once
like
hips, mouths, breasts,
mounds of earth,
or people’s lives.
The temperature rises, you’re overwhelmed
by fullness, the roar
of fertility,
and suddenly 
your golden color is fixed.
And when your little wombs
were seeded,
a brown scar
laid its burn the length
of your two halves’
toasted
juncture.
Now, 
whole,
you are 
mankind’s energy,
a miracle often admired,
the will to live itself.

O bread familiar to every mouth,
we will not kneel before you:
men
do no
implore
unclear gods
or obscure angels:
we will make our own bread
out of sea and soil,
we will plant wheat
on our earth and the planets,
bread for every mouth, 
for every person,
our daily bread. 
Because we plant its seed
and grow it
not for one man
but for all,
there will be enough:
there will be bread
for all the peoples of the earth.
And we will also share with one another
whatever has
the shape and the flavor of bread:
the earth itself,
beauty
and love–
all
taste like bread
and have its shape,
the germination of wheat.
Everything
exists to be shared,
to be freely given,
to multiply.

This is why, bread,
if you flee
from mankind’s houses,
if they hide you away
or deny you,
if the greedy man
pimps for you or 
the rich man 
takes you over,
if the wheat
does not yearn for the furrow and the soil:
then, bread, 
we will refuse to pray:
bread
we will refuse to beg.
We will fight for you instead, side by side with the others,
with everyone who knows hunger.
We will go after you
in every river and in the air.
We will divide the entire earth among ourselves
so that you may germinate,
and the earth will go forward
with us:
water, fire, and mankind
fighting at our side.
Crowned
with sheafs of wheat, 
we  will win
earth and bread for everyone.
Then 
life itself
will have the shape of bread,
deep and simple, 
immeasurable and pure.
Every living thing
will have its share
of soil and life,
and the bread we eat each morning,
everyone’s daily bread,
will be hallowed
and sacred,
because it will have been won
by the longest and costliest
of human struggles.

This earthly Victory
does not have wings:
she wears bread on her shoulders instead.
Courageously she soars,
setting the world free,
like a baker
born aloft on the wind.

-Pablo Neruda, Ode to Bread

Ice Cream Sunday: Salted Caramel & Pistachio

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The pistachio is by far my favorite nut, but I feel it is often unappreciated, especially as an ice cream flavor. Perhaps it’s that unnatural green color they always seem to make it. Caramel is by far my favorite thing, overall. So combining the two seems perfect. I ran into this fleur de sel caramel sauce at TJ’s and knew what needed to be done. So I did it. Now here’s some instructions so you can do it.

Your needs:

*1 cup whole milk

*2 cups heavy cream

*3 egg yolks

*1 vanilla bean

*3/4 cup sugar

*2 cups shelled pistachios

*1 jar caramel sauce

Do it:

Shell and peel the skin off 2 cups of pistachios, or have your spouse do it with threats of withholding delicious ice cream if they do not comply.

Split vanilla bean, scrape out innards.

Warm milk, sugar and vanilla bean, then stir in 3 tablespoons of the caramel sauce. Take off heat and cover for one hour.

Add egg yolks to milk mixture and heat on medium, stirring constantly until it thickens slightly.

Add milk mixture to cream, in a bowl over an ice bath and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Follow instructions of your ice cream maker, and when nearly done, mix in pistachios and some more caramel sauce.

For extra awesomeness, heat any remaining caramel sauce and drizzle over ice cream when served.

Bacon Burger That Will Blow Your Mind.

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Any schmuck can make a hamburger and slap some bacon on top. We are putting a twist ending on this bad boy. I consider this the Inception of burgers. The bacon, you see, is inside the burger. I know, I know, you are confused and overly excited at the same time. Sit back, relax and let me show you the way. Here we have the bacon-infused, caramelized vidalia onion, roasted red pepper, smoked blue cheese burger. On a pretzel roll.

Supplies (all Trader Joes):

*1 pound quality ground sirloin

*4 strips awesome bacon

*1 tomato

*2 pretzel rolls

*1 red pepper

*1 Vidalia onion

*2 shallots

*1/3 poundish blue cheese (moody bleu smoked blue cheese used here)

*Mustard

*Salt ‘n Peppa

*NO KETCHUP ALLOWED!

Shall We?

Start by roasting your red pepper. If you have never done this, it is not difficult. Put it in a heavy baking pan and put on highest rack in oven, under broiler. when one side is charred, rotate. Once done, take out and cover with a towel while it cools. The skin will come off super easy.

Fry your bacon, not crispy. You want it cooked maybe 2/3 of the way, as it will cook more why you cook your burger.

Thinly slice the onion and toss in a pan with a tablespoon of butter and sautee on medium until they are good and caramelized

Mince the shallots and chop the bacon, then mix in with your meat. Form into two patties.  (Yeah this recipe is just for two burgers, you have a problem with that?)

Grill up your burgers. This is the point where I wish we had a grill and patio at our current domicile, but alas we do not, so I am confined to the griddle. If you do have a grill, grill on.

Thinly slice your tomaters.

Cut the cheese.

Slice and lightly toast your pretzel rolls, then compile and cross your fingers that you don’t die just from the beauty of it.

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