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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.

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.

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.

I Scream. You Scream. We All Scream For Milk Chocolate-Stout-Pretzel-Bacon Ice Cream.

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It’s almost June, and after completely skipping Spring, Chicago is refusing to accept the oncoming Summer.

 

So while it is storming like crazy outside, I am defying the gods and making ice cream anyway. An ice cream that is actually pretty perfect for a day such as this. We got the ice cream maker attachment for our stand mixer as a wedding gift, and it has probably gotten more mileage than any other gift. If making ice cream is new to you, but you are interested in getting started, I highly recommend starting with David Lebovits’  “The Perfect Scoop” and from there you can tinker and experiment as you wish. Go crazy. With that in mind, I present to you:

Milk Chocolate, Stout, Pretzel & Bacon Ice Cream

What you need:

*Ice cream maker

*Candied bacon chunks. “Hey, how do I candy bacon?” you ask. Sigh, must I do everything for you? 

*Pretzel bits

*4 ounces quality milk chocolate, chopped

*4 egg yolks

*1 1/2 cups heavy cream

*1 cup whole milk

*1/2 cup sugar

*8 ounces stout of your choosing. When in doubt, go Guinness.

*2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*Pinch of salt

What you do:

Heat milk, sugar, and salt until warm

Add egg yolks and heat on medium until it thickens slightly. You do NOT want scrambled eggs here.

Pour mixture in a large bowl over your chopped up chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted

Add cream, stout & vanilla.

Chill your mixture for at least a few hours. From here, it depends on your ice cream maker. The stand mixer attachment is about as easy as it gets, you just need to make sure your batter is thoroughly chilled and the bowl is completely frozen. If you have something else, do whatever those instructions say to do.

Make your ice cream, but wait until it is done before you fold in your bacon and pretzels. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of pretzel crumbs gritty-ing up your ‘scream.

Now, I know some of you may be skeptical about this ice cream flavor combination but you are just going to have to trust me. Think about it, do you like bacon? beer? pretzels? chocolate? Okay, then what’s the problem? If you have any further doubts, the following image should erase all your concerns.

How could anything possibly be wrong with this?

Maple Bacon Bourbon Pecan Crunch!

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What better way to kick this off than with a totally unnecessary delicious snack. Really it’s good for any occasion, like a big game, holiday gifts, or breakfast. I present you MBBPC. It involves very basic candy making, which I am not a fan of but is really a lot less daunting once you do it. It basically just  involves looking at a thermometer and trying not to burn your hands off. So anyway, the ingredients needed are as follows:

A bunch of pecans, like a pound of them

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup real maple syrup (this stuff is expensive, don’t be ashamed to get it from Costco like we do.)

Some slabs of quality bacon. Real thick smoky stuff.

1/4 cup bourbon. I don’t drink bourbon but cook with it a whole lot. I guess any non-bottom-shelf variety will do. This happens to be Willy Nelson’s own brand, whom I trust completely.

A chunk of butter

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

The usual suspects

Here we go:

Cook bacon ’til pretty well done, you want it on the crispy side.

Put brown sugar and syrup in a medium heavy pot, add bourbon. Turn to medium and stir with silicon spatula.

Cook this till it is good and bubbly, 240 degrees.  Then add the butter. Stir occasionally and cook until just around 300.

Mmm bubbly

Take off heat, carefully add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt . Stir it up and watch it get all foamy, then quickly poor over the pecans and chopped bacon in a huge bowl.

Stir until evenly coated, being careful not to get any delicious lava on your hands, then spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Bake in the oven at 250 for like 45 minutes, then let cool completely.

Eat this.

Eat.

You can probably store some in an airtight container for a week or so, but if you are like us you will just eat it all before the night is over.

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