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“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.

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:

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.

Bob’s Ultimate BLT (Actually, BBLACT)

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Sandwiching is a passion for me (and if you consider a hamburger to be a sandwich, then it’s my biggest passion.) The BLT is a classic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. I call this monster of a sandwich BBLACT (Bacon, Bacon, Lettuce, Avacado, Cheese, Tomato.) Lets take a closer look at the ingredients:

Get your s*&^ together!

*Bacon. We are actually rolling with two bacons here, because, look at the website name. First we have a top quality, THICK  local applewood smoked bacon, then we have some pancetta,  the Italian cured bacon equivalent that can actually be eaten uncooked, but we are of course frying up for this work of art.

*Lettuce, or more specifically, arugula for this purpose because arugula is delicious and its peppery flavor compliments the bacon like a charm.

*Avocado, because when have you ever encountered an avocado in a sandwich and not been happy about it?

*Cheese. For some reason, most BLT’s don’t usually have cheese. I find this borderline insulting. Now, we don’t want something that will overpower the bacon, or tons of it, but in moderation, cheese should always be welcome to the sandwich party. Here we are going with a mild smoked gouda, but not too much

*Tomato, coming into season, you can find some awesome heirloom varieties out there. A bad tomato can really be a buzz kill on a BLT, but a delicious one will make it extra awesome.

*Red onion, but not too much. Not enough even to deserve a letter in the name, a few thin slices should do.

*Bread is up to you, but go with something good and soft in the middle, without too hard of a crust. With a sandwich this huge, you don’t want a hard crust cutting up your mouth as you try to devour it. I got this loaf at Whole Paycheck.

Mayonnaise is NOT an ingredient. I hope I don’t lose to many of you here, but I despise mayo. I guess I was born without the Paula Deen gene, but I just don’t understand the appeal. My condiment of choice is always mustard and in this case we have an amazing champagne whole grain mustard that we got from the National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin, because we are awesome and really know how to party on vacation.

Let’s do this:

The composition of a sandwich is much more important than most people acknowledge. I won’t go into detail with my stacking opinions, because this post is already pretty ranty, but let this beautiful photo be your guide.

And there you have it, folks. I believe this to be the best BLT in the world, but sandwiches are very much a matter of personal preference. I know some out there may decide to use this recipe and put mayo on it, which is regrettable, but something I cannot change. Ironically, this is probably the only thing on this blog that does not need more bacon.

Ice Cream Sunday: Michigan Blueberry, Vanilla Bean & Waffle Cone

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We were at the farmer’s market yesterday and got a recommendation to “check out the blueberry guy.” We did check out the “Blueberry Guy” and learned a lot about blueberries. He was selling frozen blueberries, but not just any frozen blueberries.  These blueberries (or bloobs, as we call them in this household,) are from Michigan and are from the first pick, where as most other frozen blueberries are generally the last pick of the season, after all the best ones have been sold off fresh. Flash frozen, these bloobs are top-of-the-line frozen Plantae Vaccinium. So we bought ten pounds.

And on the perfect 85 degree day, what better way to utilize these bloobs than with an Ice Cream, which for the season, will be a weekly feature on this blog, so I present you with the second installment of Ice Cream Sunday:

Get the goods:

*2 cups heavy cream

*1 cup whole milk

*1 vanilla bean pod

*4 egg yolks

*2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

*2/3 cup sugar

*1 pinch of salt

*A couple of waffle cones

Let’s get creamy:

Split your vanilla bean and scrape out the innards. Add to milk and salt, and warm on stove. When warm, add the bean itself and cover the pot. Let infuse for at least an hour.

Whisk your egg yolks, then add to the milk mixture, after removing vanilla bean. Heat until the mixture thickens just slightly.

Pour your cream into a large bowl, then strain the milk mixture into the cream and mix well.

Cool in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, whatever works for you.

Take your bodacious bloobs and put in a small pot. Heat until they have mostly all popped and it is simmering, then remove from heat and refrigerate.

Get your waffle cones and smash ‘em up as big as you like ‘em.

When you are ready, mix blueberries with your ice cream batter, then pour into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions from there. Again, if you are reading this and don’t have an ice cream maker, but have a KitchenAid stand mixer, the ice cream maker attachment does as good a job as any dedicated maker out there.

You can fold in your waffle bits when the ice cream is done, or just keep on hand and sprinkle over each serving. This turned out to be surprisingly simple, and the Wife and I both agree, the best ice cream we have made so far.

Perfect for the season, a dash of nostalgia for Michigan, and you can convince yourself that the antioxidant quality of the berries counters the heavy cream and egg yolks. Life is all about small pleasures and deluding yourself from time to time.

This should be in a museum somewhere.

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?

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