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Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related

Pasta Carbonara ~ a new fave!

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about a month ago I yanked this recipe from a website as I was surfing along food sites, jumping to and fro between blogs and ingredient research… as I usually do.  this activity usually leaves me salivating and chomping at the bit to get in the kitchen and CREATE!  I printed this particular recipe, and decided I would make it the very next  night for my pasta loving Italian hubby.  the guy would eat pasta every night if i’d let him.  hell who am I kidding- so would I!!   so this recipe came from a website called cookingclassy.com – and believe it or not, I followed it to a T.  so this is pretty much a reblog…. giving full props to whoever wrote this recipe, because they’re a friggin genius!  when I first thought about pasta carbonara, I thought it had cream in it… probably based on looks alone… I mean how creamy does that pic look above?? yeah, no cream. not a drop.  what creates that beauty is the raw egg quickly combined with grated cheese and scalding hot starchy pasta water. (you gotta work fast with this one people, be ready… and giddy up.)  it’s comes together like magic.  -and I can happily say…. this is now my  husbands FAVORITE pasta dish that I make. follow the instructions verbatim, especially the procedure for cooking the bacon (which is genius) and you will be in noodle nirvana in less than an hour.  get busy yo.

WHAT YOU NEED:

8-10 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (just leave it how it is outta the package and slice it up, no need to separate the pieces.)

1/2 cup of water

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 lb. linguini or spaghetti (we like linguini)

1 and a 1/4 c finely grated parmesan cheese (don’t you DARE use that shit in the green can, spring for a package of grated parm at your cheese counter people)

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp each of salt and pepper

chopped fresh parsley for garnish

WHAT YOU DO:

PREP ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS THAT YOU CAN AHEAD OF TIME, BECAUSE TRUST ME, YOU HAVE TO MOVE FAST TOWARD THE END OF THIS RECIPE… AND IT GOES EVEN BETTER IF YOU HAVE A PARTNER TO HELP YOU PRODUCE IT. you got this.

Add bacon and 1/2 cup of water to a large non stick skillet and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Allow it to simmer like this (stirring occasionally) until the water evaporates and then switch to md-low and cook until crispy (stirring occ).  Place a fine mesh strainer over a glass bowl and strain bacon, reserving all of that money oil…  set aside. to that very pan, add a tsp of the fat back in, while the pan is still hot.  take your minced garlic and saute it in the oil for about thirty seconds… then add it to a medium sized mixing bowl.  set aside.  here is a pic of the bacon once I strained it….

IMG_7605now here is what I want you to do next.  get out a sturdy pot, and add 8 CUPS of water to it.  no more, no less, because you want the ultimate starchiness from this water once you cook the pasta in it.  bring it to a boil and add your pasta, cooking according to package directions. WHEN YOU STRAIN THE PASTA IN YOUR COLANDER…. DO SO OVER A LARGE BOWL SO THAT YOU RESERVE THE PASTA WATER!!! be careful…  do not get burned people.

IMG_7604OK so while your pasta is cooking, get back to the bowl with your garlic in it.  Add to it a Tablespoon of the bacon fat. (I think I added an extra teaspoon, bc I love the bacon-y flavor!)  then add in your eggs, salt and pepper and your parm cheese. whisk this all together nicely. now you are ready to focus on your pasta. don’t overcook it yo!

once you strain the pasta over a large bowl, carefully give a shake to the pasta and set the colander aside. now take a one cup measuring cup and scoop out a cup of HOT water. (I took an extra cup just so I had back up in case it spilled or some shit.)  empty the rest of the water down the drain and then transfer your pasta to that hot bowl.  head over to your egg/cheese mixture and while whisking, pour in about a half cup of HOT water…. whisk whisk whisk…. this is cooking the eggs…. then immediately pour this mixture OVER the hot pasta…  and add the bacon.  toss toss toss…. more cooking of the eggs… more magic happening right before your eyes as this turns into a beautiful creamy dreamy dinner. take and drizzle more HOT water in as you toss as needed. this is an eyeball thing… if it looks good to you and isn’t clumping, you’re golden. Oh, toss in the parsley if you want, or take and garnish with a little parsley shower each individual bowl you serve up.  either way, you do you.   let pasta rest for two to four minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a little bit before you serve it.(however, this IS best served HOT)   Just enough time to open a bottle of wine and pour two glasses and toast your accomplishments!  (if you’re anything like me, the bottle is already half empty, as I like to imbibe while I cook!!)

enjoy!!  peace and love, spags.

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Fabulous Fall Stew! ~Chicken, butternut squash and quinoa! Oh my!!

Go on get happy!
Go on get happy!

Yes-sir-ee bobbo…. Fall is in full swing. The pumpkins are carved, the mums are lining my front stairs leading to the house, we’ve had our first frost, the leaves are falling by the second, pumpkin spice lattes are being consumed mid-day as i put off moving wood down the side of the house…. it is here and i am THRILLED!  Fall is my favorite season, hands down.  i welcome its chill after the long hot summer months… i love the smell it brings… the air is crisp, almost spicy smelling… the risk of colder nights gives full permission to go ahead and start that first fire of the season in the fireplace… switching out all the sundresses and skirts for those lovely corduroy pants in varying earthy fall hues… sipping hot apple cider at night after you put the kiddos to bed…. sweet magnolia there are SOO many good reasons to wrap your arms around Fall and love it with all you’ve got.  However, all of that goodiness being said… i haven’t even begun to speak of warm soups and stews being back in the weekday rotations -and the pure joy that brings to my foodie soul!  this stew i am about to blog for you is a winner.  a friend asked me last week if i had a recipe on my blog for quinoa**, as she had some she wanted to use up.  i was shocked to see that i did NOT- and set out to remedy the hell out of that ASAP! i got to researching quinoa stews… and stumbled upon one that used butternut squash- another of my fall faves.  giddy up i said… let’s do this.  i took some things i didn’t like out of the recipe (olives) and added some things i felt would lend heartiness and healthy benefits.  i tweaked it. i always do.

**let me first tell you about QUINOA – if you are not familiar with this superstar grain.  Quinoa is considered a high nourishment food source, because it is essentially a ‘complete protein source.’  (super important words if you are a vegetarian or vegan).  you’ve all heard the buzz words ‘SUPER FOOD’ … well this guy is one fo sho.   quinoa is also gluten free, in fact it is not even in the same family as wheat or barley or rye.  it has origins in South America around 1200AD- and most of the quinoa we consume today in the US comes from Peru, the largest commercial producer of it to date.  this little guy packs some punch- it is a valuable source of heart healthy supportive fats (ALA and oleic acid) … and making it a part of your regular diet greatly lowers your risk of inflammation related diseases.  eat some.

OK HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED: 

  • a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into half inch pieces (or if lazy- buy it recipe ready and packaged in your produce section) you need around a pound.
  • 3 cans chicken broth
  • some boneless skinless chicken (i cooked a bone in breast in the oven and then let it cool and chopped it) you could also cheat and get a rotisserie chicken and use the breasts of that- and then reserve the rest for making a pot of soup later in the week.  or cook up some tenderloins however you like- and cool and chop into bite sized pieces.  (see pic below for how much chicken)
  • olive oil
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • one large onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1 and a 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz can)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh spinach leaves, chopped

OK HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

place your diced butternut squash into a pyrex dish and add a little water (maybe 1/2 cup) and pop it into a 350* oven for about 15 mins. check it. if you can get your fork into it fairly easily and it seems to be getting tender, take and remove HALF of it onto a plate.  set aside. put the other half back in the oven and keep it steaming for maybe 10 mins more.  at this point you should be able to mash it with ease. (if not cook longer and keep checking)  see visual.

mash it mash it.
mash it mash it.

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set this aside, you will be adding it to the stew in a bit.   to a heavy pot, add some olive oil. maybe a generous Tbsp? i never measure.  get it on md/high. if you like some spice, give a shake of red pepper flakes into the oil. i literally start SO many recipes this way- i can’t even tell you.  to me, it is background flavor.  ok- add in your chopped onion.  saute until becoming soft. add in your garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, stir for a minute to heat up the oregano and release the oils.  then add in your broth (3 cans), your tomatoes, your beans, your mashed butternut squash (not cubes yet), and your quinoa. stir to combine. bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. cover and cook about 15 mins.  Add in the chicken, the spinach and the cubed/cooked butternut squash. stir gently, cover again and cook a few more minutes to warm through the last three additions.  SERVE IT UP YO!  ultra good for you and chocked full of vitamins to keep you healthy for flu season!  make some this weekend!

i used THIS much chicken. (i never measure)
i used THIS much chicken. (i never measure) (one whole bone in breast)
everybody in the pot!
everybody in the pot!
finito!  simple pure flavors shine through.
finito! simple pure flavors shine through.

ENJOY!! Happy Fall ya’ll.

Hearty and Healthy ~ Chicken Farro Stew

powerhouse dinner
powerhouse dinner

So i met Farro last year… i was thumbing through a magazine and saw a lovely rustic one pot meal involving some browned sweet sausages, bright and beautiful spinach and carrots and something called ‘farro‘… what in the hell, i asked, is FARRO??  (linked wiki there for ya)  so i got to googling it and hopping around on food sites, and long story short, i was in Whole Foods later that afternoon buying some in bulk!  -and i’ve been cooking with it ever since. it is the most amazing and easy addition to various soups, stews, salads, etc.  you literally toss it into a pot, add water until level is about two inches above that of the farro, and bring it up to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 mins. drain and set aside.  that’s it!!  then you can take and add it to whatever you have in mind!  OR, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, adding it on top of salads, mix it into your morning yogurt, stir it in with some oatmeal, add it to wonton soup when you get Chinese…. you feelin’ me?!?  Farro makes an already healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner choice all the more healthy… and it’s great post workout too, to help the body recover. WHY? it contains lots of B3’s (niacin) which helps your body break down fats & carbs like a motha.  it has tons of magnesium for muscle support too! it’s protein and fiber rich- and it has a fantastic nutty and chewy texture!  get on board yo!

so the other day i was thinking… “spags, you have some leftover tortellini in there, you have some farro in the pantry, you have plenty of canned tomatoes, a fridge full of veggies, fresh thyme in the garden begging to be used and some tomato paste in a little baggie in the freezer you’ve been meaning to use up.”  visions of a stew started to dance in my mind…. totally could have gone ‘meatless’ here PS. -and please do if you desire!  i happened to also have two bone in chicken breasts begging me to rub them down and roast them. so they got invited to this soiree.

HOPPING ON SOAP BOX….  if you have never been educated by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa on how easy and mouth watering it is to roast bone in chicken breasts for use in almost any capacity…  then you need to listen to this.

basically you are lining a baking sheet with either foil, parchment, or silpat –  rubbing the chicken with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper,  and place it into a 350* oven for 45 mins. walk away! that’s IT! no fussing, no mussing.  take it out, let it cool on the pan or a plate- and slice it up later to use in your recipe- or serve as is… with some garlic mashed potatoes and freshly steamed green beans!  the possibilities are endless here folks.  i added some fresh thyme to mine, just under the skin.

ready for the oven.
ready for the oven.
Finito! yummy.
Finito! yummy.

next up- get your Farro going.  just like i told you up in the first paragraph. giddy up.

i used one heaping cup of dry.
i used one heaping cup of dry.

While the farro is cooking, chop up some vegetables.  IDLE HANDS YO…. i used :

  • one large carrot, diced
  • one large onion, diced
  • half of bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups or so of fresh spinach leaves (roughly chopped) 1 small bag is fine! use it all.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Then you need:

a bag of tortellini- (cook according to package instructions and set aside to cool), olive oil, red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp), a small can of tomato paste, 28oz can diced tomatoes, 1 can chicken broth,  1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp nutmeg

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

in your favorite cooking vessel… heat up a glug of olive oil… add to it your red pepper flakes. once they dance around, begin adding your chopped vegetables. (NOT the spinach)  saute them over medium heat until they start to look tender and delicious.  see below:

i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you...
i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you…

then take and add your can of chicken broth, your can of tomatoes, your tomato paste and all of the spices. bring up to boil, and then immediately reduce heat to simmer and cover.  cook like this for 15 mins.

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Then give it a stir, and add in your chopped chicken, if you are using chicken.  see below.

even one breast would be adequate here... make some chicken salad with the other one!
even one breast would be adequate here… make some chicken salad with the other one!

Then go ahead and add the spinach and the farro and stir well to combine! Lastly, add in the tortellini, and stir gently to combine.  Replace the lid and simmer for ten more minutes and then it is ready to serve!!

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don't even need to use the whole bag... just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!
don’t even need to use the whole bag… just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!
FANTASTIC!!
FANTASTIC!!

Egg noodle stir fry with crispy Turkey Kielbasa! (a modified version of my ‘pittsburgh pasta’)

Aside from being wickedly colorful, this dish is wonderful for you, because it is loaded with antioxidant rich veggies and healthy fat from the olive oil.  yes, it could be lightened up a bit by using ‘yolk free’ egg noodles… but i usually just roll with plain old.  ‘And yes, there ARE healthier alternatives than the Turkey Kielbasa…. but honestly, it MAKES the dish here.  you will see what i mean when you cannot stop sneaking pieces of the crisped up discs off of the plate while you finish the dish!🙂  when i wrote that last line, it occurred to me that i had blogged something with Kielbasa in the past where i warned you about the yum factor of these crispy pieces of meat.  i looked back, and it (linked the article) was quite similar to this dish i am about to blog, but a bit more fussy, as it used some red wine and tomato paste to give depth of flavor.  this one is a bit easier, and the perfect week night meal, with enough for a work lunch the next day.  anyway, here’s what’s up dude:

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WHAT YOU NEED: 

two bell peppers of varying colors (not green tho)  – i used red and orange for this one.

one large onion

package of wide egg noodles

package of turkey kielbasa

15 oz can of diced tomatoes (i had the seasoned ones)

1/2 cup of water (can use some of the hot water from cooking pasta if you remember to reserve some)

your favorite spices (i used a few shakes of: chili powder, cumin, coriander, dried parsley, dried oregano and dried basil, and a big pinch of nutmeg)

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

i added about a cup of spinach leaves that i roughly chopped- i stirred these in at the end- totally optional- but i feel like it gave this one more bright fresh color, as well as adding wickedly good nutrients.  your call. (i always have a bag of spinach in my fridge because i put it on all of my sandwiches and burgers in place of lettuce)

HERE IS WHAT YOU DO: 

get your egg noodles cooking according to package directions. drain, rinse and set aside. (scoop out a half cup of the water and set aside prior to draining)

slice or dice your two colorful bell peppers into whatever size you like.  peel your onion, cut it in half, and then thinly slice those halves. set aside with the peppers on a plate.  slice up the turkey kielbasa. thin but not too thin.  open your can of tomatoes.  get out the largest non stick skillet you have (i use a wok sometimes for this)  and hit it with some olive oil. start it up on high, and once it is hot, add in the kielbasa.  stir fry it until done to your liking (crispy edges) and remove to a plate.  add one more whirl of oil, and toss in the peppers and onions.  stir fry over medium-high heat until soft and looking yummy. while you are doing this, add in your spices right on top. cooking them intensifies their flavor. add salt and pepper last.  then go ahead and add in the tomatoes and the half cup of water. bring to light boil and reduce heat to low. stir the kielbasa back in, and add the spinach if you’re rolling with it.  stir around for a min and cut the heat. place the egg noodles in a LARGE bowl where you’ll combine everything. hit the noodles with a swirl of olive oil.  dump the mix right on top of the noodles.  Stir to combine all.  taste it. needs more salt or pepper? Add some.  At this point if the fam is ready to eat, serve it up.  If not, go ahead and add this back over into your big hot pan and toss a lid on that bitch.  You’re gonna love this dish. honest.

before the mix
before the mix

enjoy!! 

Cherry/Feta couscous salad! Wowza!

bright and bold flavors
bright and bold flavors

this salad.  this is the one.  i am already thinking ahead to upcoming potlucks where i can share its awesomeness with friends.  the original came from a blog i follow and dig, called Not without Salt.  the recipe is here.  she suggested it be used as a loose guide… so that is what i did.  (like i wouldn’t have anyway… come ‘on)  but the end result is pure bliss.  AND looks pretty too, which doesn’t always happen with great tasting food.  Bonus for me, hubby LOVED it.  he kept sneaking spoonfuls of it every time he’d walk through the kitchen.  once i warned him there would be none left to ride alongside his Delmonico, he stopped.  so with this salad- i didn’t have fresh cherries, but i did have dried cherries… which are SUPER sweet. we’re not talking about cherry flavored craisins here people… i mean REAL legit dried cherries in a package.  so i took a big handful (about a half a cup)  -but if you can get a hold of some fresh cherries and have the patience to slice and pit them, giddy up. i’d use a cupful.  You HAVE to use Israeli couscous.  (couscous’s chubby cousin)  otherwise it won’t look or taste the same and it will be a bowl of mess.  trust me. i found some at Aldi surprisingly, so i bought five boxes! lol.  any grocer will have it though. (if it has a flavor packet just pitch it) you only need the couscous.  anyway- let’s get down to it.

WHAT YOU NEED:

around  two boxes (or two cups or so if bulk) of Israeli couscous

four or five green onions, washed and sliced -all but top two inches.

a cup of freshly pitted and sliced cherries- or about a half cup of dried cherries

a small container of crumbled feta

1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds (i love the delicacy of these in this salad- super thin, but still crunch)

a large shallot (or two small ones) sliced thinly

juice from a lemon

2 T of red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar- whatever you have

a small glug of molasses (maybe a tsp?)  if you don’t have this, use honey- but to be honest, i feel like it gave it such depth of flavor.

a large rip of fresh parsley (maybe a half a cup chopped)

1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin if you have it)

1/2 tsp of salt (few shakes more on top once combined)

pepper to taste

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

cook your couscous in some boiling water per package directions (maybe a min less) and drain.  Rinse super well with very cold water to stop the cooking process, and then hit it with a round of olive oil and shake it in to prevent sticking.  set aside.

prep your onions, add to a large bowl where you’ll be doing all of your mixing.

prep the shallot, add to bowl.

toss in the almonds.

toss in the cherries

Add in the cooked couscous- and toss it all a bit with clean hands.

up close and personal
up close and personal

Then in a separate smaller bowl,  add your vinegar, olive oil, the molasses, the salt/pepper and lemon juice.  whisk together and dump on top of the couscous.  Add in the chopped parsley and the feta. stir gently, but well- to combine all.  Transfer to a pretty bowl for serving, and hit the top with some salt and pepper.  Enjoy!!  Awesome at room temp, but even better the next day truly- as a part of a bigger heartier salad of mixed greens and fresh cucumbers, etc!  no need for dressing when you’re adding a spoonful of this bad boy to the top!

pre toss
pre toss

One of my (many… many) FAVORITE dips…. Warm Bacon and Onion

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i have a thing for dips. salsas, quesos…. pretty much anything you can nosh on at will while waiting for more food to arrive.  let’s be honest… there’s no better place to have a dip than in your own home with your own family. no fretting over double dipping, no scooping a measly tablespoon size of the dip out on to a flimsy little paper plate and having reservations about going back for seconds or ((gasp)) thirds while chatting at a party…  no way Jose.  at home, it’s just you and the dip, in the vessel you prepared it in… eat as much or as little as you like, for as long as you like. you are the boss here.  when I saw this dip on the internet… I knew I had to make it.  except now I cannot remember where I originally saw it to give street cred.  I know I tweaked it heavily (as I habitually do) so it is a twisted version of the original anyhow.  I made it for super bowl sunday. we stayed home to watch, so it was perfect.  I hope you like this as much as I did.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

2 large Vidalia onions

five pieces of cooked bacon (cool and crumble a bit)

a heaping cup of shredded cheese (I think I used part provolone and part swiss) but you could really go any direction you want to here.  I think the original called for Gruyere- but honest to pete I think a nice hunk of Monterey jack would suit here just as nicely! it’s your rodeo.

a small container of light sour cream (I don’t know what they are, maybe 8 oz??)

a half a cup or so of mayo (I prefer Helmann’s light)

salt and pepper to taste

bread of choice for dipping.  rip it all apart (see pic) and lightly toast it in the oven for eight mins or so to give it a bit of crunch.  pitas or tortilla chips would work fine here as well, I just like the rustic look of the torn bread.  again… you do you.

HERE IS WHAT YOU DO:

HALF AND PEEL YOUR ONIONS: SLICE UP YOUR ONIONS NICELY AND SAUTE THEM IN TWO TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER on medium to low heat until they get going and then reduce heat to low. ten more mins or so until they look beautiful and brownish.  (I used a cast iron skillet here, it is not necessary to do this, but keep after them and low heat if you do- as it retains wicked heat)  Keep in mind: when caramelizing onions…. low and slow. I added my salt and pepper here too.

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WHILE THESE ARE GOING YOU CAN SHRED YOUR CHEESE.  IF YOU PURCHASED PRE-SHREDDED CHEESE, WELL THEN POUR YOURSELF A BEER OR SOME SHIT, I DUNNO.

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COMBINE ALL OF THE LISTED INGREDIENTS INTO A BOWL BIG ENOUGH FOR MIXING. MIX IT UP YO. THEN ADD IT TO A CUTE LITTLE OVEN SAFE DIP VESSEL OF YOUR CHOOSING.  TOP WITH FRESH BACON CRUMBLES, AND PUSH SOME OF THEM DOWN INTO THE DIP A BIT SO THERE IS BACON IN THE MIDDLE AS WELL. BAKE THIS UP UNCOVERED AT 400* FOR ABOUT 25 MINS OR SO.  (if taking to a party, take it right up until the bake it part, and then bake when you get there) SERVE ASAP!  ENJOY!!

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7 ingredient Watermelon Cucumber Feta Salad

an unlikely combination... sure to wow.
an unlikely combination… sure to wow.

the first time I tasted this salad, a doctor friend of mine brought it to work to share with all of us.  I was smitten. somehow, the saltiness of the feta was the perfect, albeit unlikely compliment to the sweetness of the juicy watermelon.  Add in crunchy seedless cucumber chunks and fresh basil… and you’re about to board the happy train. I wanted to keep this very simple, but still chocked full of flavor- so I added as few things as possible to the mix.  technically, you could leave out the cucumber if you didn’t have it, and it would be just as yummy.  I do enjoy the crunch of the cukes though – and they bulk it up a bit more as well.  I added shallot, one small one, as I thought the red onion would be a bit overpowering.  the recipes I viewed on the internet called for mint.  I prefer basil in mine, so I went with it.  I like the taste of fresh squeezed lime, so I used some of that as well.  ok enough talk… HERE IS WHAT YOU DO.  

purchase: need

a bit of watermelon

a block of feta cheese (costs more than crumbled, but looks OH SO much prettier here)

a small shallot

a juicy lime

a small handful of basil (maybe 7 leaves) chopped

a seedless cucumber (or a few of those cute baby cucumbers Aldi carries)

two tablespoons of either red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar

TO PREPARE THIS:

decide what bowl you want to serve this in, and then make only that much.

carefully dice up some of your watermelon  **(I write this assuming everyone knows how to cut a watermelon… but if not here goes. Cut watermelon in half, lay one half cut side down on your cutting board and begin to carefully slice this into slices going from right to left or left to right. if you want to chunk it- carefully cut rind off and cube it nicely into a container. otherwise cut slices in half and place in airtight container if you are that person who likes to eat it off of the rind. I am NOT that person. I like my watermelon chunked and in a pretty container ready for me to scoop out a bowlful at any given moment.  my husband and my daughter are the rind types. I just don’t get it.)

cut your feta into pretty chunks.

slice/chunk your cucumbers.

wash and cut your basil

cut your shallot into thin slices.

in a small bowl, squeeze all of the juice from one lime.  to this, add a bit of vinegar. mix them and set aside.

in a large bowl (big enough to toss this with clean hands…) add all ingredients. pour the lime and vinegar juices on top.  toss together with clean hands.  transfer to your serving bowl.  if extra, store in airtight container for up to four days.  it won’t last that long, trust me.  Enjoy!!

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grilled chicken bacon poppers ~ whoa good!

everyone is entitled to an opinion... except those who don't like BACON.
everyone is entitled to an opinion… except those who don’t like BACON.

ok people… I have said it before, and i’ll say it again… I DON’T trust people who don’t like bacon!  I like it in the morning, I like it at lunch on a BLT or on a big fat beefy burger when out indulging with friends.  I like it wrapped around fat juicy scallops… there isn’t an end here people, so I will just stop.  I recently discovered this FUN new trick with bacon so I thought I’d share it with ya’ll.  Chicken tenderloin bites wrapped in a half a piece of bacon, and secured on skewers for ease of grilling.  Pop them off the skewers once cool enough, and serve them as the main squeeze, as an appetizer with friends (we dipped in BBQ sauce… but think ranch, think a Sriracha/Maple syrup dip, anything goes here) or a couple of them alongside a juicy burger as an over the top addition!  however you serve them… you’re gonna like them.

WHAT YOU NEED:

CHICKEN TENDERLOINS (CUT INTO BITE SIZED CHUNKS)

BACON (CUT IN HALF)

SKEWERS

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wrap them as shown and skewer them to secure.

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ADD FRESH BLACK PEPPER  IF DESIRED

GRILL THESE OVER MEDIUM HEAT AND CHECK OFTEN. they will be dripping a lot so the flames will be dancing upward. Careful not to burn the bacon.  if needed, place over indirect heat. You will work it out.  Once chicken is cooked, you are golden.  allow to cool for a few mins and then remove to a platter.  Enjoy!!

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these are great with freshly sautéed asparagus as well.
these are great with freshly sautéed asparagus as well.
or as I mentioned... alongside this big fat son of a gun.  YUMMO.
or as I mentioned… alongside this big fat son of a gun. YUMMO.

basic muffin recipe ~ make it your own!

“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.
“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.”
“Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”
~Oscar Wilde… the trouble with being earnest.

This is a very basic muffin recipe that I have spun to my liking by using unrefined coconut oil.  I have made this recipe as is, bare bones with mini chocolate chips only.  I have added two mashed nanners and dark chips, which I show here with pics.  I have added fresh raspberries and white chips.  I have added lots of cinnamon and dried cherries.  take this wherever you like, as it is a solid, sturdy muffin mix that is wickedly adaptable. (which is a very admirable quality in my humble opinion)

Don’t ask me about nutritional value, because I can’t get wrapped up in that shit.  I know I can pronounce and see all of my ingredients, and they are fresh.  That is what I deem important. Feel good about knowing what you are feeding your wee ones and yourself.  I usually let the tots have two… and then we eat a healthy lunch.  you do you.

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup coconut oil (warm it for 25 secs in microwave to liquefy)

Add ins:  (3/4 c choc chips;  two mashed nanners;  3/4 cup blueberries; 1/2 c shredded coconut;  almonds; whatever you think would be yummy.  if berries, gently stir in at last min, or better yet poke them into the muffins once poured into cups)

I usually add a dash of nutmeg over my flour as well, just for a little flavor punch.

WHAT YOU DO:

mix it all together in a bowl in order listed…. easy peasy.  lightly grease muffin cups and evenly distribute.

049

ready for the oven!
ready for the oven!

400* for 18 mins.  remove from tins carefully loosening sides with butter knife- place into a lovely towel lined basket and let cool a few minutes.  Enjoy!!

MAKES 12 LARGE MUFFINS.

quite fresh and good and comforting!
quite fresh and good and comforting!

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