Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Easy Broccoli Bacon Salad

I've been meaning to make an easy broccoli salad for the blog for awhile now.  I remember when I first had it.  It was at a get together at my in law's place (Mom 2 and Dad 2) and Charlie's aunt Chris brought a broccoli salad over that I simply couldn't stop eating.  I had never seen or heard of it before - I don't think New Englanders know about this delish side summer dish so boom.  Here you go. 

This salad is so good!  I really can't express that enough.  It's also surprisingly easy to make.  My kind of recipe.   It has everything you want - a tangy light dressing, smokey bacon, crunch from the broccoli, and then this unexpected tang from the dried cherries.  Not convinced?  There's bacon in it. Oh, I already said that. 

So you mix the dressing together, slice up the red onions, and crisp and crumble the bacon and then mix everything together.  It get's better the longer it sits - you can make it up to 12 hours before.  I would make it at least 2 hours, however, before serving.  It needs some time to mellow fellow.

Ohhh.  Boy.  Charlie was gone this weekend so guess who ATE THE ENTIRE THING.  I have no idea what's going to happen to my stomach later but IT DON'T MATTA.  It was delicious.

Here's the recipe guyyyzzzz.  Double it for a crowd.  This only makes about 4 servings. 

3 Cups of Fresh Broccoli Florets 
1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise 
1/2 Cup of Non Fat Plain Greek Yogurt (you can use sour cream as well)
3 Tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar 
5 Slices of Bacon Crisped and Crumbled (reserve 1 piece to top before serving)
1/8 Cup of Thinly Sliced Red Onion 
1/4 Cup of Dried Cherries 

Mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, and vinegar for the dressing.  Combine the crisped bacon, thinly sliced red onions, broccoli, cherries and dressing.  Reserve a little of the bacon (if you can) to top the salad before serving.  

Stay hungry! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicago's Windy City Smokeout

Chicago is the best city in the world.  There is always something awesome going on - especially as it relates to food.  Summer is a BLAST in Chicago - and it makes me cringe to think we're already deep into July.  But WHATEVER.  At least I'll have these pics from Chicago's Windy City Smokeout to get me through the subzero temps of winter. 

So you guys ever watch BBQ Pit Masters?  If so, you know exactly who the below BBQ legend is.  Mr Myron Mixon ladies and gentlemen.  We knew his BBQ was going to be at the Windy City Smokeout but not him!  We were very excited to "meat" him and is legendary food.  Sorry.  Bad joke. 

He was so nice and lovely and was bee bopping all over the festival.  What a guy. 

Here is his super famous, unbelievable whole hog.  It was the texture of pulled pork but like 500 times more flavorful.  HOLY COW PIG this was delicious (sorry Caitlin).

We also had smoked wings.  I can't remember if we got these from the Dinosaur BBQ stand or from Myron (food blogger fail).  But these were ridic.

I have no idea where these came from or who bought these because it was late in the day and I was on my 15th Jack Daniels and tea, but they were OUTSTANDING.  Waffle fries topped with pulled pork, pickled jalapenos, cheddar cheese sauce, and BBQ sauce.  I'm still working these bad boys off.

This was the best brisket we had all day.  It was from Dinosaur BBQ and was topped with BBQ sauce and pickled onions and jalapenos.  Check out the smoke ring and the bark.  It basically melted in our mouths.  YUM.

Pic of said brisket bark.  I would seriously give anything to have a bite of that right now.

 This was legit - jalapeno cheddar smoked sausage from Smoque BBQ.  I mean.  WHAT.

Ribs.  Obvi there would be ribs.  There were from Pappy's.  They were amazing.  Fall of the bone tender with a TON of seasoning that formed this chewy flavorful crunch.  Hello.

This was my favorite.  I went back for seconds.  And then I went back for seconds again. Thirds? Fourths?  I lost count.  This was the smoked sausage from Salt Lick...and their BBQ sauce which could seriously make you cry.  I did a big no no and would bring meat from other stands and slather it with Salt Lick's sauce.  I think they were slightly annoyed but who can blame me?

This is our kind of happiness.  Food.  Sun. Whiskey.  Beer.  And friends.  Very good friends.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lately on the Homey-front

Oh hay!  I'm back from a blogging break longer than any one I've taken in the past.  The truth is, I didn't have much going on that's blog-worthy.  Here's what's new:

1) I've started watching The Bachelorette.  How I made it all the way through my twenties without watching any of the series is beyond me.  I started watching because Howard Stern wouldn't stop talking about it and my only regret is not starting sooner.

2) My garden is growing like crazy.  Our herb garden always does pretty well (installed this summer with the same setup as usual) but our veggie garden is doing well this year, too.  Peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes galore.  We're getting to the point in the summer where we're about to be overwhelmed with delicious, fresh produce.

3) After years of regular-dress territory, I've decided that I can maybe pull off a maxi dress.  Perfect for looking fancy when I'm really not and for sitting on the ground when playing with Will.

4) ...and speaking of Will the Baby, we have a walker!  For the last few months he has been getting steadier and steadier on his feet and I feel like I spend most of every day chasing him around the house. He's an expert at de-childproofing (maybe we're just awful at childproofing?) and that's really what's been keeping me busy.

The picture above reminds me that I've wanted to paint our front door a bright, punchy color (and have for a while).  It also makes me realize that I probably won't be doing it for a while.  Naptimes, when most bloggers seem to complete their projects, are usually spent trying to control house chaos or take a nap myself.  How long does the "sleep while the baby sleeps" rule apply?  4th grade?  College acceptance?

I'm off to catch up on Andi's escapades (I missed last night) but I'll leave you with some pictures of our garden to pizza adventure from the other night...

...and the promise to be back soon with some more posts and photos!  Thanks for hanging in there (stay hungry!  stay homey!).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Bacon Dip

Jalapeno poppers are one of my moms favorites.  And one of my favorites.  And one of Charlie's favorites.  And well, every one's' favorites. I was in charge of dips this 4th of July so I decided to turn this oh so popular appetizer into a dip-able masterpiece.  AND OH WAS IT.  I mean, my taste buds were doing straight up karate chops. 

Very rarely do I make something that I can't stop eating.  I usually enjoy what I make - but I think that's just a cooks curse - you're always critiquing your own recipes and wondering how you can make it better next time.  NOT THIS...OMG not this. It was so freaking delicious.  I think I ate half the pan.  I just hung around it like a little hover craft, not so discretely licking my fingers and anything else that accidentally (ahem) ran into the dip. 

Perfect combo of spicy, bacony, cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and soul satisfy...y.  I'm sorry you're reading this.

I sort of wung the recipe.  I was talking to my mom and tasting as I went along, but I pretty much remember the recipe.  I started with crisping up 12 pieces of microwave ready bacon (genius for dips when you don't want to fuss with bacon grease), placed the warm bacon on the cream cheese to soften it up, and then added chopped green onions and jalapeno peppers. 

I then added some mayonnaise (don't you dare use miracle whip or I'll hunt you down) and some sour cream.

I then added some garlic powder and then some colby jack cheese.  Because you obviously need cheese.

Then, I added it to a pie dish/dip dish...

...and then I did something brilliant.  I melted some butter and then added some panko bread crumbs.  After incorporating the crumbs into the butter, I sprinkled them all over the top.  I actually made this two days ahead of time...

...and after baking in a 400 degree oven for about 20=30 minutes, I got THIS.  Creamy crunchy GOODNESSSSS.


MMM.  MMM MMM MMM.  Say what now?  MMMMMMMMM.

Here's the recipe! 

1 Block of Good Cream Cheese (Philly please) 
4 Packages of Microwave Ready Bacon, Crumbled (12 slices total) 
4 Green Onions, Chopped 
3 Jalapenos, Diced (remove seeds if you don't want it too spicy) 
1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise 
1/2 Cup of Sour Cream 
1 Cup of Colby Jack Cheese
1/2 Tsp of Garlic Powder 
1/2 Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs 
3 Tbs of Butter 

Leave cream cheese out until it reaches room temp to soften up.  Crisp up microwave ready bacon and crumble.  While still warm, add to top of cream cheese.  Add jalapenos, green onions, garlic powder, mayo, sour cream and colby jack cheese.  Taste and adjust as needed.Mix and spread into baking dish. Melt the butter and add the panko breadcrumbs and then sprinkle on top.  Let dip chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but can chill for up to 2 days.  Bake at 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are a rich golden brown.  If needed, you can turn your broiler on at the end if they need an extra toasting. Serve with crackers, thinly sliced toasted baguette, carrots, frisbees, or shovels. 

Stay hungry! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Picnic Ideas

We are headed to an outdoor concert this weekend and the venue is famous for elaborate outdoor picnics. Can't even wait.  It's going to be like a fancy shmancy tailgate which just has my name all over it.  Picnics are tricky.  You have to pack things that will travel well, that will do well at room temp for awhile (read: won't kill your guests), and is conducive to longs spans of wine drinking.  I went deep into the Hardly Housewives archives and found the following ideas.  YUM. 

1. Avocado Black Bean Salsa.  This is money.  You know why?  It's totally fine at room temp and it actually gets better the longer it sits since it continues to meld and marinate.  The only problem?  It won't even last that long. 

3.  Cucumber and Salami Tea Sandwiches.  These are cute and dainty.  Not the best choice for room temp, so you would want to keep these cool and then eat them early on in the picnic.  BUT AREN'T THEY SO CUTE?  So cute. 

4. Roasted Rosemary Marcona Almonds.  These are the bomb.  And so easy to make and just fancy enough to make your picnic seem all the more special.  Serve these next to some cheese and meat and you'll have a beautiful spread. 

5. Zero Guilt Cookie Dough Dip.  OMG.  A dessert that tastes like cookie dough, that you can feel good about, AND it'll be totally fine at room temp?  HELLO.  Picnic perfection right here.  

6.  Asparagus Puff Pastry.  This looks divine (haven't tried Caitlin's recipe yet!) and think it would be lovely for a fancy little spread.  

7.  Parmesan Panko Breaded Chicken Fingers. Fried chicken is a picnic must. It's awesome at room temp, just make sure it doesn't sit out for too long, especially in the sun.  I like the idea of doing chicken fingers because eating off the bone is extra messy...especially if you aren't near a sink. 

...speaking of chicken...

8.  Buffalo Chicken Crostini. Not good at room temp?  I challenge!  I've had these at room temp and they are delish. AND since you cook them with the cheese, they stay together and don't fall apart during transport.  Boom shaka laka. 

Ok that's all I got.  I'll be sure to take some pics and share whatever it is I throw together this weekend. 

Stay hungry! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Leftover Rib Eye Sandwiches

Any time we have leftover steak, I make steak sandwiches.  I almost like it as much as the original meal.  Almost. 

Steak is delicious cold and when you pair it with fresh veggies and a sauce that doesn't quit, well you got yourself a happy hubby.  

I mean...can we just have a moment of silence for how perfectly marbled and medium rare this rib eye is?  THANKS GRILL MASTER CHARLIE.  

Hellman's mayo is a great base.  Get the real kind, not the light or fat free or weird kind.  The real kind is real - just eggs, oil, vinegar and lemon juice and a few other ingredients I can't think of.  It doesn't contain anything crazy (like cornstarch, ew) so it's the perfect base to get creative with.  I always have balsamic on hand - like 30 kinds worth.  Since I wanted a nice, thick sauce, I added a few squirts of balsamic glaze to the mayo.  You could also add dijon, garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, or anything you want, really.  Since DA BEEF was coming from an Italian flavor profile (Tuscan rib eyes ya'all), I went with balsamic.

Get a nice soft roll, or a crusty baguette.  Are you catching on?  You can make this a million different ways.  I went with a soft roll because that's just my preference, but I've had this on crust ciabatta too and it's ridic.

Spread this sauce on both sides of the roll, layer with steak, top with red onion and lettuce.  Cut and half and devour.  And I do mean devour. 

MMMMM mmmmm mmmm.  Get right outside of town with this.

Stay hungry!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wedding Shower Recipe Book

This is something I've cherished and used for almost four years now, but pulled out this week to check a recipe and thought I'd post about.  In August of 2010, a month before my wedding, my bridesmaids threw me a beautiful shower at my mother in law's home.  There were all sorts of lovely details including a recipe book made with recipes from the guests:

From drinks to appetizers to dessert, the ladies at my shower filled out favorite recipes that I've used throughout my marriage.  It's a carefully curated bunch of recipes that my loved ones thought I'd love and they were spot on.

My friend Leah's pirogi recipe especially warms my heart.  The picture below only shows half of the recipe cards for the recipe.  I remember watching her spend about an hour writing it out (detailing the how-to as well as different fillings).  For the record, they're delicious.  

After the shower, my friend Jen gathered them up and stuck into a book along with photos she had taken during the day.  Whenever I need to reference my grandmother-in-law's deviled egg recipe or know how to make the delicious pasta my childhood friend's family always made, it's all in one place.  It's an awesome way to remember the day and it feels so special that friends & family selected and wrote out these recipes just for me.

Four years later, this book still gets frequent use.  Thanks, girls!