May 30, 2012

Bacon Times Three BLT

You read the title right, bacon in three different components of the BLT.  I may have a death wish or just need fatty food to motivate me to break out my running shoes.  Either way, this is an indulgent BLT worth trying!  Obviously way one is going to be crispy (only way) bacon.  Second, toasting up fresh slices of bread in the pan used to cook the bacon to get all of the crispy bits of flavor left behind.  And third?  Oh third is the best.

BACON FAT MAYONNAISE!  Normal mayo just has plain old oil but Toasty mayo goes full tilt fat kid crazy.  Just 3 tablespoons of bacon fat drizzled in and a pinch or two of smoked salt (new favorite, thanks Giada!) make the mayo smoky and full of bacony depth.  Add a couple of cloves of roasted garlic, because I always have a few on hand in my freezer, and it is my paradise.

Guys, it is just about the simple things.  Plump tomatoes, crunchy fresh greens, fresh bread from the French ex-pats in my neighborhood, and a killer mayo.  Oh and bacon.  Always bacon.

May 27, 2012

Chorizo Chicken Burgers with Cumin-Lime Quick Pickles

This idea has been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks, it just took me finding good chorizo to finally attempt!  My family loves ground chicken for meatloaf and burgers, so much so that I really can't remember the last time we've bought ground beef.  That could also be due to the fact that we would much rather rock the polish and grill split kielbasa with sticky-sweet barbecue sauce.  But this recipe is for the chicken burger doubters, using fresh chorizo split and mixed in with the lighter ground chicken.  Like my Toasty Burgers, grated onion and garlic are added for flavor and moisture.

I made some cumin-lime quick pickles and a corn crema as condiments for this flavorful burger.  Topped with roma tomato slices and snap pea shoots I found at the farmer's market, this is the perfect lighten version of a burger for Memorial day picnics, still packed with flavor!

And I swear, I cannot stop eating these pickles . . .

May 26, 2012

Blueberry Yogurt Cheesecakes

Oh hayyyy memorial day!  Summer is officially here!  Barbecues, white jeans, crabs, and beach weekends!  Can you tell this is my favorite season?  This whole weekend I will be showing off some festive and lighter options to bring to barbecues.  Today's pick is a muffin sized blueberry yogurt-based cheesecake with an orange blueberry sauce to top the baby cheesecakes.  Plus it doesn't hurt that blueberries have been on sale for use in patriotic desserts . . .

So the cheesecake base is 0% greek yogurt and cheesecake.  The base was flavored with orange zest, blueberries, and a little vanilla.  I used my food processor to blend up the filling because I wanted to be able to blend up the blueberries.  More blueberries were used with orange zest and juice to create a quick orange blueberry topper.

It is a festive and light dessert, perfect for any patriotic picnic!  And according to Foodista it is National Blueberry Cheesecake day?  Serendipity!

May 25, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday: Cheeseburger Wontons from What's Cooking in the Burbs

So, I decided to join a little group called Foodie Friends Friday.  Basically, a group of food bloggers get together every Friday and send a little foodie love by posting a recipe from one of their friends.  Today, I've chosen Bridget from What's Cooking in the Burbs because she had a creative take on a cheeseburger.  She took leftover wontons and ground beef and fashioned it into a cute muffin sized cheeseburger bite.  And as I'm a total sucker for anything adorable, I thought it would be a fitting first foodie friends friday.

The website for Foodie Friends Friday can be found here and Bridget's blog can be found here!

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake: 50 Women Game Changers in Food - #49 Tastespotting

It is no secret that I love my food town and cannot shut up about it. So I was super excited when the ladies from came up because it is an app dedicated to telling people THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT!  It doesn't hurt that almost half of the DC entries are from Good Stuff Eatery, Spike Mendelsohn's place in Capital Hill.  His good stuff sauce, ridiculously juicy burgers, mayo bar (mango mayo!), and ugh those milkshakes!  Plus it doesn't hurt that he's normally walking around the restaurant...

The first time I went I was told that I needed to get the toasted marshmallow milkshake. I've always been kind of averse to drinking my calories (without alcohol), so for me to get the shake and then also rave about it and want everyone else in my general vicinity to also drink it means it must be pretty darn good!  With a sunny side burger and onion petals, it is the perfect fat kid meal!


This milkshake is like drinking a burnt marshmallow. Toasted marshmallows (read: burnt) are blended into vanilla ice cream and a little bit of sour cream is added to cut through the sweetness of the marshmallows. Because Spike himself has released this recipe, I decided to jazz up the presentation a little by adding a chocolate covered graham cracker and a torched marshmallow.

Really, any excuse to finally buy a baby kitchen torch... But you can do it in the oven if you go here!

And here are the other ladies who as always have fantastic interpretation of this week's lady game changers:
Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades 
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts
Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me, Martha - Simple Nourished Living, Jill - Saucy Cooks 
Sarah - Everything in the Kitchen Sink

May 23, 2012

Roasted Poblano Grilled Cheese

I am a proponent of the shop the outsides theory.  What that means is that when I go grocery shopping I do not go into the aisles, just the produce, meat, and dairy section.  The exceptions to the rule are frozen fruits and vegetables and the ethnic aisle.  LOVE the ethnic aisle.  I could spend hours and hundreds on all of the interesting and new flavors found there.  My grocery store also has a little section of hispanic refrigerated products, which include fresh cheeses, corn husks, and arepas.  Arepas are flat round breads that can be made from corn or flour, typically eaten for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

So how fitting is it to use arepas for a grilled cheese!  It's a little grown up, combining roasted poblanos and goat cheese with a slightly sweet creamy corn and cilantro spread.  And also addictive . . . Don't tell anyone but I totally made a second one after polishing off the first.

I roasted the poblanos (and a lone jalapeno) in my oven at 400 F for about 45-50 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so.  Once the skins were blistered and slightly puffed I pulled the peppers out, put the roasted pepper in a bowl, and covered with plastic wrap.  The steam generated will you to remove the skin, which you should remove along with the core and the seeds.  DO NOT RINSE!  It takes aways all the flavor.  Trust me, the extra work is worth it!

To assemble the grilled cheese, I first toasted up both sides of the arepa in a little butter over medium heat.  The creamy cilantro corn, handful of roasted poblanos, and a healthy dose of goat cheese was spread between the toasted arepas and returned to the pan for another minute or so to melt the cheese.  Addictive slightly spicy grilled cheese, the perfect grown up afterschool snack!

May 22, 2012

Grilled Shrimp and Watermelon: 50 Women Game Changers in Food - #48 Cat Cora

I have been obsessed with Iron Chef ever since they used to play an episode every night at 11 on Food Network.  My favorites were always the episodes where the chefs had to kill the fish and they would flop all over the cutting boards avoiding their knives.  So when the show came to America, I was already a dedicated fan.  Even more so?  When Cat Cora came in with her badass combo of southern, greek, and californian first-ever-woman-Iron-Chef cooking.  Down.

What I love about Iron Chef is they are so creative within their constructs.  I decided to honor Cat's creativity with something that is simple and innovative and interesting.  I settled on her grilled shrimp and watermelon topped with pepper jelly.

You start by making a simple syrup for coating the watermelon and making the spicy-sweet pepper jelly.  The shrimp get a quick toss in a spicy marinade and grilled about 2-3 minutes a side, followed by the watermelon.  Rind and all to keep it together, coated in a little simple syrup, it is delicious and new!  The shrimp is spiced but not hot, the pepper jelly is spicy and sweet, and the watermelon is somehow still cooling while grill-warm.  It was such an interesting and delectable combination.  Bonus?  I never have to drive to the outlets for Harry and David red pepper jelly ever again!  Thanks, Cat!

And as always, here are the other ladies who tried out some of Cat's finest:
Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades 
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts
Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me, Martha - Simple Nourished Living, Jill - Saucy Cooks 
Sarah - Everything in the Kitchen Sink

May 16, 2012

Nutella Buttermilk Bars

After creating my own buttermilk and butter for Irish Soda Bread, when I saw buttermilk at the market I geeked out and had to buy some. After perusing the buttermilk offerings, I was kind of shocked how much sugar goes into a buttermilk pie! As much as I love desserts I really have never liked anything too loaded with sugar and normally reducing the amount will give me the right balance for me.

Not so much with this one. They should really call buttermilk pies sugar pies because it really does need all that sugar.  Undeterred, I decided to try something that makes any dessert better: NUTELLA!  Seriously, this was one of the best baking decisions I've ever made.

I made a quick shortbread crust flavored with cinnamon.  A few tablespoons of nutella and freshly grated nutmeg flavored the buttermilk filling.  The result is a creamy light buttermilk bar that tastes like a fancy coffeehouse hot chocolate.  My bocce team loved them and so will you!

May 14, 2012

Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Apple Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Confession: I have never had rhubarb before today. There was something scary to me about treating something that looked like pink celery without the groove like a fruit. So after seeing the fresh rhubarb at my first farmers market of the year, I put my big girl pants on and picked up a bunch.

I decided to dip my toe into the rhubarb pool with a fruit loaded bread pudding for Mother's Day. Strawberries and granny smith apple join the rhubarb with day old ciabatta rolls from the bakery.  Lemon zest, ground ginger, and vanilla flavor the custard light enough to serve for breakfast, which reanimates the rolls.  After a night in the fridge, let come to room temperature before baking.

I topped the bread pudding with a quick streusel and a rich creme anglaise from Joy of Baking.  A whole vanilla bean adds intense vanilla flavor and visual interest from the gorgeous black seeds to the egg yolk and heavy cream based dessert sauce.  Swoon!

Sweet strawberries and creme anglaise, tart apples and rhubarb, warmth from the ginger, and a bit of sour from the bread, it was the perfect Mother's Day dessert!  And of course, Brody helped too . . .

May 12, 2012

Lemony Mushrooms and Wilted Kale

Everyone seems to have a food boner for kale.  Kale chips, salads, smoothies, you name it someone has tried to sneak it in.  I get it, it is a SUPER FOOD (that also fights crime).  Its trendiness has kept me away, until I got an email from my mother asking me if I had tried it.  Alright, mom, I'll eat my vegetables!

I first sauteed mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil.  I used the combo of lemon, crushed red pepper flakes, and dijon mustard to flavor the dish, then added a little chicken stock to help wilt the kale.  I found a box of pine nuts in the back of the spice cabinet, so I toasted them in a dry pan and topped the dish with it for a nutty crunch.  

Tangy and just slightly bitter, an exciting way to get your vitamins!  Super Kale to the rescue!

May 09, 2012

Chipotle Chocolate Cookies

I'm done with classes!  Even though it doesn't feel like a huge milestone since I still have 3 years, it's kind of nice to say.  On Saturday during my "I'm not out with my friends" cinco de mayo funk, I decided to attempt one of my favorite combos, spicy chocolate, in a cookie!

Instead of the typical the cayenne, I used chipotle.  These cookies have warmth from the cinnamon and the chipotle, a little crunch on the outside from being rolled in sugar, and a chewy chocolate center.  I made a quick cream cheese and raspberry filling to balance the spice for those with tame taste buds, but I loved them straight up.  They were kind of my breakfast during the rest of finals . . .

May 07, 2012

Pepperoni Sauce Pizza

I have so much DC pride, especially for all of our chefs who come home from Top Chef and make a splash.  Last summer, when Mike Isabella's Graffiato opened in Chinatown with the promise of the pepperoni sauce as featured on his final meal in Top Chef Allstars I knew I needed to eat there.  The sauce was amazing, as intimated by Gail, and it has been one of very few times in my adult life where I felt compelled to lick the plate.

Ever since, I had the idea shaking around in the back of my brain to create a reverse pizza.  Pepperoni sauce topped with mozzarella and tomato slices to look like pepperonis on top!  And we all know my stance on adorable food.  So when I saw on sale mozz then ready made pizza dough directly next to the last package of pepperoni at Trader Joe's, I knew I needed to finally attempt the sauce!

And oh this sauce!  Isabella is a genius, I can really take no credit.  The recipe he put out for it in the Washington post was for a giant batch so I just halved it and used campari tomatoes instead of half of a can.  I probably should have made the whole thing . . .

May 05, 2012

Dijon-Marmalade Baby Bok Choy

Growing up, our extra special dinner was Orange Chicken.  It was crispy baked chicken breast coated in a orange marmalade, dijon mustard, and toasted sesame seed sauce.  My favorite was to drizzle the orange sauce over mashed potatoes.  Recently, I've been trying to adapt those flavors to other dishes to capture the nostalgic flavor.

After a trip to my favorite asian market at home, I picked up some beautiful baby bok choy and thought that the hearty leaves would stand up to the savory-sweet sauce.  Starting with slowly caramelized shallots, I added the marmalade, mustard, and sesame seeds and let meld for a few minutes.  I sliced the baby bok choy in half (or thirds for bigger pieces), cleaned out as much of the grit in the leaves as possible, and put the bok choy face down in the sauce.  After about 2 minutes, I added a little chicken stock and covered to finish cooking the bok choy.

When the leaves have wilted, pull the veggies and cook down the sauce for a few minutes.  Pour the reduced sauce over the baby bok choy and enjoy (my) nostalgia!

May 03, 2012

Roasted Baby Zucchini Fries

It is no secret, I love adorable food.  It is one thing to be tasty, but to be tasty and cute?  Win win.  Hence my obsession with 2-bite hors d'oeuvres and desserts made in my mini-muffin pan.  So when I saw baby zucchinis I geeked out . . . I mean how cute are these?

I love grilled and roasted zucchini and summer squash because I love the slightly sweet charred taste of these veggies.  I originally set out to make these just roasted baby zucchinis but they came out with a delicious crunchy outer texture with a creamy roasted center.  Like a FRY!

As I can barely heat my oven to 400 without setting off the smoke detector, frying is completely out of the spectrum of cooking techniques for me.  While I'm not always sad about this (thank you, idiot contractor, for keeping me skinny), there is something to be said about being able to make something fry-like at home.  I dressed the "fries" with lemon juice, grated garlic, and chopped parsley, in which they retained their crispy texture.  Yum!  Get them before they go out of season!

May 02, 2012

Chipotle Honeyed Pears Over Pea Shoot Salad

I'm literally counting down the days until my farmer's market opens this Saturday, but until then I have to rely on what I see in abundance as to what is good and fresh now.  My grocery store has recently had an influx in all kinds of pears, so naturally I had to pick some up and test them out.  I'm typically not a pear-person, but I loved cooked pears.  With pea shoots out as well as a hunk of goat cheese I needed to use, I came up with a dried chipotle powder and honey combo that would complement these three ingredients.  Plus a little crispy bacon thrown in for good measure, both the crumbled bits on top and a little of the leftover bacon fat to bind a quick vinaigrette.

I ate it just as a quickly thrown together side to some leftover chicken, but this is an elegant layered salad party-perfect for a springtime get together.  Sweet, spicy, crunchy, and satisfying, proving yet again that simple ingredients treated with respect will always give you the best results!

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