Tag Archives: crack

Brussels Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

I wish I had taken better pictures tonight because this was so tasty and satisfying.  When Brussels are caramelized and covered in bacon, you wonder why they got a bad rap for so long.   These bad boys are super filling and low carb to boot.  Just give me a whole bowl for dinner – I don’t even need the chicken.

Brussels Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed

5 slices of nitrate-free bacon, sliced (I like to use the pre-cooked bacon from Trader Joe’s – see below)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup chicken broth

Trim and halve Brussels and set aside.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add bacon.  Cook until the bacon starts to brown and render.  Add shallots and cook until translucent.  Off heat, whisk in red wine vinegar and mustard.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.  Clean out the pan and add remaining two tablespoons of olive oil.  Over medium high heat, cook Brussels in the olive oil until browned and caramelized.   De-glaze the pan with the chicken broth and cover until Brussels are cooked through (about 5 minutes).  When the chicken broth has evaporated, add reserved bacon mixture and cook for an additional five to eight minutes.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Almost No Bake Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

Easiest dessert ever.  The inspiration came from the local Italian restaurant where the owner’s wife whips up something similar every week.  Love her, but she wouldn’t share the recipe with me so I had to come up with my own.  This is the perfect summer treat because you barely have to use the oven.  I was thinking how tasty it would be with Nutella and a hazelnut crust.  Or with lemon curd and a shortbread crust?  Salted caramel and chocolate cookie crust?

Almost No Bake Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

For the crust –
3/4 of a bag of Nilla Wafers
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 pinch of salt

For the filling –

2 8oz. containers of mascarpone cheese
1 cup of Kefir (you can use lowfat plain yogurt)
1 envelope of gelatin
1/2-3/4 cup water
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 pound dark chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crush the cookies into fine crumbs, preferably with a food processor and pulse in the melted butter until well combined.  Press the mixture into a pie plate and bake for 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, clean out the inside of the food processor, and add the mascarpone.  Whirl it for 30 seconds to fluff up the cheese.  Measure the Kefir and mix in the envelope of gelatin until well combined.  Add the Kefir, gelatin, sugar, and vanilla and whirl until well combined.  Add 1/2 cup of water and pulse until it becomes less stiff, add more as needed.  Add the melted and cooled chocolate and turn the food processor on for 1-2 minutes to whip some more air into the mixture.  Pour into the prepared crust, slap it in the fridge for 2-3 hours, and enjoy!

 

Pimento Cheese If You Please, Knock Me to My Knees…

That’s what David Allen Coe said, right?  Or was he talking about Jack Daniels?  I forget.

This week, I have several get togethers where I need to bring a little something something to satiate the goon squad.  So I threw together a big batch of pimento cheese last night to use on burgers, and it made enough to be a spread, a dip, and a filling for tea sandwiches.  I’m also thinking that it would be killer on nachos with black olives.  (Wait, what kind of goons eat tea sandwiches?)

Here’s my favorite recipe.  It will last for at least a week in the fridge.  My friends from the south grew up eating this sharp and cheesy delight at cocktail parties and holidays, and my peeps from the north are captivated by its bright orangey/pink hue.   You have to try it on burgers, straight up, no ketchup needed.

Pink 'n Juicy

Pimento Cheese

8oz sharp white cheddar, shredded

8oz yellow cheddar, shredded

7 oz. jar of Pimentos, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup mayo

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

Black pepper

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse to combine.  You will want the consistency to be somewhere between chunky and smooth.  Taste for seasoning.  Store in an airtight container for one week in the fridge.

GOON Feeding

Crack ‘n Cheese

This recipe might be the best excuse to break a low carb diet (so I make it often).  Cheesy, salty, gooey, slightly spicy, satisfying and seriously addicting.

It is the perfect crowd pleaser side dish to bring to a dinner party or cookout.  Once baked off and cooled, it travels well, and if you lack confidence in the chef’s skills, crack ‘n cheese is a filling and reliable back up plan.

Take your lactose pills

Crack ‘n Cheese

1 box large shells pasta

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup flour

5 cups milk, heated lightly

5 cups shredded cheese (parm, pecorino, aged cheddar, and gruyere are my faves, but it’s a great way to clean out the cheese drawer)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup bread crumbs

Cook shells al dente.  Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and melt butter.  Add the flour and whisk to combine.  Cook until the flour and butter mixture until the roux becomes caramel colored.  Add warm milk, whisk to combine, and stirring frequently, bright to a boil.  Let the sauce thicken, approx 3-5 mins, and add the cheese off heat.  Taste for seasoning.  Add the pasta and toss to coat.  Put the mixture into the greased pan, and top with extra cheese and bread crumbs.  Bake 30 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.

Serves 10-12 goons.

Mmmmmm....crack

Goons Eat Dessert Too

I realize that I have yet to post any dessert recipes or pictures.  Dessert can be a great way to keep goons from going up for third helpings.  It’s also a nice thing to bring as a gift before eating other goons out of house and home.

So we have been watching Master Chef over the last few weeks, and it’s been fun to see home cooks make all sorts of basic dishes that I’ve never attempted before.  In order to determine whether I could be Master Chef worthy, I’ve been tasking myself with making things outside of my comfort zone.  Last week they made Lemon Meringue Pies in a two hour pressure challenge, and I just had to give it a whirl.  They looked amah-maz-ing on TV and did not seem to be THAT hard.

Cooks Illustrated is my favorite place to start for new recipes in general, but particularly for desserts.There are too many ingredients and techniques in this recipe to post the whole thing, but basically, you make the crust, make the lemon custard, and top it off with the meringue.

After three hours of using every piece of baking equipment in the house, the pie was good but not THAT good.  Everyone licked their plates, but was it worth it?

It was definitely the prettiest dessert I’ve ever made, but I would have freaked if someone went for the pie-in-the-face trick.

Smash Browns

I have made these twice over the last week and they are sure to rock any meat heavy dinner menu. Your guests will like these so much that they won’t clean you out of meat and home. I can’t wait to experiment with different spices and cheeses.

Tater goodness

Feeds two goons and a couple goon-ettes…

– 2 LBS red taters
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 2 T butter
– Generous mix of spices to taste (salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, etc.)
– 1-2 cups grated Parmesan
– Handful chopped parsley

– Preheat oven to 400.
– Boil taters for approximately 10 minutes until slightly tender but with some bite.
– On a greased cookie sheet, lightly smash each tater to break the skin.
– Toss taters with olive oil, butter, spices, and 1/2 the cheese.
– Bake on greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes or until crispy.

Toss with parsley and remaining Parm.  Enjoy with steak tips, lamb, sausage, or any grilling meats!