60-degree “Winter” in New England Food

It’s been so warm here and then quickly got cold. I wasn’t about to be thankful for global warming or join the bandwagon of ladies I hear in the gym locker room who are thankful they aren’t shoveling. Do they know they live in New England? It snows here. Here we are, mid December and it’s just now getting cold. It’s been too hot for real winter food! Anywho, moving on…

I rarely make interesting salads so you wouldn’t have seen them. Lettuce is my least favorite part of a salad. Give me the fun stuff! At age 7 my sis horrified my aunt by saying she only liked salad for the dressing. It’s the heavy stuff at the salad bar that makes it good. Sorry for my poor choice of plate color!
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Well, I have an interesting salad for you! I love chopped salads because then you get some fun stuff in each bite. I saw this salad on Pinterest, obviously ;) It was on a blog called Espresso and Cream but I’ve seen variations all over the place.Autumn Chopped salad (single serving)

Ingredients:

1 head of Romaine lettuce
½ English cucumber
1 cup grape tomatoes
¼ red onion
½ cup crumbled feta
2 strips of bacon (or omit making this vegetarian)
½ pear
¼ cup balsamic vinager
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp spicy brown mustard

Directions:

While bacon is cooking, chop all the veggies.
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Whisk vinegar, oil, and mustard (or shake in a jar).
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Toss well and enjoy!
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Seriously, I know you don’t need instructions. I think sometimes it’s easier to make your shopping list for this one if it’s written down!

The original has dried cranberries but I was thinking I wanted more savory and the pear was my sweet bit. Goat cheese could easily replace feta but I prefer feta. I didn’t put chicken in but some recipes do.
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Chopping everything takes the longest when prepping this but it is worth it. I chose English cucumber because you can eat the peel without the bitterness and the have fewer seeds so it doesn’t make salad as soggy as regular cukes. I also always chose grape tomatoes because I like their sweetness and they stay fresher longer. They also are never as disappointingly mealy.

break it down now:

Autumn Chopped Salad

(serves 4 as sides/starter or 2 for an entree)
1 head of romaine: $1.50
½ cucumber: $0.94
8 oz. grape tomatoes: $1.49
¼ of a red onion: $0.32
4 oz. feta: $2.24
2 strips of bacon: $0.32
½ of a pear: $0.29
total = $7.10/4 servings = $1.77 per serving as 4 side/starter salads or $3.55 for 2 lighter main entree salads (neither includes dressing costs)

Bacon Bread

Hi, my name is Emily. I am Pintrest obsessed. “Hi Emily!”

Do you pin? It’s addicting. Pinterest is a virtual pin board.  I just love the creativity being shared on it!  It seems like such an efficient way to keep track of foods I want to make/attempt my twist on. I love introducing people to it, though I’ll warn you…if you’re on Pinterst and don’t pin then you’re a mooch! Go ahead, follow me.
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I saw a pin from somebody’s blog that became widely popular. Cheesy bacon ranch bread. Duh, why wouldn’t that be popular?? It seems to have originated on a fun blog called Plain Chicken. Also, today is Monday and I’m worried you might not have had enough bacon in your life over the weekend. Oh, I forgot. Today is a holiday for some lucky people to continue their weekend life…not me though.

Mine wasn’t exactly to-die-for, but I think I’d attempt again. Without further ado, I give you Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pulls (from Plain Chicken)

Ingredients

1 round loaf sourdough bread
8-12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
3 oz bacon (I used 3 slices, chopped)
½ cup butter (I used ⅓ cup but should have used more)
1 tbs ranch dressing mix

Directions

Cut bread in 1 inch slices going almost all the way through, in both directions
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Sprinkle cheese and bacon between the cuts
Mix ranch powder and butter together and drizzle all over the top
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Cover with foil and bake at 350-degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes

I think more of everything would have made mine better. Mine didn’t open up like Plain Chicken’s. Hers is beautifully separated just waiting to be pulled apart.

I think more is more in this case, and I think it would be easier with another set of hands to separate while filling & drizzling. Maybe if there was just so much cheese & bacon then it would automatically separate the bread pulls.
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I see the potential. That blogger also made a brunch one with cinnamon & sugar which sounds good. This is a dish to eat with close friends or family. I can’t imagine a shy group getting in there and pulling it apart with you! I made this at my parents house so I prepped everything and assembled there. Can’t you tell the beautifully bright photos after I sliced in my windowless dungeon of a kitchen?

Quicky Quiche

My mum makes the best quiche so I was thinking I’d make one. It wasn’t quite as good as hers ever is, but overall I was happy with it.
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I used ready-made piecrust which made is super easy. Pie crust isn’t that hard to make, but I wasn’t making a double crusted pie so I made it a bit more simple by using one made for me. It meant making lunch for the week only took about 20 minutes to prep.

Ingredients

2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 strips of bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
salt & pepper

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop spinach, mushrooms, and bacon.
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Wisk together eggs, egg yolks, milk, salt, pepper, and cream of tartar.
Layer cheese and fillings into piecrust.
Gently pour egg mixture over filling.
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Bake 35-40 minutes until center is set.
Allow to cool slightly before slicing.
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It was good but I think I put in too much cream of tartar. It’s supposed to provide acid to help stabilize the eggs.

Quiche was a great lunch option this week. Swiss or sharper cheddar might have given this more bite. This definitely was an easy way to use some mushrooms I had and for another serving of spinach.

Breakfast Pizza

The last time I made pizza with bacon I ended up wishing I’d done it breakfast-style. No time like the present! I broke out the pizza stone and got to work. Only after proclaiming my love for the pizza stone, of course.
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Ingredients

1 ball of dough
1/4 cup marinara sauce
4 strips of bacon, cooked & crumbled
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar
3 green onions, chopped

Directions

1) Preheat pizza stone to 375 degrees.
2) Top dough with sauce and shredded cheese making four divots for eggs.
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3) Sprinkle with bacon and green onions.
4) Crack eggs into divots and bake immediately.
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5) Bake for 35 minutes until crisp and egg fully cooked.

I loved this pizza! It wasn’t the greatest reheated…but I’m sure you can guess I ate it anyway. The egg got funky but hey, if it meant I didn’t have to grocery shop or find something else, then I’d eat almost anything.

I think I would also like to try a scrambled egg-type of pizza. Like this. Or this. I’m trying to think up fun and exciting new pizza themes for my next one. Maybe I’ll have to give a thin crust a whirl. Any suggestions for toppings?
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The pizza stone has changed my life and my pizza. It’s such a difference. If you have one, you’ll agree. If you don’t, you should go get one.  The dough is fluffy and puffy, which I love.

Bfast Fiasco

This breakfast dish was something I had been dying to make and it unfortunately was a letdown. It had such potential! I saw this Maple Bacon & Apple Stuffed French Toast and was super excited. I mean I grocery shopped specifically for this and I hate to grocery shop.
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Maple Bacon? Apple? French Toast? What’s not to love, right? I don’t know if I missed the mark on this with a bunch of seemingly small mistakes or if I just didn’t have the touch. Here it is, done right, by Kitchen Runway.If you’re intrigued, and want to prove me right/wrong go ahead with Kitchen Runway’s ingredients & directions since clearly theirs was successful.

Maple Bacon & Apple Baked French Toast

Ingredients:

21 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (I used potato rolls)
10 slices of maple bacon
1 large Fuji apple, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
1 Tbs maple syrup
8 large eggs
2 C whole milk (this could be one of my problems)
½ C heavy cream
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Topping:
8 slices of maple bacon (~9 oz), cooked and crumbled
½ C powdered sugar
2 Tbs + 1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp milk

Directions:

Quarter the rolls and place in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry out while you prepare the rest of the recipe steps.

Preheat oven to 325º F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place bacon in a single layer and bake for 35 mins.  Remove from oven when done and place bacon on a paper towel to drain fat.  Crumble bacon or use a knife to chop the bacon.  Set aside.

Place sliced apples in a bowl and add maple syrup and stir to combine, set aside. (I used a mandolin and cut 2 fingers…bandaging myself delayed everything a bit. Chunks would have been better anyway.)
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In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined.
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Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter and place half of the bread in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.  Cover bread with ½ of the egg mixture.  Place remaining bread into the egg mixture and stir to coat.
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Place sliced apples on top of the bread in a single layer and sprinkle the bacon on top.

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Gently place the remaining bread on top of the apple and bacon layer.  Pour remaining egg mixture to the baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. (hmmm. I think I gave it an hour in the fridge)

The next day:  preheat oven to 350º F.  Place dish on middle rack and bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.  If the French toast is browning too quickly, tent the baking dish with foil.
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In the meantime, you can cook the bacon for the topping on the stove top or bake until crispy. (I used reserved bacon from the filling prep)

In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk.

Sprinkle bacon on top of baked French toast and drizzle with maple glaze.  Serve with additional maple glaze or syrup if you like. (my glaze needed more powdered sugar)
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Can’t win ‘em all. I re-tried it the next day, because things are better after chill-axing. No such luck. One of the very few items I bake is a chocolate bread pudding…not much different than this but that is fool-proof and this stuffed french toast proved problematic. Ohh well, onto the next.

Not Quite Summer Food

During a stint of weather not feeling quite so summery a few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to make deep dish pizza. I haven’t made much pizza with so many calzones lately but I was feelin’ it.
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Ingredients

1 ball pizza dough
¾ cup tomato sauce
thick cut bacon
1 Valida onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ cup pesto
2 cups shredded cheese

Directions

Cook bacon until crisp then chop. (Have you had thick cut bacon? It is like deli bacon and once you try it you won’t go back. Thanks for the intro Mrs. S!)
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Saute onions and peppers until softened but still somewhat crisp
Spread pizza dough into round cake pan and spread pesto over it
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layer onion & pepper mixture with cheese and then layer the bacon on top
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add more cheese and cover with tomato sauce then sprinkle with oregano or basil if you like
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bake at 400-degrees for 30-40 minutes
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I liked this one as a slight deviation from the norm. Once I weaseled some feedback out of Mr. J I agreed with him that the onion and bacon can’t stay as crisp as when they top a pizza. True story. I still really liked it. The bacon was substantial and smokey. The peppers made it a touch sweeter and maintained their slight crunch instead of being too soggy.

We often get bacon on pizza because who doesn’t love bacon, and also because I can’t eat red meat so pork or chicken it is!

Once I thought of pizza and bacon I probably should have gone with a regular pizza on my stone. Maybe next time. I really want to do a bacon & egg pizza so that’ll have to be next. Check out some of these awesome looking ones, like this, or this, or this.

Picnic (Sans Ants)

Sis and I LOVE a good theme party. We were trying to think of something special for Mother’s Day this year. We thought for a half second about a picnic in the Arnold Aboretum for Lilac Sunday. This is apparently the only time a year you can picnic there. Sitting on the ground to eat there just because we can’t normally didn’t quite fit. Also, with the rain on Saturday, we weren’t convinced Mother Nature would play nice.

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That seems like a baby-stroller activity and nobody in our fam is quite there yet. It also kind of seems like something to take a mom to do if her children aren’t around.

We had a picnic at our parents’ house! The picnic theme was super fun and delicious.

We took inspiration from Bobby Flay since in his throwdowns he always tries to make the everyday a bit better or more special.

We served:
BLTs with pesto mayo and thick cut bacon
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Roast Beef Sandwiches with horseraddish dijon spread
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Tabouli since Mum doesn’t love macaroni salad as much as the average person.
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And pickles, fruit, and Cape Cod chips. I got some delectable treats from Lyndell’s Bakery since I didn’t acquire all the baking skill my mum has (and since I worked about 9 hours on Saturday).

I made a drink too:
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Ingredients:

4 cups lemonade (I used crystal light yellow)
4 cups zero calorie lime seltzer
1 lime sliced

Directions:

Prepare the lemonade as instructed. (I planned to use raspberry lemonade but was short on pitcher space since yellow was already made)
Mix chilled soda
Serve with lime slices (freezing lime bits into the ice would be very cute too)

Just add some cheap-o red baskets & napkins and you’ve got yourself an indoor picnic!

Wish me luck! By the time you see this I’ll be UBER close to the end of the production week and the start of my event. Watch out world, I become a whole new person after I rejoin society!

Stone Potato Pizza

Let me profess my love to the pizza stone! It has changed the way I make pizza and I just can’t wait to make more! I’ve been dying for one and I make pizza and calzones regularly so it was just a matter of time.

I made this awesome Potato Pizza that I’ve made before and it seemed like a whole new pizza! The dough was just a refrigerated dough ball from the grocery store but it baked so differently on the stone! It was fluffy and doughy and the outside and bottom was beautiful and crispy.

My mum gifted the stone to me and I am truly excited. I was very careful to not put the stone into a hot oven (it’ll crack) and not to use dish soap (it’ll absorb it). Since it’s only for pizzas, calzones, and the like, I’m sure we’ll live a long and happy life together. Also, Oneida brand holds a special place in our hearts since Mum grew up in Oneida, NY.
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Spoiler altert: I wasn’t sure I was getting it off but thankfully with a few knives and spatulas, I did. Phew! It was a scary few minutes though. I should have oiled my new stone more.

Ingredients

1 large potato
pizza dough
2 slices bacon
½ cup alfredo sauce
½ cup cheddar cheese shreaded
½ cup mozzarella cheese shreaded

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 and put pizza stone into the cold oven while preheating if using a stone.
Cook bacon until crispy.
While the bacon is cooking, allow dough to get to room temperature.
Finely slice a potato into paper-thin slices (look how well I did even without a mandolin!).
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Spread dough out and top with alfredo (or garlic & oil spread).
Layer cheeses and potato slices over the top of the pie before topping with chopped bacon.
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Bake 30 minutes at 425.

This pizza is a great change from the norm. There’s nothing healthy about it but it is comforting and delicious. I cannot believe how much the dough puffed up! It was shocking and super exciting to see it happening!
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I really have to exercise some constraint to NOT open the oven the whole time to peek in and smell it coming together. The hotter the oven, the better the pizza. The potato cooks pretty quickly since it is so thin but I didn’t overlap them very much either.
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We top it with a little drizzle of ranch dressing but have topped with chives before too. It is so good and I highly recommend making it. Omit the bacon and voila, you have a vegetarian one! Pizzeria Uno’s has an appetizer of a deep dish pizza that is a “stuffed potato” using mashed potato, cheddar, and bacon…now that I also have a deep dish pan maybe that’ll come soon too!

I love that pizza makes such great leftovers and is amazing the next day for lunch!

Rachael Ray’s Balsamic Pan Gravy is delish

Rosemary Pork Chops with Balsamic Pan Gravy

I thumbed through Rachael Ray’s Express Lane cookbook features meals with 10 ingredients or fewer. Her recipes always take me longer than 30-minutes but I like that she often substitutes ingredients and features everyday ingredients. I had trouble tracking down the recipe online but I saw it on another blog too.

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I adapted it and didn’t make the sides Rachael Ray made with this dish. I’m a strong believer that if I’m making something new or different then I’m better suited to focus on one new or one more challenging item and one easy or tried & true. Sauces aren’t my forte but I was intrigued with this and Mr. J likes anything with a sauce!

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Ingredients

5 tbs olive oil
2 slices of thick cut bacon (RR reccomends 12 thin slices soppressata)
2 center cut pork loin chops 1 inch thick
salt and pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary sprigs stripped and finely chopped
1 tbs garlic, diced
1 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs butter (RR uses unsalted)

Directions

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat to cook bacon until crispy, about 4 min and then remove from pan. While the bacon is getting crispy, season the pork chops with generous salt, pepper, and rosemary on each side. When the bacon is done disgard drippings, put bacon to the side and heat olive oil.

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Cook pork chops 5 minutes per side. Once the pork chops are done, transfer to a platter and cover with foil or keep in warming oven.
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Heat garlic and balsamic vinegar, cook 30 seconds and add stock. Bring to a bubble and cook 5 more minutes or until there is only 1/2 cup of liquid left in the skillet. Turn heat off and add butter, stir until butter is melted and add bacon back into the sauce.
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I loved this and thought the baslamic flavor was great and would definitely make it again. I thought it would be great with wilted greens and white beans.

I made steamed broccoli and some Trader Joe’s cornbread stuffing. The stuffing was only ehh but was handy to have around.
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