Tuesday, April 30, 2013

drunken italian noodles

This is a recipe that has been floating around on Pinterest lately, and I managed to track it back to it's source. That's the one downfall of Pinterest- I want to give credit where credit is due to those people who actually originally post their recipes, but sometimes it's so hard! This one came from the people over at The Cozy Apron, and it's definetly a winner.
I made several adjustments to the recipe, and above is one of them. Her recipe calls for de-casing hot italian sausage, but I just chose mild loose sausage from the grocery and doctored it up. Why go to the effort of de-casing when we have loose sausage right on hand? I also use linguini noodles and not papradelle because my local store just didn't have those wide noodles.
I also reserved most of my sausage fat to cook the vegetables in, and only added a tiny smidge of olive oil.
Seasons these puppies liberally, with salt and pepper. Maybe a little garlic powder as well. But I'll leave that up to you.
One the onions and pepper have cooked for a while, then comes the drunken part. Use a nice dry white wine to cook with- one not to cheap, but still one you would drink.
Once the wine has reduced enough that the alcohol is burned off and is about half the amount that was originally poured in, then you can add back in the sausage. You'll also add the whole can of diced tomatoes as this point.

After that has cooked for a bit, you'll want to season with fresh basil and parsley. Got this bunch from my garden as well!
You'll also want to add in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth, velvety texture. Don't worry, the sauce will not be greasy at all. All that's left to do is toss in the noodles and eat!
Drunken Italian Noodles
Original recipe can be found at The Cozy Apron
8 oz. linguini noodles
1 lb loose hot Italian sausage
1 large onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons basil, sliced
2 Tablespoons parsley, minced
Olive oil

In a large stock pot, cook noodles according to the directions on package. Drain and set aside. In that same stock pot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add sausage. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from pot with slotted spoon and place in a small bowl. Set aside and reserve for later. Using leftover sausage fat and a tiny amount of olive oil, add onion and bell pepper. Season with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add dry white wine. Allow wine to reduce to 1/2 original amount and add entire can of tomatoes, including juice, along with the sausage. Cook for 3-5 minutes to incorporate flavor. Add the last minute before serving, add fresh spices and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine with cooked noodles and enjoy!

Monday, April 29, 2013

slow roasted blt

Who doesn't like a good BLT? So simple, so delicious. But Ed really isn't a fan of sandwiches for dinner, don't ask me why. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the man has a hollow leg and a sandwich just doesn't fill him up. Well, I tried to make sandwiches hearty with a good side dish so that dinner can be filling for him, and I can still get to eat burgers and sammies for dinner.
This BLT is jazzed up with slow roasted tomatoes and bacon. It's also a lettuce-less BLT- the L stands for leaves in this case. I use basil instead of lettuce to make this sandwich, and the basil is mixed into the mayonnaise.
This is what 4 hours in the oven does to a tomato. Low and slow- you can always pull them out before they get to this point if you want your tomatoes more juicy than sun-dried. But I like mine sweet and tangy, and just a little chewy.
Theses are some of the fruits of my labor. Get it? Fruits? Well, I know basil isn't a fruit, but I do have a potted garden this year that I'm growing basil, parsley, onions, strawberries, bell peppers (green and red), cucumbers, hot peppers (poblano and banana) and tomatoes in. So far, just the strawberries and herbs are ready for use.
Be sure to make your spread ahead of time, so that the basil has time to seep it's flavor into the mayo.
Go with me on this one and buy butcher quality bacon. Thick sliced, high quality bacon is really what makes this sandwich. I'm all for the regular packaged bacon on day to day basis, but this sandwich really needs the good stuff.
I use my grooved stone to make bacon in the oven, because it crisps it up and the fat lays on the bottom. You can always use a pan that has been lined with parchment paper as well, but please, do cook the bacon in the oven. The bacon lies flat nicely this way, and it just seems to be more flavorful and less greasy fatty.
This is also where I will caution you to use baker quality bread. Wonder bread just isn't going to do this sandwich justice. You need chewy, yeasty, hearty bread to stand up to a sandwich of this caliber. Lightly toast the bread in the oven- no need for oil or butter. Liberally apply the basil mayonnaise, top with 2 slices of tomato, as much bacon as you like, and chow down.
Slow Roasted BLT
Original recipe found at Not Without Salt.
1 lb butcher sliced bacon
1 loaf hearty bread
2 large beefsteak or red hot tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Slice tomatoes to about 1/4 inch thickness and place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle tomatoes very lightly with olive oil and season with pepper and just a tiny amount of salt. Roast in oven for 4 hours or until tomatoes are shrived on the edges but have maintained some juices. Set aside and allow to cool. Bring oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon in a cooking pan lined with parchment paper and set inside preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy. Meanwhile, mix together basil and mayonnaise. Lightly toast bread in oven for 1-2 minutes and set aside. Liberally apply mayonnaise to toast and layer with 2 slices of tomato, several strips of bacon and enjoy!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

beer battered fried pickles

There are two ways of making fried pickles- battered or crusted. We like them both ways. These are sort of like the ones we enjoy from B&D Burgers here in Savannah, but I used hot and spicy pickle chips to make ours.
This important- use cold packed refrigerator pickles. They have better crunch to begin with, and they hold up a lot better in frying. Make sure they are close to room temperature before battering and frying, as well.
Dry then wet- be sure to season both liberally.
I use paprika, all seasons salt and lemon pepper for mine. Usually, if I use non-spicy pickles, I'll also add cayenne, but these slices were hot enough.
You want your batter to be the thickness of pancake batter so that it sticks pretty well to the pickle chip and it doesn't expand too much in the oil.
Serve these little nuggets of joy and deliciousness with ranch dressing or dill buttermilk dressing and remember to enjoy with caution. These are delicious. Oh, and Ed has mentioned that I don't talk about him in the blog any more so... ED ED ED ED ED! HI ED!
Beer Battered Fried Pickles
1 1 lb container refrigerator pickle chips
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1/2 cup flour, spilt into 1/4 cup portions
1/2 cup corn starch, split into 1/4 cup portions
1/2 cup beer
2 Tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning, split into 1 Tablespoon portions
1 Tablespoon all seasons salt, split into 1/2 Tablespoon portions
1 Tablespoon paprika, split into 1/2 Tablespoon portions

Preheat oil to 350 degrees in a large stock pot. Drain pickles in a colander and set aside. Prepare two bowls, one for wet batter and one for dry. Prepare wet batter by combining 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch, half the seasonings and the beer. Add more flour if needed to create a batter with pancake batter consistency. To create dry batter, combine remaining flour, cornstarch and seasonings. Dredge each pickle chip in the dry then wet batter and fry in oil for 3 minutes a piece, or until each chip is crispy and browned. Allow to drain on a paper towel and serve with ranch dressing. Enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

potato chip crusted chicken

This is a recipe that I have been making since I was a little kid. My mom had a children's cookbook that had this recipe in it, and I LOVED it as a child. It's a great way to use up leftover chips or the little bits that are in the bottom of the bag. Those bits don't even need to be perfectly fresh and crunchy either, because the oven makes them crispy again.
You can think of this recipe essentially as oven fried chicken, but instead of using a batter or breadcrumbs before popping in the oven, you use crushed potato chips.
Seasoned flour, egg wash, crushed chips is the order in which you batter the legs. Keep in mind that you can use breast, thighs and tenders if you wanted, but I almost always use legs because they are cheap and cook pretty nicely.
Sort of like how I use macaroni and cheese as a way to get rid of my leftover dried pasta, I use this recipe to empty out our snack container of the half eaten, crushed chips that Ed doesn't want to eat. So, above is a combination of Publix brand dip chips and Middleswarth barbecue chips sent down from PA from my Mom. They are the best. You can use whatever chips you would like, I've even used kettle cooked jalapeno chips before.
Try to press the chips into the legs as much as possible, but they don't stick amazingly well even with the egg wash. What I end up doing, usually, is trying to get as many to stay put as possible while dredging and then topping each leg with the extra chips once they are in the pan. They pretty much will all hang on after being cooked. Bake uncovered- they won't get a ton of color, but they sure are delicious.!
Potato Chip Crusted Chicken
5-6 chicken legs
2 cups crushed potato chips, any variety
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1 Tablespoon All Seasons Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In three separate bowls, prep the coatings. In the first bowl, combine flour and seasons salt. In the second, beat egg and water together to make a wash. In the final bowl, finely crush potato chips. Dredge each leg through the flour, then egg wash and finally the chips. Repeat for each leg. Place on a cooking pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Top each leg with leftover crushed chips. Bake in oven for 35-45 minutes, or until chips are crispy and brown and chicken is no longer pink and cooked through. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

so-cal street tacos

Ed and I are still mourning the loss of our favorite restaurant here in Savannah- Sol. They closed down probably about 7 months ago now, but they were amazing. It was fusion food, a combo of Southern cooking, Latino street food and Asian flavors. My favorite thing on the menu was a grilled romaine lettuce head with skirt steak and tequila lime dressing. Ed was in love with their tacos. The closing of that restaurant sort of inspired me to branch out with out tacos- I'll admit up until them I was strictly a box taco kind of girl at home. I thought that making authentic style tacos was hard work- but simple flavors are what make them great! They don't really need all the frills and bells and whistles to be delish.
This is strictly a street taco, meaning it has very few ingredients and no salsa. That's what makes it easy to transport- not a lot of messy juices. I chose flank steak to make mine, but you can use skirt steak, thinly sliced pork or chicken thighs. Even chicken breast would work, but it's not as authentic. Just use garlic and salt. I promise, you won't need anything else as far as seasoning goes.
Always, always, always let your meat rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing so you don't let all those yummy juices inside just drain onto your cutting board.
While the steak rests, I gather together my accouterments  Just finely mince onion, minced fresh cilantro and montery jack cheese- although queso fresco or manchego would work amazing well.
Use your sharpest non serrated knife and slice against the grain to get the best texture. You want these slices to be thin enough that you don't need to gnaw and fight with the strips as you eat. I cooked ours to medium well- just pink inside. Remember, simple is better in this case- and more delicious! Let those flavors shine through!
So-Cal Street Tacos
Original inspiration comes from Simple Recipes.
12 taco size flour tortillas or corn tortillas
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup finely minced sweet onion
1 1 lb flank or skirt steak
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lime wedges

Rub down flank steak with oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook on a grill over medium heat for 4 minutes on either side, or until just pink in the center. Allow meat to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, warm tortillas in the microwave between paper towels for 30 seconds. Arrange tacos with a small amount of cheese on the bottom, thinly sliced steak, minced onion, cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge. Enjiy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

crock pot mac & cheese

I have had a bloody sore throat for weeks now. Two weeks to be exact, and nothing has made me feel better. Finally went to the doctor today and was told I may have strep throat. Nice. Well, when one is sick, you want comfort food. Easy comfort food. Nothing is more comforting than pasta and cheese. This is even a crock pot version of mac and cheese, so it's even easier.
This recipe has only 8 ingredients, 3 of which are spices. I mean, it's not more complicated than mixing together and leave it alone. That's it.
I use a combo of both sharp and mild cheese, and oodles of it. About 2 whole cups.
I like to use leftover dried noodles to make my mac and cheese, because I always seem to have extra shells and other kinds. This time I used ditalini and small shells to make mine. Pop that crock pot on low and 3-4 hours later, you have delicious mac and cheese. If you like the crispy edges that come from cooking the mac and cheese in the oven, try to disturb the pasta as little as possible as it cooks. If you like it more creamy then stir at the 3 hour mark and see how if the custard has set up. Either way, it's delish.
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Tip Garden!
2 cups uncooked dried elbow macaroni
1 1/2 - 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 egg
2 cups skim milk
1 12 oz. can evaporate milk
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Spray the bottom of the crock pot liberally with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together skim milk, evaporate milk, the egg and seasonings. Pour into the crock pot and combine with dried noodles and cheese. Mix thoroughly. Put lid on crock pot and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours until custard is set. Enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

brown sugar bacon chicken

This is a spin off of the brown sugar wings that I made a few weeks ago. And what makes everything better? Bacon. These are easy little bundles of yumminess.
Slice your chicken into slices that will cook evenly with the bacon. You don't want part of the bacon to burn while the chicken is raw.
You will be liberally coating your chicken, so make sure you prep plenty of the spice rub.
Don't be startled- they should be this coated. Plenty of flavor, plenty of spice.
Curious Nora is curious!
Pop those bad boys in the oven and keep a watch- you don't want the bacon to burn. Be sure to cook uncovered though, so the bacon gets crispy. Serve plain- believe me, you don't need to dip these in anything.
Brown Sugar Bacon Chicken
Recipe adapted from Jam Hands and Paula Deen.
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 lb sliced bacon
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken breast into 1 inch wide strips. Bundle chicken into packs on 3 or 4 strips and wrap tightly with a strip of bacon. Mix together seasonings and dredge chicken bundles through, coating completely. Cook in a pan or on a rack with a broiler pan for 30-35 minutes and bacon is crisp. Enjoy!