Country Fried Bacon.. Say What??

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Yes, you read that right.  The fiancé and I tried out a new craft burger and beer joint called 317 Burger this past weekend and we immediately ordered this appetizer.  Needless to say I had to share, hence why it gets its own post. These country fried bacon strips were served with a side of gravy, which I may or may not have dipped my finger in after the bacon was gone.. Now, these bacon strips were perfect.  The flour based coating was soft yet crispy and seasoned perfectly.  Amazing.  I will say that we were smart enough to not order a side of fries with our burgers.. there would have been no way our arteries could have handled both.

Ryan and I are excited to go back and try the poutine or the duck fat fries.. can you even imagine?  Oh, and the burgers were just as good.  You are able to choose from one of the signature options or build your own with a choice of patty, 7 different bacon options (duck, pepper, cherry wood smoked, just to name a few), sauces, cheeses, and toppings.  I went for the steak patty with apple wood bacon, gouda, arugula, and caramelized onions.  It was simple but perfect! I’m looking forward to trying different combinations!

 

Pesto Shrimp with Snow Peas over Quinoa

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Pesto ShrimpPesto shrimp again, you ask? Yes, it hasn’t been long since I grilled some pesto shrimp, but it’s just so good!  This time, however, the weather wasn’t ideal for grilling and so I whipped this up on the stove.  Plus, it was quick to make! The longest part of the process was waiting for the quinoa to cook.  Although it was delicious, let me give you some advice on this one.  Make sure there’s not any excess liquid in the pan before adding the pesto because the pesto goodness won’t coat the shrimp and peas as well.  It’ll just go straight to the bottom and soak in the excess liquid.  So, scoop any excess out before adding the pesto in.  It’ll definitely make a difference!  Anyways, this was still good and went well with the quinoa.  It would have been good over regular rice, but I decided to go the “healthy” route this time.  I’m looking forward to making it again and making sure I get rid of any liquid before adding the pesto..

Pesto Shrimp with Snow Peas over Quinoa

(original source)

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/3 c water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. bag peeled shrimp
  • 3 c snow peas (8 oz)
  • 1/4 c prepared pesto (I used the pesto recipe I used here)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

What to do:

  • 1. Put quinoa in fine mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water. Transfer to medium saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and cover until ready to serve.
  • 2. Heat oil in large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat while quinoa cooks. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until just pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in snow peas and cook, stirring, 2 minutes longer. Add pesto and lemon juice and cook until warmed and shrimp is done, about 1 minute. Serve over quinoa.

Enjoy!

Southwestern Tilapia

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Southwestern TilapiaThe southwestern flare of this dish screams summer, which is exactly the type of weather I’ve been craving.  This week’s weather has been beautiful, apart from last weekends snow.  Chicago weather, please make up your mind! Anyways, this recipe was very satisfying and nice and lean! I made some rice to with the fish and veggies and it really hit the spot.  However, if you want to keep this a Paleo meal, skip the rice. The flavor of the spices on the fish and the veggies melded perfectly and it has been added to tilapia rotation!

Southwestern Tilapia

(original source)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 6-ounce tilapia fillets
  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 Green/Yellow/Red Peppers

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, chili powder and cayenne. Season fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of tilapia.
  • Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange tilapia in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle tilapia with the remaining tablespoon of oil and bake until golden brown and flesh begins to flake, 7 to 9 minutes. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
  • Saute peppers and zucchini in olive oil and garlic salt.

Enjoy!

Honey Beer Bread with Honey Butter

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Beer BreadYes, you heard it right.  Buttery honey beer bread with a homemade honey butter.  And yes, it was delicious as it sounds.  In fact, it was consumed in its entirety in under 2 hours.  Sorry we’re not sorry.  It was just that good! What I loved most about this recipe was that the bread had a crunchy outside and a more dense but soft and mildly chewy center.  I love me some texture in my bread!

Anyways, this was perfect and I will definitely be making it again. Technically you don’t have to make the honey butter for it but it would be a sin if you didn’t.  Just saying.

Honey Beer Bread with Honey Butter

(original source)

What you’ll need:

For the beer bread:

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup bread flour (you can use all-purpose if you don’t have any)
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 1 bottle (12 ounce) your favorite beer
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the honey butter:

  • 8 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

What to do:

  • To make the beer bread – preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together both kinds of flour, the sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the honey and beer and mix until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Evenly pour the melted butter over the top of the batter.
  • Transfer the pan to the oven and place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any butter that may drip from the pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
  • To make the honey butter – in a small bowl add the butter. Add in the honey and salt. Mix until well combined. (Feel free to adjust the amount of honey and salt to your own taste.)

Enjoy!

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

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BBQ Chicken Sandwiches“No brainer” dishes are my kind of thing.  These BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches were easy and with only 5 ingredients, what’s there to complain about?  Who cares if they aren’t the most colorful and artistic looking sandwiches in the world, they were yummy and easy.  Boom, done, end of story.  So, if you like BBQ with a hint of sweetness coming from pineapple, then these are for you! Oh, and definitely try pulled pork or chicken sandwiches on pretzel rolls.  They’re the bomb dot com.

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

(original source)

What you’ll need:

  • 3 pounds Boneless Chicken Breast, Thighs Or A Combo Of The Two (all I had were breasts)
  • 1 whole Onion (large), Sliced Into Chunks
  • 1 can (20 Oz. Size) Pineapple (you can use the juice if you want it sweeter)
  • 1 bottle (18 To 20 Oz. Size) BBQ Sauce Of Your Choice (I used Stubb’s original)
  • Hamburger Buns Or Kaiser Rolls (I used pretzel rolls)

What to do:

  • Place your chicken in the bottom of the crock pot. Top with onions, then pineapple. Pour the entire bottle of BBQ sauce over the whole thing.
  • Note: If you want a sweeter BBQ, add up to half a cup of the pineapple juice you drained, depending on how sweet you want it. This is optional.
  • Turn your crock pot on LOW and cook for 8–10 hours (or on HIGH for 4–6).
  • An hour or two before it is finished cooking, carefully remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred it using two forks. Place chicken back in the crock pot and stir well to combine.
  • Finish cooking an additional hour or two so the chicken can absorb most of the sauce. Serve on roll of choice and top with coleslaw if desired.

Enjoy!

Artichoke Bruschetta

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Artichoke BruschettaAs I mentioned in my previous post, I made this as an appetizer for Mother’s Day and it was perfect.  It was cheesy and chewy in all the right ways and was a nice spin on a traditional dip.  I could picture this going well on a game day because it was so quick to make! Let’s be honest, this could be made anytime.. who would turn down cheesy/bread deliciousness?! Plus, you could make this as a dip instead, which would cut down prep time even more:)

Artichoke Bruschetta

(original source)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts (whole, halves, or quarters), drained & chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • French baguette loaf of bread, cut at an angle into ⅓-inch slices
  • Fresh chopped parsley or paprika, for garnish

*I halved the recipe and it worked out just fine!

What to do:

  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Blend in mayonnaise and chopped artichoke hearts. Mix in Parmesan, mozzarella, and garlic salt and beat at high speed until mixture is smooth.
  • Preheat broiler to high. Dollop a generous amount of artichoke mixture on each baguette slice and spread all the way to the edges (which will prevent them from burning). Arrange bruschetta on a baking sheet. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until topping is bubbly and starting to turn golden brown. Garnish with chopped parsley or a light sprinkling of paprika, if desired. Serve hot.
  • Alternatively, the artichoke mixture may be spread in a pie plate or similar baking dish and baked at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly (you may broil for a couple additional minutes to brown the top). Serve as a dip with baguette slices, assorted crackers, or tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

 

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Dressing

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Kale and Brussels Sprouts SaladFirst off, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mommas out there!  I had a great time whipping up a nice meal for mine and we started out with an artichoke bruschetta while we opened cards and gifts, which I’ll write about over the next few days.  We grilled some steaks and sweet potatoes for our main meal and I wanted something light and fresh as another side.  Fortunately, this salad met those expectations!  I loved that the kale and sprouts were shaved- it was a nice change from the usual larger-leafed salad.  The toasted almonds and Dijon/lemon dressing gave it a light feel, perfect for spring and summer.  I can’t wait for the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

(original source)

For the dressing:

  • 1 Tablespoon minced shallots
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar (I used honey)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the salad:

  • 4 cups finely shredded Lacinato kale (loosely packed)
  • 4 cups finely shredded Brussels sprouts (loosely packed)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

*To shred the kale, pile each piece and roll the leaves before finely slicing them. To shred the sprouts, cut off the stem and remove the outer leaves.  Slice each sprout in half, then finely slice each piece from the base to the tip.

What to do:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey.
  • Stream in the olive oil while whisking continuously until well combined.
  • Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. (You can add more lemon juice or agave nectar to adjust the acidity or sweetness to your personal taste.)
  • In a large bowl, toss together the shredded kale, shredded Brussels sprouts and toasted almonds. Add as much dressing as desired, tossing to combine, then add the cheese and toss. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

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Chocolate Bundt CakeChocolate cake drizzled in chocolate ganache.  Need I say more?  I was on duty for making a dessert for my parent’s bible study that they were hosting and decided to try this recipe out.  I’m glad I did because it was sweet, but not too sweet, and it was so moist due to the sour cream.  I loved everything about it and ganache was the perfect touch and super easy to make.  As a heads up, it is a denser cake but that’s pretty typical for a bundt cake.   Give this one a shot- it’s perfect for any occasion.. birthdays, even Mother’s Day since that’s right around the corner!  Enjoy (and indulge that sweet tooth)!

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

(original source)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (we use Dutch processed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

What to do:

  • 1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  • 2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • 3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until completely blended. Whisk in the sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
  • 4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
  • 5. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate glaze (I actually made the cake the day before and made the glaze the day of). Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup (or agave) in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepan and put over medium heat. Stir until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  • 6. Generously drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Cut into pieces and serve.

Enjoy!

Pesto Grilled Shrimp

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Pesto Shrimp

Spring weather has sprung (temporarily, I’m sure) here in Chicagoland and it was time to brush the dust off of the grill.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to make dinner, as we had to look at a venue for the wedding that afternoon.  So, I pulled some shrimp out of the freezer, whipped up the pesto sauce, skewered the shrimp, and marinated them all day while we were gone.  Once we got home, all we had to do was throw them on the grill and steam some broccoli and rice.  It was quick, easy, and oh so delicious!  What is your favorite way to dress up shrimp? Let me know, as it’s a very popular protein for the summertime in this house!

Pesto Grilled Shrimp

(original source)

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup basil, packed
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (for 5-10 min. at 375)
  • 2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (~1/4 lemon)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

What to do:

  • Pulse the basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  • Skewer and marinate the shrimp in the pesto for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight, in the fridge (I marinated for about 7 hours).
  • Grill over medium-high heat until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Enjoy!

Best Week of My Life, Hands Down.

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Ryan and I

Sorry for the neglect the past week and a half! The week before last was the long anticipated spring break.  I love my first graders, but everyone needs a break to relax and reboot our head brains (yes, that’s a technical term).  So, as a birthday present, my man gave me a spring break trip! We spent the first half of the week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with my best friend and her husband.  We hiked, hot tubed, and did a few free test-tastings of moonshine, whisky, and wine (which led to a pretty perfect game of mini golf).

Cabin

Maggie and I

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We ended the week by visiting downtown Chicago where we saw Amy Schumer (hilarious) the first night and took a trip to the Shedd Aquarium the second day.  We had lunch and took a stroll to Navy Pier to visit Ryan’s most favorite spot, which is a large ship anchor at the very edge of the pier.  Well, this is also where he got down on one knee and proposed!  This is also when one of his good buddies comes running out with a camera to capture the whole thing. After the whirlwind of the most exciting moment of my life, he takes me to a special celebratory dinner.  Little did I know, he requested our parents to be waiting at the table to join us.  After the hugs, sobs, and showing off my new bling, we had an amazing dinner at The Boarding House.  And, now, back to the grind.  Back to my first graders, and the beginning of wedding planning!

Sparkle!

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