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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Artichokes Aren’t Evil!

I always looked at those pointy little monsters and though…hm…no.

I love them.  Spinach and artichoke dip is one of the best things on the planet.  I realized after I made bagels that it was ridiculous to fear a vegetable.  They are vegetables, right?  Anyway…not the point.  I needed to get over this arti-phobia. What I found out is that you can roast them.  ROAST THEM.

This is so easy, you just need a list of ingredients, not amounts.

Artichokes

Garlic – minced

Olive oil

Lemon juice

– The end.

Preheat the oven to 425.  Cut the top parts and the stems of the artichokes off. About 1/4 or 1/3 off the top.

They turn brown pretty quickly, so hit them with some lemon juice.  Spread a bit of the minced garlic over the top.  I put about half a tablespoon on each of the artichokes. They sit up really well after you cut the stems off, so you can set them on individual pieces of foil, enough to wrap them up and seal them.  Drizzle some olive oil over the top and go ahead and wrap them up really well. Put them on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for an hour and twenty minutes.

You can peel them down, piece by piece, and eat all the bits off the petals.  I made a dipping sauce that was about 1 to 1 melted butter and lemon juice with dill.

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Bacon Jam.

No fancy tagline needed here.

I fell in love with bacon jam from having it on a jalapeno cheeseburger. See, this story just gets better and better, right? I decided that this would have to be something I must have more of in my life.  After reviewing recipes, I decided it was one of those things that would be more satisfactory to put into the crockpot and stare at for a while. I also had to toss around my ingredient amounts for a while to decide on the best line of attack.

Here is my final list:

1 pound of bacon, cut into pieces

1 medium red onion (though, I’m considering half red-half yellow for my next batch)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup strong coffee

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tbs Lousiana hot sauce

Cook the bacon until it’s crunchy and brown, drain it and pour off most of the grease, keeping some in the pan. Let it rest on a paper towel to soak up more of the grease. (You don’t need the fat in your life, right?)  Use the tiny bit of grease left in the pan to cook the onions and garlic until softened.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook them long enough to get all the tiny bits of bacon left in the pan back into the sauce.  After you can feel with your spoon that there’s nothing left on the bottom of the pan, pour the whole bit and the bacon into the crockpot.  Leave it on high with the lid off for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Try not to eat it directly out of the pan.  When it’s been in there that long, put everything into a food processor or blender and chop it into a spreadable sort of substance.

I haven’t had it made long enough to find out how, other than on burgers and by the spoonful, it’s good.  I’m afraid that my next batch will have to be tripled, because it doesn’t make a ton.  By all accounts, it should stay good for about four weeks in the refrigerator.

 

Dos Perros Chicken Soup

I wasn’t planning on posting anything today.  Frankly, I’m shocked.  I was just going to fix some soup.  The weirdest thing happened, though.  I ended up liking it, and I don’t like soup…unless it’s onion soup..covered with cheese…or loaded potato soup…covered with cheese and bacon. What I’m trying to say is, what the crap?  This could be the end.

 

What you need!

One medium chicken breast – diced

Two red bell peppers – also diced

Two medium Russets – again with the dicing

Half an onion – Just chop it little, k?

3/4 bottle of Yazoo Dos Perros Ale**

1/4 cup bacon bits

1 cup fresh spinach

Ground red pepper – to taste

Salt – to taste

A tiny bit of olive oil to cook your chicken

(I’m always amazed at my scientific measurements. I find it ridiculous, though, to call for half a cup of chicken.  I always ponder at those recipes. What if my chicken breast isn’t half a cup?  Do I cut up another one?  Do I change the other ingredients to match? Will the kitchen explode if I veer off? Anyway!)

Put the chicken and ground red pepper in with the olive oil and brown the chicken, then add the onions and peppers.  Cook until tender (about three minutes or so) over medium heat, then add the 3/4 beer.  Drink the other 1/4 of the beer, nobody’s looking.  Add the potatoes and cook over medium heat until they’re soft.  That’s when you salt, because…now everything is done.  Toss in the bacon bits and spinach at the last minute, the spinach will do that thing it does when it hits hot liquid, but you need a green vegetable.

**Side note: Yazoo is a Nashville brewery.  If for some reason, you are not in my area and you happen to be reading this, I love you…no wait…I mean any other ale should do fine.

Red pepper, sundried tomato chicken with orzo

So, many things have been going on, and I was concentrating on a recipe that involved roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes for http://letsgetfoodie.com/ and realized that I had to eventually cook dinner.  The only reasonable conclusion I could come to was to combine the thoughts to renew my “smell familiarity” with the peppers and tomatoes.  (Yeah…I smell things to see how they’re going to taste. I realized the other day that I could smell if something needed salt. It’s sad.)

Here’s what I came up with:

Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts – sliced and pounded not quite flat

Two roasted red peppers (I used Mezzetta – packed in water) – chopped

Four medium pieces of sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil – chopped

1/4 cup I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray (Hey, use butter if you want…I won’t judge.)

1/2 cup white wine (This time I used Chardonnay. It was open)

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms

1 cup fresh baby spinach

1 cup orzo

salt to taste

Heat half the butter in a frying pan while you slice the chicken breasts in half to make them a little thinner and pound on them a bit.    When the butter is sizzling (not brown) and the pan is hot, carefully place the chicken.  Cook it until browned, turning a few times.  While you’re turning it, put your pan of water on for your orzo. It takes about nine to twelve minutes for orzo, depending on your taste.  I am a nine minute orzo girl.

Pull the chicken out and set it aside, but leave the heat on and the pan where it is.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and toss in the tomatoes and peppers.  Let them simmer on low heat and put in the rest of the butter spray.  Toss in the mushrooms and basically just let them get warm and saucy, which should take about three minutes.  Put the spinach in and just let it wilt.

I put two small scoops of orzo on the plate and carefully placed the chicken on top, then covered them with the “sauce”.  It’s not really saucy, but it does the job.