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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.


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.


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 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.

Buffalo Chicken Soft Tacos

I often roam around the internet (especially pinterest) looking at other people’s ideas for food, then adapting them to my own taste. I found a recipe for crockpot buffalo chicken sandwiches using bottled buffalo sauce, and this is what it looked like when I got done with it.

It’s important to note how I feel about bottled buffalo sauce, and that is summed up in one word, “No.”  My personal choice on hot sauce is simple.

You might notice that the above bottle is a 32 oz bottle and it’s half empty. Anyway!

I got a regular pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tossed them straight into the crockpot with 3/4 cup of Louisiana Hot Sauce and let it cook on low for about six hours.  When it’s done, you can mash it with a spoon and it’ll break apart into a lovely barbecue style sort of meat.  At this point, I added about 1/4 cup more hot sauce and let it simmer for another few minutes.  Add two tablespoons of butter to smooth out the taste.  I do not need that much more fat added to my life, so I used fat free spray butter.

I topped it with chopped Romaine lettuce, diced tomato, diced avocado, shredded cheese and just a little dot of Bleu cheese dressing (see…this is where I used that extra fat).

Be the change. – Non-food related, btw.

I’ve always heard the saying, “Be the change  you want to see in the world.”  And really, who hasn’t?  It wasn’t something I actually believed happened.  It’s not that I didn’t try, it’s just something that always seemed to not work out. I see issues in the world, and there are so many needs that sometimes it feels like they can’t possibly all be addressed.

In the spirit of having something addressed, I desperately wanted to believe that something good would happen when I notified a local non-profit of a need. I’ve never been well-off, but I tried to do things as I could for the children’s home, but I was laid off in January and due to some weird circumstances that have all smashed together to form the perfect storm, I don’t have a job yet. I submitted the needs in November and was just hoping to get some interest…even just minor interest in the cause. I was so surprised when the people interested in it went from one…to three…to eleven.  Causeway, the local non-profit, let me know that they’d had a meeting with the children’s home about their needs, and I was excited to the point of tears.  Then, today, after a day of being in a grocery store full of people who were smiling and wishing strangers a merry Christmas, I saw

CausewayCauseway @Causeway

We’ve had our first cause addressed on the site! For pics and results, check out our blog post: #CHAcause

on Twitter.

There are people who are the change they want to see in the world. When these people manage to get together, it’s amazing what they can do. I am so grateful for these people.

Never give up on changing something you believe in.  Never give up on finding people who believe in the same thing you do.  Be the change you want to see in the world.

So, bagels!

I made bagels.  I’m not even going to pretend that I made up a recipe for this. After a great deal of research, I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  She has fabulous notes and the recipe came out so well, much like the rest of her recipes.  I mainly just wanted to brag and show off my pretty carb production.