Monthly Archives: February 2016

Chewy Lemon Curd Cookie Bars

I’m a HUGE junkie for lemon anything…some of my fondest memories are from when we’d eat at Marie Callendars restaurant as a child (when they were still everywhere) and my parents would let me order a big slice of Lemon Meringue pie…or even their Sour Cream Lemon (drooling!!) after my dinner.   I could also eat it all and not gain an ounce, not THATS a great memory in itself!

Anyway.  On the other side is my husband and he is a cookie fanatic..similar to the Cookie Monster if you will (I mean that in the nicest of ways šŸ˜‰  So with this quick to assemble recipe I was thinking of both of us…and we both loved it indeed!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted (1/2 cup)
  • 10oz jar lemon curd
  • Powdered sugar, garnish  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (30 second increments).  Next remove the bowl of melted butter and whisk in the granulated and light brown sugar till just combined. 

 Now stir in the flour to finish off the crust and crumble topping (*reserve about 1 cup for the “crumble”). 

 Grease roughly a 9×9 greased baking dish and spoon in the crust mixture while pressing it evenly into the dish with your fingers. 

 Next simply pour the lemon curd overtop of your pressed in crust (*use a rubber spatula or back of a spoon to gently spread).  Sprinkle the remaining dough overtop of the crust in that crumble fashion šŸ˜‰ 

    Pop the now filled baking dish into the oven for 35-40 minutes (uncovered) and then allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Place in the refridgerator for about 45-60 minutes to fully cool (here is where you eat dinner to pass the time ;)).

Cut into bars and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  These slighty crunchy, super chewy, sweet & tart delights will go fast! 

 

Hard Cider Pork Chops

Here’s a real hearty, German, bring-me-back-to-the-Midwest sort of meal!  It’ll fill your family’s bellies and also be on the table in 30 minutes!!

Kids also enjoy this meal with the sweet apples, potatoes and mildness of the pork…now for the adults, go ahead and pour yourself a glass of hard cider to go with and enjoy!

*GlutenFreeMeal (though MANY are, just double check the apple cider/Hard cider)

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg pork chops (4 at about 1″ thick)
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 1 cup hard cider (or regular non-alcoholic)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage 
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt & pepper 

Side

  • Potatoes, (fried or baked)  

Begin this simple Midwest influenced dinner by seasoning both sides of the pork chops with the sage, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.  Set the pork aside and slice up the onion and apples. 

   Heat a large pan to medium-high and add in the olive oil and butter.  Sear each side of the pork chop for 3-4 minutes (a nice brown color) and set aside again.

In that same pan, add in the sliced apples and onion and saute for 6 minutes (till onions start to soften and turn translucent); add in the hard cider and the apple cider vinegar and bring to a simmer. 

   Return the seared pork chops to the pan, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.  Serve along with potatoes with the juices from the apples and onions drizzled overtop, enjoy! 

 
Potatoes

Feel free to make your spuds as you wish or maybe change it up everytime you prepare these chops, but here’s how I did ours.

First put the potatoes into a large stockpot of salted water till just covered.  Bring to a gentle boil and the cover pot with lid.  Allow to cook for about 15 minutes.  Till JUST soft when you stick a fork in them, not falling apart.

Drain and remove from pot and when just cool enough to handle, dice up into cubes and season with kosher salt & pepper.  *sometime I’ll sprinkle on seasoned salt or smoked paprika, etc.

Heat up a cast-iron pan to medium heat and then add 1-2 tbsp (canola) oil.  Add in cubed potatoes and allow to cook, not stirring to often, to create a nice “char” on them.  Enjoy!

Cajun Pasta’laya

I’ve been in a Cajun influenced state of craving lately and was REALLY wanting a New Orleans staple…jambalaya!  My only problem (ok it’s not quite a “problem” but an annoyance of mine) is that I have two toddlers and when they eat rice, well it’s not a pretty sight.  I’d say they get 1 grain of rice in their tiny mouths for every 53 pieces on my floor.  

So hey!  Let’s substitute pasta noodles (MUCH easier for them to use a fork with or even fingers) and have ourselves some dinner!  It worked out great, wasn’t too spicy, wasn’t too mild.  The boys and hubby enjoyed it alike and guess what??  There was no damn rice all over my floor when dinner was over!  Happy momma!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 lb chicken (Breasts or tenders), cut into pieces
  • 1 pckg large/extra large shrimp 
  • 1 pckg andouille sausage, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 12oz penne pasta noodles
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)…I like one with cajun flavors of celery, onion, bell pepper
  • 1 each green & red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp+ of cajun seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Green onions, sliced (garnish)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (garnish)
  • Crystal, Louisiana or Tabasco sauce (garnish)  

Start this feast with a ‘kick’ by prepping all of your meats, shrimp and veggies.  In two large seperate bowls (1 for chicken & 1 for shrimp), add a hefty teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to each and toss to coat.  Set aside.  Mince, dice and chop up veggies and get the EVOO heated up over medium heat in a large pan.  Also bring water to boil in a large pot for the noodles. 

     Once the oil is up to temp, add in the seasoned chicken and begin to cook.  Once just starting to brown, add in the onion, bell peppers, garlic and sliced andouille sausage.  Cook till chicken is no longer pink and the vegetables are starting to sweat/soften.  Remove the cooked chicken, sausage & veggies and set aside. 

 Next, in the same large pan, (add in a bit of butter or oil if needed) add the seasoned shrimp.  Cook just a couple minutes on each side (don’t let them curl up completely up on you.  You want the appearance of the letter ‘C’, not an ‘O’ for perfectly cooked shrimp).  Remove from pot and set aside with the other cooked goodies. 

   *By now your pasta should be al dente (boil 1-2 minutes under package directions)!  Drain and set aside. 

 Back in that same large pan, add in the butter and flour while whisking away to form a rue.  While still whisking, incorporate the heavy cream until it’s creamy and smooth. 

       Next, add in the entire can of diced tomatoes (juice & all) and stir to combine.  Here you can taste for heat level and add in either/or another tsp or two of Cajun seasoning or a couple dashes of southern style hot sauce.  Once that is perfected, add back in all of the cooked veggies, meats and shrimp and toss in the cooked penne pasta noodles! *Add more milk/cream if it becomes too thick.

     Spoon into serving bowls and top with the freshly grated Parmesan and green onions!  Enjoy!!!  *You can also add the cheese and green onion to pan at the end if serving buffet style. 

 

Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with a Bourbon Bacon Jam

Ok, I made this treat of a dinner tonight just for myself.  Yes, I made an entire 2 lb+ meatloaf and a jar of bacon jam for MY dinner.  Do you want to know why??  Because quite frankly it’s delicious and it only gets better after the next day or two, especially that Bourbon Bacon Jam!!  Which is why it’s a great “leftovers” type of meal!

Let’s say you made the traditional meatloaf and mashed potatoes for dinner one night and you’re not wanting the same darn thing the next..Well, simply add the Bacon Jam and garnishes to a meatloaf sandwich and you’ve taken repurposing to an entire new level!
*This jam is good off a plain spoon, but spread it on a warm slice of toast or English muffin topped off with a fried egg.  Now THATS a rave worthy breakfast!

The Starting Lineup

Bourbon Bacon Jam

  • 1 pckg (12-16oz) bacon, chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, diced, plus 1 tbsp sauce
  • 1/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 apple cider vinegar
  • 4oz Bourbon (2 shots, optional)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • Pinch of kosher salt & ground pepper

Meatloaf

  • 2lbs ground (I do 1/2 ground beef & 1/2 ground pork)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, diced
  • 1/2-1 whole jalapeƱo, seeded & finely diced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk….*soak the above Panko^^ in the milk
  • 1 packet low-sodium meatloaf seasoning packet (or seasoning blend of choice)
  • Hefty pinch or two of kosher salt & pepper for the top of the meatloaf

Garnish

  • Hearty/crusty white bread slices
  • Mayonaisse
  • Thick sliced ripe tomatoes, seasoned with kosher salt & pepper
  • Havarti cheese slices (or another great melty cheese)  

As I stated earlier, this can all be made ahead of time or at seperate times if using as a “leftover” meatloaf meal…but let’s pretend that you’re doing what I did…let us start from the beginning!

Bourbon Bacon Jam time my friends!  Start by chopping, dicing and mincing the bacon, sweet onion & garlic.  In a large sauce pan (*if not nonstick, add a tbsp of EVOO), cook your chopped bacon until slightly crisp.  Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside. 

   

In that same pan with the reserved bacon grease, add in the chopped onions and cook down for about 10-15 minutes.  Add the minced garlic to the onions and continue to cook for another few minutes.

Now to the onion-garlic mix, add in all of the remaining ingredients (diced chipotle pepper & sauce, dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, bourbon, smoked paprika, cumin, salt & pepper and the cooked bacon) and stir to combine.  Bring to a low boil and then down to a simmer.  Let stand uncovered and do its thing while stirring occasionally.  *I like to leave it on the stove top on low for a good 2-3 hours and carefully drain the liquid from the pot about once an hour.  It’ll really thicken up!  Once done you can either transfer to a food processor to thin or leave as is.  I, myself, prefer it chunky for texture and leave it as is.  Keep in a mason jar or Tupperware container in your refridgerator, it’ll be gone FAST! 


 
 So while that Bourbon Bacon Jam is rendering away, we’ll begin the meatloaf.  Now this is a basic meatloaf recipe, and if you have a personal favorite then please feel free to use it!

*Ok, ok..I can hear you now.  “Carly, why does there have to be chipotles/jalapeƱo in the meatloaf??”  1.Because  2. Why not?  3. My 2 & 4 year old boys eat it and have no idea, it’s NOT really spicy 4. You need to finish off that can of Chipotles anyway and 5.  Your combining it with a SWEET bacon jam. You NEED the contrasting flavors.  It’s the little things that make food great!

Now back to the task at hand.  Meatloaf.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get whatever pan you use to cook your meatloaf in out and greased if not non-stick.

In a large bowl, combine ALL of the meatloaf ingredients together and gently mix with your hands.  Transfer the mix to your baking pan and again, gently, pack into meatloaf shape.  Crack some more black pepper and salt over top and place into the preheated oven for about 1 hour, uncovered.  

   Remember, while the meatloaf is baking your Bourbon Bacon Jam is still rendering away and smelling devine!  I dare you to tell me your haven’t inhaled a few spoonfuls already….

Now that the meatloaf has finished cooking, it’s assembly time!  Have 1-2 saute pans heating on the stove top.  

In one pan, lay thick slices of meatloaf down and slightly cook each side, as to create a bit of a ‘crust’. 

 Lightly coat each slice of bread (on both sides) with a thin spread of mayonaisse.  Then add a good helping of the warm Bourbon Bacon Jam to one slice. 

Transfer the mayo’ed slice to your second hot pan, top with the Caramelized meatloaf slices, tomatoes seasoned with a pinch of kosher salt & pepper, cheese slices and top it off with the second slice of bacon jam coated bread.  Cook each side for about 2 minutes, till cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown in color. 

   
Cut on the bias and serve warm, enjoy!  

Supreme Pizza Fries

How have I never made this before??  I mean it’s great for a fun & easy Friday night dinner, fabulous on a big tray while hosting a football watching party, or even an awesome way to get your kids in the kitchen cooking with you!  Really, what kid or even adult dislikes pizza or French fries?  Combine the two and it’s a sure fire winner!

Plus, the toppings are endless!  Now here I went the traditional ‘supreme pizza’ route, but what if your favorite pizza is Hawaiian?  Sausage?  Salami and hot peppers?  Pick your poison and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

*If your making your own French fries, make SURE to soak the cut potatoes in a large bowl of cold water in your refridgerator for at least 1-2 hours, if not longer, prior to frying them.  This removes a lot of the starch from the potatoes, resulting in crispier restaurant style fries!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg frozen (or homemade) french fries
  • Jarred pizza sauce
  • Pepperoni, quartered
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Green bell pepper, sliced
  • White onion, thinly sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Garlic powder 
  • Crushed red pepper/Parmesan cheese (optional garnish)    

Start this simple recipe by slicing up the veggies, shredding the mozzarella and preheating the deep fryer oil to 350 degrees (or later setting the oven to package temperature if baking the French fries). 

   Set the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spread the sliced bell pepper, onion and mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Place the vegetables into the oven for about 10-12 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Remove from oven and set aside…keep the oven on. 

 While the vegetables are roasting, pour about a cup of the pizza sauce into a small pan and bring to a low simmer to warm through. 

 Once the oil (or oven) is ready, begin cooking the French fries.  You want the fries to be on the crunchy side, so I like to double or even triple fry here.  Not burn them of course, but just get them nice and crisp.  Remember, you’ll be pouring on pizza sauce, cheese, etc..soggy fries are no bueno! 

 After the fries have finished cooking, toss with a bit of garlic powder (this really helps with that pizza crust flavor!). 

 Assembly time!!  On a foil lined baking sheet, add that mound of fries.  Next, pour on the warm pizza sauce, the shredded mozzarella, roasted veggies, pepperoni and black olives.  It’s quite the heaping helping here! 

 Pop into the oven on the top rack (now set to broil) and watch closely as the cheese melts to that ooey-gooey pizza cheese consistency!  After just a couple minutes remove and serve up!  Heck, I won’t tell if you even eat straight from the baking sheet! šŸ˜‰ Serve with a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese if desired. 

 

Glazed-Bacon Wrapped Hawaiian Pork

A few months back our family went to a local restaurant here in Texas and my husband had this fun appetizer with ‘sweet-heat’ ingredients.  After I helped myself to a sample bite of his meal, I knew I had to recreate and tweak it into dinner form…and I have to say, it’s not too shabby!

You have sweet and savory flavors from the honey glaze, bacon and pork tenderloin and a wonderful FRESHNESS from the pineapple..lets also not forget the heat of the jalapeno and pepper jack cheese.  Now you can absolutely use a plain jack cheese and seed the jalapeno, but when you roast hot peppers the heat actually subsides a bit..so pick your heat level, but I could even do hotter! (Duh)

These flavors together remind me of the Hawaiin rice, veggie and meat bowls I used to get when living along the coast of San Diego.  So naturally I paired the main dish with a heaping of rice and drizzled the juices overtop.  It’s quite the pairing!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg bacon
  • 1 pork tenderloin 
  • Pineapple, fresh preferred
  • JalapeƱo, sliced in half lengthwise (I prefer to keep the seeds in)
  • Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese

Glaze

  • 4 Tbsp Honey
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Chili sauce
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper  

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil and a rack overtop.

In a small bowl whisk the honey, balsamic vinegar, chili sauce, garlic, EVOO and a pinch of salt & pepper together.  Set aside. *Taste the glaze to tweak any ingredient to your taste. 

  Now lay the bacon stips, touching, on top of the wire racked baking sheet. 

 Next, butterfly the pork tenderloin and stuff with the pineapple, jalapeƱos and cheese.  *To make it fit a bit better, I’ll get pepper jack string cheese or cut a block into strips and stuff into the jalapeƱo before putting into the pork.  Shredded cheese could be used as well.  Season with another pinch of salt and pepper.

Transfer the stuffed pork onto the layed out bacon strips.  Coat a good amount  (about 1/2) of the prepared glaze allllll over the pork.  Wrap up the entire stuffed tenderloin with the bacon.  *If needed, you can use toothpicks to secure, just remember to remove before eating! 

 After the pork has been fully wrapped in delicious bacon, coat the entire thing with the rest of the glaze. 

 Place into your oven, uncovered for 45-60 minutes (meat temperature at least 145degrees and bacon done.  *About halfway through check on the bacon.  Depending you may need to lightly tent the wrapped tenderloin with foil.  Though we like ours more on the crisp side.  To each their own! 

 Remove the cooked tenderloin from the oven, lightly tent with foil, and let rest for about 5 minutes.  Carve into 1-2″ slices and serve over rice.  Spoon any drippings over the pork and rice.  Enjoy!! 

 


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