Author Archives for carlylyn29

About carlylyn29

My life: A proud railroad wife, stay-at-home mommy of two toddler boys, stylist, diy'er, home cook extraordinaire and ...sleep deprived ;) I don't quite know what possessed me to do this, but for some reason here I am. After moving out of state for my husbands job, away from family and everything I knew and loved, I turned to an old love of cooking to pass the time. One thing led to another and I found out I was pretty good at it AND had fun at the same time. Win-win right??! Sooo after a couple years of talking about 'blogging' (wish I would of started when I originally said so) I decided to take the leap! Almost a full time job in itself. So with two toddler boys, bear with me if you see a high chair, toys or a blurry two-year-old running in the background of some of my pics... That's life!!

Bacon & Blue Stuffed Mushrooms

Whether you’re planning a party, enjoying a romantic steak dinner at home or need a new creative idea for some football game snacks, this is a fun twist on a classic appetizer!

More often than not, when I think of blue cheese, I often think of bacon.  They pair together as well as peanut butter and jelly in my book!  So while I was at our local grocer last week, I saw they had a special on their packages of bacon AND mushrooms and figured I could make something great happen between them!  With the few simple ingredients listed below, you truly get a rich and indulgent, highly umami kick-in-the-butt of flavor!  These are oh so good and “fancy”….yet insanely easy!

*For the larger sized button mushroom, pick from the crate of individual mushrooms; not the prepackaged variety.  At home, store unwashed in a paper bag for up to 2-3 days in your refrigerator before use.  **Simply double the ingredients if making 2 dozen, etc.  ***These are naughty and rich, so I always allot about 2-3 per person.  ****Can be assembled earlier in the day and popped in the oven to warm through when needed.

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 strips bacon, chopped
  • 12 large button mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 oz. blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbsp chives, fresh, divided 1:1

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Clean any dirt off your mushrooms with a vegetable brush or dry paper towel (do not rinse with water, as they become water logged and wont hold up well).  Gently “snap” the stem off of each mushroom, while leaving the cap whole (set caps aside on a foil lined baking sheet).  Then give a rough chop to all of the stems.

In a skillet over medium heat, crisp up the chopped bacon.  Once done, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined dish and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease in the pan.  To that bacon grease, add in the chopped mushroom stems and sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add in the minced garlic for 1 minute more.

In a medium size bowl, thoroughly combine the sautéed stems and garlic with the crisped bacon, softened cream cheese, blue cheese and 1 tablespoon of the fresh chives.

Using a spoon (I use two spoons myself), stuff each mushroom cap with the filling you just made.

Transfer your tray of stuffed mushrooms to the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of fresh chives and enjoy!

*Makes 12.  Literally double the ingredients to double the recipe. 🙂

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Creamy Pumpkin & Sage Bacon Alfredo

Call me “basic” but come Fall, I sure do love me some pumpkin!  Now I’m not fully crazy, as in pumpkin spice coffee every morning, noon and night crazy.  I do, however, like to use the orange offspring of squash in more creative ways.  Todays “way” is in the form of pasta!

To convince my family my idea was some sort of genius, I also used 2 of the tastiest key words in describing our future dinner, “alfredo” and “bacon”…Yep, that got their attention!

Now sure, this is after all Alfredo so it does contain a bit of cheese, but it’s actually not all that artery clogging and indulgent as you may think.  For one, I used less than 1 cup of parmesan cheese, mainly for the saltiness it brings.  I substituted the heavy cream for it’s lighter cousin, half & half, and if you want to lessen the saturated fat of butter, feel free to use Tresomega Nutrition cold pressed coconut oil!  Plus, lets not forget the health benefits of the sneaked in pureed pumpkin!

Now honestly, this sauce is fantastic on any pasta or fluffy gnocchi of your choice, it would be good on a shoe for that matter.  Though for my gluten free friends, I highly recommend the new GF pasta made by my buddies at Tresomega Nutrition!  It contains no wheat nor corn and is made with organic rice, quinoa and amaranth which keeps that same bite and color of your traditional pasta noodles.  It also doesn’t fall apart when cooked like most of its counterparts!  I’m fully a fan!

Please find out more info on Tresomega Nutrition products here:

  1. http://www.tresomega.com/
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  3. https://www.pinterest.com/tresomega/
  4. https://twitter.com/tres_omega

You can also purchase the Tresomega Nutrition brand at:

  1. http://tresomega.com
  2. https://www.sams.com
  3. https://www.amazon.com
  4. https://www.walmart.com

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb of your preferred pasta or gnocchi (Tresomega Gluten Free recommended)
  • 8 strips bacon, grease reserved, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter or Tresomega cold pressed coconut oil
  • 12 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups half & half (16oz)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pasta cooking water (optional to thin sauce)
PP1

I tried this recipe with both pasta noodles and gnocchi and BOTH are delish!

Begin this Fall-inspired pasta by chopping, grating and mincing your bacon, onion, garlic and parmesan cheese.

In a large skillet on medium heat, crisp up your bacon.  Once done, transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside while keeping the bacon grease in the skillet.  *There should be about 2 Tbsp of grease.

To that same pre-greased skillet, add to it either the butter or cold pressed coconut oil along with the chopped onions and sauté, about 7-8 minutes.  Turn down to medium-low and then add in the garlic and sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Careful not to burn the garlic, but to slightly crisp up the sage.

**Here you can boil a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and add in your pasta of choice and cook to package directions.

Once the veggie medley is finished (smells gooooood huh?!), you will add in the pumpkin puree while whisking in the half & half to form a creamy consistency.  Next, whisk in the grated parmesan cheese, crisped sage leaves, 1/2 of the cooked bacon, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat till combined and then add in your perfectly cooked pasta.  ***You can also add in the 1/4 cup of pasta water if you’d like a thinner consistency.

Serve warm, with the other 1/2 of cooked, chopped bacon sprinkled overtop, a bit more parmesan and sage leaves if desired.  Enjoy!

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Steakhouse Meatloaf

Growing up in a Midwest family meant we ate lots of beef, steak preferably.  Steak for Sunday supper, steak for birthday’s, steak for holidays.  It’s just a way of life…however, we NEVER served our meaty meal with the famous A-1 Steak Sauce.  Uh-uh, no way José.  One could never treat that delicious slab of beef in such a manner.

That being said, I still did like the poor victim of A-1 in our household (I always wondered why we had it too, given we weren’t allowed to use it for its intended purpose?).  So I would always use the steak sauce to dip my French fries in, as I loathe ketchup.

Now years later, as an adult myself, I too do not allow A-1 to be used on my delicious, perfectly seared steaks.  Apparently that rule is inherited, perhaps genetic?  So to use up my random bottle of perfectly tasty A-1, I thought I’d make it into a meatloaf recipe.  I mean ground beef is yummy, but it isn’t a steak, so this is justified in my opinion.

…and yes, this meatloaf is glorious!  Hearty, beefy with a slight bacon flavor and the fried onions at the end give a great crunch!  Most importantly though…that A-1 sauce has now served a purpose in this family’s life!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs lean ground beef
  • 5 strips bacon, chopped, fat rendered
  • 1 cup oatmeal (or breadcrumbs), soaked in milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup A-1 Steak Sauce, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
  • Kosher salt & pepper

Garnish

  • French fried onions

A1meatloaf

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease your favorite meatloaf pan.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chopped bacon until just barely cooked and still a bit soft.  Transfer to a large bowl, but keep the bacon grease in the skillet.

To that bacon grease, toss in the onions and cook down for about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic for another 60 seconds.  Pour this into the large bowl with the par cooked bacon.

Next, to the bowl of onions and bacon, you add in the remaining ingredients:  Ground beef, the oatmeal soaked in milk, 3/4 cup of A-1 Steak Sauce, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, Montreal steak seasoning and salt & pepper.  Mix thoroughly with your hands and shape the meat into a loaf/into your loaf pan.  Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of A-1 Steak Sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allow to rest for 5 minutes, slice and serve with the French fried onions overtop along with mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetable.  Enjoy!

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Roasted Malt Vinegar Potatoes

Every now and again I like to transport our dining experience to England…or rather.. perhaps just to a pub.  I dunno …Regardless, we do enjoy a big old plate of “Fish & Chips” with a tall beer and I was bound to make it happen.

However, this time I did not feel like cutting, soaking and frying homemade French fries (I know, I know…they come bagged frozen, and I currently happen to have two large bags in my freezer, but if you’re gonna do it..do it right), so I decided on roasted potatoes!

Naturally, they couldn’t be just any roasted potatoes, I needed a ‘British element’ to them.  Therefore, the presoaking in hot vinegar gives them that extra added bite and the roasting after helps them crisp up like your typical chips!  Once topped off with a bit more malt vinegar, the only difference you’ll notice is the extra time you have to enjoy!  Easy Peasy!

*You can use russet potatoes just as well, just cut into about 1″ cubes.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs small potatoes (Yukon gold/ or yellow), halved
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste 

Garnish

  • Malt vinegar
  • Chives, fresh
  • Dipping Sauce

In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add in both of the vinegars and the tablespoon of salt.   Lay the potatoes into the hot salted, vinegar water and cover for 1 hour.

When the hour is up, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and non-stick spray.

Completely drain the potatoes and pat dry with a tea towel or paper towels.  Once they are dry, place on the baking sheet and sprinkle on the cornstarch.  Follow that with a drizzle of the olive oil and evenly distribute with your hands.  Finally, add a good amount of the salt and pepper over top and make sure they’re in a single, even layer.  This will ensure they crisp up and do not steam and get soggy.

Bake these for 20 minutes.  Flip and toss and bake for another 20 minutes until just fork tender, golden and crisp.

Serve this in Lou of “chips” with your beer-battered cod and cold beer!  We also like to drizzle a bit more malt vinegar over top and fresh chives.  Enjoy!

MaltPotatoes

Chowder Fries

Besides the scents, visuals and tastes of pumpkin, nothing says Fall more than a warm bowl of soup!  Especially a creamy bowl of New England’s favorite, the clam chowder!  Now yes, I know I live in the south, but I’ve had reoccurring dreams of visiting the east coast to watch the leaves change while sipping on hot cider and bobbing for apples.  Maybe sneak in a visit to ‘creepy’ Salem too…basically every east coast Fall cliché IS on my bucket-list.  One day….

So for now, I light a spiced candle and get out my candy apple red Dutch oven to reinvent the classic into our family favorite, Chowder Fries!  …quick toying with me Fall and just get here already!!

*You can absolutely use vegetable broth instead, but I find that the chicken stock brings a richer flavor.

The Starting Lineup

  • French fries (frozen or scratch made), Old Bay seasoning optional for tossing with
  • 5 Strips bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried/ or ground thyme
  • 3 Tbsp flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock/ or vegetable broth
  • 1 10oz can clams, juices reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley (chopped) or green onions (sliced), garnish

Chowder2

Heat a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven to med-high heat and add in the olive oil and bacon and cook until crispy.  Transfer the crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Keep the bacon grease in the pot.

Next, melt the butter into that bacon grease and then add in the onions, stirring often, followed by the garlic.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and finally sprinkle in the thyme and stir together.

*Meanwhile, if making a bag of frozen fries, preheat the oven and line a baking tray with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.  Whether frozen or not, I like to lightly coat my fries in a bit of oil and dusting of cornstarch, toss together.  This creates a great crispy exterior!

To the sautéed butter, onions and garlic, whisk in the flour for about 1 minute till everything ‘clumps up’ and is lightly browned.  To that, slowly whisk in the chicken stock/ or broth, milk, the juice from the clams and toss in the bay leaf.  After a couple minutes of whisking to incorporate, stir in the diced potatoes.

Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes; potatoes are tender.

**Fry or bake your fries during this time.

Once time is up, stir in the half & half, the clams and add in your salt & pepper to taste (I am pretty heavy-handed with that myself).

If eating family style, season the French fries with salt or even better, Old Bay, and transfer to a serving platter.  Ladle the warm and creamy clam chowder over top the hot fries and top with the crisp bacon crumbles and parsley and/or scallions!  Sooooo good!  Enjoy!

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Grilled Brie, Bacon, Arugula and Fig Sandwich (The Figgy Piggy)

This “gourmet” bistro style sandwich will wow your guests, yet is simple and quick for you to whip up!
The unique flavors of the peppery arugula, salty bacon and sweet figs go soooooo wonderfully together.  They stay held together by the mild, creamy melted brie and your last taste bud gets love from the crunchy, slightly sour note of the grilled bread.  So basically, this awakens all your senses, have I sold you yet? 😉
…and if sandwiches aren’t your thing, you can absolutely pile these same toppings onto pizza dough or flatbread!
The Starting Lineup
Loaf of quality sourdough or ciabatta bread (8, 1/2″ slices)
1 pckg bacon, cooked till crisp
1 round brie cheese (1/4″ slices)
2 cups arugula
1 jar Fig Jam/Preserves (i.e. Bonne Maman brand)
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp mayonnaise 
Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle to medium-high heat.
On one side of your bread slices, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (this will create a perfect golden brown crust).  Turn slices over and spread a layer of the fig preserves on each slice.  Next layer on the brie cheese slices, crisp bacon and the arugula.  Top with the remaining bread, fig side down.
Add the butter to your hot pan or griddle and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and the brie has melted.
Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve with a small salad or soup.  Enjoy!

FiggyPiggy

 

 

German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

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