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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:

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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
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  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)
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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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Glazed Cinnamon Sugar Apple Fritter Bread

I do not think that this needs a hefty introduction.  I mean, heck, entire candle lines were built around the scent that will come from your oven…

The above being said, this will make your family happy and your neighbor’s jealous on the smell alone.  Really, what says comfort and Fall more than apples, cinnamon and brown sugar?  Exactly.

So, on your next breezy, crisp and possibly rainy day, bake up a batch of this apple bread and take in the praises from your loved ones. xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened
    2 eggs 
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 3/4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup milk
    2 apples, peeled and chopped , mixed with another 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon *I used both green and red apples, but feel free to use what you prefer.

Glaze Topping

  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
    1-3 Tbsp of milk, depending on thickness of glaze desired

*Chopped walnuts or pecans, optional and encouraged!

CSAppleBread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray roughly a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Prepare your peeled and chopped apples tossed in the cinnamon-sugar according to the above listed ingredients (2T/1T/2t).

In a small bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl (or a KitchenAide mixer), beat the granulated sugar and softened butter together until creamy with an electric mixer.  Next beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla extract.

Next, whisk together the flour and baking powder and add in to the creamed butter and stir will well combined.  Finally, mix in the milk till the batter reaches a smooth consistency.

To your prepared loaf pan: pour 1/2 of the batter to the base of the pan, followed by 1/2 of your spiced and chopped apples and lastly, 1/2 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

REPEAT with the remaining half of ingredients.  With the tip of a butter knife, insert straight down into loaf pan, without scraping the bottom, and give a slight swirl throughout. *This will not only make it “pretty” but will incorporate the flavors throughout.

Place the pan into your preheated oven for at least 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  *In one of my oven’s, this needed to bake for closer to 80 minutes before toothpick was clean, FYI.

Allow to sit out for about 20 minutes, transfer to a serving platter, then drizzle the prepared glaze overtop!

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Pan Seared Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato Bacon Cream Sauce

I know this is hard to believe with a recipe title as such, but this meal took less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table.  Yes, I tell no tale, less than a half of an hour.

What’s also great about this quick, and arguably almost healthy meal, is that since it’s so quick to cook up, it can be in your weeknight dinner rotation.  Plus, since it’s flavors are so “high-end”, it is also a no-hassle recipe for a dinner party or perhaps even an at home date with your loved one.  *One extra thing, my five year old son ate this up TWICE and even proclaimed, “I just love this stuff”.  Again, I tell no tales…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4oz sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained, sliced (Plus 2 Tbsp of the oil)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (regular will work as well)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan Cheese, shredded (garnish)
  • Penne pasta, for serving

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Let the Salmon come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Gather all of the ingredients and bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta) while you begin to sauté the diced bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  Remove the rendered, slightly crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Also (if needed) drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.  *When the stockpot of water is boiling, add in the penne pasta and cook to the package directions.  Drain and set aside till plating.

Bring the skillet with the bacon grease to medium heat and sear the salmon fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

To that same skillet, add in the onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes + oil, paprika, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.  Sauté together for about 2 minutes.

Add in the vegetable/or chicken stock over to deglaze the pan and let simmer for a couple minutes.  Pour in the half & half along with the 1/4 cup parmesan and stir together, salt & pepper to taste.  Add the seared salmon back into the creamy, fragrant sauce to bring back up to temp.

Serve this delightful dinner individually plated or family style…Coat the cooked penne in the creamy sauce, place the salmon overtop and sprinkle the freshly torn basil, parmesan and crisped bacon overtop!  Enjoy!!

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Texas Style Jalapeno Sausage Kolaches

If you live in the great state of Texas, you can now forgo your local (albeit delish) donut shop drive-thru and make your own southern state staple!

Now yes, I am quite aware that these are also referred to as klobasnek’s/klobasniky’s and were brought to our beautiful USA from equally wonderful Czech immigrants.   I am also grateful that once they settled here, they turned the traditionally sweet pastry into a savory one…and eventually we added that kick of jalapeno!

Lastly, friends, let’s not confuse these with the so-so, flavorless aspects of a “pig-in-a-blanket”…oh no, no, noooo.  No matter where I have purchased one: many a donut shop, a gas station, a quaint mom & pop restaurant or even in West, Texas (THE self-proclaimed “Kolache Capitol” of the state) they are so much more!  The dough is baked with the most pillowy interior, the sausages are just that..sausage..no Oscar Myer hot dogs here and then a layer of gooey cheese and slightly spicy, pickled jalapenos.  Get.In.My.Mouth.  THIS is the (my) breakfast of champions!

*Feel free to omit the jalapenos for your little ones.  I usually make my batch half & half!

** Line your baking sheets with foil, parchment paper or a silpat sheet.  The cheese will inevitably ooze some of its way out and this will help with clean-up! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg highly active yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups  AP flour
  • 1 pckg of Lil Smokies sausages
  • Cheddar or American cheese slices, cut in half
  • Jalapeno slices, pickled 
  • 1 egg + splash water, beaten

    I like to prepare the dough the night before we’ll  be enjoying these for breakfast.

    So we’ll start this by mixing the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

    Meanwhile, melt the butter with the milk in a small pot.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, to the slightly cooled milk, careful not to scramble.  Add this milk mixture to the yeast.  Add in the flour and salt.  Mix it together with a dough hook until it forms a ball. Put this mixture into a large greased bowl and let it rise, covered, for an hour in a warm spot.  Finally, place in the refrigerator, still covered, overnight.

    Rise and shine!!!   The next morning, set the dough out on the counter for at least 30 minutes.  Once it is no longer cold to the touch, turn it out onto a well floured countertop and roll the dough out (using more flour if necessary) to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 14 equal pieces (I use my pizza cutter or bench scraper).  Lay a few jalapeno slices down the center lengthwise of each rectangular piece of dough and then a thin slice of your preferred cheese.  Lay 2 of the sausages down the center.  Fold the sides of the dough over the filling (you may have to press the dough out a bit with your fingers..it’s easy, really).  Place them seam side down on a sheet pan. Lay additional jalapeno slices on top to show which Kolaches are “spicy”.  Let them rise in a warm spot, covered loosely with a tea-towel for 30-45 minutes.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the egg with some water and brush the tops of each kolache with the egg wash. Bake them for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough is done all the way through and the tops are browned.  *My previous oven’s temperature was always off and this took more like 45 minutes, so just watch for the golden brown hue/toothpic test if needed. 

    Kolache6Kolache7

Blackened Chicken Broccoli Tortellini

Here you have a family pleasing meal that can be made on a hectic weeknight, because…it take’s just 30 minutes!  Yep, a 30 minute meal that didn’t even use a jar of sauce to create a creamy yet more dreamy alfredo sauce!

To offset the richness of the cheese tortellini and sauce, the blackened chicken gives just the right amount of kick and since you basically are just blanching the broccoli, it keeps a great crisp texture!  Even my 5 year old had seconds AND leftovers for lunch the next day, score!!

*You can use any noodle of your choosing if not a tortellini fan; you can also use fresh broccoli if available.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken, I like the thin cut breasts
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic power
  • hefty pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Pasta

  • 16oz  package frozen cheese tortellini
  • 10oz frozen broccoli
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 container parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings to create a blackening rub.  Pat some olive oil all over each chicken breast and then coat in the blackening seasoning.  *Often, if I am using thin cutlets of chicken, I will just coat one side.  If using larger chicken breasts, coat both sides..

Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and either bring your grill to medium high heat or a cast iron pan to screaming high heat.

Now, I used our grill, so once ready I made sure the grates were oiled and cooked each side of the thinly sliced chicken for about 2 minutes and then transferred to a plate tented with foil to let rest.  *If using a pan, do the same, just remember to turn your vent on as it WILL smoke a bit inside your kitchen.  Cook till the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  The last 2 minutes of cooking, toss the frozen broccoli right in with the tortellini.  Drain in a large colander.

In a large pan, melt the butter and whisk in the heavy cream.  Add in the cooked tortellini and broccoli.  Sprinkle and fold in all of the parmesan cheese and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  *I like lots of pepper.

Hey, you’re DONE!!  Slice the blackened chicken and lay overtop the broccoli tortellini alfredo and you have yourself a tasty dinner!  Serve with garlic bread, a side salad and vino of course!!

 

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