Archive | June, 2012

Pinterest Idea: Waffle Iron Hash Browns

25 Jun

I’m a sucker for breakfast foods and anything that helps me stuff that breakfast in my face faster. Or anything that helps make a one trick pony kitchen item more useful and efficient. Enter in the hash browns in the waffle iron. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this myself. Now, this doesn’t make getting breakfast on the table any faster, but it does save on heating up the kitchen and limits the number of pans you’ve got going on the stove. I’d say this took me about 20 minutes to get hash browns that were nice and crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. Not bad, just remember to start these FIRST before making any of your other breakfast foods. Our breakfast the day I tried this tip out was pretty simple – toast, eggs over medium, and bacon.

I started by defrosting my hash brown potatoes to expedite the process. While those were defrosting, I heated up the waffle iron, placed a pat of butter into it and let it melt around the grooves to keep my potatoes from sticking.

I then placed my defrosted potatoes on the buttered waffle iron, topped with a little more butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Closed that baby up and left it alone for the next 10 minutes. They still needed to crisp up more so I let them cook another 10 minutes, checking them periodically for doneness. At the 5 minute mark, toast went into the toaster, bacon got nuked to crispness (I use precooked, so it takes all of 30 seconds to go from cold to crispy) and the eggs got to sizzling in the frying pan.

Verdict? I’m digging it. Now we can have hasbrowns with breakfast without me having one more pan to wash, and they are nice and crispy and golden brown fantastic. And my not used enough waffle iron will finally get the action it deserves!

 

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Easy Side Dish – Roasted Asparagus

20 Jun

In the fight to eat healthier and more nutritious foods, asparagus is a super hero and should be sporting a cape. It’s packed full of nutrients, helps break down carcinogens and free radicals, it’s full of antioxidants, and can also help fight our brains cognitive decline. See? Totally a super food. It’s great raw in salads, sautéed in noodles with chicken, grilled up for a side dish. But roasted asparagus is one of my all time favorite ways to eat this super veggie. It’s such a simple process with little prep work and additional flavor additions, letting the true flavor of the asparagus shine. So simple in fact, that I feel ridiculous for posting it. Not ridiculous enough though. Some of us are so busy in our daily lives that we think eating healthier has to be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. It really doesn’t have to be any of those things. While roasting this, you can be grilling up some chicken breasts and making a salad to go along with it all. 30 minutes tops to a healthy dinner option.

When choosing asparagus, go for bright green stalks and not too dry tops. If the tops are too dry then the asparagus spears are most likely starting to get rubbery from sitting around too long. If you buy it fresh from say, a farmers market and don’t plan on eating it right away, trim the ends off when you get home and stick it in a shallow glass of water. That will keep the asparagus fresh longer.

Roasted Asparagus

serves 2

1lb fresh asparagus spears, rinsed, dried & with woody ends trimmed

olive oil

kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 420 degrees. Take a rimmed baking sheet and arrange your asparagus in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil over the tops and sprinkle with kosher salt. Using your hands, rolls the spears around to coat in olive oil and salt.

Place spears in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Season with more salt & pepper to taste. Serve alongside your normal dinner, or add to a salad. Got leftovers? Chop them up and put them in a omlet!

For you Dad on Father’s Day – sharing some wisdom and memories

15 Jun

On May 18, 1980 my dad’s life was forever changed. He was now a father.

My parents were very young when they had me (Dad barely 20, Mom barely 22) and were not totally prepared for a baby. But they had one. Me. Children do not come with handbooks or owners manuals. You kind of wing it. And wing it my parents did. They were not always the best parents, and did not always set the best of examples. But it is from their mistakes, stumblings, and shortcomings that I learned how to be me. They were growing up while I was. They didn’t set some high expectation of who I should be, rather taught me how to make mistakes, dust yourself off and move on. To learn from your errors. To not be so worried of what others would think if you failed at something, because what mattered was that you even tried. It has taken me a long time to see that, to not worry about not having the perfect childhood and parents because the parents I have and the childhood I had helped me to be ME. Change any part of that dynamic and I’d be a different version of myself. And I like the me that I am today. I am proud of how I turned out. My dad is stubborn, charming, vain, charismatic, sarcastic & blunt to name a few. I have all of his best qualities, and some of his worst.

What I wanted to tell you all is to love your parents. Tell them you love them. When they piss you off, tell them that too. They are going to piss you off. It is part of their job description, or so mine have told me. Sometimes they’ll walk all over you or make it feel like they are taking advantage of you. They may or may not be doing that. Tell them. Don’t expect them to be mind readers. Sometimes they don’t realize they are making ridiculous requests. Sometimes they forget that you work, or have your own life or your own shit going on. Just tell them. Because talking is always better than being silently pissed. But also remember that every once in a while in your busy life, you do have to make time for them. They aren’t getting any younger. You don’t know how much time you have with those that you love. Life is short and unexpected – just ask my parents – I was not a planned baby. Ask my sister and I – we thought we had a lot more time with our mom, at least another 20 years. Life is not a sitcom.  It is ugly, complicated, messy. But it is also beautiful, amazing, and only as good as you want it to be. With my mom’s unexpected departure from this earthly plain, all I have left is my dad (parent wise). So I find myself holding on to him a little tighter (he makes it kinda difficult living in Las Vegas and all, but I do my best). This Father’s Day, I won’t get to spend the day with my dad. He’ll spend his day doing things that he loves, like golfing, having a beer, and then wrapping up the day poolside soaking up some Vegas heat. But I’ll talk to him and wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Tell him I love him. And I’ll spend the day with fond memories of him from my childhood – him letting me play in the dirt/clay pile until I was so filthy my mom had to strip me down and hose me off before carrying me to the shower. Giving me nails and a hammer so that I could craft animals from scraps of wood while he was doing another remodeling project on our house. Pitching me a softball in the back yard so I could practice my catching and hitting skills. I’ll remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels and how he had let go without telling me until I was at the very end of the alley, and how psyched I was to be a “big girl”. I’ll remember him telling my mom not to worry because I liked doing boy things, that I was just being a kid. It would be ok. I’ll remember him getting all misty eyed giving me away on my wedding day, and outright crying during our father/daughter dance (he will deny both until the end of time! But I saw and heard…I was there after all!) And I will look forward to the memories we’ll make as father and daughter in the future.

To those dad’s reading this, happy father’s day. Kiss your kids. To those with dad’s reading this, tell them you love them. Even if they aren’t here to hear you anymore, say it out loud. I tell my mom all the time.

To my Dad – Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for helping me to become ME. You are more than half of my DNA. You are the Father I needed so that I could be the best me possible. I love you daddy.

Another take on the Avocado Sandwich – the BLTAE

12 Jun

I bet you are wondering – what in the hell is a BLTAE??? Well, it’s a new twist on the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. But with some avocado and hard-boiled egg added for extra depth of delicious flavor. It’s similar to another avocado laden sandwich I posted last year that is pretty fantastic. But this one is on a different level because of the bacon addition. Bacon AND avocado? yowza. We ate these up for a quick easy dinner with a side of gnocchi that I sautéed with some chives and whole milk ricotta. For me this was bliss on a plate. A great lunch option too. It’s such a simple meal, but so wholesome and filling. And with it being so quick, it’s great for those days that you either don’t feel like doing legit cooking, or you forgot to thaw something.

BLTAE Sandwich

Makes 3 sandwiches

avocado mash – flesh from 1 avocado, splash of lemon or lime juice, a shake or two of garlic salt and 4 green onions (white parts and some green) sliced thin. Mash it all up to combine.

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced into moons

2 tomatoes, sliced

12 slices bacon, cooked – 4 per sandwich (I use the precooked variety and just cook it up quickly)

6 slices toasted italian bread

Spread a healthy portion of the avocado mash on one slice of bread per sandwich. Place a layer of hard-boiled eggs, then 4 slices of bacon. Top with a layer of tomato slices and add the second slice of bread. Slice and enjoy!

For my photos, there is no tomato – I don’t eat actual tomatoes, just everything tomato BUT a tomato. I know, I’m weird. Whatever.

Slow days summertime sippin’ – Porch Swing Cocktail

8 Jun

Ah summer. The days are longer, hotter, and there is always something to do! Parties, lounging by the pool, sitting around a fire, a motorcycle ride with the wind in your hair, or just kicking back in a comfortable chair on the deck listening to some music with a sweating glass of adult goodness in your hand. In swaggers the Porch Swing cocktail. It’s simple. It’s got class. The dudes on Boardwalk Empire in their fancy pants are drinking up one of it’s ingredients!

Me? I’m drinking it on the deck under the shade of an umbrella, in my tank top and flip flops, busting out the hand jive movements of this video (I’ve also caught myself doing it in the car…comedy on wheels for the other cars on the road with me!) I’m pretty sure this album is going to be my summer 2012 soundtrack. Yep.

Now, I bet you’re wondering where in the hell I found this Porch Swing at. Well, after much googling of cucumber infused drinkage, I stumbled upon this and thought ya, I have got to try this. I had never previously heard of Pimms #1 Cup. So I searched. I called liquor stores – only some of them had this old school booze. I bought a bottle. I whipped some of these up. I went back the next day and purchased another bottle because I knew it was going to be our summer sipping drink of choice. I tasted the Pimms straight up. I decided mixing it as a Porch Swing was my thing. That was 2 summers ago. Now into our 3rd summer, it’s back. It’s perfect.

This is MY twist on the original link. I don’t make from fresh lemons lemonade. I use bottled lemon juice. Ya, it’s cheating, but when you are drinking these with the hubs and you are each having 2, maybe 3, that’s a whole helluva lot of lemons to go through for fresh squeezed. I’ve done it that way, and honestly, there is no difference. None. Once you add in all the other stuff, noone is going to be able to tell you didn’t squeeze those lemons yourself. And I use plain old selter or soda water for the touch of fizziness. I had to make this porch swing my own. Do your thang!

Porch Swing Cocktail

Adapted from Insatiable Critic

Start out by making some ‘fresh’ lemonade.

1/2 cup Splenda (or whatever sugar you like, just know if you use granulated it will need shaken lots to dissolve)

2/3 cup lemon juice

3 cups cold water

mix all the ingredients together until combined.

cocktail assembly 

Fresh made lemonade

Pimms #1 Cup

Gin

English cucumber (seedless cuke) sliced into paper thin slices – about 10 per glass – DO NOT USE A REGULAR CUCUMBER!!!

Selter or Soda Water

Fill a glass with ice (I used a pint mason jar. duh). Fill 2/3 of the way with lemonade. Add 1 1/2oz Pimms #1 Cup. Add a splash of gin ( I used Seagrams) and a splash of selter/soda water.

Add about 10 of those paper thin cucumber slices. Stir to combine everything and enjoy!

Summer Lovin’ – Cornmeal Lemon Cookies

4 Jun

Here in good old western Pennsylvania, mother nature has our weather all over the place. Over Memorial Day weekend, the temps were in the high 80’s – low 90’s with hell on earth humidity. (I planted the garden in those temps. It was like taking a shower with your clothes on. meh) That being said, it’s not officially summer, but it’s hard not to think of summertime  flavors for desserts, snacks, and meals. Or the movie Grease…and the song Summer Nights….I remember a sleepover as a teen in the 90’s where I, along with 3 friends, re-enacted the scene in her living room. Ya. That’s how we roll. (Am I the only one that when someone says “oh, 10 years ago…” it makes me think of the 90’s? And then when I realize the 90’s were 20 years ago, I feel old.)  Here’s the video in case you want to give it a try yourself….

Ok…back on topic. Enter in the Cornmeal LEMON Cookie. Yep. LEMON. I love lemon. It’s got that bright tangy flavor that just makes me think of sunshiny poolside outdoor fun. Turn it into a cookie and you’ve got something magical. This recipe was originally found on thekitchn.com for a lime version. Now, I like lime too, but it’s just overpowering in comparison to lemon, so I adjusted the recipe to suit my tastes. There is more vanilla, and more lemon zest and juice because lemons are generally bigger than limes, and I used some big lemons. But the lemons do not overpower these cookies. The cornmeal gives them a nice flavor balance while making the texture more filling, rounded out. But not heavy. I’m not sure how they got only 14-16 cookies out of the recipe since my cookies were palm sized after baking – and I got exactly 24 cookies. But whatevs. The cookies are fantastic. They take almost no time to whip up. Great to take to a bbq, picnic, graduation party. Whatever you find yourself getting into this summer. Enjoy!

Cornmeal Lemon Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen cookies Adapted from thekitchn.com

For the Cookies:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour ( I used white whole wheat)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks room temperature butter (16tbsps)

¾ cup sugar

Zest of 2 large lemons

Juice of 2 large lemons

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract (I used homemade)

2 large eggs

 

For the icing:

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Juice of 1 large lemon

Zest of 1 large lemon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together your flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add the butter and sugar to the bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the zest of the 2 lemons and the vanilla and mix until just incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add your eggs. (The mixture will separate. Do not fret. It will come together at the end!)

Add your flour mixture in 3 stages, mixing well after each addition.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop by heaping scoopfuls onto 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat mats. Space the cookies 2-3 inches apart and press down with your fingers so the tops of the cookies are flat. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through for even baking.

Allow cookies to cool completely.

Icing: in a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Spoon over the tops of your cooled cookies, letting it drip over the edges. (to help minimize the mess, I put a tea towel under the cooling racks to catch any runaway icing)

Store any leftovers in an airtight container and eat within 3 days. Can’t eat them that fast? Freeze them in a single layer. To serve after freezing, let thaw at room temp for 2hrs before serving. The icing will sweat out a little bit out moisture, but it’s all good. They taste as fantastic as they do freshly made! Enjoy!