Browned Butter Bacon Ice Cream

Browned Butter Bacon Ice Cream

Alright, enough healthy greens for one week – how about some very decadent ice cream? I almost feel I should apologize for this one because 1) it’s so rich and well, decadent; and 2) because I too grow tired of the browned butter craze. I mean, it’s good and all, but sometimes it really is okay to bake with regular butter, you know? However, in the end I can’t really regret making and sharing this wonderful concoction, because here the browned butter really shines.

Browned Butter Bacon Ice Cream

It’s not hidden in a baked good, it’s one of the main components of an ice cream, and you really get to experience browned butter the way it was meant to be tasted. Which is a beautiful thing.

browned butter bacon ice cream

This ice cream seriously lacks restraint. I hesitated to even make it because of that, because I’m usually NOT a fan of over-the-top dishes. You add in too many flavors and they can start to compete with each other, or a flavor that is supposed to and should stand out gets lost. But something about this recipe drew me in, and I have to say it works, despite its lack of simplicity.

browned butter bacon ice cream

The candied bacon was lovely, and added this wonderful salty note to the sweet creaminess. So it’s the sweet-salty yin-yang we all love. Plus it added the crunch factor, and I’m such a sucker for crunchy bits in my ice cream (or sorbet, or frozen yogurt…) The bacon and browned butter served as complements, not tense opponents as you might worry they would. In the end, I’m quite happy to feature it here and share it with you, even if it was somewhat out of my wheelhouse. I hope you enjoy it!

browned butter bacon ice cream

Source: adapted from New York a la Cart by Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace

Ingredients:

CANDIED BACON:
½ lb. thick-cut bacon, sliced
½ cup brown sugar

ICE CREAM:
4 tbs unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks
1/8 tsp kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs bacon fat (from the candied bacon)
½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
First make the CANDIED BACON: place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and begin browning. Once the bacon is about three-quarters of the way to crispy, strain off the bacon fat and reserve. Return the pan to the heat and add the brown sugar. Stir to coat the bacon and melt the sugar. Continue cooking the bacon until fully crisped and candied. Remove the bacon and any little crispy brown sugar bits to a plate with a slotted spoon. The bacon will clump together – this is fine, don’t worry about it. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
Once cool, transfer the bacon clumps to a cutting board and finely chop. Set aside.
Now make the ICE CREAM, starting with the browned butter. Place a small, stainless steel pot or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt, swirling the pan as needed. After the butter melts, it will begin to foam and sputter. This is the water evaporating from the butter solids. The butter will change in color from yellow to golden brown flecked with browned bits. When the sputtering and foaming has slowed and the butter is the right color, turn off the heat. Set this aside to cool a bit. This can happen pretty quickly so don’t walk away. If nothing is happening on medium-low, cautiously raise the heat to medium. But again, don’t walk away!
Now move on to the base of the ice cream. Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, sugar and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl. Combine the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scald the liquid (it’s scalded when you see bubbled appearing around the edges of the pot. Do not boil. Remove from the heat.
Add about ½ cup of the scalded cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, drizzling it in very slowly and whisking constantly; this will temper your eggs and prevent them from scrambling. Now slowly pour the egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture in the stockpot, whisking continuously. Set the pot over medium-low heat and stir with a rubber spatula for 5-8 minutes, until the mixture thickens and will coat the back of the spatula or a wooden spoon. Pour the custard through a sieve into a clean, medium mixing bowl. Stir in the reserved browned butter, maple syrup, reserved bacon fat, and vanilla. Place this mixing bowl in an ice bath and stir about 5 minutes, or more if necessary, to let it come down to room temperature. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard (to prevent getting the dreaded skin) and refrigerate until very chilled, at least 4 hours.
Once chilled, churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the last 5 minutes of churning, add in the reserved candied bacon bits. When done churning, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and chill until set up, about 2 hours.

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Though in many ways we grew up in very different circumstances, we share one aspect of childhood very much in common: both my husband and I were raised in households with parents who insisted we eat healthfully and get our fair share of vegetables. Not only was there a side serving of veggies present at most dinners, we were both exposed to a nice variety of fruits and vegetables – it wasn’t the same few produce items at every meal. Now, not gonna lie here – both of us as children had a pretty decent laundry list of vegetables we didn’t *want* to eat, but both of our respective parents toed a fairly firm line of “eat it anyway, they’re good for you.”

roasted broccoli rabe

So, you’d think at least one of us would have entered adulthood knowing what broccoli rabe was. Nope. Didn’t happen. It’s only been in the last year or so that we’ve started eating it when its early spring season rolls around. This year we’ve been playing around with the more traditional method of cooking it – boiling it to reduce its inherent bitterness, then sautéing in a cast iron skillet and dousing it with a dressing or sauce. Quite tasty.

short cut pasta with broccoli rabe and harissa

And then I ran across a different method of preparing it in an older issue of Food & Wine – roasting it in the oven. I haven’t ever seen that method for broccoli rabe before (which isn’t to say it’s not out there – like I said above, I’m fairly new to the world of this veggie).

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

But, I was very intrigued to try it, so try it I did, and I found it quite lovely, so I had to share it with you. Broccoli rabe is quite tasty prepared this way, and here’s a plus if you have a smaller kitchen – roasting it in the oven dirties up fewer dishes overall than boiling-then-sautéing will. I will add that you lose less of the bitterness by roasting, but I found it a pleasant bitterness – not at all overpowering, and it played very well with the chewy, mild pasta and the spicy flavors going on in this recipe. Fantastic vegetarian dinner option. Enjoy!

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Source: Food & Wine Magazine, August 2013

Ingredients:
1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno or Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tsp harissa
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 lb. short cut pasta, such as gemelli, penne, cavatappi, cavatelli, or whatever you prefer
Grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli rabe with 2 tbs olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats, then arrange the broccoli rabe on the 2 baking sheets in as even a layer as possible. Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.
In a large (12-inch) deep skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbs oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, chile and harissa and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the garlic and chile are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously, then cook the pasta according to package directions, just to al dente. When done, drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta, cooking water, and about ¼ cup parmesan to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated in a thick sauce, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mint and parsley, and more cheese if desired. Serve immediately with more cheese for garnish, if preferred.

Veal Stew with Spring Greens #SundaySupper

Veal Stew with Spring Greens

Welcome to another Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is Spring Fling because… it’s about time, isn’t it? Most of us, it seems, had another pretty rough winter and it’s high time the snow and freezing temperatures let us be.

Probably obvious, but of course we over at Sunday Supper are ushering in this most welcome new season with spring recipes. I chose to feature this stew, which uses veal – very reminiscent of spring – and then highlights many of the greens just now coming into season.

Veal Stew with Spring Greens

Like spinach, and watercress, and leeks, and yes – romaine. Yep, I’m going to go there and ask you to put romaine lettuce in your stew. It’s weird. And yet – it works. The romaine doesn’t wilt the way you fear it will, instead it leaves a lovely crunch, yet wilts just enough to blend in with the texture of the stew.

veal stew with spring greens

The veal becomes impossibly moist and tender, and as a bonus, it takes a much shorter time to cook than would beef. The flavors here are delicate but not precious. It’s light but still hearty.

Veal Stew with Spring Greens

So happy Spring to everyone! Summer is around the corner! Enjoy this one last stew of the colder months. And be sure you check out my Sunday Supper gang, they’ve brought some beautiful recipes for Spring!

Veal Stew with Spring Greens

Source: slightly adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, April 2010

Ingredients:
3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1 tbs olive oil, divided
3 lbs. veal stew meat, trimmed if necessary, and blotted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 large bunch of adult spinach leaves, chopped
1 large bunch of sorrel leaves, chopped
1 head of romaine, chopped
1 bunch of watercress, chopped
1 leek, white part only, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into half moons
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 cup crème fraiche
Hunks of baguette, for serving

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Set a large Dutch oven over medium-high to high heat. Melt a pat or two of the butter, plus a drizzle of olive oil, in the hot pot. Add the veal and cook until browned, turning once. Do not crowd the pan. You will probably need to do this in batches, so use a little of the butter and oil for each batch. When the last batch has been browned, add all the browned veal, plus any accumulated juices back into the pot. Add the wine, then remove from the heat. Cover the Dutch oven with a piece of parchment paper, then cover with the pot’s lid. Transfer to the oven for 1 hour.
Now add the spinach, sorrel, romaine, watercress, leek, parsley, tarragon, chives and crème fraiche to the pot. Stir well, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover again with the parchment and the lid and return to the oven for 30 minutes longer, until the greens are wilted and the veal is tender.
Ladle the stew into bowls and serve with the bread alongside for mopping.
Note: if the greens are initially overwhelming your Dutch oven and threatening to spill over, then add about half of them without the crème fraiche, re-cover the pot with the parchment and lid and cook about 15 minutes, then add the remaining greens plus crème fraiche, stir, and cook another 15 minutes.

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Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

lemon basil roast chicken

It’s been said countless times, and I’m reiterating it one more time: I (like many others) truly believe that one of the best investments a home cook can make is learning to properly roast a chicken. (Unless you’re vegetarian/vegan, of course.)

lemon, basil and garlic

Roasting a whole chicken is one of the more satisfying meals I make, and this is echoed throughout the land of chefs and home cooks everywhere. But I’ve always wondered if our diners feel the same way. There’s something romantic and grounding about getting that chicken prepped perfectly, then while it’s cooking, hearing the crackling of the skin and the spattering of fat drippings that you know make really tasty gravy or jus later, and then the whole reward of taking it from the oven to the table.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Looking at that perfect bird, sitting there proudly with her perfectly crispy skin and juicy, moist flesh. It’s a sight to behold. But it’s really, when you think about it, all about the cook. Do diners really feel the same about roasted chickens? I of course think chicken is incredibly delicious when cooked just right, but I’m probably biased to like the taste even more because I put in all the work and saw the entire process through. I always wonder how others feel, when the only part of the process they participate in is the eating part.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

But, I’ve yet to get a complaint about roast chicken from any diners who regularly eat my food, so I’ll doubtless keep making it. Chickens are such blank flavor slates, so there’s about a bazillion different directions in which you can take any one particular meal. This one is lemon and basil.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Happy and cheery, a reminder that warmer temperatures are coming our way, thank god, this one is everything you want your roast chicken to be. I’d love to tell you this is so easy and comes together in a snap, but neither is really true. Prepping a roast chicken always takes longer than I think it will, but I want to get it just right. And it does take some practice, time and experience to truly feel comfortable and in command of cooking the bird, but I’ve found that using a meat thermometer cuts down on the uncertainty and produces consistent results. Please enjoy this beautiful main course.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Source: Real Cajun by Donald Link

Ingredients:
1 small lemon
2 cloves garlic, left whole
6 large leaves of fresh basil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced into 6 pieces
1 (3 ½ lb.) whole chicken, trimmed and patted dry
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs olive oil
1 whole onion, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs unsalted butter

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F.
Slice 6 very thin slices of the lemon (discarding the very end). Cut the remainder of the lemon into chunks. Place the chunks of lemon into the cavity of the chicken, along with the whole garlic cloves and the stems of the basil leaves.
Place the basil leaves on a flat surface, then place a lemon slice on top, then a garlic slice on top of the lemon. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, black pepper and paprika. Generously rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the chicken, really massaging it in. Without cleaning your hands, use your index finger (preferably with clipped nails!) to very gently loosen the breast skin from the flesh. Work at this from both sides of the breast. Now gently roll the basil leaves up and over the lemon and garlic slices. They should look more like an envelope than a roll. Very gently, slide 3 basil-lemon packets underneath the loosened skin on the chicken breast, then slide the other 3 on the other breast. I found it easiest to insert one from the neck end and the other two from the cavity ends. Now wash your hands off.
Place the sliced onion in a single layer in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, or another oven-safe skillet or baking dish of equal size. Truss the chicken (to ensure it cooks evenly), then place it breast side up on top of the onions. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Without removing the bird from the oven, lower the heat to 350 F. Bake until the meat thermometer registers 165 F, which will be about another hour, but possibly more or less, depending on the size of your chicken and the particulars of your oven. When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest while you prepare the jus.
First, drain the excess grease out of the skillet and into a small bowl without removing the onions. Place the skillet with the onions still in it on a burner over medium-high heat. Pour in the white wine and gently scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. When the wine has reduced by half, pour the onion and wine mixture into a small pot and add the chicken stock. Let this simmer for 5 minutes or until it reduces by one-third. Now add the butter and as much or as little of the reserved pan drippings (grease) as you like. Once the butter melts, stir to combine, then lower the heat to low and keep the jus warm while you carve the chicken.
Once the chicken has been carved, transfer the jus to a gravy boat and serve alongside the chicken pieces.

Breaded Tomato Casserole

Breaded Tomato Casserole

As y’all know, Matt and I met, over twelve years ago, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, so every two to three years, we take a little weekend weekend getaway to New Orleans, sometime in February or March, and two weeks ago, that weekend rolled around for us again.

Breaded Tomato Casserole

I have a favorite kitchen supply store that I must frequent every time we’re there, right on Royal Street, and it never fails that I always pick up a cookbook or two when I’m there (despite the fact that I always say I won’t this trip). One of my finds this time around was Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree.

breaded tomato casserole

I’m quite an admirer of Dupree’s, so please know my tail is a bit between my legs when I tell you that I had no idea such a book of hers even existed. But, better late than never, I always say. It excited me to no end to find a book entirely dedicated to biscuits, one of my great loves in life.

breaded tomato casserole

I immediately baked up a batch upon returning home, and of course they were wonderful; but I think the section of the book that might intrigue me most of all is the chapter on using up your leftover, day-old biscuits. I knew I wanted to dive into this chapter most of all, so I made us this odd-sounding yet compelling dish, which really couldn’t be simpler. It’s just stale biscuits crumbled up and mixed with a touch of sugar, canned tomatoes, and I threw in some dried oregano. I added some grated parmesan to the top, for a bit of crust, and I must say that we just loved it.

Breaded Tomato Casserole

Tasting both distinctly Italian and US Southern, it’s reminiscent of bread pudding, but denser, and the tomato flavor is incredibly prominent. And of course, for that reason, make sure you use very high quality canned tomatoes – they’re not hiding behind anything here! While this dish is hearty, Matt and I both firmly agreed it’s a side dish, and would have a little trouble passing off as a main dish – it’s just not quite filling enough.

Breaded Tomato Casserole

As an aside, or a post-script, I used canned tomatoes here because 1) the original recipe is written that way and it sounded good to me, and 2) fresh tomatoes are decidedly not the least bit in season in the northeastern US. But, I’m thinking this could be incredible revisited in the summer using fresh juicy tomatoes in their peak season. Hmm… Enjoy!

Breaded Tomato Casserole

Source: slightly adapted from Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree

Ingredients:
3 cups torn or chopped biscuits in ½-inch pieces
1 tsp granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
A generous ½ tsp dried oregano
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
Grated parmesan cheese, for the top of the casserole (a couple generous handfuls)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 2 ½ quart baking dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together the biscuit pieces, sugar, salt, and oregano. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine thoroughly and coat all the biscuit pieces with the juices. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and pour the melted butter evenly over the top. Bake 25-30 minutes, then evenly sprinkle the top with parmesan. Put it back in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove and serve warm.

Alice Springs Chicken

Alice Springs Chicken

Happy Secret Recipe Club reveal day!! This month I was assigned Angel’s Homestead, written by the lovely April – a lady living with her husband and the last of FIVE children in Southern Indiana. April has a very full blog as she writes about her family’s journey being simple, frugal and living off the land as much as possible; she also shares allergy-free recipes and blogs about her weight loss journey. Spoken from someone who’s been there, huge congrats on your accomplishment, April!!

It’s always such a treat when you peruse your assigned blog for SRC and find that they have a recipe you’ve been dying to try anyway, and thus they give you this perfect excuse to make it now. April has a restaurant remake on her blog that has been on my to-make list for a few years now, so what better time to take the plunge? This is Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Steakhouse.

Alice Springs Chicken

Although I grew up frequenting the Outback, I never tried this dish until a couple years ago, I guess because… well, who goes to a steakhouse and orders chicken? Judging from the popularity of this dish and the fact that so many try to copycat it at home, apparently lots of people order it and love it, and two years ago, I joined those legions of people who went to a steakhouse and ordered chicken.

I was visiting my sister and her family right after my niece Claire was born. My brother-in-law’s parents had just come in to see the baby too, and our first night for dinner, seeing as everyone was a bit too weary to cook, his parents generously brought some Outback takeout home. I decided to order the Alice Springs Chicken – see what all the fuss was about.

Alice Springs Chicken

And? It’s really good! It’s rich and decadent and comforting, and everything I wanted after the agitation of missing my connecting flight in Charlotte because someone in air traffic control saw two whole snowflakes. Though I’d never done it before, I was not the least bit regretful about ordering chicken from a steakhouse. I vowed to make it at home, and somehow that’s taken two years. I have no excuses…

The homemade version might be even better, I kid you not. This is really cheesy and flavorful and fun to make, and more important, it just tastes really, really good. Perfect comfort food, and no futzing around with getting out and worming your way through a crowded restaurant. So thank you so much for having this wonderful recipe on your blog April! Y’all be sure and check her out. Enjoy!

Alice Springs Chicken

Source: adapted from Angel’s Homestead and See Aimee Cook

Ingredients:
6-8 slices bacon (April calls for 6 slices, my bacon was looking very puny so I went with 8)
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Oil or butter, if needed
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Smoked paprika, to taste
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Preheat a 12″ cast-iron, or other oven-safe skillet over medium heat. If you do not own an oven-safe skillet, then use your regular large skillet and lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Cook the bacon in the skillet until crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the bacon fat. Some versions of this recipe instruct to drain most of the bacon fat, but remember that mushrooms are little sponges that love to soak up any fat the encounter, which just makes them taste better in the end, and this is a splurge meal anyway, so I say leave all that bacon fat and don’t worry about it! Anyway, cook the mushrooms until they are softened and browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Pour off any mushroom liquid in the pan. Add a touch of oil if it’s too dry to sear the chicken.
Turn the skillet to medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Sear the chicken in the skillet, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a heat-proof flat surface.
Meanwhile, make the honey mustard by thoroughly whisking together the Dijon mustard, honey, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
As soon as you remove the chicken from the skillet, brush the side facing up with a generous amount of the honey mustard. Place the chicken breasts back into the skillet, OR in the prepared baking dish, mustard side down. Brush the other side generously with the honey mustard. Now top the chicken with the bacon, the mushrooms, and some of both cheeses. Really press the cheese down, and do not worry about it spilling over onto the skillet or baking dish. Transfer the chicken (carefully!) into the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the chicken is just cooked through. Slide a chicken onto each of 4 dinner plates, making sure you scoop up a good amount of that cheesy goodness too.


Pork Lover’s Pizza

Pork Lover's Pizza

Well, it happened – I caught my first (and last? Oh please, oh please) cold of the season. Compared to the last two years, this is actually pretty good for me, but damn if it wasn’t incredibly unpleasant for four days. First world problems though. It’s good to be back!

Pork Lover's Pizza

Since I’ve been gone so long, I wanted the first post back to be a knock-out. And really, what is more decadent and pleasing than a meat-lover’s pizza? Childhood favorite of mine, that’s for sure. But when I realized that the only meat on here is pork, I decided to embrace it and call it pork lover’s pizza instead. It’s no less delicious for lacking in beef.

pork lover's pizza

Homemade pizza is always better than commercial big chain take-out, we all know that, and this is no exception to that rule. This pizza is quite fine, the flavors melding together perfectly but each standing on their own, and more importantly, they aren’t muddled together by an overabundance of salt and salt flavorings so prized by the fast food industry. Yes, this is a salty paradise, but in a welcoming way that doesn’t blow out your palate.

Pork Lover's Pizza

I made this one twice, both times on a Friday night after a less-than-thrilling work week for both me and Matt. It was the perfect comfort food answer to cheer bad moods and soothe wracked nerves. Especially if paired with red wine – just sayin’! Enjoy!

Pork Lover's Pizza

Source: lightly adapted from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton

Ingredients:
1 scant tbs olive oil
1 link uncooked Italian hot or sweet sausage, casings removed
2 thick slices Applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
1/8 lb. thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta
1 round pizza dough, enough for 1 (~ 12-inch) thin crust pizza
4 oz. tomato sauce
6 deli slices low-moisture mozzarella
5 thin deli slices of salami

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 500 F if using a pizza stone, making sure you place your pizza stone in a cold oven.
Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil, then add in the sausage in little clumps, sort of like free-form mini meatballs. Cook for a few minutes, turning the sausage to brown on all sides, until just cooked through. If a few pieces aren’t quite cooked through, don’t worry about it. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the bacon to the same skillet and cook until crisped and browned. Remove with the slotted spoon to the same plate as the sausage.
Pour out any excess fat – you want to keep about a tablespoon in there. Now add the guanciale or pancetta to the skillet and cook until crisped. Remove with the slotted spoon to the same plate.
If you haven’t yet, roll the pizza dough to about 12 inches around (I know some pizza doughs have to be rolled out beforehand and some don’t). If your pizza stone requires parbaking, do so now.
Assemble the pizza for baking (either on a raw or parbaked crust): spread the tomato sauce all around with the back of a spoon, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Now lay the cheese slices all around – some gaps or some overlapping is fine.
Next lay the salami slices over the cheese. Now scatter the sausage, bacon and guanciale evenly over the pizza. Place the pizza in the oven and cook according to your pizza stone’s instructions. While I’m still experimenting with my new pizza stone, what seems to work for thin crust pizzas is 4 minutes parbaking the plain dough (rolled out to about 12 inches), then assembling the pizza and baking another 8 minutes.
When the cheese is melted and browned on the edges and the crust is cooked through, remove the pizza and let rest about 5 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned #SundaySupper

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

Wow, I think this may be the longest hiatus I’ve taken from blogging, ever! Two weeks. Not entirely planned. But, that’s another story for another day. Today we celebrate Sunday Supper! With a fantastic theme – Retro Food!!! How awesome is this one – today we’re all bringing you recipes from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s – a culinary throwback to a different time.

As I’m sure you’ve no doubt noticed, vintage cocktails are all the rage right now, and I’m not fighting this trendiness one bit. Admittedly, my dear husband is the mixologist in our family, and lately we’ve been, as he puts it, stepping up our game on our drink making. We’ve let go of the sloppier, haphazard and sweeter mixed drinks of our twenties and swapped them for stronger, more mature, sipping-instead-of-sloshing cocktails now that we’re in our thirties.

vanilla bean old fashioned

So when Sunday Supper announced that today was Retro Food day – well, I immediately knew a throwback cocktail was in order. I chose one of the most iconic, the old fashioned, and gave it a (more modern?) twist by adding in the flavor of vanilla. Result? Utter deliciousness. Of course bourbon and vanilla are quite capable of being the bestest of all the bestest friends, so this pairing just works. The vanilla takes the edge off that straight up bourbon and adds an interesting almost-but-not-quite sweet note.

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

I highly recommend giving this one a try, it’s just so delicious and such fun to drink. Find yourself an evening you can slow down a little, fix yourself a glass of this baby, and serve some bar nuts alongside. You’re in for a perfect night! Enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

And don’t forget to check out the rest of my Sunday Supper peeps!

Source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, October 2008

Ingredients:
¼ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 (1- or 2-inch) pieces vanilla bean, each split lengthwise
2 (1- or 2-inch) squares of orange peel, bitter pith removed with a sharp paring knife
1 tsp Angostura or orange bitters
Ice cubes
½ cup bourbon
2-4 maraschino cherries

Directions:
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Shut off the heat and cool – this is your simple syrup.
Place 1 piece vanilla bean, 1 piece orange peel, and ½ tsp bitters in each of 2 old-fashioned or regular rocks glasses. Using a muddler or wooden spoon handle, gently mash to blend and bring out the flavors (be very gentle here and don’t shatter your glass – that would be sad!).
Add 1 tbs simple syrup to each glass. Fill glasses with ice, then pour ¼ cup bourbon over ice in each glass. Stir very well to blend; make sure the bits of vanilla are well incorporated into the drink and not just sinking to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with cherries and serve immediately.

Bodacious Breakfasts and Appetizers:

Made in the Shade Main Dishes:

Swell Side Dishes:

Dreamy Desserts:

The Bee’s Knees Beverages:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Lobster Bruschetta #SundaySupper

Lobster Bruschetta

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Today we bring you a theme of Red Carpet Party, in honor of the Academy Awards airing tonight! This event happens once a year, is undoubtedly a bigger deal to some than others, but it can be seen as a very fun excuse to gather with friends and eat fancy, elegant food. And you know, my friends, they would *never* do this, but I’ve heard that *some* groups of friends might well, be catty and pass harsh judgment upon *critique* some of the fashions strutting up and down the red carpet, and maybe even have a money pool and get really competitive over who picked the most winners. See, it can be extremely fun! (From what I’ve heard, nudge nudge wink wink).

Lobster Bruschetta

But, everyone over at #SundaySupper agrees, you need some fancy-pants food to get the party started right. So I’m doing my part with this amazing Lobster Bruschetta. This is sort of a play on a lobster roll, but more sophisticated and a touch spicier from those serrano chiles. I seeded my chiles, and the heat level was surprisingly mild – so if you want some real heat, I’d highly suggest leaving those seeds in! The flavor is so delicious, with sweet tender chunks of lobster meat nestled in creamy mayonnaise and there’s a pop of fresh herbs in every bite.

lobster bruschetta

Tonight it’s just me and Matt watching the Oscars. We’ll likely have a contest between ourselves on who can pick the most winners. And then we’ll reminisce about taking a little weekend getaway to Los Angeles a few years ago, where we strolled down Hollywood Blvd, mostly to say we’d seen it, but we did stop at Kodak Theater and seriously could not believe how small it was!!! There seem to be some insane camera tricks involved when they air the show, because the red carpet looks so much grander on television than in person. So I’m sure we’ll make jokes about that. :)

Lobster Bruschetta

Everyone enjoy this elegant little appetizer! Your guests will be very impressed; and shrimp could easily be subbed in for the lobster if you want. It will still be quite delicious! Oh, and make sure you check out the Red Carpet Party the rest of my Sunday Supper group is throwing, it’s sure to be incredible and fit for the occasion. Enjoy!

Lobster Bruschetta

Source: Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet by Padma Lakshmi

Ingredients:
8 (1 inch) slices of crusty sourdough bread, grilled or toasted on both sides with a generous amount of olive oil
2 large ribs of celery, finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh chives
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
2 tbs good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
About 1 lb. cooked lobster meat, cut into chunks

Directions:
Place the grilled bread slices on a platter.
In a large bowl, combine the celery, chives, parsley, chiles, mayonnaise, olive oil, black pepper, and salt. Whisk or stir to combine and work out any lumps the mayonnaise may have to offer. Now add the lobster meat and gently fold in until combined.
Top each bread slice with 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the lobster mixture. You can of course garnish with either chives or parsley, but I found it wasn’t necessary, for taste or looks. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.

Nominees for Best Supporting Appetizers:

Nominees for Best Course in a Leading Role:

Nominees for Best Supporting Sips:

Nominees for Best Delectable Desserts:

Nominees for Best Dressed Table:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

This cold winter is really making an aggressively menacing effort to sabotage my weight loss efforts. I’ve got nine more pounds to go, and those nine pounds may just have to wait until spring. I’m serious. It’s not that I don’t want to lose them, it’s not that I’m not cognizant of my dietary and exercising efforts; it’s more that the cave man part of my brain is taking over and telling me that I need tons of animal fats and carbs to store up energy for this stupid cold weather we’re having. And it’s pretty difficult to talk back to that very strong voice.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

I try, of course. I tell it that I’m living in the 21st century, which means that I have access to all kinds of modern conveniences my cave man ancestors did not: winter coats, hats and gloves and scarves, indoor plumbing, indoor heating, any blanket I want, sweatshirts, long underwear…

It doesn’t matter. The inner voice persists, quite loudly sometimes. That’s why I am so thrilled that spaghetti squash is still in season. And that’s why I was even more thrilled to find that Kevin posted this recipe that includes a very hearty, meaty, cheesy lasagna type thing that nestles over spaghetti squash. I feel like Kevin is really looking out for both my inner cave man and my current waistline! Haha!

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

Spaghetti squash is low-carb, of course, but it’s also filling and nutritious. And while not a pasta replacement, it is quite tasty on its own. In this dish we’ll be tossing that cooked spaghetti squash with lots of cheesy goodness: ricotta, Fontina, and some basil for extra flavor. It’s then topped with a hearty, warm, stick-to-your-ribs Italian sausage and tomato sauce ragu, which is then topped with more Fontina and melted under the broiler.

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

It’s PERFECT for cold winter nights, and it’s also pretty figure-friendly. You could sub in ground turkey for even fewer calories if you wanted, not to mention you could use low-fat ricotta and part-skim low moisture mozzarella for the Fontina.

And most importantly, this is really delicious. How could it not be? There’s just so much flavor here, and it’s so filling and satisfying without much guilt. And not nearly as time-consuming as actual lasagna, so score!! Enjoy this one guys! And try to stay warm!

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

{One Year Ago: Margarita Fish Tacos}
{Two Years Ago: Giant Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze}

Source: slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

Ingredients:
2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 tbs olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casings
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs basil, chopped, divided
1 cup ricotta
6-8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded, divided

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a silpat. Brush the inner flesh of the spaghetti squash with 1 tbs olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast, skin side up, in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes. You know when it’s done when a sharp paring knife can be inserted into the flesh and removed with no resistance.
Meanwhile, make the ragu. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle in the remaining tbs olive oil. Add the sausage and crumble with a sturdy spoon. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook until tender, another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, paprika, balsamic vinegar, plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, to let the flavors marry and the tomato sauce thicken. Stir in the basil and turn the heat to very low.
Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and let cool just slightly. Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the spaghetti squash into a large bowl, taking care not to break or crack the spaghetti squash shells. Add the ricotta, remaining tbs basil, and a medium-sized handful of the shredded Fontina. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well, evenly coating the strands of squash with the cheese.
Nestle the cheesy spaghetti squash strands back in the spaghetti squash shells, using a spoon to make an indentation, or a “bowl” in the center of each. Spoon the sausage ragu evenly into the 4 boats, then top each with the remaining shredded Fontina.
Broil in the oven until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately.