Tag Archives: Cured Pork

NYC Bodega Breakfast Sandwiches

One of the best parts of my holiday break was a little stay-cation Matt and I took for about three days between Christmas and New Year’s. We booked a hotel in the East Village, made a bunch of restaurant reservations*, explored an independent bookstore, found some really cute bars, went to a cat cafe (swoon!), braved a bad rainstorm to get to Kalustyan’s (totally worth it!), and just generally enjoyed a few days off.

Believe it or not, I actually brought my laptop with me and had planned to post at least one or two blog posts while we were “away”, and this one was my top priority. I’d even planned out what to write – like, oh hey, I’m in NYC for a few days and have easy access to these iconic bodega sandwiches, woohoo go me.

But, two problems emerged with that little plan: 1) our hotel was nowhere near a bodega, so we didn’t end up eating any of these; and 2) more importantly, I forgot to download the pictures off my camera before we left home. So, yeah…

It’s all good, I’m here now. And whether you live next door to an NYC bodega or you’ve never heard of these even once, it matters not, because we all need this recipe. These are incredibly fun to make at home, unbelievably delicious, and a little bird told me they are a foolproof hangover cure (wink).

Sometimes, I think we all need a little New York in our lives. The kitchen is good for that. And this is one amazing breakfast sandwich. Enjoy!

Source: recipe from Lucinda Scala Quinn, found on Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
1 everything bagel, or other bagel of choice, cut in half and toasted
1 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for buttering bagel
2 large eggs
1 deli slice of American cheese
2 to 3 slices cooked bacon
Hot sauce and/or ketchup, for serving (after testing a few hot sauces, we determined Frank’s RedHot Original to be the winner)

Directions:
Butter cut sides of each bagel half. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add butter to skillet. Carefully crack both eggs into skillet. When whites begin to set, immediately puncture yolks. If they don’t do so on their own, spread the yolks around a little.
Top one egg with cheese, then bacon. Flip remaining egg, yolk-side down, on top of bacon (like an egg-on-egg sandwich). Transfer eggs onto one toasted half of the bagel (this seems to take 2 spatulas, just FYI); top with remaining bagel half and lightly press together. Use a serrated knife to cut the sandwich in half, then serve immediately with hot sauce or ketchup, or wrap halfway in parchment paper or aluminum foil for a portable breakfast.

Serving size: 1 breakfast sandwich, can be multiplied up easily

*Restaurant Recommendations:
Gato NYC
Stanton Social
Ngam
Blue Smoke
Sushi Samba
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue

Note: this post is not sponsored in any way, the aforementioned staycation was paid for in full by the author and her husband. Links are provided for reader curiosity/information only.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

We are waffle people in my house, and these particular waffles are beyond delicious. At least, they are this time. The first time I made them? Not so much. So, the original recipe calls for using a store-bought waffle mix and just adding water. And I thought, “Water?! Water has no flavor! I’ll use buttermilk instead.” It made the batter so ridiculously thick I could barely work with it, and the waffles were so dense and dry we could hardly choke them down (our water intake was noooo problem that morning!). I knew the flavors were spot on, but that texture. Blech!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

I determined to try again, but this time from scratch. I turned to King Arthur Flour, because why wouldn’t I in this situation, right? And I’m incredibly happy to report that this is the way these waffles should be made. Now they are perfect. You can adjust the amount of pancetta here – four ounces is a good amount to know it’s there, but if you want it chock full, I’d go with six to eight ounces.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Like I said earlier, the flavor is fantastic. Salty pancetta spikes a slightly sweet batter warmed with a background note of cinnamon, garnished with walnuts for crunch and of course finished off with maple syrup. I hope you enjoy them!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Sources: adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis and The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
4-8 oz. pancetta chunks, depending on how much pancetta you want in your waffles
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
2 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:
Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Do not discard the rendered fat!!
Preheat your waffle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Don’t spray it with cooking spray (we have a plan!)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk just until combined. A few lumps are okay. Use a spatula to fold in the reserved, cooked pancetta.
Pour the now cooled (or at least cooler) rendered pancetta fat into a small bowl. Use a silicone pastry brush to grease your waffle iron with the pancetta fat. Pour the batter into your waffle iron and cook as per manufacturer’s instructions. When waffles are done, remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter, if necessary, remembering to grease the waffle iron with more pancetta fat between each batch of waffles.
To serve, place a waffle on a dinner plate and garnish with walnuts and drizzle to your heart’s content with maple syrup.

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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Mexican Hot Dog Tacos

Mexican Hot Dog Tacos

I actually made this recipe last summer, trying to use up an excess of corn tortillas before they spoiled, and while this is a great summer recipe (I could totally see chowing down on this after a day at the pool), I also think it’s quite appropriate to share at this time of year: you know, when winter is winding down and the weather is showing hints of warming up consistently, and it’s almost time to start thinking about how we might look in a swimsuit, but we can bury our heads in the proverbial sand just a few weeks longer.

Mexican hot dog tacos

The Mexican hot dog is a crafty delicious thing that I’m pretty sure was not invented by a cardiologist, but rather enterprising street cart owners who capitalized on drunk people exiting dance clubs and wanting something a little greasy. It’s a hot dog split in half lengthwise, stuffed with jalapenos and cheese, then wrapped in bacon to seal it all up. Putting such a thing in a tortilla and dousing it with salsa to make a taco is one of the best things ever.

tomato based salsa

Bookmark this recipe for your next splurge day. I promise it’s so worth it. Enjoy!

Mexican Hot Dog Tacos

Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Start

Ingredients:

TACOS:
6 hot dogs
2-3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
About 18 slices of pickled jalapeno
12 slices bacon
6 corn tortillas, warmed

SALSA:
Canola oil, for greasing
4 ripe Roma tomatoes (about 1 lb.)
2 unpeeled cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
1 small jalapeno
1 dried chile de arbol, stemmed
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, coarse stems removed
Kosher salt

Directions:
First make the SALSA: position a broiler rack about 8 inches from the broiler, or as close as you can get while still being safe.
Pour a little canola oil onto a thickly folded paper towel, then wipe it all over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeno, and chile de arbol on the prepared baking sheet. Tomatoes and jalapeno should be skin side up. Broil until the skins are charred and somewhat blackened.
Leave the blackened skin on the vegetables and let them cool until you can handle them. Take the garlic and squeeze the flesh out from the skins over your blender or food processor. Add the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, chile de arbol, lime juice, and cilantro to the blender. Process until you get that chunky-smooth texture of restaurant salsa. Add salt to taste – you’ll need a good bit of it. Set the salsa aside to cool down to room temperature.
For the TACOS: with a very sharp knife, cut each hot dog open lengthwise, making a slit but not cutting all the way through, so you could open the hot dog like a book.
Slice the cheese into strips, then cut those strips lengthwise so they will fit nestled into the slit you just cut into the hot dogs. Place the cheese strips into the cut open hot dogs, using as many as you need to fit the entire length of the hot dog. Wedge 2-3 (depending on their size) pickled jalapeno slices into the open hot dogs. It’s fine to squish them in there. Now wrap each hot dog in 2 slices of bacon, securing with toothpicks at the ends.
Preheat your grill, indoor or outdoor is fine, to medium-high heat. I used an indoor grill for this to prevent the inevitable fiery flare-ups that would have happened (thanks to the bacon fat) on the charcoal grill outside. Drizzle or wipe down the grill with a touch of canola oil to prevent sticking, then place the bacon-wrapped hot dogs on the grill cut side up. When the cheese has mostly melted, flip the hot dogs and continue cooking until the bacon is crisped up and browned. The whole thing will take 10-12 minutes total. Remove the hot dogs from the grill with tongs, then carefully remove the toothpicks.
To serve, place 1 hot dog in a warmed tortilla and spoon some salsa over top. Serve immediately. You’ll likely have extra salsa – serve with tortilla chips for dipping and refrigerate the leftovers for a snack later.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

As many times as I’ve visited New Orleans, and as special as that city is to me personally, you’d think at some point I would’ve known about their thriving Sicilian community. But, nope. Had to read that one in a book. Chef Donald Link, NOLA native and one of my favorite cookbook authors, published this dish in his second book, Down South, as a classic example of the flavors and types of dishes you find from the fine Sicilian people of New Orleans.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

It makes complete sense to me. The flavors are obviously and unmistakably Italian, but there’s a brash boldness to this dish that reminds you that the New Orleans spirit has definitely had its effect. It’s not the least bit subtle, but still quite balanced and intensely flavored. Matt and I raved over it.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

I originally intended to follow this recipe to the letter, which calls for roasting the chicken with the sauce poured over in a 9×13” casserole. Unfortunately, my baking dish happens to have rather low sides, and I realized that it wouldn’t hold all the sauce without spilling it all over my oven floor. I think we can all agree that it just sucks when that happens, so as a preventive measure, I used my larger lasagana pan. It worked perfectly fine, but my chicken did cook a bit faster than the recipe stated it would. However, the sauce thickened as it should have, so I’d probably do it this way again.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

I hope y’all enjoy this one! It’s ideal for a cold winter night – rich and hearty, and those strong flavors are so warming.

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:
1 (3 ½ – 4 lb.) whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 rosemary branch
1 ¼ cups diced salami
1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups chicken stock
4 fresh bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large baking dish (I used a lasagna pan).
Add the onion to the skillet and cook in the rendered chicken fat, stirring, until brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, fennel, rosemary, salami, olives, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Pour in the wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock in batches and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves and lemon juice.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and roast in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. It should register 165 F when the chicken is done. Baste the chicken every 15-20 minutes with the sauce.
Discard the bay leaves and serve the chicken warm with plenty of sauce spooned over.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

Pork and Whiskey Chili

I’ve done quite a bit of cooking since 2016 began, with well, mixed results. I’ve learned valuable lessons though, like if you’re going to put baby back ribs in the slow cooker, the membrane MUST stay attached; otherwise they completely fall apart on you. I’ve also learned that kumquats have a very mild flavor when slow roasted, and probably weren’t worth the trouble as they only lent a slight citrusy background note that likely could have been achieved with some basic orange zest. (I might try that pork dish again with that change, because it was otherwise quite tasty.) Anyways.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

This chili was, thankfully, superb. Despite my pickiness about chili texture, I do enjoy shaking up the flavors from time to time. Sure, I’ll always be loyal to a Texas bowl o’ red, but I don’t feel guilty for occasionally stepping out on it. Pork in chili is delicious. It just is.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

This chili features pork in three ways, with bacon, Italian sausage, and ground pork shoulder. Despite the Italian sausage, this chili’s flavor profile is definitely Tex-Mex. The Italian-ness of the sausage doesn’t distract, it just provides an interesting note to wake up your tastes buds a little. Seeing as we just sat through a blizzard, I’m wishing the leftovers weren’t already gone… Enjoy!

Pork and Whiskey Chili

Source: adapted a little bit from The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh

Ingredients:
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 thick-cut strips bacon, chopped
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casings
1 lb. ground pork
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cups water
1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup whiskey or bourbon
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika
1-2 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbs masa harina
Garnishes of your choice (sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, scallions, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion…)

Directions:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the sausage to the bacon drippings by pinching off little free-form meatballs. This will give your chili some texture later. Stir the sausage chunks until browned all over, then move all the sausage to one side of the pot. Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with a spoon or potato masher, until no traces of pink remain. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now add the water, tomatoes, whiskey, brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well to mix and increase the heat to a simmer. Cook the chili at least 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching. Adjust the heat up or down as necessary to keep a simmer going.
Add the masa harina and stir to thicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Once the chili is to your desired thickness, serve with the garnishes of your choice.

Viognier-Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

Viognier Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

A few days ago, I noticed my body was absolutely screaming for some seafood and vegetables. And while I don’t really buy into the whole “intuitive eating” concept – sometimes my “intuition” is toddler-esque and wants to eat ice cream for dinner, and I have to say no to myself; and then of course, as any parent of a toddler does, try to ignore the ensuing anger, pouting and tears. But when my body yelps for something light and healthy, I do listen up.

Viognier Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

Amidst all the holiday baking and heavier foods of the current season, I’ve been made aware of the need to balance it all out with some lighter fare. I’m going to take how wonderful this meal tasted, plus the way I was absolutely HORFING an arugula salad last night as confirmation that I did the right thing.

Viognier Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

There is some wintry richness to this dish, but it’s really balanced. And just wonderfully delicious. There’s all the flavors and textures your palate could possibly want in one bowl. Briny and chewy clams, salty, crunchy bacon, sweet softness from the parsnips, and fatty richness from the cream base all come together for the perfect bite.

Viognier Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

And if this isn’t enough to convince you, let me also say that this is the ideal weeknight meal, especially for this busy time. It comes together very quickly – the longest time-suck is roasting the parsnips, and that is mostly hands off and can be done days before. The rest comes together in one pot and very fast. Oh and if you can’t find Viognier wine, just sub in a dry Reisling. Enjoy!

Viognier Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

Source: slightly adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, October 2006

Ingredients:
½ lb. parsnips, peeled
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 oz. thickly sliced bacon, chopped
¾ cup Viognier
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbs snipped chives
Oyster crackers, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cut your parsnips in half crosswise, so you have skinny pieces and fatter pieces. Cut the skinny pieces in half once lengthwise and quarter the fatter pieces lengthwise. Place the parsnips on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the parsnips, turning once or twice, until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slice them across ¼-inch thick. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until well browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove the bacon strips with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Add the Voignier, butter, shallots, and garlic to the skillet over medium heat. Add the clams and turn the heat to high. Cover the pot and cook until they open, 6 to 8 minutes. Use tongs to transfer each clam to a large bowl as they open.
Add the cream to the clam broth in the skillet. Boil until reduced by half, a couple of minutes. Add the roasted parsnips, bacon, chives, and the cooked clams in their shells to the skillet. Season generously with black pepper.
To serve, spoon into shallow bowls and garnish with oyster crackers. Serve immediately.
Serves 2-3 people.

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

{One Year Ago: Guest Post – Grilled Asparagus Panzanella}
{Two Years Ago: Pickled Jalapenos}

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.

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

{One Year Ago: Collard Greens, Mushroom, and Cheddar Bread Pudding}

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

{One Year Ago: Banana Split Brownies}
{Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Stuffed French Toast; Lemon Risotto; Chocolate Pistachio Fudge; Classic Caesar Salad}

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.

Bacon Manhattans

Bacon Manhattan

Welllll…. Looks like we’ve been hit with another snowstorm, this one featuring a couple inches of ice, as some added bonus or something (oh joy, eyeroll), so even though it’s Monday morning, I believe a good stiff drink is in order.

If you follow any kind of food news and trend watching, you’ve for sure noticed that vintage cocktails are making a comeback. And this is one bit of trendiness I can get behind! Manhattans were not something I drank in my 20’s, but I do think I’ll spend a bit of my 30’s enjoying them. Especially, if they include bacon!!

Bacon Manhattans

As you can plainly see, these little libations are a bacon lover’s dream. Just as bacon can work wonders for a dessert, it can also give some glorious love to a cocktail. Manhattans have some alcohol bite to them – they are stiff – but the sweet-salty of the candied bacon balances it out perfectly. The bacon could be served alongside the drink or broken in two and nestled in the drink, like many more traditional drink garnishes. I preferred it this way, because then the cinnamon sugar that candied the bacon lightly flavors the drink; plus the saltiness of the bacon lightly flavors it as well. And the bacon softens just a tad, and when you bite into it you get bacon plus the drink flavors, and it reminded me of when you eat the fruit in sangria. Delicious!

Bacon Manhattans

Many may find the bacon unnecessary, but I thought it a very welcome addition. As in, the next time I’m served a Manhattan, my brain will likely automatically go, “wait, where’s the bacon?” Enjoy!

Bacon Manhattan

{One Year Ago: DrPepper Turkey Chili}
{Two Years Ago: Happy Accident Mashed Potatoes}

Source: slightly adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:
2 slices thick-cut bacon
Brown sugar
Ground cinnamon
6 oz. bourbon
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes angostura bitters
4 maraschino cherries

Directions:
First, make the bacon. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a nonstick cooling rack over top. Grease the cooling rack generously.
Lay the bacon slices on a plate or cutting board. Sprinkle each side liberally with brown sugar and conservatively with ground cinnamon. Pat the seasonings onto the bacon so everything sticks. Transfer the bacon strips to the cooling rack, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake the bacon for about 30-35 minutes, flipping once halfway through the cooking time, until the bacon is crisped. Set aside to cool.
Now make the drinks. Fill 2 rocks glasses with ice. Add 3 oz. bourbon and ½ oz. vermouth, and 1 dash of bitters to each glass. Stir. Add 2 cherries to each glass and 1 slice of bacon served either alongside, or broken in half and nestled in the drink. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 drinks as written.