Tag Archives: Secret Recipe Club

Cilantro Jalapeno Limeade

Cilantro Jalapeno Limeade

Welcome to Secret Recipe Club reveal day!! This month I was assigned Steak ‘N Potatoes Kinda Gurl. I can certainly identify with steak and potatoes (who can’t, really?). This lovely food blog is written by Desiree, a grad student at Xavier from Cincinnati OH. She lives with her cute fiancé in a house they just bought, who happens to be her high school sweetheart!

Cilantro Jalapeno Limeade

I *really* enjoyed perusing through Desiree’s blog to try and find something to make for this month. So many wonderful sounding recipes to make here, but I ended up with this beverage because I’d literally never heard of such a limeade! I am incredibly glad I chose what I did – this is unique and completely delicious.

Cilantro Jalapeno Limeade

The flavors are very complex, the heat from the jalapenos builds as you sip, and may I let you in on a little secret? It’s also insanely good spiked with a little silver tequila. 🙂

cilantro jalapeno limeade

I highly recommend this drink. It’s most likely an adults-only (I can’t quite imagine kids flocking to this one, but hey, you never know!) non-alcoholic, non-mocktail (mocktails drive me nuts) party drink. Sometimes you really want a sophisticated beverage without alcohol (says the girl who spiked hers with tequila) and this one really fits the bill. I can’t wait to make a pitcher of this for a summer rooftop party or cook-out!

Cilantro Jalapeno Limeade

Definitely give this one a go and do yourself a favor and check out Steak ‘N Potatoes Kinda Gurl!

Source: Steak ‘N Potatoes Kinda Gurl

2 and 1/4 cups water
3/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (and 2 large jalapenos)
1 tsbp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 lime wedges, divided
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3-4 limes)

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro and jalapeno. Let stand for 30 minutes. Pour jalapeno mixture into a large bowl or leave in pot, cover, and chill for at least 3 hours. I let mine sit overnight.

Combine 1 tbsp sugar and the salt in a shallow dish. Rub rims of 2 glasses with a lime wedge. Dip the rims of the glasses into the sugar/salt mixture.

Strain cilantro and jalapeno mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl, discarding solids. Stir in lime juice. Fill each prepared glass with ice. Add limeade to each glass. Garnish with 2 remaining lime wedges.

Creamy Shrimp Dip with Elevated Saltines

Creamy Shrimp Dip with Elevated Saltines

Welcome to another Secret Recipe Club reveal day!! This month I was assigned The Kitchen Witch, a lovely food blog run by Rhonda. Rhonda is a beautiful straight-shooter, motorcycle-riding gal who has “retired” to Montana from a distinguished military career. She’s also a wife, mom, grandma, dog mom, professional photographer, freelance writer, and a master gardener. When do you sleep, Rhonda??!

spiced saltine crackers

spiced saltine crackers

I’ve been craving dips lately, and fortunately Rhonda’s blog can easily come to my rescue, offering tempting goodness like Garam Masala and Preserved Lemon Hummus, and Green Onion and Dill Dip. But, seeing as I have an extreme weakness for creamy seafood dips, yet for some strange reason have never shared one on the blog, my decision became an easy one.

Creamy Shrimp Dip with Elevated Saltines

I was quite impressed with this family recipe of Rhonda’s. Quite. The saltines are what makes the whole thing, but not to neglect the shrimp dip – it was everything you want it to be. Crab would make a lovely substitute too, I think. I have to admit, I didn’t let the crackers sit in their little bath as long as the recipe instructs – I was too impatient and running short on time, but I did marinate them for about 5 hours, and it was perfectly delicious that way.

Creamy Shrimp Dip with Elevated Saltines

Be sure you check out The Kitchen Witch! And please do try this recipe, it’s a wonderful little appetizer.

Creamy Shrimp Dip with Elevated Saltines

{One Year Ago: Salade-aux-Lardons Pizza; Steakhouse Pizza; Hamburger and Onion Bread Pizza; Roast Leg of Lamb with Parsley-Walnut Pesto}
{Two Years Ago: Glazed Donut Muffins; Caramelized Onion, Pear and Goat Cheese Pizza; Red Kidney Bean Curry; Three Cheese Beer Bread; Battered and Fried Merguez Sausages}

Source: slightly adapted from The Kitchen Witch (both the Dip and the Saltines)


1 1/3 cup canola oil
1 pkg Ranch mix
3 tsp crushed red pepper
3 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp dried thyme
3 sleeves saltine crackers

8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
8 oz sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 green onions
2 (4 oz) cans tiny shrimp, drained and rinsed well
Salt and pepper to taste

First make the crackers. In a medium bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, combine the oil, Ranch seasoning mix, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and dried thyme. Whisk thoroughly and make sure it’s well combined. Arrange the saltines, standing up domino style, in a baking dish or a food storage container that will fit them in snugly. Pour the oil and spice mixture over all. Close the container with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 24 hours. If you can, flip the crackers halfway through (though I must confess to skipping this step and it was fine).
Just before you plan to serve, make the dip. Add the cream cheese, sour cream and lemon juice to the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed (that lemon juice can really splatter!) until the mixture is smooth. Add the green onions and shrimp and mix about 1 minute more on medium low to medium speed. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately with the saltines.

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

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

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.

DIY Velveeta Cheese

DIY Velveeta Cheese

Welcome to the most fun day ever – yep, it’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! This month I was assigned The Painted Apron, a fun and creative blog written by the beautiful Jenna Meon. Jenna is not only a great cook and baker, she’s an artist too, and owns her own business designing hand-painted glassware! After moving around a bit, Jenna and her husband settled in Birmingham, AL where they live when they’re not relaxing at their beach house in Orange Beach, AL. It’s 3 degree Fahrenheit where I’m sitting. I’m not jealous of you Jenna, not at all, lol!

homemade Velveeta cheese

Family is very important to her, having two grown children, three grandchildren and one grand-dog. Jenna embodies everything we all love about Southern hospitality; her warm, sweet spirit shines through in every recipe.

DIY Velveeta Cheese

I had a tough time deciding, but she features a recipe I’ve been dying to try anyways, so that made my decision for me: homemade Velveeta cheese that you make from scratch!! Yes, this is the coolest thing ever! You get all the meltiness of that processed cheese product we all secretly love without any nasty chemicals, and there’s a ton of real cheese in there! The texture is exactly like the store-bought version, but made from scratch! Win-win!

DIY Velveeta Cheese

Oh, and it’s really easy to throw together too. Thank you so much for featuring this great recipe on your site, Jenna! I so enjoyed reading through your recipes this month!

DIY Velveeta Cheese

UPDATE: This homemade cheese product only works on sandwiches, as far as I can tell. It does NOT work in a queso or cheese dip. For some reason, prolonged exposure to heat causes the elements to separate. Sorry. :/

Source: The Painted Apron

1 tbs water
1 1/2 tsp gelatin powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs whole milk
12 oz Colby Jack Cheese, grated
1 tbs milk powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Line a 9×13″ loaf pan with enough plastic wrap to over hang down the sides 3 inches. You will use this overhang to cover the finished cheese.
Combine the water and gelatin in a small dish and set aside. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile place the grated cheese in the food processor bowl and add milk powder, salt and cream of tartar. Pulse a few times to distribute. Remove milk from heat and put it in a pourable measuring cup. With the machine running, pour the milk into the feed tube. Once the milk is incorporated add the gelatin mixture. Process for 1-2 minutes more until cheese is smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.
Transfer the cheese into the prepared pan and pack down tightly, forming an even block. Bring excess saran up and over cheese and seal. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before using. Use within 2 weeks.

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

Happy, happy MLK Day! Why does this particular MLK Day get an extra happy wish? Because it coincides with Secret Recipe Club reveal day, that’s why! This month I was assigned Rainstorms and Love Notes.

Ashley, like me, lives with her husband and three cats. (Seriously, I have three cats too!). Unlike me, Ashley is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Sorry, Ashley – can’t join you there; go Cowboys!! Anyways… 🙂

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

Rainstorms and Love Notes is a wonderful blog of scrumptious recipes, lovely pictures, and I loved how Ashley wrote out the story of how she and her husband met. Read it here, it’s awesome.

Since it’s still January and I’m still trying to detox from all the excess cookies and alcohol that was the month of December, I went hunting for a healthy, wholesome recipe, which I happily found in these orange rosemary pork chops. Pork chops marinate for about four hours in a combination of delicious ingredients like orange zest and juice, dried rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, and black pepper.

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

The orange flavor really shines through in the end. All the flavors cooperate beautifully and the final product is a tender, yummy, healthy pork chop that could be a very easy weeknight dinner. It would be very easy to scale the recipe up to four servings too. I hope y’all enjoy this one, and do check out Rainstorms and Love Notes!

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

{One Year Ago: Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas}
{Two Years Ago: Cotija Rice}

Source: slightly adapted from Rainstorms and Love Notes

2 bone-in pork chops
2 tsp orange zest
Juice from 1 large orange
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the skillet
1 tbsp molasses
Pinch of kosher salt
A few, or many grinds of black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, molasses, salt, and pepper. Add the pork chops to a large, resealable plastic food storage bag. Pour the marinade into the bag, seal it, and squish it around to thoroughly coat the pork chops. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator and allow the pork chops to come up to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F. Preheat a small (10-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in a little bit of olive oil, and when it shimmers, carefully transfer the pork chops to the hot skillet.
Cook about 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned on both sides. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the chops. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the chops until the meat thermometer reads 160-165 F, about 6-8 minutes. Let the chops rest for about 5 minutes, then serve.

Cranberry Noels

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Today is a good, fun day – yep, it’s Secret Recipe Club reveal day! However… this reveal day is extra special, because we did a virtual holiday cookie exchange! When we got our assigned blogs, we all picked a cookie recipe to make and “swap.”

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I was assigned My Hobbie Lobbie, a wonderful blog written by Trisha who lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. She used to have a corporate career but left that a couple years ago to pursue her passion of baking and crafting.

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Since this is a holiday cookie exchange, I went with these cranberry noels; it seemed like the right thing to do. But I was very tempted to bake up Trisha’s chocolate pistachio biscotti, or possibly her chocolate chocolate chip cookies. These cranberry and pecan (or walnuts!) slice and bake cookies were quite delicious. I did not go wrong here!

Cranberry Noels 6819

These would be welcome at your non-virtual, three-dimensional cookie swap, for sure. I highly recommend. Not too sweet, just sweet enough, with a crisp exterior and a very soft and crumbly, shortbread-y interior. Matt told me to get them out of the house, for fear he would eat them all.

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So I did. I took them to the animal shelter where I volunteer once a week, where they were immensely enjoyed by the people and more than one dog begged for a cookie!

Cranberry Noels 6850

This was such a fun SRC event, I hope we make this an annual thing! And I hope all of you enjoy these delicious cookies!

Cranberry Noels 6867

Source: ever so slightly adapted from My Hobbie Lobbie

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and milk and beat until just combined. Gradually add the flour, beating after each addition, then turn off the beaters and stir the cranberries and pecans in by hand until fully combined.
Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll each portion into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
Using a sharp knife, cut the logs into about 3/4-inch-thick slices and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until edges are golden, about 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Remove from oven, and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps

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Today is Secret Recipe Club reveal day!!! Always so fun. This month I was assigned Our Eating Habits, written by Jamie. Her motto is “Why waste time and calories on bad food?” I couldn’t agree more. I had such a blast searching through Jamie’s blog looking for something to make.

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Somewhat unfortunately, though I really can’t complain, this week’s SRC day coincides with the day before I leave for a vacation, so I wasn’t able to choose anything that would yield leftovers, as they would go bad before I returned. So, I didn’t really have the option to choose recipes like Chickpea Fritters with Yogurt Mint Sauce, or Taco Burgers, or Chicken Fajita Penne. I had to pick something that was either only two servings, or a treat that could be pawned off on others.

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The minute I saw Pumpkin Gingersnaps, I had my answer. These cookies…. I may not have adequate words to tell you how amazing they are, but I’ll try. Well, first I’ll just tell you how easy they are to make! They came together so quickly and it was just such a cooperative dough.

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And they are some of the most perfect holiday cookies you will ever taste. They are chewy and soft in the center, warmly spiced, and not too sweet. Very addictive, too!

Matt and I went nuts over them, as did his coworkers the next day. Thank you for this wonderful recipe, Jamie! Be sure you check out all the deliciousness at Our Eating Habits!

Pumpkin Gingersnaps 6337

Source: Our Eating Habits

{One Year Ago: Butternut Squash Pie with Cinnamon-Brandy Whipped Cream}

½ cup of butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies
½ cup of pure pumpkin
¼ cup of molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with silpat liners. Set aside. Sprinkle a little extra granulated sugar onto a plate. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use your hand mixer to beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg, pumpkin, vanilla, and molasses. Beat until combined.
Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.
Roll dough into balls (about a tablespoon per cookie), or use a cookie scoop, and roll the dough balls in the extra sugar. Place on cookie sheet, evenly spaced apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. IF you have any left over, store in an airtight container.

Mark Bittman’s Veggie Fried Noodles

Mark Bittman's Veggie Fried noodles 5027

Secret Recipe Club reveal day is here!! This month I was assigned Tea and Scones, which is a baking blog that certainly lives up to its name. Many, many beautiful and drool-worthy scones recipes featured. And given my love of scones, you’d think I would have picked one to make, right?

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Well, I strongly considered it, believe me. Very, very tempted. But, I have been striving to eat much healthier the past few months, so when I also ran across this Mark Bittman recipe, which is incredibly healthy yet uber-delicious, well, I was sold.

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Once I reach my goal weight, I’m coming back to make one of your scones! I’m a huge fan of Mark Bittman, too, so I was very excited to see this recipe. I love that we’re using soba noodles instead of rice – nice creative twist there – and that this recipe fit perfectly with my current eating habits. And the dish was truly wonderful. It didn’t feel like a “healthy” dish, if that makes sense, it was just some good, clean eating. Very filling and satisfying, and one I would definitely make again.

Mark Bittman's Veggie Fried Noodles 5020

Definitely check out Tea and Scones, y’all! Enjoy!

{One Year Ago: Caramel Apple Layer Cake, Philly Strip Steaks with Provolone Sauce and Caramelized Onions}

Source: Tea and Scones

8 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 cup chopped green onions
2 large carrots chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups snow peas, or sugar snap peas, cut into halves or thirds crosswise
1/4 cup chicken stock or water (more if you need it, I didn’t.)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
black pepper
1/4 cups chopped peanuts for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the noodles according to package directions, but make sure they don’t get mushy. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water. Toss them with sesame oil to prevent sticking.
While the noodles are cooking, heat the canola oil in a large, deep skillet or a wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions. Cook for about 15 seconds.
Add the carrots, celery, snow peas, and stock or water and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 5-10 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry, add more liquid a tablespoon at a time.
Stir in soy sauce and beaten egg(s) and let the egg lightly scramble in the pan. Add the noodles, sprinkle with pepper, and toss well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the peanuts and serve.

Bacon Salt

Bacon Salt 4594

Well, today is a very good day, for two reasons: 1) it’s Secret Recipe Club reveal day, woohoo!! And 2) it’s my birthday! Yep, another thirty-something one for me.

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So this month I was assigned the awesome food blog Get Off the Couch and Cook, and it makes me rather sad that I never knew about Sashi and her cool blog before. We share the same cooking philosophy, namely that of stop eating processed food/fast food/take out, it’s horrible for you and the environment! Not to mention, cooking from scratch is easier than you think, cheaper, healthier, and oh you know, it tastes way better.

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When I found out that SRC reveal day would coincide with my birthday, I figured I would make one of Sashi’s cakes. But then I ran across her recipe for Bacon Salt (!!!!!) and decided that it’s my party and I’ll bacon salt if I want to. 🙂

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Thanks to a common-cold-turned-ear-infection, I haven’t put this bad boy to use just yet, but I did sneak a taste, and I’m *extremely* eager to use it. I’m thinking possibly crusting burgers or sliders; maybe baked into cookies? And Matt really, really, really wants to rim a margarita glass with this bacon salt goodness. The only question being, of course, what kind of margarita? I’ll let you know. 😉

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Be sure you check out Get Off the Couch and Cook! Thanks for such a genius idea, Sashi!

{One Year Ago: Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy}
{Two Years Ago: Pork Tinga Tacos, Blondies, White Chicken Chili, Mediterranean Baked Feta and Tomatoes}

Source: Get Off the Couch and Cook

5-6 strips of bacon
¼ cup kosher salt

Cook the bacon until dark golden brown and crisp either on the stove top or in the oven (I used the stove top, but Sashi instructs to bake the bacon at 350° for 10-15 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels and cool completely.
Using different, clean paper towels, blot the bacon with paper towels to remove as much grease as possible.
Chop the cooked bacon, removing any large pieces of fat. No need to be fussy with this step. Press the bacon pieces once again with a clean paper towel to remove as much grease as possible.
Add the chopped bacon to a mini food processor and pulse until the bacon is finely ground.
Pour the bacon onto yet another clean paper towel and blot away any grease one more time.
Transfer the bacon to a small bowl and add the salt. Use your fingers (or a small whisk, but your fingers really are better) to incorporate the bacon into the salt as evenly as possible.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks

Tortellini Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, and Eggplant

Tortellini Salad with Roasted Peppers, tomatoes and eggplant 098

Happy Secret Recipe Club reveal day!!! Always a fun day for me. This month I was assigned…. Feast on the Cheap!

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Feast on the Cheap is a wonderful food blog actually run by two people: “a mother-daughter duo starring a professional caterer and a fledgling foodie.” Mary Anne is the mom and her daughter is Mariel. Both have impressive and distinguished careers, Mary Anne as a nurse and a professional caterer, and Mariel as a professional writer for a number of well-known publications. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through their blog this month!

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I have been jonesing for eggplant lately, so I went through their recipe index specifically hoping to find something eggplant, and I scored big with this pasta salad. Mary Anne created this recipe, and made the brilliant decision to use tortellini for the pasta, which is just beyond delicious. The eggplant is sweated and roasted, so there is no trace of bitterness – just flavor. This salad comes together and just sings. So much flavor, and such terrific textures from the roasted veggies and the chewy, cheesy tortellini.

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As I write this, I’m growing impatient for tomorrow at noon to roll around, simply so I can eat the leftovers for lunch! And I *just* ate dinner, y’all – not even hungry. That’s how good this is.

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I highly urge you to try it very soon, while eggplant and fresh tomatoes are looking lovely for their season. I also highly urge you to check out Feast on the Cheap! It’s definitely going in my reader. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Strawberry Mascarpone Sherbet, Blueberry Crumble, Golden Sheet Cake with Raspberry Butter Cream Frosting}
{Two Years Ago: Classic Barbecue Chicken}

Source: slightly adapted from Feast on the Cheap

1 medium eggplant (about ½ lb.) cut into ½ inch dice, peeled if desired
Kosher salt, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
Olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
3 medium tomatoes, (about ¾ lb.) cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp brown sugar
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
½ cup fresh basil, roughly torn
1 lb. cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

“Sweat” the diced eggplant: spread the eggplant on a cookie rack lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Blot dry with fresh paper towels. Transfer to a cookie sheet and toss with about 2 tsp of olive oil. Spread evenly into a single layer and sprinkle lightly with the dried oregano, as much or as little as you prefer. Cover with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place the foil covered eggplant in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside, after you remove the aluminum foil.
While the eggplant is roasting, preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then saute the shallot until soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the brown sugar, crushed pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saute another 5-10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and have rendered their juices. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Add the cooked tortellini to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Now add all the veggies to the pasta: the eggplant, the tomato mixture, and the roasted peppers. Add the basil and the cheese and toss thoroughly and gently to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.