Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jalapeno and Bacon Deviled Eggs - So Good You'll Praise Jesus

Have you ever cleaned out your closet, digging through the back of the rack, and found treasures that were in style from years ago?

You dig into the depths of your closet and squeal with delight when you unearth those wider-than-a-mac-truck bellbottom jeans from when you were years younger and 6 sizes smaller.   You cringe a little and wonder how you could have worn such an atrocity, but clutch the fitted ass and wide in the calf denim to your chest and are transformed into a time. You feel nostalgic and even just holding a worn fabric brings back fond memories.

That's how I feel about deviled eggs.  They may not exactly be in style, and they may have been tossed by the wayside along with the orange kitchen appliances of yesteryear, but they always make me smile when I see them on a table.

I feel like deviled eggs conjure up memories of '60s and '70s parties.  Housewives dutifully boiling eggs on their avocado-green stoves, smashing the cooked yolks in their mustard-yellow mixing bowls, all the while their husband is off in the living room drinking a Schlitz.

And like authentic bell-bottoms (not that '90s bullshit Delias tried to sell), traditional deviled eggs and those cute deviled egg trays have been whisked off and forgotten in favor of new food trends.

Now...before we get to the main event and because I'm all about education along with sass and dick jokes, let me drop some deviled egg knowledge on yo ass.

Fun fact?  Deviled eggs did not originate in the United States.  They can actually be traced back to ancient Rome when eggs were boiled, seasoned with various sauces, and served at the beginning of a meal.  If you want to know more about the appetizer extraordinaire, visit the History Channel's article on deviled eggs.

So naturally, since I can't do anything half-assed when I was asked to bring an appetizer to a birthday get together, I went in search of the perfect spin on deviled eggs I could find.

Grab your hats and hold on to your pants..... I'm throwing together Jalapeno, Bacon and Eggs.  

You're welcome.

Jalapeno and Bacon Deviled Eggs

1 dozen large or extra large eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp ground (dry) mustard
1/2 tsp sugar (optional - I left this out of mine since I was cooking for people who think carbs are the devil)
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (I did a fine dice; however, chop larger if you want big ole chunks of pepper)
8 pieces of bacon, crisped up and crumbled
Paprika (for garnish)

1. Hard boil your eggs.   Chris helped me out with this since suddenly I've become ignorant in things boiling eggs.  It's like one day I woke up and forgot how to hard-boil a damn egg.  I asked Chris if he could provide some insight into what makes his eggs so magical.   He just shrugged, mumbled something inappropriate, and stumbled off.   Fair enough.

 2. Slice the hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise, and remove the cooked yolks.  Place the cooked yolks in a bowl and arrange the cooked egg whites on a serving tray.

3. Add the chopped jalapeno and mix up/smash the yolks thoroughly.

4. Add the mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, dry mustard, and (optional) sugar.   Mix thoroughly.

5. Stir in the bacon and taste.   Try not to eat the whole bowl and adjust seasoning if necessary.

6. Fill the egg "hole" with the mixture.  I tried using a piping bag; however, the tip kept getting clogged with bacon so I decided to spoon the mixture in.  I believe deviled eggs should look a little rustic, anyway.  Garnish with paprika and pop in the fridge until ready to serve.

No joke, I brought these eggs to a party and they vanished.   People loved them and I got some really nice compliments.    And I'm pretty sure you can gauge how successful your dish is when you bring it to a party and only bring home the plate.

Or you forget the plate at the host's house because you're food-drunk from all of the amazingness that was at the party.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Healthy, Melty, Easy and Fast: Cajun Skrimpz Casserole with Quinoa

Sometimes I try out recipes thinking they're going to be fantastic and they fall flatter than an ass in mom jeans.

And other times, I try out a recipe and it's so good I want to make it again later that week.  Or I think about the leftovers I have for work and I drool on myself and then feel all embarrassed because I'm sitting in a pile of my own slobber.

This is one of those recipes.

It's spicy, cheesy, healthy, and full of succulent, juicy shrimp.

And it'll come together for you in less time than it takes to do a load of laundry.

My boyfriend is a southerner.  He likes meat with a side of meat, is testy when it comes to how to properly make a gumbo, snickers at me when I incorrectly pronounce "pecan", and loves things with a bit of a kick.

So when I stumbled across a recipe for a Cajun Shrimp Skillet dish, I got super excited to throw some spice my boyfriend's way.

Generally, when people think of Southern food, it's synonymous with battered, buttered, fried, and coated in sauce.

Sure this has enough cheese on it to choke the even most hearty Wisconsinite (cheese curds, FTW), but it's also made with a healthy helping of quinoa, fresh tomatoes, jalapeno, and protein-packed shrimp.
What's a quiin-o?

Cajun Skrimpz Skillet

3/4 pound large (26-30 count) raw shrimp,   peeled and de-veined
1/2 c. medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
4 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
2 T. tomato paste
2 c. cooked quinoa
2 1/2 T. olive oil
2 T. Cajun spice blend (I used Tony Chachere's)
1 c. shredded Fontina cheese (if Fontina is difficult to find, or a bit on the pricey side, feel free to substitute mild provolone, Gruyere, or Gouda)
Chopped Cilantro (for garnish)

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Toss peeled and deveined, raw shrimp with 1/2 T. Cajun spice blend and set aside.

 3. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 T. olive oil and 2 tsp. Cajun spice blend and set aside.

4. Heat large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 T. of olive oil.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque, about 2 minutes each side.  When shrimp are done, remove from pan and set aside.
       Note: you want your shrimp to retain or form a "C" shape.  If your shrimp start forming an "O", you're overcooking them (Think "O" for Overcooked...).  Also, since you'll be popping this all into the oven, you can undercook your shrimp just a tad and be fine.

5. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining oil to pan.  Add onions, garlic and jalapeno and cook until the onions are translucent, and garlic and jalapeno begin to soften. Stir occasionally.

6. Add in tomatoes, quinoa, tomato paste, and remaining spice blend, stirring until thoroughly combined.

7. If you're using an oven-safe skillet, top the quinoa-mixture with your shrimp, sprinkle cheese on top and place in your preheated oven for 13 minutes.   If your skillet isn't oven safe, transfer the quinoa-mixture to an oven-safe casserole dish (mine was 9" in diameter), top evenly with the shrimp, sprinkle the cheese, and place in the oven.
8. During the last few minutes of baking, turn on your broiler and move the skillet/cassarole under your broiler.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly/melty.

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Top/garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Bam!  That's it!  It is amazingly easy and took less than an hour to throw together. It's easy, it's fast, and it'll make you happy as fuck.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Great Thing About Being an Adult #263 : Mixing Alcohol, Fruit and Dessert. It's #PieTime

I don't usually make desserts.  I'll eat the hell out of some desserts, but I don't normally make them.

I don't mind baking, and I'll get a lady-food-boner over the smell of delicious sweets baking in my oven.

But the problem is that I like to be able to "toss shit in a pan", cook it out, and play with flavors and amounts.  You can't really do that with baking.  It's a science.  You can't toss an extra couple of eggs or an extra cup of sugar into cake batter and think things are going to turn out ok.  Because they most likely won't.

Probably you'll have a mess.  Probably you'll have diabetes. Maybe both. Who knows.

Plus the problem with making a whole tray of brownies is that I don't really have anyone to share them with.  Chris doesn't have a crazy sweet tooth and I don't want to eat a whole batch of something by myself.

Which could very well happen.

And then I won't have any pants that fit me.

Which is a problem.

So a few weekends ago I surprised myself when I felt like baking a pie.  I also coincidentally had all of the ingredients on hand and didn't have to run out to the store.  Winner winner pie dinner.

Before I get started, please understand that this isn't going to be beautiful.  I'm not a pastry chef.  It might look like a hot mess.  And that's ok. Because what this pie lacked in being stunningly gorgeous, it made up for in taste. And liquor was involved.

Holy shit was it good.

Spiced Apple and Peach Pie with Bourbon

1 box Pillsbury pie crust (or make your own!)
4 golden delicious or granny smith apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1 16 oz. bag frozen, sliced peaches (defrosted)
3 T. butter
1/3 c. bourbon
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 T. cinnamon
1 T. nutmeg
1/2 T. ginger
1/3 c. flour
1 egg + sprinkle of sugar (for the crust)

1. Preheat your oven to 350° and unroll one pie crust over 9 inch pie plate.  Press pie crust to bottom and sides of plate.

2. Peel and slice your apples. Heat a large pot over medium melt your butter.  Add the apples and cook until softened, about 7-9 minutes.

3. Add the peaches, bourbon, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Allow mixture to combine and soften.

4. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well to combine and allow to cook until the mixture starts to thicken.

5. Pour fruit mixture into pie-crust-lined-plate.

6. Place second pie crust over top of fruit mixture.  Tuck edges of top pie crust under the bottom and crimp with your fingers to form a seal. Cut a small hole in the center of the top crust as shown below as well as a few slits in the crust.

7. Whisk egg in a small bowl and use a basting brush to coat the top of the on top of the pie with the beaten egg.  Finish with sprinkling of sugar.

8. Bake in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown.  Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Serve your pie with some vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  Or the rest of the bourbon you didn't put in your pie.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Hangover Food: (Virtually Dairy-Free) Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Once upon a time, I could easily march through a day and night of drinking, dousing my body in alcohol and questionable decisions and wake up the next morning, feeling ready for round two. I rallied like a God damned champion.

Unfortunately, right around the time I began to realize that my boobs wouldn't always be perky, I started suffering from hangovers that lasted an entire day - sometimes two.

In my younger years, I would tumble into bed, head-first with a face full of makeup on and my clothes still smelling like cheap beer, cigarette smoke, and a bar floor.

Now when I get home, I eat something resembling food (*cough*pizza rolls*cough*), chug a glass of water, pound some Advil, wash off the smell of barley and hops, scrub my eyeliner off, and then crawl into bed.

And even though I'm marginally more responsible post-drinking, I still manage to get an even worse hangover.

Aging is a bitch.  But fortunately, with age comes wisdom.

So in my arsenal besides water, Advil and a shower, I've got food.

Sometimes when you're hungover, you want carbs and grease.  And other times, you want to apologize to your body for punishing it and feed it something nourishing, a little healthy, and hearty enough to make you praise Jesus for a stove.

And since I'm on a soup kick, that's what I pulled out of my bag of tricks.  More specifically, creamy chicken noodle soup.

It's pretty much the ultimate soup. It's thick with a ton of celery, carrots and onion, has delicious chunks of tender chicken, and since it is a creamy soup,  it has a rich, decadent taste.  Bonus?  It's not too unhealthy for you that you feel like your body is purging all of your bad decisions from the past 48-hours.  How you ask?  It has limited dairy and the "cream" from the soup is actually almond milk and a blonde roux.

Even better for soup - it's easy to make, simple to modify to fit your tastes, and you might even have all of the ingredients on hand anyway.

And honestly? After this weekend's tequila-fest, I needed something more than a Big Mac and a gallon of soda.

Super side note? Even if you're not hungover, this is amazing.  And since it's virtually dairy-free (the only dairy is in the butter to make the roux), it's a healthier take on a creamy soup.   You can have a giant bowl of this and not feel super guilty.  Win win!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 1/2 - 2 pounds chicken (I used chicken thighs because they were on sale - feel free to use whatever poultry you have on hand or if you're not a meat eater a meat-substitute that you like)
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
3 medium carrots, sliced
3-4 ribs celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz. chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
2 3/4 c. almond milk (or use 2 cups regular milk + 1/2 c. heavy cream)
3 c. egg noodles (gluten-free or whole wheat is a great substitute, too!)

1. If you're using bone-in, skin-on chicken (or raw chicken), remove the skin and season all sides with salt and pepper.    Heat a large pot over medium-high and add the olive oil.  Heat until smoking and add the chicken.   Allow to brown, about 3-5 minutes each side.  Once browned, remove from the heat and set aside on a plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion.  Using tongs, scrape the onions along the bottom of the pot, releasing any browned bits left over from the chicken. Allow to cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add carrots, celery and garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes until vegetables are softened.

4. Place the chicken back in the pot and add chicken stock and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

5. While the soup is simmering, make your roux.   A roux is essentially equal parts fat and flour and is used to thicken a sauce - or in this case - your soup.   Melt your butter over medium heat in a sauce or saute pan.  Slowly whisk in the flour, allowing each bit you add to become fully incorporated before whisking in more.  Once all of the flour has been worked into the butter, allow to cook for a few minutes until all of the flour has been cooked out.  Allow roux to cool on the stove.
Does this design in the roux look like a cat to anyone else? 

6.  Once the soup has finished simmering and the chicken is cooked, remove from the pot and set aside to cool slightly.  Once cool, shred chicken from the bone or chop into small pieces. If you're using pre-cooked chicken, or chicken already in small pieces, feel free to skip this step.

7. Add almond milk (or milk and heavy cream) to soup, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk in your roux.  Once fully incorporated, add noodles and chicken back into the pot, stirring occasionally.   The soup will be finished when the noodles are fully cooked.  Reference package directions on the noodles for approximately cooking time.