Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break and Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto (#13)

Just got back from 10 days in AZ with The Fam. It was Spring Break for The One Still at Home, so we headed to Mesa for some R&R, to take in some Chicago Cubs Spring Training, and to spend some time with The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning.  We had a great time (except for Still at Home stuck in bed for 3-days with the flu)!  We ate at our favorite restaurants, laid out by the pool, watched a BUNCH of baseball, and celebrated The Hubs' 50th birthday!  I thought about posting all of our trip pictures here like an old school slideshow... remember when people used to do that when they'd return from a trip? ..."and this was Aunt Martha standing next to the giant buffalo.."  Anyway, fear not, I only posted a few pics (the rest are all on Instagram if you're a glutton for punishment).


After being away, it was good to get back in the kitchen! This week I came up with Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto.  I hadn't planned on eating much this week to make up for EVERYTHING I did eat last week, but knowing that I needed a recipe to post I just went for it.  I actually made it with stuff I already had in the kitchen... that was just pure dumb luck!  A quick shout-out to our friends Bill & Taffi for buying a case of Shock-Top beer, not loving it and passing it on to us! I don't love it either but I'll definitely use it for cooking!
PS. My 'Rents are headed down this week! Looking forward to cooking up a storm for them! Recipes to follow.... for now, here's the risotto:

Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto
Yield: 8 (1 cup) servings


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ a small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 12 oz bottle of beer
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup shredded Smoked Gouda (I may have used a bit more than that)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


  1. Cook bacon is a large sauté pan. When bacon is crisp, remove from pan and set aside. 
  2. Place the butter in sauté pan with remaining bacon grease and return to medium-low heat until butter is just melted. Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until garlic is fragrant. Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring throughout.
  3. Pour in the beer and turn the heat up to high until the beer begins to simmer. Reduce heat back to medium-low and add ½ cup of the chicken broth. Stir until the liquid dissolves and then add another ½ cup. Repeat until all the broth has been added and the rice is creamy and al dente.
  4. Remove the rice mixture from the heat and add the cheeses, bacon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until thoroughly combined and serve.

 (Recipe #13 of 52)

Friday, March 20, 2015

#11/#12 Guinness Stew & Irish Soda Bread

It's St. Patrick's Day and I celebrated the way I know best... with Mumford & Son's playing on the iPad, I got busy heating up the kitchen.
Irish Soda Bread
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk*, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup dried currants (I used raisins instead)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk and egg together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants (or raisins) with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*I didn't have any buttermilk, so I made my own.  I used 2 cups whole milk and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Stir before using.

Guinness Stew and Irish Mash
Recipe adapted from The Berroness
For Guinness Stew:
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs beef chuck, cut into cubes
  • kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 2 cups beef broth (or stock)
    1½ cups baby carrots 

For Irish Mash:

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste


In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon.
Remove the bacon from the pot. Chop and set aside. Pour off bacon grease until about 2 Tbsp of bacon grease remain in the pot.
Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pot.
Sprinkle the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Add to the pot, sear on all sides until browned, and remove from pot (beef will not be cooked through).
Add the onions. Cook until lightly caramelized, about ten minutes.
Sprinkle with flour, stir until flour has turned brown, about 1 minute.
Add the stout and stir, scraping to deglaze the pan. Pour in the broth.
Add the beef cubes and bacon back into the pot. Throw in carrots. Add the lid at a slight vent and reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Allow to simmer until beef is fork tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
While the beef is cooking, make the potatoes: Add the potatoes to a pot of salted water, bring to a boil and allow to cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain, remove potatoes from the pot and return the empty pot to heat. Melt the butter in the pot. Add the cabbage and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the green onions. Remove from heat, and add in the milk and the potatoes. Mash and stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(recipes #11 & #12 of 52)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

#10 - Chicken Pot Pie

“I might be going out on a limb here, but this might be the best chicken pot pie I've ever had!”

That was the review my pot pie got from the Hubs!  The son that doesn't like pot pie loved it too.  They even warned that they were willing to fight over the extra pie sitting in the kitchen!

This was another one of those “experimental” recipes.  I looked up a few different recipes, pulled out things I liked from them and then did my thing.  The problem with that was that I didn't really write down everything as I went.  When it got such great reviews, I knew that I had better figure it out so I could make it again later!  So, here it is (as much as I could remember!):

Chicken Pot Pie
Makes 4 single-serve pies.

4 chicken breast halves
Seasoned salt and pepper
4 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
4 cups chicken stock
4-5 small red potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 sprigs fresh sage
1/3 cup white wine (optional)
Frozen corn (about a cup)
Canned green beans (most of the can)
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash (lightly whisk together 1 whole egg and 1 teaspoon water)

Special equipment: 4 (2-cup) individual baking dishes

·        Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
·        In a medium saucepan, cook potatoes in chicken stock until just tender.  Remove from stock and set aside. (You could just cook them in water, but I think it added great flavor to do it this way.)
·        Season chicken with seasoned salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until cooked through. Remove from heat and cut into chunks. (You could always use 2 cups of precooked chicken to save time.)
·        In the same skillet heat the other 2 tbsp. oil and sauté garlic, sage and onion 2-3 minutes. Add white wine, and simmer a minute or two and then add carrots.  Cook until carrots are tender. Remove sage sprigs and add thyme.
·        Add potatoes, corn, green beans and chicken to the carrot mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.
·        In a large saucepan, melt butter and then slowly add flour, stirring until consistency of peanut butter, but don’t let it brown. Alternating, slowly add cream and milk. Keep stirring.
·        This is where is added some chicken stock.  Start with about ½ and stir well.  You don’t want the filling too thin, so don’t overdo it.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
·        When the stock mixture has thickened, add nutmeg, salt & pepper and veg & chicken mixture. Stir well and remove from heat.
·        Cut puff pastry into 4 squares big enough to cover the tops of your baking dishes.
·        Fill 4 individual oven-proof bowls with chicken mixture and top each with puff pastry. Cut a few slits in the top of each pie to vent and brush with egg wash.
·        Place pies on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
·        Cool a few minutes before serving… if you can wait that long!

A couple of notes…
When making the base (butter, flour, milk, cream, chicken stock), I just kinda eyeballed it.  SLOWLY add the liquids in, stirring well in between.  Next time I’ll pay more attention to the amounts I put in!

There will be extra filling left over. YUM!  Eat it tomorrow for lunch!

There was no blood shed for the extra pie.  The Hubs ate it a couple of days later (reheated at 350 degrees for 30 minutes) and it was still super delish!

(Recipe #10 of 52)

Friday, February 27, 2015

#9 - Sweet Cornbread

hadn't been to the grocery store yet and didn't feel much like going, so I needed to pull something together for dinner from what I already had in the kitchen.  We had some leftover brisket, tri-tip and pulled pork from our new favorite barbecue place, Leadbelly’s and I didn't want that to go to waste.  I threw a bunch of stuff (black beans, onions, fire roasted tomatoes, chili beans, spices, fire roasted frozen corn, and the meat) in a pot and voila… Leadbelly Chili!  There won’t be a recipe post for that one being that it was just a grab and dump kind of thing!  I AM posting the recipe I used for the cornbread I made to go with it.  Here ya go:

Sweet Cornbread

Makes 1 - 9x13 pan


4 eggs, whites and yolks seperated
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt


Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a medium-size bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and melted butter and stir.
Mix in cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt - stirring to incorporate, but do not over mix.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold them into the batter.
Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked through.

(Recipe #9 of 52)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#8 - Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

 Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE CHEESE! Really! If I could get away with it, I’d eat cheese and bread (and maybe a little fruit) everyday! The other day I was at Sam’s Club looking for a little cheese to take to the beach for our usual picnic spread… I know, sounds crazy because you can’t just buy a “little” cheese at Sam’s.  Listen, Sam’s has a pretty good cheese section!  So what if you end up with a GIANT brick of Havarti!  I ended up with a $13 giant brick of Ballyshannon - a creamy, white Irish cheddar.

My almost 2 pound block of cheese!

Our beach picnic spread.
That was some good cheese!  As we were eating it I kept thinking how great it would be in mac & cheese!  So a couple of days later, Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese was born!

Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

Serves 4-6.


8 ounces elbow macaroni
5 slices Applewood smoked Bacon, cooked & diced
2 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Ballyshannon Irish Cheddar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  
4. Heat milk, thyme and garlic in a small saucepan, but don't let it boil. 
5. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat, add the Gruyère, cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and bacon and stir well. Place the mixture in a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the breadcrumbs and parsley, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

PS.  I’m still working on that brick of cheese!! I've used it in several other things since! Tonight we put it in the Potato-Leek soup we had for dinner… YUM!!

(Recipe #8 of 52)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

#7 Sautéed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter

I needed something to serve with the Asparagus Soufflé and this chicken paired nicely with it.  As usual, I changed a few things in the recipe, but it was still simple and very flavorful. The sage brown butter sauce... so good!!

Sautéed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter
Adapted from myrecipes.com.

Yield: 4 servings


4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
2 sage sprigs
1 tablespoon minced shallots (I didn’t have shallots, so I used onion)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Fresh sage leaves (optional)


1. Place each breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness (I used thin-cut breasts instead and skipped this step). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; melt 2 tbsp. butter. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour. Add chicken to pan; sauté for 4-5 minutes. add another 2 tbsp. butter before flipping the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Add 3 tablespoons butter and sage sprigs to pan; cook over medium heat until butter browns. Discard sage. Add shallots and thyme; cook for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; cook for 30 seconds. Serve with chicken. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired.

(#7 of 52)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#6 - Asparagus Soufflé

Well, I did it.  I made my first soufflé.  I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of nervous.  I got even more nervous when The Hubs informed me that his mom made soufflé all the time.  Yikes… those are big shoes to fill!

I was surprised to find out that there are some fancy words used in making soufflé.  There’s béchamel, a white sauce made from a butter and flour (a roux  in fancy talk) and milk. Béchamel is known as “the mother sauce” of classic French cuisine.  There’s also a bain marie (pronounced: bah-marie).  It’s basically a hot-water bath and it’s used to create a gentle and uniform heat around the soufflé as it bakes. (Head hurting yet?  Don’t let the big words scare ya!).

Bain marie
There are several steps involved in making a soufflé.  It’s rare that I follow a recipe exactly as it’s written, but I didn't want to stray too far with this one.  The only changes I made from the original recipe was that I used lemon thyme because that’s what I had just planted in my herb garden, and I forgot to pick up some shallots so I used yellow onion instead.  The recipe called for sprinkling the extra breadcrumbs on top of the soufflé.  I did, but I don’t know if I’d do it that way again. I also realized that I didn't have 6 8-ounce ramekins and had to use 3 16-ounce ramekins.  That meant adjusting the cooking time, also known as winging it.  I think it turned out just fine. The soufflé didn't puff up as much as I thought it would (might have had something to do with my egg whites or the ramekins), but it tasted fantastic! My mom is bringing some ramekins on her next visit so I see more soufflé in my future!

Asparagus Soufflé
·         Prep time: 10 minutes
·         Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
·         Yield: Makes 6 individual soufflés.

·         1 lb asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
·         Salt
·         1/4 cup chopped shallots (onion works too)
·         1 clove garlic, chopped
·         1 teaspoon fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme), chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
·         4 Tbsp unsalted butter
·         1/2 cup finely ground dry bread crumbs
·         3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
·         1 1/4 cup whole milk
·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         Pinch dry ground mustard
·         Pinch ground cumin
·         Freshly ground black pepper
·         1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese 
·         3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
·         5 egg whites
·         6 8-ounce ramekins

1 Bring salted water to a boil (1 teaspoon of salt for every quart of water) and blanch asparagus for 2 minutes . Drain. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside to cool.
2 Melt 1 Tbsp butter in saucepan on medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme. Cook gently until soft, but do not let brown. About 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3 Purée asparagus and shallot mixture in blender. You’ll need 1 1/4 cups of purée for the soufflés.
4 Butter your ramekins and coat well with the bread crumbs, reserving any leftover bread crumbs.
5 Over medium-low heat, melt 3 Tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk in the flour into the butter, continue to stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Do not let brown. Gradually add the milk to the mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the nutmeg, cumin, mustard, and fresh ground black pepper. Lower the heat to low and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This is your “béchamel”.)
6 After 15 minutes, remove the béchamel from the heat and stir in the cheese. Combine the béchamel and the asparagus mixture in a large mixing bowl. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings. The soufflé base should be well-seasoned. Stir in the egg yolks until well combined.
At this point you can make ahead the soufflé mixture. Refrigerate to store for up to two days. Return to room temperature before proceeding.
7 Preheat oven to 400°F.
8 Prepare a water bath (a bain marie). You’ll need a 9x12 baking dish with at least 2 inch sides and some boiling water.
9 Next, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and using a mixer, beat the egg whites to firm but soft peaks. (Make sure there are no traces of egg yolk or shell in your egg whites before starting.) Do not over-beat or you’ll get stiff peaks that are dry, somewhat reminiscent of styrofoam.
10 Using a rubber spatula, fold in one quarter of the egg whites into the asparagus mixture, then the remaining three-quarters. Use a light touch to keep from deflating the egg whites.
11 Fill ramekins with the mixture up to a quarter-inch from the top. Place the ramekins in the bain marie baking dish and put the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around the ramekins until the water comes up halfway the sides of the ramekins. 
11 Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes more, until puffed up and golden brown. Don't open the oven door until the soufflé is just about done, or it may fall.

You can serve the soufflés immediately.  If you are going to serve them later, let the soufflés sit in the bain marie for 15 minutes. Then run a sharp knife around the edges and invert the individual soufflés to a buttered baking sheet. Cool to room temperature, wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before re-heating. Heat oven to 400°F and bake the soufflés on a buttered baking sheet, not in ramekins, for 7-8 minutes, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

(#6 of 52)