Broccoli, Chicken & Bacon Pasta


Hi friends–  We sat down to a luscious dinner at Paul and Sue’s house last week– and this pasta was on the table–  So back home, I had some Cappellacci pasta  that I’d picked up at Homegoods (Don’t you love that place??) and a huge Costco bag of pine nuts (thanks to my mom), and  I thought I’d try to recreate Sue’s wonderful meal.

It’s rich and savory and filling– the best sort of comfort food.  Add a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread.  Perfect.

BROCCOLI, CHICKEN & BACON PASTA
1 pound of your favorite pasta*
6 slices bacon, chopped to bits
1  1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut to bits
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small heads of broccoli, cut to bite size bits
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

Cook the chopped bacon in a large skillet until it just crispy and a lightly browned.  Remove it from the skillet, but leave the bacon droppings.

Cook the pieces of chicken in the same skillet, about 4 to 5 minutes until it’s browned and cooked through.  Remove it from the skillet.

Then drop in the chopped red onion and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s tender and add in the garlic and cook a minute more.

While all that is happening, put the broccoli bites until a bowl of salted water and microwave it for about 4 minutes, until it’s done but still a little crunchy.  Drain off the water.

Now is the fun part.  Into the skillet with the onion & garlic, add the drained pasta, broccoli, chicken and bacon.  Then sprinkle on the parmesan and pine nuts and stir it all together over low heat to warm it through.  (If it seems a bit dry to you add a drizzle of olive oil as you stir it up).  Delicious!!

*I used Cappellacci, thin round discs that look a little like sunflowers, but any pasta will do.

 

Beef Bourguignon Soup

Hello all– Larry and I arrived last night for a week in Wisconsin with our kids here.  And guess what!!  This afternoon it snowed!!  Not a lot, just a few minutes of flakes coming down and it was magical!  I’m hoping for more snow before our week here is over.

Which brings me to this rich and hearty soup.  On a snowy (or maybe not so snowy) winter day I think you’d love a bowl of Beef Bourguignon Soup, with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread– just right!

BEEF BOURGUIGNON SOUP
6 slices of bacon
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 pounds sirloin steak
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 tab. tomato paste
2 cups red wine
6 cups beef broth
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. brown sugar
6 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 pound baby yellow potatoes, Cut to bite sized pieces*
2 tab. butter
8 oz brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
garnish: parsley

Cut the bacon into bits and cook it in a large soup pot until is it crispy, but not too browned.  Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.

Mix together the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in mixing bowl.  Cut the sirloin into smallish pieces.  Coat half of the sirloin in the flour mixture.  Shake off the excess flour and brown the beef (about 3 minutes, stirring a bit to coat all sides) in the hot bacon fat.  Remove that beef with a slotted spoon and do the same with the second half of the sirloin.  Take the second round of beef from the pot when it’s browned and set all the beef aside.

In the same soup pot, cook the chopped onion on high for about 3 minutes (add a bit of olive oil if the pan looks dry).  Then add in the garlic and cook a minute more.  Next pour in the wine and tomato paste and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the browned sirloin, the beef broth, thyme, bay leaf and brown sugar into the pot and bring it to a low simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the beef is tender.

Then add in the carrots and potatoes and cook 25 minutes more until the veggies are cooked but firm.

While they are cooking, melted the butter in a sauce pan.  Add in the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook the mushrooms 8 to 10 minutes until they are tender.  When the carrots and potatoes are done, add in the cooked mushrooms and the bacon.  Serve the soup up hot with a sprinkle of parsley for garnish.

*The recipe I worked from called for 2 large Russet potatoes cut to bit, but I had these smaller golden potatoes in the fridge, so that’s what I used.  If you use big Russets, then peel them before you cut them up.  Golden potatoes don’t need to be peeled.

Zucchini Corn Chowder


Hey there– OK, I’m ready– to have a new start after Christmas.  Tree down- check!  Decorations boxed up- check check!  Fudge all eaten– double check!  House in order again- mostly checkity check (close enough)!

Here’s a flavorful bowl of soup– warm and filling.  If you want to be a bit more healthy, change out the bacon for olive oil (we just had a bit of bacon leftover in the freezer, calling to be used!).  With a big chunk of study bread, just right for a winter’s evening.

ZUCCHINI  CORN CHOWDER
1 tab. butter
4 strips of bacon, cut to small bits (or substitute 3 tab. olive oil)
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, but to small bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 cups corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 smallish zucchini, cut to small pieces
1 cup half & half or whole milk
salt & freshly ground pepper
garnish: chopped parsley or grated cheddar

In a soup pot, cook the butter and bacon until the bacon starts to crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside, leaving the fat/butter in the pot.

Add in the cut onion and carrots and cook until they are tender (about 5 minutes), stirring now & then.  Add in the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Pour in the water along with the bay leaf and dried basil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the corn and zucchini and simmer 5 minutes more until the zucchini is tender.

Take 2 cups of the mixture out of the pot to a blender (or with a stick blender) and puree it to thicken the soup.  Add the puree and half & half to the pot.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the bacon back into the pot.

Bring it back to a simmer jut to heat it all through and serve with a sprinkle of grated cheddar or chopped parsley (or both!).

 

Lulu’s Famous Broccoli Salad

 

Hi there– I’m pretty sure you’ve had some version of Broccoli Salad– me too.  But this one is my favorite.  Got the recipe from my sis, Lulu.  She served up this broccoli salad last summer at our Laurel’s wedding and it was the best!  (The secret is not a secret ingredient– it’s chopping the broccoli fine to soak up all the dressing).

LULU’S FAMOUS BROCCOLI SALAD
3 pounds of broccoli, stems trimmed off and chopped to small bits
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled to tiny pieces
3 oz. sunflower seeds
1/2 red onion, chopped fine

Dressing:
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar

Mix together the broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds and red onion.

In another bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar.  When you’re ready to serve it up, stir the dressing and broccoli mixture together.   Delish!

 

P.S. This recipe above is not the one we actually made– here’s her original version, meant to serve 70 people! (She used to be a caterer!)

LULU’S FAMOUS BROCCOLI SALAD– ORIGINAL RECIPE
10 to 12 ponds of broccoli< chopped fine
3 pounds bacon, cooked & crumbled (or 1 Costco size bag precooked bacon crumbles!)
1  1/2 7oz. jar sunflower seeds
2 red onions, chopped fine

Dressing:
1/2 gallon jar of mayonnaise
4 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

So next time you’re feeding a really big crowd–here’s your super broccoli recipe!!

Here’s my sis Lulu and me at Laurel and John’s Wisconsin Wedding in the Woods last August.  She and her husband Ted cooked up meals for the 120 wedding guests!!  Thanks Lulu!!

Ranch Potato Salad

Hey there– I’m a little picky about potato salad.  I think a lot of people are.  Some people love big chunks of egg or spoonfuls of pickle relish.  And then there’s hot German potato salad.  But to my way of thinking, this potato salad is practically perfect.  Ranch dressing flavors the sauce and bits of bacon and cheddar play against the firm starchiness of the golden potatoes.

My sis Lulu and I spent a morning peeling a mountain of potatoes  (21 pounds!!) to make potato salad for the party for our John and Laurel last weekend.  I think it turned out pretty and delicious!

RANCH POTATO SALAD
3 pounds golden yellow potatoes
8 slices of bacon (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2  1/2 tab. dijon mustard
1 oz. package Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1  1/2 cups grated cheddar
4 green onions, cut in thin slices

Cook the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot of salted water 15 to 20 minutes until a knife slides in easily, but they are still firm.  Pour them potatoes in a strainer to get rid of the water and let them cool completely.  Peel them and cut them into polite little chunks.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon, cool it and crumble it to little bits.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, Ranch seasoning mix, pepper and cheddar.  Add in the potatoes and stir until they are all coated with dressing.

Keep the mixed potato salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve it up– Then fold in the green onion & bacon and set it on the table.  Enjoy!

 

Summer Pasta Salad

 

Hello all– This weekend we’re happily stacking all the things we need to pack up for early Monday morning, when we fly off for our Laurel & John’s wedding in the woods of Wisconsin!  Party dress,  check. Sunblock, check. Grandma Lo’s wedding cake bride and groom, check.  Surprises for grand-girl Jobay, turning 6 on the wedding date, checkity check.

And meanwhile, around here, we’re cleaning out things lingering in the kitchen before we go.  Had a 1/3 bag of egg noodles, a ready to eat avocado, MORE of Larry’s sweet tomatoes…  Throw them in with some corn, a couple slices of bacon and a little chicken.  Summer Pasta Salad  –just right on a hot summer evening!

SUMMER PASTA SALAD
4 oz. pasta (I used egg noodles)
1 boneless chicken breast
1 tab. olive oil
5 slices bacon
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, cut to nice chunks

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar*
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain and let it cool.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into 3 flat filets and saute in a skillet until it’s nicely browned and cooked through (3 or4 minutes on each side). Remove to cutting board and cut into nice polite size pieces.

Wipe out the skillet and cook up the bacon.  Crumble it to small bits.

Cook the corn cobs in the microwave 6 or 7 minutes.  Cut the corn from the cobs with a large knife.

To make the dressing put the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until it’s completely blended.

When the chicken and pasta have cooled, put them in a large mixing bowl and mix in the bacon, corn, tomatoes, green onion and dressing.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Put to chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Zucchini & Tomato Pasta

 

Hi all– Still “tomato time” around here.  So many tomatoes!  We are eating them twice a day–lunch and dinner (so far no tomatoes have slipped into our breakfast cereal!)  And this is my favorite use of our “crop” so far.

The little cherry tomatoes burst and shed their juices.  And this mixed with parmesan and garlic makes a lovely rich sauce.  Throw in some pasta and its a pretty perfect summer supper.  I was excited that we had leftovers to enjoy it all over again!

ZUCCHINI & TOMATO PASTA
8 oz. of your favorite pasta
6 oz. pancetta (or 6 slices of bacon), chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped to bits
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parmesan romano
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut to shreds

While you are making the tomato topping, put the pasta on to cook.

Cut the pancetta to small bits and cook it in a large nonstick skillet.  When it’s cooked crispy, remove the bacon from the skillet, leaving the fat in the pan.

Put the chopped zucchini in the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt & freshly ground pepper.  Cook 4 or 5 minutes until the zucchini starts to brown, but is still crispy (not soggy!).  Take out the zucchini and set aside.

Then add the tomatoes to the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper and cook on high heat, 7 or 8 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and release their juices.  Add the minced garlic to the skillet the last couple minutes the tomatoes are cooking.  Stir in the parmesan romano, stirring to melt it a bit.

Finally add the zucchini & bacon back to the skillet. Stir in the shredded basil.   Spread the drained pasta on a platter and then top it with the tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

Baked Bacon & Eggs

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Good morning!  I meet with a group of young moms (MOPS) every other Tuesday– and each time we meet they fill tables with eggs, muffins, fruit… It’s a breakfast banquet.  Last week, this is was my little contribution.

It’s my go-to egg dish–So easy– and you can change it up.  Take out the bacon & chilis and substitute any omelette-ish ingredient you are partial to– ham, mushrooms, avocado, peppers, spinach, broccoli, sausage…  It can be different every time.  The secret ingredient here is cottage cheese– makes it creamy and smooth! I hope you like it.

BAKED BACON & EGGS
6 strips of bacon
5 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups grated cheddar (I used colby jack)
4oz. can mild green chilis

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Cook the bacon until it’s crispy.  Drain on a paper towel and then break it up into small bits.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are frothy.  Then stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, cheddar, chilis and prepared bacon.

Pour it all into a 9″ pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray– and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes more until the eggs are set and a little browned around the edges.  Best eaten hot from the oven!

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Mexican Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

IMG_6059

Hi all– We are trying to get a little jump on summer here.  It’s been warm and my thoughts are already on summer break, lazing in bed mornings with a book, lunch dates with friends, weekend beach walks, dinner out under the maples in the backyard…  It’s all about slowing down, less rush.

And salads.  A bright salad for dinner, makes it seem like summer.  Fresh colorful veggies, salty bacon and cheese.  And tart cilantro lime dressing.  It isn’t June yet, but with this salad on the table, it feels like summer!

MEXICAN COBB SALAD WITH CILANTRO LIME DRESSING

Salad:
4 cups leafy greens
3 small tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 firm avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin
3 strips of bacon, fried & crumbled
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
1/3  cup cortijo cheese*

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This is easy.  Spread the lettuces out on a platter and spoon the other ingredients on top.  Done!

For the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, sugar and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake til it’s thoroughly blended and drizzle over the salad.

Great served with a chunk of cornbread– or if there’s no time to bake, a handful of crispy tortilla chips. Dinner for two.  Enjoy!

*I didn’t have cortijo cheese in the fridge, so used feta.

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White Bean & Bacon Tomato Soup

DSC00443Hello all– There’s not usually bacon hanging around in our fridge.  But when the kids are coming home for a visit, I head straight for the market and get all the things they like to eat. Including bacon.  Lots of it.

So now they’ve come and gone for Christmas/New Years.  And there’s still a bit of bacon lingering in our kitchen.  What better to do with it, than a big pot of white bean & bacon tomato soup?  It’s one of those warm & cozy soups– sweet little beans, salty bacon and all that rich tomato holding it all together.  With a slab of brown bread and a crunchy salad, it’s dinner.

WHITE BEAN & BACON TOMATO SOUP
1/3 pound bacon (about 6 slices), cut to bits
2 onions, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tab. fresh thyme leaves
2 late bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
several grinds of fresh pepper
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed in a strainer
garnish– thyme sprigs & grade parmesan romano

Cook the cut bacon in a soup pot until lightly browned.  Remove the bacon.  Pour out all but 3 tab. of the bacon fat from the pot.

Add the cut onions to the pot.  When they are lightly browned, add in the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cook a minute more.

Then add in the crushed tomatoes, petit cut tomatoes, chicken broth and cannellini beans. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes.

Serve it up hot topped with grated parmesan romano cheese and a sprig of thyme just to make it pretty.

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Chili (with beer & bacon!)

IMG_2706Hi there–  I wish I could say we were avid football fans– and we had this super chili recipe to serve up to all our football fanatic friends while we cheered on our team in front of the t.v.  But actually, we go to one one Cal Berkeley game every fall to hang with our kids– and if some kind hearted friends include us in their super bowl party, we’re all in!

But I’m imagining this is the kind of chili that would go just great with football.  So if you love football (& chili) and want to have a big pot of something hearty & warming to serve your football watching friends, well, here it is:

CHILI (WITH BEER & BACON!)
4 strips bacon, cut to small bits
2 yellow onions, chopped
big splash of olive oil
2 pounds coarse ground beef*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
12 oz. bottle of beer (India pale ale– or your favorite)
2 14oz. cans petit cut tomatoes (with garlic & herbs)
2 14 oz. cans of chili beans
1 tab. brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely
1/4 cup cornstarch
for garnish– sour cream, grated cheddar, green onions, more cilantro…

In a soup pot, cook the bacon until it is crisp and then remove it from the pan.  In the bacon dripping, cook  the chopped onions and take them out as well.

Drop the beef into the pot and cook it 5 or 6 minutes until is is all  browned.  Spoon off any extra fat that is in the pan.

Add in the garlic, cumin, paprika and chili powder and stir to coat the meat.

Then mix in the beer, tomatoes, chili beans, and cilantro and set the pot to simmering slowly for about 30 minutes.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the corn starch and 1/2 cup water.  Stir it into the chili to thicken the broth. Drop the bacon and onions back into the pot!

Serve it piping hot topped with cheddar or sour cream or green onions or cilantro (or any combination there of)– along with a slab of cornbread and a bright salad.  Football watching ready!

*When I went in to the get the meat from the butcher, I expected to find coarse ground beef for chili, but no.  They had “shredded beef steak”–   chunkier than I had planned.  But in the end it turned out great!  I think any chopped beef would do…

Cozy Lentil Soup

IMG_2488Hi everyone– It rained!!  It finally rained– all through the night and pounding showers early this morning.  Our drought riddled yard was soaking it up.  The suns come out now, but there are still drips dropping from the trees and drops speckling our windows.  All at once, everything feels so fresh and new.

Just the day for some lentil soup.  Love this because it’s so easy– Ten minutes to throw it into the pot and then just wait while it simmers for half an hour.  And bacon.  It has bacon.
It makes a nice big potful– we’ll be having leftovers in lunches this week…

COZY LENTIL SOUP
4 strips of bacon
2 tab. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2  14 oz. cans petit cut tomatoes with onion & garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 cups lentils
salt & pepper to taste

granish–sour cream, cilantro or green onions, chopped, freshly ground pepper

Cut the strips of bacon into small bits.  Brown them in the bottom of your soup pot.  Remove them to a paper towel.  Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Heat the olive oil in the pot.  Drop in the onions and cook until they are translucent.  Then add in the garlic and peppers and cook 3 minutes more.

Add in the tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin paprika, cumin and lentils.  Simmer on low for 35 to 40 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Put the bacon back in just before serving.

Serve it up hot topped with a spoonful of sour cream, and a little something green for pretty.

Cauliflower Chowder

IMG_0655Hello all–  Wish I could invite you to sit down with a cup of this warming soup.  It’s the kind you’d like to sit and talk over with friends.

The real truth is –it’s not really soup weather here yet in So. California– but I’m tired of waiting and it’s the end of October for Pete’s sake!!  So we’re eating soup.  I love making a big pot and having lunch leftovers to take to school.  So here’s to soup– even when its 85 degrees outside!

CAULIFLOWER CHOWDER
4 slices bacon, cut into bits
3 tab. butter
1 onion, minced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
3 cloves garlic
1 head cauliflower, cut into nice chunks
1/3 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

garnish–the bacon, green onion, shredded cheddar
Cut the bacon into small bits and drop it into a hot soup pot to brown.  When it’s crispy, remove it from the pan to drain on a paper towel.

While that’s cooking, trim the cauliflower and cut it into bite size bits.

Then after the bacon’s cooked, wipe out the pot with a paper towel and melt the butter in the bottom of the pot.  Drop in the onion and cook until it starts to become translucent.

Add in the carrots, garlic and cauliflower.  Cook it for 4 or 5 minutes more until they are softened.

Sitr the flour into the pot to coat all the vegetables.  Then slowly pour in the chicken broth and the milk, stirring to help it all thicken.  Season the pot with salt and pepper to taste.

And let it all simmer on low heat until the cauliflower and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes more.

Spoon the hot soup into bowls and garnish it with the cheddar, bacon and sliced green onions.  Hearty and hot!!

Fall Salad– Kale, Apples & Bacon

IMG_2882Hey there– This salad has so many yummy ingredients that I wanted to put all of them in the title– Hmmm.  So I narrowed it down to kale, apples and that bacon!  BUT– I would now also like to mention– the pumpkin seeds and currants– and the luscious poppy seed-mustard dressing bringing it all together.

We had it for lunch on Sunday and liked it so much it was on the table again tonight.  I think you might like a bunch too!

FALL SALAD– KALE, APPLES & BACON
2 cups kale, chopped fine
6 to 8 Brussel sprouts, cut to shreds
2 slices bacon, cut to bits
1 red apple, slides and cored
1/4 cup currants*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar**
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. seedy Dijon Mustard***
1 tsp. poppy seeds
a couple shakes of salt & twists of freshly ground pepper

Cook the little bits of bacon in a skillet.

Then while the bacon’s on the stove, layer the kale Brussel sprouts and apples on a pretty platter.  Sprinkle on the currants and pumpkin seeds.

When the bacon’s cooked, drain in on a paper towel and let it cool.  Then sprinkle it over the salad.

Put he dressing ingredients, oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, poppy seeds and salt & pepper into a small container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake it well until it’s all blended.  Pour it over the salad when you’re ready to dig in.

*The recipe I worked from called for dried cranberries, but currants are my fave.  Pick your favorite dried fruit…
**You can use any mild vinegar–cider, red wine…  Tarragon is my “go to” vinegar– mild and slightly sweet.
***If you live near a Trade Joe’s– check the Seedy Dijon mustard there– not too spicy and perfect in dressings, in sauces, on sandwiches.  Love that stuff!

Eggplant & Pasta

IMG_9233Hello there–  With small 3 girls in the house, you can’t have noodles too often.  Those noodle-y dishes are always well received at dinner time.  So in my never ending search for new pasta  recipes, here’s this weeks version:

EGGPLANT  & PASTA
6 slices of bacon, cut to small bits*
1 large yellow oven, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Chinese eggplants, cut into nice chunks
(splash olive oil)
dash salt
2 14 oz. cans petite cut tomatoes with garlic & herbs
2 tab. fresh basil  (or 1 tsp. dried)**
16 oz. pasta

Cook the cut up bacon in a large pan for about 5 minutes.  Add in the onions and cook a few minutes more until the bacon is almost crispy.  Drop in the garlic and cook a minute more.  Then remove it all from the pan.

Leave in the drippings to cook the chunks of eggplant.  Stir and cook until they are cooked through– just 3 or 4 minutes.  Give it a couple shakes of salt as it cooks.  If it seems dry, add a splash of olive oil.

About now you might put the pasta on to cook according the the package instructions.

To the eggplant in the pan, add in the can tomatoes*** and the bacon/onions.  Heat and stir a few minutes until the sauce heats through.  Chop the basil and stir it in at the last minute.

Serve over the pasta with a bright salad and sturdy chunks of bread.  It’s just fine for small noodle eaters.

*If you want to skip the bacon, just brown the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
**I used marjoram in place of basil, just because I have it growing in the yard.
***I’m serving this to the grand-girls, who would be happier without chunks of tomato in their sauce, so I blend the canned tomatoes with a stick blender to smooth them out a bit before pouring them into the pan.

Eggplant & Zucchini Pizza (with bacon)

IMG_6686EGGPLANT & ZUCCHINI PIZZA (WITH BACON)

Crust (makes 2 crusts):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

IMG_6695Toppings:
4 slices bacon
1 Chinese eggplant, cut in small chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 zucchini, grated

Cut the bacon to tiny bits and cook it up in a nonstick pan.  When it’s done remove it from the pan to a paper towel to drain.  Toss the chunks of eggplant into the pan and brown it in the bacon drippings .

Mix together the olive oil and minced garlic, Then on the pizza crusts, that have been rising for 10 or 15 minutes, spread the garlicky olive oil with the back of a spoon clear to the edges.  Sprinkle on the cheese.  Then top with red onion, eggplant, cilantro, zucchini and then bacon.

Pop it all into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden.  Eat it piping hot and I promise it will be delicious.

 

Butternut Squash & Bacon Pasta

IMG_7013Well, hello there– Butternut squash and bacon– they just belong together– like peanut butter & jelly or strawberries & cream or pastrami & rye…  I’ve ventured into a few squash bacon and pasta recipes in the past.  And pretty much loved them all.  So here is my new favorite.  Sweet squash, salty bacon, a hint of sage and all those creamy egg noodles.  How could help itself?  It’s just meant to be luscious!!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON PASTA
4 oz. bacon (1/4 pound), cut to bits
1 tab. sage, chopped
2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
(about 3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth
12 oz. fettucine, linguine or egg noodles
1/2 cup parmesan romano cheese

Drop the cut up bacon into a hot non-stick pan and cook until it’s nicely done, stir in the sage at the last minutes and then scoop it all out of the pan, leaving enough of the drippings to coat the pan.

Then drop the chopped onion, garlic and squash into the same pan and cook it unit the onion begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes (you can add a splash of olive oil if the pan gets too dry).  Salt and pepper it all as it’s cooking.

Then add the broth.  Simmer until the squash is soft and about half of the broth has evaporated, about 15 minutes.  Let it cool a bit and then puree it with a stick blender (or in a regular blender or food processor).  Add salt & pepper if needed and the parmesan cheese.  Fold in the bacon and sage.

While all that’s happening, cook the pasta according the package directions.  Drain well and spoon the squash puree over the noodles.  Garnish with more cheese and sage if you like.  So good!

Bacon Mushroom Spinach Risotto


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Hi all– I’ve steered clear of risotto recipes, after reading about all the serious stirring and tending to the simmering rice.  It all seemed a little bit tedious.  But last week I finally broke down and gave it a try, in a lazy sort of way.  I did stir, but only between dashes to set the table make a salad, answer the phone…  And I think it came out just fine in spite of  my lack of careful, uninterrupted attention.   Gosh, how could rice, spinach, bacon and parmesan all cooked up together not taste good!

BACON MUSHROOM SPINACH RISOTTO
2 tab. olive oil
6 oz. mushrooms, cut in tidy bits
3 slices bacon, chopped to small chunks
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice*
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup parmesan reggiano
2 cups spinach leaves, cut to slivers
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in the pan,  Brush the mushrooms clean, cut them up and drop them into the hot oil.  Cook them just about 1 minutes until they brown and soften a bit and remove them from the pan.  Wipe out the pan and put in the bacon.  Cook it unitl it’s well browned and take it out and add it to the mushrooms.  Then in the remaining bacon fat,  Cook the onions until they are soft. Next stir the rice into the pan until it is golden.  Add the garlic and thyme leaves.  Stir in the white wine and simmer, stirring now and then until it is absorbed.  Add the chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring it every few minutes until it is all absorbed (about 20 minutes total).  Then stir in the spinach and cook 3 or 4 minutes more Remove the pan from the hear and mix in the parmesan. bacon and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon it into shallow bowls and garnish with a twig of thyme.  Enjoy!

*I’d never heard of carnaroli rice– but at my grocer’s the Arborio was expensive (!) and they had a store brand bag of carnaroli.  It was cute and nubby, so I gave it a try.  It was just fine.

Brussel Sprout and Bacon Pizza

IMG_7889Hi there–  It’s been a comfortable couple weeks having my sis and her dear husband Ted in the house, home from China.  I mean who wouldn’t love having Lulu in the house.  She cleans, cooks, empties the dish washer and laughs at all my jokes!  She’s the best.  And my  favorite is chatting in the kitchen as we put together a little dinner.  Last night it was brussel sprout pizza.  Turned out pretty darn good.

BRUSSEL SPROUT AND BACON PIZZA (makes 2 pizzas)
Crust:
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2 12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Toppings:
6 slices bacon, sliced to bits
10 brussel sprouts, cut to shreds
8 oz. mozarella, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

Cook the bacon on the stove top and remove from the pan to a paper towel to drain.  Mix the olive oil and garlic and spread over the 2 pizza crusts.  Then sprinkle on the mozzarella, followed by the brussel sprouts and finally the bacon.  Cook at 375 degrees for about 15-18 minutes, until the crust turns golden around the edges.  Eat it hot!

*The water should be mildly warm, about the temperature you’d want to give a baby a bath!

Mac and Cheese with Squash and Bacon

Hey there–  I’m waiting for Larry to roll down the freeway on his long commute so we can try this new recipe.  The little spoonfuls I tasted while I was getting into the oven we pretty darn tasty.  Just serving it up with a leafy green salad for a simple Tuesday night dinner.

MAC AND CHEESE WITH SQUASH AND BACON
6 oz. macaroni*
2 cups banana squash, cut in small chunks****
2 tab. butter
2 tab. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated colby jack cheese**
4 slices bacon
1 small yellow onion, cut finely
1/4 cup bread crumbs***

Cook your favorite macaroni according to the directions on the package.  Drain and set aside.  Cook the squash in the microwave in a bit of salted water.  With my little mini microwave, it took 15 minutes before it was tender (yours may be faster!).  Cut the bacon into bits and cook it in a nonstick pan.  Remove it from the pan and cook the onion in the bacon fat.  Take out the onion with a slotted spoon  and put it on a paper towel with the bacon to drain.  Then clean out your pan for a fresh start.  Melt the butter and stir in the flour on medium high heat until it makes a paste.  Then gradually mix in the milk.  If it has little lumps stir it with a whisk.  Cook about 3 or 4 minutes until it thickens and then stir in the cheese.  Add the drained macaroni, the bacon & onions and the cooked squash.  Mix it all up and spoon into a 3 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle on the bread crumbs and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 or 35 minutes until it is bubbly and just a bit brown around the edges.  yummm.

Laurel I wish you were here, my macaroni and cheese girl!!

*I used that cute little salad macaroni.  Love the way those tiny little tubes hold all that cheesy sauce.
**Colby Jack cheese gives the dish a nice golden color, but you can used any meltable cheese you like.  The original recipe called for Gruyere.
*** Use home made crumbs or just dish out the packaged ones from the market like I did (lazy day dinner…)
**** I used banana squash because I’ve done similar recipes with butternut squash and it was just too sweet for a pasta dish.  Banana squash has a more subtle flavor.  This squash as huge, so they are usually sold already cut up in sections and wrapped in saran at the grocers.  About 1 1/2 pound of squash will be plenty for this recipe.