Oven Roasted, Flavored Bacon! My Mouth is Already Watering….

I. Love. Bacon.

Let me say that again. I. Love. Bacon.

I mean who DOESN’T?!?! Well…those crazy kids that don’t eat meat dislike bacon. And I just feel sorry for them. Because bacon just makes EVERYTHING better! And there are so many different ways to use bacon! Chocolate-covered, maple-glazed, pepper-crusted, in a drink, crumbled, sliced, candied…the list just keeps going! I’ve even had a bacon topped ice cream sundae. And it made that plain ‘ole ice cream…BETTER!

But there is only ONE way that I actually prefer to COOK bacon. And that is in the oven. Yep. In the oven. I used this trick many, many years ago at the beach and it has just stuck with me since! Very little clean up, less bacon smell in the house (that’s an oxymoron, I know), little effort & almost fool-proof!

Crispy Oven Roasted Bacon

Oven Roasted, Mouth-Watering Bacon

The only things you need are a package of your favorite thick cut bacon (my personal fav is Wright Brand Hickory Smoked), aluminum foil & a large baking sheet. Very simple.

Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking sheet with several layers of the foil. Then layer your bacon. You don’t want your bacon overlapping too much, so if you need an extra baking sheet then use it.

Layered Thick Cut Oven Roasted Bacon

That was really, really complicated. ūüôā

Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you want your bacon (remember that it will keep cooking for another minute or so after it comes out of the oven). Drain on paper towels. Serve.

That’s all you say???!!! Yes…That. Is. All.

In this particular bacon extravaganza…I added some coarse pepper to a few of the slices, brushed some organic maple syrup on some, sprinkled a little brown sugar on a couple & left the rest alone. Clearly I couldn’t decide which flavor I wanted my bacon to be that day. And this also shows you how easy it is to mix it up without having to buy several different packages!

Crispy Oven Roasted Bacon

Mouth-Watering, Oven Roasted Bacon

**One last bacon cooking tipif you just HAPPEN to have any of that deliciousness leftover…just place it in a zip lock bag and freeze it! Then you can use the pieces as needed. Just place them on some paper towels and microwave for about 20-30 seconds! Simple way not to waste any **cough, cough**, leftovers. And really, really easy for the kids!

Let me know the different ways you decide to cook your bacon! Enjoy!

Crispy Oven Cooked Bacon

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

1 pkg Thick Cut Bacon
Large Baking Sheet
Aluminum Foil

1. Pre Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wrap your baking sheet several times with the aluminum foil so that the grease is easy to clean up later.
3. Place your bacon strips on the lined baking sheet, careful not to overlap too much.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until desired crispiness.
5. Drain on paper towels then serve.

**You can add brown sugar, maple syrup, coarse pepper or other flavors to the bacon slices before it goes in the oven. Just make sure to use a plain, hickory smoked bacon so the flavors don’t overlap. Cooking times remain the same.

Updated…But Still Old-Fashioned…Strawberry Pie

Springtime weather is FINALLY just around the corner! ¬†Thankfully! ¬†And during the winter of 2014, the South has certainly experienced some very bi-polar weather!! ¬†74 degrees one day…24 degrees the next. ¬†Rain & thunder showers…followed up with 3 inches of snow & ice!!! ¬†So tiring. So long. ¬†So…OVER.

When I went to the grocery store this week and saw some Florida Strawberries staring back at me with their deep, beautiful red color & fruity, sweet smell…I knew Spring was finally upon us!! ¬†And Spring for me always starts with strawberries! ¬†I then decided that I’m going to celebrate this Spring arrival! And no better way to celebrate than with an updated, old-fashioned strawberry pie! ¬†YES!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

For those that didn’t already know, I come from really long line of family that are really, really good southern cooks. ¬†In fact…they even have a cookbook of just a FEW of their recipes! ¬†It’s one of the things I cherish more than anything! ¬†So, the homemade pie crust I use and file away into the recipe category of ¬†“don’t fix what isn’t broken”, is one from my Great Aunt Inez. ¬†She was born in the early 1900’s and lived to be in her 90’s. ¬†I’d say that gives her enough experience in cooking pies! ¬†And this one proves it.

Owens Family Cookbook--Lexington, AL

Owens Family Cookbook–Lexington, AL

Now…to get started. ¬†The first thing I do is get that crust formed! ¬†The ONLY thing I do different than Aunt Inez is make sure every single ingredient to be used in the crust is very cold! ¬†Including the bowl! ¬†So refrigerate everything for about an hour before you get started. ¬† First you will need to cut the Crisco shortening & salt into the flour (I use White Lily,¬†of course). ¬†You can either use your fingertips, a pastry cutter or 2 knives. ¬†Whatever will work best to get the mixture looking like pea-size pieces. ¬†Don’t over work this dough because you don’t want the shortening to melt! ¬†Next whisk together the egg, vinegar & cold water. ¬†Gradually add this mixture to the flour until it is incorporated. ¬†When the dough looks all mixed and can be formed into a ball…it’s ready! ¬†Here you will want to divide the dough into 3, 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch discs. ¬†Wrap them up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Sorry no pics of the dough mixture…my hands were covered in flour & shortening. ¬†**Note to self…buy a pastry cutter. ¬†Soon. ¬†Like yesterday.***And another note…if you don’t want to make a homemade crust…you can easily buy one already made. ¬†Not the frozen ones. ¬†In fact, just buy a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. ¬†Because they are the best.

Pastry dough is getting wrapped up for the fridge

Pastry dough is getting wrapped up for the fridge

While that dough is refrigerating…get your strawberries cut and mixed with the other ingredients. ¬†Cut them in halves or quarters depending on how big they are. ¬†Then mix well– the cornstarch, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, nutmeg & water. Let this refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. ¬†This will let the the natural juices from the berries come out.

Can't you just smell the sweetness of this filling?  If you can't...guess you'll have to make the pie.

I Love Strawberry Pie Filling.  Love. It.

Once everything has chilled, you will need to roll out 2 of the pastry discs and preheat your oven to 425 degrees. ¬†On a really well-floured surface, you’ll want to roll the bottom out to about an 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick to fit the bottom and sides of your pie dish. ¬†So about 11 or 12 inches around for a 9 inch pie. ¬†For the top, you will want to roll out the same size and then cut the dough into 1 inch strips using a pizza cutter. ¬†This will be used for the lattice crust. ¬†The way I learned to do lattice crust was online. ¬†Seriously. ¬†And it was from Simply Recipes. ¬†I’ve been following their blog for a long time! Make sure to click on the link to the Simply Recipes site where I saw the easiest way to weave the crust. ¬†Kudos, Simply Recipes…Kudos!

Lay the bottom crust into the pie dish, spoon in the strawberry mixture, then finish with the lattice top.  Brush the strips with heavy cream and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

Why can't their be smell-a-vision?

Why can’t there be smell-a-vision?

You will bake this little beauty for about an hour or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Once this has cooled somewhat,  just slice it up and top with orange whipped cream & a sprig of mint!  Or just plain whipped cream and no mint.  Or top it with nothing and just dig in!  Your choice!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Just look at that beauty!  Topped with orange flavored whipped cream!

This is really an easy recipe to keep, adjust and make your own!  Let me know how yours turns out!  Enjoy!

Updated, Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Adapted from Saveur Magazine, Inez White & Simple Southern Living

Pie Crust

3 c. All Purpose Flour
1 c. Crisco Shortening
1 ¬Ĺ tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
1 tbsp Vinegar
¬Ĺ c. Cold Water

1. Put all of the ingredients into the refrigerator (including the bowl) for at least 30 minutes to chill.
2. Once cold, cut the salt & shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture resembles pea-like pieces.
3. Mix together the egg, vinegar and water. Gradually add the mixture into the flour. Mix together well until dough can be formed easily into a ball.
4. Divide dough into 3 even pieces. Roll out into a disc about ¬Ĺ inch thick.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Freeze any unused dough.

Strawberry Pie

3 lbs Sliced Fresh Strawberries
¬Ĺ c. Cornstarch
¬ĺ c. Sugar
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 ¬Ĺ tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tbsp Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1 tbsp Orange Zest
2 tbsp Water
Heavy Cream for Brushing Lattice Top

1. Slice the Strawberries in halves or quarters. Mix well with the next 7 ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Take 2 of the refrigerated pie dough and place on a well-floured surface. Roll each out to 1/8 -1/4 inch thickness until it will cover the bottom & side of the pie dish. About 11-12 inches for a 9 inch pie plate.
4. Repeat rolling the other pastry disc out to the same size & thickness.
5. For the 2nd pastry disc, cut it into ¬Ĺ inch strips with pizza cutter once it is rolled out. This will be for the lattice top.
6. Place the bottom crust into the pie dish. Then spoon the strawberry mixture on top of the bottom crust.
7. Next weave the dough on top of the strawberries for the lattice top.
8. Brush lattice top with heavy cream and lightly dust with sugar.
9. Bake pie for 45 minutes to an hour until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool and serve.

Sunday Brunch with a Sausage, Potato, Onion & Italian Cheese Frittata

Weekends. ¬†I LOVE the weekends! But…I REALLY, REALLY love the weekends when SUNDAY BRUNCH is involved!! ¬†Brunch is one of my absolute favorite meals especially in the Spring & Summer! ¬†And since the weather is starting to warm up…I’m really getting the fever for my favorite times of year!! Hundreds of different egg dishes, french toast, shrimp & grits, bloody mary’s, mimosas, BACON, sweet, savory….Oh. My. Goodness. There are just so many things I LOVE about Brunch!

So in preparation for those soon-to-be weekly Sunday Brunch’s…I’m reminded of one my easy to make favorites. ¬†The Frittata. ¬†Sounds Fancy doesn’t it?!?! ¬†But in reality…it’s one of the easiest & cheapest meals you’ll ever make! ¬†A Frittata is just an egg dish with no crust! ¬†And it is not just for Breakfast or Brunch! ¬†It’s a supper, a lunch, a snack…basically ANY time of day. ¬†With ANY meats or veggies you want to add to it!

For this particular one, I used what I had in the pantry.  Eggs, onions, cajun sausage, hash browns, creme fraiche, italian cheese blend & fresh herbs.

Frittata

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. ¬†Take your sausage and slice into 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces. ¬†And also slice your onion into small slices…not chopped. ¬†I always buy Conecuh Sausage...because it’s simply the best around!

Make sure you have greased your cast iron or non-stick skillet well with the butter before you start so nothing sticks. Now, brown the sausage and onion together until the sausage is heated through and the onion is close to translucent.  Keep stirring occasionally so neither burns or overcooks. Add hash browns at the very end just to heat through and slightly brown.

Browning the onion & sausage just for a few minutes

Brown the onion & sausage together

While the sausage & onions are cooking, whisk together your eggs, thyme, creme fraiche, salt & pepper. ¬†Make sure to use a whisk and not a fork to mix. ¬†You want the egg mixture to be frothy and mixed well. If you have trouble finding creme fraiche, here are some tips…You can order it online, buy it at gourmet food stores or if you have a Fresh Market nearby! I prefer to use Vermont Creamery for all¬†of my dishes.

The rest of the ingredients...

The rest of the ingredients…

Once the eggs are mixed well, pour on top of the sausage, onion & potatoes.  Let cook on the stove top for about 5 minutes until eggs are set on the bottom. Top with Italian Cheese Blend and place in the oven to finish cooking.

Frittata is almost ready!

Frittata is almost ready!

Finish baking in the oven for another 10-12 minutes until eggs are cooked through and cheese is browned on the top. ¬†If eggs are cooked and cheese still isn’t brown, just turn on the broiler to finish. ¬†Remove from the oven to cool slightly. ¬†Top with more parmesan cheese, fresh chives or parsley!

Ahhh....Frittata with some fresh tomato slices

Ahhh….Frittata with some fresh tomato slices

Slice a tomato & dig in!!  Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Cajun Sausage & Potato Frittata

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

1 medium onion sliced thin
1 lb Cajun Conecuh Sausage
2 cups frozen hashbrowns
6 large brown eggs
2 tbsp Creme Fraiche (or sour cream)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 c of milk
1 sprig of thyme
Shaved Italian Cheese Blend (Asiago, Parm, Romano, etc)
Butter for Greasing the Pan

**Spinach would be good to add as well.  Just adjust the potatoes to about half and cook spinach down with sausage & onions mixture.

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees & lightly grease your skillet on the sides & bottom with the pat of butter.
2. Slice Sausage in bite size pieces and begin to brown over medium-high heat in cast iron skillet.
3. When there is some grease at the bottom of the pan, add onions until tender.
4. Then add potatoes and mix stirring frequently to heat through and lightly brown.
5. Whisk the 6 eggs, crème fraiche, milk, salt, pepper & thyme leaves together until mixed smooth (use a whisk and not a fork).
6. Pour egg mixture on top of browned potatoes & onions.
7. Sprinkle shaved cheese mixture on top of eggs while they are setting.
8. Let eggs set on the sides & bottom for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
9. Finish baking eggs in the oven until cooked through and lightly brown.  But not overcooked. 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with more thyme leaves, parmesan or chives.

Pasta Night! Beef & Sausage Pasta with Spinach & Fresh Herbs

Pasta! My absolute favorite Carb! ¬†I mean…who doesn’t like Pasta?!?! ¬†That would just be Un-American! ¬†Or Un-Italian! ¬†Or…Un-Everything Normal in this Entire Universe!!!! ¬†Pasta is one of those foods that is so easy to keep handy in the pantry. ¬†So many different shapes, sizes and uses! ¬†Homemade or dried, it’s so versatile and quick to use for a well planned meal or for any last-minute meals like this one!!

I have been away from Simple Southern Living for a couple of weeks because I catered my first wedding (more to come on that very, very soon…EEEK)! ¬†So the last thing I’ve really wanted to do since was a lot of cooking! ¬†But this week, I had a real craving for some good, hearty pasta! ¬†So here is what I had in the pantry. ¬†Everything but the sausage & fresh herbs.

**Disclaimer…the wine is not for use in the recipe! ¬†That was all for me to enjoy. ¬†All by itself. All of it.

006

Beef & Sausage Pasta Bake Ingredients–And Wine.

This is only a 2 pot meal, so very easy clean up! ¬†Get your pasta water started while you are chopping the onion, garlic & herbs and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. ¬†Next you will want to heat a pan large enough for all of the ingredients. ¬†I used a 12″ Stainless Chicken Fryer. (If you don’t have a big enough pan…you’ll have 3 pots because you’ll need a casserole dish later.)

Brown the Wright’s mild sausage & lean ground beef with the onion & garlic you just chopped. ¬†I didn’t use any oil. ¬†The sausage had enough oil to brown ground beef without adding any extra. ¬†Which meant I also didn’t have to drain my pan! Also add in the red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. ¬†Once this is browned, your pasta water should be ready to boil the noodles. ¬†Make sure you always salt pasta water! ¬†To quote the great Mario Batali, now a host on the wonderful show ‘The Chew’…”Salt the Water Like the Sea”! ¬†Boil¬†the noodles until they are cooked al¬†dente. ¬†Usually about 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions for my preference. ¬†Then drain.

Noodles Boiling, Meat & Tomatoes Simmering.

Noodles Boiling, Meat & Tomatoes Simmering

Finish the sauce while the noodles are boiling. Add in your whole tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil & more salt & pepper if needed.  Let the mixture simmer & reduce down slightly.  For any Italian dishes that call for tomatoes, I always use whole San Marzano Tomatoes.  They are easy to break up in the pan while you stir and I think they just have more flavor.  I usually use Cento San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes.

Next add in heavy cream, spinach & parmesan cheese to sauce. You just want the spinach to be slightly cooked down.  Then stir noodles into the mixture.  Top with more parmesan & mozzarella cheese then bake in the oven for a few minutes until cheese is slightly melted & brown!

Perfetto!

Perfetto!

Perfetto!

You can top this with a little more basil, olive oil and certainly some fresh grated¬†parmigiano-reggiano cheese! ¬†Serve it with a salad, some toasted bread or just by itself! So easy and quick but everyone will think you were cooking away for hours! ¬†Let them think it!! ¬†This is a dish they will be sayingComplimenti Alla Cuoca”…or Compliments to the Cook!

Buon Appetito!!!

Buon Appetito!!!

Let me know what you think! Alla Salute!

Beef & Sausage Pasta with Spinach and Fresh Herbs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

1 lb of Lean Ground Beef
1 lb of Mild Sausage
3/4 pkg No Egg Pasta Ribbons
1 28 oz Can San Marzano Whole Tomatoes
3 oz Tomato Paste
3/4 Bag of Spinach
3/4 c. Parmesan Cheese & More for Topping
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella
1 c. of Heavy Cream
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Medium Onion, Diced
2 Garlic Cloves, Chopped 
1 1/2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Oregano
5 Basil Leaves Chopped
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & boil water for the pasta.
2. Chop onion, garlic & fresh herbs.  
3. Next brown the sausage, lean ground beef, red pepper flakes, onions & garlic in a heavy deep skillet.
4. Once this is browned, go ahead and salt the boiling pasta water very well then stir in the noodles. Cook 1-2 minutes less than the package directions then drain.
5. Finish the sauce while the noodles are boiling. ¬†Make sure there isn’t any excess oil in the pan. ¬†Drain if needed.
6. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt & pepper.  Stir until the tomatoes are broken up and mixed well.  
7. Let sauce reduce a little.
8. Add in fresh basil, heavy cream, parmesan cheese & spinach.  Let spinach cook down slightly.
9. Finally stir in noodles and toss to coat.  
10. Add any salt & pepper to taste if needed.  Top with parmesan and slices of mozzarella.
11.Bake just until cheese is melted and slightly brown.  
12. Drizzle with olive oil, fresh parm or more basil if you like.

Sunday Skillet Chicken Dinner! Or a Monday…a Tuesday…or a Wednesday Dinner!

Let’s be honest. ¬†There are a MILLION ways to cook chicken. ¬†And with that being said, I’ll admit…I don’t LOVE chicken anymore! ¬†It’s just SO predictable. So much of the same all of the time. ¬†So blah. ¬†Yep, I’m a bitter chicken cooking, recipe ignoring, non-lover of the bird. ¬†Or so I thought….

For the last few months, I’ve been trying to convince myself that steak (umm…swoon!!) isn’t the best protein EVER created and I need to eat healthier foods. ¬†After countless, and often failed, bird-cooking tries I finally re-discovered that I really do LOVE a good chicken thigh! ¬†The versatility of what you can do with this part of a chicken is just so…delicious. ¬†So I decided to take 2 things I love and combine them. ¬†My cast iron skillet…and chicken thighs!

Cast Iron Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

Cast Iron Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

I found my inspiration for this dish originally from Bon Appetit Magazine and adapted it to this!

For this easy recipe: ¬†You will need chicken thighs, lemons, capers, white wine (and some for sipping), rosemary, chicken broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, shallot, garlic and some¬†half & half. ¬†Seems like a lot…but it’s really easy and flavorful.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. ¬†To get started, make sure you trim any excess fat and skin off of the chicken thighs, pat them dry & season well with salt & pepper. ¬†Next, drizzle a little oil in your cast iron skillet & set the temp on medium to high heat. ¬†Don’t let this to scorch or it will taste…well SCORCHED! ¬†I use Herb Oil. ¬†A local Birmingham, AL based company that makes their own herb-infused oils, salts, mustard, tapenade and bitters (click on the link for more info). ¬†I use it for almost everything because it is soooo good!

I'm Slightly Obsessed  (There's More in the Pantry)

I’m Slightly Obsessed (There’s More in the Pantry)

If you don’t have your own Herb Oil, olive oil will work just fine. ¬†Once this is sizzling, add in your chicken, skin side down. ¬†As the fat from the skin renders…you’ll want to pour some of the oil out of the pan. ¬†You want to keep the pan just barely greased. ¬†We don’t want to deep fry this! ¬†Let this cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is about halfway cooked through. ¬†Then add your lemons and place in the oven. ¬†Scatter the lemons throughout the pan and make sure you get some on the bottom so they caramelize in the drippings!

Look at Those Lemons

Look at all of the Lemon Slices!

Let this continue to bake for about 10 more minutes and lemons on the bottom of the pan are caramelized. ¬†Remove from the oven and take out the caramelized lemons on the bottom & the chicken. ¬†Set aside. ¬†Don’t remove the soft lemons that are not browned yet.

Add to those lemons and pan drippings your garlic, crushed red pepper, capers, rosemary and shallot. ¬†Cook this for about a minute. ¬†Remove from the heat and add the wine, then back on the heat! ¬†Don’t want to catch on fire here! ¬†You’ll cook this until the wine reduces down by half stirring up those yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan. ¬†Just simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add your broth and more lemon juice! ¬†(**Note…if you don’t want to use wine, just skip that step. ¬†You’ll just want to reduce the chicken broth the same way). ¬†Then add your chicken back into the pan skin side up along with the caramelized lemons. ¬†Place back in the oven for about 10 more minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through! ¬†If you are using a meat thermometer, get the internal temp to 165 degrees.

Right before you serve it, stir in just a little half & half into the sauce.  Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and top with some fresh parmesan!

Cast Iron Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

Mouth. Is. Watering.

Isn’t that BEA-U-TEE-FUL??!!??!! Serve this with some Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes & this is perfection!

Perfection!

See…I Told Ya…Perfection!

Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Adapted from: Bon Appetit Magazine

4 Medium Chicken Thighs, Trimmed
1 Tbsp Herb Oil or Olive Oil
1/3 c Dry White Wine
1/2 c Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Thinly Sliced Lemon
1/2 Lemon Juiced for Sauce
2 Tbsp Capers
1 Sprig of Rosemary
1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Medium Shallot Thinly Diced
1 Clove Finely Chopped Garlic
2 Tbsp Fat Free Half & Half
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Trim the chicken of any excess fat or skin.  Pat dry and then season both sides generously with salt & pepper.
3. Heat oil in cast iron skillet on med-high heat until sizzling.
4. Add chicken, skin side down. Brown for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked about halfway through.
5. Add lemons on top of chicken and on the bottom of the pan to caramelize.
6. Place in oven and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
7. Remove.
8. Take chicken and caramelized lemons out of the pan and set aside.
9. Leave the soft lemons in the pan to continue cooking.  Add in shallot, red pepper, rosemary, capers & garlic.  Cook on the stove for another minute.  Just until cooked through and fragrant.
10. Add in wine and continue to stir until sauce is reduced by half.  Make sure to get the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet stirred into the sauce.
11. Add in broth, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste and heat to a simmer.
12. Place caramelized lemons & chicken back into the pan. Skin side up this time. Cook in the oven for another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
13. Internal temp should read 165 degrees.
14. Stir in half & half to the sauce.  Spoon sauce over chicken & top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

Better Late than Never…Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Let There Be Cake!

Valentine’s Day. ¬†The Day of Love. ¬†The Day of Flowers. The. Day. Of. CHOCOLATE. ¬†Yes…I believe that chocolate is the most important part of this day . ¬†And I am not an avid chocolate lover! ¬†But on Valentine’s Day?!?! ¬†I’m like a kid in a candy shop–a chocolate candy shop! ¬†Turtles, Truffles, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Chocolate Covered Everything and BIG Heart Shaped Random Chocolate Boxes that are so much fun to taste!!! ¬†I basically get my chocolate fix for the entire year in ONE day! ¬†Whoop!

So this Valentine’s Day, I have decided to add to my one day love of chocolate and make a cake! ¬†A flourless, ooey, gooey, chocolatey, yummy cake!!!

Chocolate Espresso Cake

No Flour Chocolate Espresso Cake

So you’ll need semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli), eggs, unsalted butter (Land O ‘Lakes), espresso powder, salt, sugar, pure vanilla extract and a parchment lined springform pan. ¬†VERY simple ingredients!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get a pot of simmering water going on the stove. ¬†Go ahead and line your springform pan with parchment on the bottom, lightly butter it and set aside. ¬†Next…separate your eggs. ¬†You’ll need egg whites in a standing mixer bowl. ¬†And your yolks in another bowl. ¬†For the yolks, add 1/2 of your sugar, your vanilla and salt. ¬†Beat this mixture (about 3 minutes) until they are thick and creamy and kind of pale yellow in color.

Now get the chocolate and butter melted and mixed together in the double boiler. ¬†All I do is get the water to a soft boil, cut the temp down to a simmer, place one of my Pyrex bowls on top of the pot and drop in the chocolate & butter and mix it until smooth! ¬†Really Simple…and it doesn’t take long to melt…and it doesn’t stick to the Pyrex!

Can I Just Lick This Bowl?

Can I Just Lick This Bowl?

Now…once this is melted, set aside for just a minute or two. ¬†Next, ¬†get those egg whites beaten with the mixer so you have some stiff peaks. ¬†I usually put my KitchenAid Mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes…then add the rest of my sugar and turn it on high until I get this beauty below. ¬†Stiff Peaks. ¬†Isn’t that a beautiful sight?

Those are Some Stiff Peaks!

Those are Some Stiff Peaks!

Now you need to incorporate the chocolate to the yolks. ¬†Do this a little at a time. ¬†Since the mixture is still a little warm…you don’t want a scrambled egg chocolate cake! ¬†That doesn’t really say “I Love You” (To. Anyone). ¬†By adding the chocolate a little at a time, you temper the eggs so they don’t scramble. ¬†Add a few scoops of the chocolate and beat the mixture for about a minute. ¬†Then continue this process until all of the chocolate is added. ¬†Take this mixture and fold it into the egg whites with a spatula. ¬†Don’t over mix! ¬†You don’t want to lose the air from those beautiful egg whites! ¬†Just fold until the mixture looks mixed together. ¬†Then pour into your pan, place in the oven…and WAIT. ¬†Sigh….

And Now You Wait

And Now You Wait

Bake this for 40 minutes. ¬†Or until it’s spongy. ¬†But seriously…it won’t be much longer than 40 minutes unless you are in the mountains. ¬†Once it’s done, let it REST. ¬†Cool that beautiful cake down. ¬†Don’t touch it! It’s going to crack and fall. ¬†It’s SUPPOSED to. ¬†But make sure it is cool before you remove the springform pan.

And Presto!!! ¬†I add a little chocolate sauce, raspberries, strawberries, a little Amish jam heated up with water, whipped cream, ice cream. ¬†Or JUST. BY. ITSELF. ¬†Whatever you feel like adding! ¬†It’s rich. ¬†So you don’t need much of anything!!! ¬†It really is an ooey, gooey, chocolatey, yummy cake!

I'm Not Sure It Can Get Much Better

I’m Not Sure It Can Get Much Better

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, Y’ALL! ¬†Let me know what you think! ¬†Enjoy!

No Flour Chocolate Espresso Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

5 Large Eggs Separated
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Plus a Tbsp for greasing the pan
5 oz of Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate
2 Tbsp Espresso Powder
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Cup of Sugar Divided in Half
1 Tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.
2. Separate Whites and Yolks of Eggs into 2 Bowls.  
3. Melt Chocolate and Butter in a Double Boiler until Smooth, then Set Aside for a Couple of Minutes. 4. Beat the Egg Whites on Medium for 3-4 Minutes until Soft Peaks Form.  
5. Then Add 1/2 cup of Sugar to Whites and Beat on High until you have Stiff Peaks. ¬†Don’t Over Mix.
6. Then Beat Yolks with 1/2 cup of Sugar, Vanilla, Salt & Espresso Powder Until Thick & Creamy. About 3 Minutes.  
7. Add Chocolate Mixture a Few Scoops at a Time then Beat so that Eggs are Tempered in the Mixture and NOT Scrambled.  
8. Continue to Repeat until all Chocolate is Incorporated and Mixed Well.
9. Fold in Chocolate Mixture to the Egg Whites.  Be Careful Not to Over Mix so that the Air is Gone from the Egg Whites.  
10. Once the Mixture is Combined Well, Pour into the Greased Springform Pan.  
11. Bake for 40 Minutes or until Cake is Spongy.  
12. Remove from Heat and Cool Completely Before Removing the Springform.  
13. Serve with Chocolate Sauce, Ice Cream, Whipped Cream or By Itself!

Leftover Chicken? No problem! Buffalo Chicken Sliders, it is!

Being from the South…we shut the cities down for a single snowflake. ¬†But Ice Storms? ¬†Forget it. ¬†Especially ones named “Pax” or “Leon”. ¬†Where do they come up with these names anyway?!?! ¬†Leon stranded a lot of people on the roads for a few days. ¬†So no one was going to take any chances with Pax! ¬†The grocery stores were empty 2 days before “Pax” was set to strike!! ¬†Bread, Milk, Eggs, Beer, Wine, Sweets, Jerky (depending on your priorities, of course)…mostly gone. ¬†And I was no different! ¬†I bought lots of chicken and ground beef and bread. ¬†Made sense at the time with my gas oven. ¬†Plan for a blizzard. Or being snowed in until March. 3 feet of Ice. Stranded Cars. ¬†No Power for weeks. See…I think I’m convincing you of my logic.

So the dilemma once none of that happened. ¬†All of this food and little snow. ¬†Or Ice. ¬†I decided I could freeze most of it. ¬†Or just put it in my bunker (I kid, I kid). ¬†But what to do with that yummy, non-freezable Rotisserie chicken I purchased? ¬†Let’s make some sliders! ¬†Buffalo Sliders! ¬†Buffalo Sliders with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw and Swiss or Provolone! ¬†Score! Finally…my previous logic began to make sense. ¬†*wink, wink*

So here is what you need. A Rotisserie chicken, slider buns, your favorite buffalo sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce), blue cheese dressing, broccoli slaw, carrots, spray butter & swiss or provolone cheese. ¬†Very, Very simple!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients

Now…just shred up that Rotisserie. ¬†Every bit of it! ¬†Don’t waste a single shred of that chicken! And add a little salt & pepper to taste. ¬†Then heat up about half a bottle of your favorite wing sauce with a tbsp of butter until it’s well mixed. ¬†Or don’t add the butter. ¬†Your call. ¬†You don’t have to heat up the sauce if you don’t add the butter…one less step. Mix the chicken with the buffalo sauce, a couple of tablespoons at a time. ¬†Use as little or as much as you like to your taste and then set aside. ¬†Next for the broccoli slaw. I purchase¬†this in the produce section. It’s just like shredded cabbage slaw! I make homemade blue cheese (let me know and I’ll post the recipe). ¬†It’s too easy not to. ¬†But if you don’t have it and don’t want to make it, then just buy yourself a jar of GOOD blue cheese dressing like Naturally Fresh Blue Cheese. ¬†And just mix a couple of tablespoons to the broccoli & carrot mixture! ¬†Simple and Easy.

Now for your assembly line.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

Assembly Line, Ready!

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up later).  Put the bottom of your slider buns down first.  I always use Publix Deli Sliders.  You can use Hawaiian Rolls, Hamburger Buns or whatever you like. Next add the cheese.  I added half a slice of swiss on one half and provolone on the other half.

This is how they will come together….

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

Coming Together!

Next spoon on the chicken, then the slaw and another small slice of cheese if you wish!  I totally wish for extra cheese!  Once you have each slider assembled, then spray the tops of each bun with a couple of dashes of no calorie spray butter.  Bake on 350 degrees until cheese is melted and buns are lightly browned!  About 10-15 minutes!

And that’s it. ¬†Use that leftover chicken you have from these snow days…or make these for your next tailgate…or your next picnic! ¬†Or just a fun night with the kids! ¬†These are sure to be a crowd pleaser for any occasion!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

Take THAT Winter Storm Pax!!!

Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Broccoli, Carrot, Blue Cheese Slaw

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

1 Rotisserie Chicken
1 Bag of Broccoli Slaw
1 Bag of Shredded Carrots
1 Bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
12 Slider Buns
6 Provolone Cheese & Swiss Cheese Slices
Blue Cheese Dressing
Spray Butter

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Shred the Rotisserie Chicken into pieces then salt & pepper to taste.
3. Mix the Wing Sauce into the chicken until coated & set aside.
4. Mix half of the Broccoli Slaw with 1/4 of the Shredded Carrots.
5. Add a couple of tablespoons of the blue cheese dressing into the slaw mixture.  Set aside.
6. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and align the bottoms of the slider buns evenly.
7. Layer half a slice of cheese, then chicken, slaw & more cheese if desired.
8. Place the tops of the buns on each and spray a couple of times with no calorie butter spray.
9. Bake for 10-15 minutes until heated through, cheese is melted and buns are golden brown.

Easy, Cheesy Black Eyed Pea & Artichoke Dip–YES, please!

This dip is so yummy. ¬†And so easy. ¬†And so YUMMY! ¬†And so EASY! It seems like an unlikely marriage…black eyed peas and artichokes? ¬†What? ¬†Who thought of this? ¬†I wish I could take credit. ¬†I wish I could GIVE credit!! ¬†I actually found this recipe years ago in one of the Junior League of the Shoals Cookbooks after tasting this loveliness at one of my BFF’s Wedding Showers. ¬†And I’ve been hooked ever since. ¬†I always have this in my pantry ready to make for parties, weddings, unexpected guests…or most importantly…just for me!

Here is my latest and greatest spin on a classic.

That's a Happy Chip

That’s a Happy Chip

To start…grab up your ingredients. Light Sour Cream, Light Mayo, Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce), Minced Onions, Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing Mix (isn’t everything better with Ranch?), Grated Parm, Shredded Mozzarella, Canned Black Eyed Peas & Canned Artichoke Hearts.

First step is to mix up the first 6 ingredients in a mixing bowl. ¬†Whoa…this is going to be complicated, I can tell.

First 6 Ingredients

First 6 Ingredients

Next…wash and drain the peas and artichoke hearts really, really well. ¬†Shall we say that watery dip…is. not. so. good. ¬†NOT that I would know anything about that. ¬†Clearly.

See how those are going to be drained REALLY, REALLY well?

See how those are going to be drained REALLY, REALLY well?

Gosh…now the REALLY hard part. ¬†Dump the drained peas and artichokes into the bowl with the first 6 ingredients. Combine it all, shred the artichoke hearts as you mix, ¬†pour it in a baking pan, top it with the mozzarella and more parm. ¬†Bake it for 30-35 minutes on 350 degrees or until lightly brown, bubbly, gooey, cheesy, yummy…sigh…I’m ready to eat!!

Perfection

Perfection

Dig in! ¬†What are you waiting for?!?!?! ¬†Serve it with pita chips, tortilla chips, Fritos (my personal, all-time fave), eat it with a fork, eat it with a spoon. ¬†What EVER you feel like doing! ¬†I topped this with a little dried parsley. ¬†But chives would work too, *note to self*. ¬†Or add some spinach to it! ¬†Or sausage! ¬†Or Shredded Chicken! There are so many ingredients to have fun with! ¬†It’s just so Yummy!! ¬†And so Easy!! ¬†I think you get the idea.

Let me know how it turns out! Enjoy!

Kicked Up Black Eyed Pea & Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Adapted from Junior League of the Shoals–The Art of Cooking

2 cans Black Eyed Peas (Washed & Drained Well)
2 cans Artichoke Hearts (Washed & Drained Well)
2 pkgs of Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing Mix
3 tbsp Sriracha (Or more or less to taste)
1 c Light Duke’s Mayo
1 c Light Sour Cream
1/2 c Minced Onions
1/2 c Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 c Grated Parmesan Cheese (for topping)
2 c 2% Shredded Mozzarella
Dried Parsley, Thyme or Fresh Chopped Chives
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.  
2. Wash and Drain Well the Peas & Artichoke hearts.  Set Aside.  
3. Combine the Mayo, Sour Cream, Sriracha, 1/2 c Parm, Minced Onions & Ranch Dressing Packets.  Mix well.
4. Fold Peas & Artichokes into the Mixture, Combine Well & Shred the Artichoke Hearts While you Mix.  
5. Pour Mixture into a 9×11 Baking Dish. ¬†
6. Top with Mozzarella and Additional Parm.  
7. Bake for 30-35 Minutes or Until Bubbly and Cheese is Lightly Browned.  
8. Top with Dried Parsley, Thyme or Fresh Chopped Chives.

Spread Some Love Today, Friends!

Have a Happy Saturday!  Make sure to show your Friends & Family your LOVE for them Today!

And Everyday!!!!

If you like this sign, want a custom sign, or unique wedding guest book…I found these on etsy at AmandaGDesigns. ¬†Just click on the link! ¬†So cute!

Super Bowl Party! Or Just a Reason to Get Together….

Ahhh the Super Bowl. ¬†That Sunday every year where 2 NFL teams duke it out for the Championship and 364 days of bragging rights. ¬†Or for me…that Sunday every year to attend our friend Phil’s annual cookout, watch the best commercials of the year, and of course the half-time show (I think I’m a Bruno Mars fan now)!

I love potluck parties like this one. ¬†You get to try a lot of different yummy dishes, meet the people making¬†those yummy dishes and most importantly just snack and snack and snack to your heart’s content! ¬†This year I decided to take a couple of my “old faithful” appetizers and mix up the recipes just a bit!

Puff Pastry Sliders…who doesn’t love anything wrapped up in Puff Pastry?? ¬†And who doesn’t love all kinds of yummy sliders?? Hence…Puff Pastry Sliders. ¬†There are several “staple” items I always have in my kitchen. ¬†Ground Beef is one of them. ¬†Puff Pastry is another. ¬†Always. ¬†My BFF Lucy over at Lucysinspired,¬†kids me about my Puff Pastry stash. ¬†But it’s just so versatile for all dishes! ¬†And I love it. ¬†And everyone else loves it. ¬†And what if there was a Puff Pastry shortage? ¬†I would totally be ready.¬†

So here is where I started…and most of this is just pantry items that I already had on hand. ¬†My inspiration for these came from the Pepperidge Farm Website a few years ago and continue making it my own. ¬†Because I love all things Pepperidge Farm. ¬†And if you didn’t already know…I love Puff Pastry.

Puff Pastry Slider Ingredients

Puff Pastry Slider Ingredients

Puff Pastry, Ground Beef or Chuck, Cheese–Any that your prefer, Shallot, Salt, Pepper, Egg White.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the Puff Pastry and let it thaw for 40 minutes before trying to use it…(Very important step here–Trust me when I say frozen Puff doesn’t work). ¬†Start by seasoning the ground beef with salt and pepper. ¬†This time I also added garlic powder, Worcestershire and a little low sodium Dales Sauce. ¬†Then finally dice up or shred a medium shallot to the mix. ¬†Make sure not to overwork the meat! ¬†We aren’t making meatloaf. ¬†Remember…Puff Pastry Sliders.

Next…pat out the sliders into small patties like below. ¬†You want 12 of them. ¬†Fry them for a couple of minutes on each side just until brown. ¬†Don’t fully cook them because they will get more cooking time in the oven. ¬†About 3-4 minutes on each side depending on how thick you make them. ¬†If you use lean ground beef, then make sure to add a little olive oil so they don’t stick to the pan. ¬†Once these are done, set them on paper towels to drain any excess grease. ¬†(We don’t want soggy Puff Pastry later-Trust me again on this).

Ground Beef Slider Patties

Ground Beef Slider Patties

While these are cooling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grab your thawed Puff Pastry, some flour and a rolling pin.  Lightly flour a clean surface and flour that rolling pin.  You just want to roll out each sheet of the Puff Pastry a little into a rectangle shape.  Not too much.  Just a little.  You are going to want 6 sliders for each of the sheets.

Pimento Cheese, Bacon Cheddar, Pepper Jack & Cheddar Sliders

Pimento Cheese, Bacon Cheddar, Pepper Jack & Cheddar Sliders

Now get creative! ¬†Place 6 patties on the Puff Pastry. ¬†Top these with any ingredients you like! ¬†I had some left over bacon, cheeses, pimento cheese and caramelized onions that I used. ¬†You can make taco sliders, BBQ¬†sliders, plain sliders…whatever you like! ¬†I made bacon cheese, pimento cheese, pepper jack & sharp cheddar and my favorite…blue cheese & caramelized onion.

Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Sliders

Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Sliders

Completely Perfect Puff Pastry Slider Pockets

Completely Perfect Puff Pastry Slider Pockets

Now take your egg white and whisk it until just a little frothy so it’s easy to brush on the pastry and set aside. ¬†Grab a knife or a pizza cutter and cut the Puff Pastry into 6 even squares so you can fold these up. ¬†Take each corner of the Puff Pastry and fold it to the middle of the sliders. ¬†You can make pockets and seal them up or just leave a little opening where the edges meet for presentation. ¬†Totally up to you. ¬†If you are using Pimento Cheese…make sure they are sealed and firm so the excess grease doesn’t drain out and make the pastry open up.

Take each of the sliders and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. ¬†Take your egg white and brush the Puff Pastry so it will turn out nice and golden brown. ¬†They don’t have to look perfect (Unlike mine…they are all even. ¬†Clearly all perfect little packages). ¬†Now pop these in the oven according to the Puff Pastry directions! ¬†Or watch them and take them out when they are golden brown and not over cooked and dry. ¬†No one likes dry Puff Pastry.

Golden Brown Slider Yumminess

Golden Brown Slider Yumminess

And Tah-Dah!! ¬†Puff Pastry Sliders. ¬†Sure to wow a crowd and make everyone think you spent hours and hours on their potluck party dish! ¬†Don’t correct them. ¬†Tell them it took forever to make. ¬†Just gives you more to talk about at the party! ¬†And the meaning of Tah-Dah in the Urban Dictionary is “be impressed” or “aren’t I just amazing“. ¬†If you are bringing these to my potluck parties, then I would say “Why yes…yes you are”! Enjoy!

Let me know what you think!

Puff Pastry Sliders

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Simple Southern Living & Pepperidge Farm

1 1/3 lbs of Ground Beef or Chuck
1 pkg of Thawed Puff Pastry (2 rolls in the package)
1 Diced or Shredded Medium Shallot
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Low Sodium Dale’s Sauce
10 Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Egg White
Flour for Rolling the Pastry
Toppings of Your Choice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. ¬†Mix Ground Beef, Shallot, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper, Dale’s & Worcestershire together. ¬†Be sure not to over mix. ¬†
2. Pat out into 12 small patties, slider size and fry just until pink in the middle but browned on each side. About 3-4 minutes per side according to thickness.  Drain well on paper towels.
3. Roll out Puff Pastry onto a lightly floured surface so it doesn’t stick. ¬†
4. Place 6 patties onto each puff pastry and top with toppings of your choice.  No condiments or lettuce though.  
5. Take a knife or a pizza cutter and cut the pastry into equal squares around the sliders. ¬†Fold the corners to the middle of the slider to make a “package” or a “pocket”. ¬†
6. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush the tops and corners with the egg white and bake until golden brown according to the directions on the Puff Pastry package.  

These can be served hot or at room temperature and great for any occasion.