...jalapeno poppers...

Do you have somewhere to go tonight or tomorrow or this weekend but are so over cooking and baking you want something quick and delicious and sweet and spicy and with bacon and foolproof?  Thought so.  I knew that was your criteria- knew it.

I made these before the holidays, when I was feeling just about the same.  I wanted something easy, something delicious, and something that would be a crowd pleaser.  I flipped to the Pioneer Woman cookbook, and knew I had to make these.  As she said they would be, they were a hit.  I would make them again, easy.

Recipe thanks to PW, and loosely adapted because I got larger than life jalapeños

  • Ingredients you'll need

  • 9 fresh large jalapeños or 18 smaller ones

  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese

  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

  • 1 green onion, sliced

  • 9 slices thin bacon

  • Barbecue sauce

  • Toothpicks

  • Before I go on with the recipe you should know that you're not going to want to deal with jalapeños then rub your eyes.  Fire.

  • 1.  Cut the jalapenos in half and scrape out the seeds and membranes.  I left some of the stems on for looks.

  • 2.  Mix the cream cheese with the cheese and green onion.  Fill the jalapenos with the stuffing

  • 3.  Wrap bacon around each jalapeno and secure with a toothpick.

  • 4. Brush some barbecue sauce on top of each 

  • 5. Bake at 275 for 1 hr, until the bacon is nice and cooked.  

  • You'll be a hit, they'll be a hit...it's a good way to start 2011!
  • ...hoppin john in the slow cooker...

    I guess if I took a picture of black eyed peas, I must have cooked with them.  I did, in the beginning stages of the slow cooker.  I thought, "Oh, I'll make Hoppin' John, sounds Southern."  Well, it is- but the Southern gentleman I live with had never heard of it.  Oh dear.  It's ok, because it wasn't all that amazing.  I mean, I think I just don't love collard greens.  Or maybe I would cooked the right way by someone who is Southern, but I'll just leave that up to them.

    As far as this recipe goes, you could try it.  I'm probably not the best critic though, since I don't have much to compare it to.  It was easy, and had all the right flavors.  It also had Rotel.  This recipe marked the first time I had ever bought Rotel, and let's note that I haven't bought it since.  I'm not so Southern after all.  As for me, I'll wait to hear about an incredible Hoppin John recipe before I make this again, or as mentioned earlier, I'll just stick with pork and sauerkraut for New Years luck!

    ...a new year...

    There's a lot of hum out there right now about what this year brought, and what next year will bring.  Are you ready for a new year?  I am.  I feel settled now, more so, and ready to see what 2011 has to offer.  I'm in a place I didn't think I would be, married to a man I wasn't yet engaged to this time last year (though we had gone ring shopping) and living life around people who will eat lots of these (black eyed peas) come New Years Day.  Me?  I'll keep with our family tradition- pork and sauerkraut please!  

    Here's to 2011...

    ....Merry Christmas...

    Merry Christmas Everyone!  
    May you enjoy these days of rest with your friends and family, 
    focusing on the love of Christ and gift He is to the world!  

    ...slow-cooker chicken with wine, tarragon, and cream...

    I have really started to love the slow cooker.  Benjamin's sister came to visit, and while we were out and about, it was great knowing dinner was taken care of.  This recipe was good, the meat falls off the bone, and the tastes are more refined than your traditional 'throw it in a pot' slow cooker recipes.

    Recipe thanks to Cook's Illustrated

    Ingredients You'll Need:
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, halved if small or quartered if large
    2 onions, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 3/4 cups white wine
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    6 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
    3 tablespoons minute tapioca
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 bay leaves
    4 pounds bone in chicken pieces- take your pick of what parts you like- skin removed and fat trimmed
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves

    1.  Heat oil in a skillet until hot, then add mushrooms, onions, garlic, thyme, and pinch of salt.  Cover and stir often about 8-10 minutes.

    2.  Uncover and continue cooking about 8-10 minutes more until vegetables are cooked down.  Stir in wine, scrapping up brown bits and simmer until thickens to about 3 cups.

    3.  Transfer mixture to slow cooker and stir in broth, carrots, tapioca, soy sauce, and bay leaves.  Season chicken with salt and pepper then nestle into mixture.  Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours.

    4.  Transfer chicken and carrots to a dish.  Let the liquid settle 5 minutes and remove any fat on the top.  Remove the bay leaves then stir in cream and tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper and serve over the chicken.

    Enjoy this dish- it's great for company!

    ...beer marinated steak with aji sauce...

    This recipe was really good.  The cheaper cuts of steak that are a bit tough do really well with this marinade that can even be made the night before you're going to eat this, and the aji sauce is just great.  It made me miss good Mexican food, but glad I could make this at home.

    I've said this before and I'll say it again, during this season of a lot of the same old flavors, many of which we love oh so much, this was a welcomed kick to the taste buds.

    Recipe thanks to Bon Appetit- I used half the amount of meat it called for.

    For the Steak
    2 1 1/2 pound flank or iron steak- basically a tougher cut that will benefit from the marinade
    1 tablespoon oregano
    2 teaspoons cumin
    1/4 cup EVOO
    1 1/4 cups green onions, sliced
    1 bottle dark beer
    1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

    Using a knife, score the steak and place it in a 9x13 dish.  Season with the oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.  Rub the olive oil all over, then top with the onoins, beer, and Worcestershire sauce.  Flip it a couple times so it's all combined.  Cover and chill at least 3 hours, or over night.

    Prepare grill pan, grill to desired doneness- 3-4 minutes per side for medium.  Transfer steaks to a cutting board, let stand 5 minutes, then cut into strips.

    Aji Sauce

    4 jalapenos, chopped and seeded
    2 chopped green onions
    1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    Combine peppers, onions, and cilantro in a food processor.  Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and process until blended but still some texture remains.  Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper, then spoon over steak.

    We loved this sauce- so much in fact that we ate it with roasted chicken the next night, just so we could use the rest of the sauce.  This is a winning combination, great for all months of the year.

    ...slow-cooker beef barley soup...

    Ever since I got the Cook's Illustrated "Best Slow and Easy Recipes" I've been loving my slow cooker a lot more. The recipes in this book are a bit more refined, and I trust everyone.  I made this soup the other week, and made it again today.  It's just that good.  It has an excellent broth, just enough beef, and ingredients that are all pretty budget friendly.

    The original recipe calls for 'blade steak.'  When I asked the butcher what to get, he suggested brisket as it would hold up well to the long cooking time.

    I think if you have a slow cooker, you should make this.  Soon...maybe even over Christmas after the fact, when family is still around...

    Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Cook's Illustrated

    Ingredients You'll Need:

    1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    3 onions, chopped
    1/4 cup tomato paste
    1 teaspoon dried tarragon
    1/2 cup red wine
    2 cups beef broth
    2 cups chicken broth
    2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup pearl barley
    2 lbs brisket, trimmed into 1/2 inch pieces

    1.  Process the tomatoes with their juices in a food processor for 15 seconds.

    2.  Heat oil and add onions, tomato paste, tarragon, pinch of salt, and cook until vegetables have softened, about 10-12 minutes.  Stir in wine scraping up brown bits.

    3.  Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and add in the broths, processed tomatoes, carrots, soy sauce, and barley.  Season the meat with salt and pepper then nestle it into the slow cooker as well.  Cook on low for 9-11 hours, or high for 5-7 until meat is tender.

    Skim off any fat if you see a lot when done, and serve up with some crusty bread.  Enjoy and stay warm...

    ...jade's gluhwein...

    Friends of ours had this at their house a few weeks ago.  I really wanted the recipe.  Jade wasn't so easy in giving it up, but we got it, and we made it, and here it is- my Christmas present to you.  Along with lots of love and thanks for reading this here blog.

    This holiday drink is tasty, festive, and looks pretty too.  All important things.

    Here's the recipe, in Jade's words...

    So, for every 750ml bottle of dry red wine (drinkable, nothing expensive), you need:
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup raw sugar
    1-2 cinnamon sticks
    1 orange
    whole cloves
    1/2 teaspoon cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    an extra kick -- some port, brandy or sherry (1/2 cup)
    1.  mix the wine, orange juice, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar in a large sauce pan
    2.  slice the orange into 6 slices; stick 2-4 whole cloves in each slice.  throw them in the mix.
    3.  warm it up (do NOT let it boil) on low/medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then
    4.  turn off heat, cover, let sit for 30-45 minutes
    5.  before serving, warm it up again, and add the port/sherry/brandy and mix it in
    6.  that's it!

    ...a day of rest...

    We relaxed today.  As in, only left the house to walk to the store and pretty sure I wouldn't have wanted anyone to see me in public until that point- and even then- it wasn't a pretty site.  It's that time of year when the schedule gets so busy with all good things, but sometimes you just need to stop (before all those colds sneak up on you too..)

    It was a morning of blueberry scones, a lunch of everything but the kitchen sink hot turkey sandwiches thanks to Chef Benny, and a dinner of slow cooker beef barley soup.  I'm posting that recipe next, because this is the second time in just about two weeks that I've made it.  So good.

    Here's to having rest during this season, this day- Sundays, all year long...

    ...radicchio stuffed shells...

    As the weather gets colder "we" turn to talking about chilies and soups.  Sometimes, you need to mix up the warm weather meals, and this one is just the ticket.

    These shells are stuffed with the classic flavors, but an interesting ingredient- radicchio.  It cooks up nicely, wilts, and is mixed with the cheese.

    When I went to buy the shells, I had to go to a couple different stores.  Maybe a sign of where I live.  The woman at the cash register where I got them said, "You're going to stuff those??"  Shocking.

    This recipe makes enough for 2 9x13 dishes.  Eat one tonight and put the other in the freezer to pull out when you don't want to cook.

    Recipe thanks to, and loosely adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn of Mad Hungry

    Ingredients You'll Need:
    1 box jumbo pasta shells
    1 tablespoon evoo
    4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped.
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 red onion, chopped
    1 head radicchio, cored and shredded (about 4 cups)
    1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    12 ounces ricotta cheese (1 1/4 cups)
    8 ounces mozzarella cut into small cubes
    5 cups tomato sauce
    unsalted butter for dotting

    1.  Bring water to a boil and cook shells for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse- transfer to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

    2.  Heat oil in large skillet- cook prosciutto, garlic, and onion until everything starts to caramelize- about 6-8 minutes.  Add radicchio and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add vinegar and cook until liquid evaporates, then remove from heat.  Stir in ricotta, mozzarella- season with salt and pepper.

    3.  Pour 2 cups tomato sauce into bottom of each baking dish.  Pack 16 shells each into each dish, cover with foil and freeze if you'd like at this point.

    4.  If you're cooking them now, Preheat oven to 375.  Dot shells with butter, bake covered for 40 minutes, uncover and raise temperature to 450.  Bake until golden about 15 minutes more.  Serve with more sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

    ...cheddar, bacon, and fresh chive biscuits...

    I married someone from the South.  I should know how to make biscuits.  Right?  Well, I'm trying.  These were good.  In fact, Benjamin said, "My Mom would be jealous of these."  That was enough for me..

    They're best warm, right out of the oven, with more butter.

    Recipe loosely adapted from and thanks to Bon Appetit

    Ingredients you'll Need:
    6 bacon slices
    3 3/4 cups flour
    1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter cut into cubes, plus more for brushing when hot
    2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
    1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
    1 3/4 cups buttermilk

    1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Cook bacon until crisp- chop up and set aside.

    2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor.  Add butter cubes and pulse until crumbly.  Transfer to a bowl and add cheddar, chives, and chopped bacon.  Toss to blend then add in buttermilk, stirring until combined.

    3.  Using floured hands, drop the biscuits onto a prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Brush biscuits with butter when they're hot and out of the oven and enjoy!

    ...one year older...

    Today I wake up one year older, potentially wiser, and most definitely thankful.  It was a great day yesterday with friends and the husband.  Sleeping in late, making a big breakfast, getting loved on by sweet friends from Santa Barbara who happen to be in DC over my birthday (what a great present that was!), seeing new friends, and eating good pulled pork sandwiches, buckeyes, and awesome mulled wine.  Recipe to come.

    Thanks for all the Birthday wishes and here's to this year being better than the last...  

    ...Merry Christmas...

    We had Benjamin's work party this weekend.  Christmas party I'll say.  On that note, yesterday I had the butcher cut me 6 lb of pork shoulder, and when he gave it to me I said, "Merry Christmas!"  He looked surprised but happy and said "Merry Christmas" back.  I got a little choked up.  Sometimes girls can't help their emotions, ok?  To that end, here's to saying and meaning, Merry Christmas!

    ...gruyere, prosciutto, & potato frittata...

    Another frittata.  This time though, I followed a recipe.  I learned some new things and the recipe was well received.  The half-and-half helped the eggs to puff up, and there was a good ratio of cheese added into the uncooked eggs.

    I'd recommend making this recipe if you haven't yet been bold enough to just throw in what's in your fridge and make an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink frittata.

    Ingredients you'll Need:
    1 dozen eggs
    2 tablespoons water
    salt and pepper
    1 packed cup shredded Gruyere
    4 ounces prosciutto, diced
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 pound baby potatoes, any assortment, peeled and diced
    2 scallions, thinly sliced

    1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Place oil in a nonstick pan, heat up, then add in the potatoes and cook until golden, about 7 minutes.  Add scallions and cook for a minute or two.

    2.  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, water, cheese and prosciutto.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add to hot pan and let cook until bottom is set, about 3 minutes.  Lift the eggs on the sides so the running egg goes under and cooks more thoroughly.

    3.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and cook for another minute, or until golden and set.

    4.  Put onto a board, cut, and enjoy while hot, or even later at room temperature.

    ...walnut cake with cinnamon glaze...

    I was having the parents over for brunch before seeing the Messiah at the National Cathedral (a must for anyone near the DC area) and I came upon this menu.  This cake, and then a frittata with gruyere and prosciutto and potatoes.  More on that later.

    This cake was made last Saturday, and the last of it was consumed yesterday.  And, it still tasted good.  It holds up well and I think looks really pretty and tasted even better.

    I did modify the recipe a bit.  Instead of the recommended creme fraiche, I used sour cream.  It worked just fine and I think (hope) this will make the recipe more approachable for you.

    Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Food and Wine.

    Ingredients you'll Need:
    1 cup walnut baking pieces (or just walnuts chopped up)
    2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 eggs, separated
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons half-and-half
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 10 cup bundt pan (or use the baking pam spray).  Spread the walnuts on a pie plate and toast in the oven for 8 minutes.  Coarsely chop when cool if they are not already in pieces.

    2. In a bowl whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter  until creamy, then add in sugar and vanilla until fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks one at a time.  Now beat in sour cream until combined.  Add in dry ingredients, beating just til incorporated.  Fold in walnuts.

    3.  Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peak forms.  Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites, then fold in the rest until no streaks remain.

    4.  Place batter into prepared bundt pan and smooth out the surface.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan 20 minutes then invert onto a platter.

    5. Whisk powdered sugar with half-and-half and cinnamon.  Pour the glaze over the cake, be proud of yourself, and enjoy!

    ...poultry pot pie with cheddar biscuits...

    On to a real recipe.  And one that I think was so delicious, easy, and in a sense a one-pot-wonder.  I love how this cooked up, how the biscuits were light and cheese, and how it was packed with vegetables and protein.  And creamy sauce.  This was another winner in the husband's book.  He loved it a lot.

    I wanted to make this when there was some turkey left over, but only about half of what I needed for this recipe.  So...I took some chicken thighs and boiled them up til done, then shredded them.  The thigh meat mixed well with the less than moist leftover turkey for this dish.  In the future, I would use either option for this dish, but probably not together just for simplicity sake.

    Recipe loosely adapted from, and thanks to Gourmet

    Ingredients you'll need:
    Stock: 3 1/2 cups

    1 onion, chopped
    3 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
    2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    1 teaspon dried tarragon
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/2 pound mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
    1/4 cup flour
    4 cups turkey, chicken, or a combination of both
    10 ounces of frozen peas, thawed

    2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1 cup grated extra-sharp cheese
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk

    Step One:  Cook onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, and tarragon in butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered, about 5-7 minutes.  The parsnips might get mushy, but don't fret.

    Step Two:  Add flour and stir for 2 minutes.  Next, add stock and scrape up brown bits.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 3-5 minutes to let the sauce get thick, stirring often.  Stir in turkey, peas, and more salt and pepper to taste.

    Make the Biscuits:

    Preheat oven to 400

    Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Add cheese and toss to coat.  Next cut in butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter, and then add buttermilk, stirring til dough forms.

    Drop the biscuits into about 8 mounds on top of the filling you've put in a nice 9x13 dish.

    Bake until biscuits are puffy and golden and filling is bubbly, about 35-40 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes...then Enjoy- I know you will!