Tag Archives: epic

How not to make a bacon pinata

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This is another meat-centric blog post: sorry vegetarians! This was a few days ago; it is probably what made me so eager to eschew red meat this week. T-bones were on sale this week so we bought 2 for the 3 of us; they totaled a little over 3 pounds!  Steak is one of my favorite meals, especially with the sear-it-and-bake-it method. This is another one that sounds a little strange, I know. Why would you bake a steak when you could grill it, right? Trust me. This is a delicious way to make a steak and it is impossible to overcook it if you follow the directions. The bacon and duck fat adds the smokiness that you would get from a grill and the cast iron provides a beautiful sear on the outside while retaining the juices from the steak.

  Best Steak

Ingredients:

  • T-bone steak
  • 1 tbsp duck fat
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat
  • Celery salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper

Directions:

1) Take steak out of refrigerator; season with celery salt and pepper and garlic powder. Let steak sit on counter until it warms up to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees; heat both fats up in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

3) Cook steak for 1-2 minutes per side; put the skillet in the oven and cook about 7 minutes for a rare or medium-rare steak.

4) Remove the steak from the pan immediately; let steak rest on plate for 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Delicious steak and because it was so thick, it was beautifully rare. I cooked up some Yukon gold potatoes (my fave potato!), hasselback style.  

  Rosemary Hasselback Potatoes

Adapted from a recipe at http://theculinarychronicles.com/2011/06/17/rosemary-garlic-hasselback-potatoes/

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, washed and dried
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • About 10 large basil leaves, 4 whole and 6 torn in half
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Place oil and the 6 torn basil leaves in a small saucepan and heat on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

2) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place one potato on a wooden spoon on a cutting board. Starting from one end of the potato, make slits about 1/8 inch apart; cut all the way down to the sides of the wooden spoon but do not cut all the way through the bottom. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

3) Carefully slip one slice of garlic in between every few segments of the potatoes until all the garlic has been evenly distributed.

4) Put one whole basil  leaf in the middle of each potato.

5) Place potatoes on a baking sheet and brush them all over with the basil infused oil; season with sea salt and pepper.

6) Bake the potatoes for 30-40 minutes, depending on size. Interior should be soft and exterior should be slightly crisp.

  I had never made hasselback potatoes before today but I have been eyeing them for some time. They always seemed too difficult though so I had avoided them; I was pleasantly surprised by how simple they were to make! Yeah, mine didn’t come out as pretty as they could have but they were still very tasty. We used the leftover potato and steak to make an epic steak sandwich (steak and potatoes and mushroom and onions and jalapenos and provolone on sourdough. Yum!). I am already dreaming about making these again and soon!

I made a twist on my favorite baked carrots for some color and nutrients.

Baked Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole carrots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Mix all spices and chopped garlic into butter.

3) Put carrots on baking dish; spread mixture liberally all over carrots.

4) Cover baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil; bake for 40 minutes.

5) Remove foil; drizzle olive oil over carrots and bake for 10 more minutes.

6) Remove carrots from baking sheet; drizzle with lemon juice and top with feta cheese.


And what meal is complete without a drink? I drink a lot of water and I’m trying to not drink as much soda, so I’m always looking for healthier alternatives (remember my instant iced tea?).  So insert cranberry spritzer! Seltzer is calorie-free (I think) and cranberry juice is great for urinary health and is relatively low in sugar. Together with a bit of lime, it’s a drink that is refreshing and bubbly without being too sweet.

Cranberry Spritzer

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz seltzer water
  • 3-4 oz cranberry juice
  • lime slice

Directions:

1) Pour cranberry juice into tall glass; top with seltzer.

2) Squeeze lime slice into cup; drop lime into drink. Enjoy.

So, on a different note, remember those burns that I told you about in a previous post? Well, there is one in Delaware in October that I have been planning to go to for a few months now. I got my ticket, I have camping gear, and we have been planning some fun and kooky things to bring to the burn. Well, I just sold my ticket to a fellow burner who missed out because I am not going to be here to go to the burn in a few weeks. I am leaving sometime next week to go to Atlanta to stay with my mom; she broke her back 2 months ago after she got back home from taking a week off to move me in up here in NY. Sucky, right? So she is going to be receiving treatment at her clinic in Atlanta and I am going to be there helping her since her mobility is limited. So it’ll be goodbye to cold weather for now; I’m going to miss the changing of the leaves here and I might miss the first snow. My mom is awesome so I’m glad I’ll get to spend time with her; and I’ll be glad to be there just so she doesn’t have to do it alone. Anyway, I am going to get to go to a different burn in Atlanta the weekend after this one: Alchemy. Yay! So those burn projects we have been thinking about might not have to be put off after all. The Boyfriend and I decided to tackle one of those projects this week: a bacon piñata. We imagined covering a balloon in bacon-mache; when the mache dries, we can just pop the balloon and we’d have a hard outer bacon shell, just like when using paper mache. Sounds plausible, right? First problem: edible glue. I googled that and came up with Tylose powder. According to the internet, Tylose powder is a miracle elixir that you can make “glue” with. Glue problem solved. Now that we had glue and bacon, what other problems could arise, right? Ugh. Nothing went right, except that we wound up with 2 lbs of cooked bacon at the end of the project. The Tylose never set, the edible mache glue that I made was a thick goopy mess, and the simple syrup and the maple syrup just made everything sticky. And then The Boyfriend dropped the balloon on the table and everything fell off. Ugh. It was a mess. I decided to include the recipe in case you want to know how not to make a piñata.

 How not-to make a bacon piñata

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs bacon
  • 1 balloon
  • 1 tsp Tylose powder
  • ½ cup warm water
  • Optional: ¼ cup simple syrup AND/OR ¼ cup maple syrup AND/OR ¼ cup edible mache glue


 Directions:

1) The night before you start your doomed enterprise, mix up your glue: add warm water to Tylose powder and refrigerate overnight. Don’t be alarmed if the powder does not dissolve instantly in the water; it will combine fully while it is sitting overnight.

2) When you’re ready to make a piñata, start by cooking your bacon. I recommend cooking it in the oven: it’s easy (for you) and it ensures that the bacon cooks as flat as possible. To cook in the oven: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay bacon strips on a roasting pan; cook bacon for 20 minutes.

You can make a “bacon weave”, if you think that will help the bacon stick to itself and the balloon; if you do that, flip the bacon weave halfway through cooking time.

3) While the bacon is cooking, blow up your balloon; it should be smaller than your head.

I recommend cleaning the balloon with some vinegar water prior to bacon application.

4) When the bacon is finished, remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate; blot bacon with another paper towel to remove grease.

5) To make piñata: apply Tylose glue to both sides of bacon strips or weave; sluice off excess.

6) Slap bacon onto balloon; use simple syrup/maple syrup/edible mache glue to help affix the bacon weave to the balloon. Hold bacon weave in place for about 30 minutes or until it seems reasonably dry. Remove your hands and watch in despair as the bacon weave slides off.

7) Put the bacon weave back on the roasting pan; add some seasonings to the top (cayenne pepper or chili powder or butt rub) and pop it back in the oven for 6-8 more minutes or until crispy.

8) Gorge on bacon until your belly bursts and celebrate your failed bacon piñata.

Because of the failure of the bacoñata, I have no pictures of the finsihed product 😦

Anyone out there have an idea on how to make a completely edible piñata?

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Feasting

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Feasting

If you’re sensitive to pictures of dead animals, you might want to avoid this blog post.

Man, I am still behind on recipes! I’m sorry that I’ve been slacking on the blog-front; it’s been a little busy around here and I’ve not been in the blogging mood. But before I cook anything else, I want to catch you up on everything that I haven’t posted. So I’m going to start a while back with the feast that we had. A few days after The Boyfriend’s party, he and I started kicking around the idea of doing a feast.

We usually had a feast as a celebration for The Boyfriend’s birthday but we hadn’t this year. The feast would have a $10-$15 buy-in and there was usually six or eight of us who would buy in. We’d buy crab legs and shrimp and scallops and sometimes lobster tails. It’s always been a good excuse for a fun night with friends and a fancy dinner at low cost. We wound up deciding to do a small feast with just a few friends in Albany; with our $40 budget, we bought shrimp, lobster (tails and claws), sea scallops, and a duck. Roasted duck is one of my favorite things to make in part because it’s so easy. And, besides also being really delicious (it tastes like the dark meat of chicken), it also yields duck fat. Duck fat is a fat that can be cooked in; it’s a liquid at room temperature, it is less bad for you than butter, and it gives a light, smoky flavor to food that is cooked in it. In short, it is a miracle elixir of magical proportions in the kitchen.

Back to how easy duck is to prepare: the first time I made a roast duck, it was under the supervision of a close foodie-friend of mine, Wilco. Whenever I was got insecure that I was doing something that was going to ruin the duck, I’d ask Wilco. Wilco always responded the same way “The worst that can happen is you’re going to have a roast duck.” And that is pretty much true. If you cook the duck too long, yeah, the meat might be a little tougher but the skin will be all the crispier. If your rub isn’t flavorful enough, you can always add more salt once it’s cooked. Trust me, a duck is one of the easiest things you can make but it sounds so fancy that it will impress people. AND it tastes great. What more could you want from dinner?

My favorite rub is a barbecue-style rub; it is salty and smoky and sweet and spicy.

Crispy BBQ Duck

Ingredients  

  • 1 whole duck, 5.5 to 6 lbs
  • ½ white onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
  • 1 cup boiling water

Spice rub

  • Butt rub
  • Brown sugar
  • Spanish paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Remove duck from packaging; drain blood and check to make sure there is nothing inside the duck (like the duck’s organs in a bag).

3) Using a knife, score the duck skin or poke shallow holes into the skin; make sure you get all over the duck, both sides.

4) Pour 1 cup boiling water all duck.

5) Mix up seasoning in bowl; adjust quantities to taste.

Rub seasoning all over duck, making sure to get every part.

6) Shove onion and garlic cloves inside the duck; place duck on broiler pan in oven.

7) Cook for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the duck (2 hours for a 4.5-5 lb duck; 3 hours for a 6.5-7 lb duck). Turn the duck in the oven every half hour. Duck is done when skin is brown and crispy and juices run clear.

 Pouring boiling water over the duck after it’s been scored loosens up the fat under the skin of the duck. When the duck roasts, the fat melts off making the skin crispy (and creating quantities of  wonderful duck fat).

Our duck really was whole this time: head and feet included! You can get frozen duck at the grocery store; these will likely have head/neck and feet removed. Or you can buy refrigerated ready-to-cook duck from an Asian supermarket; this duck will more likely have head/neck and/or feet still attached. It is just a matter of preference. For me, I prefer being able to eat the whole duck; the meat on duck feet is delicious and extra crispy.

We bought ¾ lb of scallops at our local Asian supermarket. They were very fresh: large, white, very round.

 Bacon scallops with butter sauce

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.spotsfordates.com/07/2008/recipes/bacon-scallops-with-butter-sauce-recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 sea scallops
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp white wine (or sub for a mixture of light beer and white vinegar)
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tooth Picks

Directions:

1) Start by making sure that your scallops are completely dry: set the on paper towels to drain and blot the tops with another paper towel.

2)  While the scallops are drying, cook up the bacon; cook the same number of slices as you have scallops. Blot grease off bacon and set aside.

3) When the scallops are dry, season both sides with a little bit of salt and pepper.

4) Put 2 tbsp butter in a different frying pan over medium high heat.

5) When the butter has started to bubble, add the white wine (or beer/vinegar) and lemon juice.

6) Add scallops to pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side; remove from pan to a plate.

7) Cut bacon strips in half; to plate, slide one slice bacon (2 halves) onto a toothpick. Stick a toothpick with bacon onto a scallop. Pour butter-wine sauce over all scallops onto the plate; serve immediately.

I made the bacon-scallops this way rather than the “traditional” method (wrapping uncooked bacon around raw scallops and cooking them in the oven) to ensure that the bacon was crispy and the scallops weren’t overcooked. And it worked great! The scallops were very juicy and the chewy, saltiness of the bacon complimented them nicely. Also, this whole recipe took about 15 minutes start to finish and again, looked fancier than it really was. Double bonus.

The other two things we made were boiled shrimp and lobster tails and claws. Unfortunately the quality of the seafood was bad in this case—the seafood was frozen when we bought it and it suffered from freezer burn. The recipe is still solid so I’m going to post it, but I recommend using fresh seafood.

Seafood boil with butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 3 lbs lobster claws and tails
  • 3 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Large pot
  • Garlic butter (1 clove garlic, chopped mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)
  • Lemon butter (2 tsp lemon juice mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)

Directions:

1) Heat up a lot of water in a huge pot; add Old Bay and vinegar.

2) Once the water is boiling, add seafood; cover and cook 5-7 minutes or until shrimp is pink and lobster is bright red.

3) Serve with garlic butter and lemon butter.

And so we feasted! And it was glorious.

SheMANigans (aka the Rise and Fall of the Manwich)

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SheMANigans (aka the Rise and Fall of the Manwich)

Remember that food vacation that I mentioned in my last post? Well, this recipe is one that is leftover from that week so prepare yourself!

Being that we now have several pounds of sexy, saucy pork chillin’ in our fridge (ha!), it was time for another man foodventure.

The epic sandwich started with a regular sandwich. While The Boyfriend prefers to attack the massive pile of pork with only a fork as a weapon, I prefer to reinvent the pork leftovers and use the pork to inspire other dishes. In this case, I wanted a sandwich. When I checked my fridge for sammich ingredients, I was greeted by a plethora of greenery: an avocado, some cilantro, and limes. Can you see where this is going? Mmm. I also found a log of the tastiest mozzarella I have ever eaten and I added it to my hoarded pile of ingredients. When I captured the loaf of fresh sliced Italian bread, I knew that I had the makings of one hell of a sammich.

 Barbacoa Sammich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices good quality bread
  • ¼ cup pork barbacoa
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • A few slices of good quality mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Pepper

Directions:

1) Toast the bread in a toaster; make sure that your pork is heated up and that the juices are drained off of it.

2) Mash up the avocado in a bowl; add lime juice and pepper to mashed avocado.

3) Spread barbacoa on one slice of bread; cover with sliced mozzarella; broil in oven until cheese melts.

4) While the bread is in the oven, spread mashed avocado on the other slice of bread. Top with chopped cilantro.

5) When cheese is melted, remove bread from oven. Combine the 2 slices of bread to make one glorious sandwich.

The Boyfriend and I washed down my sandwich with a Dr. Pepper. Tasty beverage, right? Well ours was alcoholic and didn’t contain any actual Dr. Pepper.

 Dr. Pepper

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz beer
  • 4 oz Coke
  • 1-1.5 oz Amaretto liqueur
  • Optional: 1-1.5 oz rum

Directions:

1) Pour beer and Coke into glass. Add other ingredients and drink.

OR

1) Pour beer and Coke into glass; add rum. Measure out Amaretto liqueur in shot glass; drop shot glass into glass and chug.

As you can see, The Boyfriend went the latter route; I settled for somewhere in the middle (dropping the shot glass into the mug but taking my time to drink it). I’m not usually a fan of Dr. Pepper but these were really delicious and once we added the rum, they had a bit of a kick.

While enjoying our sandwich and tasty beverage, we were joined by a helper cat–introducing Roy!

When we kicked him off of the counter, Roy decided that he should climb into our pantry to hang out and “supervise” our ingredients. Thanks kitty!

But kitties aside, this post isn’t about tasty beverages and delicious (but normal) sandwiches. This is about sheMANigans and manwiches! So how did we go from normal to absurd? Well…The day after making the barbacoa sandwich, The Boyfriend and I got hit by a one of our mad ideas (remember the Epic Dogs?) and we wanted to make epic sandwiches.

Our first effort was solid: we took the barbacoa sandwich and added garlic cheese toast and more pork products (because what isn’t made more epic and absurd by the addition of moar pork?). We call this:

The Super Sammy

Ingredients:

  • 1 barbacoa sandwich
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 pieces ham

Directions:

1) Start by making the barbacoa sandwich.

2) Next, make the garlic cheese bread: toast (in a toaster) the extra slice of bread. Mix butter and chopped garlic in a small bowl; spread on toasted bread. Add cheese to garlic bread and pop it in the oven to broil until cheese is melted.

3) While the cheese is melting, cook bacon. Remove bacon from pan and blot; drain some of the excess grease and heat ham slices in the pan.

4) Assemble sammich: stack ham and bacon slices on top of the top slice of the barbacoa sandwich. Top with garlic cheese toast.

Look at those colors; at that cheese!

This was a tasty sandwich and we fell all over ourselves proclaiming that it was among the tastiest we had ever eaten: juicy, garlicky, creamy; flavors that came together and were also distinct and different. Fantastic.

But then…when our good friend (and fellow NCF alum!) Lisa arrived the next day, we went on a total food vacation. And what better way to celebrate than by upping the sammich-ante and finishing the pork in one helluva sammich? We basically wanted to make 3 separate and distinct sandwiches that would be combined into a giant stack. We kept our original first layer (the barbacoa sandwich) but wanted to incorporate more pork into the second layer; that’s when we decided to make the second layer into an Italian sandwich with pepperoni, ham, capicola and garlic-cheese bread. For the third and final layer, we (obviously) needed bacon and we chose to use the bacon in a classic sandwich style: the club (or TBR: turkey, bacon, ranch). Thus, The Sandwich was born.

This sammich is what the Empire State Building is to tourists: exotic, breathtaking, and very, very tall. And I don’t have to tell you that it was delicious; in fact, it was good enough to stop your heart. No really, it might; it’s pretty bad for you. Do not attempt if you have a cardiovascular disease (or if you don’t want to have cardiovascular disease as a result of this sandwich). This is definitely

 One Hulluva Sammich

Ingredients

  • 4 slices good-quality sourdough bread
  • ¼ cup barbacoa
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tbsp cilantro
  • 2 slices turkey
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 tbsp ranch dressing
  • 2 slices pepperoni
  • 2 slices ham
  • 2 slices capicola
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese

 Directions:

1) Start by prepping all of your ingredients:

  • Lightly toast 3 slices of bread
  • Chop garlic
  • Chop cilantro
  • Slice avocado

2) Spread barbacoa on the first slice of sourdough (we’ll call this S1); top with 1 oz sliced mozzarella.

3) Mash avocado; add lime juice and cilantro to mashed avocado. Spread avocado mixture on a second slice of sourdough bread (S2).

4) Mix butter and chopped garlic in bowl; spread over yet another slice of sourdough (we’ll call this piece S3); top S3 with remaining ounce of sliced mozzarella. Put S1 and S3 in oven set to broil until cheese melts; set aside.

5) Cook bacon in skillet; reserve about 1 tsp of bacon fat in skillet. Pan-fry capicola and ham in reserved bacon fat; set all fried meats aside and blot to remove excess grease.

6) Spread 1 tbsp ranch dressing on last slice of  toasted sourdough (S4).

7) Assemble the sandwich:

  • Place S1 (barbacoa/melted mozzarella) on cutting board; top with S2 (avocado mixture side down towards pork).

Add pepperoni, capicola, and ham to the top of S2; top with S3 (garlic-cheese bread side towards Italian meats).

Halve the cooked bacon; add turkey and cooked bacon to the top of S3; finish sandwich with S4 (ranch side down towards turkey and bacon).

8) Affix two large skewers through the midst of the sandwich and cut the sandwich in half (it’s the only way that you can attempt to eat it). Add pickle and a side of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno chips to the plate and enjoy! And then hibernate and revel in your food coma.

We made one and a half sandwiches so that we would each have half of a sandwich to devour.

Mini-sammich?

Layers!

Lisa, attacking her half sammich.

I can’t even begin to describe what these sandwiches tasted like, but for your sake, I’ll try. First of all, it was impossible to get a bite of all of the layers at once (at least until everything softened up after sitting for 20 or so minutes). The first bite for me was mostly bread and the barbacoa sandwich part: all pork and lime. We chose a locally-baked sourdough bread so every bread bite was moist and chewy, and the crusts were crunchy. When you can begin to bite into the second layer (my personal fave), you’re overwhelmed by the garlic and the ooey-gooey mozzarella that is melting all over the Italian meats. The capicola is salty and the edges are crispy from being pan-fried; the ham is thinner and not as fatty as the capicola; and the pepperoni is mildly spicy cutting through all of the salt, and adding a nice coolness (from being one of only 2 meats on the sandwich that wasn’t heated). The third layer is the least connective of the layers: it’s flavors are milder but stand apart. The crunchy, warm bacon is right at home on the sandwich, but the slightly sweet taste of the turkey plus the distinctly buttermilk flavor of the ranch dressing is a powerhouse of different flavors in this wondrously large sandwich.

This sandwich really is 3 distinct sandwiches under one roof; and that’s what really makes it awesome. Because with every bite you get a different combination of flavors: garlic and avocado; ranch and pepperoni; bacon and pulled pork. The combinations are virtually endless and eating this sandwich, you get to try most of them.

I called my blog Adventurous Appetite* because that’s what I have: a palate that craves new and different more often than comfortable and predictable. If you’re a “my food shouldn’t touch on my plate” person, this sandwich is not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re as likely to throw crushed pineapple as hot fudge on a sundae, then please: eat and be joyful! Or better yet, make your own crazy, outrageous food just because you can.

(Ok, so it’s really called AdventurouseAppetite. I only recently realized that I added a gratuitous ‘e’ to the end of ‘Adventurous’ in my blog name. Why? How? Well, in the spirit of AA–oh damn, didn’t realize that either when I named my blog–I’m going to just say that I did it because I could. Or maybe it was because I am a terrible typist…)

Even with all of the deliciousness before us, our stomachs were only so big. It wasn’t too long before we all conceded defeat.

Not even beer could help us finish the gargantuan meat stacks in front of us.

Throwing in the towel, our leftovers still covered the plate. Don’t worry–we wound up sharing (and finishing) the sandwich towers with friends later in the evening.

I think this pretty much concludes our sheMANigans for the last week. On the plate for the rest of this week? Dumplings, California summer rolls, Thai Basil chicken, seafood feast, and a duck! This week’s recipes are highly Asian-inspired after the discovery of a fantastic Asian supermarket in Albany. I am also (hopefully) going to get doing some layout tweaks because I am over the generic look. So if you like to code or have ever wanted to Wang Chung, stay tuned for this week’s adventures on AdventurouseAppetite!

PS photo cred to Lisa: she took all the pictures of One Hulluva Sammich and generously let me post them here. You can see more of her pictures as well as her own fabulous recipes at Smile Belly

Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

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Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

So I’m just going to jump right into the recipes this time!

Amaretto Chicken

Adapted from a recipe at Lol Foodie

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tbsp goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 1/8 cup Amaretto liqueur
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Start by pounding out the chicken breasts. Place a breast in a large Ziploc bag; using a meat hammer (or regular hammer). Pound the chicken until it is very thin, about 1/8″ thick; repeat with other 2 chicken breasts.

2) Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper.

3) Spread each chicken breast half with a little less than 1 tbsp of the softened goat cheese. Top with 1 slice of the prosciutto.

4) Roll the chicken into a tight cylinder; tie with kitchen twine. Dredge each chicken “roll” in flour.

5) Melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat in a skillet (don’t use nonstick).

6) Add the mushrooms; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, and set aside.

7) Add the remaining butter and peanut oil to the skillet (still over medium-high). Once melted, add in the chicken rolls.

8) Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, turning 4 times, for a total of 16 minutes. Remove the chicken to the plate with mushrooms.

9) Add the chicken broth to the skillet; being careful about a flare-up, add the Amaretto.

10) Bring the sauce up to a boil, and stir/scrape to deglaze all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by a third.

11) Return the chicken and mushrooms to the skillet, turning to coat in the sauce and heating through.

No step-by-step pictures again—I’m sorry. But Lol Foodie has wonderful photos that accompany the recipe; if you need help, refer to the original recipe. And ok, yeah, I know this doesn’t sound too healthy: there is liqueur and goat cheese and prosciutto involved for goodness sake! I did modify a few things from the original recipe in the name of health: I decreased the amount of goat cheese (which I would usually frown upon); increased the amount of chicken in the equation (from half a breast to one whole breast per “roll”); and I traded some of the butter for olive oil. In addition, I limited myself to half of a “roll” with my large salad and side of carrots. In other words, it could have been a lot worse.

Did I mention that this was delicious? It was: the outside was so brown and crispy; the inside was moist chicken and creamy goat cheese and smoky, salty prosciutto.

Basil carrots

Adapted from a recipe by Jason and Shawnda

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: feta cheese

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Peel the carrots and halve lengthwise.

3) Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil.

4) Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil; spread carrots on the baking sheet and cover with more foil.

5) Roast for 40 minutes.

6) If desired, add feta cheese to top of carrots before serving.

These were tasty! I decided to roast them the way that I normally do rather than the method suggested in the original recipe. The recipe also suggested thyme, which I didn’t have, so I happily substituted the fresh basil I had on hand.

When I pulled the carrots out of the oven, I thought at first that I had burned them; the ends were black and slightly charred looking. I happily found out that the suspicious black pieces of carrot were just caramelized; they had a great chewy texture and a nice sweet and smoky flavor.

The next day (Sunday) was Star Trek night at our friends’ home; these friends started the weekly tradition and so every Sunday we travel to their house to watch, drink, and watch Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer traverse space and battle foes. I’ve never been a Trekkie but I’m finding that I enjoy Star Trek the more that I watch of it.

Anyway, I really wanted to bring something to our latest gathering because our friends are so nice to host us every week and they usually have snacks and booze for us. And that bring us to snacks! You might see a repeat of a few ingredients from other recipes I used this week and that’s because I like to use what I have in the fridge and cupboards as much as I can; that’s also why I have so many adaptations to recipes that I found online.

Roasted Garlic

Adapted from a recipe at Life’s Ambrosia

Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb (or head) garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut ¼ inch off the top of the bulb of garlic to expose the cloves beneath; do not peel the garlic: you want to roast it in the skin.

3) Place bulb on a piece of aluminum foil; place butter on top of bulb, pour lemon juice over the garlic and sprinkle with salt.

4) Bring up all sides of aluminum foil and twist together to close.

5) Cook for 60 minutes or until garlic cloves are soft and golden in color. Allow to cool.

6) To eat, remove garlic cloves with a fork and spread on top of French bread or good crackers.

If you have never eaten roasted garlic, you are missing out. The flavor is milder, sweeter, and deeper than that of raw or sautéed garlic. It is fantastic with in pasta or on poultry or steak; it is just as great with a nice cheese on a great piece of bread. Seriously, make some now. You won’t regret it.

The next recipe comes from a novel. I recently finished ready Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell; the book is a fictionalized account of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, Caterina. It is a really enthralling read and it is very well-written. In it, the character Caterina da Vinci often makes a compote that her aunt taught her to make. “Compote” is French for mixture but it seems to usually mean a mixture of either fruits or meats cooked on a low temperature for a long time; the result is that the meat or fruit breaks down and the flavors of the dish combine. This particular compote is made with olives and grapes and fresh herbs. Yes, I am aware of how unusual this combination sounds; The Boyfriend was quite vocal in his doubts as well, and to be honest I was a little unsure of how the flavors would combine. Well all of the doubts were for naught as the compote was delicious and well-received by everyone at Star Trek night.

Grape and Olive Compote

Adapted from a recipe by Robin Maxwell

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Kalamata olives, pits removed
  • Equal amount red seedless grapes + 3 tbsp
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herb (thyme, basil, or rosemary)

Directions:

1) Mix all ingredients in an ovenproof dish and bake uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees, turning the fruit every 15 minutes with a spoon to recoat them with the oil and vinegar.

2) Serve warm or cold with soft goat cheese on crusty bread or with crackers, or use as a side dish with fish or poultry.

My total snack spread wound up being goat cheese, a bulb of roasted garlic, the olive-grape compote, some slices of Muenster and Habanero cheddar cheeses, pan-fried prosciutto, and a loaf of sliced Italian bread. I’m big on bread and cheese so I was quite content with the finished product; and yes, this was my dinner for the evening, haha.

Ok, so end-of-blog question time: what is your favorite food/recipe to bring to a party?

Man Food

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The Boyfriend is big into “Man Food”: bad for you, totally epic food made out of everything in the cupboard. I think he feels this is a balance to the healthy stuff I make, haha. He wanted to improve upon the last epic dog and so we did. With that, I bring you:

Epic Dog II: The Reckoning

Ingredients:

  • 1 hot dog (Hebrew National brand)
  • 1 bun
  • 2 slices bacon
  • ½ oz (3 slices) habanero cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp ranch
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapeno slices, chopped
  • 2 tbsp crushed Mrs. Vickie’s jalapeno chips

 Directions:

1) Start by cooking the bacon. You can cook it however you want—oven, microwave, skillet—but I highly recommend frying it to achieve maximum bacon-crispiness.

2) While the bacon is cooking, get your cheese sliced, your jalapenos chopped, your chips crushed, and the hot dog cooked.

3) Remove bacon from skillet and drain grease. Halve each piece of bacon so that you have 4 small pieces rather than 2 huge ones.

4) Assemble hot dog as so: bun, hot dog, bacon, jalapenos, and cheese. Pop the whole thing in the oven at broil until cheese melts. Remove from oven and top with ranch and potato chip crumbs.

If you have ever seen Epic Mealtime than you know that they keep a fat and calorie counter at the bottom of the video. Their concoctions are usually in the tens of thousands of calories and always have double- or triple-digit fat grams. The Boyfriend decided that he wanted to go full-on EMT and see how his epic dog compared. If you want to enjoy this dog then you should probably ignore the next part: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Food Calories Fat
Bun 110 1.5
Hot dog 110 9
Bacon 80 7
Cheese 55 4.5
Ranch 70 7
Chips 50 3
Total 475 32

Epic Mealtime

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Epic Mealtime

Yesterday I was in the kitchen, minding my own business, making myself a midday snack when I was confronted by The Boyfriend. He too was in search of a midday pick-me-up, but where my snack was light and (by most standards) healthy, The Boyfriend was high off of a Youtube binge and wanted something epic.

Have you ever seen the Youtube series Epic Mealtime? EMT is a Youtube cooking show that focuses on making high-calorie food, usually consisting of a lot of meat (especially bacon) and alcohol. The guys make things like tacos (using bacon weave as the taco shells; bacon slices as chips for the nachos; Patron guacamole, salsa, and cheese sauce) or chili (with Four Loko poured on top, eaten with a paddle out of a bacon-lined trough). All of their…creations are half exciting, half nauseating. The Boyfriend is a big fan of super fatty food and of Epic Mealtime and he has been hankering to make some epic food of his own. On this particular day, we decided to make his epic dreams come true and we created A Dog of Epic Proportions.

Epic Dog

Ingredients:

  • 1 Hebrew National all-beef hot dog
  • 1 hot dog bun
  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned, cooked, and shredded
  • Sliced Muenster cheese
  • Sliced pickled jalapenos
  • 2 tbsp Siracha mayo (2 tbsp mayo + 1tsp Siracha, mixed together)
  • 1 tbsp Triscuit crumbs or similar (potato chips would work)

Directions:

1) Turn oven on to broil. Start by toasting your hot dog bun. We just put ours into a toaster but it would have been even better buttered and toasted in a pan on the stove.

2) Heat up the hot dog and, if necessary, the chicken.

3) Spread Siracha mayo liberally on the hot dog bun; butterfly the hot dog (slice lengthwise).

4) Add hot dog and top with shredded chicken and sliced jalapenos.

5) Cover dog with slices of Muenster cheese and put hot dog on a cookie sheet into the oven. Cook about 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven and add Triscuit crumbs. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

The Boyfriend, ready to attack

This was a dog befitting of Thor

This was a damn tasty dog, let me tell you. And I know what you’re thinking: “I thought you were trying to change your life, live healthier. Isn’t Epic Dog sort of against that?” Don’t you worry—while I did have a bite of The Boyfriend’s snack, I made myself a much lighter (and healthier) snack: Triscuits, a wedge of the low-fat Laughing Cow swiss, and 3 slices of tomato, all washed down with a glass of iced Earl Gray. Some of this healthy eating stuff ain’t so bad 😉


PS I talked The Boyfriend into trying Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown DVD with me and let me tell you, it was kind of awesome. I thought it was going to be easy compared to her other kick-(my)ass DVDs but it wasn’t. It burned for the whole 18 minutes. But I really liked it! If you have ever wanted to try yoga, check out Jillian’s DVD.  It’ll get you stretched and balanced, mentally and physically.