Friday, April 29, 2011

Creamed Spinach with Toasted Panko-Bacon Breadcrumbs

Mike wanted to have steak for dinner and since he is the grill master, I told him I would come up with a side dish.   For whatever reason, I really wanted spinach and when I pulled the steak out of the freezer I saw bacon.  Bacon and spinach...yum!  I spent the entire day at work coming up with this recipe in my head.  I know, it is pathetic.  What I came up with sounded really good in theory, but I was scared about the outcome.  I shouldn't have been, it was WONDERFUL!

What you Need:
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1 medium onion (I used yellow) diced
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 carton of sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 c half and half
  • 1/2 skim milk (or whatever you typically have)
  • 2 bags of spinach (about 12 oz total)
  • 1/2 c Parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Start by browning bacon in a large, high walled sautee pan.

When bacon is completely browned, pull it out and let it drain on a paper towel.  Leave the bacon fat in the pan!

Add your cut onions and garlic to the bacon fat.  You can dice them or cut them into slivers (that's what I did).

Stir in the mushrooms and cook until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are cooked through.

Add 2 tbs of flour, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Slowly add in the half and half and the milk.  Let the mixture thicken for about 5 minutes.

Add in your spinach.  You have to do it in batches, working to wilt the spinach.  Work the liquids around the spinach and before you know it, they wilt to a quarter of their original size.

Once all the spinach is wilted, add in the Parmesan cheese. 

Stir to combine.

In a separate pan, add a tsp of butter and melt over medium heat.  When the butter is melted add in the Panko bread crumbs to toast.

When you see the bread crumbs start to brown, add the bacon in to reheat. 

To serve you can either place a serving of spinach on the plate and top with the toasted breadcrumb mixture (the easy way) or put the spinach into a nice dish and top the whole thing with the bread crumbs.  We did it the easy way since it was just the two of us and we didn't want to do another dish!

Mike grilled the steaks and then our meal was complete! 

The creamy, mushroomy, spinachy mix went great with the steaks!  I would definitely make this side dish again!

It would also be really easy to make this dish vegetarian friendly.  Exclude the bacon and use olive oil (about 3 tbs) instead of the bacon fat to cook the onions and other veggies.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Salt and Vinegar Chip Crusted Cod

    This takes fish and chips to the next level of AWESOME!  I saw this on How Sweet It Is a few weeks ago and my jaw dropped!  What a genius idea!?  When I showed Mike, he was as equally as excited.  Due to a busy schedule, I wasn't able to come home and make it right away; I had to suffer for weeks before Mike and I had a chance to try out this recipe.  I liked how it turned out, Mike was a little disappointed!  Unfortunately, the vinegar taste was lost after they baked, but I just sprinkled some vinegar on the fish after (malt vinegar would be best).  I served it with a makeshift tartar sauce and Mike thought it helped.

    What you Need:
    • 1 lbs Cod
    • 1 c flour
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c crushed Chips (we used the salt and vinegar)

    Start by crushing the potato chips.  You can use multiple different techniques to get the job done.  You can put the chips into a zip-lock bag and use a rolling pin, crush by hand or (what I did) put the chips in a bowl and smash with the same size bowl on top.  You want it to be coarsely ground.

    Whisk the two eggs in a separate bowl.

    Place the flour in to another bowl and your dredging station is ready!

    Cut your fish into manageable sections.  The Cod Mike brought home was in two large piece.  I cut them into sections that would fit in to the bowls I was using.

    Coat the fish in the flour, making sure it is completely covered.

    Then give it a bath in the eggs.

    And finally coat the egg soaked fish in chip crumbs.

    Spray a grill grate liberally with non-stick cooking spray.  Place on top of a cookie sheet (to catch any drippings) and put into a preheated 420 degree oven for 18 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  It started to smell like something was burning quickly into the cooking process, but everything was okay (and not burnt). 

    They come out nice and golden brown!  If the fish flakes easily, it is done.

    To make my "tartar" sauce.  Mix 3 tbs of light mayo, 2 tsp relish, 4 good dashes of Worcestershire and cracked black pepper.  Stir to combine and you are good to go!

    I just served it with a small salad.  I loved its crunch.  I thought it was a great and it was a super simple supper!  If you do make this, don't be scared to use regular chips, the vinegar really didn't add much.


    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Lemon Curd-Filled Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

    For Easter, I didn't have to make a big meal, my only responsibility was to make dessert for my Aunt's house.  I know how much my Mom loves lemon so she was my inspiration for this recipe.  I made the lemon curd a couple days in advance.  For the icing I decided on a raspberry.  I could not find a recipe that seemed acceptable so I guessed!  It turned out pretty well and the flavors were GREAT together!

    What you Need:
    • Favorite yellow cake (and prepare according to directions)
    • homemade lemon curd (see recipe) or store bought
    • 1 stick of butter
    • 1/4 c raspberry preserves (seedless)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp raspberry extract
    • 3 c powder sugar
    • 2 tbs heavy whipping cream

    Prepare the cupcakes as directed, bake and cool completely.

    When cooled, using a knife, apple corer or an icing tip, scoop out some of the center of the cupcake.

    You want to create a good well to put the lemon curd into.

    Using a baggie or a pastry bag, scoop the lemon curd in and snip the corner off.  Don't make the opening too big in the baggie.

    Pipe into each individual cupcake. 

    If it is a little bit out of the well, it is okay.  You are going to cover it with icing anyway.

    Now it is time to start the icing!  In the mixing bowl, add in softened butter, the vanilla extract and the raspberry extract. 

    Cream until fluffy.

    Add in the raspberry preserves and mix well.  The preserves turn it to a really pretty color!

    Slowly add in your sugar.  Let it incorporate fully between each cup.

    Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the cream.  Beat on high for about 4 minutes.

    You are ready to decorate the cupcakes!  Using a piping bag or a knife, spread generous portions of icing on to each cupcake.

    If you are going to do HUGE blobs like I did, you might want to make a batch and a half of icing.  I ran out with about 8 cupcakes to go...booo!

      It is a really nice pop of sunshine when you bite into the lemon curd.  It is a very good cupcake for spring or Easter.

    You can find suitable cupcake liners that fit any occasion.  I found these adorable little chicky cupcake liners at Target, but they have a very limited selection.  The largest selection I have ever seen is at Michael's craft store.

    My family really enjoyed them.  

    Most importantly my muse for this recipe, my Mom, really liked them!  My dorkous brother liked them too.

    My Mom did tell me that when she took the leftovers into work, some of her co-workers said they were too sweet.  Others thought they were great and asked my Mom for more!  The next day, my Mom took the cupcakes without the icing in (that were just curd filled) and they LOVED them!  You know your sweet tooth better than me, so you make the call!

    Monday, April 25, 2011


    I love Easter!  The weather is warming up, the flowers are out and everything is coming to life!  I also love the traditions we have in my family and spending time with all of our loved ones.  When you are in a relationship, you have to figure out how to get to see everyone, while still making sure you have an enjoyable time.  Mike and I did that perfectly this year!  We started Sunday morning at my Mom's.  We brought her a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe's.

    She made our traditional Easter breakfast.  Most people would probably cringe at what we eat, but I think it is DELISH!  It is creamed eggs.  It's just like cream chipped beef, but instead of the beef, it is hard boiled eggs. 

    After we ate, we waited for my brother and sister-in-law to arrive so we could start the egg hunt.  That is right, at 27 and 33 (Michael's age), we still do an egg hunt!  It has become more about who can find all of their eggs first.

    My Mom hides different colored eggs (15 each) all around her back yard.  Each person is assigned a color.  The first one to find all of their eggs WINS!  The hardest color to find is green...guess what color I got this year?!  GREEN, ARRGH!  You actually don't win anything besides bragging rights. 

    Let the games begin!!

    We hunt, we scower, we race to find all of our eggs, but there could only be one winner and this year it was ME!!

    Michael was defeated again by his little sister, but did come in second...

    Abby came in 3rd and Mike came in 4th.  It takes a real man to wear capris, do an egg hunt and carry a pastel basket!

    and get a foot in the face...

    He is just the best!

    And my Mom is simply amazing for putting so much time and effort into our Easter traditions.

    We hung out for a bit longer at my Mom's and then Mike and I headed up to his Dad's house to watch the Flyers game and eat dinner.  Mike's Dad's version of an Easter decoration...

    Some things that you should know.  Mike's Dad LOVES bears!  We call him Kenny Bear for a reason!  Also, he is a huge Flyers fan!  So, to celebrate, he took the innocent Yabbit the Rabbit, put a bear mask on him, a Scott Hartnell wig, and sunglasses.  I have to admit, Yabbit looks pretty good (and semi creepy).  At the start of the 3rd period of the Flyers game, we ate dinner (and watched the game).

    Jeanne, Mike's stepmom put together one heck of a feast!  She made ham, green beans, potatoes, corn casserole, coleslaw, rolls and lasagna.  How many people were there?  100?  Nope!  Only 8!  She knows how to make people's bellies happy! 

    It was a great group of people!  We had a great time and THE FLYERS WON!!!  WAHOO!!  Mike and I had to press on to our next and final stop.  My fabulous Aunt Patti's.

    Every Easter at my Aunt's we do appetizers and desserts!  We found in years past that we got so full off of apps that there was no room for the main course!  Plus, dessert has always ment more to us!

    I don't know how I managed, but I ate some more apps.  It would be rude not to try their food!  We also had some desserts including the lemon curd filled cupcakes with raspberry butter cream that I made.  Everyone seemed to like them!

    So, we saw Kenny Bear's interesting Easter is my Aunt's...

    It's a lizard, dragon, thing that she put bunny ears on...very creative!  We took our family picture...a few times...

    our model shot
    Mike and I stayed a little bit longer, but the craziness of the day was getting to us.  We packed it up and said our goodbyes and headed home.  We ate a bowl of ice cream and nachos (completely joking, I don't think I am going to eat for a month).  It was such an AWESOME Easter!  I'm glad that we got to see the majority of our family.  Also, that I was VICTORIOUS!  Maybe Madee will be my strongest competition next year!