review, Travel

Thurmont, MD and Gettysburg, PA

My group of friends decided we needed to go away for a weekend and all of us have been wanting to see Gettysburg National park so we headed up that way a few weeks ago. Of course this meant packing up my entire house. Poor Lloyd gets so overwhelmed by how much I pack when we go on a road trip. But we always manage to get it all in the car.

cYiRR2TJRmii7mxtczc18g

We rented a very cute little airbnb up in Thurmont, MD. It was about a thirty minute drive south of Gettysburg and located near some nice wineries and other attractions. We also happened to be celebrating 4 March birthdays I set up one of the living rooms as a birthday center when we arrived.

S+crbUQQROaBpUWGqcQ48g

And then it was time get our food and wine organized! We started off the evening with a nice meat and cheese board because that’s always a crowd pleaser. Meat and Cheese straight from Wegman’s, provided by Reese, one of the birthday girls!

As far as wine went we weren’t sure if we brought enough for the weekend. we actually didn’t end up getting through it all but we sure tried. You can thank Claire for the artistic wine set-up.

fullsizeoutput_5920

Once everyone arrived it was time for dinner. We had a Sweet Potato and Turkey Shepherd’s Pie along with a strawberry and basil salad. Don’t mind Lloyd’s super creepy face. It’s just his “about to eat” look.

The next morning we got up bright and early to head up to gettysburg. The area we were staying in was absolutely beautiful and we were greeted with some absolutely stunning views. Claire caught the sunrise through her bedroom windows. It was like a rainbow.

IMG_3172fullsizeoutput_5922

We had to hurry up and get out of the house so we would have plenty of time to explore the park and the town. I had made these Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches ahead of time and they definitely went over well. I made some strong ginger spiced Indian tea to go along with them. Perfect combo.

fullsizeoutput_5949ykYe9fmOQGCY6bKz3BZeNQ

Gettysburg National Park is huge extending over much of the current town of Gettysburg, PA. The visitor center has a visually stunning movie as well as an incredible cyclorama. We walked through the museum and got the car CD that gives you an audio tour of the different locations of the battlefield. It takes 3 or 4 hours to get through the drive and another hour or so tour the museum. So plan to spend a good chunk of your day being overwhelmed by the loss of life.

5LANxDcQRtuRAJWmD8VlgQ

We actually ended up breaking up our day and doing the museum/visitor’s center in the morning and the drive through the park in the afternoon. We went to a pub in downtown Gettysburg called Garryowen Irish Pub. The food was great and the drinks were cold and refreshing. They even do a black velvet which is champagne and Guinness. Basically nectar of the Gods.

After that we stopped by a local winery’s tasting room. It’s called Knob Hill Winery. The wine was a little sweeter than I prefer but the ambience in the tasting room superb!

When we had finished at the park we headed back to the house for the evening’s main event! We had planned on a murder mystery party using a kit we found on amazon. It’s designed as a “flexi party” so that the murderer changes every time which means you can use the kit again and again.

 

Dinner was a three course affair, that synched up with the murder mystery party. We started off with Crockpot French Onion Soup and then moved onto Herbs de Provence Chicken with Roasted Vegetables and Ratatouille. Because we were traveling I had brought up aluminum baking trays and it was great idea because nothing the house had was big enough. It’s going to be my new go-to plan whenever I travel.

The whole evening was fantastic and we rounded it off by celebrating everyone’s birthdays. Claire ordered these cakes from Shyndigz in Richmond, VA and Kimbrough brought them up. We had a salted caramel and strawberry lemon cake. Divine! Ignore the bizarre cake toppers we had to get creative to make sure everyone was represented.

The next morning was a little lazy and slow because we didn’t have to be out of the house very early. Luckily I had made a Savory Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal so I didn’t have to get up and fuss in the kitchen. The handmade bacon and sausage from Woodbury Farms that Steve brought was just the thing to make the morning perfect.

q6ktFNvkSr+rN8aVZ7XLXw

To sum up we had a fabulous weekend filled with friends, food, wine. Gettysburg was moving and unimaginable all at the same time. And our time in our Thurmont, MD Airbnb was just perfect. On the way home we stopped by Springfield Manor which was an immense visit! More on that soon!

Food, recipe

Chicken Caprese Brunch

The other night I made a delicious Caprese Chicken Bake and we had a couple of leftover breasts. Not enough for a full meal and I already dinner plans for the next couple of days. So I decided to turn them into brunch. Lloyd and I firmly believe that you can turn anything into brunch with a side of bacon and eggs.

Wcy9NK93QTyxBow7SQpmGA

They looked pretty good at dinner time. But by the next time and a night spent in the fridge they were decidedly unappetizing. The challenge was going to be heating them up without drying out the breasts. The oven would have dried them out so I just put them in a non-stick pan and covered them.

QkjK6JGCT6CedDg%QAUfWA

See, not particularly pretty. But stay with me, it does get better! While the chicken was being reheated I put the last of my delicious Woodbury Farms bacon in the oven. I prefer to cook bacon in the oven because it’s a no muss, no fuss situation this way.

gLj+RgEmSJChFp3Azjc5Sw

Another little trick I like to use when making a meal with a couple of different items coming off the stove/oven at different times is heating my plates in the microwave and storing food in their while the next item is being prepared.

TXy3bFJpSDWUFGnX+F2dKg

Once the chicken was heated through I put that in the microwave and checked on my bacon. Poor little lonely guy all alone. Don’t worry buddy, your friends are coming.

vfSNr5QYS6mAcSglTu0wlA

When it was about five minutes from being ready I started making eggs. I used my Woodbury Farms eggs. Don’t mind the straw, not washing them keeps them fresh on the counter for much longer than washed eggs will hold up in the fridge.

%ClnmuQHQFKW22%WmlxJJw

Now I had bacon, eggs and a reheated chicken breast. But I still had this plate of soggy chicken juice leftover from the pan the night before. It was tasty if gooey-looking but what was I going to do with it?

jfMLgnZvQ3OlyfJbznjLiw

I decided to reduce it down with a healthy splash of white balsamic vinegar and use it as a sauce over my eggs. The balsamic also balances out your caprese flavors. I cranked the heat right up in my pan and added the vinegar. I use Figone’s white balsamic vinegar. If you ever find yourself in Sonoma, CA I would head to their tasting room and check them out!

S+DdFISSSOK4AWvYRxyMdg

I stirred constantly because I didn’t want this to burn and in about a minute it had thickened up and was nicely sticky. Once you see these great big bubbles and your sauce has achieved a uniform color you know it’s ready.

Bdz8mc7wR72PE%TFxnfE6w

Now take your plate with the chicken, bacon and eggs and just spoon it on!

1uFk7ttNRhmofNSy5j6yJg

To make a long story short, anything can be brunch as long as you add bacon and eggs. Remember that.

Ingredients:

  1. Last night’s chicken breasts
  2. Last night’s chicken sauce
  3. Bacon
  4. Eggs
  5. White balsamic vinegar

Recipe:

  1. Place bacon on a rack and put in cold oven set to 400 degrees fahrenheit. As the oven heats, so does the bacon given you a perfect cook on your bacon. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Heat chicken breasts (covered) in a non stick pan and then place on heated plates in the microwave.
  3. Cook eggs in same pan and place on plates in microwave.
  4. Reduce chicken sauce down with some white balsamic vinegar. Try to use a ratio of 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 of your sauce.
  5. Once sauce is bubbling spoon onto the eggs and add your bacon to the plate.
  6. Serve with salt, pepper and hot sauce if that’s how you roll.
Food, recipe

Caprese Chicken Bake

It’s almost spring here. Almost. And Spring means basil. Basil means pesto. So. Much. Pesto. But it’s not quite spring and I don’t have enough fresh basil at the moment so I had to settle for the store bought variety. I had a pile of frozen, pesto marinaded chicken breasts in the freezer which I used to make this low carb dinner.

8m1iwr95qaivkrb1kc7kw.jpg

I spread them out on a baking sheet and covered them in the ready made pesto. I also realized that sizing wise I had some that were way too big so I cut them down so that everything was more similar size-wise. And then covered with fresh mozzarella.

50u8ilsdsmqqjgil9g5zkq.jpg

I added in some tomatoes both for color and because the fresh tomato taste is integral to a good caprese balance. I also sprinkled on some fresh ground pepper. Anyone form the south will tell you that ripe tomatoes just require fresh ground pepper.

3kTrdKH4RQWyOt+dtNlszA

Now it was time to bake. Once it came out of the oven Lloyd quipped that I had a cooking fail because it didn’t look particular appetizing. Little did the man know that I had a plan. But it definitely looked unappealing.

YHL1Jv+sRSm5MQQJSh+z+g

However, once I scooped the breasts out of the pan and plated them with a balsamic dressed greens salad (completing the caprese balance) it no longer looked like a cooking fail.

Wcy9NK93QTyxBow7SQpmGA

Hope you enjoy making this! It’s easy, fast and rather healthy if you are looking for low carb options. You can make this recipe with as many or as few chicken breasts as you want. You don’t have to use marinaded chicken if you don’t have it. I just happened to have some in my freezer and decided to use those. Also, if you have leftovers just stick them in the fridge and use them for brunch the next morning with this, Chicken Caprese Brunch.

Ingredients:

  1. Pesto
  2. Chicken breasts and/or thighs
  3. Mozzarella (fresh or shredded)
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Pepper
  6. Salad greens
  7. Balsamic dressing

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Cut chicken pieces to approximately the same size and cover with pesto.
  3. Top chicken pieces with mozzarella followed by tomatoes and sprinkle on some pepper.
  4. Bake chicken for 30-40 minutes until cheese is starting get golden and bubbly. Liquid will release. Do not be alarmed.
  5. Serve with greens lightly tossed in balsamic dressing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, recipe

Gingery Egg Drop Soup

Whenever I’m a bit under the weather nothing makes me feel better than egg drop soup with extra ginger. The spiciness of the ginger really opens up my sinuses and settles my tummy. Plus I just love the flavor combos with the silky cooked egg and warmly seasoned chicken. Anyway, onto the cooking! I usually start by grating up my ginger. This used to be a really onerous task that put me off making this soup. But ever since I got my I See Spain grater bowl and plate I have been itching to make this soup.

I grated down a whole knob of garlic in next to no time. When I’ve used graters or my microplane in the past I feel like it takes forever to make even a little dent in your ginger.  And I hate getting out the blender to blitz up a knob of ginger because it clutters up my limited counter space and adds a bulky item to my sink. Anyway, now it’s time to season my chicken. I do this first so that it has some time to marinade while the veggies cook. You could cube up your meat but I prefer the thin slice method. Go against the grain with a very sharp knife and you will get through all your breasts (or things if you desire) very quickly.

jav7LzONTxaLhu5xr2%Ctw

Now it’s time to marinade! I use the ginger I ground in the beginning as well as garlic I ground up in the same dish. And then my dry spices; salt, pepper, crushed red peppers and asian five spice. And then a couples of splashes of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

Once you have everything added to your chicken you want to give it a very good mix and let it rest while you go on to the next step.

Once you have your chicken marinading it’s time to get your soup pan heating. I use a dutch oven because I like the nice consistent heat it gives. I have dreams to one day own a Le Creuset dutch oven, but for now my target one serves me very well. But, I digress. Onto the obligatory vegetable photo shoot!

a5dXky97T8WfAuwhg8RS2AOJEf4hLaTcOJylC1uzaLjQ

You want these to gently caramelize while you get the rest of your ingredients ready. A key to a good onion based soup is to really give your onions time to cook. This can take, at a minimum, 20-30 minutes and requires oils with a higher smoking point. I’ve recently started using avocado oil because it’s has similar healthy properties to EVOO but has the needed high smoking point. I also put in a splash of sesame oil because I love the way it smells. Even though I know it’s more of a Japanese thing than Chinese.

+MaWdNUuQ4OJfQ6uxa7NDA

I can not stress enough how important cooking your onions all the way down is. I know it’s tedious and I know you think they are done. But they aren’t. Give them that extra ten minutes. Your mouth will thank you.

ARS6aWozTUaQDbboQS97Tw

In order to not loose patience with my onions I usually reserve some of my prepping tasksfor the time that they will be cooking. In this case I grated up some more ginger and garlic, which doesn’t take very long thanks to the I See Spain grater plate. Also, it could have been done when I initially grated up the ginger and garlic. I just love using it so much that I didn’t mind the extra step. And since I had some time to kill I had a lovely photo session with my shiitakes.

fullsizeoutput_5a0e

Wipe your mushrooms down, don’t rinse them as this makes them slimy. Then just cut them into thin strips. I include the stems. For those of you that don’t like mushrooms you can opt not to include them or swap them out for baby corn or bamboo shoots.

m54WtQYtQ6uEScUxK%kpNQ

Once your onions are cooked things start moving along pretty quickly. Turn your heat all the way up and add in that extra garlic, ginger and some salt and pepper to season your onions. You don’t want these to cook too long and burn so immediately add in your chicken and give things a very good stir.

Your chicken will probably start to break up. This is perfectly fine and to be expected. You can even use your spatula to break up some bigger pieces. The idea is to have small spoon sized morsels of chicken. Keep moving the chicken around until it is fully cooked and starting to dry out.

D18bppAFTlKDNPnwwnFV2A

Don’t worry about things sticking to the bottom of the pan. We are going to get this off in a bit. First add in your mushrooms and let them cook down, lower your heat to medium. and start adding in small splashes of chicken stock to deglaze the bottom of your pan.

C0jQII8iS9eKyYIlu8ciNw

Once you have your pan nicely deglaze add in the rest of your stock and let it simmer for as long as you can. I usually like it to have a couple of hours so that all the flavors can marry together. Taste, taste, taste to make sure things are coming together the way you want!

ycPD4G9GSjOKzhR90jftjA

Once you have your soup where you want it bring it back up to a roaring boil and get ready to add in your eggs. Whisk them up in a measuring cup with salt, pepper and a pinch of your asian five spice. I couldn’t find my measuring cup so I used a gravy boat.

XmhzxVwJTr6KGyUtUiHHSg

The key to this is to keep your soup moving and pour slowly. Normally this is something that I can do on my own but because I wanted to get a boomerang I asked Lloyd to help. So now, if you ask him, he made this soup. You don’t see my hand moving the spatula but I should have been. Moving your soup around ensures nice stringy bits of egg as opposed to clumps of scrambled eggs.

The eggs cooks almost instantly so as soon you pop that in you can turn the heat off and serve. We are always looking for low carb alternatives so instead of fried wonton strips we topped our soup with bean sprouts which are just as crunchy and don’t get as soggy when sitting in the soup.

I also sprinkle on some scallions because I like that little pop of green as well as the fresh tangy, onion taste it adds to the flavor.

zt9fp9woqdgp7oiuoi9otq.jpg

Serving is up to you though. If you want to top it with water chestnuts and wontons than go for it! You do you!

TV1vZvpMTuiWKYcu7n6N1A

I used about 2 lbs of meat because I knew we would eat this all week long. So this recipe feeds 4-6. But feel free to half this to something more manageable. Or double to feed a large group.

Marinade Ingredients:

  1. 1 knob of ginger, grated
  2. 4-5 grated cloves of garlic
  3. 2 Tbsp asian five spice
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. 1 Tbsp crushed red peppers
  6. 1 Tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  7. 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Soup Ingredients:

  1. 2 lbs chicken breast
  2. 1 large white onion
  3. 8 oz shiitake mushrooms
  4. 2 boxes of unsalted chicken stock
  5. Excess ginger and garlic reserved from marinade
  6. 2 eggs, well beaten
  7. 1 bunch of scallions
  8. Bean sprouts

Recipe:

  1. Thinly slice chicken breasts and toss together with marinade ingredients. Reserve about a teaspoon of grated garlic and ginger. Set chicken aside to marinade.
  2. Dice one large white onion and cook on a low heat in oil with a high smoking point and a dash of sesame oil.
  3. Julienne shiitake mushrooms.
  4. Once onions are fully cooked. Turn heat up and add reserved ginger and garlic to pan.
  5. Immediately follow with marinaded chicken strips and stir frequently. Chicken will begin to break up.
  6. Once chicken is fully cooked and starting to dry out turn your heat down to medium and add in mushrooms. Incorporate completely.
  7. As mushrooms begin to shrink and sweat start deglazing your pan with the unsalted chicken stock by adding in small amounts and scraping the bottom.
  8. Once fully deglazed pour in the rest of the stock and let simmer for 1-3 hours. Taste during this time to help balance flavors.
  9. Beat and season eggs with salt, pepper and a pinch of asian five spice.
  10. When ready to serve bring soup to a roaring boil and slowly pour in your beaten eggs while constantly stirring the soup.
  11. Serve hot with scallions and bean sprouts for garnish.
Food, recipe

Asian Five Spice

Sometimes I get really annoyed by how expensive spice mixes can be. They are definitely convenient but marked up. So I’ve gotten into the habit of making my own for some of the easier ones. A very easy one to start with is Asian Five Spice. Easy because the clue is in the name. It only has five ingredients.

fullsizeoutput_5a10

Another nice thing about making your own spice mix is that you can get the balance you like. We prefer spicy food so I use an equal ratio of szechwan peppercorns in my mix. Although a lot of places will recommend less peppercorns. Use what makes your taste buds happy.

RrSp4f6gQxuaCYBOLxu5LA

I have a coffee grinder that I reserve just for blitzing my spice mixes. I did the cinnamon and whole star anise first because they are the biggest, and hardest to crush up. Then added in the rest. It’s a lot easier to get all of your spice powder out with a small brush so if you are heading down the make your own spice blend road I suggest getting one.

 

Storing is easy. Use any airtight container you have at hand, this could mean a mason jar or rubber maid container, or even a zip-lock bag. I used up the last of my star anise for this so I didn’t make a very large batch. If you don’t have whole star anise feel free to substitute in the seeds (as I clearly did). Use about a 1/4 tea spoon for every pod you are replacing. But as long as you have the proportions right you can make as much or as little as you want.

5ht0ZsrGR62pbfuA2LDECg

Ingredients:

  1. 1 stick cinnamon
  2. 3-4 star anise pods
  3. 1/2 tsp of cloves
  4. 1 tsp of szechwan peppercorns
  5. 1 tsp of fennel seeds

Recipe:

  1. Blend all ingredients into a fine powder in a coffee grinder or blender.
  2. Store in an airtight container. Lasts for up to a year.
  3. Use in any asian inspired dish, best with Chinese cuisine.
Food, review

Hoke Poke; Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA is very much a foodie town. But there has been a lack of proper poke for years now. Finally my wish has been granted and we have one in the form of the newly opened Hoke Poke in the Short Pump area of RVA. I’ve been three times in the last week.

1uTgmPYvSfuGeADcOjmTYA

So in the vein of Chipotle this is a pick your base and add your mix-ins and finish off with an array of toppings and sauces type place. But of course instead of marinaded beef, chicken and pork you get raw fish! Delicious, perfectly marinaded raw fish!

Rice is the most common base for a poke bowl. The Sushi rice is your typical white rice but the bamboo is a more floral and surprisingly green rice. As well as low carb options, specifically kale and mixed greens. There is a wide array of proteins, both raw and cooked. Salmon and Tuna make up the back bone of their options. With spicy tuna and a sweeter version of both salmon and tuna also available. The mix in are a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. You get four mix-ins with a large bowl and three with a small.

mkOR1M9MSDmrz8VYkEkSzg

The next bar you are going to hit is the toppings bar. Which has some things you would expect; cilantro, wasabi and pickled ginger. But also some more unusual things: seaweed salad and crushed flaming hot Cheetos in particular. You can have as many of these as you want, but the avocado is an up charge.

oj7Keh7MTxKC1NjRfauKNQ

Lloyd and I both went for the spicy tuna but I used a lot more toppings than he did. I also decided to try the bamboo rice. It was definitely filling and very tasty. The next time I went I opted for the mixed greens as a base and I think that might be the way to go. But I’m a weird Indian and don’t particularly like rice.

vp+WAPVzSkOzd5srfG9QjA

I must also mention the boba milk teas! We tried the Taro and the Matcha. The boba was perfect and the flavors in the teas were rich and well balanced. I sampled the Thai tea and the golden milk tea on another visit. And if you go I would recommend the Thai tea, its definitely worth the calories. For non-tea drinkers you have to try their lavender lemonade. Have to.

9nWVHtFcThS2IOO4ogYbUAIf you live in the Richmond, VA area or have a Hoke Poke near you I definitely suggest a visit. If you haven’t had Poke and are a sushi fan than you should absolutely figure out a way to get this delight in your mouth hole.

4TPJvtS0SnCegzMM3nzseA

All in all, a llavender llama, lavender lemonade cheers to Hoke Poke! Thanks for coming to RVA!

Food, recipe

Turkey Salad Wrap

I had to make a quick lunch the other day and luckily I had a small turkey breast in the fridge which I decided to dice up and make into a salad. This time of year it’s easy to find these hunks of ham and turkey. I suggest grabbing them and freezing them for use later on in the year.

Kr7f1vHDT66jrWaSz9qzVQ

Cube the meat and add in some mayo. I know that in some places salad doesn’t mayo. Those places aren’t the south. That being said you don’t need a ton of mayo, just enough to light coat the meat.

ugOShiTTTdOpqEt+2PkzvA

Next it’s time to add any mix-ins you want. I used a trip of bell peppers, some chopped chives and parsley, a little stone ground mustard (Lloyd’s favorite), and pepper. I don’t typically add extra salt as deli meat is usually salted well enough.

CRR8KkrASSiSwfq803onzQ

Give it a good mix until everything is well coated. See, you don’t need a ton of mayo.

IW0NFoGhTiiDEmOhOh1UWA

Next it’s time to assemble. A little lettuce, a little shredded cheese and you are ready to go!

Roll it up and serve! Any extra salad can be kept in the fridge for about 3-4 days. You could also make these ahead of time and eat them for a few days. If you spread the salad greens evenly across the wrap it will stop them from going soggy from the mayo.

7EV%NFKHT4Okzadsp4MVkg

Ingredients:

  1. 1 small package of spiral cut ham or deli trukey
  2. 3 small bell peppers (red, yellow and orange) or one large one
  3. 1 Tbsp chives
  4. 1 Tbsp parsley
  5. 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
  6. Pepper to taste
  7. Wraps
  8. Salad greens
  9. Shredded cheese

Recipe:

  1. Cube your meat
  2. Add in your mayo, bell peppers, chives, parsley, mustard, pepper
  3. Stir well to coat everything evenly
  4. Place salad greens, cheese and turkey salad on wrap and roll up
Food, recipe

Garlic and Pancetta Pasta

Recently I went to the Virginia Wine Expo and while slightly tipsy I bought an I See Spain grater bowl. It is an absolute dream and I made this pasta to showcase it’s greatness!

S+29Mbt3TQS2OUw5XQt8DA

Those raised ridges on the bottom are very sharp and actually grate garlic and other roots, hard cheese and chocolate in seconds. With this dish I used garlic. Add in a little olive oil to the bottom of your dish to help with grating.

mMR6zR3MTz+JMOzG5uy86w

The two cloves only took me a few minutes. In fact the pancetta that I had in the pan had barely started cooking before I was done. Which brings me to the pancetta step. You want this to cook up nice and crispy so do it at a low heat stirring frequently so that nothing burns.

h2Xns2v7QEyMpwQ2zuTuMA

Cook your pasta in boiling water while the pancetta is cooking. The pasta I used called for boiling for about 5-7 minutes but because I was going to finish it off in the pan I only boiled it for about four minutes. And then added it when the pancetta looked like this.

H3eW%QDnRK2LSUQl9R5C5w

Next I added in the pasta and some diced cherry tomatoes.

I3ePSwqbSzyo2JXzcRvBlA

And some parmesan cheese. Because cheese is life.

nsEMhx00S4WByLFIhJVHZw

A healthy splash of your pasta water deglazes the pan and finishes cooking this pasta.

%9j1rxk5Sd2cDiKYRiD+yg

Once the excess moisture as cooked off transfer it into the grater bowl and stir around so that the garlic and oil coats everything.

FHynm4+eRiqTBooQ16SaFA

I also sprinkled in some fresh chopped basil  for color and flavor.

Ingredients (feeds 4)

  1. 1 package of pancetta
  2. 2-3 cloves of garlic
  3. Olive oil
  4. 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  5. 2 cups uncooked pasta
  6. 5-6 chopped basil leaves

Recipe:

  1. Grate garlic and add to olive oil at bottom of serving bowl. Or use an I See Spain grater bowl if you have one.
  2. Boil pasta per the directions on the packet. Shave of 2-3 minutes so that you can finish cooking it your pancetta.
  3. Add pancetta to a warm pan and cook on low heat until crispy and cooked through.
  4. Add your pasta into the pancetta pan.
  5. Toss in cherry tomatoes and parmesan.
  6. Use about a half cup of the pasta water to deglaze and finish cooking your pasta
  7. Transfer into serving and bowl and toss well to coat with garlic and olive oil.
  8. Sprinkle on some chopped basil.
Food, recipe

Shrimp Stuffed Jalapeños Wrapped in Bacon

I was tooling around Trader Joe’s when I saw these frozen tiger shrimp and inspiration struck! I had some fancy Woodbury Farms bacon at home as well as some jalapeños. I was going to take that shrimp and make something delicious!

IMG_1394

So, I knew from personal experience that these Jalapeños are super spicy so I wanted to neutralize some of the spice.

IMG_1397

I do this with a mix of vinegar and water and letting them soak. I’ve read that you can use lemon-lime soda (like Sprite) but have never tried that. To get started you need to halve and remove the pith from your peppers.

IMG_1399

Removing the pith is much easier if you use a spoon. It’s dull it hurts more to quote Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. All joking aside the pith is where the spice hides so remove it.

IMG_1402

Next place them in a bowl and let them soak for about an hour in a 1:3 vinegar to water mix. The longer they soak the less spicy they will become.

IMG_1403

Don’t worry about getting all the seeds off before you soaking. They will rinse off easily at the end.

IMG_1404

Take advantage of that soaking time by letting your cream cheese soften, your bacon come to room temperature and your shrimp defrost. Once your cream cheese is soft you can go ahead and make your filling mix.

IMG_1407

I used chopped parsley, fine diced shallot and red bell pepper as well as some minced garlic, salt and pepper.

IMG_1408

I gave it a really good stir and then once everything was at room temp I got myself all set up to prep my peppers.

IMG_1410

I arranged my peppers so they were reasonably back together, or at least so that the sizes matched up and filled them with the cream cheese.

IMG_1412

Next I sandwiched a shrimp that best matched the jalapeño in size and shape in between the two halves. It was so cute all snuggled up in there.

Next it’s time to wrap your bacon around your peppers. In retrospect I would have used toothpicks to hold this all together. Live and learn.

IMG_1417

Put in a cold oven and set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They will cook in about 30-40 minutes. Just remember that the cheese inside will be like molten lava so wait a few minutes before you chomp down.

IMG_1422

Ingredients (makes 6):

  1. 6 large jalapeños
  2. 6 tiger shrimp
  3. 6 slices of thick cut bacon

Filling ingredients:

  1. 4 oz of cream cheese
  2. 1 Tbsp of fine diced shallots
  3. 1 Tbsp of fine diced bell pepper
  4. 1 Tbsp fine chopped parlsey
  5. 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  6. 1 Tsp salt
  7. 1 Tsp pepper

Recipe:

  1. Prep your jalapeños by slicing in half and removing pith. Soak in a 1:3 mix of vinegar to water and leave for 1-2 hours.
  2. Mix your filling.
  3. Stuff each half with cream cheese.
  4. Place shrimp inside of two halves of jalapeño.
  5. Place in cold oven and set to 400. Start checking after twenty minutes. Usually takes 30-40 minutes to cook but you don’t want to let them burn.
Food, recipe

Savory Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal

We are absolutely a savory over sweet breakfast family in the Gallinaik house. You may have read my post on Savory Brunch Oatmeal which is perfect for one or two people. But if you have to feed a crowd than it’s time to bust out that crockpot!

6QTOELcFTbiLclLWMH6ZVg

This is so amazingly easy. I poured in oats, unsalted chicken stock and some butternut squash to give it some extra texture/flavor. Next I added in some leftover seasonings I had lying around the kitchen. I tossed in some italian seasoning as well as the usual salt, pepper and garlic.

kxZMY20CQV+S9EuAZrHszw

I shaved up the last of the gruyere cheese I had and added in some smoked sun dried tomatoes for color and flavor.

Pv34P0o1QAmFn5hF9hXXlQ

All that was left to cover and let cook on low for five hours. My crockpot automatically switches to warm so we were all set for delicious aromas come the next morning. This is what I came down to, the butternut squash was fully cooked but not very well incorporated.

SNxoSBhsTDKmT9Ws5qv+lA

After some brisk stirring I got it all smoothed out. It took a little elbow grease and I scraped down the slightly charred sides and stirred that in as well. I did add in some extra unsalted chicken stock to help loosen things up.

nzxvqpdcscid5nismrdopw.jpg

We had a special treat for topping this time around. Lloyd’s best friend and best man, Steve, makes his own honey and sugar smoked bacon so he fried some up for us. As well as some home made sausage and fresh chicken eggs. In fact his family have a little farm where these amazing things are for sale. Check out Woodbury Farms if you ever get a chance.

uzVyPgeSQqqGNAhJ0OM+xA

We laid out the breakfast meat next to the crockpot and let people help themselves. It was a great way to serve a large group breakfast with very little effort.

q6ktFNvkSr+rN8aVZ7XLXw

All in all it was a yummy and simple way to break our fast. It’s very easy to make this sweet if that’s what you prefer. Sub the squash for apples/pears. And the spices I used for cinnamon and sugar. I would switch out the cheese for a little maple syrup as well. And definitely avoid the chicken stock, water and milk will do you just fine. Enjoy! And as usual, please tell me how you would make this your way!

Ingredients (serves 8):

  1. 2. cups of rolled oats
  2. 1 box of unsalted or low sodium chicken stock
  3. 2 cups of cubed butternut squash
  4. 8 oz sun-dried tomatoes
  5. 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  6. Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  7. Eggs and breakfast meats as wanted

Recipe:

  1. Add all ingredients to a crockpot and give it a good stir. Don’t be afraid to taste for salt. Crockpots are notorious for producing under salted meals so don’t be worried if it tastes a little salty.
  2. Set on low and let cook for five hours. If your crockpot switches to warm that’s great. Otherwise plan to get up 20 minutes early to turn it back on ad let it heat up before serving.
  3. Serve with eggs, breakfast meats. Feel free to top with chopped cherry tomatoes, avocado or anything else for garnish.