Ok, so first off, pardon the photos. I accidentally spilled a giant glass of water all over my camera in an effort not to spill coffee all over my computer (ok, probably too many beverages around valuable and expensive pieces of equipment…lesson learned). While my computer was spared (::phew::), my camera has decided to open but nothing else. Awesome. So these photos were taken on my cell phone. Better than no photos? Probably, but definitely not ideal.
What I made the other night was Eggs in Purgatory. What I will now be making probably once a week is Eggs in Purgatory. You know those bits in your fridge that are still good but instead of trying to navigate the tedium of figuring out a delicious way to use them all you close the fridge door, hoping that by the next time you open it they’ll have turned and you can legitimately throw them away? Here is your solution.
Click here for the original recipe that I found on the Food Network. The version I made followed the general form but I had substitutions for most of the ingredients (pepperoni instead of salami, different peppers, no parsley, etc.). Therein lies the brilliance of this dish. I could see it working well with mushrooms or potato, some spinach…really, just about anything.
OH! And it’s easy. Really easy. And quick, too. It’s like, the perfect recipe for weeknight cooking.
Have you ever made this dish before? A variation on this theme? What do you do with the incredible edible egg?
Anyway, while I might have been disappointed that the recipe didn’t work, the minute I bit into one of these babies, that thought melted away. These are so tasty. I encourage you to try whatever combo of fruit you like for the jam part. This one was particularly tasty but I could see trying apricots and mangoes for instance. These last well when stored in an airtight container.
Janet’s Jam Jars
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup walnut halves
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 10 pieces
6 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons flaxseed
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
To make the jam, put the dried fruit, water and sugar into a pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it sit for about 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor and pulse 8-10 times until a chunky jam forms.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Let cool
Leave the oven on. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter in a food processor if you have one by pulsing about 15 times. I did most of this by hand, however, because I don’t have that kind of food processor. Anyway, once it’s evenly combined, dump it into a bowl and drizzle the honey on top. Then work the honey in with your hands.
Press about 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Place the remaining 1/3 in the fridge.
Bake for about 35 minutes until it’s lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and spoon the jam on top. Spread evenly. Add the flaxseeds and sunflower seeds to the remaining mix, crumbling with your fingers. Then sprinkle on top of the jam.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool in the pan for about 3 hours. Then cut into bars.
Clearly winter is getting to me. I am craving comfort food and have been on a baking and bacon binge — although so far not in the same moment, which is probably good. If, however, you see a post here about a bacon chocolate chip cookie some day soon, you will know I have officially gone off the deep end.
While I gave up eating red meat over 30 years ago, I remain a bacon freak and often suggest that my children order bacon when we’re at a restaurant so I can snag a piece. It’s a weakness I know, but there it is. Anyway, to appease my conscience, I made this dish with turkey bacon. You obviously can use the other kind and all will likely be well.
Mac and cheese is the consummate comfort food to me but for years was — sadly — off limits in our family meal cycle because Rachel got sick once after having this for dinner and basically even the mention of mac and cheese elicited a gag reflex on her part.
Almost the day she left the house, though, I brought it back. This particular version is made not just with grated cheddar but with blue cheese as well. And, then, because I clearly had not added enough calories yet, I added bacon … lots of it. (I also made a chili with bacon the same week but more on that another time.) The reviews were raves all around. I dare you to feel differently.
Ridiculously Cheesy Mac and Cheese
serves 4 or fewer if you have teenage or older boys in the house
3/4 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
5-6 pieces of bacon, cooked and broken into bits
3-4 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (or you could do half-and-half if you felt really decadent)
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Fill a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Remove from heat and drain out the water.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter. When it’s melted, add the flour and stir to make a roux. Add the milk and stir so there are no floury blobs and until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cheddar. Stir until the cheddar is melted in. Add the blue cheese and stir until melted.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta in a casserole dish. Add the bacon pieces and stir it all together. Taste for salt and pepper needs (likely not much salt due to the bacon and the cheeses). Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until the top is brown and the whole delicious concoction is bubbling.
Want to have dinner on the table about 20 minutes after you start and have it be nutritious? Make this super simple spinach and cheese(s) pizza. I did it the other night and it’s a new favorite pizza. (I also didn’t take a photo because I first thought it was too easy to share, but obviously have gotten over that.)
First I am a fan of the thin Boboli pre-made pizza crusts. If you have an issue with that, you can pick up some pre-made dough or, if you’re really a purist, you can make your own from scratch, at which point this is no longer a super simple/fast dinner options but obviously will be tasty nonetheless.
Anyway here’s the “recipe.” You can lie and tell your family it took hours to prepare
Sauteed Spinach/Cheese Pizza
1 Boboli pre-made pizza crust or the crust of your choice
1 package fresh spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
about 1 cup of feta cheese
about 1 cup of grated mozzarella
4-6 slices of provolone
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in the pan. Add the spinach, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Toss for a few minutes until the spinach is just wilted.
Crumble and spread the feta around the pizza crust. Feel free to add more cheese in general to satisfy yourself. My suggestions are approximations. Spread the spinach/garlic mix over the pizza dough. Lay the provolone on top and then sprinkle the mozzarella around the top.
Put the pizza in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust is a little crusty and the cheese is nicely melted and browned. Slice and serve.
Ok, so before I go any further, I feel like I need to disclose the fact that we–as in John and I–do not do Valentine’s Day. Never have (except that one year that John broke the rule and got me a present and I felt horrible for not having broken the rule myself and gotten him one…) and most likely never really will. It’s just not really our style. We don’t do anniversaries, either, and I am here to say that despite our shirking of these social norms, we are still completely in love and there is plenty of romance.
But anyway…that’s really neither here nor there because today is Valentine’s Day and most likely you are here reading because of the title of the post which, most likely, means it has snuck up on you (either that or you’re just a loyal reader and we *love* you for that). Anyway, if there’s a person/people/whatever walking around today with hearts in their eyes and a bounce in their step because they just know you’re going to do something sweet for them, I–the anti-valentine–am here to help.
There’s a meal that we eat from time to time and, at least for my part, it’s not only because it’s delicious but also because it reminds me of the early days of John+Rachel, back when we went to the grocery store every day to pick out dinner, back when we lived in a studio apartment, back when there were no kids or kittens…ahhh, back in the good old days. It’s really phenomenally simple but it’s just decadent enough to feel out of the everyday, to feel a little bit special. Turn it into an impromptu picnic on the living room floor with some candles and wine (and hey, if you’ve got a little time, some homemade peanut butter cups…you can do it!) and everyone will be feeling love-ly in no time.
Here’s what you need:
1 fresh baguette
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
arugula (2 handfuls? I don’t know…)
very thinly sliced rare roast beef (or skip this for a vegetarian meal…it’s scrumptious either way)
salt and fresh pepper
Here’s what you do:
Slice baguette in half and then into pieces roughly 6 inches long. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Pile arugula and onion and top with tomato. Fold roast beef on top and sprinkle salt over. Crumble blue cheese before a dash of fresh pepper. Eat and watch the sparks fly.
Lest people think Rachel and I are only obsessed with desserts and sugar, I thought I’d put up this tasty, easy soup that I made the other night for dinner. I served it with a frittata and life was good all the way around.
Roasted Tomato Black Bean Soup
serves about 6
7 tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 large onion, cut into about 6 pieces
3 cloves of garlic, whole
about 2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
4-5 cups broth, veggie or chicken (how much depends on how soupy you like your soups)
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1-2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatoes, onion and garlic into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt/pepper. Place on a baking pan and roast for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and the onions are beginning to brown slightly. Garlic should be soft too.
Meanwhile drain and rinse the beans. When the tomatoes are done, place them in a large saucepan with the beans, spices and broth. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then place in the blender in batches and puree. Add a little fresh cilantro if you’re so inclined and you’re ready to go.
What’s your favorite go-to soup for supper?
So, as my mom posted about yesterday (click here), I have been–no wait, I am–on a mission to make perfect homemade peanut butter cups.
I’ve come a long way since my first batch, but I haven’t quite nailed it yet. My mom wants the chocolate a little darker, my brother wants the peanut butter a little creamier, and John wants the peanut butter to be a little bit sweeter. I’m not sure I completely agree with them all, but the quest clearly continues. I won’t have made perfect peanut butter cups until somebody agrees with me that I have is the way I’m figuring it.
Anyway, the good news–besides the fact that I can consume pounds of chocolate and peanut butter without any issue (before I made the batch I sent my mom I had already made a few trial batches…I kept telling my friend Shirley I’d share them with her but that never happened…I cannot cohabitate with peanut butter cups for very long, whether they’re perfect or not)–is that these are insanely easy.
Make some peanut butter (or don’t! Just use your favorite kind from the store…I won’t tell). To make a dozen large peanut butter cups, melt 16 ounces of chocolate. I used a 50/50 mix of milk chocolate and bittersweet, ultimately trying to make a sweeter chocolate instead of a sweeter peanut butter because I really like the peanut butter I’ve been making as it is. As the chocolate is melting, line a muffin tin with paper liners. Coat the bottom of each muffin cup with a thin layer of chocolate and place tin in the fridge until chocolate solidifies (this is pretty quick, though varies depending on the thickness of your chocolate layer). When chocolate base layer is hard, form peanut butter into circles that are flat on the top and bottom and slightly smaller than the layer of chocolate they’re resting on (this is key for getting chocolate down all of the sides). I used really generous tablespoons of peanut butter for mine, but the nice thing about making these is you can make them in whatever chocolate to peanut butter ratio suits you. Pour chocolate over the top, doing your best to get it to drip down on all sides. Place in the fridge again until solidified and then taste to make sure all is well (it will be, I promise).
I’ve already got ideas for variations. Cashew butter? Orange zest or sea salt on top? This could clearly become an obsession. I’ll keep you all posted.
Are there any variations that sound good to you? Have you ever tried and tried and tried until you’ve perfected a recipe? Do you have any tips on making peanut butter cups?