Potato Soup with Bacon

Potato Soup with Bacon

Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

5-6 small russet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 slices bacon
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (14 oz) can chicken stock
1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Sharp cheddar for topping, shredded

Preparation:

1. Place chopped potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water, salt and boil until potatoes break apart easily when stuck with a fork. Drain and set aside.

2. In the same pan, cook bacon until crisp. Place cooked bacon on a paper towel to drain.

3. Drain bacon fat, leaving about 3 tbs of fat in the pot. Cook onions and garlic in pot until translucent. Add wine, making sure to stir to get the bits off the bottom of the pot. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates.

4. Remove pot from heat. Add potatoes and mash. Add stock and cream and stir. If it’s not soupy enough, add more cream or water. Season with pepper and red pepper flakes (if desired). Return to heat until heated through. Chop/crumble bacon. Serve soup in bowls with cheese and bacon on top.

Recipe is an original.

I ended up with a very large bag of potatoes in my kitchen and my first thought was to make soup! Potato soup was always one of my favorite things my mom would make growing up and I wanted to try to make my own. This was an experiment that turned out well. I just added stuff as I went along and it worked! The soup was nice and rich and still tasted like potatoes. This would also be good with sour cream, scallions and all kinds of things as a topping. My mom also told me her technique for making this, which I will try next time. She boils the onions with the potatoes and makes sure the potatoes are barely covered with water. Then she uses the water instead of stock and doesn’t have to drain the potatoes. She said to keep checking on the water level to make sure the potatoes don’t burn. I will definitely try this the next time I make soup, which may be soon since I have so many potatoes! I am very proud of this recipe and I definitely recommend giving it a try!

Taco!

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Beef Carnitas Tacos

Beef Carnitas Taco

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs beef (Boston butt/shoulder)
1 yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs agave (or honey)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs orange juice
1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients except meat in a crock pot and stir. Add meat and cook for 6-8 hours. Turn meat half way through cooking.

2. Take meat out of crock pot and shred. Return to juices and let soak before serving.

3. Serve hot with tortillas, sour cream, Steph’s Guacamole, cheese and everything else!

Recipe adapted from Life as a Plate.

Another “because I have stuff for it” meal. Boston butts are not usually in my grocery store and not only did they have it this week but it was also on sale! I’ve already made BBQ and wanted to try something different and I also had avocados so ta da, Carnitas! I found this recipe online and it’s very good. It’s not too spicy, which is good for me but you could certainly add more chili powder or even some peppers for some more heat. I served it with store-bought tortillas, cilantro-lime rice (I added cilantro and lime juice to rice when it was almost done cooking), homemade guacamole and sour cream. I also found Queso Fresco and it was a great addition. I do love Carnitas and this fed my craving while using what I had in the house and feeding me for at least a week!

Taco!

BlowToad: A Review

Bleu Ball Pizza

Where: BlowToad (2907 W. Cary, Richmond)
What: Pizza and Beer
Number of People: 2
Total Cost: $50
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

**UPDATE**

I just learned that the steak that was on my pizza was bull testicles. I guess I should have asked what swinging steak was but still feel like that should have been obvious on the menu. It was good but now I know why I couldn’t figure out what was different about it!

**End Update**

I visit Cary Town on a regular basis and it is one of my favorite places in Richmond. Like most people here I was incredibly curious and seriously concerned when I saw the sign for BlowToad go up where the BBQ restaurant used to be. BlowToad, what the heck is BlowToad and how could they possibly have good food? Well, I checked it out online after it had been open for a while and it had good reviews so after the end of the French Film Festival Adam and I decided to check it out. Adam is incredibly picky about pizza with the whole being Italian and actually eating pizza in Italy thing so it was a stretch.

The atmosphere was nice. It was loud and the lighting was low. Nice and romantic. There was also the option for outdoor seating but it was a little chilly so we stayed inside. They had a great selection of beer and I had a Crispin Cider. They did the very trendy thing of bringing out cups and a big bottle of water that you can pour yourself which I appreciate. All of the waiters also used iPads which seems like a fabulous idea. As someone who worked in a restaurant with no technology and now being an iPad owner I can only imagine the convenience it provides.

Pizza with Eggplant, Ricotta and Anchovies

When it came time for food I ordered the Bleu Ball pizza and Adam did a make your own with eggplant, ricotta and anchovies. The Bleu pizza had thing strips of steak, bleu cheese and onions. It had a great thin crust and minimal amounts of sauce. The cheese was good and the onions were nice and crunchy. The steak strip things were interesting. I couldn’t quite figure them out but they were tasty and added to the overall pizza. The pizza’s are $12 per pizza and the make your own is $8 with $2 per side. They are all 12 inches. Adam says his pizza was good but I don’t eat anchovies because they’re gross so I can’t vouch for it. But as I said before, he’s picky. He described it well saying that the pizza was good American-style pizza but not quite up to Italian standards. It was definitely tasty and worth the trip. Our service was a little slow so they got dinged a star for that but again, worth the visit.

Fresh Vegetable Marinara

Fresh Vegetable Marinara

Serves: A lot
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 yellow squash, diced
1 green squash, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 small cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced or diced
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Salt

Preparation:

1. Heat onions and garlic until softened, not browned. Add other vegetables, basil and salt and cook until softened.

2. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Add to pasta, chicken, whatever you want!

Recipe is an original.

So I had a ton of vegetables in the refrigerator and am trying to heat more of them. I also wanted to make my own marinara. And so we have vegetable marinara. I couldn’t find a straight recipe online for this so hopefully it’s helpful. It’s a great way to get fresh veggies in a tasty form. I used my cast iron dutch oven for this. You definitely want something that is very deep. It makes A LOT of sauce.

Taco!

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cook If I Want To

That’s right. It’s my birthday and so I have to cook up a storm and have people over. Then, of course, go to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. I decided to make an appetizer spread and have my guests bring the drinks. Here’s the menu:

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli
Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Herbs and Goat Cheese
Homemade Pico de Gallo with chips

There are several recipes involved here so I’ll give them to you individually as well as let you know what I did in advance, etc. Here we go. It’s party time!

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Butter Crostini

Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (10 0z) package frozen spinach (make sure it’s not in sauce), thawed
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped in food processor
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup parmesan, grated

Preparation:

1. Grease a casserole dish (recommend a 2 oz dish). Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Pour ingredients in casserole dish and top with extra cheese.

2. Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

3. Serve with crostinis. To make crostinis, combine 1 stick butter and 4 garlic cloves in a food processor. Cut a french loaf into slices on an angle. Spread garlic butter on crostinis and bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool. Crostini’s can be made in advance.

Recipe from Paula Deen at FoodNetwork.com.

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Serves: Makes 40 meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Meatballs

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 cups chicken stock
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

BBQ Sauce

1 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tbs light brown sugar
2 1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 tbs pepper
1/4 tbs garlic powder
1/4 tbs ground mustard
1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Basil Garlic Aioli

2/3 cup mayonaise
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5-6 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbs olive oil
Salt

Preparation:

1. Make BBQ Sauce and aioli in advance. To make BBQ Sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until thickened. To make aioli, combine ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse. While machine is running, slowly add olive oil.

2. To make meatballs, brown onions and add garlic. Remove from heat once browned and allow to cool.

3. Combine ingredient except chicken stock in a bowl. Mix together with your hands. Heat olive oil and make a tester patty. When tester patty is tasty, make balls (or patties) and cook in batches.

3. Brown meatballs on all sides. Then add a splash (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) chicken stock and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Meatball recipe adapted from Anne Burrell’s Cook Like a Rock Star, BBQ Sauce from the Neely’s at FoodNetwork.com and Garlic Basil Aioli from Bobby Flay at FoodNetwork.com.

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0!

Ingredients:

3 large beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients and mix. Refrigerate for about an hour or more before serving. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.

Recipe is an original.

The important part of this recipe is to remember to make the salsa and onion in big chunks. At least, that’s the way I like it. Nothing beats fresh pico de gallo.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs

See my previous post for the recipe on these. They are divine!

It was a fantastic party and the food turned out well. It was definitely a lot to make and it took all day but it was worth it. The Bacon Wrapped Dates get better every time I make them and I find they do not take long at all and they need a good stuffing of goat cheese to make sure it all doesn’t melt out. The Spinach Artichoke Dip is a dish I’ve been making for years and it is always a crowd pleaser, plus it is so incredibly easy. The meatballs turned out pretty well. I found it was much easier to cook them as patties and I ended up doing that because I was running out of time. They were very moist and it seems essential to use fresh rosemary. That made all the difference. And of course there’s the Pico de Gallo. That’s another dish I’ve been making forever and it is always delicious and simple. It was a great party and a great birthday!

Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles

Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles

Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 packages instant ramen noodles
1 tbs Chinese Five Spice
Pinch red pepper flakes
Peanut oil
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine
Honey, to taste

Preparation:

1.  Heat peanut oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot, add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and season with Chinese Five Spice and red pepper flakes. Saute until desired texture.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Disgard spice packet. Drain noodles if necessary.

3. To make sauce, whisk soy sauce, rice wine and honey. When vegetables are close to being done, add noodles and sauce and toss to coat. Cook for about 2 minutes more. Serve hot!

Recipe is an original.

So I needed to make something for dinner because my pasta leftover from the other night were only going to go so far and I needed something different. I had veggies and actually intended on adding chicken to this but forgot to take it out of the freezer to thaw so I went vegetarian tonight!  I also didn’t want to have to wait for rice to cook nor deal with the mess that comes with cooking rice so I decided on some noodles. I had made a sauce recipe before that was basically soy sauce and honey so I made a rendition of that and just added ingredients until it tasted right. And then we have what you see here!  It was incredibly easy and tasty. You can use whatever veggies you like. I definitely recommend adding the red pepper flakes to combat all the salty and sweet from the sauce. And Chinese Five Spice is just awesome.

Taco!

 

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

Serves 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

2 lbs stew meat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups water
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash of allspice

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Steph’s Guacamole (with Chicken and Black Beans)

Steph’s Guacamole

Serves 4

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

For Guacamole:

4 Hass avocados

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large tomato (or about 3 smaller tomatoes), diced

1 – 2 limes

1/2 tsp chili powder

Salt to taste

Hand full of cilantro (optional)

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