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Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus (04/17/11)


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Made these on a whim and a suggestion from a friend when I whined that I was out of eggs, so I couldn't make an asparagus & cheese omelette for breakfast. I didn't have regular bacon, so I had to use toothpicks even when serving, but the turkey bacon worked well.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh asparagus (washed and "woody" ends cut or snapped off)
  • 1 package of your favourite bacon (I used turkey bacon)
  • olive oil & butter (to saute in)
  • toothpicks

Directions

  1. With each stalk of asparagus, wrap with uncooked strip of bacon, starting at the 'top' of the stalk, overlapping the bacon so it holds itself in place, down to the base, securing the end with a toothpick skewered through the bacon and base of asparagus.
  2. On low-medium, melt a bit of butter. Add equal amounts olive oil. This prevents the butter from burning. Once the butter/oil just starts to form little tiny bubbles, place bacon-wrapped asparagus in the pan, being careful not to over-crowd. You can always do it in a couple of batches, as I find they stay hot quite a while.
  3. Saute for at least 5 minutes on both sides, or at least long enough for the bacon to be cooked to your preferences (longer if you want it crispy). Turn them only once with tongs.
  4. Remove from pan and set on paper towel-lined plate. After a moment, remove toothpicks and serve. (Turkey bacon doesn't stick on its own too well, so you may want to leave the toothpicks in and let people remove them as they eat them.)

Serve with fried eggs, toast and fresh fruit for breakfast or use as a side-dish for dinner.


Source: SOURCE.

Kelly's Easy Bolognese Sauce (04/17/11)


It looks like a lot of ingredients and steps, but all told, I think prep time and cooking time took about 30 minutes, max, and it's all done in one pot and doesn't need all day to simmer away on the stove; so it's quick and "easy" to me. I bought a large jar of pre-minced garlic and keep it in the kitchen, so no more chopping of that stuff for me! (I find this saves a bit of time.)

And I know the potato masher being used to break up the meat might sound funny but I've seen so many restaurants on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives that do it, I thought I'd try it out — and it works!! But don't use it until the meat is browned or you'll just have a gross, raw-meat mess stuck in it. ;)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped (works out to something between 1/2 and 3/4 C of onions, I think)
  • 1 Tbsp crumbled bacon (optional — just adds flavour).
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 lb ground beef (uncooked)
  • A few dashes of Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 package of pre-sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped (to make the slices smaller)
  • 1/2 (or entire) fresh tomato, diced
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 1 jar of your favourite tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 C beef broth (reduced salt, or omit the earlier salt addition if you use regular broth)
  • 1 bay leaf (or 2 if they're small)
  • 1/2 C milk or cream
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large dutch oven pot, melt butter on low-medium heat. Add onions and saute until the onions are soft/translucent.
  2. Add garlic and bacon (if opting to use it) and cook another minute, stirring off and on to prevent burning the garlic.
  3. Add in ground beef,Worchestershire sauce, basil, oregano, pepper, and salt, and break the meat up enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Cook the beef until all pink is gone. Break up with a wire potato masher until beef is nicely crumbled.
  4. Add in celery, mushrooms and diced tomato. Cook for a few minutes to warm these veggies up a bit.
  5. Drain in a colander in the sink, then put the mixture back in the pot on the heat.
  6. Turn up the burner to medium-high and add wine, tomato sauce, tomato paste and broth. Mix well and bring to a boil, stirring to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Pour in milk and stir again. Add bay leaf, lower heat to low, and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  8. At the end, give the sauce a quick taste and add any salt & pepper to adjust to your taste. Remember to remove the bay leaf!

Serve over pasta and enjoy!


Source: My own experimentation/cookbook.

Creamy Garden Vegetable Soup (04/17/11)


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The key with this is keep all the vegetable diced or chopped up in large pieces so they blend up well later, but so they cook thoroughly in the pot. Also, I didn't pre-cook and peel my tomatoes and I'm enjoying it.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 C diced pancetta or bacon (for flavour - leave out if you're vegetarian)
  • 1 half of a large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped roughly (or 1 Tbsp celery salt)
  • 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 small orange bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 handful of roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/3 C white wine (optional)
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded & large-diced
  • 1 box of Campbell's low-sodium chicken broth (or about 4 C of chicken broth)
  • 1 Tbsp red chili paste
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 3 cobs of corn, uncooked but cut off of the cob (or 1-2 cans of corn niblets)
  • 1 C light cream (5%)
  • 1/2 C butter
  • salt & pepper to taste (adjust to your tastes, basically)
  • shredded cheese of your choosing to top each bowl

Directions

  1. In a large dutch oven pot over low-medium heat, melt the butter. Add the olive oil while the butter melts. Once the butter is melted and the pot has had time to heat up a bit, add the pancetta or bacon (whichever you choose to use). Give this a couple of minutes to begin to crisp up.
  2. Add the onion and cook this mixture until the onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize.
  3. Add into the pot: celery (or celery salt), pepper, salt, all three bell peppers, cilantro, basil and oregano. Raise the heat to medium and cook these until the peppers begin to get soft.
  4. Pour in wine, allow to begin to simmer and then add tomatoes, broth, chili paste, tomato paste and corn.
  5. Allow all of this to get to a boil, then lower the heat to low-medium and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until all the veggies are really soft (and be sure that the corn is thoroughly cooked).
  6. Temporarily remove the pot from the heat. Using a hand blender, puree the whole contents of the pot, being careful not to splash any up on yourself, as it will be VERY hot!
  7. Once blended, set the pot back on the stove and add in the light cream and butter. Don't allow this to get to a boil. Keep it at a simmer only and only cook long enough to melt the butter; be sure to stir to mix well. Adjust salt and pepper to your tastes.

Serve with a sprinkling of shredded cheese on top and garnish with a cilantro leaf for colour.


Source: My own experimentations/cookbook.

Taco Leftovers Omelette (02/12/11)

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We all do it, I'm sure. We make a meal for dinner that is fit for a king; and enough to feed the king's whole army! Now we're stuck with the inevitable… duhn duhn DUUUUHN! Leftovers! I don't mind making enough dinner to have lunch for the next couple of days at work, but what about those weekends where maybe you just don't want to face those leftovers for lunch because you have something else planned?

Do what I do and try to make breakfast out of them!

Here's what I do if I've made too much in the way of beef taco fixings: I put them into an omelette! You can put just about anything into an omelette, so why not? Keep in mind that the fixings below are based on what I used for my taco dinner, but you can use whatever you have.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 C taco-seasoned ground beef
  • 3 strips cooked bacon, cut into small pieces (optional: this was an add-in to add more of a breakfast taste)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 C milk (I use skimmed, but any milk will do)
  • 2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2-3 oz shredded cheese (I used Asiago)
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • leftover salsa (optional) or diced tomatoes

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add the onions and peppers and sautee until soft. Add in bacon and beef to warm up a bit (no more than a minute). Remove from heat and drain in a colander or on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess fat/grease.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder and beat a bit more to mix.
  3. Carefully wipe out the pan and then spray with the non-stick spray, returning the pan to the heat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan.
  4. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the entire surface of the omelette.
  5. As the egg cooks, occasionally tilt the pan and lift the edge of the omelette gently with a spatula to let the uncooked egg go beneath the omelette to cook.
  6. Once the egg is mostly solid on top, add the veggie and meat mixture to one half of the omelette (like a half-moon shape). You can also add diced tomato if you have some left over, or salsa, if you're inclined.
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the entire omelette.
  8. Gently fold over the half of the omelette that doesn't have fixings on it with a spatula and heat a minute or so longer. Feel free to sprinkle more cheese on top if you're a cheese lover!
  9. Remove from heat and gently slide the omelette onto a plate.

Serve with salsa for dipping, if you think you might like it. Enjoy! (And I'll note that I have difficulties flipping my omelettes, so sometimes I skip the folding part.)


Source: My own experimenting/my own cookbook.

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