Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zucchini Oven Chips

A coworker gifted me a very large zucchini this week. I had every intention of making some chocolate zucchini muffins with it, but as my muffin top certainly would not have appreciate that, I opted to go a healthier route.

My friends, I present to you zucchini bliss. (Also, pardon the fuzzy picture- it's difficult to photograph and stuff your face at the same time!) I'm not going to prattle on in this post any longer because I want to finish eating this entire rack before they cool down too much. Make 'em as a snack, appetizer, or side dish- just make them!

Zucchini Chips (recipe from Cooking Lite)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian seasoned ones)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
Dash of salt and pepper (and if you're using plain breadcrumbs, you'll want to add extra seasonings)
1/4 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 450. Spray an oven safe rack with cooking spray and place atop a baking sheet.

Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasoning in a small dish. Add milk to a second dish.

Dredge each piece of zucchini in the milk, then coat liberally with breadcrumb mix. Place on rack and bake for 30 minutes, or until breading is golden brown. Serve immediately.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meatballs!

I'm in the midst of a Sunday Bake-a-thon, which means that all this sugar is making me crave something savory. I figured steak was a little too indulgent for lunch (also, it wasn't fully defrosted...) so I turned to a recipe that's stupidly simple, but ridiculously delicious: 3 ingredient meatballs.

I'm sure many of you have seen this recipe on the back of a Heinz Chili Sauce bottle before. I had never tried it until last fall, when my friend Katie whipped these up in the slow-cooker. I walked in the door and was instantly over-taken by the smell of something mouth-watering. I ate my weight in meatballs that night. No regrets.

So, for all of you who haven't tried this recipe, I would highly encourage it! These would be great for casual entertaining, football watching, etc....


3 Ingredient Meatballs
1 bottle chili sauce (you can use Heinz, or be a cheap-o like me and use the store brand. doesn't really matter..)
1 (14 oz)can jellied cranberry sauce
2 pd bag of frozen meatballs (i'd go for the plain, non-seasoned kind)

Ready for this? Dump all of it into a crock-pot and heat until meatballs are warmed through. Or do it on the stove. Either way. Bam. Delicious meatballs are now yours.

Like I said, this is a stupidly simple recipe. I was a little concerned when I opened my can of jellied cranberry sauce and found that it was one, gelatinous lump, but I just spooned out globs of it over the meatballs. Once things start heating up, the sauce becomes smooth. Besides, with words like 'globs' and 'gelatinous' involved, how could this recipe not work out?

But seriously. Make the meatballs.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Chili Conundrum



We're having a chili cook-off at work this week. The winner will make their chili recipe for the Mainstreet Chili Cook-Off competition. Great, right? Wrong. See, I'm highly competitive. I NEED TO WIN. However, the task of making at least 3 gallons of chili for the Mainstreet competition is something that I really don't want to ever have to undertake. You see the problem here, right? Do you think I can win, but then graciously hand off my title to someone else so they have to make all that chili? That would be nice...

Oh well.

I made my chili today. I wanted to take my time with it, instead of rushing to get it done after I get home from work Monday. Either this will give my chili time to meld it's flavors and become extra delicious so that I win, or it will go bland from sitting in the fridge un-loved and un-eaten and I'll lose because my chili has turned against me.

Simple Chili
Loosely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

-two cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp dried oregano
-2 TB cumin
-2 TB chili powder
-1 TB Chipotle chili powder (or just 3 TB chili powder, but the chipotle is magical!)
-2 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp liquid smoke
-1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
-16 oz tomato sauce
-1/2 cup beef broth
-2 pounds ground beef (for the love of all things good and great, please use 80/20! think of the flavor!)
-1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, very important!) + 1/2 cup water
-1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a large pot, brown the meat and garlic. Drain excess fat. 

Okay, confession time. You know how I said to make sure you use 80/20? that's because I screwed up. I used one pound of 80/20, but the other pound I grabbed was.....93/7. I wanted to slap myself. So to compensate, I may have added a 1/2 TB of bacon fat to the meat while browning it...I drained off the fat when it was done, okay? Sheesh...don't judge. Chili with an undertone of bacon flavor? Oh hell yes. In fact, ADD THE BACON FAT NO MATTER WHAT!


Anyway.

When your meat is browned, add in your spices and tomato sauce, plus the liquid smoke. 



Give everything a good stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover your pot. Allow the chili to simmer for an hour, adding the beef broth half way through. I like a little more 'beef flavor concentration', so instead of using ready made broth, I grabbed a whole beef bullion cube and tossed it into half a cup of water. After an hour, whisk together the masa and the water in a small bowl, then pour into chili and incorporate.


Don't skip this step. Seriously. It pulls everything together and gives your chili this amazing corn flavor that just screams 'comfort food!' Between this, the chipotle pepper, and the bacon fat (which we don't need to speak of again...) this chili has some deliciously complex things happening. Throw in some kidney beans, and we've got a party, folks. 


If The Boyfriend were here, I'm sure he'd insist on adding in some vegetables. You can feel free to do that, too. A can of diced tomatoes and onions, some green chilis, etc.... However, I'm going to continue to be an 'Murican and inhale my meat and beans straight up, with the only additions being sour cream and cheese.

'Murica. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Puttin' the 'carb' in 'Carbonara'

You know what bothers me? All those people who whine about salmonella.

"Don't eat raw cookie dough, L.Z.! You'll die from salmonella!"

"Don't order your eggs over-easy, L.Z.! You'll die from salmonella!"

"Don't go outside, L.Z.! You'll die from salmonella!"

Okay, well, maybe not that last one...but really, people. If eating a spoonful of cookie dough is going to kill me, if dunking my toast in a deliciously runny yolk is going to yield a life-threatening illness, etc...then I'm just going to accept my mortality and keep at it.

So this recipe is for you, all you egg nay-sayers! I dedicate it to all the people who bleach their children's toys daily, who order their steaks well-done, and apply hand-sanitize after every human contact encounter.



Pasta Carbonara 

(this is also one of those recipes that requires you to just sort of wing it. For all you cooking newbies out there- I know, I know...there's a special place in hell for me....)

You'll need the following:
-Pasta (I'm going to recommend linguine and advise against using wheat pasta)
-3-4 eggs or 6-8 egg yolks
-3-4 TB heavy cream
-1 C grated Parmesan (not the stuff in the can!)
-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
-6 slices of thick bacon, diced
-Salt and Pepper

Cook pasta according to package- make sure to salt the water! While the pasta is cooking:

Whisk together 3-4 eggs with the 3-4 TB of cream and the cheese. For those of you who aren't hardcore enough to use whole raw eggs, go ahead and use double the amount of just egg yolks (6-8), as well as double the cream. Set aside

Add diced bacon to a skillet and cook through. You're looking for tender/chewy bacon here, not crispy. Toss in your garlic and saute it with the bacon for a few minutes. When the pasta is done, drain and add it to the bacon skillet. If your skillet has a lot of extra bacon grease, go ahead and drain out a few spoonfuls before adding in the pasta. My bacon was fairly lean this time around, so I didn't do any draining.

Once the pasta has been thoroughly tossed with the bacon, pour in your egg mix. Toss the pasta and egg together quickly- you want to 'cook' the eggs with the warmth of the pasta/pan/bacon, but you don't want to end up with chunks of scrambled eggs instead of a creamy sauce. When the egg mix has been fully incorporated and has formed a thicker, sauce-like consistency, season to taste with salt/pepper and serve immediately.

Just a note- I don't think Pasta Carbonara reheats as left-overs very well, so you should feel free to eat the entire pan in one go.





Monday, September 3, 2012

Because 'Labor Day' Translates to 'Lazy Day' in L.Z. Speak

I had so many productive intentions today. I took tons of pictures from my weekend with the fam- even managing to document The Older Sister making a scrumptious apple tart. I was going to do a huge post- apple recipes, pictures from the farm, pictures of the fam, memories, hopes, dreams.... (well, maybe not those last few...)

But then I got lazy.

I wanted to make Chocolate Cobbler Cake, but I realized that would mean putting forth an effort. Of course, you'll need to understand that I was totally willing to pony-up if it meant I would reap sweet, chocolately rewards. The thought of hot, fudgy chocolate sauce and cake with creamy vanilla ice-cream definitely motivated me.

But then I realized I didn't have any ice-cream.

At this point, I had been dead-set on cake and ice-cream. If I was going to get off my butt and make a cake,  I was going to eat it the way I wanted it: with ice-cream. So...I went to the grocery store. This was a convenient venture, as I also realized I didn't have any food at home.

I'm back now, and there is still no vanilla ice-cream in my freezer, nor Chocolate Cobbler Cake in my oven. Before you call me a lazy oaf, let me show you why I decided to forget my previous desert plans:


That, boys and girls, is heaven on earth. Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Holy cow. It's creamy, it's caramely, it's got the perfect salty tang....vanilla ice-cream never stood a chance. And yes, I couldn't be bothered to take a picture before I sampled a rather large portion of this tasty treat. Congrats- you now have photographic proof of my gluttony. 


Also, can I just say that I'm thrilled that it comes in a reusable plastic jar? Cute, practical, and delicious. This gelato has stolen my heart. There were a few other flavors, including a raspberry sorbet. I think I might just have to work my way through them all. And after that task is complete, I'm sure I'll be very comfortable in my diabetic coma. 

Happy Labor Day!