Brownies. Bacon. Brussle Sprouts.

Happy Food Year.

We got invited to a wonderful NYE party.

It was a Pot-Luck and these are some of the things I brought.

BROWNIES WITH LEMON CURD AND WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING.

I’m so glad I found Leeks. I love them. They are wonderful.

Especially when thrown in Bacon grease, with the Bacon.

FRIED BRUSSLE SPROUTS WITH CRISPY BACON, CORN, LEEKS AND GOAT CHEESE

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Just somethin’ I whipped up.

Almost every day I make/bring my husband lunch. This is excessive, I know. But, if I don’t do it he will end up either not eating, or, even worse, going to Costco for “mystery food”. There just aren’t options near his work that are fast and delicious AND healthy. So, I bring it to him, or make it early in the morning for him while he is primping. I usually use the excuse that he needs to eat to see him in the middle of the day… I miss him if I don’t (barf).

So, today, I needed to think of something to bring. My favorite days are the ones where there are leftovers and all I have to do is heat it up. It’s a little frustrating to get up, to the dishes, make more at lunch time, do them, and make more at dinner…especially when you don’t have a dishwasher. I mean, I AM THE DISHWASHER. Alas, this was not a leftovers day, which challenges me to make something using the least amount of dishes possible.

CARAMELIZED ONIONS WITH FIG BALSAMIC ON TOAST WITH MELTED MUENSTER

Ingredients: One red onion; one yellow onion; thyme; rosemary; olive oil; salt; bread; muenster; fig balsamic; 3 cloves of garlic; honey; brown sugar

THE SHMECIPE:

I began by chopping my onions. You may do it however you like, diced, thick, whatever, to each his own…but I halved the onion and sliced them up that way into relatively thin slices.

I used a relatively large Sauce pan in order to give everything room. Coat the bottom of your pan with olive oil and drop in chopped onions. Toss in the olive oil on low heat and let them begin to caramelize. After a couple stirs and roughly 5 minutes, go out to your handy-dandy garden and pick your Thyme and Rosemary.

If you don’t have a handy-dandy garden, and don’t live in Santa Cruz, California where it’s 70 degrees and sunny, go to the store and buy your herbage.

Once you have acquired said herbs, give them a fine chop and toss in with your caramelizing onions. At the same time, add a large spoonful of honey and a little spoonful of brown sugar. This will not only help temper the Fig Balsamic we will put in later, but will help to get a good caramel flavor on and from the onions.

Mix herbs in with honey and onions and let sit, still on low heat, for about a minute, allowing the honey to melt completely and the brown sugar to break down completely.

Chop your garlic. If you are a big garlic person, you can add more. I wanted the garlic to be an “accent flavor” (kind of like an accessory), and not the dominating flavor, so I didn’t add a ton. But you can!

Add your garlic and stir your delicious concoction.

Add your Fig Balsamic. If you can’t find it, don’t worry. If you have fig jam or something similar, you can add a spoonful of that, along with a bit of Balsamic Vinaigrette. It wont taste exactly the same as this, but it’ll still be delicious! Also, you can leave the fig part of it out completely… just add Balsamic Vinaigrette! ANYWAY, add your fig stuff, and stir.

This will need to stay on low heat, and be stirred until it reduces a bit. When you put in your balsamic, make sure you put in enough to allow it to reduce and create an almost jam-like consistency. Everything should be REDUCED REDUCED REDUCED. Keep things cookin’ for an additional 5-10 minutes and turn off your heat.

Make some toast. I used the “Artisan” bread from Trader Joe’s but whatever your favorite bread is will work just fine. Toast it and get our your Sliced Muenster!

Take your Compote that you just made, put some on the toast, a slice of Muenster over it, and place it under the broiler for about 1.5 minutes. Keep an eye on it! (I always burn stuff in the broiler if I don’t). Wait until the cheese is nice and melty and golden brown on top and then take it out and eat it!

I believe that this compote (or whatever you want to call it), would be delicious on something like Pork Chops or Chicken as well as under yummy cheese on toast.

Good eating on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

Dogs and Pasta.

I love dogs.

I love pasta.

This weekend, I got both.

My Mom and her husband went to the Bay Area to visit friends, and I got THE DOG. She is one of my most favorite animals in the whole world.

Now, in addition to having my wonderful doggie, Chloe, with us, I made a fantastic pasta dish, that is note-worthy.

ROASTED GARLIC AND ASPARAGUS CREAM SAUCE ON PARPARDELLE- Topped with Parmesan and Crouton Crunchies

I know, I know, I’ve GOT to get better at this photography thing… and I’m trying. I’m learning. It’s just complicated.

ANYWAY.

Ingredients: Fresh Parpardelle Pasta; Asaragus; Heavy cream; Garlic; Sweet yellow onions; Parmesan; Croutons; Salt; Olive oil; Lemon oil

THE SHMECIPE:

I began by caramelizing my sweet yellow onions with olive oil and large garlic “chunks” on low heat. Low enough to not burn the garlic, but to pan-roast it. Keeping the heat low, about 5 minutes later I added my heavy cream and asparagus. Yes, at the same time. This meal doesn’t take very long, but you want that asparagus flavor to get into what will become your cream sauce.

Get your salted water going and once it’s boiling, drop in your pasta. Keep an eye on it, you do not want it to over cook and be gross. This should take roughly 5-7 minutes.

Continue to stir and watch your cream sauce as it develops. Intertwining with the flavors of the roasted garlic, sweet onions, and asparagus. Not at any point do you want the sauce to be boiling…a soft simmer is good, but almost nothing more.

Strain your noodles and toss with lemon oil. At this point in time, we are about 15 minutes into the game. Keeping the heat on, add noodles to asparagus sauce, toss gently, and season with salt to taste. Turn heat off and plate. Top with sliced parmesan and crouton crunchies (just crunched up croutons).

This meal kind of came out of the blue and was anything but planned, but ended up being a huge success. I went a bit heavy with the garlic, but keeping that heat low is KEY. Burnt garlic is gross, and this turned out perfect. Adding the asparagus in at the same time as the cream really allows those flavors to mingle, and creates a deeper dish than adding them separately; and because the cream sauce does not cook for very long, I found that my asparagus still had that perfect slight crunch to it. Speaking of crunch, adding those crouton (I used the garlic and cheese croutons from Trader Joe’s) crunchies at the end is fun. It makes for great texture, as well as a nice little extra surprise of flavor.

I did IT.

I USED A RECIPE.

I couldn’t NOT try this Apple Cheddar Bread. Right?!?! I mean, how do you say no to that!?!! I found it at everybodylikessandwiches.com (super cute), and couldn’t resist. I probably added more cheese, and more apples, seeing as how I didn’t measure those two components… but I DID measure everything else (giving myself a high-five in my head).

APPLE CHEDDAR BREAD

Photographas of my bread makin’:

You work with what you’ve got.

SIMPLE S & P CHICKEN, ZUCCHINI STEAKS, AND GARLIC LEMON POTATOES AU GRATIN

Ingredients (or something like that):

Chicken breasts; extremely large zucchini; potatoes; heavy cream; cheese that melts nicely; garlic; olive oil; lemon oil; salt & pepper; dried basil

Yesterday I cleaned the refrigerator, and, much to my dismay, discovered that we don’t have much food in the house right now. Going to the grocery store was not an option, seeing as how it was 4:30pm, and everyone would be getting off work and doing just that. I did not want to be part of the masses. So, I worked with that I could find, and ended up with an extremely delicious meal, that left both me and my husband wishing I made more.

I began by defrosting the chicken breasts, then slicing them “long-way” in half. I sprinkled with salt and pepper, placed in an air-tight container with water, more salt, and lemon oil. This was at about 4:30pm, and I was planning on serving dinner around 6:30pm… So leave about 2 hours to brine your chicken. The reason that I cut the breasts in half is simple: they will cook quicker, and, when you cut a bite out of them, you get the perfect piece, not a giant chuck o’ chicken that you have to cut yet again.

Immediately after my chicken is in the ice box chillin’ (hahaha), I begin on my potatoes. I get out the mandolin (slice them like normal people do if you don’t have one) (I just like to play with mine when I get the opportunity), and go to work on 3 Golden potatoes. I would use Yukon golds, or something similar because, well, their flavor is just better than others. So, I slice up those 3 potatoes, and place them in a bowl with water and a little lemon oil to hangout until it’s time to stick them in the oven.

5:45pm rolls around and it’s time to get the ball rolling for dinner. I gather my items needed to complete this meal on time: big pan, little pan, sauce pan, meatloaf pan without the bottom piece; lemon oil, garlic, dried basil, salt and pepper, heavy cream, melty-cheese… And then I go to work. I begin by taking the meatloaf pan and spraying it with PAM. If I felt like being frisky, I probably would have covered it in butter, but alas, I did not. I layered the potatoes on one another working down the pan, and covering the previous slice by about half. Continue to do this until the slices are gone, or, until you’re happy with it! Once the potatoes are layered up, sprinkle with dried basil, smashed garlic cloves (to each their own on the amount you do), and salt and pepper. On the stove in your sauce pan, bring cream to a simmer and slowly mix in cheese. I used grated parmesan and added a little ground black pepper. Whisk slowly until the cheese is completely melted in, then pour over potatoes. Top with more cheese and toss (gently) into the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

At 6:15pm I take my zucchini steaks (giant, I know), lightly salt and pepper them, drizzle in a little lemon oil, and place them in a low-heat olive oil covered pan. At the same time (or close to), I take my brined chicken breasts and place them in the other pan, also lightly covered in olive oil. I flip things accordingly until about 6:25pm, when I take out the perfectly done potatoes and let them rest while I finish the chicken. At this time, the zucchini can come off the stove, and be placed on a paper towel. They’ve got so much moisture in them, and now they have oil on them, I just wanted something to soak up a little bit of all that. Take your plate and serve.

Somethin’ outta nothin’.