Steak Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Months and month ago now, I went out to dinner with some former co-workers at a restaurant/slash bar here in CT (Eli’s on Whitney for those who are local/interested). One of my friends got a seriously amazing looking steak salad, which totally gave me entree envy. My dinner was good, but hers looked so delicious that I just could not get it out of my head. This salad was composed of greens, candied walnuts, craisins, gorgonzola cheese, Granny Smith apples, and was dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, and she had it topped with a perfectly cooked steak. I still have yet to have this specific salad, but I knew then and there that I would be putting steak salad on my dinner planning menu in the near future. Now, I knew Ron would not be thrilled about the craisins or apples in the salad (he’s not generally a fan of fruit, and especially not a fruit+meat person), but I knew he’d love the idea of steak in any form, so when I saw this salad in Rachel Ray’s magazine I immediately put it on our menu. She uses spinach and watercress in her version of this salad, but I decided to go with a more general baby greens mix, and I also changed out the Petit Filets for a more budget-friendly cut of beef. This salad turned out so well, that we immediately put in on the menu for the following week, and now looking at the pictures I wish I had the ingredients to make it again tonight.

Steak Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Steak Salad with Bacon Bits and Blue Cheese
Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 slices bacon
2 lbs steak (Petit Filets are suggested, but use your favorite tender cut- I used sirloin tip steak and cut it very thinly against the grain)
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (you could use Sherry, champagne or red wine vinegar as well)
8 cups salad greens (I like using a mix that contains baby spinach)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup blue cheese crumbles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a grill, or heavy (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up), place bacon on sheet, and cook for 15-18 minutes. When cooked, remove to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of excess fat. Crumble when slightly cooled.

3. Season steak with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Cook on grill or skillet until cooked through to your liking. The timing will depend on the type of steak used, but for a petit filet, about 4-5 minutes per side will cook it to about medium-rare. Let rest for 5-10 minutes once cooked, and then slice against the grain very thinly.

4. In a small bowl, or salad dressing mixer (pretty sure that’s not the real name of that haha), whisk together the lemon juice, garlic clove, mustard and vinegar. Slowly stream and whisk in the olive oil if doing this in a bowl, otherwise just add the olive oil and shake to combine, or use the salad dressing plunger.

5. Place about 2 cups of greens on each plate, split sliced steak, crumbled bacon, blue cheese, and sliced red onion evenly among the plates, and top with dressing.

Source: EveryDay with Rachel Ray, May 2014

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Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Chipotle-Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

My boyfriend and I have an annual Halloween tradition in which we eat lots of junk and watch horror movies all night on Halloween. It’s one of the days I allow myself to indulge (okay-one of many). This year we decided to watch Cabin in the Woods (my favorite movie from last year), The Ruins, and The Exorcist (because you need a great classic horror film in the mix!). Other movies that have made appearances in the past: Halloween (of course), Trick ‘R Treat and Hocus Pocus (maybe one of the greatest movies known to man!). Our menu always includes our favorite nachos along with some other goodies. This year we went with pizza, mozzarella sticks, and these fabulous bacon-wrapped potato bites. They were super tasty and very easy to make- the hardest part was assembling them- which really wasn’t hard at all, just took a little time, but they are definitely worth it!

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Chipotle-Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

Makes about 36 potato bites

Ingredients:

1 lb small red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 1/2 tsp salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb thick-cut bacon, cut into thirds

1/2 cup sour cream

1-2 tsp adobo sauce (more if desired)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a wire rack on top (this will help the bites cook evenly and the bacon crisp without the need to flip during cooking).

2. Place potatoes in a medium pot, cover with cold water, add 2 tsp salt and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, and once boiling cook for 3-4 minutes until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, but not totally cooked- you don’t want them super soft or falling apart- they will finish cooking in the oven.

3. Meanwhile, as the potatoes are cooking, mix together the olive oil, remaining 1/2 tsp of salt, a pinch of pepper, and rosemary in a medium bowl. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and add them to the bowl and toss.

4. Wrap the bites in the bacon strips (cut into thirds), and secure with a toothpick. Place on rack on baking sheet. If you need to you can use 2 baking sheets, as you don’t want to crowd the bites. Cook for 30-40 minutes until bacon in cooked though and crispy.

5. While the bites are cooking, stir together the sour cream and adobo sauce, adding more or less to achieve your desired spice level. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can double the sauce if you’d like, but I found this to be more than enough.

6. Serve the bites with the dipping sauce!

Source: The Kitchn via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

 

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad with Buffalo Deviled Eggs

We’ve made it halfway through the week guys!! Aren’t you excited?! I know I am… but I’ll be even happier when tomorrow is over. The hardest days of my week are always Tuesday and Thursday, and I always feel such a sense of relief when Thursday is done with. If only there was a way to fast-forward through the work day… but alas, that has not been invented yet. I discovered something this week though that is making the work week infinitely better, and that is the amazing fact that you can watch “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” on Amazon instant watch… for free if you are an Amazon Prime member. Oh yes, this was one of my favorite childhood shows, and it is still extremely entertaining. We didn’t have cable until I was in middle school, so when we would visit my Grandparents, one of the things I looked forward to was watching Nickelodeon, and the show I most looked forward to (and always wished would be on) was “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” That and “Clarissa Explains It All” were my two top shows I loved as a kid… and incidentally, “Clarissa Explains It All” is available to watch as well. My life might just be complete now!!! Oh, and they have “Hey Dude”…. now if only they would add “The Secret World of Alex Mack”.

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad with Buffalo Deviled Eggs

So now that you’ve waxed nostalgic over old Nickelodeon shows with me, it’s time for the recipe! When I saw this buffalo chicken Cobb salad over on Iowa Girl Eats it screamed for me to make it because as you know,  I love all things buffalo. This is a great way to add excitement to a salad, and an awesome variation on the classic Cobb salad. I love the addition of the buffalo deviled eggs, and they would be great on their own as well for an appetizer! This is also a boyfriend-approved salad, so like the classic Cobb salad, make this if you are trying to get more vegetables into your significant other!

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 (6-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

1/4 buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)

Salt and pepper

4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled

1 large head romaine lettuce, shredded

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Ranch dressing (optional)

For buffalo deviled eggs:

4 large eggs

1 1/2 Tbsp ranch or blue cheese dressing

1 Tbsp buffalo sauce

Directions:

1. To make buffalo deviled eggs: Place eggs in medium saucepan, and cover with water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. When vigorously boiling, turn off heat, and let eggs sit for 15-18 minutes*. Drain, run under cold water until you can handle them. Peel the eggs, and remove the yolk to a small bowl. Add the ranch or blue cheese dressing and the buffalo sauce to the yolks, and mash together until smooth. Cut the egg whites in half again, so that you have quarters, and stuff with the egg yolk mixture. I like to put my egg yolks in a ziplock bag, snip a small hole at the end, and pipe the filling into the eggs. *If you have your own foolproof method for making hard-boiled eggs, please feel free to use that instead of this method 🙂

2. To make the chicken: Preheat broiler, place oven rack 6-inches from top. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Broil for 4-8 minutes until lightly browned. Flip chicken over, and broil for 6-8 minutes more, until chicken is fully cooked. Let cool until they can be handled. Chop into 1/2-inch cubes place in medium bowl. Mix with buffalo sauce.

3. To assemble salad: To assemble salads, place a serving of lettuce on each plate, and then arrange the buffalo chicken, deviled eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, and tomato on top of the lettuce in rows. Drizzle ranch dressing on top if desired.

Source: barely adapted from Iowa Girl Eats and my Chicken Cobb Salad

Chicken Cobb Salad

Do you ever feel like you need to get some vegetables into your body, stat?! I do! Especially after many indulgences in a row, my body just craves veggies! This is a great way to incorporate vegetables into a meal in a guy-friendly way. I think a hearty salad that has the good stuff, but also some chicken, bacon and cheese is the perfect way to get my boyfriend to eat his vegetables, and be happy about it!  This classic salad was so tasty, and also very beautiful looking! Of course, when you eat it it becomes jumbled like any normal salad, but at least for a couple of minutes it looks so orderly and elegant! … and now I’m really inspired to try some other variations on the Cobb salad like this one, this one and this one.

Chicken Cobb Salad

Chicken Cobb Salad

Serves 4

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 large head romaine lettuce, shredded

1/2 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat broiler, place oven rack 6-inches from top. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Broil for 4-8 minutes until lightly browned. Flip chicken over, and broil for 6-8 minutes more, until chicken is fully cooked. Let cool until they can be handled. Chop into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the lettuce with the dressing.

3. To assemble salads, place a serving of lettuce on each plate, and then arrange the chicken, eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, and tomato on top of the lettuce in rows.

Source: adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

 

Clam, Bacon and Onion Pizza

Clam, Bacon and Onion Pizza

So as I’ve mentioned, growing up in New Haven, Connecticut means that I’ve had my fair share of awesome pizzas. One of the most famous ones (which I’m ashamed to say I’ve never had)- is the white clam pizza at Pepe’s. I have had a couple of clam pizzas at other restaurants though, and it’s one of my favorite pizza toppings. I never thought about making it at home though, until I saw a recipe for it on America’s Test Kitchen Feed. In all honesty, it was Ron who chose this recipe on the particular week I made this. You see, like my Mexican-themed Pinterest board, I also have a pizza-themed one, and I had Ron take a look one day while I was meal planning, so that he could choose one he wanted me to make…. and he chose this one. I have to say that this is one of my favorite pizzas I’ve made in my own home. The combination of salty bacon, chewy clams, and sweet onions was amazing, and it’s a pizza that I’ll be making time and time again.

Clam, Bacon and Onion Pizza

Clam, Bacon and Onion Pizza

Makes 1 pizza

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 large onion, halved and sliced thin

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced

2 Tbsp dry white wine

3 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, drained

Salt and pepper

Olive oil, for brushing on pizza dough

Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional)

Pizza dough

Directions:

1. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven, and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Let preheat for an hour before baking pizza.

2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels, and drain all but 2 tbsp of bacon fat from the skillet.

3. Add the onion to the skillet, and cook for about 4-6 minutes, until it is beginning to brown. Then add the garlic and thyme and cook about 30 seconds more., until fragrant. Add the wine and clams and cook for 1-2 minutes until the wine has mostly evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stretch or roll out your pizza dough on a peel sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Brush a a light coating of olive oil over the dough and then spread clam, bacon and onion mixture evenly on top. Slide onto the pizza stone, and bake for 14 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the pizza when you remove from the oven, if desired.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Feed

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions

Whelp, remember when I said that I was hoping for a snowy winter?  Looks like I got my wish, plus some!  As I’m sure everybody know, Connecticut got a gigantic storm over the weekend, starting Friday morning, and ending Saturday morning.  We got about 3 feet of snow! That’s the most I’ve ever seen in one shot. I couldn’t even see my car when the storm was done, and we were stranded in our apartment for a few days. Luckily we never lost power, and so we were able to stay inside all warm and cozy, with an excuse to be totally lazy. We did get outside and shovel, which was extremely exhausting, and my arms feel dead now because of it, but other than that, this was the perfect time to just relax. As I am a hoarder of food, we had no problem keeping ourselves well-fed. We even decided to risk salmonella poisoning, and made a batch of cookie dough and no cookies. Here’s to snow!

So this is something I cooked last week before the blizzard hit. It’s the second recipe I’ve made from Deb Perelman’s wonderful cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. (The other was her flat-roasted chicken with tiny potatoes- something I will be making again and I will make sure I share it with you were when I do.) Her blog is one of the best out there, and I urge you to check it out! Ron got me her cookbook for Christmas, and over vacation I read the entire thing, front to back. I am now slowly working my way through the archives of her blog. I love her writing, and reading both the cookbook and her blog make me feel like I’m sitting right there with her in her tiny kitchen listening to a good friend tell me a story.

I made this frittata for dinner and Ron and I devoured it! I busted out my cast-iron skillet to cook this, and as I did, I resolved to not fear this skillet. I don’t know why, but cooking with cast-iron really intimidates me. I decided that I have to get over this once and for all, especially since this frittata turned out so beautifully in it. This frittata reminds me of another dish I love, Ina Garten’s Omelet for Two, from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home. I love that recipe and that cookbook. I don’t think I’ve ever made an Ina Garten recipe that I’ve disliked! While that omelet (which really is more of a fritatta also), uses cheddar cheese and diced potatoes, this one uses feta cheese and sliced potatoes. Other than that they are very similar and are both awesome! I’ll post that recipe soon.

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions
Serves 4 (as a dinner) or 6-8 as a breakfast

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-1/2-inch slices, and then into half-circles
1/2 tsp table salt, plus more for roasting potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound bacon, thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 bunch (3-4) scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2/3 cup (3 oz) crumbled feta cheese
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp milk or cream

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet or roasting pan with 1-2 Tbsp of oil. Place the potatoes, on the pan, and season with salt and pepper. (They do not all have to be in one layer). Roast about 30 minutes until the potatoes are mostly cooked through, tossing halfway. Remove from oven, and let cool down a bit.
2. Place a cast-iron or other 9-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat, and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Add the remainder of the oil to the skillet with the bacon drippings (1 Tbsp), and reheat on medium. Make sure you swirl the oil and drippings around in the skillet to coat the sides of the pan.
3. Place the potatoes in the skillet, browned side up. Then sprinkle on the bacon, scallions and feta.
4. Whisk together your eggs and milk, adding 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the potatoes.
5. Cover your skillet with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the eggs are set in the center, and the edges have puffed up.

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

New England Clam Chowder

One of my main goals during my vacation was to eat as much seafood as possible.  I love it, but I don’t buy it very often due to it’s price.  Even though I live in Connecticut, where you’d assume seafood would be abundant, it’s still often outside my limited price range.  I could certainly buy it more often, but then I’d be making ramen noodle soup more often as well.  In Chincoteague, as it’s right on the water, there is much more locally caught seafood to buy and eat, and the prices were generally much better!  I absolutely achieved my goal, and one of the ways I did that was to make the chowder twice, buying mounds of clams from Gary Howard seafood.  This is a very clammy clam chowder so if you like clams, you’ll like this!  It’s a thin, not creamy chowder, so if you are looking for something with a creamy consistency, this is not the recipe I’d personally choose for that (although I would like to try pureeing some of the potatoes in this chowder to see what it does for the thickness), but it’s super-delicious.  It’s great in larger servings for a main course, or as a first course to a meal, especially one loaded with more seafood.

New England Clam Chowder
Serves 4

Ingredients:
36 hard-shelled clams (less than 2 inches wide), such as littlenecks, scrubbed well
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 medium boiling potatoes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Directions:
1. Put the clams, and the cold water in a large pot, and place over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  When it starts to boil, cover with the lid, and steam for 5 to 8 minutes until the clams open.  Check after 5 minutes, and begin removing any that have opening.  If any are still closed, allow them to steam longer.  Discard any that haven’t opened after 8 minutes.  Strain and reserve the cooking liquid (there will be some fine grit, so use a fine-mesh sieve, or line a sieve with cheesecloth to strain out the grit).
2. When the clams can be handled, remove them from their shells, and roughly chop.
3. Peel the potatoes, and dice them into 1/4-inch pieces.
4. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the butter. 
5. When the butter is melted, add the bacon, and cook until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Add the onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
7. Add the potatoes, and reserved cooking liquid, and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 5-10 minutes.
8. Add the clams, half-and-half, and pepper to taste, and cook about 1 minute until heated through.  Do not let the chowder boil.  
9. Add the parsley.
Notes:
  • As I mentioned earlier, I’d love to puree some of the potatoes once they’re cooked as it should give the finished soup a thicker consistency. 
  • If you’d like, you can use salt pork instead of bacon, but the bacon lends a nice smokiness to the chowder.
  • It is very easy at the end for the half-and-half to separate a bit.  Mine did in fact, but it will not affect the taste or consistency if this happens a little bit, it’s more a visual thing.