Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

I promised food, and thankfully it rained again today.  I will admit I’m not really missing the little tree removal.  😛

Yesterday, I spent the entire day down at the courthouse, watching something akin to a bad reality show, with no hair pulling or name calling.  😦  It did, however, give me a renewed appreciation for my literate friends, who understand difficult words like “waive” and “deferred”.  In their defense, all of the defendants did seem to understand the word “jail”.

But onward to the food.  These are absolutely the best stuffed mushrooms I have evah made/eaten/salivated over!

The ingredeint list is actually pretty short.  I forgot to put the cream cheese in the picture.  😦

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs with 1-2 tbsp butter, until the bread crumbs are just moistened.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Carefully break the stems off 12-18 largish mushrooms.  I used Baby Bellas, as I think they have a better taste than white.  Set the stems aside as you’ll need them for the stuffing.  Place the caps on a baking sheet, lined to make your life easier!  😀

Fry 3-5 strips of bacon until crisp.  Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces first.  I used Mrs. Wright’s Peppered Bacon, 5 strips, as we LOVE bacon.

When the bacon pieces are crispy, remove them to a paper towel to drain.

Dice the mushroom stems,  3 whole jalapenos (you can use less, but it’s really not that spicy!), 1/2 cup yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, and saute in the bacon grease.  Depending on how much grease there is, you might want to pour some out.  I ended up pouring about 2/3 of the grease out, and there was plenty left to give the veggies a great bacon-y flavor.

Saute until the veggies and stems are softened, about 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

While the veggies are softening, in a medium bowl, mix 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese with 2-3 oz. cream cheese.  Use a fork and blend well.

Add the sauteed veggies and the bacon.  Crunch up the bacon if there are any largish pieces.

Mix the stuffing well.

Now, stuff as much of the filling into the de-stemmed mushroom caps as possible.  Heap it on!

Using your hands (because, really, it’s the only way), pat a pinch of the buttered breadcrumbs on the top of the stuffed mushrooms.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the topping is golden brown.  Thank you panko and butter!

Eat.  Quickly if you want any!  😛  The entire batch disappeared in less than 15 minutes.  Then Hubby and Rat Boy plaintively asked if that was all!

They have no idea.

I made them again the next day.  I am a sucker for compliments.  🙂

Parmesan Chicken

It’s still cold outside.  Well, if you consider 50-something cold…  I’m a Gulf Coast dweller.  Stop judging me!  🙂

Rat Boy is always asking me to make this for him, and it’s so easy, I probably should more often.  But then he’d just be tired of it, and it wouldn’t be a treat then.

So, I had this chicken.  And I was wondering what I’d cook today.  So I decided to make Rat Boy happy.  🙂

Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this.  It keeps really well, and is good cold on a sandwich, or even by itself, so make plenty!

Butter a baking sheet (with sides) well.  Really well, as the butter will kind of fry the chicken to heavenly.

Slice teh breasts in half crosswise to make them thinner.

This is so much easier and less messy than pounding them thin.  🙂

You’ll need 2 small bowls, one for breadcrumbs (I used panko and they were awesome) mixed with Parmesan cheese…

and one for a beaten egg.  Using a shallow, wide bowl for the breadcrumbs works the best.

Dip the chicken pieces in the egg.

Then into the breadcrumb/cheese mix.  You can press it on to get a nice thick layer.

Your fingers will be goopy, but it’s really worth it!

Lay the chicken in the melted butter on the baking sheet.

Pat any remaining crumb mix onto the bald spots, then bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.  Flip the chicken pieces over, and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the pieces are nicely golden brown and crunchy.

If your oven is a hundred years old like mine, you’ll need to rearrange the pieces so they are evenly cooked!

Then enjoy the crunchy deliciousness.  🙂

Oh, and don’t forget the wine.  You deserve it!

Please ignore all that stuff in the background.  I was washing up while the chicken was baking.  Now, I can enjoy the wine!

Apple Stuffed Squash

Yesterday, I crawled out from under the huge pile of last week’s laundry and realized that I had no leftover turkey!  That just seems so strange.  I should be making turkey jambalaya, turkey soup, or turkey sandwiches this week.

I suppose it’s really good, though.  Usually by the time I’ve used up the left over turkey, I don’t care about seeing, smelling, or tasting another turkey until next Thanksgiving.

Because I ate about 7 different kinds of pie last week, and because I’m going on a bachelorette cruise in February (now only 2 months away!), I’ve decided to try and keep it light…at least during the Thanksgiving recovery period.  Yes, it’s bathing suit panic time, in the middle of winter.  😛

Thus, today for your viewing pleasure…stuffed acorn squash.

I’ve never cooked an acorn squash before, but they looked so pretty at the market I just had to get one.  I think I’m having a squash obsession this year, as I’ve put some kind of squash into every new thing I’ve tried lately.  Except the desert-y stuff.

Acorn squash is actually pretty awesome!  I did have a moment of “how the hell do you cut this thing?” at first, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I did sharpen the knife first, just in case.

Cut the squash in half and de-seed.  I felt like I was playing with tiny pumpkins!

Brush both halves lightly with olive oil, and bake at 350F, cut side down, for 30 minutes.

To make the stuffing, I used barley and brown rice, cooked to package directions…1 cup of each.  Add 1/2 cup cooked lentils, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup diced shallot, a couple of diced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp chopped fresh mint, 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, and 1/2  cup chopped granny smith apple with the peel left on.

Guess I’m inadvertently advertising for smartWater today.  🙂

While the squash is baking, combine the stuffing ingredients in a medium bowl, and toss to combine.

If it’s not moist enough, add a bit more applesauce.  This stuffing recipe will fill 2 or 3 squash.  I only made 1 because I didn’t know if I’d like the acorn squash.  What was leftover will be going in the squash I picked up at the market yesterday, as I really really liked this.  I think the stuffing would be great in a zucchini too.

After 30 minutes, remove the squash from the oven, stuff the halves, and bake another 20-30 minutes. this could be a meal in itself, or could be a groovy side!

It makes a very pretty presentation.  And is ridiculously healthy and yumtastic!  I’m making more tonight.

The grilled cheese was for Rat Boy.  He currently eats like he has 2 hollow legs!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

When I worked at Whole Foods Market, I looked forward to this time of year because of the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I ate a lot of other yummy stuff also, but I particularly like the combination of pumpkin and semi-sweet chocolate.

I do not like pumpkin pie.


Whisk together 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 tsp salt.

With the mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup granulated sugar until fluffy, then add 2 eggs, one at a time, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Continue beating until smooth. Don’t overbeat, though, as it makes the muffins tough.

On low speed, alternately add 3/4 cup pumpkin puree and the flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Remove from the mixer, and fold in 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Grease the muffin tin and bake at 350F for about 20 – 25 minutes.  cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Eat immediately.  Otherwise, they’ll be gone!  😛

They are especially good, I think, while the chips are still warm and melty.

And now that it IS that time of year, I’ll be doing a lot more with pumpkin.  I may not like pumpkin pie, but I luves pumpkin in pretty much anything else!

Herb Crusted Pork Loin

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the Pioneer Woman doing a herbed pork tenderloin.  Fortuitously, the next week at the market, they had pork loin on sale!  Obviously, the stars were in alignment for me on that day.

I’m also happy when I get to make something for dinner that’s a little upscale, without using every pan in the kitchen!  😛

The trick to this is really getting the loin to cook without sitting in the juice at the bottom of the pan and getting soggy.  It’s really hard to call it a crust if it slumps off into the pan the minute you try to serve it!

I don’t have a roasting rack, which would be good for this, so improvisation was in order.

I sliced potatoes and onions very thinly and put them in alternating layers in the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.

The layers optimally will be about 2 inches thick.

Drizzle oilve oil, salt and pepper over your potaot foundation, cover, and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just beginning to get tender.

While the potatoes are baking a bit, deal with the loin.  😛

Rub the loin with olive oil.  For this, i eschewed my favorite roasted garlic infused oil, and just used a good grade of Sicilian olive oil.

Rub the loin generously with the oil, and begin to pat the herb mixture onto the meat.

The herbs should stick in a nice thick layer.  I used Herbs de Provence, because I particularly like the mix of rosemary, thyme, basil, savory, and oregano.  It also looks pretty.

If you notice some bare patches, just get a small handfull, and press it onto the meat.  Then lay the loin on top of the potato and onion foundation.

Do not cover, as you don’t want to steam it, you want the herb layer to form into a crisp crust.  Bake at 400F for about 35 – 40 minutes.

Cover and rest the whole thing for about 5 – 10 minutes.  Then slice and serve with the potatoes and onion base, which will have now absorbed a bit of the herb flavor, along with some pork drippings.  Yum!

The pork will be a little pink, and very juicy because the crust holds in the juices.  The potatoes around the edges will get a little browned, so altogether, it really makes a nice presentation.  And you only have to wash one pan after dinner!  😀

Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies…

Because they are TINY!  Well, not microscopic, but melon ball sized.  Like little bites of heavenly delight!  I can just pop the whole thing into my mouth.  They don’t leave crumbs in the milk either!  😀

I’ve decided I want to play more WoW blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I’m an excellent procrastinator, so I’m going to sign up for the post-a-day challenge.  Y’all please comment and help me stay motivated!  You also get to see more yumtastic food.  😛

And now, back to the cookies!

I want to go eat one now.

Whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.  Set aside.

Cream together 1 cup butter, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar.  When the mixture is light and fluffy, add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix well.

Fold in 1 cup of chopped pecans  and 2 cups chocolate chips.  Drop onto a cookie sheet using a melon baller.

Bake at 350-375F for about 8 – 10 minutes.  Until they look beautifully golden brown and their delicious smell is filling the house.  😛

Cool on the pan for a couple of minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

This recipe will make about 120 cookies!  Which is a lot of cookies.

Unless you live with Rat Boy.  In which case it’s enough cookies for about 2 days!

This is only half of them.  I need a bigger plate!  😛

Brown Butter Strawberry Banana Bread

Yesterday, it finally rained.  Not just a soggy drizzle, but all out, thundering, lightning, blow over the plants on the patio RAIN.  I almost ran outside to stand in it until the lightning forks in the near vicinity had me rethinking that urge.

Instead, I made banana bread.

With strawberries.

Two of my favorite things.  With butter!  🙂

Brown the butter (about 5 oz or 1/2 cup) in a saucepan over medium heat.  Yes, this is something that requires attentiveness.

The butter will foam and crackle as it melts, and then brown.  Swirl the pan to keep it from burning.  When the butter begins to brown and smell nutty, pour it out of the pan so that it immediately stops cooking and hopefully prevents burning!  I just poured it into the measuring cup, and popped it into the freezer to cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp cinnamon.

Awesome action shot.  (Added difficulty of holding the camera in my left hand!)

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup buttermilk.

Mash 3 medium sized bananas.

Stir the mashed bananas into the egg mixture.

Check on the butter in the freezer.  It should be cool by now.

Whisk it into the egg and banana mixture.

Add the wet ingredeints to the dry, and fold together, then fold in  3/4 to 1 cup diced strawberries.

Stir until all ingredients are just combined.  Over stirring makes tough bread.  😦

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, and top with thinly sliced strawberry.  I saved the biggest one from the package for the top.

It’s so pretty, I wanted to get a spoon and just eat it.  But instead, I baked it for about an hour.

I’m glad I waited!  It looked even better when it cam out of the oven!

Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.  DO make sure that cooling has finished before wrapping it up, as condensation will make the crust soggy.  And nobody likes a soggy crust.  😀

I just had some for breakfast.  The tartness of the strawberries gives a nice contrast to the sweetness of banana.  This would make a great gift, as it is really pretty…but I think I’ll just eat this loaf!

Hubby and rat Boy might have to fight me for it.

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