Bacon Bourbon Jam

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Ty subscribed me to Martha’s ‘Living’ for my birthday last year – a magazine I am only slightly addicted to. He flipped open a random page to see a recipe for ‘Bacon Jam’, slammed the magazine on the table with his finger on the page and declared “YOU are making this for Thanksgiving.” (Emphasis on the YOU).

What turned out to be a surprisingly easy recipe was a hit! Served with some toasted bread and a slice of nicely aged cheddar, not much was left in the jar at the end of the evening.

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Bacon Bourbon Jam

1 1/2 pounds thick-cut smoked bacon (I used hickory smoked – yum)

2 cups shallots, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/2 cup bourbon

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cooking sherry

1/3 cup light-brown sugar

1. Slice bacon crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Cook in a deep skillet or large pan over medium heat until browned. Work in batches. Remove fat from pan between each batch. Retain one tablespoon of bacon fat and do not scrape all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Drain bacon on paper towels.

2. To the pan with 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add shallots and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent – approximately 5 minutes. To the shallots, add chili powder, mustard, and ginger. Saute for a few additional minutes.

3. Add bourbon and maple syrup to the mixture. Increase heat to high and stir until boiling. Add sherry, brown sugar, and bacon and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer until well-thickened and reduced – about 10 minutes.

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4. When reduced, transfer jam to a food processor and pulse a few times to break up to the bacon into small pieces. Toss in a jar and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Serve at room temp with a toasted baguette and aged cheddar cheese.

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So much to be thankful for this year…. 

Winter Vegetable Gratin

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I found this recipe in my favorite cookbook, Long Nights and Log Fires. It’s kind of fitting to cook from it on a cold winters night in a log cabin (with a wood stove!). I adapted the recipe as I was missing some ingredients, like parsnip and mustard powder, but hey it was still good enough to share.

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This was also the first time I’ve ever had celeriac. It is incredible… so incredible that I am going to hunt for seed to grow some (Boomer even begged for some! A dog? A vegetable other than carrots? Yep!) I picked up a bag of ‘winter roots’ grown at a local farm. Carrots, beets, turnip, and celeriac. I subtracted the beets, added some potatoes, tossed it with a delicious cream sauce and bam, a filling vegetarian meal (with beets to enjoy later!)

This is a great way to use up some root veggies. The recipe called for parsnip, carrot, rutabaga, celeriac, and potato, but my veggie mix was great as well… meaning another versatile meal! My favorite!

Winter Vegetable Gratin

1 large celeriac bulb, peeled and cubed

2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

1 large turnip, cubed

2 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed

1 cup light cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons chopped Parsley (dried is o.k., fresh is better)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

S & P

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add all the vegetables and par-cook for 10 minutes. Drain.

2. In a small pan over low heat, add cream, garlic, and mustard. Stir continuously for 10 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Mix parsley, bread crumbs, and parmesan in a separate dish.

4. Butter a shallow oven-proof dish. Add vegetables. Pour cream sauce over the veggies and top with bread crumb mixture and some fresh pepper. Drizzle butter over the top. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges are crusted. Serve warm.

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Irish Beef Stew (… and the return of the NHL)

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Other than smelly gear, what else goes well with hockey? Why, beer of course. If you have been to Boston or know anything about it’s history, then you know of the deep Irish roots (Boston Celtics, anyone?). What better way to ring in the end of the lockout and celebrate the 2013 NHL/Bruins season than with an Irish beef stew featuring Guinness and red wine?

IMG_0619Be sure to enjoy the left over beer (and remaining bottle of wine)! FYI-tastes especially good while watching the B’s!

I made this recipe quite a while ago and thought it was so good that I took the time to put it on a recipe card and file it away in my recipe box. Over the past 3 years it has morphed into something different. I’ve actually taken to writing notes on this recipe card. (Damn! Ranger’s just scored). I love a good hearty soup and this definitely fits the bill. It has gusto; so many different layers of flavor. (FIGGGGHTTTTTT!!!) Oh- Have I mentioned that I am a die-hard Bruins fan and have been playing hockey since I was just a little blonde-haired pig-tailed tyke?

Irish Beef Stew 

1.5 lbs beef stew meet (cut into 1 inch cubes)

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp evoo

5 cups beef stock

1 cup Guinness beer

1 cup dry red wine

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried parsley

3 bay leaves

1 large onion, chopped

4-5 medium-sized russet potatoes, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 tbsp butter

S & P

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic. Working in batches if needed, brown the beef on all sides. When all the beef is browned, add the stock, wine, beer, Worcestershire, tomato paste, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves to the beef. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the potatoes, onions, and carrots. Saute until the potatoes start to brown and the onions become translucent (approximately 15 minutes).

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Add the sautéed potato mixture to the broth. Simmer uncovered for approximately 30-40 minutes or until all the veggies are soft (when the carrots are cooked, everything else should be). (G.O.A.L.!) Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a good chunk of bread!

Is it pathetic that I am teaching my dog to give me a high-five every time he hears “GOALLLL!! WOOO BRUINS!!!”??

Cheddar, Ham, Potato, and Broccoli Soup

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Do I dare say the F-word? Ty is laying on the couch with a 102°F fever. He has a headache. He claims it is a sinus infection (gosh I hope)… but he didn’t have any typical cold symptoms…

Earlier today, I asked him to take his temperature. It was perfect. So I figured, ‘aw poor guy is just feeling run down, I’ll make some soup!!’ Now I feel bad that he just ate hot soup when he is on fire. I told him he didn’t have to. Even being sick, he does what every good man does… ate his girlfriend’s cooking!

Illness aside, this soup is delicious! I think he would have enjoyed it more had he not been sick; two spoonfuls did him in. I’ll just have to make it again in a few weeks.

Ham, Potato, Broccoli, and Cheese Soup

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 small white potatoes (1 large russet would work)

2 cups ham, cubed

1 head broccoli, chopped

4 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese

spices: salt, pepper, parsley, red pepper, thyme, rosemary, etc.

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– In a large stock pot, heat a good drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and spice while heating (I used a small pinch of crushed red pepper, and a wee bit of rosemary, a good pinch of parsley, thyme, salt, and black pepper). When the garlic is sizzling, add the carrots, celery, and onion. After about 4 minutes, add the potatoes. Sautee for an additional 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, ham, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Be sure to avoid laying dogs in the middle of the kitchen when handling hot/boiling food.

Be sure to avoid laying dogs in the middle of the kitchen when handling hot/boiling food.

-In a separate small pan melt the butter. Once melted remove from heat and add the flour. Stir until a nice thick paste is formed. Pour heavy cream into the mixture and whisk until thick. Add the flour mixture and cheese to the simmering soup while whisking. Let simmer for another 5 or so minutes… then serve and enjoy (hopefully more than Ty did!)

Cottage Pie with Caramelized Leeks and Cheddar Mash

 

 

I’ve been MIA for quite a while lately. I am quickly approaching my solo-teaching period. Though it is super nerve wracking and I am insanely stressed, I’m excited. I am teaching a weather unit for 3 weeks. Luckily, Thanksgiving will be a week-long break in the middle of the unit. My portfolio is coming together nicely, but it is a long way from done. I figure by the time December hits, I should have a little more free time. Once mid-Jan comes, I can take a deep breath and hopefully prep for licensure!

Cooking is my art, my only art. I’ve needed a stress reliever lately, so I just had to cook. I typically use recipes as an idea-sparker, so I flipped through some cookbooks and stumbled upon a shepherds pie with cheddar mash recipe. Somehow the recipe morphed into a cottage pie with cheddar mash and caramelized leeks recipe. Boy was it good! Too bad the weather was warm, as this would be a perfect cold-night meal.

Cottage Pie with Caramelized Leeks and Cheddar Mash

For the Leeks

2 leeks, whites and light greens

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

dash of salt

For the Mash

6 medium white potatoes

3 tbsp heavy cream (or milk)

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp butter

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the Filling

3 carrots

1-1.5 lbs ground beef

1.5 tsp thyme

1.5 tbsp flour

1.5 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup chicken or beef stock

1. Slice the leeks thin and rinse well to remove any dirt or sand. Over medium heat, add butter and olive oil and saute for about 30 minutes. When the leeks start to brown, add a dash of salt. Stir frequently. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. In the meantime, wash potatoes and cut into equal sized chunks. Peel and smash garlic cloves. Boil the potatoes and garlic until soft. Drain, add back to the pan and mash with butter and cream/milk. Mash until smooth, but still a little chunky. HOLD on the cheese.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. In the pan used for the leeks, add a splash of olive oil. Add carrots (diced into small pieces). Saute for about 7 minutes over medium heat until soft. Add the ground beef and saute until no longer pink, about 7-10 minutes. While stirring, add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Then add tomato paste and stir into beef until mixed. Add the chicken or beef stock and stir. It should thicken quite quickly- about 2-4 minutes.

4. In a large casserole, add the meat mixture. Sprinkle about half of the leeks on top of the meat. Top with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining leeks on top of the potatoes and then the cheddar cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and browned.