Sunday, March 27, 2011

Comfort Food

The Food Network Channel often gives me inspiration for meals.  Today Reece and I watched "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Bacon" and "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives", and we were craving bacon!  So, we set out to make "fancy" BLT's and found a recipe with pesto-mayo and fresh mozzarella.  Then, we needed something for a side dish, and smoked gouda mac and cheese was the choice.  It was amazing to say the least.  Oh, I also forgot about the strawberry shortcake we made for dessert!  This was comfort food at its finest and I just had to are below.

Fresh Mozzarella BLT with Pesto (recipe by Tyler Florence)
1 4-inch piece
2 slices low-sodium applewood-smoked bacon
1 1/2 teaspoons store-bought pesto
1 1/2 teaspoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 spear
romaine lettuce
2 thick slices heirloom tomato
1 thick slice fresh mozzarella
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Slice the baguette open, leaving one side attached to form a hinge. Cook the bacon in a skillet over low heat until crispy; drain on paper towels.

Combine the pesto with the
mayonnaise and smear on the bottom part of the bread. Layer the romaine on the bread, then the tomato, bacon and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper; close the sandwich and wrap in parchment paper.

Triple-Smoky Mac and Cheese (recipe by ME!)

5 strips of bacon
2 cups elbow macaroni
4 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed in microwave 1-2 minutes
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and Pepper
6 oz. smoked gouda cheese, shredded
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c bread crumbs
1 T Parmesean cheese, shredded

Bring pot of water to boil.  Cook macaroni about 5-6 minutes so it is still al dente (slightly undercooked).  Cook bacon in a saute pan, drain on paper towels, and crumble into bite size pieces.  While macaroni and bacon are cooking, melt 2 T butter in a sauce pan.  Add flour and whisk to combine.  Whisk in warm milk slowly to avoid lumps.  Add smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer to thicken.  Remove sauce pan from heat and add smoked gouda and cheddar cheese.  Combine macaroni, cheese sauce, and bacon in a baking dish.  Melt remaining 2 T butter and combine with bread crumbs.  Top macaroni and cheese with bread crumbs and parmesean.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

Strawberry Shortcakes

2 cups Jiffy baking mix
3 T sugar
3 T margarine, melted
1/2 c milk
1 pint fresh strawberries
sugar to taste
half and half

Combine first 4 ingredients.  Using two spoons, form 6 drop biscuits on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Meanwhile, slice strawberries and add sugar to taste.  To serve, break a biscuit in a bowl and top with strawberries and half and half.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our First House

So we've been in our first house for 7 months now and we've done a bit of work to the place.  The only room on the main floor we haven't touched yet is the bathroom (and there are plans for that...hopefully happening this summer!)  Here's what we've done so far.
Living Room:
We painted and added new window treatments.  Roman shades from JC Penney and Chocolate drapes from Ikea.  Also, my favorite chair (where all the colors came from) is from Target.

Kitchen:  This obviously isn't the best shot, but you can see everything we did up close.  We stained the beat up medium oak cabinets to a nice mahogany and added hardware.  Added new countertops and a glass tile backsplash.  We also replaced the stove that was older than Reece and I.  :) 

Second Bedroom:  This room used to be a Minnesota Twins theme with navy blue walls.  While it wasn't terrible, the room was so DARK!  I love the cheerful yellow it is now.  It's MUCH brighter!  I also made the curtains that have a funky retro pattern.

Our bedroom:  I painted the walls a warm medium gray, new window treatments, and bedding.  The painting on the wall serves as our headboard right now and is from Gustav Klimpt's "Tree of Life".  I also have another Kimpt print in our bedroom - "The Kiss"  Since the picture was taken I've added some awesome lamps from Pier 1.  Looking to add some real furniture (like nightstands and a headboard) but need to wait until I find the right pieces.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ranger Cookies

When I was a little girl, I remember trips to my Grandma Shirley's house always included Ranger Cookies.  This was a cookie that I never had anywhere other than Grandma Shirley's.  You couldn't buy them at just any store, you could only get them at Kevin's IGA in Lake Crystal.  These store bought, yummy creations were the perfect treat.  I never even knew one of the main ingredients was coconut (which I'm normally not a fan of) until I came across this recipe many years later.  The recipe is from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and it takes me back to grandma's house.  :)  Enjoy!

Ranger Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c flour
1 c quick-cooking rolled oats
1 c coconut
1 c raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries or mixed dried fruits
(I just made a batch with dried cranberries and added chocolate chips - you can't go wrong with chocolate!)

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Add sugars, baking poweder, and baking soda.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour.  Stir in rolled oats, coconut and dried fruit.  Drop dough 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute and transfer to a cooling rack.