Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

because as my husband say, "Everything is better with BACON!". Undo all that healthy, vegetable goodness.

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

1 bag baby spinach
1 small red onion, sliced into very thin rings
sliced, hard-boiled eggs
cherry/grape tomatoes
sliced mushrooms
walnuts (toasted in a dry skillet, if you wish)

(I found this recipe on Allrecipes and it is the best and easiest that I have tried at this point--and it doesn't call for using bacon grease)
8 slices cooked bacon, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted this)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar

Place chopped bacon in skillet over medium heat, and allow to reheat and start to sizzle. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly pour in water and vinegar, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture into the skillet with the heated bacon and stir constantly, until mixture heats and thickens. Dress salads and serve immediately.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I Love Bread and Dipping Oils.

What could be better than bread? Bread and butter? Mmm...sometimes, I guess, but this is even better than that. BREAD AND DIPPING OIL! You know the go to that little Italian place and here comes your server, arms laden with a cutting board of crusty bread and a bottle of olive-oil-y goodness tucked in the crook of his/her arm. It's coming to your table, and barring your dedication to to some low-carb eating plan, you'd better eat it. Not only should you eat it, you should make your own at home when the spirit moves you. It's easy!!! I have a basic throw-together recipe that I use. We'll call it my 'winter version', because in the summer I always add bits and pieces of fresh herbs from my garden. You can start with this basic grouping of ingredients and add most anything you want, depending on your meal or just what you have a taste for in general.

Dipping Oil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff, it really makes a huge difference in taste...stronger extra virgin olive oils will have a definite green hue to them)
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
pinch of salt
pinch of hot pepper flakes
dash of balsalmic vinegar (maybe 1/2 teaspoon)

Whisk it all together and break bread! Recipe is easily doubled, tripled, etc. It can be stored, but I prefer to make it fresh when we're going to eat it. It's nice to let the flavors meld for an hour or so before serving, but not necessary.

This is where I'll admit that I'm not really a baker of bread. I prefer to pick up a loaf or two of whatever artisan bread is fresh at the grocery that day. If you baked your own bread, well, people would probably love you even more. I will just have to live with less love coming in due to my lack of love for baking.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fettucini with Italian Sausage and Peppers

There is nothing revolutionary about this dish, but it's easy, quick and good. Here is the way I do it...

Fettucini with Italian Sausage and Peppers

2 tbsp. + 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb. Italian sausage--loose pack if you can find it, otherwise sliced or removed from link casings and crumbled (hot or mild)
4 Cubanelle or Hungarian Wax peppers, cut into small pieces (depending on the level of 'heat' you'd like; the Cubanelles are a little milder in my opinion)
1 lb. fettucini
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or Romano cheese to sprinkle after cooking

Boil a pot of water and cook pasta as directed. As the water boils/pasta cooks, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Allow garlic to just start to brown, and add sausage. Cook until done. Add pepper chunksand stir together. Saute until peppers are JUST done (don't let it all get mushy and colorless). Add enough olive oil to skillet to make this into a good 'sauce' for your pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Add cheese to taste and serve!

**my dad likes to add crushed red pepper flakes to this recipe