Grape, Pear and Curry Cashew Salad

I have loved this salad for years. I think I first made it about 5 years ago. I love salads that have different components and flavors and this fits that profile perfetly. It’s sweet, it’s slightly spicy, it’s tangy, and it’s just delicious. The dressing is a perfect honey mustard balance and compliments the other flavors perfectly. Genius. 

The amount of pear and grapes and lettuce is up to you so I didn’t put amounts below.

curry2 

Grape, Pear and Curry Cashew Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3/4-1 cup chopped raw unsalted cashews
  • 5 slices bacon (41/2 for salad, 1/2 for dog)
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp curry powder (madras or yellow curry)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Romaine hearts washed and dried
  • Bosc pear sliced very thin
  • Red grapes

Instructions:

  1. In a skillet set over medium heat toast the cashews until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook bacon in desired vessel (microwave, oven, stovetop) to desired done-ness, set on paper towels to drain then chop. Give 1/2 slice to dog.
  3. In a medium bowl mix the butter, rosemary, cury, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and toasted cashews. Mix until everything is evenly distributed.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, mustard and honey. Then add the olive oil while whisking to combine.
  5. When you’re ready to serve it place the lettuce in a bowl, add some cashews and grapes and drizzle with dressing. Gently stir to combine. Top with bacon and pear slices.  Or forget that whole bit and just put everything together in a bowl with dressing and mix it around.

Adapted from a recipe I printed 5 years ago from allrecipes.com.

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Sriracha and Bacon Egg Salad Sandwich

Some times I like egg salad. Those times include when it’s not drowning in mayonnaise and when it’s zingy! Who likes mushy bland egg salad is a mystery to me….. The egg salad below is anything but mushy and bland.  It’s really tasty and it’s light and airy. If you like bacon and sriracha and eggs you’ll like this a lot.

eggsal

Sriracha & Bacon Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and peeled
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked (2 broken into small pieces, 1 set aside for topping and 1 for the dog 🙂 )
  • 1 generous tbsp low fat mayonnaise
  • 3-4 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 generous tsp sriracha
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 piece of romaine lettuce
  • 2 slices of bread

Instructions:

  1. Gently chop eggs and yolks and put them in a bowl. Add everything else but the 1 strip of bacon, bread and lettuce and stir gently.
  2. Place lettuce on one slice of bread, top with salad, top salad with bacon, place 2nd slice of bread on top and enjoy.

Greatly adapted from Cooking Light magazine, August, 2013

Makes 1 sandwich

Vidalia Onion Pie

It’s Vidalia season again!! I picked up two of those beauties at my grocery store a few days ago and have been wondering what to make. While I did find a roasted Vidalia onion salad that sounded promising I wanted to somehow incorporate this month’s What’s Baking theme of Puff Pastry into it too. So I searched and searched and found a delicious sounding Vidalia Onion Pie recipe from Paula Deen. I haven’t ever made anything of hers but it looked like exactly what I was hoping for. A nice pie with crumbly bacon topping, sweet browned onions and (my idea) a flaky crispy crust-not the pie crust that Paula’s recipe called for.

Truth be told I was secretly thinking that the crust wouldn’t ever work right and I’d have to throw everything out. I’ve never switched out a puff pastry for a pie dough before but I thought if I pre-bake it that it will be just fine. And it was. It was glorious!! And surprisingly easy to make too!

It’s not a deep pie-only about an inch since I used a tart pan. It’s a very light custard type of filling-surprisingly light and the onions–OH THE ONIONS!!-beautifully sweet just like they should be.

onion2

Vidalia Onion Pie

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onions (I used about 1 & 1/2 onions)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed if frozen-I like Pepperidge Farm)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp AP flour plus more for rolling out dough
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked to crispy and crumbled (4 for pie, 1 for dog 🙂

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Roll out the pastry until it’s thin enough to cover entire inside, sides and have a small amount hang over sides of tart pan.
  3. Lay pastry in pan and press all around to fill evenly. Using a fork poke holes in the dough on the base of the pan and in the edges around the outside. Cover the edges with 1 layer of foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. While the pastry is baking prepare the onions. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter and then add the onions. cook them until they’re lightly browned. Then remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl beat the eggs and then add the flour and whisk to combine. Then add the milk sour cream, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  6. When the pastry is done spread the onions over the bottom of the pan and then pour the egg mixture over it. Sprinkle the bacon on top and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve right away.

I only had about 1& 1/4 cups of sour cream. I subbed a new Greek Yogurt/Cream cheese mix that I had for the remaining 1/4 cup. It worked out fine.

It will help you a lot if you put the tart pan onto a cookie sheet for the duration of the recipe so you don’t run the risk of messing up the edges of the dough getting it in and out of the oven.

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Cara from The Boys Made Me Do It was the host of this month’s challenge. Check out all of the other dishes made here!

WB

Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich

There’s that saying ‘even the best laid plans’……..well that’s what happened last night. I was all set to go home after work and grill chicken, slice avocado, slap some bacon and pesto and cheese on a delicious toasted roll and enjoy a great sandwich for dinner. Not so much. My supermarket didn’t have any more of the rolls I wanted, my avocado had passed it’s ‘edible’ stage and I screwed up the pesto. So that sandwich never happened. It sill sounds really good so I will make it sometime.

What I ended up with instead was DELICIOUS!! Grilled chicken, melty white cheddar, tangy BBQ sauce, crispy bacon and delicious toasted french bread. Really simple yes but really YUM!!!!  After one bite I wasn’t sorry the other sandwich hadn’t worked out. BBQ sauce always reminds me of the west for some reason-like John Wayne riding into the sunset shooting his rifle into the sky as he goes. So that’s why I named this sandwhich what I did. Enjoy!!

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Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich 

Ingredients (for 2 sandwiches):

  • 1 large chicken breast (boneless, skinless) about 1/2 lb cut into 2 even 1/4 pieces (give or take with the weight)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon (2 &1/2 for each sandwich, 1 for the dog 🙂 
  • white cheddar cheese sliced thin-as much as you want
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce-as much as you want
  • Pieces of french bread cut in half length-wise or kaiser rolls

Instructions:

  1. Preheat grill pan or grill or panini press or whatever you’ll use to cook the chicken.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with S&P and set aside until the cooking vessel is ready.
  3. Cook the bacon and set aside (and give that one piece to your dog 🙂
  4. Cook until about 30 seconds from being done then top with the bbq sauce and then the cheese. Since I used my panini press I closed the lid but let it just hover over the chicken to melt the cheese and heat the sauce.
  5. Put a little sauce on the bottom piece of bread, top with chicken, place the bacon on top of the chicken, add a little more sauce if you want, and then put the top piece of bread.
  6. Eat it!

Bacon Cashew Caramel Popcorn

On Saturday night I went to see some of my very favorite people in the world and the house that they bought recently.  In addition to bringing peperonata and crackers and fresh mozzarella I brought this popcorn with me as well to munch on after dinner. Wow was it great. I had never made caramel corn before so I was concerned about how it would come out but I worried needlessly-this was EXCELLENT and really easy to make.  Just enough salty and sweet and crunchy. It really could become addicting very quickly.

Before I started I googled the original recipe from Bon Appetit and there were so many complaints from people about how many pots and pans they used etc… I thought it was pretty funny considering if you read the recipe you’ll see that you need a few. I can’t say that there was all that many though. But not to worry-I made a few adjustments to the orignal recipe that save some pans and washing time.  Caramel is pretty sticky and it will be hot for a while.  Best to let it cool in the pan and then soak the pan in some hot water-it will wash right off (unless you burn it) or wait until it’s cool enough then eat it with a spoon right from the pan :).

Caramel corn

Bacon Cashew Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 4-4.5ozs organic, unsalted air-popped popcorn*
  • 6-12 ozs bacon, cooked and chopped into various sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup cashews, raw and unsalted, chopped into various sized pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  3. In a very large metal bowl (large enough to fit all of the popcorn and ingredients and be stirred) combine the popcorn, bacon, cashews and salt and stir until evenly distributed. Set aside. Spray 2 metal spatulas or spoons (or 1 of each) with non-stick spray. Set them aside.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed medium sized sauce pan over medium heat combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and 1 tsp salt.  Using a candy thermometer bring to the soft ball stage (if you’re not using a candy thermometer bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.  The caramel will get poufy. Stir it well to make sure that everything is evenly combined.  Pour it over the popcorn in the large bowl and using 2 spoons or spatulas, stir and fold everything together until evenly distributed (don’t forget the little bits at the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Spoon the popcorn onto the baking sheets making an even layer on each.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes until caramel is shiny and coats the popcorn, giving the baking sheets a turn halfway through and stirring if needed.  If any large clumps appear break them up with a spatula.
  7. Remove from oven and place the baking sheets onto cooling racks until popcorn has cooled.

Note: For cooling the popcorn I removed the popcorn from the baking trays when it was cool enough to touch-about 15 minutes, and transferred it to a large colander and placed it outside in the 20degree shade to cool.  Since the baking sheets had non-stick spray residue on it I did not want that absorbed into the popcorn to make it mushy.

*You can also use 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and pop them as per the manufacturer instructions.  To save time and pans though I bought a bag from Fairway that was popped fresh and unsalted.  Saved me having to clean a pot and a lid and possibly burning it  (which I tend to do).  Besides-a 6oz bag was on sale for $1.99 that day-so I saved money too.

Makes enough to fill 1 gallon-sized Ziplock bag.

Adapted quite a bit from Bon Appetit.

Tim goes crazy for it too!! 2 of his favorites-bacon and caramel-in one place.

popcorn timmy

Tomato, Onion, Bacon and Asiago Fritatta

Saturday morning was breezy and cool and I felt like making something easy and delicious for breakfast. I hunted around in the fridge and had a few tomatoes, an onion and some Asiago to use up.  This fritatta came out great! A little cheesy, a little crunchy from the bacon, and super tasty.

 

Tomato, Onion, Bacon and Asiago Fritatta

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked to desired crunchyness
  • 1 large tomato, diced, seeds removed
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping cup freshly-grated Asiago cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • green onions for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 f.
  2. Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat to desired crunchyness. Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain.  Leave fat in the pan and add the onion and garlic. Sautee until soft. Add the tomatoes and bacon and then pour the eggs over everything in the pan. Allow it to cook, occasionally running a spatula around the outer rim to prevent sticking. 
  3. When eggs are almost completely cooked through place the pan in the oven until eggs are cooked through.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese on top and put back into the oven for a minute or 2 until cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with green onions, cut and serve.

Sparksfromthekitchen.com original

Shrimp Salad BLT Bites

Recently a friend of mine had a very tasty appetizer at a party.  She wanted to recreate it using the Shrimp Salad from these. So we got together and tried a few different types of bacon (regular, turkey and thin and crispy turkey). The regular bacon worked best-the flavor was just right. The turkey and T&C just didn’t taste right. So after some experimenting-mixing the lettuce into the salad, different amounts of salad, different sizes of the piece of bacon underneath etc…-we finally arrived at a perfect little bite of BLT with shrimp salad. They’re just the right size to pick up with 2 fingers and eat in one bite.

Shrimp Salad BLT Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup cornichons, chopped small, plus 1 Tbsp brine
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 lb cooked, peeled and deveined large shrimp cut into very small pieces
  • 1&1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 10 pieces bacon
  • a few leaves of green leaf lettuce (or any other lettuce that will lay flat)
  • 3 egg tomatoes (or any other that has the same circumference as the piece of bacon, each sliced very thin into 10 slices)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare bacon so that it’s crispy.  Set aside to cool.
  2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, brine and season with pepper.
  3. Add the shrimp, cornichons and tarragon and toss to combine.
  4. Break pieces of bacon into 3 equal sized pieces.  On each place a slice of tomato, a small piece of lettuce (similar size to bacon and tomato) and top with a little less than 1 tbsp of shrimp salad. It helps to compact the salad into a tbsp before placing on top of the bacon.