Friday, April 29, 2011

Spicy Fried Rice w/ Chorizo

Happy Friday guys!  I am so elated that it's rearing up to be the weekend, that it's not even funny.  We've got a pretty jam-packed weekend planned, actually.

Tomorrow morning is the Derby Marathon & Mini.  And no.  My butt is not running in it.  I'm not that in shape yet.  I'll actually be volunteering at one of the Powerade and water stations (mile marker 10/19 for those of you that are actually running!).  The only bad thing about this is... I have to be there at 6:15am.  SIX. FIFTEEN. In the morning.  On a Saturday.  Yeah.  I'm dedicated to giving the runners their fluids.

But it won't be so bad.  I've been on a volunteering kick lately, so it'll be good to get out there and do some good.  (And I get a free t-shirt, so that's always a plus!)

And there's also a free concert (that was supposed to be by the river, but considering Waterfront Park looks pretty much like Atlantis right now, I'm positive that they'll be relocating that) on Saturday night that we plan on going to with a couple friends.  The band?  Soul Asylum.  Yeah, anybody remember that early 90's band?  Most famous for that song "Runaway Train".  Yeah, I was 7 when that came out, so no, I don't really remember that band... but since Andy is a tad bit older than I am, he remembers them clearly.  Which is also funny because he can't ever remember to take out the trash on Mondays, but yet, remembers a band from ages ago.  But I digress. 

Anyway, let's talk fried rice.  Fried rice is one of those things that I believe my mom can make the best.  She always just added in whatever we had laying around the house, and it was always amazing.  Definitely great for dinner all on it's own.  But I'm not bragging.

What I will be bragging about, is this new recipe for fried rice that may give my mom's many versions a run for her money.  It's spicy, it's filling, it's absolutely delicious.  So go ahead, try it out - you won't be disappointed!

Adapted from PigPigCorner's recipe

2-3 cups leftover cooked rice (cold and day old is usually best)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
4 pieces of bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 scallions (green parts only), chopped
1 large cooked chorizo sausage (or whatever meat/protein you want to add - I just had some leftover), chopped
2 tablespoons Sriracha, or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Soy sauce, to taste
3 eggs

In a medium bowl, mix leftover rice with the melted butter and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together Sriracha, sugar, and hot water.  Set aside.

In a large skillet under medium high heat, fry up the bacon pieces until browned and crisp, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Set aside.

Drain pan of the bacon fat, leaving about 1-2 tablespoons still in the pan.  Add the diced onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic and half of the scallions.  Saute for about a minute more.

Add rice to the pan and pour Sriracha mixture over top.  Mix well.  Stir fry for about 3-5 minutes, or until rice is started to "crisp" or brown.

Crack the eggs over the rice and stir to scramble throughout mixture.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in bacon pieces and chorizo.

Season mixture with soy sauce, I think I used maybe 2-3 tablespoons and it was perfect. 

Stir in sesame oil and remaining scallions.  Serve hot and with extra Sriracha if you'd like!

This was seriously delicious.  We had this with some Red Curry Chicken Wings (recipe soon to come!) and it couldn't have been a better meal.  The best part?  We had a good amount of leftovers, and after making this on Tuesday, they're practically almost gone.  It's almost bittersweet... but then again, I could always just make some more!

How do you guys fix your fried rice?  Leftovers are always useful!

Hope you all have a great weekend and look forward to a new recipe on Monday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time Out...

Okay.  Got home late from book club (which was another success by the way).

We read A Thousand Splendid Suns.  It was a pretty good book, definitely emotional, but good. 

Our next book for May is Ender's Game.  We're switching it up to a little sci-fi this month, so should be interesting to see how everyone takes it.

Anybody read either of these books?  What'd you think?

Anyway, sorry about the short post.  I'm uber exhausted.  But tomorrow is Friday!  And you all know how much I love Friday.  Be back in the morning for something tasty!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(Louisville) Cardinal Punch

Maker's Mark glasses: require a bit of bourbon!

It's raining today.  In fact, it's been raining consistently for the past week.  It's really cramping my style.  Especially since our volleyball courts have flooded and the games were cancelled.  I was really looking forward to playing in the sand tonight.  Who cares about safety, right?  Well... see, the rain is even making me think crazy thoughts!  Safety is more important, so I guess it's for the best.  But seriously... the rain needs to stop. 

Anyway, I was off from work yesterday and got a lot of food/drink related things done.  This punch was one of those things.  It actually stopped raining momentarily.  It gave me enough time to go out back on the deck and take some pictures.  And then my camera battery died.  Seriously.  FML.

But rain and a dead camera battery (which is now fully charged, thank you) aren't reasons enough to complain.  Life ain't so bad.

And this punch proves it.  Easily adaptable to be an "adult" beverage (throw in some bourbon and you've got yourself something delicious), but delicious enough on it's own, sans-alcohol.  And I don't know if the University of Louisville Cardinals have an official drink or not, but the punch definitely has the team colors going on. 


Adapted from the 1945 Edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook

2 cups cranberries (the last of my frozen babies - until next fall!)
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice from 1 lemon
1 can of ginger ale (Ale 8 is the best!)

In a medium saucepan, cook the cranberries in 2 cups of water until they are soft, about 10 minutes or so.  Drain the liquid into a juice pitcher through a metal strainer or cheesecloth.  Discard solids.

In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and remaining cup of water for about 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add syrup to the cranberry juice in pitcher and place in refrigerator to chill, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add in orange juice, lemon juice, and ginger ale.

Fill glasses with ice and pour punch over top.  If you're feeling up to it, splash a little bit of bourbon or vodka in there, too.  Or not.  It's up to you! Oh, and if you didn't want to go through the whole making your cranberry juice sort of thing (especially if you didn't hoard any in your freezer, like I did), you could always just get cranberry juice (you'll need about 3 cups) from the store - just skip down to adding the orange juice, lemon juice, and ginger ale step if you do.

Hope you guys have a good rest of your Wednesday!  I'm off to study for my last final ever.... well, in a traditional college course, that is.  Until September when my finals will be Culinary School-related...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Give me some Magnum...

Way better than a Klondike bar... What would you do for Magnum?

... Ice cream. Tsk tsk to all you dirty minded folks! =)

Thanks to Foodbuzz's Tastemaker's Program, I received a coupon for a free box of Magnum Ice Cream Bars

Never heard of Magnum before?  Well, if you live in the US, like I do, I'm not surprised that Magnum isn't a brand you've heard of!  Mainly because it was only offered in European countries before this month.  But after finding out that Magnum is now available in my local grocery, I definitely had to rush out and grab a box - and I just had to start with the Double Chocolate variety.

Andy loves any excuse to eat some ice cream!

Magnum Ice Cream bars come in 6 different flavors:
  • Classic - silky vanilla bean ice cream dipped in a thick layer of Belgian milk chocolate
  • Almond - silky vanilla bean ice cream covered in a thick layer of Belgian milk chocolate w/ crunchy almonds
  • Double Chocolate - creamy chocolate ice cream enrobed in a luscious chocolatey coating, rich chocolatey sauce and thick Belgian milk chocolate - SUPER YUM!
  • Double Caramel - silky vanilla bean ice cream enrobed in a luscious chocolatey coating, rich caramel sauce and thick Belgian milk chocolate
  • White - silky vanilla bean ice cream dipped in a thick layer of Belgian white chocolate
  • Dark - silky vanilla bean ice cream dipped in 60% cacao Belgian dark chocolate
My local grocery (Kroger in the Highlands) only offered 2 of the varieties - classic and double chocolate.  So of course, we just had to do the double chocolate.  And it did not disappoint.  It was creamy, chocolatey, and crunchy - the way an ice cream bar should be.

Loaded with chocolatey goodness!
 My only complaint is that only 3 ice cream bars come in a box.  But for a retail price of $2.99 a box (at least at my grocery, that was the price) - that's only a $1 per bar - which is what the ice cream truck that drives around charges for an ice cream bar, right?  So yeah, well worth the 3 bucks... just be prepared to buy more than one box so you have plenty in stock!

***I was provided with a coupon for a free box of Magnum Ice Cream Bars thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker's program and Magnum Ice Cream.  The opinion and review of this post are my own and were not influenced in any way by Foodbuzz or Magnum.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Bark

Happy Monday guys!  How was everyone's Easter weekend? 

I spent the day at work, but it was real slow (Thank goodness!), so I even got to come home early.  It rained practically all weekend, too, so I'm lucky that my garden is still there!  I saw many pictures on Facebook of others who had planted flowers and other things, and they were just flooded out!  My heart goes out to you guys and your plants!

"Bark" won the poll on Friday, so I was pretty excited to get right into it!  I looked up a couple of Easter bark recipes and most of them included Jelly Beans - which I'm not a very big fan of, so I decided to go a different route with this.  I told Andy I would be giving him an excuse to buy Easter candy so he picked out a bag (Reese's eggs - of course!) and I picked out a bag (Nestle Crunch eggs).  And the rest is history!


1/2 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 lb. unsweetened or dark chocolate, chopped (I used some gourmet 98.5% - but if you can't take it that high, feel free to scale down to whatever suits you)
1 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, chopped
1 cup Nestle Crunch Eggs, chopped
White chocolate
Food Coloring

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slowly melt the semi sweet and unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler over the stove, stirring occasionally.  When chocolate is about 3/4 melted, take bowl off of heat and stir to melt the remaining chocolate.

Stir in almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.  Coat the nuts well in the chocolate.

Finally, add the chopped peanut butter eggs and crunch eggs.  Mix well.

Spread the mixture onto the parchment paper in an even layer.  Place baking sheet in the freezer to let chocolate set, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate over double boiler (or microwave) until at a "drizzling" consistency.  If using more than one color, separate into 2 or 3 bowls.  Then add a couple drops of each color to it's relative bowl.  Take chocolate out of freezer and drizzle each white chocolate color on top.  Place back in freezer to set for about 5 to 10 more minutes.

Peel parchment paper from chocolate and break into bark pieces. 

At first, I thought the unsweetened chocolate would be a little too strong, but the semi-sweet chocolate and the Reese's & Crunch eggs really balanced it out.  The chocolate had just enough sweetness to it!  I even convinced myself that this was pretty healthy because it's loaded with nuts!  Wouldn't you have liked to have your Easter basket filled with this?!  I know I was glad to!

What's your favorite type of bark?  Have a great rest of your Monday guys!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Barbecue Carnita Tacos

Tacos are hard to photograph! Tips?
Happy Friday guys!  I just got back from a grueling spinning class (high resistance for 90% of the class = major leg workout!).  I've been really digging it, though, and going at least 2-3 times a week.  I think it just might be the workout I can live with.  For now, anyway.

I've got the day off today and tomorrow from work (unfortunately I've got to work Easter.  Retail is a bummer.)  So I'm making use of my days off and keeping busy.  I'm cleaning out our bathroom (for one of the smaller rooms in a house, it's a lot of work!) and heading to a movie tonight with my book club girls.  Anybody read Water for Elephants?   It was our first book club book and since the movie comes out tonight, we're all heading out to see it.  Should be fun, and plus, it'll give me something to do because Andy has class until 10 tonight.

So I suppose you guys came here for some food right?  Right.

One of my favorite things to do with leftovers is turn them into tacos!  I mean seriously... it's perfect.  You have your protein already made.  You just have to chop up some vegetables.  Warm up some tortillas.  And bam!  You've got dinner made in less than 30 minutes!

Remember Wednesday's barbecue?  Well, I had a ton of brisket leftover!  So it was obvious what I would be doing with it.  Tacos!  After perusing The Food Addicts' site, I thought I'd follow suit and jazz them up by turning them into a 'healthy' carnita form (no frying here!).

And don't forget to vote in the poll for this week!  I need to make something this weekend, and more than likely it's going to Easter-related!


2-3 cups leftover pulled barbecue (like this recipe here)
Fresh sweet corn (or frozen), cut from the cob - you can cook it first if you like, but I actually like raw corn
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 soft flour tortillas, warmed
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
Salsa and sour cream, optional

Preheat your oven broiler to the "High" setting and place the oven rack towards the top of your oven (if your broiler is in your oven instead of below it.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread you meat in an even layer.  Broil meat in oven until slightly browned and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Make sure to flip the meat over to get an even broil on both sides.  Alternatively you could always do the "frying" route to make your carnitas, but we're trying to be somewhat healthy around here so we didn't opt for that.

Once meat is at your desired crispness, assemble your toppings with your desired toppings (we did some fresh tomatoes, cheddar cheese, corn, and lettuce.  Simple and delicious!

See.  Dinner ready in no time flat.  Using leftovers!  So next time you open your fridge and see those leftovers, don't pass them by.  Turn them into tacos and you'll have a delicious meal in minutes!

How about you guys?  How do you use up your leftovers?  How do you fix your tacos?

What sweet treat should I make for Easter?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Garden (and Dog!) Update...

I started my seeds indoors a few weeks ago and actually transferred some of the plants over to my garden bed this past weekend.  I love the new growth that I wake up to every day!

I almost gave up on these, and they started sprouting earlier this week!

My onion bed - I put old wire racks in between to keep the squirrels from digging - so far so good!
Anybody guess what these are?  Hint* They're big and orange, and quite prevalent during October!

And of course, I had to throw in a couple dog pictures to amuse you guys too!

Zappa always makes the weirdest of faces!

There we go!  Except now Mocha's just in the background snooping around!  Typical!

Ha... I caught her givin' me a dirty look!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Restaurant Recreations: Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot (F.A.B.D.)

Happy Wednesday guys!  I'm happy to report that yesterday, I signed up to participate in a Louisville chapter of Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale!  I'll be participating with the group "Louisville Bakes To End Childhood Hunger" and couldn't be more excited!  All proceeds will go to benefit Share Our Strength's fight to end childhood hunger.  So if you happen to be in the Louisville area and want to be a part of this group (or want to donate from far away) feel free to e-mail me at mtlabor85 (at) yahoo (dot) com and I can direct you to where you need to go!  For more info, check out the Facebook page for the group!

It's been a bit since I did a restaurant recreation and this was probably the most exciting out of the 3 I've done so far.  I mean, who doesn't like barbecue?  So let's get right into it with the review...

Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot, or more commonly known in the Louisville area as F.A.B.D., is a quaint little place on - you guessed it, Frankfort Avenue.  From the outside, it looks more like a bar than anything, but upon further investigation - especially the gigantic smokers on the outside, and beautiful barbecue smells coming from inside and outside - you can tell that this place is the real deal - they know their barbecue.

The menu is short and sweet, with no more than 6 or 7 appetizers, and various different barbecue dishes - people come here for one thing (well, maybe two - the second being the beer!), and that's definitely the barbecue.  Like I said, they have two smokers on the outside, so they're constantly slow smoking different types of meat - chicken, pork, and beef brisket, it's hard to find something you won't find tasty (well, unless you're a vegetarian - not many choices for you here in the form of entrees).  They also make their own house recipe of barbecue sauce, available in hot and regular.  The hot is definitely hot, and the regular is more of a sweet and tangy kind of sauce - both really good.

We opted for an appetizer of onion rings which were perfectly cut and fried.  They were on the thinner side - which I like - and were served with a side of a tangy remoulade-type dipping sauce. 

For our entrees, Andy got the Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of coleslaw and I opted for the Lou-a-vul Beef Brisket with a small side of macaroni and cheese.  Both sandwiches come with a pickle and some sliced onions.  They leave the saucin' up to you, which I liked as well - I can decide how messy I want to be!

I definitely give F.A.B.D. two thumbs up.  Quick service, home-style barbecue, and definitely a great price - I think we made it out of there in $30 or less. 

F.A.B.D. Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot on Urbanspoon
And now on to the recreation.

I went with recreating my dish, the Lou-a-vul Brisket.  I think pulled meat is a pretty easy thing to recreate - slow and low.  So I focused more on my rub for the brisket and the actual barbecue sauce.  While my finished dish was definitely different from F.A.B.D's version, I think it definitely made one hell of a sandwich!


For the Brisket:

4 lb. beef brisket
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

For the Barbecue Sauce:

1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup crushed tomatoes (or you could use ketchup also)
3 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon Sriracha


3 cups red cabbage, shredded
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Sourdough Rolls, for sandwiches

To prepare the brisket:  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, cumin, paprika, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Mix well and then rub mixture all over beef brisket.  Cover brisket with plastic wrap and let sit in fridge overnight.

On the next morning, preheat your crockpot onto high and add brisket (you may have to cut it in half to fit it all in there!).  Add about 1 cup of beef stock to crockpot and cover.  Let cook for about 6 to 7 hours, or until brisket is fork tender.

To prepare barbecue sauce:  Combine desired amount of apple cider vinegar (the more you add, the acidic the sauce), tomatoes (or ketchup), brown sugar, mustard, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and Sriracha.  If using crushed tomatoes, run the immersion blender through your mixture until it is smooth, or at your desired texture.  If using ketchup, no need to worry about that step.

You can use the barbecue sauce on the side, or like me, add it to the crockpot with the brisket and let it meld for about an hour longer.

To prepare the coleslaw:  Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl.  Add cabbage and carrots and mix well.  Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

To assemble sandwiches, toast your sourdough buns and add a decent amount of pulled brisket on the bottom half (the messier the better!).  Top with desired amount of coleslaw (or you can always eat that on the side) and top with remaining bun half. 

Dig in and enjoy.  You might need a fork for this one - and plenty of wet naps!

This was really really good.  But I'm afraid to say that as good as it was, it still wasn't as good as F.A.B.D.'s version.  Yup... a recreation that wasn't as good as the original.  Recreation 2, Originals 1. Although I wouldn't chock it up as failure - this is still a killer pulled brisket!  And feel free to substitute pork or chicken with this, too... it's pretty versatile!

Well... I'm off to play sand volleyball (speaking of which, we went 3-0 last week, and hoping to continue the winning vibes tonight) in the cold (57F).  Hopefully I'll move around enough that I'll heat up quickly!  Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday guys!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thunder Over Louisville

Happy Tuesday guys!  Thought I'd give you a little taste of how the fireworks went this weekend.  And lucky you... you're in the warmth to enjoy them - you didn't have to freeze your butt off like we did!

Next year - I'm packing my parka.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shortcut Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo

How was everyone's weekend?!  Ours was pretty good.  Well.  Besides the fact that we froze our butts off on Saturday.  Seriously, 40F?! 

And I know what you're thinking, if it was so cold, why were you outside Peggy?  Well, it was Thunder Over Louisville this past Saturday.  What exactly is that?  Well, it's one of the biggest fireworks shows in the United States and the masses gather outside for an all day event (tons of street food, an air show, a Bats baseball game, FIREWORKS, etc.).  It's definitely great people-watching material.  Seriously... the people of Kentucky really come out.  We won't get too into it, but just sayin'.  Entertainment is everywhere.

I took a video of the fireworks finale (it's kind of shaky because I was FREEZING) but I'll post it tomorrow to give you guys a taste of what the fireworks are like.

Anyway, about this meal.  I remember when I was a kid, my mom would make "alfredo" using a can of Campbell's Cream of (insert whatever you want here: chicken, mushroom, celery, etc.)  Not an authentic "alfredo" by any means, but I think most moms took this shortcut every now and then.  Am I right? 

So I decided to bust this out to remember what this was like.  And I made a few changes, just to jazz it up and it came out pretty tasty.  I definitely prefer an actual homemade alfredo to this, but it's definitely a quick fix that hits the spot in a hurry!


12 oz. package of penne pasta
1 large broccoli head, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb. of chicken (you could really use any part here, breasts, thighs, drumsticks - I had drumsticks in the freezer so I just skinned and boned them, and then cut them into cubes), cut into cubes/strips
10 & 3/4 oz. can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Mine took about 10-12 minutes for a nice al dente.  Add broccoli to pasta during last 4-5 minutes of boiling.  Drain pasta and broccoli well and return to pot.

In a large skillet, melt butter under medium high heat.  Add chicken pieces and cook until browned and cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the chicken part that you use).

Mix in soup, milk, parmesan, and cayenne.  Season mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour mixture into pot with penne and broccoli and bring mixture to a boil, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.   

Serve pasta hot and top with additional shredded Parmesan, if desired.

See... easy right?  It's good for a quick meal.  I'm not ashamed to use those condensed soups.  I mean, there's just some things from childhood you just can't give up, right?

Have a great Monday guys!  Be back tomorrow for some firework action!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spicy Macaroni & Cheese

Happy Friday guys!  You don't even know how happy I am that the weekend is finally here!  It was a crazy week back at work - or maybe I'm just being a baby and wanted one more week (or a few) of vacation.  But such is life.  Bills need to be paid and my butt needs to work.  Regardless... the weekend is here.

Tomorrow should be plenty of fun.  It's Thunder Over Louisville and we'll be heading to Slugger Field for the Bats game and a permanent seat for all the fireworks festivities!  I should have some good pictures next week so look out for them!

Now let's talk macaroni.  Macaroni and cheese, to be exact.  There's so many different ways to make the mac, how does one choose a favorite?  Andy... he's a big fan of "the cheesier, the better" - and he makes a mean mac, that's for sure.  But he makes it on the stove, and that's all well and good - But me, I kind of like to spice things up.  Be unique.  I am a fan of baked macaroni and cheese.  You know, you get the crunch of the exterior noodles and then you have the underneath layers of smooth and creamy macaroni.  Definitely good stuff.

Something I don't like is dry macaroni and cheese.  You know, the baked ones that don't have any creaminess to them at all.  Just pretty much flavorless noodles that have cheese (that's not really gooey or creamy) just sort of stuck to the noodles.  Don't know what I mean?  Well... then you're lucky, and you go on eating your good and creamy mac!

How about you guys?  What your favorite way to make the mac?!?  I'd love new suggestions to try!


12 oz. fusilli pasta
1/4 cup unsalted butter
5 large garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 & 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (more or less, depending on your preference)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 & 1/2 cups wheat bread, cut into small cubes (about 1/4 inch)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions (I did about 10-11 minutes).  Drain pasta well and return to pot.

Grease a large baking dish (9x13) and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter under medium high heat.  Stir in about 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.  Whisk in flour and stir constantly for about a minute.  Then whisk in milk, and season roux with salt and pepper. 

Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  Stir in shredded cheddar cheese, sriracha, and cayenne pepper.

Pour mixture over pasta and mix well.  Spoon mixture into an even layer in the baking dish.

Wipe skillet clean (or use another one, but I like to keep the dishes to a minimum!) and heat under medium high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and heat until shimmering.  Add bread cubes and cook about 5-7 minutes, or until starting to brown.  Stir in remaining garlic during the last couple minutes of toasting bread to infuse a little bit more flavor.

Top pasta with garlicky bread crumbs and bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.

This is a perfect side dish to any spring/summer cookout, or you could be like us and just eat a big plateful for dinner!  I loved the garlicky crunch of the bread in contrast with the subtle heat of the macaroni and cheese.  Give this one a go if you're a macaroni and cheese aficionado like us!

Have a great weekend guys!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Raise your hand if...

You're eating cheesecake!  (Raises hand frantically!)

Andy and I had to do some errands tonight (well, I had to do some errands, and dragged Andy along with me) so we went out for some sushi.  Definitely love me some sushi.

And Andy paid - even though I told him I would (how chivalrous right?) - so I thought I'd treat him to dessert.  I brought up that we hadn't been to the Cheesecake Factory in quite a while - we used to go practically once a month to get a piece or two!  Now I must say, I only like Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes, the food to me... is just a bit overdone and dramatic for me.  Seriously, who needs a 20 page (I may be exaggerating a little) menu?  But that's my opinion, many beg to differ with me... but that's what opinions are for, right?

He was like a kid in a candy store trying to figure out which cheesecake slice to get.  We decided on two pieces, a Reese's Cheesecake/Cake concoction (way too rich for my liking, but right up Andy's alley!) and a chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake (more my style!).

And now I'm exhausted... and probably going to head to bed.  Yeah, I'm lame.  I'm 25 years old and go to bed before 10!  Such is life...

See you all tomorrow for something tasty!  And to celebrate TGIF, of course!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Semi-Wheat Bread

Happy Wednesday guys!  I'm glad you guys liked my wedding bouquet idea! 

I'm pretty excited because tonight is our first sand volleyball game of the season.  It's just the start of more "active" nights.  During the winter, it's so hard to get motivated to do anything, but once spring hits - it's volleyball and softball season so I'm outside all the time!

It's actually a big weekend coming up too.  It's Thunder Over Louisville (one of the largest fireworks shows in the US!) and it pretty much signifies the start of 'Derby Season' (I don't think that's really a season, but everyone does start talking about Kentucky Derby this and Kentucky Derby that).  So looking forward to posting pics from the weekend to come!

Anyway, Andy's favorite type of bread is wheat bread, so when Sunday rolls around (my usual bread baking day) he's always begging for wheat bread.  I've got to give in to him every now and then, right? 


1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

In a large bowl, combine the water, milk, olive oil, honey, and brown sugar.  Add in both flours, yeast, and salt.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Whole wheat flour always requires a little more elbow grease, so be prepared!

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and knead for a couple more minutes and form into a loaf.  Please in a greased loaf pan and cover with a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise for another hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake bread for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool for a couple minutes and turn onto wire rack to finish cooling.  Or if you can't hold back (like us), slice it up while it's still warm and serve with a pat of butter!

This was really great bread!  I'm actually using it tonight to make some Vietnamese Shrimp Toasts (hopefully a recipe is sure to come if all goes well!).

Well, I've got some last minute studying to do before my volleyball game tonight!  Wish me luck!

Have a great rest of your Wednesday guys!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's My Way or the Highway

So, I've officially got 381 days until the big wedding day.  Let's go over the things that we have set in stone, i.e. practically paid for.

- Wedding Dress
- Venue - the Green Building
- Photographer - Adam Dehaven

Yup.  Short list right?

Now.  I've got ideas, things that need to be set in motion.  Things like:

- Caterer (732 Social, hopefully)
- Ice Cream Bar - Comfy Cow
- Beer/Wine Service - no clue on this one - anybody in the Louisville area?  Help a sister out, eh?

And then there's the minute details like wedding bouquets.

Yes.  Wedding bouquets.  This has been a hot topic of conversation lately amongst my friends and coworkers.

I do not like flowers.  Yes, I'm a very unique woman.  I don't like receiving flowers, buying flowers, etc.  So why would I want a flower bouquet for my wedding?  I don't - and some people just don't understand this.

So, being the unique person I am, I brainstormed other ideas of what I could carry down the aisle.  And seriously, this couldn't be more obvious.  A fruit/vegetable bouquet.  I love food.  So why not incorporate that into my bouquet? 

This did not go over well with people.  I don't know if I didn't explain it properly or if they just thought it was an outrageous idea, but I definitely got some crazy, you-need-to-go-sit-in-the-corner-and-think-about-what-you-just-said-to-us looks.  I just want to know, why is that such a crazy idea???

Anyway, so I figured I'd do a Google search to see if this existed (of course it had to!) and found some good representations of what I'm envisioning here.

I like this one the best; Source

My sister likes this one the best; Source


Unique right?  That's what I'm going for.  And while my final bouquet won't be an exact representation of those pictures, it'll be somewhere along the lines of that.  Do you guys think this is a good idea?  Or are you with the majority here and think that I'm crazy?  (Trust me, my feelings won't be hurt either way - it's my wedding, in the end, I'll do what I want)

And my sister sent me a link to this idea for boutonnieres - I think it's cute!


So let me have it!  Am I crazy or unique?