I can’t believe I’ve reached the last few weeks of summer and posted only posted TWO recipes to this blog. Bad food blogger, bad!
Perhaps I should give myself a bit of lee-way; it’s been a busy and at times difficult summer. Between a stressful job, a house full of much-loved guests, and a spouse with multiple broken bones from a sports injury, there hasn’t been much time to sit down and breathe, let alone focus on blogging (or much of anything else). Only after quitting my job, bidding fond farewell to our wonderful guests, and putting my hubs on the road to recovery has life finally slowed down to an easier pace. Halle-freaking-lujah!
Of course, I’m one of those people that – despite wanting a break for months – has to fill their first waking moment of free time with activity. In this case, I was only 10 minutes into relaxing on the couch with some Investigation Discovery (it’saddictiveAF) before deciding to have a casual peek at my recipe collection. Casual peek quickly transformed into detailed research, which then morphed into a cooking and baking agenda for the next four months (and a shopping list as long as a novel). And so went my rest time; I was on my way to the market before the murder had even been solved. It was nice knowing you, R & R!
All credit for this beautiful salad recipe goes to Cafe Delites, one of my favorite blogs of all time. The garlicky honey mustard dressing is the BOMB.COM – I’m not a mustard fan by any means, yet I devoured this salad in under 5 minutes! It also makes an unbelievably delicious marinade for the chicken – my husband already requested that I make this again soon. It’s a definite keeper – enjoy!
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN, BACON + AVOCADO SALAD
Yields: 4 servings
For the marinade/dressing:
⅓ cup clear honey
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp smooth + mild Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
Salt, to season
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the salad:
¼ cup diced bacon, trimmed of rind and fat
4 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, washed
1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
¼ cup corn kernels
Whisk marinade / dressing ingredients (through salt) together to combine. Pour half into a shallow dish, submerge chicken and marinade for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate the reserved marinade to use as a dressing.
Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan (or grill pan or skillet) over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. (Grill in batches to prevent excess water being released. Dispose of used marinade.)
Wipe pan over with paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil and fry the bacon until crispy.
Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn and chicken.
Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
You didn’t know, right? Well, it IS kind of a secret. It’s not like you’ve been getting pummeled with all things pumpkin-flavored, pumpkin-scented, and pumpkin-hued since August, yea? Did anyone even bother to tell you it was FALL?!
Truth be told, I like pumpkin. In fact, I f___ing love pumpkin. I haven’t met a pumpkin recipe I don’t like, and eagerly await Fall each and every year so I can go cray on the pumpkin baking. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin doughnuts. Pumpkin custard. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkined pumpkin, with pumpkin. I want it all.
It might therefore come as a bit of a surprise that – before this week – I had only once tried my hand at a savory pumpkin dish. Why waste perfectly good pureed pumpkin on something that isn’t, well, filled with equal parts sugary deliciousness and creamy yummosity? Because, my friends, sometimes perfectly good pureed pumpkin can be mixed with chicken, bacon, sage and garlic, and make the dreamiest baked pasta EVER.
I had my doubts about this recipe. I don’t care for onions, and wasn’t convinced I would like the combination of chicken, bacon, and pumpkin. Silly me – this was SO tasty. My husband – who also doubted he’d like this – was instantly hooked as soon as he took a cheesy, velvety, pumpkiny bite. It is the perfect Sunday dinner; while a little extra cooking time is needed, you’ll have delicious leftovers for days!
It’s good to see you, pumpkin season. Stick around for a while, won’t you?
Crumbled, cooked bacon (as little or as much as you want)
To make the sauce:
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cut the onion into thin slices and add to the melted butter. Keeping the heat on medium-low, cook the onions until they are caramelized and deep golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. For a little extra sweetness, add a splash of white wine as they’re cooking.
While the onions are caramelizing, puree the garlic, pumpkin, chicken broth, milk, olive oil, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Add to the caramelized onions in the pan and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chicken, cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Remove from the water; when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into the pumpkin sauce. Add the crumbled bacon, if desired.
To make the pasta:
Cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping a little early so they are still firm enough to hold their shape in the oven. Drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Toss the cooked pasta, chicken, bacon and pumpkin sauce with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a greased baking dish, top with remaining cheese and cover with greased foil to prevent sticking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
The humble potato first received the sophisticated hasselback makeover in the 1940s, when Scanic Hasselbacken – an 18th century hotel in Sweden’s capital city – served up the carefully sliced spud in its dining room. With the addition of crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream and chives, the recipe below (courtesy of Food Network Magazine) is decidedly American – but no less delicious than the original! Despite 1 1/2 hours of cook time, prep is done in almost no time flat – and the result is well worth the wait. Enjoy!
BACON HASSELBACK POTATOES
4 slices thick-cut bacon, each cut crosswise into 9 pieces
4 large russet potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (optional, to serve)
Low-fat sour cream (optional, to serve)
Chives, chopped (optional, to serve)
Bacon, fried to crisp (optional, to serve)
Lay the bacon pieces on a baking sheet and freeze until hard, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Using a sharp knife, make crosswise cuts in each potato, about 1/8 inch apart, stopping about 1/4 inch from the bottom.
Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and carefully transfer to a baking sheet; let cool slightly. Pat the potatoes dry, then insert pieces of the frozen bacon into the cuts of each potato, spacing the bacon evenly and letting it poke out of the top. Melt 5 tablespoons butter and brush generously over the potatoes and in the cuts. Reserve any excess butter for basting. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Transfer the potatoes to the oven and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp, about 1 1/2 hours, basting halfway through with the reserved melted butter. Transfer to a platter and top with shredded cheddar, sour cream, chives, and crisped bacon, if desired.