June 29, 2010

Peanut Butter & Bacon Truffles

My friend Susie recently twittered, "Bittersweet and bacon truffle--not good. Sorry @barbaricgulp but apparently bacon & chocolate do not go together." Now, I feel it's my duty to show Susie the error of her ways...and prove her wrong, of course.

My love of all things porcine is no secret to my closest friends and casual acquaintances. Kelli bought me a bacon scarf for my birthday last fall. Stephanie (the "other" Steph) will often forward me links to things like bacon air-freshener, bacon bandaids, & bacon jelly beans. She even sent me a Patron Saint of Bacon figurine.

June 25, 2010

Pressed Cuban Burgers

One of our favorite meals in Las Vegas, where we were married in March, was at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. We stopped in spontaneously for an early lunch on the day of our ceremony. Everything we tried was delicious...the tuna "nachos," spicy beef tenderloin tartare, smoked shrimp tacos, & particularly the pressed Cuban burger.

Jerad didn't say much when he took the first bite of the burger. "How is it?" I asked, worried that he wasn't cooing over his food like I was over the shrimp tacos I'd ordered. He smiled slightly, paused, and admitted, "It's probably the best burger I've ever eaten!" He didn't gush over it because he didn't want to share!

June 23, 2010

Tuna Ceviche

The past few weeks have been pretty good; I have, in fact, been VERY "satisfied with home." Things are starting to get back to normal around here, partly because we finally decided that we simply aren't going to allow other people's drama to negatively affect us anymore. I've realized that crazy people need each other in order to feel normal, and I can't let anyone's craziness continue to bother me. I'm awesome and above all that (at least, according to my friend Stephanie I am!). 

Jerad and I have been doing a lot of cooking together so far this summer, which is always a kind of therapy for us. I've been stopping for groceries each day after work, and we start dinner as soon as I get home...after a cocktail first, of course. Tonight, for example, Jerad took the supper reins and grilled shrimp & zucchini. For dessert, he grilled peach halves & topped them with cinnamon butter. This man sure knows the way to my heart. DAMN, HOW I LOVE HIM!

I was in charge of dinner last night. Because I'm too delicate to grill in the 100+ degrees St. Louis humidity, I made a lighter meal indoors...

June 21, 2010

French Onion Dip from Scratch

I love chips & dips. In my world, "chips & dips" is its own category of food. I use any "vacation"--summer break, holidays, birthdays, Sundays--as an excuse to eat chips & dips. And, I'm not ashamed to admit that I will buy and ENJOY pre-made French onion dip...and bean dip & queso & salsa...you get my point, right? I am also a bit partial to the kind of French onion dip that you make by mixing sour cream with a packet of dry onion soup mix. It's what my momma used to make.

But, yesterday when Jerad and I were enjoying a day off together (which is rare these days), I decided to make French onion dip FROM SCRATCH...as in caramelizing onions myself. Crazy, I know. ;-)

We both thought this dip was delicious (tastes like a more sophisticated version of the soup mix dip) and worth the 45+ minutes of slow caramelization time. 

June 17, 2010

Asparagus with Poached Egg & Miso Butter

I love summer...not just because I get a break from teaching, but also because I have more time to cook and experiment in the kitchen. This summer, I plan to try as many recipes as I can from the piles of cookbooks I have all around the house.  In particular, I'm excited to try more recipes from David Chang's Momofuku cookbook. Stephanie and I already made the infamous pork belly buns & it wasn't so difficult.

So, I recently made the asparagus with poached egg & miso butter...a light summer supper using some gorgeous local asparagus we got at the farmers' market.  The miso butter is tasty but very salty, so apply sparingly. I put way too much on my plate (see pic below), and it really overpowered the delicate egg. The picture in the cookbook shows the butter on the plate under the asparagus, so that might be the way to go to avoid over-doing it.

June 12, 2010

Berry Popsicles

Jerad loves eating anything with berries in it, especially popsicles.  It's his oral fixation thing. Anyone who's met him knows this...he chews tobacco, eats & spits sunflower seeds, etc. He always has something in his mouth. I know, I know...it sounds dirty. [insert oral fixation joke here]

We bought some frozen fruit pops a few weeks ago, and he quickly devoured them. However, one of Jerad's quirks is that he doesn't like certain textures in his mouth. [insert another dirty joke here] He can't stand how the wooden popsicle sticks feel. It was painful to watch him try to finish each fruit pop without actually touching the wood with his lips or tongue. [the dirty jokes just write themselves]

So, I bought some plastic Tovolo popsicle molds at Kitchen Conservatory and made a batch of mixed berry popsicles for him.

For the first batch, I pureed strawberries & blackberries with some simple syrup & lemon juice. They were so good, sweet & refreshing...and so much better than the store-bought versions. In fact, in a side-by-side taste test, the homemade popsicles actually made the store-bought ones taste really gross...too sweet, too "fake" fruit tasting (and we got the "real fruit juice" kind).

June 5, 2010

Black-Bottom Cupcakes

Another school year is finished, my second year teaching at this high school. It was a pretty good year overall, much better than last year.  The English department piloted a new skills-based, high-interest literature curriculum.  My College English class really liked my food unit (we watched Food Inc. & learned about local, organic eating). The school's top seniors nominated me for Silver Medallion Teacher of the Year.  The valedictorian asked me to be in her "Teacher's Pet" picture for the yearbook, and she mentioned me in her graduation speech.  I bonded with my co-workers.  I stayed organized enough not to have to bring work home regularly.

When I woke up graduation morning, I discovered that my car had been covered in Post-It Notes.