Pumpkin Crumb Cake!

Happy Fall y’all! It is absolutely gorgeous in the Appalachian Mountains right now!  The colors are so beautiful and vibrant, I’m going to try to go out and snap some pictures this week…. hopefully!

Anyway, when I think of Fall the first thing that comes to mind is pumpkins!  I love pumpkins, they are so versatile, you can cook with them, decorate with them, bake with them, use them as lanterns to ward off demons during the month of October, just a whole lot you can do with them! However, today we are making a crumb cake with them.  Some people call it a coffee cake, I call it a crumb cake, you can call it whatever you want! The one thing you will certainly call it is delicious!

It’s such a simple and easy cake to make, the hardest part about making it is trying to stop yourself from eating all of the crumb topping!

I used canned 100% pure pumpkin puree in mine, if you want to get a pumpkin, roast it, and puree it, you go right ahead. I also used pumpkin pie spice in my recipe, but you could certainly make your own (I’ll post a recipe for that here as well). 

Let’s make this cake!

Ingredients: 

Crumb Topping: 

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Cake: 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup 100% pumpkin puree (NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup milk

1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions: 

(Pumpkin Spice blend – 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, clove, and ginger.)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Add all of your crumb ingredients to a bowl.

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Mix those together using a spoon or your hands until it becomes a nice crumbly texture. Like this….

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Now just put that mixture in the refrigerator and let it hang out while we make the batter.

Grab a mixing bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer if you’re lazy like me, add in your softened butter and brown sugar.  Whisk the butter and sugar together until it’s extremely well combined. It will take you a few minutes.

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Add in both eggs and mix thoroughly. Next add in your pumpkin and whisk until combined. Add in the flour, salt, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and milk, mix until it becomes very smooth.

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Now you need to butter up a bread pan. Don’t be shy with the butter, use it liberally. Add in the cake batter.

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Now grab the crumble out of the fridge and sprinkle it on top of the batter.  Again, don’t be shy with the topping.

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Pop that little sucker in your 325 °F oven for about 45 minutes.

When it comes out let it cool for about 30 minutes, take a butter knife and go around the edges of the cake to loosen the cake from the pan.

Now just slice it up however you want and enjoy!

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I like to enjoy my pumpkin crumb cake with a nice hot cup of coffee, I suggest you do the same!  I just live for this cake, the pumpkin really stands out and the spice is just right, it isn’t overwhelming.  All that plus the TOPPING, honey this topping is everything! That hint of maple flavor with the spice from the nutmeg and the crunch of the walnuts just takes this entire thing over the top!

I hope you give this Pumpkin Crumb Cake recipe a try, if you do let me know how it turns out!  Post your pictures to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #isbutteracarb and check us out on Facebook (@isbutteracarbblog)!  Don’t forget to share this post and tell your friends! Thanks for stopping in and until next time, Ciao!

Little Chicago Chili!

Welcome back!  It’s the beginning of Fall here in the Appalachian mountains and that means it’s time for some warm comfort food!  Fall is my favorite season of the year, the mountain air has a crisp freshness to it that you just don’t get the rest of the year.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the leaves change into such a beautiful vibrant array of different colors.  I’ve been all over the world, but I can honestly say there’s nowhere else I’d rather be this time of year than right here, tucked away in these majestic mountains.

Anyway, I bet you’re wondering about the name of this recipe, aren’t ya? Well, Is Butter A Carb’s international headquarters is based in Johnson City, Tennessee, which is also lovingly referred to as “Little Chicago”.

Johnson City was a railroad hub and crossroads in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, it had quite the reputation for gambling and bootlegging.  Johnson City was the halfway point (approximately) between Chicago and Miami, it was the ideal location for underground alcohol smuggling and production, notorious gangster Al Capone took full advantage of that.

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Al Capone

Al Capone used Johnson City as a hideout during the prohibition, the Montrose Court Apartment complex (located in the historic Tree Streets District) was the headquarters for his operations. There is said to be secret passages that lead to former speakeasies, underground tunnels, and escape routes used by Capone and other organized crime figures.  I guess you can see why Johnson City was dubbed “Little Chicago”.

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Montrose Court Apartments

Now that you know about the name, let’s get to cooking this delicious chili!

Ingredients: 

1 lb ground beef

1 lb sirloin, cubed (if you want to just use 2 lbs of ground beef…DO IT!)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup green pepper, diced (I used poblano and green bell pepper)

2 (12 oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed well

1 can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons ancho chile powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cocoa powder, unsweetened

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups water

12.1oz of beer (12.1oz for the chili…11.9oz for you to drink while you make the chili)

 

Instructions: 

Place a heavy pot or dutch oven over high heat. Take your cubed sirloin and coat it in the flour, it helps the beef brown up nicely!  Add the tablespoon of oil to the pot and brown your beef.

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Once the cubed beef is nicely browned remove it from the pot and set it aside.

Now add the diced onion, ground beef, and salt to the pot. Take a wooden spoon and break the ground beef up into little pieces as it browns.

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It’s going to release quite a bit of liquid and usually we would drain it but we don’t want to do that this time.   Just keep stirring until the liquid has evaporated, it should take about 5 minutes.  Grab your spices!

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Reduce the heat to medium-high and add in your garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Add your cubed beef and any accumulated juices into the pot.

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Stir all those spices in and make sure they are well combined.  You wanna cook the spice and beef mixture for about 4 minutes or until it starts to darken. We want to wake those spices up!

Now let’s stir in the beer!

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It’s going to get really dark, but don’t worry you’re doing great!  Once the beer is stirred in, add your cayenne pepper, cocoa powder, crushed tomatoes, and water.

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Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 35 minutes.

Now, stir in your green peppers!

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You can use any kinda green pepper you want…. Poblano, green bell, anaheim, jalapeno…. It’s up to you,  that’s YOU cookin’!

Lets add in the pinto beans!

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If the consistency gets to thick just add in a little more water.  Make sure everything is mixed together and bring back to a simmer. Let that baby simmer for 30 more minutes to let the peppers soften and the flavors to come together.

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You’re going to see some fat start to accumulate on the surface. You want to skim the fat off, trust me, you and your cardiologist can thank me later.  Once the 30 minute simmer is up, the fat is skimmed from the top, you’ve given it one last stir and tasted for seasoning…..

You’re done and you have one fabulous pot of chili ready to serve! Just grab some sour cream, a block of cheddar cheese, and some crackers and you’re ready to indulge!

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Please don’t use pre-shredded cheese… grate your own, it’s worth it.  I hope to Make America Grate Again! No…. but seriously….. stop buying that crap. 

Beef, beans, and beer what mire could you want? It’s what Al Capone would have eaten…. probably… maybe….i don’t really know.  The point is, you are going to absolutely love this chili, it has such a deep richness to it that you just can’t find in other, lesser, chili recipes.

I really hope you guys give this recipe a try, because it really is super delicious!  Let me know in the comments how it turned out!  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook (@isbutteracarbblog) for other content I don’t post here. Thanks for stopping by and keep an eye out for more Fall recipes soon!  Until next time, Ciao!

Mama’s Italian Meatballs!

Hello again, friends! I hope everyone enjoyed their extended holiday weekend, we certainly did! Tikki got a surprise visit from his Nana & Poppa, it completely made his day. He always gets so excited when people visit, especially when Nana & Poppa visit.

Anyway, let’s talk about meatballs, since that’s what we’re making today.  When I make meatballs (and all Italian food really) it floods my mind with memories of my grandmother cooking and her teaching me how to cook. It also brings up memories of her cussing me out in Sicilian for tasting the food too often, I mean can you blame me? That shit was delicious!

She was, and still is, such an inspiration to me.  So, this post is for her. Let’s get rolling….

Ingredients: 

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

1/2 cup of milk (low carbers, you can use beef stock here instead of milk if you’d like)

1/3 cup of bread crumbs (if you are eating low carb replace these with finely crushed pork rinds)

4 cloves garlic

1 medium onion, diced

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions: 

First preheat your oven to 425°F. Then mix your breadcrumbs (or pork rinds for you low carbers, I got you fam) with the milk and set aside.

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I know it might look a little gross, but this little concoction is going to help keep these meatballs super moist and delicious! 

Let that just hang out and it will eventually turn into a paste like consistency. Time to sauté your diced onion with the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, we don’t really want to get much color on these onions, just a lite sauté. I cooked mine a tad too long, mainly because I got caught up watching ‘Roseanne’, don’t you dare judge me! Once they are done, take them off the heat and let them cool down a bit.

Now let’s get a big mixing bowl and add the pork and beef to the bowl.

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Mix the beef and pork together until it’s just combined, don’t get wild.  Add the onion and breadcrumb mixture to the meat. 20170225_210951

Beat your eggs well and add them, along with everything else, to the party.

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Mix all those delicious ingredients together thoroughly, again, don’t get wild.  We don’t want to overmix these suckers, cuz nobody likes a tough ass meatball.

Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the refrigerator for about an hour.  We want to give the mixture some time to chill and firm up a bit before we handle it anymore.

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Now that our hour of chill time has passed and we’ve all had a glass or three of wine, let’s get our mixture out of the refrigerator. I like to use a small ice cream type scoop to get the initial shape of the meatball, plus it helps keep the size of the meatballs fairly consistent.  Then I roll or shape the meatballs by hand. Pro tip, keep a small bowl of water near by to keep your hands wet, this will help to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands.

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You want your meatballs to be about the size of a golf ball.  

Place them on a lightly oiled sheet pan and keep a little space between them. Then pop them into your preheated 425° oven for about 20 minutes or until they look like this…

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Now we’re in the home stretch!  Just add these to a pot of tomato sauce (like the one I gave you a recipe for).

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All you have to do now is let these simmer on low for about an hour or hour and a half.  This is going to really help the meatballs get tender and super flavorful.  After that….. you’re done! Time to plate up!

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Man, these things are spectacular! You can put these on some pasta, make a meatball sandwich, or just top them with a little parmesan and parsley and eat them as a meal!  These also freeze extremely well, so make a huge batch and save some for later! Many people boast that their meatballs are “the best!”, I for one refuse to make such a claim (Even though my meatballs ARE indeed the best)!

I hope you give these a try for yourself and let me know how they turned out in the comments below!  Check us out on Facebook (@isbutteracarbblog) and give us a ‘like’! Don’t forget to follow the blog and tell your friends!  Until next time my friends, Ciao!

Kosher Salt-Roasted Chicken!

One of the things I love most about food is that you can take a very minimalistic approach to things, with just a few simple ingredients you can make something incredibly impressive.  I think we tend to season food so much that we miss out on the beautiful flavor of the ingredient we are preparing.  That’s what I really love about this chicken, it’s only two ingredients, chicken and salt.  I’m going to give you a thyme butter sauce recipe to go with it, but this simple roast chicken is delicious all by itself.

Let’s get started on this super simple and delicious chicken that tastes like, chicken!

Ingredients: 

1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)

Kosher salt (I can’t really give you an amount here)

For The Sauce: 

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tablespoons of cold butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 Tablespoon Thyme leaves

1/3 cup of chicken stock

Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions: 

Get your chicken out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter about an hour before you plan to start cooking. Preheat your oven to 450°. Next, get some paper towels and dry your bird off really well.  Moisture on the outside = no crispy bird for you.

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Also, tuck the wing tips up and under the front of the bird.  I like to do this so they don’t get burnt. I didn’t take a picture of this because I’m trying to save some money on production, or I forgot. 

Ok, now that our bird is dried off and our wing tips are tucked, let’s talk about this chickens butt! I always just snip it off.  A very prestigious university did an authentic and scientific study on chicken butts, the study showed that if you clip that part off, the chicken tastes better.  That could be something I completely made up, but that’s what I’m going with.  Either way just clip that little bugger off.

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After you have clipped that off for no apparent reason, it’s time to salt our chicken. I urge you to use kosher salt here, however regular table salt will work.  Just make sure you salt the chicken liberally and don’t forget the cavity (inside) and bottom of the bird, they need a liberal coating as well. Next, we need to tie the legs together.  Some folks may feel the need to truss the chicken, but I don’t think all that work is necessary, plus I’m pretty lazy.

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Next, we need to place the bird in our roasting vessel! Use a pan that you can also use on top of the stove, so we can make the sauce after the chicken is done.  Salt the breasts of the chicken one last time.  Also, don’t get nervous and start thinking ‘I’m using too much salt’ you’re not, stay calm.  20170411_000049

Take a paper towel (or something) and try to get any salt that has fallen off the bird out of your roasting pan. We’re going to be using that pan to make our sauce and we don’t want the sauce to be WAY too salty, like some people I know.  Place the chicken in the preheated oven for about 55 minutes (or until a thermometer in the thigh reads 160°).  After that 55 minutes is up you should have something that looks like this….

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You should have a nice golden brown and very crispy bird.  Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, let’s start the sauce! Go back to the pan and remove most, not all, but most of the rendered chicken fat from the pan.

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Turn your heat to medium high and add in the Thyme leaves.  Let those cook for about 20 seconds, stirring.

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Next, add in your lemon juice and chicken stock. Stir all that around and simultaneously begin scraping all that beautiful fond (delicious little brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan) off the pan. Let that cook for about 2 minutes, just to let it reduce a little.  Now, turn your heat to low and add in some of your butter.

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It’s really important here that when you add the butter in you really need to stir and sorta keep your pan moving. After that butter is melted and incorporated, add in the juices off the plate where the chicken has been resting.  Add in the rest of your butter and keep stirrin’ and movin’, stirrin’ and movin’ until all the butter is melted and incorporated.  The thickness or consistency of the sauce is completely up to you, if you want it a little thicker reduce it more, a little thinner add a little more stock.  Taste for seasoning, I added a little pepper. Mix that in and once it is thoroughly mixed, turn off the heat and your sauce is done!

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Now just plate up your beautiful roast chicken and decorate the plate/platter a little if you’re feeling fancy.

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All that’s left to do now is enjoy one of the most moist and delicious roast chickens you have ever had! This chicken accompanied with that thyme butter sauce is going to blow you away and seriously impress any and all guests you have over for dinner.

Anyway, I seriously hope you try this recipe out for yourself, it’s so simple and fairly inexpensive.  Let me know how it turns out in the comments!  Don’t forget to follow the blog so you get notified first when something is posted, that makes you a V.I.P. don’t cha know. Also, find me on Facebook @isbutteracarbblog and follow me there as well! Thanks for stopping by! Ciao!

Quick & Easy Garlic Shrimp!

This week has been one of the busiest weeks of my life, at least as far as I can remember.  I’ve been trying to get my bills paid, get Tikki ready to be boarded, get all my medicines together, pack multiple bags and make sure everything is ready for my trip.  Oh yea, I think i forgot to tell you, but Is Butter A Carb is going to Europe, I’ll be in Paris, Amsterdam, and Prague! On the way home I’ll be stopping at JFK and will hopefully get to see my sista from another mista, Kaitlyn! She’s a flight attendant for Delta airlines and it’s always such a treat to get to see her beautiful smiling face and spend some quality time together.  I’m so honored to be able to call her my friend!

Oh my, I almost forgot, Tikki turned 3 this week! We had a little party for him with doggy ice cream and treats. He even got his own little ‘Happy Birthday ‘ cookie and party hat! So, happy 3rd birthday Tikki! Gosh, I love him so freakin’ much!

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He looks so cute in his little hat and bandana!

Anyway, I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip(and the food of course) when I get back to the States. With it being such a hectic week I needed something fast and delicious to prepare for dinner, plus I’ve been on a diet (low carb low sugar) for a while now and I needed to take that into account.  I think Garlic Shrimp was the perfect diet dinner recipe I could have come up with! It’s just so fast and easy to make, it doesn’t hurt that it’s extremely delicious either! So, anyway, here’s my recipe for Garlic Shrimp!

Ingredients:

1 pound of shrimp

1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons of butter

3 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1/3 cup of Italian parsley, chopped

1 Tablespoon of caper brine

Salt to taste

Instructions: 

Ok, so first off, let’s get everything ready so we can cook with ease!  First, peel and devein your shrimp.

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I used, Litopenaeus setiferus or “white shrimp.” These little guys were caught off the coast of the Carolinas.

Next, let’s get our butter ready, you need 2 Tablespoons cut into 4 pieces.  Chop your parsley, squeeze out the lemon juice, measure out your caper brine, red pepper flakes and dice up the garlic.

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My caper brine is mixed with my lemon juice in this picture.

Ok, now let’s get out the best heavy bottom skillet you own (or have borrowed and yet to return, Tim) and put it on the highest heat setting you have.  We need to have this sucker super hot.  Next, add in your oil and it needs to get super hot as well.  You’re going to want to watch for that first little wisp of smoke to come off the oil.  Here we are with shrimp and tongs in hand! We are ready! As soon as you see the little wisp of smoke, add your shrimp in and even them out in the pan….then do nothing.

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Let those little buddies cook for about a minute without touching them.  Sprinkle with a little salt. After about a minute, go ahead and toss them around a bit, for about another minute.  Then we’re going to add in our garlic and red pepper flakes.

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Mix the garlic and pepper flakes around and keep it movin’! We want to cook our garlic a little and wake up those pepper flakes.  We don’t however want to burn the garlic, that’s really the only way to mess this dish up.  So, keep a tossin’ and a stirrin’!

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Now let’s add in the lemon juice, caper brine, and one of the chunks of butter.  Mix all that around and get it really well incorporated.  Once that butter is melted, reduce your heat to low and add in the rest of the butter and your parsley.

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We are in the home stretch now! Mix all that together and once that butter is melted and you’ve tasted for seasoning, you are ready to indulge in some mind-blowing garlic shrimp!

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When you plate it up take all the shrimp out add just a little water to the pan and mix it around and BOOM! You have a delicious sauce to pour over those delectable little shrimp!

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There you have it, Garlic Shrimp! Such an incredibly simple and delicious recipe.  The sweet shrimp, the herbaceous parsley, the acidity from the lemon, and that smack to the mouth from the garlic all just come together to form a classic symphony of flavors. No matter if you’re making this for a quick dinner or a formal party, this quick and simple dish is sure to please.

I hope you give this one a try. If you do, and you should, be sure to comment and let me know how it turned out!  I more than likely won’t be able to post again until after Europe (which will be mid March), however I will if I can.  I can’t wait to share stories and hopefully recipes with you from my travels.  In the meantime, enjoy these delicious(low carb) garlic shrimp and until next time, Ciao!

Pasta e fagioli!

Whew, Oregon, what can I say?  It was a blast!  First, I wanna say thanks to our gracious hosts, Brandy, Worm, Sophie, Shad, Jasmine, and Taylor.  They were so much fun and it was such a pleasure to see them again, cook for them, and spend some quality time together.  Friends and family really are what makes life worth living and I’m beyond blessed to have an abundance of both.

Anyway, let’s move on from the sappy mushy stuff. Brandy and Worm took us for a snow day, or three, to the beautiful and picturesque Mount Bachelor in the Deschutes National Forest.

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Mount Bachelor is one of the largest resorts in the Pacific Northwest, with a skiable area of 3,683 acres! It’s also a stratovolcano, which in my opinion is kinda cool.

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There was SO much snow!  The roads up to the mountain were completely white, at times it was snowing so much you could barely see.

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The tables (pictured above) get cleaned off every day.  So, that’s less than a days worth of snow.

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It was such a fun experience! I can’t wait to go back.  If you ever get the chance, take a trip to Bend, Oregon, you won’t regret it.  They have so many awesome places to eat, breweries with tours and tastings, an awesome distillery with a tasting room, and just so many outdoor activities!  The people there are so nice and welcoming.

Speaking of places to eat, my buddy Worm is the executive chef at this sweet little place in Bend. It’s called “Rockin’ Dave’s Bistro & Backstage Lounge” (661 NE Greenwood Ave, Bend, OR) check em’ out at http://www.rockindaves.com. Man, this place is really something special, such a fun and relaxed environment. They use high quality local ingredients as much as they can and it really shows in Chefs food.

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I got the pastrami sandwich with brussels and a house made pickle, it was unbelievably delicious! They make almost everything on the plate ‘in house’, from the pastrami to the pickles. If you notice the little ramekin with parsley hiding on the back of the plate, that’s a little chef joke between Worm and I, if there is one thing that is the bane of my existence in the food world it’s when there is random parsley scattered around the fucking plate!  It infuriates me haha and he knows it. Anyway, Rockin’ Dave was such a cool guy and was extremely hospitable. He treated us to appetizers and a few (many) drinks, admittedly I was a little drunk and my belly was full upon my departure that night.

We need to move on to the good stuff right?  I know you’re getting hungry by now.  So, one of the days we came off the mountain a huge snow storm was kicking our ass and I decided to cook dinner for everyone.  I thought what would be good on a cold snowy evening?  I decided on Pasta e fagioli! Pasta e fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans” is an Italian-American comfort food (to me at least), it’s like a warm hug from an Italian grandmother, without all the perfume.  It’s such a simple, quick, and delicious dinner….you just can’t go wrong! Let’s get the ball rolling!

Ingredients: 

1 Tablespoon of Olive oil

1 package of sweet Italian sausage (12-16 ounces)

1/2 a yellow onion, diced

1 large rib of celery, diced

3/4 cup of dry macaroni pasta

1/4 cup of tomato paste

4 cups chicken stock, or as needed

3 cups Swiss chard, chopped

1 can of cannellini beans (15 ounce)

1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Instructions: 

First let’s brown the sausage in the olive oil. You’re going to want to use medium high heat for this. While it’s browning use your wooden cooking wand to break it up, we don’t want to break it up a ton, so let’s leave it a little chunky.

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While that’s cookin’ away.  Get your onions and celery ready!

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So, once the sausage is browned and happy go ahead and reduce the heat to medium and throw in the celery and onions.  You’re gonna want to cook those onions for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. It will really bring out the sweetness in the veggies.  Next, we’re going to add in our pasta. Put the pasta in dry, I know I know, you thinking ‘what in the hell is he telling me to do?’, but just stay with me here.  Put the dry uncooked pasta in the pan and cook with the sausage for about 2 minutes. By doing this it’s going to infuse the pasta with more flavor, at least in my mind it will and that’s going to be a challenge to disprove haha.

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After that has cooked for the previously stated 2 minutes, it’s time to add the tomato paste.  Stir that in and cook it for 2-3 minutes.  Next add 3 cups of chicken stock, reserve that other cup for the end to see if you need to adjust later. Anyway, add that to the pan, when you do be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all those tasty brown bits that are stuck on the bottom.  Bring heat up to high and bring to a simmer.

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While that’s happening let’s add some seasoning. Add a little salt, but be careful the amount you need depends on the amount that is in the stock you used. So, just do it to taste. Taste EVERYTHING! Add the freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano. When it comes to a simmer back the heat down to medium (I used medium but it will be up to you and your stove on what level of heat constitutes a good simmer) and cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. While that’s simmering away let’s get started on these greens!

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They are super easy to prep.  You just rip the green leafy parts off the ribs running down the center.  Then just sorta wad the leaves up, cut across, then chop away until you’re happy with the size.  Place your newly chopped leaves (you did a great job by the way) in a bowl full of cold water.

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You have to wash these thoroughly before you use it to get rid of all the dirt and sand.  So just swish and swirl them around in the water and that’s going to allow all the dirty sandy mess to fall down into the bottom of the bowl. Now back to the stove. You’re going to want to check your liquid level in the sausage and pasta mixture, I added a little bit more to mine (you’re probably going to want to do the same). Then fish out your greens from the bowl and shake off the excess water, add them to your pot and stir them in.

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It’s going to look like you have put way to much in, but trust me they wilt fast. Now it’s time to add our drained and rinsed cannellini beans. I usually always rinse that weird bean juice off my beans.

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Stir those in and check your liquid levels one more time. Just let everything cook and meld together until your pasta is done.  For this dish you aren’t going to want al dente pasta, so keep that in mind. We’re almost done….we’re just two steps away!  We need to taste for seasoning and mine usually always needs a pinch more salt and maybe some pepper.  We also need to turn off the heat and add in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Please, always use freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I better not catch you using that fake shit in a can!  It just won’t work! Use the real Parmigiano-Reggiano. Time to serve it up in a hot bowl with a nice crusty piece of bread and little more grated Parmesan cheese on top!

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Well, there you have it, Pasta e fagioli! This is such a wonderful dish to enjoy on a cold snowy winter evening with friends.  It’s such a stick to your ribs dish that is going to leave you satisfied and warm inside.  I encourage you to give it a try, if you do let me know how it turned out in the comments!  Thanks and until next time, Ciao!

Shepherd’s Pie

Things have been busy around here lately.  Planning trips, taking Tikki to get his yearly checkup and shots(usually consists of 3 visits), trying to figure out this new camera, dinner parties, and just daily life can really wear ya out!

Tikki is always such a trooper when it comes to going to the vet. He is always so happy to see people, somebody, literally anybody! Just the idea of going somewhere excites him to no end.  He is reminiscent of a crackhead that just got their fix.  That is until we return home, then he is done.  He wears himself completely out in the hour or two that we’re gone.

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This is Tikki the moment we get home from the vet and sit down. Out like a light.

However, he’s up to date on his shots and is as healthy as six pound horse!

We have been in desperate need of a vacation, so we have planned a trip to Oregon in early February. Hopefully, we will be able to do some snowboarding on Mt. Bachelor and spend some quality time with family.  I feel like both of those are totally going to happen. Fingers crossed I come home with at least one awesome story and some killer recipes….should I say killer recipes?  Hell, you get what I mean.

Anyway, the weather has been insane lately.  It’s raining, it’s 70 degrees, it’s snowing (a lot), it’s 65 degrees the next day, snowing, 28 degrees, sunny. The weather is like Sybil! (I’m almost certain most of you won’t get the reference, however for the ones that do, I applaud you!) It snowed fairly heavily here and I was trying to think of something that would be warm and comforting for dinner.  Then it hit me! Shepherd’s pie would be magnificent on such a cold gloomy day.  The deep rich flavors of the lamb that are brought to the forefront with the addition of the red wine, the smell of the rosemary and thyme filling the house, and the decadence the mashed potatoes bring is just….well….it makes me want to die and fuck off to heaven!

So, it seems as if we need to get this show on the road. By the way, if you want to use ground beef in yours, go for it!  It’s then called a ‘Cottage Pie’.  If you add breadcrumbs to the top it’s called a ‘Cumberland Pie’. No matter what you choose, it’s going to turn out great!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1.5 lbs ground lamb

1 large carrot, grated

1 large onion, grated

4 cloves of garlic, grated

1 bag of frozen peas (about 1.5 cups-ish)

1 Teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 Teaspoon fresh thyme

3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup of red wine, something you’d drink

1/4 cup of chicken stock

A pinch of Cayenne pepper

Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Mashed potatoes:

1.5 lbs of Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped into equal pieces

1/4 cup of heavy cream

4 Tablespoons of butter

2 Egg yolks

1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Salt, to taste

Instructions: 

Preheat your oven to 400°f. Get a pot of water boiling on the stove top, throw in some salt, your potatoes, and let them go for about 15 minutes.  Poke them with a knife to check for doneness, it should go in and come out easily. Drain the water off of those suckers and mash away. I use a potato ricer to do mine with, but if you just have a old-school potato masher that will work great as well. For real though, you need to look into getting a ricer. Mix your mash with the 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 4 Tbsp butter, 2 egg yolks, half of your Parmesan cheese and salt (to taste). Your mash is done, now just keep it warm and let’s start on the filling!

Start by grating your carrot, onion, and garlic or use a food processor.

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Next, add olive oil to a large hot pan or Dutch oven and add your meat.  Now, you are going to have to stir this meat like your life is depending on it! It needs to be broken down into tiny little pieces. Cook the meat until it’s browned.

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Drain the fat off of the meat and return it back to the cooking vessel. Add in your thyme, rosemary, garlic, and Cayenne. Stir that into the meat and let it cook for a minute or two.  Add in your onion and carrot and stir some more!

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What we are trying to do here is get everything broken down into a fine or mince consistency.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste into the meat and mix well. Next, throw in the red wine (use any red wine except for cooking wine). Let that cook down for about 2 minutes then add in your chicken stock and frozen peas, cook that down for 3 – 4 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Place the meat mixture into a deep oven safe dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top with a spoon or offset spatula. Take a fork and rough up the top a little to create some peaks and crevasses (trust me you want to do this for epic little brown crusty bits of potato). Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top, feel free to add more, I always do. 20170108_003213

Pop that beautiful thing in a preheated 400°f oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and delicious!

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There’s nothing left to do except let this flavor bomb cool for about 5 minutes to let the filling set, serve it up, and listen to the ‘oohs and ahhs’…prepare yourself, they will be deafening.

I really hope you give this recipe a try, if you do leave a comment and let me know how it goes.  Thanks for stopping by!  Until next time, Ciao!