Tag Archives: recipes

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carrot potatoes

Today is Day 13 of 31 Days of Surviving Chronic Illness.  You can read Day 1 here.

For the last few days we have been talking about nutrition and feeding our bodies healing foods. For some of you this is a welcome challenge or a return to the healthy lifestyle you used to have.  The rest of you are having a panic attack.  You can't cook, you don't know anything about nutrition, you don't have time.

Don't freak out, you can do this.

I'm not proposing that you immediately clear out your fridge and pantry of all suspicious foods, run out to Whole Foods and restock it all with seaweed chips and mushroom burgers.   What you need to do is start small.  Just one little lifestyle change at a time. Start reading the labels of the foods already in your pantry; if you come across an ingredient you don't recognize, look it up.  Next time you run out of Cool Ranch Doritos, don't replace them. Add a fresh salad to your weekly meals.

Salad are a great way to start adding fresh vitamins and minerals into your diet, no cooking involved.  Every grocery store in America now carries pre-chopped and washed lettuces. Pick up an extra veggie for your salad, something colorful like yellow bell peppers. Toss in some cherry tomatoes, add your favorite dressing or just a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice.  You, my friend, are now eating your colors.

As for cooking, it can be intimidating but I assure you, there are shortcuts. Once you get a "method" under your belt, it can be the springboard to lots of quick, easy and nutritious meals.  I'm going to share with you one of my all time favorite methods for cooking a pile of veggies quickly and most deliciously.

All you need to remember is this: 425 for 25

Here is the general method: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. cut up some veggies (I'll explain that further below) and drizzle them with some olive oil. Sprinkle in salt and pepper then toss it all together with you hands.  Spread the veggies in one even layer and roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

Now, let's apply this method to a real recipe, roasted carrots and red potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take 2 handfuls of baby carrots (the ones in the bag) and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Take about 7 small red potatoes and cut them into quarters, place them with the carrots.  Drizzle the veggies with 2 tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Using your hands, toss the carrots and potatoes lightly to evenly coat them all with oil then spread out in 1 layer in the pan.  Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are just lightly browned.

The beauty of this method is that you can use it for so many vegetables: carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, squash, onions and more.  Just adjust the cooking time as needed, up or down.  I like my veggies tinged with crispiness on the edges (blackened, actually) so I usually cook them for 35-45 minutes.  But feel free to cook them less if you like them more firm or only lightly toasted. I will roast 1 whole pan of vegetables on Sunday night and end up with about 3 days worth of delicious vegetables for lunch or dinner. All I have to do is warm them back up.

You can experiment with seasonings, too. Along with the salt & pepper you can add Italian seasoning, chile powder, herbs de Provence, lemon pepper, grill seasoning, etc.

Don't let "heath food" scare you, it's not rocket science.  Just start exploring the delicious possibilities.

Crullers
photo courtesy of thelastjar.com

A Friday Recipe on Friday?! I know, I can't believe it either. I'm slowly getting back into the groove of things, working out the kinks on the new self-hosted site. It all takes time.

But I do have a terrific recipe to share with you today. I've talked a lot lately about the #STARTexperiment I participated in the past few months.  You can learn more about #START here.  In the midst of #STARTexperiment I've met some wonderful new friends, some also culinary-minded, and naturally we've started swapping recipes.

One of my new foodie-friends is a gal named Becky who writes over at The Last Jar.  Becky posted some info on pickling (take a look at her canning recipes!) and it just so happened that I was canning dill pickles for the first time that weekend.  The rest is history.  I picked her brain on the subject of canning, we started getting more involved in the #STARTfood group, sharing food stories, etc.

If you've been around my site for any length of time you know that I love to link my food to my family's past.  Most of the recipes I know come from my mom, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers.  Most of Becky's recipes have the same nostalgic sensibility  with much respect to the good-'ole days. I love their simplicity but also the memories they conjure.

One of Becky's highlight recipes is this recipe for crullers.  Do you know, I wasn't quite sure what a cruller was! I've heard of them and heard them mentioned in movies but you don't see crullers much on menus in Northern California.  So I did what I always do, I looked it up.  It turns out that crullers (or krullers) are heavily rooted in German cuisine and are more common on the east coast than the west, although there are certain spot in CA where they are popular.  Also, don't get these mixed up with French Crullers, those are a completely different animal.

A cruller is similar to a doughnut, sans hole and a little more dense.  They can come in various shapes & sizes but often are covered in powdered sugar & cinnamon or a sugar glaze. Becky describes them as "a biscuit-like fried dough, a cross between a biscuit and a doughnut." What's not to love about that?!

They are quick to make, are made of simple ingredients you already have in your pantry, and after a little mixing & 3 minutes of frying you will have a little taste of Americana.

I think these crullers sound like a necessary addition to my morning coffee or Sunday brunch. Or a Tuesday.

I think you should jump over to The Last Jar, read Becky's charming story about crullers and then fry yourself up a delicious treat!

Happy Friday everyone, I hope your weekend is full of delicious blessings.

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photo use by permission from the-baker-chick.com
photo use by permission from the-baker-chick.com

I am all about making things easier.  I like good food, but only on special occasions will I pull out a "fancy" recipe.  And by "fancy" I mean a recipe that calls for more than 8 ingredients and takes two or more pages to explain.  Most days, I cook simple food in the simplest way possible.

Which brings me to these Strawberry & Cream Napoleans from The Baker Chick.

But first, let's talk about The Baker Chick herself.  Her name is Audra and I'm not sure how I stumbled onto her site but wow am I glad that I did! She makes the yummiest food and her site is just darling.  She's a NYC blogger with a passion for baking. You can read more about Audra here.

So back to the napoleans.... I have a serious, intense dislike for those strawberry shortcake "cups" that you find in the supermarket.  You know, the ones that are flat on the bottom, indented on top, dry as a cardboard box and have zero flavor. They should just call them Cardboard-cakes.  Dis-like.

I normally solve this problem one of two ways:  pound cake or angel food cake.  Sometimes I make my own but both can usually be found in the bakery section of my grocery store, right next to the cardboard-shortcakes.  I especially like to get the chocolate pound cake.  Ohhhhh, chocolate pound cake...strawberries...fresh whipped cream... that is good stuff.

But I'm always on the lookout for an update to my good 'ole standbys and I'm certain I've found it in this recipe.

Audra substitutes flakey, crispy puff pastry for the cardboard-cakes, layers it with strawberries and whipped cream then dusts it all with powdered sugar.  Since I'm pretty lazy when it comes to baking, I will use store bought puff pastry, a perfectly fine substitution according to Audra.  I always top my strawberry shortcake with a sprinkle of nutmeg so I'll add that as well.

Is your mouth watering?  Mine is!

Hop on over to the-baker-chick.com to see the full recipe!

We are in the full swing of summer, I hope you are eating fresh and yummy things!

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First off, sorry I didn't mention it sooner but Happy Fourth of July everyone!  I spent most of the day on the river and got fried.  

Photo Jul 04, 11 50 57 PM

As in, I don't remember the last time I got this burnt because I don't normally burn.  And yes, I put on sunscreen, several times, but it must of washed off in the water.  Lessons learned....

Secondly, again this week I'm sharing a recipe from "the vault".  I posted this recipe last year and it is perfect for these sultry summers we are having where the last thing you want to do is crank up the oven for an hour to make dessert.  Just a couple minutes in the oven to cook the pie crust and the rest is cooked right on the stove top in a flash.  I'm making 2 of these pies tomorrow: 1 for my Grandma's birthday and 1 for my dear friend Lynnie who gave birth to the darling-est little girl on Tuesday.  That deserves a pie!  

Sweet.  Tart. Floral. Berries are the perfect combination of those three tastes.  And when you pair them up with a crusty, salty, flaky crust you just might feel like you're in heaven.  Think I'm exaggerating?  My friends, I wouldn't steer you wrong.

I first saw a version of this recipe on  the site Rachel Cooks.  She made a beautiful, shiny blueberry pie that appeared to hold together remarkably well.  That is one thing about berry pies that has always bothered me; they tend to be runny and the filling dumps into the middle of the pie pan after the first slice is removed.  I have experimented with adding tapioca pearls to my berry cobblers with great success.   But those little pearls can be telling and can potentially cook unevenly and flour just makes the filling it murky but I knew there must be a way to incorporate some other thickener to get the results I was looking for.

After reading the full recipe I saw that she adapted it from a blueberry pie recipe by Baked Bree.   Again, she shows a glossy pie that held together quite well.

So after reading both recipes I concluded that the trick was indeed cornstarch.  A surprisingly large amount of it: 6 tablespoons.  I was a little hesitant to put that much cornstarch into my pie but then I realized, this filling is pre-cooked.  And you pour it into a pre-cooked pie shell.  Pre-cooking the filling allows the cornstarch to get even distributed and come fully up to temperature, allowing it to dissolve and thicken.  I was a tad wary that it might make my pie cloudy but if you look at their photos, it doesn't appear to have effected their results so what-the-hay, I would give it a try!
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(Don't be confused by the sight of 2 pies below.  We had 2 family get-togethers that day so I went ahead and doubled the recipe so each gathering would have it's own pie.)

First things first, I had to get some berries.  The other 2 recipes call for all blueberries but I crave plump, juicy blackberries (or better yet boysenberries) this time of year, so instead I opted for a combo of fresh blackberries and frozen wild blueberries.   Off I went to a local farm stand to find some fresh blackberries.  5 miles down the road I found 7 full pints of the biggest blackberries I have ever seen.  I bought them all, even though I really only needed 4.  And yes, we ate them all.

Next in the order of things was to bake some pie crusts.  I shared that story with you earlier this week but you can click over here in case you missed it!

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About that time I realized I had not eaten lunch!  There was a brief intermission so I could whip up a fresh blackberry vanilla protein shake.  And eat a handful of berries.

While my pie crusts were cooling I worked on the filling which was as simple as throwing everything into a pot, stirring well till it boiled, stirring a few minutes more, then setting it aside to cool.

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I let the filling cool just for  bit then tossed in a few more whole berries for good measure, then poured it into my pie shells.  Into the fridge they went for a good 3-4 hours and then we devoured.  The filling stayed together beautifully and the flavor was intensely "berry".  The tartness of the blackberries rounded out the sweet perfume of the blueberries... ohhhhh, it was heaven.

The full recipe is below,  with my own changes.  I hope you can give it a try because it really was one of the easiest pies I've made and truly delicious.

Blackberry-Blueberry Pie

(adapted from Baked Bree)

Ingredients:

  • 1 precooked, cooled pie shell
  • 2 pints of fresh blackberries, plus 1/2 pint (optional); rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen wild blueberries (I use Wynan's brand)
  • 6 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter

In a large saucepan, combine 2 pints of blackberries (reserving the 1/2 pint for later), blueberries, and cornstarch, stirring gently so as not to damage the blackberries.  After the cornstarch is evenly distributed, add the salt, sugar, water and lemon juice and turn the heat up to medium high.  Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to come up to a soft boil.  Continue to stir for 2-4 more minutes, letting the mixture get thick and coat the spoon.  Remove from heat and add the butter, gently stirring to combine.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly then add the 1/2 pint reserved blackberries then pour mixture into your cooled pie shell.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap (just to make sure nothing falls into it) and set in refrigerator to cool for at least 3-4 hours before serving.

PS:  You might have a little extra filling so might I recommend cooling it then using it to top a serving of full fat Greek yogurt?  Trust me, it's yummy.

Epilogue:

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If you must transport your pie before it has rested in the refrigerator for 3 hours, be sure to place it in a cardboard box or you will end up with blackberry pie filling all over your car.  You have been warned.

 

First off, Happy Friday!! Wow am I glad to see Friday this week, it has been a doozie at work.  Murphy's Law reigned supreme.  Oh well, we made it through somehow and now I can take a deep breath and enjoy the weekend.

Secondly, it's my birthday!!  Yep, today's the big day and we are celebrating with pizza.  Not just any pizza, this exact recipe for homemade No Knead Pizza from Bon Appetit Magazine.  Actually, the recipe is from the famous Mr. Jim Lahey of  "No Knead Bread" fame.  I requested it because it's easy, it's crispy and just plain delicious.

So that's why I'm reposting it today.  It's an oldie but a goodie.  Enjoy your weekend everyone, make some pizza!

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There are moments in the kitchen when you just have to yell "YES!" and do the Kevin McCallister fist pump. This recipe brought one of those moments.  I have always been intrigued by the idea of making my own pizza dough at home.  I am super-picky about my pizza.  Well, I'm super-picky in general but for pizza I prefer a thinner, crispy crust over a thick, doughy version that you will find in most of the pizza parlors in our town.  I believe (and correct me if I'm wrong) it would be called Neapolitan style: thinner, crispy, slightly charred crust, light on the toppings and sauce.  Of course, for a real Neapolitan pizza you would need a wood burning oven, which I do not currently own (bucket list) so I have to make do with a pizza stone.

Anywho... I stumbled on this recipe over at I Am A Food Blog and was excited because not only did it promise the Neapolitan style pizza I so craved but the dough requires no kneading.  No kneading?! If you have ever struggled with a wad of springy dough, trying desperately to stretch it out to a decent sized pizza-pie only to have it mock you again and again by bouncing back into a small wad of dough, you can understand my excitement.

So I figured, "What the heck, I'll give it a shot."  I started Monday night by prepping the dough, let it sit overnight, came home from work on Tuesday and...

...wow!!!  What an easy recipe and it delivered on it's promises! I'll give you a little photo tour of the process:  (I'm still working from my Iphone so sorry about the sketchy pics)

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You have to start this dough the day before but don't let that intimidate you!  The finished dough will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days so you could mix up the dough on Sunday night and have til Thursday to use it.  And making the dough is super simple.  Just combine the flour, salt and scant bit of yeast in a bowl then gradually stir in the water until you have a sticky mix.  Cover it up and set it aside for at least 18 hours.  That's right, do nothing to your mixture, just set it in a warmish spot and go about your life.  The next day, after 18 hours, it will have expanded and bubbled and will look like the above photo.

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The next step is to plop your dough out onto a cutting board, counter or baking sheet covered with flour and for good measure, sprinkle a little flour over your dough so it doesn't stick to your hands.  Then simply use your hands to smoosh (it's a technical kitchen term, probably French) the dough out into a rectangular shape.  Don't worry about dimensions,  just get it spread out in an even layer.  Then cut the dough into 4 equal portions, which will make (4) 10 inch pies OR cut it into (6) personal sized portions, which is what I did.

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Next, take a portion and fold each corner up into the middle then put it seam sides down and using your hands gently shape it into a little ball.  Don't get hung up on that last step, its not complicated.  Just fold up the ends, pinch it off and turn it over so the top is a smooth dome as shown above.  Dust all your little dough-buns with flour and set them aside on your floured board (or pan or counter).  Let them sit there, undisturbed for 1 hour.  After 1 hour of naptime, they are ready to go!

I didn't get a picture of it, but take your rested dough ball and using your fingers once again smoosh the dough out into a pizza shape roughly 10" in diameter, dusting with flour as needed to avoid sticking.  If you opted to make the 6 inch personal size, smoosh the dough out to approximately 6 or 7 inches in diameter.

Put your toppings on (please remember less is more), and cook in the hottest oven you have.  Most kitchen ovens go up to 500-550F.  I will give you links at the end that describe in full how to cook the pizzas, depending on whether or not you use a pizza stone.  It will work just as well in a regular old baking sheet so no need to run out and buy a pizza stone.  Unless you really want one.  Do whatever you like, I'm not the boss of you.

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I set out a "toppings" bar since we each had our own personal sized pizza: red sauce, onions, jalapeno, tomato, olives, salami, etc.  Can I make a suggestion?  Follow my lead and do goat cheese, prosciutto, salami and a drizzle of Lucero olive oil.  You will thank me later.

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Or you could follow my niece's lead and put a little bit of everything...twice!  It was the ultimate combo.

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This was my pizza, on one side is the goat cheese combo and on the other side is all veggie.  Making one side vegetarian made me feel a lot  less guilty about the salami even though I inhaled the whole pizza.  Girl math.

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This was my brother's pizza, all sliced and ready to go.

There were 6 happy tummies that night, let me tell you.  Right after we got everything cleaned up my brother said, "We should make some more dough tonight!"  I don't know if I'm ready to eat pizza every day but I am definitely looking forward to trying this recipe out again real soon.

So that's my pizza story, now let me give you some details and the links to the recipe.

The original recipe comes from the March issue of Bon Appetit and you can get it here.  The original recipe makes (6) 10 inch pizzas.  This link describes the difference between cooking with a stone and a baking sheet.  I wish I had read this first because technically I did it wrong.  But it still tasted delicious.

The recipe from I Am A Food Blog is basically cut down to make (4) 10 inch pizzas (or in my case, 6 personal size) and you can get it here.

Pick which ever size batch you want and let me know how you like it!  Send me pics!

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raspberry sauce finished

Summer is in full swing!  I love it, even the 100 degree heat wave we are having here in Northern California.  Sunshine makes me happy!

In honor of summer I'm sharing my recipe for easy but tasty Triple Berry Sauce.  This sauce is terrific over ice cream, strawberry shortcake or my personal favorite, cheesecake.  It's the perfect light summer condiment. Let's get started!

The ingredients are so simple:

  • 1 (one) 12 oz. bag of frozen mixed berries (I like strawberry-blackberry-blueberry but use any combination of fresh or frozen berries you like)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • scant 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

raspberry sauce lemon juice

raspberry sauce sugar

raspberry sauce cinnamon

Place the berries in a medium saucepan with just a splash of water.  Add the lemon, sugar and cinnamon.

raspberry sauce bubble

Cook the mixture over medium high, stirring occasionally to coax the berries to break down and the mixture comes to a soft boil.

raspberry sauce coats

Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, take it off the heat and using a big spoon or potato masher, make sure the berries are all broken down, letting their juices out.  You could give it a whirl with an immersion blender to break down the fruit, just be extra careful, you don't want to wear this berry sauce!  It stains clothing, trust me.

raspberry sauce strain

Pour the mixture through a sieve, pressing and scraping the solids to get all the berry goodness out.

raspberry sauce finished

Pour the sauce into  container and place in the refrigerator to cool.  Drizzle the cold sauce over your favorite dessert!

Occasionally, I add a little framboise (raspberry liqueur) or creme de cassis (black current liqueur) to the saucepan for a little extra kick, but it's totally optional.

Just sitting here thinking about it, I'm dreaming up new ways to eat this sauce: drizzled over grilled peaches, mixed with Greek yogurt, a few dollops in a smoothie... my mouth is watering!

Give it a shot, I know you will love it!

triple berry sauce long

Tasty-Kitchen-Blog-Crispy-Avocado-Bacon-and-Tomato-Salad-12
photo courtesy of howsweeteats.com

I have an avocado addiction going on.  I seriously cannot get enough of them.  In fact, more times than I care to admit this month I have gone home after work, cut up an avocado, threw in some fresh cut herbs and a squirt of lime and called it dinner.  Is that wrong?

Another addiction I have is fresh tomatoes, which pair wonderfully with my avocado addiction.  The problem is, my tomatoes are not quite ready:

tomatoes green

But as soon as they are ripe I am going to make this salad from How Sweet It Is (aka: howsweeteats.com).  She shared this recipe over at Tasty Kitchen and as soon as I read it my mouth started watering.  How could you possibly go wrong with this combo: creamy avocado, juicy tomato, and smokey bacon?

And get this... she shallow fries the avocado slices with panko so they get crispy on the outside.  Oh my.

There is also a honey-lime dressing and a chili-ranch drizzle to take it way over the top.

Since I have fresh cilantro and parsley growing out back I think I will add those to the lettuce mix, just for fun.

cilantro

Here is the simplicity of this recipe: coat the avocado slices in a panko mixture and shallow fry to get them crispy, set aside.  Assemble the salad greens, tomatoes, a shave or two of parmesan, crispy avocado slices and a couple slices of bacon you cooked & crumbled ahead of time.  Throw the dressing ingredients together in a jar and shake-shake-shake and pour over your salad.  Drizzle a combo of premade ranch dressing and a squirt of sriracha over the top.  Done!

A tiny amount of cooking with a huge flavor payoff.  A lot of it can even be prepared ahead of time (the dressing, the drizzle, the bacon).  Hungry yet?

Jump on over to Tasty Kitchen to get this recipe from How Sweet It is, it's going to be a winner.

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I hope you have a relaxing and fun Memorial Day weekend!!

Photo May 09, 6 15 29 PM

Can you believe this? It's Friday and I actually have our Friday Recipe post up... on time!  I'm pretty sure there are pigs flying today.

So... Cinco de Mayo was last weekend and I hosted a little shindig that unexpectedly turned into a big shindig.  This resulted in multiple trips to the grocery store.  Also, I was paranoid that I would run out of limes and since they were on sale 10 for $1 I bought extras.  Muchos.  Thus, the big bowl full of limes. Clearly, I did not run out.

But I don't think I will have any trouble using them up because Spring is just the right time of year to add limes to your menu.  I have a few limey-recipes in my stash, but rather than outlining just one recipe, I'm going to list a few for you that I find especially intriguing:

That should be enough to get me started, right?  If you have any good recipes with lime shoot them at me!

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pretzel roll title

If you 're new here you might be wondering why I'm posting our Friday Recipe on Sunday night. The rest of you already know why: because I can't get my act together! Just when I think I'm getting back into my routine I run across a speed-bump (a heinous cold, physical therapy, raccoons) and it throws me off course again. It's tough being me.

One thing I did right was make these Salted Pretzel Rolls from Bake Your Day. I follow Bake Your Day's blog and have tried a few other of her recipes with great success so I thought, "Why not!" I like rolls. I like pretzels. This is a mash-up I can get behind.

First off I want to tell you, these are deeeeeee-licious! I mean, seriously delicious. The outsides with their browned & salted tops are crispy-crunchy but the insides remain fluffy and delightful, especially straight from the oven all hot and steaming... with a pat of butter....

pretzel butter

Second, this recipe is so much easier than you might imagine. For the "mixing" part, the electric mixer does all the work. Then there is a 2-step cooking process which sounds intimidating but trust me it's easy and kinda fun. You feel a little bit like a scientist and afterward you will feel smarter. Rolls that are scrumptious as well as raise your IQ!

pretzel bites

Thirdly, there is a 2nd option in this recipe to make them into pretzel bites instead of rolls. I put aside a couple handfuls of dough to try the pretzel bites. After you make the "bites", simply toss a smashed clove of garlic and some butter into a pan, warm over medium until it is melted. Throw out the garlic clove and toss in some chopped parsley. Drizzle over the pretzel bites and eat while still warm.

I made these pretzel rolls/bites one Saturday when I was by myself at home and they were so good I threw them in a cloth napkin and drove down the road to my brother's house to share with him and his family. As it turned out, he was having a shooting party so we passed the pretzel bites around till they were gone; it took about 47 seconds. Later my brother called to tell me how insanely delicious they were. They are that good.

So jump on over to Bake Your Day and give it a try! You will either love me because they are so tasty or hate me because you just can't stop eating them.

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I've been getting back into the kitchen a little more, but I'm having a hard time taking photos at the same time. I know I prefer to read a recipe post with photos, I'm betting you do too. So if anyone would like to volunteer to follow me around day after day and take pictures of my hands, measuring spoons and cutting board I am accepting applications. The stipend pays in pretzel bites. No takers?

pretzel long

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side pork raw original

I'm not sure that "sprinkle with salt & pepper; broil for 10-15 minutes" qualifies as a recipe but I really, really wanted to share this favorite food with you today.  I was shocked (shocked I tell you!) to discover how many people have never heard of this product after I put a picture of it up on my Instagram feed.

side pork raw

Everyone assumed it was bacon because, well, it does look an awful lot like thick cut bacon.  But it's not bacon. Close but no cigar.

There were some other great guesses:

  • duck belly (which sounds wonderful!)
  • pancetta
  • Serrano ham (which was also in the fridge)
  • fat back
  • raccoon (that is a story for another day)

We had this about once per week growing up and there was never enough because everyone loved it.  Hot, meaty, salty, a little crunchy...

side pork cooked final

... It's called Side Pork!

Yes, it looks just like bacon but there are some distinct differences.  I will share:

First of all, Side Pork is not cured.  It is raw as raw can be which is why you need to generously salt it before cooking.  No curing means no nitrates, yippeee!

Secondly, Side Pork is from a little further up the side of the pig than bacon.  Bacon is closer to the belly where all the fat is.  Side Pork does have fat on it but certainly less than bacon, especially after it renders down.  Side Pork is much meatier than bacon which makes it a perfect, protein-packed breakfast food.  I have been known to eat it for dinner as well.

side pork rinds

Lastly, Side Pork has a sort of...rind.  I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's the skin of the piggie, the part that you would normally use to make crack'lins or chicharron.  For me, this is what Side Pork is all about because after it cooks in the oven, it gets all curly and crispy and toasted.  Some parts of the rind also get sorta chewy. It will be the last part you eat and you will chew on it for a while.  I'm not gonna lie, it can be tough and rubbery. Kind of like pork-flavored chewing gum.  But I grew up gnawing on those skinny rinds so it doesn't seem weird to me, I suppose just like Spam is normal to some people. You will either love it or hate it.  If you hate it, just don't eat it or you can cut it off before cooking.

Side Pork can be hard to find.  Once I asked one of the youngsters at the meat counter of my local supermarket if they had any Side Pork and he pointed me to the "fat back" next to the bacon.  I didn't know whether to correct him or pat him on the head & pinch his cheeks.  Kids today!

If you have a reliable, experienced butcher he can order Side Pork for you and may even have some in stock.  My Uncle P. (you also know him as Uncle Farmer's Market) has a butcher that orders it for him.  A couple weeks ago he paid $2.99/lb for it.  I'm a little embarrassed to tell you that I don't know how that price compares to bacon but I just don't buy bacon that often so... maybe you can tell me.

If given the choice, I prefer it cut thinner rather than thicker.  Certainly no thicker than thick-cut bacon.  I like it on the thinner side because I feel that the fat renders out a little better.  But don't get me wrong... I'll eat it thick, thin or anywhere in between.

Once you find some Side Pork, cooking it is pretty simple.  Generously salt both sides with salt and a little pepper.  Place it on a baking sheet lined with foil or broiler pan and broil for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness).  It needs to get well browned so that the fat melts out and the rind curls up and gets dark in some spots.  Flip it over and let the other side get a little toasty as well, about 2 minutes.  Place the cooked Side Pork on paper towel to drain off any extra fat and serve hot.

I hope you can find some Side Pork and give it a try!