Buffalo Chicken Chowder

It’s no secret that I adore anything and everything “buffalo chicken.” I’ve already made a fantastical buffalo chicken dip that is so easy and so delicious it’ll knock those thick winter socks you have on right now straight off. However, I decided recently that I needed a main dish that incorporated my love of buffalo chicken that didn’t include the word “wrap” or “sandwich” and also didn’t have the word “breaded” in it. Turns out I’ve found a keeper.

It’s called Buffalo Chicken Chowder. It’s from Closet Cooking and I absolutely love it.

Now here’s a secret about me: I’m terrified of making soups. Or was, until recently. For some reason, soups intimidate me. There’s something about the stock and the flavors and the whole…process…that make me fear the tastes will never come out right. However, this recipe alleviated all fears I ever had and now all I want to make are soups. Make it in these cold winter days we’re having and feel happy completely. You’ll thank me later.

First, here’s the gang: chicken, hot sauce (Texas Pete is my choice when Cholula won’t quite fit the bill, such as buffalo recipes), chicken stock (32 oz.), half and half (recipe calls for cream, but I think half and half* is just fine), 1 potato, celery, carrots, garlic, and missing from the picture is 2 tablespoons of flour and blue cheese (which I thought I had in my fridge and didn’t…life went one).

*I don’t want to get preachy, so please ignore this if you want, but I will say one thing about half and half: DO NOT BUY THE NONFAT STUFF. It’s not real. Do you want to know what it is? It’s junk. It’s pure chemicals. It’s skim milk and then a bunch of thickening agents (read: unpronouncable chemicals) that your body has no idea how to process. The idea of half and half is that it is half cream (read: fatty, yes) and half milk. You cannot make cream nonfat. It is literally against the definition of the stuff. Any “benefit” you would get out of it being nonfat are negated by the fact that you’re inputting the food equivalent of dish soap. I won’t sit here and claim that I eat only organic, whole foods…but some things just simply go too far. Nonfat half and half is one of those things. Do your wellbeing a favor and buy the real stuff. If your half and half has more ingredients than 2 (cream and milk), put it back. End rant.

Deep breaths. Let’s get on with it. Sorry.

First, chop up the onions (it says, 1 cup, which I interpret as 1 onion)…

1 cup of carrots, which for me was about 3 carrots, peeled…

And celery…which was about 2 stalks.

I put all of those into a bowl together and put them aside.

Then I cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put a little salt and pepper on said pieces.

So then in my cooking extravaganza, tragedy stuck. You see, I have this animosity toward nonstick cookware. I hate it. Here’s why. When you cook with regular cookware, flavor sticks to the bottom of the pan, which you can then deglaze and return to the food. Also, the food actually browns and sears. With nonstick cookware, neither of these things happen. So I dutifully pulled out my large pot with which I cook soups/chilis/what have you, started to melt the 2 tablespoons of butter….and then learned that somehow, some way, my precious pot had cracked. Melted butter was all over the bottom of the burner…my heart was broken. And, worse, I realized that the only other pots I have of that size are nonstick. Sigh.

After I sighed a little more and melted about a tablespoon-ish of butter on medium heat and cooked my chicken. It should be cooked in about 8-10 minutes.

See how the chicken doesn’t have any brown on it? Sigh.

But, as we know, life always goes on. So put in the carrots, celery and onion you chopped up earlier! It’s about to get tasty up here in this nonstick pot!

Stir this around and cook it about 10-15 minutes. The larger you cut your veggies, the longer it’ll cook. You want them tender at the end.

Now that the veggies are all tender, you’re going to put in two cloves of chopped garlic…

And 2 tablespoons of flour (I used whole wheat).

The whole mixture should get pretty gooey. I may say gooey, but I really mean “this is where all the taste comes from.” Here’s what I mean.

Yum. So once you start smelling this after around a minute, pour in the chicken stock. I just poured in the entire 32-ounce box of stock.

Here is where you would “deglaze the pot,” which really means that you take your mixing spoon and scrape off all the flavor on the bottom. So pretend that I’m not using a nonstick pot and that I got to do that. Because then, my most most most favorite part of this recipe arrives. The hot sauce. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup, which is a good place to start.

But since I’m all rebellious and all, I put in more. And then some more after that. Really, just make it to your taste.

Stir it all around, turn the heat up to high, and make this entire mixture boil.

Oh my gosh. Seriously. Wow. It’s going to be so good.

After it’s boiled, turn the heat down to low, cover it, and wait about 30 minutes…or more. You know, however long you really want.

When it’s done, pour in the cup of half and half, the 1/4 cup of blue cheese, let the cheese melt, and then immediately take the pot off the stove.

Pour it into bowls, sprinkle with lots and lots of pepper, and enjoy!

This recipe makes plenty of leftovers and is delicious the next day too! Enjoy it in these cold winter days ahead. Seriously…you’ll thank me.

Here’s the original recipe from Closet Cooking (my changes in italics).

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

A hearty and creamy chowder with all of the flavors of buffalo wings!

Servings: makes 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Printable Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter (About 1 tablespoon-ish)
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup carrot, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • * hot sauce to taste (I used 1/4 cup Franks Red Hot sauce)
  • 1 large yukon gold or other boiling potato, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream (half and half)
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chicken and saute until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and flour and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan.
  6. Add the hot sauce and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, mix in the cream and blue cheese and remove from heat when the cheese has melted.

Spaghetti Pie

Merry Christmas everyone! Or Chanukah! Or Festivus! Or whatever it is you celebrate this time of year, I hope you’re happy celebrating it.

This isn’t what I would call a “Christmas” recipe, but it sure is good. I’m back in Florida for the break and every time I’m back here with my mom she requests I make it. And you know, it’s just so darn easy and good I’m happy to oblige. It’s a Cooking Light recipe but you would never think there’s anything “light” about it when you taste it. Yum yum yum.

Also, her kitchen is rockin’ and since she doesn’t cook, it’s hardly used at all! It’s good to be home.

The nice, warm, sunny Florida weather doesn’t hurt either.

So first, here’s the gang that will be participating in this lovely event. Ground beef, 2 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce with garlic in it (if you can find a 16-ounce size of this stuff, let me know, but even my beloved Publix doesn’t carry it), salt and peper, low fat sour cream (this one pictured isn’t big enough, but I was temporarily insane with happiness shopping at a Publix again and it tasted just fine anyhow), 1/4 cup of lower-fat cream cheese, green onions, spaghetti, and shredded cheddar. Which isn’t pictured here, but I promise it was in the recipe.

I also added chopped green pepper and chopped onions, because they’re delicious.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

First, I heated up some olive oil and let the onions and peppers soften up a bit on medium heat.

Then, after they’re softened to your liking, add the ground beef.

Stir it around and break it up, and mix it in with those peppers and onions. They’re going to be best friends.

When the beef is all browned and you’ve drained it, return the pan to the stove and add the tomato sauce with garlic (2 8-oz cans).

Also add plenty of salt and pepper. Then, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Stir it every so often, but there’s stuff for you to do in between.

Stuff #1: Boil spaghetti noodles.

Stuff #2: Make the second part of the “pie.” Get a small-ish mixing bowl and combine the following.

First, 2 ounces of cream cheese (that’s 1/4 of a package and/or 1/4 cup).

Then add 1.5 cups of lower-fat sour cream. However, I goofed and only added a cup. It was still amazing.

And then to this white mixture, add 1/2 cup of chopped green onions (scallions). This all sounds so weird, I know, but it’s amazing. I promise.

Now, it’s about 20 minutes later, your oven is preheated, your noodles are boiled, your white mixture is mixed, and everything has fallen into place.

Quickly spray a 2-quart casserole dish with some cooking spray of your choice (I always choose Pam Olive Oil spray), because now comes the layering. First, the spaghetti noodles.


Action shot! 

 Then, the sour cream mixture on top of the noodles.

Then, the meat/tomato mixture.

Then, because it’s me and because you know you love it too, some shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Just enough to cover it all. When you’re ready to put it in the oven, it will look like this.

So it’s ready, right? Put it in the 350° oven for 25 minutes.

Then, at that mark, take off the top, and cook it another 5 minutes. This will make sure that the cheese is extra awesome. (My words, not the recipe’s.)

When it’s all done, it will look like this, and you can actually serve this dish like…a pie. Get it? Spaghetti pie? So clever.

When it’s done, it’ll look like a big gloppy mess on your plate, but you know what? It’ll be so delicious you’ll forget exactly what it looked like in a matter of seconds, since you’ll have devoured it all up.

Enjoy!

And many thanks to my friend Kelly for showing me this recipe long ago! Delicious! Thanks Kelly!

Here’s the Cooking Light recipe in totality, my edits in italics.

Ingredients

  • One chopped green pepper
  • One chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground round (ground beef 93/7)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce with garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/3 cups (about 5 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese $

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. On medium heat, cook the chopped onion and green pepper until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cook meat in a large skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble, mixing with the onions and peppers. Drain well, and return meat to pan. Stir in salt, pepper, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine the sour cream, green onions, and cream cheese in a small bowl, and set aside.
  5. Place the spaghetti noodles in a 2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the sour cream mixture over spaghetti noodles. Top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  6. Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Jambalaya

Here’s a confession: I love 1-dish dishes. There’s something entirely satisfying about them sometimes, something so…basic…and yet…complex…all at the same time. Letting dishes that you’ve assembled in one dish just simmer and make beautiful tastes together is one of my favorite things. And that’s why I love this dish.

Jambalaya is usually something I associate with summer months for some reason, but I don’t know why. This dish is warm, soothing, comfort food, and, luckily, not that unhealthy. It’s from Cooking Light and it’s one of LSB’s* favorites.

*Keep reading for what this star means below.

The cast of characters is longer than usual, but seriously, this is so easy. Keep with me. Onion, red bell pepper (they were out of red bell peppers at Harris Teeter…Publix wouldn’t have been out, just saying), garlic, andouille sausage, rice (I used brown), paprika, black pepper, oregano, onion powder, thyme, garlic salt, bay leaf, chicken stock, tomato paste, hot sauce (Cholula, baby! I love that stuff.), diced tomatoes.

The recipe also calls for shrimp and fresh parsley at the end, but shrimp tends to give me a stomach ache and I don’t really like them (I know, I know, I know…let’s move on), and parsley doesn’t add anything either. So I left those out.

Phew!

The first part of this is to cook up the onion, red (cough, yellow) pepper, garlic, and sausage. So let’s get those ready.

First the pepper.

Oooh, pretty….

Then the onion…

And the garlic. So here’s how I peel garlic. I cut off the ends, and then slam the flat side of my knife on the garlic. Not only is it a stress relief, but it make the garlic slip right out of the peel, and makes it take no time at all to dice up.

So, ka-slam!

*So remember I told you I’d explain the asterisk? Well, you might notice on that left hand there’s a new addition…it’s an engagement ring!!!! That’s right! LSB is now officially LSF and eventually will be LSH as of May of 2013. Only he won’t be in law school anymore (hopefully). Hm. Well, anyway. Wow. It’s so unreal! Eeee!

Ok. This public service announcement is now officially over. We will move on.

Slice up the andouille sausage and heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven and throw these four items in and stir it around a little bit, for about 5 minutes.


LSF was being super helpful and took this action shot. It’s amazing what procrastinating on exams will do to a man.

Now, this part is just how I do it, but I personally find it super helpful and time-efficient to measure out the spices and put them in a bowl together before the 5 minutes is up.

Because I’m not baking, I’m not terribly concerned with making measurements perfect here. So if you want to, fine, I personally think jumbalaya is all about flavor, italics necessary, so ramp it up!

Paprika! Exclamation point! One teaspoon!

Pepper!

Oregeno!

Onion powder! Only you forget to take a picture of that one, so…thyme!

And last, but not least, well kind of the least since you only use 1/4 teaspoon of it…so last and least…garlic salt!

So now that you’ve added those spices together plus a bay leaf, it’s probably been about 5 minutes on the onion, garlic, sausage and pepper, so you’re ready to add the rice and this concoction. Cook it for about two minutes.

It will look “dirty” and awesome, because you know it’s packed with the flavors of cajun heaven.

I know it’s counterintuitive to cook the rice before you put any liquid in, but just trust this. It really works.

Two minutes later and now the rest of the ingredients come in.

Two cups of chicken stock…

3/4 cups of water…

A (heaping) tablespoon of tomato paste…

A teaspoon of hot sauce…

And then if you’re me or LSB, er, LSF, a ton more hot sauce because you like the flavor and love all things spicy…

And finally, the tomatoes, undrained. Ker-plop.

Now, stir all of that around, try to get as much of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as possible with your spoon, and then turn the heat to low, and let it simmer. If you’ve used brown rice like I have, you have to let it simmer about 40-50 minutes, instead of the 20 minutes on the directions.

However, longer doesn’t hurt it. It makes it more wonderful. The flavors just meld together and make pure bliss.

So yes, just let it simmer away, covered.


Everyone, meet my dutch oven. His name is George. We’re involved. I love him to pieces. And yes, it’s a him.

40-50 minutes later, and you’re ready for your spicy awesome cajun soul food.

Enjoy!!

Here’s the full instructions, my (small) edits in italics.

From Cooking Light:

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic – 2 cloves’ worth
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice – Brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce – Plus a bunch more, to suit your tastes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp – I didn’t do this part
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley – I didn’t do this part either

Preparation

  • Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, and sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add rice and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes. Add broth, water, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce, and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley.

Peanut Sauce Noodles

You know those days when you need something to throw together at a moment’s notice?

You know, like, every day?

Have I got a recipe for you. I know that cookbooks these days sometimes seem to be going the way of the dodo (no, I will never let go of my mother’s service group cookbook they put together in my small town in Florida, thankyouverymuch) and I admit that most of my recipes come from online, but I recently invested in this cookbook and I can honestly say there has yet to be a dud.

This book is called (are you ready for this? You might die of kitsch here…) 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know. If you’re looking for a great cookbook for your 20something friend/daughter/niece/etc. I cannot recommend this book enough. Every recipe is simple, easy, and, well, scrumptious. The names of the recipes are all kitschy and this one in the book is titled, “Hot Date Cool Noodles” but I call it either Peanut Sauce Noodles or Spicy Peanut Noodles. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and is so worth it.

For the cast of characters: cilantro, sesame oil, peanut butter, sriracha (the recipe doesn’t call for this but it’s TASTY in it, trust me), soba noodles (yes, you can find this in a normal-not-Whole-Foods store), red pepper flakes, fresh lime juice, cilantro, and scallions. And you’ll need soy sauce. Which I forgot to picture. Life went on.

And here’s what I used to make this dish (other than the pot to boil the noodles in): my mixer.

I love this mixer. It’s a hand-me-down from one of my friends who got married and got a better mixer from her registry. It’s nice sometimes to be part of the plebeian unmarried folks sometimes – you can get things like mixers that work wonderfully for free.

(And yes, you can absolutely use your food processor for this if you like, but mine is huge and really for this recipe a blender works just as well.)

I actually ended up doubling the amounts listed in the recipe for the sauce. So that’s why some of the measurements might seem odd.

First comes the peanut butter. I used about a quarter of a cup.

One teaspoon of red pepper flakes (spicy! yummy!)

A haiku on red pepper flakes:
O, red pepper flakes!
You are indeed quite spicy.
Please never leave me.

Ahem. If those crickets chirping could please quiet down, we can move along.

The honey came next. About 4 teaspoons, which for me is 4 big squeezes of your bear or so.

Next, 4 teaspoons of lime juice….

Things I forgot to buy at the grocery store: fresh limes. Things I used instead: bottled lime juice in my fridge. Things I didn’t stress about: please see above.

And two tablespoons of soy sauce…

And two tablespoons of sesame oil.

This next ingredient is completely optional, out of the recipe as written, and you will need to do this to suit your spice tastes. Me? I like things spicy and I added probably two teaspoons or so of Sriracha sauce. However, add a little to start off with, blend, and then add more after blending if you want it spicier.

Pop the top your blender, mix it up for a few seconds, taste it, add some more Sriracha if that’s your thing (it’s my thing), and heat up a pot of water, because next come the soba noodles.

Oh, you’re not familiar with soba noodles? Neither was I. From my extensive research (reading the label) I learned that they’re buckwheat noodles. And you know what else I learned? They cook in three minutes.

Three minutes. That’s it. t.h.r.e.e. m.i.n.u.t.e.s.

I like soba noodles now. It helps that they’re delicious. I bought a 9.3-oz package (each of those three tidy packets is 3.1 oz.) despite the recipe calling for 12 ounces. Let me impress this upon you: 9 ounces was too much for LSB and I’s hearty appetites.

So boil that water (this took longer than the actual cooking of the noodles), cook the noodles, and drain them. I know you all know how to do that.

Then plop some of those soba puppies on a plate, drizzle some of that sauce on the noodles, and garnish with fresh cilantro and fresh scallions you sliced up when you were waiting for the water to boil.

It’ll look something like this.

So there you have it! Probably one of the more customized recipes I’ve made, but it’s delish. I put my changes in italics below in the full recipe.

From 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know:

Hot Date Cool Noodles (Peanut Noodles/Spicy Peanut Noodles)

Ingredients:
One 12-ounce package soba, udon or lo-mein noodles (9.3 ounces)
2 tablespoons peanut butter, chunky or smooth (4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons honey (4 teaspoons/4 big-ish squeezes of your honey)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sesame oil (2 tablespoons)
~2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or more to taste
2-3 scallions, chopped (or more to taste)1 teaspoon black sesame seeds (optional) I didn’t do that part.

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a large pinch salt. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain.
(I did this after I made the sauce so the noodles wouldn’t get sticky.)

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or mini food processor, mix the peanut butter, red pepper flakes, honey, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon water.

3. While the noodles are still warm, toss them with the sauce, cilantro, and scallions. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, if using (I didn’t use them).  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or chilled.

Deliciousness!

Flank Steak

Words cannot describe to you how much I love flank steak. Have you ever cooked flank steak before? No? Well, as luck would have it, I’m here for you.

It’s what I do.

I found this recipe for a dry-rubbed seasoned flank steak on the Food Network site. It’s one of Bobby Flay’s and my goodness it’s just plain phenomenal. And simple. And…and…there just aren’t enough adjectives to describe this, so let’s get going on the cooking.

The cast of characters is simple: flank steak (duh), ground mustard (keep with me here), onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cayenne, and allspice.

This combination of spices might sound odd, but just go with it.

First, mix together the rub. A tablespoon of the mustard…

Then a tablespoon of onion powder…

A tablespoon of garlic powder (see? so easy, you haven’t even switched measuring utensils yet…)

Tablespoon (ish…I used a little less) of salt…

Please ignore my computer sitting next to my mixing…thank you kindly.

A half teaspoon of cayenne, though I made it a heaping half teaspoon and added some to boot on top of that. I like things spicy, baby! Spicy!

I’ll stop.

And finally, a quarter teaspoon of allspice. (Yes, allspice. We’re just going with it, remember?)

Then with a fork, mix it all together. It should resemble dark-ish sand. Not white sand you’d find on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Sand like you’d find…up north. Somewhere. I don’t know, I don’t really go to the beaches unless they’re the Gulf Coast of Florida.

This attitude happens when you grow up where I did (hint: it rhymes with “mulf moast of morida”). Moving on, here’s what it’ll look like.

Now here comes the tricky part. Take out your glorious flank steak from the plastic, if it came in plastic. (Sometimes I go to Whole Foods and buy bison flank steak that doesn’t come in plastic like this. It’s divine.)

So once the flank steak is out, you put the rub on. Take it with your fingers and spread it on…

And then rub it in. Until it looks like this all over the meat.

And don’t just sprinkle it. Rub it in!

You will know you’ve done it correctly only when your hands end up looking like this (beware of what you’re about to see):

You may think “gross” but I think “awesome.”

There might (is) something wrong with me.

So now that you’ve done both sides with the rub, your fingers are clean again, you let the steak sit for 10 minutes.

And you keep it somewhere your dog won’t be able to snatch it up. This step is especially important.

Then, heat up your grill pan, or, you know, grill, to a medium-hot to hot setting. If you do medium-hot you’ll probably regret it. This is step 1 in cooking flank steak. You need a good sear, which means high heat, because then in a little bit…

the steak will cook itself after you take it off the grill.

What’s that? Did you just read that correctly? Yes. You did. The steak will continue to cook after you take it off, so put that grill up on hot, let it get hot for about 4 minutes before you even think about gracing it with that delicious flank steak’s presence.

And then do it. Put that glorious flank steak on that glorious hot grill, and let it sit there for 5 minutes.

Yes, five minutes. Don’t touch it. Don’t even think about flipping it over or turning the heat down. Get this little guy out and set it up and go cook your veggies, or pat your pup, or start a crossword. Whatever it is you want to do in 5 minutes, go do it.

I love this little egg timer. I don’t know why. But I do.

Now once those little 5 minutes are up and you haven’t touched your steak, flip it over…

…and leave the other side cooking for 5 minutes.

Then…this is really tough now because you’re going to be smelling this steak sizzling and cooking, and wanting to pretend you’re a ravaging cave woman who eats nothing but meat and is all that is awesome…let it sit.

Yes, let it sit for 10 minutes.

Remember what I said about the steak cooking itself more? Now is that time. Just let it be.

And after ten minutes, slick that sucker up into little strips across the grain, like so, and serve.

Until it’s all cut up and looks like this:

You’ll have one happy LSB on your hands if you do. And one happy cave woman, too.

So there you have it. Super simple, super delicious and super easy.

Try it today. Flank steak might make you think that all might be just fine with the world. Here’s the original recipe. I didn’t alter it and life was magical.

From the Food Network:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 pounds flank steak

Directions

Preheat a grill pan over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes

Combine the mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cayenne and allspice in a small bowl. Rub the flank steak all over with the mix and let sit for 10 minutes.

Put the steak on the hot grill and cook 5 minutes per side. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

My, oh my.

My. oh. my.

Myohmy.

This, more or less, will be the reaction you will get from people if you make this recipe for someone. It’s pumpkin gingerbread and pretty much it’s one of the only redeeming qualities I can find about fall – canned pumpkin is back.

By the way, did you know there’s a pumpkin shortage? More specifically, a canned pumpkin shortage? In a long talk I had with my Harris Teeter checkout woman, she told me it was so. I suppose I’ll believe her and stock up whenever possible. So it goes.

Anyhow, this is an AllRecipes favorite of mine that has been tried and true time and time again. It’s simple and the only change I have (which is fairly significant) is to double the amount of spices. All the spices. You won’t regret it. Live daringly! Live boldly! Live for pumpkin gingerbread!

Too far? Too far.

Here’s the cast of characters. Sugar, oil (I used canola, recipe calls for vegetable), 4 eggs, 1 can of pumpkin puree (honestly I don’t normally go organic, it was just all Harris Teeter had), ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. And three turtle doves. Just kidding, it’s a lot of spices, but really this recipe is simple. Simple I tell ya, simple!

At some point preheat your oven to 350°. My oven takes about 5 years to preheat and this recipe about 5 minutes to make, so the earlier the better.

Then in a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar…

The oil….

…and the eggs. Which I forgot to take a picture of. But mix them up, and here’s the consistency you’re looking for.

Then add 2/3 cup of water…

And beat that all up until it’s even smoother and less gloppy.

Then the good stuff. Add the pumpkin…

Just use a fork to get this congealed glob of pumpkin out and you’ll be fine.

Fact: someone once asked me why I don’t use real pumpkin for this. As in, cutting a pumpkin in half, taking the seeds out, roasting one half for hours and then another half for hours, and then scraping out the inside of it to use.

Pah-lease.

Anyhow, the spices come next. 4 teaspoons of ground ginger (remember the recipe calls for 2 but we’re living on the edge and going for double)…

Is “Living on the Edge” by Aerosmith stuck in anyone else’s head now? Just me?

2 teaspoons of allspice…

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon…

You’ll notice I don’t use perfectly-measured leveled-off amounts of these spices. I’m not saying to make them heaping, but if there’s a little extra, that’s acceptable. And encouraged.

And finally, 2 teaspoons of ground cloves…

Look at all those wonderful spices just sitting there harmoniously. Beauty.

Now, stir those all together and then grab a smaller mixing bowl.

Combine 3.5 cups of flour with 2 teaspoons of baking soda 1.5 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Then mix it into those wonderful wet ingredients.

Stir it all up until it looks like this.

This finger was dipped in purely for demonstration purposes. It was licked off with great sorrow and pain. In no way would I ever do this normally.

Over and over again with every finger.

(Seriously though, if you get squeamish about raw eggs/batter…which I don’t…skip this step. But if you’re a little gutsy, this batter might just change the way you look at the world.)

Finally, your oven has been preheated, and you lightly spray two 9×5 loaf pans with cooking spray…

…and LSB declares he’s starving to death and may fall over dead at any minute and can’t wait for the hour it takes for these puppies to bake. So you then turn OFF the oven, pour the batter in, cover them with tin foil, pop them in the fridge, and come back.

Then come back, repeat the whole preheating thing, get annoyed at the electricity you wasted warming up an entire oven but get over it because, hey, life goes on, and bake for about an hour. You’ll probably need to do the toothpick test, but for me, 1 hour seems to work perfectly.

Here’s what it looks like baked. Bring a loaf of this to an enemy and you will become friends. Bring a loaf of this to a party, and you will rival the most interesting man in the world. Eat this all to yourself, and you will be content for a long, long time.

Enjoy!!

Here’s the recipe from AllRecipes again. My changes are in italics, but remember all I changed were to double every spice.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice (2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves (2 teaspoons)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

Words cannot describe to you how much I love this recipe. Words cannot describe to you how much LSB loves this recipe. Words cannot describe to you how endearing this makes me to LSB.

It’s a keeper.

It’s Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks.

I nabbed this recipe from The Pioneer Woman a little while ago and it has never, ever, EVER led me astray.

Now let me say this, and I’ll be saying it a lot I’m sure: I love The Pioneer Woman and her blog. Literally, there is not one part of it that does not make me happy. Her dogs, her kids, her cooking, and her photography are all simply stunning and wonderful. She has a new show on the Food Network on Saturday mornings and I have faithfully DVRed and watched every single one. (Let’s be honest here: Saturday mornings and I will never be well-acquainted. DVRing is much more reliable than me getting up every Saturday morning.)

So with this love I have I debated for so long which recipe of hers to feature on this blog first. Being as this is the single most requested food in my household, I settled on this one. Oh also, it’s easy, cheap and delicious.

Make it. Any time of year, any time of day, any time at all. I would probably gladly eat this on Thanksgiving day, and LSB would too.

So here we go. First, what you’ll need. 12 ounces (or so) of pasta (I like PW’s suggestion of farfalle or, for people like me, bowties – it just plain old works perfectly), dry white wine, 4 oz. of pancetta (chopped or if you have to shop at Harris Teeter, this thinly-sliced stuff), 3 leeks, and half and half (PW uses cream and would probably fall straight over onto her floor if she heard I used half and half instead of cream, but here’s a secret: it tastes delicious either way), and some parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the grated “stuff” in the green tube).

First, cook up the bowtie (farfalle) pasta, drain it, and put it aside. Forget to take pictures. But just keep it damp and you’ll be golden. PW suggests keeping some reserve water, but I have never, ever, ever needed it.

Then, chop off the ends of the leeks.

Cut off that Pauly-D hair part and then right as it starts getting dark cut those leaf things off too. Discard both ends. The light green to white part is the only part you use.

Then slice the leek up. And repeat for all three leeks.

Once you’re done with all three leeks, throw them in a colander and rinse them off, getting all that dirt from this root vegetable off.

Have I mentioned this before? Leeks are delicious. Don’t be afraid of them, embrace them.

We’ll be back in just a little bit for this.

So now, if your pancetta isn’t already chopped up, chop your pancetta up into little pieces.

And throw it in a medium-hot pan until the fat starts to render.

Here’s what it looks like when the fat starts to render.

Stop it! The pan is hot! Don’t reach in and eat the pancetta straight from here! There is more to do. You won’t regret it.

Now is the time to put in the leeks.

Don’t worry, they’ll break up as they lose water and you stir it around for about 10 minutes.

If you want, you can put some butter (a spoonful or so) in here. I can’t remember if I did or not this time, but I’ve done it both ways, and again, they’re both delicious.

And while you’re waiting, take that parmeggian-reggiano cheese (spelling? I wish I were Italian…) and make slices. I use a potato peeler, but go ahead and use a more normal method if you like.

Take a slice or two and taste it. Realize that you could probably just eat this entire block of cheese right here and be satisfied.

Restrain yourself and realize that LSB would never look at you the same way again.

Reconsider despite of this.

But persevere and restrain!

And by the time you’ve had this internal battle it’s around 8-10 minutes later – mine is always closer to 10 minutes – the time for the half cup of wine is here.

Here’s how I measure out a half cup of wine. Are you ready? It’s super precise.

Pour a glass of wine.

Take a sip of this glass of wine.

And that’s it! Now pour that precisely-measured half cup of wine into the leek and pancetta mixture.

Now pour yourself another glass of wine. You wouldn’t want to hurt the wine glass’ feelings.

Also, stir this mixture around for about 2 minutes. The wine will reduce and make this mixture even MORE delicious, believe it or not.

After it’s reduced, reduce the heat to low.

And then pour in a half cup of half and half (or cream if you’re being wonderful like Ree, the Pioneer Woman).

Stir this around just a bit and now add in some of those beautiful, wonderful, tasty, delicious slices of parmesan cheese.

Let those melt. It will thicken up the sauce.

Then turn off the heat entirely.

And put in that pasta you made a while ago. Remember the pasta? I bet you almost forgot.

Stir it around. And be amazed that you. just. made. this.

I wish I could find words to describe just how heavenly this is.

I can’t.

Just make it and see.

I serve it with a few more slices of parmesan on it, and then I die of happiness.

It’s true! I’m writing this from Heaven! This is served for lunch every day here.

Ok just kidding. But I hope it is!

Here’s the Pioneer Woman recipe again, in its entirety. My comments/modifications are in italics.

Oh and Ree, you’re my hero.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces, weight Pasta, Cooked Al Dente
  • Reserved Pasta Water, If Needed
  • 3 ounces, weight Chopped Pancetta
  • 3 whole Leeks, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (half and half)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, Shaved

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Saute chopped pancetta until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Add sliced leeks and cook for 8 minutes. When you add the leeks, you can also throw in a pat or two of butter if you want to. This’ll give the dish some scrumptious flavor. I add it after the bacon is browned because I don’t want the butter to brown. After 8 to 10 minutes, pour in wine, then cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until reduced. Reduce heat to low, then pour in cream (half and half). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmesan shavings. Toss in pasta, adding a little pasta water to thin as needed. Serve with Parmesan shavings over the top—delicious! (Delicious indeed!)