Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spinach Salad

I'm a fan of spinach salad because I feel like I get more nutritional bang for buck with spinach than with lettuce.  If I'm eating salad, I want credit, you know?  My love of this salad is probably also helped by the fact that it has bacon, not only on the salad, but in the dressing as well.  Amen to bacon.  It makes everything better.  And one last selling point?  The caramelized red onions are really tasty and a nice change from the typical raw red onions in spinach salad.    


  • 3 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
  • 7 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 8 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • dash of salt

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy/chewy. Remove to a paper towel.

Leave a small amount of bacon fat in the skillet; drain the rest into a bowl and reserve.

Slice the red onion very thinly, and then add to the skillet.

Cook slowly until the onions are caramelized and reduced. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Make the hot bacon dressing: Add bacon fat, vinegar, sugar, Dijon and salt to a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat.

Whisk together and heat thoroughly until bubbly.

Toss spinach with warm dressing in a large bowl until evenly coated.

Divide spinach among 6 plates and top with onions, bacon, tomatoes, and egg. 

Source:  slightly modified from Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

These little pepperoni pizza puffs are perfect! (How's that for alliteration?!)  Kids love them, but they're impressive enough to wow adults as well.  You might want to double this recipe unless you're serving them to a very small crowd.  Trust me, double it.  I always wish I had. 

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup pepperoni (about 5 ounces), cut into small cubes, see note below
  • marinara sauce, for serving
  • fresh basil, chopped

Note on pepperoni:  Go to the deli counter and ask for a chunk of pepperoni so that you can cut it into small cubes.  You'll need about 5 ounces for one cup of small cubes.  I removed the outside casing before cubing it. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, milk, and egg.
Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. 
Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with basil and serve with marinara if so desired. 

Source:  A Bountiful Kitchen

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Queso Blanco

This queso might be the best thing that's happened to me in the last month.  Okay, maybe my month hasn't been THAT rough, but I'm just saying, it's up there. 

It is sooooooooo cheesy and soooooooo de-lish.  And pretty simple to throw together.  The only trick is to keep it warm while serving.  I'm pretty sure I had a mini crockpot at some point in my adult life that I got rid of because I didn't know what I would use it for.  It would have come in handy the other night.  Instead I made a mess of my pan trying to keep it warm on the stove.

Note on white American cheese:  I bought it at the deli counter unsliced and then grated it.  If you can only find it sliced, cut it into thin strips.

This is what my perfect nachos con queso looked like.  Mmmmmmmmmm.   

(yields about 2 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 12 oounces white American cheese, shredded or sliced thinly
  • 4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4-2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add the onion and jalapeño to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add both of the shredded cheeses and 1/4 cup of the milk.

Stir until completely melted.

Mix in the tomato and cilantro, and add additional milk gradually as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Serve immediately.

Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Party: Karrie's gettin' hitched!

I'm back after being flattened by the flu. It was horrible. I typically have an immunity of steel from the exposure to my students and their steady stream of germs. This was definitely the exception. I've never been so sick in all my years of teaching. They really aren't kidding when they say this has been and continues to be a nasty flu season.   

On to more pleasant things . . .

My lovely friend Karrie is getting married in just a few days. We had a little girls' night in to celebrate. We ate delicious food, helped Karrie prep her wedding favors, got the scoop on all the wedding details, and watched 27 Dresses.  It was a low-key (stretchy-pant-wearing) evening of fun and friends! 

We had a little nacho bar with all the fixings.

Everyone got to build their own perfect nachos.  We had Qdoba chips (Have you tasted their limey deliciousness?), Cafe Rio sweet pork, cilantro lime rice, homemade guac, queso blanco (recipe to follow), and the other necessary fixings for nachos.

Karrie loves sweets!  So, of course, we had a little treat bar with all of her favorites. 

I got the scoop on Karrie's favorites from her twin sister LeeAnn.  Everyone sampled the sweets for dessert and took a little bag o' treats home as well.

Congratulations, beautiful Karrie!!  Can't wait to celebrate and dance the night away!