Thursday, August 21, 2014

Snacking REINVENTED with @grazeusa; try your first box FREE!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graze.com. All opinions are 100% mine.
Snacking REINVENTED with Graze.com - a review via @girlichef
How many times have you stood in front of a vending machine waiting for something good to appear? Okay, now let me ask how many times you've stood in front of your fridge or pantry doing the same? If you're like everybody else I know, the answer is countless. Whether you work from home or at the "office", we all hit that midday (or mid-morning...or late afternoon...) slump. Well, step away from those vending machines because Graze has invented a better way to snack!

What is Graze, you ask? It's a company started by seven friends who were tired of the same old chip and candy routine. They quit their jobs, camped out in a friends' spare room, then brainstormed and worked hard until they came up with a better way to snack. Thanks to that, you (and I) can now have our choice of over 90 delicious and nutritious snack options delivered right to our doors! Well, our mailboxes.

Graze boxes are designed to fit inside a standard mailbox, eliminating the need to hang-out and wait for them to be delivered. No signing, no fuss, just a pleasant surprise tucked inside an unassuming brown box waiting for us when we pick up our mail. Of course, what's really cool is that you can actually have your boxes delivered to your workplace, if that works better for you.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Maple Bacon Doughnut Holes #BaconMonth

Maple Bacon Doughnut Holes | girlichef.com
It's official, school is back in session. I watch the cats suspiciously eye the hush that has settled over the house as I sip my coffee. Although I think it's too soon for school to be back in session (I'm an after-Labor-Day cheerleader), it is nice to fall back into a routine after a loose summer.

I would like to say that routine includes popping doughnut holes in my mouth while formulating recipes and writing stories to accompany them, but it doesn't. And truthfully, that's a good thing. One (me) can only handle doughnuts sporadically these days. So really, it's more likely that doughnuts will happen on the weekend when people besides me are home to eat them.

Case-in-point, these little fried dough balls of delight. Basically, they're raised doughnuts infused with real maple syrup and bacon. After you fry them, you drop them into a snow drift of powdered sugar and shake. The result is nothing short of dangerous.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Black Bean and Bacon Flautas {she made, ella hace meets #BaconMonth}

Black Bean and Bacon Flautas | girlichef.com
Last month flew by so quickly that I wasn't able to hang out in the kitchen with my foodie bff, Leslie for she made, ella hace. But we're back this month, and you'll never guess what ingredient we decided to bring with us! Okay, maybe you will. I mean, I've only been using the same ingredient in full-force all month long. Mmm hmm, it's BACON!

Fortunately, when I asked Leslie if she'd mind if we chose bacon {as if} as our theme this month, she said that she was thinking the same thing. See, there's a reason why she and I get along so well.

When trying to decide what I wanted to share today, I knew I wanted it to be something with a Mexican twist. You may know that we eat Mexican food on a regular basis. We also eat bacon on a regular basis. But when thinking about it, I was hard-pressed to think of a time when the two were combined. Huh.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chicken Scaloppine w/ Bacon #BaconMonth

Chicken Scaloppine with Bacon | girlichef.com
Juicy chicken infused with the flavors of bacon and garlic. The end.

Okay, not the end - but it would totally be enough said, don't you think? I mean, maybe I could just say...

Both this juicy chicken and the tender-crisp bed of green beans it is perched on are infused with the flavors of bacon, garlic, and white wine . The end.

I don't know about you, but either of those sentences would send me flying to the dinner table. The same is true for my family. This is such an incredibly simple meal. I mean, four ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper). Five ingredients if you count the green beans, which are a side dish and entirely optional. I recommend just thinking of them as part of the process. I mean, swirling them around in the bacony sauce that smothers everything is a blissful bit of magic all in itself.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds #BaconMonth

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds | girlichef.com
In my family, we have a couple of favorite holiday appetizers and nibbles. Okay, maybe more than a couple, but let's just go with it. Those appetizers are both wrapped in bacon. I wonder why everybody loves them so?

The first are bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Looking back over the last 5-1/2 years of recipes that I've shares here, I'm dumbfounded that I have never shared them before. The recipe is simple, and it's one of the longest-running recipes in my family. Generations upon generations have been clamoring around the oven for them to finish cooking during family holiday get togethers. Mental note - share them SOON.

The other bacon-wrapped nibble is one that I started making 12 years ago, give or take. They don't have the longevity of the water chestnuts (yet), but check back with me in 50 years. Again, they're so simple to make, and even simpler to pop in  your mouth.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Char Siu Duck Legs (Chinese Barbecue)

Char Siu Duck Legs (Chinese Barbecue) from @girlichef
It's hard to believe that we're already into the second half of summer. I know that I say it all the time, but even the kids are commenting on how quickly this year is passing by. It doesn't get light quite as early, and it doesn't get dark quite as late. Plus, the kids go back to school next week. Next week! That's far too soon, in my opinion. Growing up, we never went back until after Labor Day, when the days were crisp and fall jackets were in order. Now, I'm searching for shorts and short-sleeved shirts to send them back in.

But my original point was the speed with which summer is flying by. We've blazed through an impressive amount of charcoal this year so far; the grill has definitely been earning its keep. I've had these duck legs on the backburner for more than a month now, waiting patiently for their turn in the spotlight.

This was actually my first time cooking duck on the grill. I know, crazy! I was in the mood for a little barbecue, but instead of traditional (to us), I went a little off the beaten path and chose an addictive Chinese barbecue called Char Siu. Well, Char Siu actually means "fork roast" or "fork burn" (not literally barbecue) - a way to flavor roast pork (or traditionally any available meats, especially wild boar).


Friday, August 8, 2014

Bean, Bacon, and Tomato Bake #BaconMonth

Bean, Bacon, and Tomato Bake #BaconMonth #PutSomePigInIt | girlichef.com
This is not the prettiest dish on the shelf. At least not after it's baked. It's pretty gorgeous beforehand, actually. At a glance, the pan straight from the oven is rustic and humble. But, you know what? Those are actually my favorite kind of dishes. You could serve this atop some nice crusty sourdough, perhaps that's been charred a bit on the grill. But since I had just pulled a warm loaf of Ciabatta from the oven, I sliced it to go alongside.

I wound up scooping spoonfuls of the mixture onto slices of the Ciabatta. It was a messy job, but somebody had to do it. Seriously, even though warm tomato juices escaped through the holes, the textures and flavors played so perfectly together. You know how something is so good that you are confident you won't stop eating until every last morsel is gone? These beans baked with tomatoes, garlic, and bacon are just like that.

Though you may not be able to tell by the photos, the beans are beautifully creamy, and laced with the smokiness of bacon. Whole garlic cloves turn spreadable. Soft green sprigs of oregano whisper tales of the fertile earth from which they sprung. Bright tomatoes burst with a warmth that mimics the steamy summer evenings that currently envelop us.