Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Butternut Squash Apple Bacon Soup

Wow do we have a good recipe for you! Seriously anything with Bacon will be good right? Up till about 3 months ago, my wife would have said NO! But I'm proud to say I've converted her into a bacon lover! Her previous opinion of bacon was based on the greasy, flimsy bacon that comes on a fast food breakfast sandwiches. Fortunately for her (and me), I was able to open her eyes with crisp, pan fried, thick cut, smoky, delicious bacon! Since then, I have jumped at every opportunity to add bacon to meals that I though would be good. Everything from BLT with fresh homemade bread, and tomatoes and lettuce from the garden, to bacon cheese burgers with a chipotle ketchup! Sorry I didn't blog about the burger... It was amazing! I have to keep some recipes for myself right? Anyway, our latest creation was this delicious butternut squash soup. Its a savory soup with a subtle sweetness and a nice smoky bacon flavor. We made this dish based on a number of recipe ideas that we found, and we were very glad it turned out so well. This is perfect for the fall. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did...

Equipment needed:

Stock pot

Frying pan

Immersion Blender

Ingredients needed:

8 slices bacon

2 Tbs. of the bacon grease

2-1/2 lb. butternut squash (about 1 medium), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 small Granny Smith or other tart-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 Tbs. Olive oil

1/2 large sweet onion diced coarse

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of curry powder

1/2 Tbs. Garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups chicken broth

In a frying pan set over medium heat, cook the bacon, flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden. Use tongs to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Once they are cool, coarsely chop the bacon.

In the stock pot, add the 2 Tbs. of olive oil and about 2 Tbs. of the bacon grease from the pan.

Increase heat to medium high. Add the squash and the onions to the pot with the bacon fat and olive oil and cook until the squash is starting to brown and the onions are translucent and starting to brown (Don't stir it too often or it won’t brown).

Stir in the apple, sage, and pepper and allow more browning occur. Add the broth to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits in the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic powder, salt, and curry powder. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook covered until the squash and apples are very soft. Remove from the heat and add about seven slices worth of the chopped bacon to the soup and purée, using an immersion blender. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve and garnish each serving with the remaining chopped bacon. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Onion and Fennel Pot Roast

It's been a while since we have posted a recipe, but it's been hard to find something that really impressed us so much that we needed to share it. Anyway, due to an inspiration from Giada on Food network, we tweaked her recipe to be fast and still amazing! Instead of using a dutch oven and taking 4.5 hours in the oven, we cooked this roast in a pressure cooker. The sauce can be used over an type of starch as a side dish. Personally the wife and I made instant butter and herb mashed potatoes and put the sauce over it… Delicious! This is a great meal for the cold winter months! Enjoy!

Equipment needed:

5 qt.(might be too small if using 5lb roast) Pressure cooker

Immersion blender


Herb rub:

3 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves finely chopped

3 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves finely chopped

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Additional ingredients:

1 (4-5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 pound (about 2 cups) cipollini, boiler, or pearl onions, peeled

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces

2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 large whole cloves garlic

1 cup dry sherry

4 cups low-sodium beef broth, plus extra, as needed

2 dried bay leaves


For the rub: In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, thyme, oil, salt, and pepper until smooth.

In a 5-7 quart pressure cooker oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and braise until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onions, carrots, and fennel to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the sherry and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth and bay leaves. Return the beef and any juices to the pot and bring the liquids to a boil. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and cook for 60 minutes once it gets up to pressure.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables and cooking juices together until smooth. (The vegetables can also be pureed in a blender). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep warm over low heat.

Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side with rice, mashed potatoes, or whatever you feel like.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adventure with the “King” of Carolina BBQ

The wife and I recently went on a road trip down south to Orlando. One the way we stopped at a place for lunch. This place was the BBQ King Drive-In just off I-77 in Charlotte NC. We had found this place by watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…..and as I had hoped, it was amazing! It was so good in fact we stopped for lunch there on the way back from Florida as well. We had a pulled pork sandwich which was doused in a Carolina style BBQ sauce and topped with a sweet vinegar-based cole slaw. We also had their fried chicken which they dip in their sauce. The onion rings and home-made hush-puppies were to die for! With this food being so good, naturally I had try to replicate something on the menu. What stood out to both my wife and I was the delicious BBQ sauce. I know my recipes recently have focused on sauces, but you have to admit, a killer sauce can make all the difference between a good meal and an awesome meal. So without further delay, here is the damn close recipe that I figured out for the BBQ king sauce:
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 and 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 and 1/4 cup water
1/8 cup Tabasco sauce
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp liquid hickory smoke
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
1 lemon cut in half
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, including the lemon halves. Simmer for about 1 hour. This will allow the sauce to reduce and thicken. Enjoy!
Here is the link to the triple D video of the BBQ king

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Conquering General Tso and his Delicious Allies

Hello Everyone! This is my first OFFICIAL recipe blog that I have perfected and BOY is it a good one! General Tso's chicken is a popular dish on any Chinese menu, and if you are anything like my wife and I, you probably order it often. On the road to understanding General Tso's Chicken, our first adventure together takes us to… well… America. I'm sorry to report that General Tso's Chicken really has nothing to do with the real General Zuo Zongtang from 17th century China… Nor does it have ANYTHING to do with traditional Chinese food. The origins of the spicy General Tso's sauce actually came from Chinese immigrants who developed the dish somewhere here in America in the later part of the 20th century. You can read more here if you are interested in the history of this delicious dish. Anyway, what I will be providing for you today is not just a recipe, but a very versatile and adaptive look at this dish. For example, the General Tso's sauce can be used on to give almost anything an Asian flair. Below I have provided a list of ideas that this sauce could be used with other then the crunchy fried chicken you are used to getting.

Other General Tso's Sauce uses:

Stirfry some chicken or other meats and vegetables and toss in this sauce for a sweet, spicy and healthy meal.

Pour over rice for a great snack!

Marinate some chicken in some teriyaki and grill it on a stick, then brush this sauce on the chicken.

This would make a great sauce for fried wings!!!! Etc…

As you can see, there are many ways you can use this sauce… so if I were you, I would keep some around! It is SO easy to make. Personally I like it in its native form, with the crunchy delicious fried chicken, but with my wife and I trying to be healthy, we both go for stir-fried chicken and vegetables with the sauce tossed in the wok or drizzled over top. Here you go!

The Recipe:

General Tso`s Chicken


***Sauce*** (this recipe makes just under 1qt of sauce! so you will have pleanty to use for other things)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Sherry
2 and ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tbl spoons brown sugar
2 tbl spoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon siracha
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup Cornstarch

***Meat (fried chicken)***
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into chunks
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Water chestnut starch

Sauce :

Option1: Put everything in a pot and cook on medium stirring very often. Once you notice it starting to boil stir constantly until the proper sauce consistency. (this is what I usually do because it's so easy to freeze the extra sauce. Make sure to heat up in a pot if you are planning on reheating)
Option 2: Put everything into a quart jar with a lid and shake it up, then put in the fridge. Just shake it up again when you are ready to use it and throw the amount you want in the wok or skillet when the meat/veggies are done.


For the classic crispy fried chicken…
Mix chicken and soy sauce. Stir in egg. Add starch, and mix until chicken pieces are coated. Deep fry 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time in a 350 degree oil until chicken pieces are crispy. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all chicken chunks are fried.

Toss in option 1 sauce and serve with fried or steamed rice.

As I said above, you can use this sauce with whatever meat you want and whatever style you want. We made this with stir-fried chicken breast and steamed broccoli (see the picture above). Post comments if you have any questions. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting to Know Your New Foodie Friends

Since my wife and I are still trying to come up with some recipes on here to share with you, or at least figure out what we DON'T want to share with you (not because we don't like you… it's because some recipes are more special to us like my grandmothers spaghetti sauce… sorry. It's for our eyes only), I wanted to take some time and tell you a little about ourselves. We both grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh Pa, and still live here today. I grew up in an Italian/polish house and my wife grew up in an Italian/Lebanese house. Because of this, we have very similar tastes when it comes to Italian food. As far as other foods, we can differ greatly! The good thing about us is that we are both willing to try new things. I got my wife to try some homemade Halushki several months ago… she claimed she didn't like cooked cabbage, but she tried it anyway and really liked it! I would say in general I'm a little more adventurous when it comes to food, but I'm very proud of her for how she is opening up to other foods.

As far as foods that we don't like, we both have very distinct tastes. I personally don't like iceberg lettuce, eggs, canned tuna fish, mayonnaise, raw peppers and onions, and mushrooms of any kind! Not too bad huh? There are some instances where some of these may be ok… Eggs when used in fried rice or with French toast is great. I just don't like hard boiled or scrambled eggs for some reason. I can handle mayo if it is used in something like a chipotle dipping sauce, but mayo by itself is gross! My wife has a much longer list of dislikes… some of which I still don't understand. These include things like ham, bacon, pepperoni, or any other cured meat (she's a sorry excuse for an Italian… LOL… She knows I'm just kidding), peppers, onions, ranch dressing, Mexican food, pickles, and anything slathered in sweet BBQ sauce. You may be wondering what the heck she eats! Believe me, I did too! I also found out when I married her that she had some weird habits when it came to food… She used to be the type of person that would eat a steak well done and with Ketchup!!!! I don't know what it is about Ketchup with her… she even believes that french-fries are the perfect vehicle for eating ketchup (which I don't necessarily disagree with). She has also been knows to snack on a bun with ketchup and cheese on it… LOL. Needless to say I finally got her out of that little funk with the ketchup/steak and got her to eat one juicy and medium done that was nicely spiced without the need for ketchup. I have been slowly trying to get the both of us to explore new foods. The BBQ pulled pork recipe I provided you last week is a perfect example of something she initially though she didn't like, but she ended up liking it because it wasn't the typical Pittsburgh sweet BBQ sauce.

Despite all of the dislikes, we can find many ethnicities of food that we can enjoy together. These include Chinese, Thai, and Japanese! I don't know what it is about these ethnicities… or at least the Americanized version of these foods that make them SO GOOD! I know it's not REAL Chinese… but General Tso's Chicken is one of mine and my wife's guilty pleasures! Thai food is another obsession that we have. We are working on perfecting some recipes from all of these ethnicities. Once we get them perfected, I'm sure we will be able to share some of them. We also really enjoy Jamaican food ever since we took our honeymoon in Jamaica. This food was absolutely amazing. We still have a packet of Jerk seasoning sitting on our spice rack. I love to marinate chicken for several hours in the jerk seasoning and then throw it on the grill! AMAZING!

All in all I feel we are both still young when it comes to our tastes and we are working towards an open mind about new flavors and types of food. If you are reading this then you are a part of our adventure. Keep checking back soon for our recipes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The First Adventure… Our own recipe for Pulled pork

Hello Everyone! As this is our first post on here I wanted to introduce ourselves. To be blunt, my wife and I are food junkies. We love to try new things and explore new restaurants and recipes. When we talk about traveling, we ALWAYS take into consideration the food! After all, is a place really worth visiting if they don't have good food? NOPE! Anyway, the reason for creating a blog like this was to share our experiences and adventures with food. We will be providing recipes inspired by our experiences and tastes. We hope you enjoy them.

The first recipe that I would like to share is our pulled pork recipe. We were inspired by the pulled pork and BBQ sauce of the southern states on the last few trips down south. With that said I have come up with a delicious and easy southern style pulled pork! Unlike the pulled pork here in Pittsburgh, this recipe is vinegar based and therefore isn't the sweet and smoky BBQ sauce we are used to. I absolutely love this pulled pork. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

Pulled pork Ingredients:

1 6-Quart or larger slow cooker

1 Pork butt or shoulder (5 to 8 pounds)

4 - 12oz bottles of Yuengling Lager or any other lager beer.

2 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper

1 bottle Bullseye Carolina Style BBQ sauce


Combine all Pulled pork ingredients except for the BBQ sauce and cook in a slow cooker for 6 hours or longer until the meat falls apart. Be sure to keep turning the pork every couple hours for even cooking. Once the pork is falling apart, take the pork out (you may need a slotted spoon to get the remaining pieces that have already started falling apart) and shred it. Keep about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker (not the oil/fat on the surface) and combine with half to 3/4 a bottle of Bullseye BBQ sauce. Toss the shredded pork in the sauce and enjoy! I usually like to place this on a hard roll. Potato buns also work very well with this recipe. Heck… even place this on a burger!