Spooky Spider

A few days ago, I made this ‘Spooky Spider’ pancake for Avery. It was a spontaneous project so I had to use what I had. I was stumped on what to use for the legs so I improvised with chocolate chips. They were just for decoration. I think it would have been better if I used cut strips of bacon for the legs so she would have been able to eat them. She did grab a few before I took them off. Nonetheless, she loved the pancake and had fun! I’m trying to challenge myself to use more of my creativity so this week has been really successful with quite a few fun projects “created”.
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Smoked Cheddar & Apples

One of our favorite appetizers at home is slices of smoked Cheddar, Braeburn or Fuji Apples, and Crackerthins. It’s Heaven in your mouth!!! Tonight, I decided to share a cheese I found that I absolutely love called Chef’s Prepared King Ludwig Golden Smoked Cheese along with sliced apple and wafer crackers which we enjoyed with a new favorite buttery Chardonnay. Yummy!
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Recipe of the Week – Chicken with Garlic-Herb Dressing

For this week, my inspiration for cooking is with chicken.  I found this recipe in my cookbook, and I’ve been focusing on Tyler Florence’s recipes because they are simple and excellent! 

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Ingredients

  • 2 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 horizontally
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole fresh thyme sprigs, plus leaves from 6 sprigs
  • 2 lemons, juiced, plus 2 lemons, halved
  • About 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads radicchio, preferably Treviso, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a piece of aluminium foil about 12 inches long.

Put the garlic on 1/2 of the foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle in some olive oil, and add 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold the foil enclosing the garlic, making a pouch, and add a couple teaspoons of water. Fold the foil over the garlic to enclose and fold in the edges 2 or 3 times to seal. Put the package in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or longer, until the garlic is soft. Open the package and let the garlic cool a bit, then squeeze out the cloves into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, parsley, and thyme leaves and puree to make a thick vinaigrette.

Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Put the pieces in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat with the seasonings and then refrigerate while you get everything else together.

Put the radicchio in another bowl, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss; set aside.

When you’re ready to cook, take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Blot a small amount of oil on the paper towel and carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill to make a nonstick surface.

Season with salt and pepper and place the radicchio quarters on the preheated grill. Cook the radicchio for about 2 minutes per side until it has a nice char; pull it off the grill, place into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam and finish cooking.

Then put the chicken on the grill, skin side down, and grill. Grill the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning once, then baste with about half of the vinaigrette and keep cooking until an instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees F and the chicken is nice and caramelised all over, 15 to 20 more minutes. During the last few minutes, throw the lemon halves on the grill, cut sides down, and cook until just marked and smoky.

To serve, separate the radicchio into individual leaves in a big bowl. Add the chicken and the rest of the dressing and toss well. Serve with grilled lemon halves, squeeze the lemon over the chicken, and top with reserved dressing.

Recipe of the Week – Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

My New Year’s Resolution is to try a new recipe every week. This week, my special recipe of the week was spaghetti alla carbonara. It was really, really yummy!
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Ingredients
1 pound dry spaghetti
3 count of extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices of bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
1 onion (chopped)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (optional, I did not use)
6 tablespoons heavy cream (I substitued milk because did not have cream)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Directions
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/4-1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the bacon and chopped onions and saute for 8-10 minutes minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Add the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

While the bacon is cooking, whisk eggs, cream, and parmesan cheese together. Pour the bacon/onion mixture into serving bowl with the eggs/cream/parmesan mixture, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Drain pasta and add to the mixture. Invert a plate and set of serving bowl so it holds in heat for 5-10 minutes and allows pasta to set. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.   I used lots of  fresh cracked pepper.   Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.  Pass more cheese around the table.

Recipe by Tyler Florence

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