Spaghetti with Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Artichokes

The moment I saw this recipe on Lauren's Latest blog, I knew I had to try it.

 I thought the food combinations sounded really different and delicious at the same time.

It was crazy good. The layers of flavors were fabulous. 
You tasted something new with every bite. 
The smokey flavor of the bacon with the sauteed brussels sprouts, then you add the tangy bite of the artichokes with the creaminess of the cheese. What a party!

Spaghetti with Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Artichokes
Serves 3-4

1/2 lb. spaghetti
4 slices thick sliced pepper bacon
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts
6 1/2 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Bring large pot of water to boil. Salt water and add in pasta. Cook to al dente, reserve a cup of the liquid, drain pasta and set aside.

In the mean time, in a deep skillet, cook bacon slices to your liking. Drain on paper towels. Pour off excess bacon grease leaving 2 tablespoons. {If your bacon didn’t give off enough grease, make up the difference in olive oil.} Saute onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts and salt until tender, about 5 minutes. 

Chop bacon slices into smaller pieces. Stir in artichoke hearts, bacon, hot pasta and cheese. Toss together, taste and adjust seasonings.

If you find the dish is on the dry side, stir in some reserved pasta water or heavy cream.

Note:  I didn't use pepper bacon so I added a pinch of red pepper flakes.


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I don't know why, but this is one of those cakes I never think to make. 
It is so good, which makes it weird that I don't.

It's actually my dad's favorite, which is the only reason I thought to make 
it the other night when they came to dinner.

It turned out delicious. 

So moist and flavorful, then there's that caramelized topping...oh my yummy goodness! 

My hubby said he couldn't remember ever eating it before and said 
he thinks it is probably one of his favorites now.

It simple to put together.

After you melt the butter and sugar, just place the pineapples and cherries in a design around the skillet, or 9x9 baking dish if you don't have one. You can also add pecans if you so desire.

Next just prepare the batter, pour it in, and bake it.

Just that easy. Wow, was this good. I got to say, I'm pretty proud of myself for only eating one bite. Seriously, just one tiny bite (counting points), but oh was that bite delectable. 
The family devoured it.

Pineapple Upside Down  Cake
8 servings

6 tbsp butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
20 oz can pineapple slices, reserve juice
Maraschino cherries, halved
2 large eggs, separated
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, heaping
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Melt butter in a large 10” cast iron skillet over low heat. Sprinkle brown sugar in skillet and remove from heat.

Drain pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Set juice aside. Reserve 6 whole pineapple slices, slicing the rest in 1/2. Place whole pineapple slices on top and arrange sliced pineapple slices around the side. Place a cherry 1/2 in the middle of all slices.

Beat 3 egg yolks at high speed with an electric mixer until thick and pale; gradually add 1 cup sugar; beating well. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Add to egg mixture alternately with reserved 1/4 cup pineapple juice. Stir in vanilla.

Beat the 2 egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form; fold beaten egg whites into batter.

Spoon batter evenly over pineapple in the skillet. Bake at 350* for 40-45 minutes or until cake is set. Immediately invert cake onto a serving plate. Scrape any remaining glaze from skillet onto cake.

Cut into wedges to serve. 


Beef Tips in Gravy

I hate to admit it, but I'm what some people would call a home-body. 
I know, it's not a great trait to have.

My mom and dad live just 10 minutes from me and I haven't been to see them since somewhere around Christmas. I know how terrible that is so I had them over for 
dinner last night along with my sister Jane, just so we could visit. I really don't 
know why I don't do that more often. I love to entertain, especially my family.

Anyway, it was such a good time that I've decided from this point on, I'm 
determined to get out more and visit friends and family. Well,  family anyway, 
cause that's who I like to hang with.

Ok, on to the food. I decided to keep it really simple and easy, 
and....oh-my-gosh, was it good.

I made:  Beef Tips in Gravy served over Rice Pilaf with a Fresh Salad and Rolls. 

Then for dessert we had Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

It couldn't have turned out any better and everyone loved it. Perfect meal to 
entertain with because it's not time consuming at all. 

Great evening and a great meal.

Get a good brown on the beef tips. That gives it tons of flavor.

Love the ease of this. Just throw it all in a pot and cook it.

It gets nice and thick and the meat is really tender and delicious.

I started these beef tips about 2 1/2 hours before we were going to eat. 
Once they were done I just let them sit on the stove (covered) 
until it was time to heat them up again.

Doesn't this look scrumptious?

Serving it over the Rice Pilaf was a perfect fit, but I'm sure it would be just as 
tasty over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Linked with

Beef Tips in Gravy

2 pounds top sirloin roast, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
3 cups beef broth, divided
2 large onions, sliced
1 large red pepper, sliced
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves

Combine the meat with the flour, salt, paprika and pepper in a large plastic storage bag and shake to combine.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large cast iron Dutch oven or high-sided skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meat, in batches (use remaining 2 tbsp of oil for second batch), until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. 

Add 2 cups of the beef broth and stir, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to loosen any browned particles. Add the onions, bell peppers, basil, garlic powder, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. 

Add the remaining cup of broth, taste for seasoning and continue to cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour longer, or until the meat is very tender and the gravy is thickened and flavorful. 

Add the parsley and serve over rice, potatoes or egg noodles. I served mine over Rice Pilaf.

Rice Pilaf

3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup orzo pasta
1/4 cup onion or 1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup long-grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the orzo, onion and garlic and cook until the orzo is golden brown and the onions are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the rice, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 18 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.


Key Lime Pie

Want a quick, delicious, low fat, no-brainer dessert? Try this Key Lime Pie (6 WW points).

I made mine with regular lime gelatin, not sugarless, so if you don't mind the sugarless stuff, you could cut even more calories and points.

I also like Dream Whip better than Cool Whip. If you've never tried it, you should. It tastes richer and more like homemade without the extra calories and fat. I make mine with 2% milk.

Key Lime Pie

1 Reduced fat graham cracker crust
1 small package lime gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water (reduce to 1/4 cup if using sugarless gelatin)
1 box (2 packages) Dream Whip, makes 4 cups prepared (reserve 1 cup for topping)
2 (6 ounce) Key Lime Pie Yogurt, fat free

In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in yogurt with wire whisk. Fold in whipped topping and spread into crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To serve top with remaining whipped topping and lime zest.


Pasta Crab Salad

I've got a quick and tasty pasta salad recipe for ya. 
My mom gave it to me years ago, and I just love it.

I use imitation crab meat, but feel free to use the real deal. It would make it even better.

I usually whip this up for lunch, but would be great as a side dish for supper.

Pasta Crab Salad

8oz. Tri-colored rotini (Veggie Spirals)
8 oz crabmeat, hand shredded or chopped
1/2 cup red or green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 small Roma tomato, chopped
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1/4 cup Italian Dressing
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted boiling water.

While pasta cooks, prepare vegetables and stir together with crabmeat. In a small bowl, mix miracle whip, Italian dressing, cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add drained pasta to the vegetable/crabmeat bowl. Pour dressing over the top and gently stir to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with more cheese and green onion if desired.


Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I really enjoy these cookies. It's almost like eating a brownie, 
especially when you make them big.

They were a favorite and huge seller on our lunch menu back when my sister and 
I catered lunches around town. I would make them about as big around as 
somewhere between a baseball and softball.

Even when they're made what you might call, normal size, they have a really nice 
crust on the outside with a chewy center. Yes, indeedy!

Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 xl eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c. plus 2 tbsp flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350*.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla. Mix together dry ingredients (I like to use a whisk) and stir into butter mixture. Don't overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet (a silpat works great) and bake for 9 to 12 minutes.

I like my cookies chewy so the middle is not completely set when I take them out to cool. I also give them a gentle press on them to flatten slightly before cooking.


Chicken Taco Egg Rolls

I know this is somewhat after the fact, but I had to tell you about one of the dishes I made for the Super Bowl. Chicken Taco Egg Rolls. I had the wrappers and wanted to fill them with something a little different. They were fantastic.

I had my daughter and grand kids over, and I've got say, they were a huge hit with everyone. 
Really creamy on the inside with huge flavor.

Linked with Weekend Potluck.

Chicken Taco Egg Rolls

3  chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup onion, diced fine
1/2 cup red pepper, diced fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp adobo seasoning
1 tsp oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Egg Roll wrappers

Heat up a heavy skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil.

Season chicken breasts, on both sides, with salt and pepper. Cook breasts in the heated skillet until they’re just done. Make sure you don’t overcook them (a hint of pink is ok) because they will cook a second time. Remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, with more oil if necessary, add onion, red pepper, cumin, adobo seasoning, oregano and pepper flakes. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and sauté until onions are softened; add garlic and sauté a couple minutes more.

Dice up chicken and add to skillet along with any accumulated juices, along with black beans. Cook for 5 minutes; add in cheese and stir until melted. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Let cool.

Place approx. 1/3 cup of chicken on the egg roll wrapper and roll according to package directions. Fry in a saucepan, with 2-3 inches of vegetable oil heated to 350*. Turn to brown evenly and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Serve with tomatillo sauce or salsa for dipping. 


Spicy Beef Bean and Squash Stew


If you've read my last couple of posts, you know that I've recently enjoyed a few recipes made with carnitas meat like Beef Carnitas and Crispy Carnitas Chipotle Wraps. There's usually only 2 of us around for supper, so we had a lot of meat.

I'd had some beef chorizo hanging out in my fridge for awhile now, so I decided I needed to use it up. That's how this recipe came about. It turned out really flavorful and so delicious.

It's a great way to use up leftover meat. If you don't have carnitas meat hanging around, you could just as easily use ground beef or even chicken for that matter. And if it's spicy, all the better.

Spicy Beef Bean and Squash Stew

5oz Beef Chorizo
1 cup beef carnitas meat, or meat of your choice
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 16oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 16oz can pinto beans, drained
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, bite size pieces
4 cups broth, beef or chicken
1 1/2 cups broccoli, bite size pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat up a heavy pot. Add 5oz of beef Chorizo and cook for 3-5 minutes, breaking up with a spoon.  Add onion, garlic, 2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cumin; stir to coat  and cook an additional 3 or 4 minutes.

Add drained beans (rinse black beans), diced tomatoes, squash and chicken broth. I had some beef carnitas meat left over so I added that too. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add broccoli and cook 10 minutes more. Adjust seasoning to taste. (The chorizo is somewhat salty, so wait until the end to season.) Turn off the heat and let sit covered, for 15 minutes.


Crispy Carnitas Chipotle Wraps

I hate to even use the word leftovers anywhere in this post because it just does not do these wraps justice. They were so good.

I had some of the Beef Carnitas meat left and no way was it going to waste. I was also pressed for time, so I came up with these wraps. I know it was way similar to how I had served the meat the night before, but honestly, no one cared.

I made some of  my Creamy Chipotle Spread, which is probably my favorite condiment. I use it on all kinds of sandwiches, burger, hotdogs and tacos. It is "smack your lips good" and really simple. Anyway, I made that and added some warmed up carnitas meat, corn, onion, cheddar cheese and avocado.

Then you just roll it up, brush it with olive oil, and brown it in a skillet.

This one was my hubby's. He smothered his with some green taco sauce, more cheese and onions.

I made mine with goat cheese instead of cheddar. It did not need a thing.

Simply delicious!

Linked up with Jennifer Cooks for Fusion Fridays.


Beef Carnitas

I really enjoyed the way these turned out.

They're pretty easy too, which is always a good thing. 

For a little twist, I blended up the left over broth with an immersion blender to form a slightly thickened sauce and added that into the meat once it had started to brown up.
 It added some really great flavor. 

I had been planning on serving this with a couple sides but ran out of time, so I just had it on a toasted flour tortilla with a few fresh additions like some shredded lettuce, a little salsa fresca and a shot of lime juice. It was really fresh and light tasting. 
Loved it!

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.

Beef Carnitas

3-4 lb chuck roast
1 large onion, quartered
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
4 garlic cloves, rough chop
1  4oz can green chilies, chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp adobo seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup beef stock

Place onion, tomatoes and garlic in the bottom of your crockpot; place the roast on top. Add the green chilies and seasonings. Pour in the beef stock, cover and cook on high 6-7 hours or low 8-9 hours. Turn the roast half way through cooking time.

When the roast is cooked, remove, shred the meat, and set aside.

Pour vegetables and broth into a bowl, let sit for a few minutes for the fat to separate some, and skim off with a spoon. It’s not necessary to remove it all. With a hand held immersion blender, blend the broth and vegetables.

Heat up a skillet with 1 tbsp of olive oil and add shredded beef. Once the meat starts to get some caramelization, stir in 1/2 cup or so of the blended sauce. I only shredded up 1/2 of my carnitas meat, so if you are shredding it all, you may want to add more sauce. It just depends how saucy you want it.

Serve on it's own or on a flour/corn tortilla with toppings of your choice.


The Liebster Blog Award

There was a comment on my blog from Country at Heart Recipes, to check out her blog, and that she had a surprise for me. I thought, "cool", what fun. I really enjoy hearing from the people that come across my blog. But it gets better,,,,,

She nominated me for an award,,,,YEA!

This award originated from Germany and it means "favourite, beloved, dearest".  I'm really pleased and excited. I love hearing that my readers enjoy my blog.

The Liebster Blog Award:  

The rules are: 
1) Show thanks to the blogger who awarded you by linking back to her blog.
2) Pick 5 blogs with less than 200 followers and let them know about your nomination by leaving a comment on their blog, and 
3) Post the award on your blog!

My five Recipe Blog Nominations: 
(Please visit them and maybe they'll become one of your favorites too!)

I didn't know if I could nominate the blog that nominated me, so,, if not, just consider me a rebel.
Thanks Deborah!