Your breakfast isn’t good enough.

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Bacon, Bacon Vinaigrette

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I accidentally discovered something amazing. And by ‘accident’ I mean “I taste everything, even though there are some things that you just shouldn’t taste”; and by ‘amazing’ I mean “it comes from bacon. duh”. Here is the story of Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Once upon a time, I made Bacon Wrapped Chicken *see blog titled “All Tied Up in Bacon “.  After the delectable creation had rested for the appropriate time, I unfolded the foil in which It had spent all of its time. Pooling in the corner of the now semi crumpled foil was a marbling of light and brown liquid. I MUST TASTE!!! So I did. It was amazing. I felt creepy and gross the whole time, but damn!! YUM! Now, being the ever faithful ACI student, I waste nothing; I dovetail. I will use something to its most elemental state. And so, when left with bacon drippings and spinach, I went to a happy place. Balsamic vinegar. Oh, how I adore BV. I remember the first time I tried this delicious condiment (with the heaping piles of bread at Buco di Beppo after my bestie poured it over a bowl filled with olive oil and dried herbs and salt), and frankly it has been a staple in my world since. Partner it up with bacon?! Yes. You want to do this. For that particular dish, I left it simple. Sprinkled a little salt and fresh ground pepper over the dressed spinach and called it delicious. To prove that this accident wasn’t a shot in the dark, I recreated it today. I still got it, kids. At the request of T, the amazing gal who eats my food twice a week with an honest feedback and adventurous palate, I made an entire jar of it. Can you blame me?? Also, the next dish I created for her had bacon sharing its spotlight *see blog post titled ”  “, so when better to try this recreation?? My mission was clear.  In addition to the bacon gold, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and S&P, I added a hint of mustard. This will make the final product hold better than it would if it were just shaken or whisked rapidly. Hooray mustard’s super binding powers!

Enjoy over salad, as a marinade, dipping sauce…Its good for all of those. And more.

Meatloaf Love

Although I’ve lived in Arizona longer than any other state at this point- the life of an army kid, I still feel like I am “from” Indiana. See Midwest. See cheese and ketchup. I still gravitate towards traditional Midwestern meals and comforts. Being me, I am constantly looking for ways to refresh recipes with MY twists and ideas. And so I introduce my uber tasty Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf. For people with gluten restrictions this is the perfect recipe. The quinoa replaces the breadcrumbs traditionally used to bind the meatloaf. Also, because it is insanely healthful, you can enjoy this comfortable food without feeling guilty or justifying it with the cold weather. We had one day of chilly weather here and it left me all nostalgic for Oregon weather in April. Le sigh. Perfect meatloaf weather.

Cooking is about all 5 senses; I know I have said it before.

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If my house smelled of onions slowly sauteing in butter, I would almost never leave. I certainly would never use a candle or an air freshener ever again. I adore the smell. Obviously.

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Ground turkey is the way I enjoy meals typically made with red meat. It is just as tasty, sometimes cheaper, less diseased cow risks and your heart will beat a little happier for it. Turkey gets a bad rep for being “dry” and flavorless. In my opinion, the same could be said for just about anything that isn’t made well. Don’t blame the ingredient; blame the person cooking it. Give turkey a chance!!

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Tomato paste lends a tangy flavor, playing off of the natural nuttiness of quinoa. A delicious friendship.

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Season every step of the way. Season the meat. Season the onions. Season the water the quinoa cooks in, by using a veggie stock. This also sneaks in even MORE nutrients (Moms, that one is for you) without making your dish too obviously bulked up by vegetables. Realize that seasoning every step of the way is a wonderful way to understand the flavors you are combining. It also saves you from the mad dash-of-everything-at-the-end marathon. Properly seasoning in every step will a confident meal make.

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I would think that it would be obvious, but just in case (we do live in the McD’s warning label days, after all), let the onions and quinoa cool completely before adding them to the egg and turkey combo. You dont want scrambled eggs or grey turkey loaf. Big no-no.

The cavewoman in me likes to mix by hand. Not only is there something sick and pleasing at the same time about mixing something in by hand, but its the best way to determine consistency in a mixture.

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MINI PANS ARE CUTE!!

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One for T and one for the family. I opted out of the “slather in ketchup” approach; I decided to play it up a bit, make it fancy. Enter brown sugar, Worcestershire and a dash of dark yellow mustard. Let the loaf get to almost done, and lovingly shmear this concoction all over the top.

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Let them finish up, getting to an internal temp of 165, and allow them to rest about 5-9 minutes.

There you have it!! A red-meat-less meatloaf that has gained flavor, gained protein and not lost any moisture. Enjoy!

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Fast breakfast win! Stuff I already had, flavors I had already built, and a cute ramekin dish that I had to have from the Goodwill down the road. I am a Goodwill junkie. Do NOT get me near the Goodwill triangle that we live in on 50% off Saturdays. Bad. Good for ME, bad for anyone who wanted to do anything kind of normal on a Saturday. I am lost in a sea of things I suddenly must own because of their ultra thrifty nature. Rereading this makes me realize I miiiight have a “problem”. But thats not the point; we aren’t here to judge.

Black bean, corn and red onion salsa. Translated: cooked black beans, corn off the cob and small diced red onion, bound with mayonnaise; seasoned with salt, pepper and the secret ingredient cumin. Wasn’t that awesome of me? Sharing secret ingredients like we are pals. We probably should be, since I’m telling you secrets and whatnot.

I made this a few days ago for our veggie burritos. It is delicious warm or cold. And obviously here, I am eating it with a hard boiled egg. Next time, I wont be so distracted cutting French toast into butterflies for my 3 year old. But she’s so darn cute, and butterflies are her thing right now, so time spent cutting was not time spent paying attention to the temperature and time of water. SOooo ya. I had to settle for a still tasty hard boiled egg. On top of this gorgeous egg that naturally ended up with a perfectly flat bottom, I sprinkled salt, pepper and dried red pepper flakes. Fork through the egg, grab some white and yolk and then scoop the salsa onto the end of it all. So good. So, so very good. And its filling, too, so even though its a nice, small portion, you are filling yourself up with yum.

I like being filled with yum.

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Cheesy Pleasey

A few teasers for my cheeser pleaser…
-zucchini
-asparagus
-kale
-garlic
-fresh thyme
-vegetable rotini
-freshly grated parmesan
-LOVE!!!
I’m just saying. This is going to be an amazing dish…hopefully. I love taking all of these incredibly *fresh* ingredients and turning them into something wonderful. I know its, like a gajillion and five degrees out and pasta seems a bit on the heavy “holy crap why am I eating warm food” side, BUT how can I let all these spring-summer goods NOT be dressed in cheese?        That’s right.
I can’t.
Don’t worry, its not going to be covered with a heavy, flour cheese. This is gonna be sexy and smooth. Yup, sexy cheese.
Also, a squeeze of lemon is going to make this as bright as our Arizona sun. So lets get this party started.
Oh! By the way! This lovely dish I just quasi-described? Yeah its for an almost complete stranger. I have met her once, spoken to her twice (ish). So here’s crossing my fingers for day one of the new gig. And let us pray for the universal love of garlic and cheese.