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Secret Recipe Club
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012
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German Potato Salad

This is my first month taking part in the Secret Recipe Club, and I have to say, I already really enjoy it!  I was assigned to One Lovely Life, which truly is one lovely blog!  I read through from the most recent post, all the way to the very beginning and I enjoyed it very much.  Emily's posts are so well written, her pictures are awesome, and of course, she has an absolutely adorable family including her beautiful little girl, who she writes about often.  I had a tough time picking just one of the recipes on her blog to share for the reveal, but ultimately, it came down to German Potato Salad.  I've always loved German Potato Salad (sadly, Joel doesn't share that love).  As a kid, we'd open a can of it and serve it as a side to a grilled dinner.  Canned is ok, but I'd much prefer homemade.  We had a family friend who made the best homemade German Potato Salad.  Of course, she guarded the recipe closely, as it was a family secret.  Well, I think that this recipe is spot on for the perfect German potato salad.

6-8 Red Potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1/2 Sweet Onion, sliced thin (*I added this)
3 slices Bacon, diced
1 1/2 tablespoon Flour
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Water
3 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
3-4 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, minced (optional--I omitted)

Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water, until the potatoes are completely covered by 1-2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil and cook until mostly tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool before slicing into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Spray a large, heavy bottomed skillet with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook the onions over medium heat until they have become golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove the onions to a plate and add the bacon to the skillet, cooking until crisp and brown.  Remove the bacon and set aside to cool on paper towels.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour to the bacon grease, stirring to combine.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the sliced potatoes, onion, and bacon back to the skillet/pot and toss with the dressing.  Stir in the parsley, if using.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Portobello Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Wow, has it really been a week since I posted last?  Well, I have a back-log of recipes I plan on posting, so this week, posting should be a little bit more regular.  Last week, I was looking for easy week-night meals and spotted this one from Stephanie Cooks, adapted from Eating Well.  We aren't huge meat eaters, so I thought this would be a nice and healthy alternative to the traditional Philly Cheesesteak sub.  Oh man, was this good...and super fast, too!  Between the sub and the baked {microwaved} potato, I think dinner took all of about 7 minutes to prepare!  I wouldn't mind making this more often.

2 Sub Rolls
1/2 teaspoon Olive Oil
2 Portobello Mushroom Caps, gills removed
1/2 Red Bell Pepper (we omitted)
1/4 Yellow Onion, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1/2 tablespoon Hot Sauce
2 slices Provolone Cheese

Wash the mushrooms and use a spoon to remove the gills from the cap (optional step).  Slice the mushroom and pepper into thin strips.  In a large skillet, heat the oil.  Add the mushrooms, peppers, and onions.  Cook until they are soft.  Add the oregano, soy sauce, and hot sauce.  Stir and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Divide the mixture in two and top each pile with cheese.  Continue cooking until the cheese melts.  Place each pile onto toasted sub rolls.  Serve hot.


Spinach, Artichoke, and Provolone Stuffed Chicken Breasts

The other day, I was feeling a little creative in the kitchen.  I had some cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, and chicken, so I decided to throw them all together and make a stuffed chicken breast.  I usually don't think quick on my feet in the kitchen, and I always feel like I need to be following a recipe, so I surprised myself on this one.  The end result was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.  I did end up cutting the one chicken breast a little bit too thin on one side, so some of the filling fell out, but that didn't change the fact that this tasted pretty delicious!

2 Chicken Breasts, butterflied
2 slices Provolone Cheese
1 small jar Artichoke Hearts (3-4 per chicken breast)
Handful of Fresh Spinach
1/2 cup Flour
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

In a shallow bowl, mix the salt, pepper, and flour.  In another shallow bowl, beat the egg with a splash of water.  Place the bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl.  Butterfly each chicken breast.  Top with a piece of provolone, a handful of spinach, and a few artichoke hearts.  Roll the chicken, using toothpicks to secure each piece.  Dip the chicken in the bowl of flour and shake of any excess.  Then, dip the chicken in the egg, followed by the bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in an oven proof skillet.  Place each chicken breast in the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, turning to make sure each side becomes browned.  Remove the chicken from the heat and place the skillet in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.  Bake the chicken until it is cooked through to 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20-25 minutes.  


Pumpkin Soup

Here is another installment of the weekly recipe swap.  This week's theme was soup and stew, which got me very excited because there may not be another food I like more in the fall and winter!  I received this pumpkin soup recipe from Does Not Cook Well With Others.  I was very intrigued because I had never eaten, and certainly never made, a soup from pumpkin before.  I wasn't too sure about how the flavors were going to taste together.  Quite honestly, I put this recipe off until the last minute because in my mind, I had a flavor for how this soup would taste and I wasn't looking forward to it.  Well, then I made the soup.  It was NOTHING like what I had thought it might be.  In fact, it was amazing!  The color, taste, and smell was like putting everything I love about fall into one little bowl.  This recipe is a keeper, for sure!!

1 cup Onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 a medium onion)
2 tablespoons Butter
4 cups Vegetable Broth
1 can (15 ounces) Pumpkin Puree
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Ground Allspice
1/8 teaspoon Ground Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Heavy Cream
Scallions, optional

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the chopped onion until tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of broth and bring to a boil.  Once it has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from heat and puree the onions and broth until smooth using an immersion blender.  Add the remaining 2 cups of broth, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar.  Stir until all the ingredients are blended.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the heavy cream and heat through, being careful not to let it come to a boil.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with thinly sliced scallions (optional).


Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash

We like squash.  In the fall and winter, I love to get acorn squash and roast it with brown sugar and butter.  However, I always welcome new methods for preparing acorn squash, especially when they tend to be more savory than sweet.  I found this recipe from Noble Pig, originally from Real Simple, and gave it a try this past week.  By slicing the squash, it took less time to roast than when I only halve it, which made it a week-night friendly side dish.  This was such a simple and delicious way to prepare squash.  I'm so glad that it is only the beginning of the fall season, because I look forward to making this again and again!

1 (2 pound) Acorn or Delicata Squash, halved, seeded, and sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme (I used a few pinches of dried)
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoons pepper.  Sprinkle the top with the parmesan.  Roast the squash at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is golden brown and tender.