On Cooking with Alex #1: Alex’s Pork Noodle Bowls

IT HAPPENED! IT FINALLY HAPPENED! My friend Alex & I finally got our FaceTime’s going and cooked together (catching up along the way as well), and it was so much fun and we’ve already been discussing what to make next, so I’m super looking forward to our upcoming segments together! And since this was all her idea to begin with, she got to pick our first recipe: Pork Noodle Bowls with homemade Nuoc Cham sauce! You guys, I think she just revealed Frankie’s and my new favorite weeknight meal. Not only was the marinade incredibly easy to pull together the night before, but cooking it took no time at all. Start to finish: 30 minutes tops.

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And you can totally do other things with these ingredients the next time, making leftover Summer Rolls with Rice Paper Wrappers, but unfortunately I couldn’t find those anywhere at the two stores I did venture off to the weekend before, but will continue to keep my eyes peeled because I love Summer Rolls. Throw in a little avocado, maybe add a chilled shrimp, with peanut sauce? Oh yeah, that’s the stuff! And for the $3 I paid for my vermicelli noodles, I have a LOT to show for it! Leftovers for days ya’ll, so much so I may run to Gene’s and pick up some more pork to fry up tomorrow night! Even Frankie said it was a HOMERUN, which is a HUGE compliment!

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That being said, as we were going through the recipe and cooking method, we did discuss ways in which we were varying the recipe to suit our needs, which is so important before you even begin to tackle a recipe. For example, Alex and spicy foods don’t always go together, so she skipped the chilies in the sauce. I, on the other hand, was seriously hesitant to add a bunch of sugar to the dish because sugar post Whole30 has not been an easy reintroduction, and frankly, it’s no longer something I gravitate towards, so I halved the sugar input and removed it completely from the pork marinade. I also haven’t gone back to using regular soy sauce simply because the Coconut Aminos taste just as good, if not better, and it’s not as salty. It actually has a little inherent sweetness to it that makes removing sugar/honey in my recipes a lot easier because I get that sweetness from the meat itself and the aminos. But that is what this whole venture was supposed to do! It was supposed to bring two different approaches together and start a conversation about food, how we cook it, what we like, what we don’t, and how we approach those challenges to ensure we both get something delicious at the end, and our first attempt was a total success in doing just that!

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Next week, we are going to be baking, but that’s all I’m going to tell you until then! In the meantime, definitely check this recipe out and enjoy! — Cooking Maggie


Alex’s Pork Noodle Bowls

Lemongrass Pork Ingredients:

  • 12 oz Pork Chop, thinly sliced (or use pork shoulder)
  • 1 stalk Lemongrass, minced (only the lower root portion)
    • Note: Alex couldn’t get lemongrass, so instead, she used 1 tablespoon of lemongrass paste, which is 100% the best way to go!
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1 Lime, squeezed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Honey
    • Note: I only used 1/2 the amount said simply because sugar has been a hard thing to get used to for our household since whole30
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
    • Note: I personally did not add the brown sugar to my marinade, but that was totally fine because the honey added just the right amount of sweetness
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Nuoc Cham Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
    • Note: I used half this amount of sugar (you know, whole30…) and next time won’t use any at all.
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1-2 Bird’s Eye/ Thai Chilies, very thinly sliced
    • Note: You can use serrano if you can’t find Thai chilies at your local grocer, or not at all if you don’t like spice

Noodle Bowl:

  • 6 oz Rice Vermicelli Noodles
  • 1 head Green Leaf, chopped (Romaine works well here too)
  • 1 medium Carrot, thin matchsticks
    • Note: You can totally buy these precut, which I did to save on time
  • 1 medium Cucumber, thin matchsticks
    • Note: We ended up just cutting thin slices and then cutting those in half
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped Mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped Thai Basil (or regular basil)
  • Hoisin Sauce (for topping/dipping)
  • Sweet Chili Sauce (for topping/dipping)
  • (Optional) Spring Rolls/Egg Rolls
    • I bought frozen spring rolls, and were a deliciously crunchy addition
  • (Optional) Rice Paper Sheets for Summer Roll Leftover
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup diced white onion
    • I added onion to mine because I love onion!

Instructions

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together, and marinate pork for at least 30 minutes, but preferably for 24 hours.
  2. If making Spring Rolls, preheat your oven and prepare according to the package. Also go ahead and cook your vermicelli noodles according to package, straining well, and set aside for later as these should be cool for the bowl later on. You can also get all your other cold ingredients ready for the final assembly, saving the pork for last.
  3. When you’re ready to make your pork, add 2 Tbsp Oil (olive, avocado, coconut, whatever oil you have on hand) to a medium/large skillet or pan, and heat over medium-high until oil is hot. Dump your pork and marinade into the pan and sear till pork is cooked and marinade has reduced slightly (depending on thickness of pork slices, this could range from 4-5 minutes or 5-6 minutes).
  4. Assemble your bowls! Lettuce and noodles in the bottom, top with the carrots, cucumber, onion, peanuts and herbs. Top with pork, then spoon the Nuoc Cham sauce over the whole thing to taste. You can also serve the Hoisin and Chili Sauce on the side, or drizzle a little on top!
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On Whole30 [Day 16 – 22] & A NEW LOGO!!

In case any of you wondered, Frankie and I did not go out for St. Patty’s Day this year, and you know what, I’m really okay with it, especially since it was a headache I didn’t have to deal with on Sunday! Yahoo! Instead, I got to hang out at home and really unwind from what hasn’t been the easiest month, and I’m not talking about the Whole30 nor will I turn this into a woe is me post because I’m also not that kind of person. With regards to how I’m feeling, this week, I haven’t felt any cravings, but rather I feel awesome! I feel like I could tackle the world and then some! Bring. It. On. This is what the Whole30 book says is the Tiger’s Blood phase, though I’m not sure I completely understand the actual concept of Tiger’s Blood, but that’s neither here nor there. Honestly, I feel great, I feel energized, I feel calmer (more often when I’m not at work work), and I just want to keep this feeling going! I know that means continuing a lot of the lessons I have picking up throughout this entire process, but I would like to reintroduce rice as a starch option sometimes. But I don’t feel the crutch of cheese anymore, which is a little hard to believe because that craving lasted two weeks and didn’t feel like it was going to lift off me anytime soon! Ugh! But we’re still here, Frankie & I together, and we have been each other’s best support system throughout this process, and I couldn’t have kept going without him, especially on those days when I wanted to take advantage of having our local Lou Malnati’s saved in my phone contacts…but anyway, this week we had a lot of success recipes, and hope you find something to nosh on at home yourself! #paleoisntscary! Also! Made a couple updates to the website! I’m trying out a new logo! Would love some feedback if anyone has any! — Cooking Maggie


Day 15

Dinner: Deconstructed Hot Dog

Note: This was…okay. Super easy and simple to make, but was it completely filling? Absolutely not, simply because it wasn’t a real Chicago dog. God I miss street dogs so much…


Day 16

Breakfast: Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

Lunch: Chicken Piccata Leftovers

Dinner: Teriyaki Salmon & Cauliflower Fried Rice

Note: Normally, I make a Honey Siracha Glazed Salmon, but neither Siracha or Honey are Whole30 compliant, SO, I made Teriyaki (coconut amino style) Salmon instead! Still really yummy, but I’ll include the actual Salmon recipe I normally use above for reference. Oh, and the cauliflower fried rice was AWESOME!! Definitely was a surprise for both Frankie & I! I didn’t include egg, but instead used bean sprouts, which added a really lovely crunch to everything! It was overall, and really satisfying meal!

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Day 17

Breakfast: Banana (light breakfast because I wasn’t feeling the best)

Lunch: Leftover Salmon

Dinner: Steak & Roasted Red Potatoes (in honor of St. Patty’s Day)


Day 18

Breakfast: Apple & Almond Butter

Lunch: Hashbrowns with Ground Pork

Dinner: Paleo & Whole30 Chili

Note: This I think is the best chili recipe I’ve made in a good long while! It’s not bad, and I really don’t miss the beans in this at all! Besides, bacon in anything always tastes great! I will note the following: 1) I halved the recipe because I didn’t want to make a ton; 2) I added chili powder as well, because what’s chili without a little chili powder; and 3) I didn’t use sausage, but instead, found some ground lamb, which was a great addition!

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Day 19

Breakfast: Pineapple Strawberry Smoothie (this week is going to be crazy busy, and this is the best I can do)

Lunch: Leftover Chili

Dinner: Spanish Chicken with Roasted Spaghetti Squash & Green Beans

Note: I was literally futzing about in the kitchen when I came across a recipe that intrigued me, but needed a little more of an oomph, not to mention I didn’t want to serve cauliflower to Frankie twice in one week, SO instead I went with my own intuition on this one and crafted a new chicken recipe that came out unbelievably juicy, tender, and well seasoned! It’s a keeper folks!

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Spanish Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon Italian Spice Blend
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ cup chicken stock (plus a little more if you’re using two pans)
  • 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, removed from oil & halved
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, halved

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the spices together and rub all over the chicken thighs.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, and then the chicken. (Note: I recommend dividing the chicken between two pans.) Cook until there’s a nice golden brown/crust on each side (about 4-5 minutes).
  3. Add in about ½-¾ cup of chicken stock to each pan, then cover with a lid, and lower the heat to simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Divide and add the sun-dried tomatoes & olives equally between the two pans, cover again, and simmer for another 3-4 minutes, or until chicken reaches 165℉.
  5. Serve over roasted spaghetti squash and green beans.

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Day 20

Breakfast: Apple and Almond Butter

Lunch: Leftover Spanish Chicken (which I didn’t end up eating because breakfast was super filling and I had back to back meetings all afternoon, and by the time I even thought to eat, it was 4pm, and I had a training session at 5:30, so I snacked on carrots and strawberries instead).

Dinner: Skirt Steak Jicama Tacos

Note: I also got a little creative on this one too. There was a slow-cooker steak recipe in the Whole30 Cookbook, but frankly, I just wasn’t feeling the slow-cooker tonight, so instead, I flew by the seat of my pants and picked skirt steak, which I haven’t tried cooking on my own before. The rub ingredients are below, and let me just say, I was definitely doing my happy food dance around the kitchen! It was quick & easy, and unbelievably delicious! I even had another reason to use the leftover chimichurri from last week again! Yay! Also, while a jicama is NOT a tortilla, it’s not a bad substitute for getting me as close to the real thing as possible, which was what I was aiming & hoping for, and together with the beef and chimichurri, it was quite tasty and fulfilling! And with 10 days left to go, I am feeling all sorts of good vibes for this week and next!

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Skirt Steak Jicama Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1lb skirt steak
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Olive oil for steak (about 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Avocado oil for cooking (about 1-2 tablespoons)
  • 2 jalapenos, blistered, deseeded, and minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jicama, shaved/peeled (I found using a knife was easier), and sliced ⅛” on a mandolin
  • ¼ cup authentic chimichurri sauce

Instructions:

  1. Peel/shave the jicama, and using a mandolin, at the ⅛” setting, thinly slice and set aside. While you’re doing that, blister your jalapenos on the stove, and when done, let them sit in a covered bowl for about 1 minute. Then, remove the skin, seeds, and mince both jalapenos and set aside.
  2. Mix up all the spices in a bowl, then rub olive oil on the steak, season each side with the spice mix, and sear on each side for about 5 minutes each side (depending on the thickness of your cut, you might only need 4 minutes each side). This will produce medium rare steak, so if you like it more medium, make it 6 minutes depending on thickness. Let rest, then thinly slice against the grain.
  3. Spread the chimichurri on a jicama slice, add some of the jalapeno, top with sliced steak, and finish with cilantro. Then eat and do your happy dance!

Optional: Serve with a side of roasted fajita veggies (onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and zucchini – which I had in my fridge anyway).


Day 21

Breakfast: Apple and Almond Butter

Lunch: Day 20’s Leftover Spanish Chicken

Dinner: DMK Burger

Note: They have a PALEO burger! It’s served on a portobello bun, but you can sub it for lettuce bun, and then I had them add some caramelized onions and it was just an EXPLOSION of flavor in my mouth! SO SO GOOD! They don’t cook the beef in anything but their own juicy and natural fat, so worry not Whole30-goers! This place is a-okay for you! And you can also eat any of the other burgers and sub out the bun, cheese, and aiolis for…well…other things! ^_^ And for my Paleo readers, their fries are fried in beef fat, so they are APPROVED! Plus, they just have bomb diggity burgers! COME AND GET IT YA’LL!!!


Day 22

Breakfast: Banana, Pineapple, and Mixed Berry Smoothie with ground flax seed, coconut flakes, and walnuts

Lunch: Last of the Steak & Jicama Tacos

On Take-Out Noodles at Home

Let’s talk easy peasy lemon squeezy, and by that, I mean Chinese Take-Out Noodles at home courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine!. No phone calls, no internet orders, half the price of takeout, a ton of leftovers, and just as easy as going through the process of placing an order and waiting around, and I can almost guarantee that it will take less time to get on the plate than any delivery service.

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The twist is the following: instead of Udon, which was part of the original recipe, we used Soba noodles, which both of us preferred. The second was that we did a side by side tasting of the homemade sauce from the magazine’s recipe and bottled yakisoba sauce that Carly fell in love with when she lived in Japan teaching English for two and a half years. My last addition to the homemade sauce version was a sprinkling of Portuguese Fermented chile flakes, which seemed to be a new addition to the chile section of Savory Spice!

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The results? Well, they honestly tasted exactly the same, and while the yakisoba was a little stickier/thicker than the homemade sauce, both were equally delicious and enticed us to a second helping as well. I think it also just goes to show that a little corner cutting doesn’t hurt anyone! This is going to be a recipe I will return to whenever the day has been too long and I’m on the fence between ordering out and just whipping this up (of which the latter will always prevail)! Here’s to taking out at home! — Cooking Maggie


Better-than-Takeout Stir-Fried Udon with Pork from Bon Appetit Magazine

**Note: Udon replaced for Soba Noodles

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On Pork Katsu

Out of the frying pan and into the fryer, this cooking chick is serving up something new and different this time around! Pork Katsu (Tonkatsu if you want the traditional Japanese name), otherwise known as breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet.

While I do have a strong pull towards Asian cuisine from my time living in Asia, I haven’t really pushed myself to make anything traditionally Japanese, and I felt like doing something…different. As it so happened, about a week ago, NY Times Cooking featured their rendition of Pork Katsu with Pickled Cucumbers and Shiso that looked too yummy to pass up! Shiso isn’t something I could really find that at my local grocery store, though I’m sure the specialty Asian markets have them available, so instead I opted for a Thai basil that I found at Mariano’s, which I think worked just fine.

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Now, I don’t cook with pork on a frequent basis, and it had been a while since I put my frying skills to the test, but honestly, this dish was a walk in the park! The recipe recommends a few types of cuts, but in the end, I chose center-cut, thin pork chops (which you can easily find this at your local grocer at either the butchers’ area or pre-packaged near all the other meats) because they were already the right thinness, so no pounding necessary! The only thing I had to do to the meat was remove the small piece of bone on the edge, but with a paring knife, it was quick & easy. Then, you flour-egg-panko bread each piece, fry it up, slice it, and serve! EASY, and the extra egg wash ingredients weren’t overwhelming nor were they so subtle they weren’t noticeable post-fry! The Worcester sauce and tomato paste add a really lovely tang to the meat, and really play up the salty crunch of the panko!

And then you have the cucumbers, and this little salad was almost a one and done kind of dish. Minimal, yet flavorful. Salty, yet sweet, with a bitter hint to balance it all out! Fresh, crunchy, and if you can’t find Kirby cucumbers, then seedless cucumbers will work fine, or your basic cucumbers too, but you’ll need to cut them up a little more than with the seedless ones, which are smaller in general! All in all, this whole meal took about 30 minutes to make, and even though the pork was fried, it was light and juicy, and the cucumber side salad added a huge note of freshness and tang! A great weeknight meal we will for sure be returning to! —Cooking Maggie

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Pork Katsu with Pickled Cucumbers & Shiso from NY Times Cooking

On BBQ Pork & Spoonbread

It’s almost May, and finally, the weather is starting to warm up here in Chicago, which means I’m starting to get very eager for all the amazing food festivals headed our way! Greek Fest in Lincoln Park, Windy City Ribfest & Smokeout (Smokeout is better in my opinion), Taste of Chicago, Roscoe Village Burger Fest (definitely a favorite), and my absolute favorite festival, which I have never not gone to since I moved to Chicago: Lincoln Square Ribfest! And besides, who doesn’t like spending a weekend exploring great neighborhoods, eating really amazing food with a cold brew, listening to music, and smelling like smoked meat hours after you’ve gone home? (Not I!)

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In my eagerness for summer and warm weather to arrive, I thought I’d at least satiate my craving with a little homemade BBQ Pulled Pork! Normally, I try not to make BBQ at home because it’ll never be as good as what I would get from a full-time BBQ joint, but this recipe got me about as close to the real thing as I will likely ever get (unless I get a smoker, then maybe I might be able to get just a little closer, but that will have to wait for another day). The one thing I will note here is that, I don’t have a favorite or preferred barbeque sauce that I like to always have on hand, and haven’t gotten around to trying to make my own. So what I did was make a combination of barbeque sauces using Lillie Q’s Carolina Sauce & Smoky Sauce, which turned out quite well! And for the root beer, I stuck with my usual go-to, A&W, but next time might try a different brand (perhaps even an off the grid root beer that’s made in house somewhere, though Frankie is my root beer expert, so I will be deferring to him for that).

 

And in addition to the pulled pork, I decided to take the extra step and try my hand at corn spoonbread, inspired by the spoonbread we ate at Revolution Brewery a couple months ago. Overall, not too sweet, with the perfect bite of corn to contrast the smoothness of the actual bread, though the texture was not Frankie’s favorite. But it was incredibly easy to make, so it wasn’t a total loss! But for anyone wanting to give pulled pork at home a try, or wants to try a different take on cornbread, these are great places to start! Hoping there’s warm weather where you are too! – Cooking Maggie


Chicago Food Festivals

Root Beer BBQ Pulled Pork from Mom on Time Out

Sweet Corn Spoonbread from Southern Bite

Sweet Home Chicago: Italian Sausage Spaghetti

While today is one that history will (likely) not look back fondly on , I have hope. I have hope that, maybe, JUST maybe, something good, even just one good thing, will come out of this administration. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, there is hope left for us over the next four years…it’s not a large hope, but I still have it, cling to it, because without it, we are lost, and I will not let this fear-monger fold me into his flock if I have anything to say about it. But enough about him. He has no business here. Instead, how does cuddling up with five dogs sound? Pretty darn awesome!

Yes, five dogs. FIVE! This weekend, me and my man are housesitting in the northern suberbs of Chicago for his parents, and boy oh boy, are five dogs just a little on the too much side, but they’re all good boys, so I can’t complain too much! Allow me to introduce my brood!

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Gus Gus, or just Gus for short, as seen on the left with Frankie! He is also known as the Old Man of the household, reigning from the comfort of the couch. Chief, Tuggs’ best friend and the designated toy destroyer. And finally the mops, Iggy (gray) & Smalls (black) – best seen in the first of the cuddle puddle photos since they don’t always like to sit politely for photos: little five year old fluffs that only really tolerate Gus and each other because they believe they are the Alphas, so Tuggs & Chief get obnoxious growled at whenever they come within close proximity of either, though Smalls is the worst. And there you have it! And boy oh boy do they all like to dog pile onto the couch for a massive cuddle puddle! Is there anything better?

Well, kind of. Food. When we’re stressed or angry or upset, who doesn’t want to just eat something warm and homey, curled up on the couch with a glass of wine and a good book, or your new TV obsession? Food takes the edge off a bad day (especially when paired with a nice cold brew, glass of wine, or a tumbler of whiskey) and it fills us with its goodness of flavor. Frankie requested this of me earlier this week, but with everything else going on, it had to wait till now, and I’m glad it did, because this is a childhood classic of his, and seemed oh so fitting given the distressing evening we’ve got lined up before us tonight.

Italian Sausage with Spaghetti and Red Sauce. Frankie cooked this for me when I had first moved to the city, and while I was never much of a sausage fan growing up (I think the idea of what it was made of grossed me out a little, but I’ve since grown up and realized sausage is fricken declious), this changed my perspective forever. It’s simple, but sometimes simple is all you need in the complexity of uncontrollable chaos…I mean, it just grounds you in solid, yet rich flavors, sits in your belly and warms you from the inside out, like a hug almost. And Chicago is a sausage city central, so it’s only natural that Frankie grew up on the stuff: hot dogs and brats at Cubs games and on the grill at home while watching a Cubs game, sausage on pasta, sausage on pizza (only Lou Malnati’s though because most Chicago families take a side), sausage with chicken and rice, sausage with soup, sausage with gravy…I mean, you mention sausage in a dish and he’s on board. And while I’ve got cooking the sausage pretty down pat, and pasta is a no brainer, the one thing I’ve been trying to vary and experiment with is my sauce.

I’ve done the easy canned diced tomato, with canned tomato paste, and canned tomato sauce, but I’ve started to develop some serious heartburn problems from all the acidity in canned goods, and I hate, HATE adding sugar to a tomato sauce to sweeten it up. This kind of sauce should be a little tart, and only the basil or onion should add notes of sweetness. If I do anything canned, it’s mostly just the tomatoes, San Marzano of course, and then I let those bad boys simmer away, adding spices and onion, garlic, basil, and sometimes, a little oregano. So today, I thought I would share my new quick marinara sauce experiment!

 

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Verdict: Really, really good, especially with thicker spaghetti, a little pasta water, and finishing the pasta in the sauce (al a Scott Conant directions for his own pasta recipe, which I will be trying at a future point). It wasn’t too citrusy (I think that’s the water trick calming it down, so I’ll be doing that every time I make a red sauce for sure), and it was rich and slightly sweet from the grated onion, which I might have to continue doing because I’ve also done red sauce with diced onions and it’s had a strong onion undertone throughout that didn’t always agree with my taste buds. Definitely one of the better sauces I’ve tried, so I do plan to use it again in the future! YUM!

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And with that, may you all survive tonight and bind together in a collective hope for a brighter future. (And if you’re marching tomorrow in whatever city you might be in, as I will be doing here in Chicago, be safe!) – Cooking Maggie


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Revision/Addition 2/17/17 – Note: You can also turn the marinara sauce into an Arrabiata sauce by adding an extra 1-2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper, and switching out spaghetti for penne! Can add cheese and olive oil over top to cut the heat if you add too much!


Katie Lee’s Homemade Marinara Sauce from Food Network

Bark Boxes & BLTG Sandwiches

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I in fact love my dog. He has it so good, and with a face like that, how can you blame me? So, like any good dog mom with a nice little pay raise this year, I went ahead and ordered my pup a bark box! However, the reaction I got was not quite what I thought it would have been. Although he’s an ADORABLE pup, Lord Tuggs is a little on the overly cautious side, especially around loud noises and objects that are basically the same size as him, but I think that comes with the territory of being on the shorter side of things. However, that being said, he did enjoy the treats that were inside once we opened it up for him before we got to munching our dinner!

BLTG: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Guacamole. First things first, bread. Sourdough bread to be exact, a must, or something very similar (Tuscan Round Bread if your grocer or baker, if you’re that fancy individual who has one near by, has run out) that can hold up to toasting and layering, and all the good stuff inside (definitely don’t toast too much or you’ll ruin the top of your mouth). I find I don’t need to butter the tops of my bread for this sandwich and that simply toasting it gets that perfect crunch on the outside, but softness from the wet components that makes it easy to eat!
Then comes the next most important piece: BACON! Thick cut is an absolute, but after that, if you like flavoring or a particular kind of bacon, go crazy! It’s your sandwich! We stay pretty traditional in our home, and find just your regular maplewood smoked is just perfect to compliment the other pieces to this sandwich. To cook your bacon, you can just go with what you already know and love, but I personally am a baker of bacon only. Sure, it’s a little more time consuming, but I’ve never had a piece of bacon that wasn’t cooked PERFECTLY, just the way I like it with this method, which I’ve included!
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Perfect Bacon: Make sure your oven is set to 420 degrees, then run each strip of bacon under cold water. Yes, cold water, because what that does is prevents the meat from shrinking once its in the oven. Then, layer the bacon on a wire rack that is sitting in/on a large backing pan (which I cover in aluminum foil for easy cleanup). Then bake for about 20 minutes (I check it at the 10 mark, and then every 2 minutes after that to make sure it come out perfect). And while the bacon is cooking, I can work on getting everything else prepped and ready.

Naturally, slice your beef tomatoes (you can go with any tomatoes, but I got with a firm beef tomato because it tends to hold up better and cover more bread/ingredient surface area) and prep your lettuce (I like romaine lettuce myself because it has a softer crunch to compliment the bacon, but you can use whatever is your preference. I’ve even seen people use arugula, which I love, but find a little overly elevated for this gool ol’ classic). Then get to work on that guac, which I make from scratch because I like it better that way!

The Real Cooking Maggie’s Guacamole
2 Servings
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • 1/2 plum tomato, diced small
  • 1/4 small white onion, diced finely
  • 1/4 jalapeno (or more to preference), diced finely (leave seeds in if you like heat)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice (to preference)
  1. Cut avocado in half, remove seed, and spoon meat (flesh?) into a small bowl. Smash with the back of a fork.
  2. Dice tomatoes, jalapeno, and onion, mince garlic, and add to smashed avocado and stir.
  3. Chop up cilantro and add to bowl, stirring to incorporate. Finally, add a dash of salt and squeeze in lime juice, tasting to preference (I add about 1/2 a lime at a time). Stir to combine and serve!!!

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It’s chunky, it’s smooth, it’s packed full of flavor (and heat if that’s your jam), and it’s so easy to make! We’ve now come to post-toasting, where you’ll layer a little mayo, a little lettuce, a little guacamole (to help keep those parts that tend to break apart or fall out between the bread), then a little bacon (really squish it into that guac for maximum holding), and finally top with tomatoes and that second piece of bread. VOILA! Delicious, elevated in a rustic kind of way, and a sandwich we can’t seem to eat only one of.
Enjoy and happy eating! Cooking Maggie Out!

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