Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm Guest Posting on Clue Into Cleveland Today: Local BLTs and DIY Mayo

Head over to Clue Into Cleveland to check out my guest post! 
  • I challenge you to locally source a BLT from a market near you. 
  • I share a recipe for making your own mayo, it's really quick and easy.  Even if you don't normally cook, mayo is definitely doable!
  • I give you the perfect BLT layout (I believe there is a certain order a BLT should be stacked).
This is the perfect opportunity for you to try my Bakin' Bacon method.  Since the bacon doesn't curl up very much, it creates a flat base to stack the rest of the ingredients!
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bakin' Bacon

Mmmmm bacon. I love bacon so much I had a Bacon Party!

Cooking bacon for more than two people can be time-consuming and messy. After today, you can forget about making multiple batches and splattering hot grease all over your stovetop. My secret?  I cook it in the oven. This method is perfect for makin' bacon for a crowd. Just throw it in the oven until it's done to your desired crispiness. And you don't even have to flip the strips! I like to save the bacon fat so once I pour it off, the lingering grease cools/hardens fairly quickly, then just crumple the foil and throw it away.

If you want bacon for breakfast without cooking it every morning, you can it in the oven, then reheat it with a zap in the microwave.  When I make BLTs, I just cook up the whole package for the two of us.  That way we get BLTs two days in a row and only one day of cooking bacon. 
It's surprises me that more people have not heard of this method. I've been doing this for a few years and have no idea where I first heard it, but it's genius.  Now that you know the trick, I hope you'll try it next time you have a bacon craving!

Oven Bacon
Original Recipe
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 lb bacon (I prefer thick cut, but use whatever you like)
2 rimmed baking sheets

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheets with foil. Lay the bacon on the foil. Don't be afraid to put them right next to each other, they'll shrink as they cook. As long as they're not piled on top of each other, it'll be fine. Put the trays into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they're done to your satisfaction.  Timing will vary depending on how thick or thin your bacon is so start checking around the 10 minute mark for thinner slices.  Remove the bacon onto a paper towel-lined plate to degrease a moment before devouring.

BLTs are one of my favs!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

3 Year Blogiversary (My Favorite Year So Far)

Way back on June 16th was my 3 year blogiversary.  It slipped right by without any fanfare, but I really wanted to celebrate this past year.  I never imagined Cooker Girl would be anything more than a place to document recipes, but it's become so much more for me!  I wanted to point out a few things that have happened because of this blog (directly or indirectly).

I bought my domain name! was taken so I chose

I created a Facebook fan page.  C'mon "like" me!

I've met a lot of really great people through blogging and Twitter.  I've even made some new friends that I see pretty regularly.

Cleveland Magazine chose my blog to be part of the 32 Most Entertaining Blogs.  All the blogs went through a March Madness-style voting brackets.  I got into the Top 8 and ended up being #2 in the Food and Drink category!  Thanks again for your votes!

I won a Hunger Games recipe contest with my Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables recipe (aka Roast Groosling).  My prize was a cookbook (Lidia's Italy in America), but because the Plain Dealer was delayed in sending the prize, they threw in an extra cookbook. I love Lidia Bastianich!  She's in my top 3 favorite celebrity chefs along with Julia Child and Jacques Pepin.  (By the way, Jacques is coming to Cleveland for the Fabulous Food Show in November!)

I've been busy guest posting for some lovely ladies!  My Sugar Cookie Bars were on My Retro Kitchen, I did a restaurant review and shared my favorite shop for wine tasting on Eat Drink Cleveland and taught the readers of Peace Love Bagels how to DIY Microwave Popcorn.

Earlier this year I started baking for a cause, for two causes actually.  Two of my siblings were cycling in the Tour de Cure for Diabetes and I volunteered baked goods in exchange for donations.  The other recipients of baked goods have been US military troops through Operation Baking Gals.

Dump Truck Dirt Cake: Chocolate Cake, Oreo Filling, Vanilla
Buttercream with Oreo garnish around the sides and top

Last, but certainly not least!  I started baking for people outside of the family. Thanks to some nudging from friends, I've turned my passion into a little side business. I'm currently working on a "menu" to put on the site.  Let me know if you need any bakery!

Salted Caramels and Chocolate Cake Balls
I had stickers made so I can put them on my bakery boxes, etc.

Totally unrelated to the blog, but still something significant was a trip to Europe last fall.  Kevin and I spent three weeks in France and Italy.  It was completely amazing, a trip of a lifetime!

Siena, Italy (Tuscany)
A few random facts before I let you go:
 - Cooker Girl's third year had more posts than the two previous years combined!
 - This is my 100th post!
 - Today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday.

So there you have it, it's been quite a year!  Thank you so much for reading!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carne Asada Tacos

Can you believe it's August already?!  Summer always goes way too fast.  Here's a good entree to throw on the grill.  Whether you're at home or at your favorite Tex-Mex place, carne asada is always a great choice!

Carne Asada Tacos
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: 4-6 servings

2 pounds flank or skirt steak
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp cumin
1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems)
Salt and pepper
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

For Serving:
Pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa)
Chopped avocados or guacamole
Chopped peppers (red, green, yellow, whatever strikes your fancy)
Sour Cream
Cilantro Lime Rice (optional)

Lay the flank steak in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the steak. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.

Preheat your grill over medium-high flame (you can also use a cast iron grill pan on high heat for stove-top cooking). Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade. If you are cooking indoors, you may want to brush off excess marinade as the bits may burn and smoke on the hot pan. Season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. You may need to work in batches. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.

Serve with warm tortillas (flour or corn). Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side in a dry skillet or on the grill, until toasty and pliable. Alternatively, you can warm tortillas in a microwave: heating just one or two at a time, place tortillas on a paper towel and microwave them for 15 to 20 seconds each on high.  Add the carne asada and additional toppings to the tortilla, then serve.

What a great marinade!
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