The Discount Chef

The Discount Chef
Save, cook and eat well!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes - Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting topped with candied bacon

Dear Food Network, Cupcake Wars has nothing on me. That's right, I say bring it on, because I'm convinced that my birthday cupcakes would demolish the battle and kill the war.
Most normal people would be stoked on birthday cakes and normally I'm one of those people. For whatever reason this cupcake came to me. Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting topped with candied bacon.
I love banana cake so much it was awarded two layers on my wedding cake and it was awesome. Peanut butter is a spread that I can put on almost anything, burgers included. (Thank you Rees for that revelation.) And candied bacon - HELLO! It plays perfectly on the sweet and savory and adds an great crunch. Plus it's just become a fun thing to add bacon to the most random things.
Here's how I did it:

Banana cake:

Peanut butter frosting:

Candied bacon:

8 oz. bacon - (I usually use thick cut applewood smoked bacon from Trader Joe's. There's 12 oz. in the package. I made the entire package and used the leftovers for salad.)
handfuls of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with parchment paper and arrange sliced bacon so that it touches. Generously cover with brown sugar. Flip bacon and cover the other side. Bake for 22 minutes or until crispy and gooey.

The parchment paper here is key. The bacon will be so oozy-gooey you'll be thankful you'll be able throw the paper away instead of scrub. Make sure you use parchment paper over wax paper because wax paper has a layer of huh, how about that, wax - while parchment paper has a layer of silicone that won't intermingle with your candied bacon goodness.

Let the bacon cool on the pan for about five minutes then remove and place on a wire cooling rack. When cool dice the bacon and set aside until ready to use. (Note, don't put your candied bacon on a paper towel lined plate like you would for bacon straight up. I did that the first time around and was peeling paper towel pieces off the bacon. Not fun.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dad's Salsa AKA The Salsa I Judge All Salsas Against

The other day someone told me there are two types of people in the world - pro-cilantro and no cilantro. Apparently, it's an internal thing inside of us that either can't get enough of the green stuff or can't stand it. I'm of the can't-get-enough of it variety. It's one of my favorite flavors of all time.

My Dad is a pretty good cook, the man really knows his way around the kitchen. As a kid, I used to spend the weekend at his house and it seemed almost every weekend we ended up making salsa. It was fun to help and after making it over and over, I got pretty good at it.

This is hands down my favorite salsa recipe of all time. I crave it. It's always one of the first things I make when tomato season comes around. Nothing beats a grilled chicken breast seasoned with only salt and pepper loaded sky-high with Dad's salsa and maybe a side of avocado. (Because avocado is good with everything.)

Here's what you'll need:
P.S. All measurements are approximate, I usually eyeball it and taste until I can't stop tasting.

5-6 tomatoes - I love tomatoes on the vine for this recipe but many other varieties work well
1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
1 white onion, rough sliced
1 jalapeno - I like mine really spicy, if you don't add a little bit for flavor
3 limes, juiced
Salt, to taste

In a food processor (fp), add the cilantro and onion and crank it on. When finely diced, scrape the goodness into a medium sized bowl. Next, add 4 tomatoes to the fp and crank it on again. Add the diced tomatoes to the bowl. Roughly hand-dice the remaining tomatoes and add them to the bowl. (I like the salsa to be a little chunky, if you don't skip this step and instead add all of the tomatoes to the fp.) Add the jalapeno to the fp and add it to the bowl at your discretion. Since every jalapeno varies a little in potency, add a little bit at a time, tasting as you to to make sure it's not going to freak out your mouth. If you make the salsa too hot it's not easy to turn back. Add the juice of the 3 limes, season with salt and stir.

The salsa is best if the flavors have time to get to know each other. Let sit for 30 minutes up to one day before serving.


Where's my motivation?

I haven't really been cooking lately and I'm not sure what I've been eating instead. Last week I took a spontaneous trip home to Las Vegas in the middle of the week so the most cooking I did was pouring milk into a bowl of cereal.

Since coming back to beautiful San Diego, I've been trying to get my groove back to no avail. My gourmand extraordinaire mother-in-law tried to assure me that everyone who cook goes through ups and downs like this.

But I don't want to! Boo-hoo!

This week, I plan to get back on the horse - And call up the poor soldiers that were sent to the freezer during my slump.

In perusing the weekly circulars for Henry's Market and Stater Bros. here's what I'm planning on making with what's on sale:

Cabbage slaw  - Stater Bros. $.59 per head
Spinach Pie - Stater Bros. Fresh Express spinach $2.50 per bag (no washing and spinning necessary!)
Mediterranean green beans - Henry's Market $.98 per lb.
Quinoa salad - Henry's hot house cucumbers $.98 each, grape tomatoes $.98 each, broccoli $.98 per lb.
Watermelon salad  & Watermelon margaritas or martinis (haven't totally decided) - Stater Bros. $.19 per lb.
Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and candied bacon ('cause it's my birthday!) - Stater Bros. Applewood smoked bacon $2.99 per lb.
Boozcicles (also in celebration of my birthday) - Henry's Market raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries two for $3

Wish me luck!