Be sure to check out my Happy Eats Healthy site to see upcoming classes, seminars, for more information on Health Coaching, nutrition information and more!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Hang Over Spicy Cheesy Beef Tater Tot Casserole

The blurry eyes. The pounding head. The layer of fuzz on the teeth. And the confetti and party paraphernalia stuck in your hair. Could be New Years years morning... or just another Sunday. Either way, sooner or later you are going to need hang-over food.

In my world, there are three things a hangover food absolutely must contain: potato, cheese (which also doubles as grease) and a little heat.

My Minnesota background is studded with casseroles, hot dishes and one pot dinners. These are the most easy comfort food dishes available. Mix any basic meat with a few vegetables, add a gravy-like substance along with some cheese. Voila! It becomes one of those meals you don't want to admit liking to your foodie friends, but secretly eat the entire dish.

Don't over think this! Use what is left over from the party the night before. Turkey, hamburger, beans, carrots, asparagus (I used beets and turnips) ... the cheese and the tater tots are the real keys. If you happened to make the Fat and Happy Simple New Years Roast Beef Dinner, this is a perfect dish for the leftovers and for the stragglers still passed out in your tub.

Whether your hangover is from celebration, just another night on the town or your just looking for something hearty and comforting, a tater tot hot dish is a Fat and Happy can't miss!

Tips and Techniques: I'm taking the liberty to use Velveeta in place of cheese; the truth is that it just works better in these type of dishes. But feel free to substitute a shredded cheese in its place.

New Years Hang Over Spicy Cheesy Beef Tater Tot Casserole

1-2 cups left over roast beef (hamburger, turkey or chicken), chopped up
2 tbls olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup gravy or stock
1 cup remaining roasted vegetables (or fresh vegetables)
1 hot pepper (jalapeno, roasted poblano, etc)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup yogurt (or cream cheese)
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
salt and pepper,
1-4 tbls fresh herbs, chopped- thyme or sage or parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the olive oil into a large sized pan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, cook for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic, cook for one more minute.

If you are using fresh vegetables rather than some leftovers that have been pre-cooked, add them to the pot (including the pepper) and cook until they begin to soften, then continue. If you are are using pre-cooked veggies (including the pepper), add to the pot and then add in the gravy (or stock.)

Cook until everything is heated through. Add in the peas, yogurt and Velveetea. Add salt and pepper and any fresh herbs you need to use up. Taste and adjust as needed.

Pour the casserole into an oven baking dish. arrange the frozen tater tots on top of the mixture. Place in the oven and bake until the tater tots are brown and crispy on top - approximately 25 - 40 minutes. Enjoy while hot, then take a nap.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Simple New Years Eve Dinner

New Years Eve is a wondrous night, but it does not have to be a china-only night. It's possible to have a simple dinner party without the fuss. A roast beef allows for the option of a super sit down meal or simple sandwiches to nosh on all night long.

A little seasoning on the meat, a few roasted veggies and this plan will allow you time to party with your friends and have left overs to boot. Two people or twenty, this dinner comes together pretty easily using a mix of homemade food and purchased food.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Sangria

Who knew National Sangria Day is December 20th? How exactly do we, as a Nation, decide on these special 'days'?  Is it on the yearly ballot and I'm just missing it? Did I not see the poll on Facebook? Or perhaps I missed the Tweetup?

No matter, somehow I found out just in time to greet the day with a new recipe. To me, Sangria is more of a summer drink so it seems slightly odd the national day is in December. Warm and spicy comes to mind before light and fruity when it's 20 degrees outside. Making a warm wine drink would be too much like a glogg (hot mulled wine), but using spices like cinnamon and clove will lend both the warm and spicy aspect to this Holiday Sangria.

 A winter heartiness comes from the addition of port. Fresh rosemary rounds out the full holiday experience; then it all comes to together with a little fizz from classic ginger ale. Filling the glasses with cranberries tops off the ultimate festive look and feel.

National Sangria Day or not, this Fat and Happy Winter Sangria is a wonderful addition to any holiday festivities.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

You can do that? This phrase is not foreign to me. Like when making marshmallows from scratch. Contrary to popular belief, marshmallows DO NOT have to come from a plastic bag at the supermarket.

One of the great rewards about making homemade marshmallows, besides wowing your friends and family with your mad skills, is that you can flavor them. Peppermint, vanilla, almond, cherry, caramel, chocolate, maple - pretty much anything is doable.

The process is fairly easy but messy. Luckily the clean up is a snap since it's all sugar. A little hot water and it all just melts away! However one requirement for making marshmallows is a stand mixer; unless you are looking for a good arm work out and want to hold a hand mixer for twenty minutes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

Dave's birthday means it's time for a new birthday cake. He gets to decide what 'flavor' he wants and I get to create it. It's a win-win for everyone. This year he asked for a cake that tastes like a chocolate covered cherry.

My goal is always to create something that hasn't been done before because I can't seem to accept simple solutions. Sure you could add some cherries to a box cake and probably get a fairly decent result. But if, for just a little more effort, you could end up with a WOW cake, why not??

The edges of this cake become slightly crunchy while the inside stays moist from the cherry filling. The frosting becomes a filling to emulate the gooey insides of a chocolate covered cherry. And just a little layer of chocolate on top rounds out the mouth feel.

At first bite, the response reads as deep, yummy cherry and chocolate. And the cake is cute to boot! Super for a birthday but there is no reason not to make this Fat and Happy Chocolate Cherry Cake this weekend.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cheesy Turkey, Leek, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

For most people, 3-days after Thanksgiving is about the time they can't imagine eating another bite of turkey. They clearly have not tried my white lasagna with oozing, cheesy buttermilk sauce and fresh pasta filled with layers of leeks, mushrooms, spinach and turkey.

The cheesy, garlicky buttermilk sauce is not my healthiest sauce ever, but man is it good. The perfect backdrop to the turkey and leek filling.

One bite and the last thing on your mind will be turkey leftovers - trust me! Even if you purchase the lasagna sheets rather than make the pasta from scratch, this lasagna will have everyone begging for more Fat and Happy leftovers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grilled Turkey with Apple Jalapeno Glaze

We host two annual parties every Thanksgiving holiday, the first is an elaborate dinner featuring something like Turducken, Cornish game hens or beef tenderloin in a port reduction sauce. The second is a Left-Over's Party in which everyone brings left overs from their holiday dinner and we create new recipes out of the old.

The LO party is about food, but also to let everyone have a relaxing day with friends before heading back to the grind. Elaborate recipes sit on the back burner to make room for more simple, rustic creations. Most of those recipes never make the blog because it's not the time for photos or  accurate note taking.

One year we ended up with an extra turkey for this party so I cut it into large sections (to save time) and grilled it. An apple jalapeno glaze was created from left over hot apple cider; it was a huge hit as the spicy pepper played on the sweet apple and juicy turkey.

I decided to recreate this dish for the blog because it's a perfect crowd-pleaser for Holiday festivities; this works a simple dinner as well. If there is any left over turkey, it's fantastic on sandwiches. Annual party, Holiday dinner or Sunday tail gating - it's turkey time and Fat and Happy has the recipe for you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crispy Potato Skin Fries

Potatoes are ridiculously versatile; I believe there is something like one-million potato recipes out there...and growing! While making mashed potatoes today I happened to create these super yummy, crispy potato skins. Often I'll use the skins in my mashed potatoes for a rustic effect but this time a more refined result was required.

The mixture of red, purple and white potatoes created a pretty pile of raw skins that starred at me begging for some love. A little butter and seasoning and you've got a new option in place of hash browns at breakfast, instead of fries or chips with a burger or a fun side to a steak. I'm quite sure a little dollop of sour cream would be extra delicious.

Whether to call them skin fries, or skin browns or crispy potato skins is the least of my worries. I need to come up with more reasons to use the inside of the potato so I can have more fat and happy skins to cook up!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Squash Soup with Swiss Chard Stuffed Onions

Cool fall weather just screams for soup - and squash is a classic choice. Sometimes soup doesn't feel like it's a full meal so I wanted to add a little something to it. These stuffed onions make use of lots of the fall vegetables and give the soup a little life.

The hardest part of this is creating the onion bowl, but if you look close at the photos, there is a slit in one side of them. After cleaning the onion, slice off the ends and make one small slice starting at the top through to bottom, from the middle of the onion out. Then peel the layers apart; this will form a big ring or bowl with a hole in the bottom. Lay a piece of the Swiss chard inside the bottom of the onions to form a loose bottom.

This sounds like a lot of work, but it comes together pretty easily. Make it a day ahead of time through stuffing the onions and hold in the fridge. Then place the whole thing in the oven (I suggest letting it come to room temperature first) and continue from there. You'll have a fat and happy fall dinner in no time!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toasted Macadamia Nut and White Chocolate Ice Cream

I first created this ice cream as part of a Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was such a hit that I sent home all the extras with our guests and forgot to get pictures of it. Oh darn, that meant I needed to remake it ... for photo purposes, of course.

The texture of this ice cream is slightly different than all the rest of my ice creams, while the base is still extraordinarily creamy, it's studded with a fine layer of tiny, crunchy, toasted macadamia nuts. As it begins to warm and melt it doesn't become runny milk as typical, it becomes almost foamy thanks to the texture. The result is a hearty, toasted flavor that the fills the palette with joy. The hint of white chocolate gives this ice cream a sweet holiday undertone.

This ice cream feels like a fall or winter treat, but paired with the right thing and with the right sauce (say nestled inside a delicate roasted peach), it could easily become a fat and happy summer dessert.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe Swap: Meat Pies with Maple Ginger Glaze

What: Monthly Recipe Swap
Goal: Change 3 ingredients and/or the method of an old recipe to create something new
Recipe: Maple Syrup Cake
Why: Why not?

My mittens made their first appearance of the season recently. Though the sun is still shining, my fingers are the tell tale sign to what is just around the corner. Starring out the window I watched the wind reek havoc on the lifeless herbs. My mind searched for ideas around recreating a maple syrup cake for the monthly recipe swap

Visions of a soft, buttery, maple frosting floated so close that I think I got a little on my nose, but the cake just wasn't speaking to me. Images chugged through my head like an old slide projector, layered cakes turned to cupcakes. Mini individual cakes are so elegant. The wind blew harder outside and my hands craved something warm. Cookies slid by. Then the slide projector rotated in a new image, this time it was pie with steam escaping out the top.  Pie dough is one of my favorite things to make, but not being a big lover of sweet pies made the image lurch one more time. It was still a pie, but this time it was filled with meat. A meat pie. 'Yes' I confidently announced out loud to nobody listening. Outside the wind blew even harder as if an affirmation of my decision and again my fingers yearned for warmth. Just then the slide projector turned one more time to what would be the final image - a handheld meat pie. Decision done.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lemon Champagne Roasted Chicken

Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to make completely new recipes that I forget about simple, classic dishes. Take roasted chicken for example- one of the easiest and yet most satisfying dishes to make and eat. the crispy darkened skin comes out so picture perfect you can't stop picking at the edges for a nibble.

No mater how classic the dish is, I still like to give it my own little touch. In this oven roasted chicken,
the addition of champagne and grapes elevates it from a Sunday dinner to Saturday night dinner party status. Be sure to serve this with a big crusty bread to soak up the rich champagne sauce.

It's comforting in that hearty, wholesome, chicken noodle soup sort of way. Whether it's for a lazy football afternoon or to impress your in-laws, this fat and happy champagne lemon roasted chicken is a can't miss.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kohlrabi and White Radish Salad with Basil Aioli

Continuing on my quest for fresh, simple food is so much easier with a weekly organic vegetable delivery straight from the farm

Yes, I've touted the benefits of these CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery's many times this past summer but I'm not done. Opening the weekly box is like a Chopped show- you don't really know what is going to be inside or what you will make from it. 

This system forces many to go outside of the comfort zone and try new vegetables they normally wouldn't pick up. For instance, kohrabi. The taste and texture is similar to a crunchy broccoli stem with hint of overall cabbage, but fresher.

My recipe below makes use of the freshness of two fall veggies for a simple salad and of the frozen basil in my freezer for a splash of summer. Half of this salad came to work with me the day after it was made, what I found was both the radish and kohlrabi softened as they soaked up the aioli and I loved it even more.

Even if you aren't getting a vegetable delivery, fresh food is still doable. Start with this easy fat and happy salad then try experimenting from there.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beer Mac n Cheese with Bacon Avocado Topping

Macaroni and cheese. Mac and Cheese. Mac n cheese. Cheesy mac. Doesn't matter what you call it, we are talking about pasta in a cheesy sauce. It's hard to screw up, but there are hundreds of thousands of variations.

This is a go to dish in our house and every time I make it, it ends up different based on available ingredients. In this one, beer becomes a substitute for buttermilk and gruyere gave way to blue cheese.

But without a lick of bread in the house for a crunchy topping, that's where I needed to get creative. All the makings of an avocado salad stared at me and I started to wonder how this would be in a cheesy macaroni? In a beer cheese macaroni? Bacon and tomato, sure that goes with pasta, cheese and beer. Avocado certainly works too. But could an avocado salad sit on top of mac & cheese?  There was only one way to find out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies with Orange Ginger Filling

There is something about this time of year - we all get completely possessed. I'm not talking about ghost and devils and Halloween, but rather pumpkins. Those tasty, crazy, fat, heavy, orange pumpkins - their vines wind right through our ears and overtake our brains resulting in pumpkin cravings for everything. Cookies, bread, martinis, facials and even pumpkin foot massages!

I'm not one to fight the cravings but rather feed into them; so here is one more fat and happy pumpkin cookie recipe for you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Butterscotch and Peanut Butter Haystack Halloween Critters

 Halloween is for the kids. Sure there are those times that we dressed up as adults and had fun. And even that time we spent money on renting the real Batman and Catwoman costume, invited over 200 hundred of our closest friends and then spent 2 days cleaning up after- good times.

But the excitement and wonderment in the little eyes when they put on their first cape and make the ginormous jump from the couch to the floor- if only for a second, they really believe they are flying. It's that little wonderment that adults loose over time. Even the simplest decorations are fascinating when we are young.

Enter the haystack critter. These deceivingly decadent, rich and tasty cookie-like-creatures are just the thing to add a teeny bit of interest back into Halloween. A no-bake spider cookie with four simple ingredients, stirred together and plopped down on paper. You strategically place a few candy pieces to form a face, legs, antenna, a nose or whatever (eating a couple of 'eyes' along the way) and then sit back and wait for the haystack to harden. Simple.

Office mates love these too- you might find two of them battling it out with their alien-like monsters. Winner eats both! Put a little fat and happy back into your Halloween with Butterscotch and Peanut Butter Haystack Critters.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Basil Cubes; How to freeze fresh basil

The weather is absolutely gorgeous out right now; warm and sunny falls days with just the lightest hint of crisp air in the evenings. Summer plants are still producing the last of their wares as the golden leaves fall around them. Unlike the color white, summer salads and grilling is not only acceptable but encouraged!  If only we could bottle this feeling and these flavors for those cold, dark, winter days ahead.

Freezing fresh herbs puts us one step closer to the summer and fall feeling during the unavoidable Midwest blizzards. If you are growing your own herbs, or if you are participating in a CSA program or if you just have an overwhelming amount of basil that you don't know what to do with, this is your answer. Rather than force yourself to put basil in every single thing you make just to use it up - chop and freeze it for use weeks and months down the road. Plus it's completely the simplest thing you can make today.

Dried herbs are great in a pinch and even better for longer cooking soups and stews, but why not use fresh every chance you can? Imagine fresh pesto in January! Take your remaining fresh basil and freeze it now, you'll be super fat and happy you did come this winter.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tomato and Tomatillo Tarts

Are you inundated with tomatoes? Have you made salads, sauces and salsas until they're coming out of your ears?

Aside from bringing all your remaining tomatoes to the next bad comedy show you attend, a super simple tomato tart is a tasty option to use them up.

Frozen phyllo dough makes for a quick and easy crust while the filling is nothing more than cheese and tomatoes. Almost a mock pizza....if you will.

These tarts work great as tapas with a little wine or pair with a salad for a light dinner or lunch. When you have super tasty tomatoes there is no reason to cover that flavor with other ingredients. Keep the cheese to a minimum and let the farm fresh tomato flavor shine through.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lemony Slow-cooked Bok Choy and Broccoli

Slow Food is not a new phrase in the culinary community, it's been around for some time. But only recently has this become a mainstay in the United States.

An alternate to fast food and a means of enjoying and preserving traditional cuisines, this movement is more about food that is good for you and good for the environment than the method of cooking.

The goal could summed up as to promote awareness of good food and nutrition.

This recipe plays on all linguistic sides of Slow Food- it is using healthy, planet-friendly, local, organic food which would inspire a table side gathering as well as it describes the the manner to which the ingredients are cooked.

Reminiscent of collard greens, this dish makes me think of the south or of a rustic Italian farm; very warm and comforting on a lazy afternoon. The greens are soft and melt in your mouth rather than become mushy. And the garlic becomes a little treasure trove for the lucky bowls that land one of the smashed cloves, so mild and tender. But it is the hint of lemon with the red pepper cooked in the dish that envelopes the soft stems for a full flavor finish.

Bring the family together with this ultra simple, healthy Slow Food Bok Choy dish. Time will stand still for one Fat and Happy moment.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chocolate Kahlua Brownies with Whiskey Soaked Cherries

You can't beat a good old fashioned brownie. Unless you soak maraschino cherries in whiskey for a week and add them to the brownie batter along with a bit of Kahlua. Then, ZOW! POP! ZAP! 

You bite into what you think is a normal brownie, you anticipate the chocolate and you imagine this will be good. Before you even know what hit you, your taste buds are doing flips on your trampoline tongue and your hand is reaching for second helping before the brain has even processed it.

This is a pretty classic brownie recipe, on its own it's unbelievably decadent and moist. But then you add in a glug of Kahlua and boozed-up cherries ... picture a cartoon where the eye balls pop out of the cats head. Yup, it's better than that.

People say the photos don't do these justice- so my suggestion is you go right to the kitchen and start mixing up your own batch. Then CRASH!, BANG! and POW! your friends with this amazing Fat and Happy treat!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hot Coleslaw Soup

Do you ever pick up old recipe books and read them? I love 'um! I love everything about them - the lack of direction, the casualness of the ingredient amounts and the expectation that you will just know things (like when they say: cook till done. Um, when?) Unlike any modern cookbook, there are no indexes to learn what an ingredient is, no explanation about the recipes and there are no pictures ether. And the truth is, I wouldn't want any. It would distract from the simplicity, not to mention kill the surprise of what some of the these dishes end up looking like!

Fellow Food Blogger, Christianna, picked up one such book about a year ago and was inspired to challenge other foodies to recreate these recipes. So once each month we all eagerly await the email with an image from the old book telling us what the new dish is. Or, what it was. It's our job to put our own spin on it.

Hot Slaw is this months winning recipe; so many options with this. I have a page full of ideas. The hot dressing intrigued me the most, but I wanted to lighten it up. The versatility of cabbage makes it one of my favorites. The idea of this hot, tender cabbage with a creamy dressing pulled me in the direction of a creamy, caramelized soup. Simple, easy and could be recreated to be lighter on the hips.

Think French onion soup meets spicy coleslaw. Mixing onions with fennel and cabbage, then sauteing until everything becomes a deep golden hue ... the final product almost gives off a hint of a smoky bacon. This easy cabbage soup turned out to be a testament of the simpler days when directions weren't needed.

Cookbooks aren't just for cooking anymore, but they used to be! And this Fat and Happy Hot Slaw Soup will help you momentarily relive those days of lore.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Wrapped in Bacon

For a while I tried to tell people that bacon 'jumped the shark'. Everybody seemed to be diving on the bacon bandwagon head first- bacon popped up in drinks and chocolate chip cookies, bacon air fresheners were hanging at coworkers desks and bacon gum was offered after meals. I felt like people were intruding on my private bacon love fest and I didn't like it.

So I turned to chorizo- which is spicy Spanish sausage and fun in its' own right. But the truth is, bacon is irreplaceable. The salty, smoky, sweet, crunchy, chewiness cannot be achieved with sausage, or turkey bacon and certainly not a tofu-bacon.

So to add to the deluge of pork recipes, I'm sharing with you my classic pork wrapped bacon (is that an oxymoron?) The bacon seals in the pork and it comes out with finger licking, dripping down the arm juicy.

Yes, there are times that sausage can suffice, and even be the right choice on occasion. But do not overlook the glorious under belly of the pig. And I'm here to tell you that bacon has not jumped anything... certainly not my fat and happy mouth!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boozy Pudding Shots

First there was the plain old shot of alcohol. Then came Jello shots. And now enters the pudding shot. Thick, creamy pudding mixed with alcohol for a tasty adult party favor.

While intrigued when we first heard about these, I struggled with a full understanding of the flavor. Then we tried a chocolate pudding shot and WOW- it was a creamy, chocolatey, boozy sensation that called for more tastes!

Two parties presented the perfect opportunities to try my hand at these punched-up pudding shots; a fundraiser and a going away party for a coworker. Sure the pudding shots may sound a bit out of place for a fundraiser, but it loosened the crowd for the live auction and turned into a super fun conversation starter.

The Irish Chocolate Pudding Shots tout Baileys and Kahlua while the Tiramisu Pudding Shots make use of Amaretto. For the Gluten Free party goer, the Limoncello pudding shots packs a serious lemon POW without the flour base

Jello shots are so old-school. When your next party calls for a shot of fun, step it up with boozy pudding shots for a Fat and Happy party boost. My good friend and fellow foodie Marianne helped create these - Thanks M.A.!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pear and Blue Cheese Quesadilla

 An old friend sent a message on the Fat and Happy Facebook Page recently asking for more recipes involving tortillas. With the fall produce making their first appearance, sandwiching a little pear and blue cheese into a crunchy and healthy snack was irresistible

If you need the extra protein, thinly sliced turkey meat from the deli would pair quite well with all the flavors and offer a slightly heartier option.

Elevate your tortillas with cool-weather fruit, then pair this gooey, cheesy, messy quesadilla with a spinach and walnut salad for a tasty Fat and Happy meal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sweet Potato, Pancetta and Blue Cheese Grilled Beer Pizza

A box arrived the other day cradling my first fall beer of the season. Thinking about crisp autumn weather may not be on everyones mind just yet, but for the team at The Bruery, they've taken it off their minds and bottled it already.

Autumn Maple is a bold, seasonal beer made from a traditional Belgian style strain. Brewed with yams (instead of pumpkins) this beer has a serious boozy punch.

Ideas swarmed my head with potential recipes but the flavor of the beer led me down the pizza path. This easy crust recipe offers an earthy warmth to my classic Fat and Happy thin grilled flatbread. The tangy blue cheese sets off the creamy sweet potato and crisp pancetta. The whole concoction is a gorgeous fall mix with a yeasty beer overtone.

When the cool winds arrive, warm from the inside out with a glass of Autumn Maple and a Fat and Happy Beer Pizza.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Panang Beer Curry with Chicken and Rice Noodles

Did you need to read that title twice? There's a lot going on in it- especially the beer in a curry sauce. But I do like to put my own slight twist on recipes; even more so when beer is involved!

The Bruery sent me a few bottles of their Autumn Maple beer in exchange for a recipe as part of their Facebook Blogger Invitational - I was all too happy to play around with a new beer.

This beer, which is brewed with yams, is their answer to the many pumpkin beers found on the market today. I found it to be a bold beer that is reminiscent of all things fall - bold, earthy and warming with a hint of spice and happily not too sweet.

There are a lot of obvious pairings with fall beers, but I wanted to go just beyond the typical. In this dish, coconut milk and red curry paste are an obvious combination as is the chicken and rice noodles. And often a dish like this would call for a fish sauce, but using a full-bodied fall beer helps to give this sauce an earthy undertone.

The peanut butter marries well with this spiced beer and rounds out the richness of the sauce while giving a nutty crunch (if you opt for a crunchy peanut butter.)

Bring on the Autumn chill - I'm ready with a Fat and Happy warm fall dish that's slightly off the beaten path.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rabbit and Sausage Cassoulet for the Monthly Recipe Swap

It's the beginning of new month which means it's time for another Burwell General Store Recipe Swap. The recipe swaps started as a junk store book find.  This book All-Day Singin' and Dinner on the Ground  intrigued Christianna to redevelop these recipes into her own. The swap grew from there.

I was excited about this months recipe: Wild Rabbit with Vegetables. This meant I needed to go rabbit hunting. And when I say rabbit hunting, I mean I biked over to the meat packing district in the West Loop of Chicago to purchase my rabbit out of the back door of an old warehouse. I did wear my camouflage pants to be in full rabbit-hunting spirits!

With the fall season approaching I wanted to make something warm and hearty. A cassoulet is similar to classic stew or casserole even, filled with rich slow cooked beans. The perfect welcome to the approaching cool season.

If you haven't had rabbit before, it's tough to describe - it can resemble a tender yet wild chicken but so much better. When prepared in this cassoulet, the rabbit is so moist and tender it falls right off the bone. The beans become almost creamy.

Don your best hunting gear for a trip to the butchers, then get this rabbit in the oven. It's time for a delicious Fat and Happy fall casserole!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mediterranean Ground Turkey Kabobs with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Kofta is essentially a Middle Eastern name for meatballs or meat loaf. Most often you will see this in the form of a kabob (basically meat on a stick) but made from finely ground beef or lamb and often served with a classic tzatziki sauce.

Using turkey meat is not traditional but does offer a lower calorie meal. The trick with ground turkey meat is that it needs to be moistened and seasoned well, almost over-seasoned really, or it comes out dry and bland.

Using the cucumber juice, hot peppers and a few chopped olives along with the olive brine helps to stave off boring, dry meat. My scaled down cucumber sauce is simple but just the right topping for the turkey.

Put a slight twist on a traditional burger or meatloaf for your next casual barbecue, it's a Fat and Happy flavorful meal!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eggplant and Bacon Burritos

This is a follow up post to the Chorizo Eggplant Tacos recipe posted earlier this month. Similar to the tacos, these burritos use fresh, organic eggplant to create a super simple, healthy dinner.

The spongy eggplant texture offers an almost mild, mushroom essence that compliments the bacon and tomatoes.

Fat and Happy burritos that are nutritious and delicious!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lemon Walnut Salad with Basil Cream Cheese Stuffed Roasted Tomato

Simplicity reigns in the summer. There is really no reason to over-complicate recipes when you have fresh, garden vegetables at your discretion. And we all have them available to- some people will be able to walk out their back door and pick them while the rest of us will pay a pretty little penny for them!

At any point throughout tomato season you will find a tomato bread salad in my refrigerator; I love the way the crunchy croutons give depth to this classic tomato and cucumber salad. However, there is a time for change and since I'm out of cucumbers, balsamic vinegar and croutons, now is that time.

Roasting the tomatoes and stuffing with a little cream cheese and basil worked great for a tasty little appetizer but it felt lonely. Serving them on a bed of lettuce drizzled with fresh lemon, olive oil and toasted walnuts turned this into a lovely summer starter.

My tomatoes were about two to threes times the size of a typical cherry tomato, but any size will do the trick. In this one case, size doesn't matter; it's the Fat and Happy fresh summer flavor that will be remembered.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Eggplant and Chorizo Tacos

I've been talking a lot about my weekly CSA delivery and rightfully so. Fresh, organic produce delivered to my doorstep direct from the farm is brilliant!

However, a couple of weeks in a row of eggplants and I was running out of ideas. Then it hit me to turn them into a taco or burrito filling. Eggplant has a mild flavor and will take on the essence of its surroundings. I played with both chorizo and bacon- look for the bacon burrito posting in the next week or so.

The ingredients are completely simple and without complication. Think of this as a rendition of a street taco. A simple, organic, healthy, Fat and Happy street taco.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Basil, Parmesan Cheese and Tomato Appetizer

Summer brings the best flavors. Flavors that don't need to be sauteed, simmered or deep fried, just served fresh.

A stunning, farm-grown tomato stuffed with fresh basil and touch of Parmesan cheese topped off with a high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It looks stunning and it satisfies the taste buds like nothing else.

It's the Fat and Happy version of a Caprese Salad - perfect for appetizers, side dishes or a snack with a glass of wine.

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tips and Techniques:  You must use the best tomatoes and high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the greatest result!

Basil, Parmesan Cheese and Tomato Appetizer with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Ripe, tasty tomatoes
Fresh basil
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

For the smaller, cherry-size tomatoes- cut a little small slit in the shape of an 'X' in the top of the tomato, place a small basil leaf and a small hunk of Parmesan cheese in the slits. Add a few drop of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top.

For a slightly larger tomato, add two angled slices on the top of the tomato. Stuff each slice with a basil leaf and a little hunk or slice of Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Orange Tequila French Toast with Spicy Orange Syrup

Cravings are a funny thing - you don't know when they're going to hit or what they're going to be for. Normal cravings tend to run the gamut of chocolate to pickles and even beer; not too may people have French Toast cravings.

I do and did, however, and the craving lasted weeks. There was no escaping it, French Toast was going to get made and it needed to be good. Since I like to incorporate a little alcohol into everything baked and cooked or fried, this recipe ended up with a tequila edge.

The french toast itself does not make this dish, it's the combination of the french toast, the syrup and the cream that melds together and gives this breakfast treat it's amazing allure. It's sweet and savory with a little tiny spice finish.

Pair it with a classic mimosa or an orange margarita to keep the orange flavor going. And just because you're not craving it doesn't mean you shouldn't make it! Let the Fat and Happy brunch begin.

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tip and Techniques: This isn't the time to pull out your expensive tequila, use a mid -range and save the good stuff for sipping.

Tequila Orange French Toast

2 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/3 cup tequila
pinch of allspice 
loaf of light French bread
1 Tbls butter
Orange Maple Syrup (recipe below)
Spiced Whipped Cream (recipe below)
The syrup takes the longest to make, begin that first and let it simmer while you are making the toast. In a shallow bowl, mix the eggs, orange juice, tequila and allspice together with  fork. Slice the bread on an angle about 2 inches thick. Heat a flat fry pan over medium high heat, use the butter to grease the pan. 

Lightly dip the bread into the egg mixture, don't let it soak too up too much mixture or become too wet. Cook on both sides until dark golden brown. While the french toast is cooking, whip up the spiced cream. 

Stack a few pieces of the french toast in the middle of a plate. Give a good drizzle of the Orange Maple Syrup and top with the Spiced Whipped Cream.

Spicy Orange Maple Syrup

1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c orange juice, fresh squeezed
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 slice of jalapeno

Place all the ingredients into a small sauce pan, simmer until slightly reduced and thickened.  Remove the jalapeno slice before serving.

Spiced Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbls sugar
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whip all of the ingredients until soft peaks form. Spoon a small dollop on top of the Tequila Orange French Toast.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Queso Fresco

Watermelon might be the ultimate summer fruit. Every once in a while it's nice to up the ante just a little, to add a bit of panache to your fruit.

Super easy, tasty, fresh sides and salads for picnics, summer barbecues or anytime. The fact is there isn't much to say other than that. The honey adds just a touch of sweetness while the salty cheese makes the taste buds beg for more. The cooling fresh mint is just damn refreshing.

Just three little ingredients give this simple fruit elegance and happiness. And that resembles Fat and Happy more than anything else.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recipe Swap: Ginger Molasses Frozen Cheesecake Nibs

What: August Recipe Swap
Original Recipe: Sorghum Molasses Cookies
Recreated Recipe: Frozen Ginger Molasses Cheesecake Nibs

This was nearly my first Recipe Swap fail. I was convinced that I needed to create a molasses beer cookie that had an oozing ginger center. I was so close to an amazing, porter based molasses cookie with a creamy ginger center that I could almost taste it. In fact, I did taste it ... a few times. It was so close, but I just couldn't quite get the recipe where it needed to be.

Imagine now that it's Sunday afternoon, just a few mere hours from when my recipe is supposed to be posted and I over tweaked my cookie recipe so much that these cookies now look like sad, flat little tortillas. So much for the puffy, gooey middle.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vegetable Hash with Strawberry Vinaigrette

The one downfall of receiving my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery every week is that summertime is so jam-packed with activities that it's all too easy to let my kitchen become a fresh food graveyard.  Take this last week for example- between work, baseball outings, barbeque's, beach volleyball, trivia, dinner with friends, a street festival and a day long canoe trip, there wasn't time to play with the organic produce delivered to my door.
The zucchini, eggplant and potatoes were all looking a little worse for the wear. It was a use them now or loose them to to the freezer for stock moment. My mind churned for recipe ideas as I cleaned off the signs of neglect. Roasting the eggplant and zucchini with the potatoes for a vegetable hash brown side dish was a easy decision, but it felt dry and in need of a sauce.

The wind sent my strawberry plant peaking in the window corner as if looking longingly at the hash. Perhaps a very simply berry dressing could work, at least it was worth a shot.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grapefruit Ice Cream

This post is the second part to the Almond Cake with Ginger Syrup post, which I blogged about previously. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I wanted to marry ginger and grapefruit for my friends birthday cake. I did and it's a super fun mix.

The moist gingery almond cake gets a kick from the subtle yet punchy grapefruit ice cream. It's an unexpected flavor from this creamy pillow. I created this recipe slightly different than my typical ice creams by combining a custard with a typical 'fool' (whipped cream) option for a lighter end product.

Ice cream is always Fat and Happy, and now it's zippy too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Strawberry and Port Jello Shots

I'm no stranger to the jello shot; let's just say I've licked more than one of those annoying little plastic containers clean. So when my good friend Alina shared a photo of her hollowed out strawberries filled with jello shots- I said 'Hell yes' to this fancy vessel touting shot idea.

No longer do need to struggle with getting the liquor -laden jello out of the stiff little plastic cups while nearly slicing open your tongue on the hard edge, nor do we need to look like we are desperate for that teaspoon of alcohol found in each as we try to gracefully smack the back of the cup hoping the jello will magically fall into our mouths. Those days are over my friends!

Enter the strawberry cup; a simple strawberry with a hollowed out core, filled with flavored gelatin. All edible. All delicious. All genius.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Almond Cake with Ginger Rosemary Syrup and Grapefruit Ice Cream

Birthdays are special and should be celebrated as such. When I get the chance to help a friend celebrate by making their cake, my goal is to make that cake as memorable as possible. The cake should represent them, their personality and their energy.

This Almond Cake was for a friend who is refined and classic with an refreshingly cool and sassy layer. The ground almonds give the elegant cake it's  grainy-like texture while the ginger syrup keeps the cake mouth-wateringly moist. The grapefruit ice cream brings in a bold punch against the ginger.

An elegant birthday cake by all standards, yet casual enough for any Fat and Happy day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Slow Cooked Porchetta with Macadamia Nut Pesto

It's no secret how much I'm into grilling. Yet there are times, yes even in the summer, that a slow cooked crock pot dish is the right choice. Case in point, we were hosting an evening barbecue for a friends birthday ... after an afternoon Cubs game ... in the Bleachers!
How that was ever agreed to is still beyond me. The most important point of the day is that the food needed to be easy to put together with all of the work done ahead of time.  

Without getting into too many details, porchetta is traditionally an Italian street food in which a pig is stuffed with herbs, roasted over a spit then sliced for sandwiches. I enjoyed this while in Amondola, Italy some years back and still crave it today.

My version takes on a different form being slow cooked in the crock pot, but it's still tasty and juicy; admittedly not the original though. However adding the macadamia nut pesto to this sandwich takes it in a whole different direction.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bacon Jam, Avocado and Tomato Bruschetta

Hello, my name is Monique. It's been one week since I first made Bacon Jam and I'm addicted. I've eaten it every day for seven days straight in some way, shape or form.

And now I'm going to be an amazing blog friend and share this recipe with you. Actually, the recipe is already on the blog from last weeks Homemade Bacon Roll post, but you'll find it below as well. This Bacon Jam / Jelly / Marmalade is deep, rich and dark with a hint of sweet and spice. It's divine and will change the way you think about about jam!

One of my initial thoughts was how great this would taste with fresh garden tomato. That thought led me to a BLT which ultimately brought me to this Bacon Jam, Avocado and Tomato Bruschetta. I was testing these out as an appetizer and ate so many I couldn't eat dinner!

The uses for this delectable preserve are endless - spread it on a sandwich or burger, top a fresh tomato or smear it on toast and top with a sunny side up egg. Or enjoy it the Fat and Happy way - with a spoon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lemon Lime Vinaigrette over Cucumber Salad

How many times have you had a wilted lettuce salad? You may find it interesting it's the oil, not the vinegar, that wilts the lettuce quicker. True story.

Enter this cucumber lettuce salad. The butter lettuce is hardy and won't wilt under this dressing made with less oil than typical, so you can dress this salad for a buffet table and be confident it will stand up.

Try this fantastic fresh, crisp summer salad next to a spicy grilled burger like this Chorizo Stuffed Burger. The citrusy vinaigrette is tasty and cooling.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bacon Jam Stuffed Bread Rolls - Recipe Swap

This month's recipe swap is a Jelly Cake - two layers of a spice cake with jelly between the layers. The goal of the swap is to modify the recipe by at least 3 ingredients or modify the method. I wanted to play pretty close to the original ingredients but really deviate from the the idea of a sweet cake.

Two words: Bacon Jam. Or you can call it Bacon Jelly, which is also two words. Either way. My first step was to get away from the sweet, fruit jelly - that's where the bacon jam comes in. Next, my goal was to create a non-cake-like-layered item while using the base cake ingredients.

Add in some yeast, remove the baking soda and cream of tartar, move the spice ingredients to the bacon jelly and WAMO - a rolled homemade bacon jam bun. Successful? Hell yes! It's a Fat and Happy homemade bacon bread recipe that I highly suggest trying today.


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