Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Southwest Beef and Bacon Roll

In part deux of my bacon-fest earlier this month, I present to you one of the more glorious ideas out there. Meat wrapped in meat. To say this meat roll was hearty would be an understatement. Needless to say, this part of the class evoked a lot of dirty jokes and inappropriate comments. My friend took a great photo of all our dishes...this roll is on the bottom right. With some brussel sprouts.

So in addition to a photo of this meat roll in all its glory, I present to you a glorified shot of me taking way too much pleasure in handling this meat. But don't worry...I wore protection!

Southwest Beef and Bacon Roll (serves 3-4 people)


  • 1/3 pound bacon
  • 1 8 oz. skirt steak
  • 3/4 tsp. cumin, divided
  • 3/4 tsp. ground coriander, divided
  • 3/4 tsp. epazote (Mexican oregano), divided
  • 3/4 tsp. ground chipotle powder, divided
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz. medium bodied lager (Mexican beer is great!)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.


Preheat oven to 350° F and lay the strips of bacon out on sheet pans lined with parchment. Bake bacon until mostly cooked – but definitely not crispy – about 25-30 minutes. Reserve bacon as well as rendered bacon fat. Keep oven on.

Lay out the bacon strips shingling them slightly running up the length of your cutting board.

Lay out the skirt steak with the grain of the muscles running sideways on top of the bacon strips, with the fatter end closer to you. Season the steak with salt and pepper, as well as ¼ tsp each of the cumin, coriander, epazote and chipotle.

Roll up the bacon and streak, and tie off like a roast with kitchen twine. (This I found very difficult, but it doesn't need to be perfect. Just enough to keep everything in its place.Place the roll in an oven safe roasting pan.
Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add some reserved bacon fat and then add onions and sauté until very soft – about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, and remaining cumin, coriander, epazote and chipotle. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the beer, and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and beans, and bring to a boil again.

Pour the bean mixture over the top of the beef and bacon roll. Cover the pan the roll is in (either with a lid or with foil) and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until the beef registers about 140° F.

Remove roll from the beans, remove kitchen twine, slice roll in about 1” slices, and serve over the top of the beans garnished with fresh cilantro.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with extra parmesan and freshly ground black pepper at table.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Cooking with Bacon Class...Featuring Maple Bacon Bread Pudding

Nothing says "Happy New Year" and "Happy Healthy Eating" and "This Is Going To Be The Year I Get Serious About Eating Healthy" like going to a Cooking with Bacon Class a few days after the New Years holiday. This is not the first such class I've taken. I first explored formal training in cooking with bacon (as opposed to being simply an enjoyer of this delicious piece of the pork) back when I started this blog two years ago. So I've had a long-standing appreciation of the swine.

This time around, I was joined by my foodie partner in crime and co-worker, Kaya, as we embarked on making four different dishes, with bacon highlighted as an essential ingredient. We took this class at Living Social and I imagine the two of us will venture back again soon before winter is over. This is Kaya on the right. She brings a certain Filipino Fantastic-ness to any experience.

As the instructor mentioned in class, sometimes it's best to start with dessert first. People fret over dessert (me being one of them) so why not get it out of the way early? And often it's one of those dishes that once it's prepared, you can just easily warm it up in the oven while you enjoy your main course.

I'll post another bacon-featured recipe later this week, but I imagine the other dishes will be made again at some point, and will appear back once my heart has been given a proper break from bacon-y goodness. Perhaps in a week or two. ;)

Maple Bacon Bread Pudding (serves 2)


  • 2 TB raisins
  • 1 TB rum
  • 3 TB warm water
  • 3-4 strips maple-cured bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 6 cups stale French bread cubes
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak raisins in rum and water until softened. Drain and reserve raisins.

Cook the bacon in a small sauté pan until crispy. Set bacon aside and reserve bacon fat in a jar.

Toast the bread crumbs in an oven and once completed, place them into two ramekins, filling to just below the top of each.

Beat the egg and egg yolk together in a bowl. Then add maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and 1 TB of reserved bacon fat. Stir to combine. Then stir in milk.

Sprinkle raisins and bacon pieces over bread cubes, mixing them lightly into the ramekins.

Ladle the egg/milk mixture over each of breaded ramekins. Ensure that the liquid is evenly distributed, stirly lightly. Do not overfill, but ensure bread is lightly covered.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed. Let cool and they will settle.

Top with ice cream. Just because. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Happy 2-year Anniversary, Little Blog that Could!

This week marks two years of my blog, Small Girl Big Appetite. It all started with a challenge to myself to cook one new recipe each week for a year. And I kept that New Year's resolution in 2011, but I wasn't doing much to report out on what I was making. After countless calls to "blog about it," in 2012, I decided to embark on a blogging project to write about food--food I make, food I try while eating out not only in DC, but around the world, and perhaps provide a little inspiration to those few and faithful who follow this blog, or read the occasional entry cross-posted on Facebook.

Shortly after I started the blog, I was asked by my realtor and friend to cross-post to his company's blog. So we had a fun photo shoot in March 2012 (see right) and I started to share my cooking endeavors with his blog audience around this time. Since that time, I have posted 193 entries, I'm guessing 2/3 of which are recipes. I get these recipes from Cooking Light, my friend Nick's blog (, and various other sources. And sometimes I just wing it! This blog has helped me save money (I rarely buy lunch anymore) and eat healthier, as I can control what I'm putting in my body.

Every so often I toy with the idea of stopping the blog, just so I can dedicate time to other endeavors, but I never quite pull the plug. And a big part of that is the great feedback I receive from friends. Everything from.... "Hey Katie we made that dish you made last was awesome!" or "So I'm cooking dinner for my boyfriend. Help! What should I make?"

So because those of you who read and comment on this on a regular basis are critical to my continuation...what would you like to see me make this year? Do more of or less of? I'd love to have some feedback as I plan another year of cooking up a storm.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chicken, Prosciutto and Pear Arugula Salad

I like simple salads and when salads contain enough savory ingredients (which in my book is meat, cheese and/or fruit, or some combination thereof) I'm even more inclined to make them for my lunch for the week. I recently revisited a Rachel Ray recipe I made a year or so ago, and decided to make it as a salad, eliminating the "warm" and the bun. I obviously cooked the chicken, but the rest of the ingredients I served cold over the salad.

This was quite flavorful and I think I'm going to make this homemade salad dressing again. In my book, you can't go wrong with Dijon mustard. Also, if you wanted to make this even easier, you can just use shredded rotisserie chicken. Not that I've EVER taken that shortcut. ;)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chicken Parmesan with Pasta

It's a new year. And with each new year, there is always a mad dash to resolve to eat better and work out more. I always make it a point to try and find healthier version of comfort foods, especially during the winter. This past week was no exception. I effectively had a quiet week where I essentially went to work, went to the gym, and went home and cooked. I relished in the quiet and caught up on some much needed sleep.

But in deciding which dish to make in a lighter, yet tasty way, I found myself gravitating toward a type of cuisine that I don't cook very often: Italian. After discussing eating habits and preferences over the weekend, I came to realize that not everyone is adventurous as me when it comes to eating. And that's to be expected. Everyone has their tastes and their preferences. I have had some great Italian food in my time, but I don't cook it very often. So I was inspired to revisit an Italian classic that just about anyone can get behind...Chicken parmesan.

But before I share the recipe, I want to share a story about chicken parm and veal parm, an oldie but a goodie involving my grandmother. She has always been a fan of the Olive Garden (I will keep my opinions to myself there!) and a few years ago, we were in the process of packing her up to sell her home and to move into an assisted living facility. What we discovered in her large freezer in her basement was pretty amazing. Boxes upon boxes of veal and chicken parm from Olive Garden. She would always pack up half of her meal to take home. Then she'd freeze it. And forget about it. I can only imagine how old some of those Styrofoam boxes were. To this day, she still likes to go to the Olive Garden. So I bought her a gift card to go there with her card playing friends sometime this winter. And I bet she'll order the parm. But at 91, I just hope she indulges a bit and eats the whole damn thing.

Chicken Parmesan with Pasta (serves 4)


  • 4 oz uncooked pasta
  • 2 (14.5-oz) cans unsalted petite-diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 TB olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 3 TB finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 (8-oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 TB all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • Torn basil leaves

  • Directions:

    Preheat broiler to high.

    Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

    While pasta cooks, place tomatoes in a food processor; process until almost smooth. Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and 3/8 teaspoon salt; cook 15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in chopped basil. Toss 1 cup sauce with pasta; keep warm.

    While sauce cooks, split each chicken breast half horizontally to form 2 cutlets. There will be four in total. Combine flour, garlic powder, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle tops of cutlets with half of flour mixture; pat evenly onto cutlets. Turn cutlets over. Sprinkle with remaining flour mixture; pat onto cutlets. Shake off any excess flour. Place egg in a shallow dish. Combine panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano in another shallow dish. Dip cutlets in egg; dredge in panko mixture.

    Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and butter to pan; swirl until butter melts. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned and done. Place chicken on a baking sheet; top evenly with mozzarella. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

    Arrange about 1/2 cup pasta mixture on each plate; top each with 1 cutlet and about 3 tablespoons remaining sauce. Sprinkle with torn basil, if desired. And if you're me, just a bit more cheese.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

    So it's been cold. Really cold. And what's the best thing to make for this type of weather? Soup. This flavorful soup is very simple to make and features a lot of great cold weather vegetables, like butternut squash. I actually made this soup in December, but froze a good portion of it for January. Perhaps I saw this winter vortex coming.

    Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)


    • 1 TB olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 3 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
    • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
    • 2 TB no-salt-added tomato paste
    • 4 cups chicken stock 
    • 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
    • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
    • 2 tsp grated orange rind


    Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Add chicken; cook for 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add cumin, cinnamon, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butternut squash and tomato paste; cook 1 minute.

    Stir in Chicken Stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes.

    Stir in couscous, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove pan from heat. Stir in chopped basil and orange rind.

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    Food Porn: Pittsburgh Edition

    Over the holiday, I was bound and determined to get downtown and eat a Primanti's sandwich at the original location in the Strip District. I'm going to totally lose my Pittsburgh street cred, but I have NEVER eaten one of these sandwiches. As I've mentioned before, I was an incredibly picky eater when I was younger. My love for food didn't really evolve until I came to DC. And it never really occurred to me that I was doing myself (and my Pittsburgh people) a DISSERVICE by never eating one of these. So I set out to the Strip District with my mom on a mission to eat this famed sandwich.

    I wasn't alone. Everyone and their mother (including my own) wanted the same exact thing. And it was cold and there was a long line out the door that didn't seem to budge. So I had to settle on eating elsewhere in the Strip. After a light meal, we hit the Macaroni Company where I was greeted by cheese and sausage that was the stuff of dreams. Balls of cheese the size of my head. Amazing stuff.

    I walked out of there with about a pound of cheese (which I'm thinking was eaten within a few days of my return to DC. Don't judge.). In addition, I picked up some dipping oil for my good friend Aniello, who probably has about a dozen different types of infused olive oils in his kitchen (I could live there). And pierogies! I hope to make some pierogies with kielbasa sometime this winter.

    We walked around other parts of the Strip District but no trip would be complete without a trip to Wholey's. Just to walk around because I couldn't image going home with a slab of fish. However, I did take a photo outside of Wholey's with their policy which I think is so telling of Pittsburgh as a whole. It's all about making you feel welcome. And I'm always amazed at how friendly people are in Pittsburgh. Sometimes you take a kind word and smile for granted, but it's the people of Pittsburgh that go that extra mile to make you feel welcome. And for someone who chose to find a home in DC nearly 10 years, the homecoming is all that sweeter.

    Primanti's...I will be back. :)

    Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    Brown Butter Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

    I think it is only appropriate to start off this post with an apology, because I've been slacking on posting for the last two weeks. I can blame the holiday madness and while I didn't log on to record all my cooking adventures, I was cooking up a storm over the holidays. I made a few different dishes for my family and have made different dishes for holiday shindigs. So I'll recap these bites over the next week or two to catch up.  The first of which is a simple asparagus side dish that I made for Christmas Eve dinner. And we even served it on my mom's asparagus platter.

    Brown Butter Balsamic Roasted Asparagus (serves 8)


    • 2 lbs asparagus spears, trimmed
    • Cooking spray
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 TB butter
    • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tspbalsamic vinegar
    • Cracked black pepper
    • Grated lemon rind (I used 1/4 tsp)

    Preheat oven to 400°.

    Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until tender.

    Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing well to coat. Garnish with cracked pepper and rind, if desired.