Category Archives: Bacon is always awesome

Real Simple + One Pot = Happy Momma

Soooooo, I know I’ve said it here before and it’s pretty good odds that I will say it again but, being a parent is all at once terrifying/exhilarating/exhausting/priceless. One area where I’ve noticed a big difference is dinner. By the time we get her home, fed, bathed, rocked and put to sleep it doesn’t end there. While David is folding laundry, I’m taking out the trash, cleaning the cat litter boxes, putting up dishes and wiping toddler food crust off my new work shirt, I’m practically drooling looking at my menu plan and what I have to make for the night. I have learned to plan ahead and let me just say, my days of a chicken a la something on a bed of wilted something or other with a foam of blibbity blob is loooong gone. Enter the days of dishes I can braise or roast, half prep in the morning or are super quick or no cook. And I’ll take it if it means more time with her and David as I know these moments are going to whiz by and I can get back to my gourmet meals while fretting about my daughter in college. It will be here before we know it.

Enter these fantastic dishes from Real Simple magazine in a section called One Pot Wonders and wonderful they were. We tried three out of the five and all of them were delicious, once again in order of favorites:

Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew: this was super fast and DELICIOUS. For something so quick and easy, the depth of flavors were insane. The leftovers were even better the next day.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Raisins: the Moroccan infused ingredients in this were killer, from the turmeric to the ginger and crunchy almonds everything was just perfect. And y’all, it’s braised chicken thighs, come on.

Loaded Bacon-Potato Soup with Cheddar and Chives: You would think with a name like that this would be first on my list. Don’t get me wrong, this was good but I think I’ve made too many Baked Potato style soups in the past that just can’t be trumped. Do give this one a try as it was easy, breezy and perfect for any baked potato lover in the house.

Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew from Real Simple
Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew from Real Simple

Southwestern Cobb Salad with Sweet Onion Dressing

A conversation about this amazing Southwestern Cobb Salad with Sweet Onion Dressing.


Emily: “It’s defnitely the toasted pecans that make this salad awesome, definitely.” Chomp, chomp, chomp.

David: “Oh really? See, I think it’s the eggs and bacon.”  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Emily: “Maybe the pecans with dressing? That dressing is manna from heaven.” Chomp, chomp, chomp.

David: “My favorite dressing you ever made for sure. But I still think it’s the eggs and bacon. And maybe the bleu cheese.”  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Emily: “Don’t even get me started on the sprouts, such a great addition. And I love the tomatoes and corn.”  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

David: “Wow, I just figured out why this salad took you so long to make! There’s so much to it! Are you going to check this under ‘lengthy recipe but worth the whisking, sweat and tears?'”  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Emily: “Yes honey…I still say it’s the pecans.”  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Seriously, this salad did take a while since there are so many components but, this was one of the top five favorite salads that I’ve ever made in this house. Definitely give it a try and don’t leave out the pecans.  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

My New Favorite: One-Pot Meals

Now that we have a little one in the house, I gotta tell ya, one pot meals are becoming my go-to these days and this Vinegar-Brased Chicken and Onions dish from Bon Appetit still made my feel like my old cooking self but was an easy enough set-it-and-forget-it cooking method that I could still tackle feedings, diaper changes and rockings too.

We both loved it for its nice balance of sweet and tangy due to the two vinegars and golden raisins, plus the pancetta didn’t hurt either. I served over sautéed spinach and cous cous to round out the meal and we are so happy with how this turned out. Easy, breezy and delicious!

Another BRILLIANT idea from the Bon Appetit staff was this Hot Oat & Quinoa Cereal. You pour everything into a pot, heat it up, let it sit overnight and the next morning it’s ready to go with a little rewarming, some milk and nuts. Bonus! You have leftovers for the following day as well. I slurped this up before running all my errands and was full and happy for most of the morning.

This week it’s a bunch of rocking recipes from Food & Wine. Is it just me or have they been bringing their A-game with recipes lately? I can’t wait to try them, more to come lambs.

Oh, and I got some requests from you gentle readers for pictures of our little Lila. Here’s my favorite so far. Didn’t know I could feel so much love for one thing in my entire life!



A Winning Night

Yowza! I don’t care what side you were on last night, that was a nail biter at times huh? I wanted to make something quick and simple so we could get back to watching the pundits dissect and predict every single swing state for hours upon end until the polls actually closed and the good stuff got started. I chose this Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart from Cooking Light with a simple spinach side salad drizzled with my homemade Lemon Oregano dressing.

First, the crust. You know I make crust for a living so I was intrigued by this one with its salt, pepper, baking soda and olive oil as the fat to bind. Interesting. It was like a shortbread crust but savory, and yummy! The combo of butternut squash, eggs, Gruyere cheese, bacon and mushrooms was simply divine. Added bonus, I’m so super duper pregnant right now that I was thankful this was a quick and easy recipe. I’m telling you I can’t stop cooking, I love it too much!

This soared passed any predictions we had and won the popular vote in our house. For picky eaters or if you are in need of a quick crowd pleaser, this definitely has the ability to reach across the aisle and make everyone happy. Oh dear, I’ve been watching way too much CNN.


Best Fruit Forward

We had a fruit-tastic evening here at Casa de Kealey last night! I have been in heartburn hades because of el kiddo and the one thing I keep seeing to quell said heartburn is watermelon. Now, I’m not the biggest watermelon fan – my Dad is currently shaking his head in shame – but I was willing to give this delightful looking Watermelon Gazpacho from Bon Appetit a try and then, because I have cravings like a mad woman, their Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata looked YUMMY! And it was!

To keep things a little more healthy I chose to use whole wheat orecchiette and low-fat feta (since I’m using feta in a dish later this week). Let me tell you, these two changes will not change the flavor of the dish which was awesome and very delightful even the next day. I’ve always been a huge fan of the prosciutto/melon combo and to put it in a pasta? Brilliant. Now to the Watermelon Gazpacho! I slurped this you guys. I took one spoonful and then exclaimed “that’s SO GOOD” and then proceeded to down the bowl. I followed this recipe to a T, even the basil syrup part which is just too fun to say and it makes you sound like a kitchen badass…”oh this?” you might say “it’s just a little basil syrup.” Sounds fancy but it was really easy and I wish I would have doubled this for leftovers today. I will make more this week and keep it on reserve for those undesirable heartburn moments. Really, the heartburn is quite a thing isn’t it mamas? Oh, one thing I did add was a dollop (ick, I hate that word, weird I know) of sour cream and some fresh chives at the end to you know, kill off any hopes of stopping my heartburn.

Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, and Ricotta Salata:

Watermelon Gazpacho:

Boy? Girl? Let’s Find Out!

284967_395016050552859_1805443785_nOK, I’m going to admit that I completely dorked out over the gender reveal party for our baby. Massive, massive dorkage.  Maybe it’s because I was so tired in my first trimester and wanted to get my food groove back on or I’ve been fatigued and haven’t been able to spend as much time with friends as I’m used to, whatever it was, I was pumped pandas. Never mind the fact that we were about to start calling “it” her or him instead! David and I got to see baby Kealey that Friday on a sonogram (such a cutie) and then proceeded to give the sealed card to Tyler, my niece’s super gentle chef boyfriend. Alex, my niece, created a blueberry and a strawberry pie filling, the super cute cutouts and then gave Tyler directions on how to make the pie once he opened the card. We got back from lunch and Tyler had done such an awesome job with the pie…look at that, he SHUT IT DOWN. I kept swearing up and down the color looked blue underneath and David thought so too. Not until tomorrow would we know!

So down to the food geeking out part. I wanted to make foods that represented our very different backgrounds including something that embraced my East Texas/Southern roots and his Canadian/Northeast ones. Obviously, my Mama’s chicken fried steak and creamy gravy was on the menu and as was poutine –  the national dish of Canada. David requested tomato soup and grilled cheese since he loved that as a kid and fried mac ‘n’ cheese because it’s “just so awesome” in his words. I also served a kale salad for those trying to eat healthy (weird, but it does happen here sometimes) plus Devils on Horseback because bacon, dates and cheese are never wrong, a cheese plate and crackers. I thought earlier in the day that I had bitten off way more than I could chew, but actually, it wasn’t that bad making all this food!

Continue reading Boy? Girl? Let’s Find Out!

Knock Your Socks Off Meatloaf


With a slathering of hoisin sauce and other Asian-inspired flavors such as ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, and rice vinegar stuffed inside, this was one of the most unique and flavorful meatloaf dishes I’ve ever made, and definitely my new favorite. In recent years, I’ve been attached to a meatloaf recipe from my beloved Neiman Marcus cookbook but I believe this Hoisin-Glazed Meatloaf Sandwiches from Bon Appetit has officially taken the top spot.

Each time I took a bite of this I’d go “mmmmmm! MMMMMMMM! Can you believe how good this is?” We loved the perfect crispy crust on the outside, the moist and flavorful interior and the fresh and crisp salad of radishes, carrots, cucumbers and cilantro on top (I’m telling you, don’t skip this part!). It actually reminded us of the Bahn Mi sandwiches we had at Elizabeth Street Cafe a few weeks ago. Even though meatloaf can feel a little heavy, I think this one is light enough with the salad on top that it can be enjoyed year round and is going on rotation in our house fo sho.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Bucatini all’Amatriciana, try saying that three times fast or if you are me, at all. I’m going to go ahead and tell you right now that Bon Appetit is batting a thousand in our house this week as this was also an Emily and David favorite, hands down.

Still with me or have you gone to the store to get the ingredients? Good.

Bucatni all'Amatriciana (Photo by Jeff Lipsky)

I looked up the translation of this dish and of course the first link that comes up on Google is from none other than the Italian Chef god, Croc wearing and super gentle Mario Batali from the Babbo restaurant website. Let’s all gather around and see what they have to say:

This dish is one of the most celebrated in Italian cuisine and a favorite here at Babbo. Named for the tiny town of Amatrice, located 100 miles east of Lazio from Abruzzo this dish can be made both with or without tomatoes. Ever since Abbruzzese shepherds begin the tradition of eating this spicy pasta after a day in the chilly mountain air, the cooking process has always begun with the rich smell of a fatty piece of pork bubbling in the pan. At Babbo, we use our homemade guanciale, or cured pig jowls, with its distinct pork flavor, to achieve the same rich taste that comforted the shepherds of old.

If you count shepherding around a lot of pie plates, Crimps, bags, ties, labels and then cooking in the kitchen for hours,  I was one tired shepherd last night. I decided to prep the sauce before I left and then came home to boil the spaghetti. I simply combined the drained spaghetti with the sauce and dinner was d.o.n.e. We ate this with abandon. Like there was no tomorrow and this was our last meal. OK, a little dramatic. But we did slurp this and both went back for seconds. So rustic, so deep in flavor, so simple and so authentically Italian. Make this, now, no, no, go on, go to the store. I want to hear your reviews after you’ve tried it for yourself!


Oh, hello there! So nice to see you! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but my cooking has kind of fallen off the map due to home renovation (we are thisclose lambs) and the launching of The Pie Society. As soon as I get my kitchen back to optimal operating standards I’ll start testing and tasting recipes again – scout’s honor.

I have had a little time to try some pretty good recipes including this Pan- Seared Strip Steak and Warm Potato Salad with Ramps and Bacon from Cooking Light; they both were amazing! Tonight I’m trying their Slow-Roasted Tomato Pasta. I can’t wait for a gentle night in with David and then back to work on cabinets, floors and more!



Pan-Seared Strip Steak (Photo by Charles Masters)


P.S. Be sure to “like” Cooking Inside the Lines on Facebook and if you dig pies, you can “like” The Pie Society too!

Honey-Marinated Pork with Gremolata

To me, you can never go wrong when you combine honey with anything. I mean right? Think about it, what’s one thing honey doesn’t go well with? Bon Appetit explores this idea in their At the Market section focused on the lucious, good for you nectar from our gentle bee friends. I have to give mad props to the Bon Appetit staff for the amazing recipes they have in this section. I’ve done two other rock star recipes from the past two issues (see here and here) and this Honey-Marinated Pork with Gremolata was simply awesome as well.

Honey-Marinated Pork with Gremolata (Photo by Jamie Chung)

I marinated the pork in the morning since we would be out all day on Lake Travis. Let’s let that sink in shall we? Go ahead, I”ll wait………..we had our first day on the lake on January 30th! It was so beautiful here yesterday and sitting on a boat chatting and relaxing with friends was a great way to end the weekend.  I guess we need to celebrate the warm weather since it’s going to be in the low 20s later on this week, with the possibility of snow. An 80 degree day and then a few days later a chance of snow. Whoa-k. I won’t get into how that’s a tad odd, even for the ever changing Texas weather.

Back to the pork people. After searing the two tenderloins and placing in the oven, I made the gremolata and then moved on to the salad I chose as a side dish: Escarole with Bacon, Dates and Warm Walnut Vinaigrette. OUTSTANDING. There I got that out of my system. This is originally an entree salad but I lowered the amount to keep it as a simple side. We loved, loved this salad. It’s super easy to put together and the dates, walnuts and bacon all played quite nicely together.  I didn’t have walnut oil (who does?) and couldn’t find escarole (what gives Austin?) so I just used olive oil and fresh arugula for the greens; still freaking delicious. We loved the pork and you really tasted the full honey flavor in every bite.  Plus the reduced sauce and gremolata on top made the pork sing such a pretty song. We have leftovers today and I can’t wait for lunch time to get here so I can inhale the rest of the pork.

Both big winners in our house, I hope they will be in yours too.

Escarole with Bacon, Dates and Warm Walnut Vinaigrette (Photo by Kiyoshi Togashi)