Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Bacon Dip

Jalapeno poppers are one of my moms favorites.  And one of my favorites.  And one of Charlie's favorites.  And well, every one's' favorites. I was in charge of dips this 4th of July so I decided to turn this oh so popular appetizer into a dip-able masterpiece.  AND OH WAS IT.  I mean, my taste buds were doing straight up karate chops. 

Very rarely do I make something that I can't stop eating.  I usually enjoy what I make - but I think that's just a cooks curse - you're always critiquing your own recipes and wondering how you can make it better next time.  NOT THIS...OMG not this. It was so freaking delicious.  I think I ate half the pan.  I just hung around it like a little hover craft, not so discretely licking my fingers and anything else that accidentally (ahem) ran into the dip. 

Perfect combo of spicy, bacony, cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and soul satisfy...y.  I'm sorry you're reading this.

I sort of wung the recipe.  I was talking to my mom and tasting as I went along, but I pretty much remember the recipe.  I started with crisping up 12 pieces of microwave ready bacon (genius for dips when you don't want to fuss with bacon grease), placed the warm bacon on the cream cheese to soften it up, and then added chopped green onions and jalapeno peppers. 

I then added some mayonnaise (don't you dare use miracle whip or I'll hunt you down) and some sour cream.

I then added some garlic powder and then some colby jack cheese.  Because you obviously need cheese.

Then, I added it to a pie dish/dip dish...

...and then I did something brilliant.  I melted some butter and then added some panko bread crumbs.  After incorporating the crumbs into the butter, I sprinkled them all over the top.  I actually made this two days ahead of time...

...and after baking in a 400 degree oven for about 20=30 minutes, I got THIS.  Creamy crunchy GOODNESSSSS.


MMM.  MMM MMM MMM.  Say what now?  MMMMMMMMM.

Here's the recipe! 

1 Block of Good Cream Cheese (Philly please) 
4 Packages of Microwave Ready Bacon, Crumbled (12 slices total) 
4 Green Onions, Chopped 
3 Jalapenos, Diced (remove seeds if you don't want it too spicy) 
1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise 
1/2 Cup of Sour Cream 
1 Cup of Colby Jack Cheese
1/2 Tsp of Garlic Powder 
1/2 Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs 
3 Tbs of Butter 

Leave cream cheese out until it reaches room temp to soften up.  Crisp up microwave ready bacon and crumble.  While still warm, add to top of cream cheese.  Add jalapenos, green onions, garlic powder, mayo, sour cream and colby jack cheese.  Taste and adjust as needed.Mix and spread into baking dish. Melt the butter and add the panko breadcrumbs and then sprinkle on top.  Let dip chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but can chill for up to 2 days.  Bake at 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are a rich golden brown.  If needed, you can turn your broiler on at the end if they need an extra toasting. Serve with crackers, thinly sliced toasted baguette, carrots, frisbees, or shovels. 

Stay hungry! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Picnic Ideas

We are headed to an outdoor concert this weekend and the venue is famous for elaborate outdoor picnics. Can't even wait.  It's going to be like a fancy shmancy tailgate which just has my name all over it.  Picnics are tricky.  You have to pack things that will travel well, that will do well at room temp for awhile (read: won't kill your guests), and is conducive to longs spans of wine drinking.  I went deep into the Hardly Housewives archives and found the following ideas.  YUM. 

1. Avocado Black Bean Salsa.  This is money.  You know why?  It's totally fine at room temp and it actually gets better the longer it sits since it continues to meld and marinate.  The only problem?  It won't even last that long. 

3.  Cucumber and Salami Tea Sandwiches.  These are cute and dainty.  Not the best choice for room temp, so you would want to keep these cool and then eat them early on in the picnic.  BUT AREN'T THEY SO CUTE?  So cute. 

4. Roasted Rosemary Marcona Almonds.  These are the bomb.  And so easy to make and just fancy enough to make your picnic seem all the more special.  Serve these next to some cheese and meat and you'll have a beautiful spread. 

5. Zero Guilt Cookie Dough Dip.  OMG.  A dessert that tastes like cookie dough, that you can feel good about, AND it'll be totally fine at room temp?  HELLO.  Picnic perfection right here.  

6.  Asparagus Puff Pastry.  This looks divine (haven't tried Caitlin's recipe yet!) and think it would be lovely for a fancy little spread.  

7.  Parmesan Panko Breaded Chicken Fingers. Fried chicken is a picnic must. It's awesome at room temp, just make sure it doesn't sit out for too long, especially in the sun.  I like the idea of doing chicken fingers because eating off the bone is extra messy...especially if you aren't near a sink. 

...speaking of chicken...

8.  Buffalo Chicken Crostini. Not good at room temp?  I challenge!  I've had these at room temp and they are delish. AND since you cook them with the cheese, they stay together and don't fall apart during transport.  Boom shaka laka. 

Ok that's all I got.  I'll be sure to take some pics and share whatever it is I throw together this weekend. 

Stay hungry! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Leftover Rib Eye Sandwiches

Any time we have leftover steak, I make steak sandwiches.  I almost like it as much as the original meal.  Almost. 

Steak is delicious cold and when you pair it with fresh veggies and a sauce that doesn't quit, well you got yourself a happy hubby.  

I mean...can we just have a moment of silence for how perfectly marbled and medium rare this rib eye is?  THANKS GRILL MASTER CHARLIE.  

Hellman's mayo is a great base.  Get the real kind, not the light or fat free or weird kind.  The real kind is real - just eggs, oil, vinegar and lemon juice and a few other ingredients I can't think of.  It doesn't contain anything crazy (like cornstarch, ew) so it's the perfect base to get creative with.  I always have balsamic on hand - like 30 kinds worth.  Since I wanted a nice, thick sauce, I added a few squirts of balsamic glaze to the mayo.  You could also add dijon, garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, or anything you want, really.  Since DA BEEF was coming from an Italian flavor profile (Tuscan rib eyes ya'all), I went with balsamic.

Get a nice soft roll, or a crusty baguette.  Are you catching on?  You can make this a million different ways.  I went with a soft roll because that's just my preference, but I've had this on crust ciabatta too and it's ridic.

Spread this sauce on both sides of the roll, layer with steak, top with red onion and lettuce.  Cut and half and devour.  And I do mean devour. 

MMMMM mmmmm mmmm.  Get right outside of town with this.

Stay hungry!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wedding Shower Recipe Book

This is something I've cherished and used for almost four years now, but pulled out this week to check a recipe and thought I'd post about.  In August of 2010, a month before my wedding, my bridesmaids threw me a beautiful shower at my mother in law's home.  There were all sorts of lovely details including a recipe book made with recipes from the guests:

From drinks to appetizers to dessert, the ladies at my shower filled out favorite recipes that I've used throughout my marriage.  It's a carefully curated bunch of recipes that my loved ones thought I'd love and they were spot on.

My friend Leah's pirogi recipe especially warms my heart.  The picture below only shows half of the recipe cards for the recipe.  I remember watching her spend about an hour writing it out (detailing the how-to as well as different fillings).  For the record, they're delicious.  

After the shower, my friend Jen gathered them up and stuck into a book along with photos she had taken during the day.  Whenever I need to reference my grandmother-in-law's deviled egg recipe or know how to make the delicious pasta my childhood friend's family always made, it's all in one place.  It's an awesome way to remember the day and it feels so special that friends & family selected and wrote out these recipes just for me.

Four years later, this book still gets frequent use.  Thanks, girls!

Friday, May 30, 2014

DIY Mother's Day Gift... Just in time for Father's Day

I feel silly posting something about Mother's Day three weeks after the fact, but it's easily customizable for Father's Day (surpriiiiiiise, Jesse!).

Baby Will still has the most precious, sweet little hands and I wanted to immortalize them somehow.  I used to work at a "Paint Your Own Pottery" store in high school, so I figured I'd track down a local one here and stamp Will's hand onto mugs for his grandmothers and godmother.  Though I have lost some of my old pottery skills (look at that uneven purple handle, jeez), I'm pretty satisfied with how they turned out:

The one I made for my mother is similar to one I made for my mom in high school.  Except that one said "Good morning, Mom" and not "Good morning, Grandma."  If I had given my mom a mug that said "Good morning, Grandma" when I was in 10th grade I'm not sure this story would have a happy ending.

Filled up with chocolates and presented to all of the other moms in Will's life, they made a useful & personalized gift.  All you need is your baby's hand, a paint your own pottery studio, and a few days for them to fire it.

Look at those chubby little hands.  I think I need to head back and make one for myself!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuscan Style Rib Eye Steak

What did you have for Memorial Day?  I had this.  Tuscan style rib eye steaks that seriously rivaled the steaks we had in...Tuscany.  While Charlie was golfing, I went to Whole Foods by myself (read: I went alone and had zero voice of reason with me).  I was supposed to just go and only get my special green juice but I swung by the meat counter and saw dry aged rib eye.  HELLO, I said. 

OMG.  So tender.  So amazing. 

Charlie was a little freaked out about the rub I made.  Did you already put the rosemary on the steaks? Oh you did.  I'm sure it'll be great.  It really was. 

Anyway, the rub is super easy.  I mixed olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes, lots of sea salt and pepper.  

YUMMM.  I tried a teaspoon of this as is and then was confused why I had severe heartburn all evening.  Silly me.

Here are the steaks...dry age, boneless, rib eyes.  Voice of reason.  Gone.

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?

I took the marinade/rub and rubbed it all over the steaks and then let them mellow on the counter top for about 2 hours.  It's important that steaks reach room temp before cooking, so they sear and grill nice and evenly.

Charlie is the master of the grill.  I just backseat cook and stare and take photos while he's literally risking his life for our dinner.  He heated the grill up to about 500 degrees...

...and then slapped these babies on.

He cooked them for two minutes, and then turned them 90 degrees to get the beautiful grill marks you see below.

He then flipped them and did the same thing on the other side.  So, for medium rare steaks, they cooked for a total of about 8 minutes, 4 minutes on each side.  Hotsy totsy.

Oh my.  We let them rest for ten minutes before slicing and serving.  I seriously sat at the counter and just stared at them for ten minutes while Charlie stared at me to make sure I didn't touch them.  Wise man.

This steak.  OMG.  This steak.  So the rosemary and the garlic and the salt and the other amazing ingredients and the crazy hot heat form this AMAZING crust and leave it perfectly tender in the inside.

I just can't.  Drooling.  I'm like drowning in drool. 


You can totally wing this one, but here's the exact recipe of what I made here:

2 Large Boneless Rib Eye Steaks 

5 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary, Stems Removed
4 Cloves of Garlic 
1 Tsp of Dried Red Pepper Flakes 
1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1/4 Cup of Grape Seed Oil 
1 Tsp of Kosher Salt 
1/2 Tsp of Freshly Grounded Black Pepper 

Set the steaks aside.  Mix all of the rub ingredients together in a food processor.  Rub all over the steaks and set aside for 2 hours.  Heat grill up to 500 degrees.  Place steaks on grill with metal tongs.  Let cook for 2 minutes and then turn 90 degrees and cook for another 2 minutes.  Flip steaks and repeat - 2 minutes, turn 90 degrees, cook 2 more minutes.  This is for medium rare - if you want medium I'd add another minute per side.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  This is important!  Make sure to let it rest.  Slice and serve.

Stay hungry!

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Travel Themed Wedding: Favors & Table Decor

So I wasn't joking about blogging nonstop about my friend Ams' wedding.  It's not shocking that after amazing hotel gift bags, I knew to expect something special for the big day.  The wedding itself was at the Museum of History and Industry (the "MOHAI") on South Lake Union in Seattle.  The venue was AMAZING and I'm hoping that her photographer will let me use some of their professional photos because my point and shoot camera pictures do NOT do it justice. I didn't trust myself to bring my nice camera, given that there was cross country travel & nonstop cocktails involved.

So anyway, my friend Ams (aka Sarah) and her husband Bret are both incredible travelers.  It's kind of their thing and, of course, this spilled into the wedding.  Here's what the centerpieces looked like:

I was at Table 8, New York City.  The other tables were all of the other locations they'd visited together and underneath each table number was a stack of travel books.  At each table setting was a note from the happy couple, explaining that the guests were to take home a guide book from the centerpieces to help inspire our "next big adventure".  How cute is that?

 Each place setting also had a luggage tag with the Seattle skyline sketch seen all throughout their wedding ("We have a lot of branding," the bride said to one of our friends).  I think luggage tags are an especially cute AND functional wedding favor:

Tables also had a picture of the bride and groom at various locations they've visited together (the one I happened to photograph was of them in Washington State but there were framed photos from them around the world):

During the cake cutting, Bret announced they were going to Bali and Hong Kong on a two week honeymoon (a surprise to Ams up until that point, which I think is super cute).  At the end of the evening, the bride and groom headed off on a boat into South Lake Union through a line of sparkler-ed guests:

An amazing end to an awesome evening.  I'm obsessed with the travel theme of this wedding and hope to be sharing some photos soon that actually do justice to this incredible night.  Thanks again to Bret & Ams for giving me weeks worth of blog fodder!  Hope married life is treating you well.