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Queso dip is a football Sunday staple. Erik is a huge Vikings fan, so once the season rolls around, I start thinking of great appetizers for our many football gatherings. I came up with the idea of a BLT-inspired queso dip with Erik’s help. We were trying to come up with a unique dip recipe and Erik mentioned how great the Rueben dip is that I’ve made a couple times. So I asked him, what is another great sandwich that we could turn into a dip? And Erik immediately blurted out, “a BLT!”. Erik LOVES BLTs, he can literally eat four of them in one sitting.

I thought a BLT-inspired queso dip sounded pretty awesome so I started recipe writing and testing right away. Luckily, I nailed the dip on the first try. Once you have a roux figured out, it’s easy to make queso. Add-ins options are endless.

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Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE chips? Any and all kinds. I can finish off an entire bag by myself if left alone. So usually, I try not to even keep chips in the house because watch out…they’ll last a day, maybe two. And with this pregnancy, I’ve found myself buying chips and stashing them in my desk at work for snacks. Not really the best habit.

So that’s why I love Food Should Taste Good chips. They taste delicious but come without the guilt. They are made from wholesome (real!) ingredients, zero trans fat, and no cholesterol. They are also certified gluten free. They aren’t too salty and are not greasy like those other chips. In fact, these chips can even be considered a cracker. I love these chips for entertaining with friends or for a snack any day of the week (which I can enjoy without the usual guilt that comes with snacking).

They are perfect for dipping, especially the Multigrain flavor  (which has flax, sunflower and sesame seeds) . There are a ton of different flavors (I really need to try Guacamole and Lime ones!). I whipped up this super easy Greek dip to go with the Multigrain chips this weekend and my family really loved it.

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strawberries

Things have been a bit quiet around here, but I suppose that is nothing new. I’m definitely struggling with the blog in terms of posting frequency. I have so many post ideas swirling in my head, but haven’t been making cooking and posting and photographing a priority. It has a lot to do with this pregnancy and how much I’ve been sleeping, but also the fact that it’s summer, and too nice to be indoors cooking and on the computer. Perhaps when fall comes around I will be better.

Last week my family and I rented a gorgeous cabin  in Hayward, Wisconsin. We had an awesome time pontooning, fishing, swimming (just a little) and of course eating, eating and more eating. We also went to a yummy fish fry while my parents watched Juliet and her cousin Chloe. It was nice to have a bit of adult time, but by far the best part of vacation was spending an entire week with Juliet.

The weather could have been a bit nicer. It was warm enough, but rained quite a bit and the sun barely came out. Oh well!

So about this recipe…I made it for a dinner party a couple weeks ago and it was one of those last minute recipes that I had in mind and then searched on Pinterest and found something that brought my idea to reality. This crostini is easy and perfect for the summer. Use fresh basil from your herb garden or the farmers’ market for the best tasting appetizer. Hand-picked strawberries would be ideal, but these were simply store-bought and still great.

5.0 from 1 reviews
balsamic-soaked strawberries and goat cheese crostini with basil
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons basil, cut into a chiffonade (plus more for garnish)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • ½ baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, basil, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl. Let set for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. In the meantime, place crostini slices on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until slightly crisp about 8 minutes. Let cool.
  4. Spread goat cheese on toast and then layer balsamic strawberries over. Sprinkle with more basil.

 

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Hello!! It’s been a while, over a week. I traveled last week for work to LA, so that kept me busy. My only other excuse is that I’m tired. If you missed my Instagram post the other day, I announced that I am pregnant (16 weeks). My entire first trimester I was extremely exhausted by 7pm, which was a great reason to go to bed with Juliet. So we both went to bed pretty much every night by 8pm. And even into my second trimester I’m still tired in the evenings. After Juliet went to bed was always blogging time, so now I am at a loss. I’m hoping I’ll become less tired soon and will have more time and energy to blog.

Let’s talk about these amazing homemade wheat thins and yummy (and so easy) hummus. I was super pleased with myself for two reasons last weekend when I made this wheat thin/hummus combo. First, both turned out awesome. Like better than I imagined they could turn out awesome. And secondly, I finally got some decent food shots with my new camera (a Canon 7D)! I’m starting to (slowly) learn how to use it (this model is so different than my Canon Rebel) and I also found the optimal place in my house with the right natural light. This is key for getting sharper images. Usually I stare, super dismayed, at my photos on my computer after shooting and wonder how the hell can I get sharper images? Time for practicing my photography skills is also something that has somewhat fallen by the wayside during this pregnancy, unfortunately.

But…I think this new location for shooting in my house with better light and the little I have been able to practice has been improving my photos (slowly).

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Potato fest It may be surprising but I had never made aioli before last weekend. Whoa have I been missing out. It’s amazing. And very, very easy.

On Saturday, my girlfriends (Emily, Shannon and Natasha) got together for a “potato fest” dinner. Us four gals get together about once a month and we try to rotate cooking at one of our houses with going out to eat. For the dinners, we often choose a theme and then plan our dishes around that. We’ve had mushroom fest, seafood fest and now potato fest.

Of course potato fest was my idea because I’m pretty much obsessed with potatoes. I rate restaurants based on how good their french fries are. I would choose fries over any dessert any day of the week. Except for when I was pregnant with Juliet. I basically subsisted on cake for 9 months. Ok, not really but I did eat cake a lot.

Potato fest was a bit random but it was sure delicious.

Here is a run-down of our meal (which we really approached more like a bunch of appetizers and sides):

Chorizo hash browns
French fries with garlic truffle aioli (recipes below)
Spiced sweet potato and roasted broccoli toast
Savory spinach and parmesan creme brulee (basically a crustless quiche)
Sweet potato bread

Potato fest I loved the evening light I caught as I was snapping photos of our dinner. 

These sweet potato roasted broccoli toasts were made by Shannon and they were awesome. The recipe was pretty complex and had a lot of great flavor. This was probably one of the favorite dishes of the evening.

We had a few bottles of wine but this was by far our favorite of the evening, a Sterling Vineyards Cabernet. Really delicious. We spent a good half hour trying to recall whether or not we stopped at Sterling Vineyards when we went to Sonoma about 6 years ago. After some Googling we realized we had never been there, but decided it will definitely be on the list for the next trip to wine country.
Potato fest Potato fest Emily made these chorizo hash browns. I really liked these hash browns, the chorizo gave it a spicy, bold flavor. It wasn’t an easy dish though, Emily shredded the potatoes, squeezed out all the excess liquid, browned the chorizo and then cooked it all on the stovetop.

All my girlfriends are really amazing cooks.
Potato fest Natasha cheated and made a dish sans potatoes. But don’t get me wrong, this savory creme brûlée was really tasty. This is a crustless quiche, or even a strata but she got the recipe out of her creme brûlée cookbook, so creme brûlée it is.

Of course I made french fries because my love for fries runs deep. And now that I have made aioli I am more crazy about fries than ever.

Homemade baked, crispy french fries

2 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice potatoes into long, thin slices (I leave the skin-on but feel free to peel them if you prefer). In a large bowl, soak the potatoes in water for at least 30 minutes (this removes excess starch and helps them crisp up in the oven). Drain, rinse potatoes one time and then dry well (pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel).

Add the olive oil and toss to coat.

Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray and add fries in a single layer (don’t overcrowd).

Sprinkle with salt and pepper (don’t be too modest with the seasoning, fries should be somewhat salty in my opinion).

Bake for about 25 minutes, flipping fries about everything 7-10 minutes. Remove when fries are slightly browned and crispy.

Garlic truffle aioli (recipe adapted Life Ambrosia blog)

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 – 3/4 of a lemon
2 egg yolks (I used organic eggs but for optimal safety use pasteurized eggs)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons black truffle oil

Preparation

In a food processor combined garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, lemon juice, parsley and egg yolks.

Process until garlic is fully minced.

Slowly pour in the olive oil and then the truffle oil until the mixture emulsifies. It should be smooth but somewhat thick. If it seems too thin add a bit more olive oil.

Taste and add more of any of the ingredients that seem lacking (in my experience, this will be obvious. I tasted mine and knew it needed more salt and a little more lemon).

Not surprisingly, us gals were sufficiently carb-loaded and full after our potato fest. But what a fun evening it was.

Do you and your friends have dinner clubs or themed dinners? I’d love to hear about it, please comment and share!

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Mini quiche lorraine{Photo taken with the iPhone 5 and edited using Afterlight}

You most likely know by now that I love quiche. Regular sized, mini quiche, vegetarian, meat-filled, puff-pastry, pie crust, etc. I love all of it. Egg bakes and stratas rank pretty high up there, too. If I ever published a cookbook a quiche cookbook would be at the top of my consideration. It’s so versatile. Of course the obvious brunch entree comes to mind, but quiche works great at dinner as well and it also can be transformed into minis for a cocktail party.

So when my colleague hosted a “Paris at Midnight” themed gathering last Saturday mini quiche lorraine seemed like a great choice. Savory little bites filled with bacon and cheese? Sign me up.

This is an easy recipe that creates a really delicious appetizer. We had a blast at the gathering and the quiche was a hit. In addition to my quiche, we had about 5 baguettes (seriously!), tons of cheese, crepes for dessert, lentil pate and many bottles of champagne. Savory/salty food pair really well with champagne. That’s not obvious but it’s so true. Even potato chips go well with champagne. French fries, too.

Ok, now I’m getting way too hungry. 

Mini quiche lorraine (recipe adapted via iVillage)

Ingredients

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (to keep things easy I purchased already cooked bacon)
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese, shredded
1 15 ounce package refrigerated pie crust
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oregano

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 24 cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray or butter. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yolk and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper (about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon each). Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, use a 2 1/2 inch round cutter to cut 24 rounds out of the piecrust (the mouth of a glass works, too). Press the rounds into muffin cups.

Divide crumbled bacon and cheese evenly between the lined cups, then divide egg mixture between cups. Sprinkle oregano between the quiche.

Bake until quiche crusts are golden brown and egg mixture is puffed and completely set in the center, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the quiche to cooler racks. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

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