Category Archives: Party Food

January, We Hardly Knew Ye

How did January go by so fast? Where does the time go? Where is the Fitbit charging cord (seriously, if anyone knows…).

Not a ton of events hosted during this bleak month. We did have one momentous occasion. Guitar Boy entered the realm of teenager.

Neither Hallmark nor Target carries violent video game cake toppers, you have to make your own. Weird.

January definitely is for comfort food. So it was a big soup month around here. I made Smitten Kitchen’s Ultimate Chicken Soup.

I made Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup from Two Peas and Their Pod.

With Italian Grilled Cheese from Stanley Tucci’s cookbook.

Basically it is fresh mozzarella sliced thin on Italian bread, dipped in a slightly beaten egg and grilled.  I rubbed the bread with a cut garlic clove and added a pinch of salt to the egg mixture. It was gooey and good, but it needed a little somethin’ somethin’. If I did it again, at MBork’s suggestion I would add grated parmesan to the egg dip to give it a frico type of texture.  Or I might make it two cheese with Fontina or another strong but melty cheese. But hey, grilled cheese, no complaining!

Made the easiest Stovetop Mac and Cheese from The Food Lab at Serious Eats.

This was really good. And it heats up well the next day. The only tip I’d offer is don’t add the salt until you taste it. Cheese varies in saltiness. PS, that’s in a clear glass bowl. I don’t just put piles of mac-n-cheese directly on the table. Well, not often.

Drummer Boy advanced to the Battle of the Books semi-finals. They read 7 books in two months. They didn’t win the whole thing but not for lack of preparation. So proud.

Taking a step away from clothespin-on-the-aorta type of recipes, I also made this Detox Salad from Gimme Some Oven.

I didn’t have miso though so I substituted with this Ginger Sesame Dressing from Epicurious. Delicious. Though if you are going to store it in the refrigerator for a day, don’t add the almonds. They get super soggy.

So what food is going to the Superbowly party today? Oh, wait no, it’s Superbowl LI.  My bad.

You know how you are walking through Trader Joe’s and they are handing out samples of food and drink. Fatefully one day I was walking through and they had taken their Pub Cheese and warmed it. Just warmed it. And then put it on pretzel bread. And then handed it to me. And then I ate it. And then my whole family ate it. And now Imma gonna eat it again.

Seriously, all you do is warm it up for 30 seconds or so in the microwave and put it over a warmer and slice the bread. As Ina would say, “how easy is that?”.  Also bringing the always popular and totally low calorie Muffins That Taste Like Donuts from Tasty Kitchen.

And my 90’s classic – Crab Dip.

Old School Crab Dip

WHAT YOU NEED
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 TBSP mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or use 2 cubes of Trader Joe’s crushed, frozen garlic. I heart you Trader Joe’s!)
Hearty pinches of kosher salt and a grind of black pepper
3 green onions minced or 2 TBSP of finely minced white onion
6 oz crab meat (canned or refrigerated, but fully cooked)

WHAT YOU DO
Combine the everything except the onion and crab meat in a bowl. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Stir in the crab meat and onion with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Put it into serving bowl, cover and chill at least an hour.

And so we’re off to enjoy the commercials big game. Have a great week everyone!

 

For Auld Lang Syne, For Sure

Happy 2017 everyone. I’ve de-Christmased the house in preparation for an organizing binge. More on that later.

Was going to make a bunch of appetizers for New Year’s Eve, but apparently while I was sleeping there was a run on mini-pita breads and red pepper jelly so Imma gonna just bookmark this recipe for chicken salad pitas right here for next time.

Did make these tidbits though.  Easy and can be served warm or at room temperature.

Beef Tenderloin Crostini with Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Cream Sauce

WHAT YOU NEED
For the beef:
2-3 lb. beef tenderloin roast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

For the onions:
1 medium size yellow onion
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP unsalted butter
pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

For the cream sauce:
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1 TBSP prepared horseradish
1 TBSP pink peppercorns, crushed or ground

1 long French baguette, sliced into thin rounds.

WHAT YOU DO
The day before you cook it, place beef on a rack on cookie sheet. Coat the beef with the salt and place uncovered in a refrigerator overnight (gotta trust me here).

The next day, take beef out of refrigerator about 1 hour before you are ready to cook.  Heat oven to 425ºF. Rub beef with the 1 TBSP of olive oil and place back on the rack on cookie sheet. Roast about 30 minutes or until the meat temperature reaches 135ºF (that’s my version of medium rare).  Remove from oven and let rest.

While the beef roasts, prepare onions.  Slice onion into thin slices.  Melt butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are fully caramelized, about 20 more minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Place slices of baguette on a different baking sheet and toast rounds for about 10-15 minutes.

Combine sour cream, horseradish and a pinch of the ground pepper in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to assemble, thinly slice the beef (an electric knife is a useful thing here). Place a smidge of onions on each toast, top with a slice of beef, a dollop of the cream and sprinkle with some ground pink pepper.  If you had fresh parsley around, you could also chop that finely and sprinkle on for some color.

Here’s a quick recap of Plaid Christmases.

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Blurry grown-up table

The gang from Plaid Christmas One

Ka-Pow!

Made a new cocktail that was a hit, even with the Manhattan die hards. #diehardisachristmasmovie.  It’s call Santa’s Little Helper from blogger Aunt Peaches.

All you do is soak two cinnamon sticks and a bunch of whole cranberries in good bourbon overnight. Note – Aunt Peaches uses cloves. I’m not a fan, I think they overpower. Make your own call, I’m not the boss of you!  The next day, fill a glass with ice.  Pour in three parts infused bourbon, one part triple sec, and fill the glass with Sprite or even diet Sierra Mist. Garnish with the cranberries from the bourbon.

Onward folks.  We saw 2016 off in style, at the Harrison’s last Illinois-based NYE bash before they take the party back to the land of Oz.

There were lots of laughs and many tears.  We will miss these people with all our hearts.

But not their Vegemite.

A cup o’ kindness to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.

 

October Surprises

This has been a cooking marathon.  Contests, a bake sale for charity, Halloween 1, 2 and 3. I’m exhausted. What’s that? I need to start planning Thanksgiving. After I nap.

First, Soup-A-Palooza. A refined competition between members of the Legal Department where each day, for THREE WEEKS, a person brings in a homemade soup for everyone to eat. And then we select a tribute for each soup and have them fight to the death. Well not exactly, we vote. My soup tied in my week. I will leave you in suspense as to whether I accept the results of the upcoming tie-breaking election.

I made Smitten Kitchen’s Cream of Tomato Soup.  The only thing I did differently is reduced brandy to 1 TBSP and used vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. Honestly, I’ve done it both ways and it was better with the vegetable stock.  Also, to make enough for the whole department, I had to make four batches. I don’t need no stinkin’ batches (name the movie).

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On the side were cheesy croutons and basil. Just toss bread cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake at 375 until crispy (about 10-15 minutes) and then finely grate some white cheddar and gruyere cheese over the warm croutons.

Then we had the first Halloween outing for Al’s 8th birthday.  Here’s the crew

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I made S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from How Sweet Eats and Pumpkin Bread in the Williams & Sonoma Fall Cakelet Pan.

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Click the How Sweet Eats link for the s’mores cookies, but here’s my super secret pumpkin bread recipe. Ready?

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Yep. I’ve roasted and pureed and seasoned pumpkin to make bread. To which I get “yuck”. But Trader Joe’s mix – beloved. See, even I give up sometimes.

Next up was the charity bake sale at work for Bright Pink.  Made more pumpkin bread and these Browniest Cookies from Smitten Kitchen.

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We raised $2,700 for breast cancer research. Here’s the spread. This Legal department can bake!bakesale

Next up was Halloween 2 – Pizza Night (you thought I was going to say “the return of Michael Myers”. Nope, just pizza night).

Lt. Dan was a creepy clown before creepy clowns were cool.

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The Mother of Dragons stopped by as well as cats and sports fans.

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And Ron Swanson.

dsc_0274The quote on the cup is “You have accidentally given me the food my food eats”, one of our favorites. No disrespect Salad!   The gang was ready for some drinks and spooky treats from Mbork.

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And Jen from Pastries So Tasty made these awesome cakes.

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I made this smoked salmon terrine.

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Smoked Salmon Terrine
inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit

WHAT YOU NEED
8 oz nova lox
6 oz cream cheese
4 oz goat cheese
2 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP horseradish
2 radishes finely minced
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

WHAT YOU DO
Line a six inch diameter ramekin (or any other flat sided dish or cake mold) with plastic wrap bringing it up the sides.  Blend the cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon zest and horeseradish with a hand mixer until smooth.  In another bowl mix the onions and radishes.   Flake the lox with a fork and make an even layer on the bottom of the ramekin, covering it completely using about a third of the salmon. Dollop half of the cream cheese mixture and spread it gently but evenly (an offset spatula works well here).  Sprinkle half the onion/radish mixture on top, pressing gently on them so they stick. Repeat the layers but then end with a salmon layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and press down gently on the whole thing.  Chill for at least an hour.  Serve by taking the plastic off the top and inverting on to a scary skeleton platter, then carefully peel the plastic off.  Top with the fresh dill.  Serve with bagel chips and party rye.

And then finally on to actual Halloween.  Where we never got a picture of the boys together because Guitar Boy had stage crew until 5 and then went trick or treating with his friends.  So please enjoy this picture of Drummer Boy as Bigfoot with his friend as…well, you be the judge.

 

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Oh, and one more thing.

CUBS WIN CUBS WIN CUBS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you haven’t seen it, go watch this Budweiser commercial.  Grab a tissue before you do.

Working on practice Thanksgiving tomorrow. Didn’t everyone spend their Friday night dehydrating Craisins?  Yes, I do know how cool I am.

Have a great weekend everyone.

 

Warm Weather Appetizers But Not Hot Weather, Because Gross

Our neighbors (with babies** – yay!) invited everyone down for a last minute “just because” appetizer and dessert party. I took stock of what was in the fridge and took my cookbook collection to tell me what to make.

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Can’t go wrong with Ina Garten at the Barefoot Contessa.  You can assume that because as you can see on the right, I have 6 of her books. But they have literally never failed me. (P.S I’m lying about this collection – there is another set of shelves full of cookbooks. And two binders worth of ripped out magazine recipes. OK..four binders.  OK.. four binders sorted by meal course and color coded. Sigh.)

I went with her Roasted Shrimp Cocktail.  However, I took the suggestion of “Robert Y” in the comments on the same recipe at the Food Network site and brined the shrimp, tossed in olive oil and Old Bay seasoning and preheated the pans so the undersides cooked without having to flip a bunch of shrimp – genius!.  Turned out great. In fact, I’d urge you to make this sauce instead of picking up a jar the next time you need a seafood sauce. It is easy-peasy and the taste if soooooo much better than jarred.

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But I had cherries and nothing in my bajillion books was inspiring me.  To the internet!!  I decided on a sweet/savory Cherry Crostini two ways.  I adapted it from Bon Appetit’s Savory Cherry Crostini recipe and Heather Christo’s Roasted Cherry Crostini.

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Cherry Crostini

WHAT YOU NEED
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
3 cups pitted, halved cherries (I used Yellow Rainer)
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
log of goat cheese
best ricotta you can find
balsamic glaze (I used this one from Trader Joe’s)
extra thyme leaves
sea salt
skinny baguette, sliced and toasted

WHAT YOU DO
Heat the olive oil in a saute or frying pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add the cherries, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper.  Saute until soft and just beginning to brown (3-5 minutes) but not completely mush, you want them to look like cherries.  Remove from heat and cool. I actually put it in the refrigerator for use later.

When ready to go to, spread some of either the goat cheese or the ricotta on the toasted baguette slices. Top the goat cheese one with a spoonful of cherry mixture, a sprinkle of additional thyme leaves and pinch of sea salt.  Top the ricotta one with the cherry mixture and drizzle just the tiniest bit of balsamic glaze over top.

**By the way, to me babies = anyone still talking in a tiny voice. So thanks for the party, guys!

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Have a lovely week everyone.

Turns Out They Don’t Make Candles That Say 103

So my grandmother turned 103 this month. Passed her drivers test. Still lives in her condo. Still likes to go to parties. Still needs help with the iPad. Still better dressed than me.

So we had a 103rd birthday party. Which required (yes, required) commemorative menu cards.

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Made easier with the Avery template design tool. I also used it to make the cake topper signs.

So, let’s get this party started with a cocktail.  An Orange Crush Cocktail from Kitchen Konfidence to be precise.

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In an official Pittsburgh Pirates Old Fashioned glass. It’s the right thing to do.

The only thing I changed was to double the orange juice and add sliced oranges. I used the suggested Olmeca Altos Tequila and though I’m not usually down with the brown liquor, it was very good.  Those with more discriminating palates than mine thought it was good neat as well.

As you can read from the menu card, we had roasted beef tenderloin which I discuss in this post. Though I didn’t use the garlic, just rubbed with olive oil and cracked pepper before putting it in the oven and made a herb sauce. We also had Waldorf Salad Cups where I used the recipe for the salad, but then used whole butter lettuce leaves and spooned some salad onto each leaf.  People were hungry so we ravaged and thus, I forgot to take a picture. Oh, well, just imagine it looked delicious.

Made this Jeweled Tabbouleh side salad.

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Jeweled Grain Tabbouleh
Adapted just barely from A View From Great Island

WHAT YOU NEED
4 cups cooked grains.  I’ve used quinoa (keeps the dish gluten free) and freekeh (the picture is freekeh). The original recipe called for 2 cups each cracked wheat and wheat berries.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large bunch minced fresh parsley, stems removed
1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped  (I used half of one of those grocery store plastic containers)
1/2 English cucumber, finely diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup raw pistachios, rough chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Craisins or dried cherries

WHAT YOU DO
Mix the dressing by shaking the olive oil,  lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste in a jar.  Pour it over the grains and toss to combine.  Mix in the the minced parsley, mint, cucumber, and red onion.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mix in the nuts and fruit just before serving.

And cake from Kirschbaums, because that’s how we roll in the Wes’ Subs.

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A little help from some of the great grandchildren.

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Baby D recommends the frosting as a side dish. And a way to power through no-nap all the way until 9 p.m.

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But the true frosting on the cake was GG’s grandchildren and great grandchildren teaching her to use Snapchat.  This is her skeptical reaction to seeing this essential piece of technology:

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But then she got more comfortable breathing fire.

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But perhaps most disturbing was the face swap with P.

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But, in the end, everyone was satisfied.

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Very satisfied.

Have a great week everyone.

 

The Night is Dark and Full of Appetizers

If I have to wear football gear, you can be sure I’m gonna nerd it up, Game of Thrones style.

For today’s festivities, I supported the Broncos because their colors are the same as the Bears. And I have orange shoes already, so…allegiance formed!

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Most of the people I follow on Instagram are food bloggers and you can tell everyone was getting ready for the Super Bowl yesterday because there were hardly any posts all day. And this morning – BAM – wings, dips, treats galore. Here’s what I chose to make:

Things We Dipped in Chocolate.  Recipe:  Melt chocolate, dip various things in it.

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But, BUT, you need to make these Potato Chip Cookies from Smitten Kitchen first.

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They are delicious, lightly sweet and salty. The only thing I did different was that I omitted the added salt (because I used Ruffles not Cape Cod chips) and I used another 1/2 cup of crushed potato chips in lieu of pecans. Because Drummer Boy helped and if he saw the nuts go in he never would even try them. He’s not a guy who likes sweets, so he immediately asked for…

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Chex Mix for dessert. I just use the back of the box recipe except that I add an extra two tablespoons butter. And this time we didn’t use wheat Chex because they just burn, everyone leaves them behind anyway in a puddle of sadness. So we doubled the Cheerios and pretzels.  But if you could find good gluten free pretzels, without the wheat Chex it would be gluten free.

On the healthier-ish side, we have this Greek Spinach and Kale Dip from How Sweet It Is. Made it the day before so flavors could meld. I reduced the kale to 1/2 cup because it was looking uncomfortably green.

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And finally, Pepperoni Pizza Rolls from Two Peas and Their Pod. Dough and I have a complicated relationship (in that Dough hates me) so I just used Pillsbury pizza dough in a can. Big hit.

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I’d like to pretend that’s my manicure, but my stubby nails could never support what MichCC can handle.

This is how 2016 children watch the Super Bowl. By ignoring it and playing games on their own devices. Left to my own devices, I probably would (name that band). Never mind, no one is going to remember. It was Pet Shop Boys.

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Wide retriever. Heh.

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Have a great week everyone.

Welcome 2016. I Need a Nap.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope yours was festive. I hope your kids slept past 7 after staying up until 1:00 am. I hope you didn’t decide to stay up to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey after you came home at 1:00 am when you were hosting a brunch the next day. Because that would be making poor choices now, wouldn’t it?

So I dragged myself awake to begin the brunch, but the good news is that this Bacon, Potato and Cheese Egg Casserole from Two Peas and Their Pod can be assembled the night before. I was worried it would get mushy, but Maria was right, it did not. Forgot a picture. Imagine eggs.

Made Guitar Boy a cake that Homer Simpson would be proud of. Mmmmmmmh, donuts.

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Since every third person, including yours truly, has the Winter Cough of Doom, I made this Sunshine Sangria for a healthy take on morning drinking. Lots of vitamin C and turmeric which is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Plus it makes it a bright orange color. I think that makes it a tincture!

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Sunshine Sangria

WHAT YOU NEED
For Pineapple Syrup
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar

Heat these ingredients in a small pot stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the Sangria
3/4 cup pineapple syrup
2 1/2 cups orange juice (fresh if you can find it in the store)
3/4 cups pineapple juice
2 limes, sliced and quartered
2 oranges or blood oranges, sliced and quartered
1 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 cup white rum
1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc
WHAT YOU DO
Combine all liquid ingredients in a pitcher and stir in the turmeric until it dissolves.  Add the fruit. Let sit overnight (trust me, it needs this time).

For the kids (and an astounding number of grown-ups), I made this very creamy slow cooker hot chocolate adapted from One Good Thing.

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

WHAT YOU NEED
2 cups Hershey kisses (or any other chocolate – chocolate chips, bar chocolate, etc.)
6 cups milk
1 14 oz can sweetened, condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP Ovaltine Malted Milk mix

WHAT YOU DO
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker on high. Stir frequently to get the melted chocolate off the bottom until combined. Let cook on high for another hour, then turn to low. Stir right before serving.

Can’t stop, won’t stop making things with Avery label’s design website. Made these Hershey kisses for NYE.

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Made these goodie bags for Guitar Boy’s 12th birthday party. Nothing like candy, a Halo guy and a Gravity Falls inspired sticker.

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We had 13 12-year olds over for pizza, Nerf battles, loudness and video games for his birthday.

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Someone got a selfie stick. Gotta breed the hipsters young.

All the best to everyone for a happy and healthy new year.

 

Well, That Went By Fast

People, I cannot believe it is December 29th. What happened? There was no snow before Christmas (note – hating on the snow now). There was a Wednesday night Pizza Night. There were holidays rendered in cheese.

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Ok. I promise, that’s it. No more cheese sculptures. Until it’s time for cheese hearts, cheese shamrocks….  Although I will say that after Cheese Snowman was mangled I made a joke on Instagram about zombies and Darryl Dixon/Norman Reedus’ body double liked my picture. Swoon.

Moving on, I made a lot of different food that wasn’t cheese based. I made these easy Apricot Glazed Chicken Thighs from Shutterbean on one busy weeknight. Super fast and super delicious. Didn’t take a picture because, well, we’ve been over how my brown food photography skills are. So you’ll just have to trust me and make it soon.

This Big Italian Salad from Once Upon a Chef:

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The dressing for this salad was really good. I think it would go well with any type of salad you want. And probably fantastic during summer with freshly grown herbs.

For Christmas Eve dinner, I did what I always do, Smitten Kitchen’s Braised Short Ribs with mashed potatoes. The crowd demands it. Plus you can make it the day before.

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In the treats category, How Sweet Eats Peppermint Pattie Brownies

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Smitten Kitchen’s Easy Roasted Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts.

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Smitten Kitchen’s Mom’s Apple Cake – Guitar Boy’s favorite.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Pan Cake from King Arthur Flour. With their Easy Chocolate Frosting. It was good. LIght and fluffy. I used milk and not water as we aren’t watching dairy.

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For both Neighbors Christmas and Mac Christmas I made everyone sprinkles mix using Avery design website again.

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My favorite one was “Bears on the Glen” mix with green sprinkles on the bottom and orange and blue on the top. Get it? Fun, right? I’ll understand if you want to leave and click back over to Facebook now.

As to presents, we had a very llama/narwhal-heavy Christmas. Want some salt or pepper?  No probllama!

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And of course, Star Wars figured prominently. Went to the movie too and it was great.

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One of my favorite gifts was this handmade artwork by Fake Sister.

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Or from my Nerd collection of gifts, maybe my very-hard-to-photograph Mother of Dragons wine glasses.

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Or maybe this?

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Ah yes, just like my childhood, when my mom would make 2001: A Space Odyssey pancakes every Sunday.

There were Christmas carols at GG’s.

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And we did some Christmas Crackers this year (the English party favor kind, not the snowflake-shaped Ritz kind). Then the kids put on a musical number with bells that were in the crackers, as expertly directed by me. Well, “expertly” might be a bit of a stretch. As is “musical number.” A clanging mess just might be slightly more accurate. At least they all cooperated for the picture.

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Mmmmmngh.

So I’ll take a one day breather, and then on to New Year’s Eve, Guitar Boy’s New Year’s Day family party brunch and then some classmates coming over to celebrate his birthday with Nerf and Halo–as one does as a tween–on Saturday. There will be some Avery projects and a significant amount of puff pastry goin’ on the next few days. I’ll report back as soon as I dig out.

Have a safe and happy New Year everyone. Peace out 2015.

Happy Birthday Dodd-Frank Act!

You share a birthday with my husband. However, Dodd-Frank, so far you have not shown me how you are useful or done anything to impress me. So you, Dodd-Frank, do not get a custom can koozie. Kevin, on the other hand, has done all that and more. So he gets one for his birthday:

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Step up your game, Dodd-Frank.

My friend receives a monthly box of fair trade food/ingredients, similar to the Hatchery box I get. We’ll call her Mbork to protect her identity. She wasn’t sure what to do with the California peach vinegar she received and Jbork agreed. So they dropped it off over here. Challenge accepted!

20150718_090045What, what?!  That’s right, first up is Pineapple Salsa

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WHAT YOU NEED
1.5 lb fresh pineapple, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
1 cup finely diced red pepper
4 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 TBSP peach vinegar
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin

WHAT YOU DO
Whisk last 5 ingredients in a bowl. Add first 5 ingredients and stir. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours for flavors to meld. Serve with tortilla chips when you get to a 9 year old’s birthday party

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Or save it as a topping for grilled fish.

What’s that you say? Big deal, so the bottle is missing about two tablespoons worth of vinegar?  Not going to concede? Alllllrighty then.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Peach Vinegar Dressing

WHAT YOU NEED
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP peach vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 heirloom tomatoes
2 TBSP sliced basil
1 ball burrata or mozzarella cheese

WHAT YOU DO
Combine first 4 ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Slice tomatoes and place on platter. Slice cheese and place under tomatoes (if burrata – cuz it’s messy) or on top of tomatoes (if mozzarella). Drizzle dressing over and scatter basil on top.

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Had enough?! No? Prepare your face.

Pork Tenderloin with Peach and Ginger Sauce
adapted from Epicurious‘ recipe

WHAT YOU NEED
1 TBSP canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
6 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup PEACH VINEGAR (Bam!)
2 TBSP minced or chopped ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 16 oz pork tenderloin
12 slices frozen peaches, thawed.

WHAT YOU DO
Heat vegetable oil in a pot on medium heat. Add onions and sugar and sauté until only slightly golden brown. Add remaining ingredients up to pepper and boil 2 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and cool. Once cool, add about a cup of the sauce to the pork tenderloins in a gallon size bag and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Store remaining sauce in refrigerator.

When ready, heat grill to medium. Remove pork from marinade and grill until done. “Done” is a subject of intense debate here at Lucky Rhino headquarters. Some members would defer to the USDA which lowered the pork safety temperature to 145 degrees with 3 minutes of resting time. Others of us feel that we aren’t going to be tricked by some shadowy government agency who is likely trying to grow a tapeworm army with humans as hosts and insist there not even be a hint of pink. Thus, 155 and 10 minutes of rest time it is.

Anyhoo, boil remaining sauce (don’t use the marinade) until reduced by half, about 5 minutes or so. Add the peaches and cook another two minutes. Slice pork and serve sauce over pork.

Sorry, pork simply doesn’t photograph well.

And, since today is National Ice Cream Day (yep!) I also made this S’mores Ice Cream Pie from Two Peas and Their Pod. Don’t worry, I didn’t put vinegar in it.

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The only thing I changed, albeit inadvertently, is that I forgot to mix the cracker crumbs into the ice cream, but I don’t think anyone noticed.

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And I also drizzled the top with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Because, why not?

And of course, then we went next door to Fake Sister’s house to make actual s’mores. Because, why not?

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Have a great week everyone.

Vacation’s All I Ever Wanted

Except now I’m exhausted from all the vacationing. We rented a house on the lake in Indiana and it was lovely.

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There was beach time (ahem, strike a pose)

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Bowling time (cold, rainy day)

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Rollerskating time.

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BIG waves (well, for Lake Michigan).

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Up to no good at the beach time.

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Digging holes.

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Spotted an elusive beach gnome in one of the holes.

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Just down the street, an American Ninja Warrior-like park. Big M as Kacy Catanzaro!

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But from this blogger’s perspective, most of all, it had a really fully stocked kitchen which is unusual in a rental.  Silicone basting brush – check. Juicer – check.  Three colanders, one ginormous – check.  I wanted for nothing.

So here are a few things that were on the menu for the week:

Smitten Kitchen’s Tomato Sausage Risotto which is a go-to dish to serve a lot of people. I use turkey Italian sausage to lighten it up a bit. Add 1/2 to every ingredient to serve 4 adults and 2 girls who are good eaters.

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Cobb Salad with Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Ranch Dressing

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WHAT YOU NEED
4 cooked boneless chicken breasts. You can cook them any way you want, but this method from thekitchn really works for salads.
16 oz. bacon, cooked crisp
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh peas (hint, Trader Joes has them in the refrigerated section)
3 hard boiled eggs
1 medium red onion, diced.
2 avocados, diced
Cooked corn kernels (good use for left-over corn on the cob)
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head/clamshell butter lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce
Blue cheese crumbles (optional)

WHAT YOU DO
Arrange all lettuce in bowl or platter. Toss with a little of the ranch dressing.   Arrange all the ingredients in rows on the lettuce and drizzle with a little more dressing.  I serve the blue cheese crumbles on the side as not everyone like blue cheese in this particular vacation house.

From BevCooks, Seared Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.  I didn’t serve it with polenta, instead roasted a bunch of fingerling potatoes, halved, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, flipping half way through. Forget to take picture.  To compensate, here are the sauce and marinade that I made ahead before we left.

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Also featured in that picture is ginger syrup for the Ginger Beergaritas from How Sweet It Is.  Tasted like a margarita soda. Yum.

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We packed up this group of cousins and headed up the road to see the lake-adjacent house of my cousins. Showing up with 6 kids in tow, Tessa had this response:

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We had a great time, great meal of turkey burgers, regular burgers, brats and as a side I made The Pioneer Woman’s Pasta Ai Quattro Formaggio, otherwise known as four-cheese, clothespin-on-the-aorta, mac and cheese.

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Really a very simple dish when using Trader Joe’s 4 Cheese Italian blend. I make it often as a weeknight side. I also made a peach crumble from The Kitchn’s Make a Crumble from Any Fruit recipe.

It got a little dark to get too many pictures, but as least we got some fire pit action in.

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And the song McNamara’s Band MAY have been played. And there MAY have a been a parade with tupperware instruments. However, in the interest that anyone may have in running for Supreme Court justice or other public office someday, we’ll keep that video just between us cousins.

There was card playing for money, natch.

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And some pool time.

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And this creepy, Scooby-Doo-like abandoned park named Canada Playground. This is Indiana’s way of saying “Hey Canada, maybe if you’d stop giving away health care you could step up your parks and rec maintenance!” Note it also says no dogs allowed. Because you wouldn’t want to mess up the facilities.

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All in all, a success at Beachwalk Resort.

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Now, one more day until I’m back to the life where there is much less joyful jumping.

But not before I made everyone one of these Birthday Cake Milkshakes. There are lots of different riffs on these out there, but I think using frosting makes for a better texture than the ones I’ve done with cake mix.

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WHAT YOU NEED
1.5 Quarts of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
8 oz vanilla frosting from a can
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 cup milk (depending on how thick you would like the shake).
Sprinkles.  Always sprinkles.
Extra frosting for the glasses

WHAT YOU DO
Blend first 4 ingredients in blender to desired milkshakiness.  Rub vanilla frosting on the rim of each glass.  Put sprinkles on a plate and turn the cup to coat rim in sprinkles. They can be any color or size, I just had Fourth of July nonpareils on hand.  Pour in milkshake and serve to this happy camper.

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I mustache you, was this delicious?