My mom’s birthday is New Year’s eve so we always have dinner and celebrate. This year I decided instead of just soda or sweet tea, I was going to serve a mocktail. The great thing about this mocktail is it can easily get boozy.
This is obviously really simple and forgiving.
For the tea I like to use orange pekot, 5 bags steeped in 3 cups of makes it plenty strong enough. Mix together the tea, peach nectar, and simple syrup. If you don’t want to bother with the simple syrup, instead try make 3 1/2 cups of tea dissolving 1/2 cup of sugar in it.
After all that has chilled and loved on each other it’s time to serve. Fill a glass with ice, about two thirds of the peach tea yummies then top off with a little club soda. Feeling fancy, add a sprig of mint or my favorite basil -the fresh peppery-ness makes me happy.
If we’re gonna make it boozy, I pick spiced rum every time. My favorite is Maggie’s Farm made in Pittsburgh PA! The husband – he picks whiskey.
Other fun things I want to try; switch out the one of the black tea bags for mint, peach, cinnamon or other flavors.
So happy mocktailing!
Fruity, slightly sweet with bubbles - perfect recipe for a refreshing sip.
Stuffed mushrooms are these little squishy juicy flavor packets of happiness, that will burn the mess out of your tongue if you’re impatient and greedy. I use herb cheese spread to do the heavy lifting for big flavor and easy prep. Start with one container of mushrooms, whatever kind you like as long as they are stuffable. There are two kinds of people when it comes to using mushrooms, those who wash them and those who don’t, I’m a don’t. Sorry all you washers, I just assume take a towel and wipe them clean. Either way once you are satisfied with the state of your mushrooms, pop the stems out, and set the caps aside. Roughly chop the stems, onion and mince the garlic. This is a good point to go ahead and start pre heating the oven to 350C. This is just saying “stuff me” Next grab your favorite oven proof skillet, personally I’m still super happy to reach for the cast iron one I blabbed about here. Heat over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Just as this concoction gets a little bubbly add onion and saute until lightly browned, about 2 min or so. Follow with the chopped mushroom stems, continuing to saute until everything is golden, an additional 3-5 depending on your pan and heat. If you are so inclined; this is a good spot to add a splash of wine, waiting for it to cook off before moving on. Add the minced garlic, stirring constantly until fragrant. Don’t burn the garlic – keep it moving and cook for a min or less. Scrape everything out into a small bowl to cool. Blurry action shot! Once the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture of golden goodness has cooled a bit add half a container of herb cheese spread, about 4 oz. Stir until combined, the trick here is you want the mixture to be warm enough that the cheese melts but isn’t runny. Sometimes I add a little grated Parmesan cheese too. Now stuff those waiting patiently on the side lines mushrooms with a heaping pile of cheesy goodness. In the same skillet you were using to saute, melt the last of the butter and add the stuffed mushrooms. Heat them over a med heat until the bottoms are just turning golden. You really don’t have to do this, I just think it gives them a running start before they go in the oven. Carefully add a bit of white wine, or chicken broth – water will do just fine to. Just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Then if desired (you really should desire this part) sprinkle the tops of the ‘shrooms with panko crumbs and/or Parmesan cheese. If you look close you can see an extra bit of butter I felt like they needed, hehe. Put them in the oven for about 5 – 7 min making sure the tops don’t burn. Let them stand for a few min when they come out of the oven or you will experience an inferno of epic proportions and burn your lips, tongue mouth fingers etc. Once cool consume freely. Gracious me, look at that toasted cheesy goodness.
Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Mushrooms stuffed with creamy herb cheese and sauteed onions.
Wipe the mushrooms clean and remove the stems. Set the caps aside and chop the stems.
In a heavy oven proof skillet melt the butter and olive oil until bubbly. Once this is ready saute the onion for 2-3 min, then add the mushrooms stems and saute until golden. about another 3 - 5 min.
optional - If you have a little white wine or chicken broth add it to the skillet and let it reduce before moving on.
Working quickly saute the garlic with out burning it. Just a quick swoosh around the hot pan then scrape it all into a bowl and let it cool.
Once cooled add the cheese spread, and mix until combined. Using a spoon carefully stuff the mushrooms with the cheese filling.
In the same skillet melt the remaining butter and add the stuffed caps. Heat them for a few min over medium heat until there bottoms are golden.
With out spilling on the caps add a little white wine, chicken broth or even just water. You want enough to just cover the bottom of the skillet.
Top with a sprinkling of panko bread crumbs or Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven at 350 C for about 5 - 7 min. You want the mushrooms to be soft, a little shriveled around the edges and the cheese to be slightly brown on top. Let them suckers cool before you dig in.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. With that said I have updated this recipe I posted ages ago. It’s bigger, better, more user friendly and packed with the same addictive yummyness. Plus I got some photos before the husband descended on it like a swarm of locust.
I like to put this in pretty bags and gift it, or make a huge batch to share at a party, light bulb moment – post a perfectly doubled recipe. It was then I realized the shortcomings of the original recipe; the amounts weren’t really friendly to the size packages available in the store, making for waste. Sad but honest – it just wasn’t good enough to share. Let me move on before I change this into a monologue about how reevaluating what was once “good enough” brings new perspective.
Alrighty – in a large bowl mix together the cereal and all the other dry mess. Temporarily leave out anything that might get streaky and gross when it comes into contact with the hot melted chocolate (like chocolate covered candies or sprinkles), we aren’t making unicorn poop that’s a whole other recipe.
In a large microwave safe bowl place the contents of both packages of white chips and 1 cup of peanut butter chips, and the shorting. (Toss the remaining peanut butter chips in with the cereal or gorge on them, whatever.) Following the package instructions – microwave, stir melt repeat, blah blah…
Pour the shinny melted goodness all over the cereal, stir and hopefully not flick chex squares all over the floor like I usually do. Try not to trip over the dog while she eats the floor trash.
When its still goopy and almost combined add in the M&Ms or anything else that would have partly melted. Take the opportunity to add themed sprinkles , as you can see I added little Christmas trees. It’s a white trash Christmas, hehe.
Spread it out on parchment paper or foil, then when it cools break it into pieces. Eat and Share.
Recipe – makes about 12 cups
2 bags white chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips (put the rest of the bag in the dry stuff)
8 cups of Rice Chex cereal
2 cups of broken up pretzels
2 cups of peanuts
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 bag of M&Ms
orphaned peanut butter chips
It goes with out saying that this is versatile and fool proof; so many options. Try leaving out some of the peanuts and pretzels for dried cranberries and coconut. Sunflower seeds. Mini chocolate candies. Walnuts.
So how do you like your trash?
Having tapas for dinner is just a fancy way of saying – I think I’ll make a meal out of the appetizer sampler plate. Having a tapas party – that’s a guaranteed down right awesome shindig plus good food! Disclaimer – not a professional tapa menu maker uper party doer, just sharing my experiences and what works. With that said, lets get to it.
Our tapas night always about being traditional (here is a great traditional menu though) it is about whatever small bites speak to me and say “hey sexy, I’m tasty”. Yes, my food calls me sexy and sometimes I call it sexy back. Moving on – My first line of defense is simple quick recipes/nibbles that guarantee deliciousness and not stuck in the kitchen-ness. Once I build the the foundation of the menu with simple finger foods I pick out one or two items that will need real attention. I know this will give me a menu that isn’t overwhelming but still makes the party guests feel special, like their host spent a little extra time to make sure they enjoyed the food.
So what qualifies as quick and tasty (and sexy)? Usually I start with a fruit and cheese plate complete with salty cured meat of some sort. If I feel spry I might even wrap prosciutto around a piece of fruit and cheese. Little confession though – I hate goat cheese so you will never find it on/in/near anything at my house. I do however love Spanish manchego cheese, its a sheep’s milk cheese that is tangy and nutty, if you ever get the chance try it. Husband likes olives which I’m not fond of but sometimes they make an appearance or some marinated veggies.
Now is when I start to think about the more labor intensive part of the menu My advice is try to include something that can be baked ahead of time and then served either warm or at room temp, something fixed on the stove top and something from the oven. That way you aren’t shuffling things around trying to have everything ready at that perfect star aligning moment. A few favorites in our house are stuffed mushrooms, garlic sauteed shrimp, roasted figs, and a nod to the traditional – tortilla espanola, empanadas and croquettes.
Probably my mostest farvoritest part; presentation. Pull it all together with cute bowls, rustic wooden trays, small plates and nice napkins. Then everyone comes out to the table, we pour wine, break bread and graze.
So to wrap it up, just have fun and do whatever feels right. It really is just about having a good time and family and friends.
I wish everyone could find the same joy in cooking and planing meals for their family as I do. I love it, I think I’m just a happy planner and that’s all there is to it. So This is my meal planning post and it is in no way suppose to be the end all best way to get things done, it’s just my approach. I cook for two, which can honestly be great and it can be difficult at the same time.
First I look in the pantry/fridge to see what I have or what might be near death needing used up. Well no actually first I panic that there is nothing to cook or I have no idea what to make, then I look in the pantry. Anyway – moving on; Nothing is worse than tossing something because I find it weeks later and think – oh I didn’t know I had this I could have used it – so I check my resources. Incidentally forgetting to do this is how I ended up with lots of onions this week – weird. Anyway that’s where I start.
Then I move onto the weekly grocery store add(s). Sometimes I find inspiration there, plan meals around what is on sale or see that toilet paper is on special an remember we are nearly out.
Last before making a grocery list I poke through my cookbooks or any book marked recipes, picking meals. Some friendly advice; for every 3-4 meals I plan to fix, I pick one new recipe to try and keep the rest tried and true. I think limiting the experiments keeps my husband from wondering about dinner, and I still get to make an adventure meal here and there. Happy home am I right?
Anyway then I head off to the store, come home with my bounty and cheer myself on for planning a great menu.
One other thing that helps when planning meals – keep your pantry stocked. I’ve seen countless lists and recommendations for what’s best to stock – just do what feels right, and don’t get all crazy. (Unless crazy feels right of course.) I’ve seen ‘saffron threads’ on a list as a staple – what no – I don’t buy that diamond and platinum priced spice unless I need it! Think simple, you know your family this will be easy. For example, we really like a particular microwave rice packet, so I keep a few around.
Point being, do what feels right and have fun. If you are satisfied with the outcome, that is what matters. If you’re not – well take your miserable butt back in the kitchen and fix it already.
Late spring I took a trip up the coast to New Bern with my mom. We visited Tryon Palace, checked out the firefighter museum and ate some amazing seafood (shout out to MJ’s and their crabby fries). It goes with out saying that we did a little (okay a lot) of shopping. There were little art galleries tucked into buildings, backed with charming court yards, specialty shops for furry friends and a gourmet shop called Midtown Olive Oil. Let’s just say I fell in love with so many tasty things, here are a few that stood out and how they’ve been utilized in my kitchen arsenal.
Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic – This mess is like a secret weapon of mass flavor proportions, total ker-pow . White vinegar is always a favorite for me because its usually subtly sweet and fruity, making it easy to think – hey I’m going to add some of this *splash splash*. Mostly I use it in marinades for grilled chicken and shrimp, but splashed on a green salad makes me just as happy. Not crazy about lemon, their cranberry pear is fantastic too.
Basil Olive Oil – So if the lemon balsamic is the ker-pow weapon, this is the low rumble aftershock. Peppery basil, fruity olives done – finished. Again works well in a marinade or splashed on a salad. We also love it to dip a hunk of soft bread in.
Salt Sisters, Mediterranean Blend – I’ve run out of arsenal analogies but this stuff is da’bomb (oh wait no I didn’t hehe). At the risk of making it sound over simplified; salt, basic dried herbs and then dehydrated vinegar to give it this zip. Rub it on stuff, sprinkle it on stuff, mix it in stuff; Chicken, summer veggies, grilled fish, garlic bread, creamy pasta…. whatever can’t go wrong.
So the only complaint is the Midtown Olive web site, although very through with their own selection didn’t carry the same Salt Sister products I saw when I visited the store. What is a girl to do – oh yea head over to the Salt Sister site and check out what else they have. BBQ rub, Tuscan Farm house salt, hickory smoked salt….. I would say bring it but I already had it broughten.
In closing, visit New Bern its pretty quaint and hospitable. Stop by Midtown Olive to sample what they have in house and hopefully you can come away with a new favorite for your kitchen. Oh and check out a few pics I snapped.
I love some me some take out, but I thought there was no way I could make something better than the real thing. I was wrong this sheet pan chicken fried rice from Creme de la Crumb was awesome, so awesome in fact I forgot to take a picture. (okay confession I took one photo of it going into the oven but it’s blurry) It even heated up well in the microwave.
Where I deviated
– I went the cheat route with the 2 cup heat in the bag Jasmine rice
– I used fresh shredded carrots (mixed with frozen thawed peas) because that is what I had left over from a project (see fireworks photo)
– I used about 2.5 Tablespoons of the oil
– I will stick with the microwave rice, and whatever veggies I have on hand
– I’ll reduce the oil a little more
– add bite size pineapple pieces when the rice and veggies are added
I’m always on the look out for more bang for my buck, who isn’t. My current obsession is this cast iron skillet from the Target Threshold line. Yes I know I could probably get a bigger one for the same price but I love the crisp white enamel, it’s easy to clean and won’t scratch my stove, and at 10″ is the perfect size for the two of us. I’ve done steaks, stuffed mushrooms, cheat chicken Parmesan and a myriad of other dishes that have gone from stove top to oven. What is your current low budget obsession?
It’s the south , it’s hot, lets eat shrimp and drink beer. Just this past weekend we went to a shrimp boil and I was asked to bring potato salad. Usually my go to tater salad is this tex mex wonder land of bacon, black beans, cilantro and spicy mayo – lots of mayo. As delightful as it sounds, and believe me it is awesome, the mayo isn’t very hot day friendly so I set out to find something more suitable.
In one of her first cookbooks Ina Garten penned a recipe for her French Potato Salad. With a vinegar and oil dressing it’s intended to be served warm or at room temperature, making it perfect for a warm summer cookout. The hint if white wine infused into the potatoes makes it a tad sophisticated feeling, and the generous amount of fresh herbs says it’s all about summer. Cheers to my new favorite summer side.
Lucky for me in blog land it’s on the Food Network site, Find it here along with a video!
There is more to a delightful cookbook than recipes. It should be enjoyable to read, inspire new things and always feel like positive results are obtainable. My favorites incorporate family stories, history of the recipes, and just read like a good book. So here are a few that I will pick up and read over and over.
Jerusalem a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Why I like it- the history lesson that went with it, the explanation of how the flavors became so diverse horseradish and beet relish and traditions behind foods like falafel.
Favorite Recipe – Spiced Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable salad
Barefoot Contessa Family Style
by Ina Garten
Why I like it- Any of her cookbooks make me feel fancy, like every meal is a little dinner party, even if it is just for two. Also, I have yet to fouled up when following her instructions and tips.
Favorite Recipe – Hands down her Chicken Parmesan, it can be found in her Family Style Cookbook and pretty much all over the internet.
by Gabriele Corcos and Debbie Debi Mazar
Why I like it – Much like the show, the cookbook has his family history and their relationship interwoven through every recipe. The recipes are simple and reliable with out sacrificing flavor.
Favorite Recipe – Red Sauce
Around my French Table
by Dorie Greenspan
Why I like it – I honestly couldn’t put it down. It’s enormous and filled with stories, history and recipes. The recipes are everything from rustic potato gratin to elegant honey spiced madeleines, all while maintaining the story.
Favorite Recipe – okay so this is more like one I want to try that I just haven’t gotten to recipe, Salted Butter Break-ups!
by Thug Kitchen
Why I like it – It’s new healthy ways to use things I already love, which is inspiring. Truth be told, I was half way through it before I realized it was vegan. Be warned not a cookbook for family time, they cuss profusely, but another truth be told – it cracks me up!