Monday, April 7, 2014

A weekend with my best friends in DC

DC girls' tripFlatbread at our bottomless mimosa brunch at Masa 14

I got back from a girls' weekend in Washington DC Sunday evening and things have been a bit crazy on the work front (I'm actually taking a break from work right now to squeeze this post in).

My best friend Amy lives in DC with her husband. I love visiting because DC is an awesome town and generally the weather is a lot better there than in MN (not in the summer though, I can't handle the heat). Last weekend was pretty cool, but still nice enough to be outside with only a light jacket or sweater.

Girls' weekends are rejuvenating, fun, indulgent and super necessary (in my opinion). I take at least one a year. Erik is supportive of these trips because it means he gets his own guys' trips but more importantly he gets one-on-one time with Juliet, which they both really enjoy.
DC girls' tripWe went happy hour hopping on Friday late afternoon. We stopped at three bars/restaurants in Amy's neighborhood. It's hard to pick a favorite drink but champagne (prosecco/cava, etc) is very far up on the list. DC girls' tripA gorgeous wine bar, the second stop during our happy hour hop (and I totally forgot the name). DC girls' tripBottomless mimosas at brunch. These were mango puree and blood-orange mimosas and I had 5. Yes 5 and I could have kept going. DC girls' trip
DC girls' tripAmy had us stop at the botanical garden, which was lovely. 
DC girls' tripAmy and Kristin at the botanical gardenDC girls' tripOur first stop for happy hour on Friday was Bistro Bohem. I adored the outdoor space with blankets for each table. It was too chilly to eat outside though. DC girls' tripWe ordered house-made potato chips and a cheese plate. DC girls' tripI had been craving pizza all last week so it was basically the best ever to have this entire pizza to myself when we stopped for lunch at Busboys and Poets.

Here is a list of all the other fun that was had:

Watched the first season of Girls during down time (my first time ever watching it and whoa, I LOVE it). Must get HBO.
Went to the Union Market
Had pedicures
Amy made a great dinner; edamama, spinach and lemon pasta. We also raided a Whole Foods and got a bunch of great cheese and desserts.
Breakfast and coffee at Big Bear Cafe

We fit a lot in because we only had about 48 hours. DC is such a quick and easy flight, it's so worth going even if for just a weekend.

Here are a few other girls' trips I have taken in the past few years:

Lutsen girls' trip
Fall cabin weekend
Bachelorette party in New York
Washington DC weekend

Do you take annual girls' trips?

Monday, March 31, 2014

French fries with homemade garlic truffle aioli

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!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mini quiche lorraine

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.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Brown soda bread and reuben dip

Brown soda bread and reuben dipHappy St. Patrick's Day! Have you already celebrated or is that happening today? The answer is both for me. Erik and I had my family over on Saturday (last minute plans) and I cooked up a storm. And today is the annual St. Patrick's Day party at work so the chances of much work getting done are not good (the party begins at 11:30am).

I mentioned I had a baking bug last Friday and I seriously spent about 3 hours in the kitchen making:

Brown soda bread, recipe below
Reuben dip (and rachel dip,which just swaps out turkey for the corn beef), recipe below
White cheddar topped shepherd's pie (one with beef and one with lentils. I followed this recipe pretty closely but swapped chicken stock for the water and added frozen peas)
Brown soda bread and reuben dipThis reuben dip is crazy good. It is so savory and if you love reuben sandwiches, you will go nuts for this dip. My family devoured it.

I also whipped up a quick homemade thousand island dressing for an extra dipping element for the bread and reuben dip. If you think about thousand island and what's in it, is sounds pretty funky, but taste-wise it's great combined with the right thing. Yup, it's basically mayo and ketchup (plus vinegar, garlic, onion).
Brown soda bread and reuben dipThis brown soda bread is amazing with butter and jelly, too. 

My family and I had a great time hanging out. We ate too much but then still wished we would have thought about making shamrock shakes for dessert.

To me St. Patrick's Day has become about comfort food and spending time with family. Times have changed that's for sure but I wouldn't want to celebrate it any other way.

Brown soda bread (recipe adapted Epicurious)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups buttermilk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, mix well.

Add butter, rub in with fingertips or pastry cutter until mixture resembles fine meal. Stir in buttermilk to form soft dough (if the mixture seems dry add a couple splashes more).

Transfer dough to prepared loaf pan. Bake until bread is dark brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Turn bread out onto rack. Turn right side up and cool on rack.

_________________________________________________

Reuben dip (recipe adapted via Franks Kraut)

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 lb. deli sliced corn beef
1 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
12 - 15 ounces sour cream
15 ounces can sauerkraut

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375.

Warm cream cheese until it's soft enough to mix. Mix together cream cheese and Swiss cheese.

Cut corn beef into small pieces and add to the cream cheese mix. Drain the sauerkraut well and add to the mixture.

Pour mixture into greased casserole dish (I used a glass pie plate) and bake for about 20 or until the dip is bubbling.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Super Bowl recipe round-up

Super Bowl recipesI'm not really into football but I am into getting together with friends and eating appetizers. I'm the type of girl that can take a bag of potato chips and a bowl of dip and make them both disappear shockingly quick.

I really love chips. And dip. And anything wrapped in bacon.

I really wish I wasn't on Weight Watchers right now. But you're probably not, are you? Lucky.

I searched the archives of Eat Drink Pretty and pulled together a round-up of some great recipes for your Super Bowl Sunday gathering.

Pizza bites - super easy and great for kids
Mini BLTs - a favorite appetizer of mine to bring to parties. Who doesn't love BLTs? And in mini form? Awesome.
Bacon-wrapped potatoes with a sour cream dipping sauce - I've said time and time again that potatoes are one of my favorite foods of all-time. Wrap them in bacon and you have a major treat.
Homemade hummus and crackers - if you want to be on the healthy side whip up a batch of homemade hummus and crackers. Or keep it really easy and pick up a bag of baby carrots and store-bought hummus. Let's be honest, it's the Super Bowl and no one is expecting anything fancy.
Beef chili with beer - A chili bar with all the toppings is a great addition to any football social event. This chili recipe is one of my favorites. The addition of a lager beer gives it great flavor.
Homemade foccacia bread - anyone would be impressed with homemade bread (the big surprise here is that homemade focaccia is very easy!). It dips well with everything (queso? Yup.) and also tastes great all on its own.

Other ideas (not pictured):

Buffalo chicken dip - if you are going to make anything on Super Bowl Sunday, it should be this dip. It was one of the first posts ever on Eat Drink Pretty so the photo is horrible, but, the dip is the best. Everyone loves it. I could eat an entire crockpot of it all myself.
Bloody Mary bar - you gotta have booze with Super Bowl. There is no way I can get through any game of football without it.
Pretzel bites - these should be included in the photos above but I ran out of space. They are amazing. I want to eat like 500 right now. But I can't. So sad.

What are your plan for the big game? I work in advertising so I will be diligently viewing the commercials. Besides that, Erik and I are going to be surprisingly boring this year and just lay low at home. With a little one, it's hard to go to a party because the game goes far past Juliet's bedtime. Plus I'm trying to be healthy so I'll probably cut up some fresh veggies and make some type of healthy dip.

Exciting, huh?

If you have any healthy Super Bowl recipes that you would like to share please comment with a link.

Happy eating.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pretzel bites with buffalo blue cheese dipping sauce

pretzel bites with buffalo blue cheese dipping sauceWhen the weekends come around I usually plan on making at least 2 new recipes. I spend my time on the train ride to and from work on Fridays figuring out what to make. The recipes that rise to the top are the ones with ingredients I already have in my pantry. Because I always think I can make it through the weekend without going to the grocery store. Sometimes I'm successful but usually not.

Like last weekend, for example, on Saturday I started prepping to make these pretzel bites and I didn't have eggs. So off to the grocery store I went. Who doesn't have eggs? UH.

I started preparing these pretzel bites with Juliet but she lost interest relatively soon (perhaps because there were no chocolate chips for her to nibble on while I mixed ingredients?). So I waited until her nap time to finish which was a good thing because these were a bit time consuming. They weren't exactly difficult to make, but just take a few steps and a bit of patience. Anytime you have yeast in the ingredient list you should be prepared for some waiting time.

The results are so, so worth it.
pretzel bites with buffalo blue cheese dipping sauceThese pretzels have made their way into my top favorite snacks. They are really delicious with a slightly crispy crust with a soft center. And they are perfect little bites for any dipping sauce you prefer. Keep it simple with mustard or whip up this buffalo blue cheese dipping sauce. I have a seriously thing for buffalo sauce. So my dip of choice had to include buffalo sauce in some way. But these pretzel bites are great plain as well.

Or try them with nacho cheese sauce. Yeah, that would be really good, too.

I also made some with cinnamon and sugar for Juliet (melt butter, dip them in butter and then in a sugar/cinnamon mixture). Juliet loves these and devoured them (well, she actually licked all the sugar off first and then finished the pretzel).

I will be making them again and again.
pretzel bites with buffalo blue cheese dipping sauceI received a new macro lens for Christmas from my mother-in-law. I've wanted one forever to get more up-close-and-personal food shots. I'm learning how to use this new lens but it will take some time to get it down. I am also in the market for a tripod, which I hope will help with getting clearer images. Because when I'm standing on top of my kitchen table and there is a toddler running around and my husband is rolling his eyes at me....well, those circumstances don't produce the clearest shots no matter how still I try to be as I click the shutter.

Back to the pretzels...I am already dreaming of all the upcoming events I can whip these pretzel bites up for to serve. Because I know without a doubt they will be a hit.

Pretzel bites with buffalo blue cheese dipping sauce (recipe adapted via Annie's Eats)

Ingredients

Pretzel dough

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (to grease the bowl)

Other ingredients

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Kosher salt

Blue cheese dipping sauce

1/4 cup blue cheese dressing (ranch works too)
1-2 tablespoons buffalo sauce (I use Franks Red Hot Buffalo)
1 tablespoon blue cheese crumbles (optional)

Preparation

Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir well and let stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves. Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together (with the paddle attachment). Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water the baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate it. Divide it up into approximately 6 equal portions. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a long rope 1-inch in diameter. Use a pizza cutter to cut the row into small segments, about 1-inch each. Repeat with the remaining dough. 

Place the pretzel bites into the boiling water in batches (so they aren't overcrowded). Boil each batch for about 30 seconds, stirring once or twice to submerge all surfaces in the water. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and spread out on the prepared baking sheets. Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. 

Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 10 minutes. 

For the dipping sauce: add the dressing and buffalo sauce together and mix well. Top with blue cheese crumbles.

As Juliet would say "dip dip dip" and enjoy!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A tasteful holiday + a Nespresso giveaway

NespressoI am pumped about the HUGE giveaway in this post. Be sure to scroll down to enter for your chance to win one of these beautiful Nespresso machines!

Last Saturday I hosted a cookie baking party. There were five of us gals, two toddlers and one newborn. We had a busy, fun day. And while the day was far from successful from the baking perspective, it was an awesome time laughing and hanging with friends.

Isn't that what the holidays are really about? Celebrating with friends (and family) and laughing through all the chaos that the holidays bring? In our case chaos came in the form of one cookie baking disaster after another. I loved that we were able to laugh our way through the day and have a great time. The holidays can be stressful and I've learned to embrace the imperfections along with all things merry and bright.

Now onto the really good stuff. 

Nespresso contacted me to partner with them on a post to share my thoughts on what a Tasteful Holiday Season means to me. I already had this cookie baking party planned and I thought an espresso table would go nicely with all the treats we would be baking up that day.

I covered a small table with a festive, red tablecloth and added a small chalkboard to label the drink offerings. I lined up coffee mugs, the Nespresso machine, coffee capsules displayed on a small cake stand and chocolate wafer cookies as an accompaniment to the coffee.

To add a little sparkle I lined the back of the table with holiday lights. They provided a lovely glow especially as the day turned to evening.

NespressoI received a Pixie Aluminum Nespresso machine plus the Aeroccino milk frother a week ago and I've made a latte every day since. I am a huge lover of coffee (did you know that I used to be a barista for a short stint in my mid 20s?). I drink coffee each morning. It starts my day off right and my caffeine need is real and it maybe is weird to say but isn't caffeine such a beautiful thing? Warming my hands on a hot mug of coffee...well, that just may be one of my favorite things ever.

I'm no fan of stopping in the coffee shop every day and spending all that money on an espresso drink. But I still enjoy a latte every once and a while and always view it as a special treat. Now that I have this this Nespresso I can enjoy a latte every. single. day. And in just about 30 seconds I have a smooth cup of espresso and perfectly frothed milk. And the Aeroccino froths almond milk wonderfully. I tend to add unsweetened vanilla almond milk to my coffee but let me tell you that frothed almond milk takes things to a whole new level.

Make your way to the end of this post because I am giving away a Pixie Aluminum Nespresso plus an Aeroccino milk frother to one lucky reader. This is a huge value of $330!
NespressoOther than making really lovely cups of espresso, the machine itself is beautiful. The design is sleek and small and seriously competes with my Kitchen Aid Mixer as one of the prettiest kitchen appliances that I proudly display on my counter top.
NespressoHow awesome are these? My friend Sarah brought over adorable hot chocolate, marshmallow and Bailey's in a mason jar to pass out as favors. These make awesome hostess gifts. They were a very nice touch to the coffee table set-up.
NespressoIn addition to baking a cookie recipe, each of us provided an appetizer to share. Sarah brought this delicious shrimp and avocado salad and Libby brought hearty lasagna dip with bread.
NespressoI made this creamy, awesome warm kale and asiago dip. I found it really satisfying to mix a bunch of mayo, cream cheese and asiago cheese with super food super healthy kale. Because honestly, the holidays are not about being super healthy, are they?  NespressoI always have a simple cheese tray at any gathering. This is a jalapeno havarti.   NespressoSarah is anti-bake so she made pretzels dipped in almond bark and different toppings like peppermint, chocolate chips and heath toffee.  NespressoThese were great and a huge hit. They make festive favors if you add a bunch to cellophane bags and wrap with a ribbon.  NespressoNespresso also sent me these Grand Crus which each have different aromatic profiles. There are also a few flavored espressos and so far my favorite is the Vanilio (vanilla flavored).  Nespresso Nespresso NespressoI love this holiday download, from Lindsay Letters. I display it on my mantle, but for the party I added it to the espresso table.

So about the cookie chaos...Deanna made sugar cookies with a peppermint Hershey Kisses and Libby accidentally sent every single cookie flying onto the floor when she knocked over the cooling rack they were on. Oops. Deanna brushed it off saying the cookies didn't turn out that great anyway. Well, we'll never know if they were or not!

Then Libby's cake pops were a huge disaster. First of all, the cake pop pan she purchased produced weirdly shaped cake pops and then none of the pops would stay on the stick. Then the white chocolate frosting was all clumpy and weird. Those ended up in the garbage, unfortunately. They still tasted great but Libby was not pleased and wanted all evidence of the failed attempt gone. I've tried making cake pops once and they didn't turn out at all. Tasted fine but were super ugly. It really makes you appreciate those beautifully made cake pops that you see on Bakerella.

That left my cookies, which actually turned out alright but I wasn't happy with how dark the bottoms of my gingersnaps got. Overall though, they were pretty good. Summer made chocolate chip cookies beforehand and those were delicious.

So not the best results cookie-wise but still so much fun. We laughed and laughed and had a wonderful time. Now that, to me, are what the holidays are all about.

Be sure to enter this AMAZING giveaway! The giveaway will end at midnight on December 22 and the winner will be announced on December 23rd. Eligible to US residents only. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: this post was made possible by Nespresso. I was provided with Pixie Alumium and Aeroccino machines for my own use and also to giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Green bean casserole quiche bites

green bean casserole quiche bitesWith the holidays fast approaching I wanted to dedicate a post to these awesome green bean casserole quiche bites. I made them for the family holiday appetizer party I hosted a couple weeks ago and they were a big hit.

They have all the flavor of the favorite holiday casserole but in mini form. I love the texture of the creamy filling topped with the crunchy fried onions. And by using store-bought pie crust this is a really easy appetizer to whip together.

They are pretty, delicious (I'm partial to mini quiche, I just love them) and can be served at room temperature. These are a new favorite appetizer of mine for serving around the holidays.
green bean casserole quiche bitesHere are some other great holiday appetizers:

Cranberry-goat cheese canapes
Goat cheese crostini with roasted red peppers
An easy cheese tray with at least 3 different cheese varieties, crackers, dried fruit, grapes, baguette

Green bean casserole quiche bites (recipe via Chef Jonathan, Aldi test kitchen)
Ingredients
10.5 ounces can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Large Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
16 ounces Extra Fine Green Beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used frozen and thawed before adding)
1 package Pie Crust
1 cup French Fried Onions
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soup, cream, eggs, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and nutmeg. Add green beans, stir until combined.
  3. Take pie crust out of package, roll with rolling pin to 1/8" thickness.
  4. Cut out mini pie crusts using a 3-inch round cutter. Repeat and re-roll pie crust to maximize dough.
  5. Lightly press each mini pie crust into a muffin pan. Fill each pie crust with 2 tablespoons of filling.
  6. Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven and top with onions. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberry-goat cheese canapes

Cranberry goat cheese canapesSunday was my family's third annual holiday cookie baking party. This year we baked at my sister-in-law and brother's house because they have 2 ovens. Even with 2 ovens we were still waiting in line for the next open spot.

I love our cookie baking parties. All the ladies in my family get together to bake and the guys get together and eat chicken wings and watch sports. If any of the guys wanted to bake they would be more than welcome to join us, but so far we've had no takers.

Our cookie baking party always starts off pretty chaotic. The ingredients crowd the kitchen, mixers are whirling, toddlers are running around. But I love this day. We end up with tons of cookies to take home and always have a lot of fun, despite the chaos.

This year we each brought an appetizer to share and I brought these cranberry-goat cheese canapes. Ever since my sis-in-law made this cranberry cream cheese dip I've been crazy over any recipe with cranberries.

This app was super good but I was missing a key ingredient that would have made it a thousand times better, cilantro. I actually had cilantro but when I went to use it I realized it had started to go bad. And since it was freezing and snowing yesterday I didn't feel like going back to the grocery store for more. The cilantro would have added a brightness, a freshness that would have been awesome as well as pretty green flecks to make this appetizer the quintessential holiday app (the jalapeno gives the dish a hint of spiciness. Delicious).

Cranberry-goat cheese canapes (recipe via Southern Living)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh jalapeno pepper (about 1/2 of a jalapeno)
3/4 tsp. grated fresh ginger
Baguette (or other canape bread), sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 5.3 oz container spreadable goat cheese (or a plain goat cheese log at room temperature)

Preparation

1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Spread each baguette piece with goat cheese, and top with a small spoonful of cranberry mixture.

I'll be back tomorrow with a holiday cookie recipe from our baking party. Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A holiday appetizer party

Holiday appetizer partyMy family gathered for a holiday appetizer party a couple weekends ago. Instead of sitting down to a full dinner, we mingled and ate apps the entire time. It was awesome. My family is big on appetizers and always tend to fill up and then get too full after the meal. An appetizer party is the perfect solution.

I've written a couple posts on my recent experience with Aldi. I've continued shopping at Aldi the past couple of months and have totally incorporated it into my weekly routine. There is no doubt it saves money and I completely love their organic selection and organic prices.

Be sure to read to the bottom of this post because I am giving away a $50 Aldi gift certificate. And believe me, $50 goes a long way at Aldi.

I shopped at Aldi for the holiday appetizer party for my family and was pumped to see a ton of awesome holiday entertaining-style food options. And for really great prices.

I set up a pretty little table just for the occasion.

Holiday appetizer partyAldi had cranberries for .99 cents a bag. I use cranberries for so many things over the holidays; decorating, drink embellishments and cooking. They are so versatile and with the right dish, taste awesome.  Holiday appetizer partyAldi has a great variety of cheese. I purchased a double creme brie ($2.99), havarti ($2.99) and an herb goat cheese ($1.69). I added crackers for just $1.49. A cheese platter is a great party appetizer because it's always a crowd favorite and requires minimal effort from the host/hostess.
Holiday appetizer partyMy sister-in-law brought a cranberry cream cheese dip and it was the hit of the party. I had no idea how amazing cranberries taste paired with cilantro, jalapenos and cream cheese. It's the perfect combination of flavors from salty to sweet to tart plus a hint of spicy.  I'm going to make this for my next gathering with friends.  Holiday appetizer partyWe gathered on a Sunday evening so we opted for sparkling juice ($2.49 per bottle).  Holiday appetizer party Holiday appetizer partyI made these green bean casserole quiche bites from this recipe on Aldi's site. These were very popular with my family and a nice departure from the traditional casserole. I'm not usually a big fan of cream of mushroom soups from the can but for the holidays I make an exception. This is an awesome holiday appetizer.

My sister Katie brought mashed potatoes in a huge crockpot. We had a mashed potato bar with all the fixings (cheese, sour cream, bacon). You can never go wrong with potatoes of any kind, in my opinion.
Holiday appetizer partyI made amazing turkey meatballs. They were seriously the best meatballs I've ever had. Instead of the Italian seasonings the recipe calls for, I substituted rosemary, thyme and sage (2 teaspoons of each). The meatballs tasted like little bites of Thanksgiving. I served these with a small roll and gravy so people could build turkey meatball sandwiches. My brother's fiance brought stuffed mushrooms. They were tasty and I was glad we had leftovers the next day.

I loved hosting this appetizer party and I think it may be a new tradition. When done potluck style it can be a stress-free party to host. And when getting the items from Aldi, it can be a very affordable party.

Do you want to check out Aldi or are you already a loyal shopper? Either way, be sure to enter to win a $50 Aldi gift certificate. The giveaway will be live for a week and I'll announce the winner on December 12th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure - I am participating in a sponsored brand ambassadorship with ALDI. As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wheat germ parmesan crackers

I am a huge fan of making homemade crackers. They are super easy and taste way better than store-bought. Now that Juliet is a fan of crackers for snacks, I've been wanting to make homemade versus giving her the little cheddar Annie's bunnies. Not that there is anything wrong with those, but I feel better giving her these crackers when I know there are only several ingredients, and pretty healthy ingredients at that.

About to go into the oven

I spotted these crackers on Weelicious (I'm a big fan of her recipes). I've had a lot of good luck with recipes for Juliet including this homemade graham cracker recipe, these mini frittatas and these banana peanut butter muffins.I used a mini and medium size heart fondant cutter to get these cute little cracker shapes.

These are the medium sized hearts 

Juliet ate a bunch of these as soon as they cooled down. She kept saying "moooeeee, moooooeeee" (more) and loved dipping them in hummus. The adorable mini hearts

This recipe made about 3 dozen medium sized heart crackers and a huge handful of mini hearts.

Wheat germ parmesan crackers (recipe via Weelicious)

  • Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I didn't have white whole wheat flour so I used half white flour and half wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1/4 cup water

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Place the wheat germ, flour, cheese and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add the water and continue to pulse until the dough comes together.
  5. Remove the dough from the food processor, shape into a disk, and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper to 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Cut dough into 2-inch square crackers, or use your favorite small cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes.
  7. Place the crackers on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.

Want to try homemade crackers but don't have wheat germ? Check out these salt and pepper crackers or these cheese crackers