Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving, in particular, was very special. For one reason or another, I have never been able to have my family over for my Full Thanksgiving Experience (yes, it's a thing that needs capitalization). Now that we have our own house, complete with back yard, I insisted everyone come over and let me do EVERYTHING (with the exception of one salad and a salmon cheese ball).

I mention the back yard because I am all about deep frying turkeys. I have been denied one of my favorite past times due to living in an apartment for the past five years. I never asked, but I assumed the management of said apartments would probably frown upon vats of boiling oil over an open flame being used near buildings with people in them. They have no sense of adventure.

Our menu consisted of mashed potatoes, gravy (made from stock that took me nearly four hours... TOTALLY WORTH IT!), stuffing, roasted mashed red yams with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, fresh cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, corn, spinach/bacon/pear/candied pecan salad, shaved Brussels sprout Caesar salad (probably my favorite out of everything!), dinner rolls, and various snacks...

Now you may be thinking, "But what about the turkey?" 

That, my friends, deserved more than photographs...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Stir Crazy Popper Curried Kettle Corn

Do you own a West Bend Stir Crazy popcorn popper? Do you love kettle corn? Did you know you can have it any time you want with this popper?

I DIDN'T!!! Until now, obviously.

Now you, too, may enjoy the never ending delight of making yourself some kettle corn whenever you want! Try it with the curry powder... omnomnomnom...

Stir Crazy Kettle Corn
1/2 C popping corn
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. garam masala
1/3 C sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw, but the original recipe just said sugar)
Put ingredients in listed order into Stir Crazy popper. Cover with lid. Turn switch on. Turn off when kernels slow to about one pop per three seconds. Unplug, flip, then pour into serving bowl. Toss with salt before serving.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015

I love Halloween. A lot. Back in the day I used to throw some pretty elaborate parties, but due to circumstances of life, I haven't been able to do that in years. 2015 was going to be the year I pulled out all the stops and showed everyone I still had it in me. Apparently I do (even though this morning my house looks like a bomb went off and Brian and I feel like we've been hit by a truck... lol)! All the weeks of planning and work totally paid off, and everyone had a fantastic time!

A couple weeks before, I started making decorations for the front porch...

A few days before, I started carving the pumpkins...

We had wanted to get everything set up before the day of the party, but we had a series of rather blustery storms roll through. My incredible husband took over and got everything done in the nick of time!

Lucky for me, Brian is a part-time DJ, so we have all these great lighting effects and a fog machine! I had wanted to have it out on the porch, but it was way too windy. We ended up using it in the living room and it was a great effect!

As usual, there was WAY too much food, but that's just how we roll. The complete menu was pulled pork sliders with coleslaw, brain dip, bacon-wrapped Lil Smokies, fresh guacamole with tortilla chips, crock pot spinach dip, eyeball deviled eggs, steamed dumplings with chili sauce, enchiladas and rice, various chips, crackers, and store-bought dips, crock pot apple crisp, and a graveyard cake. Thanks to my good friends Chrissy and Jill for bringing the desserts!

The original recipe called this a dip, but it was more like a shrimp mousse. Absolutely delicious!!

The classic puking pumpkin guacamole.

Jill's graveyard cake. So moist and delicious!

Almost all of the recipes, tutorials, and reference photos are on my Pinterest Halloween board if you're interested in doing some of them yourself. Feel free to check it out HERE.

And in case you're wondering, yes I AM already planning for next year!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Season 6 'The Walking Dead' Premiere Dinner!

No recipes tonight... just some photos of the fun (and TASTY!) dinner I made to celebrate the season premiere of one of our favorite shows, The Walking Dead. Enjoy!

Zombie head meatloaf-

Your favorite meatloaf recipe, onions, bacon, ketchup... you get the idea...

Orzo risotto and Parmesan cream spinach make for yummily gruesome sides...

Pretty sure it's dead now...

And for dessert, Carl's chocolate pudding with Carol's cookies!

We didn't climb on the roof to eat it though...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pumpkin Pancakes

So, this morning a minor miracle happened. Everyone was home, hungry, and I actually felt like cooking something for breakfast. Okay so it was afternoon and brunch, but hey... I don't normally ever cook breakfast (unless it's for dinner). Being the season for pumpkin/pumpkin spice EVERYTHING, and having a can of the squash in question, I set upon making some pumpkin pancakes. Everyone loved them!

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 C. flour
1/4 C. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1 1/2 C. milk
1 1/3 C. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 T. vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients; mix well with a whisk. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg, milk, pumpkin, and oil. Add the wet mix to the dry, stirring until well combined. Cook on griddle or in skillet until bubbles stop popping and top looks somewhat dry. Flip and continue cooking until done. These take a little longer than standard pancakes, but they're totally worth the wait! This recipe made about 15 pancakes.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

One-pot Bucatini with Sausage and Bacon

I wasn't going to cook at all. Everyone else in the family was off doing their things, and I hate cooking for just myself. I didn't even feel like cooking, but I suddenly found myself in the kitchen peering into boxes. Oh... have I mentioned that we recently bought a house and moved? Yeah... hence the box-peering. Anyway, I started seeing things... like pasta and the two lonely pieces of bacon in he fridge and the breakfast sausage that was about to go south. The more things I found, the more they started telling me they wanted to be together. NEEDED to be together. Not only did I end up clearing out some room in the fridge and putting away a couple of boxes, I came out of the kitchen with this!-

It was deeeeeeeeelicious!!

One-pot Bucatini with Sausage and Bacon

2-3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2" wide pieces
1 package breakfast sausage links, cut into 1/2" pieces (or bulk Italian sausage... or whatever ground meat you want to use)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 C. red wine + 1/2 C. water
1/4 C. tomato paste
1 C. tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 C. chicken broth
1 6.5 oz. can sliced mushrooms, undrained
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
pepper to taste
1 C. water
1 16 oz. package bucatini pasta, broken into 3-4" pieces (or whatever pasta you happen to have on hand... just remember to adjust the cooking time if you need to)
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, saute bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside to drain. Add sausage to remaining fat in pot. Saute until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside with bacon. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pot. Saute onions and garlic until soft. Deglaze pot with wine/water mixture, scraping up browned bits from the bottom. Add next nine ingredients and bring to a boil. Add pasta and return to simmer. Cover and cook 5 minutes (or approximately 2/3 of the recommended cooking time for the pasta you're using), stirring occasionally. Turn off burner, add reserved meats and Parmesan cheese, stirring well. Cover and let stand about 3 minutes, or until most of sauce is absorbed. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Watermelon with Goat Cheese Salad

I'm getting this strange feeling of deja vu... like this has happened before... like last summer when I had way, WAY too much watermelon in my life...

Once again, I went in search of something different to do with all the watermelon sitting in the fridge. This time I wanted a salad-like concoction, but all the recipes I found online involved feta and mint. I did not want feta and mint! This is what I came up with to suit my craving... it was VERY tasty!!

Watermelon with Goat Cheese Salad

3 oz. thin-sliced prosciutto (5-6 pieces)
6 C. diced watermelon
1 bunch (about 8) large radishes, thickly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 C. fresh basil, chiffonade
1 1/2 T. honey
1/4 C. fresh lime juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
3 oz. goat cheese

Heat oven to 400° F. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes, turning over once or twice. Remove to paper towels to drain and cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine watermelon, radish slices, onion, and basil. In small bowl, whisk honey, lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Pour dressing over watermelon mixture and stir gently until everything is well-coated. Crumble goat cheese and crisped prosciutto into mixture; stir again. Serve immediately.