Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jalapeño Popper Burgers

I recently came across a recipe for chocolate lasagna.  Maybe you all have already heard of this work of ingenuity, but I was late to the game.  I haven't made it yet, but how could it be bad?

Joy the Baker made a lasagna grilled cheese once that sounded pretty stellar.
These combo foods can reach beyond the lasagna-base though.  For example, this delightful treat/dinner is what happens when you stuff a jalapeño popper inside a burger, both things that I enjoy thoroughly and when put together in this mashup, I liked it even better.  A whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts kind of thing.

So you may be inclined to think that mashups only work well when you put two T. Swift songs together, but you're wrong.

I also wanted to point out that you're wrong about needing to eat healthier in 2015.  What you need is to eat more burgers.  Burgers stuffed with cheese!  Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Honey Beer Bread

If you asked me what my favorite thing to make is (and I've been asked this question a lot), the answer is probably bread.  It's just so satisfying.  Take the most simple ingredients and they turn into bread!  It's like magic.  Magic that smells good.  Magic that tastes good.  Magic that makes you feel like a genius.

This bread is even more satisfying than most because it is so easy.  There's no kneading or waiting for the dough to rise.  No punching down.  Basically nothing hard.
Beer bread is like a quick bread that gets airy and doughy like a yeast bread.  It's best straight out of the oven with a generous slathering of butter on top.

I made this with an India Pale Ale (IPA) which gave the bread a little bit of a bitter flavor that contrasted really well with the honey, but you can use whatever beer you have on hand.  I can't wait to try it with a lot of different types and flavors of beer.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage

I know you're getting ready for Christmas tomorrow and you're fully in the swing of Christmas things right now, but I wanted to get you prepared for the new year too.

You're probably thinking about ham or turkey or prime rib or whatever you eat on Christmas.  You're probably not thinking about cabbage.  I don't blame you, but I didn't want you to be unprepared when Friday rolls around.  Christmas is over.  You start putting away the decorations and get ready for the next holiday.
This is all in an effort to be prepared.

As far as I understand, corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish.  One that we ate every New Year's Day and St. Patrick's Day growing up (still do, actually), being the good quite distant, Irish immigrants that we are.

My sister shared this particular slow-cooker recipe for corned beef with me last year and it blew me away.  I had no idea that corned beef could be moist!  Seriously, no idea.  This one is though.  It's so satisfyingly salty and tender.  There's next to no prep that goes into it.  Quite honestly, it makes me want to eat it more than 2x a year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cranberry Eggnog French Toast

For the past couple months I've really been enjoying a healthy dose of eggnog in my morning coffee.  I used to think I hated that, but apparently I was wrong because when I tried it again this year, I slurped it down.  Now, I'm already dreading the day they pull the nog from the shelves.

When I was a tot, I hated eggnog in general.

I really wanted to like it, mostly because my cousin, Beth (who I thought was the coolest person in the entire world), drank it.  And I tried.  I really did, but the stuff is pretty weird.  It's so thick that it feels like you're drinking straight whipping cream and the flavor is not exactly kid-friendly.
So if you're still on the fence about the nog, I get it.  I don't even blame you and I probably won't even make you try it again.

Even if you're not the biggest fan of eggnog, this overnight french toast recipe is pretty mild.  And because eggnog is already sweet, you don't have to add any extra sugar like other overnight french toast recipes.

Even though the taste of the eggnog is mild, that, in combination with the cinnamon and fresh cranberries, makes it a perfect dish for Christmas morning!  Did I mention, you can make it the night before?!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Hour: Pomegranate Rosemary Vodka Tonic

I always wanted to be one of those people who had a signature drink.  Something I'd get every time I went out to the bar or had a drink with dinner.  That way whenever the waiter or bartender asked for my order, I'd have it at the ready.  

And it'd sound cool when I ordered.  Every early 20-something drinking their rum and coke would be super jealous.  It couldn't be anything frilly.  No soda.  No juice.  No Redbull. 
After years of experimenting, I settled on a vodka tonic with lemon about a year ago.  It's not exactly the most impressive drink, but it's not the most embarrassing one either.  

So, to spruce up my favorite go-to cocktail for Christmas, I added some fresh pomegranate juice (I know, I said no juice, but this is a special circumstance) and rosemary and it is soooo good!  The pomegranate juice is really more for color and festiveness than anything else, but you can really taste the muddled rosemary.  

People will definitely be impressed if you shake some of these up on Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

7 Up Salad

In case you didn't know this about me, I'm from Utah.  Technically, I lived in Indiana until I was 11, but since I would never be able to find my childhood house without a GPS, I don't really consider that home.

I feel like I am really from Utah.  It's where I went to middle school, high school and college.  It's where I learned to love the outdoors and where I got married on a cliff edge.

And in Utah, we love our green Jell-O.  Actually, I don't know if that's at all true, but that is the stereotype and I'm just going to go with it.  So it's just a little bit ironic that this recipe is not something my family found upon our migration to the West, but rather something we brought with us from the Midwest.
Doesn't really matter where it's from.  It's delicious.  A little weird, yes.  And yes, you'll probably get strange looks the first time you serve it.  But remember, it is delicious.  We've been having it as part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for as long as I can remember, and now you're welcome to add it to your spread!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole

On Saturday, Austin and I had the best intentions to go snowshoeing, but when we got up into the mountains, we realized there was really no need for the snowshoes.  So we went for a hike instead.

Once we were back there, it turned into a blizzard though!  We had to keep our heads down as we walked about 4 miles back to the car to keep from going snow-blind (not really, but seriously it was snowing hard)!
Then, this morning we woke up to the thinnest layer of snow covering the ground.  Quite frankly, not the white Christmas I'm hoping for, but that's what we're getting used to in Utah.  My point is: I'll take it.  The littlest snowflakes make me want to start up a fire, sip some cocoa and watch Miracle on 34th Street.

I'd also like to eat some holiday food.  When it comes to holiday food, sweet potato casserole has always been and will always be my favorite.

Sweet potato mash that's been made even sweeter topped with a pecan streusel - I mean, what's not to like?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Hour: Muddled Cranberry Orange Old Fashioned

I like to make cocktails a lot more than I like to drink them.  I understand a lot of people out there are the opposite, and that's great!  I need someone to give my concoctions to.

We have people over quite a bit and when you're a guest at our house, I will gladly mix you up something special and after years of accumulating piece-by-piece, I feel like we are pretty well-equipped in the 'bar' to make you just about anything you want.  The problem arises when I am at someone else's house.
Sometimes it feels like I am the only person that owns a muddler!  I have had to crush herbs with the handle of a wooden spoon and even just squished them between my fingers, which works, but not very well.

It's a whole lot nicer, and easier if you have a real muddler.  One that's made for squishing fruit and bruising herbs.  One that looks cool and fits in your hand well, like the Arctic Chill one is a bonus.

For this cocktail, you're really going to need one.  Other recipes you might be able to get away without, but I don't think there's any way to crush raw cranberries without one (challenge?).

I've never had a wooden muddler, but I've heard that they can start to dry out and flake off which really doesn't sound much better than the wooden spoon option. Sure, they're a little cheaper than the Arctic Chill muddler, but I prefer not to give my guests splinters. This one has a fairly large nylon head with a bunch of little bumps to break down the herbs and fruit and it's easy to push on because of the shape of the handle.  And the most important part: it looks good sitting on your bar!

Now for the festive, easy-to-drink cocktail!
This post was sponsored by Arctic Chill, but the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

7 Christmas Cookie Recipes

When we were little and would go up to the farm every year for Christmas, everyone brought cookies.  There were way too many to ever fit in the fridges or even on the counter and tabletops, so they all stayed outside on the screened-in porch.

You had to go brave the cold in your socks to get one.  We were pretty brave though.  We would eat every single caramel cup before Christmas day.  

My parents, grandparents, great-grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters all knew that I was making frequent trips to that side of the house, but even still, I was pretty sneaky, so I don't think anyone really knows just how many I ate.

I still love Christmas cookies but now I don't have to sneak them.  Takes some of the fun out of it to be totally honest with you.  Maybe I'll recapture some of that childhood Christmas magic if I start stuffing cookies in my pockets this year!
1. Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles
2. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
3. Lemon Glazed Ginger Cookies
4. Pecan Fingers
5. Molasses Cookies
6. Frosted Sugar Cookies
7. Chocolate Chip Meringues

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Green beans were one of the few vegetables my sisters and I could all agree on as 'the vegetable' when I was little - Darcie was a little picky.  Just the plain old canned version.  The ones that squeak against your teeth.
Actually, I still like them, but when you're asked to bring the beans to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you can't really just show up with a can.  Well, you can and if you did, you'd be my hero, but if you're like me, you feel the pressure.

And while I like canned green beans just fine, I felt like using the fresh ones this go around.  I snapped off the ends of what felt like 80,000 green beans Thanksgiving morning and mixed them with some cheesy buttermilk ranch sauce.
Of course, you can't even call it a green bean casserole if it doesn't have the french fried onions.  So there's some of those mixed in with the panko bread crumbs and a little extra cheese for good measure.

If you want to switch up your sides a little bit for your Christmas dinner this year, this recipe is going to be the one.  It's different, but it's not too different.  It's the good kind of different.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Hour: Spiked Ginger Apple Cider

The week following a holiday is always the worst week you'll ever have at work.

Even if nothing bad happens there, you've had a taste of what it'd be like to sleep in, not shower, watch movies all day and generally do nothing for an extended period of time.
So, when you have to go back to work - it's hard.

This week was hard.  Hard to stay motivated.  Hard to wake up at 5:30 each morning.  Hard to get to the gym.  Just hard.  Quite frankly, I had my doubts that Friday was ever going to come.

I don't know if I've truly understood the meaning behind the acronym TGIF, but I get it today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Butternut Squash Kale Gnocchi

A few years ago, I got a set of nice pots and pans.  They were kind of an impulse buy back when Austin and I had 'real jobs' and, you know, money.

They're stainless and if you scratch them with a fork, you won't die form the Teflon.
And Austin hates them.  It's not the even cooking that he hates.  It's the cleaning.  So he doesn't use them at all.  Instead he has 2 pans - one small non-stick pan and a cast-iron skillet.  If it can't be cooked in one of those, it's probably not going to be cooked.

I guess some of his enthusiasm for 'his' pans has rubbed off, because now, I love it when I can make a whole meal in the cast-iron skillet (although this meal will work in any oven safe skillet).

Plus, one pan to clean up!  It can't get better than that!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mocha Yule Log

It seems like I just can't get away from people that 'don't like pie.'  And I don't get it.  And really, I don't like that kind of talk towards pie.

To me, it's kind of like saying, 'I don't like vegetables,' or any other major food group.  I mean, have you tried all the types?

And don't tell me you don't like crust, because there are lots of types of crust.  Also, what part is it that offends your tastebuds?  The flakey, buttery, slightly sweet delicious part?
Every Thanksgiving we have the 'pie debate' and every year I come away baffled.  My confusion only heightens when people compare pie to cake.  They are totally different!  You cannot compare the two.  You just can't.

If you don't like cake either, you better just leave now.

I make a yule log every year and it's good.  Not to brag or anything, but it's really good.  The only problem is that it doesn't always turn out.  I can't quite figure out why it cracks some years and others it's fine, but that's what happens.  So then I have to turn it into a trifle.  Also delicious.

This year, I thought I'd try out a new recipe to see if it would roll into that perfect shape better and still taste amazing - and well, it did.  (I swear, I'm really a pretty humble person.)

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