Wholly Stuffed Jalapenos and a GIVEAWAY

whollystuffedjalapenos

I used to be an avocado hater. There…I said it. When I was a kid, I thought they had a weird texture and tasted kind of bland. It took me until college to give these a try again, and it was in the form of guacamole. Avocado quickly became one of those foods that I learned to love as an adult. If something has sliced avocado or guacamole in it, chances are I’m gonna go for it.

As easy as it is to throw together some guacamole, I have to admit that I was stoked to find out about Wholly Guacamole’s products. I first discovered Wholly Guacamole products on a whim at the grocery store. When I started calorie counting, I basically walked all of the aisles of the grocery store to find snack ideas, and I came upon their 100 calorie guacamole packs. While I could definitely eat a whole batch of guacamole, I loved the idea of having it pre-portioned in a small amount. It’s the perfect dip for baked tortilla chips and veggies!

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Turkey Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Quesadillas & Calphalon GIVEAWAY

sloppyjoequesadillas

Well, HELLO JULY! So many wonderful things going on this month: July 4th, my best friend’s wedding (OMG…hope my bridesmaid dress still fits after the 4th haha!)…well, that’s basically it. However, those are two HUGE events to me. I love the 4th of July. LOVE. The fireworks, the smell of the grills going crazy in our neighborhood and celebrating the holiday with All-American classic dishes. It’s just great. I’m pretty sure I wake up on July 4th craving food from the grill. Wonder if my husband would grill breakfast for me….LOL!

One of my favorite All-American dishes is sloppy joes. My Mom used to make sloppy joes a lot when we were kids, and the klutzy person in me loves the fact that the food is naturally sloppy. Whenever I go out to eat, I end up with a line of food around my plate. I’m not a neat eater at all. I’m sort of a disaster in public…I’m surprised people take me anywhere. Any food that says it’s sloppy means no judgement if I make a mess, right? Right.

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Garlic Fridge Pickles

Fridge Pickles

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that my parents’ green thumbs never passed down to me. My mom is a horticulturist, and even teaches courses at a local college. My dad is a pro veggie gardener (learned from growing vegetables for years), and can grow a mean crop of tomatoes. My parents make gardening look easy, but for me? I’m the plant killer.

My mom will bring me plants and seeds from time to time, and even the plants that are supposed to be kill-proof, die. I give ‘em water and plenty of sun, but they just fizzle. I like to think of gardening like cooking. When I started cooking, I could barely scramble eggs. However, with a few years of cooking and baking under my belt, I’m proud to say that I definitely can follow recipes, and I’m starting to experiment with writing my own! I’m in my 4th year of having a veggie garden, and while the bugs took over the tomatoes (AGAIN), I was SO excited to see these monstrous cucumbers growing in my garden. MY GARDEN..growing cucumbers…crazy y’all. I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m starting to catch on to this whole gardening thing. :-P

I really wanted to make my own pickles out of these cucumbers, and since the cucumbers were just ridiculous, it only took 1 to fill up 3 pint sized mason jars. I especially love the idea of making fridge pickles, because I could leave the canning supplies in the pantry and basically throw these together very quickly.

These pickles are just so flavorful, and the wonderful thing about fridge pickles is that they are just unbelievably crisp. They lend an awesome crunchy texture to an otherwise average sandwich, and are also a pretty awesome snack on their own.

Garlic Fridge Pickles
Source: Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole cucumbers (make sure to use cucumbers with no waxy texture on the peel)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of coriander
  • 6 whole peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Slice the cucumbers in 1/4 in.-1/8 in. thick slices and add them to mason jars or a large bowl. Cut the garlic cloves into quarters and using a knife, gently smash them. Evenly add the garlic pieces to the jars or bowl.
  2. In a small pot, heat the remaining ingredients until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
  3. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers and garlic and cover the containers. Refrigerate the pickles for at least 2 hours before eating.

Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip


Spinach Artichoke Dip

I love hosting big family holidays. I have a blast choosing a menu, shopping and waking up early to start the cooking festivities. It’s really rewarding when you see all of your loved ones gathered around and enjoying the food that YOU made! Never in my college day Lean Cuisine eating dreams did I think I could ever host a family holiday, but we have…quite a few times.

One of the big perks to cooking up a huge holiday meals is that you can sneak a taste or two of a few dishes as you’re cooking them up without getting smacked on the wrist by your momma. Sadly, I actually end up filling up on appetizers and taking small tastes before serving everyone! (whoops!) By the time everyone has their huge plates of food, I find myself sitting down and struggling to eat one plate. Oh well…

This past Christmas and Easter, I had this spinach artichoke dip to blame for the pre-meal full feeling. My friend, who blogs at Wine and Shoes, gave me this recipe after trying this dip at a party, and it’s just fabulous! I like to have this in a crockpot (to help the dip stay warm) where the appetizers are, which is sadly my kitchen island. All I have to do is take a step or two to sneak a cracker full of this stuff every couple of minutes. I’m not the only one who found it dangerous, either. As people started arriving, I noticed a little crowd was forming, and it certainly wasn’t for the cheese tray. :-P

I especially love this dip, because there is no mayo. 90% of you will disagree with me, but I think mayo is gross. It smells terrible, looks nasty and because of that, I just can’t stomach the idea of eating ANYTHING containing mayo. Sorry to the mayo lovers…

Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Source: Wine and Shoes (originally from Tabasco)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 med onion, chopped finely
  • 2-10 oz packs frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded & divided
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated & divided
  • 2 tbsp. Tabasco sauce
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté the butter and onions until they are translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.  Add in the spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, ¾ cup of the parmesan and ¾ cup of the Monterey jack, Tabasco and salt (to taste).  Cook until well mixed.
  2. Pour the mixture into a smaller crockpot and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  3. Add the lid to the crockpot and heat on low for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is just melted. Then, keep the crockpot on low throughout serving.

 

 

Favorite Party Recipes

Part of me cannot believe that the Superbowl is Sunday. I mean, that’s the end of football season until next Fall. I have to wait at least six months to watch another game after this. Sad.  (If you know me, you know I’m being dead serious about how sad this is to me. Crazy football fan here!) A perk of Superbowl Sunday? Watching Millie run up to the TV when I randomly switch over to the Puppy Bowl.

To mourn celebrate the end of another football season, here’s some great recipes that will definitely disappear if you serve them at your Superbowl parties.

Queso Blanco
Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Restaurant Style Salsa
Restaurant Style Salsa


Crawfish Pies


Crawfish Cheesecake

Jambalaya
Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Berry Mash Bruschetta

Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

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Oreo Cupcakes

Oh, and if you have an occasional puppy bowl break, I’m pretty sure the dogs at your party would love you for these!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin PB Treats

Restaurant Style Salsa

Restaurant Style Salsa

Greetings from our new kitchen! We’re still unpacking boxes around the house, but the kitchen is completely set-up! The kitchen was definitely a priority for us when it came to unpacking, because take out was definitely starting to get boring. Since we moved a little further from the city, our choices are VERY limited. So yeah, it was time to turn on that stove!

Since I was in the mood to make tex-mex (and H didn’t really mind that craving either), we made chicken enchiladas one night and then chicken taquitos with this salsa the next night. Tex-mex two nights in a week? Heck yes!

This salsa is really a big favorite in our house, and I’m really not sure why I haven’t shared this recipe with y’all until now! We’ve made it quite a few times, because it’s ridiculously easy to throw together and way tastier than anything you can buy in a jar! While this salsa makes a lot (and I mean A LOT), it’s really not difficult to go through this stuff fairly quickly. :-) It’s addictive, for sure!

Restaurant Style Salsa
Source: Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 2 10 oz cans of Rotel
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, quartered and sliced thin (remove seeds if you don’t want as much heat)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 of a lime’s juice

Directions:

  1. Take all ingredients and put them in a blender.
  2. Pulse the blender until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Enjoy!

 

Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Queso Blanco

My husband and I really love a good bowl of queso blanco. Whenever we go to a tex-mex restaurant, we have to order the queso, and it never fails to just hit the spot. Sometimes, I even wonder why I order a dinner…it’s the queso that I’m really after!

I really wanted to know what type of cheese was in the queso, so I’d research and various folks would mention mexican cheeses that I’ve never worked with, so I was intimidated. Plus, I tend to have trouble trusting people on random forums, like Yahoo! Answers. Why waste my time. Then, I saw a post on Confessions of a Foodie Bride about making this infamous queso, but the cheese totally threw me for a loop. White American? Really…that’s it? So, I had to give this a try, because I love Shawnda’s blog, and I knew she wouldn’t steer me wrong here.

Y’all, this is restaurant queso blanco. I’m not lying. If you want queso blanco at home, make this…you won’t regret it. We definitely loved this recipe and it couldn’t be easier to make!

Restaurant Style Queso Blanco
Source: mildly adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil (veggie, olive, canola – whatever you have)
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno or serrano, seeds and stem removed; diced
  • 12 oz white American cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (not pre-shredded…grate this yourself)
  • 1/4-2/3 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pot. Add the onion and pepper and cook until until softened and reduce heat to medium-low.
  2. Add the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of the cream. Stir until well combined and mostly melted.
  3. Add in additional cream a little at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta

Appetizers
pictured with boudin balls

This appetizer that we offered at the party was a lighter alternative to the fried boudin balls and ultra gooey cheese fondue. I originally wanted to do a fresh tomato bruschetta with home-grown tomatoes, but due to some weather not being favorable (too much rain at one time), my tomatoes ended up with blossom end rot. I was a little bummed, but I took the unfavorable weather as a sign to just stay true to this recipe, which called for canned tomatoes. I’ll admit, I was skeptical about it tasting, well, canned, but in the end, it was delicious and no one could tell they were canned tomatoes. :) I guess I can blame the fresh garlic and the basil that came straight from my backyard!

This recipe is so simple to put together too. You could get away with making the filling ahead of time, and just add to the bread the day-of after it’s slightly toasted.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 1 (32-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large French baquettes, sliced 1-inch thick (about 36 slices)
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add drained tomatoes, 1 cup basil leaves, olive oil and 2 cloves garlic. Pulse until smooth, but somewhat chunky. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. On a baking sheet, line up baguette slices. Toast in oven for about 3 minutes or until light golden brown. Working quickly, rub the remaining garlic on the toasted side of each slice and then lay a piece of mozzarella cheese on top. Place bread back in oven and melt cheese slightly, about 45 seconds. Remove from oven and spread one tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each piece.
  4. Place bruschetta on decorative platter and garnish with basil leaves.

Cheese Fondue

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I love cheese. There, I said it. When recipes say “sprinkle” cheese, I COVER it in cheese. Cheese is just awesome. One of my favorite foods that involve cheese is fondue!  Whenever I go out for fondue, which is rare, I go crazy on the cheese fondue. It’s so fluffy, stringy and warm..oh, nom nom nom! Sadly, hubs hates fondue. He can’t stand it. So, I do not own a fondue set. It would be really useless to own a set knowing that I’m only going to eat off of it.

For the party, I wanted to bring in a dangerously cheesy dish, and what is more cheesy than fondue? I searched the Internet like crazy, and found a recipe that sounded simple and had great reviews. I wanted something that tasted like it came straight from a restaurant, so I wanted it to be authentic and have a swiss cheese base.

I also knew fondue involved wine, and I will admit, I am the furthest away from being knowledgeable about wine. I need things spelled out for me in a recipe. “Dry White Wine” as an ingredient  in a recipe didn’t help me, so I asked a few friends for help. It was a toss-up between using a sauvignon blanc and an unoaked chardonnay. My cheap self couldn’t find an unoaked chardonnay for less than $10 (at least the label didn’t say unoaked), so I settled for some Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc ($6 a bottle and it had seemingly good reviews for a frugal wine on the Internet). In the end, I couldn’t even taste the wine. I just don’t have a sensitive palate, I guess..all I tasted was cheese, cheese, cheese! :) This dish was a HIT!

Just to note, I ended up making this in a non-stick pot on low heat until it came together, then I threw it in a small crock-pot on low, since we don’t own a fondue set. It worked well at keeping the cheese warm. :)

Cheese Fondue
Source: adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
  • 1/2 pound shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • french bread, cut into cubes
  • broccoli florets
  • baby carrots
  • apple slices

Directions:

  1. Simmer wine in a small pot. Add Swiss cheese, Gruyere cheese, 1/4 pound at a time. Stir after each addition of cheese until melted.  Note: It might not look like it’s coming together at this point. Just keep stirring and add the flour. That’s when my fondue came together.
  2. Stir in flour. When all the cheese has melted, stir in salt. Place in a small crockpot on low heat to serve. Serve with bread cubes, broccoli, carrots and apples.

Foodbuzz 24×24: The Best Things We Ever Ate

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Summer officially started last Monday. However, being in Louisiana, we’ve been feeling summer-like weather since May. With the heat index hitting 110 degrees sometimes, we wanted to throw a summer party that was most definitely indoors!

I watch entirely too much Food Network. If it wasn’t for Food Network and reading food blogs, I’m fairly certain my husband and I would be living off of Hamburger Helper and take-out. One of my favorite shows lately has been The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Every show has a theme, and it features the cooks/hosts on Food Network and their favorite eats in that theme. So, when Foodbuzz emailed about this month’s 24×24 proposals, I figured it would be a fun party to feature the best things our families have eaten! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this party! :)

To come up with the menu, I sent out an email to our families asking for their favorites in each category.

  • On the Grill (recipes that are done on the BBQ)
  • Dangerously Cheesy (major cheese in a dish)
  • No Utensils (finger foods/apps)
  • Keep it Comfy (comfort food)
  • Frozen Treats (any dessert from the freezer)
  • Mix it Up (a food that requires using a mixer—doesn’t have to be a sweet)
  • Louisiana’s Best (Louisiana food)
  • Cold and Colorful (like a salad or cold app with lots of veggies or fruit)
  • Under the Sea (favorite seafood dish)
  • Classic American (with 4th of July approaching, tell me a dish that screams American)

After getting many responses, here is the menu we came up with:

Drinks:
Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Daiquiris

Appetizers:
Cheese Fondue with Vegetables/Bread*
Bruschetta*
Boudin Balls

Entrees:
Steak Skewers with Chimichurri, Onion Cheese Sauce and Compound Butter*
Spicy BBQ Shrimp Skewers*

Sides:
Crawfish Fettuccine
Macaroni and Cheese
Vegetable Skewers*
Grilled Corn
Lettuce Greens with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Desserts:
Strawberry Cake*
Assorted Cupcakes
Cinnamon Crumb Apple Pie
Fresh Berries with Ice Cream

* recipes will be featured in the blog in future posts

I will admit, I’m still getting the hang of entertaining for a large number of people. Despite doing a lot of prep, I felt fairly stressed in the last hour. Since the party was for family, though, I had loads of help at the last minute. :) Whew!

The fondue was an absolute hit. I was nervous to make this myself, but this recipe came together beautifully! I served the fondue with day old po’boy bread, carrots and broccoli.

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We purchased the boudin balls at a local joint, since they are pretty much my husband’s favorite. The bruschetta was a lighter alternative to the other appetizers. I was super excited to use basil from our garden for this dish!

Appetizers

I need to thank the hubs for braving the sweltering disgusting heat to cook up this magic on the grill. The steak, especially was a real winner to family!

kabobs

We made 3 sauces available for people to dip/cover their skewers in: a chimichurri, onion blue cheese (not pictured) and a worchestershire chive butter. The chimichurri ended up being a huge hit (and I used parsley from the garden for it)!

Steak Butter/Chimichurri

Here is some lovely grilled corn that survived a few flare-ups on the grill. :)

Grilled Corn

Here is a semi-decent picture of the crawfish fettuccine before everyone digged in. The hubs’ parents made this dish and it was delicious. Perfect flavor with a little Louisiana kick!

Crawfish Fettucine

This is some macaroni and cheese that is my mother-in-law’s favorite. It was definitely pretty tasty (not to mention, cheesy). :)

Mac and Cheese

After enjoying some serious eats, we waited a good while before putting out desserts and just chatted, watched TV and played some games.

I will say the desserts were absolutely amazing.

Fresh berries (and ice cream, not pictured)

berries

Strawberry Cake (inspired by a local bakery). I would have just purchased one, but I had no idea an 8″ cake was over $30. What the heck?! I guess I’m just used to baking my own cakes to realize how expensive cakes have gotten!

Strawberry Cake

This was a welcomed surprise. A local cupcake bakery occasionally has giveaways on Twitter, and I won some cupcakes! They were seriously delish! Thank you Sweet Wishes Cafe!

Cupcakes

Here is the cinnamon crumb apple pie. This is one of those frozen pies you can find in the grocery store, but has quickly become a favorite with my hubs’ family.

apple pie

Of course, our puppy was very excited to get all of the attention she got at the party, and thanks to my mom, she tried a piece of steak for the first time. I think she enjoyed it. :)

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And of course, it wouldn’t be a party without family! Here are some pictures of our family.

Mom and Sis

family

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It was a great time to be had by everyone, especially in the milder indoors. Thank you so much to Foodbuzz again for the party! Everyone had a blast! :)