Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Baked Crab Dip

I don’t know about you, but if crab dip is on the menu, there is a 99% chance that I order it. They vary in flavor and texture from restaurant to restaurant, but there are certainly some similarities– plenty of crab and creamy-ness (is that a word? I just did that). Nothing like baked crab dip on a carefree summer day.

My boyfriend’s brother-in-law is a fabulous cook and crab dip is one of his specialties! Not only is his crab dip delicious, but SUPER simple, too. You can even make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, unbaked, until you’re ready to bake and serve. I love it – which is why I had to share!

Baked Crab Dip

1 lb Lump Crab Meat (the real deal)
1 regular size block of Cream Cheese
1 stick of Butter
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Green onions

Soften cream cheese and butter together.

Recommendations on how to soften these ingredients:

First  method: wrap the cream cheese and butter (separately) in plastic wrap, then submerge it in a bowl of hot tap water for 5-10 min.

Second method: Take it out of the metal wrapping and microwave. 20 seconds for cream cheese and 14 seconds for butter (if they have been in the refrigerator).

Once softened, fold in all of the crabmeat. Cut your green onions into small pieces and fold the pieces in as well (just a small handful).

Put blended mixture in casserole and sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Just enough bread crumbs to cover the top.

Broil until browned on top and warm throughout. Serve with crackers (I do Ritz!)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Apple Cider Moscow Mule

I've been on a drink recipe kick these days - no worries, I'll be back to cranking out casseroles and appetizers in no time. Missing the food action? Head on over to "Not Your Mother's Meatloaf" for a great chilly fall evening dinner recipe.

Now, back to the program. I am absolutely in love with the original Moscow Mule, but putting a fall twist on an old classic raises it to another level. I didn't even think that was possible! Adding the crispness of the apple cider, the warm notes of the cinnamon, all with the spice of the ginger beer - that is fall flavor you will not forget.

There are a couple of different recipes out there, but this here is the perfect blend of autumn goodness.

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

2 ounces of Vodka
2 ounces of Trader Joe's Spiced Cider (regular cider or homemade cider will do)
Juice of one Lime wedge
1/2 cup of Trader Joe's Brewed Ginger Beer (Gosling's Ginger Beer is another good choice)
A sprinkle of Cinnamon
1 Cinnamon Stick (for garnish)
1 Apple slice (for garnish)

In your copper mug (because it's not the same without it), add the vodka, cider and lime juice together. Fill the mug with ice. Top with sprinkle of cinnamon. Then top the mug off with ginger beer (typically about a 1/2 of a cup). Stir the mixture well and garnish with cinnamon stick and apple slice.

Enjoy! Do you have a great twist on an old favorite? Do share!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fresh Squeezed Margaritas

Previous to making these at home, I had never experienced a fresh squeezed margarita. I know, sinful. It really does make a world of difference if you, ya know, appreciate the finer things in life. I happened to breeze by a juicer at TJ Maxx for $15 and I was sold on the idea of all things fresh squeezed. Not to mention, maybe a little arm workout while I am at it? I'm okay with that.

I invite you to experience this beautiful creation of fresh ingredients, simplicity, salty, jalapeno goodness all in a mason jar glass.

Fresh Squeezed Margaritas (pitcher style)

2 parts Simple Syrup
2 parts Lime Juice
3 parts Tequila
A couple splashes of Triple Sec
2 Jalapenos

Parts can also be synonymous with cups for this recipe. If you follow along with that measurement, you should get about 4-6 pretty sizable (strong) margaritas! You can always adjust accordingly for your group size. It may even be worth making extra for yourself as this recipe stores well in the fridge, just be sure to top the pitcher with it's intended top or saran wrap.

Please note: It will take about 15-20 limes to juice 2 cups worth of lime juice. You don't want to fall short - that's a pretty important ingredient right there!

How to make Fresh Squeezed Margaritas:

Start by making your simple syrup. The name says it all! It is equal parts sugar and water. Bring your water to a boil and add an equal increment of sugar until it is dissolved (ie one cup water + one cup sugar). I then place the simple syrup in the freezer for a bit to let it cool down before adding it to the margaritas!

Time to work your muscles. This works best if you have a juicer. I got mine for $15 at TJ Maxx. Think of all of the spirited beverages you can make with these things: margaritas, orange crushes, fresh squeezed mimosas! The list could go on. Cut all of your lime wedges (except for one or two) in half and begin to juice all of them into the juicing bowl. Once you have your full two cups, dump into your pitcher.

Next, add the three parts (cups) of tequila, two parts (cups) simple syrup and a couple splashes of triple sec to your pitcher.

Time for glass prep. Use one or two of the limes to cut into wedges, one of which to use to wet the rim of the glass. Next you will tip the glass upside down into some salt so that it sticks around the rim. Add the rest of the wedges to the rim of each of the glasses. Next, cut the jalapenos to add into the glasses (this is if you like it HOT). I definitely recommend the added heat touch, though. Lastly, add a couple of ice cubes to each glass.

You are done. Where is the fiesta?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

When you are in search of a lean protein for dinner, chicken can be a good go-to, however, it can certainly get old! Bone-in pork chops definitely helps to spice up the dinner rotation. This dry-rubbed (before cooking) chop has definitely been added to our "favorites" list and I'm sure will be added to yours. The honey mustard glaze added at the end of cooking helps to lock in the flavor - mmm, let's get started!

Note: Typically this would be a grilling recipe, however, because we are in the height of the heat of summer I decided to provide the baking version. No need to sweat for dinner!

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

2 Pork Chops - center cut, bone on, 3/4 - 1 inch thick
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon or sprinkle of Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Ground Cinnamon, Cayenne Powder, Paprika
Olive Oil, as needed
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
4 teaspoons Honey

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Season the pork chops (each side) with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cinnamon, cayenne powder and paprika. Sprinkle each top with olive oil. For my seasonings, I used some minced onion and garlic that I had in the cupboard to give it that extra bold flavor.

Mix the honey and Dijon mustard in a bowl, set aside.

Heat a large oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat with a couple drops of water in it. Once heated, drop your chops in and let cook for 3 minutes. Flip the chops and place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 6-10 minutes or until the chops are golden brown. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, spread the honey mustard glaze on top of the chops and continue to cook. See the below guide for pork internal temperatures.

How do you know when your pork is done cooking?

Typically pork is served medium or well-done. Refer to the below guide when preparing your pork. Remember to let your meat sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Medium (145-150 degrees Fahrenheit)
Well-done (150-155 degrees Fahrenheit)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Breakfast Pizzas

If you are looking to bring your breakfast or brunch hour to new heights, this is the recipe for you. It's time to bake away the thought of boring old oatmeal or yogurt and bring on the tomatoes, basil and bacon atop these delicious flaky crescent squares! YUM! Let's get started.

Breakfast Pizzas

1 can refrigerated Crescent Rolls (I prefer the large buttery flavored ones)
4 Eggs
3-6 slices Bacon (depending on size – I recommend Trader Joe’s Uncured Black Forest Bacon)
2 tablespoons Cheese of choice
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Basil
6 Cherry Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll the dough, separating it right down the center to create two large separate squares. Pinch the perforations in the middle then fold up the edges slightly to create a tiny wall that keeps your eggs from dripping down the edge of the pan.

Crack two eggs into the center of each dough square. I would recommend putting each egg in opposite corners of the pizza squares not right next to one another. Place three slices of bacon across the eggs on each square. Sprinkle each square with a tablespoon of cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. Lastly, add three half sliced cherry tomatoes as well as three leaves of basil to each.

Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the Crescent dough are golden brown and the eggs are cooked to your preference. Cooking them for this amount of time will leave the eggs in an over easy state with the bacon cooked just right (not crispy). 

Now it's time to enjoy...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

7 Layer Salad

This dish is a long-time family favorite. Just about every time I visit my family in the Midwest, my aunt prepares this dish for everyone and it is much appreciated! It is a simple yet beautiful and tasty salad that should be a staple at any potluck, dinner party or picnic.

Even though the dressing makes this salad super tasty, one thing I love about this recipe is that the ingredients take center stage - not the dressing. This salad has the perfect cool and crisp mixture of flavor, I guarantee it will become a long-time favorite of yours as well!

7 Layer Salad

1 head of Iceberg Lettuce
1 bunch of Green Onions
1 bag of Frozen Peas
1 bag of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 eggs (I recommend getting the ones that are already hard boiled and peeled)
1 package of Bacon (sometimes I go for the precooked option for ease - but cooking it definitely adds some more crisp)

It works best in a large clear glass bowl (you have to show off the beauty!) If you don't have one, any large bowl will do. First, grab all of your ingredients!

Start by chopping your iceberg lettuce into bite size pieces - this is your first layer. Next, add diced green onions.  Spread them out on top of the iceberg layer. The next layer is your frozen peas. I usually run the bag under water for a minute just to thaw them a bit (it is okay if they are still a bit frozen/cold). Layer them on top of the green onions.

Cover the peas with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Think of it like you are frosting the top of the cake - in this case, you are frosting peas :) Sprinkle a small handful (about 1 tablespoon) of sugar on top of the layer of mayonnaise.

Layer on the shredded cheddar cheese. You likely will not need the whole bag, just enough to create a small layer of cheese. Next, since I buy the eggs that are already hard boiled and peeled, I simply just chop them (into about 6-8 pieces) and sprinkle them on top to create the egg layer. Lastly, chop your bacon into bite size pieces and layer them on top of the egg pieces.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. That is one of the best parts about this salad is you can prepare it ahead of time and clear your schedule for your other party planning needs! Need to finish cleaning the house? Check. Need to pick up some last minute things at the store? Check. Not only is this dish simple, but it will be done way before your guests arrive!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An Old Time Favorite: The Moscow Mule

This old time favorite is certainly making a come back and it isn't only me who thinks so. The copper mug seems to be popping up everywhere and this refreshing vodka and ginger beer option is starting to take bar menus by storm. The cocktail has been around since the 1940's and is responsible for the popularity of Smirnoff as we know it today. There are actually quite a few interesting little tid bits about this drink, some of which you can find here.

If you haven't tried it yet, now is the time. It's the perfect blend of refreshing, with just a little bit of sweet and some spice from the ginger.

The Moscow Mule (for one)

1 can of Gosling's or Crabbie's Ginger Beer
2 ounces of Vodka
1 Lime wedge
1 sprig of Mint Leaves
1 Moscow Mule Copper Mug (it just makes the experience that much better)

In the mug, combine your ice, vodka, and juice from the lime. Top it off with ginger beer to fill up the rest of the mug. Garnish with a sprig of mint leaves.