Thursday, January 31, 2013

Creamy Beer Cheese Soup with Salsa Verde

Creamy Beer Cheese Soup with Salsa Verde

Those of you who have been around for awhile may remember that I explained my complicated relationship with football last year. By complicated relationship, I mean that I want to like it. I really, really do. I just don't. I love the camaraderie of rooting for a team, the fact that football signifies the start of fall, and the excuse to drink beer and eat wings.

I was a marching band geek in high school, and therefore attended about 50 high school football games over my years at Ocean Township High School. Most of my time during those games was spent eating nachos, trying to avoid dropping my flute below the bleachers, and annoying/awkwardly attempting to flirt with the drummers who had the misfortune of being seated in front of me. Unfortunately none of that time was spent cultivating a love for the sport.

Fortunately, I did cultivate a love for game foods of all kinds, and wanted to share a recipe that would be appropriate for Superbowl Sunday. I decided to do something different than the standard dips and wings this year, and I turned to Pam Anderson's (no, not THAT Pam Anderson) Cook without a Book: Meatless Meals.I decided that this recipe would be perfect - and it's a good way to make sure your vegetarian friends don't get left out of the food festivities!

This was my first time making or tasting beer cheese soup, so my Wisconsinite readers will have to tell me if this is even remotely authentic. Authentic or not, it was really tasty, and would be a fantastic addition to a Superbowl spread! I mean, its two main ingredients are beer and cheese. Totally football appropriate. Leftovers reheat surprisingly well for a cheese-based soup, and I have a feeling that keeping this warm in a slow cooker would work splendidly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cinnamon Blondies with Vanilla Buttercream

Cinnamon Blondies with Vanilla Buttercream

You know what's really awesome? I just wrote a whole blog post, and it inexplicably got deleted right as I was about to hit publish.

No, I lied. It's not awesome. It's a giant load of crap, and now I have to remember everything I wanted to tell you guys about these blondies from memory. Here are things I'm good at remembering: birthdays of everyone I knew prior to joining Facebook, lyrics to 90s pop songs, every line ever spoken in Friends, my locker combination from 5th grade (5-11-37, thankyouverymuch), and the password for all 85 email addresses and social media accounts that I attempt to keep track of.

So, basically I can remember ridiculously miniscule details from as far back as 1994, but can't remember what I wrote 30 minutes ago. My brain works in mysterious ways. I just realized that I addressed my very bad memory in my last blog post also. Maybe I need to see a neurologist, but...meh. I get by with day planners and checklists.

Cinnamon Blondies with Vanilla Buttercream

I don't even have any of these blondies left with which to console myself, since I made them 2 weeks ago and am just now getting around to sharing the recipe. I actually created this recipe with the sparse collection of ingredients I had on hand, since I didn't feel like venturing out to the grocery store for ingredients. I wasn't sure if they'd be blog-worthy, but they turned out to be shockingly delicious. 

They are generously spiced and perfectly chewy, and are topped with a layer of vanilla buttercream that takes the deliciousness to the next level. The worst thing you can do to blondies is over-bake them, so start checking these at the 20 minute mark. I think these would also be amazing with some chopped crystallized ginger mixed into the batter, or even some toasted walnuts. Someone play around with this recipe and report back!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps

Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps

Saturday night, I channeled my inner 80-year old and stayed home for the evening. I drank juice box wine, talked to my sister on the phone for an hour, watched old episodes of What Not to Wear, and read the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook from cover to cover. It was glorious. I also got sucked into a really bizarre Wikipedia vortex that resulted in me reading about obscenity laws in America...don't even ask. Clearly, my New Year's resolution to use my free time more productively is not going very well.

Apparently, these seemingly mundane activities got the creative juices flowing in my brain, and I woke up at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning with a really funny idea for a blog post. Usually, when I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, I send myself an email from my phone and deal with it in the morning. However, I must have fallen asleep again too quickly to email myself, and now I forget what I wanted to write about. I remember that I had an awesome idea, but I have no clue what it was. I am so stinkin' pissed right now. Just know, it was really, really good, but probably super weird since it came to me in a dream. I've been rendered completely incapable of remembering things on my own, without the aid of technology. Awesome.

Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps

Let's move forward and discuss these wraps. This chicken salad is outstanding. Who knew that putting loads of green onions and cilantro in chicken salad would take it from good to great? This is usually where I'd try to convince cilantro haters to just taste it one more time, but I recently learned that cilantro hatred is actually genetic. Apparently, those of you who hate cilantro have a gene that makes it taste like soap! That makes me very sad for you, because I think cilantro tastes like unicorns, pug puppies, and angels are having a wildly delicious fiesta in my mouth. To each their own.

The chicken salad gets wrapped up with a generous amount of extra-sharp cheddar, and then the wrap is toasted in a skillet. The wrap gets crispy, the cheese gets melty, and lunchtime nirvana is yours.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Soft-Baked Peanut Butter Cookies

Soft-Baked Peanut Butter Cookies

Usually when I bake something, it's for a specific event, a party, or someone's birthday. I didn't make these for any of those reasons. I made these cookies on a complete whim, for no reason at all, after finding Sally's recipe via Pinterest last Wednesday. As far as whims go, this one worked out extremely well for me. Whims that have not worked out well for me in the past can be filed under the categories of: tequila shots [subcategory: epic embarrassment], haircut [subcategory: bangs], and kissing [subcategory: former coworker]. Whims involving cookies usually turn out much more favorably.

These cookies are a peanut butter lover's DREAM. In addition to a hefty scoop of peanut butter, these contain honey roasted peanuts, peanut butter baking chips, AND miniature peanut butter cups. I was a little unsure about how I'd like the honey roasted peanuts in this recipe, but they add such a nice crunch to an otherwise super soft cookie. These stay soft and chewy for days, and bake up nice and thick! In case I haven't convinced you to make these already, I'll also mention that you only need to dirty one bowl for this recipe!

Soft-Baked Peanut Butter Cookies

I still have a lot of these left as I type this (sadly, woman cannot live on cookies alone) and I'm already thinking of ways to switch things up the next time I make these. I may add some Reese's Pieces, or peanut M&Ms. Or both. Oh boy...I think I got diabetes just thinking about that combination.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For those of you who aren't in the know, the newest season of one of the best shows ever started up again last night. That's right, The Bachelor.

Judge away, my friends - if you don't watch, you're missing out on one of the most glorious products of modern day television. Surely, most of you know the premise of The Bachelor, but in case you're a dude, or live in a country that doesn't televise this show, I'll summarize it for you: one handsome man and 25 beautiful women come together in a competition to find true love. Unintentional hilarity ensues. I don't watch sports unless there are appetizers and beer involved, so my desire to see televised competition is primarily satisfied by ABC's biannual train wreck.

Ladies, if you're single, prepare to feel really good about yourself, as many of these women fall firmly into what Barney Stinson refers to as the Shelly Gillespie Zone. I mean, one of these gals got hammered and attempted to reenact scenes from 50 Shades of Grey with a dude she just met. The entire time I was watching, I kept thinking "man, what would my mom say if I went on television and behaved like this?" At the end of the episode, Miss 50 Shades looks into the camera and says "don't be mad mom." Honey, I assure you that mad is an understatement for what your mother is probably feeling. The Bachelor himself, Sean, actually seems like a quality human being, so hopefully his final selection is among the non-wackadoos.

Anyway, episodes of The Bachelor are two hours a pop, so I decided to get myself some wine and make a big, hearty dinner to go along with it. This recipe isn't reinventing the wheel - it's a basic spaghetti and meatballs recipe, but it's hands down the best one I've ever tried. Most spaghetti and meatball recipes that I've tried call for simmering the meatballs in the sauce until they're cooked through, but I realized that frying the meatballs first makes a tremendous difference in flavor. Additionally, I will never go back to making meatballs with just ground beef. These contain both pork and beef, which is infinitely more delicious. This will be my go-to meatball recipe from now on!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Vegetarian Bean Chili

25-Minute, Healthy Vegetarian Bean Chili

Happy New Year everyone! The past 2 years I've kicked off January with a healthy recipe, so I'm continuing the tradition in 2013 with this awesome vegetarian chili. I would seriously cry and go on a hunger-strike if the only way to eat healthy was to eat a plain nasty chicken breast and some steamed broccoli. Eating boring, flavorless food is no way to go through life.

Fortunately, this chili is made up of major health foods like veggies and beans, but it's so hearty and flavorful that you completely forget you're getting a huge dose of nutrition.

25-Minute, Healthy Vegetarian Bean Chili

Right now, many of you reading are probably nursing champagne hangovers from last night, and want nothing more than to faceplant into a sack of Five Guys cheeseburgers. Do that today, make this tomorrow. This chili takes 25 minutes to throw together, makes delicious leftovers, and is made with pantry staples. I bet many of you have all the ingredients on hand right now!

25-Minute, Healthy Vegetarian Bean Chili

Blog Design by Delicious Design Studio