Italian layer bake

So remember, like, a week ago when parts of New Jersey got decimated by Hurricane Sandy? Well, now we’ve got a nor’easter on our hands. I wasn’t quite ready for the snowy weather, especially considering all my scarves and gloves are in my storage unit and my favorite pair of boots just fell apart. But, ready or not, the snow is here and I’ve already lost feeling in my poorly circulated feet.

A little silver lining to this shoddy weather is it makes a nice, warm meal even more rewarding. This Italian layer bake requires a bit of time at the deli counter, but makes a nice meaty little meal for the middle of the week when you want to eat something toasty and curl up in a ball. Continue reading Italian layer bake

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cheese-o’-lantern

As a result of Hurricane Sandy, Halloween in our area has been postponed until Monday (as decreed by Governor Chris Christie), so this post may come a little late for those non-East Coasters, but this recipe really works for any autumnal party because it’s oh-so-cute and super tasty.

Food Network calls it “pumpkin cheese ball,” but that’s a bit misleading because the only thing pumpkin about it is the appearance — not the taste. In any event, this was a big hit at the Halloween party I went to last weekend. Continue reading cheese-o’-lantern

prosciutto flatbread

If you read my last entry, you know how hectic my recent party planning was — particularly the menu. When you bribe your friends with food, they have high expectations. I made spinach bites, pepperoni puffs, crab-stuffed cucumber cups, a few tasty dips, etc. I still felt like it wasn’t going to be enough, so at the last minute, I called an audible and threw together these cheater¬†prosciutto flatbreads. Continue reading prosciutto flatbread

smokin’ them (USA! USA!)

U.S. goalkeeper, Hope Solo

I was still reeling yesterday from the U.S. Women’s National Team’s amazing win Sunday in the World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil, and then they pulled out another fantastic victory over France to move on to the finals. This team is amazing. If you haven’t watched a game yet, take some time this weekend to do so.

The women play again this Sunday, and with the impressive amount of support that fans of all kind have shown over the last two weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some Women’s World Cup viewing parties on tap. Whether you’re hosting or attending, serve these little bacon-wrapped Smokies and you’ll get almost as much praise as Abby Wambach’s clutch air game. Continue reading smokin’ them (USA! USA!)

Opening Day dip

The wait is over. Five long, dark months have passed. It’s Opening Day. Baseball has returned.

From a few of the players’ mouths (Hunter Pence, B.J. Upton, James Shields), Opening Day has been described as reaching the top of a roller coaster, the first day of the school and, of course, Christmas. Yes. All of the above.

I usually like to tie in what’s going on outside my kitchen to what I post here, but I didn’t get a chance to make cute little baseball-themed cookies or anything of that ilk, so rather than stretch it make it work, I’m reluctantly shifting focus to today’s “food holiday” — National Tater Day — with loaded baked potato dip (from bakedbree).

I made this for a recent potluck, and while it was successful, it was a little overshadowed by all the more substantial dishes there. This is much more appropriate for a casual hangout — maybe one where you and your friends are sunk in the couch watching a handful of baseball games [via MLB Extra Innings free preview] and want to put as little effort as possible into what you’re eating?

The dip doesn’t actually contain any potatoes, so like baked bree, I would recommend using potato chips or fries as dippers to get the full baked potato effect. If you don’t have a deep fryer, go with the chips; without something strong enough to scoop, it’s a little frustrating to eat.¬†McCain waffle fries + my new deep fryer = winning combination.

‚ô¶1/4 lb. bacon (I used about six slices of medium-cut)
‚ô¶16 oz. sour cream
‚ô¶2 c. cheddar cheese
‚ô¶1/3 c. chopped fresh chives (I bought a 1/4 oz. package and it sufficed)
‚ô¶2 tsp. hot sauce, plus little more for drizzling on top
‚ô¶dippers — waffle fries, potato chips, etc.

Cook bacon, and crumble when cooled. Place all ingredients (sans dippers) in bowl. Mix. Let chill in fridge for at least an hour.¬†Check taste, and adjust with salt or hot sauce if desired.¬†This really couldn’t be easier.

Total time? 15 minutes prep (bacon is most time-consuming part), 1 hour chill time.
Cost? $3 bacon, $1.50 sour cream, $1.74 chips, $1 chives, $1 hot sauce, $2 fries/potato chips.
Overall success relative to expect? 6 out of 10. I liked this dip, but I didn’t love it. I’m not really sure why, and I know that’s not helpful. It might be because I’m not the biggest sour cream fan. I would still recommend making it because it’s tasty, easy and seemed to be a crowd-pleaser (which may or may not have been because it came with freshly deep-fried waffle fries). Happy Opening Day, baseball fans!

time to dip!

 

pop off

Big food “holiday” coming up this weekend, and I’ve got a great little appetizer for you to whip up for any Super Bowl party. (Does that ‘not-allowed-to-say-Super-Bowl’ thing apply to blogs, too? Sure hope not.)

I made these cream cheese and bacon-stuffed jalape√Īo poppers for my Christmas party (adapted from Gonna Want Seconds), and they required very little effort for something so tasty; they’re also ideal because they don’t lose their appeal after sitting out over the course of the party.

In case you’re overlooking the “jalape√Īo” in the description, let me remind you that these can be pretty freaking spicy. This might also be a good time to [strongly]¬†encourage the donning of gloves before deveining your jalape√Īos; I didn’t. My fingers were aflame the entire night — like, visibly crimsoned from my fingertips to my knuckles. Never felt anything like it. Some of my guests exclaimed, “How did you not know that?!” Uhh, because no told me it would be¬†that bad? I didn’t think my hand would catch fire?¬†Is that really common knowledge? Either way, you know I’m looking out for you and the thermal reading of your appendages.

‚ô¶10 fresh¬†jalape√Īos
‚ô¶8 oz. of cream cheese
‚ô¶5-8 slices of bacon
‚ô¶1/2 c. plain panko bread crumbs

Cook bacon, drain on paper towel and crumble when slightly cooled. Combine bacon crumbs and cream cheese in bowl. In a separate bowl, pour out panko. Cut¬†jalape√Īos in half lengthwise, remove seeds and veins (wearing gloves). Scoop bacon mixture into each¬†jalape√Īo, then dip cream cheese side into panko. Bake on a lined sheet for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Total time? 10 minutes for bacon, 7 minutes prep, 15 minutes bake
Cost? $2 for jalape√Īos, $1 cream cheese, $2 bacon, $2 panko bread crumbs
Overall success relative to expectations? 7 out of 10. My spiteful fingers wanted to take off points for the pain they endured during this, but I broke out some pretty nail polish to distract them. I skimped a little on the cream cheese mixture to make sure I had enough for all 20 poppers, and had too much left over in the end; next time, I’ll be sure to load ’em up — to not only avoid waste, but give guests more of a buffer from the crazy¬†jalape√Īo kick.