Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year's Party Appetizers

Happy Monday!!

New Year's Eve signifies the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It's a time to reflect on the past and determine how to better yourself in the coming year, and set some new goals.  It also is a the time to cram every last bit of holiday indulgence into your system.  Can I get a woot woot!?!

On New Year's Eve I look forward to all of the appetizers.  If you've got a decent amount of appetizers at a party, then there is no need for a main course.  Also, in my opinion, apps make THE best drunk food.  May I get another woot woot?

Today I have for you two party-perfect appetizers that are sure to be crowd and belly pleasers. 

First Up:

Baked Potato Bites

What you will need for 8:

1) 1 large potato - cut into 1/2 inch slices
2) Sour cream - enough to have 1 dollop of sour cream on each slice of potato
3) 1 cup of chopped, fully cooked bacon
4) 5 scallions- chopped
5) Shredded cheddar jack cheese for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the bacon in a frying pan until crispy, and set aside.  Chop the scallions and set aside with the bacon.  Cut your potatoes into 1/2 inch slices and line up on an oiled baking pan.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and olive oil before baking.

Bake the potatoes for 35-40 minutes, or until they are soft.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Once the potatoes have cooled, spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each slice, and top with scallions, bacon and cheese.


Whose manhands are those, you ask??  Mine *sob*

Next Up:

Buffalo Chicken Wontons

What you will need for about 2 dozen:

1) 2 thin-cut chicken breasts
2) 8 oz. of cream cheese at room temperature
3) 1/2 cup of buffalo sauce
4) Handful of cheddar jack cheese
5) 1 package of wonton wrappers

Sprinkle the chicken breast with salt and pepper and cook on a small frying pan.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Once the chicken has cooled, shred and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the cream cheese, buffalo sauce, shredded chicken and cheese until well combined.  Take one wonton wrapper and fill the center with a small spoonful of the buffalo dip.  Wet the edges of the wrapper with water and pinch the wrapper closed.  Set aside and repeat with the remaining wrappers and mixture.  I put each wrapper in a mini cupcake pan so that they kept their shape while I was working on the others and while they baked.

This mixture also makes a great dip if you are not a fan of wonton wrappers.  Use the same recipe as above and spread evenly into a small pan.  Sprinkle the top with cheddar cheese or bleu cheese, and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.

xoxo Jillian

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grandma's Sauce

In my opinion, Grandma food is the best food.  I don't care if you are my Grandma, my best friend's Grandma, or my friend's uncle's college roommate's wife's Grandma.  If you are a Grandma, you are an Iron Chef.  One of the key life lessons that I have learned from my Italian paternal grandmother is how to make red sauce.  When we were little and went to visit her, the day would start with her amaze-balls meatballs as a snack once we arrived.  Dinner would then consist of her red sauce, more meatballs, and rigatoni.  Just the memory of it makes me nostalgic and feel all the feelings.

Today's recipe is an adaptation of Grandma's - or G-Ma as I like to call her - sauce.  I call it an adaptation because the way that she taught me was to use sauteed onions and garlic, however just recently she advised that she has one recipe that uses only sauteed onions and a separate recipe that uses sauteed garlic instead of onion.  WTF, mate?  I feel like my whole sauce-making life has been a lie, but I'll save that for the nice lady that lets me lie on her couch and talk about my feelings ;-)

What you will need to serve 8-10 (this is our Christmas batch):
  1. 1 small onion - roughly chopped
  2. 2 large cloves of garlic - crushed
  3. 3 cans of crushed tomatoes - I use the Tuttorosso brand
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoons of Oregano
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons of Basil
  6. 1 1/2 tablespoons of Parsley
  7. Salt and Pepper

Drizzle olive oil into a large pot and allow to heat for 1 minute.  Once the pot has heated, add the onion with salt and pepper and allow the onion to sweat, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the cans of tomatoes with Oregano,  Basil, Parsley, and more salt and pepper.  Stir to combine, cover the pot, and bring the sauce to a boil.  When the sauce is boiling, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Voila!  You can cook like a Grandma.....sort of.

Happy Holidays everyone!!! Enjoy this time with your family and friends :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Slutty Brownies

These brownies are called slutty brownies because they are easy (to make, that is), have several things in them, and are a pleasure to have in your mouth.  *wink*

I made these over the weekend for my brother who came home on Christmas leave from the Navy.  He's got quite the sweet tooth and I wanted to make him something special - you know, for protecting our country and all :)

You need the following:
  1. One box of Oreos
  2. One package of break and bake chocolate chip cookie dough (at room temperature)
  3. One box of brownie mix

Prep the brownie mix as per the instructions on the box and set aside.

In a 9 inch baking pan, spread out the cookie dough evenly.  Line enough Oreos on top of the dough so that the dough is covered.  There will be gaps between the Oreos so feel free to fill these gaps with some broken Oreos.  Pour the brownie batter on top of the Oreos and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Once the brownies are cooked through, let cool, slice into squares and serve!

See? Wasn't that fast? 

xoxo Jillian

Homemade Marshmallows

"You can make those?!?" is the response I got when I said I was planning on making homemade marshmallows.  I didn't know that either, until a few years ago when I stumbled upon a recipe, made them, and was like "Holy Cannoli Batman!!" #Nevereatingstoremarshmallowsagain.

They are sweet, soft, fluffy and just melt in your mouth.

I got this particular recipe from Shauna Sever's book, "Marshmallow Madness: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes".  First off, I knew I would love this book the second I read the word "puffalicious" in the title.  Secondly, this book isn't just for plain old marshmallows. There are margarita marshmallows, maple-bacon marshmallows, birthday cake marshmallows - basically anything that you can dream of.

While the prep only takes about a half hour to 45 minutes, it takes the marshies a few hours to set and be ready for eating.  I made mine around dinner time, and let them set all night and the next day until I got home from work.

One of my favorite things about Shauna's marshmallow recipes is the way that she breaks down the different "sections" of the marshmallow construction.  She starts with the "Bloom" which is the gelatin and water mixture.  This is what gives the marshmallows their shape and texture.  Next is the "Syrup", a mixture of corn syrup, sugar, water and salt, which is the flavor base in her recipes.  Finally, the "Mallowing".  Here, you will combine the Bloom and the Syrup in your stand mixer and let them work their magic.  This is where you can add any extra flavors.  In this case, I just added vanilla extract.
Fun Fact: this is only science lesson that I will pay attention to.

The Bloom!

The Syrup!
The Mallowing!

The finished product!

The Bloom:
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
The Syrup:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
The Mallowing:
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Classic Coating (see note), plus more for dusting
**I did not use her Classic Coating this time around. I just used powdered sugar.

Prep a baking sheet by lining it with wax paper and coating it with powdered sugar.  Set aside.
Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.
Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in
a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the
temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn
syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
*I used the paddle attachment as you saw above
Microwave the gelatin mixture on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour
it into the stand mixer's bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.  When the syrup reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer's bowl.
Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla.  The finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour it into the prepared
pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating/powdered sugar evenly over the top of the marshmallows.  Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.

When you are ready to serve, loosen the edges of the marshmallow sheet with a knife, and slice into squares.  Cover the sticky sides of the marshmallows with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Link to this recipe and Shauna's blog, Piece of Cake, HERE!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Veggie Soup

Soupy McSoupster!  Happy Monday!

Soup is one of my favorite things about Fall and Winter.  To me, nothing is better than curling up on the couch with a warm bowl of soup and days hours a significant amount of Netflix watching ahead of me.

Fun Fact: I am currently watching Private Practice.  That Addison sure does complain a lot.

This soup is my go-to soup because the ingredients are inexpensive and it doesn't take too long to make.

What you will need to serve 2:

Olive oil
3 medium-sized carrots - chopped
3 stalks of celery - chopped
4 scallions - chopped
1 zucchini - quartered
6 cups of chicken stock
1 can of cannellini beans
3 handfuls of spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour just enough olive oil into a large pot to coat the bottom of the pot.  Let the oil heat for about a minute, then toss in the carrots, celery and scallions with some salt and pepper.  Cook until soft (about 15-20 minutes), then toss in the zucchini.  Once the zucchini has softened (5-10 minutes), pour in the chicken stock, cover the pot, and bring to a boil.  Once the stock has boiled, turn the heat down to low, and let simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  When there are 5 minutes left, toss in the cannellini beans.  When time is up, turn off the heat, put the spinach on top of the soup and cover the pot for 1 minute.  This will allow the steam to cook the spinach before mixing it with everything else.  Mix the spinach with the rest of the soup and enjoy!!

Fun Fact: During the above "action shot" I was actually spilling chicken stock all over the stove.

I highly suggest adding some grated parmesan cheese on top of your serving :)

Fun Fact: I also highly suggest having some fresh Italian bread on the side.  However I do not highly suggest eating half of the loaf before the soup is done thus ruining your appetite.

Fun Fact: Referring to the above fun fact, I may or may not be speaking from experience.

Final Fun Fact:  This soup is also great for lunch the following day.

Enjoyyyyyy :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brunch for Dinner

Follow my blog with Bloglovin I love breakfast.  I love breakfast so much that after I have breakfast, I have breakfast for lunch!  Sometimes I even have breakfast for dinner!  Breakfast for dinner was probably my favorite night at the dining hall in college because they would have eggs and bacon and cheese things and omg they have breakfast SANDWICHES tonight and ugh I need cereal to top off that breakfast pizza yummmm #hellofreshman15.  I. Cannot. Get. Enough.

The other night I finished taking my final and was not in the mood for a "normal" dinner, i.e chicken and tomatoes (although it did look delish), so I opted for...wait for it........breakfast!  I have come to adore the plain, extra fluffy frozen waffles because they are a blank canvas.  You can add whatever you want to them and it will be amazing.  

On this particular evening I was in the mood for a waffle with spinach and a fried egg.  Simple, simple, simple.  You will need (for a serving of 1):

1. One plain, extra fluffy frozen waffle (none of that whole grain/whole wheat crap - THERE, I SAID IT!)
2. One handful of spinach
3. One fried egg
4. Salt and Pepper

Spray a small frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat on a medium flame.  Let the pan heat up for about a minute, then crack the egg into the pan.  When the egg whites begin to cook, cover the frying pan to finish the whites, but keep a close eye on the egg so that the yolk doesn't cook all the way through.

Pop your waffle into your toasting device, toasting to your heart's desire.

When the egg is done cooking, turn the stove off and remove the pan from the heat.

After your waffle is done, put it on your plate and top with the spinach and fried egg.

Add salt and pepper to taste and BAM! you have a plate of some classy-looking breakfast deliciousness.

I love how the fried egg cooks the spinach for a hot second (literally!).

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baking with my BFF

Christmastime = Baking time, so this past weekend my best friend and I (or Biff, as I like to call her) decided to get our bake on.  She baked Eggnog Cheesecake (from scratch!), and I baked some cake mix cookies (not from scratch!).  We used her mom's brand-sort-of-spanking-new kitchen appliances that are so beautiful I drool every time I go over her house.  Here is her stove top situation.

Isn't she looovellyyyyy?
Alrighty, so CAKE MIX COOKIES!  They are so easy to make and so delicious and are the perfect last-minute dessert.  You will need the following:

1. One box of cake mix.  This time I used Vanilla cake mix.
2. 2 Eggs
3. 1/3 Cup of Olive Oil
Combine all of the ingredients, first with a whisk, then with a rubber spatula until everything forms into a doughy consistency.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or spray with Pam.  Shape the cookies into little balls (I actually prefer medium sized balls *wink*) and line 'em up.  Once the balls were ready to go I pressed the middle of each ball with a fork to make it pretty and then added some red and green sprinkles for some holiday cheer :)

Bake for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!  Easy peasy, right?

Buddy the Elf would be proud.

Onto Biff's Eggnog Cheesecake.  You can find the full recipe here!  Thanks Martha!

I have to say, I am quite proud of my girl.  She owned that cheesecake recipe and made it her betch ;-)

Here is a condensed version of this recipe:

Crush the graham crackers, mix with melted butter and smush (there's that word again!) into an 8-inch cake pan, like so:

Next, mix the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar, eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, brandy (Biff added too much - whoops!- and we got a little tipsy..I'm sort of kidding), vanilla, nutmeg, and salt, and  mix until combined. Pour the mixture over the crust.

Place the pan in a roasting pan, adding enough hot water to come halfway up the sides. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the roasting pan and let cool.  Once cooled, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.


The best way to spread Christmas cheer is chewing loud for all to hear.  That's the line right?

<3  Jillian

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Birthday Dinner for my Boo

So my boo/boyfriend/boyfran/man/dude/honey bunches/pookie pie (Ok I'm done) had his birthday this week, where he turned a whopping 27 #Oldfart.  Since he has Grad School during the week, we decided that I would make him dinner for when he got home and we would go out to dinner this weekend.
I am the first to admit that I loooooooooooove going out to eat because a) I like food b) I like wine and c) I like when other people make me dinner #I'mAJerk.  HOWEVER I do also love making a home cooked meal, so this was a lot of fun to put together.  Boyfriend decided that he wanted shrimp scampi with linguine and garlic mashed potatoes (or po-tah-toes?).  Weird combo, but it's his birthday and he'll eat weird if he wants to.

Before we continue, let me just advise that I sort of used a recipe, and I did the thing that, as a food blogger you probably shouldn't do - I didn't take notes.  Whoops!  And the whole situation was actually kind of a cluster-YouKnowWhat so there's that :)

I started with the shrimp scampi situation.  In my research, I found that there weren't any firm this-is-how-you-make-shrimp-scampi recipes, and there was a lot of variety.  BUT there WERE the following ingredients in almost all of the recipes I found:
  1. Raw Shrimp (duh) - about 1 pound, peeled and deveined
  2. Butter - 1 stick
  3. Olive Oil - 4 tablespoons
  4. Shallots or Onions - I used 1 jumbo shallot (chopped)
  5. Garlic (diced) - 4 cloves (or less, if you don't love garlic, which if you don't.........bye)

Start by melting the stick of butter with the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted and makes love with the oil, toss in the chopped shallots and the garlic.  When the mixture becomes fragrant and the shallots become translucent, hover over the pan and just sniff all the smells.  Next, add the raw shrimp and cook until pink.  

During this time I was scrambling around the kitchen heating up a pot of water to boil 1/2 of a pound of linguine.  Cook the pasta, drain, and set aside. 

When the shrimp is done, sprinkle some parsley and red pepper flakes into the mixture and serve immediately over the pasta.

For the Garlic Mashed Potatoes you will need:
- 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes (I usually do 2 potatoes per person, but in this case I did one extra because Boyfriend eats a lot)
- 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
-Sprinkling of garlic powder
- 4 tablespoons of butter (2 to start and 2 more to adjust the texture)
-1/4 cup of milk (this is an estimate and based on my eyeballing measurement abilities)

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes, put them in a medium pot, and add just enough water to cover said potatoes.  Bring the water to a soft boil.  The potatoes will be done when they are soft enough for a fork to go through, but not break them apart.

Drain Le Potatoes in Le Sink (my high school French teacher - if she were reading this- would be shaking her head right now).

Add the crushed and powdered garlic, half of the butter, and just a tad bit of the milk.  Begin to whip the potatoes with a hand mixer, adding the additional butter and milk as you go.

Stuff your face.

The End!

This was our audience while we were eating.  These are 2 of Boyfriend's 3 dogs.  They are so good, but they were burning holes in my plate with their doggie stares :)


Have a wonderful weekend!!!