Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mac & Cheese. Plain and Simple.

When I moved Boston as a naive 17 year old freshman in college, I thought there was no turning the west coast.  I thought I would be a big east coast city girl for life.  I loved the bustle and hum of the city.  I loved the convenience of public transportation.  I loved the multitude of great restaurants (that I could only "afford" when my parents were in town because they bought my dinner).  I loved the people and close-knit proximity.  I loved that there was always something going on.  I loved the Boston Red Sox and their quest to "Reverse the Curse".

Fast forward six years...  

I was then living in New York City.  (Hooray!  Fulfilling my east coast girl dreams!)  However, by this time I was approaching the tender age of 24, my mind began to change about my fit on the eastern seaboard.  I missed quiet streets, I missed being able to drive, I still loved the restaurants that I could now afford, I missed privacy and space from my neighbors, I missed getting lost in the mountains or the woods or even in a good book.  

I still loved the Red Sox, still do today, and thank God the curse is finally reversed.

As a result of this philosophysing, I knew I needed to go back home to my roots.  After a short hiatus in northern California, I soon made it home to Alaska.  I was both nervous and exhilarated.  Would I make true friends that fit my quirky personality?  Would I be happy?  Would I be happy teaching again?  Would I survive living so far away?

The answer to all of those questions is yes.

I was blessed to be able to teach at an incredibly diverse school full of amazing students and an equally amazing staff.  The kids loved us and we loved them.  I stayed there for three years before moving on to a different opportunity, but have been blessed to stay close with many of the woman from that school.  Today, we meet monthly for "book club", where we are lucky if we talk about the book for more than a minute before moving on to wine and other important things.  I love these women and am so thankful to have had them first as colleagues and now as friends.  Our jobs are so hard, but when supported by strong, intelligent, trustworthy, and loving people, we can truly can change lives.

Did this mac and cheese change lives?  Probably not, but it sure was tasty.  I made it when I hosted our book club a couple weeks ago.  We (re)read Agatha Christie's classic, Murder on the Orient Express, for our October book.  I wanted good old comfort food without any bells and whistles.  I imagine the Queen of Crime was a meat and potatoes kind of girl, but I certainly am not, so this mac and cheese was my compromise.  It hits all the right notes for mac and cheese--creamy, cheesy, nutty, awesome.  I also love this recipe because it was nearly effortless.

So, my friends, if you are having a gathering of friends and loved ones and want a heartwarming dish to go along with, this is a go-to.  And let's be serious, mac and cheese is awesome, even if it is plain and simple.

Mac & Cheese.  Plain & Simple.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe.

  • 1 box of dried macaroni noodles
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups 2% milk (Or....if you want to be healthy, which I do not suggest with mac & cheese, you can use nonfat.  Alternatively, if you really want to go big, you can use whole milk.)
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh minced garlic
  • 1 cup of high quality sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup of Monterey jack
  • 1/4 cup of fontina
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt  
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more of fresh cracked pepper
  • a dash of paprika
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While waiting, grate your cheeses.
  2. Cook the macaroni until very firm--do not over cook!  The noodles should be more than al just barely past crunchy.  Strain through a colander and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In the pot you used to cook the macaroni, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour.  Whisk constantly over medium-low heat.  Do not let the flour burn! 
  5. Pour in the milk and mustard and stir.  Cook for 5 minutes until thickened.
  6. When smooth, turn the heat to low.
  7. Take a large spoonful of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg while whisking constantly.  (You don't want scrambled eggs.)  Whisk until smooth.
  8. Pour the egg mixture in the pot with the rest of the sauce and continue whisking constantly until everything is smooth.
  9. Add the cheeses and stir until everything is melted and smooth.
  10. Add the salt, pepper, paprika and any other spices.  Taste and adjust.
  11. Pour in the noodles and stir.
  12. Serve immediately if you want your mac and cheese to be very creamy.  Or, pour everything into a buttered baking dish, top with some more shredded cheddar cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees until it starts bubbling and the cheese is golden on top.
  13. ENJOY!
(Note:  I chose to bake our mac and cheese as indicated above.  However, next time I will serve it straight from the pot because it seemed to lose a little too much creaminess for my liking.  Regardless, it was still delicious.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple Streusel Oatmeal Bars

Hello fall!  It is finally here!  Fall is my favorite season, which is sad because it is so short up here.  The snow is already starting to make its way down the hillside, the grass is frosty in the morning, and the days are getting noticeably shorter (five and a half minutes per day shorter).  As we get ready to hunker down for six months of snow and darkness, I am comforting myself with fall flavors--cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, squash, cloves, and more. 

These apple streusel oatmeal bars kicked off my fall baking this year.  And we certainly started with a bang.  I really loved the combination of the tart apples with the sugar and spices.  I also loved the shortbread-like cookie on the bottom combined with the crunchy oatmeal crumble on top.  They were easy to make and very forgiving--you can add more apples, take some away, add more spices, take some away, add the oatmeal crumble topping or use a creamy vanilla anglaise instead (or both!...mind blown).  

These little bars were also perfect for breakfast or dessert (I tried them for both meals).  I can't wait to  have them after a long day of skiing dipped in hot spiced cider or warm cherry wine.  I hope you love them as much as we did.  

Happy fall!

Even Mozzy Monster loved them!

Apple Streusel Oatmeal Bars:

For the shortbread pastry...
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
For the apple filling...

  • 1/2 cup of white sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/4 generous cup of flour
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of cloves (I love cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 4ish cups of tart apples, peeled and cut into small pieces (I used apples picked from a co-    worker's tree, but next time I will use honeycrisps and maybe reduce the sugar a tad)

For the oatmeal crumble...
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 1/4 cups of oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

To make the bars...

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the shortbread crust first. Mix flour, sugar salt, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.  
  3. Cut in the butter with your fingers or with a pastry blender.  Mix until you have pea-sized crumbles.
  4. Gently mix in the beaten egg.
  5. Spray an 11 x 15 baking dish (or two 9 x 13 dishes) with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Pat the shortbread mixture into the bottom of the dish.
  7. Next make the apple filling.  Combine the apples with the flour, sugar, and your assortment of spices.  Toss evenly to coat.
  8. Spread evenly over the crust.
  9. Finally, make the oatmeal crumble.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. 
  10. Add in the granulated sugar and the brown sugar.  Mix until no clumps remain.
  11. Add in the melted butter and vanilla.  Stir until evenly moistened.
  12. Loosely crumble on top of the apples.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes--until the oatmeal crumble is beginning to brown.
  14. Allow to cool.  Although I bet it would be delicious hot on top of ice cream.  
  15. ENJOY!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Baked & Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes

Who loves chocolate, donut holes, and glaze?  If you want two bites of delicious, fluffy, and creamy amazingness, these little guys are for you.  I am not sure what prompted me to make them, but I certainly am glad I did.  With the perfect amount of sweetness, these little champs won't kill your palette, but instead will leave you wanting for more.  I also love them because they are pretty...and we all know that pretty food is the best food.

Living with a Michigander, it is a mystery to me how I have never known that there is actually "donut season" in the Mitten State.  I've made baked pumpkin donut holes before, that were to die for, but now I am itching to make apple donuts and apple cider.  Yum.  I'll keep you posted for sure.

The long and the short of it is that bakes donuts are incredible.  And that's about it.

Baked & Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes:
Adapted from this recipe.

For the donut holes...
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt 
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • a very, very small dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • sprinkles for adornment, if you'd like
For the glaze...
  • 2ish cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/4ish cup of heavy cream (or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 scant teaspoon of lemon juice 
  • A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or pumpkin spice if you are interested
To make the donut holes...
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder together in a large bowl.  
  3. Mix in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and cinnamon, if using). Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the beaten eggs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla together until completely smooth.  
  5. Whisk in the melted butter until combined.  
  6. Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix!  
  7. Mix until combined and there are no more flour balls/clumps. 
  8. Spoon the batter into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.  Cut one of the corners of the bag so that you have a make-shift piping bag. 
  9. Fill the mini muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full. 
  10. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake them!  
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before glazing.
  12. Try not to eat them.
To make the glaze...
  1. In the bowl of you stand mixer, add the cream, lemon juice, vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar. 
  2. Mix well.
  3. Add more sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time until the glaze reaches your desired taste and consistency.
  4. Add any spices you want, then mix again.
Finishing up...
  1. Using two forks or tooth picks or the utensils of your choice, dunk the donut holes in the glaze.  Make sure they are fully coated.
  2. Move to a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet or paper to catch all the drips. 
  3. If you really love glaze, you can re-dunk your donut holes after the first coat has dried.
  4. Adorn with sprinkles, if you wish.
  5. ENJOY! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beer Cheese Sauce

Alaska, the nation's largest state by far, doesn't have very many people.  However, we do have a lot of microbreweries--22 of them, in fact.  Our favorite is Midnight Sun Brewing Company.  With a regular rotation of unique and flavorful beers, this wine lover actually gets excited for barley and hops!  Great beer, exceptional service, and great food!  Every single thing on the menu is delicious--trust me, we've tried every item.  A favorite among locals, visitors, and pretty much anyone that visits the establishment is the beer cheese sauce that accompanies their soft pretzels.  The pretzels are great, don't get me wrong, but I am obsessed with the cheese sauce.  While dining with friends (or even with strangers!), it is not uncommon and certainly not frowned upon to lick all of the remaining remnants of the sauce from the dipping cup.  I imagine that some people have even drank it like beer before.  It's that good.

I am not sure why I haven't attempted to try my hand at beer cheese sauce before.  Maybe because the stuff at Midnight Sun is so good that I figured I could never even come close?  I don't know.  Well, I gave it a shot last night to go with chili and my perfectly soft pretzel sticksSUCCESS!!!!  The beer cheese sauce was everything I wanted it to be--creamy, cheesy, tangy, bold, and packed with flavor.  Better yet, it took approximately five minutes to make.  By the end of the night, we were all lying on floor or dog bed making exclamations regarding belly explosions, too full to walk, bellies and mouths disagreeing, and more.  Although clearly a diet killer, it was worth it.

I will always love Midnight Sun's beer cheese sauce best, but only for nostalgic reasons.  As for taste, my beer cheese sauce is equally as good as theirs. 

Beer Cheese Sauce:
(This made a lot.  You could easily cut the recipe in half if you want.)
  • 24 ounces of amber beer (I used Fat Tire)
  • 4 cups of good quality grated sharp cheddar cheese (if you want a milder flavor, you can use a milder cheese)
  • 4ish tablespoons of flour (I am not really sure how much--I just stuck my hand in and grabbed)
  • 1ish tablespoons of dry ground mustard (you could leave this out....but it wouldn't be as good)
  • pinch of salt
  • a number of turns of fresh cracked pepper
  1. Pour the beer into a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  You'll need to watch carefully or it will grow into a frothy dome and overflow. 
  2. In the meantime, mix the flour with the cheese. 
  3. Once the beer is boiling, add the cheese/flour mixture.  Reduce the heat and stir constantly.  
  4. Once it reaches the perfect consistency (you will know when that is), add the mustard, salt, and pepper.  Taste and adjust if needed.
  5. Serve with chips, pretzels (hard or soft), veggies, or even mix it into your chili like we did.
  6. ENJOY!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Decadent chocolate.  Gooey caramel.  Crunchy nuts.  Hint of sea salt.  Mmmmmmm.  


I made these chocolate turtle cookies sometime in the dead of winter.  They were so good that I have been thinking about them for the past six months!  Not only are they gorgeous, but they are absolutely delicious.  They are certainly some of the best cookies I have ever made--and that's saying a lot from a girl that loves her cookies and all things chocolate.  This little beauties are show stoppers.  I can't wait for an excuse to make them again!  

On another note, the backlog of blog posts is quite extensive.  I am hoping to get back to posting once or twice a week.  I am hoping that this school year will be more balanced and that my sanity will be more stable.  :)  Thanks for hanging in there with me this year as I started my school administration journey.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies:
Adapted from a variety of recipes I found on Pinterest.

For the cookies...

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg, the egg white of an additional egg
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups of pecans, very finely chopped (i.e., in the food processor)

For the caramel filling...
(This is the same filling as in the pumpkin pie bites with salted caramel sauce.)

  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

To make the cookies...

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment on your mixer.
  4. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.  Mix.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.
  7. Whisk the egg whites in a shallow bowl until frothy.  Place the pecan bits in another shallow bowl.
  8. Roll the chilled dough into one-inch sized balls.  Then dip in the egg whites.  Finally dip in the pecans.
  9. Place the balls about two inches apart on a large baking sheet.  I then used the back of a measuring spoon to make the indentation in the center of the cookie, but you can use your thumb or whatever implement you see fit.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees until set, about 12 to 15 minutes.

To make the caramel filling...
  • Gather all of your ingredients and have them ready to add quickly. 
  • In a large non-stick skillet or sauce pan, heat the sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly.
  • Once the mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow the mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color.  Give it a final whisk or two.  
  • Once the mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add the butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. 
  • Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). 
  • Whisk until the mixture is smooth, which could take a couple of minutes. 
  • Allow the caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a ziploc bag.  

The final touches...

  • Snip off the tip of the ziploc bag and squeeze the caramel into the prepared indented cookies until the caramel is just below the rim of the cookie.
  • Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  • Enjoy and dazzle your friends!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Creamy Cheesy Corn Dip

Yummmm.  I am always looking for different dips to make for get togethers.  My go to favorite is my own tried and true Crack Dip that has feta, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and dill.  It is magical and I am sure you are tired of hearing me rave about how awesome it is.  My other favorite--that is now a favorite post on the blog--is The Jalapeno Popper Dip.  I wanted to expand the list of easy-but-crowd-pleaser dips and came upon this Inspired By Charm Corn Dip on Pinterest.  Winner!

It's creamy, cheesy, crunchy, and flavor-packed!  I love that it is versatile with spices, add-ins, and more.  My favorite part of the whole dish was the corn because of the subtle hint of sweetness it added.  Also, we all determined that the dip got better with age as the spices all married together.  We served it cold, but the resounding consensus was that it would be great hot too.

Overall, this is definitely a dip that will be making many an appearance at many BBQs, sports get togethers, and more.  Super tasty.

Creamy Cheesy Corn Dip:
Adapted from this recipe.
  • 3 (11 ounce) cans of sweet corn and diced peppers, drained
  • 1 (7 ounce can) of chopped green chilis, drained
  • 2 (4 ounce cans) of chopped jalapeno peppers, drained
  • 5 or 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 heaping cup of light sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • a dash of cayenne
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican blend
  • (a dollop or two of softened cream cheese would be great too)
  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cool and let sit for two hours or more (over night is best!)
  3. Serve with tortilla chips or cut up sourdough bread.  Also cut up veggies are great!
  4. ENJOY!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Holy moley guacamole, Batman!  Ok, not guacamole, but holy moley buffalo chicken just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Seriously though, if you want to impress your friends with a jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, Super Bowl winning appetizer, these bites are for you.  Since the Seahawks were headed to The Big Game with a great chance of winning (hooray they did!), I knew that I had to make an appetizer that would live up to the occasion.  I also wanted to make something to complement the ever amazing pretzel bites and the world's most incredible jalapeno popper dip.  The combination of the three is of epic proportions.  Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Pete Carroll, Marshawn Lynch, Earl Thomas and the rest of the winning team would be proud.  

These bites combine the best of all game day (and frankly taste bud pleasing) requirements--crunchy, cheesy, creamy, spicy, flavor packed, and bite-sized.  What more can you ask for?  Nothing, you're right.

Fast forward two months...I have been trying to publish this post since Superbowl Sunday.  It is now April 5th and I am watching the Final Four, not the Super Bowl.  I have been waiting for the words to come to me convey just how incredibly mind-blowing these little bites are.  Clearly the words are not coming to me, so you are just going to have to take my word for it and make them.  They are that good.

Buffalo Chicken Bites:
Closely adapted from this recipe.
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cooked then shredded (let cool)
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot
  • a tablespoonish of Tapatio (next time I think I'll use a green sauce or jalapeno something or other)
  • a generous 4 ounces of 1/3 the fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green onions
  • a solid dash of garlic powder
  • about a tablespoon of chili powder
  • a dash of cayenne
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • between 2 and 4 cups of crushed corn flakes
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked shredded chicken with the cream cheese, hot sauces, cheese, green onions, and spices.  
  3. Taste and adjust spices if you'd like.
  4. Roll the mixture into tablespoon sized balls (about an inch or inch an a quarter in diameter) and set on a plate.
  5. Put the flour, beaten eggs, and crushed corn flakes in three separate bowls.
  6. Dip each ball in the following order:  flour, eggs, corn flakes.
  7. Place the balls as you prepare them on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!  And may the best team win.

Monday, February 17, 2014

White Chocolate Coconut Cranberry Dream Bars

Who doesn't love those chocolate coconut seven layer bars?  Well, if you like those, then you will love these dream bars--white chocolate, dried cranberries, coconut, a oat-y and crunchy crust all bound together with sweet gooeyness.   Although they are sweet, they aren't over-the-top-so-you-make-a-dentist-appointment-after-eating-one sweet.  The dried cranberries provide some tartness in just the perfect amount.  I also love the crunchy crust on the both the top and bottom.  

I have been making these for years and they are always a crowd favorite.  I also love them because they are quick and easy to make--they would be the perfect dish for kids to help!  They are wonderfully versatile too--I have taken them to summer BBQs (they are really good straight out of the fridge) and have also taken them to festive holiday parties in the winter.

These little bars certainly are a dream.  I hope you think so too!! 

White Chocolate Coconut Cranberry Dream Bars:

For the Crust...
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Filling...
  • 1 1/2 heaping cups dried cranberries 
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1ish heaping cups of pecan halves
  • 1ish cups of flaked coconut  
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick tinfoil.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. 
  3. Add in the granulated sugar and the brown sugar.  Mix until no clumps remain. 
  4. Add in the melted butter and vanilla.  Stir until evenly moistened.  
  5. Gently press a little more than half of the mixture into lined baking pan.
  6. In another mixing bowl, combine the cranberries, white chocolate chips, and pecans.  Stir well, then pour over the crust in the baking pan.
  7. Sprinkle the flaked coconut evenly on top.
  8. Next sprinkle the rest of the oat crust on top.
  9. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk all over the top of the bars.  Try to pour evenly, but it will spread when baking, so it isn't a major concern.  (It is too sticky to try to spread with a spatula.)
  10. Bake for 30 minutes or so, or until your crust on top is lightly golden brown.  (You'll want to check it starting at about 20 minutes.)
  11. Let cool completely before cutting. 
  12. ENJOY!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Curried Squash Soup

Today has been a fantastic day.  In fact it has been a fantastic weekend.  Friday night was Valentine's Day, and the Man and I had an incredible dinner downtown--Cordova oysters with chimichurri (I have to admit that I now like Cordova oysters better than those from Kachemak Bay), an ahi poke "cocktail", then scallops in a thai burre blanc with lemongrass risotto and grilled veggies.  It was one of the best dinners I have ever had, and it was at a place that is rather unassuming--my favorite!  We then went to a wine tasting bar and had all kinds of fun.  Yesterday was spent at the resort making groomer turns with good friends before coming home for grilled salmon, elk, veggies, and a killer corn dip (to be blogged soon).  Today I relaxed, skate skied, and now am catching up on old blog posts....

....which leads me to this soup.  I made it two or three times this fall, but somehow never posted.  As we all know, I absolutely love butternut squash.  I also love curry, so naturally this soup blew my mind.  If my memory serves me correctly, I substituted pumpkin for the squash once and it was equally as delicious.

This soup scores a 10 out of 10 on the comfort food scale.  The best part is, it is healthy too!  I love this soup because it is so versatile--add a little more or less curry, do the same with the soy sauce, throw in some cayenne if you'd like, use more milk...the options are endless! 

This soup is sure to please both the young and old.  It is perfect for any chilly evening by the fire!  It makes me miss fall...but I'll enjoy my summer first. 

Curried Squash Soup:   
  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2ish (or more) tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1 (32 ounce) box of chicken broth  (if you have a small squash, you may use less)
  • between 1 and 2 cups of milk
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • between 2 and 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pine nuts to sprinkle on top
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a cookie sheet with nonstick tinfoil.  Place the squash cut-side down on the tinfoil.  Bake until the squash is soft when poked with a fork, about 30 minutes.  Let cook, then scoop out the "guts" into a bowl.  Oftentimes, I cook the squash the night before I am going to use it.  It saves a lot of time.
  2. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium high.  Add the onions and saute until cooked.  Add the flour, a little at a time.  Stir with a spatula consistently to ensure the flour doesn't scorch.  
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of curry powder and stir again.
  4. Add the butternut squash and stir with spatula to combine.  Add your desired amount of chicken broth.
  5. Add the milk, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
  6. Let simmer for 10 minutes or so.
  7. Turn off the heat on the stove.  Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is smooth and creamy.
  8. Turn the heat on low.  Taste.  Adjust your flavors--add more curry powder or more soy sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve!  and sprinkle some additional curry powder and pine nuts on top if you'd like!
  10. ENJOY!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno poppers are--without a doubt--the best bar food ever to grace this green earth.  Have you ever tried to make jalapeno poppers though?  It takes forever.  You have to make the filling, seed and gut the jalapenos, fill the jalapenos with the filling, dip in flour, dip in egg, dip in crust, then bake.  It's a solid four hour endeavor.  And it is super messy.  Yes, they taste great, but by the time I get around to eating them, I have inevitably gotten jalapeno in my eye, have eaten some filling, and am generally grumpy.

Well, good news.  You never have to make jalapeno poppers again but will still have the same great taste!!!  This jalapeno popper dip tastes exactly as it is named--like jalapeno poppers.  The best part is that it takes three minutes to throw together at a maximum.....not four hours people.  It is perfectly spicy, creamy, and cheesy.  It goes well with both chips and veggies. 

This weekend, when the Seahawks face-off against the Broncos for a grudge match of a Super Bowl, this dip will absolutely be at our party.  It should be at yours too.  If I could make enough of it to bring to every single fan attending the game, I would.  It's that good.  Trust me.

Jalapeno Popper Dip:

These are the measurements that I use.  Of course, tweek to your taste.  
  • 8 ounces of diced jalapeno peppers 
  • 8 ounces of diced green chiles 
  • 2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of a Mexican blend of shredded cheese
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • dipping vessels: chips, peppers, broccoli, carrots, etc.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the dip ingredients together in a medium sized bowl (aside from the dipping vessels, of course).
  3. Transfer the dip mixture to a 7 x 11 baking dish, or something of similar size.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top of the cheese begins to brown.
  5. Serve and enjoy!