Valentine’s Day Fondue

I suppose I should let you in on a little secret as to one of our favorite “traditions” that we have, just the two of us.

For our Valentine’s Day celebration, we like to fondue.┬áWe’ll clear off the coffee table, set out bowls of dippable fruit, vegetables, & proteins…and have ourselves a wonderful & relaxing meal while watching movies. We received a fondue pot (the kind you can use Sterno with) as a wedding shower gift – it came with both a glass pot and a metal pot. The glass one broke…so a few years ago my sister gave us a new, electric one for Christmas.

Electric fondue pots are where it’s at. Easy to heat, easy to clean, easy easy EASY! ­čÖé

This year one of the movies we watched was┬áWest Side Story. I’ve seen this movie so many times, yet Mike never had. It was really hilarious to watch this with him and hear all of his commentary. As you can imagine, it’s those comments that often people just keep to themselves ­čÖé The best part is that my husband truthfully┬ádoes appreciate musical theater – he just likes to make comments to make me laugh!

We never did get to the chocolate fondue – as yours truly fell asleep (I ended up coming down with a chest cold the next day, also in true Valentine’s Day tradition – I’m sick almost every year on VDay. How’s that for romance?) We ended up cooking up cheese fondue as an appetizer, and broth fondue for the main course. Chocolate will just have to wait until this cough subsides…

Cheese Fondue

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 dashes garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beer (we used homebrewed Saison or spitless Chicha, can’t recall)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced into cubes
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  1. Turn on your fondue pot.
  2. Combine first four ingredients and stir until the cheese is melted.
  3. Add hot sauce & worcestershire sauce (to taste) and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with your favorite dippables!

Behold the power of cheese.

Alright, so maybe it’s a little odd that we drank red wine with our beer-y cheese? Oh well. It was awesome anyway. We ate our cheese fondue with some crusty French bread from Breadworks. I also bought some broccoli & an apple to slice, but in the end we decided to keep this course a bit simple.

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For our next course, we opted for a broth fondue to be a bit healthier. I had a quart of mushroom broth lurking in my pantry. I supplemented it with some chicken broth as we cooked along, and threw in a clove of garlic.

Our favorite dippables (cookables?) for our broth fondue were some chicken, beef, mushrooms (my favorite), red onion, and potato. Next time I may copy what Kristin did on Iowa Girl Eats┬á┬áand try some tots or french fries. Bell pepper and zucchini can taste pretty good, too. Truthfully, whatever you feel like cooking up in the pot – try it. You won’t be disappointed (and if you are, just don’t make it next time).

Oh – I can’t forget about the sauces! We made a simple soy sauce/teriyaki/ginger/sriracha one, a horseradish-mayo sauce, some honey mustard, and some barbecue sauce. All were delicious – I made them up on the fly, but next time I think I’ll do a bit more internet research so I can make (and memorize!) some winners.

Fondue is great any time, and for any families whose members can be trusted with pointy objects. ­čśë

Do you ever fondue? What are your favorite things to fondue?

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Superbowl 2014

In honor of Superbowl Sunday (I still don’t know who I’m rooting for tonight), here’s a few recipes you may wany to try this evening at your party for the Big Game:

This is the first year in a long time that either a) my husband doesn’t have to work, or b) we’re not going anywhere. We’re planning on Slingboxing the game (thanks to my father-in-law) and taking it easy. I’m personally looking forward to seeing Bruno Mars at halftime ­čÖé

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Bacon Bombs

‘Tis the season, everyone. We’ve had a continuous snowfall over the past few days, holiday concerts are abound, and I have yet to really make a dent in our Christmas gift list. The other night we had a few friends over after our town open house (where they close the streets, stores stay open late, the steel drum band plays, and everyone walks around eating, drinking, and being merry). ┬áAfterward we had a few friends over and snacked while we played a board game or two. Our appetizers included Bacon Bombs – one of my husband’s most favorite finger foods to make and to eat. And I’ll admit that it’s not very good for your waistline…but they do taste awesome!

Bacon Bombs

adapted from Paula Deen (surprised?)

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 wedge Parmesan or blue cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 1 lb thin-sliced bacon, cut in half
  1. Preheat your oven to 250*.
  2. Place a piece of cheese on a Ritz cracker and wrap snugly with a piece of bacon. Place on a broiler pan (so the grease drains). Repeat as necessary.
  3. Bake in the oven for two hours, or until the bacon is done. Remove from oven and drain any excess grease on paper towels.
Bacon. Cheese. Ritz crackers. Yeah, buddy.

Bacon. Cheese. Ritz crackers. Yeah, buddy.

I did forget to take a picture of the final product (oops!) so I apologize for the ugly photo of my lower oven.┬áWe used Parmesan for these ‘bombs’, as we were having a small gathering and didn’t want to make too many. As you can see by the picture, my husband didn’t use a broiler pan, so our bombs ended up a bit greasier than I would have liked. I am glad, however, that he did use foil so that cleanup wasn’t as obnoxious as it could be (I hate washing pots and pans). Leftovers were stored in a plastic container, in the fridge, and only lasted 2-3 days.┬á

One of the things that I like about this recipe, other than bacon & cheese as ingredients, as that we could put it in the oven and go walk around downtown for a little while. If you’re getting ready for company, you can just set these in the oven, set a timer, and go about preparing other thing and/or cleaning. They’re┬áeasy.

Not good for you by any means, but easy and delicious!

Cheddar Jalape├▒o Bread

This is one of those recipes that I had read about on another blog, and just couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. I knew I had to make it! I love cheese, and I love jalape├▒os…what more could I ask for? I even got to break in the dough hook that I received with my Kitchenaid mixer.

Now granted, this isn’t a good bread for making sandwiches. It’s a good bread to eat for a snack, or along┬áwith a hot bowl of soup or chili – which we did this evening since it feels like October outside (back to perfect weather tomorrow, though!). I also recommend this bread with just a smear of butter/margarine. But, no matter what the weather or way you eat it, it’s pretty darn good.

Cheddar Jalape├▒o Bread

adapted from Wit & Vinegar

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 oz sharp cheddar, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium jalape├▒o, deseeded & chopped fine – make sure to wear gloves if you can!
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 400*. Grease two 5×9 bread pans (or just the one, like I have)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Add the butter and mix well (either with your hands or with your dough hook in your mixer) until the butter is broken up and well-distributed in the flour – kind of like ‘grains of sand’. Add the cheese and jalape├▒o.
  4. Add the buttermilk and mix until it combines – try not to overmix it.
  5. Divide the dough half and place each half in a loaf pan – or just leave the other half of the dough in the bowl. Smooth out the top and etch a few slits into the top.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minute until a nice golden brown.
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Don’t judge a bread by it’s shape. I’ll admit, my loaf is ugly.

Since I only had one loaf pan, I simply let it cool, removed the loaf of bread, sprayed the pan again, and prepared the 2nd loaf; half of which went to our neighbor.

The jalape├▒os in the bread give it some heat every other bite, while the cheddar cheese is also quite pronounced. My bread didn’t turn out very ‘pretty’, as I veered from the recipe a bit. I also used whole wheat flour, as that’s what I had on hand.

I’ll be making this again once soup season is in full swing. Until then, though, I’ll simply enjoy the rest of summer weather and some of this bread to snack on ­čÖé

King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwiches

This is a long overdue post – because it’s a recipe from New Years Eve! ­čÖé

We spent the evening with some good friends, C & S, as they were hosting a NYE party. My husband & I wanted to help them prepare some of the food that they would be serving (to about 20 people or so, plus a few kids). We first had these sandwiches on Christmas Eve, made by C’s sister. The three of us decided to recreate them for New Years, with just a few twists.

These are not the healthiest sandwiches in the world, but they have GREAT flavor & are a hit at any get-together. They’re best served nice and hot, fresh from the oven.

King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwiches – adapted from Recipe Schmessipe

  • 1 12-pack King’s Hawaiian Original Rolls
  • 1 lb. roast beef from the deli, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. provolone cheese
  • 1.5 sticks of butter
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle
  • 1 onion, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter and mix in mustard, worcestershire sauce, and onion. Simmer for several minutes.
  3. Cut the entire pack of rolls in half, horizontally, so that you can make small sandwiches out of them.
  4. In a greased 9×13 baking pan, place the bottom halves of the rolls, and spread 1/3 of the butter-onion mixture over them.
  5. Place a folded slice (or two) of roast beef on each roll. Then, layer slices of provolone cheese over all.
  6. Replace the tops of the rolls and spread the remaining onion mixture over top. Sprinkle liberally with the Penzeys blend.
  7. Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes. Once they are finished baking, seperate with a spatula & serve.
Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

We served these with a horseradish mayonnaise of mayo, horseradish, salt & pepper. Since we were serving a significant amount of people at the party, we doubled this recipe, and made a double batch of the original ham & swiss sandwiches.

They were a hit – and paired very well with the libations that were served ­čśë

Cheesy Bacon Jalape├▒o Poppers

One summer evening way back in June, we were grilling out at a good friend’s house, and he decided to make some jalape├▒o poppers from scratch. He didn’t follow a recipe; rather, he just kept making it up as he went along. The result was fabulous. While I don’t actually remember if he used jalape├▒os or smaller sweet peppers, what I do remember is how fantastic they were, and that they were much, much better than the pre-made, frozen kind.

I am a sucker for appetizers/hors d’oeuvres/munchies/etc. They’re an easy dinner if you make a few (I confess, it’s one of my favorite dinners if Mike is working 2nd shift on a Friday night), the perfect snack for when you’re watching Netflix and having a beer, and are low-maintenance when you have friends over. Jalape├▒o poppers are one of my favorites – particularly, the kind with cream cheese.┬áI love cheese, and I especially love spicy food. Together, they’re a perfect combination.

I made these to compliment our weekly pizza night. Like our good friend, I made it up as I went along, and absolutely LOVED the result.

Cheesy Bacon Jalape├▒o Poppers┬á– The Spicy Simmer

  • 4-6 jalape├▒o peppers
  • 4 tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp shredded cheese (I had Sargento 4-Cheese Mexican on hand)
  • 2 tbsp bacon, chopped fine (I used Oscar Mayer bacon pieces)
  1. Preheat oven to broil, on low setting if you have the option available. Spray a broiler pan (or cookie sheet) with cooking spray.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine cheeses and bacon.
  3. If you have disposable gloves, wear them to slice & seed the jalape├▒os. Otherwise, the capsaicin from the peppers will remain on your hands, and when you accidentally rub your eyes, they will┬áburn!┬áAnyway…slice and seed the peppers.
  4. With a small spoon, fill each pepper half with the cheese mixture, and lay open side up on the pan.
  5. Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese melts, and starts to brown a bit.

Cheesy. Spicy. Perfect!

I am fairly certain that these poppers are a bit healthier than the frozen┬ákind that we’re all accustomed to. There’s no breading, and no added oils. They are spicier than the ones in the box/bag as well, which I enjoyed, and yet there’s just enough cheese on each one to cool off your tongue. The bacon adds just a slight smoky, salty flavor┬áand, well…bacon makes a lot of great things even better ­čśë

What’s your favorite appetizer?

PS – I’ve linked up this recipe at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity. There’s other great recipes and ideas over there; check it out!