Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread

Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread

Herb and garlic cheese spread is another old recipe I found in my binder from my early days of learning how to cook.  I remember Aaron loved it back then, so when I saw this I thought it would make a good snack for him to bring in for lunch!

It’s funny because the day I made this, he came home from the gym starving and wanting something to eat, and I was just getting ready to photograph this.  I turned my back to grab some props to stage and turned around and there he was, digging into my perfectly coiffed globe of herb and garlic cheese spread.  I had to smack his hands away and re-do the coif.  I don’t even know if it’s called a coif.  Not even sure where I got that from.  But I had to re-swirl it again and make it pretty.  Food bloggers will know what I mean.

I snapped this little behind-the-scenes of shooting this recipe.  The mid-day lighting is so amazing in this window.  If I wait too long into the afternoon, the setting sun will shine right into this window and cast shadows.  So I try to get my cooking done earlier in the day on weekends if I’m photographing a recipe!  This is a huuuge bay window that looks out onto about half of my three acres.  It’s part of what sold us on this house.  And for Christmas last year, my mom got a custom-made window seat cushion for this window.  It’s so awesome.  My daughter sometimes sits up there and reads.

Behind The Scenes

Anyway.  This herb and garlic cheese spread is a great dip to have out at your next party!  It’s highly addictive, hubby couldn’t stop eating it until I reminded him it’s mostly for his lunch… then he finally put the crackers away.

Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread

8oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

Add all ingredients to a bowl and use beaters to beat together and combine well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to one week.

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#52NewEats :: Week 26 :: Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Since making my very first risotto a few months back and discovering exactly how not hard it was, I have sort of been on a risotto kick.  This is the third one I’ve made, and I can’t wait to try more.  I especially love this one because it’s a good way for me to get broccoli in my system!

Broccoli is my vegetable nemesis.  I don’t mind it, but I honestly could care less for it unless it’s covered in some kind of sauce or baked into a casserole.  We have sauteed it with garlic, roasted it with parmesan, all the healthier ways to eat broccoli, and it’s just, meh.  If I have to eat it that way, I do so begrudgingly.  I am way more inclined to eat it happily if it’s covered in cheese or alfredo sauce though.  😊

Hence, why I really love //this recipe//!!  Broccoli mixed with cheddar cheese risotto means I can eat as much as I want, right?  The first time I made this, I left the florets a little too big, so they took longer to steam to my liking.  But I recently made it for a second time, and had my daughter help me – which she absolutely loved – and cut the florets smaller.  It was all around a little easier to eat, with the small florets matching better with the small grains of rice.  Speaking of my daughter – she LOVES this risotto, but without the broccoli of course.  😂

This recipe is definitely a favorite and has made it into the regular recipe rotation.  Risotto is DEFINITELY weeknight-worthy.  It is NOT that bad.  Especially this one – you can absolutely prep it all ahead of time.  And if you have a kid helping you, you’ll get it done even faster.  I had my daughter stir the risotto (yes I had her do the hard work lol) while I added the stock for her, and chopped and steamed the broccoli, and shredded the cheese.  Thirty minutes or less, easily!

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#52NewEats :: Week 8 :: Salsa Baked Cheese

Salsa Baked Cheese

Chips and salsa is one of our FAVORITE snacks around here.  And //this salsa// is one of our favorites.

My daughter is so picky.  SOOOO picky.  SO.  PICKY.  And I don’t even know how she got that way because her father and I are pretty good eaters.  But she does like chips and salsa.  If you count, dipping your chip into the salsa and shaking off all the chunky veggies, ‘liking’ chips and salsa.

Anyway, that’s one of the reasons she really loves THIS Frontera salsa, because it doesn’t have giant chunks of tomatoes or onions – they are pretty small chunks, and I’m pretty sure she has absent-mindedly accidentally ingested vegetable matter while eating chips with this salsa.

So, what sounds better than creamy cream cheese and tangy goat cheese mixed together, covered with salsa, and baked?!  To her – so many things.  She wouldn’t touch this.  Even though she likes a) cream cheese, b) goat cheese, and c) this salsa.  She has major issues with eating foods she likes that are all mixed together.  However, hubby and I both really enjoyed this dish.  It would be great to have out at a party, and I think I might do it differently next time…

You can find the original recipe //here//, or on the back of the jar of salsa.  🙂

🍴  The recipe calls for pumpkin seeds but I omitted them bc ew, pumpkin.

🍴  The recipe also instructs you to form the mixed cheeses into a disk – next time I make this, I might spread it around the bottom of a baking dish.

Salsa Baked Cheese

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz soft goad cheese, softened
1 jar Frontera Jalapeno Cilantro Salsa
Minced fresh cilantro, as desired
Tortilla chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix the cheeses together until well combined and form into a disk. Place into a baking dish and pour the jar of salsa over top.

3. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until piping hot.

4. Sprinkle with fresh minced cilantro if desired, and serve with tortilla chips.

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Slutty Game Food, Episode 4: Cara’s Buffalo Chicken Dip

My best friend Cara makes theeeeee best buffalo chicken dip.

I’m sure there are a million ways to make buffalo chicken dip and I, myself, have only ever had two in my life, but I can assure you this one is amaaaaze.

I remember the first time I had it – if my memory serves me correctly – she made it for my going away party at our old job.  She brought it in and had been hyping it up so much and then I tried it and I was like ohhh.  OHHHH.  Yah totally lives up to the hype.

I think I even told her she should make it into a lasagna or stuffed shells or something.

See?  It looks like good stuffed shell filling.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I didn’t have to beg her very hard to get her recipe.  And truthfully, I don’t know how different this recipe is than all the other recipes out there, but I do think this one is more about the method and layering, than it is about the ingredients.

Of course when I made it, I was so excited that I was going to get to eat it that I actually screwed up the top layer.  I stuck it in the oven without a layer of blue cheese dressing where it was supposed to be.  So I pulled it out of the oven real quick and poured the dressing on top of the cheese, thinking eh, it’s all gonna melt together anyway.

Haha.  It didn’t.  When it was almost done I had to take it out and try to stir it up a little bit so that it looked prettier, but I think my mess up actually made for a yummier-looking picture.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

What’s more game-foody than buffalo chicken ANYTHING?  Put this dip out and watch it disappear.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Serves: 8-10 people
Time: 3 1/2 hours (if you poach chicken like I do – see notes); be sure to put your cream cheese out several hours beforehand

1 brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 pound chicken breasts, poached and then shredded
1 package shredded mozzarella cheese, or 2 to 2 1/2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, divided
1 bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce
1 small bottle (8oz) Kraft Roka Blue Cheese dressing

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Layer this bad boy: In the bottom of a pie plate or square casserole dish, spread the softened cream cheese. Then lay on some of the shredded chicken. Then pour on some of the buffalo wing sauce. Then pour on some of the blue cheese dressing. Then sprinkle on some of the blue cheese crumbles. And finally, sprinkle on some of the shredded cheese. (There is no science or measurement to this, just do what you think looks good to you.) Repeat all layers until done.

3. Bake this bad boy: Put the dip into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.

1. You may not use all of the Frank’s or all of the blue cheese dressing. Whether or not you use all of your ingredients could very well depend on the size of your dish and how much heat you like.
2. I am lazy so I take the lazy route when poaching chicken: Put chicken breasts into a single layer in a crockpot. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cover with water or chicken stock, and cook on low for 1 hour 30 minutes. I poach chicken in large quantities this way and shred it, then freeze it till I need it.

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Pinch of Yum Nachos

Pinch of Yum Nachos

As my first blog post, I think it’s only right that I post a recipe that was inspired by the blog that inspired me to start this blog!  (Did you catch that?)

Pinch of Yum is one of my favorite food blogs.  Without even knowing it, I had a bunch of her recipes already pinned on Pinterest.  You know the good ol’ Pinterest motto, PIN NOW READ LATER! except I hardly ever really READ LATER, mostly I’m just constantly looking for new slutty food pics to add to my collection.  Anyway, one day, I was combing through my food board looking for something new to make and I came across her recipe for Healthy Mexican Casserole with Roasted Corn and Peppers.  I read the blog post and it made me laugh.  Like, a lot.  Because part of her blog post was about memes and I have a similar, weird obsession with memes (especially the ERMAHGERD girl and the ermahgerd pet memes that followed) and as I was reading, I was thinking YES I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!  Also, she said she was inspired to create this recipe by my favorite frozen bowl by Amy’s.  So it was kind of a no-brainer.  I had to try this recipe.

The night I made it, I was so inspired by the technique of dry-roasting the veggies.  I had never heard of this technique before.  I love fajitas – but one of my complaints is that often, the veggies get too oily or never really seem to get charred.  They just kind of get limp and eh.  So as I was roasting away, I was all turned on at the idea of truly charred veggies without having to hold them over an open flame and peel the skin off and blah.  I was already in love.  Then I finished up the recipe and served it to my husband who said – literally – “This is good.  THIS is GOOD.  THIS IS GOOD.”  I totes agreed with him and was soooo excited to eat the leftovers at work the next day.

So the next day I had a particularly rough day at work.  Work sucked.  Balls.  But I got to lunch time and I was giddy at the thought of nomzing on this casserole.  As I sat at my desk to eat, I decided to peruse the rest of Pinch of Yum.  Not only did I find a bunch of recipes that looked familiar from my Pinterest board, but her blog posts are really funny.  And Lindsay is really likeable and I’m sure we’d be friends in real life.  I think I spent the rest of the afternoon reading her blog and getting inspired to start my own food blog.  (I even emailed her with tons of fangirl praise and she totally emailed me back and I was fangirling all over the place at work.)  The wheels started turning in my head, about all the food I make and all the food I love.  And I started thinking about how if I was going to be a food blogger, then I’d have to be creative and start coming up with some recipes on my own, like all the time.  And I started thinking about all the recipes I love and how could I change them up to make them mine and how could I get creative with ingredients and the very first answer was staring me right in the face.

I loved this roasted veggie casserole so so much.  Therefore, I must find a way to make it into nachos, naturally.  Because nachos are like the perfectest food ever and I am kind of a nacho queen and wouldn’t it be great to have more nacho recipes in my back pocket???

Guess what I made shortly thereafter?

Pinch of Yum Nachos

Pinch of Yum Nachos

These nachos.  Theeeeese nachos are like oh my gosh.  They might even be healthy.  Maybe?  Right?  Well they say to eat your colors and they also say to eat your veggies and I think when you eat these nachos you will feel like you met the FDA requirements of color and veggie intake for the day.  Seriously it’s like a whole food pyramid right there on the tray.  So feel good when you eat these.  Everything is homemade and therefore healthy.  In my book anyway.

By the way, can I just get a high five for resisting these nachos long enough to take pictures of them?  Kthx.

Pinch of Yum Nachos
Servings: 4-6 (depends on how much you feel like sharing)

Nacho Base
Tortilla chips
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/4 of a red onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 can refried black beans
Chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder), to taste
Cumin, to taste

Nacho Toppings
2 scallions, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Pickled jalapenos (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Nacho Cheese Sauce
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 tablespoons chipotle Tabasco (or regular Tabasco, or any hot sauce you prefer), or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Start by making your Cheese Sauce: Warm milk in the microwave for 2 minutes. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Let the flour bubble and cook for about 1 minute, whisking constantly. Whisk in the milk, and whisk continuously until you feel it thicken. Once it starts to thicken, turn your heat down to low. Whisk in the cheddar cheese. When all the cheese has melted, whisk in the hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Taste as you go. This cheese sauce can take a lot of hot sauce, it will depend on your preference. Keep on low heat until you are ready to assemble your nachos.

3. Roast your Nacho Base veggies: You will have to do this in batches. Heat a good non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. (I do not use oil for this; however, if you are scared of ruining your nonstick pan, use a little bit of oil to barely coat the skillet.) Add enough of the veggies to form a single layer in the skillet, and sprinkle them with chipotle chili powder and cumin. Let them sit and sizzle for a couple of minutes to develop a nice char, then stir them around. Let them rest again to develop more delicious char. Repeat stirring and resting until you are satisfied with the char on your veggies. When done, pour into a bowl and season with a little salt. Repeat the whole process until you are out of veggies. Keep the bowl in a warm place (I like to keep it on my stovetop towards the back).

4. Warm your refried beans: Scoop refried beans into a pan and heat over medium-low heat until warm. They should be easy to stir and not too stiff.

5. Warm your tortilla chips: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour tortilla chips onto the baking sheet and arrange into a single layer. Pop into the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes, until warm and crisp.

6. Assemble the best nachos ever: Build your nachos to your preference, or, build them as I do. Start by dropping dollops of refried black beans all around the chips until satisfied. Then pour your nomzy cheese sauce all over the place. Then goes the roasted veggies. Then all your toppings – tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and sour cream. (Don’t skimp on the sour cream. It’s heaven.)

**NOTE**  Nachos are totally customizable.  If there is anything in this recipe that you aren’t jazzed about, take it out, swap it with something else, or add whatever strikes your fancy.  This is the combination of flavors I have come to salivate for, but feel free to use your own creative juices and really make these nachos your own.

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