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03

Apr

Herb Garden

Today I got started on my Herb Garden. I was excited this year that my Sweet Mint, Rosemary, and Thyme all came back from last season. Fresh herbs are some of my absolute favorites and something I consider a necessity for all the cooking I do. Not only are the herbs useful but they also make my deck look beautiful.

Please don’t mind the dirty deck, I’ve yet to get out the pressure washer this year. 

And here is my tiny pecan tree! A neighbor found this pecan that had sprouted and taken root so I decided to plant and tend it. I’m hoping it will take and we can have this small memory of this house and this wonderful street that used to be a pecan farm. 

     Something that is useful to know, Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Clove, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavender, Catnip, & Citronella Grass are all mosquito deterrents and that is MUCH needed in Mississippi. 

     I still have a bit of work to do on my herb garden but I think it’s coming along nicely right now. How is everyone else’s Herb Garden growing? 

23

Sep

Veggie Flatbread Pizza

This pizza was totally inspired by game day snacks leftovers. I had all this pizza dip, half an eggplant, onions, and mushrooms still left in my fridge. So I decided to come up with a pizza using the leftover pizza dip as my sauce & base. This pizza was amazingly delicious and I will be making it often from now on. My meat-lovng boyfriend loved this pizza just as much as I did. 

This pizza had a delicious base made of my pizza dip, topped with artichokes, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, green & red peppers, roasted garlic, feta & cheddar cheese. 

*If you don’t have leftover pizza dip, just make 1/4 recipe to top your pizzas with.

Ingredients

-2 pieces your choice Flatbread

-Pizza dip (see previous recipe blog)

-1/2 Eggplant chopped

-4 Baby Bella Mushrooms

-1/4 Green Pepper Chopped

-1/4 Red Pepper Chopped

-1/4 Yellow Onion Diced

-One Handful of Frozen Artichokes, prepared according to package. 

-4 Garlic Cloves Roasted

-Feta Cheese

-Shredded Cheddar

-Olive OIl

-Garlic Salt

1-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pull out your flatbreads…these are my personal favorites. 

2- Brush Olive oil around the edges to form a crust…some people don’t like crust but it happens to be my favorite part. Then sprinkle garlic salt around the edges. 

3-Spread pizza dip mix over the top. I skimmed the hardened mozzarella off of the top of the dip and used it to make a mozzarella base. 

4-Sautee chopped Eggplant and Mushrooms with a tiny bit of olive oil over medium heat until the veggies are soft. I like to to sauté my eggplant and mushrooms to give that meaty feel to the pizza (something my boyfriend enjoys.)

5-Top the pizza first with artichoke (if you don’t add these first the over will dry them out and make them super crisp), chopped roasted garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms & Eggplant, feta and just the tiniest bit of cheddar cheese

5-Pop in the over for 10-15 minutes depending on desired crispiness. I like mine pretty crispy and crunchy. 

This recipe is enough for two pizzas. Experiment with different veggies and sauces…I mean…who doesn’t love pizza right? 

22

Sep

Cheese Pizza Dip

I must admit that I did rip this idea off of a friend, who made it for poker night years ago. I’ve kind of tweaked the recipe and given it my own twist. I make this dip all the time to take to parties and it’s usually a big hit. You’ll love it because it’s super easy to make and quick too! 

I made this for the MSU/LSU game Thursday night. Unfortunately, we lost but I consider this dip a huge success. 

Ingredients

-1 package Cream Cheese softened

-8 ounces of small curd Cottage Cheese

-8 ounces of fresh Mozzarella shredded (I like to use Galbani’s Mozzarella Fresca)

-1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan

-1 egg white

-28 ounce can Hunts Crushed Tomatoes (I’m very partial to Hunt’s)

-1/4 tsp Garlic Salt

-1/8 tsp Celery Salt

-Basil, Oregano, Parsley, and Pepper to taste.

-Bread, sliced.

1-Mix together Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Egg White, Parmesan, and most of the Mozzarella (reserve some for melting on the top)

2-In a separate bowl, mix Crushed Tomatoes, Garlic Salt, Celery Salt, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, and Pepper.

3-Grease the bottom of an 8x8 baking pan and press cheese mixture into the bottom. Top with the sauce mixture & sprinkle reserved mozzarella over the top. 

4-Cover with tin foil and bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes. 

Serve with your favorite bread. Personally, I like to use a sourdough loaf, slice it and toast them until they are crispy (the bread is easier to dip if it’s crisp). This recipe makes a LOT of dip so beware…if it’s only for a few you may want to cut the recipe in half. 

*If you eat meat you may want to try chopping and layering pepperoni in between the cheese and sauce. Experiment… try grilled eggplant chopped up for an Eggplant Parmesan dip or top with onions, peppers, and mushroom for a Veggie Pizza Dip. Spinach would be great, artichokes, zucchini….let your imagination run free! 

20

Sep

Chocolate Pudding Pie

This recipe was completely and totally inspired by my recent read, “The Help” Last month, some girlfriends and I started a once a month book club, Books and Booze. It’s a great opportunity for us to push ourselves to read beyond our normal selection, gab about the book, drink, and most importantly eat

Our first read was, “The Help” and it was so fitting as it takes place in Mississippi and we are in, well…Mississippi. I’m so fortunate that all my Books and Booze friends are foodies too because we had some delicious eats! And everything was so fitting for the theme. We had Sweet Tea with Peach Vodka Sangria, Cornbread, Caramel Cake, Crawfish Pie, Goat Cheese Tarts, Amazing Homemade Onion Dip with fresh veggies, and of course… my Chocolate Pie. 

If you’ve read “The Help” I’m sure you understand why this is so inappropriate. Haha, I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed the joke. 

So I wasn’t really sure where to start but I think this turned out REALLY, really well. 

Ingrediants

-22 Orea Cookies

-3/4 stick salted Butter melted

-3 Cups Whole Milk

-1 package Jello Chocolate Pudding cook & serve 

-4 Cups Whipped Cream (you can use Cool Whip but it is SO easy to make yourself.)

-1/2 Package of Cream Cheese

-Hershey’s Carmel Sauce

-Toffee Bits

-Unsweetened Cocoa

1-If you don’t have a a food processor place the Oreos in a large plastic zipper bag and gently smash them up with a hammer. This is what I did and it only took a few minutes. Fast, easy, and I just tossed the bag for cleanup!

2-Mix cookies and melted butter together and press into a pie pan. 

3-Place pie crust in 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, until bubbling and you smell chocolate. 

4-Remove and place in refrigerator until cooled and set. Before you place it in the fridge, if you noticed the sides have slipped down press them back into place with a spoon back. 

5-Prepare pudding according to package directions and set aside to slightly cool. 

6-Whip together Whip Cream and Cream Cheese. 

7-Pour slightly cooled pudding into the pie shell and return to refrigerator until the pudding is set. 

8-Once the pudding is set, drizzle a thin layer of caramel sauce over the pudding. Once again, return to the fridge to let the caramel set. 

9-Top with whipped topping.

10- Sift unsweetened cocoa onto the top and top with toffee bits. 

Oh this pie was so delish! Remember those dirt pies you would make as a kid? This kind of reminds me of a grown up version of this. Definitely try this recipe, especially if you have a book club meeting for, “The Help”. 

19

Sep

Pineapple-Strawberry Salsa

To say that I love the salsa-fish pairing is an understatement. To me, salsa and fish are two things that go together like peanut butter and jelly, toast and jam, steak and potatoes, well… you get the drift . Salsa just helps to add a punch of flavor to fish. I absolutely love it. 

So far, I’ve experimented with tomato salsa, peach salsa, mango salsa, and this time I ventured a little further from home with pineapple-strawberry salsa. I know, I know this sounds crazy…crazy delicious! The pineapple is sweet and the strawberries add a bitter texture. It works together perfectly, probably the best salsa I’ve made to date. 

I used this salsa to top baked salmon and it was a wonderful pairing. 

Ingredients

-1/4 Pineapple diced small

-2 Strawberries diced small

-Handful of fresh Cilantro chopped well

-2 cloves Garlic minced

-1/4 White Onion finely diced

-1 Red Jalapeno Pepper deseeded and minced

-1/2 freshly squeezed Lime

-Salt to taste

-Mix everything together and let set for at least an hour. I like to let it set about 3 hours so all the flavors marry together. Try this with tortilla chips or on top of your favorite fish tonight!

17

Sep

Caramel Espresso Brownie Bars

As with all game day treats, you need a sweet to satisfy everyone’s cravings. These bars are chocolatey chewy delectable morsels oozing with caramel and topped with toasty marshmallows. It’s Saturday so get up, get into the kitchen, and whip up a batch of these brownies for someone special or just make them for yourself (don’t worry I won’t tell anyone if you eat an entire pan by yourself.) 

First, you should know that this recipe is not appropriate for use with the Perfect Brownie Maker. Everyone knows that I am absolutely obsessed with my Perfect Brownie Makers. Oh the way every brownie comes out perfectly square with the chewy edges and I don’t even have to wait for them to cool to grab one. I had difficulty getting the brownies out and pretty much had to desecrate them to pull them away from the pan. Still delicious but not entirely appetizing any more. 

Next time I will thoroughly grease and flour a pan. Everyone will be certain to love these bars. They are so simple too….okay I took the easy way out because I am a sucker for Ghirardelli’s Dark Chocolate brownie mix. Now, normally I’m not one for boxed mixes and I shudder at the thought of a boxed cake mix but please just trust me when I say that Ghirardelli has come up with a complete winner! 

Ingredients

-Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix

-Vegetable Oil

-1/4 cup brewed coffee cooled. 

-1 Egg

-1/2 bag small Marshmallows

-Hershey’s Caramel Sauce

-1/8 cup Heath Bar Toffee Bits

-2 Tbsp Ground Coffee

-1/2 bar Ghirardelli 80% Cocoa chocolate. Cold. 

1-Prepare brownies according to Box direction only used brewed, cooled coffee in place of water. 

2-It should take about 5-7 Tbsp’s worth of caramel sauce. Drizzle Caramel sauce over brownie mix in a grid pattern….then pull a knife through in both directions to get the caramel slightly incorporated. Sprinkle toffee bits over the top. 

3-Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. 

4-While the brownies are baking chop up the cold chocolate bar into fine pieces. Mix chocolate shreds and coffee together in a small bowl. 

5-Pull half baked brownies out of the oven and top with marshmallows and follow by sprinkling on the chocolate/coffee mixture. 

6-Return to the oven and bake for 20 more minutes. 

7-Remove and let the brownies cool before slicing and serving. 

* For an extra special desert try topping a warm brownie with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and warm caramel sauce! 

15

Sep

Stuffed Mushrooms

       So today was Mississippi State University’s first home game and (SHOCKER) I didn’t have to work (Gasp!) Unusual, I know. I decided to hole myself up in the kitchen making some snacks for the game instead of sitting in the living room with my boyfriend who takes MSU football more serious than me. It just makes me nervous, all that yelling at people who can’t hear him.

So I set to work and this was the final result. 

I know…way too much food for two people. Caramel-Espresso Brownie Bars, Stuffed Mushrooms, Onion Rings with Horseradish Sauce, and Pizza Dip. 

Since it is football season. I just know everyone is looking for some great tailgating options. Now, if you are truly tailgating, the onion rings just won’t last since they are fried but every thing else should hold up well on the way to the stadium. 

First up, stuffed mushrooms!

Ingredients

-1 Package of Baby Bella Mushrooms

-1 Small Eggplant. (Mine was organic and it was less than 1lb. ) chopped

-1 Small Sweet Yellow Onion chopped

-2 Garlic Cloves finely chopped

-1/2 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs

-1/2 Package Cream Cheese room temperature

-1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmasen Cheese

-Olive Oil

-Salt & Pepper

1-Clean mushrooms with a damp (not wet) towel and then pop the stems out. Scoop a little out of the inside as needed to there is a cup to hold the stuffing. Rub the outside of the mushrooms with olive oil and salt and pepper. Set on a cookie sheet. 

2- Finely chop the eggplant, onion, and minced garlic. In a sautee pan on medium heat, add a tiny bit of olive oil and the eggplant mixture. Cook until the onions and eggplant are tender. 

3-While that mixture is cooking combine, in a medium bowl, cream cheese & parmesan, mixing together thoroughly.

4-When onions and eggplant mixture is tender add to the cheese mixture. Stir in bread crumbs and salt & pepper to taste. You should have a thick mixture.

5-Spoon this into the mushroom tops.

6-Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Add shredded cheese to the top and cook for 10 minutes more. 

 Enjoy! 


07

Nov

Stuffed Tomatoes

Today I attempted creative and healthy-ish stuffed tomatoes. The result was a success. 

Ingredients:

     5 Large Vine Ripened Tomatoes

     1 Head of Cauliflower Roughly Chopped

     1/4 Cup Parmasen Cheese 

     1/8 Cup Very Finely Chopped Red Onion

     Good Fresh Mozzarella

     Basil

     Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a Large Pot cover cauliflower in water and boil until very tender. 

Drain cauliflower.

Smash with a potato masher until cauliflower is broken up and soft. To achieve an even smoother texture use a food processor or blender to cream the cauliflower. 

Add one clove of garlic, I personally use a garlic press, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. 

Cut tomatoes in half and remove the hard stem spots. With a knife gently remove the seeds and juice from the tomato, I saved mine for use in a vinaigrette. Fill tomatoes with cauliflower mixture and place on a parchment lined cooking sheet. Add chopped onions to the top and finish with chopped fresh basil or dried basil if no good fresh basil is available. Slice mozzarella about 1/8-1/4 inch thick and place on top of tomato. 

Place on center rack in oven for 20 minutes. For the last minute or two, set the oven heat to broil and watch tops of tomatoes closely to ensure the cheese does not burn. Cool and enjoy.

I really enjoyed these, as did my boyfriend. A friend even told me she would never have known cauliflower was the stuffing if I had not mentioned it. Easy and delicious for a snack or have a few for a meal.