Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Hot chocolate cupcakes (mini marshmallows baked inside) with whipped marshmallow frosting made for my son to take to daycare tomorrow. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
Saturday, March 10, 2012
For those of you who don't know me well, I'm not a girlie-girl. AT ALL. I'm laid back. VERY laid back. I'm a sneakers and jeans type of gal who tries not to sweat the small stuff. I'm also big into collegiate athletics, especially Hawkeye football. If you did know me, you'd know that while those seem like pretty silly and unrelated facts, they are certainly pretty defining characteristics of my personality.
Now allow me to take you on a little trip down memory lane to about 4 years ago and my bridal shower. I'm sure you're wondering where the heck this is going, but hang in there. So keeping the above information about me in mind you can probably imagine how the idea of a stuffy, formal bridal shower isn't really my thing. Granted, I had no idea what my shower would be like since my bridesmaids and Mom did all of the planning but I knew they were going to make it something unusual...
And wow. Was I right. I remember showing up for my shower, walking in the room, and thinking, "Is this heaven?" Check this out:
These are photos from before I arrived and before they were done setting up, but I think you get the idea... ;)
Seriously, could this be any more ME?! After all, I'm the gal who wore sneakers under her wedding dress. True story! So walking in the door to this shower was overwhelming. 25 of my closest friends were there to share in the fun and I couldn't have asked for anything better! And how cute are my Mom and her friends?? My Mom is in the top middle, she's so stinkin' cute. The other women literally watched me grow up from an infant so it was wonderful to have them there as well.
The napkins, the plates, the favors, THE FOOD, it was all in Hawkeye black and gold. Not a fussy, frilly thing in sight. And the food, oh the food! One of my bridesmaids is the executive chef at an Italian bistro and he (yes, HE. Two of my four bridesmaids were men) catered the main dishes. My Mom did the rest of the treats with everything from football sugar cookies to olive tapenade. And that my friends is the whole point of this post. That olive tapenade blew my mind and has been one of my favorite apps to make ever since. I'm just surprised I haven't blogged it yet... so here we go!
- 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
- 1/3 cup black olive
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, mined
- 1/2 cup chopped and seeded fresh tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
- Chop everything in a food processor (except the tomatoes and onion) or use one of those
- hand choppers like you can get from Pampered Chef.
- When you have the olives chopped as finely as you like, add the tomatoes and onion.
- Serve on toasted bread or use your favorite chip.
I know I told you the other day how much I love, LOVE green olives but I should have stated that I love ALL olives. This is one treat that I always enjoy and will surely get gobbled up quickly by your guests too!
And thanks for letting me share some memories, too :)
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Although I absolutely thought each thing we made was delicious, this Caramelized Onion Bruschetta ranks at the top of the list! They were a little savory, a little sweet, and a whole lot of awesome.
- Caramelized Onion Topping
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped (approximately 2 cups)
- 1 TBSP canola oil
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 4 slices hickory smoked or peppered bacon
- 4 ounces shredded swiss cheese (1 cup)
- 1 small loaf baguette-style French bread
- 4 TBSP olive oil
- In a medium skillet, cook and stir onion in oil until translucent or about 7 minutes.
- Stir in brown sugar and cook 2 minutes to caramelize.
- Now stir in the white wine and simmer for five minutes or until liquid is reduced.
- Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet or griddle over medium high heat until crispy. Drain bacon on paper towels, crumble, then add to the onion mixture.
- Stir in cheese and set aside.
- For the bread - slice your bread into 1/2 inch slices and place on a baking sheet.
- Lightly brush one side of the slices with olive oil.
- Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Remove from the oven and spoon on the caramelized onion topping on to each piece of bread.
- Broil (about 5 inches from the heat) for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
So, so good. And that delicious looking dip that's sharing the plate is the Cherry, Pecan, and Ham Spread from the same evening.
Source: Nina Swan-Kohler
Monday, March 5, 2012
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives (reserve liquid)
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (for tips on how to toast pecans, check this recipe!)
- 1 TBSP reserved olive liquid
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Dash of Tabasco hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.
- Add mayo and beat until well mixed/creamy.
- Add olives, pecans, olive liquid, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; stir well.
- Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours. This really helps combine the flavors and makes for a more delicious dip!
- Serve with assorted crackers (Ritz, Pecan Nut Thins, etc).
Hey, I told you there weren't any great photos! You'll just have to trust me when I say that if you share a similar affinity for green olives, you MUST try this spread. I'd like to try this with kalamata olives and add some jalepenos for a little extra kick. In fact, you could replicate this for almost any "stuffed olive" combination you've ever tried and it would still be incredible.
To see what else is on my plate above, check out the full menu with recipe links from the class HERE. So much fun!
Source: Nina Swan-Kohler
Thursday, March 1, 2012
- 6 slices peppered bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled (She recommended the Farmland brand of peppered bacon. We tried this by itself and oh man, it was good!)
- 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese (basically half of an 8 oz package)
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 2 TBSP chopped sundried tomatoes (oil packed, but drained)
- 1 TBSP finely chopped onion
- 1 TBSP snipped fresh parsley
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1 box white Melba Toast rounds
- Notice that some of the directions, like cooking the bacon or chopping the tomatoes, have already been included above. So read carefully that you've done all of those steps first :)
- Now combine all ingredients into a bowl, except the toast.
- Spread a teaspoonful on each toast round.
- Place on a baking sheet and broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes until cheese is melted.
Like I said above, these were one of my favorites! One thing Nina mentioned was that if you want to keep them warm, serve on top of a big pancake griddle. She also said that if you have any of the leftover mixture you can add a little whipping cream or half&half and make a great topping for pasta! Yum! I might have to make a double batch next time so I can try both ways!
Source: Nina Swan-Kohler
Saturday, February 25, 2012
So again, this class was PERFECT for me. And this sweet and savory dip was a suprising treat.
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 4 slices of cooked ham, chopped
- 3 TBSP cherry preserves
- 1/3 cup toasted pecans (you could do walnuts too!)
- 2 TBSP chopped green onion
- 1 box Pecan Nut Thins (this is a must... I just LOVE these crackers and they compliment the dip!)
- In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients.
- Spread on crackers and enjoy!
Yep, that's it! But let me share an easy tip with you about toasting nuts. I had no idea how easy this was but it completely changes the flavor. Don't believe me? Try a regular pecan, untoasted. Now follow these directions and try the toasted pecan. You'll never go back!
So, here is what you did. Just throw the desired amount of pecans (or walnuts) on a cookie sheet and pop in an oven that is preheated to 350. Check on them after 2 minutes. Stir and test their flavor. Repeat the process for however long is necessary. But be careful, go over 4 minutes and they might scorch! Now just chop and throw into your Cherry, Pecan and Ham spread.
I know these aren't mind-blowing tricks, but hey, this is The Rookie Chef. You aren't here for gourmet ;)
Like I said before, this dip was a great change of pace. A little sweet, a little savory, and totally unique.
Want to know what's in that drink? Check out the recipe HERE.
Source: Nina Swan-Kohler
- 4 cups cranberry-pomegranate juice, chilled
- 2 cups diet lemon-line soda (7-up), chilled
- 2 cups diet grapefruit soda (Fresca), chilled
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Combine ingredients and serve over ice.
- Garnish with an orange wedge.
- This makes about 8 servings.