Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Roasted Garlic Herbed White Bean Dip with Basil Tomatoes

Perfect Pairing: Ritz Chips


I am officially in the Christmas mood!  The odd warm weather in Chicago during December has made it difficult to feel that cozy Christmas feel you get in the weeks leading up to the big day.  Over the weekend we headed to my parents’ house, AKA Christmas wonderland.  My mom does a fantastic job of decorating the house, inside and out.  My husband was there for 5 minutes and said, “I am officially in the Christmas spirit!”.  

We did a LOT of cooking over the weekend.  I think we made about 6 dozen cookies, 15 loaves of bread, 2 lasagnas, caramelized bacon (more on this in the future) and 7 batches of homemade noodles.  Every year my dad and I make these homemade egg noodles for chicken and noodles, which we enjoy with our extended family.  We serve chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes, starch on starch.  It is odd, and amazing, and the ultimate comfort food.



We listened to non-stop Christmas music.  We also wrapped presents.  Correction, Chris wrapped presents and I put bows (we call this foof in our house) on them.  My mom is the BEST gift wrapper around.  She truly has a gift.   See what I did there?


We also worked on our menu for the next couple of weeks.  Per usual, there is an appetizer night scheduled.  Who doesn’t love appetizers and a glass of wine?  It is my favorite kind of meal.  Roasted Garlic Herbed White Bean Dip with Basil Tomatoes is the perfect addition.  Not only is it delicious and light, it is quite festive if I do say so myself.  All sorts of red and green happening here.


If you would like a shortcut you could skip making your own hummus (but really don’t skip that) and top store-bought with the tomato and herb mixture.  While you are at it, roast multiple heads of garlic.  They are great to have on hand for salad dressings, mixing in mashed potatoes, or as a straight up spread on crostini.  


This dip was quite tasty served with Ritz Chips.  Those things are too tasty for their own good.  I am not sponsored by them in any way, I'm just a fan.  It would also be great with pita chips or your favorite cracker. 


I hope you all have a blessed Christmas and New Year with your loved ones!  I cherish this time with my family celebrating the birth of our Savior and reflecting on the year.  This one was pretty special me! 


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Arugula and Pea Salad

Perfect Pairing:  That oh-so healthy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas!


I am lucky/unlucky enough to have a brother that lives in San Francisco.  The lucky part is obvious because San Francisco is one of the world’s greatest cities.  The unlucky part is that it is very far from Chicago and I miss his family.  I have two very adorable nieces that steal your heart.  As my mom always says when she leaves there after a visit, “I left part of my heart in San Francisco.”



We have gone out to San Francisco for Thanksgiving many times throughout the years and it is a blast.  This year was no different!  While in the city we tried some amazing restaurants (State Bird Provision and Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta) and did some shopping and a little hiking.  I also had my first experience with Shabu-Shabu, which is a Japanese dish that you cook at your table.  It is not often that I try something completely foreign to me, and I loved it! 


Of course we had a delicious Thanksgiving meal with way too much food.  Hence, the necessary pre-meal hike.



The day after we set off for a weekend in wine country.  We visited about 7 or 8 wineries.  It was a tough job, but we were up to the task.



I swear the sun is a different color there and it shines so bright.




We had so many amazing wines and really enjoyed meeting people at the wineries and exploring the grounds.




We will be back!


We all know that the diet goes steadily downhill after Halloween, and a fresh salad most definitely has its place during that time.  


I love this super simple Arugula and Pea salad.  It has bright herbs, crunchy peas, peppery arugula, and a super simple light dressing.  It is easy to pair with pretty much anything.  Perhaps a crisp California white wine?!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Apple Tart

Perfect Pairing:  Ice Cream


I have been a married woman for 6 whole months!  Time is just flying by, and we are having such a great time.   A few random thoughts after 6 months…..

  • We love Monday nights.  I teach Zumba on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and Thursday is our regular pre-weekend date night, so Monday nights tend to be a home cooked meal and some quality couch/DVR/football time.  I never thought I would love Mondays so much.
  • It is super weird having someone pay all of your bills after being on your own for a decade.
  • We need more closet space.
  • Chris loves my cat, Molly.  This might not seem like a big deal, but it is a really big deal.  On National Cat Day (there is a day for everything) Chris posted this on Facebook.  She is officially no longer MY cat, and is OUR cat.
  • We need more closet space.


Thanksgiving!! Every food blogger’s favorite holiday.  


Of course you have to have pumpkin pie (and pecan pie) on your dessert table, but there is always room for something apple related, right?  


My family loves our shared apple pie recipe, but this apple tart is a fun change.  It is super simple but still really delicious and, dare I say, lighter?  It is like the thin crust version of deep dish pizza, but… pie. 


I used my favorite press, no-mess, pie crust recipe for the base.  It is so simple and honestly better than any roll-out crust I have tried.  


The crust is topped simply with Granny Smith apple slices, sugar, and butter. 


After it is baked the entire dessert is brushed with apricot jam and sprinkled with cinnamon.  The jam is thinned a bit with brandy, or rum, or water if you don’t have those. 


I would most definitely pair this with ice cream.  Fantastic. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Pesto Pizza

Perfect Pairing:  Leftover ingredients


Meet my new favorite pizza. 


So many good things on one crust!!  Admittedly, there is some prep work that goes into this because you are roasting squash and caramelizing onions.  I recommend doing big batches of each, and use them in other dishes.  Allow me to provide some ideas.

Roasted Butternut Squash


Caramelized Onions


All Purpose Breakfast Casserole (squash would be delish in this too)


I actually made this pizza because I had already planned on making Butternut Squash risotto, so I just roasted extra squash. 


You top premade crust with pesto.  Store-bought is just fine!  I had lots of homemade pesto for this recipe because my mom and I had just made 10+ batches for the freezer.  Her basil plant was legit out of control.  I buy 10 leaves of basil at the grocery store for $2 and she has a forest of the stuff.  I have zero sunshine and the opposite of a green thumb, so no chance of me growing any myself.


A generous layer of caramelized onions.


An adorable photobomber.


A layer of roasted squash.


Top with some cheese...


And bake!


So stinking good, my friends. 


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