Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cozy Fall Dinner

Crisp fall days are meant for comfort food and this meal is perfectly that. Not only is it seasonal and delicious, but it can be made in around 30 minutes so it works well for a weeknight dinner or a night hosting guests in your home. If this entire spread overwhelms you (because let's be real -- some days we just don't have the energy), choose a couple items and go for it! Leave off the chicken for a yummy fall veggie plate or just make the chicken and rice for a simpler version. I am sharing all of the details below so you have some options, friends. : )

This serves a family of four depending on what kind of eaters you have (I am looking at you wishy-washy but cute 2-year-old) -- so double if you need to!

What You Will Need:
4 (small) chicken breasts
½ cup garlic + herb breadcrumbs
½ cup (freshly grated) parmesan cheese
4 tbsp butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 sweet potatoes
¼ cup half & half
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 bunch asparagus, cleaned + trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes (to taste)

Step One
Set oven to 400°. Cover sweet potatoes with water and put on a high setting to bring to a boil (leave skin on as it will come off easier after boiling). While potatoes are coming to a boil, prepare your chicken.

Step Two
In a shallow bowl, mix together bread crumbs + ¼ cup of parmesan. Set aside. In a small skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter. Remove. Take chicken, dip in butter and then in breadcrumb mixture. Set on foil-lined baking sheet. Put in oven and set timer for 30 minutes.

Step Three
In a medium-sized sauce pan, melt 1 tbsp butter on medium-high heat. Add in garlic, cook for an additional minute, then add in rice, a dash of salt and stir around the pan for about 2 minutes until slightly browned. Pour in chicken broth + milk, bring to a boil. Once at a boil, bring back down to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 20 minutes.

Step Four
At the 15 minute mark of the chicken, you'll want to add in your asparagus. Simply cover a baking pan with foil, lay your asparagus out and toss with olive and spices to your liking. Roast for the remainder of the time left with the chicken.

Step Five
Check your sweet potatoes - by about 20-25 minutes they should be tender throughout. Bring out of water and carefully remove the outer skin. Place potatoes back in pan and mash. Add in remaining butter, brown sugar and half & half. Blend with a hand mixer, or simply just using a fork. Place lid on to keep warm.

Step Six
Pull out asparagus and check chicken to make sure juices run clear (cook an additional 3-5 minutes if needed). Check to make sure rice is done, then turn off and stir in parmesan cheese. Add more milk for creamier texture, if needed.

If you've made it this far with me you are almost ready to serve this yummy, cozy fall meal! Pull out the chicken, let it rest a few minutes, cut into slices, plate it up with your sides, serve, take a bite, repeat.

Happy fall, y'all! Enjoy! xx


Friday, October 13, 2017

Popcorn Party Mix

This popcorn mix is one of my favorite seasonal treats. It is has only a few ingredients, is fairly easy to throw together, and you can just switch up the colors of the sprinkles/candy based on the season or occasion.

The only reason I say "fairly" easy above is because melting chocolate sometimes takes a little patience (for me at least - ha!). I have burnt my fair share of morsels because I think they need just a few more seconds in the microwave... and trust me, once you've taken it a second too far recovery is nearly impossible folks. So take it from me: less heating more stirring. ; )

What You Will Need:
1 bag pre-popped (lightly salted) popcorn
1 cup (broken) pretzel pieces
1 cup honey nut cheerios
1 bag white chocolate morsels
½-1 cup M&Ms (or Reese's Pieces for fall colors)
parchment paper

Step One
In a large mixing bowl, pour in popcorn and add pretzels and cheerios, lightly tossing (try not to let all the pretzels fall to the bottom). Spread parchment paper onto a large {jelly roll} baking pan. Set aside.

Step Two
Melt chocolate according to package directions. Keep on stirring until it melts through and immediately pour onto popcorn mixture, using a spatula to spread evenly throughout mixture.

Step Three
Immediately spread mixture onto parchment lined baking pan and add M&Ms (or whichever candy you are using) and sprinkles across the top before the chocolate hardens. Press down into mixture if needed.

Let cool for at least 30 minutes-1 hour and then break apart. Store in an airtight container for up to five days, or put a handful in little cellophane baggies, tie with some cute ribbon, and share with neighbors and friends for a fun surprise.

Happy snacking, y'all!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

National Taco Day

National Taco Day?! This is obviously a holiday I fully support (as evidenced by many a posts on SFB). If I had to eat one food for the rest of my life tacos would definitely be in the running. They are a weekly go-to around here. Kids love them, hubby loves them, I love them. I'm tagging my favorite taco recipes below in case you need any inspiration to celebrate today. : )

 Slow-Cooked Creamy Chicken Tacos
These are SO easy, friends. Crock-pot magic if you ask me.

Pork Carnitas
Basically heaven on a plate. Love these carnitas all kinds of ways but in a corn tortilla with some fresh toppings is my fave!

Caroline Style (pulled pork + slaw)
This is basically a Carolina bbq sandwich, but the goodness is wrapped up in a tortilla. A must-try.

White Bean Taco Chili
Chili with a little taco flair -- good alternative to regular tacos.

However you decide to indulge, enjoy friends! And consider serving some yummy side items, too:
Fresh Corn Pico de Gallo
Rice & Beans


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Simple Alfredo Sauce

Making homemade pasta has been on my "want to learn" list for sometime now but I still have not done it... so to still get some fresh flavor I do try and make my sauces. There is nothing wrong with that jarred goodness y'all, but once you try this and see how simple it is to make I think you will become a believer in the homemade version too!

If you are feeling something tomato based check out this Savory Meat Sauce, but if you are like me and sometimes just want allllll the butter, cream and Parmesan this Simple Alfredo Sauce is the perfect fix. Bonus: it can be made within 10 minutes and likely with ingredients you already have on hand.

It goes great with any kind of pasta (pictured above with rotini) and you can top with whatever protein or veggies your little heart desires. We recently went with leftover meatballs and had no regrets. : )

What You Will Need:
½ tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup half and half
 cup (low-sodium) chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste (I used about ⅛ teaspoon each)
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
½ cup Parmesan cheese (or more), freshly grated
green onion and parsley for garnish

Step One
Over medium heat, melt butter in a skillet. Add in minced garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring so it does not burn.

Step Two
Add in half and half, chicken broth, and spices. Let it come to boil, lower to a simmer and let it cook for about five-six minutes, or until it slightly thickens up.

Step Three
Remove from heat, stir in cheese and immediately mix with whatever pasta you are using. Top with desired meat and/or veggies and garnish with green onions and parsley, if desired.

Eat. Enjoy. Repeat. xo--


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fried Pickle Chips

Who doesn't love fried pickle chips?! If you have not tried them before you are missing out... trust me. These are the perfect tailgating or half-time treat during college football,  the Super Bowl or just about anytime you need a delicious crunchy fix. You will want to eat them all, so make sure to double or triple if you are feeding a crowd!

What You Will Need:
1 egg
½ cup milk
¾ cup cornstarch, divided
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon each paprika, salt, pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
About 3 dozen dill pickle slices
Canola oil

Ingredients for Fry's Dippin' Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon horseradish
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 dash cayenne pepper

Step One
First, assemble Dippin' Sauce and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

Step Two
With a 
whisk, beat egg and milk in small mixing bowl. Place 1/4 cup cornstarch in another shallow dish. In a third dish, mix 1/2 cup cornstarch & cornmeal with the rest of the ingredients above.

Step Three
Dip cold pickle slices in the plain cornstarch, then the egg wash then the cornmeal mixture. Set aside.

Step Four
Heat canola oil in cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Fry until golden brown; about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve with Dippin' Sauce (or ranch if that's your preference).


Thursday, August 24, 2017

DIY Gourmet Hot Dog Bar

If you have been following my posts for a while, by now you know I love hosting people in our home. For me it is just as much about the conversation + community as it is the food... but I am also a firm believer that it never hurts to turn some simple items into a plate of lovingly prepared and thoughtfully styled food.

So, that leads me to the delicious platter of goodness pictured above. Have hot dogs ever looked so drool-worthy?! I know they are not the best thing in the world to eat, but every once in a while I think you just gotta splurge. Hot dogs are definitely splurge-worthy. And if you're going to eat them you need to fully commit... go all in... and have no regrets. So why not invite a few friends over, set up a beautiful display of all your favorite fixins'the classics and maybe a few unique onesand let people DIY their own gourmet dogs while you watch some football.

Major plus of this setup: the work on your end is minimalyou can do all of the prep ahead of time so you can actually enjoy the event instead of sweating in the kitchen while your guests party in the other room.

I have listed out four hot dog concoctions and accompanying ingredients below. I think it helps to narrow in on a few ideas so you can organize on your end and also give your guests some culinary direction if they need it. DIY signage is of course always an option, too. Some may think it is over the top but I am in full support of the idea. ; )

Side note: I have homemade and alternate options listed below. If you do not have the time / do not want to add extra steps reference the ** below for some easy hacks!

Pictured above:
Tex-Mex Dog: black bean puree, fresh corn salsa, monterey jack, tortilla strips
The Classic: diced onion, white cheddar, pickle relish, sliced pickles, mustard
Southern Comfort: raspberry-chipotle jam, pimento cheese, bacon crumbles, jalapenos
BBQ Crunch: cole slaw, bbq sauce, crumbled bbq chips

What You Will Need:
hot dogs (we love Oscar Mayer Angus Selects Beef Franks)
white cheddar, shredded
monterey jack, shredded
pimento cheese (we love Palmetto brand)
lightly salted tortilla strips (usually found by the salad dressing)
pickle relish
zesty pickle spears, sliced into strips
1 small white onion, diced
raspberry-chipotle jam (we love this kind, but plain raspberry will also do)
bacon, cooked in advance & crumbled
jalapenos, sliced
bbq sauce
bbq chips, crumbled
ketchup (just in case people want the basics)
black bean puree (see below)
corn salsa (see below)
sweet and spicy slaw (see below)

For the black bean puree (double if needed):
1 can black beans
½ tsp chili powder, cumin, garlic powder
Directions: rinse and drain, pour into a food processor, add spices and a little bit of water and pulse until smooth.
**A can of refried black beans would work just as great as long as they are thick enough.

For the corn salsa (double if needed):

2 ears of sweet corn, kernels cut off
½ cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 large lime, juiced
½ tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper
Directions: mix all together, let sit in refirgerator for at least an hour.
**You can buy pre-made pico de gallo and add in the corngreat shortcut that will still taste fresh.

For the slaw (this can also serve as a side dish if you want to double-up):
1 - 16oz package tri-color cole slaw 
½ cup red onion, sliced thin
¼ cup (reduced-fat) mayonnaise
¼ cup yellow mustard
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp each: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper

Directions: pour slaw & onions into large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, add to slaw and stir until blended. Let refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
**You can buy pre-made slaw from the deli section and add in the spices & red onion to take the flavor up a notch.

Place all of your toppings in separate bowls around the table, grill up some dogs as guests arrive (or you can even do this ahead of time and keep them in the oven on "warm" setting) and let everyone get after it! This hot dog bar will be a hit, trust me.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Mini Meatloaves

Y'all. This meatloaf is life changing. You may think that sounds dramatic but I mean it. Bacon + garlic + fresh herbs topped with a brown sugar glaze (that caramelizes while cooking). So. Good. I am picky about meatloaf too... and not many can rival what I ate growing up... but THIS one wins for me (sorry Mom & Nanny). It is the meatloaf of all meatloaves. Go make you some and get back to me with your review!

What You Will Need:
½  pounds ground beef (I used 80/20)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp each fresh: thyme and parsley, chopped (1 tsp of each if using dried)
1 cup garlic & herb bread crumbs (you can use plain if preferred - these just add more flavor)
1 large egg
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
¾ cup milk
6 pieces thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon (I like Smithfield or Wright brands)
½  cup ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
toothpicks for assembly

Set oven to 350° 

Step One
In a small sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly translucent. Add in garlic and saute an additional minute. Set aside.

Step Two
At this point, I usually let my KitchenAid stand mixer do the work for me (because why not). Or you can use your hands. Whatevs your feeling. Just mix everything from the beef down to the milk together, including the cooked onion/garlic mixture + only 2 tsp of the Worcestershire.

Step Three
Divide into six equal parts, and shape into mini loaves. Wrap a piece of bacon around the diameter of the meatloaves (the meatloaves should be about as thick as the piece of bacon is wide), securing with a toothpick where the ends meet. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Step Four
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (don't forget that last tsp of Worcestershire). Coat the tops of each meatloaf. Bake for about an hour and 10 minutes, or until set. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before eating so they don't crumble completely apart.

And this is probably obvious, but it is kind of a requirement to serve this yummy meatloaf alongside some creamy mashed potatoes. I also added a side of sautéd zucchini and corn for good measure.

Enjoy, y'all! xo