Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bacon Topped Avocado Deviled Eggs

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. Maybe because the sunny weather is here, my wardrobe is more and more pastels and less and less black, and because even at 28 years old my mom still gives me an Easter basket. For as many years as I can remember, there have always been deviled eggs on Easter. They never really lasted very long, because I have been known to eat more deviled eggs than actual meal at the dinner table, but they are always in attendance. This year I decided to try a twist on the classic deviled egg by swapping out the mayo for some avocado, and then topping them off with bacon. While they will never replace the original classic, these were quite devine!

Bacon Topped Avocado Deviled Eggs

  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 strip bacon, cooked
  • cilantro for garnish

Scoop the yolks from the eggs half into a medium bowl. Using the back of a fork, mash the yolks until they are a crumbly mixture. Add in the avocado and continue to mash with the fork until well combined and minimal chunks remain. Add in salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Place the avocado egg mixture into a small ziplock bag or pastry bag. Cut the bottom corner tip off if you are using a ziplock bag and then pipe the mixture into the egg white halves. Top with pieces of bacon and cilantro leaves. Serve chilled. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

S'mores Bars

I made these last week as a trial run for an Easter dessert, since it's all warm and toasty here in Phoenix, and the closest thing I'm getting to a campfire is popping a tray of s'mores bars in the oven for under 30 minutes. They ended up being devoured in about 24 hours when my future brother, sister, and nephew-in-laws came into town. We spent a couple of days with them over spring break where we attended a spring training game (I have the shorts tan to prove it) and I showed them around the Phoenix area on a mini driving tour. It was a great time had by all, and the s'mores bars didn't hurt either!

S'mores Bars

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 heaping cup of marshmallow fluff
  • 1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare an 8x8-inch baking dish by lining it with tin foil, allowing it to come up over the sides. Lightly spray the tin foil with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Lower speed and add in the egg. Once the egg is combined, add in the vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix for another minute.

In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and cinnamon. With the stand mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Scrape down the sides and mix for another 15 seconds.

Place about 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish, using your hands to press it down firmly and evenly. Using a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, spread the fluff on top of the dough in an even layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the marshmallow fluff and finish off the final layer by adding the remaining 1/3 of the dough by dropping it in sections on the top.

Place in the oven for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the chocolate has melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing it from the dish and discarding the tin foil. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sage and Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

If there is any proof needed in this world that bacon will get me to eat anything, this is the only proof that you will need. I am a snob when it comes to pork, and unless it's bacon I'm not getting near it. Ham; nope. Pork Chops; gross. Pork Tenderloin; {insert shoulder shrug}. My fiance on the other hand loves all of these previously mentioned things. I try to do all things in my power to make him happy, so I found myself a hormone- and antibiotic-free, 100%-vegetarian diet pork roast from Niman Ranch. I figured if If I'm going to eat something that I despise, then I better make sure it's the best cut I can find. In the end, after trying to figure out how to tell if pork is done or not (slightly pink in the center) I actually enjoyed the cut and the flavor. I deem this the perfect main dish for the upcoming Easter holiday. I can just picture it now alongside mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, green beans, and carrot cake. 

Sage and Bacon-Wrapper Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin (1.5 lb. should feed 4 people)
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves
  • 4-6 slices of bacon (depends on the length and girth of your tenderloin)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Meanwhile, pat your tenderloin down with a paper towel to dry it off a bit. Layer the sage leaves across one side of the tenderloin. Then take your bacon and wrap it around the entire length of the tenderloin, securing it with toothpicks as needed. 

Heat your oil in a cast iron or large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is fairly hot, add the wrapped tenderloin to the hot skillet. Sear on all sides, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Then move the skillet to the oven to finish cooking. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature of the tenderloin reaches 145 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and tent with foil, allowing it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the tenderloin into 1/2-inch thick slices and serve warm. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

HDFB Wedding Update: 11 months and Counting

First off, I know this is a food blog, and in NO WAY a wedding blog. So let me clear by saying that I am in no position to be giving anyone advice on their wedding day, but I've got to say that we have got this planning thing down pat so far. A short while after we got engaged, I asked if any of you were remotely interested in hearing anything that has to do with the wedding, and you said yes so here goes. I've already shared our engagement trip, engagement photos, and our engagement party, so I might as well keep the train going, right?

I guess the most important thing (other than THE dress, duh), is the wedding date. We have chosen February 20, 2016. This allowed us plenty of time to save money, choose from the vendors that we wanted, all without being rushed. It also allows my little brother, and groomsmen, time to get out of the Navy and move back to Arizona just in time for our wedding celebrations!

Speaking of which, we have our bridal parties picked out and assembled, and we cannot wait for our two worlds, east coast and west coast, to collide. A videographer is on the list to hire because I'm going to want to relive these shenanigans for the rest of our lives.

We have our venues picked out. Yes, I said venues. Our ceremony and reception will be in two different locations, but very close to one another. My pinterest board is overflowing with ideas of how to decorate, and I'm not sure that they all really go well together, but that's why I hired my good friends from Konsider it Done as our wedding planners so they can bring my 4739286890 different ideas into one cohesive plan.

{birthday selfie in the exact spot we will be married next year}

{venue research}

Our save the dates should be done at the printers TODAY!!! I cannot wait to get my little hands on those bad boys and see all of the hard work and nitpicking (sorry girls) come to life. The lovely ladies at The Letterhouse have been nothing short of amazing to work with and they are local here in Arizona, supporting one of my favorite causes.

And lastly, drum roll please, THE DRESS!!! Oh, the dress. After 2 rounds of dress shopping I was lucky to fall in the love with the dress. I had 4 criteria that I imagined my dream dress having, and while most dresses that I tried had 2 or 3 of those details, only 1 could meet those standards. She is ordered, and I am counting the days until I can see it come to life with alterations, jewelry, and possibly a vail? I've never been a big lover of vails, but maybe time will change that notion. Obviously there will be no pictures, because, hello, Andrew reads this, and I want it to be just as special as it is to me now on the day I marry my best friend. Don't worry, as soon as I can get my greedy little hands on the wedding photos, I'll be posting an insane amount of them I'm sure. And that's when you can all remind me that this is a food blog and get myself check back into reality.

{don't worry, THE dress is not featured in this photo}

While I can constantly be heard telling Andrew, "I just can't wait to be married to you", which is true, I really can't, these next 11 months (330 days to be exact) are going to fly by. It is an amazing feeling knowing that I get to spend my life with the one person who truly loves me for me. All of my quirks, tiny little obsessions, even when I go days without washing my hair (dry shampoo is a lifesaver), or when I make desserts that he can't touch until after I get home from work and photograph them for the blog, forcing him to stare at them all day, teasing him endlessly, he still loves me, and I him. 2.20.2016 is going to be the best day ever.

Whatever we do, we just try not to take ourselves too seriously.

Engagement photos courtesy of aMaes Photography.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Monster Cookies

Andrew and I are lucky enough to have bought a house across the street from our doppleganger couple. The guys are both from the east coast, and the girls are both Phoenix natives, naturally. The guys have obsessions with Taylor Swift that the girls just don't get. We are both newly engaged. And the most important quality, we all love wine. And dessert. We were recently invited over to dinner at their house where they put out the most amazing spread of homemade bruschetta, pizzas, roasted peppers, olives, and cheeses. We were asked to bring a dessert, and I thought, I'll just make something that has everything in it. Literally. Everything. Sugar, butter, egg, chocolate, oreos, peanut butter, oats. They're all in the party. The key factor in making these monster cookies is that you have to actually make them MONSTER in size. I'm talking like the size of your face. No joke. Maybe warm them up in the microwave and top them with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream? Yes. Definitely do that. 

Monster Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup m&ms
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat. 

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Add in the peanut butter, then the egg, then the vanilla, mixing well before each addition. 

Whisk together the baking soda, cream of tartar, flours, and oats together. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the mixed dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the m&ms and the chocolate chips.

Form flattened rounds using about 1/4 cup of dough for each and place onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. They will not spread much when cooking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until just turning golden brown. They will appear undercooked, lightly flatten with the back of a spatula and set aside to cool for 10 minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus

There is a local joint here in Arizona called Pita Jungle. I have been eating here for years and my usual go to is simply their hummus with grilled chicken. But this all changed the moment that they added their red quinoa salad served over their cilantro jalapeno hummus. Obviously I crave this about 3 times a week, and because my wallet can't handle all of my cravings, I decided it best if I tried my hand at making it at home when desperate times call for desperate measures. And while it turned out extremely delicious, there's always that caviat of how things taste better when someone else makes it for you. You know, like when you ask your mom to make you a sandwich when you go home to visit. And she's like, "make your own sandwich", and you're like, "But mom, it always tastes so much better when you make it". It's kinda like that. 

Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus

  • 3/4 cup jalapeno cilantro hummus
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chopped red onion
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, chopped
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the hummus onto a medium plate. In a bowl, toss together the quinoa, tomato, onion, greens, and cucumber. Pile atop the hummus, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Italian "Drunken" Pappardelle Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage

Remember yesterday when I taught you all how to make homemade pappardelle? Well today I teach you how to make the most sinfully delicious, oh and drunken, sauce to go along with that fresh handmade pasta. While there's a bit of dicing, chopping, and mincing for prep, throwing this sauce together is actually quite simple. It also makes a perfectly sized meal for 4 people. Or, if you're like me, dinner for 2 one night, and then lunch for those same 2 people the next day. Andrew actually told me this meal was in the top 5 meals that I have ever made. I'm not sure if it because he had 50% claim in making it with me, or if he's just biased towards anything that includes pasta, meat, or wine. But either way, I can't argue with him.

Italian "Drunken" Pappardelle Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage

  • olive oil
  • 4 spicy Italian sausages, casings removed (I used turkey)
  • 1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored then thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored then thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored then thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1-28 oz. can San Marzano fire roasted tomatoes (I used whole, then cut them up with kitchen shears)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, extra for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. freshly julienned basil, extra for garnish
  • 10 oz. uncooked pappardelle pasta noodles

In a large cast iron skillet, pour in about 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the crumbled sausage to the hot oil and cook until browned throughout, until no pink remains. Remove the sausage to a plate and set aside. 

If needed, add about 1 more tbsp. of olive oil to the hot pan and add in the onions, tossing often as not to burn them. Cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add in the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and sliced bell peppers. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally, allowing the peppers to soften slightly.

Add in the minced garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, pour in the wine. Simmer, until the wine absorbs into the vegetables and barely any remains. Now add in the tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Toss, then add back in the cooked sausage. Allow the mixture to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the pan over the hot stove.

Meanwhile, cook the fresh pappardelle in a pot of boiling water until al dente. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, toss to coat the noodles in the sauce and serve, garnishing with extra parsley and basil. 


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