Spring is in the air. FINALLY. Can I get a halleluiah? It’s been a long hard COLD winter and I’m looking forward to all things spring and summer. Including entertaining. We love to have people over all year round but especially when the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Having friends over doesn’t mean things have to be fussy. I’m not into fussy dinners. They’re nice every once in a while (you know when I want to be stressed out to the max because that’s what ends up happening) but for the most part I like jeans and t-shirt kind of entertaining.
With the weather about to start heating up the last thing I will want to do will be to heat up my oven and by default my kitchen. Air conditioning is expensive yeah? I make A LOT of no bake treats in the spring and summer. My sweet tooth can not suffer because I don’t want to spend more on my air conditioning bill. That would be negligent of me. I can’t let that happen, it would be shameful. Hello no bake beauties. These are so simple it’s almost a non recipe. Simple is a good thing so let’s just focus on that.
If you’re not enjoying the deliciousness that are Brussels Sprouts you’re missing out. These aren’t the boiled Brussels that you might have grown up gagging on (or maybe that was just me). Yep boiled Brussels are the worst and admittedly kept me away from Brussels for many years. Thanks Mom. Even my childhood dog wouldn’t eat them boiled nd that’s saying something, that dog at ALL the things. Good things I discovered that roasting or sauteing them is a game changer. Now it’s game on.
Want to know what one of my favorite things about eating out at a restaurant is? Well besides not having to cook or do the dishes because I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was a big bonus? It’s a rare occasion when anyone in general cooks for me (and when they do I most certainly DO appreciate it). I have to tell you the BREAD basket they bring to the table is what does it for me. Yep. I love the smell, the texture, the way butter melts right off of a warm bit. The way a piece of homemade bread just melts in your mouth. There is really nothing like homemade bread. It’s those extra little touches, like having a basket (or board) of bread out at the beginning of the meal that sets to the tone for the meal and conversation.
I have a coffee problem. Meaning if I don’t have my morning cup (or two okay usually two who am I kidding) there’s going to be a problem. Up until recently I had never heard of the deliciousness that is Greek (also called Turkish) coffee. Have you tried this coffee? It’s pretty incredible and guess what? It’s EASY to make. You will need to have a special pot called a BRIKI (pictured above). Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s typically a small copper or brass (or sometimes stainless steel) pot that’s narrow at the top and wider toward the bottom. This allows the coffee grounds to easily fall to the bottom. I felt so dainty holding onto the long handle and pouring. Almost fancy schmancy. Hey I take it where I can get it.
If you know me you know I don’t drink beer. At all. I gave it the good old college try, in well you guessed it, college. Beer was cheap and my measly student budget was practically non existent so beer was the obvious choice but alas I could never choke it down so I made friends with Jim and Jack instead and just saw them on a less frequent basis. My dislike of drinking beer hasn’t changed after all these years. I don’t however have a problem cooking with beer. Kind of like how I’m not a fan of cucumbers but like pickles. I know. I know, ’tis weird but it works for me. What also works for me are these slow cooker beer brats.
Have I mentioned how much we absolutely are coo coo for coco puffs over blood oranges? Well we are. We’ve been buying them up every time we’re at the market and will keep doing so until they’re gone. I might actually cry at that point. I know it’s coming soon (sniff sniff) but I won’t be able to help myself. I should probably go ahead and put a travel pack of puffs in my purse. I wish blood orange season was longer but I will take them in bulk as long as we can get our hands on them.
You might have heard these bars called by a few different names: Millionaire Bars, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Copycat Twix Bars. Whatever you call them (I’m leaning towards sticky fingers chocolate bars myself), you won’t be able to stop after one. They’re the perfect mix of sweet and salty and will satisfy your sweet tooth craving in a big way. Instead of making our own shortbread for this recipe, we’ve taken a shortcut and used our favorite shortbread rounds by Walkers. You know the ones. They have a distinctive taste and simply melt in your mouth . In a word they are butteriffic.
As I’m sitting here looking out my window and seeing a BLANKET of WHITE (yes we’re having yet another snow day here), I’m dreaming about warmer weather and quick, simple and flavorful foods. Had I known that my kids would have been out of school for yes count them TWO weeks because of said weather we might have planned a vacation to someplace tropical where I’m certain we would have been able to nosh on things like this Mango Avocado Tuna stack. Since that didn’t happen I can always pretend I’m off to warmer weather and make these myself. If I close my eyes and sit in front of the fireplace it “almost” feels like it.
We’ve got a new taco for your Tuesday taco night taco night, or Thursday taco night but does anyone really prefer Thursdays to Tuesday taco nights? Tuesday just has a better ring to it yeah? Don’t let the turkey fool you, this turkey taco has got flavah for days. You might also be surprised to hear that its also stuffed full of veggies. You heard right. We’ve snuck in shaved carrots, bell peppers, onions and more spices than you can shake a stick at. You don’t have to tell the kids if you don’t want to. They’ll be none the wiser.
I haven’t met too many people who don’t adore flan. It’s creamy dreamy and you might be surprised to know that it’s super simple to make. Now there is quite a bit of time involved but the majority of that time your oven and fridge are doing the heavy work for you. Now that you know, there’s no reason not to try and make this at home. If you can stir, blend and pour you’ve got this. Trust me.
A few months back we took a Carnival CRUISE . Have I mentioned that I LOVE to cruise. Cruisin’ is aca-AWESOME. I’d probably live on one of those floating cities if I could swing it. What’s not to love? Well I suppose if you have motion sickness that might be a problem and well the rooms are on the small side, but you’re not really in them except to change and sleep so that takes care of that problem. What is to love? For starters there is all the food and drinks you could ever want available 24/7. There are attentive staff who actually remember your name. That still BLOWS my mind every. single. cruise. I can barely keep my kids names straight and they memorize new names every. single. WEEK. Gold star to them.
Have an occasion that calls for creating special dessert? Maybe you’re celebrating a birthday, graduation, anniversary? Maybe it’s even Valentine’s Day (we don’t dare to not have dessert on heart day gasp)? Or heck maybe it’s because you just WANT chocolate. Whatever the occasion we’ve got a chocolate recipe for you to choose from. Our list includes: TARTS, MOUSSE, PUDDINGS, CAKES, CUPCAKES, COCKTAILS, BARS and even RAVIOLI. All have a little bit or a whole lot of one of our favorite ingredients: CHOCOLATE! I’m going to go ahead and tell you it’s probably not going to be easy decision if you’ve got a sweet tooth like mine that is. I would tell you I’m sorry but misery loves company you know.
Like almost every other child I know my kids go berserk for macaroni and cheese. They’d probably eat it every single day if I let them. I grew up eating traditional baked macaroni and cheese, let’s be honest it’s some kind of amazing but it’s a process, a timely process. Sometimes I just don’t have that kinda time on my hands when I’m faced with three fired up kids asking for mac and cheese please. Times like those call for a stove top version of macaroni and cheese that hits the spot.
Gluten free is looking good. Real good. If you’re looking for an easy peasy dessert you’ve found it. Chocolate mousse is quick and easy and honestly you can eat it by itself if you don’t want to take the extra step and make the crust. I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t. I kinda look forward to keeping the bowl, beaters and spatula to myself. What can I say, you know I have a wicked sweet tooth. I could tell you it’s quality control. Yeah, on second thought let’s go with that.
I know you’re all familiar with meatball sliders. There’s a good reason for their popularity. They’re GOOD. Really good. I can’t even say the name without wanting one, and now (you guessed it) I want one! I have little to no willpower when it comes to foods that I love. It’s the reason I exercise. The only reason. Because I like to eat. I’m not one of those people who LOVES to exercise. I wish I was but nope I dread it but I suck it up and do it. I may or may not even think about what I’m going to eat for lunch while I’m doing said exercise. Sad but true.
Meatballs. You gotta love them. If not we can’t be friends. Okay well I might make an exception if you’re extraordinarily awesome but I’m just going to be honest and say it’s just weird if you don’t. For the sake of argument, let’s just say you do, even if you don’t m’kay? My favorite MEATBALLS on the planet are made using Johnsonville sausage. I love the flavor that Italian sausage brings to the meatballs. I typically make them with the sweet Italian blend but when I want to shake things up I use the mild or even SPICY. Because sometimes we like a little heat. Especially when it’s cold as all get out.
Google tells me that appetizer recipes are all the rage this week. I’m no psychic but I’m guessing it has something to do with New Year’s Eve PARTIES ; ) Personally I’m always a fan of appetizers. I like to have a little something to nosh on before the main event. It keeps my stomach from embarrassing itself from loud and obnoxious noises that have people turning to see what in the world could be making that noise (yep that would be me). You see as much as I always have the best intentions and tell myself hours before to eat a little something before said party or event I NEVER ever seem to actually do it. Getting side tracked by reading my kindle and then realizing I have OH thirty minutes to pull myself together might have something with it. But anyhoo. Appetizers, they’re a good thing.
Tis the season to get our nog on. Eggnog, Egg-nog or Egg Nog go with your preferred spelling. I find that people are firmly in the camp of love it or hate it. Not too many who fall in the meh, I can take it or leave it category. I like mine on the boozy side but that’s no surprise. If you want to add a little something something different to this recipe (say you prefer bourbon over dark rum) I wouldn’t hate you. In fact I’d probably ask you to bring me one over you know for comparison purposes. Our version of eggnog is a twist on the classic. Yes you can totally flavor your nog. Now you know. At first I considered chocolate BUT why go with chocolate when you can use Nutella. Besides it’s been much too long since we’ve shared a recipe using my beloved so this is my gift to my fellow Nutellaholics.
My Mom makes some of the best homemade salsa I’ve ever tasted. I think a lot of that has to do with just about every ingredient that goes into her recipe comes from her garden. She of course changes this recipe every single time she makes it so It’s never the same. I think she does this so she doesn’t have to give me the recipe. Luckily she does share the salsa. When I’m home for visits I swap out my empty mason jars for full jars of homegrown tomatoes and salsa. Lots and lots of salsa.