Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cost Plus Haul #2 and Tasting

I couldn't resist, I went back to Cost Plus World Market and picked up a bunch more goodies to try. This time around, I decide to combine the Haul with a Tasting video too.  I hope you enjoy it!

Please do let me know which stores you find irresistible - whether it's for new snacks and new foods to try, favorite beverages, or great stuff for your kitchen (or home), I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Quick Fix: Queso Fundido

I made this version of Queso Fundido on May 4.  Yep, I was a day early, I just couldn't seem to get my Cinco de Mayo on soon enough, so I made Tex Mex at home a couple nights in a row!

I posted pictures of the finished and garnished Queso Fundido online and received a couple of requests for a video, so here it is, request honored:

This version is a bit different than the one I posted years ago it's got a lot less ingredients and you can whip it up in a jiffy for unexpected company or a quick and easy appetizer after a long day.  The video shows a full batch, but you can easily reduce the amount of servings - just go ahead and cook up all of your Chorizo and onion, place only what you need in an oven safe dish or a small cast-iron skillet, top it with your choice of cheese and bake as directed.  You can store the extra chorizo in the fridge and make more another day or freeze it for use in casseroles, soups, etc.

Play with this recipe! If you'd like to add bell pepper or hot peppers, throw them in with the onions. You can squeeze some lime in before you add the cheese too - I really like to squeeze it on top right before I eat it.  Can't find Chorizo where you are, use your favorite Italian sausage or a spicy breakfast sausage.  Use your favorite cheeses - one that melts really well and one that is tangy or sharp is really nice.  If you like it creamier, add a little cream cheese too.  Have fun and until next time - Ciao!

Queso Fundido

16 oz Bulk Chorizo Sausage
1/2 Medium Onion, chopped
8 oz Queso Quesadilla
8 oz Pepper Jack
1 handful Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 handful Ripe Olives, chopped (optional)
Sour Cream to taste (optional)
1 Lime, cut into wedges and served on the side (optional)

This Queso Fundido is a bit different than

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cost Plus World Market Snack Haul Follow Up

Hi guys!  I posted a video of my favorite snacks from the Cost Plus World Market Snack Haul.

Is there a store where you like to shop for snacks or interesting foods?  Please share your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations in the comments - I always love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gourmet at Home: Olive Tapenade

We love olives.  We do.  Because we love olives we almost always have a variety of them on hand in the fridge.  Recently, I was checking out the specialty items in the deli at my local grocery store and I noticed some Tapenade - it came in what might have been a 4 or 6 ounce jar - and they were charging $4.99 a jar!  I was both appalled at the price and reminded how easy it is to make yourself.  So I decided to show you how too.

There's really no recipe needed, just use 2 or 3 of your favorite types of olives, chop them up and serve with crackers or bread and your favorite cheeses, charcuterie and fruit or nuts and you have the perfect summer picnic, easy light dinner or cocktail party platter.  Check it out:


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Quick Fix: Spaghetti with Lemon Garlic Shrimp

Today's recipe is not only a Quick Fix, it's also what I call a Friday Night Fix - and it's one of my favorite things to make when I find myself home alone on a Friday night when Steven's playing poker with the guys.  It's comforting, satisfying and super quick to make.  It's great hot or cold too so it's a multi-seasonal dish.  Grill the shrimp outdoors in the summer, if you like!  You can make this dish start to finish in just a little more time than it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.

This is a very versatile recipe.  You can easily use more pasta and shrimp to prepare more servings and it would be a lovely addition for a small dinner party - reduce the portions and serve it as a first course to keep it simple and affordable.  Steven doesn't really care to eat shrimp, so if I make it when he's home, I simply put half of the pasta in a dish for him and top it with a bit more Extra Virgin Olive Oil, some fresh cracked pepper and some Parmesan cheese - delicious!

Spaghetti with Lemon Garlic Shrimp
serves 1-2

4 oz Spaghetti
8 oz EZ Peel Shrimp (I like a lot of shrimp)
1 Lemon
1 Clove Garlic
1 TBLS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Gaming Food: Sourdough Crust Pizza

There's no question, Pizza is the number one go to food of Gamers everywhere.  Whether it's Tabletop Role Playing Games, Video Games, Board Games or Poker, Pizza is King.  Not only is pizza convenient, and (assuming you live within the delivery area) quick - it's actually pretty economical - each player can chip in a few bucks and enjoy some hot slices packed with protein and carbs for a long night of gaming.

Sadly, one downfall of living in the toolies is No.Pizza.Delivery.  Admittedly, I've sufficiently spoiled my husband with homemade cooking to the point that he'd rather eat my cooking in most cases anyway, but there are times when it would just be so much easier to pick up the phone and order in. Gaming Night is definitely one of those times.

For the most recent Gaming Night with my group of gaming friends, we decided to set up a Make-Your-Own Pizza Bar with flatbread from this post (and video).  Then we had to reschedule our Game Night and Steven and I ate some pizzas with the flatbread and toppings.  The following week when we were once again scheduled to play, we decided to try again with the pizza bar, so I replenished some of the toppings, but forgot to pick up extra flatbread (Gaming is hungry play and you just never know how much each gamer will eat).  I didn't realize, until I'd already driven all the way home, that I had forgotten the extra flatbread so I decided to make some Sourdough Pizza Crust with a sourdough starter my sister gave me a few weeks earlier.

To make the crust, I started with my Mom's Pizza Dough from this Breakfast Pizza post and substituted 1/2 Cup of the Sourdough Starter for 1/2 Cup of the water in the recipe.  I measured out the starter into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, then topped it off with the remaining water to total 1 1/4 cups of liquid.  I used cold water, so I wouldn't kill the starter and set it aside for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of my mixer, I measured in 1 Cup of the flour and the salt.

Next, I added the 1/4 Cup of Olive Oil to the starter and water mixture and added it all to the flour and salt in the mixing bowl and turned the mixer on low and let it combine everything together and form a sponge.  I let it sit for about another 20 minutes, just to ensure that the yeast in the starter had a chance to activate.

Next, I added the final cup of flour and let the mixer finish combining everything until it came together in a beautiful, soft dough.  I lightly kneaded it and formed it into a ball...

...then sprayed the mixing bowl and top of the dough ball with a misting of Olive Oil, covered it tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise - it was a cold day so I took advantage of the heat from our wood stove and it did an admirable job.

This was only the second time I'd made bread using my starter, but it seems to take a lot longer to rise - so be patient and be sure to allow plenty of time to let the dough do it's thing.  We were playing on Sunday this time (it was Memorial Day Weekend), so I made the dough Saturday morning and it had all afternoon to rise.  Once it had doubled in size, I divided it into 4 roughly equal dough balls, placed them in zip-close bags and put them in the fridge to hold until Game Night.

The next step was to make my favorite pizza sauce and pre-cook some sausage.  I much prefer grating cheese by hand for things like pizza, it just melts so much better, but when it comes to Game Night, minimal preparation is key for achieving maximum playing time so I purchased pre-shredded Mozzarella as well as pre-sliced salami and pepperoni.  But alas, the sourdough crust was not to be - for we ended up having more than enough flatbread for the whole group - which is just a well because taking time to roll out pizza dough when we finally took our dinner break around 8:00 pm was just not going to do....  So Memorial Day rolled around and guess who had Sourdough Pizza for dinner?  You guessed it, yours truly and hubby!  :)  Here's how it all goes together:

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board...

Top it with an even layer of sauce (Steven & I both prefer extra sauce, so ours are thick layers)...

Add salami and pepperoni...

...and any other flat toppings you prefer... those with toppings such as sausage, olives, bell peppers and onions...

...finish them off with a nice layer of shredded Mozzarella cheese...

Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and starting to turn golden brown in spots.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Do you have a Game Night or other activity you enjoy with friends?  What are your favorite foods to eat when you get together?  I'd love to hear about them!

Until next time - Ciao!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Haul: Cost Plus World Market Snacks

Do you ever feel like you're in a rut, food-wise?  I do.  Even though I love food - a good variety of food and love to cook  I have found lately that I am ready to try and experience new foods.  Not just recipes for meals, but snacks too.  I indulge several flavors and styles of chips and crackers, I love popcorn, all kinds of nuts and seeds and even though I mostly prefer to snack on salty, crunchy foods, I also enjoy cookies (rarely store-bought any more), ice cream, chocolate and few other kinds of candies.  Even so, I've often found myself completely stumped recently in the chips aisle preparing for a Gaming session with my friends, unable to decide which chips to get and completely uninspired by the choices.

Solution?  A trip to Cost Plus World Market to pick up a sampling of snacks and goodies from their grocery section!  I have recently re-discovered my love of this store thanks to my co-workers who suggested we shop for Christmas Cards there this past holiday season.  Our office is just minutes away from one of these fabulous, fun stores and I found myself wanting to spend all day there checking out the interesting snacks from all over the world.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a little time off which included leaving the office at lunch hour on a Thursday and taking the following day off as well.  The idea was to go clothes shopping, then spend the weekend with my sister getting pedicures and enjoying the last opera of the season.  I'm not a big fan of shopping for clothes for myself and I had been wanting to stop in to Cost Plus World Market to check out their snack selection again so I made that my first stop - a pre-shopping reward, you might say.

I had a lot of fun there and found so many interesting snacks and treats to try... here's the video:

I did manage to pick up some new clothes and since then I have been slowly trying each of the snacks.  So far my favorites have been the Crab Curry Thai Rice Crackers and the Coconut Candy, but I still have quite a few things to try.  Now that's my idea of shopping!  Next visit, I hope to pick up a couple of great things I saw for the kitchen.

Where do you turn to for food inspiration?  What's grabbing your attention right now with regards to food and, specifically, snacks?  Have you had any of these snacks?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  As always, please let me know if you like these types of posts/videos by commenting below, following this blog and/or subscribing to my Channel and sharing.