Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

Bacon? Good.
Cream cheese? Good.
Fresh jalapeños? Good.

Put them all together and you get a treat for your taste buds that will have you shoving these babies in your mouth as fast as you can chew. I’m not kidding. My husband and I devoured 24 of these tongue-tantalizing morsels last night and are both seriously considering making them again for dinner tonight. We cannot get enough of them.

Almost as good as they taste is how easy they really are to make. Three ingredients. A small amount of prep work. One awesome appetizer that you will love making for yourself or for a crowd.

Apparently eating them was more important than taking a decent photograph.

Obviously eating them was much more important than taking a decent photograph.

Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

Ingredients:
Fresh jalapeños*
1 block of cream cheese
1 pound of bacon

*Each pepper will make two appetizers. I usually grab 10–12 whole peppers for my and my husband’s voracious appetite. Twelve to twenty—depending on the size—will accommodate the other ingredients no problem.

Directions:
Cut the top off each pepper and then cut the pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds.
Spread cream cheese in each pepper half.
Wrap with 1/2 to 1 whole slice of bacon (depending on how large the pepper is).
Bake in oven on a rimmed cookie sheet at 425°–450° for 20–25 minutes or until bacon is cooked and crisp.

I recommend draining briefly on paper towels to remove a bit of the excess grease from the bacon. Serve warm and enjoy the tasty goodness!

Entrees, and Salads, and Sides, Oh My

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That hot mess is just a portion of the many loose recipes I have floating around my kitchen. Entrees, desserts, cocktails, salads and more all mixed together in a pile that mocks me every single time I try to find a recipe. Not to mention the countless recipes in there that I have yet to make. The “oooh, that sounds good, I’ll print that out and make it later” recipes.

The madness must stop.

So…I’ve decided to try and organize that debacle into something a little more manageable. Ideally they end up in a neat 3-ring binder organized by sections. But let’s face it, I’ve been meaning to organize that folder full of recipes since I was pregnant with G-tot and he is four now. I wouldn’t hold your breath that it will be done anytime soon.

I have, however, started the process. Over the last week or so I have sorted every one of those recipes from that raggedy folder into manila folders organized by types of food.

2011-04-09OMG, this was time consuming.

They will probably be in that state for awhile.

Along with organizing them I’m going to try making some of the recipes that have never graced my stove top before. As I was sorting the recipes I was practically drooling over the possibilities my palette has missed out on.

The cocktails section will sadly have to wait until September.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

One of my favorite things about Halloween time is roasted pumpkin seeds. Year after year I sort all the seeds from the goop we pull out of our pumpkins before they get carved up into scary/funny/wicked awesome jack-o-lanterns. It’s a tedious process but roasted pumpkin seeds are a must have and homemade ones are infinitely better than the over-salted variety you find at the store.

My pumpkin seed recipe has been the same for years. And it is a good one. The only thing that keeps me from inhaling them all the moment I pull them from the oven is the idea of running out of them too soon.

If you haven’t carved up your pumpkins yet do yourself a favor and save the seeds when you do. Then try this recipe. You’ll be glad you did.

2010-10-28_17-07-18_757Preheat the oven to 250°.
Rinse the seeds in a colander. It’s okay if there are still some pumpkin guts in there. Pumpkin = Flavor

2010-10-28_17-08-59_490Spread the seeds and bits of guts onto a baking sheet. I recommend one with a lip around the edge so you don’t lose any of the precious seeds when you stir them later. Toss them in the oven for 10–15 minutes to dry them a tad.

2010-10-28_17-12-49_487Grab the other ingredients. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and REAL Butter. Don’t go generic on the salt and don’t use margarine. Trust me.

2010-10-28_17-32-33_488Top the pumpkin seeds with several pats of butter and sprinkle somewhat generously with the seasoned salt. The warm/semi-dry seeds will melt the butter. Stir it all up to coat all the seeds and toss it back in the oven.

2010-10-28_17-33-21_79Bake for 45–60 minutes stirring and checking every 15 minutes or so until the seeds are golden brown.

2010-10-28_18-54-10_22Enjoy and try not to shove them all in your mouth at once.

Apple Crisp

Now that the weather is cooling down, I have decided to start baking more often. I LOVE cooking but baking isn’t something that I do too often.  Ideally I want to bake something every week during the Fall and Winter season—which is LONG here in Ohio—but we’ll see how that pans out. So far I’m doing pretty well and in the past several weeks I’ve made cut-out cookies, chocolate chip cookies, white bread, and banana bread twice. Side note: Ramp up the exercise to offset all this deliciousness.

Last night I made Apple Crisp with fresh whipped cream. I shared a picture on Twitter and Facebook and the response was super positive. So I thought I would share the recipe. After all, it is the perfect time of year for warm apple crisp with a nice cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk.

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Apple Crisp

8 medium sized tart apples
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 stick (8 TB) cold unsalted butter

Peel, core, and cut apples into one inch chunks. Spread into a 2 or 3 quart ungreased baking dish (2 may be a little small depending on the size of the apples).
Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Cut butter into dry mix using a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands being careful not to to over-mix the butter—it should resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
Scatter topping over the apples. Tap dish once or twice on counter to settle crumbs a little.
Bake at 375° for 50–55 minutes (topping will be golden and apples will be tender when tested with a fork).

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream

Whipped Cream

Beat 1/2–1 cup cold heavy cream in a cold bowl with cold beaters until the cream thickens and forms stiff peaks. Cream will about double in volume.

*This recipe is from The Joy of Cooking—one of my much loved and very worn cookbooks.

BlogHer 10 and New York–Day One in Pictures

We made it to New York just after 1o a.m. on Wednesday morning. And with the exception of almost hurling in the cab—twice—on the way over the trip in was good. Even better was the fact that my non-roommate-having-no-bed-bugs-king-sized-bed-room was READY when we strolled into the Hilton New York at 11 a.m. Four hours before check-in. So my room became the luggage holding area for a couple of awesome ladies and we hit the pavement to check out the city.

After the hour and a half drive to the airport, the flight, and the cab ride all within 4 hours I was so done with transportation that wasn’t on foot. So we walked. The 90°+ weather in 100% humidity really only meant I’d need a second shower that day. No biggie.

We went to the ultra-charming Serendipity for lunch. A venture which would not be complete without Frozen Hot Chocolate.

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And saw love on Madison Avenue.

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Then I napped and showered before a night out with a friend I’ve known online for four years. We met in person for the first time in the lobby of the hotel that evening. I hugged her hard like an old friend. Twice. Bear hug style.

The two of us chatted without any awkward lulls over delicious Cuban food from Guantanamera. Things like chorizo with plantain chips, shrimp with yellow rice and veggies, and sangria were just as delicious as the conversation.

Then we walked down Broadway to Times Square.

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I could not stop singing George Benson. Complete with jazzy hand gestures. I’m not sure Whoopi was that impressed.

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When we had enough of walking amongst the crowd we hopped on the subway and went to the Trailer Park Lounge in Chelsea.

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The Trailer Park Lounge was just as spectacular as it sounds. Margaritas and kitsch. Mannequins. Tater tots. Moon Pies. Elvis.

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And just like that, Wednesday was over. We took the subway back to 57th and I parted ways with my old friend. Then I walked 4 blocks back to the hotel alone with a huge smile on my face. I knew in that moment that the weekend was going to be one I would never forget.

You know taquitos that are half scalding and half frozen taste like crap too

I kind of want to give up the microwave.

To slow down. To stop scorching canned vegetables in old Tupperware containers. And for the love of all things good in the world, I want to stop reheating my coffee and just drink it while it’s hot.

Do you know how horrible reaheated coffee is?

There was a time in my life when I would dump the cold stuff in the sink before I would even consider nuking it. And now look at me.

Enough with the microwave already.

So I want to try to give it up for a week or two. Or many.

And not just say I’m going to do it. Because there is no way I’m going to be able to just say it and make it happen. I need to unplug it. And make it inconvenient to plug back in Like maybe remove it completely out of the kitchen.

I obviously have extraordinary willpower.

But let’s face it, EVERYTHING tastes better NOT made in the microwave.

Popcorn. Holy crap, fresh made popcorn blows microwave popcorn away with its awesomeness. We have cut off all ties to the microwave with our kernels. Plus, the kids will be wowed with their magical popping goodness properties.

Anything that is supposed to be crunchy tastes better not microwaved. Fries. Fish sticks. Pizza Rolls. That crap food deserves its 15 minutes in a real oven.

I’m just not sure I can wait that long.

I have no idea what the pineapple is supposed to represent

Last night JQ played a gig at the Village Idiot and while enjoying the music, the company, and a libation or two my buddy Phil leans over to me and says, “I invented a new drink.”

When I looked down at his glass I saw what looked like the drink that I already most associate with him—a screwdriver neat. The “neat” part is the key component of the drink that screams Phil. Neat = No Ice. Which, while not watered down, always makes me think not cold.  And I don’t know too many people that take their cocktails neat.

So, while this drink in front of my buddy looked EXACTLY like the drink he has been drinking for YEARS, his claim of inventing a new drink piqued my interest.

“It’s called a Phillips Screwdriver.”

Clever? Perhaps. Lame? Totally. Should have I expected anything less from my friend? Never.

Just what is a Phillips Screwdriver?

It’s a screwdriver NEAT with a splash of pineapple.

Sounds pretty good to me. And simple enough. But the best part were the next words that came out of Phil’s mouth.

You see, my friend doesn’t really do the whole social media thing. Sure, he’s on Facebook but only after being pressured into it. Plus, I think the ONLY thing he does on there is play a game or two. He never even updates his status. He doesn’t do twitter. And blogging? Forget it. He does not “get” the whole blogging thing and is completely fine with that.

So when he looked at me half jokingly and said, “I expect to see this on the blog.” I couldn’t help but smile.

I also couldn’t deny him that honor.

Go have a Phillips Screwdriver. And tip your glass to my friend Phil while your at it.

Tossing the Salad Meant Something Completely Different at the Fair that Day

Having lunch alone today at Sori Sushi. I’ve probably ordered enough sushi and gyoza for two. That doesn’t surprise me, I’ve never really been good at moderation. Especially when it comes to food. Which is part of the reason I chose to sit at a table instead of at the counter.

This is the first time I have eaten here alone. Normally I would just get carry out and eat in my office. Not today.

Today marks the first day of exam week and I needed to GET OUT OF THE OFFICE.  It’s the only way I can eat in peace. To not have every other bite interrupted by a student with some sort of issue. Plus, I love the hot matcha tea and the tiny appetizer of cukes and crab with the sesame ginger dressing they serve when you dine in. You can’t get that in a carry out box.

There is a little girl sitting one table over. She has pigtails and is wearing a cute blue dress with big white and yellow flowers along with yellow leggings and pink flowered tennis shoes. She can’t be more than three or four. And she is eating sushi.

That makes me smile.

It also makes me wish G-tot was with me.

And it makes me glad I didn’t get carry out.

Even with the quaint perfection of Sori’s today, I want to learn how to make sushi at home. I wonder if it will taste as good as it does out?

Like salads. In my opinion, salads NEVER taste as good when I make them at home as they do when I get one in a restaurant.

Is that just me?

I think it has something to do with the cold crispness factor of the lettuce. And the salad dressing.

Especially ranch.

I just cannot eat most store bought ranch dressings. I haven’t been able to for over 2 decades.

I blame an unfortunate accident on the Ocean Motion at the county fair many many years ago.

If it had only stopped a minute sooner.

BBQ Chicken Meatloaf

Earlier this evening I twitpic’d a picture of the homemade mac & cheese with bacon and Vidalia onion I made for dinner. My buddy said I was making him hungry so naturally I had to pour salt in the wound of his empty stomach by mentioning the BBQ chicken meatloaf I was making along with it.

And then came the requests for the recipe.

So here you go.

Keep in mind this is a slow cooker recipe but can easily be adapted to the oven if you don’t give yourself enough time to cook it in the slow cooker. Which is what happened to me today.

Barbecue-Glazed Turkey Meatloaf
*taken (and slightly adapted every time I make it) from the WW Everyone Loves Chicken cookbook*

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey breast (I’ve also used ground chicken)
1/3 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard (I’ve also used Dijon mustard and honey mustard with a bit of horseradish)

  1. Fold a piece of foil slightly longer than your slow cooker (or loaf pan if doing in oven) in half lengthwise. Fit into the bottom and up side of slow cooker. This makes a handy method of removing the loaf when finished.
  2. Mix turkey, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, egg, oregano, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Use your hands. Seriously. Shape mixture into a loaf and place in slow cooker or loaf pan.
  3. Cover slow cooker and cook until meatloaf juices run clear and thermometer reaches 165°. About 3–4 hours on high or 6–8 hours on low. OR…bake in the oven at 350° for about 45 minutes.
  4. Combine ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a small bowl. Spoon over meatloaf. Cover slow cooker and cook about 30 minutes longer. (If baking in a loaf pan in the oven cook another 15 minutes. Uncovered.)

That’s it.

Pretty easy right?

Enjoy!

Go Ahead, Give Them a Squeeze

The juicer.

I think I’m in love.

Maybe it’s just lust.

No, really.

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We got the juicer a month ago as a gift from my dad and stepmom. Not something that we would ever ask for or buy for ourselves, but OH MY HELL is it awesome. It really does make the best juice I have ever had.

I think it is trying to seduce me.

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It may be in cahoots with that bottle of wine.

Either way it’s working. Now I’m craving juice.

Did I mention how freakin’ delicious this juice is? It makes the pain in the ass job of cleaning the juicer totally worth it.

Plus it’s really pretty.

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That gorgeous concoction is our favorite blend right now. We like drinking it out of those jelly jars with lots of ice. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be a little rum. Or maybe tequila.

And the nutritious value has to be off the charts. Check out what we put in it.

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1 apple (we have used Fuji, Gala, & Granny Smith)
1/4 to 1/2 pineapple
3 oranges
1/2 lime

No wonder my body craves it. Especially after subsisting on coffee and blocks of cheese for so long.

I bet my colon is in heaven.