4.14.2019

Fried Mac and Cheese balls

There is nothing better than these crispy mac balls, filled with a creamy, cheesy center. I cut my Grandma's Mac Recipe  in half, and instead of baking the mac, there are a few different steps involved. See below and comment if you try them!


Time needed: 5-6 hours

Ingredients:
*See note: Follow your favorite mac and cheese recipe or use the one linked above (as mentioned cut recipe in half and **DO NOT bake it).
4-5 eggs, beaten
2 tbs milk
2 1/2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
Canola oil, for frying
*Optional - you can serve with a cheese sauce or marinara sauce for dipping


Directions:
1. Once the cheese sauce and boiled noodles are mixed together in a casserole dish, do not bake it. Refrigerate the mac and cheese for 2 hours.

2. Once chilled, use a scooper to make meatball sized balls and place onto a baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours.

3. Beat together the eggs and milk to create an eggwash and place into a small bowl. Fill a separate bowl with breadcrumbs. Dredge frozen mac balls into egg wash, then breadcrumb. Once all balls are coated, REPEAT. The balls will be double dipped (eggwash, breadcrumb, eggwash, breadcrumb). Freeze until ready to fry, at least 1 hour.

4. Use deep fryer or large sauce pot to heat oil to 300 degrees. Fry for 7 to 8 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving.





3.04.2019

Sharon's Pistachio Cake


If you are like me, baking is not our strong suit. But this cake... this is the easiest, and most delicious, moist cake you could imagine - even my 2 year old helps me make it! My dear friend Sharon shared the recipe with me and gave permission to share with you all. Also note, this recipe could be used with many different kinds of pudding mix, not just pistachio!


*This is a mini bundt pan from Pampered chef 

Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix - I prefer Duncan Hines Butter Golden Cake Mix
1 box of Jello pistachio pudding mix (3.4 oz)
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
Optional: 1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Grease/spray bundt cake pan.

2. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix well by hand, or with stand mixer.

3. Fill cake pan and bake in oven for 50-60 minutes. (If using a mini bundt pan like the one Kora is holding, cooking time will be 40-45 minutes)

4. Let the cake cool inside bundt pan for ~60 minutes before removing.

*Sprinkle with confections sugar if you'd like!

Enjoy!




2.05.2019

Taco Twosday - Themed Birthday Party

This past weekend was an absolute blast hosting my daughter's 2nd birthday party! When I saw the theme "Taco Twosday" on Pinterest, I knew I had to do it. My daughter, Kora, loves tacos (and all food, as most know) so this was right up her alley too. Most of the ideas shown throughout my pictures, are from Pinterest. I created the menu myself using family recipes and my own. The food was easy and cost efficient, which is excellent for serving large crowds! I will explain more below under each photo, and include links to where I bought certain items! Please feel free to reach out with any questions about this party.


We baked crunchy taco shells and soft tortilla boats (if you never saw the boats, check them out). Served with a choice of my favorite taco beef, seasoned grilled chicken, or fried boom boom shrimp. Two kinds of rice and beans, white and yellow. Grandma's mac and cheese for the kids. Buying in bulk from Costco allowed for big savings on meats, cups, plastic ware etc.

These mason jars were such great condiment and topping holders! I used a step stool to display the jars, and make them easy to see and get to. We tried to include every popular taco topping: shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, red onion, tomato, sour cream, jalapenos, black olives, pineapple salsa and a variety of different hot sauces.

Using the pineapple shell as a bowl for pineapple salsa was a really fun presentation! You can find the salsa recipe here: Pineapple Salsa 

Kids drink: Cactus Juice! Green berry Hawaiin punch in a two tier dispenser. Ice is held below the juices to keep them cold. You can switch tiers or even fill them with two different kinds of drink.


Tons of invitation ideas on Etsy! Our specific invite was made by TheOliveCorgi on Etsy and then I used Vistaprint to have them printed and shipped to me with envelops.

Using a chalk board display allows you to get creative. In this case, I used it for our taco bar, letting our guests know to dig in! I used liquid chalk markers, and also use this menu board for our dinner planning each week.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me how easy these balloons were?! Each letter comes with a straw to blow in and fills up within seconds. They also self seal! String was supplied to hang the letters up (each letter had holes cut on the top and bottom for hanging). I will definitely use these types of balloons again for our next event! I purchased these at PartyHaus on Etsy.
If you notice, I used mini sombreros to hold food name tags! That wasn't my intention for the sombreros when I purchased them, but I really loved how it looked!


Another Pinterest find... Using cans for flower vases. I wish I had a big Goya can leftover but these did the trick! These gorgeous roses were so cheap at my local grocery store. Adds some color.

Extra party sombrero laying around? Use it to hold your plastic ware! I purchased "Let's taco bout a party" napkins on Amazon and just rolled the forks and knives in them.


Brown paper bags to hold the chips - Creative and easy cleanup! I cut them down a bit and folded them over. These bags were also used for the kids goodie bags - markers don't run through and fun decoration ideas on Pinterest. The orange guacamole bowl is a garlic grating bowl from IseeSpain - they are absolutely gorgeous, and hand painted!


A local friend made this incredible, most delicious cheesecake on earth. 
She decorated the taco and ribbons around the cake. The hand made cake topper 
with the word "two" is from BellsNBerries on Etsy.

For goodie bag treats, we had a pinata (open by pulling strings, instead of hitting with an object), so kids filled their bags up with the pinata goodies, and I also gave each child a taco plate. They came in 6 different colors and came in sets of 6. I had 12 kids so purchased two sets. They are really awesome and well made! 


It is safe to say that Kora had a blast turning 2 years old! We may even stick with the same type of theme next year... Adios Dos?!

1.25.2019

Chicken Katsu


As a younger girl, I would beg my parents to take me to the local sushi restaurant so that I could order their chicken katsu (explained on the menu as a deep fried chicken cutlet with katsu sauce and a dollop of spicy mustard). I was the pickiest eater as a child, but I absolutely loved this dish to no end! While pregnant, I happened to find myself in the same restaurant, and to avoid ordering the sushi, I ordered the Chicken Katsu. It was just as delicious as I remembered!
I did some research online and found a Tonkatsu sauce by Bull-dog that had excellent reviews, and randomly took my chances on a Japanese hot mustard paste. I have to tell you, they were both amazing and tasted just like the restaurants! There are also many easy recipes out there to make your own Katsu sauce, which I will include below in the ingredient list.


Ingredients:
2-3 Chicken breasts, sliced in half and pounded thin
1 1/2 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, whisked
Salt, pepper to taste
Katsu sauce (store bought is fine or make your own by mixing together 4 tbs worcestershire sauce, 2 tbs ketchup, 1 tsp soy sauce) *amazon link below for brand I used
Hot mustard paste *amazon link below
Olive oil for frying
*Serve over white rice or with vegetables

Directions:
1. Heat oil in large fry pan on medium-high heat

2. Season egg wash with salt and pepper. Dip one cutlet at a time in egg wash, then panko breadcrumbs, egg wash again, and panko breadcrumb again. This is a double dipping process to allow the chicken to have a crispy breaded crust.

3. Fry the chicken cutlets for 2 to 2/12 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

4. You can either drizzle the katsu sauce on the chicken or place in a small bowl for dipping. Add a drop of hot mustard paste to the katsu sauce for a spicy kick!







12.08.2018

Simmered Pork Chops

I remember the first time my mom made these pork chops for my husband... he went insane over them! Said they were the best pork chops he's ever had, and from then on it was always his request meal from my mom. I finally.... and I mean FINALLY... asked her for the recipe. Not because I don't love them too, but it is not a meal I can make during the week being it needs to simmer for two hours. So now, that I have the recipe, it's become a common weekend meal for us. My mom jokingly said, "does this mean I'm not going to see you guys as often, now that you know how to make them yourself?"

Serving: 4
*Cook time over 2 hours

Ingredients:

1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
4 bone in pork chops
2 tbs olive oil
Onion Mushroom Lipton soup packet
1 cup of water
1 cup of white wine
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup of carrots, chopped into thirds
* I serve with roasted potatoes


Directions:

1. Fill large zip lock bag with breadcrumbs. Wet pork, and place into zip lock bag to cover fully with breadcrumbs. Do for each chop.

2. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in large pan (you will need a cover for it), and sear pork chops for about 2-3 min each side until browned. Add shallots into pan and cook for another minute.

3. Fill large measuring cup (or bowl) with soup packet, water and wine. Mix together and pour into large pan of chops. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add carrots and simmer for an addition hour.


11.16.2018

Mexican Style Zucchini Boats


A new "Taco" Tuesday idea? Low carb, fresh & delicious! When I decided to finally try these, my husband said, "are you sure that is going to be good?" I love zucchini so I had no doubts.. but he definitely was weary about trying them. One bite, and he was hooked.

See below for my spicy taco meat recipe, but the option of a sausage & pepper mixture, ground turkey, or shredded chicken all work in these zucchini boats! If you do make the Mexican style, try adding toppings such as sour cream, jalapeños, sliced olives, pico de gallo & more!


*TIP: You want to use LARGE zucchini if possible! They are sort of a pain in the butt to scoop out but it goes quickly. You want the zucc to really cradle the meat (or filling) for maximum flavor.


Servings 4-6

Ingredients:

3 large zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, and scooped out leaving about 1/2" layer (remove stems)
1 lb chop meat
1/2 cup salsa (I use chipotle corn or a medium chunky style)
3 tbs taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shredded cheese and more to sprinkle on top
1 tbs sriracha
salt/pepper
Chopped chives for garnish


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. In a large pan, brown beef on medium high heat. Once browned, drain fat/grease from meat and pat dry. Place beef back into the pan.

2. Lower heat to low. Add salsa, taco seasoning, water, cheese, & sriracha. Mix well and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the zucchini on the sheet. Fill each zucchini up with meat mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender (depending on size of zucchini - I cook larger ones closer to 20 minutes).

Garnish with freshly chopped chives & enjoy!




 My daughter approved!

Chicken Fantasy


One of the most popular chicken recipes in my family! It was found by my mom in the local newspaper over 20 years ago! She made it on a whim and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was! Now, at family gatherings it is usually present by the request of everyone! If you decide to try it, you most likely will make it again and again!



Serving: 4

Ingredients:
2-3 chicken breasts, sliced thin into 6 to 8 pieces
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups of seasoned breadcrumbs (I mix panko and regular together)
Olive oil for frying
5-6 slices of muenster cheese
2 tbs butter
1 oz fresh basil
3 scallions (or 8 chives)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5-6 garlic cloves
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken broth



Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Dip chicken cutlets into egg wash, then breadcrumb and set aside on plate.

2. On medium-high heat, heat oil in large sauté pan. Fry cutlets until golden brown but do not cook all the way through (since they will be baking in the oven after). Depending on thickness, I fry for 1 to 1 1/2 min on each side.

3. Place cutlets in a casserole dish (the foil ones are great), in a single layer. Top with muenster cheese.

4. Rinse basil & scallions, and place into food processor with garlic cloves. Blend into a mixture.

5. In a medium pan, melt butter and cook basil mixture for a few minutes on medium heat. Add in mushrooms and sauté for 7-8 minutes until golden in color.

6. Add in wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in chicken broth and continue to heat to a simmer.

7. Pour sauce into chicken dish and bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees.

I serve this chicken with one of the following: couscous, roasted potatoes, brown rice, or a veggie.





Of course, it's always nice to taste some of the wine you are cooking with ;)



11.01.2018

3rd Annual Blind Wine Tasting Party 2018

Every time I post about our annual blind wine tasting party, the questions are endless!
  • How does it work?
  • Do you supply the wine?
  • What kind of cheeses do you get?
  • Do you rinse cups between tastings?
  • How much should each bottle cost?
  • Etc., etc., etc.
Quick rundown: I invite between 12-20 people. Each couple is asked to bring one bottle of wine (not per person, just per couple), of their choice. It can be a white, red, rose, something that they love, something they've never had, something cheap, something fancy. We ask that whites and roses are brought cold, and reds at room temperature. We all do a tasting from each bottle, and rate them using score cards. After a winning bottle (accumulated by most points) is chosen, prizes are given out by the hostess. All of this takes place around an endless array of cheeses, crackers, meats, fruit, nuts, and more.

I am going to share as many details as possible. This year we kept the party a bit more intimate by having less people (less bottles to rate), and it turned out to be a BIG hit! Let me start with decor. I decided to move our usual summer gathering to autumn, which we found to be a lot more cozy and beautiful. I put out all my autumn decor (pumpkins, candles, red/orange/yellow tablecloths and little  home stuff) which really set the mood. The weather was crisp, which allowed us to use our warm heater on the deck, under the cafe string lights.


Bags & glasses: Labeled paper bags with tissue paper are kept by the front door, to allow guests to hide their bottles upon arrival. These bags are labeled A through H (or more if you have more bottles). Luckily, we own about 30 stemless wine glasses, so I clean them all the day of the party (those glasses get dusty sometimes) and purchased wine glass pens in order to write names on each. In each glass is a score card and rating system chart, plus a cup full of pens/pencils for filling the cards out.



Pour system: Next, we made my husband the designated pour guy! Next year we spoke about doing a flight style, this way people can drink at their own pace. Anyway, Kevin walks around and pours a little into each glass for a tasting, again with the bottle being hidden by the tissue paper. After about 5 minutes, everyone rinses out there glass quick in the sink, and we pour the next round. We like doing a max of 8 bottles because it lasts about 1 hour, and gives a nice variety of different wines before they all start tasting the same!

Once all the bottles are rated, I add up each letter. The bottles never leave their designated bags so we can keep track of which bottle is which. Which ever bottle wins, I give out a small prize. Other prizes were given for guessing how many corks in a jar, and winner of a food trivia game.


Winning bottle: In this case, the below bottle was letter D and won by major points! My friends, Arielle & Bryan, bought this bottle after tasting it in the liquor store (they were having some tastings that day). It was only $8! This is the second time that the cheapest bottle of wine won with the most points! The coolest thing about this particular bottle, is that you can download an app for it. When you point the camera at the bottle (through the app), the man on the bottle starts moving and talking to you. They are supposedly real criminals and tell you what their crimes were! Bottle is called 19 crimes, and was a delicious red.


Cheeses: This can be overwhelming because there are soo many to choose from! My local cheese shopped helped me pick a variety of cheese, and we saved the more common cheeses to purchase at costco. Some specialty cheeses we got included a bay blue cheese, bella vitiano merlot, pecorino tartufo (truffle), cranberry walnut, creamy brie, and more. From costco, we had goat cheese, asiago, manchego, garlic herb, smoked gouda, mozzarella and french swiss.

Meats / nuts/ other: At costco, we purchased a big box of mixed crackers. I bought small bags of chocolate - some dark, some milk - and placed them into little bowls. At the local grocery store, we grabbed some different meats & nuts. This included pecans, peanut mixes, cashews, peppered salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, olives and also some dried apricots. Picking up some grapes for the table always adds some sweet freshness, and they look pretty!


Infused Oils & Balsamic: Besides the cheese, my favorite part of the table is the bread cubes and infused oils & balsamic. We have a local shop that sells them and they are always the biggest hit of the party! Garlic infused olive oil, and Fig balsamic are two of the most popular. Serving something different like this, in addition to a cheese board, brings unique tastings and conversations. If you don't have a local shop like this, you can order online here.


This year, we also served beef & turkey burgers along with homemade bacon mac and cheese (to stick with the cheese them, of course). Some other pics from the party below. Any questions please feel free to comment! If you'd like a copy of the score card or rating system you can email me at kissmyapron@aol.com.





                                                                   Individual cheese boards from Qualtry.

Bacon mac & cheese recipe, just add crispy bacon into the cheese sauce before baking!