There’s zero cooking involved here but I was pretty into with my offerings for a charcuterie & cheese board. The reigning Queen of Cheese Boards is How Sweet Eats but here are my 2-cents. Mr. J and I enjoyed this for Valentine’s Day while the little one slept over with the grandparents. This was our meal, but now I’m itching to make one for a bigger crowd and to go all out.
Tip 1: Start at Trader Joe’s…seriously, the cheeses won’t break the bank, as in, I got 3 totaling about $12. I choose a smoked Gouda, a rosemary Asiago, and a pepper Taleggio. These aren’t widely different in texture, but we loved them. I hear Whole Foods will also cut any cheese wedge for you, so don’t get thrown by the whopping price, or if the size is too much. Maybe shoot for a crumbly, a softer, and a creamy one. I went with 2 meats, prosciutto & salami, for saltiness, fattiness, and texture.
Tip 2: Variety is important. Multiple crackers/breads keep each bite feeling different. I choose multiple briney items (olives, marinated mushrooms, pickles, pickled fiddleheads) most of which I got in small quantities from the grocery store. Then I wanted different sweet touches (strawberries & jam), courtesy of our own regular fridge. I had nuts hanging around and more crackers than I realized which was perfect for all the toppings.
Tip 3: Crowd the platter. The plethora & bounty of offerings makes an impact. A few small dishes corralled a few elements, but for a bigger group, I’d totally pile everything up and sprinkle around for color.
Pour the wine and crack into it! My kitchen island was born to host a bigger and even better charcuterie and cheese board.
I could slurp this garlic butter, but I won’t. I’ll save it for the sliders. It is so perfect with a juicy meatball, gooey cheese, and a sweet Hawaiian roll. Yesssss. We all ate these and love ‘em. I would have liked a bigger meatball to match the size of the roll, but I used frozen meatballs making this 10x faster. The rolls were leftover and hanging out in the freezer from a NYE slider bar.
I almost made the little one’s without the garlic butter. Then I stopped short, and thought: “Whattt are you doing???? You want the kid to eat all the foods, so give him exactly what the adults are having!” It might be from a running joke Mr. J has with the little one. When they couldn’t find it in the grocery store, they were saying “if you were minced garlic, where would you be?” The little one answers “no gar-ick”. He gobbled up his slider, so it was a good call to keep it the same.
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Parmesan
6 slider rolls
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Melt the butter and mix in the garlic, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and Parmesan.
Slice the rolls and spoon most of the garlic butter onto the bottom buns and bake for 10 minutes until they crisp a bit.
Warm the sauce and meatballs. Place one meatball onto each bottom bun. Ladle sauce on top of each and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Spread the remaining garlic butter onto the top buns and warm them in the oven too. Place the tops on and enjoy!
I think the rolls & the garlic butter made these sliders. The rolls soaked the butter but then crisped so the sauce didn’t make them soggy. I’m so grateful that the 2-year-old eats everything and the garlic butter was a reminder for me to keep that going. Plus, he looooves meatballs so it wasn’t a hard sell.
Gnocchi is a fav to have stashed in the freezer for speedy dinners, such as this! I made a really quick sauce and really focused on this dinner being meatless and flavorful!
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
17 oz frozen gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/4 cup chicken or veggie stock
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, until they blister and pop.
Boil salted water and add in the gnocchi. Cook until they float.
In a large skillet, melt butter and add garlic, and cream cheese to a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and add in the tomatoes and the gnocchi when cooked.
Simmer and stir in the basil. Cook for about 5 minutes to thicken and reduce a little.
Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.
I loved the slight creaminess from the cream cheese but the lightness from the broth. I think this is a good trick to keep up my sleeve!
Tip 1: use a slotted spoon to scoop the gnocchi out, then there’s no colander to clean. Tip 2: I had a bit too much sauce so I used the slotted spoon to dish the pasta so the excess sauce stayed in the pan.
I’m really only watching a superbowl for the snacks. Rooting for my home team is a perk, but the snacks, commercials, and half-time show are my focus…I mean really, I washed some dishes while they played. The little one learned to say “Go Patriots” which was really stinking cute. It was just us at home but we had festive sports snacks for dinner and I made just a few of these taco-spiced deviled eggs. I love that this is an app you can make as much or as little as you want!
I topped ‘em with some roasted corn and tomato. The filling has my homemade taco seasoning but any would work just fine.
4 hard-boiled eggs, cooled
2 tablespoons mayo
1 heaping teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Pop out the yolks into a bowl (for a hand mixer) or into a food processor. Add in the mayo, taco seasoning, and lime juice. Then blend until no lumps remain. Add more taco seasoning to taste.
Spoon into a ziplock bag into one of the bottom corners. Snip the very end and pipe into the egg whites.
Fill each yolk divot then go back and top off each egg. Then you know how much you have to work with.
Top each one with a few pieces of roasted corn and a tiny piece of tomato. (A little avocado would look good!)
Enjoy! Or refrigerate until serving!
I liked the flavor. I think I’m done with the variations for awhile. I made Sour Cream & Onion Devil Eggs then I made Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs. This was the last variation I had in mind for now.
Tis the season for all the cold-weather food. I wanted to re-do chili with a sweeter approach using some maple and sweet potato. Seriously, your next batch of chili neeeeds sweet potato. Even spicy chili benefits from a touch of sweetness and variety from the beans.
I topped it with shredded cheddar and corn chips. It was great, and ensures plenty of leftovers! I prepped and cooked it a bit one night, then cooked again when serving it. The little one was into it! He loves beans but isn’t always loving foods all cooked together. Anything served with chips is a win with him!
Ingredients: (for ~6 servings)
1 lbs ground chicken/pork/turkey (I used ground pork this time)
1 large onion, diced
1, 28 oz can ground tomato
1, 4 oz can green chilis
1, 15.5 oz can kidney beans (with liquid, I used low sodium)
1, 15.5 oz can black beans (with liquid, I used low sodium)
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tbs cumin powder
2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs black pepper
1 tbs salt
1 cup water
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup maple syrup
Brown the ground meat then drain off the grease in a large pot.
In the same pan, saute the onion until caramelized and golden brown.
Then return the meat into the pot over medium-low heat, and add in the ground tomatoes, beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, pepper, salt, water, and liquid smoke.
Cook the sweet potato, then chop and add into the chili.
Simmer over low for 30-60 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes, then refrigerated, and cooked again when serving it.)
I loved the flavors without the heat. The sweet potato makes it filling, chunky, and flavorful. It freezes well too!
January was a delightfully busy one in the kitchen! The little one turned 2! I have a 2 year old!?!? I loved all the long weekends/holidays. I had one full week. That is the way to do it! I had a serious flop for a bundt cake and will try again. Many of my weeknight meals have been quick, but I’m loving them. Can we talk about grain bowls again? Love them. I made a falafel one and an Italian one and I have so many more twists…Get. Ready.
Also, Happy new camera to me! Mr. J totally surprised me with a new one for Christmas. I wasn’t expecting it and I’m learning more and more all the time. I’m now using a Canon Rebel SL1.
I baked! Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
I’m bowl obsessed! Italian Grain Bowl
I tried a new way to cook meatballs! Crockpot Meatballs
I went out to a new-to-us French Restaurant, which was awesome! Sis and I capitalized on a weekday outing without the little ones for Shake Shack lunch & seeing the movie Hidden Figures – so good.
The Little One:
He turned 2! We had a family party with homemade pasta, meatballs, and cake-cake! He is such a happy guy. He is still sleeping like a champ and he continually makes us laugh. Lately he’s been saying his last name, and is suuuper into coloring. When he doesn’t want to, or can’t do something, he says it is somebody else’s “turn”. He is obsessed with avocado, he was into taco night, and loves anything he can dip: salsa for quesadillas, hummus for crackers, maple syrup for waffles, yogurt for cereal….the list goes on.
Year of the seasonal decor: I got this love wall decor and made a bow for an indoor wreath.
do more dinner prep more in advance: I have done this a bit, but I could keep it in mind.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I flew through Here’s to Us
cook more fish: ehh. Does a tuna melt count?
focus on clothes that I really like: I ordered a bunch of deals and then returned them. I guess that counts for not keeping clothes I don’t looooove.
monthly grocery store ingredient: I forgot. I’ll get on it.
We had a date night to a super delicious French restaurant the other night. I believe duck on a menu cannot be bypassed. I saw coq au vin on the specials and while I didn’t order it, it reminded me to make it. I also wanted to simplify it. It is a traditional and a peasant dish for the French. Any meat cooked until really tender in wine is the perfect comfort for a cool or rainy day.
I made it in the pressure cooker (in 10 minutes), but it’d be good on the stove if you have a little more time (~40 minutes).
4 slices of bacon, chopped
4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into 6 pieces
3 carrots, pealed & chopped
2 cups pearl onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 red wine
1 pint of portabella mushrooms (& tablespoon of butter)
2/3 cup marsala wine or cooking sherry
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Pan fry the bacon in a large skillet or dutch oven until crisp. Then spoon onto a paper towel and leave the bacon drippings in the pan.
Then brown the chicken on each side.
Then add the chicken, bacon, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, chicken broth, and wine into a pressure cooker (or crockpot, or into the dutch oven).
In a pressure cooker, cook on high for 10 minutes.
In a crockpot, cook for 2 hours on high.
In a dutch oven, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, saute the mushrooms in a little butter to brown.
Then add in the marsala/sherry to deglaze, scraping off the brown bits at the bottom.
Mash together the 2 tablespoons of butter with the 2 tablespoons of flour & add to the mushrooms. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken/onion/carrot mixture into the mushrooms and a few spoonfuls of the wine/broth. Cook for 5 minutes over a low simmer.
Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
I loved it. The chicken got purple-y from the wine. I don’t know how the pros avoid that, but there was so much flavor in this, I was happy to look past it. My mom makes it with white wine, which is delicious too.
Make this…just don’t use chicken breast. Don’t do it. If you do, you’ll be sad when the chicken is stringy and isn’t juicy. This is also a great use if you have old-ish wine open, or a wine you don’t love. The sauce is delightfully flavored and I liked the mushrooms to thicken the sauce just a tiny bit. Voila!
Doesn’t everyone need more tacos in our lives? I sure do. I’m not at all offended if you skip right over this and continue to buy taco seasoning. I see both sides. The major benefits to making your own is to use however much you want/need at a time- without the constraints of a packet and b) to get the flavor without so much sodium or preservatives.
In our house, we will make tacos for 2 so we don’t need a whole packet of seasoning. Then I’ll save the rest and use it maybe 2 more times. The 3rd use of the packet might mean not-quite-enough seasoning. I also seem to have quite the stash of dried spices, sooooo I didn’t have to buy any to make this. You decide.
Ingredients: (about 3 servings, roughly 2x a packet)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Measure the spices out.
Mix it up.
Taste it and adjust to your preferences. It stores well for 6 months in an air-tight container.
I go low-spice, which is also why I chop the even small amount of red pepper flakes. You can totally adjust as you like, or triple the recipe and be all set for the year!
I made an Alfredo-sauced pizza with sausage and white beans when I was thinking about something wintry and different. I chopped herbs for some peppery-freshness. It was great! What are your thoughts on white pizza? Let’s dish. I’m for it…maybe not every time, but yes, sign me up for something different every now and then.
pizza dough (I used 3/4 of a refrigerated ball from the grocery store)
1 cup alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 sweet Italian sausage links
3/4 cup white cannellini beans
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup arugula, chopped
Preheat oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400-degrees.
Roll out the dough and spread out onto a pizza stone or baking sheet. Poke some holes into the dough using a fork. Then bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned and starting to crisp.
Remove the sausage from the casing and pan fry the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Then drain from the oil.
Layer the cooked dough with alfredo and cheese.
Then sprinkle with sausage, white beans, and Italian seasoning.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust fully crisps and cheese melts. While pizza cooks, chop the arugula.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle arugula, and let set for 5 minutes before slicing.
Slice and enjoy!
I liked this one for something different. It’d pair nicely with another more traditional pizza if making a few pizzas or flatbreads. I love arugula treated as an herb. It has wayyy more flavor to me than parsley, though if you had oregano kicking around that’d be nice too!
My little one is 2 years old! How did that happen so quickly?! For his birthday dinner we made his favorites: pasta, meatballs, and cake! I made meatballs to cook in the sauce which was a first for me. I mixed them, balled ‘em up, and dropped them into the sauce to cook on their own. They were great!!
I normally like the crispy exterior of cooking meatballs, and I thought I might miss that. These turned out very juicy from cooking in the sauce. I was relieved they stayed together and would totally make them this way again. These meatballs being pork meant that there wasn’t excess oil that I’d expect if they were beef.
1 pound ground pork
3 links Sweet Italian Sausage
1 cup breadcrumbs
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup baby Arugula, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups tomato sauce
Mix together the breadcrumbs and the milk, then add all the ingredients into a bowl.
Using your hands, mix everything together until well incorporated.
Roll into balls about 1.5 inches wide. Add into a crockpot with tomato sauce.
Cook on high for 2.5 hours. Stir occasionally.
Meatballs are always a hit here. We all liked them and I’m glad to have some leftovers. These could cook on the stovetop too, rather than the crockpot. The size of the crockpot was great for 1 even layer of cooking though.