Foodie Blog Roll 2

Monday, July 7, 2014

Jack and Jerky Bouquet

I'm so excited to be able to share fun DIY project with you. If you've ever tried to make a little bouquet using liquor bottles, it can be challenging. Once the bottles are taped or glued to the sticks, they become top heavy and turn around on you. Grrrr. Sometimes DIY projects look SO easy in a picture, but once I start them, I kinda want to pull my hair out. I've got a few tricks to help those pesky little bottles stay put. No hair pulling on this project! Promise.

This "Jack and Jerky" bouquet consists of a jar of my homemade Whiskey Praline Pecans, some beef jerky steak sticks, and two different kinds of Jack Daniels bottles. You could do this with any kind of small bottles you like.

I made this for Hunter Hann and surprised him with it. He was so excited about it that he took a picture of it and texted it to a few of his friends. He said something like, "My wife is so awesome. She gets me!" To which a friend of his replied, "Apparently your wife gets me too!"

So yeah, it's safe to say that this would be a fun gift for just about any dude. Switch up the treats or the booze to customize it to your man's liking.

DIY Jack & Jerky Bouquet
- Basket or bucket
- Dry craft foam to put sticks in {usually in floral/vase department}
- Paper filler
- Small Jack Daniels or other liquor bottles
- Beef steak or beef jerky sticks
- Skinny, flat popsicle craft sticks, {5 3/8 x 7/32 x 1/16 in}
- Decorative paper straws
- Mason jar(s) for your Jack Daniels Pecans
- Hot glue gun and glue
- Ribbon or burlap to decorate {optional}

Gather up all of your goodies and fill jars with pecans or other treats. Fill basket with craft foam and arrange jars where you want them.

Squeeze hot glue on a straw, about one long and place on the back of one of the Jack bottles. Repeat with remaining bottles. Let dry completely. Put a craft stick inside straw and them arrange them by gently pushing the sticks in craft foam. These sticks will insure that the straws and bottles won't turn. 

Repeat with beef sticks, but after you squeeze the glue on the straws, let it cool for a few seconds before placing on the wrapper so it does not melt the plastic. 

Press the straw down into the grooves of the packaging to make sure it stays put. 

Place craft sticks in the end of straws and arrange in foam behind the jack bottles. Double check placement of everything before adding paper filler. 

Fill top of basket with paper filler. Add extra bottles or goodies to the base of basket. Add decorative ribbon or burlap bows to the outside. 

I love the look of the cute little straws. Use team colors or other favorite colors to further customize this gift.

"Hey Ladies!" This could be a fun bachelorette party idea too!! Use mini bottles or champagne or whatever the bride likes. And for the snack, make a batch of my easy "Tie the Knot" party mix! It has Tiffany blue pretzels and would be adorable all wrapped up! 

Anniversary, Valentine's Day, birthday, Father's Day, Christmas, Graduation, 21st birthday, whatever, this is the perfect gift.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whiskey Praline Pecans

I made these Jack Daniels pecans for my husband. Just because I love him. Ok, truth be told, it's kind of a late birthday present. Better late than never though, right?!

One of my love languages is giving people gifts. I have always loved to make little crafts and give them away. These little beauties are no exception.

One of the MANY reasons that these nuts are so super awesome, is that they are the dangerous combo of sweet & savory. So, apologies in advance for you devouring the entire batch in a week. No? Just me? Ok.

Whiskey Praline Pecans
    makes 1 pound
1 lb pecan halves {16 oz bag}
1 large egg white
2 T Jack Daniels, other Tennessee Whiskey, or Bourbon
1 T honey
1 T vanilla
1/4 C sugar + 1 T for later
1/4 brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne {optional}
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250º and line baking sheet with silicone mat.
In a large bowl, combine the 1/4 C of sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne and salt. Stir and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the egg white, whiskey, vanilla and honey. Whisk together until frothy. Add the pecans and stir to coat. With a slotted spoon, remove pecans and add them to sugar mixture, leaving extra liquid behind. Once the pecans are coated in sugar mixture, sprinkle in the remaining T of sugar, and stir. Pour pecans out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so. The pecans will be sticky until they cool. Allow to cool, then package them up all cute like.

If your man is a "Jack & Coke," or in my husband's case, a "Jack and Diet" kind of guy, please do him a favor, and make him these boozy pecans. He will thank you.

These Whiskey Praline Pecans are similar to my Cinnamon Vanilla Almonds and will be such a hit at Christmas! Package them up in cute little jars for stocking stuffers!

And hey! If you don't like whiskey {gasp!}, use bourbon. Or nothing! Just leave the booze out completely. I won't tell anyone. 

And just in case you needed another excuse to make these, how about chopping them up and pouring them in your favorite cookie or brownie batter? Or on top of some beautiful vanilla ice cream? Yeah, that's what I thought. Oh, and I apologize in advance for your house smelling ah-MAZING while these things are baking. Mmmmmmm, yum. 

And if you REALLY want to impress him, take a look at this "Jack & Jerky" Bouquet I put these in! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Grilled Romaine with Figs, Pomegranate & Chicken

This is my new favorite salad, and I have a sneaky feeling it's about to be your new favorite also!

This salad has everything you need to feel perfectly satisfied after a meal is over, with out making you feel like you need to nap the rest of the day away. Not that I've ever done that after lunch. Except for maybe twice. Maybe.

Salads have a tendency to get a bad rap for one of two reasons. The first is that it's so "light and healthy" that you are hungry with in an hour of finishing your meal. And what a terrible feeling THAT is! What's the point of eating something healthy only to scarf down a family size bag of potato chips later? This salad doesn't have that problem. It's loaded with protein from the chicken and toasted pecans to fill you up. It's also loaded with fiber from the fruits, veggies and pecans to help keep you feeling full longer. Potato chip problem solved.

The other problem with a lot of salads is that they are actually loaded with junk you don't need like tasteless croutons and greasy fried stuff. Again, not the problem here. The fresh figs and pomegranate seeds are bursting with flavor and nutritious benefits. The sweetness from the drizzle of balsamic and the tiny sprinkle of sea salt are such a lovely play off of each other, and the creamy goat cheese just sends it over the top. Like I said, who needs all that other junk?!

For this recipe, I used an indoor grill pan to grill the romaine, but they would also get wonderful flavor from the outdoor grill. So do whatever makes you happy. Or try it one way one time and the other way another time. Believe me, this salad will be a repeat! 

Grilled Romaine with Figs, Pomegranate & Chicken
   serves 2
2 hearts of romaine lettuce
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced*
4 oz fresh figs, sliced
Seeds/arils from 1/2 pomegranate
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 oz pecans, toasted and chopped
2 oz goat cheese
1 T fig balsamic, or balsamic of choice
Sprinkle of sea salt

Separate romaine leaves and place face down on grill or grill pan. Grill romaine until edges begin to wilt and get grill marks, but stems are still firm. Remove and plate. Top with grilled chicken, figs, pomegranate seeds, red onion, and toasted pecans. Crumble goat cheese with a fork and sprinkle on salad. Drizzle salad with fig balsamic, and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve.

*I have served this salad with the chicken hot off the grill, and with leftover chicken that has been refrigerated. Both ways work wonderfully because the goat cheese and red onion and pomegranate seeds are cool, but the romaine is warm. You can't go wrong either way.

What is your favorite kind of salad? Do you like fruit on your salads? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chipotle Corn and Cotija Cheese Dip

Mmmmm, sweet corn. Mmmm, cheese. Mmmmm, spicy dip.

Oh, sorry, I didn't know anyone else was here. 

For the past few years we have gotten several bags of sweet corn from Chris' family. We keep it in the freezer and thaw out a few ears at a time. For some reason, even though we have it all year in the freezer, we still eat the majority of it in the summer. I guess it's kinda of like making chili in the fall or  puppy chow in December.

Well, a few weeks ago I made a chipotle corn side dish with Mexican Cotija cheese crumbles. Wow, it was good. But the only problem was I wanted more. 

More cheese that is. 

It's salty and perfect for this dip! And the chipotle peppers? They only enhance the flavor of the cheese and the sweet corn. This smoky, spicy, cheesy dip is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Chipotle Corn and Cotija Skillet Cheese Dip
   serves 6
3 ears of sweet corn, cleaned
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1/4 tsp cumin, divided
1 T olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or grated

4 oz Greek yogurt cream cheese
1 5.3 oz container fat free, plain Greek yogurt
6 oz Cojita cheese, crumbled with a fork, plus more for topping
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped
1 tsp adobo sauce {optional}
Chips or veggies for dipping, or tortillas to eat dip in

Preheat oven to 375º. Sprinkle about 1/8 tsp each of smoked paprika and cumin on the cleaned corn. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, to char the outsides of the kernels.

Use tongs, to rotate and char all sides. Remove corn from skillet and set aside to cool slightly. Turn skillet down to medium low and add T of olive oil. Swirl skillet and add onion and garlic. Cook until softened. 
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt cream cheese, Greek yogurt and Cotija cheese. Add remaining smoked paprika, cumin, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.
Once corn has cooled enough to handle, cut kernels off with a knife. 

Add corn and cooked onion/garlic mixture to cheese mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture back into skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and starts to bubble. 

Serve with chips or veggies for dipping, or spoon some into a warm tortilla and roll up. 

This husband approved, game day dip will be THE hit at your next par-tay. And if it's not, send it over to me. I'll get rid of it for ya! 

Need another amazing corn dish?! Try my bacon-jalapeño and corn griddle cakes. They're lip-smakin' good! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tinsley Harper - 18 Months and a Surprise Father's Day Shoot

My dad recently bought an old truck for the farm. Just something to haul stuff in and tool around in and whatever else farmers do in trucks. He pulled up in it and I immediately thought "PHOTO OP!"

You know me, I can make anything a prop. Or at least I like to think so.

Plus, hello! I DO have the cutest model in the world. So that doesn't hurt either. 

Sure, she has food in her mouth half the time,

and when she doesn't have food in her mouth, it looks like she needs a piece of straw in her mouth, 

but she's probably the cutest thing I've ever seen with my own two eyes.

She's got sweet little droopy cheeks like her momma, 

the most beautiful hazel eyes, like her daddy,

and she loves the "Hot Dog Song" from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse more than anything in the world.
{Yes, she is listening to it here!}

So, while my dad was out of town, I snuck the truck and off, dressed little Tinsley up, and did a little photo shoot for him for Father's Day. I made Chris come with us to be my "photo assistant," because I knew there was a good chance that at some point, Tinsley would get cranky and need some lovies. This was so awesome because when he was "calming her down," I was still snapping the camera. And what I got was pure heaven. 

{my favorite one!}

Am I an evil genius or what?! 

So happy Father's Day to my Dad, to Chris and to my father-in-law, Tony. And a very happy 18 months to you, sweet Tinsley Harper! xoxo

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