Monday, July 30, 2018

Shark Attack Birthday Party

My son and his best friend both turned 12 in July an they had a joint Shark themed birthday swimming party to celebrate! Since the party was at his friend's house I was able to spend my time having fun creating the food and snacks for the boys! The big cake was pretty simple: chocolate cake with vanilla icing and a fondant shark cutout. The cupcakes were coconut cake, filled with berry jam and coconut cream cheese frosting. I used the extra fondant from the big shark and made mini shark fins for the cupcakes. For the favors I took rice krispie treats, dipped them in blue candy melts and decorated them with goldfish crackers and sprinkles.
For the snack table there was a drink dispenser with blue gatorade and mini Swedish fish frozen in ice cubes so they would float. Veggie Straws were pool noodles and Goldfish crackers and potato chips were called "Fish & Chips"
I had fun carving the watermelon and cucumber into sharks for the fruit and veggie platters and at the end of the day even the shark cucumber was eaten!
I think the best part of the whole party was the severed hands and feet floating in the pool! The kids got such a kick out of that and never stopped laughing at the "slow swimmers"
It was a great party and the kids had a ton of fun swimming!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Best of the Blog

I started this little blog in February of 2010 as a way for me to document the different cooking contests and competitions that I was either in or had won. My first few years of posts are absolutely cringe worthy and although there have been many months where this little section of my life gets completely neglected, I still keep coming back and trying again.
My daughter was one when I created this blog and I just wanted to post my kids' parties, the cakes I made them, and maybe one day they could look back at it and see for themselves how much work and love went into their events. She is now 9 years old!!
I also added very old family recipes that I just didn't want to forget. Sometimes favorite family recipes get lost forever because no one took the time to make grandma write down her recipes that she knew by heart.
This past year I have really worked hard trying to improve my recipes, photography, food styling and the number of contests I enter. My pictures have gotten better over time, but it is absolutely not where I want it to be and it's the thing I struggle with the most. In an attempt to improve even more I just applied to be a publisher on Yummly! You may notice the new cute little orange button under each blog post title now, and that's a direct link to their site. Feel free to "Yum" any recipe you like on here from now on!
Here's a direct link to my Yummly publisher's page if you'd like to follow along, save and share recipes!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Weber Winner

I've been dying to share this and I can finally say that I WON!
I am the grand prize winner of the NatureSweet Tomato-Vation Contest and I'm so incredibly grateful to everyone that voted for me through the voting round!
My Bacon Pimento Cheese Cherubs only use 4 ingredients, they're incredibly easy and cute and I'm so glad the judges agreed!
So, let's talk details.....the grand prize consists of a grilling experience for Louis and I at the Weber Grill Academy at the Weber Grill Restaurant in St. Louis, MO, travel and accommodations, one Weber Spirit II E-210 LP gas grill, and one Weber iGrill3 wireless thermometer
We've never been to St Louis and can't wait to explore a new city. I'm thinking we should go in the fall when it's cooler but other than that don't know what to do or see while we're there so leave me some suggestions!
Bacon Pimento Cheese Cherubs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped very finely
1 ½ cup pimento cheese spread, well chilled
40 Nature Sweet Cherub Tomatoes

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the panko on a cookie sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray. Toast in the oven for about 5 minutes. Watch closely to prevent crumbs from burning.  Once panko is golden and toasted, mix with the bacon and place in a small bowl.
Place the pimento cheese in a mini food processor and pulse until smooth.
Mold about 2 teaspoons of the pimento cheese around each tomato shaping it into a ball and then roll in the breadcrumb bacon mixture pressing lightly to help them stick. 
Set on a serving platter, refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until firm and serve immediately.

Just a few tips when making these: make sure the pimento cheese is well chilled when rolling and that the tomatoes are completely dry. The firmer the cheese mixture is, the easier it is to form it around the tomatoes. I did the cheese part and then plopped it on the pan of bacon breadcrumbs and had my kids roll them in that. The assembly line made it much quicker!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mexican Street Corn Burgers

Y'all know I can't help myself when it comes to Tex-Mex mash ups, right? Well, I did it again. For my 5th entry into the #RespectTheBunPromotion for Pepperidge Farm I made this stunner: The Mexican Street Corn Burger! A turkey burger patty flavored with taco seasoning, a zesty jalapeno cilantro mayo spread, bacon, creamy lime roasted corn salad and crispy corn chips all piled on a toasted pillowy potato bun!
These are the best kind of messy there is!
I mean just look at it! I was going to wait to post this tomorrow, but I couldn't. Also, have you tried the jarred mild pickled jalapenos before? They are in almost every Tex-Mex dish I make and I'm full on obsessed with them. Look for them where the olives, roasted red peppers and pickled veggies are. They just might be your new favorite too!
Mexican Street Corn Burgers
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
2/3 cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup jarred mild pickled jalapenos 
2 teaspoons juice from the pickled jalapeno jar
1 small garlic clove 

1 (11 ounce) bag frozen roasted corn and peppers
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 large lime, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese 

1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey
1/3 cup taco seasoning
2 Tablespoons olive oil

12 slices cooked bacon
1 ½ cups corn chips

6 Pepperidge Farm Golden Potato Hamburger Buns, lightly toasted

Place the cilantro, mayonnaise, pepper, pickled jalapenos and juice and garlic in a small food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Set in the fridge to chill. 

Prepare the corn according to package directions. When cool enough to handle, pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl, along with the mayonnaise, lime zest and juice, chili powder and crumbled cotija cheese. Stir together until the corn is evenly coated. 

Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, taco seasoning and olive oil until evenly combined and shape the mixture into 6 patties. Cook the patties for 5 minutes, flip and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until juices run clear.

To assemble the burgers, spread each cut side of the buns with the cilantro mayonnaise. Top the bottom buns with bacon, a burger patty, street corn salad, corn chips and burger bun tops. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 burgers.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Eggplant Parm Italian Sausage Burgers

 All the flavors of a big Italian Sunday supper loaded into a toasty garlic parmesan bread bun? Mama Mia, yes please! My Eggplant Parm Italian Sausage Burgers are absolute melty, crispy, cheesy perfection. I think Eggplant Parm might be one of my very favorite splurge meals. Biting into that crispy breaded outside, the tender juicy eggplant on the inside and then the loads of fresh herby tomato sauce and melted gooey cheese. It's pure heaven and the only thing to take it over the top is all of the crispy buttery garlic bread to sop it all up with.
 Don't you just want to dive in?! I mean look at that melting mozzarella...
Eggplant Parm Italian Sausage Burgers
6 cups vegetable oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced in ¼ inch rounds
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage 
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage 
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 Tablespoons melted butter 
8 Pepperidge Farm Golden Potato Hamburger Buns
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 cup jarred pizza sauce
8 thick slices fresh mozzarella cheese 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour the oil in a large high sided frying pan, fitted with a candy thermometer, over medium high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees.

Lay the slices of eggplant on a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Place the flour and ½ teaspoon of salt in one shallow dish, then the egg and milk in a separate shallow dish and the breadcrumbs and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt in a third shallow dish. Pat all of the liquid dry on the slices and dredge them lightly in flour, then in the egg mixture and lastly, the breadcrumbs. Once all of the eggplant is coated, fry in batches for 3-5 minutes each or until crisp and lightly browned. Allow the slices to drain on a paper towel lined cooked sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.

In a large mixing bowl mix together both sausages and form the meat into 8 patties that are the size of your buns. Heat a large cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat and once the pan is hot, cook the patties for 5 minutes, flip the patties over and cook for 3 minutes more. Top each patty with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and cover the pan with a lid to allow the cheese to steam and melt. 

Remove the eggplant slices from the oven and set the broiler to high heat.  In a small mixing bowl stir together the garlic powder and melted butter. Place all of the buns cut side up on a large cookie sheet. Brush each bun with the garlic butter mixture and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place under the broiler until toasted and lightly browned, watching closely to prevent burning. 

Once the buns are toasted, remove from the oven and top each bun bottom with a spoonful of pizza sauce, a burger patty, another spoonful of sauce, slices of fried eggplant and the toasted burger bun tops. Serve immediately. 

Serves 8

Monday, July 2, 2018

Blue Cheese Stuffed Bacon Buffalo Meatloaf

Here it is! 
My second entry for the Budweiser Sauces Ultimate Blogger Recipe Challenge-Freedom Reserve and I literally couldn't love it more. I took Budweiser Brewmasters Premium Hot Wing Sauce and made the best meatloaf that has ever been. I love Buffalo style wing sauce but I am not a fan of picking over a million tiny wings making a total mess of myself. I actually don't think I've ever seen a person eat buffalo wings and not end up looking like they need to be hosed down afterwards. And let's not even go into the blue cheese double dipping that's happening all over the place either.
Nope, I've got something better for you! A hot wing flavored chicken meatloaf stuffed with cream cheese loaded with garlic and blue cheese! The dip is already in every bite!!
And let's not forget wrapping it in bacon and basting it with more of that delicious wing sauce.
Spicy and crispy on the outside, creamy and juicy on the inside, and no need for wet naps.
I can't think of anything better!
Blue Cheese Stuffed Bacon Buffalo Meatloaf 
8 ounces room temperature chive and onion flavored cream cheese
5 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 cup garlic and herb flavored breadcrumbs
3 eggs
¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup Budweiser Brewmasters Premium Hot Wing Sauce, divided
2 pounds ground chicken
8 slices bacon

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and blue cheese crumbles. Scoop the cream cheese mixture onto a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll it into a 9 inch long log. Twist the ends closed and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, garlic, salt, and ¼ cup of the Buffalo Wing Sauce until thoroughly combined.  Gently mix in the ground chicken, being careful to not overwork the meat. Spoon half of the mixture onto a broiler pan or large foil lined cookie sheet and shape into a 9 inch by 6 inch rectangle. Place the chilled cream cheese log in the middle of the rectangle and then top with the remaining ground chicken. Using your hands, seal the edges and cover the cream cheese log in the middle of the meat. Lay bacon slices over the meatloaf, tucking the ends underneath. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and brush with half of the remaining Buffalo Wing Sauce. Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes more.  Remove from the oven, brush with the last of the remaining sauce and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, slice and serve immediately.
You can visit Budweiser to see all of their sauces and marinades here, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram
#BudweiserSauce #BudweiserBBQSauce #KingOfSauces

You can find Budweiser Sauces and Marinades at WalMart, HEB, Giant, Winn Dixie, BiLo, Brookshire and Publix

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