Eat – Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs

We all know Keri loves to eat EVERYTHING.  With carless abandon.

BUT – much like I find myself partaking in ninja-secret wee-hours workouts (if ninjas grunted and fell over a lot while working out,) occassionally I have to check myself in the feeding department.

My check of choice in the eating dept is a good old-fashioned (well, not THAT old, but still,) carb cleanse.

Out with the white and startchy junk, in with the protein and good fats and veg.

When the voice inside my head starts screaming for ice cream and french fries 24/7 – I know it is time to reset the old insulin situation in Keri-land.

Right after we were married, The Mr and I did the South Beach Diet.

It really made a difference in the way I felt, and so it is an idea I return to from time to time when the bread basket starts becoming my BFF/Worst frinemy ever.

Incidently, The Mr is NOT allowed to cut carbs ever again - he NEEDS the carbs.  The carbs (evidently) are his happy food.  During the SB Diet phase of our first married year, I looked over at him one day and realized he looked thin and angry.  We have friends who swear they will sabotage any efforts he attempts to make by sleep-feeding him bagels.   But as usual I digress.

Anyhoo – one of my favorite things to play with for easy low carb snacking is the meatball.  You can do ANYTHING with a meatball – any flavor you love translates into a meatball (aside of maybe cupcake… but that is a cakeball – and that kind of misses the point, yo.)

They are easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to pack and easy to eat warmed up or cold.

How about Keri stops blabbing and we make-a the meat-a ball-a, eh?

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 lbs ground meat – chicken, turkey, beef, whatever – but go with a lean variety or it gets a little messy

1 teaspoon each of: garlic powder, salt, pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

2 eggs

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use turkey bacon, but you do you -whatever you want)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

WHAT YOU DO:

-Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees

-In a bowl, add the eggs, seasoning, and Worcestershire Sauce to the meat:
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-Now use the best meatball mixing tools EVER – your clean hands – to mix that in well

-Add the bacon and the cheese:

-And repeat with awesome mixing tools:
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-Spray sheet pan(s) lightly with cooking spray

-Roll the meat into 1 and a half balls and place on baking sheets:
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-Bake at 375 for 22-25 minutes

-Remove from the pan to cool:
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How does Keri like to enjoy?  With pickles, of course – what is a bacon cheeseburger with no pickles?

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I get about 30 meatballs out of this, and they go right in my freezer after cooling. Then I can grab as few or as many as I need and reheat.

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Drink- Summer Jam

Patio living is in full swing at The Casa right now, and nothing says “sip me out-of-doors” like a nice fizzy drink.

Now don’t misunderstand, Prosecco is a warm weather fave of mine with no doctoring needed – but for a happy hour  hosted on the patio, this plused-up-Processo cocktail gives guests a fizzy and fun little extra something to sip on.

WHAT YOU NEED:

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-1oz Vodka (hello, Tito’s)
-1 tablespoon Orange Liqueur
-1 tablespoon strawberry jam (exact measurement not needed here – just get a spoonful)
-Prosecco

WHAT YOU DO:
In a shaker filled with ice, combine the Vodka, Orange Liqueur, and jam and shake  thoroughly.  (This is key- give it a good long shake to really break up the jam. )
Strain the mixture into a serving glass. Add processo to fill glass.

I like using a martini glass (because pretty,) but I know some will feel like the lifespan of your bubbles is affected by the glass- so a flute or a white wine glass would be lovely as well.

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From my patio to yours – cheers!

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Eat – Garlic Lemon White Bean Dip

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So “Garlic Lemon White Bean Dip” is what I call this dip, and it is also pretty close to the entire list of ingredients you need to whip it up.

Calling it “quick and easy” wouldn’t even do justice to just HOW quick and HOW easy it is .to put together(Hello, lazy person’s way to crush a pot luck contribution or last minute entertaining opportunity!)

Bonus lazy cook fact: It is good for crackers…. or any manner of veggies….  or toast up some bread, smear it on and BAM, crostini bliss.  So whatever you have in the kitchen can get served up to accompany it.

WHAT YOU NEED:
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- 1 can white beans (I used great northern, because they were in the pantry – but cannellini or navy beans would be a-ok.)

- 2 cloves garlic, ground to a paste (you could use roasted, or you can be lazy and use the squeezy tube, like Keri.)

- juice of 1/2 lemon

-  2 Tbls of extra virgin olive oil, plus additional drizzle for garnish , if desired

-minced fresh herbs or scallions for garnish (optional)

WHAT YOU DO:
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RINSE YOUR BEANS!!!  I can’t say it enough, if you used canned beans in something, rinse those puppies off!!!  I know some folks are fans of that startchy, salty, goopy liquid that they are sitting in, but in my humble opinion it is just too salty, too startchy, and takes the control for adding flavor to the beans out of my hands.  I rinse until they stop making all kinds of crazy, almost soapy looking bubbles.

Then add the beans, lemon juice (no seeds, please,) garlic, and 2 tablespooks of olive oil into your food processor and blend until gloriously smooth.
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Taste and add salt or more lemon juice if desired.

Scoop into a serving container.  If you refridgerate before serving, take the dish out of the fridge 1/2 hour before diving in so the chill can come off of the dip.

Just before serving, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and add a sprinkle of chopped fresh herb or scallions if you have some (if not, no biggie.)
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Plate it up with whatever afore-mentioned crackers, bread, or veggies you have around and marvel at dippy prowess. (Keri has long ago embraced her dippiness.  heh heh heh.)

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Eat – Bacon, Bourbon, and Blueberry French Toast Casserole

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I always loved the concept of an overnight french toast casserole – toss it all together and stow it in the fridge the night before a holiday breakfast or brunch, then just shove it in to bake the next morning while you start working on your all-important mimosa drinking family time.
Genius. Except they all seemed so sicky-sweet during Pinterest research. Not really my breckie M.O….. what’s a girl to do?

WING IT, OF COURSE!

The general concept is simple, it just needed Keri-ing up a bit.
I love bacon. I love bourbon. I think blueberries are swell and it never hurts to incorporate them into breakfast, yes? (Trust me. Yes.)

What You Need

½ cup butter 1 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons bourbon (seems sad to use such a small measuring device for bourbon)

6 oz fresh blueberries

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 loaf old French bread (a bit stale, not ANCIENT) cut into 1 and ½ inch slices (depending on your loaf, you may need extra – enough to cover the bottom of a 9-13 baking pan.)

4 eggs

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

What You Do

-Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, and then add the brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Allow the mixture to bubble and thicken, stirring regularly (don’t walk away from this, it all happens quick,) for 2 minutes.

-Remove from heat, add in 2 tablespoons of the bourbon and stir again.

- Spray the bottom of a 9”-13” baking pan lightly with nonstick spray, then pour the sugar/butter/bourbon mix into the bottom of the pan and spread evenly over the bottom.

-Sprinkle ½ of the blueberries and ½ of the bacon crumbles evenly over the mixture in the bottom of the pan.

-create a single layer of bread slices, close enough to be touching each other, on top of the blueberries and bacon you just sprinkled In the pan. (Or see note at * below.)

- in a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, remaining bourbon, vanilla, and nutmeg until completely blended.

-Slowly and evenly pour the mixture over the bread.

* Alternatively, you can dip each slice of bread before laying it in the pan to ensure even coverage, but Keri is kind of lazy.

-Sprinkle the remaining berries and bacon over the top, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

-in the morning, take the cold pan out of the fridge, set it (still covered) in the cold oven, and turn the oven to 350. Bake for 1 hour.

 

YES!  (See, I told you.)

 

 

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Drink – The Riffolver

Sometimes a household runs low on important pantry staples.

Like bourbon.

Sometimes, also, members of that household don’t communicate effectively about plans to remedy that situation before they leave the house in the morning; and then this happens:
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His and Hers Bulleit bottles. (Cute couple, aren’t they?)

Time for some new burbon cocktails, but where to go for ideas?

Hello, Google – thank you for bein’ a friend.

The Revolver was born at Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco, and it is (of course,) fantastic and totally worth making, The Booze Guru has the recipe here.

Having said that, we all know how Keri likes to completely disregard tinker with recipes.

So with apologies to the creative geniuses at Bourbon and Branch, I present the jacked up Keri version I like to call the “Riffolver” (It’s a riff on the Revolver. Get it? Well I thought it was clever, so there.)

It is bigger than the original (because that is just how we roll around here,) and the orange flavor is a bit stronger.   It is good. Like “being requested every cocktail hour by The Hub” good.

What You Need:
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3 oz Bulleit Bourbon (seriously – if this isn’t your go-to bourbon, give it a try. Lovey love love this stuff.)

1 oz Kahlua

1 capful (or tea spoon) Tripple Sec

 

What You Do:
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Add the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and shake until cold.

Strain into a cocktail glass.
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Mmmmmmm.

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Eat- Spicy Pulled Pork Quesadillas with Peach Poblano Salsa

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We all know how Keri likes it when she can mix food AND booze together, so my Southern Sloshed Pulled Pork gets made  A LOT around The Casa.

I chuckled a bit reading the recipe as written in that link, because I never just make this stuff one pound at a time these days!  I use 4-5 lbs roasts, typically, and double the seasonings (but not the Jim Beam,) in the crock pot.

Why cook so dang much Keri?

LEFT OVERS!!  I always have this pulled pork all cooked up and frozen, ready to be used in different ways.  Pre-seasoned, pre-cooked BBQ pulled pork is a great place to start for all kinds of yummieness you might never consider “BBQ” pork for.

Like what, you say?

THIS-
WHAT YOU NEED:

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Salsa:

1 small peach (or 1/2 to ¾ can peaches well drained)

1 poblano pepper roasted, skin and seeds removed (see below – it’s easy.)

Optional ground cayenne pepper

Salt

Quesadillas:

4 tortillas (I like the “fajita size” – a nice thick quesadilla is plenty filling with all of this goodness oozing out!)

4 oz shredded BBQ Pork (or other meat – 2oz per quesadilla is a good amount without being so much that everything can’t stick together well)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon cumin

¾ teaspoon chili powder

Optional diced jalapeno

1 ½ -2 cups shredded cheese of your choice (I used a combination of “casserole mix” and mozzarella

*this will serve 2 people/ make 2 quesadillas

WHAT YOU DO:

If you are using a fresh poblano, now is the time to get it roasting so you can do the other prep while it steams.  If you haven’t done this before it is super easy and makes a chile or pepper taste like heaven.  You can do it on your grill, or directly on your gas burner, but here I used a small skillet.

Heat a dry skillet over high heat on the stove, and then place your pepper on the hot surface.  Allow each side to blister and then turn to the next, until all sides are done:

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Take the skillet off of the heat, cover the pepper, and allow to steam for 10-15 minutes.  DON’T take the lid off or you will lose all of that steam!

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While you let the pepper do it’s thing, mix up your filling and start your salsa.

In a bowl, combine the pork with the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and diced jalapeno (if you want – I really like the kick and the crunch they add, you can see I used about  1/4 cup of the pickled variety, and I dice them up so they are spread out in the quesadilla.)  Mix well to combine everything with the pork and set aside.

If you are using a fresh peach, remove the skin and the pit.  Add your peach to a blender or food processor.

Uncover your pepper – the skin will be loose from the body of the pepper, so giving it a gentle rub under some cool water will remove all of that blistered skin.  It is also easy to pull the end with the stem off and remove the seeds from inside the roasted pepper.  Add this to the peaches, and blend until any large chunks are gone:

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At this point you want to taste the salsa!  (Taste when you cook!  It is the easiest way to know if you are on the right track, and plus, who doesn’t want to sample the goodness?)   If it is a bit bland (not tasting the actual flavor of the ingredients you just blended,) add a pinch of salt and give it another pulse.  (Go in small pinches, it is easier to add more than to try to offset oversalting!)   If you are looking for a little more heat, add a sprinkle of the ground cayenne (Like I did here.)

When your taste testing results in a salsa that is perfect for you, refrigerate while you assemble your quesadillas.

This isn’t rocket science, and I am not going to pretend it is.  I like to cook quesadillas on the George Foreman Grill (or a sandwich press because  OH! YOU FANCY LIKE THAT,) but if you prefer to bake, or heat in a skillet, then go for it.

What is important for structural integrity of the final product is cheese distribution, people.

Lay your “bottom” tortilla down, and start with a good layer of cheese.  On top of that spread 2 oz (half if you are making two like I did here,)  of the meat mixture evenly over that cheese.  Let some areas of cheese show through.  Then, spread another good layer of cheese over the top of that, and place your “top” tortilla on the whole thing.  Now cook.

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Cheese on both sides ensures that neither of the tortillas will go sliding around up against the filling when everything gets hot.  Allowing some cheesy areas to show through that filling layer means that the two sides will be “glued” together so it doesn’t just split in half on you when you are eating it.

It’s a science AND an art form, folks….  and I have spent years perfecting it.  It is my gift to you.

Cook 6-8 minutes until the outside gets crunchy and you can see cheese oozing on the sides.  Let it stand a minute before cutting (again, this will aid in a structurally sound quesadilla. Trust Keri.)

Serve with the salsa generously piled in a dish for dipping/slathering.  The hot filling and gooey cheese  complemented by the cool, fresh, bright flavor of the salsa make for a perfect bite.
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Hooray for the leftover pork!

 

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Eat – Mac and Cheese YOUR way – Jr’s 3rd Birthday Bash

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When it comes to hosting parties, I believe in providing options for my guests.
With a picky eater husband, I am keenly aware that, be it legit dietary restrictions or just differences in tastes, it is best to hedge bets and offer a variety when it comes to the menu for a larger gathering.

Add some kiddos to the guest list and it goes from being “good idea” to being pretty well mandatory in my mind.

I like to start with one base that everyone uses and then give options to build from there.

Nachos, Tacos, Chili, Baked Potatoes, Personal Pizzas, Big Salad….. they have all seen some action at my informal gatherings.

This year for Jr’s birthday I confess I was stumped.  It was a lunch-time shin-dig, and of late even Jr has been dipping his toe into the “toddler picky eater” waters.  What would HE eat?

Everything I thought of, I kept postscripting in my mind with “and I will make mac and cheese for the kids.”

HELLO!!!   Not AND – Mac and Cheese was the answer!

The Top Your Own Maccaroni and Cheese Bar came into being.

Perfect for all ages – simple for kiddos, with some more adventurous offerings for the grown ups who wanted to branch out.

I started (of course) with my favorite recipe for maccaroni and cheese from Ina Garten, using half medium cheddar and half sharp, and made two big pans of it (too much = always better than not enough when it comes to party food,) which I made the day before and heated up as guests started arriving.

But the fun part is the toppings!! Here is what I had, along with some other ideas

Bacon Crumbles

Green Chiles

Cherry (or diced) Tomatoes

Peas

Different Cheese shreds/crumbles – I had Blue Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Feta, and a shredded casserole mix

Mini Pepperoni
Seasoned Bread Crumbs (Good old Stove Top works GREAT for this)

Pulled Pork

Lobster

Shelled Edamame

Broccoli

Sausage Crumbles/slices

Salsa

Hot dog slices or Hot dog “Octopuses”

Grilled Chicken chunks or strips (seasoned however you like)

Fresh chopped herbs

Red onion

Pesto

Let’s be honest, that list can go on FOREVER and only get better and better, but writing it is making me crave a big plate of Mac and Cheese, and it is only 9:30 here. (Breakfast mac, anyone?)

I digress (as usual.)

It was a hit – I felt like a GENIUS – everyone loved it and even the pickiest of people ::::cough cough::: My Husband :::cough::: came away full and happy.

We all know that “full and happy” equals success to Keri.

Happy Birthday Jr -now let’s get you in the kitchen and make some delicious messes together.

 

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