Back East with Tacos

I gotta hand it to all you mom bloggers out there.  Where the hell do you find the time to blog?  I’ll admit it, I’m lazy, by the time everything is said and done for the day, it’s 9:00pm and I’m exhausted and want nothing more than to sit my ass on the couch and watch mindless television.

Anyway, here I am again, making an effort to keep up with the blogosphere and post more than once a year.  WE HAVE MOVED.  AGAIN.  Whew……… I’m tired.  This was no regular move.  When Tony and I relocate, we RELOCATE.  We have come back to the East Coast y’all!  We left Los Gatos, CA on January 5 and now reside in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Let’s hear it for New York!  I have to say, I was sad to leave Los Gatos.  It is the only place in California I would ever consider living again.  And the year round Farmers Market was awesome, with a street taco stand that I lived for.  I miss street tacos already.  Therefore I’ve decided to share a glorious recipe I found on Pinterest……. We knew that coming back East was what we wanted to do, so my husband accepted a new position within his company in Malta, NY.  It’s so much closer to my beloved Virginia and I don’t feel like I live in a foreign country when it comes time to visit.  We are insanely happy to be here.  It is cold and it snows just about every damn day, but I flipping love it.  This photo of my front yard was taken the day before the first day of spring.  We got about 8 inches.  That’s normal for March.  Normal.

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We bought an older home on 4 acres in the country, just outside of town.  This old house is crazy and needs a ton of work, which has inspired a new category to Jen Loves Food.  Jen (Hates) Loves House.  Here I will document the never-ending list of projects to be done in order to make this place what I want.  If you are looking for a home design blog with lots of fancy and trendy decor ideas and tips, look away.  I am an amateur and I am on a budget.  However, I have a very handy husband who can do most of the work that needs to be done and I’d like to think I have pretty good taste. So check it out if you have the mind to.  Moving on…..

And now on to some food.  Here is a recipe I found on Pinterest and I think everyone should know about it.  Slow cooker beef tacos.  I’m obsessed with tacos y’all and these are delicioso!  The beef is so tender and juicy and shreds easily with a fork and the flavor is subtle but wonderful, not at all like a taco seasoning packet.   And the best part is that this recipe is honestly the easiest slow cooker dish you will ever make.  It takes less than 5 minutes to put it in the slow cooker.  It takes longer to prepare the accompaniments at the end of the day.  See my suggested list of accompaniments below the ingredients, however, dress your tacos as you deem appropriate.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos from Cooking Classy

Ingredients

  • 1 (2.5 lb) chuck roast
  • 1 (14 oz) can beef broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime

Serve with

  • Corn tortillas
  • Flour tortillas
  • Diced white onion
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Black beans
  • Rice
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Cotija cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce
  • Freshly squeezed lime
  • MARGARITAS AND MEXICAN BEER

Directions

  • In a small bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place roast in a slow cooker, pour beef broth over roast then squeeze with fresh lime juice. Sprinkle roast with spice mixture. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat 8-10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker, shred beef (remove fat) and return shredded beef to slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook additional 30 minutes. Remove beef from slow cooker with tongs to remove juices when plating or drain in a colander. Serve with desired toppings.

Notes:

When using corn tortillas for tacos, remember to steam them first, otherwise they’ll break apart and not taste as good.  I wrap a stack in a few damp paper towels and microwave for about 2 minutes.  You can also fry corn tortillas in vegetable oil to make them into hard shells.  My husband is an expert at this.  Me, not so much.  I dress my tacos very simply.  I usually only put the beef, cilantro, onion and hot sauce or salsa  on mine and sometimes a little cotija.  That’s how the “street” tacos are usually served.  It tastes extremely fresh and authentic.  I save all the other stuff like avocados and sour cream for the burritos.  We use large flour tortillas to make burritos.  If you can’t find cotija cheese, as I can’t find it up here, you can substitute with feta.  Cotija is just a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese, very similar to feta.  Let’s hear it for tacos!

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Best-Ever Marinara and the Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project

Clay and Zach over at The Bitten Word put their readers to work this month by asking for help in making every single recipe in 6 food magazines for their Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project.  These guys are ambitious!  Those of us who volunteered were given an assignment.  My assignment?  Best-Ever Marinara from October’s issue of Food & Wine.  This made me laugh, one of my first posts was about an unbelievably beautiful and long simmering marinara recipe, a marinara that is still highly coveted by my husband.  So here I am again, making another marinara recipe and blogging about it.  Anything for The Bitten Word.  I’m not worthy!

Fortunately for me, this marinara took only a fraction of the time to make than Tony Ciccone’s simmering 4 hour masterpiece.  And that’s the great thing about this recipe.  It is incredibly easy!  Just look at the ingredients!  You probably have most of it in your pantry already.  I sure did!

The end result?  Pretty darn delicious.  Although canned tomatoes are used, this sauce tastes fresh and flavorful and would pair nicely with a number of pasta dishes, especially pasta stuffed with cheese.  Yummmmmm…….  I wish I had taken the time to make stuffed shells or even Tony Ciccone’s meatballs with fresh fettucine.  But alas, I was short on time, so I used a spinach and cheese ravioli I found in the deli section at the grocery store.  Still quite tasty.  Since it’s such an easy recipe with few ingredients, this marinara is perfect for a weeknight pasta dish.  I simply froze the leftover sauce.

Best-Ever Marinara from the October 2012 Issue of Food & Wine

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 peeled and halved garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 35-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes (I couldn’t find a 35-ounce can. I used 1 28-0unce can and half of a 14.5-ounce can)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 basil sprigs

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and crush them with the back of a spoon; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the sugar and basil sprigs and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic.

Best-Ever Marinara with Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

I can’t wait to see this picture on The Bitten Word, y’all!

Kick Ass Crab Cakes (with Sunchokes and Broccollini)

It’s been too long, I know…………. I’m lazy and I procrastinate.  Moving on…….

It is no secret that I thoroughly hate Dungeness crab. Californians love it and often make fun of the East’s blue crab because of its size. I shouldn’t say Californians, really, it was my husband’s grandma, who also chastised the entire cuisine on the East Coast, saying it was bland.  I almost choked on my tongue……the nerve of this woman.  I have yet to get over that.  Anyway…….the Dungeness crab is huge, it’s true, compared to our little guys that fill the Chesapeake with the sweet flavor that is blue crab. There is nothing like it and my crab cravings will only be satisfied by it.  Since my bff Sarah, who lives in Richmond, was flying out to see me in CA (over a month ago), I asked her to fly with a pound of glorious jumbo lump crab meat from P.T. Hastings.  I promised to make her my kick ass crab cakes the evening she flew in to welcome her to the West…..with an East Coast dish.  Whatever…….I’m pregnant, I can cook what I want.

Crab Cakes

1 lb jumbo lump or lump crabmeat, picked through for shells

1/4 cup of mayo

1 egg

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 teaspoon Old Bay

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

fresh ground pepper (to your liking)

a few dashes of hot sauce

Breading

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Chopped fresh parsley (if you’ve got it, if not, dried will do fine)

Vegetable oil for frying

Fill a large sauce pan about 1/4 full with vegetable oil and heat on medium high until oil is hot.  You can test the oil by flicking a drop of water in the pan.  If it sizzles and pops, it’s ready.  In a small bowl, mix together flour, bread crumbs and parsley.  Set aside.  Drain extra moisture from crab meat by squeezing it through a paper towel.   In a large bowl, mix together crab, mayo, egg, Worcestershire, lemon, Old Bay, dry mustard, salt, garlic powder, pepper and hot sauce.  

With your hands, form a crab ball about the size of your palm (your crab mixture should make 5-6 crab cakes.  I made 4 large cakes once and it was a disaster….too hard to flip in the pan and I have a permanent burn scar on the top of my hand from it). 

Roll the ball in the flour/bread crumb mixture and place in hot oil (oil should come up about halfway around the cake). 

Cook each side about 3-4 minutes until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels. 

Serve with lemon wedges, fresh parsley sprigs and your favorite remoulade, yogurt sauce, etc…..

Now, Sarah and I did not have any sauce planned for the cakes.  Sauce is great if you have the time, but these cakes are normally so delish, it’s not necessary.  HOWEVER, this crab was particularly fishy………….BOO!  I’m not sure if this is because the fresh meat was frozen then thawed once in California or what, but it was very disappointing for me.  So, Sarah whipped up a little sauce with mayo, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper and a little white wine vinegar.  It was PERFECT!

I wanted to serve a few special sides.  Broccollini is one of my favorite side dishes (for recipe, see Balsamic Broccollini).  It’s so delicate and pretty and really crunchy when roasted!  I had also been wanting to try sunchokes after reading a post about them from the fabulous Bitten Word.  These little guys are sold in my local Safeway and are such a treat.  We loved them!  As mentioned in the Bitten Word, they’re like potatoes, but sweeter.  We did not use an onion, just onion powder, but they turned out great.  Simply saute them in a pan with butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and a chopped onion until they’re golden brown and crunchy.   YUM!

The finished dish……….

Gestation, Cross-Country Moving and a promising Christmas feast

In the time between my last post and now, I have conceived another child and moved 2,600 miles away from my home, to Northern California.   Needless to say, I’ve been a little busy. 

May I suggest not getting pregnant and moving across the damn country at the same time?  It’s a little much. 

My husband was offered a killer job in Silicon Valley doing techy, engineering stuff.  It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Since he hails from that area, it was a no brainer for us and we decided to make the jump, but not without great sadness.  It happened so fast, I have yet to process it.  About 2 weeks before the offer was made, we were discussing the possibility of another child (the last child, I might add). I have always told my husband that when we were ready for baby #2, I was NOT working.  SO, since I was laid off in September, the husband and I decided “we might as well go and ahead and get it over with!”  I was pregnant on the first try.  I knew I was knocked up the minute I missed my period.  My boobs felt slightly sore and I thought “I know what the hell this is.  I’m fucking pregnant”.  Sounds harsh, I know, you would think I’d be excited considering we did plan this.  But, unfortunately for me, around 6 weeks of gestation, I become viciously ill, and I mean viciously.  And it usually lasts until about 13 weeks.  That’s right, for 2 MONTHS, I am an ever nauseous, puking, crying shell of the woman I once was who can eat nothing but bread only to throw it back up 20 minutes later.   It is most truly the worst I have ever felt in my entire life.  The site, smell and even mere thought of food ignites a gag reflex that may or may not result in vomit.  I had to beg my doctor for meds, so she put me on Zofran, the anti-nausea medication given to chemo patients.  It’s extremely expensive and to be quite honest, it works only about half the time.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, it didn’t work at all.  This time it has taken the edge off just enough so that I can keep food down, for the most part.  I barely have the energy to get out of bed, much less blog……about food.  I can’t even read the blogs I follow.  Why?  Reading actually makes me nauseous.  READING!  It’s a miracle my daughter is dressed and fed every day, but somehow I muster the energy to keep her safe and clean. 

I’m exactly 12 weeks pregnant today.  The pain has started to ease a bit, hence my blogging.  I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving with some food and the company of great friends.  Moving to California has brought us only 3 driving hours from our dear friends Ron and Theresa and we couldn’t be happier about it.  My energy is still really low, but some days are better than others and I have even managed to do a little Christmas shopping and some shopping for myself :).  Cooking is still completely out of the question and that really grinds my gears.  Like all domestic goddesses, this is my favorite time of the year for cooking and baking. I’m a freak about the holidays.  I love the decorations and the lights, the food and the parties, the movies on TV and the radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music, the over-indulgence and the spirit of giving.  I love it all.  Since we’ve moved and I had to give up my plans for Thanksgiving at my house (in Virginia), it has been decided that Christmas 2010 will take place in our new abode in Livermore, CA.  This is the first time I’ve ever hosted Christmas Day and I better get my ass together quick, or it will be a culinary disaster.  It will be an all day affair beginning in the morning with my daughter opening gifts from Santa and Grandma and Grandpa and continuing into the afternoon with adult gift time and dinner.  I have begun to formulate a menu (thank you FoodNetwork.com).  It’s ambitious, to say the least, but I’m counting on my second trimester burst of energy, and my husband, who has 2 weeks off for the holidays!  Here it is ………….  What do you think?

Christmas morning:

Sourdough Strata with tomatoes and greens with bacon and assorted fruit

Hot Chocolate (sans the homemade whipped cream, I don’t have time for that!)

Snacks throughout the day

Chex Mix, an ode to my Grandmother.  2 kinds: A traditional, salty mix AND a sweet and sugary mix <– Any suggestions?

Brown Butter Fig Tartlets

Assorted Christmas Cookies

Spicy Sausage Dip

Grilled bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers made by my brother-in-law.  They’re amazing.

Christmas Dinner

London Broil

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Spicy Mac & Cheese (because I didn’t get to make it at Thanksgiving and it’s just so damn good!)

Some sort of veggie

Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut truffles

Lara’s Pound Cake (thanks friend!)

I am SO open to suggestions and recipes since food still freaks me out a bit.  Email me!

Here is a scene from my all-time favorite Christmas movie.  Since my time working in a retirement community, it’s even funnier than ever.  Happy Holidays!

More goat cheese and other things

It’s been just shy of a month since I’ve posted. My reason for this is just life, I suppose. I was very recently laid off and am now adjusting to being a full-time, stay-at-home mom, something I really love, although find it surprisingly challenging. This video shared with me by my bff is hilarious.  Competitive parenting is frightening. 

Mompetition

My husband and I are also preparing for another huge change in our lives and as soon as the details are written in stone, I’ll be sharing the big news. AND, I’m fighting a nasty cold after just returning yesterday from an entire week in Corolla, North Carolina where we stayed in the largest house in Currituck County on the 4X4 beaches (that’s right! There are no roads, only beach driving). We ate a TON, saw wild horses almost everyday and celebrated the marital union of our friends, Richard and Abigail (CONGRATS YOU GUYS!). This place is simply beautiful. I’ll be doing a huge post on this adventure very soon. But for now, I’m going to share with you a meal I crave at the moment.  A meal I made for my sick husband a few weeks ago.  A meal that I can only hope he will make for me and nourish my sick, sniffling, NyQuil addicted ass.

Triple Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I halved this Tomato Basil Soup recipe.  Soups make me nervous, but this was incredibly easy. I forgot to purchase tomato juice, but made some with left over tomato paste.  I simply added 1 can (minus 1 tablespoon) of the tomato paste to 2 cups of water and mixed in the  food processor.  I added a dash or two of onion powder for extra flavor.   It’s also nice to add a little shredded basil for garnish.   AWESOME!

Triple Grilled Cheese on Sourdough:

Sourdough bread slices

Fresh mozzarella, sliced

Fontina cheese, sliced

Goat cheese, softened

Olive Oil for brushing bread

Brush one side of each slice of sourdough for grilling.  On the other side, spread desired amount of goat cheese and add the sliced mozzarella and fontina.  Place the sandwiches on a heated panini maker until golden brown or on a heated pan and grill on both sides.  Gooey, crunchy goodness.  Serve with your soup!

Here’s a few more things on my mind……

Like any woman with even a shred of domesticity, the minute a leaf changes color signifying the onset of fall, I begin to bake.  I also cannot resist a pumpkin, especially at the Culpeper Farmer’s Market.  Try this killer pumpkin bread recipe with your fresh pumpkin!  Making pumpkin puree is really simple. 

Ahhh…… the beach in the fall.  Wild horses and 4×4 beaches rule. Happy Autumn!!!!!

Chicken, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Pizza

Two of my favorite things on a pizza, goat cheese and artichokes, hell yeah!  Like most of my recipes, this one is a variation of another.  I got this recipe out of Self Magazine, because it’s relatively healthy. Of course, that changed when I got through with it.

Some tips:
*Take the goat cheese out of the fridge and put in a bowl before you begin. It’s easier to mix with the ricotta when it’s soft.
*This pizza is full of stuff!  Toppings are going to fall off of it when you cut it, but that’s okay.  It’s more of a fork and knife type of pizza anyway.
* You can use marinated artichokes or plain artichokes in a can. The marinated gives a little extra flavor. Either way, drain them and put them on a paper towel to blot, getting out excess moisture
* If you do not have an air-bake pizza pan, buy one, NOW! I don’t now how I ever lived without one. http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-Classic-Nonstick-Bakeware-14-Inch/dp/B0000D8CAO

Ingredients

1 store-bought pre-made pizza crust, regular or whole wheat

2 chicken breasts

Chef Paul Seasoning Magic Poultry Seasoning – optional

1 12-14oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 Roma tomatoes diced

4 oz goat cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese for topping (depends on your taste, I LOVE parmesan, so I use a lot)

Oregano

Olive oil for cooking chicken and spreading on pizza crust
 
Pre-Heat oven to 350. Heat a little oil over medium high heat in a pan. Lightly season chicken breasts on both sides with Chef Paul Seasoning Magic Poultry Seasoning.  If not using, just do salt and pepper.  Sear both sides of the chicken (for a nice golden brown color), then bake until cooked through. You can slice the chicken in thin strips, or wait for it to cool, then pull it apart in pieces. I love the “pulled” effect.  After the chicken is cooked, bump the oven temp up to 450.  Coat top of pizza crust with olive oil.  Mix together goat cheese and ricotta in a bowl then spread evenly over pizza crust.  Spread artichokes, tomatoes, and chicken evenly over cheese mixture.  Top with parmesan cheese and sprinkle with oregano.  Put on your airbake pan and cook for 11 minutes.  The parmesan will start to be golden brown.  Serve.  Delicious!

A Buffett worthy menu

September 3, 2010

As I lay here, nursing my hangover, I reflect on its cause, the event known only as the Jimmy Buffett tailgate party.  This tradition, going on for 20+ years with those wacky fans known as Parrotheads, make it the most fun and entertaining tailgate party ever.  There are many who do not care for Buffet tunes, yet purchase tickets to his show just for the parking lot party itself.  I am not one of those, an acoustic version of Stars on the Water was played after I said “I Do” and walked back down the aisle at my beach wedding.   Anyway, my point is, Parrotheads certainly know how it’s done.

I was first introduced to this Buffett way of life by an ex-boyfriend whose parents were Parrotheads and strapped a large grey fin to the top of their van for every show. My first concert, I marveled at the bed of a pick up truck that had been turned into an erupting volcano and a mini-van transformed into a pirate ship complete with sails and girls flashing party-goers as they stumbled by. Portable bars and inflatable palm trees were at every turn and just about every other person was dressed in some sort of ridiculous costume.  Men wore coconut bras and women wore hats topped with margarita glasses.  It was wonderous…..(Yup, that chick’s boobs are definitely on the internet somewhere.) 

And the booze……. oh how it flowed.(Buffett, circa 2000.  Notice the Abercrombie gym shorts.  How cool was I?) 

I’ve often considered Jimmy Buffett a kindred spirit and feel that his concerts attract the same (for the most part, of course there is always that asshole who can’t hold his booze).  The shows I have seen in my time have been some of the most fun I’ve had in my life.  And last night, was no exception.

My cousin Stephanie  invited my husband and I to the Bristow, VA show.  My husband was a Buffett virgin and it had been in years for me, so I jumped at the chance to go.  Tony and I wanted to be in complete charge of the tailgate party, the least we could do for the free tix.  I came up with a menu that was simple, traveled well and that was suited to the setting.  I thought to myself  “What an awesome blogging opportunity!” It’s always an awesome blogging opportunity except that I get drunk too early and forget that it’s an awesome blogging opportunity.   

A Buffett worthy menu:

Jen’s famous pasta salad

Super cheesy crab dip

Grilled watermelon

Surf & turf kabobs

Drinks: Lime jello shooters, frozen margaritas, madras’, and virgin strawberry daiquiris for the kids

Jen’s famous pasta salad:  I am truly known for this dish.  Honestly, the attention I get for it, although awesome, is undeserving.  It’s the easiest thing to make and I only put the ingredients together because I thought they would look pretty in a bowl.  Little did I know it would become the hit that it is today.  I am requested to bring it to most parties, I have given out the recipe countless times for those needing a dish for a gathering, and I even made 4 batches of it for one of my besties beach wedding in Sandbridge.  And last night at the show, our tailgating neighbor said “Pasta salads are usually so boring, if you’ve had one, you’ve had them all, but this!  I can’t even describe it, it’s just so delicious!”  The secret?  I think it’s the store-bought dressing, but maybe it really is a genius concoction with the perfect pairing of ingredients. Who knows…. 

1 cucumber, sliced and quartered

1 orange or yellow pepper, coarsely chopped

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 bottle Girard’s Italian Dressing

1 6oz container of crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Fresh or dried dill to taste (dried dill doesn’t really add flavor, it just looks pretty)

Salt and oil the cooking water and cook pasta al dente, according to package.  While your pasta is cooking, chop your vegetables.  Using a peeler, peel the cucumber on 3 sides only, like so.The purpose of this technique is 1) it looks pretty and 2) it provides just the right amount of crunch.  Then, cut the entire cucumber into circular slices and quarter, like this. 

Toss cucumber pieces into a large serving bowl.  Chop the pepper and half the tomatoes and add to the cucumbers.  Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and toss under cold water until cool to the touch.  Add to serving bowl.  Add the entire bottle of dressing and container of feta and stir to mix.  Add salt, pepper and dill to taste.  Can be served immediately, however, it’s best after it’s been refridgerated for bit.  It’s perfect to make the day before. 

Super Cheesy Crab Dip: I came up with this recipe on the fly.  I love a rich, creamy, cheesy crab dip and the recipes I was looking at either did not have enough cheese or just not enough flavor.  So, I got the general idea of how to make a crab dip and put what the hell I wanted to put in it.  Sweet Success!  It was devoured quickly and the kids really loved it.  I have been requested to make it for Thanksgiving, after it was decided that night that I will be hosting Thanksgiving this year.  AH!  You can either make this right before you leave for your party and as long as it’s kept covered, it will be warm for quite some time.  OR, transfer it to a crock pot and set to low and keep it warm before serving.

1 lb backfin crabmeat, picked through for shells (you can certainly use lump, but for a dip, I go the cheaper route)

2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or mix it up and use 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup pepper jack! yum!)

4 tbsp sour cream

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire

1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/4 cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Juice of 1/2 a lemon ( I used a little more)

Crackers or sliced & toasted french bread for dipping

Pre-heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended.  Put in casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.  Serve with crackers or bread. 

Surf & Turf Kabobs:  My husband is solely responsible for this AMAZING dish.  These kabobs could not have been more perfect for the occasion.  Unfortunately for you, I was already enjoying jello shooters and margaritas, so taking pictures of these pieces of art were the furthest thing from my mind. 

1 lb raw, fresh, medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 lb scallops (probably u12-u15)

4 filet mignon (yup, we used filet, but feel free to use any cut you like), cut into squares

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch thick slices

2 red onions, cut into 1 inch thick slices

3 pints of button mushrooms

My husband says you have to soak the mushrooms before you skewer them.  Soak them in what, I don’t know.  We soaked them in water one night but they still split.  This time, he brushed them with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar/garlic combo and left them in the fridge over night.  It worked, no splitage!  Other than that, all he did was skewer all the ingredients the morning of the show, kept them chilled and when we were ready, grilled for about 5 minutes on each side.  Perfectly pink steak and grilled shellfish on a stick?  Hell yeah, it was great.

Grilled Watermelon: Actually, I never got around to grilling the watermelon.  But, I do believe that JB would appreciate a melon that was grilled.  Don’t you?

Drinks:  Make it easy on yourself!  I love a “real” margarita, but the mix will do just fine for a tailgate.  For jello shooters, simply follow the directions, except add 3/4 cup of vodka in addition to the cold water, then poor into party cups and chill overnight. If you don’t know what is in a Madras, it’s simply vodka, cranberry and orange juice.  But the most important thing is the umbrella.Notice the table cloth!  I even had themed confetti.  I love confetti. 

I love this guy too.

Fins UP!