Halloween Treats & Appetizers for a Boo-tiful Party

IMG_1853Halloween’s never really been my favorite holiday.  Deciding on a costume, procuring all the stuff needed for that costume without spending a fortune, then battling the crowds at the top parties…I was over it by about age 23, I gotta admit.

However, I do LOVE pumpkin carving.  So this weekend, we invited our nearest and dearest over for a little pumpkin carving fun, and that gave my the opportunity to make some super-fun Halloween themed treats, including ghost tea sandwiches, a guacamole graveyard, deviled egg eyeballs, and chocolate dipped pretzel rods.

Recipes for everything after the jump! (Press “continue reading” to see more!) Continue reading “Halloween Treats & Appetizers for a Boo-tiful Party”

Backyard Beekeeping 101: When Bees Misbehave

Since today was the start of our first non-travel weekend in a few weeks, the hubby woke up bright and early to start poking around the bee box.  Today’s goal: replace the oversized brood box we’d gotten when we bought our bees with one of the regular-sized boxes Carl’s been making himself.

IMG_1830However, as soon as we opened the box, we saw a bunch of problems – our bees have not been behaving this fall!

First up, it appeared the bees had done some redecorating.  When we put the newest honey super on a couple months ago, we used wireless foundation in order to make it easier to collect the honey later on (we use the crush method and didn’t love pulling wires out of our wax–and fingers–last time around).  The bees, however, seemed to think a better look was to eat this wax foundation and regurgitate it as burr comb (aka wild comb).  (Press “continue reading” to see more!) Continue reading “Backyard Beekeeping 101: When Bees Misbehave”

Husband Approved: Steak and Gorgonzola Pizza

photo 2Most men love steak.  This is a surprise to basically no one. But there’s a reason that a steakhouse dinner is usually seen as a treat or indulgence – that perfectly marbled meat, gorgonzola cream sauce, and decadent side dishes can rack up quite the bill.

Luckily, these high-end ingredients are super flavorful, which means that even in smaller, less break-the-bank quantities, you can get the flavor of a full steak dinner without the hit to your bank account – which is just what I did in creating last night’s “Steak and Gorgonzola Pizza”.

This recipe is husband tested and husband approved! (Click “continue reading” to see more.) Continue reading “Husband Approved: Steak and Gorgonzola Pizza”

Green Chile Pork Stew in a Slow Cooker

photo 3 (2)As some of you may know I recently left my job at a tech giant (hint: it rhymed with Noogle…) and will be starting work with a startup next week.  However, one of my favorite things about my old job was the fantastic green chili pork stew that they served regularly for lunch.

So, during my few days off in between jobs, I set to work finding a way to make the delicious stick-to-your-ribs stew on my own. After perusing several other online recipes, I frankensteined together my own version, that also happens to work in a slow cooker.  We tried it last night for dinner and it was seriously delicious! (Click “continue reading” to see more) Continue reading “Green Chile Pork Stew in a Slow Cooker”

Argentinian Chimichurri Recipe – To Make and Freeze

photo 2 (1)The hubby is a midwestern, meat and potatoes kind of guy.  He thinks a steak tastes just fine with absolutely no seasoning, marinade, or sauce.  I, however, tend to get a bit bored of that after a while.

Luckily, chimichurri is a super easy and fresh way to “dress up” any meat, and it’s incredibly easy to make and freeze for future use.

Ingredients: (Click “continue reading” to see more) Continue reading “Argentinian Chimichurri Recipe – To Make and Freeze”

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You’ll Ever Need

photo (28)Macaroni and cheese.  A classic.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it.  And yet until I was probably in high school, I had no idea that there was a way to make it that didn’t involve a blue box and processed cheese powder.

Upon making this discovery, I drew the logical conclusion: people make mac and cheese out of the box, because making it from scratch must be difficult and time consuming. Except, like so many things I thought I knew what I was 14, I was wrong.

Over the years, I’ve managed to perfect the world’s easiest macaroni and cheese recipe.  It literally takes less than 10 minutes–the same amount of time as the boxed stuff, or only slightly longer if you prefer your mac and cheese baked as a casserole.  Plus, my recipe is incredibly customizable – mix in any meats, vegetables, spices, or sauces you like.  Use any kind of cheese.  This recipe is basically idiot-proof.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of elbow macaroni
  • 4tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups shredded or crumbled cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Start a pot of water boiling.  Once it’s boiling, cook pasta according to package directions.  If you’re planning on mixing in any meats, get those cooking now too – in the above picture, I added in ground turkey and chiles, but you could add sausage, ground beef, or even mushrooms for vegetarians.
  2. In a large saute pan, melt your butter over medium heat. Once the butter is all melted, add in your flour one tablespoon at a time and whisk vigorously – from this point on in this recipe, do not stop whisking.  Once all flour is added, keep whisking for 2-3 minutes or until you start to get a nice color on the roux.
  3. Add your milk, one cup at a time, and keep whisking.  As it warms and incorporates, it’ll start to get very viscous.  This is good. Just keep whisking, for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add your cheeses.  I generally like to do some variety of cheddar blend, but you can really use whatever you like – you could even add a creamy roquefort or muenster if you like it on the more intense side.  Keep whisking.  Once the cheese melts, you should have a stringy, gooey, cheesy pot of deliciousness.  Don’t worry about it being too thick, the residual water from the pasta will thin it out a little.
  5. Around now, your pasta is probably done.  Drain it, then add to the saute pot with the cheese. If you’re adding any meats or other mix-ins, add them now too.
  6. Remove from heat and add your black pepper and nutmeg  – voila!  You have a tasty, creamy, delicious mac and cheese in the same amount of time that it takes to make the stuff out of the box.  If, instead, you prefer baked mac and cheese, transfer your mac and cheese to a baking dish, then sprinkle breadcrumbs and a little more shredded cheese on the top and stick in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

However you like it, this is just a ridiculously easy and fast macaroni and cheese recipe, and because almost everything is in a “4” (4 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp flour, 4 cups of cheese, etc.) it’s super easy to remember.  Let me know how you like it in the comments!