Adult Grilled Cheese (aka: GetInMyBelly)

best grilled cheese

It’s a beautiful spring day – almost as if the sunshine knew I wanted to pretend it was summer for my big birthday brunch. As we pan down the banquet table overflowing with mimosas and bloody Marys, we catch only the most riveting tidbits of conversation…

“Full disclosure, if we’re going to keep bees in the future, I’ll need a super bee suit, ‘cause I’m allergic, but can it have a tear-away option? However attractive the originals are, they just seem so suffocating.”

“Oh yeah, you can save a gif as a photo to your phone and then text it.” (Just like your very own WhatShouldWeCallMe. Mind. Blown.)

Having fun with the photo app, Fat Booth: “Look, it’s fat Daniel!” to which Daniel responds, “Ah, Katie’s dream. Happy birthday, Katie!” (Basically my real reason for baking so much: the eternal goal to fatten up two of my best friends Daniel and Tim :)

lasagna grilled cheese

As you can tell, the day was filled with important agreements/realizations/dreams-come-true this past weekend. It was, however, also brought to my attention that this year will be the final year of the famed Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational. I’m sorry; I forgot to ask if you were sitting down for that terrible news.

This is truly an epic event for all ages. The glorious combination of beautiful Southern California with: Bread + Butter + Cheese = Victory. They give away samples of as much delicious grilled cheese as you can handle; you can compete – like I did, back in 2010; and you can enter the poetry contest, like my amazing brother did. An abridged version of his genius, award-winning craft:

There’s a fabulous feeling that’s sweeping the nation.
Now unleashed in our land is a cheese celebration.
From Burbank to Long Beach, from Carson to Venice,
Cheese is sweeping away every plague plight and menace.
Too long have we waited in anticipation
For buttered bread and cheddar salvation.
They’re gooey and grilled, they’re a melted delight
They’ve got my mouth drooling all day and all night.
There are sandwiches as fancy as a pair of Guccis
Crafted of Monterey, jack, even of bluecheese.
We’re starting a trend. We’re bringing cheese back.
It’s not just a snack; it’s a gruyere attack!

All of this is to say that I have an incredible grilled cheese for you this week! (And if you live anywhere near LA, you need to go to this event next month!)

Meg and I whipped up these bad boys for a small dinner party (of three – totally still a rockin’ party) with an infusion project happening while the onions caramelized.

three cheese grilled cheese

If you’ll recall, I love caramelized onions. On the list of foods that are a gift from God, they’re right up there with salted caramel and And what?!…find out after the jump.

Advertisements

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

If only I lived in a place where the streets at Christmastime looked like they do in Germany or Strasbourg! Seriously, have you been there? I took a trip up to Strasbourg in December when I was living in France. It had just snowed, so the buildings along the river looked like gingerbread houses dusted with powdered sugar.

Strasbourg

Ornaments

Icicles hung beautifully from the roof; the city was twinkling with Christmas lights; the streets smelled of crisp pine. And then you walk through the Christmas markets – you feel like you’re IN a Christmas movie (my dream), and you get a big cup of mulled wine to warm you up while you peruse the wonderful ornaments and a hot pretzel to fill your belly.

…Don’t stop. Keep reading!

Cherry Cocoa Truffles

Cocoa Date Truffles

Let’s impress your friends and family this Christmas season! I think it’s really nice this time of year to bring homemade treats to a friend and have them sittin’ pretty in a bowl in your office or at home. I magically just happen to have a fantastic recipe for just such an occasion ;)

Vegan truffles

This time of year is tricky to please everyone you know – especially now that it seems every other person you know is gluten-free or vegan, and of course there’s the “watching-my-holiday-waistline” ones who shy away from my decadent desserts…come on! Why not?! It’s CHRISTMAS! (Don’ worry, those recipes are still to come, like these perfect Christmas cookies :) But… …Don’t stop now! Keep reading.

Spaghetti Squash & Spinach Fritters with Sriracha Mayo

Spaghetti squash fritters

Remember how I said I was super excited for squash season? That’s not a joke. In the past two weeks I have made/consumed:

-Acorn squash and leek soup

Pumpkin kale risotto

-Spaghetti squash with feta, white beans, and spinach

-Butternut squash chili

-Spaghetti squash and spinach fritters with Sriracha mayonnaise

Squash

That’s some serious squashing. I love it all. And I’m still looking forward to more butternut and spaghetti squash in my future, but this has been a quality start. Let’s pave the way to winter – not with broken promises but with squash.

Now, I know y’all were worried about a possible Sriracha shortage, but don’t worry, they’re gonna keep at the good work. This Sriracha mayonnaise sauce surprised me – the vinegar gives it a serious tang. I obviously couldn’t follow the recipe straight, so I also added some garlic and ketchup to round out the flavors.

You know what did not surprise me though?… Don’t stop! Keep reading…

Roasted Pepper and Sun-dried Tomato Feta Dip

Yes, I own this hat. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Yes, I own this hat. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Ok, ready for the weird/rad/no-filter? Sort of like rummaging through my big purse, if you scrolled through my “Notes” section on my phone, you’d find quite the array of random things. Just to give you an idea, I’ve conveniently tossed together a comparison list for you. Now, for starters, we have the essentials like:

Restaurants to try…………keys

Grocery list…………wallet

Websites to check out…………sunglasses

Sundried tomato dip ready for the food processor

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the totally random and seemingly unnecessary (but totally necessary) things like:

Hawaiian phrases for “cheers” …………a tiny mirror

DC library hours…………DC produce seasonality wallet pamphlet

A cheesy “kitchen tips” entry for a magazine (don’t ask. Wait, totally ask. It’s awesome.) …………pocket-sized nail file

Red pepper and feta dip

And right in the middle are the things that maybe not everyone has, but if you don’t, I want to make sure y’all have ’em:

A list of your New Years resolutions (big and small – just something to check up on to remind yourself occasionally) …………Advil

A list of “ideas” (mine happen to be recipe ideas) …………a reusable bag that stuffs into itself

**LAST BUT NOT LEAST, the two most important: Don’t stop! Keep reading…

Orange & Toasted Almond Scones

You know what’s kind of rad?

Orange and almond scones

…bringing back “rad” and making these delicious beauties with ingredients purchased last minute at the drug store. Scones are made with basic pantry ingredients, and are easily jazzed up with almost anything you want to toss in there: dried cherries and dark chocolate? Yes. Blueberries and ginger? Absolutely. Bacon and oregano? …yes, but let’s just call that a biscuit.

 

And orange and toasted almond? Definitely. The proof is in the puddin. Well, scone. Side note: as I blog, I’m consistently realizing how many food idioms I use – that’s a good thing, right? This is much like the time I realized how many baseball idioms I use when I was living with a Brit :)  (Thanks Dad!) But I digress.

Orange and almond scones

I’m not always a great planner, and when I’m not super prepared, it’s a recipe like this that really saves the day. And ya know, it’s often the unexpected, last minute things that turn out to be the best :)

 

Here’s what I did:

Orange and almond scones

Orange and Toasted Almond Scones

*Feel free to substitute other ingredients for the orange zest, almonds, and almond extract! Let’s get creative.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Using the grater blade on your food processor or a cheese grater, grate:

-1 stick salted butter, frozen

Then using the basic flat blade on your food processor, pulse until breadcrumb texture is achieved:

-2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour

-1 c. whole wheat flour

-3 tsp. baking powder

Pour into a large bowl. Stir in:

-4 Tbs. granulated sugar

-the zest of one orange

-a handful of almonds, chopped and toasted in a dry pan until light brown, cooled

Stir in with a wooden spoon until just mixed:

-1 c. low-fat buttermilk

-1 ¼ tsp. almond extract

Mix to a soft dough. It should be fairly wet and sticky, so you may need to add a little more milk. Turn onto a floured surface and gently roll out or pat down the dough. It’s important not to handle the dough too much so that it stays light and doesn’t get tough. I like to keep it fairly thick, about an inch and a half thick, but you do you. Cut the scones with a biscuit cutter or slice into wedges. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on a buttered cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. This varies depending on oven and thickness of scones, so start checking after 11 or 12 minutes. The tops stay quite pale looking. If you check the bottoms they should be lightly browned, so tip one up to check. Enjoy with whipped cream and jam for breakfast or an afternoon treat!

 

French phrase for fun:

Je vais à l’Ecosse et l’Irlande avec trois des meilleurs amis d’une fille pourrait demander de plus! Eeeeeeeeee!

I’m off to Scotland and Ireland with three of the best friends a girl could ask for! Eeeeeeeeee!

a near-perfect day…or “friday” in california

I’m home in California for a much-needed vacation with my family. It’s glorious. The weather is perfect…like they do here. In just one day I knocked out one of my favorite runs with a stunning view, went to my favorite diner and froyo spot, and got to hang with some of my very favorite people. So I just thought I’d share a few photos with you…not to make you jealous or anything ;)

The view waking up at home in So Cal:

Southern Californa view

 

I picked oranges and grapefruit for the best juice you’ve ever tasted. Seriously, I can’t eat grocery store oranges because these have ruined me for all other oranges. And we have some pomegranates coming in!

 

Pomegranates

 

The BEST pancakes you’ve ever had in your entire life are lovingly made from scratch with the original 1949 buttermilk pancake recipe at Norms diner:

Norms pancakes

 

And I made a beautifully simple salad with ingredients from our garden. Tomatoes with basil, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepp. I get my green thumb from my momma :)

 

Fresh tomato and basil salad

French phrase for fun:

J’adore la californie.

I love California.