Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Five Crowd-Pleasing Pinterest Favorites

I spend WAY too many hours on Pinterest these days, but it's for a good cause - FOOD!  I still love trying recipes from magazines and my cookbooks, but even my favorite cooking magazines are on Pinterest!

Over the past several months, I cooked a lot of the recipes I've pinned.  Since I've pinned over 300 (and counting!), I can't say I'm close to cooking all of them, but here are some that received RAVE reviews from family and friends when I made them.  If you're looking for crowd-pleasing items for a Superbowl party or a casual get-together, put these on your list.  Happy eating!

1. Sweet pork love.  This is my variation on a recipe from tastykitchen.com using bacon, cocktail wienies, butter, and brown sugar.  Anyone who loves pork products will go crazy for these.  Any guy gathering needs a batch (or two!)

2. Jalapeño-ranch dip.  There's this restaurant from Austin, TX called Chuy's.  On request, they will bring you a ranch-jalapeno dressing/dip for your tortilla chips.  Trust me - ASK FOR SOME!  It elevates ranch to new heights.  I found a dip recipe on Pinterest that's very similar from the site plainchicken.com, though I change it up by making it thicker (I use fat free Greek yogurt and reduce the mayo) and add extra cilantro.  Super yummy!

3. Sopapilla cheesecake bars.  Golly these are good!  You combine the taste of a sopapilla (those pillows of fried dough perfection topped with cinnamon and sugar) with a cheesecake filling.  The best part is how easy they are to make - crescent roll dough from a can, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, butter, and cinnamon/sugar.  Yoza!

4. Hawaiian roll ham sammiches.  Great guy food and a nice change from traditional sandwiches.  I made these over the holidays to high praise.

5. Ro-Tel chilaquiles  casserole.  This is a terrific brunch or breakfast dish for a crowd and almost everything is a pantry staple.  Ro-tel (tomatoes with chiles), canned chili, tortilla chips, chili beans, and cheese.  This is also really good for a hearty breakfast after a late night out.  Definitely recommend when doing heavy shopping as it will tide you over until lunch!

I hope you have fun with my current top 5 Pinterest favorites.  Let me know what your family thinks!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sweet Pork Love

If you've ever attended a get-together with me, chances are you ate something involving pork.  I can't get enough of that swiny goodness nor can most of my friends.  I spent the holiday season cooking up a storm (didn't blog about it, but posted plenty of pics to Facebook) and much of it involved trying pork on pork.  One particular recipe, courtesy of Pinterest, was a recipe for cocktail wienies wrapped in bacon and baked in a butter/brown sugar mixture.

Take #1 resulted in a "soup" of pork fat, butter, and sugar that was a bit watery for my taste.  Judging by the empty casserole, it was still quite tasty!  I decided to modify the recipe by pre-cooking the bacon a bit and omitting the butter, figuring the pork fat would sufficiently blend with the sugar.  Success!  It glazed the pork nicely without creating a soup (shown below).  A little more work, but well worth it for a dish that everyone will consume with abandon.  The chorus of "oh my" and "oh mah gawd" that I heard told me the recipe was a winner.  There was almost a fight for the last few at the tamalada where it was served.  Thanks to Tasty Kitchen for the original idea.  Here's my version, perfect for your Superbowl fiesta.  Happy eating!

Oh mah gawd, these are good!

Sweet Pork Love

(Serves 2 - 10, depending on level of pork addiction)
1 package of bacon (1 lb) (regular, not thick cut and do NOT use turkey bacon)
1 package of cocktail wienies (1 lb)
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and place a cooling rack inside.  Cut each strip of bacon into three pieces and place the pieces onto the cooling rack (ok to overlap them).  Bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven until the fat starts to render.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Open the cocktail wienie package and reserve the juices. Wrap each cocktail wienie in a piece of bacon and place seam-side down in a 9x13 glass baking dish.  Sprinkle the porky love pieces with the brown sugar and press down gently.  Pour over the reserved wienie juice.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and baste the love with the sugar/pork juice mixture.  Increase oven temp to 400 degrees and bake 5 minutes more or until bacon has crisped a bit.

*If you want a spicier version, mix the brown sugar with cayenne pepper before adding to the bacon.