Maple Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

I wanted to make a snack that would be the perfect little bite. Something that could go before a meal or be a nice treat after. I had some dates and decided to stuff those with creamy earthy goat cheese then wrap them in savory smokey bacon.  These turned out better than I could have hoped and paired so well with the 2013 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon that Cultivar Wine recently sent me.

Cultivar Wine with Stuffed Dates


My husband is a HUGE fan of these little dates.  He basically wants them available at all times so he can enjoy a date or two in the evenings. This is very high praise, he doesn’t usually request things to have on hand.

They are super simple to make but give the illusion of being very fancy. Their decadent taste certainly helps support the hype. Perfect for get-togethers and special occasions.  Or just because it’s Tuesday, your choice. No judging from me.

Andrea’s Maple Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

  • 12 Dates, split and pitted (**See Note)
  • 6 Slices of Bacon, cut in half
  • 4 oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp Light Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 and line a small baking sheet with foil, brush the olive oil all over the foil. Make sure the dates are not cut in half but just split down the middle lengthwise.  Fill each date with some goat cheese (about 1/2 tsp each) and then wrap in bacon. Make sure the seam side is down when you place the dates on the baking sheet.  Continue until all dates are stuffed and wrapped.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Watch to be sure the bacon doesn’t burn. Right before removing the dates from the oven, brush each date with maple syrup.  Continue to bake for another two minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Serve immediately or can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container.

**I used regular dates but you can use medjool dates if preferred. Those are larger so you may need more goat cheese for the filling.

You can get even fancier and used bourbon barrel aged maple syrup if you like.

I highly recommend making a big batch of these if you will be having them at a gathering because they will go quickly! One batch is perfect for date night but you’ll need more for a bigger crowd.

Since these guys are on the sweeter side I decided to pair them with Cultivar Wine’s 2013 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon which worked beautifully.  The black pepper and tobacco notes brought out the smokiness of the bacon and maple syrup while the dryer finish helped balance out the sweetness.  The wine also accentuated the creaminess of the goat cheese and complimented its earthy flavor.

You can also make these dates ahead of time and then gently reheat them at 350 for about 5 minutes before serving.

If you’d like to try Cultivar Wine , they are offering a special promotion to my readers. Use the code CultivarWineFoodEmbrace when you order and you’ll receive 10 percent off your purchase.

Disclosure: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site, Food Embrace, and Cultivar Wine. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of product. All opinions presented are my own. I receive wine from Cultivar Wine as a member of the Cultivar Wine Bloggers group. 


Monday Meals: Looking For Lists

Ok, so who worked their meal plan last week?  I did, I did!  And I’m totally ready to kick this week’s ass and stick to a meal plan as well!

I print off the meal plan (template I use is here), fill it out and then stick it on the fridge.  I can add or switch around meals if I need to.  It’s very handy, plus I can make a shopping list right from the plan.

I want to go back to having a shopping list on my phone.  I used to use Springpad but they have closed up shop (I can’t even link to them, because they are totally gone) so now I need something else.  Does anyone use an app to create and maintain shopping lists?  I would love to hear your recommendations!

Alright, let’s get to the meals.


roasted potatoes and spinach


Leftover roasted potatoes with spinach and onions.  I sauteed everything up in a skillet with a little lard and seasoned lightly with pepper, salt, and garlic powder.

YUM!  Definitely became a favorite! This would work with sweet potatoes too if you don’t eat white potatoes.

Kale, chicken sausage

Braised kale with roasted red pepper chicken sausage.  The sausage is Al Fresca brand and is delicious! Minimal ingredients, no gluten, and no additives.  In a pan, I heated up some lard and cooked the sausages first.  I removed those and added in the kale with a little stock to help the kale cook down.  Once the kale was wilted, I added the sausage back in.  Seasoned with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I should just start calling this my house seasoning!).  It was delicious and totally hit the spot!

Kale, sausage, parm

I made a huge batch of it so that there would be leftovers for the next day.  I did use a full package of sausage and 2 large bunches of kale (stemmed, chopped).  This time I added a little parm on top for some tangy cheese bite.

Sweet potato and breakfast sausage

Cubed sweet potato with onion and shredded carrot cooked in a skillet in some ghee and seasoned with chili powder.  I also cut up some breakfast sausage and added that to the mix.  Sadly this breakfast was completely unsatisfying and I was so bummed.  The sweet potato was taking forever to cook through and even after 30 minutes, it still was crunchy.  Ugh. The texture was completely off and left me disappointed.

Veggie quiche with grain free crust

I made a gorgeous veggie quiche with a grain free crust to chase the bad breakfast blues away.  The filling contained:

  • 5 eggs scrambled with 1/2C Whole Milk
  • Shredded Carrot
  • 1/2 small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
  • 5 slices of crispy bacon, crumbled
  • Dijon mustard
  • Horseradish

The dijon and horseradish was whisked in with the eggs.  The carrots, onion, spinach, and bacon were added to a hot skillet and cooked in some ghee until the onions and spinach were soft.   I let the mixture cool and then added it to the scrambled eggs.  Poured it over the crust and baked for 1 hour at 400 degrees.

The crust was a recipe from Beyond Bacon (not an affiliate link) with a little modification on my end.  I used butter instead of lard.  The crust was perfect! I couldn’t roll it out but was able to form it in the pie pan with no issue.  It was the best tasting crust we have ever had and beats anything I’ve made with flour.  We will definitely be making this again!

Eggs, rice, sausage

Scramble eggs with Mexican rice (I’m working on perfecting my Mexican restaurant style rice. Getting close!), and chicken breakfast sausage links.

quiche and sausage

Leftover veggie quiche and chicken sausage.


Two lunch/snacks!

deviled eggs, carrots, fruit

Deviled eggs, carrots, and a huge bowl of nectarines.

pork chop, broccoli, salad

Leftover pork chop (which you’ll see in a second), broccoli that was dipped in hummus, and a salad of cucumber and chopped tomato.  Pretty simple but totally satisfying.


Roast chicken breast and parsnip mash

Roasted up a whole chicken! (The chicken was prepared this way) Paired that with some parsnip mash.  I also made a pan sauce and thickened that with some arrowroot powder!  Arrowroot powder works the same way cornstarch does.  Mix it with a little water to make a slurry and then whisk that into the sauce.  As the sauce simmers, it will thicken up.

I liked the end result with the arrowroot powder.  It thickened the sauce but didn’t weight it down.  It also left the sauce clear and glossy while a roux can lighten the color of a sauce and cause it to be cloudy.  This sauce was way more pleasing to look at!

Chicken, cole slaw, parsnip mash

Leftovers with coleslaw!

Pork chop and sweet potato fries

Gigantic pork chops and a whole mess of sweet potato fries.  Chops were cooked in a cast iron skillet with lard and seasoned with salt, poultry seasoning, and tarragon.  A splash of stock was added and the chops were finished in the oven at 400 until the were done.

Basic sweet potato fries (peeled, sliced, oil, seasonings), also roasted at 400 until cooked and crispy.

Pulled pork, rice, and roasted squash

I had some leftover pulled pork in the freezer so I heated that up and placed on lettuce wraps.  Mexican rice, and some roasted yellow squash.  The squash had oil, salt, and chili powder.  Roasted on a baking sheet at 400 until done.  About 10 minutes, squash cooks up quickly!


Pizza! Working on a yeast based grain free pizza dough.  Not quite where I want it to be but I’m getting close.  This was baked using a cookie sheet. It’s topped with sauce, moz, banana peppers, and spicy Italian sausage.

I used too much sauce so the pizza came out really dense!  Next time lighter on the sauce and the cheese.


Ending the week with a big salad, with fresh romaine and tomato that I purchased at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Shredded carrot, hard boiled egg, and golden beets on top.  We used premade ranch dressing from Bolthouse Farms.

The beets I prepped for salads this week.  Super easy, peeled, chopped, boiled until they were tender.  Now they are ready to eat whenever I need them.

Not a bad week!


All eggs, chicken, pork from Jodar farms

Lettuce and tomatoes from the farmer’s market.


This past weekend was a huge indulge weekend because we attended the Colorado Brewer’s Festival.  Lots of beer and foods that I don’t normally eat. I’m feeling the effects and I’m ready to get back to normal eats this week.

Our anniversary is this week so there will be some special treats but kept in check.  We will be eating well, for sure!

How were your eats last week?


Monday Meals: A Little Off Plan

So my attempts to follow a meal plan last week didn’t happen.  We did have all the things that I mentioned previously, just not really in the order that was stated.  I tried!  And failed.  However we still ate at home and I’m feeling pretty good about last week’s eats.




Sweet potato and chard

I have been off sweet potatoes lately.  I just don’t like them much anymore but I’m trying to change that and add them back into my diet for variety.  This breakfast bowl is getting me there!

Sauteed chopped sweet potato with swiss chard and onions. Topped with crispy prosciutto. First I crisped up the prosciutto in a skillet with a little olive olive.  Once crisp, I chopped it up and set it aside.  Sweet potatoes and onions got cooked in the same skillet in some ghee.  Once the potatoes softened, I added in the chopped chard.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Once it all was cooked, I added in the crisp prosciutto and served it up.  The ratio was:

  • Half a medium onion
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 large sweet potato

This made enough for two big bowls.

Cauliflower fried rice with scrambled eggs

There was cauliflower fried rice.  It had onion and shredded carrot, all sauteed up with ghee and seasoned with:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Garlic Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder

Cooked it until all the veggies were soft and the moisture from the cauliflower was cooked out.  Then I added scrambled eggs on top which was cooked in a separate skillet.

If you have never had cauliflower rice before, keep in mind,  it does not taste like rice.  It tastes like cauliflower with a rice texture and consistency.  So you have to like cauliflower to like this.  I used one head of cauliflower to make the rice and it was too much.  We had leftovers the next day but there was more left over from that.  Next time I’ll use half a head of cauliflower.

Pork fried cauliflower rice

Leftovers and this time I added in some chopped fried pork side.  Basically sliced pork belly that has not been cured or smoked.  I cooked the full strips first, chopped them up and re-fried them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


Scrambled eggs, sausage patties, tots

Don’t judge the tots!  Sometimes really crispy potato puffs are what life demands.  I cook the tots in a 400 degree oven, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Along with some scrambled eggs and sausage, this was a filling breakfast!

The tots were 365 brand and had simple ingredients.  365 also makes sweet potato tots as well.

Grain free scone with blueberries

Still working to perfect my grain free scones.  This go around was much better!  These were topped with blueberries, coconut cream, and there was bacon on the side.


Pork chop and roasted veggies

Bone-in pork chops with roasted carrots and zucchini.  The pork chops and the veggies were seasoned the same way:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • All Purpose Seasoning (Can use Poultry Seasoning)
  • Tarragon

The chops were cooked in a cast iron skillet in some lard and the finished in the oven with some stock added to the pan.  Pretty simple dinner that was satisfiying.

Burgers and tots

Burgers and tots!  Salt, pepper, and worcestershire seasoned the burgers and they were also cooked in a cast iron skillet in some lard.  I also topped mine with ketchup and mustard.

Avocado and carrot salad

We had burgers again the next day and I made a quick simple salad for the side.

Shredded Carrot, Chopped Avocado, and Chopped Cucumber.  It was dressed with:

  • Juice of one lime
  • A little olive oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Garlic Sauce
  • Cilantro

Very quick to put together and very refreshing on a hot day!

Chicken leg and veggies

This dinner could not have been any easier.  A roasted chicken leg with some fresh carrots and cucumbers.  The legs were roasted at 400 for about 30-40 minutes.  Rubbed down with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

The chicken is fresh from the farm so it doesn’t need much done to it in order to be flavorful.

Brats, kraut, coleslaw

Sunday dinner, again super easy to make!  Since I’ve been making homemade mayo, we’ve been eating more of it.  Which means we have been back to eating mayo based coleslaws again.  So yummy!

Coleslaw on the side with a very basic mayo/vinegar dressing and lots of dill.  Along with some very spicy chili brats that were cooked in kraut, onions, and peppers.  Beer was added to that mixture and the brats simmered in all of that in the oven at 325 for about an hour.  I removed the brats and crisped up the skins in a skillet with a little olive oil.

We didn’t do too shabby this week!

I admit that I’m struggling with breakfast a little bit.  Not only deciding what to eat/make for the day but also with portion sizes.  Since protein fills me up so much, I don’t want to have a huge breakfast and miss lunch during the week (I don’t mind that on weekends).  I enjoy salads and smoothies mid-day and miss that experience if breakfast is really hefty.

So breakfast will be a work in progress for a while!

Because I didn’t plan ahead, I don’t even remotely have a meal plan in place for this week. I told you that this was a brand new thing for me to work on! I’m going to have to try and come up with something today.

What did you have yummy last week?

For The Locals:

Chicken, eggs, and pork all are from Jodar Farms

Brats and beef from Whole Foods

Breakfast sausage is by Boulder Sausage Company


Spring Clean Eats: Days 26-28, Fake ‘Em Steak ‘Um

I needed a break from the computer last weekend but it was worth it because I got a chance to experiment with recipes!

The good: I experimented a lot in the kitchen and made some delicious things these past few days.

The bad: I totally forgot to take any pictures of food on Saturday.  I spaced and was more into eating than I was taking pictures.  Whoops!


Sausage, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoesDay 26: Scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and chicken breakfast sausage.  I really like the Al Fresco line of sausages.  They are flavorful, minimal ingredients that I can pronounce, and are gluten free. If you see them out, give it a shot!  Lots of flavors to choose from.  The roasted red pepper and asiago sausage is  great on pizza!

Day 27: Unpictured but much of the same.  Replace the scramble with hard boiled eggs and add in a big bowl of mandarin oranges.

Grain free scones and baconDay 28: Paleo scones with coconut cream sauce and some bacon.  More mandarins on the side.  I experimented making the scones and they turned out really well!  I want to play around with the recipe a little more but I’m on the right track.  Finally got some bacon! I’ve been meaning to make it for ages and had the chance on Sunday morning to cook up a huge batch.

Kitchen Tip: I make 2lbs of bacon at a time.  I bake it in the oven for more even cooking and less mess.  Cooked bacon also freezes really well and can be reheated quickly and easily!  Once you have a stash of cooked bacon in the freezer, you can pull out as much or as little as you need.

No lunch on any of those days because breakfast was filling!


Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Day 26: Paleo Chicken enchiladas!  Recipe coming up once the challenge is over.  This experiment I am very proud of!  The benefit of using paleo tortillas is that it makes the dish way more satisfying.  I couldn’t even finish two entire enchiladas and Scott was “very full” after eating his two.  Definitely will have to make double batch next time!

Day 27: You know Saturday is Odell Day!  We got a growler and some fries and sausages from Common Link.

Steak lettuce wraps and roasted asparagusDay 28: Fake ‘Em Steak ‘Ums with roasted asparagus!  Applegate sliced roast beef, when cooked in a skillet tastes exactly like old school steak ‘ums to me.  Of course, Applegate is much healthier than the questionable “beef” from the Steak ‘Um boxes.  For me personally, thin steak with caramelized onions is one of the best combos.  I rolled with that for Sunday dinner.

I caramelized some onions in ghee and some leftover bacon fat (hell yes), then I added in a pound of the roast beef that I also chopped.  Cook for a bit and added a little Worcestershire sauce.  Placed that on some romaine lettuce leaves with shredded carrot and a small sprinkle of shredded pepper jack cheese.

Dinner was filling and satisfied an old school craving.

Getting close to the end of the challenge! Two more days!





Curry Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and CheeseIt’s cold out and winter is officially here, at least in our neck of the woods.  Which means all I want is the most comfortable of comfort foods.

Mac and cheese totally hits the spot but I wanted a little something different.  A little way to toss in some veggies and make it taste slightly more indulgent.

I thought if I pureed up some butternut squash and some coconut milk this might work to form a really creamy sauce.  It worked beautifully and we had a creamy cheesy dish to to eat while we snuggled on the couch in our jammies watching TV.

Andrea’s Curry Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

To Roast:

  • 1 2 1/2 pound Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks.
  • 1 Small onion, cut into chunks.
  • 1/2TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1tsp Curry Powder
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 3C Elbow Pasta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put the onion and squash in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and seasonings.  Place on a greased baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes.

You can also cook the pasta at this time as well, 3C of elbow pasta.  Bring a large pasta pot to boil and cook pasta for 3 minutes. Don’t cook the pasta all the way, only take it to where the pasta is just beginning to soften just a bit.  It will finish cooking in the oven when the dish is fully together.  Drain pasta, put back in pasta pot, and set aside.

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Can Coconut Milk, full fat (you can use reduced fat if you like)
  • 1 1/2C Water
  • 1/2 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/2tsp Garlic Powder
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Roasted squash and onion
  • 1 1/2C Shredded Jack Cheese
  • 2C Shredded Sharp Cheddar

Place the first five ingredients in a blender and blend till mixed.  Then add in the squash and onion and blend until everything is creamy and smooth.  You might need to stop along the way and use a spoon to help break things up.

In a large sauce pot, add the sauce and heat over low-medium heat.  Slowly add in the cheese until all the cheese is used and melted into the sauce.

Grease a 12×8 casserole dish. Add the sauce to the pasta in the pasta pot and stir until everything is mixed.  Then add that mixture to the casserole dish.

Place in the 400 degree oven and let bake for about 15 minutes.  Stir and bake for another 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the topping (see below) all over the top of the dish, give it another 5 minutes and remove from oven.


  • 1C Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2C Grated Parmesan
  • 4 Slices of crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 4TBSP Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

Allow the mac and cheese to cool for two minutes then serve and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

It’s going to seem like a lot of sauce but it will cook down once it’s in the oven.  That’s the reason for not cooking the pasta all the way.  The pasta will finish in the oven and absorb some of that sauce.

Creamy and slightly different with the curry powder.  Yeah, ok I used a lot of cheese and if you’d like to reduce that amount you can.  I used the jack for melty goodness and the cheddar to give it some bite.

The coconut milk provides the perfect base for the sauce because you don’t need to use any thickeners like flour.  You don’t even need to take the time to make a roux!  It also isn’t noticeable in the taste, no one is going to suspect you used coconut milk in this dish.

I had bacon on hand so why not?  You can omit that too if you’d like to keep it veggie friendly.

This makes a good bit of mac and cheese and is perfect for leftovers the next day.  It won’t last longer than that though so make sure to eat it up!

I was pleased how this dish turned out though I think I might tweak with it a little more and see what else I can do with it.  That’s the best part of cooking, just playing around with recipes and methods!

Have fun kids, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!



Cornmeal Deep Dish Pizza

Last week for Pizza Thursday I went all out and created something completely new.

New crust, new sauce, and new cooking method.

Experimenting time!

The results were interesting and a little surprising.

I had some greens that needed used up and everything just snowballed from there.

I decided I was going to create deep dish style pizzas using a cornmeal crust.

One pizza was going to have a butternut squash puree as the “sauce” and the other was going to have a BBQ and tomato base.

The cheese and toppings would all be the same with the addition of local bacon to the BBQ one.

I got out my cast iron skillets (Note to self Scott: We need more cast iron.) and greased those with a bit of butter.

I used my basic pizza dough recipe as a guide to create the cornmeal crust. The changes were:

  • 1 1/2C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2C Cornmeal

Everything else, yeast amount and water was the same.  I did notice that this crust needed a little more AP flour, about 1/4C more to make it easier to handle.

I’m not sure if this is a result of me adding in too much water or due to using cornmeal.  Clearly more testing needs to happen.

I let the dough rise and do it’s thing during the afternoon.  This dough wasn’t quite dense enough to roll out and cook on a pizza stone.  However it was perfect for the cast iron method!

I just split the dough in half and worked it until it filled up the cast iron skillets.  Much like how you would work a dough to line a pie pan.

For the Butternut Puree: I boiled up some chopped BNut squash and mashed that with just a small amount of butter and unsweetened coconut milk.  Since I was using this as  “sauce”, I wanted it thicker so I skimped as much as possible on the butter and coconut milk.  It was more for a touch of flavor over getting a creamy consistency. I added in a small pinch of garlic powder and smoked paprika as well.  I probably used about 2C of chopped BNut.  I had a very large BNut that needed attention and didn’t use anywhere near all of it for this pizza.

For the BBQ Sauce: I mixed in about 1/2 a can of tomato paste with about a 1/4C of my favorite BBQ sauce.  If you’ve got homemade, certainly use that!

The Toppings:

  • Sautted Chopped Kale
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Roasted Sweet Corn
  • Bacon
  • Grassfed Mozeralla
  • Sharp Aged Cheddar

With a drizzle of BBQ sauce over the top of each pie.

I baked these pies (both skillets fit in my oven) at 425 for about 1/2 an hour.  Because the skillets were greased with some butter they were pretty easy to get out of the pans. It still took two of us to get them out though! Scott held the pan while I handled the pies.

I wanted them out to be able to get some shots of the crust, next time I’ll just leave them in the skillet.

These pizzas were probably the most unique that I’ve made so far and I would defiitely make this method again.

The kale worked great as a topping and so did the sweet corn.  The corn kind of caramelized a bit during baking and become sweet little chewy nuggets.  A completely different taste experience that way.

I used a little too much BNut squash and would take that down to a thinner layer next time.  It became a little too heavy while eating because it was so dense.

The BBQ sauce on top was okay but I might leave that off next time.

I like the deep dish style so I was happy with this crust.  If I wanted to use it on a pizza stone, I would reduce the amount of cornmeal and use more AP flour to give it a little more gluten action making it easier to roll.

The pizza was certainly different and a nice change of pace from the standard style pies.  I’m anxious to play with the cornmeal a little more and see what else I can come up with.

Have you ever had a cornmeal crust pizza before?

Baked Potato Bar

We’ve talked about my love for potatoes, right? I have so many great memories of potato dishes that I could never give them up.  I also have a soft spot in my heart for the potato since it gets such a bad rap from the low-carb crowd.

Let’s keep things real, a white potato is not evil. It’s a vegetable and has a lot to offer us in terms of nutrition. Let’s embrace the potato!

One of my many favorite ways to eat a potato is by loading up a baked potato. Whenever I got a chance to get a loaded potato out at a restaurant, I always ordered it as a side.  My high school alternated between a salad bar and a baked potato bar during the week, which I loved.  A huge baked potato for lunch? Yes please!

Because of how much I adore loaded baked potatoes, I’ve taken to recreating the experience at home.

By having a loaded baked potato bar at home that means I can control the quality of ingredients and make sure that I get to use all of my favorite toppings. Plus I can control the amount and have as much of the toppings I want!

When you create a baked potato bar at home, you get to pick the toppings!  We typically have:

  • Local bacon
  • Extra sharp cheddar
  • Greek Yogurt (sour cream substitute)
  • Chopped Green Onion
  • Grass-fed butter

Those are the favorite toppings for both of us.  I like tons of green onion and Greek yogurt while Scott loves lots of bacon and cheese.

But the topping ideas are endless!  For example you could also have:

  • Steamed or roasted broccoli
  • Small cooked shrimp
  • Different cheeses (Maybe a bleu cheese or perhaps goat cheese)
  • Veggie or meat based chili
  • Rice and beans

That is just a few examples but you get the idea.  Baked potatoes can be topped with anything you like!  It also makes a great idea for a dinner party.  Everyone gets a potato and can top it with what they like.  Serve with a lovely mixed green salad and dinner is served!  Everyone’s happy and it’s a dinner party that won’t break the bank.

With grilling season officially kicked off, try roasting the potatoes in the coals or in your fire pit. Just make sure to wash, poke them with holes, and wrap tightly in foil first.  If you make this a party, everyone can be responsible for handling their own potato from start to finish.  Heck you can even have out different seasonings and oils to rub the potatoes with before wrapping them in foil and baking.

All of the toppings for the baked potato bar can be prepped ahead as well, saving you time on party day.  Or you can use this as a nice meal that you can prep ahead for and have ready to go after a long day at work.

Loaded baked potato bar, a great way to dress up a baked potato and get your family or guests involved in the kitchen!

Do you like baked potatoes? What’s your favorite baked potato topping?

Have fun guys and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

Farm House Tossed Salad

I had on Food TV in the background, not really paying attention to it when I heard Claire Robinson talk about a salad that had a warm bacon dressing and was topped with a fried egg.

Oh really?

Now that did have my attention!  Sadly not enough to stop what I was doing and see how she did it though.  Admittedly I have always been intrigued by the “warm bacon dressing” trend and was never really sure how to achieve. I did notice that the bacon grease was used a lot and as much as I love bacon, I really don’t want to eat the drippings.

I know it sounds weird but well there it is.  I couldn’t escape this idea though of a tossed salad with an egg on top and bacon dressing so I decided to make my own version for lunch.

I’m guessing on the measurements for you as this is more of a concept type of dish and can be adjusted how you see fit.

Andrea’s Farm House Tossed Salad

  • Mixed Greens
  • Chopped Tomato
  • Chopped Cucumber
  • Shredded Carrot
  • 1/4 Red Onion, chopped
  • 4 Slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 Farm Fresh Eggs
  • 2 TBSP, Heaping of Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4C Balsamic Vinegar
  • Light Olive Oil

On two plates, pile up the mixed greens and add on the other veggies, except the onions.  Set aside.

In a skillet, drizzle in a little olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Fry up the eggs and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Cook to your preferred doneness.  Remove and set aside.  In the same skillet drizzle in more olive oil, about 1 TBSP and add in the onions and bacon.  Sautee just until the onion starts to soften, then add in the mustard and balsamic vinegar and whisk together.  You may need to add in some more olive oil, it depends on how thick you want the dressing.

Turn off heat and drizzle the dressing over each salad.  Place egg on top of the salad and eat!

The salad won’t be super coated with dressing but it will be enough that it will give you great flavor and coat the salad.  This salad blew me away with the flavor combinations.  This was actually the first salad I had with a fried egg on top.  Normally if I have egg in a salad, it’s chopped hard boiled egg.  A fried egg was a whole new experience for me and it was a lovely one!

I’m not sure if I would want hard boiled egg now on a salad if I have the choice of fried!

I served this up for Scott and I one day for lunch and both of us didn’t speak to each other because we were too busy eating.  That’s always a good sign.

I’ve also done this minus the bacon with just sauteed onions and balsamic and mustard. Still excellent!

If you’ve never had a fried egg on top of a salad before, I suggest you try it soon!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

2011 Super Bowl Party Foods

Need some party food ideas for your Super Bowl Party?  OHC has you covered!

Beer and Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese will definitely be a crowd pleaser!

Spicy Chex Mix is easy to make and even quicker to replenish when the snack attack hits.

Pasta and Lentil salad to get some veggies in on Game Day!

Quick coleslaw, great as a side or as a topping to some pulled pork or a burger!

This Chipotle Glaze would go lovely on some wings!

Chipotle not your style? Try these Garlic Teriykai Wings instead.

Cheddar Beer Bread for carbs so you can party all day long, cheese for staying power!

Just for the Steeler fans, you better get some chipped ham right quick and get a crockpot of Ham BBQ going to make sandwiches.  Have some Iron City on ice too while you’re at it!


Beer and Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese

I play around with Mac ‘N Cheese a lot.  Scott loves it and really once you get the basic technique down it’s very simple to make.  I was talking with my lovely friend, Whitney, on Twitter not long ago and the idea of a beer mac ‘n cheese popped into my head.

And it wouldn’t leave.

Because really, how delicious does that sound?  Exactly.

I had to make it and once I told Scott about my idea then I couldn’t not make it because that would be teasing.

I’m no tease kids.

I made this and knocked it out of the park.

Andrea’s Beer and Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese

  • 12oz of Dark Beer
  • 1/2C Chicken Broth
  • 4TBSP (Heaping) of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1C Shredded Cheddar (good cheddar please!), plus extra for garnish
  • 1C Shredded Pepperjack Cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 3/4 of a Green pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 of a Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 of a Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced or grated
  • 5-6 Slices of crispy bacon, chopped
  • 4C, Uncooked, Whole Wheat Small-Medium, Pasta Shells (not the stuffing kind)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2tsp Garlic Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Light Olive Oil for cooking, about 3 TBSP

Preheat oven to 400 and grease a large casserole dish with nonstick spray or olive oil.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the shells, take them about half way.  Drain and set aside. In a medium sized saute pan, add in about 2TBSP of olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add in the peppers and onions, sauteeing for about 5 minutes. Add in the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.  Cook for about a minute then add in the garlic and bacon, and cook for about another minute or two.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir until everything is coated.  If the mixture looks really dry, add in some more olive oil until it looks a touch smoother.  Not too much oil, just enough to give everything a  little more moisture. Allow this flour mixture to cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Pour in the beer and stir, making sure to avoid clumping. It will foam up but that will dissipate in a minute.  Then add in the chicken stock and stir. Allow to come to a simmer so it thickens up a bit.  Slowly add in the cheeses and stir, turning down the heat at this point to a low-medium.  Once the cheeses are melted, you should have a lovely sauce.  Add in the pasta at this point and combine.  Pour mixture into a casserole dish and place in the oven.  Allow to heat until the mixture starts to bubble.  Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and place back in the oven just till the cheese is melted.

Serve up in bowls and enjoy!

Ooooo this dish was so very good! The beer is what makes this dish so make sure you use a nice dark lager style beer.  Meaning, no Miller, Bud or whatever allowed here. You want the beer to shine so it has to be a great beer in order to give you a great Mac ‘N Cheese.

You can only make straight up Mac ‘n Cheese so healthy, you know? There’s no cream or milk used and the cheese isn’t a ton when you think about how much this actually makes, which is a lot of mac ‘n cheese.  Enough that we got four meals out of it. Plus whole wheat pasta instead of basic white pasta.

It’s a very intense and rich dish.

Beer of choice for this dish is my current love, Great Lakes Brewing Eliot Ness lager. Dark and spicy bringing a deep flavor to the mac ‘n cheese.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!