Saturday, August 31, 2013

Something Saturdays (8/31/13)

It's Labor Day weekend and I am essentially sticking my fingers in my ears and going "lalalalaaaa" SUMMER PLEASE DON'T LEEEEAVE!

As a native Ohio-an...this list makes so much sense to me!

Can we please talk about my new favorite find? SaltWorks. Seriously THE MOST amazing sea salts (and flavored salts and cane sugars, incidentally). I've been able to use a lot of the varieties in my savory cooking, and all of my baked goods are totally on a new level thanks to such wonders as Fleur de Sel sea salt. *sigh of absolute bliss*
Disclaimer: SaltWorks provided me with product, and I was under no obligation to review if I so chose.  My opinions, as always, are all my own. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

{Baked} Fish Sticks

{Baked} Fish Sticks
Of course I made these for Michael.
(Sometimes) I'm a nice lady.

Now...technically these are supposed to be fish sticks buut...I may have not cut the fish small enough? So it's more like just...baked fish?
When I look at these pictures, it actually reminds me of "fish 'n' chips"...minus the chips.
{Baked} Fish Sticks
Michael loves fish and chips. And fish and chips make me think of British things, which makes me think about some of the hilarious people in my life. Let me elaborate:

Michael's best friend, David, is obsessed with all things British. He teaches Brit Lit at the high school Michael and I attended. He's basically in love with Queen Elizabeth (Tudor). His twin girls know all about the royal family-his daughter Kate especially loves hearing about Princess Kate. He has British flags um...everywhere.

One of my good friends in high school went through a strange phase senior year where...out of nowhere she would say something in a British accent and just speak like that for awhile and if someone pointed it out she'd be all "Oh? What? I am? I didn't even notice that! Strange."'d never been to England. You were just doing a strange thing and acting like it was unconscious lol.

Another friend in high school was also very obsessed with England (in addition to early, 18th century, America. She loves her some Thomas Jefferson). In college she did a semester abroad there and guess what? She bagged herself a Brit! Her first real boyfriend turned out to be an English boy and even after she had to come back to the states they visited each other often and then, a few months ago, they were married in a super charming wedding in the English countryside.
{Baked} Fish Sticks
Anyway, all those British stories don't have much to do with anything. I just think it's funny the obsession some people have with British culture. Even those of us who aren't obsessed are fairly interested in, say, Kate & William and little Prince George. 

Back to fish: I adapted this recipe a fair amount to work with the ingredients I had on hand, and I think the result was even better that way! Michael really really enjoyed these and if you like fish (and/or British culture? :P) then you will too! They're also pretty darn quick and easy to throw together, and on the healthy side. Huzzah!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Homemade Puff Pastry

Homemade Puff Pastry
Ughhh you GUYS! I cannot believe I haven't shared this with you yet! "bad food blogger, bad!" may have noticed I've developed a borderline unhealthy addiction to spinach & brie puff pastries. Liiiike...poor Michael jokes that I "supposedly" make them but he wouldn't know because they're the time he gets home. And we're talkin' about me making double batches...8 puffs....oops. 


Anywho, since I've been using so much puff pastry, I really wanted to tackle making the stuff from scratch. But I was intimidated. But I told myself "KAYLE! You've gotta buck up and take on this challenge!" So I did. And surprisingly, not that difficult. Yes, there are some steps. But they're pretty simple (especially since I've provided you with a step by step photo guide ;P) and I've already made the homemade puff pastry twice.

I will share with you one downside to these: you end up with blocks of dough instead of the sheets you buy, so when you go to roll out the dough's hard. Like...really hard. I get a goooood work out trying to roll that chunk of dough into a thin sheet. But it's do-able and I always get through it. And if me and my tiny, weak, arms can do it-SO CAN YOU!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Butterfinger Fudge Cookie Bars

Butterfinger Fudge Cookie Bars
So, the school season is upon us. I know many of you are either in school, or have children in school, so your whole lives are totally different right now than they were a month ago. It's so crazy for me to realize it's been 4 years since I started a new school year. 6 years since high school. Gah! I feel old. But I still have very distinct memories from those school years. Here are some things I learned: 
  • Don't bring baloney and peanut butter sandwiches to school. It's weird and the other kids WILL mock you.  
  • If you do something consistently, that will become your thing and reflect on you. My hair was oftentimes in a ponytail so I was told that I was essentially Patty from Grease. Because she always had a ponytail.
  • Some kids will eat paper...and somehow that will be viewed as OK and cool.
  • Popular groups form earlier than you may think. 3rd grade for my school-and it was a like, conscious effort. While it formed I asked if I could be in it and was told, no, because I had a Barbie lunchbox.
  • Girl Scouts are fun. If you're a girl, JOIN! They're especially fun if your mom is a troop leader.
  • Even though you may not be able to tell it at the time, some of these friends you have, you may end up like...adoring in the future. One of my main grade school friends who, I thought, was drifting away from me and thought she was too cool, and then transferred to a different high school. I thought that was the end for us. But then she moved to NYC and now we're really close and we have tons of fun getting all nostalgic about the old days. A ton of my mom's close friends she's known since grade school too. Craziness.
  • Treats in lunchboxes=best part of the day.
Butterfinger Fudge Cookie Bars
Now, I don't have any little ones BUT I do have a boyfriend whose lunch I pack for him to take to work. And he so rarely makes a specific request for treats. But after I shared a photo on my facebook page of these bars from Shugary Sweets, he texted me saying "Can we please have those?" Of course we can honey. Next trip to the grocery store I got some butterfingers and then voila! Whipped these beauties up!

And then they went in the lunch.
Butterfinger Fudge Cookie Bars
I mean...these were also totally gobbled up at home. By me. As per usual. One thing that isn't very normal for me is-I think these tasted much better chilled. Yeah. I know. Crazy! But seriously, pop these in your fridge. You'll thank me later.
Butterfinger Fudge Cookie Bars
So, what are we working with here?

We have a thick, chewy, peanut butter cookie base, topped with ooey gooey chocolate fudge, and then a wonderful top crust of Butterfinger candy bars. MMMmmm!! I don't know about you guys but I LOVE Butterfingers. I mean they're pb and chocolate. I remember being obsessed with them when I was young and constantly picking em out of my teeth...tell me you don't know what I'm talking about :P.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Something Saturdays (8/24/13)

I'm obsessed with these 35 Clever Food Hacks!

Go home 1996 Delia's're drunk (ohhh 90's fashion. ew)

Also...OMG...10 facts about The Princess Bride from a live-commentary screening!


My friend Becky, of Olives 'n' Wine, was sweet enough to nominate me for the Sunshine Award! She has 10 questions for me to answer so without further ado..
  1. What is your first memory in life?
    Ok...nobody believes me on this but I could swear that I remember by baptism (I was 1 month old) I don't remember much just this moment where my Uncle (who was a priest) held the shell that had the baptismal water above my head and I remember feeling concerned about that large shell and then the cold water hit me and I was not happy. It was nothing like a bath. I don't remember thinking words because I wasn't developed enough for that. But anyway...people say that's impossible. So at the very least I know FOR 100% SURE I remember going to see my brother in the hospital after he was born and I was 2 and a half. I remember having to wear scrubs and wash my hands really well before going in the Neonatal ICU to see him with my dad (my mom was already there).
  2. What has been the best vacation you have ever been on and what vacation are you looking forward to in the future?
    Disney World. I will ALWAYS love Disney World!! And coincidentally, I'm going for a couple days this December with my family & godfamily. EEE!
  3. What is your preferred type/brand of coffee?
    Blech, I don't like coffee.
  4. Flowers or chocolate?
    WHAT? I can't choose!!! Ugh. Probably chocolate, let's face it.
  5. What is your normal bedtime and wake up time?
    I always want to go to bed at 10 but a certain boy and his need to finish videogames, etc. usually means it's more like 11 or so. We usually wake up at 7.
  6. When going out, do you wear your hair up in a pony tail or down?
    If I wanna look cute, my hair is down :)
  7. Favorite form of exercise?
    Icky nooooone! Lol seriously, though, none. But I do like dancing so that's something.
  8. Favorite place to shop?
    Hm. I don't know? Bed Bath & Beyond? Target? Forever 21? Express? I never shop so it's all like a fantasy, lol. 
  9. Do you have a favorite cuisine to eat when dining out? What is it?
    I usually go for a steak or burger-I pretty much never eat those at home so it's a treat!
  10. Broccoli. Yay or nay?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mozzarella Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Mozzarella Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts
We're due for another chicken recipe, yeah?

Yeah, I think so too. 

AND they're baked, so hey, none of that fried business, hooray!
AND they're stuffed with pesto and mozzarella (YUM).

Speaking of pesto...I have a bunch of cubes of frozen leftover pesto thaaaat...I'm somewhat uninspired about. Anyone have any recipe suggestions? (Although now that I say this I'm thinkin' pizzaaa)

I'm super sorry for this super short post guys I juuust....can't think of a thing to say and stuff. This is becoming a frequent problem. While you're helping me out with recipe suggestions, let me know if there's anything you wanna know about me or that you'd like me to share? Hm?

Yepp...phoning it in. Food blogger style.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Heart Healthy Waffles

First of all, I want to send out a lot of love to Michael and his family. Today I'm with them in spirit while they honor the wonderful life of Grandma Glo. She was so amazing and will be missed.
Heart Healthy Waffles
I have a dream.

I dream of a spacious kitchen with lots of light. I dream of an island and glistening appliances. I dream of a cheerful, comforting, space with fresh flowers and full of the smells of baking bread or cookies. I dream of a happy place, where people congregate for food, love, and laughter. I dream of little ones reaching up with tiny hands, to help stir or lick a spoon.

I dream of a big, happy family, sitting around a table and enjoying a big breakfast. And at this breakfast...obviously there shall be waffles.
Heart Healthy Waffles
Waffles are king (or queen) of the (non savory) breakfasts around here. Michael doesn't adore pancakes, and I don't really like french toast, but we both enjoy waffles. 

I also want to be able to enjoy waffles in my life for a long, long, long time. My great grandma is 105. I don't know if I necessarily wanna live that long's pretty awesome. 

The beauty of these beauties is they're heart healthy: they include flaxseed and wheat germ (although I omitted the wheat germ because I didn't have any), whole wheat flour, and can be made with egg substitute and a healthier fat choice (such as coconut oil).
Heart Healthy Waffles
I gotta say, I love flaxseed/flaxseed meal. I bought a bag for these waffles and I have really enjoyed it! You can just throw a little tablespoon or some such into like any baked good and hey, woot, you've got a little healthier kick to it!

Back to the waffles-they're hearty, chewy, full of flavor, and really just a great option. Really, the only downside is they aren't quite crisp enough for me. But that's not a big deal, they're so gorgeous and I would be proud to serve this to anyone. Especially my adorable little future family that I'm dreaming of :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
Sweet or Salty?
One of those quintessential, "let's find out about you" questions. My mom would say salty. If she's gonna snack she wants pretzels, potato chips, etc. She very rarely has a hankering for a sweet. Me, I tend to go for sweets if I'm getting the munchies. I'll grab a cookie or candy or brownie, etc. etc. over a bag of salty snacks any day of the week.

But you know what sounds even better? Not having to choose. I'm the kinda girl who wants to have it all, and I like to think all you wonderful people like the sound of that as well. So let's get our sweet and salty fixes together, in one nummy cookie package, so no one has to choose!
Pretzel Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
I'm obviously not alone in wanting to have my cake and eat it with salted caramel too :P It's become a huge trend: chocolate covered potato chips, putting sea salt on sweets (such as brownies and, my personal obsession, cookies). Something about salt brings out the sweetness of well...sweets. The perfect little bit of yin to emphasize the yang. Most dessert recipes call for a little bit of salt, which is really only present for the purpose of amping up the flavor. Sweet and salty desserts bring that logic to the next level.

And I am alllll about it!
Pretzel Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
What we're working with here is a peanut butter brown sugar cookie base with chocolate chips and pretzel pieces and then of course the wonderousness of being topped with a bite of salty goodness. They're ooey gooey cookies with bits of crunch from the pretzels. 

Heaven on your tastebuds people.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Something Saturdays (8/17/13)

Ughhh I am so stressed right now, I'm in the middle of a 4 day (7 hours a day) promotion that has had so much drama and just...ahhh. I don't even wanna think about it. I haven't been able to cook or bake since it started either which is just sad. Especially for Michael looking at me with his puppy eyes like, "What am I supposed to eat?" So let's speak of happier things.

Buahahahaa. If Disney Princesses had Instagram :P

Oh man guys...right? How bad was middle school? Bad.

Don't forget, you have until Wednesday to enter my organic coconut giveaway!

Oh yeah, and I have to give one big, giant THANK YOU Zainab from Blahnik Baker. After hearing/reading me whine about not about the Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook....she sent me one! I am so excited and so so so grateful! I love my food blogger friends SO much :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

One Pan Chicken Alfredo

One Pan Chicken Alfredo
Uuuuuuugh I hate doing dishes. HATE IT! I feel like I live under the constant weight of dishes, such is the life of a person who cooks and bakes a lot. What's ironic is I used to love doing dishes! As a kid it was like this treat that I adored-my mom didn't let me do them often (I didn't do a good enough job, I guess?) so it was so fun to me. Then when I would go over for dinner at my best friend's house, her dad would tell me I had to wash the dishes (something about me eating their food so needing to wash the dishes...ironically when Alex was at my house she'd say "I'm the guest! Guests don't wash dishes" and I'd look at her like...hmm...something here seems off). After a few times of got old. Gone were the fun days of dishes. And now I do them daily. *sigh*'s sort of nice when I make something that doesn't require a bunch of dishes, because that means less for me to wash later! Hooray!
One Pan Chicken Alfredo
Enter this one pan chicken alfredo. It's creamy, garlicky, and I healthified it a bit. Instead of heavy cream I used fat free evaporated milk, which I think doesn't compromise the flavor at all, so win! It's def. a nice, easy, tasty dinner. Without the regret you get when you've dirtied a ton of dishes. 

Honestly, it's not my most favorite. Partly because chicken alfredo isn't my most favorite. And it's not creamy enough for Michael. So, while we did like it, it probably won't make frequent appearances here in the apartment. But it'll ocassionally pop up. Like a friend that you kind of like and enjoy seeing occasionally, just not all the time, ya know?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Coconut Ice Cream-EASY, 4 ingredients (Edward & Sons Organic Coconut Products Review)

Coconut Ice Cream-EASY, 4 ingredients
I had a vision in my head of these photos. I knew I wanted a light blue bowl to pair with the creamy white coconut ice cream.

Only problem?

I had no blue bowls.

Luckily for me, I had a babysitting gig where we (yes...2 babysitters...for 2 kids...which trust me, is the only reason I still babysit those children) took the kids to one of those crafty places where you can do things like paint ceramic or whatever. So me and the other babysitter decided to take part as well. So I found a bowl I liked, and painted it in pretty pretty blues. And thusly my vision was able to be realized.
Coconut Ice Cream-EASY, 4 ingredients
I am a lucky lady and, after meeting them at the SFFS, Edward & Sons sent me some of their amazing organic coconut products. Then I had to decide what to play with first. I knew exactly what to do with their unsweetened shredded coconut (I love using shredded coconut in cookies but I hate how sweetened most shredded coconut-desserts have enough sweet as it is- is and full of goodness knows what. So this stuff is a Godsend!) But I wanted to use more products. And then I saw the coconut cream. And I remember reading you can make whipped cream with it. And my brain jumped to my favorite easy no ice cream maker recipe. And I thought "let's give this a try!" Aaaand (after a moment of panic when I couldn't seem to whip the coconut cream thick enough but crossed my fingers and hoped for the best) it worked! Plus I threw in some of the shredded coconut and topped with toasted coconut flakes, to really punch up the flavor.
Coconut Ice Cream-EASY, 4 ingredients
Soooo gooood!

I love how summery this ice cream tastes. Like you're laying on a beach in the Bahamas. Just the perfect coconut flavor to evoke all the feelings of beachiness and tropical, summery fun. Also super refreshing on a hot day...which let's face's August. And the toasted coconut adds some really nice crunchy texture. You should seriously give it a try. Or make something else with Edward & Sons organic coconut. You could even win some!! Scroll past the recipe for the giveaway :D

Monday, August 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Coconut Flour Pancakes (Edward & Sons Review)

Peanut Butter Coconut Flour Pancakes

What is in a name? 

They're funny little things. Take my name for instance: Kayle. It's a weird name. For one thing, you may not be aware, but it is pronounced Kay-lee (rhymes with Hayley). My mom heard it when she was pregnant with me, and liked it. But at the time it wasn't a common name. The main spelling she knew of was the traditional Irish spelling, Kayleigh. But my mom thought that would be too difficult for a kindergartner to attempt to spell. She'd also heard of it being spelled Kaylee. But my mom's middle name is Lee, and her sister's middle name is Kay, so she didn't want people to think it was 2 names (like Bobby Jo or Mary Ann)-she wanted to be clear it was one, fluid name. So she took off the extra "e". She didn't anticipate how many people would call me "Kale". Or "Kyle". Or Kayla, Kylie, Callie, etc. etc. Don't even get me started on how many ways my name gets misspelled...there are like a bjillion ways to spell Kayle. (And let's not even get into my last name...oh boy. For the record, it's pronounced the city in Italy, Bologna.) Now, let's think about Michael. My boyfriend. His name is Michael. NOT Mike. When people call him Mike I get very confused and weirded out. Some people are Mike's. Some people can be Mike's AND Michael's, but my Michael is just...Michael. For some reason shortening it to one syllable entirely changes my perception of him and his name. And then there comes naming a post, naming a recipe. You want the name to be descriptive, and really tell you what it is...but you don't want it to be too long. It's a tricky line to walk. Names have so much meaning on so many different levels, that can completely alter how we perceive something...if my name had that extra "e"...I wouldn't feel like the same me. Mike is not my boyfriend. And these pancakes are delicious...whatever you call em.
Peanut Butter Coconut Flour Pancakes they taste like a peanut butter cup? Um absolutely not. They taste like pancakes with a faint hint of peanut butter...and if you use chocolate chips then chocolate. Anyway, I've never used coconut flour, but when I found myself with some amazing Edward & Sons Organic Coconut Flour at my disposal, I knew I needed to play with it! I'm looking forward to using it more, so if you have any recipes using coconut flour, share away! I'd love some ideas!

Coconut flour is awesome for a few reasons: one of which is it's a great gluten free replacement for wheat flour. It's also low in fat, high in fiber, and generally tasty and healthy!
Peanut Butter Coconut Flour Pancakes
The texture of these pancakes, due to the coconut flour, is definitely different and something to get used to. They're a little thicker and more...grainy isn't quite the word but something like that. It also is delightfully hearty and imparts a nice, subtle, coconut flavor. Which lends itself really well to the subtle sweetness of these pancakes. Because generally, these pancakes are pretty darn good for you: low in fat and calories, the amount of sweetness or sugar is entirely up to you (they can even be sugar free if you don't have much of a sweet tooth), and ya know. All that good stuff. Of course then I need chocolate chips and to smother them in peanut butter but...I mean...would I be me otherwise?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Something Saturdays (8/10/13)

OMG-I looove "Friends" and these 25 fascinating facts you might not know about "Friends" ARE SO COOL!

Also-don't forget to check out the AMAZING giveaway I have running now, you have 2 more days to enter! PLUS you can enter the Great Midwest recipe challenge for a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Browned Butter Popcorn

Browned Butter Popcorn
I interrupt your popcorn fantasies to bring to you some sad news:

Me and savory popcorn are broken up.

I know! I know. No one's sadder than me. But we had a good run. I used to eat microwaved popcorn daily (or at least weekly). I was known to scarf down a large bucket of the buttery stuff at the movies. I literally purchased a new microwave in my first apartment because the one that came with the place wasn't large enough to pop popcorn. But in the past few years...we've grown apart. I already had to give up movie popcorn after I got sick more than a couple times from it. I lost my craving for the microwave kind (even after I found a way to do it homemade). I found a new popcorn love...sweet popcorns. Chocolate and caramel corns, those have been bringing me nothing but joy. But when I heard of browned butter on popcorn...I knew I had to try to rekindle mine and savory popcorn's love. But was not to be. After a couple (delectable) bites...I no longer wanted any more. And my stomach protested the entire thing. I had a headache and was nauseous for the rest of the night.

I don't know why, but this same thing happened with eggs. I ate too much of a thing and makes me sick. I don't know why. But I have to accept my sad fate. Because let's face it...if browned butter popcorn can't fix it....nothing can.
Browned Butter Popcorn stupid palate/belly aside. Let's discuss.


I did this never occur to me until now? It's so genius! Maybe I got sick later, but those first couple bites...mmm they were buttery, nutty, heavenly popcorn goodness.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Truffles

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Truffles
There was a silly time where I didn't think I liked any nuts, except for peanuts. Especially not in my sweets. But then, I discovered the wonderous chocolatey magic of Max Brenner's. In their gift shop (which is where I tend to hang out while waiting for a table) they'll give you a free sample of chocolate covered caramelized pecan truffles or some such and so, that first time, I tried it. Why not, right? It's free!

Fast forward 4 and a half years and those pecans have turned me into a con artist. I crave those little pieces of pecan heaven-the delicious chocolatey treats that made me completely change my mind about nuts (get your mind out of the gutter!) When I find myself in that gift shop, I get my free sample. I linger. I try to go to a new sales person for another one. Did they leave the sample jar unattended? I grab a handful. Yes...I'm pretty much the Bonnie half of Bonnie & Clyde of free chocolates.

*phew* glad to get that off my chest. My secret shame is safe with you guys, right?
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Truffles
So when I saw this reminded me of those treats that turned me so villainous. Although they're pretty different...still good. AND bonus points-it's candy, so no baking. Which means no turning on the oven. Which means no melting in the NYC August I-only-have-a-window-air-conditioner-and-its-in-the-living-room-and-can-only-do-so-much-especially-because-electricity-is-so-effing-expensive heat. These little beauts are best served chilled.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Truffles
Now, warning...these pecan truffles are messy. See that cocoa power? MESSY. Gets all up on your hands and everything it touches. But is a little extra messy chocolatey powder really such a horrible price to pay? I say worth it. Because you know what you get in return? Sweet, delicious, chocolatey, not overly sweet (or bitter) candies with a nice solid feel of firm, velvety chocolate when you bite in, followed by the lovely crunch of pecan. 

And you know what? They're not too bad for ya either. Sweetened only with honey. The only fat comes from good fats coconut oil and a smidge of peanut butter and well...pecans. And chocolate is super full of um...antioxidants and what not...yeah?

Finger lickin' good.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Garlic Herb Ciabatta Grilled Cheese-Great Midwest Flavored Cheeses Review

Garlic Herb Ciabatta Grilled Cheese
Let's talk cheese. If you don't like cheese,or are dairy free/lactose intolerant...I'm so so sorry but this post is not for you. You see, I was contacted by the amazing people at Great Midwest cheeses to try their 12 varieties of flavored artisan Cheddars and Monterey jacks, review them for you, give you a chance to win them (scroll past the recipe for that), and to tell you all about this SUPER AMAZING recipe contest they've got going on!

So first, the cheese. Great Midwest is available at select retailers, club stores and cheese shops nationwide (find where to buy near you here). They're all natural, handcrafted in small batches and made in Wisconsin, using only pure, certified hormone free milk! The flavors range from sweet (ooh la la Blueberry Cobbler Cheddar) to savory (such as my personal favorite, Garlic & Dill Cheddar) to spicy (hoo! Most of all the Habanero Jack!)-and Michael and I tried them all. You know...for the sake of professionalism. The one big factor that struck both of us about all the cheeses-their smooth and silky texture, it is divine! Plus, they melt extremely well (part of why they make such phenomenal grilled cheeses!) All of the cheeses did an amazing job at representing their flavors-they were very true to them, but not overbearing. Plus-they're so versatile. Depending on which flavor, they can be used for snacks, on crackers, shredded over salads, added to casseroles, omelets, mac n cheese, even used in baking!
Garlic Herb Ciabatta Grilled Cheese
Now, this August and September, Great Midwest is hosting a recipe contest-inviting home chefs (or fellow food bloggers ;P) to submit their favorite grilled cheese recipe, using Great Midwest cheese(s), for a chance to win one of eight prizes including a vacation, Panini presses and cookbooks! You can enter through Facebook or their website, and you can check those out for more details on how the recipes will be judged as well as for any rules or restrictions. Essentially, though, key areas for the judging are: the use of Great Midwest cheeses, taste, and creativity/originality of the recipe (this is a big component so you're encouraged to go crazy and have some off the wall ideas!).  They're also offering bonus points to entrants that share their participation on Facebook, anyone that posts anything on the Great Midwest Facebook page – whether it be a photo of their sandwich, their recipe, them in the kitchen cooking, etc. – will get bonus points on their entry. It's SUPER cool and I strongly encourage everyone to give it a shot and enter!
Garlic Herb Ciabatta Grilled Cheese
Since we're talkin' original grilled cheese recipes...obviously I had to make my own! So I did! Using that amazing ciabatta bread with the shredded Morel & Leek Jack, I then layered in some slices of the Garlic & Dill Cheddar (hands down my favorite cheese in the bunch, but are you really surprised?). And what did we get?

BEST GRILLED CHEESE EVER (in my humble opinion).

This ciabatta makes the most gorgeous golden brown, perfectly buttery and crisp bread for the grilled cheese, and it's simply stunning to see how beautifully the cheddar in the middle melted down (and how it really mellowed out the flavor). It is cheesy and buttery and garlic-y and herb-y and just like heaven dancing on your tastebuds. I cannot get enough of it. I didn't even used to like grilled cheese that much and now? I'VE EATEN THIS GRILLED CHEESE EVERY DAY SINCE I FIRST MADE IT-until I ran out of bread! And I miss it! Because oh em geeee. Fantastic. good. There aren't enough words to express my happiness over one lil cheesy sandwich.

Thank you Great Midwest.
Thank you.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Something Saturdays (8/3/13)

While at the SFFS I had one of the most....sensational chocolate experiences I've ever had. Lucky me, I got to repeat that experience, and make some new ones, when Chuao Chocolatier sent me an assortment of some of their candy bars. Oh em gee you guys SO GOOD! First of all: they're handcrafted with ethically sourced cocoa and all natural ingredients. Amazingness. All of the flavors are really delicious, but my favorite has to be the Pop Corn Pop. Do me a favor: if you try this, DO NOT CHEW. Just let the chocolate melt in your mouth. You taste wonderful, creamy milk chocolate and then the pop rocks take effect. And then the bursts of buttery flavor. It's incredible. Potato Chip and Ravishing Rock Road and Salted Chocolate Crunch AND Honeycomb are also some of my favorites (but ALL of them are really wonderful, those ones just are more my preference in terms of flavors.) I highly suggest you go get your hands on some!
Disclaimer: Chuao Chocolatier provided me with product, and I was under no obligation to review if I so chose.  My opinions, as always, are all my own. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ciabatta Bread with Morel & Leek Jack Cheese (Great Midwest Cheese Review)

Ciabatta Bread with Morel & Leek Jack Cheese
Soo...ever since I went to the Summer Fancy Food Show I've been practically swimming in free stuff. Now, I realize this isn't very PC of a food blogger thing for me to say. But it's true! And I am NOT complaining, I'm working with some really cool companies and getting to try some seriously tasty products. The partnership I might be most excited about it with Great Midwest flavored cheeses. You might notice on my sidebar and footer, there are 2 new lovely ads, courtesy of them. On Monday there will be an in depth review (and giveaway!) and news about a super cool grilled cheese contest they're holding! 
Ciabatta Bread with Morel & Leek Jack Cheese
Anyway, part of what the Great Midwest people wanted from me was to develop an original grilled cheese recipe. Now um...that was a little tough for me to think of at first. original can grilled cheese be? So I decided I'd start with the bread. I adapted a ciabatta recipe I'd been wanting to try (GREAT CHOICE, more on that later) and grated in cheese-one of Great Midwest's flavored cheese, Morel & Leek Jack. The Morel & Leek Jack cheese has a nice, subtle, smoky herb flavor that I thought would be nice in the bread. (Click here to find where you can buy it.)

And it was. Part of the beauty of the Great Midwest cheeses is how smooth, and silky they are and how wonderfully they melt. Just look at what it did when baked into this ciabatta:
Ciabatta Bread with Morel & Leek Jack Cheese
Ohhh yesss.

But let's rewind. I was kind of intimidated when I read the instructions for the ciabatta (not about the adding the cheese part, I figured just added the cheese in before you start kneading and it'd work out-and it did), plus you have to make sure not to forget to make the biga (which is sort of like a starter?) the night before. But when I went into the kitchen it actually was much easier than I'd thought and I produced 4 loaves of the best ciabatta I've ever tasted (and maybe my favorite bread recipe I've ever made?)
Ciabatta Bread with Morel & Leek Jack Cheese
The outside of the loaves is a gorgeous golden brown, just crisp enough without being hard or tough, and the inside of the bread is so wonderfully soft (Michael couldn't stop exclaiming over how soft they were). The cheese gives you wonderful little bites of salty, smoky flavor. 

You can eat this bread plain, with butter, smeared with your favorite spread (roasted garlic, cream cheese, etc.), toasted, it makes great sandwiches, I bet it would be awesome in a savory bread pudding...really the possibilities go on and on!

And you know what? It makes a BEAUTIFUL grilled cheese. But more on that on Monday...
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