Halloween Cake Pops

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You guys!  Look how cute these cake pops are!  They are the perfect Halloween snack because they are bite size, so you can eat more and not feel guilty, and they are super easy!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Okay, that’s enough exclamation points for today.  I’m sure you can find a recipe for cake pops somewhere online, but it’s so simple that you almost don’t need one.  For the cake pops themselves, you’ll need one 9X13 pan of cake.  I used a yellow cake recipe but you can use any box mix that you like.  Once it’s cooled, crumble it into a mixing bowl and add about 1 1/2 cups of your favorite frosting!  Sorry, more exclamation points.  You want the consistency to be pliable, just remember that you are going to freeze these before you decorate so they will firm up.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Once they are frozen, they are ready to decorate which is the best part.  Melt candy melts in the microwave but be sure to follow the directions, especially for the white chocolate ones as they can easily burn.  I used the Ghirardelli candy melts and they are so easy and actually taste good!  Once the candy is melted, you want to work pretty fast.  Dip the cake pops to coat and let the excess candy fall.  Directly after dipping, you want to add sprinkles so that they stick.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

For these adorable mummies, coat all of the pops and attach these cute little candy eyes.  Let set, and then put the remaining white chocolate in a piping bag.  Cut a small tip off the bag, and drizzle onto the cake pops, taking cake to avoid the eyes.  Let set and then watch them disappear like magic.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

These cute sticks can be found here and they are listed as caramel apple sticks.  I personally wouldn’t use them because they aren’t very sturdy and they are quite short.  These cake pops are so cute and they are the perfect make-ahead treat for your tricksters!

 

Black Widow Cocktail

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Photography by Allyson Regan

It’s almost the weekend, and its almost the weekend before Halloween so you know what that means.  I’ll be sipping this concoction from the comfort of my home and avoiding all of the ‘adults’ out and about partying this weekend.  But if you’re hosting a shin-dig or looking to celebrate with some boo-ze try this cocktail!  It’s super simple and so good and doesn’t have to be enjoyed just around Halloween.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

 

Black Widow Cocktail

3 pints of blackberries

1/2 cup water

1//4 cup sugar

Vodka

Ice

Extra blackberries for garnish

Begin by placing the blackberries and water in a blender.  Blend well and strain.  Add the blackberry juice and sugar and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the sugar dissolves.  For each drink, combine 6 ounces of blackberry syrup, 2 ounces of vodka, and ice in a glass.  Stir well.  Garnish with fresh berries.

 

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You could get even spookier by adding a cube of dry ice to the glass before serving!  So sinister!  Note that if you are using dry ice to take the proper precautions.   As always, have a safe and spooky Halloween!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Cheers!

 

 

Strawberry Vodka Lemonade

You guys.  I know it’s fall, but sometimes we just need a little taste of summertime.  Especially as we gear up for what appears to be an early and long winter.  All though today is quite warm and sunny!  This recipe uses the base lemonade recipe that can be found here, but with an alcoholic upgrade.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You can easily just make the strawberry lemonade if there are little ones around, and add the vodka strawberries separately.   I outlined exactly how to keep the booze separate in the recipe below!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Strawberry Vodka Lemonade

6 lemons, about 1 cup of juice

1 1/4 cup simple syrup

5 1/2 cups of water

2 quarts of fresh strawberries

2 cups vodka

Add the simple syrup and 1 quart of the strawberries to a blender and blend until smooth.  Strain to remove the seeds and add to a large pitcher with the lemon juice and the water.  In a jar, add the vodka and the rest of the strawberries, sliced.  Let chill for at least an hour.  To serve, add ice to the pitcher and add the strawberry vodka to each glass to serve.  Don’t forget to garnish with a couple boozy berries!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Yum!

Fall Cheese Board

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Cheese boards are one of my favorite things to break out when I’m entertaining.  Especially if your guests are arriving around dinner time and you still have some finishing touches to put on the meal.  Plus, they are super easy to put together and chances are that you already have most of this stuff in your kitchen!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The tricky thing is trying to figure out just how much ‘stuff’ you need for your board.  This depends on how many people, how long they will be snacking, and if you have plates for them to load up or if they are just picking off the board itself.  For the cheese board I created for this post, it would easily serve 4 people for an hour or so.  But it could also easily serve my sister and I, on a girls night, when we are splitting a bottle of wine and not planning on eating a real meal.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

As a general rule, I like to stick to the rule of threes; three cheeses, three meats, three cracker-type things, and three extras.  You don’t have to to this by any means, but I think it helps to provide a good mix of options while not crowding the board.  For the cheeses, stick to crowd favorites and maybe have one wild card that people might have never had before.  For this board, I used sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella marinated in pesto, and pecorino.  If you do choose a soft cheese, like goat cheese, you might want to add a preserve or jam to your board to complement it.  Semi-soft cheese do well when they are marinated, and hard cheeses I normally leave alone.  If you’re trying to locate good cheese in the GR area, try Martha’s Vineyard, they have a great selection of artisanal cheese (and meats! and wines!) and you can get just the amount that you need.  As far as for selecting the meats, I like to do one spicy (like a sharp pepperoni or spicy salami), one classic (I’m a sucker for prosciutto and I don’t think I’ve ever made a cheese board without it!), and one crowd favorite (for me this is usually a mild salami).  The crackers are where you can stay pretty basic or get really creative!  I found these breadsticks just at Meijer, and I think they add a nice height to the board that you normally don’t see.  I also used pita crackers, and regular ritz crackers.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The extras are the fun part!  I love using dried fruits and nuts, but I also put fresh champagne grapes on here.  I normally don’t see these at the market, but I’m glad I picked them up!  They taste sweeter than regular grapes, and they are so tiny and adorable!  You can add all sorts of extras to you cheese board, like fresh berries, preserves, figs, olives, fresh fruit, dips, spread, and so much more! If you’re looking for a great cheese board and more inspiration, head over here to check out an amazing one!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

All that’s left now is to enjoy!  Also, if you’re looking for an easy way to stock up on wine before your get-together, check out Bright Cellars!  They’re doing a great deal right now where if you follow this link, you’ll get a $50 credit on your first order!

Boneless Chicken Wings

 

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Photography by Allyson Regan

It’s almost the weekend and we all know what that means.  There’s so many sports games on and we can’t just watch them empty-handed!  I don’t know about you, but I love watching football with my husband.  And I love making game-day food.  A Michigan win would be good too.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This recipe for boneless chicken wings is so incredibly easy, and it’s one of the most requested meals in our home.  Seriously, if you are entertaining for the game this weekend, you have to try this recipe.  What I love about this dish is that it uses boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, but you can easily switch it up and use chicken thighs, or just chunk up a whole chicken.  Even though bags of frozen chicken wings can be delicious and easy, I like to be able to have chicken wings made from good, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, delicious chicken that I normally buy.  Also, in those frozen convenience chicken products, they don’t use the best chicken.

 

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Boneless Chicken Wings

1 2.5 pound package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 eggs

4 cups of panko breadcrumbs

3 cups all purpose flour

salt and pepper

1 quart vegetable oil

Begin by pouring vegetable oil into a small saucepan.  You want to have 3-4 inches of oil, but you also need 2-3 inches of space from the top of the pan.  Heat to medium, maybe medium high depending on your stove.  Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes.  Gather three bowls and place flour in one, the eggs in another, and the panko breadcrumbs in the final bowl.  Season the flour.  Whisk the eggs well.  Dunk the chicken cube into the flour, then the egg, and then the panko.  Make sure to fully cover the previous layer at each step.

Gently place the breaded chicken into the heated oil, making sure to only add enough chicken so that they can float around.  Don’t crowd the oil, this will promote even browning.  You don’t have to worry about taking the temperature of the chicken at this point, because you will be frying the chicken in shifts and you will bake them after done frying.  I like to cook them this way so that they don’t get cold, and so that I make enough, these never last long!  When you remove the chicken from the oil, transfer to a sheet tray that has a cookie rack on top.  If you place the chicken right onto the pan, the bottom will get soggy.  Once you’re done frying all the chicken, bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Don’t these just make your mouth water??  And they are super easy, they just make a lot of dishes.  My husband loves these with buffalo sauce, barbecue and ranch, with plenty of celery and carrots!  If you’ve never made buffalo sauce before, it’s super simple.  Just equal parts hot sauce and butter.  The less butter you add, the spicier it will be.  Heat both ingredients over low heat until melted and combined.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Even if your team doesn’t win, your tummy will!! Be sure to make more than you think you’ll need.  You can also save the fried nuggets by freezing them in a single layer on a tray and then placing in a freezer bag.  Bake at 400 degrees to reheat for 25-30 minutes.

Go Blue!

 

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You guys.  These cookies are amazing.  But really.  Seriously.  For real.  No joke.  Okay I think you get it now.  But I’ve been making these cookies for almost a year and I’ve made them so much that I’ve truly perfected the recipe.  While they have peanut butter in them, they really just taste like a jacked up chocolate chip cookie.  The peanut butter helps keep the texture soft and chewy.  I simply adore these cookies because the edges are slightly crisp while the center is just baked and chewy, making them perfect for dunking in ice cold milk.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

These are also a crowd favorite!  This has been the most requested cookie from my husband recently.  I made them over the summer for a camping trip and they made delicious smore’s!  I would recommend storing them in tupperware instead of in a bag though, they tend to get crumbly easily in bags.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Just look at that crumb!  I usually use Ghirardelli bittersweet dark chocolate chips, which are disk shaped and help to form these delightful chocolate layers.  So good!  I almost always have this recipe frozen into small balls so that when I have last minute company, or a bad day, I can whip these cookies up in 12 minutes or less!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar until just combined.  Add in the egg and combine well.  Add in the peanut butter and mix.  Add in the rest of the dry ingredients mixing just until combined. These work best when the dough is chilled slightly before baking.  Scoop into dough balls, I use a scoop that is about a 1/4 cup. Bake for 12 minutes, turning half way through to ensure even baking.  Let cool for a minute or two on the tray and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula.  Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.  If the chocolate solidifies, reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  This recipe works just as well when you bake them from frozen, you might just need to keep an eye on them and maybe add a couple extra minutes.  I’ve tested this recipe twice doubling the batch and they still work out great!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Be right back, I’m going to find a giant mug of milk and dunk this whole stack in it.  Don’t judge me until you try this recipe. And if you try this recipe, share your pictures on social media and tag me!

Enjoy!

September 2018 Recap

September felt like it flew by!  The weather was so unpredictable that it truly didn’t feel like summer was over until last week.  At least not in Michigan!  So let’s take a minute to look back on the awesome things we featured on the blog.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This guacamole was one of my favorite ways to use my grill unconventionally.  And it was so good! It’s such an interesting combination and when we posted it, you could find both corn and poblanos at the farmers markets.  When Ally and I shoot, we like to have others around to help us eat the delicious food, but we were content to take a guac-break this time and devour this whole bowl!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Next up is my Kale and Avocado Caesar Salad, which is so simple and so yummy!  I think I ate this for a week straight before we finally posted it on the blog.  Ally loves this salad because it’s filling and easy to prep for work lunches.  You can also be so creative with this recipe, so it’s great to add it in to your meal rotation.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I couldn’t wait to post this Eggs Benedict Recipe because its just a classic breakfast staple that I think any foodie/home cook should try!  Plus, it’s a huge crowd pleaser and it has that wow factor.  Don’t forget, always make more hollandaise than you think!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Chipotle and Butternut Squash Risotto was the perfect segue into fall cooking and baking.  Risotto is one of my favorite dishes/meals to make and this version is definitely going to be repeated many times this fall. Can’t squash my fall spirit!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

One of the most unique posts we did this month was a wine subscription review of Bright Cellars.  This was so cool because I love this service and it was fun to share with you all!  It was a little different than the regular posts that I do, but I want to start doing some more fun posts like this!  If you have any products or services that you love that you think I should check out or review, let me know in the comments!

I know that we posted a lot of delicious recipes in September, but look for a couple more unique posts in October!

My New Wine Obsession

You guys.  I’m definitely a wine-o, and sometimes going to the same store to get wine just gets old.  I also have this weird thing where I love the subscription box idea.  I’ve done other wine boxes, a snack box, workout clothing box, grocery box, and even a coffee box and I just love the simplicity of a monthly delivery of my favorite things!  I always want to be as transparent as possible on my little corner of the internet, so I want to be clear that I’m not being compensated by anyone to write this blog post.  I just really like this product and want to share the products I love!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

So let’s talk about how it works!  Click on this link, Bright Cellars, which will direct you to the companies website.  From there, you take a flavor profile quiz which is super easy and takes less than 5 minutes.  Your personal wine concierge then creates your box which contains 4 wines.  If you’ve tried other wine boxes like this one, please comment below and let me know if I should try them!  One of the reasons I love this box is that the customer service is really great and quick with their responses.  My wine concierge emails me minutes after I review my wines and uses that information to create a better box for me the following month.  Pictured above is the first box I received, and I loved 2 out of the four wines!  The other two wines were still good, and while it was really fun to try these new wines, I learned that I wouldn’t want to buy them again.

One of the wines in particular stood out to me and I will definitely be ordering another bottle.  It is the 2017 Zweigelt from Herz & Heim Vineyards.  This grape varietal is from Austria, and this particular vintage has notes of warm baking spices, dark berry flavors, and medium bodied.  I enjoyed this wine with a really great grilled steak and late summer vegetables, which paired really nicely.  It’s currently sold out, but I hope it comes back soon!

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So if you’d like to give this a try, click the link here, and you’ll receive two free bottles on your first box! This is a $30 credit, which is like getting 4 bottles of wine for $30.  The only thing that is a bit of a hassle with this box, is that you need to have someone with a valid ID over 21 to sign for the box upon delivery.  If I know that I won’t be home to receive the box, I usually just call FedEx after it has shipped and ask them to hold it at my nearest Walgreens which I can then pick up at anytime!

Once I open up the bottles from my second box I just received, I’ll post again about my favorites!  Feel free to leave a comment about your experiences with wine boxes like this or any other great subscription box.

Cheers!

Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Let’s be honest with each other and get this out into the open.  Food is the perfect companion to football and beer.  Sundays like today are begging for a cold one and some delicious food.  Don’t get me wrong, I love watching football with my guy, cheering on our team.  But I love having lots of food options for us during the weekends when there’s so many different games to watch.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This is just a dressed up version of guacamole, and it almost doesn’t even need a recipe!  But I’ll give you one as a reference.  Poblanos can be a bit tricky, much like jalapeños.  You can never be certain how spicy they be until you eat it.  This is why it’s so important to taste as you go.  I roasted my poblanos on our grill, because we have an induction range, but if you have a gas stove, you can roast them over the flames.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole

4 soft avocados

2-3 poblanos

2 limes

1 cup sweet corn

handful of fresh cilantro

salt & pepper

Roast the poblanos over an open flame.  Place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap while cooling.  The plastic will trap the heat and help the skins to steam making it super easy to peel.  Roast the corn over the flame as well, or sauté in a pan over high heat if using frozen or canned corn.  Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits.  Scoop out avocado and mash with a fork.  Once the poblanos are cool, peel and remove the seeds.  Cut into a small dice and add to the mashed avocados.  Cut the corn off the cob and add to the avocado mixture.  Roughly chop cilantro (optional, I know it’s soapy to some).  Juice the limes starting with one.  Make sure to taste as you go along.  If this will be sitting out for a bit, make sure to add a bit more lime juice to keep the color.  As always, season well.  If you’d like, you can also add a pinch of coriander and cumin to bump up the flavor even more.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Because there’s lots of poblanos and corn, I didn’t add tomatoes to this guacamole like I usually do.  You could definitely still add tomatoes and blistered cherry tomatoes would taste so good with the roasted veggies.  I love the way blue corn tortilla chips look next to guacamole and they taste great too!

Go Lions!

Lemonade: For When Life Gives You Lemons

With summer winding down, I’m trying to recap all of my favorite summer recipes.  One that I love, especially when it’s hot outside, is fresh lemonade.  It’s super simple and is a lot better for you than store-bought.  If you want to get into the nitty gritty of what’s really in your lemonade and how terrible it is for you, read it here.  It’s disgusting.  While I know that you can’t possibly make everything from scratch, this is super simple and easy and you can control the sweetness and flavor.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

 

Making your own lemonade is a great way to control the amount of sugar your family is consuming.  You can even change the type of sugar you use.  The sweetener in this recipe is known as simple syrup which is also a common ingredient in a lot of mixed drinks.  You can purchase simple syrup in any grocery store, but please don’t.  You are over-paying for sugar and water, and probably some kind of preservative.  Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar, brought to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  You can use granulated sugar or coconut sugar or raw sugar, or what ever you’d like.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Lemonade

6 lemons

1 1/4 cup simple syrup

5 1/2 cups water

Juice the lemons, taking care to strain well.  Six lemons should yield around 1 cup of juice.  If you use bought lemon juice, you might need more simple syrup.  Combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, and water in a large pitcher.  This should yield about 7 cups of lemonade, which is quite a bit, but you can mix it with iced tea arnold-style or add vodka happy hour-style.  Add plenty of ice and enjoy!

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Photography by Allyson Regan