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blue cheese and bacon dip

This is our friend Geeven.

No, not the little blondie on the motorcycle (which, by the way is as close as she’ll EVER get to driving one). The guy behind her. Geeven is one of our best pals. He’s cute. He’s funny. He’s got that bad-boy motorcycle thing goin’ on. And ladies, he’s single!

But that’s beside the point. The thing is, Geeven loves bacon. He thinks it should be considered a food group. He loves it so much, in fact, that every year his birthday is christened “Bacon Day.” Friends come from all over, make a bacon-related dish, and toast Geeven on another trip around the sun. This year the table was strewn with chocolate-covered bacon, bacon maple ice cream, chocolate bacon croissants, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, spicy bacon bloody mary’s, and even bacon water. I wouldn’t recommend the last one.

When it comes to bacon dishes, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I don’t think bacon should be where it doesn’t belong (i.e. in water), and I don’t ever want to sacrifice flavor for creativity. Call me crazy. So I opted to create a savory bacon dip with a hint of blue cheese.

To make it, you’ll need bacon, garlic, blue cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise.

Begin by slicing the bacon…

…and mincing the garlic.

Fry the bacon together with the garlic until crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely.

Toss the sour cream, mayo, blue cheese and bacon pieces into the bowl of your food processor. Reserve a few blue cheese and bacon crumbles for topping the dip.

Blend until smooth. It may take a few minutes to get most of the bacon chunks pureed. I doubt you’ll need salt, but a few grinds of pepper can’t hurt. Season to taste, puree again, and stick in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

Serve topped with a few crumbles of cheese and bacon. I like to serve dips this way—it gives guests a hint as to what’s in the dip so it’s not just some mystery bowl of goo.

For Bacon Day I served it alongside hunks of crusty sourdough bread, but veggies or crackers would also do nicely.

It certainly wasn’t the most creative dish at the party, but I think I’ve established a new entertaining staple. It’s rich, yes, but you could make it lighter by using low-fat sour cream, low-fat mayo and turkey bacon (just don’t tell Geeven).

Happy birthday, Geeves. May this year be filled with fun, good cheer, and lots and lots of bacon.

-RDG

Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip    printable pdf

Serve this savory dip alongside crusty bread, vegetables or crackers. It’s a must for your next party! 

Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cook Time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour of refrigeration. Yield: 1 1/2 cups of dip.

  • 3-4 slices bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/4 c mayonnaise (I like olive oil based mayo, but use whatever you prefer)
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • pepper to taste (salt too if you like, but I find it doesn’t need it)
1. Slice the bacon into 1/2″ pieces. Mince the garlic. Fry bacon with garlic over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely.
2. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, blue cheese and cooked bacon to the bowl of a food processor, reserving a few bacon and cheese crumbles for topping. Puree for 2-3 minutes, or until mostly smooth. Season with pepper (and/or salt) to taste. Refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour before serving.
3. Serve chilled dip topped with reserved bacon and blue cheese crumbles.

 

buffalo fries

After a particularly greuling day full of doctors appointments and screaming children, Dave and I needed a respite. I couldn’t stand the thought of cooking and it was already late in the day, so we stopped in for happy hour at a local brewery. Lucy dug into a box of crayons, the baby napped, Dave spaced out to a baseball game on the bar television, and I sipped a very large, cold hefeweizen. It was just what the doctor ordered.

We picked a smattering of appetizers which included a plate of “buffalo fries”: soggy steak fries in a pool of buffalo sauce with some melted cheese on top. It was a dish that was much better in theory than in execution. And even though it was a pretty crappy appetizer, the thought of it stayed with me all week. I could make it better. Perfect, even.

And so can you. Grab a few yukon gold potatoes, a bunch of green onions, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, shredded jack, Johnny’s seasoning salt (or your favorite variety), buffalo sauce (I like Frank’s), and blue cheese dressing.

Begin by slicing the potatoes into wedges. You’re welcome to use regular old russet potatoes, but I find that for oven fries, yukon golds have a better texture and flavor.

Throw them in a bowl and toss with a little cooking oil.

Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Roast in the oven until golden and crisp around the edges, roughly 15 minutes per side.

Next, find yourself an oven safe plate or platter that you’d like to serve the fries on. Carefully spread the hot fries onto it.

Drizzle with buffalo sauce…

…and top with the shredded jack and crumbled gorgonzola. Place under the broiler for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble.

Chop up the light green parts of the scallions…

…and sprinkle on top of the finished fries.

Of course you can’t serve anything “buffalo” without blue cheese dressing on the side.

Now these are buffalo fries done right. The potatoes are crisp and salty, the buffalo sauce adds heat, and the creaminess of the melted cheese tempers the spice. Make these for your next party and your friends will never leave.

I’m going to whip up a plate of these next time Dave and I need a break. Which is…pretty much always.

-RDG

Buffalo Fries printable pdf

Serves 4-5 as an appetizer. Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes

  • 3 large yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • seasoning salt
  • 1/3 c buffalo sauce
  • 1 c shredded jack cheese
  • 1/3 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • blue cheese dressing (optional, for dipping)

1. Preheat oven to 475F. Slice each potato in half lengthwise, then each half into 6 wedges. Place in a bowl and toss with cooking oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or Silpat. Sprinkle with seasoning salt. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn fries, sprinkle with more seasoning salt, and roast for an additional 15 minutes.

2. Set oven to broil. Carefully place hot fries onto an oven safe platter. Drizzle with buffalo sauce, then sprinkle with cheeses. Broil until cheese is melted and just begins to bubble. Remove from oven.

3. Dice green onions and sprinkle over the top of the fries. Serve with blue cheese dressing on the side.

bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers

The best kinds of friends will show up at your doorstep with beer and dinner. They’ll bring homemade fresh pizza dough, cilantro, red onions, barbecue chicken and shredded cheese, and then proceed to amaze and delight you by cooking pizza on your grill. To tide you over while the miraculous pizza grilling is being performed, they will serve you jalapeno poppers.

I have the best kinds of friends. Not only did they come over and feed us freshly grilled BBQ chicken pizza (a post for another time—I’m still trying to master my pizza-grilling skills), but they also introduced me to the mother of all appetizers that I’ll be making from now until September.

Making your own poppers is easy. All you need is cream cheese, finely shredded jack (or motzerella, or cheddar—whatever your preference. You could even go a little crazy with blue or gorgonzola), fresh jalapenos, and regular-cut bacon (not thick-cut).

To begin, lop off the stems of those spicy peppers.

Slice lengthwise down the middle…

…and remove the seeds. I wear gloves when handling hot peppers because I’m the kind of woman who will *forget* that she just had her finger in a jalapeno and then use said finger to scratch my eye. I’m not the smartest cookie sometimes.

Mash together the cream cheese and the jack cheese.

Fill the jalapeno halves with the cream cheese mixture…

…and wrap each one with a half slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.

And now for the best part: fire up your grill to medium. I love these as a summer appetizer because there’s no running back and forth from the kitchen to the grill—it can all be done outside. Prep your poppers in the morning, refrigerate, and grill whenever your company shows up.

Grill for roughly 3-4 minutes per side. Don’t walk away from the grill for too long; that pesky bacon loves to spark grease fires.

Hand each guest their own little bowl of these and they will be smitten with you all evening. Or at least as long as the poppers hold out.

Cool cream cheese in a spicy jalapeno wrapped with salty, smoky bacon. Wash it down with a cold beer (or better yet, a salted margarita!) and you’ll be singing the Beach Boys all summer long.

-RDG

P.S. Thanks Ric & Tennille for 1) being amazeballs and 2) for introducing us to poppers and BBQ pizza. We love you more than bacon.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers printable poppers

Makes 20 poppers. Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes

  • 10 jalapeno peppers
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 c finely shredded jack cheese
  • 10 slices bacon (regular-cut, not thick-cut), sliced in half widthwise
  • 20 toothpicks

1) Rinse and dry the jalapenos. Lop off the stems, then slice each one lengthwise down the middle. Remove the seeds.

2) Mix the cream cheese and jack cheese together with a fork. Fill each jalapeno half with some of the cream cheese mixture. Wrap each pepper with a half slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

3) Preheat gas grill to medium. Grill poppers for 3-4 minutes per side, until bacon is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

 

apple blue cheese puffs

Some recipes are invented out of pure irritation. I get a little miffed at myself when I don’t use up things that I purchased, forget about something in the back of the cupboard, or neglected that zucchini for too long. This week an entire crisper full of Spartan apples have been glaring at me from their chilled plastic drawer, taunting me. You said you would find a way to use 25 pounds of apples “no problem,” remember? Ha. This lady wouldn’t know what to do with an apple if a recipe bit her in the ass.

The fact that my ingredients talk to me is only part of the problem. I’m just damn sick of sweet apple recipes. I’ve been waiting for a savory one to come along and tickle my fancy, but none have. So I set out to make my own, using ingredients that have been driving me nuts. Maybe it was the determination that went into each savory, crispy pocket, or maybe it’s just that these ingredients inherently work well together. Whatever the cause, these little appetizers are keepers.

I started with an apple (only one, but hey, it’s a start), a hunk of blue cheese, walnuts, a sprig of rosemary from the garden, and one sheet of puff pastry thawed from the freezer.

Dice the apples and walnuts, crumble the blue cheese, and mince the rosemary. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Roll out the puff pastry dough and cut into small squares. Fill each square with a little bit of the filling…

…and fold the edges over to make a triangle.

Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Before baking, lightly brush with a beaten egg mixed with a little water.

I enlisted help for this part. She loves lending a hand in the kitchen, or as Lucy calls it, “hot cookin!”

After a short time in the oven, they’re puffed, crisp, and ready to eat. 

A little of the blue cheese may leak out during cooking, and that’s okay. It’ll just form a little crispy layer of cheese on the bottom of the puff. The apples cook slightly in the oven, melding them with the cheese and nuts.

I love biting into these little puffs and finding the light crunch of the walnuts, the creamy blue cheese, and the slightly sweet apple. I’ll make them again soon, maybe to serve before Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s hope my apples are no longer yelling at me by then.

-RDG

Apple Blue Cheese Puffs

Puff pastry can be found in most grocery stores in the freezer aisle, two sheets to a box. It usually needs to thaw for about 40 minutes before you can work with it, so plan accordingly. A slightly tart apple works best. Yields 25 puffs.

  • 1 c chopped apple (from approximately 1 medium apple)
  • 1/2 c crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine the apple, blue cheese, walnuts and rosemary in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry dough into a 14×14″ square. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough 5 times horizontally and 5 times vertically to form 25 squares, about 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ each. Fill each square with a rounded 1/2 tbsp of the filling, then fold the edges over to create a triangle. Press the edges of the pastry together with the tines of a fork. Repeat for each puff.

Place puffs on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper (greased or sprayed is fine too). In a bowl, beat the egg together with the water. Lightly brush the top of each puff with the egg mixture. Bake one sheet at a time for 12-13 minutes each, until puffs are a light golden brown on top. Let cool slightly before serving.

beth’s spinach quiches

You may recall my recent freak-out in the kitchen. Nothing sounded good, all of my cookbooks morphed into a language that I couldn’t read, and my creative culinary brain was kaput. I sent out a desperate S.O.S. to you all for help. I needed recipes. New recipes! Inspired recipes! Tasty recipes! Anything other than what I already had! I’m going to stop using exclamation points now!

Thank you to everyone who responded to my momentary lapse into crazy. And those of you who just thought “momentary? Girl, you certifiable” are likely correct. But I am proud to say that I have my mojo back. My brain has kicked back into recipe overdrive and I’ve been cooking up a storm. A delicious, lick-your-fingers storm.

The recipe that got me back on track was from my dear reader Beth. She sent a sweet email with three recipes attached, and from the moment I spied this first one, I knew it was meant to be in my belly.

These little quiches are so quick and easy, and yet they don’t skimp on flavor. You’ll need spinach (thawed from frozen is fine), milk, bisquick, chives, ham, sharp cheddar, and a little salt and pepper.

And eggs. Pretty, pretty eggs.

Crack them into a large bowl…

…beat and toss in the Bisquick.

Stir. Lumps are a-okay in Bisquick world. In fact, they’re encouraged.

Throw in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Pour into 12 muffin cups that are greased well with cooking spray (a Pyrex glass measuring cup or small pitcher work well for pouring). Alternately, you could pour the whole mixture into a greased 9″ pie plate.

Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes until the quiches are puffy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving. These also freeze and reheat exceptionally well. They’re also great cold!

So simple, so delicious, and so the savior of my culinary soul. These little quiches would be perfect for a picnic, a potluck, or to stash in the freezer for a rainy day lunch.

Thank you, Beth, for the wonderful recipe. And to all of you loverly readers who sent in recipes and words of encouragement, I am more appreciative than you know. I have no idea why you read this silly, silly blog, but that you do keeps me going, even in times of culinary disaster.

xo

-RDG

Beth’s Spinach Quiches

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • ½ cup Bisquick
  • ½ tsp crushed, dried rosemary or 1 tsp of diced fresh
  • ½ tsp of Garlic powder
  • 1 10pz pkg of frozen Chopped Spinach (thawed, rinsed and squeezed of all water) or 2-3 cups of fresh spinach sautéed
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese (I often use more cheese and mix types)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat together eggs, milk, Bisquick, and seasonings, until well blended.  Stir in Spinach and cheese.  Pour into lightly greased 9 inch pie plate or into 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake for 30-40 minutes (25-30 for muffin cups) or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This quiche freezes and reheats well and tastes better the longer it sits.

Can be modified to other types of quiche using whatever kinds of veggies, egg substitutes, cheese or meat you have.

My adaptations: I substituted 1 tablespoon fresh minced chives for rosemary, used sharp cheddar instead of mozzarella, added 1/2 cup diced black forest ham, added salt and pepper to taste, and omitted garlic powder because most of my spices are either buried in the garden, lost the diaper pail or hiding under the bed.

bacon-wrapped potato bites

Husband, like so many men I know, loves bacon. He worships it. He needs it. He think’s it is the cat’s meow.

Or, in this case, the pig’s belly.

For his birthday soiree featuring his favorite foods, I knew I had to do something that was bacon-centric. But what to make that was 1) in season (bacon-wrapped figs are always delicious but you can’t get fresh figs outside of September) and 2) an easy party food, that is also Superbowl Sunday appropriate?

I ran across this recipe while perusing The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy’s food blog. Right away I knew that these potato bites and Husband were meant to be.

You start, naturally, with potatoes. I used yukon gold because they’re Husband’s favorite.

We’re aiming for 1″ pieces, so slice into thirds…

…and then each third into quarters.

Boil for a few minutes. We want ‘em sort of half-cooked—the oven will finish the job. Let cool.

Next, grab some fresh rosemary…

…give it a good mincing…

…and toss it in with the potatoes, some olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Now comes the fun part. Grab some toothpicks.

And some bacon. You’ll need a half-slice for each potato piece, so plan accordingly. For me, that meant…a LOT of bacon.

Start at one end…

…roll it on up and secure with a toothpick.

Like I said. A LOT of bacon. Husband was drooling.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (easier for the cleanup of bacon grease) and bake for about 10 minutes per side, depending on how crispy you like your bacon.

These suckers were a HUGE hit.

The potatoes were tender but not mushy, the seasonings were nice, and the bacon gave it a crispy richness.

I served them with a chipotle sour cream, but you could also stick with the spicy sour cream that they use in the original recipe.

I think I just earned myself a spot in Husband’s hall of fame. He won’t stop licking his lips, rubbing his belly, and kissing my feet.

-RDG

You can view the original recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites right here.

kale and gorgonzola swirls

I’ve recently been plagued with cooking disasters. I overcooked a steak, made a pot roast that was less than stellar, and have since (gasp!) eaten nothing but salads for dinner.

Alright, the salads are more about trying to lose some holiday pounds than anything else. But I have been a little timid about getting back in the saddle.

This was my first recipe in ages that was not : a) messed up by yours truly, or b) low calorie.

God it feels good to be back.

These lovely little apps are quick, easy, and sinful with a touch of dark green vegetable, which makes them almost healthy.

You know you want them. Like now.

Grab some kale–spinach’s superior cousin. You’ll need a full bunch, or at least 6 of these lovely stems.

Rip the leafy parts from the stem (which can be tough and a tad bitter)…

…and give ‘em a rough chop.

Also grab two cloves of garlic. De-skin them…

…and mince.

Next, melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-high heat.

Throw the garlic in the pan and saute for about a minute. Don’t burn the butter, my friends. Stir, stir, stir.

Add the kale and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until it’s dark, dark green and tender.

Immediately transfer to a plate to let cool. Ooh and aah over how dang gorgeous kale is.

Now then. Crack one egg…

…and beat with one tablespoon of water.

Prepare a floured surface for your puff pastry.

Gently unfold your puff pastry (I assume you’ve already thawed it according to package directions) onto the floured surface and roll it out just a tad. We don’t want it thin–just a little bit thinner than it comes in the package.

Lightly brush with half of the egg mixture…

…and spread the kale on top.

Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese over the kale.

Crumble up some gorgonzola. Is there any cheese that is better than a good, creamy gorgonzola?

What the heck am I smoking? There’s triple-cream brie, Irish cheddar, Humbolt Fog…

I really love cheese. In any form. But gorgonzola works best in this recipe.

Evenly distribute the gorgonzola over the kale and parmesan and get ready to roly-poly.

Tightly roll up this bad boy, making sure that you’re rolling straight.

Pinch the overlapping edge together and slice into 1/2″ pieces. It helps to use a super sharp knife. Like a knife that you could cut slice your own finger off with.

Just don’t slice off your own finger, please.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush each round lightly with the remaining egg mixture.

Bake at 400° for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are nice and golden.

Serve hot out of the oven, or transfer to a baking rack to cool slightly.

Oh. My. Goodness. These smell divine.

The edges are crispy with melted cheese, the middles are soft and a bit tangy from the kale, and they look totally gorgeous.

No one has to know you used frozen puff pastry.

It would be naughty to eat these as my lunch, but…

Could. Not. Resist.

Make ‘em for a party this weekend. Or just for yourself. Either way, they’ll be gone in 5 minutes flat.

TGIF!

-RDG

Kale and Gorgonzola Swirls

  • 1 bunch, or 6 stems, kale
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. De-stem kale and chop. Mince two cloves of garlic. Melt butter in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add kale and saute an additional 2-3 minutes, or until kale is wilted. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Roll out thawed puff pastry on a floured surface to create a 13″ square. Brush with half of egg mixture. Spread kale out to cover the entire surface. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over kale. Roll up tightly, pinch roll together and slice into 1/2″ pieces using a sharp knife. Place slices 12 at a time onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve immediately. Makes 24 swirls.