Hold the Cheese

My first experience with wine was disastrous. Shortly after I turned 21, a friend and I went to the store and tried to find one to try. The only name that looked familiar was Merlot.
We brought it to my house, popped it open with my brand new corkscrew, and poured it into some stemware.
IT WAS AWFUL.
I don’t know if it was our ignorant taste buds or a bad wine or what. It was sooooo bad. And then we got the idea of putting some sugar in it, to cut the bitterness.
I do not recommend doing this.

Fast forward some years. Wine is super trendy right now, and i usually resist trends. Jonathan was indifferent.
But a few weekends ago, we heard about a Wine and Food Festival nearby and decided to go.
We live in an area that produces a lot of wine. I can name 3 vineyards within a few miles of here. The festival was from all over the state, but focusing on locals.
We did some tasting. To both of our surprise, we liked it! I tended toward sweet reds, but not too sweet. Jonathan was digging the whites, sweet but tending a little toward semisweet (aka he liked them tart).
We bought 3 bottles that day. We also visited a local wine shop (the best one) to see if they carried the labels we liked (we had kept notes at the festival). They did. We will be spending some time in there. ;)

So now I guess we are wine snobs? We have an unspoken agreement that we only want locally produced wine, which is not a limitation here haha.

Strawberry Delicious Bread

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Omg just look at it.
This morning I was in a bakery mood so I decided to throw together a quick bread with lots of strawberries in it. I used the Buttermilk Quick Bread recipe on The Kitchn. I love that recipe and its infinite variations.

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With a topping of sweetened strawberries and their juice and a squirt of whipped cream, I think I can tear the shortcake recipe out of my cookbook because this is 500x better.

Omelet

I’d love to share a photo of the deeeeeelicious omelet I made for dinner.

But I ate it. ;)

Muffins

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Do you cut them into two sides, top and bottom, or just dig into it whole?

Po-tay-toes

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Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew… I’m so hobbity it hurts. ;)

Its been a crazy week

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And I am really not in the mood to deal with this….

Oh well. Into the breach, y’all.

Taaaaaa-coooooooos!

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I love the little tacos. I love them goooood. (High five if you get the reference.)
You are looking at a delicious homemade taco.
We bought corn tortillas (although for the record I have made them from scratch before), sprayed with oil, and baked on the oven rack for 10 minutes at 375°.
Most of the meat is home-ground, but we did buy some today because we didn’t have enough.
The seasoning is homemade, slightly adapted from a recipe I found on the internet. I’ll try to remember to share it soon.
Lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese are cut/shredded by hand.
I did not make the sour cream but just give me time…. ;)

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Oh and this is a tortilla sprayed with oil, sprinkled with cinnamon-nutmeg-sugar, and baked. Next time maybe a bit more of the sugar mixture, and maybe a sweet cream cheese frosting to dip in. (Or maybe honey?)

I wasn’t planning to blog this but it was so damn delicious… I’ll be back tomorrow with a year-end post. (In fact, I’m going to go draft it right now.)

Hope your celebrations have been merry and bright, and that none of your guests have overstayed their welcome.

Gluten Formation

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It’s snowing pretty hard out there, and almost 100% humidity. It took about a whole cup of extra flour to pull this dough together, and there’s only 3 cups in the recipe. Yikes. (Yes I know that Saturday is the totally wrong day to make challah.)

Hanukkah

We caught a special Shalom Sesame about Hanukkah today, and Missy really got into it. (Gotta love Sesame Workshop.)
I believe in learning about other cultures and participatory learning, so I threw together a small celebration, and we talked about what she learned on the show.
I think I might also toss together a Kwanzaa day, learn more about the pagan solstice celebrations…. do it UP. Why not, while we do the Xmas stuff (and while my mom asks her about Jesus birthday cake).

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I tossed together 9 candles.

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I made some challah. God that bread is good. I always make half of the Challah I recipe on allrecipes.

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I made sweet potato latkes. The oil foamed up weirdly, I guess because of the eggs. Seriously, though, omg those were goooooood. I followed a recipe on allrecipes.com.

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Lastly, behold the holy sufganiot that I acquired from Dunkin just 10 minutes before closing.

Dornish Peppers

I first made this recipe for my Game of Thrones premiere party back in April. I am now addicted to them and I need an Anonymous meeting for them. So I’m going to get you all addicted to them and then we can have meetings and eat them together. ;)

The original recipe for this came from Inn at the Crossroads, a blog that specializes in Westerosi cuisine. I love them and their mission (they have a cookbook out now!), but I have made some modifications to their original.
I also want to mention that, as a work in progress, I have actually made some more adjustments to this process since the date that I took these pictures. I’ll make note of the changes as I go. I would normally have waited to share this until I was more settled on the recipe, but I’m sharing this recipe at a tutorial event on Saturday and I wanted to have it available if anybody wants to know the recipe.

These are the ingredients you’ll need:

- Peppers. Bell peppers of any color are nice, and I’m a big fan of the “mini bells” that I’ve found at the market this season. Spicy peppers like jalapenos are also good for this!

- Goldfish crackers. Other cheesy crackers will work as well.
- Onions. I used two small ones this time, but one large will do as well. Adjust to your preference.
- Cheese. Cheddar was my choice this day. I also have used Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Mozzarella. Any of these are nice.
- A block of cream cheese. I never said these were light on fat.
- Spices of your choosing. I always put cumin in. Garlic and red pepper flakes are nice, as are chile powder and just about anything you’d like to add.

There are essentially three parts to this recipe: the filling, the topping, and the peppers themselves. First, let’s prep the peppers so they’re ready when we are. Use a paring knife to remove the stem end of each pepper, and then cut it in half so it can lay flat. Remove all the seeds.  If you’re using spicy peppers and don’t want them to be too hot, make sure you get all of the white membrane inside as well.
If you’re using smaller peppers like jalapenos or mini bells, you can simply cut off the top and scoop out the seeds, leaving the peppers intact. This is my current favorite way to do them, but I also really love the big bells.

Next, let’s create the filling. Chop up your onion(s) into a small dice. Here’s one of the biggest changes I’ve made – put these onions in a skillet with a splash of oil and cook them first. They’ll get soft and transparent, and a little brown around the edges. You can add spices directly to the onions if you like (garlic and red peppers are good here). I feel that the added flavor, not to mention softness, of the cooked onions is way better here. You may skip this step if you choose, as I did on this preparation.

Now you can shred your cheese, if it’s not pre-shredded. There was, at one point, a measurement involved with this, but I just eye it now. When the mountain looks big enough, I’m done. Haha.  You’ll also want your cream cheese softened. If you cooked your onions, all you need to do is put the cream cheese in a bowl and put the onions on top and they’ll soften it right up. If you’re going with raw onions, try popping it in the microwave for a few seconds (withOUT the metal wrapper).

Put your onions and cheeses in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Looking at this photo with a bit more practice, I can say that there are a few too many onions in here and perhaps not enough cheese. You can adjust the ratio to your liking of course. You can also add any spices you’d like at this point. I generally don’t, though, since the onions are already spiced and I’m about to spice the topping.

Pop some cheesy crackers into the bowl of your food processor and crunch them up. You can also just beat them in a plastic bag but that takes too long for me. You can make the topping as crunchy or as fine as you’d like. I prefer it somewhere between the two, with some larger chunks but also a lot of fine-crumb sized pieces. While the crackers are spinning, add the spices. The spice that must flow here, for me, is cumin. Not too much; you don’t want to overwhelm it. Red pepper flakes will add a nice kick, and garlic is never remiss. Paprika and chile powder are also nice, and I bet nutmeg would make a good appearance as well.

Now that you’ve got all the parts, it’s time to assemble! Simply scoop the filling into the peppers. If you’re doing it popper-style with whole peppers, you may want to use a chopstick to press it down into the tip of the pepper.
Then, add the topping. Just sprinkle it on and press it down into the cheesy filling a bit. Or, you can pick up the peppers (the smaller ones) and just dip them in. The original recipe called for an egg wash and some rolling, but I didn’t like that very much.

Pop those babies into the oven! I think I do them at 350F for, oh about 15 minutes? I’ll be honest – I don’t time it. 350 is the default for my oven so I go with that, but then I just kinda keep an eye on them until they get all melty and soft. You can poke and prod them if you’re concerned about pepper texture.
However long it takes them in the oven, when they come out they are full of molten cheese and absolutely delicious. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was addicted. These make a great appetizer, of course, but I’ve also served them as a main course with a side of rice! And don’t worry about making too many. On the rare occasion that they’re not all eaten immediately, just put them in the fridge. Warm them up a bit in the microwave the next day and they are Even Better! (If that’s even possible, that is.)

Have you ever made a “geek recipe”? What was it, and how did it turn out?

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