My obsession with pumpkin knows no bounds. It rivals even my obsession with Dowton Abbey, and we all know how much that is saying… BTW, it’s already airing its third season in the UK, and it momentarily crossed my mind that I could apply for an international posting with my company for the next four months just so I didn’t have to wait until the dead of winter to start watching the next season. #obsessed.
But for now I will be content and live my days obsessing over pumpkin filled things, fall, apple picking and leaf peeping.
I guess. *le sigh*
And to officially kick off the next 90 days of Pumpkin-All-The-Things I’m redeux-ing the now infamous Pumpkin Crack Dip. If you’ve known me for any length of time, this is nothing new to you. But if you are new around here, Let. Me. Tell. You.
Make ready all your mops, tarps, and paddy bicycle pants, because you are going to need em to catch the drool, mop the drool and pad your ass as you slide out ‘cha dayum chair, son.
Your life will be shifting on a new axis and that is a beautimus thing.
The last couple few weeks have been rapidly changing for Ben and I – as the week we got back from our blessed wedding and honeymoon, he was back to work 300 miles away and mama got a new job! Then I was back in Alaska for four days, then back home to work, train for the new job and simultaneously train my replacement, and lastly – move Ben home!! If it weren’t for all my hacking, coughing and haze filled air the Palouse would have proved stunning as ever, post harvest.
And as you read this he is currently plugging away with a loaded down pick up and most notably with my hand made bookcase whittled from the wood of some exotic far off land Home Depot, hand stained with his rough manly man-beast of a husband’s hands.
Yeah, it made my slightly sick getting that mushy too. I’ll stop now.
So, to move this carosel all the way around – the last couple of weeks have been stressful. And now that I’m hyper focused on everything from the new job, to cleaning the apartment to have the husband move back home, to having one of my blogging besties coming to visit, and the ridiculous stain on kitchen floor that even Kryptonian cleaning solution can’t remove – this dip is my salvation, sanctuary, and only thing able to distract me from the cocophony of chaos occuring in my life.
And it’s like crack. Natch. So it holds my attention and devotion and distracts me from the gym and fitting back into those nice-ass jeans I worked so hard to squeeze into pre-wedding.
1 8oz. Container Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
2/3 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
In a stand mixer, or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in marshmallow fluff and beat to combine. Beat in pumpkin puree and lastly add in pumpkin pie spice mix. Mix until evenly distributed.
Eat immediately with graham crackers and sugar cookies. Or refrigerate in a sealed container for an hour to chill.
Devour without abandon.
In four years of dating Ben and I went on one vacation, to Yellowstone. And that was three years ago for our one year anniversary.
And he wound up in the emergency after getting tossed off his horse the first time I took him horseback riding. By some miracle I didn’t end up single after that…
On this second vacation of ours – our honeymoon – we opted for Alaska. And no horses. No, it wasn’t some sandy beach destination, because even after slaving away at the gym for hours on end, I wasn’t feeling hot enough to be struttin’ my schtoof all over the place. My arms could handle the exposure – they’re pretty rocking right now, but the rest of me wasn’t up for that adventure. Alaska was perfect to prevent that kind of viewing. Hello sweatshirts and heavy jackets!
Ben and I opted for cruising our way to the great white north. Taking off right from Seattle, it was an obvious choice. Booking our cruise through Costco Travel was a breeze. If you didn’t already know – Costco is my Mecca. And they really played a huge roll in our wedding – because that’s where I bought my wedding dress (mine’s the 2nd one down on the right.). No, I’m not kidding.
Pardon my ridiculous expression – I was a little over excited that day.
Anyway – CostcoTravel made the entire process of booking our cruise a cinch. There were a few lingering questions we had about booking our room so after a phone call, we were chatting with an incredible rep who answered all of our questions and simplified the whole process. Ben and I wanted to do things on more of a budget, so there was extra moolah left over for dinners out in port, drinks on board and excursions that we knew would cost a pretty penny. Booking an inside room was the way to go. We figured we wouldn’t be spending much time in there anyway, so it was worth saving a few hundred to forgo the balcony room.
The deal that we booked was the lowest possible flat rate fare that, if there were any rooms available, we would get upgraded too. Since it was Alaska in August, it was a full cruise, so our upgrade never happened. No big deal. We had resigned ourselves to the fact we had booked the inside room, so that if that’s what we got we’d be happy with it.
We did get a free bottle of wine since it was our honeymoon – so that was a bonus. Even if it was only good enough to get ya drunk.
The room was smallish, but it was about what I had expected having cruised a couple times before. The bed was surprisingly comfy, even comfier than ours here at home, rocking me to sleep and affording me nights of 10 hours sleep that I hadn’t had in eons with all the wedding stress and chaos going on the last few months.
Taking two days to get to our first destination was a bit of a sit-around-and-wait maneauver. Juneau was a two day trek away, and after the first full day on the cruise, we’d seen all we had wanted to, and dodged all the screaming running children we could. The buffets were constantly packed, and we quickly learned to time our meals in the dining rooms to right when they opened so we could beat the rush of families and long lines for tables.
Norwegian’s “Free-style” cruising method works well for those not wanting to adhere to strict dining times and eating at tables of 8 with strangers around like more formal lines would. But for me, I was left longing for the more structured cruising with more formal dinners and actually feeling the need to dress up – just a little.
But after two days of being locked on board with bad coffee, we were ready for some time on land.
Skagway had the best coffee of our trip. And we relished the experience sitting in the local cafe for over and hour eavesdropping on the locals and just enjoying the town.
In Juneau Ben and I booked an excursion to go see the Mendenhall Glacier, which was highly recommended by my brother. For $50 a person it was a bit spendy for just having a tour bus drive us 20 minutes from the dock, but it was a great place to go see. The falls are massive, and standing at the bottom of them, you can’t help but get drenched. And the blues and teals coming out of the glacier spires are something to admire.
Totally worth it.
But the six hours in port was not near enough time to see everything that Juneau had to offer.
In Skagway, we had our longest day in port – a whopping 13 hours. We walked around, alot, ate food, strolled through the museums, tried to dodge all of the jewelry shops and tourist traps that lined the streets of each little town and finally sauntered into Skagway Brewing Company for a pint. Or four. And a burger. Or two. It was just what we needed.
Then we burned off our drunk with a little hard work on the railways. Oww, my back!
Back on the boat we went, for another full day of cruising through Glacier Bay. To say that it was breathtaking seems too banal and dull. Clouds covered up the tops of the mountains but standing there on the ship with only the sound of the engine and the crack of the ice was something to behold.
And so after the glaciers were off in the distance, Ben and I caught an improv show, and did a little bowling on board until reaching Ketchikan for our last Alaskan destination.
Since we saved a few hundred bucks on the inside room and received such generous gifts from friends, Ben and I went and got a little muddy on a Jeep and canoe safari. So. Much. Fun. It might not have been a helicopter trip to walk on the glaciers at $600 a pop, but this was reasonable and a TON of fun. Old logging roads and alpine lakes? Win and win.
This excursion took up most of our six hours on shore, but left us with a great memory and a chance to see more of Alaska than just the tourist trap lined streets of town that pawned off gaudy jewelry and t-shirts at every door. It felt like what Alaska was about, even in the small amount of time that we were in Ketchikan.
Our last night was spent in Victoria, BC, where Ben and I walked around town, passed by the famous Empress hotel, and grabbed dinner at a local wharf restaurant where Ben enjoyed the homemade chowder and I on Salmon Wellington (which I will be showing you next week! Stay tuned. Like, totally.)
All in all – it was a fantastic honeymoon with my honey-for-life. Next time – we’ll just fly straight to Alaska, maximizing our time in a super gorgeous place that we both fell in love with.
Final Report Card on Norwegian Cruise to Alaska : B-ish
Honeymoon : A+ , Naturally.
See my detailed report card below.
For a more refined experience – give Holland America or Celebrity a try.
This recipe has been a long time coming. Not because it was difficult or time consuming to make – but with life getting in my way, with things like this, that and the other – this poor little burger baby got lost in the crowd. But no more!
Yesterday my second Alaskan adventure of the year came to a close. Last night I arrived home from Cordova, Alaska where I spent four days in the most pristine and breathtaking little town I’ve ever been too.
Amongst the plethora of activities Kaela and I participated in on our adventure with Copper River Salmon – we also got to experience the Cordova Fungus Festival. I know, right? And it was an experience to be sure. From braised lamb and porcini ragout to candy cap mushroom cheesecake – this was a life altering experience.
*Sidebar* There will be Pl-he-hen-ty more Alaska in your face where this little picture comes from. Promise! But back to the food…
To keep this fungi-filled theme going I figured breaking out this meatless steakhouse burger was totally warranted.
Of course because we all know what I rebel I am – I added bacon to it. So fine, it wasn’t completely meatless, but you get the point.
Into a plastic zip lock bag went my one portobello mushroom cap, and about a ¼-⅓ cup of steak marinade. I chose the A1 Steakhouse Peppercorn marinade, but any of them will surely do you good. The two were left in the fridge to get it on for an hour or two – since I got distracted by a bumblebee, or watching Downton Abbey on dvd for the 3 millionth time…what? It was the Christmas Special episode – and we all know how awwww-inducing that episode was! Don’t judge me.
Anyway – once the mushroom was all juiced up, I the grill was heated and this little porker of a meaty manly mushroom was grilled on medium high for about 4 minutes a side – or until the grill marks were left on it, and it was heated through.
Naturally since we’re talking steakhouse things, caramalized onions were added, tanker ship loads of BBQ sauce was slathered on there and to take it five steps over the top – a heap of bacon and crumbled blue cheese. All the best parts of ridiculously dressed up steaks.
Go big or go home. We have no need for measly topped burgers here.
And so, I shoved it into my face and it was good. Really, this really called for me donning a bib, an apron, and a tarp under my chair – because there is no way this is dainty to devour. Just wear your grubbiest shirt – because this thing isn’t meant to be eaten purdy. But no one is judging here. Least of all, me.
So stay tuned – later this week you’ll be getting a play by play of my Alaskan Adventure with Copper River Seafood and you’ll be simultaneously booking a trip to the great white north. I guarantee it. As ferociously click and search for nursing jobs for Ben and jobs for me…
A meatless burger with all the trappings and toppings of a steakhouse steak
2 Portobello Mushrooms, cleaned and stem removed
½-⅔ cup Steak Marinade, I used A1 Steakhouse Peppercorn
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 strips Bacon, fried*optional - omit if you choose to have this meatless
3 Tbsp Butter*
½ cup BBQ Sauce of choice,
¼ cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
2 Whole Wheat Burger Buns, toasted
3 Tbsp Canola Based Mayonaise
In a zip and seal plastic bag, place mushrooms that have been cleaned and stemmed. Pour in marinade and cover mushrooms. Seal and place in fridge for about 1 hour or longer.
*For Bacon version* In large sauté pan, fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel. Leave bacon grease in pan. Toss sliced onion into the same pan with the bacon grease and caramelize. Set aside caramelized onion for topping later.
*For Vegetarian Version* If you want to omit bacon, heat pan over medium high heat and melt butter. Toss in sliced onion and caramelized. Set aside caramelized onion for later.
Heat grill to medium high heat. Place mushrooms onto grill and allow to heat up about 4-5 minutes depending on grill. When they have heated and left grill marks, turn over and allow to finish grilling on the other side. Set aside when cooked through.
Toast burger buns, place mushroom into bun and top with desired ingredients like onions, blue cheese crumbles, mayo and BBQ sauce.
Just because Labor Day is over doesn’t mean the grills go away. And if they have already, I’m directing you to dig that Grill Master back out, go to the store, grab some wild salmon, and make these.
Once you have consumed one of these you will be able to tame wild creatures, lift heavy objects with ease, and be named GQ’s Man of the Year. Or something.
If nothing else your wife will get off your ass about not incorporating enough veggies into your diet, your cardiologist will stop nagging you about not eating enough foods with Omega 3′s, and Picasso will appear to you in a dream and high five you for making such bright and colorful taco-art.
And really – nothing rules more than fresh wild caught salmon. Exhibit A. B. and C.
#Lawyered -> Also yes, I do add hashtags into real world conversation. That’s just the kind of rebel I am.
Tomorrow I’m taking off for Alaska, again. Ohhh, darn. *insert sarcasm here* Really, I’m jazzed more than any logical, rational or normal person should be. No, no – Ben and I aren’t taking our second honeymoon to Alaska- just having been there two weeks ago. I’m flying up to Cordova to go fishing with Copper River Salmon! Who’s got two double jointed thumbs and is excited? THIS GIRL. Ben on the other hand is ridiculously jealous. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit. That’s the kind of caring wife I am.
So in preparation for said trip – I’ve discovered something about myself. I’m a very logical and rational packer. One who accounts for all possibilities and events.
Proof. Muck boots, Romeos, and heels. What more could a girl need for four days in Cordova? In my defense, we are having a dinner thing, so there might actually be reason to wear the heels. Maybe.
Good thing its a big suitcase.
So tomorrow bright and early I’m leaving on a jet plane (name that song!) and will be adventuring to the Great White North with my soon to be newest buddy – Kaela of Cookin’ and Kickin’. This is going to be an adventure of epic proportions.
And to round out the mental preparation for this adventure up yonder – I made le tacos.
Last Friday I received my latest shipment of Copper River Salmon and decided THIS needed to happen. And it only seemed appropriate to put to good use all of the Fiestaware plates I (I mean, we) got for our wedding with something equally fiesta-y and colorful – tacos.
*Sidebar* The first inaugural Fiesta-holics Anonymous meeting will be held tonight, anytime. I’ll start – “Hi I’m Megan, and I’m a Feista-holic”. Hiii, Meayyyggannn. Just tweet me for 24.7 support. We’re here for each other. Amen.
After 8 minutes on the grill, a few cups of shredded green and purple cabbage was mulched and some aioli was whisked – they were done. Colorful, healthy and out of your skull deliciousness doesn’t have to take forever. Proof positive.
I was catapulted away to the waters of Alaska – at least in my own mind – and my tummy was happy. Tacos, Fiestaware, Salmon fish, and a mental vacation in one dish? Yeah, this is winning.
4 − 4oz. Salmon fillets, cut in long strips
2 Tbsp Salmon Rub seasoning
1 cup Cilantro
1 cup Green cabbage, shredded
1 cup Purple cabbage, shredded
1 whole carrot, shredded
¼ cup Canola Based Mayonnaise
¼ cup HEB Green Sauce (or Salsa Verde)
5 dashes of Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
4 Soft Tortillas
Heat grill over medium heat. Lay aluminum foil over the grill and spray with non-stick cooking spray. When grill is hot, lay salmon fillets over the foil and sprinkle with salmon rub seasoning. Cover and allow to grill until cooked through. Check to ensure they are not over done. Abut 7-8 minutes on medium heat.
Distribute shredded cabbage, carrots, and cilantro into the soft tacos shells. Set aside.
In small bowl whisk together mayo, green sauce (or salsa verde), and Tabasco sauce. Set aside.
Once salmon is done, remove from grill an allow to rest for 5 minutes, tented with foil. Place salmon into tortillas with vegetables. Drizzle green sauce aioli over the top.
The point is. Open your face and insert a spoon. Because this action is happening.
As I currently sit here eating my feelings, watching all of the girliest of movies I have, Legends of the Fall, Sleepless in Seattle and The American President, and lusting after a life in Montana with Brad Pitt and his ravishingly long hair - I decided I needed to crank out some somewhat real food. By which I mean something other than the $3 truffles from Godiva I had to aid in my recover from Friday’s post-wedding registry completion shopping trip and spending more than I care to admit on a new winter jacket.
I say ‘recovery’ like it was some epic, muscle atrophying workout. Just one for my bank account in reality.
*Sidebar* – If anyone is interested, I will be starting a Feistaware Anonymous group after this registry completion shopping trip. Contact me for further info. Sunflower, turquoise and ivory dishes, oh my!
Ben, honey I hope you’re not reading this. Don’t ask how much the jacket was, okay? I have a long list of justifications for it, but you don’t really wanna hear ‘em, so don’t ask. It’ll save us both a lot of time. I love you.
As this carousel comes around full circle – I’m a weepy hormonal mess. And I need real food. After shuffling my way through the store today and coming across a $7 jar of tapenade, I could only think to myself – A) crusty garlic bread needs to happen in my life. And 2) $7 for a jar of tapenade is far to ridiculous for mulched together artichokes and red peppers. – So says hypocrite that spent an egregious amount of moolah on a new jacket.
Into the cart went the crusty garlic bread and home we went, me and the bread, to do terrible things together. Like make tapenade.
Hormones, crusty garlic bread, teary movies with Presidents, Montana mountain men and long hair, and this? Spending another weekend away from Ben could be worse.
1 cup Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1/2 cup jarred Roasted Red Peppers
2 cloves Garlic
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Dash of Salt and Pepper
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Combine all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse to combine and artichoke hearts and red peppers have been minced and combined.
Serve immediately or chill and serve later with garlic artisan bread or crackers.
A stroke of bliss. As in a food induced medical emergency, in all the right ways. And a stroke of adorable, because I’m a firm believer that any dessert is cuter in miniature form.
Technically these little gems are no bake. Just a little cooking required.
*Sidebar* These are equally tantalizing with later summer blackberries. You’re welcome.
Or if you are feeling lazy one of these days and have the mini-graham cracker crust tins – these are truly no bake.
If you’re feel like an overachiever, or trying to procrastinate on the rest of the unpacking and post-wedding organizing that you have to do – go ahead, make the real, butter laden, freeze the butter, roll it out kind of dough. Your choice.
The procrastination train was pulling into the station with Megan all aboard! Hence the real pie crust.
It’s okay, it’s only me here unpacking all the post-wedding gore. With half of our room still taken up by boxes and gifts we have no where to put and boxes of decorations and favors taking up the entire desk space in the dining room. Not that we really dine in there anyway, thank goodness.
Also – I miss my husband. Three more weeks of this? I stick a big ol’ middle finger at you, Universe.
Three of these pies made it into my pie hole. Last night. Alone.
The last three somehow, by some miracle, made it into work for the guys. That’s the kind of good person I am.
And speaking of work – I got a new job today. I’ll be remaining in the same company but on a whole new project. From the time I sent my resume to the time I got the call back was an elapsed time of 2 hours.
o.O <— that about sums up my expression and the panic in my eyes.
This is a LAWWTT of life changes all at once. And after that fateful phone call one of these sounded pretty good. Except they were gone.
I opted instead for all the chocolate I could scrounge up. Two of them being minimally healthy in the form a Fiber One Brownie and a Healthy Choice fudgesicle. The third and final nail in the choco-coffin was a handful of mini-reese cups.
Today was not about being a hero. And these pies are not about being a hero – they’re about stroking on bliss.
1 1/2 cup Flour
3/4 cup Butter, cubed and frozen
1/4 tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Ice Cold Water
5 cups Peaches, divided - 1/2 cubed and 1/2 sliced
1 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
3 Tbsp Corn Starch
For Pie Crusts:
In a food processor, add in flour and salt. Pulse 5 times to combine. Add in frozen butter and pulse until large crumbles form. Add in ice cold water and turn on until a large dough ball forms. Remove from food processor and divide dough into two balls. Slightly flatten both balls of dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll dough out on a floured surface into a large rectangle and cut 6 6-inch circles. Place one circle into one mini-pie tart. If you're making one standard size pie, roll out one of the dough rounds and place in a standard pie pan.
Place pie weights into the mini-pie tarts or the standard pie dish and partially bake the pie for 8-minutes for the mini tarts and 15 minutes for the standard pie tin.
Remove the pie weights, and continue to bake the crusts for an additional 8 minutes for the mini-tarts or 15 minutes for the standard pie tin.
Remove crusts from oven and allow to cool. After 10 minutes, the mini-tarts can be removed from the tart pans to continue cooling.
For Pie Filling:
Take 2 1/2 cups of cubed peaches and place into cleaned food processor. Add in sugar and almond extract. Pulse to combine until all peaches have liquified.
Place into a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in corn starch and stir until the peaches come to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Fill pie crust(s) with cooled peach filling. Place mini-pies/pie in fridge to set for 2-3 hours.
Top with sliced peaches when cool. Devour.
Inspired by America's Test Kitchen Mixed Berry Icebox Pie
Reality has set in. Married are we, back to the daily grind of 4:15 am mornings, Ben being 300 miles away for the remaining three weeks before he starts nursing school, and Huck taking up Ben’s place on the bed – hogging what would normally be Ben’s pillow and mom (ie: me) doesn’t have the heart to boot him to his basket after abandoning him for 12 days.
And by abandoning him I mean he was spoiled like a small child, made a new best friend in Maeby, ate an entire cake himself after a rogue counter surfing incident and completely forgot I existed…
Yup – life is back to the way it always was. Ben and I are home from Alaska and all we got are these ridiulous pictures. I mean t-shirts. Well Ben got a t-shirt. Or two. It would have been more, but after I just made him throw out about half his stash collection before we left for the wedding, I wasn’t about to let them all pile up again.
Married life – it’s about compromise. Or something.
The wedding was wonderful and when I get more pictures you’ll be the first to see them. But here is one teaser that our out of this universe photographers sent the night of our rehearsal dinner. Jaw dropped. In love. Slay me now.
I’m wearing what was the tan version of the bridesmaid dress from the wedding. It can only be compared to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Bridesmaid dress, becasue when Beka and I found them – it fit us both like a glove. And with me nothing but hips and ti…insert inferences here – and her being tall, leggy and a freakin’ bombshell, it was just destined to be “the one” for the girls to wear. And really I wanted to make sure they could all wear these dresses again.
Have you ever worn one of your bridesmaid dresses again? My point exactly. These, we’ve all worn multiple times.
So Sunday morning, we woke up from our post wedding hangover (I had one glass of wine and no cupcakes at my own wedding! Travesty! – it was a hangover of exhaustion, not booze.) and drove back to Seattle to catch our ride on the Norwegian Pearl to the Great White North.
First stop – The bar. Hey! Look at that thing on his hand. Mine, all mine baby!
After two days on the boat getting up to Juneau our first stop, we did everything we could and avoided the buffet line unless it was absolutely necessary. Cattle call anyone?
So we snapped pictures with the sunglasses covering the panic in my eyes, worrying that Ben would “accidentally” take the iphone for a swim…
When we reached Skagway, our second stop we were finally able to get a decent cupa’ jo-oh-oh. Coffee on board was the equivalent of watered down dirt in a mug that passed by a coffee grove. Yes, I’m picky. Why do you ask? I’m from Seattle after all.
Its a trap!
And after meandering the streets of Skagway, dodging angry bears, learning all we could about gold, hookers and avoiding the jewelry shops promoting tanzanite like its the next big gold rush, we stopped at Skagway Brewing Company for a bite, tasting the local noms (a salmon burger for me) and downing lots of beer for the both of us. Trying to savor my burger was a lost cause, because I basically went 3-year old on it, shoveling as much as I could into my pie hole without embarrassing Ben as much as humanly possible. He’d probably say I failed.
Hooray Hookers at the Red Onion.
Wanna know three things about Alaska? Gold, Salmon and Hookers. That’s all you need to know. After catching Ben sneaking of the back stairs of a local establishment I was seriously thinking that the wedding gift of a new BBQ was severely misguided…
Our favorite excursion of the trip was the jeep and canoe safari in Ketchikan. I almost want a Jeep now. But with my mountain goat of a Civic, I can hold off for a while longer. Don’t laugh. That Civic has gotten me up roads that even some pickups had to be in four wheel drive for. Front wheel drive is an amazing thing. And I felt a certain sense of smugness doing the roads in two wheel drive in this jalopy.
In every town we stopped in we found the obligatory Harley shop. Let’s never mind the fact that Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan all have about 50 miles of road in each of them. The only way in or out is by plane or boat. But you’ve got Harley shops in each. I guess that really means that eve non that little stretch of road the odds are your Harley will need repairs pretty soon from something fallin’ off… Maybe you should’a bought a BMW? (Sorry – shameless Harley/BMW motorcycle rivalry joke in there…)
And if you didn’t need a Harley shop – you could always stop into the Holy Church of Palin Gift Shop.
Apparently I’m the devil because everything in my soul was burning after walking in here. I’m not political either way – really. Even with a degree in PS. I just can’t stand extremists of either political party and had to turn on my heels and remove myself from its walls. Anxiety attack? Check.
The last stop of our trip was to Victoria, B.C. Never mind it’s taken me four years to get Ben to hop on over here, an island that’s a three hour ferry ride away, but it was by far the sunniest and hottest day of our trip. A whopping 75. I know, whew!! A heatwave. Or the biggest one since our wedding – where it was 103!!!
And at the Empress hotel you always must remember – Pinkies up at tea time! I don’t think they would have been too keen on our Romeos, and skinny jeans at high tea. Ben thought he got out of it for good – but I’m an elephant. I never forget. Except I can’t remember what I had for dinner two days ago..
Sunday we were back in Seattle bright and early.
All in all, Alaska was the place to be for our honeymoon. But we are back in reality now – me back to work and Ben 300 miles away for the next few weeks until he starts nursing school. I can’t wait for the rest of our lives to start.
Sooo, with all these lovely ladies around I’m sure I wasn’t missed at all.
Before I left for eastern Washington and this whirlwind of a wedding…
Exhibit A -
I had about 15 basil plants that were going to wither in the apartment due to lack of sunlight, love, water and the fact that they had to be relegated indoors because our apartment’s undergoing a complete over haul whilst we’ve been gone. Go figure. And after nuturing those poor little genovese basil plants from seedlings all spring – I wasn’t about to let them cry for help and wither without hacking them off at the root and shoving them into my fancy new food processor to mulch them into something tasty and delicious.
How heartless would that be? It’d be heartless. Poor defenseless basil plants.
My last action item was to frappe my basil and freeze it for later use. There are, of course, downsides to this whole plan, because pesto is always better fresh – but when you’ve got the Jeopardy song playing in the background and feeling like Ethan Hunt, you’ll do anything to get everything done and not waste one little ounce of green leafy goodness.
Into the processor the basil leaves went, along with a hefty dose of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a little garlic (ie: Lawttss of garlic), salt, pepper, and for a dash of sass I made two batches – one with pine nuts and one with California walnuts.
Look at me, such a rebel.
The flavors of the two different nuts give the pesto a little oomph. Pine nuts give pesto that classic taste, but the walnuts yield a nice earthy flavor. I couldn’t choose which one I liked more. Really, no foolin’. Depending on your mood – pick your poison. Or nut, as it were.
After each batch was made – a dollop was siphoned into a 24 count mini muffin tin. Draping plastic wrap over the top of it and pressing lightly down on top of each divot of pesto to keep as much air off of the cups as I could, it was then wrapped in finally sealed with aluminum foil and put into the freezer for a little rest. (*note* It takes 4 batches to fill up one 24-count mini muffin tin. Each batch of pesto yields about one cup of fresh pesto)
Fast forward 12 days – and after coming home with nary a thing in the fridge, laundry out the arse, and a stale dead plant smell in the air of my (read: our) hermetically sealed apartment – these cups were perfect to pop out of the tin, toss into some boiled pasta and tossed around until they coated the noodles. This is precisely the thing weeknight dinners are made of.
And holy frijole, Batman. My night was made. And most of the laundry got done.
Best of all – Huck is back home with me now. Dayummm, did I miss those soft labradork ears.
Frozen mini-cups of pesto for busy weeknight meals
2 cups Basil Leaves, packed
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Pine nuts, or Walnuts
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded or flaked
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
4 cloves Garlic
1 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice, optional
In food processor, add in basil, nuts, salt, pepper and garlic.
Pulse food processor until the ingredients are roughly chopped. About 6 pulses. Then turn on and while processing pour in olive oil. Allow to combine until nuts, garlic and basil have been throughly blended. Finish with squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
Spoon into mini muffin tin. Cover with plastic wrap and gently press plastic wrap to the top of each cup to make sure minimal air is allowing in. Cover with aluminum foil. Freeze.
Pop our of muffin tin when frozen through and place in a freezer safe container for later use.
When using in a recipe, allow them to defrost at room temperature. Or if making with pasta - drain pasta, and in the same pot that you used for boiling pasta, toss a couple of cubes per pasta serving into the empty warm pot, allow to melt and then toss in drained pasta to combine. Serve warm.
Do you have a vampire problem? Oh good – well today, Julie from Table for Two is going to remedy that situation for you right quick! With all the garlic in this pasta there will be no brooding sparkling vampires visiting you any time soon. Unless you Want brooding Audi driving creepily sparkling vampires following you around…at which point I’m assuming you’re a teenage girl reading this blog.
Julie and I became instant friends through Twitter, then she invited me join her in the PW Wednesday series (which we all know was a sugar laden fat pants inducing success) and next month she’s coming out to Seattle to crash at my place where we will be roadtriping through the PNW eating #allthethings. It’s pretty much been pre-established that we will be wearing yoga pants the entire weekend. And we’re okay with that.
And now that my wedding diet is officially over, I’m probably on the cruise porking out on all the pasta I can fit into my face. When she sent me this recipe it almost drop kicked me off the wagon – because I have been thinking, dreaming and pining for this pasta ever since she sent me these pictures. Woman, you have no idea what you do to me!
So enjoy and drool over your keyboards. All for one, one for drool!
Howdy folks!! Julie from Table for Two over here helping Megan out while she’s honeymooning with her HUSBAND!! SO happy for them
I’m so honored that Megan asked me to guest post! Me and Megan instantly clicked as soon as her and I started talking via Twitter. Oh my good gosh, that girl is HILARIOUS! We both share the same sarcasm and knee-slapping jokes and I cannot wait to meet her in person. I’m headed out to Seattle next month and staying with her, Benny-Boo-Boo & Huck the Labradork!! I’m seriously SO excited and we’re going to eat our weights in amazing food in Seattle & PDX.
I’m overly excited about this pasta dish below, as well. It’s seriously my FAVORITE pasta of all time and do you know how easy it is?! Well, no, that’s why you’re here, but seriously people. You MUST make this. The sauce is killer – like vampire killer. It uses 9 (NINE) cloves of garlic! Wowie! The flavors of the pasta sauce are amazeballs and this dish will literally just melt in your mouth. Just don’t plan on doing any pillow talk or kissy kissy later on
Anyway, grab the fantabulous recipe below and I hope to see you around my table sometime! Would love to have y’all over
9 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pound dried pasta (I used spaghetti)
6 tbsp. butter
15 oz. jar of homemade pasta sauce or store-bought (I used homemade)
8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1. In a medium pot, bring the olive oil and garlic to a boil then turn the heat down to low and let garlic and olive oil cook for 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, cook your pasta according to the directions on the box.
3. At the same time, in a very large skillet, cook your mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and add some S&P, to taste.
4. When the pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the mushrooms.
5. In the pot where the garlic oil is, add the 6 tbsp. of butter and let it melt completely. Once butter has melted, add the jar of pasta sauce and stir to mix well.
6. Remove the garlic sauce from heat and pour all over the pasta in the skillet. Toss well to coat every strand.
7. Serve with fresh basil or parsley and some freshly grated parmesan cheese!
The Great and Powerful MOH is visiting today to feed your need for carby pizza, carmalized onions in whiskey and the holy grail of pizza toppings – BACON.
If my face were an emoticon it would be this —> o.O
Beka worked her magic in more ways than one for my wedding – from spreadsheeting the hell out of the thing, accounting for everything with a 95 item packing list, a day-by-day What Megan’s Wearing list so I knew what to pack and organizing a list of “Snacks the Bride needs” and packing a box of our favorite movies and TV shows to make sure I was relaxed and ready for the big day. My stepdad was so utterly impressed with her skillz (yup, deserving of a Z) that he hugged her for it. Yeah. When two OCD minds think alike – crazy things happen.
So read on and find out about our college lives of non existent studying and over the top pizza consumption.
As you read this, our favorite Megsie is probably completely entranced by the beauty of Alaska… So I’m here to give you pizza. Well – more like the tools to give yourself pizza.
Now, when Megan and I were in college together, we ordered pizza far too frequently – it meant we could study more (right… study!), and it was easy because it had carbs, protein, and vegetables in one hearty dish. And this was even before Congress deemed it a vegetable. For the record, our favorite (though priciest option in town) was Papa Johns because of the little cups of garlic butter they included to dip your crust in. But let’s face it – the whole slice got some. Because let’s face it – if it’s one thing that pizza is always missing, it’s more garlic and butter.
Pizza remains my go-to stress food – when I’m stressed at 7 pm after a 10-hour day in the office, 45 minutes of traffic for my 7 mi commute, and another 5 hours of homework in front of me… we ordered pizza. Now that school is done, it will probably stay as my comfort staple, but I make it more than order.
Bacon Makes It Better
It took a long time before I was willing to try to make pizza on my own – and Never in school. In fact, it took getting a pizza stone as a wedding present for me to even try it. And I did, and while attempting to remove it from said pizza stone, I created a calzone – never to be undone. Needless to say, the pizza stone remains in the back of the cupboard, never to be seen or heard from again. This pizza is presented to you without the use of the stone. But if you have one and love it and don’t accidentally make calzones out of perfectly fine pizzas, then feel free to adapt the cooking time based on your preferred stone method.
I just cried salty onion tears of joy!
This pizza came about when I had extra bacon lying around (oh darn) and some leftover pesto. I generously adapted this recipe from a Smitten Kitchen staple. I expanded on her cream sauce idea by replacing the cream sauce with a 1:1 mix of cream mixture and pesto. My main toppings were also bacon and onions (because who can go wrong with that?) but I caramelized the onions in whiskey, and added garlic (read above… never too much). Also – I added cheese. Mine was not quite as creamy as the original due to cutting the sauce with pesto, so I threw on some mozzarella. The result was a chewy, dreamy, pizza party in my mouth. And because everything was cooked first, the baking time is just to cook the dough and melt the cheese! It does make a little more mess than your classic “assemble and bake” pepperoni pie, but trust me – this is SO worth it! Plus – ply your spouse with enough pizza and wine, and they can repay the favor.
8 oz of your favorite dough recipe (or store bought… Shh! I won’t tell!)
½ head of roasted garlic
¼ cup ricotta
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup basil pesto
Flour for rolling the dough (~1 Tbls)
¼ lb bacon, in a large dice
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 oz whiskey (or 1 heaping tsp sugar)
½ cup mozzarella
1. Make the dough, if not already prepared.
2. If you don’t have roasted garlic laying around, cut the top off of a head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a dish at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes or until fragrant. Cool, and remove from the head by squeezing the base of the bulb.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta and sour cream. Fold in the pesto. Season with freshly ground pepper. Put in refrigerator to meld until assembly.
4. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy (but not burned). Remove from pan in a slotted spoon, and drain on a paper towel.
5. In the reserved bacon fat, start to cook the onions over medium heat. Salt, and slowly cook until just starting to brown (about 20 minutes). Finish the onions by adding the whiskey or sugar. Cook until alcohol is dissolve, or onions are fully caramelized and sugar is cooked down.
6. Assembly! Roll out the dough – I made mine into a square half-sheet pan lined with parchment, but adjust based on your pizza skill.
7. Spread pesto-cream mixture over the dough, be sure to leave room for crust.
8. Sprinkle with cheese.
9. Dot with ½ head of roasted garlic.
10. Sprinkle bacon and onion over the top.
11. Bake at 400 degrees for about 8-12 minutes – but adjust the temperature and cooking time to suit your baking method (my pie took a little longer because of the dark base of the baking sheet). Check often if you’re unsure (with the light, don’t open the door!) or a pizza novice.
12. Enjoy with a glass of wine and a side salad. If you’re feeling REALLY fancy, you can always just put your balsamic-dressed greens right on top of the hot pizza… but do whatever moves you.
Welcome to Country Cleaver, where country comfort and convenient cooking come together. Follow my adventures of self-reliant country cooking and baking from scratch with a little life mixed in for kicks! ...more