Daa duh duhdahhh, Da duh Datttahhh!!! That’s supposed to be the wedding march. Somehow it doesn’t translate very well over the internet does it? But that’s okay, because we’re not here to quibble over typing out wedding marches, we’re here to CELEBRATE!!
What pray-tell are we celebrating? Well, JULIE’S SURPRISE WEDDING SHOWER!!
I’m a terrible secret keeper and how this managed to stay a secret as long as it has is beyond me – but when its for someone as awesome-sauce as Julie, I had to work super hard to keep this bridal shower under wraps. But finally it’s here.
I’ve been so lucky to not only know Julie through blogging, but we’ve become real life friends spending time together here in Seattle and back in DC. Last year when I was getting ready to get hitched, Julie surprised the heck out of me by planning my surprise bridal shower, and I was more than excited to return the favor today.
When it comes to bridal showers and events, I’m a bit of a one trick pony – I do desserts or dips. That’s kinda where it ends for me. But when you’re at a party, you need small, tasty and easy to eat. Desserts and dips are right in that category – so this PNW inspired Smoked Salmon dip was what needed to be actioned. I know that Julie would approve.
So I hope that you’ll join me and the rest of our blogging contingent, and some of our best food blogging friends to wish Julie well on this new and exhilarating chapter of her and Jason’s life together.
We love you Julie and wish you all the best and happiness in the world!
This is no April Fool’s joke, I swear it!! We couldn’t possibly do that to you all. Especially not with something this tantelizing, this awesome, and this neato burrito – a Canon Rebel T3i!
This week me and the some of the best food bloggers I know have teamed up to giveaway at brand new Canon Rebel T3i along with a 16GB disk so you can capture all of the special moments this spring and for years to come!
I’ve been using a Canon Rebel xSi all three years of food blogging and it has stood the test of time and copious amounts of caked on flour and sugar, really is obscene. This thing is a champ and I know it will be a fabulous fit for your photo taking needs now and well into the future.
The 18 megapixel Canon Rebel T3i has a 3.0″ flip-out display and full 1080p HD video capabilities. The image stabilization helps keep your images crisp and clear, avoiding the plague that is a shaky photo!
The new T3i also has in-camera photo editing options that help you really give you photos the look you want in camera and save you time post-editing, including five creative filters to give you everything from dreamy romantic bokehs to grainy and uber-contrasty black and white images.
It’s going to be a dream, I just know it.
Below are all the details on how to enter! So hurry, this giveaway ends on Sunday, April 7th!
Is there any other time of year that you can ravenously devour deviled eggs in such quantity other than Easter? I know, I couldn’t think of one either. But as much as I love all those deviled eggs, you can’t deny the post-deviled egg effects and at some point, when you reach un buttoning Sunday church service pants and taking of your Spanx levels – you need to switch to something else a little lighter… Scoop yourself an extra serving of this Cottage Caprese. All the creaminess and none of those uncomfortably sulfurous side effects. You know who you are…
And if you’re anything like me, it’s only just dawned on you this week that Easter is in two days and I’m no where near prepared. Sure Easter candy has been out since Valentine’s Day, which I’ll never understand, but I haven’t even had the chance to burn out on all the Easter Candy. The Cadbury Mini Eggs are my absolute favorite – and I counted on getting a bag of them every year from my mom… but now that I’m married she doesn’t send me the same holiday care packages she used too. I feel Easter Jipped!!
I suppose I can stock up on Monday once it all goes on sale for half off. #brightside
The beauty of this cottage caprese is that it goest together in a snap and it will blow your great aunt’s canned “fruit salad” out of the water. And you know that things in here are fresh, not canned back in ’95 when coulots were still a thing. On a side note – what’s with all the jumpers and overalls making a style comeback? I think that is one fashion memo I am happy to have missed.
This cottage caprese will not go out of style – because you can’t go wrong with protein packed skim cottage cheese in lieu of mozzarella in traditional caprese, and garlic toasted pine nuts that just make this impossible to comprehend savory.
Sure, you could serve this on toasted baguette – but my chosen method? With a spoon. A really big one. I couldn’t stop. You can’t handle the fresh!
Have a chocolatey Easter everyone and save some room for this! And take a break from the deviled eggs, your loved ones will thank you. Dads out there, I’m looking at you.
And if you’re still struggling for other Easter Brunch ideas – try these 10 Brunch recipes on for size. Of your face.
Does Chicago have a theme song? Like New York, New York? If they did I’d be singing it to my heart’s content. What an awesome town! Last week I got to experience Chicago first hand, absorbing all I could with my eyes, ears and best of all stomach with the great people from Cracker Barrel Cheese! The next few months here at Country Cleaver we’re going to be chatting cheese, creating fun recipes and going into the wonderful world of curd – so get your stretchy pants on people, it’s gonna get cheesy up in here!
Our first stop was to the Kraft test kitchens where we learned all about the basics of cheese making, cheese tasting, pairings and judging. Did you know that cheese and chocolate go together? Well, they do. White chocolate and cheese – life changer.
Crackerbarrel ranks amongst the best cheese available, winning some of the most prestigious awards in the cheese world. These aren’t you “paid to be awarded” type of awards, these are blind taste test awards that pit them against some of the best artisanal cheesemongers out there. Consistency and quality make Cracker Barrel the cheese you go back to time and time again for all your entertaining and snacking needs.
Tasting Chicago’s Finest
At Little Goat – Photo Credit from Courtney Whittmore from Pizzazzerie
If you’re a Top Chef fan you will know this name right off the bat – Stephanie Izard. After the Top Chef Season 4 contestant swept the show and won, she returned to Chicago to open up her restaurant Little Goat. To say that it was simply “delicious” would do it the biggest injustice. It was utterly fabulous, flavorful, innovative and still homey and comforting. Between the sweet onion soup and the chocolate and cheese dessert – I really couldn’t pick a favorite.
If you are ever in Chicago – Go. Here.
Along the way we also took a few moments to try out hand at additional chocolate and cheese pairings at the Vosges Flagship store. With brilliant culinary flair, these chocolate combined exotic spices with sweet chocolate and strong, flavorful cheeses. It was so cool! They’re chocolate bacon bar is everywhere and once you go bacon and chocolate you’ll never go back. Fine, it doesn’t rhyme – but the statement stands.
Between the Chicago Hot Dog and the Chicago Deep Dish pizza – I’m not sure which is more “Chicago-ish”. Which one is better? Which one is more Chicago? Who cares – because either one is a total win. Our final stop on our food tour was to the renound The Haute and the Dog. Seeing as mac and cheese was the end all be all of my childhood food pyramid – I couldn’t pass up the green chile mac and cheese dog. I know, how terrible am I for passing up a tried and true Chicago Dog? But it was scrumptious to the Nth degree. Along with their baked fries and aioli. I’m lusting after a hot dog now. I’ve officially got problems.
Before departing Chicago our last meal was had at The Boarding House where we got to partake in some of the simplest and most lovely styled foods and got to experiment ourselves with styling with cheese. Laura Bedardski taught us all the tricks of the trade for styling with cheese and gave us a chance to try our hand at it, too. And yes, I snuck a bite here and there. Shhh…
The design of the Boarding House was so snazzy, with over 6,000 wine glasses hanging from the ceiling downstaire and over 3,000 beer bottles hanging above us at brunch.
The whole trip was just pure perfection. It was a trip I won’t soon forget.
Oh, and did I mention the Vosges Chocolates? Just covering my bases. Stay tuned for more cheese talk and join me in this fun new adventure.
*Fine Print* Photography: Todd Rosenberg/Cracker Barrel (Boarding House Photos), Girl + Goat set – by Courtney Whittmore from Pizzazzerie – all the rest are my own. | Disclaimer: The trip was provided by Kraft Cracker Barrel but all opinions are my own. Cheese rules!
Truth time, I can’t flip an omelet to save my life. And if you’re anything like me, the non-omelet flipper, I have your non-omlette flipping problems solved, with a frittata. It dawned on me about half way through porking out on this thing that a frittata is just a fancier sounding flat omelet. Anyone else have a “Well, DOIIII!” moment here? Don’t answer that, I don’t need to kn0w that I’m the only one that slow on the uptake…
But seriously people, this was my first frittata and it was supremely simple and I’m all for fancy sound breakfast items that make everyone think you slaved over a stove for hours. Sure, I was skeptical. It couldn’t. possibly. be. THAT. easy.
Well, it was. Angels sang, I licked the plate clean, I rejoiced and testified.
And if you’re still having issues trying to figure out what to serve for Easter brunch – this has got to be it. It took a whopping 10 minutes to make the frittata and 10 minutes to make the hollandaise. I’m officially obsessed.
The two months leading up to the wedding, I was eating artichokes and hollandaise at least once a week. It was becoming a problem, but I also knew that Ben didn’t like them very well (What, there’s a veggie Ben doesn’t like?! *collective gasp*) and figured I needed my fill before he moved home after the wedding. Jess’s Herb Gorgonzola Artichokes with Parmesan Hollandaise became my singular obsession and focus. It was what you might call, pure lunacy. The cheese guy at my super market started to recognize me for the gobs of gorg I was purchasing. It was embarrassing.
But I got over it pretty quick.
I devoured half this thing after shooting it. And this was also probably the fastest item I’ve ever shot for the blog. It was still warm by the time I was done, and I went in full bore throwing lady-like-ness to the wind, just opening wide and shoveling it in.
It also holds up really well, so if you dont’ finish it in 8.14 seconds flat like I did, I had to at 3 in the morning as I was getting ready for my flight to Chicago last week. Still, just as great as the day before. Just a tip for your earlier risers or lovers of leftovers.
I’m here to help. Or create a new obsession. Ya know, whatever.
Crackerbarrel is perfect for just about any application, whether you’re cooking with it like I did here or just slicing it and serving it along side your holiday appetizers. The possibilities are endless. I found out last week while tasting my way through Chicago with Crackerbarrel, that cheese can go with just about anything, from fruits, to meats and even with chocolate. Yes, seriously cheese and chocolate – it’s totally a thing. You can’t go wrong. And Crackerbarrel’s selection and variety from softer marbled cheddars to sharp white cheddars are divine with anything you serve.
To help you with you celebrations this Easter season, check out the coupon code below to get your mitts on a package of your own Crackerbarrel cheese. Slice and serve or add it in to your favorite foods for a sharp and creamy tang. Crackerbarrel really is – Cheedar. Perfected.
You guys. I mean, YOU. GUYS. Look at this! This is the thing breakfast dreams are made of. Man food to the max and totally packed with flavor this is what you need to have in your life. These smoked salmon breakfast bagels are just pure magic. Ben and I have been having these for the last four weekends in a row. I took instagram photos of them weeks ago and said I’d put them up, then I ate them. Then the next time I made them, the lighting wasn’t “good enough”, so I ate ‘em and gave up on taking purdy photos. I finally had to make these one last time to get legit photos out of them before…you guessed it – I ate ‘em. And I reveled in it, cream cheese everywhere, smoked salmon falling out the side of my face. Blisssss!!
Also, on an unrelated note - we women are weird creatures. We miss out husband when they’re busy and not around, but the first day that they are done with nursing school for the spring quarter and they have time on their hands – they start bugging the ever loving daylights out of you! No? Just me.
Today, Ben actually texted me. TEXTED me. He never texts me. Ever.
Unless its “what are we having for dinner?”.
Today it was 30 text messages (no, I mean 30 – literally) starting with telling me that he ate my $40 box of Vosges chocolate and hated them so he spit them all out. Ahhh! I almost reached through the phone to strangle him Homer Simpson-style. Then it was bragging them he slept in until 9:30 this morning. His 9:30 to my 4:45 wakeup call filled me with rageaholic rage and uber amounts of jealousy. Thennnn, just in time for me to go into an afternoon meeting he sent me the remaining 23 text messages so he could perform a “Is your Phone off at work test” and see if the ringer on my phone was on while I was in the office.
His excuse for all this? “Now that I have free time I can bug you at work”.
No matter how play-mad I wanted to be – I totally adored it. Mostly I’m relieved that he survived the quarter. I’m also relieved he still hasn’t lost his sense of humor, because this quarter of nursing school was Buh Rue TALLLL.
To help him celebrate his much deserved spring break and passing all his classes, we’re heading up to the mountains for a weekend of eating, snow, beer, shopping and more beer. The friends will all be together and Oompa-pa-ing in Leavenworth, Washington. Ain’t nothing like a little Bavarian village to get you in the beer swilling mood!
Hooray Beer. And hooray for a husband you can actually spend some time with before he goes back into his cave for another quarter of never-to-be-heard-from-again silence and studying.
I’m gong to relish this next week and enjoy the heck out of his random text messages, I just know it.
And you? You should relish one of these breakfast bagels. Ferrr real son!
Are you burned out on Easter candy yet? Easter hasn’t even happened, but I feel like as bloggers, we have to plan so far in advance of each holiday we’re totally and completely the holiday when it finally comes around. I was over Halloween by Labor Day. And Halloween is my favorite holiday – because it’s my BIRTHDAY – but I was already over it in September. Same thing happened at Turkey Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. The only way I’m not burned out on Easter yet is that is has the best candy of all the other holidays – Cadbury Mini Eggs with that crunchy candy coating and melty chocolate in side and all the malted eggs you can handle. HEAVEENNN!! But when that inevitable candy burn out happens – I’ll latch on to all the fresh fruit I can muster and this Fresh Lemon Berry Napoleon is first in the line.
These lemon berry Napoleons are so fabulously easy, and they feed a herd – so if you’re in a pinch to find something to make for Easter brunch this is money in the bag. Easter eggs in the basket? Gotta be seasonally appropriate here.
I’m still in Chicago, letting probably a third deep dish pizza get all up in my grill – but I couldn’t let this recipe wait another day! I don’t think there is a more versatile pastry than Puff Pastry, and I’ve struck buttery, flaky, gold with this recipe. And frankly spending nearly 6 bucks every time I need to indulge my puff pastry craving every time I go to the store was really getting tiresome. Six bucks for two pastries, and lather, rinse, repeat that how many time – it starts taking a toll on the wallet. When pastry costs start over taking your coffee budget things have got to change, and I have this fantastic, quick DIY Puff Pastry recipe for you.
At about $2 for 3 rectangles of pastry – you can’t beat those odds for a Saturday afternoon project.
Just like a pie crust, this involves three great things – flour, butter, and water. Okay, a little salt too. I like this version opposed to traditional puff pastry that seems a little tough to bite clean through without residual layers sticking out of your mouth – this falls apart into flaky layers with air in little pockets through out.
Instead of cutting the flour and butter together with knives or fork so tediously, I opted for my food processor. It’s easy to take this method over board, so be careful. After pulsing the butter and flour together until large pea size balls formed, I added 2 tablespoons of cold water to the mix. A third tablespoon of water was needed to get the dough to start to ball. Just as it starts to ball, stop and remove the dough. Knead the dough to form a smooth ball.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 15″ x 12″ rectangle. Fold the ends onto themselves to form three layers of dough. Then turn the dough ¼ turn, like on the hands of a clock. Repeat the rolling and folding maneuver. Next, let it chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes so the butter doesn’t get too soft in the dough.
After 20 minutes, repeat the roll-fold-turn-roll maneuver once more. Repeat the chilling. This process is done five times. It’s nearly the same process you’d use for making your own homemade croissants! It’s all those layers intermixed with butter that create steam and cause the dough and pastry to puff up so deliciously.
Once you’ve done your roll-stretch-chill and all that jazz, cut the rectangle into three sections about 5 inches wide by 12 inches long. Then you’re ready to bake away!
Throughly wrap your puff pastry if you want to freeze it or go ahead and bake away with your lovingly made dough.
Be sure poke the dough down to make sure it doesn’t go all Marshmallow man and get overly puffy on you as you bake.
You’ll be in heaven with this flakey, golden brown delight.
And see what’s coming tomorrow using these puff pastries – perfect for Easter dessert, these fresh Lemon Berry Napoleons are pure bliss. They’re so light and airy, you’ll have zero guilt. Well, nearly zero.
Have you ever been to New Orleans? Have you trapst down Bourbon Street, heard the jazz pulsing through the town? Neither have I, and frankly I feel the poorer for it. Between the French luxe roots, the Southern charm and the endless spirit and soul, it’s totally my kinda town! But until the time comes that I actually get the chance to go down there, I’m determined to inject as much French Ooo La La and into my life as possible – and I’m starting with these famed Sucre Macarons!
Famed you say? So famed they’re even Oprah approved. OPRAH!
These absolutely gorgeous macarons came to me straight NOLA and let me tell you somethin’ son – there is no doubt about it, these are the most fantastic macarons I’ve ever had in my life. I opened the box to find a rainbow of macarons that just had to be devoured.
As soon as the box arrived, I texted my NOLA loving friend Jackie to ask her about Sucre, had she ever been there before? Oh yes, she had. Naturally. And when I told her that a special package had just arrived – she commanded that the box be brought to that nights happy hour. How could I not share? Well, guess who’s addled mind forgot the macarons? Mine did. But I got over it pretty quickly when it meant I got try each and every flavor in the box.
15 perfectly crisp-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside macarons filled the box with springy flavors like Strawberry, Almond, Bananas Foster and Pistachio. It was pure bliss.
To help keep the celebrations of spring going, Sucre wants to give one of YOU a 15 piece Signature Collection filled with these stunning confections. These are perfect for Easter, so share them (or don’t, I won’t judge) and put a little extra spring in your step.
*Fine Print* Winner will be notified through e-mail and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Sucre sent me a 15 piece Signature Collection of these to try, I was not compensated for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.
1. Is everyone and their mama out running a 5K this weekend? More power to y’all. Enjoy that three miles in the wee hours of the morning, I’ll stay here with my coffee and Bailey’s and cheer you on! It’s how I’ll choose to pay my respects to the Irish today, now that I’m nearly done with that half gallon of Bailey’s I picked up a year and a half ago.
2. This was the best way to waste 4 minutes of my time this week. Baby seals, people. BABY SEALS. My right ovary kicked me, repeatedly.
3. For the first time since the honeymoon, I’m taking a few days off work and heading to Chicago. I’ll be staying at PUBLIC Chicago. Excuse me whilst I fall over. It’s going to be a food filled weekend and its top of my list to get to know a slice of Chicago Deep Dish pizza very intimately. A pizza tryst. That doesn’t sound dirty at all, does it?
4. Monday, get ready because there will be a giveaway perfect for your Easter celebrations. It looks something like this, from the famed NOLA macaron shop Sucre. I promised to share these with my friends at our last Happy Hour, but I oh-so-conventiently forgot them. Ohhhh, darn. Ben and I spent two nights devouring 15 of these absolutely stunning macarons. The iridescent shimmering dust on the orange and pink macaroons just slayed me to the Nth degree. I think the orange Carrot Cake macarons were my favorite.
5. Someone else tell me that they are going to feel just as lost as I am when The Office comes to an end this year. I blame Ben for getting me hooked on that show. The Jim and Pam story line has carried me through the most taxing of TV times. And they are really messing with me this last season with this tension and long distance issues. Get it together JIM!!
6. To help get me through this, I’m diving head first into New Girl and I finally got Ben to watch one episode with me. He’s hooked. SCORE! I think it’s because him and Nick are pretty much the same crotchety old “Get off my lawn” kinda men. Ben is quite a bit more ambitious and doesn’t work in a bar – but other than that… Spot. ON.
7. And I’ve been told repeatedly that Huck needs his own Facebook page and Instagram accounts. The biggest thing stopping me is that the hound will probably get a bigger following than I have and my fragile ego couldn’t handle that. What do you think about people who set up Facebook and Instagram accounts for their pets? Yay or Nay? I mean after this photo yesterday, it almost got me considering it.