Baked Figs with Blue Cheese, Bacon and Pecans

I sometimes become obsessive about recipes (and other things, but we’ll leave that conversation for another day).

Sometimes I’ll come across a recipe and I literally can’t stop thinking it until it’s actually made and I get to eat said recipe.

Baked Figs with Blue, Cheese, Bacon and Pecans was one of those recipes.

I featured it on Friday Favorites last Friday and I could not get those little bites of goodness out of my mind.

So on Saturday morning, Big Guy headed to The Fresh Market with a grocery list that included figs, blue cheese and bacon.  Oh, and a fresh baguette.

And I was so obsessed with having this appetizer on Saturday evening that I called Fresh Market on Saturday night at approximately 8:38pm to make sure they would have figs the next day.

I can sometimes take things to a level that shouldn’t be visited.

But it was totally worth obsessing over.

crostini

To make the crostini, I first melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in a saucepan with some minced garlic.  Once melted, I slathered slices of the baguette with the garlic butter before baking until crusty.

figs

The figs aren’t hard to prepare either.  Simply slice the figs in half (and I sliced a little bit of the outer half so that there was a flat surface for them to lay on) and top with crumbled blue cheese, chopped pecans and crisp bacon.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Drizzle on a little honey to add some sweetness.

Now, open a bottle of red wine, pour yourself a glass and enjoy.

I topped the crostini with half of a fig and enjoyed every buttery, salty, sweet and decadent bite.

What are you currently obsessing over?

 

Another SoCo Date Night {restaurant review}

I’m about to make a bold statement.

SoCo is my favorite restaurant.  In the past year, I’ve visited SoCo five times and every single time it’s a new experience.  And I swear, it keeps getting better.

This past Friday night, Big Guy indulged me and let me geek out on food and wine.

Friday nights were made for bubbles.

As for the meal, well there really aren’t words to describe the deliciousness of dinner.  Every plate is well thought out and the wines pair beautifully which each and every plate.

By the way, I totally credit Kimberly and her wine pairings for my new-found love of red wine.

Salad (top left):  Charred Squash and Ginger Grit Cake with roasted tomatoes and sweet corn, butterbean hummus, curried ranch vinaigrette and crispy bacon

Not your traditional salad but unbelievable delicious.  I loved the thick butterbean hummus and the crisp summer corn.  And the curried ranch vinaigrette made me want to lick my plate.  I did not taste the ginger in the grit cake but I loved the texture of the grit cake.  Very substantial.

Second (top right):  Rabbit Liver Paté with hops & peach salsa, crispy pork rinds and cherry molasses

I actually ended up with this dish on accident but it worked out.  I ordered the soy-roasted watermelon steak but they got our orders switched and I didn’t figure out the mistake until after the wine was poured so I just went with it.  Thankfully Big Guy and I share nicely.  The rabbit was very rich but was balanced nicely with the peach salsa.  Big Guy was obsessed with the pork rinds.  But I wouldn’t expect any less.  This was probably my least favorite plate of the evening (if I had to choose one) but I love, love, love trying food that pushes boundaries.  I would rather be served a “weird” plate than a totally expected plate of food.

Entree (bottom left):  Cast Iron-Blackened NC Shrimp and shrimp bisque and a lobster-bacon maque choux

The thickest, plumpest shrimp I’ve ever tasted.  The seasoning had a kick but wasn’t overpowering in any way.  It tasted like it had been cooking all day.  Complex flavors that only got better with each bite.

p.s. Big Guy’s country fried venison steak might have been one of the best bites of the night.

Sweetness (bottom right):  Duck Egg-Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme

Holy dark chocolate!  So rich.  So thick.  So luscious.  This is my perfect dessert.

 

Overall, my favorite dish of the night was the shrimp.  Everything was meant to be together.  And it all came together in a beautiful way.  My favorite bite was Big Guy’s venison steak with a little poached egg on the fork – amazing.  And the plate that intrigued me the most – our salad.  So unexpected and I love that!

 

 

 

Lobster Roll {and the unofficial end of summer}

My birthday week is officially here.  And my summer is unofficially over.  We spent our “last” summer weekend just being happy.  No rushing around, no traveling.

And lobster rolls seemed like the perfect ending to our weekend (and to our summer).  We’ve never cooked with lobster at home so it was fun to work with a new-to-us ingredient.

First we steamed the lobster tails for about 7 minutes and then shocked them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

After doing a Google search, we landed upon a YouTube video on how to remove the meat and it was actually super simple.

We chopped the meat and then allowed it to chill for about 30 minutes. While the lobster meat was chilling, I prepped the spicy mayo:  mayo, Dijon mustard, mustard powder, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, salt and Sriracha.

The lobster meat was tossed in a little melted butter, chopped tarragon and salt.

A buttery roll is crucial.  It can make the difference in having a good lobster roll and having an ohemgee good lobster roll.

The rolls is stuffed with the lobster mixture and then topped with spicy mayo and chives.

It seemed necessary to have a pile of Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips next to he lobster roll with a cold brew to wash it down.

Not bad for our first time experimenting with lobster.

Not bad at all.

 

Friday Favorites.

It’s kind of hard not to be happy when it’s Friday and the weekend is oh-so-close.  But it’s true, we can decide whether we want to be happy or not no matter the situation.  This week has been quite the blur at work so I’m more than ready for a couple of days with Big Guy.  It’s my last weekend of summer so I plan on making it low-key yet full of sunshine and fun.  Here are a few of my favorites this week:

Favorite Getaway:  How gorgeous is this view?  Wine country is way up on the top of my “Places to Visit” list and this only makes me want to visit more.

Favorite Spoonful:  Double Dough Icecream.   I’m really at a loss of words right now.  Brown sugar vanilla ice cream + cookie dough = insanity.

 

Favorite Slice:  Fig, Jalapeno Jam and Blue Cheese Pizza.  If I only could eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be pizza.  And I’m a sucker for odd pizza topper combinations.  This combination intrigues me.

Favorite Sweet:  Almond Joy Candy Cakes.  Almond Joy is one of my all-time favorite treats.  How could I not want a bite of my favorite candy bar transformed into a cake?

 

Favorite Summer:  I kind of want to start a Summer Bucket List for next year and add “throw an end-of-summer rosé garden party” at the top.

 

Favorite Date Night:  Gouda Grits with Smoky Brown Butter Shrimp.  Yes, please.

 

Favorite Bite:  Baked Fig, Bacon, Blue Cheese and Pecan Bruschetta.  These and a bottle of wine.  That is all.

 

Favorite Sip:  Zinfandel Grape, Rosemary and Gin Crush.  Who knew that this would be the summer that I would fall in love with red wine and gin?  And how beautiful is this cocktail?

 

Cheers!  It’s Friday.

 

Nutter Butter Banana Pudding Trifle

I have distinct memories of eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches growing up.  Momma would spread a thick layer of creamy (never crunchy at our house) Peter Pan peanut butter on one side of the bread and then “clean” the knife off on the other side of the bread.  Not too thin, but not too thick slices of banana were thin cut with the “clean” knife and placed in three rows on the peanut butter bread.  Top with the other half and cut.  Diagonally.

I have my Momma to thank for my love of peanut butter (or almond butter) and bananas.  It’s a staple combination around my house as a 30 year old.

When I saw a recipe for Nutter Butter Banana Pudding Trifle I immediately thought of my Momma (and my brothers and sister).  This dessert was made for her.  And while I haven’t had the chance to make it for my Momma yet, I will.  Soon.

I know that banana pudding is a staple in the South, but this twist on the traditional recipe is nuts (I crack myself up).  And I think you’ll really dig it.

puddin

The best part, this recipe is actually really simple if you follow the short-cut directions, which I did.

Start by breaking an entire package of Nutter Butter cookies (except for 5:  2 for your husband to eat and 3 for garnish) into thirds.

Then mix together 2 small packages of vanilla instant pudding mix with 3 cups of milk and a splash of vanilla extract.  Beat until thickened and then allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in an 8 ounce container of sour cream (I actually forgot this step even though I had bought sour cream for this purpose and this purpose only).

Place half of the pudding mixture in the bottom of a trifle dish (I adore trifles – they are my favorite dessert to entertain with) and top with half of the banana slices and cookie pieces.

Layer on the remaining pudding mixture and top with the remaining bananas and cookies.

Finally add a layer of Cool Whip (yep, I used the pre-made stuff, y’all – no shame!).  Refrigerate until ready to serve (I recommend a couple of hours) and top with a few whole cookies before it’s time to serve.

A Southern classic just got an upgrade.

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Mac ‘n Cheese

The newest issue of Cooking Light arrived last week and as soon as I flipped the page and saw Caprese Mac and Cheese I knew it was on the next weeks menu.  (p.s. – Check out that deep dish pizza on the front cover; seriously drooling over here.)

Mac ‘n Cheese has always been a favorite of mine (along with beef tips and rice, right Momma?) and I love to indulge when given the chance.

But if you make it from scratch and not from a box with 93 ingredients that you can’t pronounce you don’t have to feel guilty.

This meal is:

cheesy
comforting
a little spicy
curl-up-on-the-couch worthy
satisfying
creamy
decadent
bursting with flavor
herbaceous
perfect for a rainy evening

In order to make this meal gluten-free, I used a brown-rice pasta, gluten-free panko, and subbed in cornstarch for the flour.  Instead of adding the cornstarch to the hot oil, I simply whisked it into the milk before adding it to the hot saucepan.

I loved the panko topping.  Little bites here and there were full of crunchy cheesiness.  Those were my favorite bites.  And using two cheeses makes it a mega bowl of comfort.  Sharp Parmesan and luscious mozzarella ensure that every bite is cheesy perfection.

I also baked this in one large dish instead of individual ramekins.  Either works perfectly.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

Italian Guacamole and Jerk Shrimp Tacos

When you make a batch of Grilled Pineapple Margaritas, it’s kind of necessary to make a batch of guacamole.

margs

Margaritas and guacamole go together like peanut butter and jelly.

And while I have plenty of “classic” guacamole recipes I could make, it’s always fun to try a new twist on a classic.

guac

So in this batch of guac, we left out the cilantro and added fresh basil and parsley.  Otherwise, it’s just like the traditional guacamole you love – packed with tomatoes, red onion, salt, jalapeno and garlic.

But now I kind of want all my guacamole to have basil and parsley in the mix.

closeup

 

The sweet but smokey margarita paired perfectly with the salty chips and the savory guacamole.

I wonder what a roasted strawberry margarita would taste like…or grilled peaches…

I may have created a monster.

As for the main course, shrimp were marinated in a mix of spices including thyme, allspice, cinnamon, pepper, cayenne and salt.  I love the warmth of these spices.

The shrimp were cooked on the stovetop and then placed on a warm corn tortilla before being topped with a cantaloupe salsa.  Basically instead of your traditional tomato salsa, cantaloupe was tossed with diced red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and salt.  Sweet and spicy!

taco

And on top of the salsa, a sprinkle of salty feta.

Gotta love Mexican night!