Broccoli Salad Dip

When most people think of Thanksgiving they think of family, turkey, all.the.pies., and football.  I remember growing up we’d finish our Thanksgiving feast at the beach with all of our family and then the men would retire to the living room to watch football.  Or maybe it should be “watch football” – because there was definitely some snoring coming from the living room.

And while you probably won’t be making an appetizer for a tailgate on Thursday, you might need one on Friday or Saturday.

Last Saturday, I whipped up a broccoli salad dip for us to nibble on while we watched college football.

Big Guy was dead set on me utilizing the broccoli in the garden so I was left with limited options.  Thankfully the dip turned out fantastic and was perfect paired with pretzels (gluten free!) and Wheat Thins.

And while the recipe is based off of the retro broccoli salad that we’ve all had before, it reminded me more of a pea pasta salad my Momma used to make when we were growing up.

Big Guy thought that a nice addition to the mix would have been raisins – which I have to agree with him.

This no-cook recipe (well, minus needing to crisp up the bacon) is perfect for a tailgate because you don’t have to worry about it getting cold.

Will you be watching football this Thanksgiving?


Friendsgiving {young adult supper club}

I’ve always wanted to host a Friendsgiving.  And this past Friday night, my wish finally came true.

Big Guy and I are part of a group of young adults and we have a Supper Club four times a year.  Well, this quarter it was my turn to host along my one of my bests, Marlo.

Marlo and I are the perfect pair when it comes to planning a party – we both love food (though she lets me think I’m in charge of the food) and we both love to host parties (she’s the decorator between the two of us – I don’t mind being told what to do).

Our menu came together beautifully and the Chef more than impressed me with the final product!


Since Thanksgiving was less than a week after our dinner, we decided to go more “non traditional” with the menu and put a spin on traditional Thanksgiving food with our appetizers.

cheese ball

All three of the appetizers were to-die-for, but I think the “tator tot” wins as the favorite of the group.


The beer cheese soup was by far my favorite of the night.  The pecan oat crumble was perfection against the silky soup.  I’ve asked the Chef to put this on the menu so that everyone else can try it.


The salad course is the one course I put the least amount of thought into when I was discussing the menu with the Chef.  But I loved all the flavors – the only thing I would have changed would be to have feta or goat cheese instead of blue.


The pork chop was cooked perfectly and I loved how my idea of “deconstructed green bean casserole” turned out.  To go with the entree, Marlo and I paired a fantastic California Pinot Noir with the dish.


And if the dinner couldn’t get any more delicious, Chef Eric blew it out of the water with the cheesecake baked apple.  Incredible.

We are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing group of friends.  And it was so much fun to kick-off the holiday season by spending an evening socializing with them all.

Happy Friendsgiving!

Pimiento Cheese Creamed Spinach

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  Have you finalized your Thanksgiving menu yet?

We finalized our portion of the Thanksgiving spread yesterday morning and made our shopping lists over coffee.


There were notebooks and magazines spread out all over the floor.

Along with the turkey and ham (Big Guy is responsible for those), here’s what I’ll be bringing:


Green Salad

Maple Roast Carrots

Pimiento Cheese Creamed Spinach 

Pumpkin-Pecan Streusel Pie

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

After about an hour, my grocery lists (yes, I had multiple lists) were compiled and I was armed and ready to do our grocery shopping.

The creamed spinach was a last-minute add to the Thanksgiving table.

On Saturday night, Big Guy wanted steaks and I wanted to cook something different.  So after over an hour of debating our menu for Saturday night, we finally agreed on the pimiento cheese creamed spinach. Holy deliciousness.

One bite in and I declared it must go on the menu for Thanksgiving.

It’s creamy yet crunchy on top.  It’s cheesy – super cheesy.  And ultra Southern because of the pimiento cheese twist.

So if you haven’t finished your menu for Thanksgiving, add this side dish!  It’s sure to be a hit with everyone.

What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?  Do you cook – or do you just eat?


Friday Favorites.

Happy Friday!  I apologize for the lack of recipe sharing this week but it’s been quiet around our house.  Big Guy was out of town all week so it was lots of snack plates and eating whatever we had around the house.  But I promise I’ll be back next week with a recipe or  two four.  This weekend should be a fun one!  We have Supper Club and a sushi-date planned.  Other than that, we’ll be soaking up some “nothingness” before the season of craziness begins.  Before we wrap up the work week, here are my favorites of the week:

Favorite Round-Up:  50 Thanksgiving Recipes.  Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  If you’re still trying to finalize your menu, this might give you some ideas.


Favorite Crispy:  French Onion Soup Arancini.   I’ve been wanting to experiment with homemade arancini for a while now.  Crunchy on the outside, luscious on the inside.


Favorite Meatless Monday:  Hearty Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili.  Totally adding this to my dinner menu ASAP.


Favorite List:  21 Things Life Is Too Short Not To Do.  My favorites:  #1, #7 (but make it a mimosa), #8, #12, #13, #15, #20.


Favorite Slurp:  Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Caramelized Onions.    How beautiful would this be for a holiday dinner party?


Favorite Flavors:  Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip.  I heart fennel and leeks.


Favorite Freshly Baked:  Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Brioche Bread.   Breakfast or dessert?  Who really cares!


Favorite Fall:  Roasted Grape Sage Pizza.  We skipped “pizza Sunday” last week…


Favorite Brunch:  Apple Cider Fritters.    But I think eating these would require sitting by a fire.


Favorite Cocktail:  Spiced Pear Sangria.  Might as well go ahead and make a double batch.






Eating / butternut squash.  It’s one of my favorites.

Drinking / tea.  It’s that time of year again.  I love a piping hot mug of tea in the evenings.

Practicing / patience.

Mastering /  the art of daydreaming.

Learning / to make time for phone dates with my girlfriends.

Trying / to figure out where the Christmas tree is going this year.

Playing / Adele’s new song, Hello.

Finishing / After You by Jojo Moyes.

Reading / holiday issues of Cooking Light and Southern Living.  (And wanting to plan all.the.menus.)

Remembering / to be thankful.

Wearing / booties with skinny jeans/pants.  It’s my attempt to be trendy.

Cooking / comfort food.  Craving:  Curried Chicken Pot Pie.

Working / on my Christmas list.

Traveling / to Asheville.  I am so excited for Big Guy to see the Biltmore at Christmastime.

Wanting / a fur vest.  (me trying to be trendy again) Oh, and happiness.

Apricot-Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Roasted Almond Quinoa

If you were to ask me for one of my top kitchen/cooking tips, I would respond with “a well stocked kitchen” with no hesitation.

A few items that I always keep on hand:

chicken thighs (freezer)



assorted vinegars 


pasta (gluten-free typically)



When you have staples around the house you can pull together dinner so much easier on nights that are crazy busy.

This dinner is a prime example of adding a few “fresh” ingredients to several pantry ingredients to make a dinner that’s not only delicious but nutritious.

Quinoa is “fancied” up with toasted almonds and parsley for a pop of color and freshness.  I used quinoa – but you could use couscous, rice, or any other grain that you have on hand.

For the apricot-rosemary chicken thighs, chicken thighs are grilled (indoors) and then brushed with a glaze made out of apricot preserves (you could use orange or peach! – whatever you have), white wine vinegar and fresh rosemary.

This meal is ready in under 30 minutes and I didn’t have to make a special trip to the grocery store.  I think pork or any cut of chicken would work beautifully – just alter the cooking time.

Weeknight dinners shouldn’t cause extra stress.

Weeknight dinners should give you the time to decompress after a long day and enjoy being at home.

So go stock your pantry!

Here’s a couple of check lists on pantry essentials:

from Food Network

from Iowa Girl Eats



{virtual} coffee chat

If we were having coffee this morning…I’m sure we would agree that the weekends go by WAY too fast.

If we were having coffee this morning….I would tell you all about my weekend with my parents.  They arrived on Friday afternoon and we enjoyed a weekend full of good eats.  We said our “goodbyes” early on Sunday morning because Dad had to be back in time for the Panthers kick-off at 1 pm.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I channeled my inner Italian and made lasagna with bechamel and bolognese on Friday night along with a salad fresh from the garden.  The lasagna recipe came from i am a food blog‘s cookbook and it was a good one.  This lasagna is a little different in that the only veggies are onion and celery (I left out the carrot because of Momma’s allergy) and tomato paste.  It also only includes mozzarella and Parmesan – no ricotta.  It’s super meaty (beef and pork) and was super comforting.  The leftovers were even better last night.

If we were having coffee this morning….We’d talk about food that is better as leftovers – lasagna is always better the next day.  I would ask you which foods you like best after they’ve had time to hang out in the fridge.

If we were having coffee this morning….I would tell you that I’m really enjoying our latest wine club shipment from Portalupi.  I opened two of their bottles this weekend and I was impressed.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about our field trip/adventure on Saturday.  Big Guy and I took my parents to Durham for a little shopping and lunch.  We first stopped at Parker and Otis because I knew my Mother would just adore the store.  And she did.  I seriously could get lost in their for HOURS.  After Parker and Otis, we headed down the street to Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop to pick up chicken for dinner.  We couldn’t help but drool over the sweets.  I’m kicking myself for not bringing home a chocolate tart.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about lunch at Dos Perros.  Lunch was good but it probably isn’t a place I would return – too many other places I want to try.  We started with a round of drinks (Paloma for me!) and some guacamole.  The guacamole was really yummy.  For lunch I decided to order two small plates – Platanos Rellanos (jalapeno and cheese stuffed plantain fritters with cream and pineapple salsa) and Ensalada (bibb lettuce, radishes, goat cheese, and bacon with serrano pepper-hibiscus dressing).  I was impressed with the freshness of the salad but I was underwhelmed by the flavor.  When serrano is in the description of the dish, I expect a little heat.  Same goes for the fritters – though the pineapple salsa was amazing.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that the rest of our Saturday afternoon was filled with football and cooking!

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that the highlight of Saturday evening’s dinner was dessert.  Oh.em.gee.  Heaven in a bowl.  Homemade banana fosters banana bread with homemade coconut ice cream.  Both were incredible and putting these two recipes together for dessert is probably one of my best ideas in all my 32 years on earth.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about our fire pit conversations from last night.  We both poured ourselves a drink (red, red wine for me) and chatted by the fire until the sun faded away.  It was a nice way to end the weekend.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would update you on my Fall Reading List.  I finished Eight Hundred Grapes a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of my favorite books ever.  Having been in Sonoma earlier in the year, this book really resonated with me.  I’m trying to convince Big Guy to read it next.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would remind you of this: