Bacon & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers + Avocado Spinach Artichoke Dip

I’m back from a wonderful couple of days at the beach for our third annual Flamingo Fling.

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Flamingo Fling is basically an excuse for all the Bell ladies to get together without the men and enjoy a weekend doing whatever, whenever we want.  And of course we use ALL the things “flamingo.”

After enjoying a little sunshine on Friday afternoon, it was time for a fun flamingo drink!  My Momma made a delicious blackberry lemonade spritzer that was sweet and bubbly.  Maggie spiked hers with a little Prosecco – last year she was the pregnant one.

Typically on our first night, we dine “appy hour” style.  Meaning lots of small bites and appetizers.

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We had quite the assortment.  I made bacon and goat cheese stuffed mini peppers which exceeded my expectations.  Sweet mini peppers were stuffed with a  mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, chives, garlic and crispy bacon before being baked and then dipped in a balsamic sweet chili sauce.  A super easy recipe that I’ll definitely be making again.  Momma made avocado spinach artichoke dip that was addicting when paired with crunchy pita chips.  The food processor does all the work with this recipe – whirling together avocado, lemon juice, garlic, spinach, artichokes, a little EVOO and red pepper flakes.  Go a little heavy on the salt – it needs it, especially when paired with raw veggies. Maggie picked up some fantastic chicken salad from a local restaurant and she also provided a variety  of dark chocolate for dessert.

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The rest of the weekend was full of relaxing, learning about Young Living essential oils, sun, a little shopping and more eating!

My heart is always full after Flamingo Fling and I’m already looking forward to our weekend together next year.

Friday Favorites

Good morning, friends!  I’m sure many of you are incredibly excited for this upcoming weekend because 4th of July on a Tuesday = looooonnnnggggg weekend.  We’re considering next week our “summer vacation” and I’m excited to unplug (so I won’t be blogging!) and relax.  I bought two new books and I plan on getting through them both.  Stay safe and I’ll see you back here soon.

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Favorite Red, White and Blue:  No Bake Frozen Cheesecake.  Not only does this look easy but it looks delicious.  Bonus:  no need to turn on the oven.

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Favorite Round-up:  4th of July Menu.  Need ideas for long weekend celebrations?  Gaby’s got you covered.  I’m eyeing that cherry and peach panzanella like WHOA.

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Favorite “Did You Know?”:  Why do jeans have that tiny pocket?  There is a reason. Spoiler alert:  a watch!

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Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Lemon Feta Dip with Garlic Tomato Vinaigrette.  I could make dinner out of this platter.

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Favorite Online Shopping:  J. Crew Factory.  I want it all.  But I’m especially liking all the comfy cotton dresses, some of the shorts, and simple tops.

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Favorite Drool:  Animal Style Cheeseburger Pizza.  Holy deliciousness.

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Favorite Summer:  Best S’mores Bars.  Let’s be honest, it’s a little too warm to start the fire pit in July around here.  But these bars give you ALL the flavor and look amazing.

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Favorite Makeover:  5 Tips for Creating a Beautifully Organized Pantry.  Hey Big Guy, you up for a trip to the Container Store????

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Favorite Lunch or Dinner:  BLT Lettuce Wraps with Avocado Ranch.  NEED this in my life.    So flavorful, so crunchy, so, dare I say it, healthy.

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Favorite Cool Down:  Watermelon Frosé.  This happened last Sunday and you need it in your life.

Cheers!  And Happy 4th of July!

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Since we have a looooong weekend on the horizon, I thought you might need an appetizer for a party or get together.  Whether there are 2 of you or 20 of you, this dip is a winner.  The best part, there’s NO mayo involved so you can let it sit out longer without going bad.  Another awesome part, you can make this up to two days in advance.  #winning

I know, “no mayo in an artichoke and spinach dip?”  It’s true.  This healthier spin on the classic hot dip is fresh and bright and totally dippable.  You can simply serve this dip with veggies and crackers like I did or you can add it to a platter of cheese, meats and other yummy bites.

To start, sauté the well drained artichokes (I used canned) in butter and then add in the garlic.  Let this cool for 20 minutes.  Next whirl the green onions and spinach in a food processor until finely chopped.  Place in a bowl.  Now add the artichokes, shredded parmesan, and pecans (!!!) to the food processor and whirl.  Add that mixture to bowl with the spinach mixture along with EVOO, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

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What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

I think you should add “making this dip” to your plans.

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

Trust me on this one.  I loosely followed a recipe so I’m going to give you all the details as to how I threw together this amazing guacamole for the Super Bowl last weekend.  This is super simple and would be perfect for any occasion.  Or just a margarita.

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Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic
3 green onions
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 lime, juiced
salt
pepper
sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

In a food processor, whirl the red onion, garlic and green onions until finely chopped.  Add in the avocados, citrus juice and salt and pepper.  Taste to make sure there is enough salt – I always feel like I put in too much but you need a lot.

Transfer to a bowl and top with chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Serve with fresh veggies or some chips.

 

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  And welcome to December.  It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year.  As soon as I’m done teaching and making myself look presentable this morning I’m heading to Charlotte to see the newest love of my life, Braxton.  Not only that, but the timing of my visit is perfect in that I’ll be able to go to my sister-in-law’s gender reveal.  Basically it’s a weekend full of baby stuff.  I’m flying solo this weekend and while I’m not wishing the weekend away, I can’t wait to see Big Guy on Monday -he’s been in Texas all week.  I hope your December kick-off is full of laugher and all things merry.

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Favorite Bundt:  Eggnog Buttered Rum Cake.  Y’all know I love making bundt cakes.  The combination of buttered rum plus eggnog sounds magical.

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Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Polenta Bites with Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Ricotta and Chutney.  Instead of the go-to crostini, why not amp up your appetizer with polenta?  I’m excited to give this a try.

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Favorite Reason for the Season:  The White Envelope.  I might have shed a tear while reading this story.

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Favorite Meatless Monday:  Sweet Potato Tacos with Apple Radish Slaw.  In between all the sweets and treats and cheesy appetizers, I need to squeeze in some healthy meals.  Plus, I have lots and lots of sweet potatoes from the garden.

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Favorite From Scratch:  Sourdough Bagels.  This past weekend I had a cinnamon crunch bagel and remembered how much I love bagels.  So let’s make some at home!

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Favorite Fashion:  Holiday Travel Outfit.  I’m really into capes and ponchos this year.  And this outfit looks incredibly comfy yet stylish.

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Favorite Drool:  Cranberry Brie Pull Apart Bread.  I can’t even handle this concept.  In a good way, obviously.

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Favorite Slow Cooker:  Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup.  All the goodness of an enchilada in a belly warming soup.  And I already know when I’m making this.

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Favorite Cocktail:  Honey Vanilla Pear Margaritas.  This + the Christmas tree + a Hallmark movie + guacamole would rock my world.

Cheers!

French Onion Tartlets + Caramelized Leek and Spinach Dip

Not one but TWO recipes coming your way today.  December is busy.  There are holiday parties to attend, gifts to be purchased, and preparations to be made for family gatherings.  These two appetizers are the perfect bites for any cocktail party or holiday get together.  I made both for Thanksgiving and they were a hit.  The best part – I prepped both recipes the night before and simply assembled and baked (one of them) the day of.

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The French Onion Tartlets are addictive!  They taste just like french onion soup except they come in a little phyllo shell.  To prep in advance, simply prepare the entire recipe up until you fill the tarts.  Place the french onion and cream cheese mixture into a container and store in the fridge.  Simply fill the shells and top with gruyere before baking the day of the party.  Changes I made to the recipe:  I used red wine to deglaze the pan (it’s what I had opened for my sangria) and I added a little more decadence with the addition of shredded gruyere on top (only because it was in the cheese drawer and I figured WHY NOT!?!).

The best part about the caramelized leek and spinach dip is that it can be prepped in entirety the day before.  I doubled the recipe and simply stored in the fridge until it was time to eat.  I served the dip with crunchy crackers plus carrots and celery.

Do you have any go-to appetizer recipes for the holiday season?

A couple other easy, peasy recipes:  bacon wrapped dates (so good!) and cream cheese topped with pepper jelly (Trader Joes has a great one).

Beer-Battered Pumpkin with Dipping Sauce

It’s Thanksgiving week!  Is your menu set and your turkey bought?  I did the big grocery haul today for the ingredients I’ll need for what I’m taking to the Watson Thanksgiving meal.  Let’s just say I wasn’t the only one loading up my cart today.  Though there are still two things I haven’t been able to find:  frozen pearl onions and golden beets.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Big Guy and I had a mini-Thanksgiving yesterday and it was a blast!  We spent the evening laughing, eating amazing food and watching Hallmark Christmas movies (the husband is obsessed).  Before our big meal, we whipped up an fried pumpkin (!!!!) that blew our socks off.  It was so much better than we ever imagined.

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First, carefully peel and cut a sugar or pie pumpkin (small pumpkins used for cooking) into slices.  The pumpkin is then dipped in a beer batter  that includes flour, cornstarch, salt and the beer.  Once battered, it goes straight into the hot oil where it cooks for about 3 minutes.  After frying the pumpkin, a few sage leaves are fried for a little savory punch of herb flavor.  Sprinkle with salt and serve with a buttermilk garlic dip.

You really can fry anything.

See you back here tomorrow with a delicious and healthy side dish that will be perfect for any of you that are still putting together your menu.