Friday Favorites

This has seriously been one of the fastest weeks of my life.  How is it already Friday?  I mean, I’m not complaining.  The later part of this week has been incredibly busy so I’m excited about a sloooooow down tonight and the rest of the weekend.  Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Indulge:  Red Wine Brownies.  How perfect would these be for Valentine’s Day?


Favorite Tips:  How to Mix and Match Patterns in a Room Like a Pro.  My favorite sentence in the whole article:  “Leopard is a neutral.”  Amen.


Favorite Trend:  Thai Beef Bowls.  I feel like I’m seeing rice bowls and noodle bowls everywhere these days.  I love this variations with the spiralized veggies.  And the peanut sauce.


Favorite Addictive:  Brown Butter Maple Bacon Popcorn.  This stuff looks dangerous.  And would be absolutely perfect for a raining day.  Or the Super Bowl.  Or a Netflix kind of night.


Favorite Print:  Champagne Twirl.  I’ve fallen in love with several illustrations lately.  This one is just so fun.


Favorite Spoonful:  Turmeric Roasted Sweet Potato and Macadamia Soup. Turmeric is the spice of 2017.  I’ve seen it used in soups, in lattes, and everything in between.  I think I should make a batch and then freeze some for lunches next month.


Favorite Football Food:  Chorizo and Avocado Nacho Potato Skins.   Y’all, planning our Super Bowl menu stresses me out juuuuust a litttttle because I want to make EVERYTHING!


Favorite Forecast:  Predicted Paint Colors for 2017.    The hunter greens are growing on me, people.


Favorite Brunch:  Chilaquiles Frittata Bake.  I’ve seriously been loving our new tradition of having brunch and this little number looks so dang good.


Favorite Celebrate:  Winter Champagne Punch.  And everything is worth celebrating.




Tailgate Thursday {homemade soft pretzels + a trio of dips}

After a three-week hiatus from tailgating, I’m back with a recipe for you.  These homemade soft pretzels take  little bit of work in the kitchen but they’re totally worth the effort.

To make the pretzels you start with a simple dough that’s made by mixing together warm water and sugar and then sprinkling yeast over the mixture.  Allow this to sit for five minutes before adding in flour, salt and egg.  This is mixed (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough attachment) and then allow the dough to rest and rise for an hour.  Once doubled, the dough is rolled out and then cut into strips.  The strips are formed into pretzels and then boiled in water that has baking soda added in for about three minutes.  Allow the pretzels to dry; sprinkle with salt and then bake until golden brown.  Use the above link for the full step-by-step directions and exact measurements for the ingredients.


To go with the pretzels, I served a trio of dips.

The pimiento cheese dip was made by microwaving 8 ounces of Velveeta and then whisking in 1/2 cup whole milk, a jar of diced pimientos, paprika and black pepper.

The buttermilk ranch dip is a simple combination of a 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar plus a handful of chopped dill and chives.

The creole honey mustard dip comes together in a snap by whisking together 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons mayo, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon creole seasoning.

Happy Dipping!!!

Sweet Tea-Brined Hot Chicken Wings + Smoky Romaine and Avocado Salad

After hours of scanning recipes and trying to figure out what in the world we were going to fix for the Super Bowl, we settled on wings and salad (plus an unpictured dip).

And while the Panthers did not pull off a “W,” we had a true Sunday Funday and enjoyed ourselves immensely.


We popped open a bottle of a special anniversary bubbles by my favorite wine maker Iron Horse.  This bottle is amazing – 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay.  It was peachy in color and delicious.  I’m so glad I have a few more bottles stored away for later.

As for the food, we had wings and salad.  

We started prepping the wings the day before by mixing together a brine of sweet tea, onion and lemon along with garlic and cracked black pepper.  I actually combined two different recipes to get our final result.  Here is the recipe for the brine.  On Sunday morning, we removed the wings from the brine and dried them off with a paper towel and then placed them back into the fridge uncovered on a baking sheet so they could completely air dry.  When we were ready to eat, we tossed the wings in some canola oil and then tossed them with the spice rub.  The rub is a combination of ground cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and salt.  The wings baked at 400 degrees for 40 minutes (flipping halfway through).

The wings were insanely crispy and full of flavor thanks to the brine and the rub.  We dipped the wings into a homemade ranch dressing.

As for a little bit of greens, a smoky romaine and avocado salad.  This salad could not be easier to assemble and the dressing is scrumptious.  In a bowl, toss together chopped romaine, a diced avocado and a sliced shallot.  Then drizzle with a dressing made with red wine vinegar, olive oil, agave, garlic, salt and smoked paprika.

The salad was fresh yet smoky, light yet full of flavor.


And now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s time to plan our Valentine’s Day menu….



BBQ Havarti Burgers with Sweet Potato Curly Fries

Do you know what you’re cooking (or eating) for Super Bowl Sunday yet?

I know – I can’t stop talking (or thinking) about our menu.  And it’s not even like we’re doing anything crazy.  It’ll be a Super Bowl party for two.  And one of us, (ummm, me), will probably dip out as soon as Beyonce finishes shutting it down during halftime.

But the menu is so important.  Almost important as the two teams showing up for the game.  At this moment, I think we’re leaning towards sweet tea chicken wings.  I know, I’m intrigued, too.  But what will we have with the wings?  So many things to consider.

So if you’re as confused as am I or you simply don’t care (most of you, I’m sure) here’s a burger that we had last weekend that is sure to be a touchdown with any crowd.

This burger is everything.  Messy, beefy, cheesy, savory.


But they’re not everything if you don’t add pickles or homemade sriracha aioli.  

Just kidding.

Kind of.  I’ve never been a huge mayo girl – in fact, it used to make me gag – but when you make it from scratch and call it something fancy, it’s amazing and delicious and I can’t get enough.


And the homemade fries just took things to a whole new level.  Crispy, crunchy, a little sweet, a little salty.  The perfect side to burgers.

So now that you know what you’re having on Sunday, can you help me make some decisions?

Friday Favorites

Hello, Friday!  I actually have the day off (well, minus a few texts and minor things I’ll need to handle throughout the day) so I’m kicking off the weekend with a workout, lots of coffee and a massage (um, there is a knot in my back that is literally about to make me cry) before having lunch with a friend.  I’m also looking forward to Big Guy coming home after another long week in Cali.  I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for the weekend except for this:  a car wash.  Holy moly.  Between the snow and the salt and everything in between, my car is straight up nasty.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend (the weather here is going to be amazeballs) and I’ll see ya Monday!


Favorite Brunch:  Cheesy French Toast.  Cheese.  Cheese.  And more cheese.  That little cheese “crisp” on the right side is killing me right now.



Favorite Comfort Food:  Baked Short Rib Manicotti.  Cheese + Carbs = Life.  Apparently I’m really craving cheese.



Favorite Lunch:  Asian Chopped Salad with Sesame Soy Vinaigrette (in a jar).  The perfect packable lunch.



Favorite Unexpected:  Black and White Nursery.  And no, I’m not expecting.  But I’ve never considered a black and white nursery.  Until now.



Favorite Craving:  BBQ Havarti Burgers with Sweet Potato Curly Fries.   I forgot to mention we’re planning to have burgers on Sunday for dinner.  With a side of Grease LIVE!  Oh, and probably a side of curly fries.



Favorite HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAGGIE:  Everybody’s Birthday Cake.  My sister’s birthday is on Sunday and I really, really wish we could spend the weekend together.  But we can’t.  But if we were together, I would totally make her this cake.


Photo by Amy Bartlam

Favorite Day Dream:  What’s Gaby Cooking Home Office.  Now that I work from home a day or two a week, I’m dreaming of having my own little space.  It’s simple yet fresh and bright.



Favorite Super Bowl Sunday:  Best Beef Chili.  The Panthers are in the Super Bowl, so there’s no way I won’t be watching.  At least until halftime.  Because, let’s be real – 4:17am isn’t fun on Monday if I stay up for the whole game.  So now I need to make the Super Bowl fun…with FOOD.



Favorite Handheld:  BBQ Pulled Pork Pop Tarts.  I can’t help myself.  So many decisions to make before Super Bowl Sunday.



Favorite Cheers:  Mambo Taxi.  A margarita hugged in a sangria swirl.  I want that kind of hug.


Friday Favorites

Guess what?  I finally finished that book I’ve been reading for months.  The book could have been about 100 pages shorter – the end was fantastic but a lot of the middle was unnecessary (in my opinion).  Just thought y’all might like that update.

Back to the whole “Friday” thing.  This weekend has been a long time coming.  Oh, there’s nothing special planned – except a lot of time with Big Guy and wine and cooking and if it really does snow, more wine.  This weekend is all about relaxing.  We’re running on fumes after a crazy busy start to 2016 but hopefully this weekend will recharge us and get us ready to tackle the rest of January.  Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you make this a wonderful weekend.


Favorite Cozy:  White Bean Soup with Crumbled Bacon and Spiced Brown Butter.   I want to dive head first into that bowl of yumminess.


Favorite Flavors:  Salt and Vinegar Chocolate Tart. I’m obsessed with salt and vinegar chips and I am even more intrigued by this sweet, tart and salty dessert.


Favorite DIY:  25+ Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Kitchen Stuff.  Some of the ideas are super fun while others would probably turn into a “pinterest fail.”


Favorite Slice:  Kale Pesto Pizza.  Obviously basil isn’t growing in our yard currently.  I love the kale + pecan combo for the pesto.


Favorite Inspiration:  Toast 12 Ways.    The cinnamon roll toast is totally happening.


Favorite Read:  Saving Grace by Jane Green.  I think I’ll purchase this for my Nook today.  It’s weird, I hate my Nook in the summer but love it in the winter for reading in bed.


Favorite Crave:  Jerusalem Hummus.    Yesterday morning while I was at the grocery store, I wheeled past the hummus but none of the flavors caught my eye.  Now I want hummus and I don’t have any.


Favorite Simple:  Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Chicken.    The perfect weeknight dinner.


Favorite Superbowl:  Crispy Baked Hot Wings with Mustard Dipping Sauce.   Let’s be honest, the game is more about the food than the game for me so I’m already brainstorming a menu.


Favorite High Maintenance:  Boozy Clementine Lemonade with Brûléed Citrus and Mint.  My kind of cocktail.





“Appy” Hour Recipe Round-Up

I typically do “Friday Favorites” each week to showcase a few of my favorites finds from the week.  Since Friday is Christmas and I’ll be spending time with family (and I hope you are, too) I thought I would do something a little different this week.  Today I present to you 9 appetizer recipes that I’m drooling over at this moment.  Between Christmas and New Years Eve and, I know that I’ll be making a few appetizers.  Perhaps you’re in need of an idea or two, too.

So here are my “Friday Favorites” on Wednesday – and their all “appy” hour appropriate!

Favorite Spin:  Roasted Poblano Pimiento Cheese with Buttermilk.   The perfect appetizer to have on hand since it only get better with time.  Simply serve with crackers for scooping. And I love the addition of poblanos and pepper jack cheese for a little kick on the classic recipe.


Favorite Sweet and Savory:  Goat Cheese with Cherry Onion Compote.  I could live on cheese and crackers.  I bet these little bites would disappear in no time.


Favorite Combination: Caramelized Pineapple, Ham and Cheese Turnovers.   I’m obsessed.  And I think Big Guy would adore these little guys.  Cheesy, sweet, savory, flakey, buttery, EVERYTHING!


Favorite Melted:  Croque Monsieur Crostini. Another excuse to use Lusty Monk Mustard!  But honesty, cheese + carbs = life.


Favorite Slurp:  Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel Sausage Soup. So technically this isn’t an appetizer.  BUT you can totally turn it into one by making it mini.  Simply serve the soup in shot glasses and it’s instantly an appetizer.  Boom.


Favorite Dunk:  Thai Butternut Squash Dip.   I cannot get over these flavors!  And I love anything served with pita wedges or chips.  Chile paste. Coconut milk.  Sesame oil.  And those are just three of the flavor bombs.


Favorite Must-Have:  Fontina, Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Arancini. I’ve had homemade arancini on the brain for a few months now.  And I’m now craving these little bites of goodness.


Favorite Layered Chips: Brown Ale Duck Nachos. Who wouldn’t want pimped out nachos to snack on?


Favorite Easy: Nutty Blue Cheese Spread. Do you have 6 minutes?  Then you have time to prep this appetizer (5 minutes) and grab some crackers and wine (1 minute).


Favorite Bubbles: Iron Horse.  Bubbles go with ANYTHING, hence why I suggest you have a few bottles on hand this time of year.  Honestly, this is not the bubbles I would serve at a party (La Marca is my go-to bubbles that don’t break the bank) but they are my favorite bubbles.  So if you’re looking to splurge or it’s a party for two, I highly suggest you give toast with a glass of Iron Horse.


Cheers!  And happy partying.