Tailgate Thursday {spicy goat cheese dip + classic pimiento cheese + the chewy}

Tailgate Thursday is baaaackkkk!!!  And I think it’s going to be regular thing now that football season is here.  Last week I shared with you some tailgate inspiration and this week I’m bringing you all the recipes from our tailgate last Saturday when ECU kicked off the season against Towson.

I take our tailgate menus very seriously.  #nobojanglesallowed

Most tailgates start with a cocktail and while I usually pour myself a stiff mimosa, I decided to make Painkillers for this game.  And yes, I took fresh nutmeg that I shaved on top of each and every drink.

With it being a later game (6pm) I knew we would need a hearty menu.  I prepared a few snacks for when we first set up our tailgate and then we planned on a low country boil right before we headed into the game.

spicy goat cheese

Above you’ll see Tastebuds Popcorn in purple and yellow – which for all my local folks, you must visit this new specialty shop in Nashville.  Below the popcorn, a spicy goat cheese dip that was my favorite of the day.  And paired with the goat cheese dip, Food Should Taste Good chips.  I also had a tray of veggies to add a little bit of healthy to the mix.

I made the spicy goat cheese dip the night before and I highly recommend making it ahead of time so that the flavors can develop.  This dip couldn’t be easier to make – simply throw everything into a food processor and whirl away.  Before serving, simple sprinkle with a few more red pepper flakes and be prepared for your friends to devour this appetizer.

classic pimiento

Pimiento cheese is a tailgate staple in our household and this is my favorite so far (I’ve probably made 10 variations to pimiento cheese).  This classic pimiento cheese is another great make-ahead dip that only gets better with time.  This dip is also best after sitting at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Surprisingly this version doesn’t have a ton of mayo but it does have a little cream cheese which gives it a rich flavor and creaminess.  Served with black pepper triscuits for dipping.

And all tailgates need a little something sweet – The Chewy chocolate chip cookie.  I made the dough the night before and simply baked the cookies on Saturday morning.  They are insanely chewy with the perfect amount of chocolate.  This cookie is a winner.

After several hours of hanging out and people watching, it was time for our low-country boil.  My in-laws brought some local shrimp from Ocean Isle Beach and it was some of the best shrimp I’ve ever had.  Juicy and tender and full of flavor without being fishy at all.  The corn was some that we had frozen out of the garden and we used purple potatoes (arrrgghhh!!!!).  We also added in a couple of quartered onions for even more flavor.  And to complete the low-country boil:  two types of cocktail sauce.  Mike’s Cocktail Sauce was by far the favorite and one of the best cocktail sauces I’ve ever tasted and the White Cocktail Sauce uses sour cream and mayo instead of ketchup for an interested twist on the classic cocktail sauce.

Such a fun start to football season!  Even more fun with a Pirate win.

This weekend ECU faces the Gators in the Swamp.  And while we won’t be going to the game, I can promise that I already have a fantastic football menu planned for Saturday afternoon/evening including chicken wings and hummus (yes, hummus).

Go Pirates!

Ginger Garlic Steak Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

We kicked off this past weekend (yes, we’ll be playing catch-up all week) with a double-date!  Our friends Katie and Ryan just renovated their kitchen and during the renovation I proclaimed that I was going to cook in her new kitchen once it was finished.  Well this past Friday, the delivery of their fridge meant one thing – their kitchen renovation was complete.  Funny how the delivery of the fridge happened on the exact day we had planned to have a double-date.

All week I bounced dinner ideas off Big Guy and I finally sent Katie a list of three options.  Turns out we have similar tastes – my top picked ended up being their top pick:  Ginger Garlic Steak Tacos with Pineapple Salsa.  

The night before Big Guy and I prepped the beef marinade so that it would be full of flavor once it came time to fire up the grill.  The marinade is full of wonderful ingredients:

brown sugar
soy sauce
worcestershire sauce
and lots of ginger

The flank steak is sprinkled with salt and pepper before being added to the ginger marinade where it can hang out for up to 24 hours.

On Friday, the only thing I had to do once we arrived was whip up a batch of guacamole and prepare the pineapple salsa.

And I can’t lie – the pineapple salsa was my favorite part of the meal.

The steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare (thanks, Big Guy and Ryan!) and the salsa was the perfect mix of sweet and savory.  A sprinkle of queso fresco topped each taco.  (Though I would personally use feta if I were to make this again.)

Such a fun double-date – and their kitchen is absolutely stunning – I might just have to invite myself over to cook again soon.



Cheesy Miso Caramelized Corn and Pineapple Chile Dip

This dip is everything.

Big Guy has proclaimed it to be one of the best dips I’ve ever made.  He’s already brainstorming reasons for me to make it again.

It’s that good.

This dip is perfect for football season but honestly, you don’t have to like football to like this dip.

The dip is sweet and savory and really, really cheesy.

You can thank the five types of cheese for the cheesiness.

Cream Cheese
Blue Cheese
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Pepper Jack Cheese

Like I said, it’s cheesy.

And I was a little hesitant about the blue cheese but you really can’t taste it – all the cheeses melt together in this amazing way and it’s quite addicting.

The corn is sweet and tender (and homegrown!).  The pineapple becomes caramelized and gives the dip an incredible flavor.

Next time (obviously there will be a next time) I’ll leave a few seeds in the jalapenos for a little more heat.  That’s the only thing I wanted more of.

Well, besides another wonton chip.

And yes, the wonton chips are freshly fried and super crunchy.

The perfect dipping vehicle.

And that basil on top – it’s the healthy part of the dip.



Tailgate Thursday {recipe round-up}

Today marks the official start of college football season with the UNC Tarheels and the USC Gamecocks kicking off this evening in Charlotte.  And while I won’t be cheering my heart out for either (although I will root for the Gamecocks any day of the year as long as they aren’t playing ECU), I will be busy planning my tailgate menu for Saturday evening when ECU kicks-off their football season.  Let’s be honest, college football is my excuse to drink mimosas and chow down on delicious food.  And in honor of football season, I thought I would share a round-up of recipes that will make this football season the most delicious football season you’ve ever had.  I can’t guarantee that your team will end up on top but I can guarantee that if you’re hanging with me, you won’t go hungry.  Let’s get down to business…

Sweet Onion Pizza Sliders

I love these because they can be served immediately or after driving to the game and setting up the tailgate.  They are very similar to these sliders that I’ve made over and over again.

Cheesy Miso Caramelized Corn and Pineapple Chile Dip

I love a cheesy dip.  I would probably save this for watching games at home so that it would be piping hot when served.  The flavors sound incredible!

Bacon and Blue Cheeseburger Potato Skins

Potato skins are such a throw-back to my childhood.  But this version is amped up with all the flavors of a bacon-blue cheese burger.

Sweet Tea-Brined Hot Chicken Wings 

Most people think of wings when they think of football.  And since college football is HUGE in the South, let’s add a little sweet tea to the mix.

Grilled Pineapple Pork Sandwich 

Pulled pork tends to travel well so it’s one of my top picks for ECU home games.

fried cheesy pickles

Does this even need an explanation?

Summer BBQ Chicken Nachos with Buttermilk Onion Rings

Because it’s still 90 degrees outside and therefore it’s still summer.  And who would say no to onion rings ON TOP of nachos?

Spicy Sausage Rolls

Because sometimes you have to party before noon.

Macaroni Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Bites with Bacon

Diets aren’t allowed at my tailgates.

Buffalo Cheddar-Ranch Chex Mix

Every tailgate needs a bowl of munchies.

Sriracha Beef Nachos

Because I’ve been obsessed with nachos since the age of 8.

Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Root Beer BBQ Sauce

The messier the better.

Lemon and Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

For a little something sweet.

Rolo Stuffed Ritz Crackers

This is my favorite (and easiest) sweet treat for any and all tailgates.

So…who are you cheering for this college football season?


Roasted BBQ Drumsticks with Cowboy Beans

All I have remaining on my list of “five things” are chocolate chip cookies.  And cookies are totally happening this weekend.  And they’re going to be chewy and full of chocolate.

I knocked out BBQ chicken earlier this week with Roasted BBQ Drumsticks.  I forget how much I love drumsticks – I typically opt for a chicken thigh.

And making these drumsticks couldn’t be easier.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper before roasting for 20 minutes at 450.  While the chicken is roasted, prepare the sauce which is a simple combination of tomato paste, soy sauce (I used tamari), sugar and pepper.  The soy sauce is the secret ingredient in my opinion.  Once the 20 minutes is up, brush one side of the drumsticks with the sauce and bake for 5 more minutes.  Then flip, brush with the remaining sauce and cook another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

On the side, jazzed up baked beans.  Saute a chopped onion and bell pepper in a little EVOO until softened.  To the veggies you add ketchup, brown sugar, water, molasses, chili powder, salt and paprika.  Allow that to come to a simmer and then add in the pinto beans.  I also roasted up a few asparagus for a little green on the plate.


The chicken was simple but delicious – please use quality chicken – it makes such a difference.  And the beans were my favorite part of the plate.  Sweet yet savory.

Lemon Bars


Spicy Margarita

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Barbecue Chicken



Hummingbird Cupcakes

What does it feel like to be 32?  Pretty amazing (and not much different than 31).  Yesterday was filled with texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, packages on the front steps and spending the whole day with Big Guy.  Want to know what I didn’t indulge in yesterday?  Bubbles.  I know – Big Guy was disappointed in me but trust me, I had plenty of pink bubbles on Sunday.

After a wonderful weekend of celebrating Kat and Josh, we got up Sunday morning and headed home but not without making a stop in Raleigh for an early birthday brunch.  Joule is one of Ashley Christensen’s restaurants that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

I started with a cup of coffee and once I was caffeinated, I moved on to a Basil 75 – a spin on my favorite French 75.  I can’t wait to recreate this cocktail at home.  Incredibly refreshing.

BASIL 75 gin, basil, sparkling wine, lemon, and lime

We were both starving and I was more than excited to see the food arrive.  I ordered a “lighter” plate of food but fattened it up with a side of bacon.  Yes.  Yes, I did.

COLD-SMOKED SALMON with roasted beets, cream cheese, charred orange marmalade vinaigrette, and toast points

The roasted beets were so good especially with a little bit of the thick cream cheese.  And well, you can never go wrong with salmon.

And Big Guy went all out with his breakfast – I think we finally cured his hangover on Sunday…from Friday night.

SHORT RIB MILK GRAVY over buttermilk cheese biscuits

You could see the chunks of buttermilk in the biscuits so you knew they were legit.

After lunch we ran some errands in Raleigh including a trip to The Raleigh Wine Shop and Whole Foods for dinner supplies.

Once we arrived home and unpacked from the weekend, I was more than excited to pop open a bottle of pink bubbles and enjoy the afternoon.  I also got to open a few surprises.

For appy hour, we enjoyed one of my favorite things in life – a cheese plate!  We enjoyed some gouda and manchego along with crackers and olives.  Perfection.

I took Monday off work so I could simply enjoy a day of relaxation.  I enjoyed a slow breakfast with coffee and the Today Show along with a later-than-normal workout on my new yoga mat (Thank you, Terri and Butch!!!).  Big Guy and I ventured out for lunch and then ran a few errands to begin prepping for football season (basically we cleaned out all the tailgating stuff so it’s ready for Saturday).

Instead of having bubbles yesterday, I opted to make myself cupcakes.  I decided that it was my birthday and I would have cake if I wanted to.  But honestly, it was all about the brown sugar cream cheese frosting.  Hummingbird Cupcakes begin with a white cake base that is full of coconut, banana and pineapple.  The best part about this recipe – it only makes four cupcakes – perfect for dessert for two.

To say that yesterday ended on a sweet note would be an understatement.  Thank you to everyone that made me feel so special on my 32nd birthday.

Oh – and check out my new sweet shades that Big Guy got me.

Cheers to 32.

Friday Favorites

After a two-day work week, I’m off again today.  I’m currently en route to one of my best friend’s wedding weekend in which I’m a bridesmaid.  Today I have the bridal luncheon and this evening will consist of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!  Happy wedding weekend, Kat!!!!!

And on Sunday, I’m going to celebrate my birthday.  Not really sure what we’re doing but I do know that bubbles and delicious food will be involved.  I’ll share all the weekend fun with you on Monday!

{from town and country magazine}

Here are my favorites from the week:

Favorite Dinner:  Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad.  I feel healthy just looking at this bowl of goodness.


Favorite DIY:  Shell Candles.  I think this is a project that I’ll complete the next time I’m with my Momma and sister.


Favorite Appetizer:  Whipped Mexican Grilled Corn Dip.  Boom.  I need this.  Now.


Favorite Wake-Up:  Breakfast Tart.  I know I just said brunch isn’t really my thing.  But if this was brunch, it may become my thing.


Favorite Update:  Chambray Tunic Softened Shirt.  I love my chambray button-ups.  And this polished version is a perfect summer to fall transition piece.  (though I’m still in denial that fall is coming)


Favorite Mouthful:  My Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich.  I can only imagine the happiness I would experience upon taking a bite.


Favorite Sweet Tooth:  Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies.  Please hand me a cup of milk.


Favorite Guideline:  77 Expiration Dates That You Should Know.  Big Guy and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the tossing of items in the house that are beyond their expiration date.  Especially those items that live in the kitchen.


Favorite Crave:  The Modern Cheese Plate.  Gosh, do I love a cheese plate.


Favorite Cocktail Hour:  Pineapple and Cilantro Moscow Mule.  I’m holding onto summer as long as possible.


Happy Weekend!!!