Creamy Goat Cheese and Arugula Pasta Salad

Happy Monday, friends.  Can you believe it’s the last week of June?  This past weekend we spent some time at the pool, went on a couple of long walks, enjoyed sushi, and cooked some epic summer dinners.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a pasta salad but this goat cheese pasta salad has been on my brain since Memorial Day weekend and I finally made it last night for dinner.  The verdict:  my new favorite pasta salad.

The goat cheese adds so much creaminess and tang to the entire salad and the olive oil + lemon juice “dressing” adds a little zip that I adored.  The salad is studded with sweet, homegrown tomatoes as well as briny olives (perhaps my favorite part).  Peppery arugula adds just the right amount of spice and green to the dish.  This dish is best served warm or at room temperature but you can totally reheat in the microwave.

goatcheesepastasalad

Big Guy and I both adored this summery pasta salad.

Buttered Rosemary Smashed Potatoes with Burrata

Also known as my new favorite way to eat potatoes.

Let’s rewind one more time to the weekend, okay?  On Sunday night Big Guy really wanted steaks.  And instead of grilling steaks, we decided to try reverse seared steaks.  Basically the steak cooks over low heat in the oven before being seared for under a minute on each side on the stovetop.  The end result is a beautifully cooked steak with the best “crust” on the outside from the sear.  We served the steaks with a garlic herb butter that tasted so sinful.

On the side, these perfect smashed potatoes that are topped with creamy burrata.  These potatoes are evvvvverything.  You start by boiling the potatoes until fork tender.  Place the cooked potatoes on a baking pan with some EVOO.  Smash the potatoes ones with a fork so that they flatten out a bit.  Drizzle a little more EVOO over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake at 450 degrees until the potatoes are browned and crispy, about 25-30 minutes.  Once baked, spoon the rosemary butter over the potatoes (yes!) and then top with torn burrata (more YES!).

burratapotatoes

I cannot even explain the deliciousness of these potato bites.  They’re rich and butter, smooth and creamy, and herbaceous.

Basically the perfect potato.  And then we proceeded to watch a chick-flick on the couch as we were in a potato and steak coma.

 

 

Charred Corn + Bacon Pizza with a Cream Cheese Stuffed “Everything” Crust

I have to be honest – there are a million thoughts swirling in my head right now.

“What should I pack for the weekend?”
“What dress should I buy for Logan’s wedding?”  (this is taking up way too much room in my brain)
“How am I going to decorate for an event that I’m ‘hosting’ on June 1?”
“What are we going to do with Haines next weekend?”
“What are we going to do Memorial Day weekend?”

I feel better now.

(please know that none of these “worries” are serious – I’m just having a hard time concentrating on one task at a time currently.)

But because I need to seriously pack for the weekend I’m going to skip my favorites around the WWW this week and share with you an insane pizza we made a couple of weekends ago.

pizza

INSANE!

We started our pizza like most and made our favorite dough from Jessica’s cookbook.  But we made the crust a little more insane by adding a cream cheese filling to the outside and then sprinkling the crust with an “everything bagel” seasoning that included sesame seeds, garlic flakes, onion flakes, poppy seeds and flaked salt.

The pizza itself was topped with fontina cheese, charred bacon, red onion and even more cheese (fontina and mozz).  After baking, top the pizza with a sprinkle of green onion.

Ya’ll – this pizza was so good.  I think we ate in silence with a few “this is so good” statements thrown in here and there.

MAKE THIS PIZZA.  You don’t have to make your dough from scratch.  But you do have to STUFF the crust.

INSANE.

p.s. Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the fabulous moms out there.  I am incredibly blessed to have my Momma and there’s no one else that deserves more celebrating than her.  But I was also blessed with two amazing mother-in-laws when I married Big Guy.  Sunday will probably be a little sad for Big Guy because we won’t have his Mom to call or wish a Happy Mother’s Day but I am so thankful for her and for the man Big Guy is today.  Big Guy’s step-mom (a word we don’t really like to use because she’s so much more than that) also deserves celebrating and we love her SO much for all she has done for us both.

Mortadella Pizza + Pear, Date and Burrata Pizza with Crispy Sage

On Friday I said that the week had flown by.  And here I am on Monday telling you that the weekend flew by even faster.  Why does that happen?  On Saturday I taught before we headed to get pedicures.  That’s right, Big Guy requested we get pedicures and they were awesome.  We had plans in Raleigh on Saturday evening and we headed that way early afternoon.  Before heading to dinner, we had a little happy hour at Vivace complete with wine and a delicious cheese plate.  We had the best time hanging out.

vivace

We didn’t want to leave but we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.  We had reservations at Second Empire, an amazing restaurant that we love but haven’t been in years.  I didn’t snap in pictures at dinner because I really just wanted to enjoy my time with the husband.  It was an incredible dinner and I am so thankful for our date nights.

Sunday ended up being incredibly fun after a last minute decision to invite some friends over for pizza.  The recipe for the dough requires a little time but it ended up being a great crust.  One of the pizza was topped with mortadella, an Italian sausage that is studded with pistachios, as well as mozzarella, parmesan and a pistachio-oil drizzle.  The other pizza was full of flavor with juicy pear slices, sweet dates, creamy burrata and crispy fried sage.

The pizzas were so different but super yummy.  I will never get tired of pizza Sunday.

pizza

And now it’s back to the grind.  This week is a busy one but I’m looking forward to a few dinners at home and a fun weekend that lies ahead.

 

Cider Cheese Soup in Pretzel Bread Bowls

Hey, friends!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Ours was wonderful but went by way too fast.  Doesn’t that always happen, though?  Good news:  I have lots of food to share with you this week.  But first, CHEESE.

So no one felt the need to give me a heads up on National Cheese Day last week.  I was bummed that I was unable to celebrate but we made up for it yesterday with lots of cheese.  The soup is similar to beer cheese soup that is popular in pubs but instead of beer, apple cider is used.  We used an Angry Orchard hard apple cider – the alcohol cooks out but you could totally use a non-alcoholic apple cider and it would be equally delicious.  The soup was served in homemade pretzel bread bowls.  Bread bowls have been on our “kitchen bucket list” for a couple of years now and I’m not sure why it took us so long to check it off the list.

cheesesoup

The soup starts with crisping up some bacon and then cooking onions and garlic in the bacon fat until softened and translucent.  Butter and flour are used to thicken the soup and then the cider is added and cooked until slightly thick and the alcohol is cooked out.  Add in the half and half for the ultimately richness and then comes the cheese.  The recipe called for cheddar and colby jack – if I were to make this soup again I might use a monterey jack for a little heat.  I felt like it was missing that.  The crisped bacon is added and then serve in the bread bowls.  We topped our soup with a little bacon, fried sage (!!!) and some chives for freshness.

The ultimate comfort food = cheese + carbs and that’s just what this dinner is all about.

Pumpkin Chai Muffins

It’s that time of the year again…pumpkin EVERYTHING!  I tend to lean more towards the pumpkin candles than the pumpkin spice lattes but I can’t resist making a batch of pumpkin muffins at least once during the fall months.

These pumpkin muffins are full of pumpkin along with lots of flavor from the spice combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.  This recipe only requires two bowls and 10 minutes of prep before their in the oven and ready for you to devour.

pumpkinchai

I made a few changes to the recipe:  I used almond milk instead of milk; I used 3 tablespoons of canola oil instead of coconut oil and I left off the crumble because I wanted to muffins to travel well.

Moist and full of pumpkin flavor, these muffins are perfect for fall!

 

 

Tailgate Thursday {grilled kale BLT dip}

I enjoyed Tailgate Thursday so much last year that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring it back in 2016.

Between cheering on the Pirates on Saturday and trying to keep up with the Panthers (for the sake of our family text messages) on Sunday, I find myself watching a lot of football.  And with football, comes tailgates and delicious food.  Let’s be honest – those are my favorite parts about football.

laborday2016.jpg

Last Saturday we kept our tailgate simple since most of our friends had other Labor Day plans.

On the menu:  chicken salad with pita chips, a veggie tray, some nuts and an an amazing grilled kale BLT dip.

The BLT dip was loaded with smoky grilled kale, salty bacon, and tomatoes that were bursting with flavor.  The base of the dip was an equal amount of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise and the only real seasoning you need is black pepper.

I served this dip with some ruffled potato chips because when I think of a BLT sandwich I want a handful of crunchy chips on the side.

kalebltdip

Go Pirates!

So tell me:  What team are you cheering for this fall?  And what’s your tailgate specialty?