Poblano Corn Quesadillas

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We officially have a crawling baby! Which means, my life is about to get a little more hectic. As of yesterday, Landon is on the move and ever since then he does not want to be confined in any way, not in the bouncer, not in the playpen. Just wants to be able to move freely. No more setting him down on the play mat to run to the restroom, or turning my back to do dishes while he sits in one spot playing. Nope.
How do moms of toddlers get anything done? Serious question. Already today I feel like I haven’t been able to accomplish a single thing until he went down for a nap. I think this is just a phase as he gets used to his new skills but hopefully he will go back to liking the playpen and bouncer, at least for small amounts of time.

Here is a little update to your plain old cheese quesadilla, with sweet corn, onion and Poblano peppers, these take a basic dish and turn things up a notch. I made these for dinner and they were plenty filling, but if you wanted a bit more substance, you can easily add some cooked chicken as well.

Poblano Corn Quesadillas
1 tsp vegetable oil, plus more as needed
2 fresh Poblano peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 lime, halved
salt and black pepper
3 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
4 6-in tortillas

To garnish (your choice):
Salsa, Guacamole, Cilantro, Sour Cream

1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Poblano and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and add the corn. Stir to combine, remove from heat and squeeze half a lime over the mixture.
2. Transfer to a plate and wipe the skillet clean.
3. Heat 1/2 tsp of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add one tortilla and scatter over it a quarter of the cheese, and a quarter of the Poblano mixture. When the tortilla turns just golden brown in spots, in about 2 minutes, fold it in half, pressing it with a spatula to flatten. Transfer to a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make three more quesadillas. Serve with garnish of your choice.

* Original recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

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Ratatouille Stuffed Shells

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Well, today the baby got himself from lying on his tummy up into sitting position for the first time. I love each new skill he develops but this one has mama in a panic! Crawling is just around the corner which means I’ll be spending this week baby proofing!! And…it also means there will be a DIY baby gate post coming your way in the near future. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, stay tuned!

This recipe is tasty! Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate vegetarian dishes into our diet here and there. I grew up on a VERY hearty diet, meat, potatoes and a glass of milk at every dinner and I always want flavor, flavor, flavor so sometimes the veggie dishes fall a bit short for me. This one does not! There are tons of veggies, chickpeas for protein and the sauce is full of flavor. In total, it took 40 minutes, which is totally doable for a weeknight meal. If you wanted to make it even quicker, you could easily prep the veggies and sauce ahead of time and then just cook the pasta, fill the shells and pop it in the oven at dinnertime.

Ratatouille Stuffed Shells
16 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups diced eggplant
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced zucchini
3/4 cup chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup canned unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups low sodium marinara sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp torn fresh basil, divided
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray
4 oz shredded Italian blend cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Add eggplant and bell pepper, cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, tomato and chickpeas; cover and cook 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in 1 cup marinara, 1/2 cup basil, black pepper and salt.
4. Coat a 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread remaining 3/4 cup marinara over bottom of dish. Spoon about 2 Tbsp vegetable mixture into each pasta shell. Arrange filled shells in dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 12 minutes. Top with remaining 2 Tbsp basil.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light

Parmesan crusted salmon with lemon cream sauce

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Well, another year older. Not sure about wiser 🙂 One thing is for sure, this birthday felt different. In the past, I haven’t really wanted to celebrate my birthday, do anything special or draw any sort of attention to it. I wouldn’t say that I dislike birthdays, just haven’t wanted to make much out of it for the last 5-10 years or so. Maybe after 21, birthdays just aren’t a big deal anymore.

This year felt a bit different. I didn’t want to throw a big party or anything but I did want to acknowledge it, to celebrate with my husband, to let him dote on me and treat me to a special day. Not sure why? Because I’m a mom now and I cherish any time that I can take advantage of a “special day off”? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just that I’m happier this year than I’ve ever been before?

My friend, Janine, took some 6 month photos of Landon a couple weeks ago. I was showing the pictures to my little sister and she was saying how great they were and what a pretty mama I am. I, in my self-deprecating fashion, said “aw thanks. I just look so tired and like I need to get rid of the rest of the baby weight”. She quickly shut me down, saying the only thing she can see that has changed is that my boobs are bigger 🙂 and that I look happier than she has ever seen me look. Hahaha! Yes, the boobs are definitely bigger. But she was right. I am happier than I have ever been. This little munchkin has brought so much joy to our lives, more than I ever thought possible. Especially because I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have a baby in the first place. (Not sure if I’ve mentioned that or not.) I knew we would be great parents and I knew that I did like children but we also liked our lifestyle. Being able to spend money on whatever we wanted, take a trip whenever we felt like it. You hear “having a baby will change your life” but I don’t think it’s possible to realize the extent of that until it happens. Yes, I don’t get to sleep in anymore, and no, we can’t just jump on a plane and go away without LOTS of planning. But, I can not imagine our lives without Landon in it and now that he is here, I CAN’T BELIEVE there was ever a time that I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a baby. Having a baby does change your life, but my life is better now than I ever could have imagined it.

So, happy birthday to me 🙂 and happy 7 months old to our little guy!!

Parmesan crusted salmon with lemon cream sauce
2 – 2.5 lb side of salmon
4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
For the parmesan crumb
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
cooking spray
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
pepper
For the lemon cream sauce
2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
For serving (if you want presentation platter)
watercress (I used extra dill sprigs instead)
fresh dill
lemon wedges

1. Remove salmon from fridge and bring to room temperature (if salmon is fridge cold when putting in the oven, add 3 minutes to cook time). Preheat oven to 390°F.
2. Spread panko breadcrumbs on a baking sheet, spray generously with cooking spray then bake 3-5 minutes until light golden brown. Scrap into a medium bowl immediately, add butter and stir, then add remaining Parmesan crumb ingredients.
3. Line the same pan with foil, place salmon on foil-lined pan. Spread Dijon on salmon using a butter knife, just thin coating – like buttering toast. Sprinkle parmesan crumb all over.
4. Bake for 20 minutes until just cooked and flaky (may need to adjust based on oven and size of salmon filet).
5. While salmon cooks, make lemon cream sauce (see below).
5. Remove salmon from oven, loosen from skin, which should be stuck to foil, using a spatula or butter knife.
6. Spread watercress onto serving platter. Use foil to lift salmon onto serving platter, then slide out the foil from under it by slightly lifting salmon with a spatula one section at a time and pulling foil away, tearing the foil if necessary. Serve with lemon cream sauce and lemon wedges on the side.

Lemon cream sauce
1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Leave to boil rapidly for 5 minutes or until reduced by 3/4 or so.
2. Turn heat down to medium. Add cream, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir, then add lemon juice and mustard. Stir again. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste. Be generous with the salt, remember the salmon is not marinated, the only salt is in the topping.
3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, it will thicken as it cools. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

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I feel like I’m a bit obsessed with sheet pan cooking these days. Anything I can throw on one pan, toss in the oven and POOF! dinner is done!?!? Count me in!

Store this one under SUPER fast and easy weeknight meals that taste delicious!! I mean, it’s pretty hard to mess up tacos and fajitas, right? But this is ready in less than 20 minutes and most recipes like that have no flavor, but this…SO not the case…tons of flavor from the spices and fresh squeezed lime juice. Plus, it’s Cinco de Mayo and I know you haven’t seen enough Mexican food and drink in your feed yet today 🙂

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
1 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined – you can remove tails, I left mine on for the photo and removed before serving 🙂
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
several turns of fresh ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
tortillas, warmed – once I take the shrimp out of the oven, I toss the tortillas in so they get a little char from the broiler. Keep an eye on them though because they will burn quickly. Only need about 1 minute.

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine onion, bell pepper, shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper & spices. Toss to combine.
3. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread shrimp mixture on baking sheet in a single layer.
4. Cook for 8 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
5. Squeeze juice from lime over fajita mixture and top with fresh cilantro. Serve in warm tortillas with your choice of topping. We like ours with sour cream.

Enjoy! 🙂

Loaded Nachos

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I was really feeling that 70°F weather yesterday! And now…back to rain. I can’t wait for more consistently sunny weather. I have so many projects I want to do outside, particularly, finally finishing the back deck. However, that requires paint, so I need to wait for a stretch of at least a few dry days.

On the other hand, the munchkin is officially sitting up…which means crawling is probably not far behind…which means baby proofing. I have plans to DIY some pretty cute baby gates at the 2 sets of stairs in the house as well as the stairs on the deck so that project may need to come first. The list of projects really never gets any smaller. Each time I finish 1 thing, I add 2 more to the list.

So, let’s talk about something less stressful…like these loaded nachos! We have always made sheet pan nachos in this family, but never like this. They usually consisted of some ground chicken, taco seasoning, shredded cheese and salsa and sour cream for dipping. Pretty basic. I decided to make nachos on Superbowl Sunday and this was the result. And let me tell you, we will NOT be going back to the basic version, EVER. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these rivaled ANY restaurant nachos I’ve ever had. And that’s saying a lot…hello…massive plate of nachos at Margaritaville in Vegas.

Loaded Nachos
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package taco seasoning
12 ozs tortilla chips
1 15oz can refried black beans
1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 jalapeno, diced
2 Tbsp sour cream plus 2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and garlic, and cook until beef has browned, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning. Drain excess fat.
3. While ground beef is cooking, heat refried beans in a saucepan over medium heat until warm throughout, about 5 minutes.
4. Place tortilla chips in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Top with half of the cheeses. Next layer ground beef, black beans, corn and remaining cheese.
5. Place into oven and bake until heated through and the cheese melts, about 5-6 minutes.
6. While nachos cook, mix sour cream and water in a small bowl. You want to just thin out the sour cream so it is easy to drizzle.
7. Remove nachos from oven, top with tomato, onion, jalapeno, sour cream and cilantro.

Enjoy!

Peppercorn-Crusted Lamb Chops w/ Spicy Fig Jam

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I had intentions of posting this much earlier in the week for your Easter dinner ideas. Now, here it is, Friday afternoon, and I’m just getting around to it. SMH. I’m just going to stop planning blog posts by the calendar. I can’t ever seem to stick to it.

Anyway, if you are still deciding what to make for Easter dinner, then yay! I’m not too late. To be honest, these lamb chops are SO simple, you could make them any night or for any occasion. I feel like lamb chops are one of those things that are super intimidating to most people but you really shouldn’t be afraid of them. When I first started to make lamb chops, my biggest mistake was over-cooking them. Lamb should usually be served at medium-rare and mostly pink in the center.

Peppercorn-Crusted Lamb Chops w/ Spicy Fig Jam
1 cup fig jam
4 tsp Sriracha chili sauce
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 racks of lamb, fully trimmed and bones frenched
4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup coarsely ground peppercorn mélange (mix of pink, white, black and green peppercorns)

1. To make the spicy fig jam sauce, mix the jam, 2 Tbsp water, and Sriracha together in a small saucepan. Warm the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the butter to the sauce and stir until incorporated. Set aside while cooking the chops.
2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F. Brush 1 Tbsp of the oil over the lamb racks. Season with the salt. Spread the peppercorns on a cutting board, press the top and sides of each rack into the peppercorns to coat. Set aside.
3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a very large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add one lamb rack, top side down, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Repeat with the second rack. Interlace the lamb racks, bones facing up, and return to skillet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a rack and not touching bone registers 130°F, about 20 minutes, for medium-rare.
4. Let the racks stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Cut between the bones into individual chops. Transfer 4 chops to each dinner plate and add a large spoonful of sauce. Serve immediately.

Enjoy everyone! And have a fantastic Easter weekend filled with fun, food, friends & family!

Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo

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Ok mamas…I now have a baby who is suddenly sleeping 10-11 hours at night only waking up once, maybe twice AND taking 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps!!!! I have made a couple changes recently, most notably to his feedings. But I’m wondering, is this normal that there is a shift around 5 months and babies just start napping well? Or is it possible that the feeding changes I made actually made the difference? Just want to know before I go tooting my own horn about sleep training in a blog post 🙂 Haha! That sounds way more “I’m-so-amazing” than I wanted it to.

Anyway…this dinner! I’ve made it twice now, and the second time was just as good as I remembered. It was really simple too, only 1 pot and about 30 minutes (minus putting the chicken in a marinade a couple hours prior), great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Italian herb mix
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the orzo:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
14 oz can crushed tomato
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Italian herb mix
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup basil leaves

1. Combine all marinade ingredients and marinade for 1 hour – overnight.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add chicken and cook through, about 8 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
3. Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in the skillet, increase heat to medium high. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, cook additional 1 minute.
4. Add orzo, tomatoes, broth, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix, bring to a simmer, lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Pasta should be just cooked and still quite saucy. Take it off stove immediately.
5. Stir through parmesan and basil, adjust salt to taste. Spoon into bowls, top with chicken, garnish with more parmesan and basil.

*Original recipe from Recipe Tin Eats

Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta

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Any stay at home mom’s have trouble keeping track of what day it is? Everyday, literally, everyday, I have to double check what day of the week it is! I guess it doesn’t help that the little man and I don’t have a set agenda, like classes or school, to keep me on track. And, my husband started a new job so his regular schedule has changed as well.

None of this really bothers me, just makes me feel a bit crazy 🙂 I might start looking into Mommy & Me type classes. Is that a thing for babies this age? 3 months…it seems a little young to be in classes? I guess I need to do some research, any mamas with advice, comment away please!

So, I’m not a huge spaghetti fan. At least, not traditional spaghetti, basic noodles with some ground beef and a jar of red sauce. But this…this is not traditional spaghetti…this is INCREDIBLE spaghetti. Slow cooked beef brisket, a rich homemade red sauce made from the juices of the slow simmering beef and noodles soaked in sauce before serving. This is the ultimate comfort food, with hands on time of only 20 minutes, put it on the stove on a Sunday for an amazing Sunday supper and have plenty of leftovers for later in the week. And, by the way, this recipe is from a food blog that I have become OBSESSED with over the last few weeks, Recipe Tin Eats. I have made a few of her recipes and they have all been so delicious.

Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta
For the Ragu:
2.5 lb beef brisket cut into 4 equal pieces
1 Tbsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
28 oz crushed canned tomatoes
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 beef bouillon cubes
3 cups water
3 dried bay leaves
Extra salt and pepper to taste
To serve:
1 lb dried spaghetti
Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

1. Pat beef dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over high heat in heavy based pot (I used my Calphalon Stock Pot). Add beef and sear each piece on all sides until browned (around 3 minutes total), then remove onto a plate.
3. Turn stove down to medium low and add remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
4. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the carrots and celery and sauté slowly for 5 minutes.
5. Add remaining Ragu ingredients (except extra salt and pepper) and return the beef to the pot (add the juices too). Turn the stove up and bring it to a simmer, then turn it down to low. Cover the pot and let it cook for 1 hour 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and let it cook for a further 30 minutes until the beef is tender enough to pull apart with forks and the liquid has reduced to be a thick sauce.
6. Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning to your taste with salt and pepper. You can also add a bit of sugar (1/2 tsp at a time) if it is a bit sour for your taste.
7. Turn the stove off and remove the beef from the sauce into a large bowl. Shred it coarsely with 2 forks. Then return it to the sauce.
8. Cook pasta to package directions but cook for 2 minutes less than package directions and save 1 cup pasta water. While pasta is cooking, place 5 cups of Ragu in a very large fry pan (I used a Wok) and heat over high heat.
9. When the pasta is ready, transfer is directly from the pot into the fry pan using tongs. Add 1  cup pasta water to fry pan.
10. Gently toss the pasta for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce water evaporates and leaves you with a thick Ragu sauce that coats the pasta. Add pasta to the remaining Ragu, toss to combine and serve. Top each serving with parmesan and parsley and stuff your face!

 

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Lemon Pepper Flank Steak Tacos w/ Mango Cabbage Slaw

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Both my boys are sleeping at the same time so I finally have some time to post! And by both my boys, I mean my son and my husband. Hubby has been home the last few days; you would think it would be easier for me to get things done when he is home because there is someone else to help take care of the baby. Nope. Somehow, I get way less done. When the baby finally naps we end up watching a movie or making breakfast, just doing things that I wouldn’t normally do during my free time (a.k.a. naptime) when he is at work. I promise I’m not complaining though! Having him home means he gets more time with the baby and seeing and hearing him play with Landon is the sweetest, heart melting thing ever!

I made these tacos a while back and the flavor combo of the lemon pepper steak with the sweet & spicy mango cabbage slaw was perfection! And they were pretty easy to throw together too, great for an easy weeknight meal.

Lemon Pepper Flank Steak w/ Mango Cabbage Slaw
For the steak tacos:
1 1/4 lb flank steak
2 tsp grated lemon rind
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
12 tortillas
1 ounce queso fresco, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
For the mango cabbage slaw:
3 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
1 cup ripe, peeled, julienne-cut mango
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 serrano chili, seeded and minced

1. Sprinkle steak with lemon rind and pepper, pressing to adhere.
2. While steak stands, combine all ingredients for mango cabbage slaw in a medium bowl, toss to coat. Set aside.
3. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak to pan; grill 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on cutting board, let stand 5 minutes.
4. Combine juice, oil, soy sauce and garlic in a small bowl. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Drizzle steak with soy sauce mixture; sprinkle with salt.
5. Heat tortillas on grill pan coated with cooking spray 20 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Divide steak among tortillas. Top each taco with about 1/3 cup mango cabbage slaw and 1 tsp queso fresco.

Original recipe from Cooking Light

4th of July Menu

Happy 4th of July weekend!! With a 3 day weekend this year, I’m sure a lot of you are celebrating with friends and family and indulging in food and fun filled BBQs so I thought I’d compile a few of my favorite past recipes that we continue to go back to again and again, especially on the grill or when we have friends over! Have a safe and happy weekend and I hope I helped you find something to add to your holiday menu!!

Mini Caprese Salads
(Makes 25 salad appetizers)


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8 ozs Mozzarella pearls packed in water
25 basil leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
25 toothpicks
2 cups balsamic vinegar

1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, simmer 2 cups of balsamic vinegar until it is reduced by half and begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before step 3.
2. Slide on a toothpick, 1 Mozzarella pearl, a basil leaf (cut smaller or folded), and cherry tomato cut crosswise.
3. Plate the “salads”, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with vinegar and serve.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
(Makes 24 dates)

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24 large pitted dates
12 slices of bacon, halved crosswise
1/2 cup blue cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 24 toothpicks in a small bowl of water and let soak for 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit with a wire rack, set aside.
2. Slice dates lengthwise, be careful not to cut all the way through, to make a small pocket for the cheese. Place a small amount of cheese in the center of each date. Wrap a piece of bacon around each date. Secure bacon with a toothpick.
3. Place dates on prepared baking sheet. Bake until bacon is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

Moscow Mules
(Makes 1 drink)

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Ice
1/4 cup chilled vodka
1 Tbsp lime juice
6 ozs ginger beer
1/4 of a lime, cut into a wedge
1 sprig of mint leaves

Fill copper mug with ice. Pour vodka, lime juice and ginger beer over ice, stir. Squeeze lime wedge into drink, drop squeezed wedge in, stir and garnish with mint leaves.

Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs
(Makes 12-13 ribs, depending on size of rack)

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1 rack pork spare ribs
1/2 cup pork rub
1 cup BBQ sauce

1. Rub entire rack of ribs with pork rub, front and back. Double wrap in foil and refrigerate for 5 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
2. Prep a grill and set heat to low. Place foil covered ribs on grill and allow them to slow-cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning once at the 40 minute mark.
3. Open foil, slather ribs with 2/3 cup BBQ sauce, close foil and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
4. Remove ribs from the grill, place on a large cutting board and cut ribs apart between the bones.
5. Drizzle with remaining BBQ sauce and serve immediately.

Rib-Eye with Mustard Butter
(Makes 2 rib-eyes)

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Rib-eye
2 rib-eye steaks
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
Mustard Butter
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp dry mustard or mustard powder
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard

1. Pat the steaks dry and rub them with the salt, chili powder, and cilantro. Refrigerate the steaks, uncovered for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours. (I think I did for 5 hours)
2. To make the mustard butter, in a small bowl, mash together the butter with the dry mustard and the Dijon. Form it into two mounds and chill on a plastic wrap-lined plate.
3. Heat a grill to medium heat and grill to desired temperature. For medium cooked steaks, mine were about 1″ thick and I cooked them for 8 minutes per side.
4. Remove the steaks from the grill and put on plates. Top each steak with half the mustard butter, allow it to melt a bit, and serve with a big pile of herb fries (recipe below).

Mexican Corn-on-the-cob
(Makes 4 ears of corn)

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1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic minced (approx 1 tsp)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 ears of corn, shucked
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Light a grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes, clean and oil grate before grilling corn
2. While grill preheats, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic and cilantro in a large bowl.
3. When grill is hot, place corn directly over heat to cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all side, about 10 minutes.
4. Once corn is cooked, transfer to a plate, coat each ear of corn evenly on all sides with cheese mixture. Sprinkle each ear with extra cheese and chili powder, drizzle with lime juice and serve.

Sweet Potato Fries w/Lime Mayo
(Makes 4 servings)

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2 large sweet potatoes cut into 1/2″ strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potatoes and oil on a foil-lined large baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, 25-30 minutes
3. While potatoes cook, whisk mayonnaise, lime zest and juice in a small bowl. Refrigerate until fries are ready to serve.
4. Season fries with salt, top with cilantro, and serve with lime mayo for dipping.

Red, White & Blueberry Popsicles
(Makes 6 popsicles)

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1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1. Use a food processor to puree the blueberries. If they come out a bit more purple than blue (like mine did) just add a spoonful or two of the Greek Yogurt and a few drops of blue food coloring until you get the desired shade of blue. When you achieve the right color, you want to make sure the fruit is pourable, if it is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water. You can also puree your raspberries ahead of time, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water. Place pureed raspberries in a separate bowl and keep refrigerated until use.
2. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the  blueberry mixture into the bottom of each popsicle mold. After each pour you’ll need to do a little clean up, you don’t want too much extra on the sides of the mold as this will cause your stripes to look a little mangled. Don’t get too fussy because you want it to look a little rustic.
3. Put the mold in the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.
4. Remove molds from freezer and add a small stipe (about 1 tablespoon) of vanilla yogurt to each mold. After you’ve added the first layer of yogurt, insert your popsicle sticks, trying to push them into the layer of blueberry a bit. Hold the sticks in place by placing a piece of tin foil over each mold. Place back in the freezer for another hour.
5. Remove molds from freezer, remove foil and add a small stripe (about 1 tablespoon) of raspberry puree. The sticks should stand on their own at this point so you won’t need the foil any longer.
6. Continue alternating white and red stripes, freezing for 1 hour after each, until you have filled the mold (I had 1 large layer of blueberries, 2 layers of raspberries & 3 layers of yogurt).
7. When you are ready to serve, hold the mold under hot running water to loosen (be careful not to let water splash near the opening), after about 30 seconds you should be able to easily remove the popsicle from the mold.