Wednesday, August 28, 2013

RECIPE: Mexican Grilled Corn

A photo of this corn has been in my Facebook page cover photo for a while now but I keep forgetting to share the recipe! I've made it 4 times since discovering the recipe earlier this summer. Is there any other way to eat corn? Nope!

fresh ears of corn, husks removed
olive oil
salt + pepper
parmesan cheese, finely grated
garlic powder
cayenne pepper
lime wedges

Drizzle corn cobs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until corn is lightly brown or blackened just enough for the kernels to cook. Lightly brush each cob with mayo, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and paprika to taste. Sprinkle cayenne pepper conservatively depending on how spicy you want your corn! Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over corn.

Note: I didn't put any measurements here, because I prefer to season the corn to taste. If you're serving a crowd, set up the toppings and let them season their own corn.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

National Dog Day

My co-worker informed me this morning that it's National Dog Day. I was skeptical at first because it seems like there are at least 5 dog-related holidays every single month. However, I did my research and found a website proving that today, in fact, is a special day. Here's some things I've learned since becoming a dog mom in January:

1. You are never alone. It doesn't matter where I am in the house, Schmidt wants to be with me. This includes the shower. He seems to be worried that the shower curtain has stolen me away so he will sit patiently on the bath mat waiting for my return. Very different from the days after we first brought him home when he'd sit in the middle of the living room floor and never move an inch, even when I left the room.

2. Dogs are just. so. cute. Even when Schmidt is being a terrible puppy, he's so cute. I can't stand it. How can you yell at a little pup who just wants to smile and lick your face repeatedly? You can't. And when you do, prepare to feel awful about it. Good thing dogs are such forgiving friends.

3. Toys don't stand a chance. Since Schmidt joined our family I am buying him new toys twice a month. Nothing lasts. If you follow me on Instagram you've seen some of my toy complaints. While thankfully Schmidt doesn't chew on any of our personal items, he destroys his toys. The only thing I've found that is indestructible that he loves is a deer antler. Go figure.

4.You take more pictures. Because of #2 above I've taken roughly a half a million more photos with my iPhone than I was taking this time last year. Schmidt sleeping. Schmidt sitting. Schmidt with toys. Schmidt with a new haircut. Schmidt in the car. Schmidt outside. Schmidt and Brandon. Schmidt and me. So many photos!

What have you learned from being a dog owner? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Black + White Girls' Night

My friend and co-worker Pamela invited a fun group of girls over last night for a girls' night. We grilled pizzas, played with our puppies, and had a great time!

You think 8 kinds of cheese had us covered?

These two pups are best buds.

Goat cheese, pesto, garlic, tomato, red onion, basil perfection.

I had never grilled pizza before, but it was so much fun and so tasty! Have you grilled pizza before? What toppings would you include?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

RECIPE: Strawberry + Champagne Cheesecake

My husband, friends and family think I'm weird because I usually insist on making my own birthday cake. For someone who loves to cook and bake I don't think it's that strange of a request to make my own dessert. Plus, I know it will be good! This year, in spite of Brandon's slight protests, I decided to try to make my first cheesecake. Total success. Thanks, Taste of Home magazine!

1 c champagne
2 c chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 14 whole crackers)
2 c sugar, divided
1/2 c butter, melted
2-2.5 c sliced fresh strawberries
24 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sweetened condensed milk
2 T cornstarch
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks
1/3 c milk chocolate chips
1 t shortening, divided
1/2 c white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9-inch springform pan. Place champagne in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for about 8 minutes, until liquid is reduced to around 1/4 c. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 c sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom and 1.5 inch up the sides of your springform pan. Arrange 1 c sliced strawberries on the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese and remaining 1.5 c sugar until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, cornstarch, and champagne. Add eggs and egg yolks and beat on low speed until just combined. Pour into pan, over strawberries. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen sides of pan and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and cool one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove sides of springform pan. Pat dry remaining strawberry slices and arrange on top of cheesecake. In a microwave, melt milk chocolate chips with 1/2 t shortening. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cheesecake. Repeat with white chocolate chips. (You'll notice in the photo that I had difficulty melting my white chocolate so I ended up crumbling up some and throwing it on top. It looks like feta cheese!) Store in refrigerator until serving.

Slice cheesecake while chilled, then allow slices to come to room temperature before you eat. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Purple and Gold

I've had purple and gold on my mind lately... the 'colors' of my high school. This Saturday is move-in day for boarding students and I will be volunteering as an alumnae. It's been 11 years since I was moving in as a freshman. Wow!

Because I'm in the middle of a massive trip down memory lane, I decided to share with you a few reasons I loved my private high school education. I'm sure it's not for everyone, but my experience was life-changing. And I mean that.

(I just realized I still have those purple pajama pants. Possibly time to retire those!)

I learned something.
Sure, everyone learns something in high school. But it's different with a private education. At my school, instructors weren't having to teach to meet the objectives of a standardized test. They had freedom to really allow us to learn. My 9th grade English professor taught me writing skills that would later be included in some of my college courses.

I completed internships.
Internships were a required part of my high school experience. I had no idea how important they would become in college to help prepare me for the working world. I was really glad to have had the experience in high school.

I met my best friends.
Yes, you can meet best friends at any high school or anywhere at all for that matter. But something about my school was different. I made friends there who I know I'll be friends with until the day I die, no question. We're a community and to this day I'd help a fellow alumnae regardless of whether or not we were close in high school... regardless of if we were even students there at the same time.

I wasn't afraid.
A lot of my public school friends talked about high school being scary: bullies, cliques, terrible classes, etc. I was lucky enough not to have that experience. The most afraid I ever was in high school was the day I auditioned for a solo in glee club (Yes, glee clubs do exist in high schools! And they're really called glee clubs!). I was not very impressive and I was not surprised that I wasn't given the solo. But did a single person in that choir room say anything negative to me? Nope. Did a single person in that choir room say something positive to me? Yup. Several.

A lot of people look back on their high school years and shudder, happily skipping over them to reflect on college. But I'd miss out if I skipped over high school. Choosing a private education is one of the best decisions I've ever made. I can't wait to greet new students this weekend and tell them how excited I am for them!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

RECIPE: Parmesan White Bean Dip

I came across this recipe on the Betty Crocker website and tried it out immediately. It has a very unique flavor. For lack of a better word, it tasted 'fancy' to me. Brandon and I ate this along with salads for a weeknight dinner.

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried thyme
19 oz cannellini beans, rinsed + drained
1/2 c white wine
2 T parsley, chopped
1 c shredded parmesan cheese
dippers: carrots, pita bread, celery

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 to 2 minutes until garlic is golden brown. Remove from heat. Add beans and wine to the pot and partially mash beans with a potato masher. Add parsley.

Return to stove and heat over medium-low heat until beans are heated through. Stir in cheese until melted. Serve warm with dippers.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

RECIPE: August Pie

Here's a secret: I made this pie for the first time in June but am waiting until now to post it so that it's 'seasonally appropriate.' :)

I found this recipe in an old Family Circle magazine, shared from a reader. So I cannot take credit! It's so simple and yummy that I want to make it all of the time. You can easily change up the fruit that you're using and substitute the fruits I've recommended below to whatever is fresh (or on sale!).

AUGUST PIE (serves 10)
1 refrigerated pie crust
2 c sliced peaches (it's fine to leave the skin on)
1 c raspberries
1 c blueberries
1 c half and half
1 egg
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fit pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Spread fruit evenly in bottom of dish. In a small bowl, combine half and half, egg, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir until mixture is blended and not lumpy. Pour over fruit.

Place pie in oven and bake for 50 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely before serving. This is really good with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side!