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Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dip

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dip

Ingredients:

-1 lb bacon

-2 vidalia onions

-1 granny smith apple

-1/2 tsp salt, plus another 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt in onion mixture if needed

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (double this if you like it spicier)

-2 packages of cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese

-8 oz of smoked gouda or mozzarella (you can mix & match half and half, too!)

-1 tbsp melted butter or ghee

-1 clove garlic

Instructions:

-Brown bacon until crispy and set aside on a paper towel. Let cool.

-Place onions in pan with 1 tbsp melted ghee or butter and cook on low-medium temp. This step is going to take a while, but you want to low-and-slow cook your onions until they are golden brown and caramelized. If at any point it’s too dry, either add salt and cover with a lid, or add a tablespoon of water.

-While your onions are cooking, grate your smoked gouda. If you can find it already shredded, great! Mozzarella works just as well, too, but if you can find a SMOKED mozzarella, that’s ideal.

-Stir your onions and keep cookin’ them low-and-slow. Now either finely chop your apple and 1 clove of garlic, or run them through the food processor. I know it sounds counterintuitive to include apple, but just TRUST me on this one.

-Once your onions are nice and browned up, add the apples, garlic, and dry seasoning. We don’t want this to cook too long, just 1-3 minutes on low temp to sweat them down a bit.

-Add your cream cheese and stir until melted. While this is melting, crumble your bacon.

-Once melted, fold in your bacon. Once that’s added and evenly distributed, add in your shredded cheese and stir until melted.

-Place in a baking dish and bake at 350* for 35 minutes. If you’d like, you could add more cheese on top. Whenever you add additional cheese on top, though, be sure to cover with foil until the last 10 minutes of baking.

Serve with either chips, baguette, or crostini! Enjoy!

Creamy Mango Coconut Protein Smoothie

Creamy Mango Coconut Protein Smoothie

Tropical? More like Tropicollagen! This smoothie is jam packed with protein and is fluffy & creamy, tasting more like dessert than a traditional smoothie.

Ingredients:

-5 oz frozen mango chunks

-1 Vanilla Premier Protein drink, refrigerated

-1 scoop Vital Proteins coconut collagen creamer

Instructions:

-If mango is fresh, place in a ziploc bag in the freezer overnight. I bought these for $2.49 from Aldi, but Costco sells bags of pre-frozen fruit.

-Put frozen mango, Premier Protein and collagen creamer in the blender. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth.

It’s as easy as that. You’re already done! Serves 2.

New Orleans Recap

Eating (and drinking) your way through the Big Easy

Oh man. I think New Orleans takes the cake for my favorite city ever. Here is my honest review of some of the typical “hot spots”, as well as a few unplanned gems we stumbled upon!

Muffulettas at Central Grocery – Worth it. 

  • The muffuletta is EXACTLY what you’d expect. Salty and briny and delicious. If you don’t like olives, you won’t like this.
  • I would recommend getting 1/2 and splitting it between two people.
  • This store was super fun with a lot of Italian imported goods and Cajun cooking staples.
  • We didn’t see a fridge with cold drinks – there is a soda machine at the back but it is $1.25 a can and doesn’t take cards. Bring your own drinks!

Carousel Bar – if it’s convenient.

  • We got in line at 10:55 AM and as SOON as they opened the doors at 11:00 AM, the entire carousel was full. This was after attempting the afternoon before with zero space at the bar.
  • The cocktails are really good. I had the Pimm’s Cup, the Fleur De Lis and the French 007 and they were all fantastic. Don’t expect cheap prices, though. Cocktails range from $12-15 a piece.
  • They set out snack mix at the bar for free, which was pretty tasty.
  • There are also tables and lounge seating surrounding the carousel if you can’t find space at the bar.
  • Overall consensus: it’s worth popping in if there’s not a wait. From the lobby, you can take some pretty cool pictures and get a feel for what it looks like. Is it worth waiting in line for an hour? Probably not.

Dragos – give it a shot and decide for yourself.

  • They sell an asinine amount of oysters – especially the chargrilled, which is what we got. They came in this garlic butter that felt like wet sand – almost like it was mixed with bread crumbs. I think it would have gone a lot better with a thin clarified garlic butter, but the smoky chargrilled taste was still tasty and unique.
  • They had a few good local IPAs that we tried out but I wouldn’t say the alcohol selection knocked our socks off.
  • Overall consensus – eh. I found the gritty texture to be too much. My fiance said the oysters really grew on him, though. Try it out and see what you think! They’re obviously a top seller for a reason so maybe I’m the oddball out here, and if I went again I would try something else because they have a very extensive menu.

Compere Lapin – Yes.

  • We saw this place on Beerland featured for doing beer cocktails, so we wanted to check it out. While there weren’t any beer cocktails currently on the menu, on the fly the bartender created us a mezcal-based fruit cocktail topped with a rose gose.
  • Aperol Spritz drinks were the highlight of our time there. They infuse aperol with Lemongrass and serve it with prosecco, fresh berries, orange, and top it with cucumber lime gose. SO GOOD. The cucumber taste was so refreshing, and we found out it was from a local brewery called Urban South – less than a mile and a half away! So guess where we went.

Urban South – most definitely yes.

  • Every beer was SO FLAVORFUL. So good. I’ve never had a more grapefruit-y grapefruit IPA.
  • They’ve got creative sour beers (strawberry margarita, cucumber lime, blueberry lemon) that were perfectly balanced – not too sour.
  • The vibe here was great. It’s a huge open space with a ton of tables, pool tables, board games, cornhole, etc.
  • They had a BBQ vendor there when we went that smelled amazing.
  • The only downfall is the flight is a pre-set 4 beers and you can’t mix and match.
  • Overall consensus – totally worth it to get away from the craziness of Bourbon Street for a while and just enjoy each other’s company and some impressive brews.

Cafe du Monde – YUP.

  • This place is cash only – just a heads up! It’s also a “seat yourself” establishment.
  • The beignets are hot and light and fluffy and delicious. Topped with powdered sugar.
  • We tried beignets at several places (including Cafe Beignet) and this was the clear winner.
  • The cafe au lait is so good. I ended up buying a tin of the chicory coffee to bring home.
  • Word to the wise – there is a shop across the street that sells both the coffee (even K cups!) and the beignet mix so you can make them yourself.
  • Tip – try a weekday or a rainy day for a shorter line. Even if you do have to wait, though, the line moves quickly.

Jackson Square and the French Quarter – DUH.

  • Street vendors, performers, live music, art, food, tarot card readings, crazy people, normal people – you’ll see it ALL!
  • These streets are so alive, so vibrant. One quick walk through the area and you’ll see why so many people love NOLA.
  • If you are into zesty and spicy, YOU WILL LOVE IT here. There are sooo many good shops with tons of hot sauce, seasonings, cooking mixes, etc. New Orleans is NOT afraid of flavor.
  • The t-shirt selection in the shops is hilarious. If you’re trying to advertise to the entire world what a drunken hot mess you are, you’ll find quite a wardrobe here.

Frenchmen Street – if you’re a music lover, you must go.

  • This is a nice little tucked away area about a mile from the French Quarter. It’s a strip of bars, restaurants, and cute little shops.
  • There is live music evvvvverywhere. We literally just walked up and down the strip and checked out 4 different bands in the few hours we were there! No cover charges.
  • Open container laws, people. Take advantage of them! We stopped by a convenience store that sold a-la-carte beers so we got some amazing local IPAs for $3.50 a piece which we could bring to bars with us!

Mothers – do it for the assortment and because everybody says so.

  • We tried the hot sausage, gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya and biscuits.
  • The sausage was good. The biscuits were too crumbly. Honestly, as far as gumbo, jambalaya and etouffee go I’ve had it ALL better elsewhere.
  • The wait staff, though, is super friendly. The food came out quickly.
  • The lines can get very long. I don’t personally think it would be worth a long wait, so might be best to scope out the area and go when the line is short. I am glad I went for the experience, but to be honest I didn’t think the food warranted the hype.

Muriel’s – so good. Yum.

  • They start you off with warm bread with hints of rosemary and garlic.
  • The shrimp creole was out of this world. I’m a spicy kind of girl so the fact that it had a major kick to it? I’m a huge fan. It also came out piping hot, which if you know me, you know that’s very important. Less than $16 for this seafood entree AIN’T BAD!
  • The chicken and andouille etouffee was so flavorful. It had a rich, buttery gravy-like taste. This came with a bomb ass salad for $19.99.
  • While there is a bar at the back, the dining area is more formal than other NOLA spots. I would recommend for a nice, quiet lunch or dinner BEFORE you start guzzling grain alcohol.

Felix’s:

  • The hush puppies aren’t on the menu, but you can still order them! They were the BOMB with fresh jalapenos and corn.
  • We unfortunately didn’t eat anything else here – we just went for drinks. My fiance said his bloody mary was just “eh”, but the platters coming out all looked great and judging by the hush puppies I bet the rest of the food is good!

Other notable mentions – all worth a visit:

Tropical Isle:

  • You HAVE to try a hand grenade when you’re here because YOLO, bitches. These are incredibly strong and have a tart melon taste. Beware of alcohol content.
  • Other drinks include a horny gator and a shark attack, which is worth ordering just to see the the bartenders make a big deal out of it.

Pat O’Briens: 

  • Get a hurricane because it’s a NOLA classic. Just know, though, that each hurricane has 4 oz of rum.

Envie Espresso Bar & Cafe 

  • I loved the vibe and look of this cafe since it’s totally open to the street. They had food, too, but I didn’t try it – I got an iced latte which was good.
  • This is an easy place to pop in while you’re shopping and need a caffeine break – it’s right off of Decatur.

Huge Ass Beers: 

  • You can get beers up to 70 oz.
  • Live music.
  • Worth going to for these hilarious cups.

Willie’s Chicken:

  • Great food for the end of the night when you want to avoid a hangover the next day.
  • Alcoholic slushees on draft.
  • The red beans and rice were TO DIE FOR. Fresh, hot, so flavorful – tasted like it had been simmered with a ham hock for days. From what we could tell, the chicken was okay but the sides were great.

Manning’s Sports Bar:

  • Really great atmosphere, including a theater style area with leather recliners.
  • Great food selection – the cheese fries came with both cheddar on top and a macaroni and cheese style cream sauce on the bottom. We loved those.
  • Good prices – maybe I’m DC biased but $4 for Miller Lites (not on happy hour) is a steal.

Loa:

  • Really unique cocktails.
  • Great environment – cozy seating, dim lighting.
  • Is not a speakeasy but has that same feel to it.

Tackle Box:

  • Breakfast sandwiches with beignets as the bun.
  • “Briscuit” breakfast which is biscuits topped with smoked brisket, eggs, and tobasco hollandaise. Delicious.
  • Beignets were a bit too doughy for my taste, but once you have Cafe du Monde it’s like nothing else compared so I may be biased.
  • Good choice if you want to escape the crowds for a bit since it’s located a bit away from the madness.

Hope you enjoy your trip!

xoxo

Mags

 

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

Ingredients:

-1 lb shaved beef

-1 onion

-1 green bell pepper

-1 jalapeno

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-1 tsp onion powder

-1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

-2 tsp chicken or beef bouillon powder

-3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

-Two 8-oz blocks of cream cheese (regular, fat free or reduced fat) or Neufchâtel cheese

-8 oz Velveeta

-1 cup shredded cheddar or provolone

 

Instructions:

-Over medium/high heat, brown your shaved beef. I found this for $5 at my local grocery store! If you can’t find fresh, then Steak Ums will do. While this is cooking, chop your onion, pepper, and jalapeno.

-Once browned, remove and set aside in a bowl. Add the veggies to sautee in the juices of the meat. You may need to add some additional cooking oil or cooking spray. Make sure your pan is hot enough to get some char marks going on the veggies.

-While the veggies are cooking, add garlic, crushed red pepper, Worcestershire sauce and the bouillon powder to your meat and stir until combined.

-When veggies are charred and mostly cooked through, add meat back into the pan and add your cream cheese and Velveeta. I added one block of cream cheese first to let that melt down before adding the second.

-Once that is melted all the way through, add your shredded cheese. Stir until combined.

-Place in a baking dish and add more cheese on top if you’d like.

-Cover wth tin foil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, taking off the tin foil for the last 10  minutes. Feel free to broil for an additional 2-5 minutes if you want the cheese to brown/crisp up.

This would  go great topped with chopped banana peppers. Serve with chips, baguette, crostini, etc.

Enjoy!

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients:

-1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs

-1/4 cup avocado oil

-1/2 tsp oregano

-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

-1 tbsp cumin

-1 tbsp chili powder

– 1 tsp garlic powder

-2 tsp Goya adobo seasoning

-juice of 1 lime

-2 onions

-2 bell peppers (color of your choice)

Optional brine:

-1 1/2 tsp salt

-1/3 cup juice from jarred jalapenos

-water

Instructions: 

-Brining the chicken is totally optional, but it does make your chicken really juicy and tender. If you are going to brine the chicken, combine salt and jalapeno juice. Place chicken thighs in a large tupperware and fill the rest of the way with water. Cover and place in the refrigerator for anywhere from 1-6 hours. If you don’t brine, sprinkle salt over your chicken thighs before cooking.

-Combine the avocado oil, dry seasonings, and juice of 1 lime.

(By the way, here is a picture of the Goya Adobo seasoning I love. It’s so inexpensive and DELISH! You can find it in the International foods aisle at the grocery store.)  

-Remove the chicken from the brine and gently pat dry. Toss in the marinade until all pieces are coated.

-Add veggies and toss until coated. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet so that everything is on a single layer and not over-crowded in the pan.

Tip: Use parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet cover over your baking sheet. I personally use DiOro, shown below, and it has made my life 10 times easier. Clean up is a breeze and you can throw it right in the dishwasher.

-Bake at 350* for 40 minutes. Slice chicken into strips. Put chicken back on baking sheet and toss in the juice/oil mixture left in the pan.

Whether you’re on a round of Whole 30 or not, these would go great with my Whole30 avocado lime crema. If you’re not on a round of whole 30, serve these in tortillas with some sour cream and a Corona on the side! Enjoy.

 

4-Layer Bean Dip

4-Layer Bean Dip

Ingredients:

-1 can of refried beans

-3 tsp cumin

-2 tsp juice from a jar of pickled jalapenos

-1 cup salsa

-1 tsp black pepper

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tbsp hot sauce (optional)

-1 cup shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese

-1 cup of my avocado lime crema Recipe here

 

Instructions: 

-Make bean layer by combining refried beans, cumin, and jalapeno juice. Stir until smooth and spread on a pie plate, tupperware, etc – whatever you are using to store your dip!

-Spread avocado lime crema layer on top of bean layer.

-Make salsa layer by combining salsa, black pepper, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Spread on top of avocado lime crema layer.

 

-Top with cheese.

-Eat with chips! Feel free to add on other toppings like black olives, lettuce or jalapenos.


 

Avocado Lime Crema (Whole30/Paleo)

Avocado Lime Crema (Whole30/Paleo)

If you’re Whole30-ing, use this with chicken, carnitas, or veggies as your healthy fat. If you’re not Whole30-ing, this goes great with fajitas or tacos, or you could totally mix equal parts salsa and avocado lime crema as a dip for chips.

This recipe is a good way to reduce food waste. If an avocado is too “mushy” to eat, just throw it in an aioli and call it a day.

Ingredients:

-1 cup avocado oil

-2 tsp apple cider vinegar

-1 raw egg

-1 ripe avocado

-1 jalapeno, seeded. Use 2 jalapenos if you like spicy

-1 clove garlic

-Juice of 2 limes

-1/4 cup chopped scallions (roughly about two large “stalks”)

-1/2 tsp oregano

-1 tsp finely ground sea salt

Optional add-ins: adobo, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder.

 

Instructions:

-Place avocado oil, egg, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and oregano in a 2 cup measuring cup. We are going to make the mayo base FIRST to make sure everything emulsifies correctly!

-Pierce the yolk with the immersion blender and start to blend on the lower speed setting.

-It should start to look like this. Keep moving the immersion blender up and down until all of the oil is incorporated into the mayo base.

-Once it’s smooth and good to go, add your ripe avocado, seeded jalapenos, garlic, chopped scallions, and freshly squeeze 2 limes into the mixture.

-Run the immersion blender through for about 30 seconds, until everything is smooth and blended through. Taste test and add more salt if desired.

-TIP # 1: Keep your jalapeno and pickle jars. They can be washed in the dishwasher and re-used to store your homemade sauces and mayos!

-TIP # 2: This will expire whenever your eggs expire, so try to use eggs that have a pretty far-out shelf life.

Enjoy! Let me know how you like it.

Ceviche (Whole30)

SHRIMP & TILAPIA CEVICHE

Okay, so here’s the deal. My Peruvian fiance’s mom makes THE BEST CEVICHE EVER. We have tried so many restaurants and seriously, nothing compares. That being said, I took her traditional style and added my own flair to it (ie, cucumbers and jalapenos) and my fiance claims I’ve gotten pretty damn close to hers.

Remove the jalapeno if you don’t like spicy. Add another one in there if you like your mouth to be on fire. You can also add fresh grapefruit pieces to the veggie mixture. The world is your oyster…. or better yet, the world is your shrimp & tilapia ceviche.

Make this in the summer and grab a crisp sauvignon blanc to go with it. YASSSS.

Ingredients:

-1 lb raw tilapia

-1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined

-6 limes

-6 lemons

-1 small jalapeno, seeds removed

-1 red onion

-1 large seedless cucumber

-1 tbsp freshly grated ginger root (about 3/4 inch of the root)

-3 cloves garlic

-1/4 tsp salt, with more salt to taste

-1/8 tsp black pepper

-Optional for garnish: avocado, cilantro, hot sauce

 

Instructions:

-Juice the 6 limes and 6 lemons directly into a blender.

-Grate about 3/4 inch ginger root to fill up a tablespoon. I don’t bother peeling it, but that’s up to you! Add it to the blender along with 3 cloves of garlic. Add the 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper and blend for 30 seconds.

-Chop your cucumber, jalapeno, and red onion. You’ll want to use a large casserole dish or pan so that later, we can toss everything around and get the citrus juice ALLLLL up in it! Lightly salt the mixture. Now it’s time for the seafood.

-SPOILER ALERT. I use frozen tilapia and shrimp from Aldi. No joke, it’s so good in the ceviche and saves a TON of money. But if you want to get fresh, go on with your bad self.

-Peel and de-vein the shrimp. I use a collander so I can rinse it under cold water until all of the ice melts. I use jumbo shrimp and chop them each into thirds.

-Chop the fish when it’s still a teeeeensy bit frozen. It makes it easier to chop.

-Add the seafood into your veggie mixture and pour your citrus juice mixture over it. Wash your hands and use those bad boys to toss everything together. You want the citrus to get all over the shrimp and tilapia.

-Put in an airtight container in the fridge and let it rest in the citrus juice for 3-5 hours. You could technically eat it right away, but I think it’s tastier with more time!

-Add salt & pepper to taste, and garnish with avocado, cilantro, and/or hot sauce.

 

Enjoy!

 

One Pot Steak Fajita Pasta

ONE POT STEAK FAJITA PASTA

Ingredients: 

-2 large steaks

-1 tsp Goya adobo seasoning

-1 tsp dry chipotle powder

-1 tsp cumin powder

-1 can chopped green chiles

-3 cloves garlic

-1 bell pepper

-1 onion

-3.5 cups of beef or chicken broth OR 3.5 cups water mixed with 4 tsp of Caldo de Pollo (or any other bouillon)

-3 tbsp tomato paste

-1/2 cup regular or fat free half and half

-1 lb pasta of your choice

-Cooking oil of your choice – avocado oil, coconut oil, Pam spray, etc. Whatever works best for you for your meat and veggies!

-Optional garnish: lime wedges, cilantro, jalapenos, shredded cheese

Instructions:

-Cook steak on medium-high for 3 minutes on each side and remove from heat. Let it rest before you cut it. This should be a nice medium rare since it will cook more later on in the pasta.

   (Is it just me or is this shape a little funny?)

-Quickly sear onions and peppers in the hot pan. You want to leave these half-raw since they will also cook in the pasta liquid. Just get a nice char mark going!

-While the veggies are sauteeing, combine your dry ingredients so they’re ready to go. Here is a picture of the Caldo de pollo I love but any bouillon or pre-made broth (chicken or beef) will do.

-Add the can of green chiles, dry seasonings, water or broth, and a pound of pasta. I also added crushed red pepper because we like it spicy. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, then put on a tight fitting lid for 9 minutes.

-Open lid and add steak, 3 tbsp of tomato paste, 1/2 cup half and half, and 3 cloves chopped garlic. Put lid back on and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. At this point, you’ll want to stir and check your pasta and sauce for your liking. If you want the sauce to be thicker, put on medium to high heat until you hit your desired consistency.

-Salt and pepper to taste and garnish however you’d like!

Ranch Dip (Whole30)

WHOLE 30 COMPLIANT RANCH DIP 

Homemade mayo based dips are a super easy way to get your healthy fats in during Whole 30. This recipe goes great with chicken, oven baked french fries, veggies, and can be thinned out to use as salad dressing by adding some unsweetened almond milk.

Ingredients:

-1 raw egg

-1 cup avocado oil

-1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

-2 tsp dijon mustard

-1/4 tsp dry mustard powder

-1 tsp crushed red pepper

-2 tsp onion powder

-2 tsp garlic powder

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-1/2 tsp sea salt

-1 tbsp dried chives

-1/2 tsp dill weed

-1/2 tsp oregano

FOR BUFFALO RANCH – Add 2-4 tbsp of red pepper hot  sauce or my homemade buffalo wing sauce

 

Instructions: 

Combine all ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup or jar.

Pierce the yolk with an immersion blender.

Blend and continue moving the immersion blender up and down until emulsified.

Store in refrigerator until the expiration date on your eggs.