Jalapeno Cheetos Mozzarella Sticks – Because Everyone Should Try Something Crazy at Least Once

Sometimes, Brian sends me an animated gif of some magic foodie creation he wishes me to make a reality.  Many times, I just laugh it off, and tell him he has two hands so he can make that shit himself (for the last time, BRIAN, I am not making a fucking turducken). But sometimes, like that one time I made an ice cream sandwich cake, I realize he’s discovered gold, and I should go help haul that shit home.

Other times, I look at the project potential and think, I like all those things. That gif is a magical creation sent to the Internet by God, himself. I will make that delicious feast. Such as what happened with Brian’s ice cream cake a few years ago. It’s also what happened when he sent me a gif featuring Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mozzarella Sticks. Of course, I wasn’t in the mood for the fiery red poops that go along with Flamin’ Hots (come on, you know that happens…) when I decided to surprise Brian with homemade mozz sticks. So I opted for the less flamin’, still kickin’ Cheddar Jalapeno Crunchy Cheetos. Second only to Puffs, these delicious beasts are amazing solo…and pretty damn delish when paired with more cheese.

Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos add just a hint of kick and added flavor to homemade mozzarella sticks

Cheetos mozzarella sticks ingredients

  • 2 cups crushed crunchy Cheetos (any flavor)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 sticks of string cheese, cut in half
  • 1 small bowl of flour
  • frying oil

Prep and cooking process

Step 1: Set out your breading station. You’ll coat the sticks with flour first, then egg, and finally the Cheetos.

Set out your breading station. You'll coat the sticks with flour first, then egg, and finally the Cheetos.

Step 2: Begin by coating a stick with flour. Make sure to cover the entire cheese stick.

Begin by coating a stick with flour. Make sure to cover the entire cheese stick.

Step 3: Cover the floured stick with egg, ensuring you’ve completely coated the flour with egg.

Cover the floured stick with egg, ensuring you've completely coated the flour with egg.

Step 4: Quickly toss the egged cheese stick in the crushed Cheetos, making sure to cover every open space so the cheese doesn’t fall out (if it does, it’ll still taste pretty good though…let’s be honest here – you’ve seen my photo).

[There was no way in hell I was taking a photo after my fingers were all eggy and Cheeto-y.]

Step 5: Freeze for several hours. I made them in the morning, put them on a pan (Oh – and before you get started, make sure your pan will fit in your freezer. The pan fit in my freezer, but not Mom’s which is where we ultimately cooked these bad boys up-mostly so we didn’t eat 8 stick of cheese each), and froze them for about 8 hours.

Freeze cheese sticks for several hours.

Step 6: Heat a pan 1/3 or 1/2 filled with frying oil or start your deep fryer. We’re not super fancy, so we just opted for a pan with oil. Mama Bear has specialty frying oil, though, so bonus!
Cook the Cheetos Mozz Sticks in a deep pan filled 1/3 or 1/2 way with hot oil. Cook until the sticks are floating - and try to get them out before the cheese falls out.

Step 7: Cook until the sticks are floating – and try to get them out before the cheese falls out (something we failed to manage because we were fighting over who would get to take them out of the pan. Ultimately, I won that battle, just a minute or two too late).

Step 8: Place on wax paper to soak up the grease, because we learned the hard way the cheese will stick to paper towels.

Place on wax paper to soak up the grease, because we learned the hard way the cheese will stick to paper towels.

Overall review of Cheetos Mozzarella Sticks

After watching an animated gif about turning Cheetos into Mozzarella sticks, I was sold. And made my own batch.

Guys, let me tell you, this is not for the weak-hearted. It wasn’t easy, and I probably won’t do it again. After the fourth or fifth stick, the Cheetos all started gluing themselves to each other with the egg, while the egg refused to stick to the cheese stick and I had one hell of a time trying to get the Cheetos bread crumbs wrapped around the stick. Then, there was the whole, cooking to the right temperature and not sticking cheese to paper towels part of serving that shit…it was a little rough around the edges. But you know, if you’re feeling adventurous, give it a go. It was still pretty tasty, although the over-powering frying oil seemed to overtake the delicious Cheetos flavor. If I were feeling up to the challenge again, I think I might try baking them.

What crazy recipes have you tried lately? Which ones do you want to try? Would you eat these tasty beasts?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

In Which Petaluma, California Stole a Little Piece of my Heart #PetalumaMade

Words cannot express my gratitude for one of the booziest vacations I’ve ever had. And I’ve been to New Orleans. Twice.

Adobe Road Wines

We began our trip in San Francisco, made our way up to wine country and then down around the bay to San Jose for BlogHer14. (Do I know the way to San Jose? Yes. Yes, I do.)

Of course, I’m planning on going about the details of this ‘cation in a disorderly fashion. I’ve already told you about traveling from Chicago to California, our delayed flight from San Jose to LA, BlogHer14 and shared some beautiful and fun pictures of our Petaluma day trips. But I think the beauty of Petaluma is worth so much more than the thousand+ words from those pictures.

The lovely blogger, Kristi Trimmer, and Petaluma winemaker, Cecilia Enriquez, collaborated to create this stunning tour of Petaluma and the surrounding wineries in the Petaluma Gap. Brian played the part of the token guy and you can see what he really enjoyed by following his Twitter feed.

We started the day at Roast and Vine, the coffee shop next to Hotel Petaluma, where many of the bloggers had stayed or were planning to stay. We had our own accommodations already lined up (and don’t fret, you’ll hear all about those too soon enough) so we drove in that morning from our own little corner of wine country. The lovely Trisha Lyn made adorable wine charms for us to mark our beverages (which of course, I managed to lose mine in the first 5 minutes of the trip.)

Terrific Tours and Azari Wines

Jason from Terrific Tours giving a presentation with the Azari wine maker.

Jason from Terrific Tours picked us up in a large van and played the part of our ‘scape goat, driver, tour guide and overall awesome partner in winery crime (but not really crime. Because this trip was awesome). His knowledge and tidbits of information throughout the trip made it even more educational and interesting. He had a lot to say and he was great company to have on such a fantastic tour. I loved that the website has a “snobbish attitudes not included” comment on their website. And it was true.

Saltonstall Estate Olive Oil and Wine

Saltonstall Estate Olive Oil and Wine

Our first stop was Saltonstall Estate where we sampled a few different wines, olive oils and olives. I couldn’t leave without olives because they were, quite simply, the best olives I have ever had.  Seriously. This certified organic olive orchard produced some incredible olives and olive oils. The wine was equally as delicious.

Azari Vineyards and Corkscrew Wines

The patio and wood-fire oven at Azari Vineyards and Corkscrew Wines

Our next stop was Azari Vineyards, home to Azari and Corkscrew Wines. We toured the beautiful location with the winemaker, enjoyed wood-fire oven pizza, and several amazing wines. Brian and I bought a shiner (a bottle of wine without a label) of Luma Blanc to take home and consume and I can’t wait to drink it with him!

Petaluma grapes

Cheese Pairing at Sonoma Portworkds

Gratuitous cheese and chocolate photo: Pairing at Sonoma Portworks

For our next stop, we made our way back into town to visit Sonoma Portworks, where we were delighted with cheese, chocolate truffles, port, and this amazing sonomic (which resembles a really high-quality balsamic vinegar but SO. MUCH. BETTER).

Sonoma Portworks

We then made our way to Cecilia’s Enriquez Estates, where she welcomed us into her home, shared her wines and brought an amazing cheese monger to pair more cheese with the wine. I was pretty much in heaven.

Enriquez Estates

Enriquez Estates: I think we drank it all…

Enriquez Estates

The view from Enriquez Estates

After tasting the various wines from Enriquez (and picking up a bottle of her tempernillo) and the delicious cheese from Achadinha Creamery (and picking up a large chunk of cheese), we relaxed in Cecilia’s backyard and stared out at the vineyard and the hills.

Achadinha Cheese

This might be my happy place…

Our final stop on the Petaluma tour of the day was Seared for a paired dinner with the winemakers and sponsors. Representatives  from the Petaluma Gap spoke about Petaluma, and the part it plays in Sonoma county wine. Because of the fog and the wind, wines from Petaluma have a distinction all their own. I’ll have an entire post about the delight and treat this dinner was, but for now, I’ll leave you with a wine selfie.

Wine Selfie

The next day we started our trip at Adobe Road Vineyards, where we had a few photo shoots with wine and fast cars, as Adobe Road also houses a great deal of racing cars, including a few Aston Martins.

Aston Martins

Aston Martin at Adobe Road

The Kristas, Kristi and Chrissy

The Kristas, Kristi and Chrissy: All you had to do was say, “Kris or Chris” and someone or four someones would answer.

Adobe Road

The last winery and vineyard that we visited was Keller Estates, which was a surprise addition to our tour after dining with owner, Anna, the previous evening. I was lucky enough to sit beside her at dinner, and she was absolutely wonderful. Her wines and stunning property were also fantastic. For my Chicago area friends, you can find Keller wines at Standard Market!

IMG_0918

The beautiful tasting room at Keller Estates was impressive and comfortable. I could have stayed here for hours!IMG_0924

Alas, our tour had to come to an end, but I can’t wait to visit again and check out the rest of the wines, spirits, beers, cheese and olive oils that Petaluma has to offer!

Have you been to wine country? What would be your favorite part of visiting this beautiful region in California? Are you more of a beer, wine or cheese person?

Full disclosure: The tour and wine tastings were complimentary to our little group, but I received no compensation to write this post. We also received a discount on our meal at Seared. All opinions are very much my own. 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Chrissy and the Hot Dog Factory

I seriously had the best day ever. So I’m not sure if you remember that one time I walked head first into a pole because I was busy excitedly Skyping my co-workers? (If you haven’t read that, you probably should. Because it’s a prelude to this tale. Plus it’s funny. I’ll wait.)

Okay, fine. If you didn’t read it, long story short: I got on a 3-year waitlist for the Vienna Beef factory tour.

So fast forward to January when the company e-mails me to say, “Oh hey, by the way…you can’t come in September of 2016 because we’re moving to the Southside. So why don’t you come in April instead?”

Less than a year wait for something that people wait an entire lifetime (the lifetime of toddler, but a lifetime nonetheless) for?! Hell. Yes.

A brief look at the Chicago hot dog dynasty from the eyes of me

I grew up in a mom-and-pop Chicago suburb pub. My parents owned a bar from before my birth until shortly after my 25th birthday. My father prided himself on the highest quality Chicago-style hot dog and beef sandwiches. And they were the best. Because he used Vienna beef. I learned early on that the only hot dog is a Vienna beef hot dog.

The Vienna Beef Factory Tour

I knew it would be just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…only with the Willy Wonka of Meat Candy instead. And I would end the tour with a lifetime’s supply of hot dogs. (As it turned out, it was again a lifetime supply for a toddler, but a lifetime nonetheless. Okay fine it was a hot dog and fries, but the best hot dog and fries ever…with RED cream soda).

We were greeted at the back office by Danny, our Willy Wonka for the day.

Willy Wonka Welcome

He handed us hard hats and coats…hair nets and beard nets (I was not given a beard net for the 17 hairs on my chin).

Vienna Important Person - Vienna Beef Factory Tour

From the get-go, Danny seemed to know everything and anything about the factory. As we walked through the place, he greeted every. single. person. by name.

 

He told us that he had been working there since he was 16 and that it was most definitely a family operation. He explained that they tried as often as possible to hire friends and family members of employees, though they did of course have an application process for others, as well. I asked if he had family working their, and he gave us a knowing grin. I obviously assumed he had a parent or aunt/uncle who worked on the assembly line or in the offices.  As he said, “Pressing on,” I imagined he was wearing a purple coat and brown hat instead of the Vienna Beef jacket and hard hat. I was calling him Willy in my head, instead of Danny.

Willy Wonka Tour

Prior to attending this most-exciting event, I was told that it was a crazy idea. I was told I’d never want to eat a hot dog again. I was told about pink slime. But I was confident that these 100% beef hot dogs were made from the purest of cows.

As we made our way through the tour, we learned of their incredibly clean factory practices, including our required handwashing as we entered the factory (even though we didn’t touch anything), feet washing as we progressed from raw to prepared food, and the daily quality assurance taste test.

Willy Wonka Taste Test

At the end of the packaging process, once items are sealed, but before they’re boxed, there’s a metal detector to make sure that not even a single speck of metal from the machinery made it into the meat. It really felt like we were with Willy Wonka when we saw the conveyor belt slide open and drop a package of hot dogs into a bin after passing through the metal detector. Apparently that was a bad egg.

Bad Egg

 

Of course, we learned a lot about the process, too. The factory is pretty cold because obviously there’s the meat to think about. They also add ice to keep meat at the right temp-which is where the added water content comes from in the product ingredients. The strip off the external fat (which could have bacteria and stuff you don’t want in your hot dog or beef sandwich) from the meat that comes in, and dye it green right away so that it doesn’t end up in your food.

They make different meat products on different days, based on the demand and seasonality of certain products. Everything is designed to have complete uniformity, right down to the fat content. We got to check out the gigantic smoker with the hickory chips that they use in the smoking process just as the hot dogs were being removed. It smelled like heaven. Legitimately. During the daily taste-testing, employees taste products to ensure quality and maintain that uniformity. When we joined the tasting team, they asked us how we were enjoying ourselves, and of course, I looked at this guy and told him, “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.”

I think he thought I was joking. But I wasn’t. Mostly.

We got to check out the gigantic smoker with the hickory chips that they use in the smoking process. It smelled like heaven. Legitimately.

And the tour ended with a free hot dog, fries and a drink from the Vienna Beef Factory Cafe.

Vienna Beef Hot dog and fries

It was magical and wonderful, and I’ll never eat a hot dog that isn’t from Vienna Beef again.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Makin’ Breakfast with my Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan AKA Corned Beef Hash JOY

I recently had the opportunity to work with Ozeri, who sent me a free 8″ Green Earth Ceramic Non-stick Frying Pan to test out in my kitchen. The product was free, but as usual, no one paid me to say nice things. Those are all me.

I was super excited when this pan arrived in the mail. I’ve been jonesing for a new pan for quite some time now, and when Ozeri asked me to work with them I was all, “HECK YES!” Plus, I’ve been having some SERIOUS trouble with my cast iron skillet, so this was a nice vacation from that.

The color is a happy shade of green, which just makes me smile, and the textured coating is unique. I was concerned by it at first, but I rapidly discovered that it was not a problem at all. When they said non-stick, they meant it!

I decided that I’d be making breakfast for you, since it’s kind of my thing. And with St. Patrick’s Day, I had a corned beef from the Irish deli just waiting to be used. This recipe is SUPER easy, so get ready for it.

Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice of corned beef (simmered the night before)
  • 5 canned whole potatoes (cooked in the corned beef pot)Corned Beef and Potatoes
  • a pinch of onion powder
  • a pinch of thyme
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Tbs Kerry Gold Irish Butter with Garlic and Herbs (you can use regular butter…but why?)

Kerry Gold Irish Butter with Garlic and Herbs

That’s all.

Steps

  1. Dice corned beef into tiny pieces
  2. Dice potatoes into tiny pieces (they should be a little sticky)Homemade Corned Beef Hash
  3. Mix potatoes and beef together
  4. Sprinkle seasonings and salt over mixture
  5. Mix well
  6. Melt butter in Ozeri Green Earth Frying PanKerry Gold Butter in Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan
  7. Add corned beef mixtureCorned Beef Hash in Green Earth Frying Pan
  8. Fry until golden brown (or preferred crispness)2014-03-20 08.00.18

The pan was AWESOME to work with. I walked about for about 5 minutes while the corned beef hash was frying and sizzling in the pan and nothing stuck to the pan, nothing caused problems. You’ll even see in the video that I created for you how easily everything cooked up in my Ozeri pan.

Of course, it’s important to clean the pan well. It came with all sorts of instructions to make sure that I keep it in top notch condition. Obviously, Brian’s not allowed to play with this one. Yet, anyways. So I made sure that it was cooled down before I cleaned it, as recommended by the product guide. I don’t want to chance it in our shoddy apartment dishwasher, so I have hand washed it every time I’ve used it so far.

Look, guys! I made you a video! You’re welcome.

If you click on the links to Amazon products above, and buy things, you will be supporting my cheese habit. And you’ll be buying a rockin’ awesome pan. So there’s that.

Blog Friends, do you have a favorite pan at home? Or a love of corned beef hash? Or breakfast in general?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Love Letter. To Denny’s.

Yes, yes…Denny’s occasionally sends me gift cards to test out their tasty treats, but if I wasn’t a fan, I wouldn’t say yes. So, just because I got to enjoy the following breakfast sandwich at no-cost to me, doesn’t mean I don’t go there on my own. Because I do.

Dear Denny’s,

Thank you so much for creating a most-delicious breakfast sandwich. I feel like you can read my mind. It’s like you KNOW how much I love breakfast. And breakfast sandwiches, in particular. And a good deal on top of that! Even more so, I feel that you’re really trying to be innovative with your breakfast options. You accommodate the foodies with unique ideas and flavorful combinations. You accommodate the breakfast traditionalists. And most importantly for this girl right now, you accommodate the healthy eaters.

Just because I’m starting a healthy-ish eating plan today doesn’t mean I intend to banish dining out from my routine. Nor does it mean that I can’t indulge in a breakfast sandwich every now and then. But if I can enjoy a healthy alternative that doesn’t make me FEEL like I’m giving anything up? Awesome. That’s where you come in, Denny’s. Because your new fit fare breakfast sandwich? To die for.

Denny's Breakfast Sandwich

Look at that healthy plate of joy. It looked just like the picture on the menu! And nooo, that isn’t a side of hashbrowns that I ordered to go with my healthy breakfast (OK, fine. Yes it is. But I didn’t eat them all…OK, fine. Yes I did. Gosh!)

Now if I was rolling on a budget, and didn’t want the healthy fruit and yogurt side, I could also have gotten a sandwich and hashbrowns for $4. Um, tastier than fast food with higher quality ingredients and…wait for it…cheaper?!

Sold.

Denny’s you’re getting better every day.

I look forward to more delicious adventures with you in the very near future,

Sincerely,

Me.

Denny's Fit Fare

Of course, for those of you who aren’t trying to eat healthy and don’t want a breakfast sandwich loaded with egg whites, turkey bacon, spinach, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese, you can get a deliciously loaded meaty-cheesy-eggy sandwich instead. Either way, you’ll be pleased. I was.

Blog friends, do you have favorite breakfast combinations? Comfort food for the morning soul? Keep the conversation going on Twitter with @DennysDiner

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

This Post is Not About Christmas. Sort of. But There Is a Sort of Lentil Soup Recipe.

So last night, Brian and I walked into the apartment around 11 PM, having left around 3 PM to go see American Hustle (really good btw) with our delightful old roommate. Former. Not actually “OLD.” As in age. DUH.

We had planned on Christmas shopping before or after the movie. And by we, I mean me. And by Christmas shopping, I mean I would go into the stores. Brian would drive the vehicle and sit in the car talking to his dad on the phone or listening to an audiobook. This plan really worked out well.

But we also decided to have dinner with Anna. At my fave restaurant, Greek Islands-YUM. And then shopping didn’t ensue until 9ish.

So when we got home to the smell of…well…food cooking, we were both quite surprised.

Until Brian looked over at the Crock Pot corner and said, there’s food in there.

Apparently I have bad luck making lentil soup, because I had completely forgotten that I threw a bunch of party leftovers into the Crock Pot to make lentil soup.

The last time I tried to make lentil soup, Brian came home to a disgusting, smelly, burnt mess in the Crock Pot (because I was out for the night–had made him “dinner”).

LUCKILY, this time, it wasn’t a total disaster, because the soup was FLIPPING delicious. It had just completely fallen off my radar. But that’s okay. Because it was full of flavor and joy.

Recipe (without a picture-because I can’t figure out how to make lentil soup not look like vomit. Instead, you’ll get a picture of the party food table-minus the veggies, because those were in a separate spot.)

Holiday display

Party Leftover Lentil Soup Recipe

  • 1 leftover previously cooked spiral cut ham on the bone
  • 1 cup leftover carrot slices, chopped
  • 10 leftover celery sticks, chopped
  • 5 leftover mini bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bag of lentils
  • 2 cans of chicken broth
  • 2 cans of water
  1. Toss all ingredients in the Crock Pot (or slow cooker brand of your choice)
  2. Forget about them for 8 hours
  3. Come home to the smell of delicious soup that you can pack up and eat tomorrow morning
  4. Remove the ham with tongs and a spoon (it’s going to be FALLING off the bone)
  5. Shred/slice ham, removing any excess fat and return to the soup
  6. Store or serve immediately–or eat it with a spoon right out of the Crock Pot

Have you had Crock Pot wins or fails because you forgot about them?

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tasty Tuesday: Gruesome Halloween Snacks

This year, I had a lot of fun with our inaugural (note how I DIDN’T say first annual) Halloween kickoff party. If you remember, I did some bad ass disgusting bathroom decor for my guests to appreciate…but I also made some sweet (and not so sweet) snacks. And you know how I looooove snacks.

Of course, we’re not the only Halloweenies in our group of friends, and our old roommates had quite the food display, as well. With their permission, I’ve included some of the gruesome Halloween treats they created. Without further ado…

When Halloween rolls around, I like to be the hostess with the mostest and show off my creative mad-scientist skills in the cauldron and make seriously creepy party food.

Cow Guts: Beef Chili

Make your own homemade chili or buy it prepackaged. Toss it in a crock pot and you’ve got an EASY and tasty treat for your guests. This was actually a huge hit!

Chicken Guts: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Mix shredded chicken (I buy a couple of rotisserie chickens from Sam’s Club because they taste better than canned chicken), Frank’s Red Hot, cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and ranch dressing for a really delicious treat on crackers.

Gruesome Halloween Snacks

Delicious and gruesome Halloween snack packs. You’ll note that I labeled everything so my guests could see how twisted I am. I didn’t take a picture of the two large crock pots, which are cow guts and chicken guts (beef chili and buffalo chicken dip, respectively).

Mold: Cheese

Duh. Mold is cheese. Cheese is mold. And Cheese is DELICIOUS.

Mold, Brains and more

Mold: What’s a Chrissy party without cheese?

Worms in Dirt: Brownies with Gummy Worms

A kid-friendly favorite. I had to have one. This one isn’t so gruesome as it is delicious.

Worms in Dirt

Worms in dirt anyone? Garbarge brownies with triple chocolate, caramel, butterscotch chips, white chips and dark chips. And nuts. And worms.

Brains: Jello Mold

I just used raspberry Jello in a brain-shaped Jello mold, and then added a bunch of random crap around it to add to the creepy/nasty factor. It was actually quite delicious.

Brains

Brains: A simple JELL-O mold with raspberry JELL-O, whipped cream, chocolate and strawberry sauce and sprinkles. Because everyone likes sprinkles.

Dead Man’s Toes: BBQ weenies

I used Lil Smokies and a sweet Michigan cherry BBQ sauce, because it has little baby cherries which added more creepy texture. These were easy to cook in my medium-size slow cooker.

Dead mans toes

Dead Man’s Toes: BBQ weenies. In Michigan cherry BBQ sauce. Because that’s how I roll.

Leatherface: Ham and Prosciutto

Use a Styrofoam head to add meat and olives to create a creepy looking Leatherface. Our old roommates wrapped the foam head in plastic first for easy cleanup and reusability.

Leatherface

Leatherface: Our old roommates’ creation. Ham and prosciutto with olives wrapped around a head mold. Surprisingly, I’m the only one who ate some of this guy. This girl doesn’t turn down prosciutto.

Bloody Shots: Cherry Vodka

Not much else for explanation here. Inject your mouth with vampire blood (cherry vodka). You just need to buy the plastic shot syringes. I think I’m going to try these at our next party but with something better than cherry vodka…maybe like…whiskey or something.

Shots of blood

Shots of blood: Another of the old roommates’ collection. I didn’t try this, with my aversion to fake cherry…but they used UV cherry vodka in these really cool 1.5 oz FAKE syringes.

Witches Brew: Lime Punch

This is a fan favorite. It tastes like happiness, but looks wicked. I’ve also made it in a witch’s cauldron and used a plastic glove and blue food coloring to make a blue hand of ice.

Witches Brew

Witch’s Brew: 2Liter of Diet 7up, 1/5 (that’s the entire contents of a normal size bottle) Captain Morgan Lime Bite, 1 can frozen limeade concentrate, and 1 carton of lime sherbet. You’re welcome. Also great for St. Patrick’s Day. Or any party. Because this shit is delicious.

Bashed Skull: Cream Cheese and Pepper & Onion Relish

I just used a simple, inexpensive mask that I got at Michael’s. I painted it with cream cheese and covered it with pepper and onion relish (I like the one from Harry and David the best – code20 will get you 20% off). Serve in a glass pie plate with crackers and garnish with plastic scorpions. I also use slate labels to let my guests know what they’re eating…sort of.

Bashed Skull

Bashed Skull. I don’t know why, but no one wanted to eat this one.


120x60 - Harry & David Logo

What scary treats do you make for Halloween? Would you eat any of these delicacies if you showed up at my party?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Denny’s: From High School Hangout to Tasty Breakfast Spot

Remember when you used to go hang out at Denny’s until curfew? Drinking coffee with your pals, talking about everything, playing card games and other random large group games like Mafia? Or in college, when you’d go for large group late night snacks after your fraternity’s chapter meeting, sipping on strawberry shakes while waiting for your loaded cheese fries with sour cream instead of ranch because you hated ranch with a fiery passion that could only be matched by your love for cheese? Or maybe that was just me.

Denny’s was a staple in my high school and college life. It’s a great place to reminisce. And as I more recently learned, it’s a great place to celebrate change. For the better.

A few weeks ago, as I was watching Breaking Bad’s Season 5.2 premier, I was excited to see that Walter White was enjoying his 52nd birthday at Denny’s. And that he got it for free. (In case you’re wondering, I have a Google spreadsheet with a list of places to get free food on your birthday. And yes, Denny’s is TOTALLY on that list. Maybe one day I’ll share my list with you.)

Breaking Bad 52 Bacon

And maybe if you’re really nice, they’ll shape the bacon for you.

But when I made my way into Denny’s this past weekend, I was all over their BYO Omelette menu. You guys, let me tell you a little about the awesome add-ins that you can use to create the biggest, tastiest omelette for a really great price.

Breaking Bad 52 Bacon

  • 6 different cheeses (YES!)
  • 7 different meats
  • 7 different veggies (including some sauteed options)

I opted for cheddar cheese, chicken sausage, pico de gallo, jalapenos and avocado on an egg-white omelette (in an effort to be somewhat healthy, despite my add on of hash browns. Hey…I was proud that I opted out of the added bacon and cheese on my hashbrowns, okay?)

I was also super stoked to discover that Denny’s has a meal nutritional calculator on their site, which I could even use on my fancy phone. I knew going into the hash browns that they were 6 points plus on my Weight Watchers plan and the omelette that I created was still going to be a whopping 11 points plus. But for a delicious breakfast chock full of protein, I could totally deal. Besides, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. And quite frankly, I’d rather use my points in the morning than at night. So about that omelette…

I LOVE that they actually put all of the ingredients INSIDE a folded egg. You don’t know how often I get annoyed when the ingredients are cooked into the eggy part. Because then what’s the difference between that and a finely shaped scrambled egg? The best part? The avocado wasn’t slimey or brown. And I could SEE that they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. Happy breakfast = happy Chrissy. Denny's BYO OmeletteOverall, I was thoroughly impressed with my fast and delicious meal. That chicken sausage? WAY tastier than a lot of turkey sausages I’ve tried.

Guys, do you have any positive Denny’s memories or experiences to add to the conversation? Would you go try out this tasty Build-Your-Own-Omelette menu? Do you even like breakfast?

This post was sponsored by the fine people at Denny’s. I was compensated with a gift card to try out their new BYO omelette menu. I was not compensated to say nice things; those were all mine to say. You can keep this conversation going socially by connecting with @DennysDiner and using the #BYOomelette.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Holy Wicked Good Seafood, Batman!

You guys!

When Gorton’s Seafood asked me to review their product (which they provided me with coupons to purchase whatever sea fare my little heart desired), I was all, heck yes! I love seafood. Unfortunately, BRIAN does not love seafood. So what’s a little culinary genius like myself supposed to do? Cook a delightful meal just for me? That just didn’t seem fair. So I enlisted the help of my parents. And by help, I mean, I sent my mom an e-mail saying, “Don’t eat tomorrow. I’m coming over after work and cooking you dinner.”

Apparently, my mom had made quasi plans with her best friend for dinner that same evening, so when I arrived at their house the other night, I was pleasantly surprised that we’d have an extra guest for dinner.

Dinner for 4 in 40 minutes or less

I had originally planned to get all creative, since Gorton’s provided me with a variety of recipe ideas and such, but I thought it would be an excellent test of the product to see how quickly (and more importantly, EASILY) I could prepare a meal on a weeknight.

I purchased 2 different Gorton’s seafood products for this particular meal, Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi (since Dad loooooves garlic) and Simply Bake Tilapia. I also brought a mixed greens salad, and poached the rest of the meal from my mom’s garden/freezer.

Gorton's Wicked Good Seafood

When I was en route, I had asked my mom to prep the oven to 350 degrees, so everything would be ready to go. I arrived, did a quick prep of cutting potatoes, tomatoes and red pepper strips, mixed the potatoes with a smidge of olive oil and some salt and was ready to go.

Now for the tilapia. I pulled those babies out of the box, placed the oven safe bags on two baking sheets (after realizing that one baking sheet PROBABLY wasn’t enough…) and popped them in the oven…

Gorton's Simply Bake TilapiaThat’s it.

No really.

That’s. All. I Did.

Then I poured myself a glass of wine and joined the parentals out on the veranda (the backyard patio) for an appetizer of Mom’s homemade salsa with chips.

I took a quick break from chatting to start the scampi, which I set out in single layer across the frying pan.

Gorton's Shrimp ScampiAt the same time I poured frozen green beans into another pan with sliced peppers, a little olive oil and some season salt. I returned to the wine shortly thereafter.

A few minutes later, I went and checked on the scampi, and oh-man! They were lookin’ and smellin’ WICKED GOOD. So I flipped them and let ’em simmer some more. I did add some water so the sauce didn’t boil out.

Gorton's Garlic Shrimp Scampi10 minutes later, I was ready to plate up the meal. A grand total of 40 minutes went by from prep to completion. I call that a definite dinner win for something amazing.

How do I know it was amazing?

Check out the pictures. If you’re not hungry after this…well…you get the picture.

Simple Salad

A simple salad with grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, parmesan cheese and Mom’s homemade Italian dressing (OK, I took the picture before adding cheese and dressing. I was hungry!!

Wicked Good Seafood from Gorton's

Yes,the sauce came out of the bag with the fish. Yes, the two seafood dishes combined well together. Yes, they all partnered up nicely with the potatoes and veggies.

A few extra things to note: You know how I have a tendency to hurt myself in the kitchen? It’s almost impossible with this stuff. The bag opens easily enough that I didn’t need to use a knife and I let the fish sit for 5 minutes before I served it (And it stayed warm in the bag, but was safe to touch on the outside!) The flavor? Phenom. I preferred the tilapia to the shrimp, but both were AWESOME.

Weight Watchers friendly meal

As I’m back on the Weight Watchers wagon (after a whole lot of on and off), I wanted to make sure that I got something that was healthy and delicious. The tilapia? 3 points plus. The shrimp scampi? 2 points plus for the serving size we made. A standard serving is 3 points plus, but we divided the box between 4 of us instead of 3.

Everyone was thoroughly impressed with the meal, and both of my parents made separate calls to me the next day to thank me for the wonderful dinner. None of them would have purchase Gorton’s before our dinner, but all 3 said they would eat it again in a heartbeat.

Tell me Blog Friends, have you tried Gorton’s? What are your favorite seafood dishes?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tasty Tuesday: Charcuterie and Cheese

Short and sweet, because Wednesday won’t be wordless.

This was dinner on Sunday night. I had to brag because OMG. YUM! What’s your favorite meal?

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Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!