Adventures in Babybel Eating

Just like my hero, Chris, in Adventures in Babysitting,  I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and occasionally, I have little hometown adventures. Whenever Brian and I get lost, or take the long way around, we call it an adventure.

I have yet to meet Thor or get stabbed on the El, but not for a lack of trying. I have, on the other hand, been beaten up by a no-parking sign, tripped by an invisible wire, and almost killed by falling ice daggers.

My life here in Chicago is full of adventure. And you know I’m like a gremlin and have all these rules of care…like how I need to be fed at regular intervals.

My daily adventure starts with a commuter train ride.

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A snack pack can be a lifesaver this early in the morning.

I venture from suburbia into the city every day for the job. When you’re hundgry, it’s a long 45-mimite ride. But little snack packs like my favorite on-the-go cheese, Babybel, make the trip tolerable.

Sometimes, if I have time, I’ll even slice it and melt it on some bread in the toaster oven before I head out of the house.

On occasion, after work, Brian and I (or just I) will journey on an adventure after work. We might go out for dinner, do some touristy nonsense, or we may head to a movie.

As we roam through the city, we’ll take a cab or the El (cabs are faster and easier most of the time). I’m a big fan of cab selfies, and they’re even better when I have a snack.

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Once we get to our theater destination,  I’m ready to put out my buffet of treats to enjoy delicious snacking. This is why large bags are important. So you can bring enough snack packs to share with your people before you kick your feet up.

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The best movie theater snack packs include a beverage,  something sweet,  savory, and crunchy.

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When I went to see Captain America, I brought bottled water, a candy bar from Dylan’s, a selection of Babybel, and pretzel thins to give me a little crunch. And I was happy.

As I made my way home, I napped on the train, dreaming of more cheese.

What are your favorite movie theater snacks? Do you bring your own snack packs into the theater?

Babybel sent me free samples and some things to make my adventures more fun, but as always, these opinions and thoughts are mine, and mine alone. I eat a lot of Babybel, because I’m always running around town.

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!

Let’s Talk About Cheese, Baby.

Everyone loves a fully-loaded cheese platter, amiright?

6 easy tips to make the perfect cheese display

I know this because no matter the theme of the party I’m hosting, there’s always a platter of cheese on the buffet. When a girlfriend comes over to catch up, I whip up a quick cheese plate. When Brian and I can’t decide what to eat, we’ll smorgasbord like a couple of mad kitchen geniuses, and make a cheese display that will make your mouth water. But you know what? It’s not such a hard task. That’s probably why I do it so often. I’m gasp a little lazy. And cheese is easy. You don’t have to cook it (I mean, melty cheese is great and all, but when your cheese drawer is loaded with the good stuff, you don’t cook that cheesy goodness; you eat that cheese on its own). You barely even have to cut it.

How to create the ultimate cheese plate

As someone who once worked for cheese, I’ve learned a thing or two about cheesemongering. And it’s high time I shared that knowledge with you. Below, I’ve listed the most important six things you should know about making a cheese plate at home.

  • Always taste the cheese first. This step is crucial. If you have the opportunity to taste the cheese before you buy it, awesome. But if you order your groceries online, like I did last week, you probably won’t get to sample it before you buy. That’s okay. Just make sure you have yourself a little nibble of each offering before you serve your guests. Not only will this make you more knowledgeable when you’re talking about the flavors of the cheese, but also, you’re eating cheese. And what’s better than that?
  • Choose a stylish platter. I have a vast selection of cheese plates and platters to choose from. Wood boards, slate platters, ceramic dishes, glass cheese plates…all of these can give your display serious street cred.

how to make a cheese platter at home

  • Mix and match your cheese. Make sure you choose a variety of different cheeses, varying in color, shape, size, texture, and flavor for a full profile of cheesy goodness. For this plate, I chose Merlot BellaVitano (which is a cross between an aged cheddar and parmesan, and brined in merlot), Amablu Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Brie Triple Cream, and Organic Valley Grassmilk Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I meant to add a manchego, which is a really gritty and delicious hard Spanish cheese that Brian loves, but I kept that one unopened in the cheese drawer with the Boar’s Head Monterey Jack with Jalapeno. My bridesmaids are coming over today for dress shopping, and I want to have some cheese to feed them as well. (But seriously you guys. All of these cheeses were available online. Delivered. To my door.)
  • Avoid cutting the cheese. I mean, if you’re hosting a big party and no one’s going to want to slice into your beautiful hunks of cheese, by all means, cut it RIGHT BEFORE you put it out. Do not buy pre-cut cheese. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Fresh cut cheese is a hundred times better than cheese that’s already been cut.
  • Place the cheese out early. Did you know that cheese tastes its absolute best at room temperature? For the tastiest selection of cheeses, let them sit out for about a half hour to 45 minutes before serving. Just keep in mind that food safety rules say it’s okay to leave food out for four hours…so once you hit that four-hour mark, it’s time to bring out fresh cheese. But honestly, cheese wouldn’t sit out for four hours without getting gobbled up, right?
  • Make the platter look full with accouterments. The best way to make a cheese plate look extra appetizing is to add dimension, color, and design by filling it to the brim with some of your favorite accompaniments. I love adding fresh fruit for the bright colors and tasty combination bites of sweet fruit and savory cheese. These strawberries were so stunning, I couldn’t even stop myself from eating a couple before I placed the rest on my platter. The weird square thing? That’s membrillo (quince paste), which is a sweet, fruit-flavored jelly-like substance made from the quince fruit. It looks bizarre but tastes amazing with sharp cheesy flavors. I like to sprinkle fresh nuts throughout a cheese platter as well to really fill it up (plus, I love nuts. Don’t you?).
Look at that beautiful strawberry!

That strawberry is the real deal, y’all. I can’t even with this fruit. And it was picked out for me by the fine team at Peapod.

These are the basic tricks I use to create decadent displays that I share with my friends and family when they visit our home. Sometimes, we even take these snacks on the road with us to bring to a party. Basically, cheese = friends. You’re welcome.

I want to have specialty cheeses delivered to my front door. Click To Tweet

What tips do you have for making a killer cheese plate? Do you have any favorite cheeses or accouterments? Have you ever experienced the unadulterated joy of online grocery shopping?

This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Peapod, a grocery delivery service that pretty much changed my life. All food pictured above was delivered to my house without a second of me having to go into a grocery store, stand in line, or impulse buy stuff I don’t need. It may have been one of the most magical experiences of my life. There’s nothing quite like cheese getting delivered to your front door. Links used in this post may be affiliate links, which will earn me a commission should you use them to shop for groceries online. While I was compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are from my own completely unbiased and cheese-obsessed brain.

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!

Things I’m Learning About Twitter

Twitter is this magic beast; it’s quite the antithesis of Facebook, really. A lot of people shouting and pretending to listen, but no one’s really fighting (most of the time) because they’re caught up in their own jam.

Unless you’re following hashtags and that’s a whole ‘nother world. But if you’re not following hashtags, and you’re just following people, there’s a rabbit hole of awesome that you, too, can experience in the flesh.

When you're playing the Twitter game, these tips will help you make the most of this social space.

I’ve had a Twitter account for years, but I feel like a total noob, which obviously isn’t stopping me from telling you how to win at Twitter. This is what I’m learning.
1. Twitter likes you best when you’re hot, lazy, and love food. The number of people who followed me over the course of the year was completely correlated to the attractiveness of my profile picture (you know what a selfie whore I am) and the number of times I mentioned cheese. My best tweets all involve me not wanting to remove myself from bed, but desperately craving food or eating an embarrassing number of doughnuts. Whatever. Twitter, I get you. This is why we’re friends.

2. It’s all about go big or go home. The way to grow your Twitter followership? Actively immerse yourself in the Twitter. I mean, if you’re lazy and love food, you’ll love wasting your time on Twitter. I do. There are a lot of hilarious as fuck people out there. I think to myself, “can I keep you?” And then I follow them on Twitter. And I can keep them in my pocket. It’s like magic.

3. You can make friends all over the place when you’re weird. That go big thing about Twitter being a time suck? It’s because you’re supposed to socialize in the blue bird sandbox. Get crackin’ and find the people who get your humor/sentiments/anger/love/weirdness. They’ll welcome you with open retweets and faves. Unless you’re a dick. And even then, someone probably likes you. Again with the magic.

4. The pound sign is out. Remember when that was what we called the #? Hashtags are fun to make up but totally not required to make friends. Don’t worry you can still hash your heart out on Instagram. Or you can run with the Twitter pack that plays the hashtag game.

5. It’s all in the hips. Not really. I just wanted to say that. Honestly, I think it’s all about who you are. If you’re weird, like food a little too much and hate getting out of bed, you’ll probably enjoy being my Twitter friend, but if you’re the complete opposite,  I’m absolutely positive there are people who’ll get you too.

What do you like best about Twitter? Which is your favorite social network? Why?

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!

Apparently, This Summer Wasn’t My First Back Pain Rodeo…Or Why I’m a Velociraptor

Guys, you’re not going to believe this (well…yes you will…), but I hurt my back again. And this time, it was much less exciting than showing off doing fancy yoga.

Yesterday morning, I was reaching down to pull on my underwear. An activity I participate in daily. When BAM! I felt the tightness pull, and I knew my back was done for. I’m trying to champ through it, but fuck, it hurts.

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This is my whiny face because it feels more comfortable to stand on the train than sit.


I was looking back at old blog posts on one of my other blogs, and I found a little gem that reminded me of a recent-ish back issue from a couple years back.

OK, so one morning a couple of years ago, I woke up with this excruciating back pain. It got progressively worse as the day went on. By that night, I was walking like a velociraptor.  I ended up lying on couches the whole day. I don’t think it helped the situation.

Apparently it feels more comfortable to sit in a V-like position with this horrible back pain…so when I get up I walked a bit like a velociraptor.

When we got home late one night, back when we lived in the apartment, I went straight to bed. But I could hear Brian crunching. And crunching. The TV was low, so I couldn’t hear that. but I heard crunching. And I knew that he was eating the queso. Obviously, I couldn’t let him eat all of the chips and queso…and my tummy kept growling at me, saying, “Hey dummy, he’s going to eat all of that queso…and you’re going to be lying here all in pain thinking I wish I had some queso…and it will be gone.” So I crawled out of bed, threw on a robe, and stalked out to the living room to join my boyfriend in a late night chips and queso snack. (Tostitos Lime and Medium Salsa con Queso make me happy. I wish I had some now. I would be way happier.)

The next morning, I had hoped the pain would be better…but alas, I was stuck in bed with no more queso.

While lying in bed that morning, I started thinking about all of my previous back injuries…

The time I thought that pillow sliding down the stairs head first on my back was a great idea.

The time I fell down the stairs at Second Thanksgiving and gave myself a hematoma on my ass…oh wait, that wasn’t a back injury…It was just really funny.

The time I toppled down the stairs and my head landed a half an inch from the wall, at midnight, and my mom thought I was drunk, but really, my socks just slipped on the carpet…and I could have broken my neck if I had fallen a half an inch farther. And then I got these giant kinks in my lower back that never really went away…

The time that I was cheering in high school and I was back spotting…and the girl in the air fell on me, and I fell back first on the gym floor…and my back hurt for months afterward.

Fuck. I fall down a lot. Maybe that’s why I hurt myself bending over to pull on underwear, now.

Have you ever hurt your back? What’s the craziest injury you’ve ever experienced? What would you give for a chips and queso snack right now?

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!

Ten Rules to Enjoy Six Flags (or Any Theme Park, Really) and Not Leave Angry

With fall quickly approaching, I’ve found myself dreaming of a trip up to Six Flags for Fright Fest. Okay, I’m actually dreaming of a weekend getaway to Walt Disney World, but Brian did that 3 years ago, and he isn’t quite ready to go back yet…we’re working on that.

I don’t know if I can rock the coasters right now because of my back problem, so I’m not sure if we’ll head up there this season or not, but a girl can dream. I love wandering around a theme park when the weather is cool, and you can wear yoga pants and a hoodie at night while you ride your favorite coasters. You don’t have to make up excuses not to go on the water rides, and no one is sweating their balls off.

When I do make my way to Six Flags, I always try to follow these very important rules to make the most of my experience. It’s a way to sort of roll with the punches that the underpaid cast members are throwing.10 Rules to Making the Most of a Theme Park Visit1. Buy your tickets in advance. Find the cheapest coupon code you can. Seriously. That shit is expensive, and they usually have cheap codes hidden among the interwebs. Or on cans of pop. Plus tickets are usually less costly online. At Six Flags, we’ve paid as little as $37 each for 3 people with tax, surcharges, and parking.

  1. Don’t look at the food or the prices from the vendors. You know the food is crap, and the prices are likely to be exorbitant. There is an exception to this, and that’s at Disney World, with their fancy restaurants and amazing food options. Pack a lunch, head to a local restaurant, stop at your fave fast food chain…

  2. Find out about money-saving promotional stuff. If you fail to follow rule number 2, use your Discover card (or whatever card they’re partnered with) and save 5% every time. That shit can add up.

  3. Tap water is free. Utilize that, people. Brita filtered water bottle are a bomb way to make that happen.

  4. Know the best rides. If you make it a point to get on your favorite rides first, you’ll be able to cheer yourself up and ride them again later after you’ve made some bad choices by standing in line for a crappy ride that breaks down all the time. Raging Bull is still the best roller coaster at Six Flags Great America. Ride it first. The Whizzer is a classic, and so fun at night.

  5. Understand the schedule. Don’t plan to get there at exactly opening or you’ll sit in long-ass lines to get into the parking lot. Instead, aim for 30 minutes before the park opens or a couple hours afterward. Leave 30-45 minutes before the stated closing time. You’ll be at the bar with a cocktail in your hand while the rest of those bozos are still sitting in the parking lot. If you’re rocking out at Fright Fest…Monsters don’t come out until 4 or 5. Plan accordingly.

  6. Don’t overdo the Dramamine. If you get motion sick or vertigo after you’ve already taken the maximum dosage of the super powerful non-drowsy meclizine…sit the next coaster out. Trust me on this one. I took 3 pills in 12 hours (max recommended is 2 in 24 hours), and I was out of it for 3 days. Loopy, dizzy, and sleepy. I felt like I was drunk. For three days. And not the good kind of drunk.

  7. Make sure you know your way around. Don’t bother asking anyone who works at the park where stuff is. They have no clue. Use the map.

  8. Try to avoid asking for help in any matters. You know what, you may as well just not ask the Six Flags team for any assistance.* We once waited for 45 minutes for lockers that didn’t lock, and still no one came to help us.

Brian and Chrissy at Six Flags Great America Fright Fest

  1. Make it yours. Go with people you like, so that your two star experience feels like a five star experience, because friends.

*I don’t actually think everyone who works at a theme park is crappy at their jobs. I just had a few bad experiences that made me whiny
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Which theme parks have you been to? What tips would you have for maximizing your trip to Six Flags or another park? 

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!

How to Drunk Yoga in 12 Easy Steps

So you know how sometimes I do things so you don’t have to? This is one of those times. So please. Kids. Don’t try this at home.

Yoga is fun. Yoga is fucking awesome. Yoga is one of my new favorite things to do. Sometimes, I think in my head at night well, I can yoga or I can write, but I can’t do both.

As evident by my recent posting schedule, you can see where my head has been. And last night after happy hour (that ran well over an hour) was no exception. The thing is…Drunk Chrissy wanted to yoga AND write. And she had a brilliant fucking plan. That went something like this.

How to drunk yogaHow to drunk yoga

Step 1: Drink expensive beer and eat $2 tacos. The beer/beverage choice is up for discussion, so really, pick your preferred poison.

Step 2: (which is really like 10 steps in one, but it doesn’t really matter how you get home, as long as you’re not driving) Go home.

Step 3: Make a snack. You can’t be expected to be brilliant without your hungry drunk brain cleared.

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Step 4: Decide that you’re going to try amazing feats of yoga. You have no fear. (No, really. DON’T. TRY. THIS. AT HOME).

Step 5: Find your unsuspecting victim. I mean photographer. I mean boyfriend. Tell him you have a genius plan and you require his services. When he tells you that shoveling your massive driveway is more important than yoga pictures, pout just a little.

Step 6: Have another snack. If your first snack was salty, opt for something sweet, now. If you like.

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Step 7: Lay down on your mat and flop into a position that takes way more work when you’re sober. Twice.

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This is a position called plow pose. It’s a real pose. And it’s usually a lot harder for me.

 

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This is my attempt at shoulder stand. Apparently you’re supposed to do this before plow…I did it after.

 

Step 8: Lay back down and watch the room spin just a little.

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Step 9: Decide it’s time for headstand and race to the hallway that allows you to do it.

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Step 10: Get your inversion on. I prefer headstand…one, because I discovered this week that I can do it and two because it doesn’t wreak havoc on my wrists.

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I walked up the wall. It was fun.

I walked up the wall. It was fun.

Step 11: Collapse into the room spins.

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Step 12: Go to bed, drunky.

See, that wasn’t so hard? Still best not to do this. I probably could have hurt myself.

What stupid shenanigans do you get into after a few beers? What yoga poses are you proud of or excited to try?

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!

I’m Not Going to Lie…I Throw a Killer Party

So I know I promised months ago that I’d tell you about our housewarming party, but then LIFE happened…and the housewarming party came and went…and definitely got put on the back burner. But here it is in all it’s gaming glory.

I wanted to throw a game-themed party. And actually I wanted to get crazy into it with a different game theme in every room and people playing games everywhere. I had HUGE plans. I was going to set up a whole CLUE scenario. I was going to have little Jenga pieces for everyone to put house tips on. I was going to make cute little favors for everyone. But, as many of you already know…shit doesn’t happen the way we plan it. We closed on our house on October 15. We moved on October 25. And we threw the housewarming party on November 15. We’re lucky the house was clean and there was food to eat.

Throw an awesome housewarming party

Part of the quick turnaround was because I NEEDED to have an organized, put-together house in order to survive. I would have gone bonkers if we were living amidst boxes and bags that hadn’t been opened and organized. (There are still a few of those, but not many…and none of mine). Part of the quick turnaround was the timing. If it was around Christmastime, I would have had to have Christmas up and running perfectly…and then we were hosting Christmas dinner and it would have been a disaster of too many parties in quick succession. If it were after Christmastime…well let’s just say we’re still recovering and Christmas is still lingering in unseen areas of our home.

ANYWAYS. So we threw a party. Pretty quickly. And had about 65 people show up throughout the day (while expecting about 35-40!). We opened our house up to guests from noon until whenever (which ended up being around midnight), and ran ourselves ragged with tours and food replenishing and beverage duty. We had some wins and we had some fails, but all in all it was a total success.

While no one really played games, the theme was pretty evident throughout the house.

How to throw a game-themed housewarming party (without killing yourself or your partner)

Decor

Set up an AWESOME food display in an open area, where people can grab food, mill around and start one of the bazillion tours you’re about to give.If you don’t have a lot of decorations elsewhere, that’s okay (YOUR NEW HOUSE is the decoration that everyone’s dying to see). I was a caterer in another life, so the buffet set up can be super baller if you know how to use levels and fluff the hell out of tablecloths or fabric. (I use milk crates and similar containers to create my levels). Because I have so many Scrabble boards and pieces from my wanna-be-a-crafter box (and that one time I made Scrabble Christmas ornaments for everyone), I thought that using them on my buffet would be a hit! I labeled all the food with tiles (and even used the board to get all the ingredients for my Blue Cheese and Date Spread on Endive. I also pulled a few more game boards and pieces for good measure, adding just the right amount of nerdy gameyness.

Setting up buffet tables is one of my special skills. I used to be a catering manager so this sort of thing really tickles my jollies.

Setting up buffet tables is one of my special skills. I used to be a catering manager so this sort of thing really tickles my jollies.

dice and trvial pursuit

Food

Choose food that is SUPER easy to make and replenish. I’m a big fan of Crock Pot apps and snacks, so I went with BBQ weenies and buffalo chicken dip. I actually had another Crock Pot in the kitchen with more buffalo chicken dip for easy replenishment. My mom made several deli platters for sandwiches and it was cold enough that we could keep the reserves outside.Obviously there was a cheese platter. I like to to a lot of fan faves and choose one crazy concoction that I hope works out (that would be the blue cheese and date spread – which worked out). I made ALL of the food the night before, so the day of I could focus on the insanity of hiding all our crap in boxes and corners and shit.

BBQ weenies

Note the chess pieces, trivial pursuit cards and scrabble tiles for a mix of beloved classics

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Gratuitous cheese photo

Gratuitous cheese photo. Please note. I spelled cheese wring and am completely ashamed of myself. But don’t you love the risk board below?

Dessert

I REALLY wanted to make domino brownies. And I REALLY didn’t want to do a lot of baking. So I baked chocolate chip cookie bars and gluten-free brownies (both from mixes, homies) and picked up a giant brownie cake thing from Sam’s Club. I sliced the brownie in Domino-size pieces and dotted them with frosting. And it fucking worked.

Domino Brownies

I seriously thought these were going to be a huge Pinterest fail. And then they turned out alright.

mint chocolate chip cookie barsDrinks

We had wine galore. We had beer. We had the soda stream. We had two Keurigs. And we had some epic fails in forgetting to get bottled water and cans of pop. Not realizing just how many people would come, we thought that we’d be fine with soda stream and filtered water from the fridge… Go buy cans of pop and bottled water. Save yourself. Seriously.

Oh. And get these shots – which were a HUGE hit.

Twisted Shots Twisted ShotsPlaying HostessI discovered Twisted Shots while at BlogHer in San Jose last summer. They actually sent me a lovely little box of these delicious treats for my housewarming party! After 7, I figured it was time to get the party going (and most of the touring had ended), so I brought out the shots. I played server and convinced almost everyone to try a shot or two. With flavors like Sex on the Beach, Buttery Nipple and Porn Star, you know you’ve got a good thing going. Almost everyone was down with these sugary sweet twisted shots full of colorful booze that tasted mostly like candy. Even my whiskey-loving friends found a few shots that were right up their alleys.

Tours

Plan on basically spending the majority of the time touring and put someone else in charge of food and beverages once the party starts. Even if there are two of you, you’ll be switching off with the tours on a pretty serious cadence…and I think there were a few moments when we ran out of food. But I don’t know for sure because I was racing all over and mingling and busy and reveling and all of the things! (Yes, that sentence is supposed to give you anxiety.)

In the end, though, all you really want is for the people you love to come over and eat your food, drink your booze, and tell you that your house is pretty. And that’s what happened. I heard all sorts of positive things in regards to our first event in the new place (and then we hosted Second Thanksgiving…and then we hosted Christmas. So there was that.)

Blog friends, tell me about your party throwing experiences? What have you learned? What have you done well? What would you have done for a game-themed 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!

Blue Cheese and Date Spread on Endive

You know how sometimes, you throw a party and plan for certain types of food, and something inevitably goes wrong?

I had bacon-wrapped dates on the brain, but sometimes, things don’t turn out as planned. But I had all these dates, and needed to figure out something to do with them. After digging through my fridge, I decided on my favorite back-up plan.

Throw shit in a pan and hope it turns out.

I’m nothing if not resourceful. In all reality, this is a magical life skill that I learned as a catering manager. Make do with what you have on hand and improvise. Quickly.

Blue Cheese and date spread on endive

So I came up with this recipe. I had bought endive with the intent of doing something experimental…I just wasn’t sure what. As it turned out, my blue cheese and dates spread was magical and delicious – if you like blue cheese. Which I do. Brian, unfortunately, does not. So he hated it. Other blue cheese lovers enjoyed it, plus it looked kinda pretty on the plate, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. If you try this, let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz Trader Joe’s Medjool dates
  • 4 oz Amish blue cheese
  • 4 oz apple cinnamon goat cheese
  • 8-12 heads of Belgian endive
  • 1 cup blueberries or other garnish of choice

Method:

  1. Dice dates into small pieces
  2. In a medium crock pot, heat dates for 15-20 minutes
  3. Crumble blue and goat cheeses into a separate bowl
  4. Clean and prepare endive by cutting off the bottoms and peeling the leaves off in layers
  5. After about 15 minutes, add cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, stirring occasionally
  6. Turn off heat and spoon mixture into endive leaves
  7. Chill overnight
  8. Serve plated in a circle with a colorful garnish in the center

I love how endive is pretty much the ideal vessel for snacky treats like this one. The bitterness of the endive (pronounced “n – dive” when I’m around normal people and “on deeve” when I’m trying to sound fancy.) was minimal and definitely offset by the sweetness of the dates.

Are you a blue cheese fan? Would you have added or changed ingredients? What’s your favorite hors d’oeuvre?

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!

If We’re Going to Die, I Want to be Covered in Cheese.

Driving along the coast, just north or south of San Francisco is terrifying and breathtaking in the same moment. The varying drops off the side of the mountainous roads are steep. And I have a thing with vertigo and windy (as in wind a clock, not wind and sea; although I suppose that fits, as well) roads. But it’s also beautiful. The fog rolling in creates this amazing visual that is hard to describe and even harder to capture.

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On our way up the California coast from San Francisco to Sonoma Valley, we took a long and curvy road up into the mountains (well, they looked like mountains to this Great Plains girl), & I was more than a little terrified. Brian was driving through the curves as if he had been doing it all his life (I suppose that’s the Irish coming out), when he told me that in Ireland, the hill roads were the same…ONLY NARROWER.

Um. I’m never going to Ireland. (I’m lying.)

We stopped when we discovered a space to pull off the road and snap a few pics for you. It was harder to do than I thought. The fog isn’t very accommodating in the world of photography. But I tried. For you.

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Brian LOVES the mountains and the fog and the cool weather. (There’s that Irish thing again.)

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I wasn’t terrified at this stop. It was quite neat, actually.

On our way down to San Jose, on the other hand…I freaked out a little when we stopped. And wouldn’t get out of the car.

So driving out of Sonoma, we took a seriously scenic route. We rolled down through San Francisco, and further into the woods. We thought we’d check out a state park south of San Jose. In that time, we ALMOST ran out of gas, drove in a giant circle, and couldn’t find any flipping redwoods. It was like a horror flick waiting to happen. We had to pull up to some random worker dudes on the road and ask for the nearest gas station. With a rental car on E.

The gas station was a little dive in the middle of the forest and I feared for things like kidnapping and murder (I saw The Vanishing one too many times as a kid). After we filled up, we passed the same workers…coming from the same direction we had before. 40 minutes later. (See. Giant circle.)

And the we started climbing up the hills again. Beautiful and scary. Epic.
image

At one point, I was trying to take pictures out the window, and Brian offered to stop to get better images. I was all about it. Until we stopped and I was about to get out of the car. I was a bit nervous, and Brian cracked a joke about not falling…and then he volunteered to go take pictures for me. I let him. I looked out from the safety of the parked car while fearing that my boyfriend would fall down with the keys in his pocket and I would be stranded and panicking about Brian. I have a bad habit of imagining the worst case scenario for every situation.

California View

One of Brian’s snaps. Is that not absolutely stunning?

 

We had picked up snacks and sandwiches for a little picnic lunch in the forest, and it was getting late for me. The hangry was creeping up on me quite rapidly, so I pulled out the Tostitos Mild Salsa Con Queso and tortilla chips. Brian warned me to not spill the cheese (like I would EVER consciously waste cheese like that.) I told him that the only way this cheese was going to spill was “if we were to fly off one of these cliffs. And quite frankly, if we’re going to die, I’d want to be covered in cheese.”

He realized I made a fair point and promised not to drive off any cliffs.

We finally arrived at the entrance of the state park, enjoyed lunch and were on our way. By then, we were both too exhausted to hike through the forest, and I had a party to get to a few hours later. So we rolled out. Even still, the drive continued in a frightening pattern. Instead of just curvy roads, we were now encountering those one-car-width roads PLUS curves PLUS steep inclines and declines.

Oh! And CHRISTMAS TREES!

Christmas is coming...

Christmas is coming…

Have you been to northern California? Or just driven through scary hilly roads? What’s the scariest road trip you’ve taken? Do you imagine worst case scenarios?

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