Friday, August 22, 2014

Surfer Dogs

A few weeks ago, I shared my love of Trolley Stop's Surfer Dogs on the blog, and I've been meaning to make a homemade version for a while now. 

If you don't live in Wilmington, you may not be familiar with our iconic hot dog spot.  The first time I had their famous Surfer Dog was when Mike's cousin Samantha had the Trolley cart at her wedding.  Bacon, mustard, and cheese sauce - how did I ever doubt you?

This combo on top of a freshly grilled all beef hot dog is a big winner, and it couldn't be easier to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 10 - customize the portions as needed!)
* 24 all beef hot dogs, buns
* spicy brown mustard, for serving
* 10 pieces center cut bacon
*2 tbsp. butter
* 2 tbsp. flour
* 8 oz. cheddar cheese, freshly grated 
* 8 oz. heavy cream
* 1/8 tsp. paprika
* 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
*dash of ground nutmeg
* 2-3 dashes hot sauce 
* salt, pepper

First, prepare the bacon.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon in a single layer.  Transfer to the oven and turn the temperature to 400 (starting with a cold oven helps the bacon get crisp).  Cook the bacon for 18-20 minutes, or until crisp, and drain on a paper towel.  When the bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble it into fine pieces.

For the cheese sauce, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Whisk in flour and whisk constantly for a minute or so, or until the flour is well combined with the butter and the mixture is golden brown.  Add the cream to the pan and season with mustard, paprika, hot sauce, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.   Bring this mixture to a simmer, until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Reduce the heat and whisk in the grated cheddar. 

To serve, grill the hot dogs, add a thin line of spicy brown mustard, top with cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Easy Summer Party Menu

Last  weekend, we had had friends over for a casual summer get together.  Sometimes the easy backyard barbecues are the best kind of party. 

I was really looking forward to seeing everyone and enjoying the party myself, so I went with a really easy menu that didn't keep me in the kitchen all night. 

We started with some store bought help - pre-cut carrot and celery sticks with french onion dip.  My menu was a little heavy, so some fresh veggies are always nice!

I made two types of wings: my old faithful, Asian Sticky Wings, and a new experiment, Sriracha Lime wings, which turned out delicious (recipe coming soon!).  I timed the wings so they were ready about 10 minutes before everyone arrived.  Cleanup was easy since I lined the baking sheets with tin foil. 

For a side, I went with store bought potato chips (original and cheddar and sour cream).  

Now for the main event - homemade surfer dogs!  Oh. My. Gosh.  I hate to toot my own horn, but these bad boys were off the charts.  Not only were they delicious, but SO easy to prepare.   I cooked 
the bacon a few hours before the party, so literally all I had to do was make the cheese sauce while Mike grilled the hot dogs. 

Roscoe, of course, donned his formalwear for the event. 

We rounded off the evening with a game of Cards Against Humanity - so fun! 

Stay tuned for my Surfer Dog and Sriracha Wing recipes! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Strawberry Orange Jam

Hello and Happy Monday!

I'm excited to be guest blogging over at Tiny Prints today.  With summer in its final stretch, I was feeling inspired to host a dinner al fresco.  Head over to the Tiny Prints blog to see my simple (with a little help from the fabric store), elegant summer table inspired by their beautiful invitations.

The strawberries have been so sweet and delicious this year, so I thought I'd make some canned Strawberry Orange Jam as a party favor.  That way, everyone can enjoy the strawberries' summer goodness all year round.  

I'm actually new to canning, but I'm already obsessed.  Preserving your own jam is so fun and satisfying!  

A bit of orange zest and juice added the perfect, subtle tang and cut some of the sweetness.

* 6 c. strawberries, chopped
* 2.5 c. sugar
* 1 naval orange, zested and juiced

Before you start making the jam, place a saucer in the freezer (this will help determine when the jam is set).

In a large dutch oven, combine strawberries, sugar, juice, and zest of one orange over medium high heat.  As the mixture begins to boil, stir it often and use a potato masher to break down the strawberries.    Keep this mixture at a soft boil for roughly 20 minutes, or until the gel stage is reached.

To test if the jam has reached a gel stage, place a small amount on the frozen saucer and return it to the freezer for 1 minute. Remove the saucer and run your finger through the jam.  If a line is created and the jam doesn't bleed through, the gel stage has been reached.

Ladle the hot jam into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch. headspace. Process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the canned jam and set it on a flat surface, being careful not to tilt the jars (the water on the lids will evaporate on its own).  Let the jam rest for 24 hours. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tory Burch Home

If you asked my husband, he might tell you that I'm a Tory Burch freak. Seriously, I love Tory Burch.  Ever since I bought my first pair of Reva flats many moons ago, I've been a huge fan. Her shoes are so comfortable and her purses are amazing.

As such, you can imagine my excitement when Tory (we're on a first name basis) announced her new home collection.  I could barely contain myself, and let me tell you - it does not disappoint!

It's a fairly small collection, but I'm loving the blue and white theme.  My absolute favorites are the blue Mackie Highball glasses - how gorgeous are they?

Tory Burch Home

 And everyone needs a designer nutcracker, right?  I think a few of these pieces will make my Christmas wishlist.  Can't wait to see what else Tory has in store for the home collection!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

A New Endeavor

I'm so excited to share a new endeavor with you all today!  I recently started writing the Chef's In section for one of my favorite magazines, Focus on the Coast. 

Each month, there will be a new theme and August is all about savoring summer.  I'm sharing three recipes that showcase summer produce, and even one to help cool down your pup in this warm summer sun! 

When I thought of the August heat, the first thing that came to my mind was a cool, refreshing granita.  This Agua de Sandia granita is the perfect treat and it couldn't be easier to prepare. 
Photo by Jason Armond for Focus not the Coast

For my second recipe, I went with an oldie but goodie - my Tomato & Goat Cheese Bruschetta.  Ripe tomatoes and local goat cheese are the showstoppers here. 
Photo by Jason Armond for Focus on the Coast

We can't forget about our pups this time of year!  I made Roscoe some Elvis inspired pup cream, complete with yogurt, bacon, banana, and peanut butter.  When Mike and I get frozen yogurt, Roscoe gets his own treat! 
Photo by Jason Armond for Focus on the Coast 

Check out the complete recipes on the Focus on the Coast website!