As you may know, I’m what the world considers a grilled cheese enthusiast. I’m not sure there’s another sandwich that can make me feel all the feelings of warmth, comfort and just plain ol’ fun. For this post, I teamed up with Tillamook, the farmer-owned Co-Op from Oregon, to inspire you to create your own all natural, veggie-filled, gooey, delicious sandwiches perfect for a spring party with friends. Every single party in life should have a Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar. HELLO! This is the definition of comforting fun!
Spring is finally here, which means all of my favorite farmer’s market vegetables are back in season. I always miss them in winter. Winter veggies aren’t my favorite, but spring? YASS! These grilled cheeses aren’t difficult to execute, no, not at all, but like anything simple, the amazingness is in the details. This means paying attention to each and every ingredient carefully.
We’ll start with the most important part: da cheese. Tillamook cheese is naturally aged, made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones and contains no artificial ingredients. This is the real deal when it comes to cheese. Tillamook has actually been making cheese for over 100 years! I vote for giving people a few options. I went with Tillamook Sharp Cheddar (a classic), Tillamook Pepper Jack (for the people who love spicy a.k.a. me), Smoked Medium Cheddar and lastly, Smoked Black Pepper Cheddar (my favorite).
Also, don’t be shy to mix and match them. My favorite combo was sharp cheddar with the smoked black pepper cheddar—it was glorious!
No one, and I mean no one, loves cheesecake more than my dad. I have no idea why because the man doesn’t even like cheese. WHA!! Yes, I know. He doesn’t like cheese. It’s the oddest thing in the entire world, but his favorite dessert of them all—and he loves mostly everything sweet—is cheesecake.
He’s extremely critical about cheesecake because he eats a lot of it. As I was recipe testing this here cheesecake, I’d send him photos throughout the process and he’d remark skeptically, giving his harsh criticisms and recommendations. Mostly I think it’s just funny that he takes cheesecake so seriously.
I’m not sure how this will live up to my dad’s cheesecake expectations, but I loved it. It’s perfectly tart; the texture is smooth; and the chocolate crust gives it a nice decadent element. The marble topping is kinda pretty, quickly making it the favorite at a holiday dessert table…or, to you know, eat by yourself by the Christmas tree. And while marbling anything may seem a bit difficult, it’s actually pretty easy.
The one thing I hate about making cheesecake is a using a damn springform pan. They’re insanely frustrating, flawed in how their made. Most of them leak, which means, water comes in when you bake it in a water bath. The solution to this for many, is baking a cheesecake in a cake pan. With this though, because of the pretty top, I needed to use a spring form pan (I had one anyway). The solution was to wrap the entire bottom in a few sheets of foil. No water seeping through!
One thing I learned about marbling is this: if you want tighter swirls, use a smaller skewer to swirl the cranberry sauce around. If you want bigger swirls (I did), use a larger skewer and get messy with it. I promise it’ll look pretty regardless.
And that’s really it!
My dad is making this recipe this weekend. Hopefully he’ll leave a comment with the results.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon orange zest (from about 1/2 naval orange)
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Dump the crust mixture into a nine-inch (10-cup) springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly. Transfer to the oven to bake for 8 minutes (unfortunately since the crumbs are so dark you can’t really tell when they’ve toasted so it’s important to pay attention to the clock). Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in a few sheets of foil and set aside.
To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, using a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and goat cheese. Whip until smooth and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Next, mix in the sugar. With the machine one, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Lastly, mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
In a small saucepan, add the cranberries, white granulated sugar, water, orange zest and salt. Cook over medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries become soft. Press the cranberries with a back of a spoon or spatula and cook for an additional minute until they’re softened. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing the cranberries to release any excess juice. The mixture should resemble a loose jam—it’ll thicken as it cools. Transfer to a squeeze bottle. (If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, then no biggie, just transfer it to a measuring cup with a spout—it’ll be easier to pour.)
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Make sure it reaches the edge of the pan. Make little dollops of cranberry sauce all over the surface of the cream cheese. Take a skewer or popsicle stick and run it through the dollops creating a marbling effect. Make it as messy or neat as you like. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan, or another pan that’s as big. Transfer to the rack of the oven and fill up the roasting pan with about 2 inches of water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until it looks set, yet it’s still a bit wobbly in the center. Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and then place it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. (I let it set overnight.) Slice it up and serve.
*I used Nabisco famous chocolate wafers, found at most grocery stores. I blitzed them in a food processor until totally crumby.
For the past few weeks, everyone has begun gushing about the commencement of fall, and all I could think about was ice cream, cold drinks and basically dunking my entire head into a vat of iced water. We just finished up a pretty intense heatwave and pumpkin spice was the furthest thing from my mind.
Now that the weather has stopped being an a-hole I feel like I can honestly entertain the idea of soup and squash and stuff. And plus, now I’m actually beginning to see gourds that have leprosy and cute baby white pumpkins (always a favorite). I’m excited!
The fall-inspired recipes will start soon, I promise, but I’m thinking this year I might ease into it rather than start with a big pumpkin boom!
These cheez-its are an example of me scootin’ into the season. There’s nothing fall about them, they’re just some crackers for snackin’! Just some schnacks.
When I first started cooking and baking, crackers were the thing I loved to make the most. I’d make them after work and bring them in the next day and people’s minds were blown, “You made crackers?!” My co-workers thought I was genius, but what they didn’t realize was that crackers might be the easiest thing to make EVRRRRR.
For this recipe I teamed up with McCormick Gourmet. These crackers call for a bit of hot Hungarian sweet paprika and a dash of cayenne pepper. The cheddar and paprika are made for each other. It’s a union that in my brain makes sense but should be exploited more.
These are like fancy adult cheez-its. If you have chillren, then I say bring down the paprika and get rid of the cayenne all together.
I was born in the south and my family has lived there their whole lives but I don’t really consider myself southern, though I’m definitely southern-ish. I have a strong attraction to southern states, people and food. It was really no surprise that I went back to the south for college, North Carolina to be exact.
My first friend (and best friend ’til this day) at college was a svelte costume design major named Tre. We went everywhere together, including the cafeteria. Rumor had it that our school was just one grade above prison food, which as you know re: Orange is The New black is BAD. Naturally since we were in the south, they had pimento cheese at the salad bar. And everyday Tre would eat pimento cheese on white bread. EVERY SINGLE DAY. (I opted for cereal.) I honestly never touched the pimento cheese because if you think it looks a little scary now in my pictures, imagine how it looked at the ‘one grade above prison salad bar’. Rough.
My love for BLTs has existed since I was in my mom’s tummy. Story has it that my dad was so obsessed with BLTs, while my mom was pregnant, that a day didn’t go by he wouldn’t make one. My mom slowly became repulsed by the smell of bacon to the point of nausea, to the point where my dad was forbidden to make his beloved sandwich.
My mom is now vegan and I’ve never met a BLT I didn’t like. My dad’s BLT obsession resulted in two very different outcomes!
This Blue Cheese BLT is a fun rendition of the traditional sandwich. The blue cheese is made into a spread that goes on both sides of the bread. Then it’s sort of normal from there: good-quality, thick-cut bacon, sour dough bread, butter lettuce and a few slices of perfectly ripe tomatoes.
But here’s the thing that you MUST add: potato chips. Yes, potato chips TO the sandwich. I know the recipe doesn’t say to add them but if you do you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Potato chips to any sandwich, PB&Js included, add so much. Texture, salt, flavor…the list goes on. And on.
This recipe along with a few others are a part of a batch of recipes I developed for the company Salemville. It’s a blue cheese company whose cheese are hand-crafted an Amish community in Cambria, Wisconsin. The blue cheese is funky and creamy and so so delicious.
Omygoodness. I feel like I’ve been gone forever. I wasn’t. I was very nearby, I swear. And I have excuses.
First there was the bout of heat exhaustion that resulted from the terrible Los Angeles heat wave (that has since subsided thank da heavens), combined with a trip to the vintage store to try on, like, twenty, gigantic dresses and getting my hair blown out in a salon that just had their air conditioning break. I felt funny, woozy and started getting cold and sweaty all at the same time. I had a feeling I might be sick, but became even more worried (and sort of depressed) when Josh told me I looked like I was dead, which exactly what you want to hear from a boyfriend. Cute.
Then there was the situation with my server and session files and var files. Good gracious. How boring and confusing all of it is to me. Cheese is so much more exciting, especially when pretty flowers are involved. Zucchini is everywhere, which means so are their flowers. We find zucchini and squash blossoms so very rare and exotic, but in Mexican cuisine they’re actually super common. The taco cart near my house sells zucchini blossom tacos—nothing fancy!
If so, then you might remember Rayanne’s mom in My-So-Called-Life? (You also may enjoy this Delia’s catalog throwback I saw via Jessica.) Anyayz, Rayanne’s mom partied and made out with Bobby Dylan and would make microwave appetizers for dinner and let her daughter drink in the house because “if you’re gonna do it, I’d much rather have you do it here…” If me mothering Amelia says anything it says that I’m probably gonna be like Rayenne’s mom. Yesterday as I was finishing my breakfast, I looked down and saw her staring at me lovingly. I wondered if she’d love a bean soaked in egg yolk. I pierced this big ol’ heirloom bean with the tines of my fork and pointed it toward her mouth and she bit it off so daintily, as if she’d been eating with a fork and knife her whole life.
I made a little Instagram video, posted it and then deleted it because I thought people would judge me. I was afraid of being perceived as a bad dog mom!!! But maybe I am. Maybe I’m just too lax.
I had the weirdest school lunches when I was a kid. While most kids had cool bologna sandwiches smothered with mayo and snack-paks and Capri-Suns, I had yellow rice with chicken and crudités–it was way lame, and embarrassing. On occasion my mom would give in to my begging and whining and make me tuna salad sandwich, a Hi-C and a bag of Lays potato chips. And I always, ALWAYS would carefully open the sandwich and lay the potato chips atop the tuna. It was the only way.
If I ever had a cute lil’ sandwich shop, I’d have a whole section of just “stuff on toast” and I’d totally have sandwiches on the menu that had potato chips inside. It’d be a thing. Adding potato chips gives sandwiches excellent texture and it adds another layer of flavor. My seven-year-old-self knew what was up.
I think some restraint in life is needed, right? I mean if I didn’t practice any sort of restraint ever, I’d have a whole lot more shoes, maybe four more corgis (one is enough, trust me), a new car and maybe, just maybe I’d eat nachos like every single day of my life. But when I do make nachos, which isn’t all that often because it’s summer and I need to be in a bathing suit next week (have I told you this?), I practice no restraint. I go to town.
This means lots and lots of cheese. And when it comes to nachos, layering and a low oven temperature is VERY important. You don’t want burnt chips and burnt cheese, man. You want layers of cheesiness all up in between the chips. Just because you get to the bottom of the nachos doesn’t mean you should be eating naked chips! (Can you tell I’m passionate about nachos?!)
And the toppings are important, too. You want them to be plentiful and interesting. I like cilantro, hot sauce, queso fresco, some chorizo, spicy radishes, AND, if you add an egg, this means you can call it breakfast. Who doesn’t want nachos for breakfast, I mean…
Fun side note: If you love nachos, there’s a WHOLE gigantic book on this glorious, cheesy subject. It’s called Ultimate Nachos: From Nachos and Guacamole to Salsas to Cocktails. It’s filled with cheesy nachos, cocktails that compliment nachos, guacamole recipes that should live next to your pile of nachos and then there’s more nachos. It’s like a dream.
Oh hai, cheese and butter and more cheese and butter!
I have a lot of dude friends who ask me for cooking advice. I usually get calls or texts that are like, “I have onions and milk and eggs in my fridge. What can I make?” And then I’m usually like, “Umm…nothing dude, sorry. You’re gonna need to drive to the store and then buy stuff and then come home and cook it.” They’re usually super bummed that I couldn’t turn those three ingredients into meatloaf for them.
Last week I was at a dinner and I was throwing out ideas for a dude friend to make and he was like, “Don’t give me ideas, I want specific instructions, written out, being dictated at me.”
Which I get. It kind of goes back to that notion that there aren’t really any bad cooks out there, just bad recipes, poorly written directions and bad food combo ideas.
This sweet potato baked with butter and cheese is a no-brainer. This is one of those recipes that you could just look at the pictures in this post and know how to assemble the thing and bake it.