August 28, 2012

Baked Feta Cream Marinara

Oh-em-gee... this is one of my new favorite things. It's indescribable, truly. But if I had to try, I'd say it was scrumptious. Mouthwatering. Succulent. Heavenly. Mind-blowingly delicious.

What is this magical substance, you wonder? Mmmmm..... it's Baked Feta Cream Marinara!




A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants, the St. Clair Winery and Bistro. There are only three locations, and they're all in New Mexico. If I have an opportunity to visit, then I do... you've got to take these opportunities when you can (if you're ever near one, stop in, you won't regret it!).

St. Clair's has an amazing appetizer menu. And lunch menu. And dinner menu. Oh, and don't forget dessert! And the wine.... good gracious. I always stuff myself to the point of embarrassment, because I never know when I may be able to go back.

I finally said to myself, enough is enough! I can't always hop in the car and drive to New Mexico (especially if we're in Germany or something). I need to craft my own recipes to mimic theirs. This way, I can have Feta Cream Marinara whenever I darn well want to.

So that's exactly what I did.

And now I'm going to share it with you, 'cause I loves you. All the world deserves yummy Feta Cream Marinara whenever they want it.

Since my buddy Abby shared in the original gorge-fest, I felt it only fair to invite her for the creation of the recipe. I love it when Abby comes over, not just because we have a great time (though that's the biggest reason), but also because she brings me fabulous, yummy things... like homemade pizza crust, and Focaccia bread, also homemade.

Don't you wish Abby was your friend too??!

On this particular day, she brought me both! I stored the pizza crust for later use, but the Focaccia bread was the perfect accompaniment for our dip.

The giver of pizza crust and bread dough, Abby 

Abby's job was to prepare the bread, because this is one thing I am really not good at. I buy all my fancy bread at Tar-jey. Perhaps someday I'll brave this unknown skill, but today is not that day.

You can use any kind of bread you want... toasted French or Italian would work well, even breadsticks.  I had a baguette on hand, but set it aside when I saw the Focaccia. If you don't have an Abby to bring you fresh bread, then I suggest the baguette. Slice it thin, and toast on one side. The slices make a great scoop for the warm dip.



As you can tell from the ingredient picture, I snapped this before Abby and the bread arrived. That's why you still see my sad, store-bought bread. Don't worry though, I found another use for my Tar-jey baked goods.

This recipe turned out to be super, easy simple. You'll need a jar of good quality marinara, or use your own. I was in too big a hurry for the homemade part. You also need 6 ounces of crumbled feta cheese. Get the good stuff!  We've had this conversation before. The picture shows a whole block of cream cheese, but you only need 2 or 3 ounces.

The oregano is optional: I used it to jazz up my jar of marinara. You don't have to do that if you don't want to. But if you do, just pluck the leaves, chop them up finely, and stir them into your sauce. Easy peasy.

Now the basil... this is necessary, people. Do not skimp on the basil! I don't know why, but the dip is not the same without fresh basil. If you don't have any, then go get some. Don't use the dry stuff, it's no good here. Buy the fresh stuff, open the package, and take a nice, long whiff. Thank me silently, then chiffonade the basil leaves.

When you're done, it should look a little something like this:


Set the basil aside for later. Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Now, we're going to mix up the heart of this dish. Add your feta cheese (6 oz) and cream cheese (2-3 oz) to a mixing bowl.

WARNING: Don't try this in a blender. Use a hand or countertop mixer. I have already made this error for you, and wasted valuable eating time with the cleanup. Learn from my mistakes. 

Blend the cream cheese and feta cheese together. It's ok if the mix is not perfectly smooth. Little nuggets of feta are a nice surprise. If you like things creamier, go with the 3 ounces of cream cheese. I used two, but I think a little more would have been nice.

Photo by: Abagail Austin 

Next, pour your marinara (about 18 oz) into an oven safe dish. You can use what you like, but a longer, shallower dish would not be so good. Think of something about the size of a cereal bowl. I used this Canopy square dish:


Time for the feta... I used an ice cream scoop in the hopes of having a perfectly shaped ball of the feta mix on top of my marinara. However, it looks a lot like vanilla ice cream!


Don't judge me. Please.

If you don't have a scoop, or you don't want your feta cream to look like actual ice cream, you can always shape the mixture a bit by hand before placing it in the center if the marinara.

Place the dish into your 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the dip for the last 5 minutes or so... it should melt and be creamy, but if any browning occurs, it's time to take it out of the oven.

To serve, top with fresh basil. Provide bread (your choice) for dipping.


NOM. Enough said.

Happy cooking, my friends!



The Standard Form:


Baked Feta Cream Marinara

Ingredients:

18-24 ounces marinara sauce
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2-3 ounces cream cheese
Fresh basil, about 12 leaves, chiffonaded
Thinly sliced baguette, lightly toasted, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a hand mixer, combine the feta cheese and the cream cheese until mostly smooth.

Pour the marinara into an oven safe bowl, cereal size. Scoop the feta mixture into a ball on top of the marinara.

Bake 10-15 minutes, until slightly melted and creamy. Top with basil, serve with baguette. 


August 21, 2012

Time to Fly! Indoor Skydiving

Yes, you read that right... indoor skydiving. Some of you are thinking, "Oh, no. Not me. I wouldn't do it!" And the rest of you are thinking, "Why indoor? If you're gonna go for it, then do the real thing!"

I agree with both of you completely. And yet... what happened was this:

Several years ago, the Hubs and I visited the fun city of Las Vegas. Actually, we won a 7-night trip, woohoo! Only one problem: What do you do with 7 nights in Vegas? Man can only gamble for so long before all the money is gone, especially when we're talking about the Hubs. He has awful luck in casinos!

So instead of losing time in the clock-less casinos, we made the smart decision to check out some of Vegas's other sights. We took a gondola ride, hiked in Red Rock Canyon, and tried out the Adventuredome in Circus, Circus. In short, we had a blast.

However...

Vegas is also home to one of the few indoor skydiving adventures in the USA.

Vegas Indoor Skydiving

Of course, we couldn't resist (Translation: The Hubs teased me into submission). And I was really, really brave... all the way up to the point where we entered the tunnel area.

Then I wanted to run away, and possibly lose my breakfast.

At that moment, all I could remember were the waivers they forced me to sign. You know, the ones that say you won't sue, even if you're maimed or dead? They must have those waivers for a reason, right?!?!

Just as I was contemplating my quickest exit, the Hubs shoved me through the door, and it was too late.

And as much as it pained me to admit this to the Hubs...

I LOVED IT!

I loved every crazy, windblown second. There was no sensation of falling, though I was sure there would be. Instead, it's as if you're flying. I wanted to shout and laugh and cry, all at the same time. In fact, I'm pretty sure I did. We left the tunnel with adrenaline rushing through our veins, and the desire to go again very strong. Somewhere inside, a tiny hankering to jump out of a real plane developed (I know, crazy, right?!).

We left Vegas with a video and the amazing memory. I passed our experience on to family and friends, but only one was brave enough to step forward and say "I want to go!"...

You guessed it. The Kid. (If you don't remember the Kid, check out the guest blog she wrote, but don't believe everything she says!)

My baby sister has adventure running through her veins; she's an adrenaline junkie in the making. Her bravery pushes me to be braver, and forces me to try things I might otherwise walk away from. Last year, it was parasailing. This year, indoor skydiving was our sport of choice.

No, we didn't go back to Vegas. I found a new place, where you can not only indoor skydive, but you can hop right out of the plane if you've a mind to!

Wind tunnel from the outside 


SkyVenture Arizona... such fun! Unfortunately, the Hubs wasn't able to go (work) and my mum chickened out (though she'll deny it!). So it was just me and the Kid, ready for our adventure!

After our experience in Vegas (and upon seeing the video), the Kid begged me, "Please, best sister in the whole wide world... take me indoor skydiving! You're my favorite, I love you best... please, please take me!" (Ok, I might not be remembering our conversation word-for-word, but you get the point).

How could I resist? So, we hopped in the car and drove. And drove. And drove some more. You just can't find indoor skydiving facilities on every street corner. This one is in Eloy, Arizona... pretty much the middle of nowhere. Not only do they offer the wind tunnel, but the extra brave can also go for the real thing at Skydive Arizona, also on the property.

Needless to say, I was pumped! Having been once already, my nerves were a distant memory, replaced by excitement instead. No fear of falling, no sinking sensation in my stomach... just pure adrenaline. I explained the process to the Kid, but I can imagine her nerves. Whenever something is unknown, fear settles in.

A quick video and a tutorial are all the training you receive. But you don't need any more than that for this simple, fun experience! After signing the dreaded waivers, it's time to suit up.

Ready to rock

Yep, I know we look funny. Ridiculous even. Laugh all you want, but the gear is necessary. Goggles, because that kind of wind would not feel good rushing into your face. Helmets, in case you crash into the wall... ahem. Wind suits, which help with aerodynamics. Underneath the wind suits, we're equipped with elbow and knee pads. Add a pair of well-fitting sneakers, and we're ready to fly!

Our group was five people, but we each entered the tunnel alone. Well, alone except for the instructor. You have a choice between two, one minute flights OR two, two minute flights.

Your first flight is mostly instructional. During the ten minutes of "training", you're taught various hand signals, since speaking in the tunnel is impossible. The peace sign is given when you need to straighten your legs. A peace sign with bent fingers means to bend your legs a little.

And I've forgotten most of the others, whoops!

Your second flight is more free. You've mostly mastered the basics, and now it's time to enjoy!

Flying! 

From the first moment you're in the tunnel, all fear is forgotten. It's such a thrill! I wouldn't lie to you about this. If you've never been, this is an experience worth having. I know a lot of people would say it's not the real thing. And it's not. But this is a good in-between event, something to build your courage.

Unfortunately for me, the Kid has courage leaking out her eyeballs. She can't wait to jump out the door of an actual plane.

Luckily for me, she isn't 18 yet, so that experience will have to wait. I have a few more years to pretend I'm brave before that moment is upon me. As much as I loved this indoor version, I'm sure I'll be a gooey mess of nerves when I look down at the earth, far, far away.

I'll leave you with a quick video of our fun (about 3.5 minutes)... if you're curious or always wanted to try this out, I say GO FOR IT! You only live once, take advantage while you can.

Happy flying, my friends!

video



















August 18, 2012

Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca

Since most of the country is experiencing droughts and heatwaves (including us!), I thought a crisp, energizing drink was appropriate this week. What do you think?


How about now? Looks delicious, doesn't it? It tastes just as good as it looks too. Cool, refreshing... exactly what you need on a hot summer day.

The best part is the ease of the recipe... only 10 minutes from start to finish, but people will think you slaved for hours. This is a great beverage for impressing guests, or the in-laws.

What is this bounty of goodness, you wonder? Why, it's agua fresca (or fresh water in Spanish), commonly sold by street vendors in Mexico and Central America. In this particular case, I've made Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca

Frescas can be made from many, many different fruits. Maybe next time I'll try watermelon, or papaya... perhaps mango or pineapple. The choices are endless. And all of them are yummy! But for today, we'll stick with the cucumber and mint, since those are the ingredients I found in my fridge.

The necessities

The ingredients are simple: 2 cucumbers (plus one more for garnish), 12 mint leaves (plus more for garnish), 4 cups of cold water, 1 lime, and a bit of sugar (not pictured, oops).

To start, peel two of the cucumbers. I use a regular veggie peeler, it works great! Then, chop up the pieces and toss it all in a blender. Don't worry about the seeds for now.

Chopped cucumber

A couple other items need to make their way into the blender too: your 12 mint leaves, 2 cups of the water, and the juice from your lime. I don't get fancy when juicing the lime. I just cut it in half and squeeze it right over the blender. No worries about the seeds, either. We'll take care of that later.


Next step? Blend away!

It only takes a few pulses before everything is liquified. You want to let this mixture sit for a little bit, so all the flavors blend together. I left mine for about 10 minutes, but as long as you wait a good 5 minutes, everything will be fine. Anything less than that is asking for disaster (kidding, kidding!).

At this point, the mix should look a little something like this:

Blended goo 
Not exactly appetizing yet, is it? It gets better, I promise.

If you've left the green goo alone for a while, it can be strained now. You want to use a fine mesh strainer... trust me on this. The objective here is to get all the juice, but as little of the pulp and seeds as possible. Here's what mine looked like before and after:

Before and after

On the left, we have the green, slushy goo. On the right, yummy goodness.

Almost done now!

Here, you have a choice to make. You can either add in the last two cups of water, or you can add a little sparkle with some seltzer water instead. The choice is up to you. I went with still water today, and likely always. Bubbles make me sneeze.

You might also want to mix in a bit of sweetener. You can use sugar, Splenda, Equal, even agave nectar. Whatever floats your boat. I naturally gravitate to the straight sugar. A couple tablespoons is all I need, but you add as much or as little as you like.

Stir it all together, and that's it! Yummy goodness, ready for consumption.

If you want to be 'fancy' with your presentation, it's easy. Grab a hurricane glass, or some other bar glass. Use a mandolin to thinly slice your extra cucumber. Fill the glass with a combination of ice, sliced cucumber, and mint leaves. Top with the agua fresca, then add a lime wedge to the side of your glass.

Viola!



Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca! 

So, don't let yourself melt this summer. Whip up a batch of these babies and listen to your friends oohhh and ahhhh over your crazy culinary skills.

Happy blending!



The Standard Form:


Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca

Ingredients:

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
12 fresh mint leaves
4 cups cold water
1 lime, juiced
Sugar, to taste

For garnish: 1 cucumber, thinly sliced. Extra mint leaves. Lime wedges.

Directions:

Add the chopped cucumber, mint leaves, lime juice, and 2 cups of the water to a blender. Blend until mostly smooth. Allow mixture to rest for at least 5 minutes, and up to 30 minutes.

Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Combine the strained juice with the remaining 2 cups of water. Sweeten to taste.

Serve in a tall glass with ice, sliced cucumber, and mint leaves. Add a lime wedge to edge of glass. 




August 11, 2012

Bathroom Makeover


In the beginning, there was woman... and she liked her bathroom decorated in purple, with soft, romantic flowers. But then... there was man. Man wooed the woman, and eventually reached an elevated status as the Hubs. The Hubs did not approve of purple flowers in his bathroom, but he endured for many, many years.

UNTIL...

...one day, the woman and the Hubs moved into a new space, where there were two bathrooms instead of one. The Hubs entertained daydreams of a new master bathroom, but this was not to be so. Instead, woman crushed his dreams, and placed all the new furnishings in the guest bathroom. The Hubs was devastated.

The new guest bathroom 

Both woman and the Hubs loved the new guest bathroom. The master bathroom looked old and boring in comparison, but still the woman would not  redecorate.

Time passed, and the woman grew tired of purple flowers. The old decorations didn't look the same in their new space. Visions of a new bathroom plagued her. The Hubs encouraged these musings, until one day the woman went shopping with a friend, and the vision took root...


Okee dokee, let's get real here. We all know that I am the stubborn woman who refused to redecorate her bathroom. Naturally, my buddy Becky (remember her from our New York City weekend?) was the shopping influence which changed my mind.

All rooms need a little refreshing once in a while, or so I am told. The scheme of our master bathroom actually pre-dated the Hubs. Pretty pathetic, isn't it? As we moved from place to place, those decorations never really changed, even if they didn't fit our new space as well as they should have. After much badgering from the Hubs about having a more manly bathroom, I finally took a good look around and realized... he was right.  

That hurt to say, just a little.

Ok, a lot. But I'm already moving past it, and so should you.

I'm going to take a huge risk here, and show you some 'before' photos of the master bathroom. Please don't judge me.

The old master bathroom 

My eyes! No one would look at this and think a grown woman and her husband share this bathroom. Ugh. I promise this looked way cuter in the first bathroom these decorations graced. I used to have a claw foot tub, and an antique sink. I also used to live without the macho influence, so purple flowers were acceptable.

After several moves with the Hubs though, certain items were lost or damaged as well. For example, that green rug is hideous. That rug used to be a beautiful eggplant color, and it was thick and delicious-feeling on your feet. I don't even know how we came by that green rug in the first place. I'm ashamed of how far we've fallen, really.

I'm not normally a person to make rash decisions, but the bathroom situation has changed me. Perhaps the idea had been simmering in my brain for a while, and simply chose an opportune time to surface. Or perhaps I just couldn't take it anymore. Whatever the reason, I went shopping with Becky one day as she searched for a few items, and somehow wound up with new stuff.

Sort of.

Usually people would pick out their shower curtain first. After all, the rest of the bathroom scheme would revolve around that color/pattern.

Not me. Uh-uh. No way. I just gotta be different.

With no shower curtain, and no idea how I really wanted to decorate, I bought these while wandering around World Market:

Peacock Bath Accessories

Cute, right?

Of course, I had nothing to go with them. While I pushed the cart around the store, I envisioned them in my bathroom. Almost instantly, I just knew I was going to create a beachy oasis for the Hubs. His favorite color is orange, but blue is a close second. The beach isn't too girly, and I felt we would both love this idea.

With that in mind, I also snagged a hurricane glass and a scented candle (Mediterranean Sea, of course!)

Hurricane glass and candle

And that was that. I took the items home, the Hubs loved the idea, and I promptly set them aside until I found just the right shower curtain.

Here is where we encountered the problem.

None of the shower curtains I looked at were very appealing. They were boring! I couldn't settle on one, so the few pieces I'd already purchased were collecting dust. Frustration set in.

I wanted something new, different... something no one else would have. Something colorful, perhaps. The beach theme was slowly being replaced with a new vision. I searched online and in stores. I asked my friends and family for their ideas. Old, indecisive me was back. UNTIL...

I saw this.


Aqua Burn Shower Curtain by DENY Designs


Hallelujah! This was The One. Not only would my recent purchases fit in, but the Hubs would have both blue and orange in his bathroom. I was ecstatic.

Of course, a bathroom needs more than just an amazing shower curtain. It needs doodads and doohickies, stuff for the walls. I started a stockpile of bathroom items, and added to it every time I found something new.

For several weeks, I searched through local stores, looking for just the right accents. I returned to World Market several times, but I also found some interesting items at Hobby LobbyWalmart, and Bed Bath and BeyondAmazon helped me fill in the gaps. Here's a look at some of the accessories I purchased (a full link list will be provided at the end):

Accessories 

With all my doodads in place, it was finally time to put it all together. This is not as easy as it sounds! Hanging the shower curtain was easy. Deciding where to put everything else? Not so much.

But I persevered, and eventually the thing was done. Our new bathroom was complete. Not too girly, not too macho... just right.

Drum roll please.....

Here it is!


The new bathroom 

It's not easy to take photographs in a bathroom, but I did my best for you. I had such fun arranging all our new items. I feel awake when I walk in this bathroom every morning, the colors are so vibrant.

So, what do you think?

Sometimes, we're in a rut without ever realizing it. Making over a room can be a fun way to add something new in your life. I know I had a great time on this project. And while the Hubs is delighted with our new space, there is one problem...

Now I want to make over all the other rooms too!

So, happy decorating my friends! If your husbands want to know why you're spending money to redecorate all your rooms too, it's ok to not mention this post. Blame it on the sun, moon, and stars, but please don't blame me :)

UPDATE:
I recently replaced the orange vase with a beautiful Amberina one that my Dad gave me as a Christmas gift. Check it out:



I also added a framed art piece that I found at Ikea...



But those are all the changes I've made (for now, haha)!


If you see something you like from this post, here's a link list to help you find it! Also, there is a handy, dandy tutorial at the bottom if you want to learn how to fold your towels "fancy":


Aqua Burn Shower Curtain by DENY Designs












Peacock Bath Accessories









                  Mediterranean Sea Mottled Candle Collection


                  Adorn Glass Hurricane Collection









                 Mexican Pumpkin Mottled Candle Collection


                 Hanging Glass Jars (the larger sizes can be found in stores)








Square Tealight Holders (can be purchased individually in store)







                  Tall Glass Bottle (Orange) (various sizes can be purchased in store)

                  Square Glass Bottle (Blue) (various sizes can purchased in store)

                  Square Glass Bottle (Orange) (various sizes in store)







                 Dried Floral Bouquet (more options in store)











Umbra Wallflower Decor








 Select Edition Ultra-Soft Bath Rug (multiple sizes)








 Deco Glass Stone Mix (Blue)

 Deco Glass Stone Mix (Orange)






 Eclipse Shower Curtain Hooks









                   *Found in store, no product match online*











                Ivory Canopy Towel

                Mainstays Core Wash Towel (in orange and blue, found in store)












 TOWEL FOLDING Tutorial

August 8, 2012

Comfort Foods: Rarebit not Rabbit

Comfort food....  the words make me think of cold nights and hot dinners, snuggling on the couch and watching the fire crackle. It's the warm feeling in the pit of your stomach that reminds you of home and family, of good times that are never forgotten.

Everyone's idea of comfort food is different. Perhaps it's your grandmother's famous soup, your mom's lasagna, or your dad's Saturday morning pancakes. What is your comfort food...  Is it mac-n-cheese? Chicken noodle soup? Ahem... anything chocolate??

As much as I love absolutely anything chocolate, my comfort food is something else. When I'm sick, grumpy, missing home or missing my husband, my go-to meal is... grilled cheese.

That's right. Grilled cheese. 

Who doesn't love buttery bread and ooey, gooey cheese? (If the answer is you, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore). While I still whip up a quick grilled cheese on occasion, I've discovered a more grown-up version that really hits the spot. 


Welsh Rarebit. Not rabbit. RAREbit.   

It's shocking, really, how many people think I boil bunnies for dinner when I mention this dish. I promise, I'm not cooking up cute, fluffy bunnies!

What I am cooking is ooey, gooey, cheesy heaven on a plate.

I don't know how the name for this dish came about, so I wouldn't ask me if I were you. I just go with the flow. I do know Rarebit is a traditional British dish. And I know it's scrumptious. 

That is the extent of my knowledge. I think it's enough. 

Would you like some ooey, gooey, cheesy heaven on a plate? Of course you do!! Here's how to get started: 


The ingredients are basic enough, staples which I usually have on hand. Cheese, bread, butter (not pictured, oops!), beer (that's the 'adult' part), whole milk, flour, dijon mustard, chives, and various spices. Oh, and an egg yolk, which also didn't make it into this picture. You're used to me forgetting stuff by now, right? 

Before we get cooking, you'll want to prep a few things. Start by frying several slices of bacon (about 4) in a skillet. Once cooked, crumble the bacon and set it aside. Then, chop one package of chives into 1/4 inch pieces. Set these aside as well. Both will be used for garnish later.   



Also, be on the lookout for bacon thieves! I can't escape them... usually the Hubs is snatching the bacon faster than I can cook it, but this week I had to contend with a new opponent. My buddy, and fellow blogger, Abby!


In spite of her bacon-theft tendencies, I love her much! You might remember Abby from her blog, in which I recently wrote a guest post for: The Conquering of Cardiac Hill

Ok, now let's get down to the nitty gritty! 

The foundation for this recipe is the bread. I go for French or Italian bread. Please don't use regular sandwich bread. Don't do something you'll regret! Regular sandwich bread is just not the same, you've got to trust me here. This cheese sauce needs a nice, sturdy bread to stand up to it. 

So, toast your bread. Been there, done that, I rambled a lot. I won't go into a long explanation here, but if you need it, you can check out this post where I explain it all: "Cooking" for One: Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad.

Set the bread aside and get working on your sauce. Quick tip: Have all your ingredients measured and ready to go. The sauce only takes a few minutes. You don't want to be running around, looking for the paprika, and then find out you burned your cheesy goodness, do you?

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Not high. LOW. Once the butter has melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. This combines to make a little something called a roux. Keep whisking for 2 or 3 minutes, constantly. Don't let your roux burn!

From here, it's all downhill, nice and easy. Drizzle in 1/2 cup of whole milk (you can use heavy cream if you're looking for a richer sauce) and also a 1/2 cup of your favorite beer. For today, I used Blue Moon. No special reason, it just happened to be in my cabinet. Keep whisking as you add the liquids. We don't want any lumps!

Spices are next into the pot.

Here you have some leeway, and room to make substitutions if necessary. Start with 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Then, add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. I like to use 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, but if you don't have it on hand (or just don't like it!), you can always add dry mustard instead.

A bit of spice is nice, right? I went for cayenne pepper, a few sprinkles or up to 1/4 teaspoon. Again, you can substitute here too. Tabasco works well. Add more if you like it spicy, less if it's not your thing. Or, leave it out altogether. Totally up to you.

Whisk all your spices in, until the sauce is smooth and well-blended.

Photo by: Abby Austin  
Here comes the ooey, gooey... slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Don't forget to grate it fresh! None of that junk in a bag for us. The secret here is to add only a little bit of cheese at a time, allowing one batch to melt before stirring in the next. You can handle that, right? I thought so. I have total confidence in you.

Let the cheese sauce cook for a few minutes, until melted and hot. Remove your pan from the heat, and add one final ingredient.


An egg yolk! No white, just the yolk. Don't know how to separate an egg yolk? Check out the tutorial here: How to Separate an Egg Yolk. OR, simply crack the egg into your hand (holding it over the sink or a bowl), and let the white slide through your fingers until you're left with nothing but the yolk. OR, buy an egg separator like this one: The Egg Yolky.

I'm rambling again. Oopsie.

So, where were we? Oh yeah... stir your egg yolk into the cheese sauce. Annnnnnnnnnnnnddddd, you're done!

Spoon the cheese sauce over your toasty bread, then top with the crumbled bacon and chives. Heck, add a dollop of sour cream if you want. Or leave it all off, and instead serve the sauce in a bowl with bread pieces for dipping. Be creative, try it your way!

Welsh Rarebit
I won't embarrass her by posting the picture evidence, but Abby and I both agree that Welsh Rarebit is something you lick your plate clean for!

What are your favorite comfort foods? Feel free to share in the comments below. Until then, happy cooking!



The Standard Form:


Welsh Rarebit (serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 loaf of crusty bread (ex: French or Italian)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½  cup whole milk
½ cup beer
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
A few dashes - ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups fresh grated cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk
Chopped green onion
Cooked and crumbled bacon

Directions:

Slice your bread into thick pieces and toast. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until combined. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and beer, whisking constantly, and cook for an additional minute. Add the Dijon mustard, paprika, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk to combine.

Slowly add the cheese in a bit at a time, whisking after each addition. Cook a few minutes, whisking constantly, until the cheese mixture is melted hot. Remove from heat.

Stir the egg yolk into the sauce, whisking to combine.

Serve immediately over the toasted bread. Top with the chopped green onion and bacon.