To go with the red velvet cupcakes, I made this cheeseball and my sticky Chinese chicken wings. Let me tell you what I did to my wings. I like to cook the sauce for a long time so it gets super sticky and delicious. Well, long story short, baby was hungry and my sauce burnt. So bad that I think I’m going to have to throw the pan away!

Anyway, this cheeseball won’t win any awards in the looks department but it’s my favorite. My mom has been making it for years and I’d forgotten it until a friend sent me a message the other day reminding me of the time we ate nothing but this cheeseball for a week.

It’s super simple and always a crowd pleaser. Just 2 kinds of cheeses, bacon, pecans, and green onions squished together with strawberry jelly on top. I know, sounds weird but I promise it’s awesome. There were 4 adults here last night and we demolished the entire thing.

Bacon Cheeseball
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey jack
  • 1 pound bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped
  • 1 cup pecans diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • strawberry jam
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except strawberry jam. Form into ball (or whatever shape you like). Spread strawberry jam over top.


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Today is a big day for Alabama. Our team has finally gone all the way and tonight we’re going to show Colt McCoy why he didn’t win the Heisman. ;) In honor of the Crimson Tide, I decided we needed some crimson cupcakes to enjoy during the game.

I think I’ve only had red velvet cake once in my life and it was years ago. I’ve made it a handful of times for other people (which is why I never have red food coloring) but for some reason I’ve never found it very appealing. These cupcakes have changed my mind completely. They’re moist and chocolate-y but not overly so.

Now who’s ready for the game?!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from McCormick
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 bottle 1 ounce red food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 brick 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into 30 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
  4. For cream cheese frosting, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla and start adding powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Don't feel like you need to use all 4 cups of the sugar. Frost and decorate cupcakes however you wish.
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This Caramelized Onion Risotto is my go-to for night’s when Spencer’s either gone or not eating with us. It’s so creamy and the onions get so sweet. I’m definitely not an onion fan but I love them in this.

My number 1 risotto tip: don’t be scared of the risotto. I know the Food Network hosts make it sound like some time consuming, tricky thing but it’s not. I made this recipe for the first time while I was also pan-frying some chicken, prepping asparagus, AND talking on the phone with my mom. So it’s really not all that difficult. Just don’t let the liquid get too low and stir it every couple minutes.

Thyme is awesome in this but I was all out, so if you want to use it I would stir it in when the rice is close to being cooked.

Caramelized Onion Risotto
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio risotto rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 7 cups chicken broth heated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs optional
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until onion is soft and caramelized. Add rice and stir to combine. Let cook for another minute. Add white wine and let reduce almost all of the way. Reduce heat to medium low. Begin adding chicken broth a cup at a time. Add more broth as each cup is absorbed. Continue until rice is al dente (you might not use all 7 cups). Season with salt, pepper, and any herbs.

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I bought a couple of those super adorable mini loaf pans back before the holidays because I had grand plans of fruitcakes and gingerbread loaves and who knows what else, but for some reason I never used them. I pulled them out yesterday and was determined to use them by the end of the day.

I went with a blueberry-orange bread because well, we only had blueberries and oranges. Made my decision pretty easy.

So how good was the bread? I pulled it out of the oven at noon, my husband came home at 12:30, the bread was gone by 12:40. Seriously. Two loaves of bread. Gone.

Blueberry-Orange Bread
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3/4 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan (or 2 mini ones).
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine egg, orange juice, melted butter, and orange zest. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries. Spoon into prepared loaf pan making sure the top is even. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes (50 to 55 for the mini ones) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a wire rack.
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One of the scariest things for me is cooking for my family (which is probably why I waited until I made tart crusts out of cocoa puffs for BettyCrocker.com to tell anyone I know about my blog) but I’m trying to get over that fear and these stuffed mushrooms were a good start.

We had our final holiday celebration today because my cousin Michael (who’s 10 and has a food blog!) and his family came into town. My grandmother did the traditional black eyed peas and greens and asked the rest of us to just bring some appetizers. I’m not sure why but I immediately thought of stuffed mushrooms.

I’m happy to report that I came home with a clean plate (seriously clean because my grandmother even washed it for me after all the mushrooms were gone!). Most of us did agree that a little bacon would’ve made them even better but I’m happy with how they turned out.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients
  • 24 whole fresh button mushrooms
  • 3-4 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • Bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully remove the stems from the mushroom caps, setting the caps aside for later. Add the stems to the bowl of a food processor and pulse in brief bursts until them mushroom stems are finely chopped.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook until all the moisture has disappeared, about 5-7 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low. Stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices. Stir together until the mixture is smooth and creamy; remove from the heat. Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling. Arrange the mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet. Top with bread crumbs, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are hot and liquid starts to form under the caps. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh herbs if using and serve immediately.
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