Category Archives: cocktail

Avocado Spring Rolls with Sweet Chile Garlic & Ponzu Sauce


Happy Wednesday!

I made the most amazing spring rolls – it was my first time to make them and I totally impressed myself!

Soft, crunchy, creamy, herb-y & just that je ne sais quoi that I TOTALLY LOVE!

Here are the rock star ingredients:

  • rice paper wrappers
  • seedless cucumber
  • avocado
  • pickled ginger
  • butter lettuce
  • cilantro
  • shredded carrot
  • chives

Pickled ginger has become my new favorite ingredient!  It is spicy and sweet and vinegar-y.  It’s close to the top of the list of perfect foods for you to eat so it’s a win-win!  I have found myself asking for extra anytime I go eat sushi- who am I??

The funny thing is that I have never liked the taste of ginger- when I was little we would go eat at Uncle Tai’s in the Galleria and I would pick out the ginger piece by piece- if I accidentally got a bite, the face I made was horrid. I guess my palate is changing but don’ t think that means you will find blue cheese or olives on my plate any time soon- I have limits my friends!

The prep time on this is going to take some time but the pay off is so awesome!

Cut the cucumber in half and then cut the bottom off so you can stand it straight up and cut vertical slices

Once that is done you can cut the pretty matchstick pieces

Then you want to cut that GORGEOUS avocado in thin strips…’s like my favorite food EVER

I just need some salt and fork – YUM!

OK seriously- we need to wet the rice paper wrapper in a shallow dish of water.

Speaking of rice paper- you should be able to get it at your local market but mine was out so I went to the sushi bar and asked if they had any and he gave me several sheets for $$FREE$$ – which again makes the great point of talking to the people at your store and ask questions- they are there to help!!

The rice paper looks crazy when you get it- thin and crackly with a weird texture but when you submerge it in the water it magically transforms like shrinky-dinks in a hot oven

Just submerge it for a few minutes and then lay it on a big dry plate and get ready to fill that baby up

First- lay the avocado slices across so they are the superstar of the roll!

*disclaimer- please make sure to put lemon/lime juice on your avocado after slicing it so it doesn’t get brown spots like mine

Add the rest of the ingredients too

And then you start rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

The tighter- the better – it won’t rip- it’s super strong and you don’t want all your glorious veg pouring out when you bite into it!

Time to make the dipping sauce while that hangs out for a minute

  • Taste of Asia Sweet Chili Garlic sauce (best depth of flavor of all I have tried)
  • Kikkoman Ponzu sauce

If you haven’t tried Ponzu it rocks- it is a citrus soy sauce – soy sauce alone doesn’t work for me anymore

I am dedicated to new flavors like that


Now go out and make these- they are awesome and you could even throw some shredded chicken or tofu in there if you need more protein!

Have a great day!


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


Yesterday, I was on a mission!  A meatball making mission!

I had been wanting/needing to make them all weekend but with my infant niece visting…procrastination wasn’t even an issue because I was knee-high in bottles and diapers.  I almost forgot how much work goes into an infant.  My 5 yo was overjoyed she was spending the night, until she realized how much work it was too.  More so, how much “Mommy” time it took away from her – I guess she may rethink that whole “I want a sister or brother” thing LOL!

But yesterday, while my girl was at school and my niece was snoozing, I made these gorgeous beauties!

and these

I wanted to make two different sizes so that I could have some on hand for spaghetti and meatballs and some smaller ones in the freezer ready at any moment for Happy Hour!

So when I decided to make these- I was faced with a dilemma….no breadcrumbs and while I could have easily run over to the store- my Mom gave me the BEST idea!  For Christmas, we had gotten some amazing cheese and crackers from my Nana- while the cheese was gobbled up- I still had crackers left over and they were perfect to be made into breadcrumbs!

Here is what I threw together:

  • A couple of handfuls unseasoned Common Crackers
  • 1/2 tablespoon mixture of garlic powder, white pepper & kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

put everything in the blender

and voila!  you will have the most amazing seasoned breadcrumbs!  I just pulsed to get the consistency I wanted and that’s the great thing about doing them yourself ~ control!

Now onto the meatballs!

Here is what you need:

  • 1 lb ground chuck 80/20
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • seasoned breadcrumbs
  • sautéed baby bella mushrooms (saute with a little white wine & butter)
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon or so homemade ranch dressing (1/2 packet hidden valley ranch buttermilk dry mix & 1/2 cup heavy cream)
  • 1/2 sweet onion minced

Put your meats into the bowl ~

This recipe is so versatile because you can clean out your fridge by making these!  I had some sautéed shrooms that were left over in the fridge and I thought they were a perfect addition of flavor and texture!  Show I chopped them up and threw them on in

Along with everything else ~

The amount of breadcrumbs & dressing (milk alone will work perfectly too) is based on the texture – you want a moist but not falling apart texture but try to not over mix as you don’t want to make them tough

Then you need to get your tools together to form these balls of awesomeness!

  • 2 different sizes of scoopers
  • cookie sheet lined with foil
  • big pan
  • oil

Start rolling….


After they are all rolled out then quickly mince an onion to throw in a pan with the garlic oil so you can begin to pan fry these babies!  Also, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees as we are going to finish these off in the oven

Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes or so ~ they will sizzle and brown and shine in all their glory

Once they are all done you will have two wonderful sizes of meatballs to enjoy now or pop them in the freezer for another day!


Baked Bison Wontons


So I have been a little obsessed with finding uses for wonton wrappers lately on FoodGawker and Pinterest.  I mean not only are the options endless but you can really enjoy volume because it is a healthy option, when baked!

I was trolling the freezer and came across some ground bison and the light bulb went off!  Bison ravioli, bison tacos, bison wontons…..the canvas was blank!

Here is what I made~ Baked Bison Wontons

Crispy pockets of cheesy bison-y goodness ~ GLORIOUS

Here are the players:

Bison Wontons

Makes 48 wontons

  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • wonton wrappers
  • addt’l spices (not pictured here but separate picture below) 1 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning, 1 tsp Penzeys 4S Smoky Seasoned Salt & 2 squirts of Worcestershire

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Then finely chop and mince your onion & garlic and you want to caramelize them in the olive oil/butter mixture on medium heat for about 20 minutes….until they look like this

My mouth watered just looking at this picture!  I love love love caramelized onions & garlic!

Remove them from the pan and add your ground bison and get it browning

Add in the following seasonings to make it really stand out!

Penzey’s Special Seasoned Sea Salt is GOLD!  I picked up the Smoky version not too long ago and it is such a great addition to any dish…giving the right amount of smoky, salty goodness!

Go ahead and add the onions back in the mixture, once browned.  Mix it up and then move to a bowl so you can cool and add in cream cheese

Mix that well and let is come together while you prepare your wonton wrappers

You will need to lay out your wrappers on a foiled cookie sheet and get a couple of instruments to make this process a little easier~

  • small ramekin of water
  • small pastry brush
  • melon baller

The melon baller is perfect because you only need 2 teaspoons of mixture in each wrapper and this controls that

Add the mixture to the wrapper and then paint 2 sides with water

Then fold the diagonal corners to make a triangle…make sure you get ALL the air bubbles out from around the pocket

You want to spray them with cooking spray….mine went a little crazy here but it worked out fine

Pop them in the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes.  Keep an eye on them because they get brown quickly!  I also did these in several batches because I am not going to lie- its a labor intensive job so I took breaks in between batches 🙂

Look at these beauties!

Enjoy these with a garden salad or as a popable appetizer!

I am off to search for more wonton wrapper ideas!

Happy Monday!!

Celebrating Spring Fever with Mexican Shrimp Cocktail


Here in Texas our winter has been non-existent

We have had a couple of cold days and even had some flurries one night but based on last years winter – it was disappointing to say the least….at least to my 4 1/2 year old!

The last couple of days have been in the upper 70’s and low 80’s – we are supposed to have another cold snap next week so this week I have Spring Fever BIG TIME!!

Yesterday, I wanted to make something that was completely sit on the patio drinking margaritas worthy

I think this definitely fits that description:  Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

This is zesty and creamy and saucy and citrus-y and cilantro-y…’s the best twist on shrimp cocktail!

I wasn’t on top of my game yesterday and I didn’t take my normal step-by-step photos so I hope you’ll forgive me.

There are 3 steps to creating this beauty…..let’s get to it

First you want to create the Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

4-5 small tomatoes , seeded and chopped (I used some heirlooms and the colors are beautiful)

1 small yellow pepper, seeded, chopped (orange or red peppers will also work)

1 small sweet or red onion, chopped

1/2 jalapeno, ribbed, seeded & chopped (if you want the heat- leave the ribs & seeds in)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

zest of lime

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Mix everything together in a big bowl and let it marinate while you make the rest

The next component is the sauce…a zesty cocktail sauce

Zesty Cocktail Sauce

3 tablespoons Heinz Chili Sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

couple shakes of Worcestershire

couple shakes of Tabasco

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp pepper

Mix everything in a small bowl and let the flavors come together while you assemble the rest

The last step is assembling the cocktail itself

The last 2 ingredients that you will need to grab are Shrimp & Avocados:

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

serves 2

16 large 31/40 cooked, frozen shrimp – thawed & halved (I thaw by running under water in my sink and then chill in the fridge while making other components)

1/2 – Avocado, cubed

zesty cocktail sauce (recipe above)

pico de gallo (recipe above)

Mix the shrimp, pico de gallo & cocktail sauce together so they are fully incorporated.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Best presented in a sundae or martini glass with some pico de gallo on top and a wedge of lime to garnish.  Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let all the glorious flavors do their magic!

Please enjoy this on a patio with your sunglasses on while drinking a fabulous margarita….you will feel like you are in Cabo!  Unless its snowing where you are…..then you will have to close your eyes and click your heels





Bloody Mary Dip


Do you remember playing the game Bloody Mary when you were growing up?

I do, and for me, it was along the same lines as the Ouija board.  It scared the living daylights outta me and I knew it was something I shouldn’t be playing around with.  To this day, I can’t watch anything scarier than Unsolved Mysteries, unless it is light outside.  I am not a wuss- I just don’t want to be up all night.

I am definitely one that believes in good ghosts/spirits- when Bella was little and just barely talking- she would point to the chandelier in her room and say that is where her people lived.

But with every ying there is a yang so I don’t like to intentionally invite anyone/anything to visit me!

All that being said- WHO LOVES BLOODY MARYS?  I DO I DO I DO!

And I love them SPPPIIICCYYYY with extra Mary (aka Vodka!) + lime

So I came across this dip recipe and knew it was for me and my whole family could enjoy it because it is sans alcohol but FULL of flavor!

If there is anything I can impart on you today it is the importance of the Bloody Mary Mix.  I have had zillions of different mixes in my day but the one that goes above and beyond is….drumroll


The tag line is so true NOT Just Another Bloody Mary Mix!

Thanks to my brother John for the introduction to this wonderful concoction…it’s my Sunday brunch staple.

Check out this awesome and easy dip to make!

I wish you could taste this awesomeness through the screen!  And it is sooooooooooooo beyond easy to make

Here we go

Bloody Mary Dip (adapted from Yummly)

  • 2 packages of softened cream cheese (I used 1 pkg of Neufachatel & 1 pkg of low fat cream cheese)
  • 1/3 cup REAL Mayo (like Hellmanns)
  • juice 1/2 a lemon
  • 3/4-1 cup Zing Zang
  • 2 tsp Celery Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Horseradish (not pictured)
  • 1 shallot, finally minced
  • 1/3 cup of tomato puree
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • several healthy chugs of Cholula

Put is all in a blender and mix together and you have a wonderful dip my friends!

Blend and it turns to this beautiful dip

Please chill this for a MINIMUM of 2 hours but the more the better!

Serve with pretzels or celery or tortilla chips or even with a spoon 😉

I have discovered some new dippers called Snack Factory – Pretzel Crisps and I am eating them with the dip right now!  I usually find these in the deli section of my local grocery store

This will make a great Halloween Party Dip for kids + adults!

Have a great Wednesday!

What were your favorite childhood games?

French Onion Soup Stuffed Shrooms


I am absolutely beat from an exhilirating & fabulous weekend!  I hope you have had a wonderful long weekend!

I have a quick recipe I would like to share that you will definitely want to make….we couldn’t eat these fast enough!

I am a big French Onion Soup lover and I love mushrooms so this combo couldn’t be any more perfect for me!  They would be the perfect appetizer for a party.

Here are the party players:

  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella (or whatever cheese makes you smile 🙂 )
  • A mixture of button & cremini shrooms (about 24)
  • 2 large onions
  • a few dashes of worcestershire sauce (lea & perrins please!)
  • kosher salt
  • smoky seasoned salt
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • italian parsley

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Next chop your onions.  Cut them in half and then thinly slice them

I know this seems like a ton of onion but it will all cook down and you will eat it will a spoon!

Throw the butter in a pan and watch it melt

I like watching butter melt in a pan….I think it’s pretty.  I am strange, I know.

Put the onions in the pan on medium and let them do their thang….

Now it’s time to clean your shrooms.  Take a damp cloth and wipe off the shrooms

And then you will need to take the stems out so you will have a home for the wonderful onion love

Make sure you don’t scoop out the gills because they will allow the shrooms to stand up once they are cooked- otherwise they will be flat

Your onions should be sweating it out pretty well by now and may even have a little color on them……go ahead and add the beef broth and some white wine…..I forgot the wine in the setup pict OOPPSS!

I used Barefoot Pinot Grigio because it is a lite white wine and I like to drink it 😉

Obviously I was drinking it when I took this picture

Leave the onions and the liquid simmering on medium and let it reduce

It’s going to reduce for about 20 minutes or so and while you are doing that you will need to grate your cheese and chop your parsley

Now you can check on your onions

DROOL………..those are beautiful

now put your shrooms in the pan (brush the pan with olive oil) and stuff these babies

Sprinkle them with cheese and put them in the oven for 15 minutes

Pretend there is cheese on these please 🙂

after you take them out of the oven sprinkle them with italian parsley

and they will look like this

Look I saved a bite for you…..

Enjoy!  I promise you will heart these forever

I have been swimming all day and ready for bed….

I hope you had a FABU Labor Day and I have some great recipes to share with you this week!

What did you make for Labor Day today?

A few of my favorite things


Happy Friday friends!

I am sure everyone is looking forward to a 3 day weekend 🙂

I will be cooking a lot this weekend and will be posting different things but I thought I would do a quick Friday favorite things for Labor Day so you could have some ideas for your party if you are racking your brain!

Favorite Salsa

I have made a lot of salsa in my time and I have to say that Pioneer Woman is not messing around….it is delish!


Favorite Creamy Dip

I am such a spinach dip love-ah! I make it for lots of family/office/just to keep in my refrigerator for me to eat kind of functions!

It’s super easy and it’s great with veggies & wheat thins for dipping!


Favorite Potato Salad

I have been making this roasted potato salad for years and my 2 secret ingredients are cilantro & sweet corn (you don’t even cook it!  just cut off the cob!)


Favorite Flag Cake

Isn’t that just pretty?  Well with the cream cheese frosting it is a wonderful ending to the end of the summer!  I have also made this for a couple of years and have always gotten raves about it!


Favorite Slaw

this is yummilicious!  so fresh and clean and yum yum yum!  One thing to note is that you want to be sparing with the red onions because they only get stronger as it sits and if you want to have leftovers not like you’ll have any but if you do….you’ll not want your slaw to reek of onion the next day 😉


Favorite Cocktail

I know that I wrote a post on this already but it really is that good and I made it with Labor Day in mind!

Happy Labor Day Weekend Friends!