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Appetizer Round-Up: New Year’s Ideas

I can’t believe New Years Eve is one day away! 2012 has been a really great year for me, especially the last half of the year with the start of college. I am happy to celebrate this past year and look forward to the year to come :)

My family usually does a bunch of appetizers on New Year’s eve and then we movies until midnight. This year we are going to a friend’s house for a party, so we are doing our appetizers and movies tonight. In this post I’m rounding up some of my all-time favorite appetizers!

Tonight we are making Jalapeno Popper Dip. This is one of my family’s favorite dips- it’s spicy, creamy, and crunch!

jalapeno popper dip web2

We are also having Mini Corn Dog Muffins which are super tasty and easy to make.

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Even easier than the Mini Corn Dog Muffins is this Easy Peasy Ranch Dip. You just mix a few things together and you have a delicious dip for veggies!

ranch web2

This Christmas I made Hot Spinach Dip and was reminded of how much I love it. So tasty!

spinach dip web1

And every Thanksgiving I make this Pumpkin Pie Dip. It’s sweet which is a nice change from all the savory dips.

pumpkin pie dip web2 copy

These Cheeseburger Pockets are also super tasty! The filling for the rolls is so good, you could even just eat that as a dip! (Don’t judge these by the pictures, they really are yummy!)

hamburger pocketsSo there we have it! Some of my favorite appetizers. Do you have any New Year’s traditions? Do you stay in or go out?

 

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How to Make White Rice

Apparently today is the first day of Spring! I totally thought the 21st of March was the first day of Spring, but Google says it’s today and Google usually knows what he’s talking about, so happy first day of Spring! We are celebrating with 86 degree weather…I think the world is a tad confused and thinks today is actually the first day of Summer.

I had a lot of fun answering the alphabet survey in my last post, so I thought I would answer some more questions. If you don’t feel like getting to know me more, feel free to skip to the bottom of the post to find out how to make great white rice. I’ll cry, but that’s ok ;)

What was one of the best parties you’ve ever been to? My friends Jessica and Jessica throw the best birthday parties! Last year they had a Harry Potter themed party and this year they had a murder mystery. Their parties are always really fun and entertaining :)

What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or tear up? Oh goodness. I cry at everything. I cried at this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy (I always cry at Grey’s Anatomy). Oh and I cried a ton after I read Portia de Rossi’s book Unbearable Lightness. I would absolutely recommend this book. It’s a really honest and brave memoir about her struggle with eating disorders.

When was the last time you had an amazing meal? Today I went to Maniac’s. I had never been there before but they had amazing hand-battered chicken tenders. Mmm!

What is something you learned in the last week? Today I learned that March 20th is the first day of Spring!

I’d love to hear some of your responses to these questions :)

This is a basic recipe for how to prepare white rice. I love rice! It’s great with some salt, butter, and peas, as a side dish with some chicken, and I also love it with my mom’s beef stew. Rice is really versatile and there’s a seemingly endless way to prepare it, but you need to know how to make basic rice before you tackle anything crazy ;) I didn’t know how to make rice until recently (yeah…I’m a little behind) but it was super easy to learn.

How to Cook White Rice:

  1. Measure your rice and water. I use a 1:2 ratio, meaning 1 cup of rice for every 2 cups of water (or chicken/vegetable broth). I’ve also seen people use 1 cup of water to 1.5 cups liquid, but the 1:2 ratio worked great for me.
  2. Should I rinse my rice? I don’t and I haven’t had any issues with my rice being too starchy and sticky. Rinsing your rice can get rid of some of the nutrients as well, so I wouldn’t unless you’ve had issues with the texture of your rice in the past.
  3. Combine your rice and water in a pot, cover it, and bring it to a boil. Once it is at a good, rolling boil, reduce the heat so it’s just a slow simmer and set the timer for 20 minutes. Don’t open the lid during that time because it will let the steam out.
  4. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes (still don’t touch the cover).
  5. Fluff with a fork and enjoy!

Note: Rice will double as it cooks.

I got these tips from Our Best Bites. I’ve made rice several times recently and it’s always turned out perfect!

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Classic Baked Mac and Cheese

I love Pioneer Woman, if you hadn’t noticed. A lot of her recipes, or variations of her recipes, are on this blog. I haven’t been able to see her Food Network show (my family doesn’t get the channel), but I got the chance to see it when I was babysitting one night. I thought they were great and enjoyed seeing her and her family.

Now it’s no secret that Pioneer Woman uses a ton of butter in all her recipes, but seeing her cook on TV made her realize how much. It’s insane! Making her recipes has changed what I consider a lot of butter. “This recipe only calls for 2 sticks of butter? It’s practically healthy!” But my grandparents have different views on what is a lot of butter. The other day I was spending the night at my grandparent’s house and was going to make Pioneer Woman pancakes in the morning (I didn’t have my camera with me! But I will make them again soon and share them with you. They were really good.) My grandpa was asking me what I needed him to get at the store, and I said I needed 4 tablespoons of butter. My grandpa said “Four tablespoons???” like that’s an insane amount of butter and the world was going to end, whereas my reaction was “Four tablespoons? Woah! That’s nothing! That has to be a Pioneer Woman record!” I made the pancakes in the morning and everyone ate them and loved them.

When my family was in Maine this summer, we were having chili and I was going to make cornbread. My grandparents were going to the store and my grandma asked me what I needed. I believe the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of butter and my grandma said that that was just way too much butter. But I made the cornbread, and everyone said it was the best they’d ever had. (This would probably be funnier if you knew that my grandma eats butter plain. Like just butter. On nothing. Or she puts it on tortilla chips. Or anything that can hold butter).

For Thanksgiving, I made baked mac and cheese for a side dish. I’d never made the recipe before but it turned out pretty good! It’s a pretty basic mac and cheese, if I make it again I think I’d add some things like caramelized onions, spicy cheese, and bacon to it. Because those ingredients make everything better. But anyways, my grandpa loved the mac and cheese! He ate more of it than any of my other family members. My grandma loved it, too, and apparently it needed some more butter because she put some on the mac and cheese. Blah! And neither of them were bothered that it had a stick of butter in it. Ignorance is bliss :)

All this to say, I love my quirky wonderful grandparents. And I love baked mac and cheese. Make this for dinner one night soon, or for a side dish on Christmas!


Classic Baked Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 pound Cooked Pasta (whatever shape you like…shells, bowties, elbow)
½ cup Butter
½ cup Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
3-¾ cups Milk
¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2-½ cups Shredded Cheese Of Your Choice, divided (I used cheddar but anything would be great)
½ package (6.6 Oz. Package) Goldfish Crackers, Smashed

 Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions- fill a pot with water for your pasta. Once water boils, pour the pasta in the water and start making your sauce.
  3. Melt the butter over low heat until melted.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-low and add in the flour, salt and pepper, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly.
  5. Remove from heat and add the milk. Return to the stove and heat to boiling, stirring constantly until the sauce is thick. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add the nutmeg and Dijon mustard and stir.
  7. Once the sauce is thick and bubbly, add in 2 cups of cheese and stir. The sauce with now be very thick.
  8. Your pasta should be done before the sauce. Drain the pasta when it’s done, but don’t rinse it! Pour it back into the pot.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce into the pot and stir well.
  10. Pour the macaroni and cheese into an ungreased 9 x 13 glass dish and sprinkle some shredded cheese on the top.
  11. Pour half the package of Goldfish crackers into a ziplock bag. Use your hand or a rubber mallet to smash the crackers into crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture on top of your macaroni and cheese.
  12. Bake the macaroni and cheese for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Source: Not a Leaf

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