Homemade Bar Food – Game Day Menu

All this week I’ve been working late, which means Luke has been stuck doing all the grocery shopping, cooking and dishes. I hate feeling like I’m not pulling my weight, but I suppose it ebbs and flows and soon I’ll be doing the same for him.

When Saturday rolled around, I decided to take a mental break from skiing after eating, sleeping and breathing it all week, so Luke and his brother headed off to Northstar for the morning. I knew the big Indiana game was airing later in the day, so I decided to show Luke my appreciation for his support during the week by making a big game-day feast.

First up…

Chicken Wings:
I kept it super simple here. Party wings. Thick BBQ sauce. Spiced with garlic powder, chili powder and pepper. Baked for 45 minutes at 400 until crisped on top.


Bacon Jalapeno Poppers:
I’ve never made these before, but I was craving jalapeno poppers for some reason. They were also really easy. Just cut jalapenos in half and clean out the seeds.

Then mix together one container cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. Fill the jalapenos with the cheese mixture and wrap with bacon. Baked for 30 minutes at 400 until the bacon is done.

Up next…

Sweet Potato Fries:
I picked up two sweet potatoes and let them soak in water while I made the wings and poppers. This helps them become easier to peel and cut. So, I peeled them and cut them vertical into thin fries. Then I tossed them in a bowl with olive oil, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt.  I arranged them on a baking sheet and then baked for 45 minutes at 400 turning once to cook the side down.

Apple Pie Dip:
This is a real crowd pleaser at events and is a good contrast to savory appetizers as it’s like a dessert. First I mixed two packages of cream cheese with 3/4 a bag of shredded cheddar cheese and two tablespoons cinnamon. I spread this on the bottom of a square glass baking dish. Then I topped it with a layer of more shredded cheddar cheese.

On top of that, I put a layer of  diced apples with the peel on. And then another layer of chopped walnuts. Finally I sprinkled more cinnamon on top. Baked for 15 minutes at 400 until cheese is melted and apples cooked. I served this dip with fresh cut apple slices and apple chips I found on sale at the store.

The boys were quite impressed with the feast that awaited them when they got home for skiing. It was all ready just in time for the Indiana game. We filled our bellies and cheered the Hoosiers on to an amazing victory over #1 Kentucky.

This whole meal took me about 1.5 hours make and bake. Totally doable for your next time hosting a sports party or just to surprise your honey.

It was a perfect way to say “thanks” to a guy who kept me going during a busy week.

Lamb Riblets With Rosemary

It’s been unseasonably cold, rainy and grey here in Tahoe. Certainly not the weather I was hoping for in June! Since we weren’t going to be spending much time outdoors, we drove into Reno (about 15 degrees warmer) and spent the day running errands.

A trip to Whole Foods made it’s way into our day, where we ended up buying a cut of meat we haven’t tried before – Lamb Riblets. We adore lamb and ribs, so figured this would be a tasty combination of those.

Given that I’ve never cooked lamb ribs before, I Googled recipes until I landed on one that looked good – Roasted Lamb Ribs with Rosemary – on a blog I hadn’t visited before – Blue Kitchen. This is definitely one to add to your Google Reader!  Don’t you love it when food takes you to new places??

This dish was really delicious and definitely worthy of sharing with you all. The recipe involves braising and broiling, which are super easy cooking methods to follow, along with yummy spices like fresh rosemary and caraway seeds.

3 large cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
3 carrots, peeled
1-1/2 to 2 pounds lamb ribs
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional
1 generous tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried caraway seeds
freshly ground black papper
olive oil

To start, cut your lamb rib rack in half so it will easily fit into a large stock pot. Place the ribs, two onion halfs, peeled carrots, two smashed garlic cloves, salt, lots of pepper and the bay leaf into a stock pot. Add just enough water to cover your ingredients.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the surface during the first few minutes of cooking. Cover and cook for one hour.

Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid and put on a plate. You can discard the other solids and liquid. Preheat the oven to 350 while you prep the lamb for broiling. Season the lamb with pepper, chopped rosemary and caraway seeds. Then thinly slice a garlic clove and arrange the slices over the lamb. Drizzle with olive oil.

Broil for another hour until the garlic is browned and the meat caramelized on top.

We served our ribs with multi-colored farm carrots and asparagus cooked in butter with a few pieces of garlic thrown in.

The lamb reminded me very much of pork belly. It was super savory with a crunchy outside and a tender inside. It was a little messy to eat (we ended up just picking it up and eating it with our hands like ribs), so I wouldn’t serve this at a dinner party. It was perfect for a cozy night in though and something I’m added to my regular rotation.

Many thanks to Blue Kitchen for posting the recipe. Go check out more of Terry’s delicious recipe.

Mocha Cadbury Egg Cheesecake

We are having some visitors this weekend  – Luke’s buddy from Florida and a couple of my friends from San Francisco. I decided I wanted to bake something yummy to have in the house for a post-skiing treat that also would help us get into the Easter spirit.

My concept? Mocha Caramel Cadbury Egg Cheesecake.

Easter Candy Cheesecake

This dessert is a perfect mix of my favorite Easter candy – Cadbury Eggs – and the flavor combination of coffee, chocolate and caramel.

Crust Ingredients:
18 chocolate creme cookies
5 tbsp of butter melted
2 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp of boiling water

Filling Ingredients:
Four 8 oz packages of cream cheese
Four large eggs
1/4 – 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbsp of corn starch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp of boiling water
8 oz melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Topping Ingredients:
10 Caramel Cadbury Eggs
Hard shell chocolate sauce

Set out the eggs, cream cheese and sour cream until they are room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch springform pan.
Place the cookies in a sealed plastic bag and smash them until they are small crumbs. Then combine the crumbs with the melted butter and dissolved instant coffee and mix well. Using your fingers, press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased springform pan.

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Bake the crust for 10 minutes until it is set.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar and corn starch together until smooth. Mix in the vanilla, dissolved instant coffee and the sour cream until combined.
Mocha Cheeseckae
Beat in the eggs one at a time making sure each one is mixed in through before adding the next. Then mix in the melted chocolate.
Mocha Cheesecake filling Mocha Cheesecake

Pour the batter on top of the finished crust and smooth out so it’s evenly distributed. Now it’s time for the fun part- the Cadbury Egg Topping!

Unwrap nine (save one for later) caramel Cadbury Eggs and place on a cutting board. Using a steak knife, cut each egg into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.

Cadbury Egg Cake
By hand, place the smaller pieces onto the top of your uncooked cheesecake until the top is covered with gooey caramel and crunchy chocolate (you can lick your fingers too).

Cadbury Egg Dessert
Place a cookie sheet in your oven and put the cheesecake on top of it. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Then, without opening your oven door, turn the temperature down to 200 degrees and bake for two hours.

After two hours, turn the oven off, remove the cheesecake and run a knife around the edge to release it from the pan. This will help prevent your cheesecake from cracking as it cools. Return it to the oven to gradually cool for another two hours. Then place it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, decorate your cheesecake by cutting one Cadbury egg  in half using a knife and placing it on top of your cake.

Cadbury Egg Recipe

Then drizzle the hard chocolate shell topping all over to recreate the crunchiness of the Cadbury shell.

Easter Cheesecake Easter Cheesecake

This Cheesecake is sooooo decadent and delicious. The Mocha flavors are just strong enough in the filling to break through during every bite. The Cadbury Egg topping is a real winner too. It gets crunchy and caramelized as it bakes adding amazing texture to each bite.

I would highly recommend you make this recipe this weekend. It will most definitely be a hit at a brunch, lunch supper or even midnight snack.

Have a joyous Easter weekend!

Pork Belly With Caramelized Veggies

Yesterday we decided to take a break from skiing and spent the day doing other activities – going to church, making a mexican breakfast, rock climbing, watching March Madness and cooking a favorite of ours, an easy pork belly recipe.

If you haven’t had pork belly before, you’re missing out! This is an incredibly succulent, savory cut of meat that, if cooked correctly, will fall apart with a little nudge from your fork.

I had only eaten pork belly in a restaurant before, so I was excited when Luke brought some home from Whole Foods last week. Luke does all our grocery shopping because I can’t stand doing  it and he always surprises me with new things to cook at home.

I searched online for a good recipe and came across  Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio’s pork belly recipe, which was also named GQ’s favorite meat dish.

The original recipe has a bunch of fancy steps like skimming fat, crosshatch incisions and scoring the meat that I just eliminated. Afterall- my Twitter says “wannabe chef” not “Top Chef contestant” and who has time to do all those little steps when the meat already looks delectable the way it is??

Pork Belly with Caramelized Veggies


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork belly, skin on
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • About 3 cups brown chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While it preheats, salt and pepper your cut of pork belly and cook fat side down (the side with  more white) in a large skillet that has been heated with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the pork 15 minutes until that side is browned.

While pork cooks, coarsely chop all your veggies (except the garlic cloves).

Once the pork is browned, pour off half of the excess oil/fat and add all the veggies to the same pot. Cook the veggies about 20 minutes until soft, adding pepper to taste. Return the pork belly to the pot and add two cups of chicken stock.

Bring the stock to a simmer on the stovetop and then place the whole skillet into the oven. Braise (aka bake) for 1 hour, then add the remaining cup of stock. Cook for another hour to hour and a half until you can cut into the pork easily with a fork. Your veggies should also look caramelized.

This was the part in Tom’s recipe where things got all fancy – including his suggestion that you throw away the veggies and just use the broth they left behind. Is he crazy?! Those veggies are to die for!

I opted to just cut into the meat and savor all the vegetables right out the oven, and I was not disappointed. :) We paired ours with some sweet potato fries tossed with cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

What a delicious Sunday dish! The pork was tender and juicy while the vegetables were crunchy with a sweet, caramel finish.  I highly recommend you give pork belly a try.