Since Kristin shared her candy popcorn recipe with me yesterday I helped her shoot a Valentine’s Day version of her smash cakes. We started making these for some of my parties a few years ago and they are the BEST! Kid’s and parents love them! They are super messy but the kids are so in to grabbing the candy and the cake that it is totally worth it. Go check out her tutorial here!
This Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Salad Dressing recipe is my favorite! Not only does it taste great (for some it is an acquired taste), but there are also family ties. I only know this salad dressing as “Grandma’s Dressing.” When you taste it, if you like it, you crave it. If you taste it and don’t like it, you never want it again. I’ll explain more about that in a minute. The story goes that after my grandma tasted this dressing at a neighbor’s house, decades ago, she asked for the recipe. But they wouldn’t give it to her! So my grandmother made sure to hang around when they were making the dressing. She came home and wrote down everything she could remember and then modified it to taste once back in her own home. Yup. One of the many reasons I love my grandma. Good food is meant to be shared, people! So I want to share this zingy Blue Cheese Vinaigrette recipe with you. Another reason I love this post is because I had my mom help me shoot it! So fun to include her in this post.
The reason that some people tend not to like this dressing is there are an awful lot of bold flavors going on here. Sure all vinaigrettes use vinegar, but when added to fresh garlic, blue cheese and a few spices it creates a tart flavor explosion.
First you mash the salt and garlic into a paste. My family has always used a mortar and pestal for making this salad dressing. If you don’t have one, you can create the garlic paste by using the side of a knife and a cutting board. But it is soooo much cooler using a mortar and pestal. Look how old timey it looks!
You may or may not need to stop and kiss your child at this part of the recipe. Since we were hanging out at Grandma Marilyn’s house, both kids were continually under foot. If you don’t have kids or they aren’t in the room, just proceed to the next step.
Next add your spices. The recipe uses dry mustard and paprika. Are those common spices to have around your kitchen? If you think you want to make this recipe be sure to double check if you have these things. So often, I am midway through a recipe and realize I don’t have what I need. You would think I would learn from that mistake…
You will add two tablespoons each of oil and apple cider vinegar to the other ingredients right in the mortar. I think this will help distribute all the flavors evenly when mixed up later. Yeah. That sounds good.
Smoosh it up…
then add it to a mason jar. Have you heard? Mason jars or so hot right now. I think they were made to make dressing in. They are perfect for shaking them up and storing. Efficiency is hot.
If you aren’t a blue cheese fan, you aren’t going to like this recipe. There is lots of it. But you don’t want huge chunks. We usually buy a wedge of cheese and chop it. You could also use crumbles and just make sure there aren’t any large pieces.
Add the rest of the oil and vinegar to the mason jar and shake the crap out of it. Leave the jar out on the counter for 2 hours at room temperature to allow the cheese to break down in the vinegar a little and for all the flavors to start to marry.
We have always served this Blue Cheese Vinaigrette over romaine but feel free to choose what lettuce you like best.
It is best when tossed in a big bowl before serving. This is pungent stuff, you guys. You don’t a pool of this at the bottom of your bowl. You will have leftovers which will keep fine in the fridge for several days. But I warn you, it becomes even more zingy with each day that passes. But it is SO good! Just be aware. This dressing, by day 3, might be too much for some to handle.
Thank you, Mommy, for helping me to take photos of the recipe process and laughing through it with me. And thank you, Grandma, for being sneaky and stealing this recipe from your neighbor. I have had daydreams of opening my own restaurant and this is the house dressing. But that ain’t happening so you’ll have to make it for yourself. Enjoy!
Grandma’s Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (my mom hates pepper so that is why it is not pictured…fun fact)
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 cup + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup + 2 tsp vegetable oil
1 wedge blue cheese (or approximately 3 TBSP blue cheese crumbles)
Mash garlic in mortar, add salt and continue mashing, to make a paste, and no pieces are visible. Add spices and 2 tsp each of oil and vinegar and mix well. Put mixture in Mason jar. Cut up blue cheese wedge (or blue cheese crumbles) and add to the Mason jar. Add remaining oil and vinegar. Shake well. Allow salad dressing to remain at room temperature for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your food safety qualms, before putting it in the fridge. (Note: I am a total worry wart about food sitting out. That being said, I totally leave this out for the full two hours. If you look at what is in it, it is vinegar, garlic and blue cheese, the cheese has already been aged and is best served at room temperature. That is what I do, do what seems right for you.)
Lyndsey took care of all the content for the class and I focused on planning it. While I party plan for my family, I’ve never wanted to plan other people’s social events. I have thought about producing larger scale events in the future so this was a great opportunity to get my feet wet and get some real experience. I was able to use my relationships with local businesses and PR companies I have worked with on various blogging projects to put on a nice little class. I first need to start with E Madison. They could not have been more accommodating. They set up the area for the class and even facilitated a plasma screen rental for the class presentation. And to top it off, they offered the gals a discount on merchandise. I can’t wait to host another event there! Next let’s turn to Meringue Bake Shop. Most of you know the amazing Push Cakes and cupcakes that Kristin creates. But she is SO much more than that I was so excited to share this side of her with the class. With her food and the gorgeous styling by Lauren, our eyes and stomachs were super happy.
Because the class was scheduled to begin around dinner time, Kristin wanted to make sure that everyone would be full and able to focus on the class. She made the most amazing bread salad with ham and fontina cheese. I’m really hoping she will share the recipe with you all!!! I’m dying to make it again. She also made a smoked salmon dip served with bagel chips, and served goat cheese, arugula and tomato on crostini. As a sweet treat, she brought some of her mini pies (if I only had to eat Kristin’s pies for the rest of my life, I would be so happy) and a new favorite, glitter cookies. You guys. I really wish you could all taste the glitter cookies. Total melt in your mouth amazingness. The spread was rounded out snacks provided by SunChips and drinks provided by Izze.
As the class went on, Kristin wowed us with some salted caramel coffee. Yup. SO good!!
Lyndsey brought it! I learned a ton about working with PR companies and the process of pitching ideas to them. Now I just need ideas to pitch…The class was about 3 hours with a break midway through for refreshments, questions, mingling etc. The format was great. It was casual and free flowing where she followed her set presentation but would take questions or comments any time.
I especially liked that she gave us an exercise to do during class. I’m sure I am not the only person who learns better when actually doing something personally so to have that opportunity was awesome. This is one of the reasons that Lyndsey likes to keep the classes small. When we finished, whoever wanted to could run it by Lyndsey to get her feedback on how we interpreted her information.
I don’t know why I enjoy a good gift bag so much, but I really do. I reached out to some great brands to contribute items and think this gift bag turned out awesome!!! The bags included a recipe by a local cooking instructor, Jenny Warner, Lauren sewed and painted these awesome bags with social media phrasing on them, each person was given a free class of yoga or pilates at The Sweat House, JR Watkins sent their lemon creme lotion (have you smelled this?! It’s so good!), SunChips gave every participant a bag of chips and recipe booklet, Tera Rae Stephens sent over hand-made hair ties, Skin So Sweet supplied information on their amazing facials and other services, ShopModerne.com sent shirts for everyone and a discount code for more online shopping, Yasso gave everyone coupons for free frozen greek yogurt bars, Lauren made super cute gift tags with her fantastic calligraphy, Lyndsey provided branded note pads, and Tiny Prints is providing each student a coupon code for free business cards. Boom.
A huge thank you to Lyndsey for letting me be involved in this great workshop! Thank you to each and every sponsor that participated and, of course, thank you to all the students who came!! We are gauging interest on holding another class in the spring as well as one in San Diego. If you are interested in finding out more about future classes, please email me so I can put you on the list – cupcakesandcutlery at gmail dot com.
I’ve turned over a new leaf, people. I’m totally watching what I eat. But I still love snacking. So I’ve decided to not live a life void of the delicious foods that make my world go around. I’m just going to make better decisions about them. I was really excited to try this Walking Tacos recipe from SunChips. The bag above is about 1 oz. and has 18 grams of whole grains, has no MSG, artificial flavors or preservatives. So I feel justified in snacking. And here is a super easy recipe to make SunChips part of your meal.
With a few simple ingredients you can make a delicious meal very fast.
Um, hello. Have you tried the Garden Salsa flavor? I think it is my new favorite. I thought I was a Cheddar gal, but my heart now belongs to Garden Salsa. I couldn’t find the small 1-2 oz. bags of SunChips at my local grocery store, so you could also buy a large bag (which I did because who cares about my diet, I want every meal to only consist of Garden Salsa SunChips) and portion them out in to bowls or other to-go container to keep in the “walking” taco spirit.
Follow the recipe card instructions above and simply pour the chicken mixture over the top of the chips inside the bag.
Perfect for the little ones to eat and super fun because it is a totally new way to eat a meal.
*Disclosure: SunChips provided me with product to try out the recipe. All opinions in this post are mine.
Chex Mix has been a part of my holidays for a few years now. Throughout the year, my food allergic son requests the traditional recipe for a snack. So we’ll whip up a batch to munch on for a few days. But a few years ago, I was introduced to my best friend’s mother-in-law’s holiday recipe. Life changing. Her peanut filled version is treated like a mistress where I must sneak around and seek out a handful here and there to ensure my son doesn’t, well, you know, die. The effort is worth it. I don’t know what other ingredients she puts in there. And my multiple requests for the recipe have been ignored. But I always know the holidays have begun when I get the first call of, “The eagle has landed. The Chex Mix is here.” This year her mother in law is fresh out of back surgery and is not up to making it. I had been seeing ads for the Chex Holiday Mix-change in magazines and decided to explore what they had to offer since I had to take my Chex Mix intake in to my own hands.
The premise is the same as a cookie exchange but the coolest part is that they offer a ton of recipes that take only 15 minutes to make in the microwave. So in this season of too much of everything and too little time, this is a great way to still gather your friends and really enjoy each other’s company. And some delicious treats too. I decided to try out two recipes to see if they really were just that quick, easy and delicious.
The first recipe I decided to try was the Ginger Honey Crunch (seriously go look at all the recipes they have – sweet, salty, gluten free! So many!). Well, it was a modified version as I didn’t have all the ingredients/ and again, wanted to make it food allergy friendly and I really wanted to make it without going to the store. Again. With children. The honey provided a really nice sweetness and the ginger and cardamom (I used a mixture of both) added a really nice zing. I think adding the almonds and dried cranberries would make it even tastier but you can keep the dried bananas they suggest. Bananas are grody.
The next recipe I tried was the Tin Roof Crunch which uses the never disgusting pairing of chocolate and peanut butter (we used sunbutter). Also delicious. What I noticed about making it in the microwave is that the texture is less consistent than when done in the oven. If I had the time, I think I would prefer to do it in the oven. But would not hesitate to make this again in the microwave again for a quick treat. Also, I only made a half batch of the first kind because I wanted to stretch the cereal and try various recipes. This also may have made cooking times wonky as I sometimes lack kitchen common sense to catch things like that.
As I got started with my first two recipes, my 5 year old son asked if he could create one. Please see his recipe above. I will now help translate: 1. Rice Chex, backwards 2. cinnamon marshmallows, S. Salteens, 4. salt, 5. honey, 6. corn syrup. And although he didn’t write it, it had to also contain chocolate chips. I added some margarine and brown sugar to his ingredients to help make the “glaze” part and we decided to try the salteens in a future batch. We melted most of the marshmallows in with the glaze and then added some at the end for good measure. His was quite delicious! The marshmallows helped give it a sort of hardish-candy crunch. He LOVED it! So I sent it to school with him for snack for the next week (take that other kid’s apples!).
As is usually the case when I want him to take a picture, he revolts. But I bribed him with his Chex Mix and could get these shots. The ingredients do get rather hot in the microwave but he was able to help me mix some of it near the beginning making it a fun baking activity to get the kids involved in.
Pressed for time this holiday season but still want to host a Chex Mix-change? Chex makes it super easy by providing fill in invitations, recipes, party tips and even packaging ideas! Go check it all out on their site. Wouldn’t this be so fun to do along with a craft night or gift wrapping party?
Promotional consideration (is that even what it is? I just always like it when I hear it on game shows) was provided in the form of this bag by Chex. The bag is huge. As evidenced by my son fitting in it with room to spare. All opinions are mine!
all photos are mine.