Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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A guacamole grilled cheese sandwich has been on my to try list for a while now and since I was making the bacon guacamole on the weekend I figured I would just pick up double the ingredients and make both. The basic idea behind this grilled cheese is quite simple and it started out with just adding guacamole to a grilled cheese but with the success of combining salty bacon-y magnificence with cool and creamy guacamole I could not resist adding a few slices of bacon to the sandwich. I also had some leftover corn tortilla chips from dipping on the weekend so I decided to crumble a few of them and add them to the sandwich for texture.

Game Day Party Recipes

Pizza Dip

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The Big Game is the perfect excuse to invite some friends over and throw a party and any kind of game day party is going to need food! Forget about calling for pizza because these recipes are all easy to make so you can make a few of them to ensure that you do not run out mid way through the the game. Even if you are not throwing the party but are instead heading over to a party or even tailgating you can never go wrong bringing some food to share and your friends will never forget these tasty snacks! Below you will find some of my favourite snacks for the big game and they include a lot dips which have to be one of the best party foods around but there are also a few non-dip snacks and even some great healthy options. These snacks are definitely not restricted to the big football game and would go just as well when you have friends over to watch any kind of game whether it be football, hockey, basketball, baseball or even soccer; so crack some of these recipes out and make sure that not only do your friends not go home hungry but that they leave raving about the food more than the game!

Pizza Dip

The Pizza Dip recipe is a recent discovery but I was immediately addicted and requests keep coming in to make it again.


Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Although Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip is an old-y, it is a classic for a very good reason and the recipe is super easy too boot!


Bacon Double Cheese Burger Dip

This Bacon Double Cheese Burger Dip is inspired by the flavours of a bacon double cheese burger and it is perfect game day food! The fresh lettuce and tomato topping makes this hot cheese dip extraordinary, though completely optional.


Blue Cheese Guacamole

Not all dips have to be cheese based and Guacamole is a great example of one that is not. I always enjoy playing around with guacamole recipes and one of my latest experiments a Blue Cheese Guacamole turned out to be truly amazing!


Jalapeno Popper Dip

Dip recipes are certainly making the appearance on this list and this Jalapeno Popper Dip will not be left behind with the spicy jalapenos in a creamy melted cheese sauce topped with crunchy panko crumbs.


Artichoke Bread

With all of the amazing dips at you party for the big game you might just get tired of all that dipping so save your elbows and wrists the strain of dipping by baking the dip right into some bread like in this recipe for an Artichoke Bread.


Potato Skins

If you are looking for something other than a dip, you really cannot go wrong with Potato Skins which although they take a bit of time to make, the recipe is pretty easy and they are well worth it. One of the things that I like so much about potato skins is that you can fill or stuff them with anything you want and one of my favourites is a simple combo of melted cheese with bacon topped with sour cream. If you really want to get creative you could stuff them with the flavours of your favourite food such as pizza.


Jalapeno Poppers

Some more classic party food that is perfect for the big game are these Jalapeno Poppers which are pretty easy to make at home and they will disappear in seconds so make a lot!


Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks with Marinara Sauce

If you want, you can easily keep your game day appetizers on the healthier side and these Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks with Marinara Sauce would make a great start with their crispy baked on crust and a tasty sauce for dipping.


Greek 7 Layer Dip

Dips can be healthy too and this Greek 7 Layer Dip, which is a take on the classic 7 Layer Dip, just might be better than the original! The Mediterranean flavour combos in this dip are addictively good so make sure that you have lots of toasted pita wedges for dipping.


Game Day Party Food eCookbook

Many of these recipes are included in the Closet Cooking Game Day Party Food Cookbook along with 5 new recipes including bacon wrapped bourbon BBQ chicken wings.Game Day Party Food eCookbook





Bacon Guacamole

Bacon Guacamole

I already have a few hot melted cheese dips planned for the upcoming Super Bowl party but I also want to include something a little on the healthier side and guacamole is perfect party food! The basic guacamole is pretty darn irresistible but I cannot help but tinker with it by adding different things with an example being the blue cheese guacamole that I made not too long ago. This time however I was thinking about a bacon guacamole; if bacon and avocado go great together in sandwiches, and they do, then why not add bacon to guacamole?

Taco Dip

Taco Dip

With the big football game quickly approaching I have been getting some snack recipes together for the party. The burger dip that I made last week got me thinking about hot cheesy dips and one my favourites has to be this taco dip! Since I last made this dip I have learned a few things and I was just itching to make it again and apply what I had learned. The first thing that I wanted to change was to make it in a wider dish since I had discovered that it works really well for hot cheesy dips when I made the pizza dip. The burger dip that I made last week taught me that topping a hot dip with fresh ingredients makes it even better, as hard as that is to believe! If any dip deserves to be topped with fresh ingredients it is this taco dip as tacos are commonly filled with fresh ingredients!

Quinoa Flatbread with Tabbouleh, Falafel, Feta and Pomegranate

Quinoa Flatbread

Next up in my week long exploration of Mediterranean cuisine and quinoa was these quinoa pancakes or flatbreads that I came across a while ago. They caught my attention immediately because of the creative use of quinoa and because of the tasty sounding Mediterranean toppings. These flatbreads are really simple to make with only a few ingredients including ground quinoa, flour, an egg and some water. I liked the sound of grinding my own quinoa as it allowed me the opportunity to make it a really coarse grind allowing a lot of the quinoa to remain whole as I figure the texture would be pretty amazing. After the batter is mixed it is as easy as cooking them in a pan as you would a pancake only they are not going to rise.

Falafel

Falafel

Falafel, or fried chickepea patties, have been on my todo list for a while! Making the quioa tabouleh salad reminded of a photo that I had seen a long time ago where perfectly golden brown falafel were served on a bed of tabbouleh and I figured that it was the perfect time to try making falafel! As it turns out, making light, crispy and perfectly golden brown falafel at home is quite easy, though if you are starting with dried chickpeas you do need to let them soak over night so it takes some planning.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

When I made the quinoa cakes with roasted red pepper and walnut pesto, goat cheese and a poached egg it reminded me that I had not done much with quinoa lately and that got me thinking about all of the things that I want to try using quinoa in. A quinoa tabbouleh was pretty high on my list of quinoa dishes to try and it would fit in nicely with a few other recipes as well so I started with that. Tabbouleh is normally made with bulgar but I figured that the texture of quinoa would work well in it. In addition to the bulgar a tabbouleh salads normally consist of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsly and mint and it is dressed up in lemon juice and olive oil. I kept things pretty straight forward with this tabbouleh salad other than swapping the bulgar out for the quinoa and it turned out really well! There is nothing like a light salad filled with fresh herbs and a hit of lemon to push back the gloom of winter!

Mapo Eggplant

Mapo Eggplant

One of my favourite Chinese dishes has to be mapo tofu for its use of not only the chili heat and numbing Sichuan peppercorn combo but also for its use of another great Chinese ingredient, fermented black beans. Mapo tofu or mapo doufu is a dish where tofu and ground pork are served in a tasty chili and bean sauce but I was thinking that it would be nice to try replacing the tofu with eggplant and braising it in the sauce until it was nice and tender. This dish includes a few ingredients that may not be in every pantry but it is well worth the effort to track them down. If you cannot find the dried fermented black beans you can replace them and the garlic with black bean and garlic sauce which is more commonly available in the Asian section of grocery stores along with the fermented bean paste. I served the mapo eggplant on noodles, which are said to be lucky on the lunar New Year, garnished with green onions along with shredded cucumber to tame the heat of the dish.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Bacon Double Cheese Burger Dip

Bacon Double Cheese Burger Dip

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The Super Bowl is quickly approaching and that means that it is time to start dusting off some recipes for snacking! I am a big fan of hot melted cheese dips and I had an idea for a new one, a bacon double cheese burger dip that has all of the flavours of a bacon double cheese burger. Beef is the main part of a burger so I started out there and I added some ingredients that I commonly add to burgers including onions, garlic and worcestershire sauce. Next up was the bacon and then the cheese and I included both cheddar for the flavour and mozzarella for the stringy melted goodness. I went with the standard hot melted cheese dip ingredients including the cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream to form the base of the dip. One final touch was the addition of ketchup as it is a pretty standard condiment used in burgers. All of the ingredients are then mixed together and baked until the cheeses all melt and start to brown and get all bubbly.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

With all of this talk about Chinese food it was about time that I got down to cooking some! There are several different types of Chinese cuisine and I would have to say that my favourite is the cuisine that comes from the Sichuan province for its use of chilies and the mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Kung pao chicken is a quick and tasty dish that hails from the Sichuan province and uses both chilies and Sichuan peppercorns and it is a dish that I keep coming back to for more. This recipe is really easy to make though some of the ingredients may not be in every pantry. Although you can replace some of the ingredients with more commonly available ones, I recommend that you try to track down some of the Sichuan peppercorns as they really bring a lot to the table. This is mainly a meat dish that is intended to be served with other vegetable dishes but you can easily add some extra vegetables to the chicken and quickly stir fry them as I did this time with a red bell pepper. This time I also served the kung pao chicken with some steamed baby bok choy in an ouster sauce with fried shallots.

Chinese New Year Recipes

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

With the Chinese New Year right around the corner I thought that I would take the opportunity to pull out some of my favourites Chinese recipes. Chinese cuisine is filled with tasty dishes, great ingredients and new techniques for cooking and it is definitely worth spending some time on to learn a bit more of.

Some foods are considered lucky to eat for the New Year and they include things like long noodles, spring rolls, lettuce, tangerines, whole fish, whole chicken, sticky rice cakes and more. You could keep to the lucky foods for the Chinese New Year or you could go with your favourite Chinese dishes and here are a few of mine.

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

My favourite Chinese food has to be Jiaozi or Chinese dumplings

and they are surprisingly easy to make at home whether you make your own wrappers or not.

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup is another one of my favourites! It has a few uncommon ingredients but it was definitely worth the trip down to Chinatown to find them!


Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns)

Another great Chinese dish is Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) and the soft and fluffy steamed buns are easy to make at home as well! You can fill the steamed buns with any number of things but my favourite is Char Siu or Chinese BBQ pork).


Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Speaking of Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork), it is a great dish all by it self and they leftovers are always fun to use in other recipes.


Mapo Tofu

Sichuan recipes are among my favourite in Chinese cuisine as I am fond of spicy food like this amazing Mapo Tofu dish that also includes the Sichuan peppercorns that have a slight mouth numbing effect.


Kung Pao Shrimp

Another classic Chinese dish is Kung Pao Chicken though you can make it with other meats and I am rather fond of Kung Pao Shrimp.


Honey Lemon Chicken

Honey and lemon is a simple and yet wonderful flavour combination that is exemplified in this Honey Lemon Chicken recipe that is normally made with cut up pieces of chicken.


Honey Walnut Shrimp

Honey Walnut Shrimp is not the most diet friendly dish but it is addictively tasty and good!


Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

Another amazing Chinese soup is this Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup which is just full of flavour!


Egg Foo Young

A recent addition to my Chinese recipe collection is this Egg Foo Young which is a really tasty vegetable omelette that is served on rice and smothered in gravy and it is not to be missed.

Egg Foo Young

Egg Foo Young

The Chinese New Year is right around the corner and I figured that that was the perfect excuse to pull our some Chinese recipes! On the top of my list was egg foo young which is a Chinese omelette that is stuffed with vegetables, served on rice and topped with a simple and yet tasty gravy. The base of egg foo young is normally vegetables and bean sprouts, cabbage, onions, water chestnuts etc. are commonly used but you can include pretty whatever vegetables you like. (Making egg foo young is a great way to clean out the fridge!) Meats can also be included and common ones include ham, shrimp, pork, beef and/or chicken but you can easily keep it vegetarian by sticking with just the vegetables and padding them out with mushrooms never hurts. All of the ingredients are held together by, you guessed it, eggs! Once the 'batter' has been made it is fried until golden brown in a pan and the cooked eggs hold everything together.

Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto, Goat Cheese and a Poached Egg

Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto, Goat Cheese and a Poached Egg

I have been a huge fan of quinoa ever since I first came across it and I am always looking for new ways to enjoy it. I recently came across the idea of quinoa cakes on Annie's Eats and I immediately knew that I would have to try them! Quinoa cakes are essentially fritters where the 'batter' is made from cooked quinoa along with some eggs and flour to bind it and the batter is formed into patties and fried in oil until nice and golden brown and light and crispy on the outside. Although you could add pretty much any flavours that you want to your quinoa cakes I wanted to keep my first quinoa cakes nice and simple and I just added the standard onions, garlic and cheese to the basic batter.

Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos

Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos

Another thing that I often think about when I am trying to eat lighter is seafood and one of my goals is to try to include fish in my diet more often. These fish tacos that have been on my mind for a while now and they were the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone so to say. I certainly was not going to let the fact that it is the middle of winter stop me from doing some grilling, not when it is easy enough to pull out my trusty grilling pan. The grilling pan might not give that smoky flavour of a real grill but it is great way to cast back a bit of winter's gloom by using it to make a summery dish!

Tomatillo Pico de Gallo

Tomatillo Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo has to be my all time favourite salsa and it is a fresh and mild tomato based salsa that consists of onions, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice in addition to the tomatoes. For a long time I have been wondering what a tomatillo version of pico de gallo would be where the tomatoes were replaced by fresh diced tomatillos and with fish tacos on the menu it seemed like the perfect time to try it out. Luckily I was able to get my hands on some tomatillos even though it is the middle of winter and this fresh tomatillo salsa definitely reminded me of warmer days! If you are a fan of tomatillos then this is the salsa for you! I could easily devour a whole bowl of it, simply scooping it up with with tortillas chips but this time I had something else in mind so I had to save some for later.

Roasted Mushroom and Green Bean Farro Salad

Roasted Mushroom and Green Bean Farro Salad

With January here I have been trying to eat healthier and when I am doing that I often think about salads, whole grain salads in particular. The combination of green beans and mushrooms are a favourite of mine whether I am simply sauteing them as a side dish or doing something more with them like making a casserole and I have had the idea to use them in a whole grain salad for a while now. Normally I would start a salad like this by sauteing the mushrooms and green beans but this time I thought that I would try something a little different and roast them both in the oven. Roasting vegetables seems to concentrate their flavours and make them even tastier and I was thinking that that would be the perfect way to go for this salad. With the vegetables decided the next component is the whole grain and there are a lot of choices that would work in this salad but I decided to go with farro. Farro is a really nice whole grain and I enjoy its earthy nuttiness and the chewy texture. For the dressing I went with a flavour packed homemade balsamic vinaigrette and I finished the salad off with a bit of feta though goat cheese or a mild blue cheese would also be wonderful.

Crockpot Chicken Santa Fe

Crockpot Chicken Santa Fe

Over the last little while I have come across a number of tasty looking crockpot recipes and that reminded me about the crockpot that I picked up over a year ago and hardly used. The only thing that I have really done with it so far is pulled pork, and it is really good at slowly braising pork until it is pull apart tender, but I had always wanted to try doing something more with it. I had always liked the idea of being able to put some ingredients into a crockpot, walk away for a few hours and come back to a fully cooked meal with no fuss and minimum effort but I had never gotten around to trying it out. Even though the holidays are done and the new year is hear, I have been pretty busy and I figured that it was the perfect time to get into some crock pot cooking and I wanted to start with this tasty recipe for crockpot chicken santa fe that I found on Skinny Taste

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup
Winter is the time for soups and I have been certainly making a lot of them lately! Lasagna has to be one of my all time favourite meals and when I recently came across the idea for a lasagna soup on a farmgil's dabbles I was immediately enamored with it. A basic lasagna is made with layers of a tomato meat sauce, pasta and cheese and this soup has them all! At the base of the soup is some tasty Italian sausage along with diced tomatoes to form the 'sauce' of the soup and of course it is easy to add pasta to any soup and that only leaves the cheese layer which is added just before serving in the form of a dollop of cheese that melts quite nicely into the hot soup.

Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John (Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens)

Black-eyed peas are commonly served for New Years as they are said to bring luck and I hardly need an excuse to eat more beans! Hoppin' John is a southern rice and beans dish that uses black-eyed peas which makes it perfect for New Years cooking. The black-eyed peas are slowly simmered with a ham hock or bacon until the get nice and creamy and they absorb all of that amazing smokey flavour. After the beans are done simmering the meat from the ham hock can be pulled from the bone and shredded to make the Hoppin' John a bit heartier. The recipe for Hoppin' John that I like to use is a slightly modified version of Emeril Lagasse's and it is pretty easy to make though it does require some time to properly bring out all of the flavours. Other than the fat in the meat this dish is pretty healthy and I like to serve it on top of steamed brown rice and to top it with steamed collard greens which are also said to be lucky for the new year.

Happy New Year!