Easy Cheese Plate

I have been known to overdo it when it comes to entertaining. In my past life, I would have steered away from this easy cheese plate, for fear it was too easy to impress. This has lead to disaster on more than one occasion (see: Mother’s Day). Add this to the list of the Taste Tester’s great annoyances. He has been known to complain or even be hesitant to host certain events due to this charming quality. But, he has a point. When you are overwhelmed and frazzled, it doesn’t really matter how good the food tastes, your guests probably aren’t going to have a great time. After all, your guests came to see YOU, not the back of your head as you stir pots and pull things in and out of the oven and maybe set off the fire alarm.

That’s why, when it comes to entertaining, I have tried to adopt the keep it simple policy. I have found that guests are impressed enough with your presence and the fact that they are being served a delicious meal. No need to make complex dishes, just focus on simplicity to maximize time for enjoying one and other’s company. Read more

Chickpea Party Mix

What’s your favorite snack food? It’s hard to pick just one. There are many, many versions of chips, nachos, dips, etc. that I can eat without stopping. But, if I had to pick just one thing that can be found in a bag, I have to choose party mix. My number one favorite is that Gardetto’s brand party mix that my parents used to take in the car on every road trip, along with Milk Duds and maybe some Twizzlers. And of course Gatorade for my dad. A close second would be Chex mix, which is quite similar to Gardetto’s except for what it adds in crunchy cereal goodness it detracts in subpar rye chips. Read more

PB&J Sriracha Sliders

I can’t take any credit for the idea behind this recipe. It was 100% the taste tester. But really, the taste tester can’t take credit for it either, because he heard it on the radio. A few nights ago, as I was making dinner, he said, what do you think about a burger with sriaracha and peanut butter? I’ll admit, I was perplexed. Peanut butter? On a burger? And, I know this puts me on the wrong side of a hot trend, but I am not the biggest Sriracha fan either. So, it should have come as no surprise when he admitted that the idea was not his own, but instead he heard or read about it at some point during that day. Read more

Really Easy Pie Crust

All my life, I have never understood the fuss over pie crust. I have heard people complain that it’s difficult to make or finicky, but this was not something I had ever experienced. Recipes that required pages of instructions and multiple refrigerations and par-baking-what did that even mean? And store-bought pie crust? To this day, I’m not sure I’ve eaten it. Why buy store-bought when you can make it yourself? Read more

Cheap Eats: Greek Yogurt Pasta

Pasta has a pretty bad rap these days, and mostly for good reason. The serving sizes are pretty puny when compared to its vegetable noodle equivalents and I don’t find it particularly filling. If you make a meal on only pasta, you may find yourself feeling pretty chubby over the next few days, especially if you are a carb-avoider like me!

BUT, this pasta, is SO WORTH IT! First, it couldn’t be easier to prep. It comes together so quickly and it could be a one-pot meal if you skip the mushrooms. Second, instead of loading up the carb-heavy pasta with a creamy, fat-laden, coma inducing sauce, these noodles are nestled in a pool of Greek yogurt. And, as we all know, Greek yogurt is pretty low in calories and has tons of health benefits such as providing protein, being super filling, and filling your belly with lots of good bacteria. Not to mention, this is CHEAP to make and will last several days in the fridge. Read more

No Bean Chili From Scratch

This week has been a rough one in the FoodioCentric kitchen. Do you ever have those weeks when, despite your best intentions, nothing comes out as planned? On Monday, it was an attempted “healthy” recreation of my Mom’s chicken casserole (originally with Bisquick) that, due to a lack of butter, went horribly, horribly wrong. On Tuesday it was Greek pizzas, which I found so delicious that I had one every day for lunch this week, but were a definite miss with the taste tester. On Wednesday, it was this chicken, which both smelled and tasted heavenly but had a pinkish hue that left the taste tester unable to fully enjoy it for fear of contracting salmonella. So yah, last night, I needed a win in a big way. Read more

Key Lime Pie

For some people, the biggest social nightmare imaginable is showing up at an event wearing the same outfit as someone else. Granted, these people are women, because most men at any event tend to be wearing some variation of the same outfit anyway. This has never really been an issue or fear for me, probably because I don’t tend to have an adventurous fashion sense and therefore do not put a lot of creativity into my clothing choices.

Key Lime Pie

However, the food blogger equivalent of this scenario happened to me last weekend. I made this key lime pie for a Memorial Day BBQ, which I thought was a safe choice because key lime pie is not the type of thing that shows up very often. Well, wouldn’t it be my luck that someone would show up with the EXACT SAME PIE, but luckily, theirs was purchased from Costco so no one was put in the unfortunate position of having to judge who was the better cook. I was nervous, however, that the bakery at a big-box store would show up the pie I spent a couple hours baking the day before. Read more

White Bean Feta Dip

I’m not sure if you all realize this, but Memorial Day is this weekend! That means summer is like four days away. You might not be aware of this if you, like me, live in the frozen tundra Michigan where for some reason it was 30 degrees last night. Yesterday the high was 50. Fifty degrees feels just swell in March, but in May? Not so much.

Side Note: One thing this blog has made me realize is I complain about the weather A LOT. BUT, I live in Michigan, so I am entitled. If you live farther south and you want to complain to me about the rain/snow/sleet/cold, I have no patience for you. Read more

Fig and Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese

I love having people over. The only hobby I enjoy more than cooking is inviting people into my home so that they can tell me what a good cook I am! A major perk to being in the mid-to-late twenties age range is that most of my friends don’t really expect a lot when it comes to party food. Generally just having food available leads to much appreciation and praise. I can’t tell you how many times I have impressed friends with my ability to make massive amounts of stove-top popcorn smothered in butter and served at an opportune moment when everyone is simultaneously starving and unwilling to actually leave the apartment in search of food.

Olive Center

Even though my regular party guests are easy to impress, that doesn’t stop me from occasionally attempting elaborate, expensive, and exorbitantly messy feats in the name of entertaining. This was a habit pointed out to me recently when I was contemplating the menu for our Super Bowl party. My taste tester, who has witnessed various disasters in the past said this: “Make whatever you want, but try to focus on having fun and not making a mess.” This is my new rule in entertaining. Parties will be so much more fun for you-and your guests-when you can be relaxed, fully present, and not preoccupied with trying to prepare and clean-up a culinary masterpiece. I still try to be adventurous when it comes to entertaining, but now I seek out simple recipes that can be made easily in advance. Read more