Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

There is not enough coffee in the world to save me today.
 
I woke up at the crack of dawn yesterday to get my cooking done (look out for the Carrot Cake Cheesecake recipe coming up– it should be illegal, it’s so sinfully good) and then took a long, hurried drive/train ride to Newark for the hockey game.
 
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
 
Don’t get me wrong, the whole experience was great– James, four of our close friends, and I got free tickets to the VIP suites and Platinum lounges at the Prudential Center with complimentary food and drink and a great view of the game.  The event organizers recognize James and I now, as this is our third (and technically fourth) Dream Seat Series win, and I think people are under the impression that I’m actually good at Hold ‘Em at this point.  As my friend Rachel says, “Morgan– Food Blogger by day, Poker Shark by night.”
 
Unfortunately, that’s not true.  I’m actually pretty mediocre (if that) and get really lucky every once in a while.  Either that or I’m really great and I get really unlucky A LOT.  I like to think it’s the latter, but who am I kidding?  It’s James who’s actually talented at the game, and I’m just adding it on to my long list of hobbies to hoard.
 
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
 
Speaking of luck, can we talk about this Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip for a second?
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Chipotle Pesto Chicken Burrito Bowls

It all started in college, when I stumbled into a new fast food restaurant to hold me over in between classes.  I wasn’t expecting much, but after just one meal, I was hooked.  Love at first bite.  

 
Chipotle Pesto Chicken Burrito Bowl with Cilantro Lime Rice or Quinoa.  YUM.
 
But after I graduated, I quickly outgrew that fast food obsession.  I opt instead to cook all of my meals at home now…

While little birdies fly into my kitchen and help me do prep work, and tiny mice wearing fancy shirts and hats set the table for my exquisite dinner parties…

And everything is made using 100% organic ingredients…

All combined with an outpouring of love.
 
SIKE.  (Do people still say “sike” anymore?  No?  Alright, well, let’s just move along then.)
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19 of our Favorite Valentine’s Day Recipes!

There are plenty of ways that you can show your love this Valentine’s Day weekend.  You could deliver a bouquet of flowers, or make a card, or gift tickets to that awesome concert coming up– but when it comes down to it, there is only one thing that is guaranteed to make your loved one full of joy this V-day…

A full stomach.

Starters

1. Swiss or Cheddar Cheese Fondue

Swiss Cheese Fondue

Roses are red
Violets are blue
The key to my heart
Is cheesy fondue.

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Pecan Crusted Cajun Catfish with Maple Dijon Sauce

I don’t have many fish recipes up on the blog because, honestly, I’m not a huge fan.  There have been very few times that I’ve eaten fish and enjoyed it, or at least not thought, “This would be even better if it was chicken.”  In fact, there’s only been one fish dish that I can remember that I’ve been crazy about– a dish I ate years ago while on a date at a New Orleans-themed restaurant in New Brunswick.  I’ll give you one guess as to what it was.
 
Yup, you got it.  Pecan Crusted Cajun Catfish.
 
Baked Pecan Crusted Cajun Catfish with Maple Dijon Sauce
 
I wouldn’t normally order catfish, but at the time I was really trying to “broaden my horizons” with food as I had just gotten into cooking.  When the waiter placed the catfish in front of me, I started to get nervous.  Would I actually like it?  Would I be able to eat it, or would I embarrass myself in front of this guy by just picking at my meal?
 
I was surprised when I took my first bite and loved it.  The flaky fish, sweet, spicy, and crunchy coating, and flavorful sauce were perfect together.  I ate my entire meal in minutes, only stopping in between bites to make those awkward I-love-this-food moans.  It wasn’t until after I had practically licked my plate clean that I remembered that I was on a date.  ”So… you really liked that catfish,” he said.  He finished his dinner and I tried to play off the fact that I just devoured my food Cookie Monster style.
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How to Put Together Your Own Italian Wine and Antipasto Spread

I personally don’t believe that you can go over-the-top with a meal as long as the taste is worth it in the end.  I don’t find anything wrong with spending hours in the kitchen, or searching high and low for the best ingredients, or meticulously planning out the details of each course.  Food is something worth laboring over.  However, sometimes we have to resist the urge to go all-out, and remember that some of the most amazing things we have ever eaten have been simple– a fresh fig and drizzle of honey, a slice of tomato, a bit of mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a flavorful cheese balanced with a sip of wine.  There is something to be said about the amplified appeal of food when paired correctly, a sort of effort that requires more knowledge than hard work.

Italian Wine and Antipasto Spread

I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t have that knowledge a few weeks ago, but I made the effort to educate myself on flavor profiles and pairings and it most definitely paid off.

Keep in mind, if you put cheese and meat on a plate and pour me a glass of wine, I don’t really care if they go together well, I just want to eat them all.  Usually, that is.  But after a visit from my Aunt Sandy, who picks at antipasto every night and once cried (yes, seriously) while on vacation because she missed her smoked meats and sharp cheeses, I really was yearning for a spread that contained more than just pre-sliced pepperoni and cheddar.

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