my foodgawker gallery



Creamy onion dip

My husband and I have a common love of dips. It is one of the first things we discovered that we both enjoyed, along with skydiving, kissing and margaritas. Not all together. Well, dips and margaritas go together (we have even managed to make skydiving and kissing go together, ha!). When we were first dating, we made a lot of different dips and we would sit out on my patio and eat and talk until the sun went down. Aaaaahhhh, those were the days.

The appetizer/dip section of our personal recipe book is pretty extensive, but we are always looking for things to add to it. We recently discovered this simple, yet delicious little dip that tastes wonderful with chips, crackers and veggies alike. It is a perfect party staple and it is guaranteed to get devoured. Baby carrots will undoubtedly be found scraping the sides of the bowl, searching for every last morsel of dip yumminess.

In a medium bowl, stir together:

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix

1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese (use feta if you are not a bleu fan)

Cover and chill for up to 48 hours. Sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving. Enjoy!

 Click here for a printable recipe!


Broccoli à la Catalan

This is Week #4 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

I adore broccoli and peppers alike, but this recipe is most definitely not one that I would have picked out of a cookbook on my own. Which is precisely why I am loving this challenge! I'm broadening my horizons, and I am finding that I should not be judging recipes so harshly.

This was a fantastic side dish! My husband made chicken to go along with it for dinner, and everything tasted great together. Oooo, I just had an idea! Tomorrow night I am going to cube the leftover chicken and toss it in with the broccoli and peppers. Mmmmm, can't wait. Why do I get so excited about food?

Roast 4 red bell peppers. When they are finished (keep the oven on!), allow the peppers to cool.

Once they have cooled, peel, seed and core them and cut them into thin strips. Place the pepper strips into a bowl along with:

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Salt and pepper, to taste

Spread 1 tablespoon of pine nuts (I used chopped walnuts for this reason) on a pie plate and toast in the oven until golden, about 2 minutes.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine:

1 tablespoon golden raisins (I used 2 Tbsp)

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons water

Microwave for 30 seconds, until the raisins are plump. Let cool, then drain the liquid from the raisins.

In a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add 2 cups of broccoli florets cut into 3/4-inch pieces, cover and steam until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer broccoli to a bowl and toss with:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Microwaved golden raisins

Toasted pine nuts (or walnuts)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Spread the peppers on a platter and top with the broccoli salad. Serve immediately. Enjoy! 

Click here for a printable recipe!


How to roast bell peppers

Aren't roasted peppers pretty? Of course, I think all food is pretty, hence my interest in food photography. If you would like to gaze at and photograph some beautiful roasted red peppers (oh, and eat them, too), here is what you will need to do. It's the simplest thing in the world! Aside from maybe breathing.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Cut the bell peppers (of any color) directly down the middle and place them on a baking sheet lined with lightly greased aluminum foil.

Put the baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast for a total of 25 minutes, turning the peppers once at the half-way mark.

And that's that! Peel, seed and core the peppers to your liking. Easy, right?


Focus lock

Aside from exposure compensation, focus lock is perhaps my favorite feature on my camera. This feature can be found on almost every digital camera that has been made within the past few years. I use it ALL. THE. TIME. There is a time and place for changing focal points on a camera, and I will cover that in another post, but most of the time focus lock is all I need.

Focus lock allows your camera to quickly focus on a subject that you don't necessarily want to appear directly in the center of your photograph.

For example, I didn't want these leaves to appear directly in the center of my photo. I looked through my viewfinder and positioned the center focus point directly over the object I wanted most sharply in focus, the uppermost leaves in the foreground. I held my shutter button down half way until I heard a beep. Once I heard the beep, I knew my camera understood the exact point I wanted it to stay focused on.

Keeping my shutter button held down half way, I moved my camera down and to the left a bit until I liked where the leaves were positioned in my viewfinder. I pressed the shutter button the rest of the way down to capture this picture.

The leaves remained sharply in focus and they didn't have to reside directly in the center of my photo.

Keep in mind that this only works if both the camera and the subject do not change depths/planes. If I would have taken even a tiny step forward or backward after I had pressed the shutter button down half way, the leaves would not have remained in focus. I would have had to release my shutter button completely and start over.

Here is another example where I held my shutter button down half way after center-focusing on the big tree you see on the left and then moving my camera over to the right and snapping the photo. The tree trunk remains in focus, but it is not in the center of my photograph.

Getting to know this feature on your camera will allow you to view your subject, and the composition of your entire photograph, in a whole new way. It is fun to stray from the belief that everything you take a photograph of must remain directly in the center of your photograph.


Bacon & pepper infused vodka


 I love heat. All forms of it. I love sweating profusely as I lie on the beach and I love wrapping a warm blanket around myself while I lounge on the couch (neither happens often enough). My love for heat applies to food, as well. I love food that makes my mouth burn and my nose run. The spicier, the better!

When I read about the new trend involving infusing vodka with flavor, my first thought was that I wanted to try adding heat as my "flavor." I researched vodka infusion and found that creating spicy vodka is not uncommon! So, thinking in terms of a good spicy base for a bloody mary, I purchased three of the hottest peppers available at the grocery store and I kindly asked my husband to fry me up some bacon (for some reason, this is always a task he does).

In a large jar, I placed:

Two slices of peppered bacon, cooked

1 serrano pepper, halved

1 green chile pepper, halved

1 habanero pepper, halved

I poured vodka over the bacon and peppers until the jar was almost full (somewhere around 32 oz. of vodka). I used a middle shelf vodka. There's no need to go top shelf, but I tend to stay away from the bottom shelf, as well.

And then I screwed the lid on tight and put the jar in my garage, where it is dark and cool. And dirty. But nevermind the dirty part.

I let the vodka absorb the peppery, meaty flavors for 48 hours. If you love spice like I do, 48 hours is the perfect amount of time for the infusion. If you like just a little bit of spice, cut that time back to 24 hours.

I strained the liquid using a coffee filter that sat inside a hand strainer. Actually, my husband did the straining so I can't take credit for that part.

At the end of the 48 hours, my concoction SMELLED hot, so I was afraid to taste it. I took a tiny little sip and it was most definitely hot, but also full of flavor! For me, this will always be an addition to bloody marys. I don't plan to drink it alone or mix it with anything else. It is, through and through, a bloody-mary-only vodka.

And let me tell you, it makes a killer bloody mary. Delicious!

Bacon and Pepper Infused Vodka

Spruce up vodka with bacon and hot peppers!

Serves: 20

Total time: 48 hrs, 15 min

Bacon and Pepper Infused Vodka
  • 2 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 serrano pepper, halved
  • 1 habañero pepper, halved
  • 1 chili pepper, halved
  • 32 ounces vodka
  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar, cover with a lid and let sit in a cool, dark place for 48 hours. Strain, using a coffee filter and/or strainer. Serve with bloody marys.