Bloody Mary Ketchup

I’m not exactly what you’d call a sports fan. I mean, sure, I’ll watch gymnastics at the Summer Olympics and figure skating at the Winter Olympics. But beyond that, I don’t know the difference between a double dribble and a double play.

bloody mary ketchup
I make an exception to my sports Grinch-i-tude each summer when Handsome Greg takes me out to see our minor-league hometown team, the Saint Paul Saints. Granted, the game itself bores me to tears, but I love that the game is An Event. I love the anticipation of the action, and getting to know the people sitting near us, and the hokey entertainment between innings, and the tiara-wearing pig who delivers the game ball. And I love baseball food—hot dogs, pretzels, cracker jacks—I love it all.

Cracker Jacks

And so when I was tasked with preparing a springtime dinner for Mom and Handsome Greg last month, I thought, how can I elevate baseball cuisine?

I braised fresh bratwurst in beer infused with apples and onions, and served them in soft Kaiser hot dog rolls topped with Bloody Mary Ketchup and Rosemary-Roasted Garlic Honey Dijon. I served the brats with soft pretzels and beer cheese sauce, alongside a great, big platter of fresh veggies with homemade French onion dip. For dessert, I served homemade Cracker Jacks—caramel puff corn and peanuts in red and white striped popcorn boxes.

Touchdown! Or home run! Or whatever, I don’t know.

I first made Bloody Mary Ketchup from scratch, with slow-roasted tomatoes and onions and blah blah blah. I most recently tried the same idea with store bought ketchup, and it was every bit as good, but with far less work and time. So here’s the quicky version:

Continue reading

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Sun Dried Tomato Dip

It’s official! My dear imaginary friends, this summer I’ll be singing again. My little theater group won a spot in the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and we will present a brand, new show this August. Details will be forthcoming; keep your eye out for Blue Umbrella Productions’ premiere of Are You There, God? It’s a New Musical Revue!

Sun Dried Tomato Dip 2
To kick off our first production meeting of the season, I prepared for my collaborators, Tall Paul and Hurricane Windy, a wreath of fresh vegetables and crackers surrounding a bowl of creamy, flavor-packed sun-dried tomato dip. The silky, tangy spread was equally charming atop celery sticks, pita chips, and the next day’s turkey bagel sandwich for lunch.

Continue reading for Sun-Dried Tomato Dip recipe

Continue reading

Top Ten Recipes of 2012

Happy Holidays, imaginary internet friends! And congratulations on surviving the end of the world. Now I’m off to Barnes and Noble to demand a refund for my Mayan wall calendar. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take another look at the 10 most popular recipes I shared this year.

S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce


Asparagus Lasagna Slice

Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon


Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche


Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies


Cookies and Milk

Toffee Cashew Cookies


pie crust crackers

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers


Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

And the most popular recipe of 2012:

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Here’s to a delicious (and gooey) new year!

Grilled Lime Chicken Lettuce Boats with Avocado Salad and Chimichurri

Whew! Thirty posts in thirty days – I made it through National Grilled Cheese Month. And though I made some delicious discoveries (Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese, anyone?), I’m a little cheesed out. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready for bright, fresh spring flavors. And some roughage.

I originally made this dish for Mom and Handsome Greg as part of an Argentinian-inspired meal that began with corn and bacon empanadas and ended with baked churros, cinnamon ice cream, and homemade dulce de leche (recipes coming soon, I promise!).

For our main course, we enjoyed crispy romaine leaves filled with luscious summer salad and tender grilled chicken, and kissed with garlicky parsley pesto. Fresh and bright, hearty but not heavy.

Continue reading for the Grilled Lime Chicken Lettuce Boats recipe

Continue reading

Chicken Parmesan Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

I don’t make chicken Parmesan like a normal person – I stuff it with pepperoni and I don’t bread it. So I decided to further bastardize the classic dish and turn it into a grilled cheese sandwich. The resulting lunch was quite tasty, but not spectacular.

I wanted it to be gooier. Next time, I think I’ll make a pesto out of the tomatoes and use a melty cheese like mozzarella or provolone, with just a light sprinkling of shredded Parmesan for bite. Despite the less-than-perfect texture, the flavors are great. The garlic powder and Italian seasoning really makes it.

Continue reading

Bacon-Roasted Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

Bacon-Roasted Grilled Cheese sliced

Congratulate me, Friends: I created a grilled cheese and serendipity sandwich.

Bacon-Roasted Grilled Cheese open

One very special day, I’d had bacon for breakfast, which left me with a couple tablespoons of liquid gold, i.e. rendered bacon fat. I decided to re-purpose that fat to roast a couple cloves of garlic. After roasting the garlic, I was left with garlic-infused bacon fat, so, really, what choice did I have but to re-re-purpose it to grill my sandwich.

And oh, what a remarkable, ridiculous sandwich it was. It tasted like a bright, fresh caprese salad got loaded on tequila and cheese fries, and woke up in a strange apartment, unsure of just who was posting true confessions on her Facebook wall all night long. It was delicious, and a little embarrassing.

Bacon-Roasted Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Bake Up, Little Suzy
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 1
It tastes like a bright, fresh caprese salad got loaded on tequila and cheese fries, and woke up in a strange apartment, unsure of just who was posting true confessions on her Facebook wall all night long. It’s delicious, and a little embarrassing.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons rendered bacon grease
  • 2 slices challah bread
  • Italian 4-cheese blend
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, cut in short strips
  • Basil, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Remove two cloves from a head of garlic, but do not peel off the papery skin. Place the cloves on a small square of foil and drizzle on about a tablespoon of bacon fat. Wrap the cloves tightly in foil, and roast for 25 minutes, until the garlic is squishy.
  3. Reserve the garlic-infused bacon fat.
  4. Remove the garlic cloves from the peel and spread onto one slice of the challah.
  5. Top the garlic with shredded cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil.
  6. Close up the sandwich, and brush the outsides of the bread with the reserved garlicky bacon fat.
  7. Griddle on medium-high heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.


Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

Tomato soup grilled cheese
While I’m not the biggest fan of tomato soup, I certainly appreciate the classic combo of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, with American cheese on white bread, of course. I had a blast brainstorming potential grilled cheeses, and I was positively tickled by the idea of making a sandwich with the tomato soup inside. And it worked! The sweet, tomato cream cheese filling melted into the American cheese, and the childhood taste-memory was uncanny.

Tomato soup grilled cheese cut

Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Bake Up, Little Suzy
Prep time: 8 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 23 mins
Serves: 2
A nod to the classic childhood combo — grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup — with the soup inside!
  • 4 slices white bread
  • Butter
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons tomato sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of onion powder
  1. Combine cream cheese, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix well.
  2. Top each slice of bread with American cheese.
  3. Spread two slices of American cheese with a thin layer of cream cheese mixture.
  4. Close it up, and butter the outsides of the bread.
  5. Griddle on medium-high heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.


Hearty Lentil Soup

Y’know how sometimes the dumbest thing ever can be hysterically funny, particularly when someone else finds that same dumb thing inexplicably funny?

And how the harder you try to maintain composure, the funnier that stupid thing may seem, until the both of you dissolve in giggles with tears streaming down your cheeks and soda shooting out of your nose?

That’s what it’s like spending time with my friend, Sharee.

She and I took a trip to Los Angeles with my mom and Handsome Greg a coupla years ago, and we savored every opportunity to embarrass them (and ourselves) with our mindless, uncontrollable laughter.

Sharee has since become a most dignified photographer, and she recently sent me these gorgeous photos of her favorite lentil soup, along with the mouth-watering recipe.

Based on the pics, you’d think food photography was her specialty, but she’s actually focused more on maternity, baby, and family portraits.

Check out her portfolio here.

Shoot her an email if you’re looking for a Twin Cities photographer to capture the most beautiful moments in your life. Or if you just need someone to snort root beer with.

Continue reading for the Hearty Lentil Soup recipe

Continue reading

Pepperoni-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken
The first Valentine’s Day that Handsome Greg and I spent together came just two weeks after we met. In that lovely fortnight, we shared lingering dinners, stories of our respective pasts, several bottles of wine, and a mutual love of Ralph Wiggum. We quoted sweet, hapless Ralph to each other in nearly every situation, appropriate or not (“Sleep? Yippee! That’s where I’m a Viking!”).

Baked Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken
Valentine’s Day that year crept up way too early in our budding relationship. How do you celebrate the big V after only two weeks of dating? Greg paced the greeting card aisle on date night, bombarded with vows of everlasting love, and jokes about sex and chocolate. Not a single card was suitable for a promising romance in its infancy, and he left the gift shop empty-handed.

Pepperoni-Stuffed Chicken
Hours later, I opened his card, and my heart filled with laughter and other cured meats. He’d made a card himself, with a picture of Ralph Wiggum in front of a train, and the words, “I choo, choo, choose you.” That was eleven years ago.

Pepperoni in Chicken
Between our anniversary, Greg’s birthday (also this week), and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this time of year is a Greg-and-Suzy Love Fest. So on Saturday, I’m making one of his favorite dishes: chicken stuffed with mozzarella and pepperoni, baked in marinara. The pepperoni, sauce, and cheese keep the boneless, skinless chicken breasts nice and juicy. I originally made this same dish with salami, and I found it a bit too oily. So I replaced the salami with turkey pepperoni and, as predicted, the spicy pepperoni charmed the pants off of the chicken. The pepperoni and the chicken subsequently, um, got a room.

Butterflied Chicken

Continue reading for the Pepperoni-Stuffed Chicken recipe

Continue reading

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya

I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans. I’m intrigued by the cuisine, and a little afraid of it.

At the aromatic root of savory Cajun and Creole cooking is the holy trinity: a sauté of chopped onion, celery, and green pepper. You can find the trinity in gumbo, maque choux, étouffée, dirty rice, jambalaya, and I totally forgot what I was talking about.

But I’m on the holy trinity do-not-call list because I’m allergic to bell peppers.

Since I’m pretty sure omitting the green peppers from jambalaya will get me kicked out of the foodies club anyway, I decided to further bastardize the original recipe and make it a tad bit healthier. In the interest of my cholesterol level (and throwing convention and authenticity out the window), I used turkey kielbasa in place of the pork sausage.

And did I miss the green peppers? Um, no. Why would I miss food that makes me feel like crap? The turkey kielbasa was just as juicy and lush as smoked sausage should be. Really, it was a delicious dish – rich and flavorful, filling, and just spicy enough without blowing your head off.

I took it for lunch for a week and it reheated just right in the microwave. There was some serious lunch envy in the cafeteria that week.

Continue reading for the Chicken and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya recipe

Continue reading