The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Ingredient: Worcestershire sauce

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aioli

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aioli

Artichokes have always been part of my family’s holiday traditions. As long as I can remember, my Grandparents would fly into town for Thanksgiving and my Grandmother would always make stuffed artichokes. Whole artichokes were ‘stuffed’ with breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasoning then steamed for 45 minutes. So, these crispy artichoke hearts with lemon aioli are a nod to her and my family’s Italian ancestry. Equally as delicious but much quicker to prepare and cost effective because you use frozen artichoke hearts instead of fresh whole artichokes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love whole artichokes and still cook them from time to time but I have fallen for this preparation of crispy artichoke hearts with lemon aioli as one of my go to appetizers. Another thing that I love about this recipe is that you can keep all the ingredients on hand fairly easily so no running to the store at the last minute because your friends are doing a pop in this evening for a drink. Doesn’t that sound good?

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aioli 3But first, I want to talk for a minute about growing artichokes in your garden. Have you grown them? Have you seen them growing in someone else’s garden? One of my friends had a neighbor who had them in her garden and they were rather magnificent. Check out the video below to see what they look like in the wild. Well, not the wild but not in the grocery store or Costco.

Okay, back to crispy artichoke hearts with lemon aioli. I keep a bag or two of artichoke hearts in my freezer all the time. With a simple egg wash, a dunk into bread crumbs, a quick bake in the oven, you can have an elegant appetizer ready in less than thirty minutes. Be sure to check out my recipe for Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata if you want more artichoke recipes.

You will also want a dipping sauce for these crispy bites. There are two sauces that I love to serve with crispy artichoke hearts. One is a lemon aioli which is luscious and a great companion for the artichokes. You can also serve them with marinara sauce which is a little bit lighter than aioli.

How to Make Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Lemon  Aioli

Whether you decide to dip in aioli or marinara sauce or both, let me know if you try these crispy artichoke hearts. You can be sure that I will be serving these up this holiday season.

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aioli

Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup-1

You probably know that Wisconsin has the lock on any beer cheese soup recipe. Heck, Wisconsin most likely has the lock on anything to do with beer or cheese in general. But, here I am, offering up my own version of beer cheese soup with a little bit of western flair. Please forgive me Midwesterners, we just want in on some of the beer cheese soup fun.

Beer cheese soup is a fall essential. It is perfect to have on cool autumn weekends whether you have just finished raking leaves, picking apples, or watching football. I make a pot of soup every weekend and enjoy having leftovers for the work week ahead. For me, a bowl of soup is ideal for a quick weeknight dinner or equally awesome to take to work for lunch.

Beer Cheese Soup-5

Sometime during my 30s, my body decided that it no longer could handle milk or cream in any form. So, instead of using half and half to add a creamy element to the soup, I made cashew cream using this recipe. If you are not bothered by cream you can use it instead but I really do love cashew cream.

You can choose your favorite cheddar for beer cheese soup. I typically go with sharp cheddar because I love the flavor but if you or your people prefer a more mild cheddar by all means go with that. I do feel as though having some sort of bread to dip into the soup is essential.

Beer Cheese Soup-7

I was wowed by the photogenic quality of this beautiful baguette but also think soft pretzels would be fantastic to serve with beer cheese soup. I have used this recipe to make soft pretzel bites before and they were delicious and perfect for dipping. But, I am eyeballing this recipe for everything soft pretzel bites. Don’t you think they would be fantastic with beer cheese soup? I love everything that is everything flavored. By the way, have you tried the ‘everything but the bagel’ seasoning at Trader Joe’s? Recommended.

How to Make Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup pin

Bloody Marys for a Crowd

Bloody Marys for a Crowd

How often do you need to make one bloody Mary? My guess is not very often. Sometimes, on a lazy Sunday we make up two Bloody Marys, and, on occasion, we will make a second round. But, it seems as though we most often make Bloody Marys when there is a crowd. Sometimes we want to make Bloody Marys when we have friends or family over for a weekend brunch. Other times, we want to make them when our group is camping out in the mountains eagerly awaiting breakfast by the campfire.

We love our Bloody Mary recipe but I hated having to make up each cocktail individually when I was making them for a group. Therefore, a few weekends ago, I did some math, tested the recipe (twice!), and came up with the proportions for making our delicious Bloody Marys for a crowd. You are welcome!

These Bloody Marys are spicy, savory, and delicious. Use your favorite Bloody Mary mix as a base for the Bloody Marys. Then, add some infused vodka. You can buy commercially prepared infused vodka but I would encourage you to infuse your own. We used this recipe from Bon Appetit for Black Pepper and Horseradish infused vodka.  It turned out so good! Of course, you can just use all plain vodka but adding the infused vodka and Bacardi Limon take these Bloody Marys to the next level.

Bloody Marys for a Crowd

How to Make Bloody Marys for a Crowd

Another important consideration when making Bloody Marys for a group is your garnishes. Because part of the fun of drinking a Bloody Mary is its rather theatrical presentation of all the garnishes. I did a quick search for Bloody Marys within Pinterest  and was floored by what I saw.  In addition to the usual assortment of olives. limes, and celery, I found sliders, slices of pizza, and fried chicken. I am not suggesting you should go to that extreme but do feel free to exercise your creative muscle and garnish your Bloody Marys with foods that you like and want to eat.  We love to throw a few unexpected items in our Bloody Marys like cheese curds, strips of cooked bacon, or pretzel rods.

In the comments below, let me know how you like your Bloody Marys and what your favorite garnishes are.

If you are looking for food pairings to go with the Bloody Marys, might I suggest:

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