Cucumber Tartine

Cucumber Tartine @themerrythought
These easy and yummy tartines are one of my favorite appetizers, and summer lunches! They’re also perfect for parties and showers; quick to put together and the spread can be made ahead of time.
I came across this recipe years ago, I can’t remember where I even found it, but I instantly became hooked on the delicious spread, not to mention cucumbers are one of my favorite veggies! These work well as tartines (open-faced sandwiches), but can also be made into regular sandwiches too.  (Little triangle cucumber sandwiches are perfect for bridal or baby showers!)  If you have an abundance of cucumbers in your garden this summer, this is a perfect way to use them up!  I like to keep the spread in my fridge and then make sandwiches for lunches throughout the week.
Cucumber Tartine @themerrythought
Cucumber Tartine

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (0.7 ounce) package dry Italian salad dressing mix
loaf of French bread, cut into slices
2 medium cucumbers, sliced
dill weed

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and Italian dressing mix. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Spread the cream cheese blend onto slices of bread. Top with a couple cucumber slices, and sprinkle with dill.  (The cream cheese mixture will keep for about a week in the refrigerator).
Cucumber Tartine @themerrythought
Cucumber Tartine @themerrythought
Any fun plans for Memorial Day weekend? We’ll be spending some time at the lake and we’re looking forward to some rest & relaxation after what’s felt like non-stop illnesses around here and busy schedules trying to keep up with everything!

Happy weekend!

-Manda

DIY Wire Plant Stand

DIY Wire Plant Stand @themerrythoughtIt’s quite possible that this is the easiest DIY ever and I don’t mind one bit! I’m always looking for new planters and plant stands since I’m (kind of) able to keep plants alive now and my collection is always growing. I have a bunch of plants clustered next to a window at the front of my apartment and I’ve been trying to find stands that are small enough to fit in but will also give some varying height to the cluster and this is a perfect solution!DIY Wire Plant Stand @themerrythoughtDoes the shape of the stands look familiar at all? Like maybe it’s missing a cover and usually hides a lightbulb..? ;)

What you need:
-Lampshade with wires that connect the top and bottom. (I found mine at a thrift store.)
-Wire cutters
*Optional -Spray paint

How to make it:
Cut off plastic/fabric cover from original lampshade. Use wire cutters to remove the center piece that usually goes around the lightbulb. Use Goo Gone to remove any sticky adhesive from the covering. Spray paint if desired. Place plant pot with a rim slightly wider than the top opening on top of the stand. Done!
DIY Wire Plant Stand @themerrythoughtDIY Wire Plant Stand @themerrythoughtxo. Caitlin

Homemade Garbage Plates

Homemade Garbage Plates @themerrythought
Last week we shared about our visit to Nick Tahou Hots, a local restaurant that’s well-known for their Garbage Plates. We recommend dropping by there for a visit if you’re ever in the Rochester area, just to say you’ve at least tried a Garbage Plate (and now I can finally make that claim too, geez, it’s about time)! We know that many of you won’t be in this area anytime soon, so we thought we’d share our own version of a Garbage Plate so you can make a variation of this dish at home!
Homemade Garbage Plates @themerrythought
In case you missed that post, and you’re wondering what in the world a Garbage Plate is, you’re basically taking your entire picnic menu, dumping it on your plate, smothering it in a meat sauce and digging in! Garbage plates consist of macaroni salad and/or baked beans with either home fries or french fries. On top, a choice of two: cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots, Italian sausage, chicken tender, haddock, fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs. It’s topped off with onions, mustard and Nick’s signature hot sauce — which is sort of like a ground meat chili.
Homemade Garbage Plates @themerrythought
We know it sounds odd and not exactly desirable (especially the name!), but trust us, once you try a few bites of this goodness, you’ll be hooked! Below we’re sharing a recipe for our own “hot sauce” recipe and how to go about putting together a Garbage Plate.
Bannister Beef @themerrythought
For our hot sauce and cheeseburger patties, we used premium ground beef from Bannister Beef. We’re pretty proud to be supporting this farm – it’s owned by my Uncle Roger, cousin Rob and his wife Bailey! (We featured Bailey’s floral baby shower on the blog last spring!) Bannister Beef is a local, family owned farm, that has been raising quality Angus cattle for three generations (on a farm started by our Grampa!). We think it’s so important to know where your beef is coming from and how the cattle are raised. While I won’t be one to ever state, go organic on everything, all the time, we try our best to be aware of where and how our food is produced, eat local when possible and this definitely always pertains to beef for us. When it comes to beef, I will always be willing to pay a little more for the peace of mind of knowing it’s raised naturally and without any hormones or additives. You can read more about the farm, see what they have to offer, and place orders on their website  – and they do offer shipping! For our local readers, they deliver in the Rochester/Buffalo area as well as being at a few local markets!
Homemade Garbage Plates @themerrythought
Garbage Plates

Hot Sauce:

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 1/2 cups water, and
4 oz tomato paste
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt to taste

In a large skillet, heat the onion and garlic over medium heat for a couple minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the water and tomato paste, stirring until mixed in. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender if you have one), and blend for about 10-15 seconds, just enough to give the meat a finer texture.* (You may need to do this in batches to avoid over-filling/spills in your blender). Add the meat mixture back into the skillet, and turn the heat to medium low. Add in the remaining spices and let the mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add more water as it simmers if necessary, it should be slightly watery (but not a soup!). Use sauce right away or store covered in the refrigerator.

*This step is not necessary, but gives the hot sauce the most similar texture to the original hot sauce.
Homemade Garbage Plates @themerrythought
For the Plates:
cheeseburger patties**/hot dogs/any of the meats mentioned above – grilled/cooked 
frozen tater tots or french fries – baked according to package directions
macaroni salad
baked beans – cooked/heated 
spicy brown mustard
hot sauce (recipe above)
bread and butter

To build the plates, fill half of plate with macaroni salad or baked beans. Fill the remaining half with fries or tater tots (we liked the tater tots best!). Or you can do any combination of mac salad, beans, fries/tots. Place two cheeseburger patties (or whatever meat desired) on top of that. Drizzle mustard on top of the patties and ladle hot sauce over patties. Serve with a side bread and butter.

**patties that are thin and large work best
(Again, just to repeat, this is our own version of a plate, it’s not Nick’s recipe, just a copycat recipe!)
Homemade Garbage Plates @themerrythought
Gather up some friends this weekend and have a Garbage Plate picnic!  Try out a few different plate combinations and let us know what you think!

-Manda & Caitlin

Beef provided by Bannister Beef, a family company we’re proud to endorse and support! All ideas, thoughts and opinions expressed are our own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support The Merrythought.

Garlic Cilantro Fries

Garlic Cilantro Fries Recipe @themerrythoughtI could add cilantro to basically everything I eat and be thrilled with it. (Like this ice cream!) Occasionally I even use leftover cilantro to infuse my water! Cilantro just makes everything better and these fries are no exception. These are so delicious fresh out of the oven!Garlic Cilantro Fries Recipe @themerrythoughtGarlic Cilantro Fries

5 medium potatoes, washed and cut into thin fries
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt, possibly more to sprinkle on afterward
Pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4c cilantro, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425. Cut fries and soak in cold water. Mix oil, sea salt, pepper and garlic in a large bowl. Drain the water and dry the fries with paper towel. Toss fries in the bowl with oil mixture. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Toss hot fries in fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
*Add parmesan cheese if desired.
*Cooking time will vary depending on how thin you cut your fries and how crispy you want them. Garlic Cilantro Fries Recipe @themerrythoughtxo. Caitlin

Local // Nick Tahou Hots

Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY @themerrythought
Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY |The Garbage Plate  @themerrythought
Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY |The Garbage Plate  @themerrythought
Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY  @themerrythought
Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY |The Garbage Plate  @themerrythought
Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY  @themerrythought
Nick Tahou Hots | Rochester, NY |The Garbage Plate  @themerrythought
Our hometown, Rochester, is famous for one of it’s culinary treats, The Garbage Plate. There’s a local restaurant called Nick Tahou Hots where the idea behind this dish originated from, but you can find some kind of variation of this dish at a number of restaurants around our area.
So what exactly is a Garbage Plate?  You’re basically taking your entire picnic menu, dumping it on your plate, smothering it in a meat sauce and digging in! Garbage plates consist of macaroni salad and/or baked beans with either home fries or french fries. On top, a choice of two: cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots, Italian sausage, chicken tender, haddock, fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs. It’s topped off with onions, mustard and Nick’s signature hot sauce — which is sort of like a ground meat chili.
Even though I’ve lived in this area since I was 5, I (Manda) have never tried a Garbage Plate or any variation of it! We’ve been guest posting on With the Locals Instagram account this week, showcasing some of our favorite spots around Rochester, and Tahou’s came up in our discussions about well-known Rochester places and Caitlin thought it was about time that I tried this delicacy our hometown is famous for! Caitlin’s also never tried the original Garbage Plate from Tahou’s, just had the dish from other local restaurants, so we thought a trip to try out the original was a must-do!
Going to Tahou’s is quite the adventure; it’s a typical greasy spoon dive that might be in need of an update or two. But then, it wouldn’t be Nick’s, would it?! We stuck with the most common/recommended plate for first-timers, which consisted of mac salad, home fries, two cheeseburgers, topped with mustard and Nick’s hot sauce. (We’re not big fans of onions, so we left that off). We all agreed a good dose of ketchup over the entire plate was the way to go! I was actually a little leery of this dish (and I’ll be honest, the place!), but it was actually pretty good!  And yes, it has been named the fattiest food in New York!
If you’re ever in the Rochester area, you definitely must try a Garbage Plate, at least just to say you’ve tried it! And for those that don’t live close enough, we’ll be sharing a recipe next week to make your own variation of our hometown’s famous dish!  (Just in time for those Memorial Day Weekend picnics!)
If you’d like to see some favorite spots of ours in Rochester, hop on over to With the Locals IG account this week!
Thanks to Tori for tagging along and being our photographer on our adventures!

-Manda & Caitlin

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