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What's in the Bag: the Hot Date

Shout out to all my crazy turkeys!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and all things caloric, we're donning our bonnets and aprons and serving up a triple feature.  We spoke with our beloved, In-Store Brand Merchandising Manager, Christine Motsco and Sarah Ashton Clark, Wholesale Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast, South and West.  They're sharing the secret to doing it all with their bags Hot Date's (oh la la).  

Gobble, gobble!

If you have your head in the clouds and didn't know about our casserole carrier, the Hot Date, then you've got another thing coming, pilgrim. Do you seriously think the modern and charismatic women of SCOUT have time for trivial things like "hot dates"? Heck no! We're too busy shattering glass ceilings and running a successful lifestyle company.


The women (and men) at SCOUT have a very healthy work/life balance.  Being the noble goddesses they are, Sarah Ashton and Christine graciously agreed when I came to them requesting they prepare a delicious and savory dish during one the most hectic weeks of their careers.  Basically, it would be pretty...pretty...pretty... pretty...pretty...good of you to stop, drop, and roll to the nearest grocery store and buy the ingredients for each of our dishes.  Did I forget to mention you'll also hear a recipe from little old me? *Hehe*

Don't get too excited, I just made a corn dip.

2 cans of Mexi-corn (drained)

1 small jar of pimientos (drained)

1 small can of diced jalapenos (drained)

1 package of grated Monterey Jack/Colby Cheese

1 package grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup of mayonaisse

Mix together & bake at 350 for 20 minutes (or to desired gooey-ness)

DISCLAIMER: I interviewed myself for this segment, so I had to let y'all know to avoid any confusion.  I apologize if I ended up doing the complete opposite.

RS: Let's talk corn-damentals.  GO!

RS: We chose this dish, because it's so easy a baby (and responsible adult--for can-opening reasons) could make it.  Also, "Becky's Kurn" (as my friends fondly refer) is a club banger, chart topper, and the people give it 5 stars.

RS: Okay, the jig is up.  Where did you find this recipe?

RS: Ah, well, if Plankton had ever successfully stolen Mr. Krabs' secret formula for the Krabby Patty, then that's who I'd be.  My mom's friend, Miss Amanda, is the original author of this masterpiece.  It was originally named, "Miss Amanda's Dip," before I poached it.  I hope she can find it in her heart to forgive me.  Amanda, if you're reading this--know that your dip recipe has made hoards of ravenous coeds very happy.

RS: I don't know...this all sounds a little crazy.  Would you recommend this dip to other people?

RS: Of course!  I strongly encourage everyone to be the belle of the ball with this appetizer that would have, even, Paula Deen shaking in her cowgirl boots. Everyone knows you can't go wrong with jalapenos, cheese and mayonnaise, unless you're lactose intolerant (in this case, avoid like the plague, but feel free to help yourself to the Frito's or celery sticks provided by the chef).

RS: Wow, we sure have covered all the bases.  Any final thoughts?

RS: Sure.  Last, but certainly not least: no one likes cold, coagulated corn gruel.  I avoid this party faux pas by cradling my precious kernels in the warm cocoon of a Hot Date, my can't-go-wrong casserole carrier.

16 jumbo pasta shells (add extra shells to allow for a few breaking while the pasta cooks)

1-1/2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp fresh garlic, minced (Christine says, "add extra!")

4 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves (Christine also adds kale), roughly chopped

12 oz skim-milk ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

2 eggs

1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped (lot's of basil!)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1-1/4 cups marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to simmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. Add the spinach and kale, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.

Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a dusting of Parmesan.

RS: Have you made stuffed shells before?

CM: Mhmmm.  They're Matthew's [Christine's bf] favorite. They're, like, his birthday dinner.

RS: Wait. So it was his birthday the other day?!

CM: Nope, I never made them for his birthday this year.  But if I offer to make dinner for his birthday, that's his request.

RS: But you just made it the other night, because you're nice-Christine.

CM: Yep, it's also the dish I'll make when my friends have a baby, and we're going to see the baby.  I'll take stuffed shells, garlic bread and salad for dinner.  And then I proceed to not hold the baby, because I get nervous--I love them, but I'll take this when I'm first meeting them.

RS: Babies can be intimidating.  They're angels, but they can sense my tension when I hold them.  Then they cry.  It's a work in progress.

CM: Well, that's why I take them stuffed shells.

RS: Are any of these ingredients from your garden?

CM: The kale, tomatoes, garlic and onion are!

RS: Where did you find the recipe?

CM: Well, I found it online a while ago, but I don't follow the recipe anymore.  I just eye ball it, then mix the three cheeses together.

RS: Three cheeses...yum....

CM: I KNOW.  Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan.  It's a great little recipe to take to friends...and the babies, of course.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 cup rolled oats

2/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 (4-ounce) bar semisweet chocolate, cut or broken into small chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook until melted.

Add the sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and melted butter to a large bowl and whisk for 2 minutes.  Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk for 1 more minute.  Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, and baking soda.

Give the butter and sugar mixture another whisk for 1 minute and then gently fold the flour mixture in.  Once it's nicely incorporated, add the chocolate.

Divide the mixture into 10 portions and space 1 1/2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 6 minutes, rote the pan, and bake for another 4 to 6 minutes.  The cookies should be golden brown and a little soft in the middle.  Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  If you are not serving the cookies immediately, store them in an airtight container.

RS: So, what made you choose this recipe.  Do you make oatmeal cookies all the time?  Or did you just choose it on a whim?

SAC: Okay, so I visited this restaurant and the chef was on Top Chef, Hugh Acheson.  He has three restaurants.  This one, "Empire State South," is based in Atlanta.  The others are in Savannah and Athens, Georgia.  I really liked the look of the cookbook as a tabletop book, which is how I display them in my apartment.

RS: Ah, but you found a good recipe in your coffee table book?

SAC: Yeah!   I was looking for an easy recipe, something I'd be familiar with.  Because a lot of the stuff in there is, like, duck and all that kind of stuff...

RS: So, how many recipes have you made from the book?

SAC: Oh, this is one of the only two recipes I've made from this cookbook.  You'll see, I've tagged it on purpose.  I like a bigger cookie.  I'd rather have one BIG cookie, than a bunch of smaller cookies.  So, these are thicker and only make 8 per serving, so usually you'll get at least a dozen.

RS: What's your favorite thing about this recipe?

SAC: People like chocolate chip cookies and some like oatmeal raisin, so this kind of brings the two together.  The oatmeal adds that little bit of texture to it.  And, I use bakers chocolate, which they call for, verses chocolate chips.

RS: But, just to clarify, this isn't the very first time you've made this recipe?

SAC: Oh, no way. I have gifted this cookbook to at least half a dozen friends with the cookies--I make the cookies, then I dog ear or tag the recipe. And, I ALWAYS, write a note on the inside.  In my family, we gift books and whenever we do, we have to write a note--when it was from, what occasion, that kind of thing.

RS: I love that.  You've got these cookies down to a science.

SAC: Well, I just want to say, the Hot Date doesn't just have to be for casseroles!  In the South, people are casserole people.  But, Tupperware isn't going to hold all these cookies, so this is perfect.

Interested in doing as the women of SCOUT do and arriving to every holiday soiree with a Hot Date on your arm?  You've come to the right place, step into our office...



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