Sunday, November 18, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Dip

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

No, I'm not talking about winter, or Christmas, or even Thanksgiving. I'm talking about football season! It turns Sundays into a day to knosh on snacks, drink beer, and stay in my comfy clothes on the couch. Now, the down side of football season is when your team is terrible. That's right...I'm a Giants fan and this season is downright painful. On the plus side, I'm actually not doing terrible with my Fantasy team this year! Admittedly, I've gotten some helpful tips from my brother as I learned to navigate through swapping out players on their Bye weeks, using the waivers, and structuring my team to get the maximum amount of points. It's turning out much better than my March Madness brackets usually do.

Buffalo Chicken Dip is probably one of the most crowd pleasing dips you can make. This recipe is so savory, so cheesy, and just enough heat. I swear every time I make these the bowl is practically licked clean. As you read the recipe, don't be turned off by the fact that it uses canned chicken. I typically never buy this stuff but it does give a particular flavor that you won't quite get from chicken breast. That isn't to say you can't cook up a chicken breast, shred it up and use that instead. You totally can, and I've done that before too. But when I compared the canned chicken to chicken breast recipes I felt that the latter was just missing "something". So whip up this super easy dip for football Sunday, go Giants!


-2 12.5oz cans chicken breast, drained
-8 oz softened cream cheese
-1/2 cup ranch dressing
-1/3 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
-1 8oz bag shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese 

1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. 

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, canned chicken breast, ranch dressing, hot cause, mozzarella cheese, and garlic powder. Smooth into your baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. To finish it off I like to throw it under the broiler for about 5 minutes to make the top brown and bubbly.

3. To serve, garnish with the crumbled blue cheese.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Chip Espresso Bread


This is my favorite time of year. These glorious few weeks when it's not too cold yet, you don't need the A/C or heat, and at night you there's the soothing scent of burning fireplaces. If I could pick the perfect climate to live in the rest of my life it would be exactly like these first weeks of Fall. During the day it gets just warm enough that you can feel comfortable wearing a long sleeve shirt, and at night a warm sweatshirt sitting around a fire pit. But of course, New Jersey is definitely not like this all year. Soon we'll enter the 7th circle of hell, or as some call it..."winter". I swear it lasts for half the year. We'll have snowstorm after snowstorm, mountains of plowed snow taking up the prime street-parking spots, and what was once pristine white powdered snow is dark, muddy, and slushy. So before that happens I'm going to enjoy this season and curl up with some pumpkin bread.

It does make me laugh a little that this type of food is referred to as "bread". Let's be honest with ourselves, this is basically cake without any frosting. But if we call it bread it makes it breakfast food, right? Right. I love this with my first cup of coffee in the morning after opening the window to let some fresh cool air circulate through the house. If you've never had the incredible combination of pumpkin and dark chocolate you need to put this on your "must make" list NOW. This bread tastes like a delicious bite of Fall with your favorite warm spices then the smooth and melty dark chocolate. This is also so fast and easy to whip up, minimal mess and in less than an hour you can be enjoying this spiced treat!



-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 tablespoon espresso powder (I used Cafe Bustelo)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 large eggs
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-1/2 vegetable oil
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup milk
-3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to  350 degrees and grease your baking pan. You can use a loaf pan or I used by 8x8 pan. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, espresso powder, and salt. Then mix in the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and sugars. Stir until smooth, then lastly stir in the chocolate chips.

2. Pour into your baking dish. If using a loaf pan bake for 50-60 minutes, if using an 8x8 bake for 35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.



Source: Closet Cooking

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sweet Potato Home Fries


So I recently pulled a big time goof. We were on our way to the mall over the weekend to buy Lilly her first real pair of sneakers. Since the little miss is now fully walking (apparently now I have a toddler and not a baby) she needs real shoes for our out of the house adventures. We're all seat-belted into the car but when I press the 'Push to Start' that whole thing where the car is supposed to start doesn't happen. "Odd," I think to myself and decide to give it another go maybe it was some kind of fluke.

Nope.

We realize the battery is dead. As I turn to look to the back seat I see... 'it'. By "it" I mean the overhead light still producing light from when I turned it on the night before in the parking garage. Gah! I never turn that light on. Never! So of course the one time I use it I forget I even turned it on and the car battery used every last ounce of power to keep that sucker beaming all damn night. After our emergency car starter couldn't get it going we skipped the mall trip and worry about it the next day. My little brother was able to come over in the morning and give us the jump we needed to get the power flowing again!

Now here we go to the recipe. In return for his car jump starting services I whipped up a hearty brunch with Sweet Potato Home Fries taking center stage. I've made regular home fries before but something about this cool Fall air had me wanting to make a sweet potato version. I love that these crisp up in the oven and not heavily pan fried like some other version. The peppers and onions give this an extra kick of flavor so this isn't heavy and you don't feel all carbed up on potato. Whip this up next weekend and I promise these will become your new brunch staple!


-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (try not to go too small or they will burn)
-3 tablespoons EVOO
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-sale and pepper to taste
-1/2 cup diced white onion
-1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1.Heat your oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl combine the diced sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, paprika, and salt & pepper. Spread into an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 28-30 minutes.

2. While the potatoes are baking, heat the final 1 tablespoon of the EVOO in a saute pan and add the onions and peppers. Saute on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes until they softened and get slightly browned.

3. When the potatoes are done, add them into the peppers & onions pan and toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!




Source: Martha Stewart

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I'm obsessed with dips. I have this restaurant idea where it's tapas style except it's just dips. Spinach dip, buffalo chicken dip, queso, corn dip....I could be here all day. I think it could work.

A good, savory dip can easily take the place of dinner for me. Heck, in my living on my own days I was no stranger to snacking for dinner instead of sitting down to a bigger meal. It's also a must-have when it comes to entertaining. A get together of any size absolutely needs to have a dip in the spread. That's a non-negotiable. Dress it up but having an assortment of crackers and chips, and go a little more gourmet with the selections, I like Stacy's chips and pita chips.

For your next party or solo dinner you're going to want to try this cheesy roasted red pepper dip. This one has gone down as my go-to. It's melty and cheesy but the powerful flavor of roasted red peppers helps cut through the cheese to keep this from feeling overly heavy. One difference I made was instead of just chopping the peppers, I put them in my Nutribullet and pulsed them a bit to make more of a paste, still had some pepper pieces but it was a very smooth paste that would be mixed into the cheese. This helps the whole dip have that pepper flavor and gives it a beautiful rich color.


-1 7oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-4oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
-1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (you can use shredded or grated)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a blender or Nutribullet, pulse the roasted red peppers until smooth.

3. Mix all ingredients together and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Source: Closet Cooking

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dark Chocolate and Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting Birthday Cake

If you're familiar with my blog, you might remember that I've had a long history with cakes. The cake bug bit me years ago when I discovered how to make my own fondant. Have you ever made fondant? Trust me, Cake Boss and any other cake shows on Food Network make fondant making and rolling look as easy as rolling out dough from a Pillsbury can.

Spoiler alert: It's not!

Making fondant involves a sticky mess of melted marshmallow, endless amounts of powdered sugar that poofs everywhere, and frantically kneading this super-glue like mixture until it eventually becomes a smooth ball of fondant. Next comes creating however many colors you need, which involves more kneading and your hands will have taken on every color of the rainbow by the time you're done. Now it's time to decorate the cake! The most stressful part of the whole process for me is "the transfer". This is when you have your main piece of fondant all nicely rolled out on your counter and you need to get that bad boy onto your cake without it ripping or splitting. If you've managed to make it past this part, the rest is more fun. Making the decorations and and the final touches creates your little work of art....that is ready to get torn up by serving knives and forks and devoured by hungry cake eaters. Take a look at some of my previous creations: South Park Cake , iPhone Cake (iPhone cerca 2011) Steak Cake, and Movie Cake.

But in more recent times, I've retired from the fondant business and instead focus my efforts on delicious frostings. The thing that bugged me about fondant cakes is that it's a lot of work and honestly, fondant doesn't taste good. Most people just peel it off and eat the cake underneath, and when you peel it off it usually takes with it the a good amount of the frosting. So here we are, this leads me to this post's recipe for Dark Chocolate Frosting and Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting.



Dark Chocolate Frosting
-1 10z bag Nestle dark chocolate chips
-3 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark cocoa power
-2 cups powdered sugar
-2 sticks softened butter
-2 tablespoons milk

1. In a saucepan, combine the dark chocolate chips and milk. Over low heat, stir until melted, making sure never to burn the mixture.

2. In your stand mixer, combine the softened butter and chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Then add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat on low at first, then beat on high to make it light and fluffy. If mixture looks too stiff add a a tablespoon of milk to loosen up.

Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 stick softened butter
-2 cups powdered sugar
-3 tablespoons milk

1. Combine all ingredients and beat on high until light and fluffy. Yes it's that easy!!

Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe Source: All Recipes







Monday, August 6, 2018

Braided Apple Danish

I'm going to take a minute and start this post out a little differently. This is for all the moms.

Lately I've been feeling a little bogged down by trying to be Super Mom. What I've found about Super Mom is that at the end of the day everyone has been cared for except for...you guessed it ...Super Mom.

Laundry: Done
Dinner cooked: Done
Dishes: Done
Groceries bought: Done
Meal planned: Done
I can't even list out the amount of baby care
Self Care: Uhhh...maybe tomorrow

How many of you reading this have constantly pushed any self care to the next day, and the next day, and the next day, only to realize it's been months since you've done anything just for you? I know you can't see right now but I'm raising my hand saying "Me!!!!".

Let's all agree to something right now. Make a plan to do something just for you within the next week. However big or small you want. Take a long walk in a park, get a spa treatment, go to a museum, go shopping, make a bubble bath. We need to make sure we get on that to-do list or we realize it's been years since we put ourselves first.

Now, I realize it's bit odd posting a Braided Apple Danish after I just went on a rant about Super Mom. I promise this is easy! And quick! If the braided dough isn't perfect, no big deal. If it comes out seriously screwed up, cut it into slices and no one knows the difference. See? Those are those little tricks of a Super Mom.


-1 sheet puff pastry (Pillsbury makes this, find in your freezer section)
-2 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples (4-5 apples about)
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1 1/2 tablespoons flour
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-Sugar for topping (recipe calls for cane sugar, I didn't have it so used regular white sugar)
-1 egg
-1 tablespoon water

1. Heat over to 400 degrees. Defrost the puff pastry on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Do not try and unfold it until it has defrosted!!

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the diced apples. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and flour. Add this sugar mix to the butter and apples and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 5-6 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Take your defrosted puff pastry and open the folds. To make the braid pieces, make diagonal cuts from the center, out and down. I used a pizza cutter. Click Here to view photos of how to make the cuts. Place all of the apple mixture down the center of the puff pastry.

4. Time to braid! Start with the top left flap and fold down, then the right, and so on, making sure to tuck each flap inside or else when you bake this any stray flap not tucked down and inside is going to puff up (it's called puff pastry after all!).

5. Whisk the egg and water, brush over top all of the exposed dough and sprinkle with the white sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Do not over bake!




Source: Little Bits Of

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Spinach Onion and Bacon Quiche

I almost have a 10 month old baby. Seriously, how did this happen so quickly? I used to think people were exaggerating when they said time goes by so fast when you have a child. But now, I swear I gave birth to her, blinked, and here we are 10 months later. My cooking and baking took a serious hit when she arrived. Not only am I constantly tired, I have zero motivation at the end of the day to start slicing and dicing.

Serving up a good breakfast can be a bit easier. I'm not tired from a full day of work, and have a bit more energy to get in the kitchen.

The original recipe called from spinach and mushrooms, I adapted a bit and created bacon, onion and spinach. Packed with savory flavor, and of course tons of melty cheese.






-1 Pillsbury pre-made refrigerated piecrust
-10oz box frozen spinach
-4 slices bacon, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon EVOO
-1/4 cup diced white onion
-5 eggs
-1 cup whole milk
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded cheese (combo of Cheddar and Mozzarella)
-salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. Cook frozen spinach according to package instructions, drain well.When oven is heated, place your thawed pie crust in baking pan, prick the bottom with a fork a few times and bake for 8 minutes.

2. In a frying pan over medium heat, add the EVOO and diced onion. Cook 5-6 minutes until onions start to brown a bit. Add the bacon pieces and cook until desired crispiness. Add the garlic pieces and cook a bit more to release the garlic flavor. Pour onto a paper towel and set side.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

4. To assemble, spoon the drained spinach into the bottom of the pie crust and spread evenly, if you don't use all the spinach that's OK. Next, add the bacon mixture, the shredded cheeses, and lastly pour over top the whisked eggs. Bake for 50 minutes.

Source: Sallys Baking Addiction