Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brown Sugar Bacon Sliders

So things have been a little hectic around here with Hurricane Irene churning in the Caribbean right now. I'm so bummed because we had a bachelorette party weekend planned for Holden Beach, NC for this weekend and now it looks like that may need to be rescheduled. The last place I want to be is in an ocean front beach house during a Cat 3 hurricane, no thanks.
Its still a little too early to tell though where exactly it is going to make land fall....closer to the NC/SC border, only NC, only SC, or stay off into the Atlantic. Although since the storm would be close to 200 miles wide by the time it makes landfall, its hard to imagine how we wouldn't feels some effects from it.

Anyway, I had some ground beef that I wanted to use up and I want to try making sliders for the first time instead of the usual burger patty. I came up with the idea of making a hickory BBQ sauce and brown sugar bacon sliders, and oh my god these were so good! Caramelizing the brown sugar on top of the bacon pieces under the broiler gave the bacon this amazing sweet and savory combination. I watched this video on how to make perfectly shaped sliders, a really good idea!!


Ingredients (Yielded 6 sliders)
-1/2lb ground beef
-3 tablespoons Hickory Brown Sugar BBQ sauce (I used KC Masterpiece)
-1 tablespoon brown sugar + 1 teaspoon
-1/2 bag Hormel Real Bacon Pieces
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-6 King's Hawaiian mini rolls
-2 slices Colby and Monterrey Jack Cheese, sliced into small squares

1. Place the bacon pieces on foil on a baking sheet and cover with the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Place under broiler for 5 minutes.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with the BBQ sauce and stir. Next add in the bacon pieces and stir until they are all incorporated. Add the salt and the remaining teaspoon of brown sugar.
3. Following this instructional video, line 6 muffin tins with liners and place about 2 tablespoons of the ground beef mixture in each. I then stuck my hand in a large Zip Lock bag and pressed the mixture in firmly to make sure it was packed in.
4. With your frying pan heated over medium-high heat (no Pam or oil!) place the sliders in, cook 4 minutes each side, flipping only once. Serve on toasted King's Hawaiian buns and top with the small slices of Colby Jack cheese.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Bites

So Friday night my husband had poker night at our place and I wanted to make an easy appetizer that they could munch on while they were playing! A few weeks ago I was out having lunch at a local restaurant called King Street Grill and ordered Loaded Baked Potato Egg Rolls...they were so good!!! I wanted to put my own spin on that idea so I created a baked potato mixture and filled phyllo cups with it and baked them until very crispy. These little guys were delicious! I loved the crunchy phyllo shell and then the flavors of the cheese, bacon, and chives in the potato mixture. Dip these in either sour cream or ketchup!





Ingredients (Yielded 45 bites)
- 2 baking potatoes
-3 oz softened cream cheese
-2 tablespoons butter, melted
-3 tablespoons milk
- 4-5 slices of bacon
-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1 tablespoon dried chives (or equivalent of fresh chopped chives)
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
-paprika
-3 boxes of 15-ct phyllo shells, thawed

1. Peel and and cut potatoes into chunks, place in boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain water and return potato to pot.
 
2. While potatoes are cooking, bake bacon strips at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Cut into small pieces.
 
3. After bacon is cooked, place the phyllo shells on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 2-4 minutes to crisp. (this step is optional, you don't have to pre-crisp shells)
 
4. To the potatoes add the cream cheese, melted butter, and milk. With a handheld mixer, blend together. You just want to combine the ingredients until it holds together, if too thick add more milk. You DO NOT want this to be smooth or the consistency of mashed potatoes....you still want some chunks of potato in there.
 
5. Once blended, add the bacon pieces and cheese. Stir to combine. Next add the garlic powder, garlic salt, and chives. Stir to combine.
 
6. Fill phyllo shells with mixture and sprinkle with paprika, bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream or ketchup for dipping.
 
A Seasoned Greeting Original Recipe

Thursday, August 11, 2011

8/9 Couponing

Well it has been way too long since my last couponing trip!! Something I noticed over the summer was the there were very few coupons for food. It gave me the chance to stock up on non food items, but I was beginning to wonder when the good coupons would come back! It looks like since it is back to school time the food coupons are back!

This week Harris Teeter was doing their Super Doubles! I love when they do this since it gives me the chance to use coupons I might not normally use. I was able to stock up on some cheeses and granola bars this week! There were a few items that I did not have coupons for but I needed to buy, I noted that below.

Again, fruits and veggies are purchased on an as needed basis during the week depending on the menu.


What I Got:
-1 12-roll of Angel Soft ($6, no coupon)
- 2 bags Keebler Cookies
-1 box garbage bags ($3, no coupon)
-2 bags Chex Mix
-4 box Nature's Valley granola bars
-2 boxes NutriGrain granola bars
-2 bags Purina Cat Chow
-2 boxes Mueller's wheat pasta
-1 Dawn dish detergent
-2 rolls paper towels
-2 packs Soleil Bic Razor
-2 bottles Loreal Vive Pro conditioner
-1 Degree deodorant
-1 Pillsbury Pizza Crust
-4 bags Sargento shredded cheese (no coupon, but they were B1G1)
-1 Hillshire Farm sausage
-1 bottle Excedrin Migraine

Spent: $32.81                    Saved: $85.07


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reese's Brownie Bars

On a cooking forum I post I saw a delicious looking recipe from The Novice Chef for cupcakes topped with whipped peanut butter and decadent chocolate ganache. I knew that I would have to try these for myself! I am a little weird, since I'm really not a fan of cupcakes. I know cupcakes are super popular right now...all types of crazy cake flavors with mountains of icing on top, but I'm just not impressed with them. So I decided to use the whipped peanut butter and ganache as a topping on a brownie bar instead, and it was so good! There is nothing better than the peanut butter/chocolate combination. The only thing I would change for next time is to add 1/2 tsp more of Splenda to the ganache, it was a little rich for my taste. I noted this in the recipe below.

On a side note I just have to say...Super Double Coupons start at Harris Teeter tomorrow! I feel so lame for getting excited about couponing, but its been over a month since my last couponing trip. I've noticed that over the summer the coupon selection sucked. There were barely any decent food coupons that I'd use. Since school is about to start back up, it seems that the food coupons are back...and I'm ready to do some damage! Hopefully I'll have a couponing post by the end of the week.



Brownie Ingredients
-1 cup butter, melted
-2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
-1 cup flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
Whipped Peanut Butter Ingredients
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup heavy cream

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
-3 oz dark chocolate (around 60% cocoa), chopped
-1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 tablespoon unsalted butter
-1/2 teaspoon Splenda (add more as desired)

1. For the brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Stir in eggs and melted butter. With a handheld mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 minute to make batter smooth. Pour into greased 9x9 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. When cooled, cut into bars.

2. For the Whipped Peanut Butter, place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl. Mix with a handheld mixer on medium-low until creamy. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Spoon onto brownie bars and place in fridge for 15 minutes to cool.

3. For the chocolate ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand, without stirring, for a few minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Allow ganache to cool on the counter for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often, or until it cools and thickens slightly. Once it is has thickened, spoon onto whipped peanut butter. Garnish with Reese's Pieces.

Source: The Novice Chef

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Movie Themed Cake

Last week my husband's boss asked my friend and I to make a movie themed cake for his brother's birthday party! We were so excited to get our first real request for a cake, and were pretty excited about the cute theme too. The original plan was for the cake to be ready for a dinner tomorrow evening (Friday), but on our way back from NJ on Monday, we found out the dinner was changed to tonight...ugh! After a few mishaps (we're still learning a lot of techniques of tier layering) we have our finished product! Funny thing is, we both like this cake way better than what we set out to create. The Junior Mints are called Senior Mints per a special request since it is for a 50th birthday lol!
We are also thrilled with the way the 'popcorn' turned out. She had a very small flower cutout that you place on a small ball of yellow-marbled fondant then press it in with a skewer. It looks so real! I am nervous for everyones reaction at the dinner tonight, after all the hours of work we put into this they better like it! In the white section towards the red carpet, I have in a 4x6 frame a photo of a marquee that lists 3 of his favorite movies.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

White Pizza and New Jersey

Wow, I had such a busy, but fun, trip back home to NJ!!! I think this was the first trip in a long time that we actually got everything accomplished that we planned. My first night I spent with my brother and his girlfried in Hoboken and I went into the city to meet my college roomates at a cute bar called Stout. It was super close to my stop off the Path so there was minimal chance of me getting lost...although I did walk in the wrong direction on 33rd St, but I don't consider that getting lost since I knew where I was lol.

Friday I was able to meet my cousin for lunch in Hoboken at an amazing Italian deli, Vito's. It was so good, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, garlic sauce, ham, and capicola. I devoured this!

Saturday my husband and brother and I went down to Atlantic City! We walked the boardwalk a bit and stopped into Caesar's and Bally's, but spent the majority of the evening at Borgata. That place was incredible, it surpasses all of the other casinos in AC. I also had the most amazing grilled cheese at a place called Bread+Butter in there...unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it! Next time we go back to AC we won't even bother with the strip, its right to Borgata. My husband and I both made some money playing roulette, so we left as happy campers! By the time we got back to our room the sun was coming up, I forgot how easy it is to lose track of time in a casino.


Of course, after this trip I was exhausted, so I decided to make an easy White Pizza for dinner last night. I found this recipe and made some modifications and it was really good! My husband kept going back to the oven for more, so I knew it was a hit!



Ingredients
-1 Pillsbury Thin Pizza Crust
-1 cup Fat Free ricotta cheese
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-2 cloves minced garlic
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup heavy cream
-2 tablespoons EVOO
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1. Place pizza crust on cookie sheet. Pre-cook according to package directions. (5 minutes @ 425 degrees)
2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the EVOO and cook the minced garlic for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the heavy cream, garlic powder, and garlic salt. When cream is heated, add 1/4 cup of the shredded mozzarella and cook until fully melted. Simmer to thicken, about 5-6 minutes.
3.In a bowl, combine the ricotta, thyme, basil, and salt.
4. Spread cream sauce over pizza crust, then top with ricotta mixture. Sprinkle remaining shredded mozzarella over top, and brush crusts with a little EVOO to crips. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.



Source: Adapted from Serious Eats