Monday, January 30, 2012
Last year I did a Top 5 of my most successful Game Day snacks from the football season, so it's time for me to do that again. There are just days before the Super Bowl and if any of these strike your fancy, go get the ingredients!
My husband had some definite favorites throughout the season, so here are my Top 5! And I have to add for his behalf, GO GIANTS!!! (Sorry if you are a Patriots fan, we are NY'ers).
Number 5: Mozzarepas!
This street food was found at the Long Island Oyster Festival back in October and we loved them SO much, I had to try and make them on my own. The first time was a little rough, but they came out pretty tasty anyway and are a perfect little snack to munch on during the big game. The recipe for the Mozzarepas is here! Enjoy!
Number 4: Dips!
I made two very successful cheese spreads this season. One I couldn't eat (the Beer-Cheese Dip) and one I could (the Cranberry Habanero Cheese Spread). My husband devoured both, and I immensely enjoyed the one I could eat. The Beer-Cheese dip can be used on steak sandwiches as well! Many different things can be dipped in eat one, vegetables, chips, pretzels, etc., so they are very versatile. If you want to try a new spread/dip for the big day - try one of these!
Here is the recipe for the Beer-Cheese Dip!
Here is the recipe for the Cranberry Habanero Cheese Spread!
Number 3: Pepperoni Polenta Pizza Wheels!
This recipe was one of the more simple ones, yet one of the most delicious! I had bought a polenta log from Trader Joe's to try out and needed something to do with it. Being a lover of pizza (and all things pizza), I used the base as a crust to make a little pizza wheel. It was delicious! And the polenta is a little less carby than regular crust! These little bites would go fast at a Super Bowl party! Yum! Here is the recipe!!
Number 2: PITACHOS!!
This was one of my earlier snacks in the season, but definitely one of the yummiest. It was also the first time I made my own pita chips - and they were flavored pita chips at that! My husband and I were little piggies this day as we gobbled up this delightful snack.
Try it out, but careful, it can get a little messy! Here is the recipe!
Number 1: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Bites!
My last recipe of the season was mine, and my husband's, favorite, yet it is probably THE MOST simple recipe out there. Thanks to my friend Carly, who made it and posted it on her running blog, I decided I had to make these, and guess what? I've made two more batches since! These take just mere minutes to make and are the perfect salty and sweet snack to pop while watching the game. Try them out! Here is this recipe!
So there are my top 5. Hopefully you are inspired to make one of them!
Lastly, I leave you with this fun little snack - perfect for any football game!
Mini Football Subs!
You can't have a Super Bowl party without these tasty little meatball treats!
Enjoy February 5th everyone! I know the game will definitely be on in my house with my husband decked out in his Giants jersey, hat, slippers, etc. I know he's hoping they will win so he can buy little baby boy a Super Bowl t-shirt once they hit Modells.
PS - Also, please remember, if you, or anyone you know, plays fantasy baseball and has a draft coming up, tell them to head on over to RotoProfessor.com for lots of great tips, tricks and articles. Also, RotoProfessor's third annual Draft Guide is on sale now for just $6!! It is an electronic draft guide created on Excel and updates get sent to the buyer every 2-3 weeks before the season starts. This guide gets repeat buyers and rave reviews and is much cheaper than a magazine from the store! Also, anyone who buys the guide before March 15 is entered to win an autographed baseball by Michael Pineda!! What an awesome prize!
I haven't posted in a while. Half a month. Sorry! I actually haven't been cooking much because we've had an influx of leftovers lately from restaurants or easy dinners I made that I have either already posted here or aren't post worthy!
And last week we had a bathroom renovation going on so that was a minimal cooking week. But I cooked today (sorry, that is not what this post is about!) and I will be starting to make foods to freeze before Junior comes so I will be (hopefully) be making lots of things in the upcoming weeks - we only have 8 to go! Yikes!
The post below is from my favorite cousin-in-law and her experience baking cupcakes for the first time completely from scratch. She was really, really excited about this (she's just out of college and learning to cook more on her own!) so she wanted to share her recipe and experience. Good job, Melissa!
Also, please remember, if you, or anyone you know, plays fantasy baseball and has a draft coming up, tell them to head on over to RotoProfessor.com for lots of great tips, tricks and articles. Also, RotoProfessor's third annual Draft Guide is on sale now for just $6!! It is an electronic draft guide created on Excel and updates get sent to the buyer every 2-3 weeks before the season starts. This guide gets repeat buyers and rave reviews and is much cheaper than a magazine from the store! Also, anyone who buys the guide before March 15 is entered to win an autographed baseball by Michael Pineda!! What an awesome prize!
OK, and now, the guest post. Everything written below here are Melissa's words:
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
This was my first time making cupcakes and frosting from scratch. I bake cookies from scratch all the time, but have always been afraid to try any kind of cake...until I found this recipe from joythebaker.com. It seemed simple enough...AND IT WAS! Start to finish (including clean up) was just over an hour!
To see the original post, visit joythebaker.com and search "Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream".
Here's the recipe, almost word-for-word from Joy's. I made a few substitutions and I put those in (parentheses). This makes 12 cupcakes.
1 cup flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk (1/2 cup skim milk and 2 tbsp butter)
1 egg (3 tbsp egg beaters)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Put flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into a bowl. Mix until a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side/bottom. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth - just a few minutes. Don't overmix!
Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins (I used an ice cream scoop).
Bake for 20-25 minute . Let them cool in the pan a bit before putting them on a wire rack to cool completely.
VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp whole milk (2.5 tbsp skim milk)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Beat powdered sugar and butter together until well mixed. Combine milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then pour the combination into the other mixture, slowly. Once all together, mix until light and fluffy.
I have always wanted to try using a piping bag, so i made my own (sort of) using a gallon sized ziplock bag. It worked pretty well! Not too easy, but it wasn't a disaster. I topped mine off with some silver sprinkles from Wilton.
For my first attempt, I'm really happy. And so was my roommate and his friends! I will absolutely make these again!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The crockpot was used once again this past weekend and for a recipe that came out pretty darn delicious!
I was perusing MomsWhoThink.com and stumbled across a few slow cooker recipes I wanted to try. I really want to try the homemade sloppy joe's but we don't have ground beef (or ground chicken) in the house right now. All we have is regular chicken, so I had to work with that.
I found this recipe for Cowboy Chicken, and it looked interesting - minus the black beans of course. I hate beans. My husband likes them, but he will have to make his own dishes on his own time! I tried to think of a substitute for the beans, maybe peas or something, but just ultimately decided to go without.
The one thing that bothered me about this recipe was that 30 minutes before you finish cooking, you had to put more ingredients into the crockpot. This is actually a conversation I had with my friend Laurie just a week ago. She wants to try more recipes from a slow cooker recipe book I bought her but a lot of them require ingredients to be added throughout the cooking time. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of "set and forget" while you are at work?
So I had that issue with this recipe. Now, I am home on Mondays - I don't work that day - but I had a doctor's appointment and I didn't know how long I would be there. I usually have to reduce the cooking time for my slow cooker recipes as well, because I only make half the recipes. So I decided to wait until after my 2 pm appointment was done to get this recipe going and we would just eat it the next day. It's a good thing I waited because my appointment took an hour longer than anticipated! So my food would have cooked longer and then I still would have had to add in those other ingredients and cook it for another half hour. I finally finished around 9 that night. No big deal - like I said, we planned to eat it the next night after work. But the recipes that are totally "set and forget" are definitely much easier.
This recipe was also the first time I made my own pulled chicken! I have never done this before so I was proud of myself for shredding the chicken well.
I used a fruity salsa instead of a spicy one since I only like the fruity salsas. I thought the recipe was great, my husband liked it too but I could tell he was craving more spice in the recipe, either by using a spicier salsa or adding some green chilies or something like that. You could do that if you wanted!
We also topped our dishes with some shredded cheddar, which wasn't in the original recipe. I think it added a little something.
So this is a keeper, and I will probably make some to freeze before the baby arrives.
And now, the recipe: (full recipe posted, but I halved it as usual)
4-6 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons Dijon Mustard (I actually used spicy mustard because we were out of dijon!)
2 cups salsa (any type)
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (I did not use)
½ cup sour cream (plus extra for serving)
Brown rice (for serving)
* Shredded cheddar cheese (my addition for serving!)
Place chicken in a greased slow cooker.
In medium bowl mix brown sugar, mustard, and salsa.
Pour mixture over chicken. Add water to cover chicken, if needed. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
With 30 minutes of cook time remaining remove the lid and shred the chicken using two forks.
Add the beans, corn, and sour cream to the slow cooker and mix together with the chicken. Replace lid and cook for remaining 30 minutes.
Serve over rice with sour cream (and cheese!).
Sunday, January 15, 2012
So I was searching for recipes that use vegetable broth since we had some leftover from my husband's chili recipe and I came across these spinach balls from Allrecipes.com.
They looked interesting so I decided to give it a try. I didn't use egg substitute, and just used 2 full eggs.
The balls came out well, but to me, a little bland. I felt they needed either a dipping sauce or an extra spice in the mix like crushed red pepper flakes or paprika or something. But otherwise they were a tasty little side to have with dinner. Or, you can put toothpicks in them and serve them as appetizers!
They were really easy to make but took just a short amount of time because I had to chop the onion. I was able to make these one night after work though, so it wasn't THAT involved.
The recipe is for 8 servings - I halved it as usual.
2 cups crushed seasoned stuffing
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup egg substitute (didn't use and used an extra egg instead)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
In a large bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients.
Stir in spinach until blended. Roll into 1-in. balls.
Place in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
My husband and I had pancakes for dinner the other night. Don't judge :-)
Anyway, he had made a huge batch over the weekend and we were needing a quick dinner. I just had plain old maple syrup on mine, but my husband decided to get fancy. He sliced up a banana and crushed some peanuts. He also made himself a maple syrup peanut butter sauce (recipe below). And then he assembled his masterpiece.
He took a pancake and put some banana slices and crushed peanut on it, and then another pancake. He continued this pattern for about 4 pancakes and then topped it off with some banana slices and peanuts.
Over his little pancake tower he poured his peanut butter syrup... and dug in. He LOVED his little concoction.
So if you like peanut butter and bananas, try it with pancakes! Here is the recipe he found to use:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter
In a small pan, heat syrup and peanut butter over low heat.
Whisk together until peanut butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Wow. I meant to post this recipe last week but it turned into quite a week. My husband cooked this chili the same day I cooked my Pizza Soup, and we had some all packed away to send to his dad for Tuesday, January 3rd when my husband was returning to work.
Well, Tuesday EARLY am comes and my husband wakes up with chest pains that didn't go away after an hour so we had to make an emergency room trip at 6 am. Fun times. Turns out he had a minor case of pneumonia, which we luckily caught pretty early. Of course, I was super paranoid about me getting sick since I am pregnant. Well, so he was home all week and I was doing more around the house, plus we were trying to set up our bathroom remodel that is happening in just mere weeks! So needless to say, I didn't get to post this chili recipe.
But I can now! He is back at work and I have my normal Monday day off to myself. My husband decided to make it extra spicy, so you can definitely tone it down. We found the recipe in the USA Weekend insert in the newspaper. It was called "Healthy Black Bean-Hominy Chili." We kept the recipe healthy, but used corn instead of hominy (that is what they said to substitute if you couldn't find hominy in the store. We just had a ton of corn in the house!) Hominy is corn kernels whose hull and germ have been removed, so regular corn is perfectly fine.
I am going to post the original recipe and put our substitutions in parentheses. We also halved the recipe. The original full recipe says it makes 4-6 servings, BUT the HALF recipe seems like it made just as much because my husband had 2 of the taller Chinese food soup containers completely full. So make at your own risk and make sure you have plenty of containers to store and freeze extra chili in.
After it was done cooking, my husband tried it and really liked it! He realized he made it a little too spicy, but with some shredded cheddar on top and sour cream, it cut the spice back. He has since used the chili alone, on top of french fries and is considering making a chili burger or chicken sandwich next. He will definitely make this recipe again.
It was also really fast to make - this isn't a slow cooker chili.
And now, the recipe: (original recipe with our changes next to it and full serving size, we halved).
1 quart vegetable broth (we halved this!)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (husband used spicy diced tomatoes)
1 TB vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color) diced
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 cans (15.5 oz each) drained black beans (we used 1)
2 cans (15 oz each) drained hominy (we used frozen corn)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
(My husband also added in a dash of crush red pepper flakes, probably overkill!)
Microwave broth and tomatoes in a microwave safe dish on high power until steamy hot, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and saute them until soft and golden brown - about 5 minutes.
Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano (and in my husbands case, the crushed red pepper flakes) - saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add beans and hominy (corn) along with the hot broth mixture. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer partly covered until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended - about 20 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, chocolate and cilantro and simmer a few minutes to blend flavors.
Turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes.
** If you want a thicker chili (this one is a little thin), vigorously stir in some fine cornmeal at the end of cooking. My husband did this and he ended up really liking how it came out!
And, enjoy! My husband topped it with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream and was very satisfied.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Today I made my second slow-cooker recipe, and this one is definitely a keeper. In fact, I will probably make a big batch to freeze before baby boy comes and that way we can heat and eat quickly!
While I was perusing my new favorite website, OnceAMonthMom.com, I found this recipe for pizza soup that really intrigued me. I immediately e-mailed it to my husband saying, "we need to try this!!"
I did not change anything about the recipe except for halving it. (Right now there is just no need for me to make 8-10 servings of things!) Oh, and I omitted the mushrooms because my husband just does not like mushrooms so if I can leave it out, I do.
I think next time I make it I want to substitute mini meatballs for the sausage for a different taste. The sausage was great, but meatballs could be fun too. Always try something new!
My husband gobbled half his bowl up before I even got a chance to sit down at the table. So, I guess it really was a success.
This recipe takes a little more time to prepare just because you need to wash and dice a bunch of vegetables and the pepperoni and slice the sausage. Once everything is in the pot you just set it to low and let it go and then 30 minutes before it would be "done," you add the uncooked pasta into the pot and turn it to high.
I shortened the cooking time again to about 4.5 - 5 hours instead of the 6 because I didn't have a full pot and I halved the recipe. Turned out just fine!
So here is the recipe: (This is for the full serving size, I halved everything on here)
28 ounces pizza sauce (I just used marinara sauce)
7.5 cups of water
1.5 cups green pepper, diced
3/4 cups red onion, diced
15.5 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I omitted these)
6 ounces Smoked Sausage, already cooked (I used my chicken sausage from Trader Joe's)
1 cup sliced pepperoni, quartered (I used Hormel Turkey Pepperoni)
1/2 Tablespoons basil, dry
1 Tablespoon oregano, dry
1.5 cups uncooked pasta
French or Sourdough Bread
Wash and prepare veggies and place in slow cooker.
Add the sausage, pepperoni, basil, and oregano to veggies.
Pour in pizza sauce and then water.
Cover and cook on low 6 hours. (I did 4.5 to 5 hours)
Thirty minutes before end of time, add pasta and turn to high. Allow pasta to soften.
Serve topped with croutons and Mozzarella cheese.
To prepare croutons: slice bread. Butter one side and sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.
Broil for several minutes or until golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
Remove from oven, cut into squares. Serve on top of soup.
If you want to freeze this recipe, prepare the soup part and then let it cool and store in gallon baggies. To serve, let thaw and heat on stove top. Sprinkle cheese and any other bread topping you want on it at that point!
This honestly was delicious. It was a very hearty soup and didn't really taste like you were eating tomato soup. It did honestly feel like a liquid pizza almost. And it was great!
Try it out!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
My husband and I decided to buy a slow-cooker sometimes last year (sounds so weird saying that!) I think we bought it in September, or early October. When it got home, it sat, half opened, in our den for months, until I FINALLY decided to wash it and use it toward the end of December.
I was inspired because I play on this website for people who are pregnant and there was a huge discussion about freezing foods before the baby comes, which is something I actually want to do. Someone recommended a website called OnceAMonthMom.com. It has a ton of recipes that can easily be made ahead of time and then frozen, and one of the sections is just for slow-cookers.
So I found this recipe for cranberry chicken. It looked interesting, and really easy, so I decided to try it. (FYI, the picture above is borrowed from the actual onceamonthmom.com website because I forgot to take a picture of MY chicken when we were eating it. Oops.)
I had been nervous about a slow-cooker for a long time. A few years ago my mother in law asked if we wanted one but I said no. I was afraid to leave it on during the day when I wasn't home... what if it went on fire?? But, I caved. Granted, the first recipe I made, I was home. And for the next few, I probably will set it up while we are home on the weekends so at least I can see the progress. For example, we ended up turning the slow-cooker off a little earlier than the recipe said because we halved the portion and we saw that everything was fully cooked a little earlier. So I just have to learn to adjust when not making a full batch, or set up one of my automatic timers on the outlet where the slow-cooker is plugged in to.
The only thing I changed about the recipe was not using cranberry sauce. I buy this cranberry-apple spread from trader Joe's that I LOVE so I wanted to use that instead. My dish came out tasty, except it wasn't SUPER cranberry-ish. I think I probably should have just used cranberry sauce... or a little more of the spread than I did. Otherwise, everything went fine and it tasted delicious over rice!
So look out for more slow-cooker recipes from me (in fact, the next one I am making tomorrow is for pizza stew!! I can't wait!)
Also, starting next month I will be making a bunch of food to freeze so when the little boy is here, we don't have to worry about cooking for a while and just popping something into the oven. So if anyone has any ideas for recipes, feel free to pass them along too!!
And now, the recipe: (I halved it...but this is the full recipe)
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet dried onion soup mix
1 cup Catalina or French salad dressing
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Place ingredients in a slow cooker. (It cracks me up that dumping everything in a pot is the only direction. I could get used to this!)
Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender.
Serve over rice, if desired.
Here are all my ingredients in the pot, love it!
Hopefully I will master slow-cooking soon and have lots of tasty ideas! Until next time, fellow eaters.
Yeah, it's late in the day. I wasn't sure if I was going to do a Game Day Snack for today but I made these fun little treats last night for New Years Eve that my husband said to put up as the game day snack. So I am. But this is officially the last football game day snack until next year, hopefully (if baby boy doesn't infringe on my kitchen time!)
So my friend Carly actually inspired me to do these treats. She has a running blog but was talking about the holiday baking she did in a post the other week. She had a picture of these cute little treats that were pretzels with a melted Hershey Kiss and an M&M on top. Super easy. Super tasty. I asked her for the recipe.
So she sent me the link where the recipe was and basically told me how easy they were to make, and they were. It took me like, 10 minutes tops. (Plus 15 minutes for cooling in the fridge)
It did take me longer to unwrap the chocolates than bake these, haha! Anyway, these came out SO GOOD that my husband wanted to eat the entire plate. I told him to, he could stand to gain a few pounds, but he opted not to. Oh well. Next time.
The link to the recipe also has many other ideas like making little pretzel s'mores or using different flavor chocolate/M&M's for different tastes. The possibilities are endless.
So here is the recipe, nice and easy:
Pretzel snaps (or your favorite small pretzel.. I used the square ones)
Hershey Kisses (I actually didn't have Kisses so I used the small Hershey milk chocolate candies and the Special Dark ones too!)
M&Ms (I used peanut and cinnamon M&M's)
Place the pretzel squares on a baking sheet, and top each one with a Hershey Kiss.
Cook for 3 minutes in a 250 degree oven.
Press an M&M into the center of each Hershey Kiss. Refrigerate for approximately 15-20 minutes or until cool.
So there ya go. Simple, easy, DELICIOUS!