Spinach Artichoke Dip

Quick Post: This is always welcome at any get together – seriously! Everyone always loves this stuff and asks me for the recipe. I found this at least six years ago on Allrecipes.com. I don’t change a thing either – you can’t mess with perfection, after all! It’s not the cheapest appetizer, but thankfully I have over half of these ingredients on hand at any time. Be sure to leave your cream cheese out for a few hours before you make this and roast your garlic ahead of time too so it’s cool enough to handle. I usually serve this with sliced baguette or Tostitos Scoops, it’s also nice to keep this warm in a small crock pot so it stays nice and melty. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Artichoke & Spinach Dip Restaurant Style – adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo-style pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

Directions –

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Place garlic in a small baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. When cool enough to touch, squeeze softened garlic from skins.

3. In an 8×8 inch baking dish, spread the roasted garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, Alfredo-style pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese.

4. Cover and bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly. Serve warm.

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Oreos are very addicting. Thankfully a good amount of the package went into the making of this crust! The crust was definitely the best part of this in my opinion. M liked it, but he loves super rich desserts. This pie was super peanut-buttery…almost too much. It may have been because I fiddled with the amounts of ingredients because I don’t have a standard pie dish (mine are deep dish). Some people loved this, some just could not take the peanut butter overload. If you’re not a huge fan of it, steer clear of this one. It’s not a total flop of a recipe, but it’s not going to be in our dessert rotation…*sad face*

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie – adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures via Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tart

Crust –

  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • pinch salt
Filling –
  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter (smooth, not natural or chunky)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
Garnish –
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Directions –
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine the cookie crumbs, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and toss with a fork until all of the crumbs are moistened (the mixture will be quite wet).  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes so the crust is firm, then bake until set, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.   Mix in the peanut butter and vanilla.  (If you don’t have a second bowl for your stand mixer either transfer the cream cheese mixture to another bowl and wash the first, or do the next step with a hand mixer.)  Switch to the whisk attachment on your mixer and beat the heavy cream until you have soft peaks.  Take about 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir it into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whipped cream.  Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and spread in an even layer.  Freeze uncovered for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day covered with plastic wrap.To garnish the pie: Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between each burst.  Continue until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and snip a tiny bit off the corner.  Hold the bag over the pie and drizzle the melted chocolate in a zig-zag pattern.  Put the peanut butter in a small saucepan set over low heat and melt it, stirring frequently.  Add the melted peanut butter to a resealable plastic bag, snip off a corner and drizzle over the pie.  Let stand for about 10 minutes to set.Remove the pie from the freezer about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to serve.  If you have trouble cutting it, running your knife under warm water will help.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Yes, there are only three ingredients in this tomato sauce. I was skeptical when I first saw this recipe at Smitten Kitchen, but this site had yet to steer me wrong and so I trusted the author’s judgment. The butter creates a velvety, rich sauce and the onion flavors this perfectly.Once the sauce was finished, I buzzed it with my stick blender to create a smoother texture. There is no need for herbs or garlic and try to resist “doctoring” this up.  What is even better about this is that you probably have all the ingredients needed in your pantry. It’s great for busy moms who want to try out new but not intimidating, made-from-scratch recipes. And who doesn’t like this sort of simple comfort food? I used Linguine fini for this and served Italian style chicken sausage and everyone really loved it, even my picky husband who doesn’t like tomato sauce. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter – adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

  • 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt to taste

Directions –

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste.

Serve with spaghetti, with or without grated parmesan cheese.


PW’s Crash Hot Potatoes

Quick Post: Who doesn’t like potatoes? I knew I wanted to serve potatoes with this dinner and I didn’t want to make mashed potatoes. They take a long time and they make a mess of dishes. I remembered seeing this post at The Pioneer Woman’s site a long time ago and decided that it was time to try a new recipe out. These take more time than I anticipated because the cook time for a whole, uncut potato is much longer than I thought. It took a good 25 minutes until these medium sized potatoes were cooked through enough to smash easily. Baking them with the olive oil made these nice and crispy – I bet cheese and crumbled bacon would be an excellent addition. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Crash Hot Potatoes – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Black Pepper To Taste
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (optional)
Directions –
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Rotisserie-Style Chicken (…in a crock pot)

I haven’t used the crock pot in a long time. I do enjoy the convenience of it, especially when it comes to cooking a whole chicken and not worrying if it’s going to become dry. Now, I am a fan of roast chicken; but this recipe is great because there is no added fat to ensure moist chicken.

Verdict: This is pretty good, but I will do things a little different next time. First, I’ll start the crock pot earlier in the day to cook it on low, (because of the late start I cooked it on high for 5 hours), be sure to place the bird breast-side down and skip the foil. We ate this with PW’s crash potatoes and some steamed broccoli. I will post the recipe for the potatoes tomorrow – they’re really easy and complimented this dinner nicely. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Crock Pot Rotisserie-Style Chicken – adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

  • 1 whole chicken (my bird was less than 4 pounds)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion (I had over 1 cup of diced white onion)
Directions – 
*I used a 6 quart crock pot, lined with this. I also roll some foil into balls and place on the bottom of the slow cooker, then place the chicken on top*
1. In a bowl, combine all of dried spices. Rub the spice mixture all over the bird, inside and out. Plop the bird breast-side down into the crock pot. If desired, shove 4 whole garlic cloves and a quartered onion inside the bird. Do not add water.

2. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8. The meat is done when it is fully cooked and has reached desired tenderness. The longer you cook it, the more tender the meat.

Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt and Vanilla Sugar

I broke out my old ice cream maker today – dusted it off and placed the canister in the freezer to chill out for 24 hours. I decided that it is the summer of homemade ice creams, frozen yogurt, popsicle and sorbet! Tastespotting.com is always a huge inspiration to me – I love the photography and am immediately drawn in. While looking at fro-yo recipes, I came across two that seemed easy enough. I took parts of the two and combined them in a way that seemed good to me. This is the start of something tasty this summer – I can’t wait to try more, and it was so easy!

Verdict: Rich, sweet and tangy – it’s so good! Hopefully the family likes it, or else I’ll have to eat this all by myself and I’ll never have a good excuse to make it again…Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt – 

  • 3 cups Greek yogurt ( I used full fat! )
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped of caviar
Directions –
Blend all ingredients well until sugar is dissolved. Place mixture in the fridge to chill for at least one hour. Once this step is complete, pour into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.
Vanilla Sugar –
  • 1 vanilla bean pod split and scraped of caviar, or not – it’s up to you
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 canning jar (8 ounce)
Pour sugar into your glass container and stuff your vanilla pod inside. The sugar can them be stored indefinitely, replenished with fresh sugar or additional vanilla beans as necessary to make more.

Blackened Tilapia Flatbread

The picture sold me on this recipe first and I’m always on the lookout for fish recipe ideas. We recently got back from a three day vacation at Disney World, and while we were there we went to the Rain Forest Cafe. I tried their blackened tilapia with mango salsa and it was pretty tasty. I don’t normally order my fish “blackened” – it just doesn’t sound all that appealing to me ( “black” sounds like “burnt” to me ). So, on the shopping list was blackening seasoning and tilapia – thankfully the tilapia is on sale this week at Publix, but the blackening seasoning was not. I read the ingredients list and the first listed spice was salt….no thanks. I have salt at home, and I also have all the ingredients necessary to make my own salt-free blend! It pays to have a well stocked spice and dried herb cabinet. Bread making comes in handy too and for this meal I’ll make these pitas instead of spending almost four dollars for “fresh” pitas.

Verdict: These were so good – and the fish was cooked perfectly. The spicy tartar sauce was a great compliment to these, but next time I may add a little more cayenne pepper to the blackening seasoning. Overall we were all happy to eat this up, and it will definitely go into the rotation! Thanks for reading, enjoy!


Blackened Seasoning Mix – adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika (*I used half smoked paprika, half sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Directions –
Combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper, basil, and oregano in a bowl until evenly mixed. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Blackened Fish Flatbread – adapted from Honest Cooking

For the Fish:

  • 1 lb tilapia
  • Blackening Seasoning of Choice
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 1 TBS Canola Oil

For the Simple Spicy Tartar Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup Tartar Sauce
  • 2-3 tsp of Lemon Juice
  • Blackening Seasoning to taste

Other:

  • Pita bread, store-bought or these
  • Chopped Lettuce
  • Lemon wedges
  • Sliced tomato
Directions –
  1. Heat butter and canola oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper one side of fish and then coat with blackening spice to desired preference (we coat ours pretty well as we LOVE the heat).
  2. Place the fish, seasoned side down into the pan and quickly season the other side in the same way. Cook fish for roughly 3-4 minutes per side: 7-8 minutes in total (see above note regarding cooking times). Remove from skillet, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Heat flatbread in oven at 350° F until just warmed through (takes only a few minutes). Remove from oven and layer on the lettuce, tomato, red onion, and spicy tartar sauce to preference. Place fish filet on top, fold up the sides, and wrap one end in parchment paper or foil. Serve with a lemon wedge if desired.
  4. Note: The hubs says that the rule of thumb for cooking fish is roughly 1 minute per ounce. For instance, an 8 oz piece of fish will need about 4 minutes on each side (8 minutes total).

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie (awesomeness!!!)

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I clicked this link from TasteSpotting….I love TasteSpotting! While searching for chocolate chip cookie recipes this one’s picture appeared on the first page. Immediately I knew this would be tonight’s treat, and after showing M; he mentioned the hot fudge sauce…could this possibly get any better??

Verdict: This couldn’t be easier of faster to put together. It only makes four 6 ounce ramekins worth which was just right for us. When you break it down, there is only two tablespoons of butter per serving!;) All around this makes for a special, only once-in-a-while dessert that your family will remember for its deep dish cookie goodness! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls – adapted from How Sweet It Is

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside in a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until it’s light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spray 4 oven-safe ramekins with non-stick spray and divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Press the dough into the ramekin – each one should have about 1/3-1/2 cup dough.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the middle is still slightly gooey. Set aside and let cool for 5 minutes until they can be handled then serve with vanilla ice cream.

Hot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

These are always really tasty! I have used this recipe more times than I can count. If you love the taste of Franks Red Hot and blue cheese you’ll love these. I bought boneless, skinless chicken breast halves and pounded them to make them cook quicker and for ease of eating. Doing this at home saved me over a dollar per pound – Publix wanted over 5 dollars for cutlets.

I took many liberties with this recipe starting with marinating the chicken – that’s a must in our house when we grill chicken. It adds so much to this meal and it couldn’t be easier. I also combine mayo with the sour cream to mellow out the sauce – it makes a lot so if you want to use the suggested celery and carrots you have plenty left over to dip. I’m sure I can talk M into getting us some buffalo wings later on this week to use the rest!;) We love all things “buffalo” and if you’re a regular visitor to this blog – that’s easy to see. Here are just some of the other buffalo style meals I have made. My two favorites by far are the buffalo chicken calzone and the buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese…so good!! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches – (heavily) adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast – pounded to an even thickness
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of one large lime
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

Sauce for Chicken –

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 4 crusty rolls, split
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled

Prepare your marinade by combining the lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl. Place your chicken in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over all. Mush the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours – the longer the better.

Preheat your grill to medium high heat, then cook your chicken for 5-7 minutes each side.

Heat a metal or oven safe glass bowl over low heat and melt butter in the bowl. Add hot sauce to the butter and combine. When the chicken breasts are done, remove from pan and add to the bowl and coat evenly with hot sauce mixture.

Place chicken breasts on bun bottoms and top with crisp lettuce. Combine sour cream, mayo, pepper and blue cheese and slather bun tops with blue cheese mixture. Affix bun tops on sandwiches and enjoy!


Stomboli a la Leftovers

Quick Post: Even though I haven’t been posting much these past few days, there has been plenty of cooking and baking! As a matter of fact, just last night I made this, these and this, oh, and these too!

This wasn’t a new recipe for me either, but it’s a variation of this recipe from way back in October. M grilled a few Italian sausages the other night that needed to be used, there was leftover pepperoni, some cheese odds and ends and then about 1 1/2 cups of this meat sauce left in the freezer. I love when I can make dinner with things that might otherwise go to waste. Having a few balls of pizza dough in the freezer doesn’t hurt either:) Thanks for reading, enjoy!