Archive | January, 2012

Super Bowl Menu

31 Jan

We are hosting the Super Bowl this year for the second year in a row and I am totally ordering pizza for the second year in a row. It’s easy and makes my life less stressful. But of course I can’t just have pizza. I could never have at least one homemade thing at a gathering…it’s just not my style. Sooo, in addition to the pizza I am going to prepare some dips and desserts for our guests. I’m pretty darn excited about them so I thought that I would share them with you now in case you want to try them for the big game. I will feature them in the future if they are a hit among the crowd.

Buffalo Chicken Dip


Mexican Cheesy Corn Dip from Piece, Love and Cooking

Caramel Peanut Butter Dip for Apples

Caramel Peanut Butter Dip Recipe

Dessert is a toss up right now…either mini fruit pizza’s or Blue Moon cupakes…ooooor both. I just can’t decide. Blue Moon cupcakes would be perfect for the game but mini fruit pizza’s would be so cute and fun.

Blue Moon Cupcakes from Erica Sweet Tooth

Mini Fruit Pizza’s (store bought or prepared sugar cookies with frosting…if I make these I’m going to frost the cookies then set out the fruit so everybody can create their own using the fruit they prefer)

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

27 Jan

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
For as much as I claim to not liking chocolate cakes, cookies, muffins, breads I sure do seem to bake them a lot. Every time I see a recipe for something chocolate I think “this will be the one that converts me” and it never is…it’s always too decadent for me. But these muffins were just perfect. They were rich but not so much so that we couldn’t enjoy them. The combination of bananas and chocolate was divine and I think the addition of walnuts would put them over the top.

To make these more nutritous (and not feel so bad for eating chocolate for breakfast) I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. The banana kept these muffins moist so the addition of whole wheat flour wasn’t even noticed. When Joel saw that I had made muffins he asked if they were healthy. He knows that I’ve been trying to up the health factor in our meals so he has been very skeptical. I could have totally tricked him if he hadn’t asked.
Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

And I apologize for the picture of only a single muffin. We scarfed these down and I didn’t remember to take a picture until only one was left…oops.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
recipe from

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 3/4 cup all-purpose and 3/4 cup wheat flour)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (took 3 bananas for me)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, combine bananas, oil and egg.

3. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups three fourths full.

5. Bake at 350 deg F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.Totally Tasty Tuesd

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Totally Tasty TuesdayFriday Food, Fusion Friday, Full Plate Thursday and What I Whipped Up Wednesday.


Black Bean Soup

25 Jan

Black Bean Soup
Winter has finally struck here and it means business. This is the perfect hearty soup to warm you to the core on these cold nights we have been having. I love a good, thick soup that is filling and this totally fit the bill. The cumin provides a delicious, smoky flavor while the lime juice adds a nice little acidity to the soup. I love the addition of sweet potatoes, it was unique and super yummy with the black beans.

I left the ham hock out but I bet it would be so tasty with little bits of ham throughout (or bacon would be good too). This recipe is easily adaptable for vegetarians….just leave out the ham as I did and use veggie stock instead of chicken.

This soup takes awhile and involves soaking the beans overnight so it takes a bit of preparation and planning. Top this soup with some crispy tortilla strips to add a crunchy texture or scoop it up with some crusty french bread. Yum!

Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes
recipe from Simply Recipes

1 pound dried black beans (about 2 cups), rinsed, soaked in 4 quarts of water overnight or 6 hours, drained
1 lb smoked ham hock or shank (or a 1lb. bacon cook and crumbled – added before serving)
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
1 medium sweet potato, chopped into
1/2-inch pieces (can substitute 2 large carrots)
1/2 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp molasses
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
3 to 4 Tbsp lime juice (can substitute lemon juice)

Garnishes: Tortilla strips Chopped fresh cilantro Sour cream Avocado, peeled and chopped

1. Place beans and ham hock in a 4-quart, thick-bottomed pot. Add 5 cups water, bay leaves, salt and baking soda. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and let cook 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves. Remove ham hock from the pot. Cut ham meat away from the bone and cut into small, bite-sized pieces, set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large 8-quart thick-bottomed pot on medium high until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Add the onions, celery, sweet potato and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and softened, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the cumin, chili powder, and garlic, cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Add the beans, their cooking liquid, chicken stock, molasses, and bell pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Remove 4 cups of the soup (about half of it) to a blender. Purée until smooth and return to the pot of soup. (You may need to purée the soup in smaller portions, depending on the size of your blender. Don’t fill the blender more than half way at a time and hold the lid while blending.) Add back the ham pieces to the soup. Add 3 Tbsp of lime juice. Adjust seasonings. If on the sweet side, add a bit more lime juice. Salt to taste.

Serve with garnishes. Makes 8 cups. Serves 6.

Note that the soup may continue to thicken. If you would like it thinner, just add some water to desired consistency.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday,  These Chicks Cooked, Friday Food, Fusion Friday, Full Plate Thursday and What I Whipped Up Wednesday.

Blueberry, Banana, Peanut Butter Smoothie

23 Jan


Blueberry, Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie

With the new year comes new resolutions and I of course have the “be healthier” resolution on my list like so many others. Joel and I joined a local gym and I have been Zumba-ing my butt off ever since (it’s amazing and so fun…do it!). In addition, healthy eating has been a priority too. I’m not a huge fruit eater but I love smoothies so we have been making an effort to try different recipes so that we have an arsenal of options on our hands.

This was the first smoothie we tried and it was promptly put on the make again list. I love the addition of wheat germ because of the many beneficial vitamins and minerals it contains. Adding peanut butter provides an interesting and unique variation to the typical fruit smoothie. Another huge benefit of this smoothie is that we always have all of these ingredients on hand making it very convenient to whip up for breakfast or an afternoon boost.

My blueberry loving little man went wild for it. I think he would have drunk the whole batch if we would have given it to him.

Blueberry, Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie
recipe from
makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon wheat germ or flax seed meal, optional
1 banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used blueberry Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup milk

1. Put ground flax seed meal or wheat germ into blender to grind and further breakdown. This will also eliminate any bitterness from the flax seed.

2. Place the banana, blueberries, peanut butter, honey, yogurt and milk into the blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.

Cheesy Bread

20 Jan

Delicious dough, topped with butter and tons of cheese….what’s not to love? We are big on pizza in our house. It’s Joel’s favorite food and I’m pretty sure he would eat it everyday if I let him. Whenever we go out for pizza, cheesy bread always pulls me in and gets me every time. I know it’s just sauceless, topping-less pizza but it’s soo ooey-gooey good. I just can’t resist it. And making it homemade is so easy and delicious. It’s now a must when we make homemade pizza or spaghetti!

Cheesy Bread

1 loaf Rhodes bread dough, thawed
1 -2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 – 2 cups mozzerella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, seperated (I love Olde Westport’s Pasta seasoning, it’s amazing)

1. Roll thawed dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and place on preheated pizza stone (or greased cookie sheet). Mix butter and 1 tsp. Italian seasoning together then smear over the dough. Sprinkle with cheeses and remaining Italian seasoning.

2. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15-18 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes then slice into strips.Recipe linked to Fusion Friday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and These Chicks Cooked.

18 Months + A Silly Tradition

19 Jan

My little man turned 18 months today. 18 MONTHS?!?!!! I guess he is not my baby anymore. And that makes me a bit sad. I know in my mind that he is 18 months but I suppose it just hadn’t hit me yet until I was really, truly looking at him and realized he doesn’t look like a baby anymore. He looks like a boy. I think my eyes were playing tricks on me for the past few months because my heart wasn’t ready for him to be a big boy. But alas, he is and I will embrace this new stage of his.

Well, in our house we have a little half birthday tradition that we celebrate. It was started by Joel when he was a kid and I’m not quite sure why. My assumption is that he needed a little attention in the summer because all his big celebrations (birthday and Christmas) are within the same week. Needless to say, you can tell that this tradition was started by a child…because it involves a poptart. Every half birthday, Joel would be presented with a poptart with a candle in it. I thought it would be fun to do this with Noah this year and get some funny photos. He demolished that poptart, not that I’m surprised…that boy loves food. If I was a good mama and food blogger, I would have made him homemade poptarts but I don’t always have time for those kinds of things these days. Enjoy the pictures of my little man and his new favorite snack. He’s going to be sad when he realizes he won’t get them very often.


18 Months


18 Months

{MMMM, good! Why haven’t I had these before?}

18 Months


18 Months
{Toes and poptart crumbs}
18 MonthsI love traditons that revolve around food…and so does Noah!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

18 Jan

Step 10
Joel absolutely loves Cinnabon but sadly we don’t have them around these parts. So that means whenever we are waiting at an airport or cruising a mall in a new city the hunt is on for Cinnabon (my hunt is for Chick-a-Fila but that’s a whole other story for another time). So when I came across this copycat recipe I knew it was a must try. And I am so glad that we did because they were the best and easiest cinnamon rolls I have ever made.

By now, you all know my debacle with doughs and pastry crusts. Well, this dough rolled out like a dream. Yep, that’s right…a dream. From now on, I will always use this dough recipe for sweet breakfast rolls of all kinds (mmm, now I’m dreaming of caramel rolls and orange rolls).

They were tender, gooey, cinnamon-y, sweet and sticky. Everything you hope for in a cinnamon roll. I think the addition of chopped pecans to the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture would be to die for and I think I will try that next time on half of the rolls (picky Joel doesn’t like nuts). You just have to try these. They melt in your mouth and stick in your brain…I’m still dreaming about them and I made them weeks ago!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
recipe from

1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups flour

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine , softened

8 tablespoons margarine
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.

2. Add sugar, margarine salt, eggs, and flour, mix well (I used my Kitchen Aid for this step).

3. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour.
Step 1
4. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size (I rose mine in the oven after preheating the oven to 400F and then turning it off).
Step 2
5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 21 inches long by 16 inches wide.

6. It should be approx 1/4 thick.
Step 3
7. To make filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

8. Spread the softened margarine over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.
Step 4
Step 5
9. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
Step 6
10. Cut the dough into 1 3/4 inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan. Rise rolls again until about doubled in size (I placed them in the oven again and let them rise for about 30 minutes).
Step 7
11. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Step 8
12. While the rolls are baking combine the icing ingredients.

13. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. Spread over hot cinnamon rolls.

Step 9

Baked Italian Sausage with Potatoes and Garlic

16 Jan

Baked Italian Sausage with Potatoes and Garlic

This is a ridiculously easy recipe that yields amazingly delicious results. Chop, mix, dump and occasionally stir. Could it get any better?

I love pretty much anything that is roasted to the point of caramelization so this one dish meal was totally up my alley. The sausage, potatoes and garlic turn into brown, crispy delicious-ness that is hard to resist. After we were done eating, I kept snitching just one more potato or slice of sausage. The garlic was to die for smashed up with everything and even on its own.

I think some cauliflower or broccoli would be wonderful thrown into the mix as well. Change it up and use veggies that are in season or ones that you prefer. The possibilities are endless.

Baked Italian Sausage with Potatoes and Garlic
recipe from Wishful Chef

1 pound spicy Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
6-8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup Crimini mushrooms, halved
1 cup husk tomatoes, peeled (use cherry tomatoes to substitute
1 handful garlic cloves, skin on
2 shallots cut in quarters
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix all ingredients in baking pan coating everything evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and mix ingredients so they don’t stick to the pan. Bake uncovered for another 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and golden brown. Keep checking and feel free to mix every now and then depending on how caramelized or crispy you like everything.

Buffalo Mac-n-Cheese

13 Jan

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese 1
OMG…this is the most amazing meal I have made in a long time! I’m not really surprised considering my love of cheese and pasta and anything buffalo. It really is a dream combination for my tummy. When I first looked at the recipe, I was a little concerned that it would be too spicy for the boys but it was just the right amount of buffalo flavor. I think that the sour cream really helped mellow it out. But be warned, it is spicier when reheated.
Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese 2
My aunt has been waiting (not so patiently) for me to post this Top 100 recipe after I sent her a picture of it last week. I even got a reminder the other day on my Facebook page that I hadn’t posted about it yet. So here it is Aunt Mimi, buffalo mac-n-cheese!
Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese 3
Buffalo Mac-n-Cheese
recipe from Brenda’s Canadian Kitchen

7 T unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cups hot sauce (we like Louisiana Hot Sauce)
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half-and-half (I used milk instead)
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper-jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 T chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter (or use cooking spray) a deep 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

4. Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.

5. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted.  Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley.  Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Classic Southern Dessert Series: Cherry Coke Cake

11 Jan

I’ve been wanting to make this cake forever. Anyone who knows me knows that I am slightly addicted to Cherry Coke. When I was in high school I was on the newspaper staff. We spent a many a night at school late working on our publication and I always had this delicious beverage in hand. If I didn’t, people were concerned. Even my wedding pictures included a Cherry Coke bottle (and it totally wasn’t staged)! I am not usually a lick the beater kind of girl but this cake batter totally changed me. I licked it clean and I’m not afraid to admit it. I didn’t save any for Joel and I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t even care for chocolate cake but the Cherry Coke gave it such a light, airy, bubbly texture that I just couldn’t resist. Amazing. I couldn’t taste the Cherry Coke in the finished product but it was extremely moist and airy due to the carbonation. I couldn’t get it out of the pan in one piece because of the moistness (is that a word?). And the crunch of the toasted pecans totally makes this cake. It was a huge win in our house and it marked off another item in my Top 100 list.

Cherry Coke Cake
recipe slightly* adapted from Classic Southern Desserts by Southern Living

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup Cherry Coke
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
Cherry Coke Frosting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange chopped nuts in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
2. Combine cola and buttermilk.
3. Beat butter at low speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat at low speed just until blended.
4. Combine flour, cocoa and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with cola mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in marshmallows. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13×9-inch pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes.
6. Pour Cherry Coke Frosting over warm cake; sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Cherry Coke Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup cherry coke
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepn over medium heat, stirring until butter melted. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla. Use immediately.

*Original recipe called for regular Coke.Recipe linked to What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesdsay, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Treats Thursday, Friday Food, Fusion Fridays and Sweets for a Saturday.


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