Monday, October 31, 2011

Pepperoni logs

I sort of threw these together for a Jamison family get together due to a lack of planning.  I Lack of planning for food parties? I know what I'm making for events at least a couple weeks ahead of time and am usually so excited, I make it a few days before the event if possible.  But this came at a busy time where we had made plans for Friday night, we were tailgating all day Saturday (which I also made food for), and went straight to the pot luck on crockpots were being used for the tailgate.  What to do, what to do?

Well, I happened to see some string cheese and egg roll wrappers in the fridge and decided to throw in some pizza sauce and pepperonis just to see what happened.  I did make a taco salad as well, so that if this blew up in my face, I wouldnt be known as a total failure at least.  I have made these baked cheese sticks before too, and they were similar enough that I was pretty confident the added ingredients would only bring these up a notch.  Here's what you need:

package of string cheese
your fave pizza sauce
package of turkey pepperoni
egg roll wrappers
olive oil

There you have it.  It's actually pretty self explanatory from there.  You cut the egg roll wrappers up into quarters.

Squirt a little pizza sauce on there.

Put a pepperoni down.

Cut the string cheese sticks into thirds. Place one of the thirds on each.

Brush with olive oil around the edges so they stay shut, and roll those buggers up, tucking the sides in as you go.

Put on a greased baking sheet, and either freeze till we needed them like I did, or bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (keep an eye if they start oozing cheese, nobody likes a cheese-less log). 

Sorry for the photo quality, my camera was dead from the weekend so a cell phone pic will have to suffice. I will say that you have to be sure to serve them right away when they're out of the oven and hot.  The people who were nibbling on them piping hot were raving but when we sat down to eat, it was like a chunk of string cheese was stuffed in an egg roll wrapper...which is exactly what happened. We took the leftovers home and ate the whole rest of the pan when they were hot so I can vouch that the temperature makes a huge difference on these. Serve with pizza sauce or ranch for dipping.  It's times like these that I am thankful to be a food hoarder and be able to throw together two dishes for a potluck without making one trip to the store! 

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Broccoli cheese soup

So this is kinda cheating.  I don't make this from scratch...not even slightly.  But I had to pass this on to you so you could go buy it....ok, I'll wait till you get back.
Who doesn't love cheese soup? I think it's Justin's fave if I were to nail him down on a soup commitment.  I will say this is not diet soup, so I apologize if I got your hopes up for it being low-cal.  But you know how when you're sick and you want soup, but you don't want to make it from scratch? This was how I discovered the bagged cheese soup.  Stopped at the store on the way home to get some kleenex, some meds, and some soup...came out with this.

I just follow the directions on the package (which you only need 8 cups of water to make, by the way) and it's done in 10 minutes...seriously.  I have also been known to add a couple slices of real diced ham (not the lunchmeat stuff) since we have Wilbur frozen in the deep freeze, to give the soup some girth (did she really just use the word girth to describe food? Yes, she did.) and some staying power.  I made this for tailgating this weekend since it's going to be chilllllllllly (except it wasn't chilly at all, it was legit hot out for the end of October)!!  Nothing warms ya up like a bowl of soup and crackers...and even though it was warm out already this did get demolished so I would say that's a good sign!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Cat food dip

Don't ask me why it's called that.  It looks nothing like cat food, smells nothing like cat food (thank goodness), and I hope it tastes nothing like cat food (don't ask me how I know that).  But that's what I call it.  When we were younger, we would sometimes have this alone for wonder I am a chip-aholic!  I loved those would make it in the microwave instead of the crockpot, so you could do that if you so choose.  I serve this as an appetizer and/or tailgating food so I like to keep it warm in the crockpot.

I'm sure most of you have already made this dip, and if you haven't then you have to have tasted it at some point in your life.  If not, I feel for you.  I guess it may be an Iowa/midwest thing because my friend Amanda from the South thinks this is the best thing she's stumbled across in Iowa, and I thought it was a pretty standard dish.  But when made with homemade salsa, you betta buleev this rates pretty high on my dip-o-meter.  The only issue there is the dip got a little runny since the homemade stuff is a bit more liquid-y (is that a word?) so I would use more cheese or less salsa...whatever you prefer.  With only 3 ingredients, why would you not make this right meow?

1 lb hamb (browned)
1 block 2% velveeta (diced)
Salsa (as much as you want, as hot as you want, I used my fresh salsa from the garden that I had to clear out to beat the first frost)

Throw all that in a crockpot, and let it melt all it's lovliness into one ingredient....mmmmmm, cheesy! Beef in the bottom, cheese after that, and salsa drizzled on top.  Not sure if that's the order it has to go, but that's the way I do it...why change now?? Done and done...ladies and gentlemen, start your dipping!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crockpot caesar chicken

Quick post Thursday! This was a simple, SIMPLE crockpot dinner (you know how I love those) that was a little different than cream of whatever soup at all! Plus I had fresh basil and tons of tomatoes on hand so this moved right to the top of my recipe stack!

2 cups Caesar salad dressing (Ken's is the shizz!!)

1 cup sweet Italian dressing
half an onion
2 t Italian seasoning
2 t sweet basil
2 T sugar (I left this out)
1 can Italian seasoned tomatoes (I just had plain canned tomatoes so I added a bunch more Italian seasoning)
Chicken breasts (I used 3 breasts for this amount of sauce)

Place chicken breasts into crockpot with a liner.  Mix all other ingredients together and pour over the top of the chicken. 

Cook on low for 6-8 hours and serve over no yolk egg noodles (or on high for 3 hours which is what I did).  You can choose to thicken the sauce the last 30 minutes with some corn starch, but I skipped that step. I just added the noodles to the crockpot after they were boiled, and shredded the chicken, and let it all simmer in there together all stirred up for about 15 minutes, so the starch from the noodles thickened the sauce right up to perfect!  Justin has steadily been working on these leftovers, so I know that's usually a good sign even if he doesn't comment on a meal the first time around. If the leftovers sit in the fridge without nibbles gone for a few was a flop! Very scientific guage, huh?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sour cream noodle bake

First off...we have hit another milestone!! We have well over 10k views on the blog after this weekend...that's ten thousand.  Wowza!! I do understand that the blogs I like to read, like Kristin's at Iowa Girl Eats, gets 25k views PER DAY, but I am pretty proud that over 10,000 times someone thought they may want to see what I wrote that day....anyway, back to business!  :)

I saw this first on the Pioneer Woman's blog, and have since seen a lot of others try it, all with stellar recommendations.  If you aren't familiar, the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is basically a rock star of the food blogging world, and is soon to have her own tv show...think Martha Stewart but with more butter.  She is def not considered a skinny kid food's all about taste for her! Her and Paula Deen would get along swimmingly.  If you want to check her out, click here.

There are ways to skinny things up though, like the substitution of whole wheat pasta, and light or fat free cottage cheese and sour cream, even turkey instead of ground beef.  I made this for Brother Ben's farewell from the states again meal last week, and it was alright but I would have made a couple improvements for the next time.  I would add twice the pasta sauce, and more of the sour cream as was a bit dry since I think I used more noodles.  Otherwise, I would compare this to lasagna with a different noodle...pretty standard pasta bake meal...yumtastic with some fresh basil and crushed red pepper on top (because who can really ever have enough pasta recipes in their rolodex)!

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup sour cream (fat free)
1 and 1/4 cup small curd cottage cheese (fat free)
1 cup 2% grated cheddar cheese
1 can fave pasta sauce (I used my homemade pasta sauce)
1 bag no yolk egg noodles (I used whole wheat rotini because I had it in the cupboard)

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown the meat in a skillet, drain, and then add the pasta sauce. Boil your noodles until al dente and then drain and combine with sour cream and cottage cheese.  To assemble, grease a baking dish and layer half the noodle mixture, then half the meat mixture, then the rest of the noodle mixture, then the rest of the meat mixture, and top with cheddar cheese! Bake for 20 minutes and you should be good to go!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cheesecake stuffed strawberries

I have a problem with cheesecake, and I'm sure I've told you about it before. I don't really have issues with dessert...I'm more of an "order seconds of the salty food" than an "I need dessert" type of chica...the line is drawn at cheesecake though. I love the stuff. Like I don't make it because I will get up in the middle of the night and eat it kind of's bad. 

Which makes these little suckers PERFECT for me!  They are still pretty healthy as the cheesecake is parked inside of a strawberry, and they're bitesized so I don't eat a whole half of a cheesecake when I'm chowing on them. Amanda really outdid herself with this one, I can't wait to make these for my family for Thanksgiving! I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but I have seen this floating around on Pinterest so when she spilled what she was making for Michelle's birthday surprise, I was pumped...almost like it was my birthday!!

So here we go...

About 20 strawberries (a little over one carton)
8 oz package of cream cheese (I would use fat free)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 sleeve graham crackers (or the pre-crumbed ones like I have in my cupboard)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips if you wanna get all schmancy about it (optional)

Wash the strawberries and cut the tops off.  Mix together the sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese. Core the fruities, and throw a dallop of the cheesecake into each one. Dip the top into your graham cracker crumbs and refridgerate until ready to serve.  If you want to use the chocolate chips, just melt them in the microwave and put the chocolate into a ziplock bag so you can put stripes of chocolate across the strawberries as well for a little added layer of decadence.  I'll tell you what though, these things won't last long. I wouldn't make them too far ahead of time or they will be gone before you get them out of the fridge to serve...I grabbed one every time I walked by the container! Kudos to our dessert chef, Amanda!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Baked jalapeno poppers

I did these two way sucked (pardon my French) and the other was decent. I was trying to be thoughtful of the peeps with weak tummies and tastebuds and omit the seeds from the jalapenos to spare them the heat, but still allow them to eat these.  The ones without seeds sort of seemed too wussified to even taste like anything so they were a huge disappointment.  I thought the ones with the seeds were great though, gave some heat, but the cream cheese and crescent roll cooled it off a bit...others (like Justin's 80 year old woman tastebuds) would disagree and sit there sucking in their breath while trying to cool their mouths off after eating a hot one.  To each their own I suppose...

These were very, VERY simple to make.  And you know how I love me a recipe with only a few ingredients.  Well, here it is, folks...

8 oz cream cheese (I used fat free of course)
2 canisters of crescent rolls dough (ummm, no I don't make my own)
3 jalapenos chopped up
bacon (if you wish, you don't need it but when does bacon not taste good?)

I used turkey bacon and would not repeat that next time.  There needs to be some grease/fat to this or it just seems like you shoved a piece of ham in there.  You learn something new each least I tried I suppose.

Anyway, lay the crescents out, dallop a spoonfull of cream cheese in the middle like so...the more in there, the more you will thank yourself later.

Put some jalap slices in there sunken into the sea of cheese...

Add your chunk of bacon to the top if you so choose, and roll these babies up to be melded together in perfect happiness inside their little crescent roll home. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and you're good to go....except you may want to let them sit and cool for a few minutes becuase YEEEEEEE these were temperature hot inside!

I only had one can of crescent rolls, so I used cut up pizza dough for the seeds removed version, just so I could tell the two apart and not watch the pregnant lady down a full on jalapeno and die in front of me.  Hindsight: don't use pizza dough.  That's what I'm here for, to make the dumbass (in my best Red Foreman voice) mistakes so you don't have to....stick with the crescent rolls, trust me. 

In true Abby form, I do not have any finished product photos as I just devoured and forgot about life for awhile after these you will just have to imagine what they would look like.  Or try them yourself...yeah, just do that.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Buffalo chicken bites

Everyone has had (and if you haven't you're seriously missing out) a version of the buffalo chicken dip, which may or may not be my favorite appetizer ever.  It's so easy, and soooooo good. So when I saw these buffalo chicken bites on Pinterest, it was "pinned" immediately and I patiently waited for a time to make them.  These aren't great for tailgating like the dip, since there's no working oven around, so it had to be a house gathering....and out pops Michelle's birthday!  A bunch of us invaded the Mohrs' house for some of Mark's killer chili and an Iowa football game (even though a lot of us are Cyclones)...and proceeded to munch on some appetizers all evening.  This was one of them...

It's got the same ingredients with a couple additions, but nothing too crazy.

3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I always go with the whole rotisserie chicken and debone it since it seems to be tastier that way)
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce (or a little more if you want it to fight your tongue)
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups medium shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all that up very, very well and then ball the mixture up and lay out on a plate.

Now you will need:

1 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
3-4 cups panko

Add each of those to their own bowl for dipping, like so:

Dip the balls (hehe, I giggled even typing that, Im such a 5th grader) into the flour first, then the egg, and finally cover with panko before adding to the greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes...

I apologize that I do not have the mind to remember photos when I'm chowing down at a this is as good as your eyeballs get unless you make them at home.  I will say these taste exactly like the dip, but they are a lot more work and a lot more mess.  It's much simpler to throw the ingredients in and let them melt before dipping some chips in the I won't be making these again. But if you want a fancier way to serve the buffalo chicken dip for next house shindig, this might be the way to go!

P.S. If you wanted to freeze these for later, throw them into the freezer on the baking sheet so they harden and then you can put them in freezer bags for later so they don't lose their shape....

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oreo pops

Yes, I've made oreo pops before.  Oreo cheesecake pops, to be exact.  And they were I'm not a dessert person as you can tell from my lack of postings in that tagline, but they rocked my socks off (even though they weren't nearly as pretty as the picture I saw online when I got the recipe).

I saw this on Pinterest (surprise, surprise), and thought if these could taste like those without half the steps, I would be in oreo coma blisssssss! Plus, it was Michelle's birthday and I wanted to make something new and special for our (ick!) Hawkeye tailgating party at her house!  Didn't hurt that I had cake pop sticks leftover to use can get these at any Wal-Mart or store that is similar, I believe it was in the craft section and not the food section but I'm sure every place is different.

Here's what you need besides the sticks and whatever you would like to decorate your oreo pops with:

Yes, that's right folks.  Two ingredients.  TWO! Thank me for this later.  Right now we have work to do...

If you remember correctly from the link posted above, I do not own a double boiler, and I actually don't know too many people who do now that I think of it. The world is a horrible place. Anyway, this is a simple workaround for us who are boilerless. 

Two saucepans, one smaller than the other....put 3 cups of water in the larger one and put the smaller one inside it.  Turn your burner on high, add your almond bark to the smaller saucepan, and stir while it melts.

I stirred every once in a while but also stuffed the sticks inside the oreos carefully so they stayed straight like so...

P.S. I didn't dye the insides, I guess at Halloween time you can only get orange filled oreos...that's your fact of the day. 

After my almond bark was melted, my first attempt at this was to dunk the oreo pop into the pan to add the coating of goodness.  Nope. Don't do that. The frosting inside the oreo melts and you lose it in your saucepan.  No bueno.  Plus, it then leaves orange colored frosting in the middle of your white shell if you're using Halloween cookies...this just isn't my day.

I decided then that I had to spoon the almond bark onto each oreo on both sides and cover them as prettily as possible before setting them down on my waxed paper (now that I think about it, this is probably why I had the waxed paper dream about sliding down slides with it when I was a kid that night...did any of you do that??) to cool off. Sprinkle de dinkle with some decorations if you so choose...I used glitter and edible letters to spell out "Happy Birthday Michelle" but you could very well use actual sprinkles or another color of frosting to write on them, whatever your little oreo loving heart desires...

I like to use styrofoam block in order to stick these into and present them, it seems to work the best.  And here is the finished product....Happy birthday to my lady friend, Michelle Mohr!!

How come theirs look better??  I have a lot of work to do presentation-wise but they sure did taste swell!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grandma's zucchini cookies

Another guest posting from my Aunt Kris's Facebook album dedicated to her foodie pics for me (unbeknownst to her, of course).  It was my late Grandma Mary's recipe so it will be in my family cookbook to pass on to my kids someday, I love recipes like that...makes you feel all sentimental when preparing them and remembering loved ones. Anywho (that was a Grandpa Jim-ism, which reminds me I should post his chili recipe that was written down as he dictated before he died), I know it's past zucchini season, but filing this away for next year's bumper crop should really be on your list to do!

¾ C butter (I used half butter; half plain apple sauce to equal the total of ¾ C)
1 ½ C sugar (I used 1C sugar; ½ C splenda)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ C grated zucchini
2 ½ C flour (I used 1 ¼ C each white flour and whole wheat flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 C chopped almonds
1 C chocolate chips (I used dark choc chips)

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and zucchini. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Then stir in nuts and choc chips. Drop on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for about 13 min. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm. Makes about 3 dozen medium sized cookies.

This is a recipe of my Mom’s that I copied into my first recipe book when I got my first apartment in college and could actually cook away from home for the first time. It was a summer recipe she made with fresh zucchini from the garden. The cookies come out as cake-like, which is not usually what I like in a cookie, but these are good. And here’s my personal tip, discovered by a happy accident: One time I froze them in an effort to not be tempted by them sitting on the counter, and who knew? They taste better frozen! Now, when I make them, I transfer them right into the freezer once they’re cooled. Just flash freeze them for about 10-15 min on a cookie sheet in a single layer, then you can stack them in a large freezer bag for nibbling on later. They’re good for up to 3 months and make for a tasty, cool summer treat- although with the availability of zucchini all year, they don’t just have to be a summer cookie anymore!

(I modified the recipe this time and came up with a moderately more healthy version that still tastes just like the original. I might even up the whole wheat flour a tad bit more the next time. I don’t always like these kinds of recipes made entirely of whole wheat flour, but this was a nice blend. Although, I did see “whole wheat pastry flour” in the organic/natural grocery store I shop in, so will have to investigate that- perhaps it will work better for these types of recipes?)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken taco casserole

I love when my friends text me photos of what they had for dinner, and especially when they make something I've had my eye on while browsing Pinterest, and then proceed to take pics for me while cooking and eating so I can blog it!  I have great friends, huh?  Cynthia and George (George is what we call Baby Hofer until he's born and we find out his real moniker) loved this one and even went back for seconds, and that means this is a home run....Cynthia is the expert advice go-to on where to get the best cheese sticks, the best spin dip, or the best mac and cheese anywhere you are in I always trust her taste buds when it comes to anything cheesy.  Thanks, Cyn!

2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
2 cups cooked and cubed Chicken
6 Tortillas
1 1/2 cup shredded Cheese

Heat the soup, sour cream and seasoning in a saucepan....then add cubed chicken to the mix.

Tear half the tortillas in pieces and layer in a 9 x 13″ baking dish. I don’t like soggy things so I crisp my tortillas on the stove before tearing them apart.

Layer that with half the chicken mixture, and then throw another layer of ripped tortillas on, before adding the last half of the chicken mixture.

Layer with cheese on top.  Duh.

350 degrees for 20 minutes....and enjoy! Top with salsa and down the hatch to George....

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