Tuesday, July 29, 2008

GTGs and all that Jazz!

This past weekend was full of friends and food. We invited 16 people over to our house on Saturday evening for food, drinks and games. It started as a small group of our knottie/nestie friends for another GTG, but then turned in to us inviting all of our friends. It was a really fun night. I love having people over. This is what I decided on for food: buffalo chicken dip, taco dip, fruit with fluff dip, bbq chicken sliders, crab wontons, and lunch lady bars (which turned out really dry, I'll have to try them again sometime) and mini chess pies for dessert. Everything turned out pretty good. You know me, it wouldn't be right if there weren't mishaps...I totally forgot to put tomatoes and/or salsa on my taco dip, the edges of the wontons were extra crispy and I was scared to death of how the mini chess pies would turn out. But there was nothing left at the end of the night and everything really was delicious. Anyways, on to the recipes:

Taco Dip
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
1 packet of taco seasoning (I use Old El Paso lower sodium)
shredded cheese (mexican mix or cheddar)
shredded lettuce
tomatoes or salsa

Mix the cream cheese and taco seasoning. Spread into small dish (a pie pan works well), then layer with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes/salsa. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Goes really well with tostito scoops.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
16 oz cream cheese (I use 1 block of regular and 1 block of 1/3 less fat)
2 large cans of canned chicken (I use All Natural)
3/4 cup of hot sauce (I prefer Frank's)
1 cup of ranch (I use light)
2 cups of shredded cheddar
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Over medium heat, add chicken to sauce pan, shredding with a fork. Add hot sauce, stir and let simmer for a few minutes. Add cream cheese and let it melt, then stir together. Stir in ranch dressing. Put 1/2 of shredded cheddar in, stir and let melt. Add a little salt & pepper. Pour mixture into 9x13 pan. Bake on 350 for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted on top. Serve with ritz crackers (wheat are the best!).

BBQ Chicken Sliders
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle of bbq sauce
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
24 mini Martin's potato rolls

Bake frozen chicken breasts on 350 for 45 mins to 1 hour. Once cooled, shred chicken (I find it's easiest with my hands and I usually cook the chicken the night before and after shredding, keep in the fridge.

Over medium heat, add chicken to sauce pan along with just enough bbq sauce to cover. Add in vinegar and brown sugar, stir well. Once it's warm, change heat to low, cover and simmer for as long as you can. I simmered mine for well over an hour.

Scoop a little chicken onto each roll. Enjoy!

Crab Wontons

4 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 8 oz of 1/3 less fat)
3 green onions, finely chopped (I used about 6)
1 cup of crab meat (I used 1 8oz pack of 'special' crab meat - not imitation)
1 tbsp of hot sauce (Sriracha)
1 package of wonton wrappers (I used square wrappers)

Preheat oven to 400
Mix all ingredients well in bowl, except wrappers
Put about a teaspoon and a half of mixture in center of each wrapper
Dip finger tips in water and wet edges of wrapper lightly and fold in half (I folded them corner to corner to make triangles) - try to remove as much air as possible
Seal tightly and place won tons on baking sheet coated with cooking spray

Bake until they start to brown - should be about 15 to 20 minutes (my corners got very brown)

While they cook, make the dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons soy
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon green onion, finely chopped
Mix all ingredients and serve on the side

These things are delicious and so is the dipping sauce. Yum. I also added some extra srirachi hot sauce on the side, as Mike is a big fan of it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tuesday on Thursday!

Well, this is my Tuesdays with Dorie post coming to you on none other than Thursday. I have a good reason. This morning I had my wisdom teeth taken out so I made the chocolate pudding last night (see post below for details and link to recipe). It turned out beautifully. I never would've thought about making homemade pudding but it sure is perfect timing considering today's events. I've only had a bite so far as I'm planning to have some after my dinner of mashed potatoes. :-) It seemed a little on the bitter side as opposed to sweet. I did halve the recipe as to not make as much. I've gone back over the recipe and I know I did everything just right. Like I said, I've only had a taste so I'll give it a shot tonight. The texture was perfect though. It was a very easy recipe so if you like pudding, give it a go.

**update: When I took this out of the fridge the evening after my surgery, it was really thick. I added a little fat free milk and stirred it up. Now, I can't get enough. It is so delicious and rich. I guess some of the bitterness subsided during the refrigeration stage. Yummy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Pudding is Coming...

I promise I'm making this week's TWD recipe for chocolate pudding. However, I'm having my wisdom teeth removed tomorrow and I thought it would be better to make it tonight so I can enjoy it during my recovery. I didn't want it to sit in the fridge for longer than 2 days. So, I'll be posting tonight. Sorry for the tardiness.

Some details about this week's pick...Chocolate Pudding. This recipe was picked by Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen and can be found on page 383 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours cookbook. You can check out Melissa's blog for the full recipe...see the link above. You can also head over to the Tuesday's With Dorie blog for updates and reviews from all of the other bakers.

This pick was perfect this week since my wisdom teeth are getting pulled and pudding is one of the few things I'll be able to eat. I'm so looking forward to trying it out tonight. Look for the post tonight!

Cool, Creamy Chocolate

I came across this recipe in my Cooking Light magazine. It was one of those 'let's try to cut some calories and fat out of this family favorite' recipes. I thought it looked like a fancier version of eclair cake, which I make pretty often. I made it on Saturday morning to take to a cookout later that afternoon down by the beach at Mike's boss' house. It was very light and perfectly chocolate. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures after it was sliced because it was too hard with everyone digging in. Click on the Cooking Light link below to see their 'perfect' picture.

Cool, Creamy Chocolate Dessert

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
Cooking spray

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 oz) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) carton frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 (3.9-oz) packages chocolate instant pudding mix
Unsweetened cocoa (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until combined. Add butter; pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans. Firmly press mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool completely.
3. To prepare filling, place 1 cup sugar and cream cheeses in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Fold in half of whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture on cooled crust. Cover loosely; refrigerate 1 hour.
4. Combine milk and pudding mix in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until pudding is set. Spread the pudding mixture over cream cheese layer. Spread remaining half of thawed whipped topping over pudding layer. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cocoa, if desired. Cut into 15 pieces.

Happy Birthday, Kevo!

Time for another birthday. Our friend, Kevin, would be celebrating his milestone 30th birthday with a pub crawl in the S. Tampa area known as Hyde Park. His girlfriend, Lisa, planned the whole thing and did a great job. She had 4 local bars on the list for us, had koozies made and provided appetizers at the first bar. When something fell through with the cake she was having made, I offered to help. I decided on Katie's chocolate fudge cake recipe which you can find here. For the cupcakes I just used a canned cream cheese frosting and for the cake, I used the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate recipe which is below.

The cake had a great flavor, however, the bake time was listed as 25-30 minutes. I was skeptical about that and set my timer to 20 minutes. Even that was about 2 minutes too long. So, they weren't nearly as moist as I was hoping for. I had to put extra icing on in hopes of them not being too dry. Just something to keep an eye out for when using this recipe.

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

** Kevin and Lisa at the birthday celebration

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oh My Snickers Pie!

A big fat thank you to my girl, Lins, who introduced me to this recipe a few weeks ago when we were visiting her in Charlotte. This is seriously awesome! From the previous post, you know that we were at the beach this past weekend with some out-of-town guests. On Sunday, we made our way back to our house with our guests for the night. I knew I would be making my baked chicken pasta that night for dinner and thought this dessert would be perfect. I made it on Friday a.m., put it in the freezer and we had it on Sunday night. You really must make this...it's so easy and it's so delicious!

Weight Watchers Snickers Pie

1 pint of vanilla frozen yogurt (I use fat free or lowfat)
2 tbsp of chunky peanut butter (JIF Reduced Fat)
1/2 package of instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 container (6 oz) of cool whip (ff, lite or regular, whichever you prefer)

Let frozen yogurt soften or put in microwave for 30-45 seconds. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into an 8" pie pan. Freeze until set. Top with a dollop of cool whip, and a drizzle of chocolate and caramel (you can use fat free for both, which is what I did) with a few peanuts.

July 4th Festivities!

**how cute are these little kiddies?**

For the holiday weekend, my cousin, Amber, her husband, Don and their two little adorable kiddies, Conner and Addison, came down from VA to visit. We picked them up on Friday a.m. and they stayed through yesterday morning. We had a great weekend down at the beach...the weather was perfect! I made a few new things for the weekend... peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered peanut clusters, twice baked potatoes and snickers pie (a weight watchers recipe, which will be in a separate post). Although the potatoes were awesome, I did not get any pics so I'll post that recipe with pics another time. We'll just stick with all of the sweet stuff for now. First up, the peanut clusters as as a welcome gift for Amber & Don (they are her favorite!). And above you can see the beachy gifts I put together for the kids.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Clusters
milk chocolate chips
butterscotch chips
lightly salted peanuts
I didn't measure any of it. I used 1/2 the amount of butterscotch chips as chocolate chips because I knew the butterscotch flavor would be strong enough. I threw them in a bowl and popped them in the microwave for about 30 seconds on high. Then I stirred it up, dumped some peanuts in and a little more until the consistency seemed right. Using a spoon, I plopped little clusters down on wax paper. Let them cool for a few minutes and then put them in the refrigerator to harden. Easy peasy!

Cookie time...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup + 2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Peanut Butter chips (I omitted)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1 cup since I didn't use pb chips above)
3/4 cup Sugar (for rolling dough balls, may need more or less)

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchement paper.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter, butter. Once combined beat in the white sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla. In a large bowl wisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently add to creamed mixture and mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Chill dough for at least 15 minutes. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Genlty roll the dough balls into sugar and place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Carefully press each ball with fork tines to create a criss-cross pattern.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 5-10 minutes until sturdy enough to be transfered to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Birthday, Lani!

This past week was rather busy for me in the kitchen. The first important thing to get ready for was Lani's birthday on July 3rd. We were going out to dinner to Bella's (yum... spaghetti and meatballs!) and then out for some drinks and fun. I offered to bring a surprise dessert for her. Her and I had talked about making them several times, so I knew I wanted to give it a whirl for her. I made Angie's Famous Strawberry Cupcakes from Katie's blog Good Things Catered. As in almost everything else I make, I was so nervous that they wouldn't be good but they got a great response so I was happy about that. On some of them, I used the strawberry cream cheese frosting that the recipe called for and on the other half, I used regular cream cheese frosting (which I preferred).

Angie's Famous Strawberry Cupcakes


2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar (or a little less)
2 eggs
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. chopped strawberries
1/4 c. strawberries
1 Tbsp. strawberry liquor
1/2 tsp lemon juice
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cupcake pans.
-Sift flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl.
-In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
-Add eggs one at a time until combined.
-Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla until combined.
-Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.
-Fold in berries.
-Fill cupcake pans 3/4 way.
-Bake for 20 minutes.
-For frosting, put berries, liquor, and juice in saucepan.
-Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce to a simmer for 5 mins.
-Let cool then blend until smooth.
-In bowl of mixer mix cream cheese and butter until creamy.
-Add sugar, then vanilla.
-Add berry puree until smooth.
-Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Another Tuesday Treat...


Finally, another Tuesdays with Dorie post. It's been awhile because I was away for a wedding, on a cruise, etc. This week's pick was from Karina of The Floured Apron (cute blog name, huh?)...drum roll please...Apple Cheddar Scones. You can check out the recipe over at her blog. The thought of making scones has always intimidated me, but these were really quite easy...that was a plus. I was expecting something a little sweeter with more flavor, but I felt these were more 'savory' than sweet and neither the apples or the cheddar were a strong flavor. They were good, don't get me wrong, but they were definitely something I might eat alongside dinner...not necessarily a stand-alone snack or breakfast. It's just my opinion...don't shoot me, ok? For some of the opinions and entries of other TWD bakers, just click here. I did give this a 'breakfast' label because Dorie does have this recipe under that heading in her cookbook....and afterall, people, she is the professional.