Monday, July 30, 2012

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

So I, along with my mother, have become OBSESSED with anything buffalo chicken!  Seriously!  Mom was on-her-deathbed-sick and saw a commercial for Spicy Buffalo Chicken Pizza, and she said "that sounds good!" (I am not lying!). 

This dip is EXCELLENT and easy!  You can make it as hot and spicy as you want!  You'll have to make a double batch because this will definitely be the first to go!  (As far as healthy...  All things in moderation!)

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Serves 8

1 package cream cheese, softened
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup hot buffalo sauce (we use Frank's Red Hot, but use whatever you love!)
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
2 (8 oz each) cans chicken, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat cream cheese and mozzarella in microwave for 1 minute (makes it easier to stir and distribute).
  3. Add buffalo sauce, dressing, and chicken.
  4. Stir until combined.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with chips and/or celery sticks!

If you want to make it more spicy, just add more hot sauce or chili pepper flakes!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lemon Bars

Okay....  So maybe I have a slight obsession with lemon!  There was a point in life that I hated it  (as a child).  In fact, culinary school changed my mind!  Plus, your taste buds change every few years.  Either way, I am so sad I missed out on so much lemon-goodness, but I am making up for it!

These lemon bars are DELICIOUS!!!  They are light and lemony but grounded with the flaky, buttery crust.  Ben even mentioned that he preferred the crust over the lemon-goodness (worry not--I gave him the evil eye!).  These are habit-forming though!  Like everything else I make, they didn't last long.  :o)

Lemon Bars

Serves 15

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Powdered sugar for dusting on top

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cream crust butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; add the flour until just combined.
  3. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 casserole pan.
  4. Press crust into the bottom of the casserole pan; try to get the crust as even as possible, and do not go up the sides or leave holes in it!
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until set and the edges are slightly browned.
  6. Mix filling ingredients on high for 5 minutes.
  7. Pour filling onto the warm (if not just out of the oven) crust.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until set.
  9. Cool.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve!
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Ode to the KitchenAid

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways......

Although an inanimate object, I do have to thank my WONDERFUL mixer: KitchenAid!!!  If you are in the market for a fabulous mixer, I would recommend this brand hands down.  I have a Professional Plus 5 which handles LOTS of double and triple recipes with no problem. 

If you want to learn the specifics or mechanics please go here.  The mixer comes with the bowl and three attachments (paddle, whisk, and dough hook) and many different colors.  Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a good coupon program if you sign up so you could get this mixer as much as $60 cheaper.  It is an investment; my mixer is 4-5 years old and still going strong.  If you do as much baking as I do--the professional is a must!  KitchenAid makes smaller stand mixers and some hand mixers too.

KitchenAid also makes different attachments for the mixer so you could make your own pasta, mill your grains, shred foods, or grind your own meat.  I really can't say enough about it!

PS--I would be a skinnier woman (family and friends too!) if I didn't have this mixer :oDPin It

Friday, July 20, 2012


Hummus is one of the staples in my family.  Every function we have, I am asked to make this (and I am happy to do so!).  Hummus is extremely easy, healthy, and versatile.  Use it as a dip for chips and veggies, or you can spread it on a sandwich.  You can also add extra ingredients like roasted red peppers to give this recipe new flavors!

Hummus is native to the Middle East.  It's also perfect for vegan or vegetarian friends and family! 

According to WebMD, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are rich in fiber and protein. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, zinc, and magnesium. Chickpeas and tahini both have decent amounts of calcium and iron.  Not to mention the health benefits of olive oil!  My favorite way to eat this dip is with fresh veggies like carrots and broccoli!


This recipe can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.  (Serves 8)

2 cans chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil or tahini (sesame seed paste)*
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Process until smooth. (If you need to add more oil to make it smooth then go ahead)
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with chips or veggies--even spread it on a sandwich!
*The hummus tastes fine without the oil or the paste; traditionally it is made with tahini, but I have sesame seed oil on hand and works just fine.

In the culinary world, this would be called a 'dead' food; the reason is because it is served chilled. When a recipe is served cold, it's best to season it until it tastes great at room temperature, then add a bit more salt and pepper (not a ton!). When food is cold, the flavor and spices tend to diminish in strength and taste.

What is your favorite dip to bring to a party?Pin It

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preserving Herbs

So my jungle is coming along nicely (despite the almost unbearable heat). To keep the jungle looking tame and to have fresh herbs in the winter, I trim the herbs and what I don't use right away, I like to freeze. 

{See the jungle has really started taking off!}

{The newest addition to my jungle: Wandering Jew!}

I have tried to dry herbs in the past, but I didn't have a dehydrator (or access to one) so when I put them in the oven and turned them on warm, they honestly just got crispy and burnt tasting (gross).  I might try to use my grandparent's dehydrator, but I have a feeling with their three HUGE basil plants, I might not.  Click here for more information on which herbs dry the best and which freeze the best.  All of the herbs I have will freeze the best so that is what I aim to do.

All you have to do to preserve herbs is to chop them finely, put in an ice cube tray, pour chicken broth (or water) until the herbs are coated or the cube compartment is full, freeze, and then pop out of the tray and store in a bag in the freezer.  Easy!

I am freezing as much cilantro as I possible can because my grandparents planted 30 tomato plants!!! O.O  that is A LOT of tomatoes!!!  Soooo I am freezing cilantro so we can make and can some salsa!  Yummy!!! 

We will be spending a weekend at some point canning all kinds of tomato goodies: sauce, salsa, relish, diced, spaghetti sauce, etc.  If anyone has any ideas and/or recipes for canned tomato products, we would appreciate it!

How do you preserve the herbs you grow?  Or do you just use them as they grow?Pin It

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Cake

I had just a slight dilemma one weekend---a fridge full of berries (given graciously to Ben and I by his father) and no idea what to do with them!!!  Thankfully, one of my FAVORITE blogs posted a new recipe the next day (like a sign!): Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Cake.  It looked TO-DIE-FOR so I printed it and proceeded straight to the kitchen to get it started!

This cake combines my two favorites this summer: berries and lemons!  The cake is so unbelieveably delicious; it really does taste like summer!  This cake was berry-overload (something to do with adding more than the recipe called for), but I'd do it again in a heartbeat! 

No worries if you don't have buttermilk (or don't want to buy it).  I simply do this: mix 1 cup of milk with 2 teaspoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.  The milk should smell sour and be thick.  Easy!

Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Bundt

Makes 1 large bundt cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
3-4 1/2 cups mixed berries (depends on your taste---I loaded it to the max!)
2 cups powdered or confections’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, very, very soft
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup Bundt pan, either with butter or a nonstick spray. {If you have a nonstick Bundt, just a coat of butter or nonstick spray should do. However, if you have a regular Bundt, not nonstick coated, you’re really going to want to make sure every nook and cranny is well-coated with butter or even shortening (the solidity of both helps them stick to the cake walls), and then dust the inside with flour. Setting your cake pan in the fridge or freezer (to set the coating even further) while you make the cake batter will provide even more insurance.}
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift 2 1/2 cups flour (leaving 2 tablespoons back), baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and impossibly fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Then, with the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla, briefly.
  5. Add 1/3 flour mixture to batter, beating until JUST COMBINED, followed by half the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk and remaining flour mixture. Scrape down from time to time and don’t overmix!!!  Mix until JUST COMBINED--seriously!  You don't want a tough cake! 
  6. In the bowl where you’d mixed your dry ingredients, toss the berries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.
  7. With a silicon spatula, gently fold the berries into the cake batter. The batter will be very thick and this will seem impossible without squishing the berries a little, but just do your best and remember that squished berries do indeed make for a pretty batter.
  8. Plop cake batter in the pan in large spoonfuls because it’s so thick and spread the top smooth.
  9. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the cake 180 degrees after 30 (to make sure it browns evenly). The cake is done as soon as a tester comes out clean of batter.
  10. Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, before inverting the cake onto a serving platter to cool the rest of the way. Cool completely.
  11. Once cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth and very, very thick.
  12. Spread carefully over top of cake, letting it trickle down the sides when and where it wishes.
  13. Serve at once or keep it covered at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

My family loved this cake so much they had it TWICE--when I first came over and then after we had lunch!  They told me I have their 'permission' to make it again whenever I felt like it.  **Music to my ears!**

Did I mention that it was easy to make?...  No?  Well it is!  So go forth and make cake!!!  (eat some too!)
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Lemonade Popsicles

The weather here is sooooo HOT!!! What better way to cool off than to make some lemonade popsicles? I couldn't think of anything better either ;o)

This summer, I notice that I have a border-line unhealthy obsession with lemons....  Not that Ben is complaining; he gets to make lemonade whenever I use the zest so it's a win-win for us.  I've also had a thing for berries this year--so what better way to feed those obsessions than to make BERRY lemonade pops?!

I might also be a little quirky--I made some straight lemonade pops with basil.  Yeah, I know...  I had heard it's delicious.  Ben looked at me like I grew a second head...  Oh well...  It's DELICIOUS, and that's all I can say!

Lemonade Pops

Serves 8-20 (depending if you make straight lemonade or layer it with berries or basil!)

3/4 cups lemon juice
10 tablespoons sugar
18 oz Greek vanilla yogurt
1 pint of blueberries, cleaned
1 pint of strawberries, cleaned
1 tablespoon basil, chopped

  1. Heat lemon juice and sugar on the stove until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, place blueberries and 3 oz of yogurt in food processor and puree until smooth.  Place blueberry mix in a bowl and chill.
  3. Then, place strawberries and 3 oz of yogurt in food processor and puree until smooth. Place strawberry mix in a bowl and chill.
  4. Whisk remaining 12 oz of yogurt into the lemon mix.  Place in a bowl and chill.
  5. Fill popsicle molds to your desire: strawberry lemonade, blueberry lemonade, basil lemonade. strawberry lemonade blueberry, strawberry blueberry--the choices are endless!
  6. Place in freezer until frozen.
  7. Dip in warm water to release the popsicle from the model.
  8. Enjoy!
How are you staying cool and beating the heat?Pin It