Monday, November 23, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Bites

My husband loves buffalo chicken bites, but I've never made them for him before! So one night I decided to take a crack at it and found a Rachel Ray recipe that looked good. I was intrigued that it called for pancake mix for the breading portion.

My husband and I both loved these. They were super easy to make and tasted great. I thought they had plenty of heat, but my husband said if I were making them just for him he'd like to add more hot sauce since he likes things more spicy then I do. We've made these twice so far and really love them. A perfect addition to our Friday night pizza!

Source: Rachel Ray

Vegetable oil (11/2 quarts), for frying
2 1/2 cups plain pancake mix
1 1/4 cups water
8 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco
11/4 pounds chicken tenders or skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 scallions, finely chopped (I omitted)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper (one-third palmful)
1 cup good-quality refrigerated blue cheese dressing, such as Marie’s brand
Store-bought celery sticks (I omitted)


In a deep skillet, heat 11/2 inches of oil over medium heat.

While the oil is heating, make the batter: In a wide mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the pancake mix, the water and 6 teaspoons of hot sauce. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of pancake mix in another wide mixing bowl. Arrange the batter and the bowl of pancake mix near the stove. Line a plate with a few paper towels and keep within reach.

Once the oil is heated, toss the chicken pieces with the remaining 2 teaspoons of hot sauce, then toss them in the dry pancake mix, coat evenly and shake off the excess. (The dry pancake mix will help the batter stick to the chicken pieces.) Add some of the chicken to the batter (you’re going to batter and fry in 3 to 4 batches) and toss with your fingers or a fork. Remove the first batch from the batter, shaking off the excess, and carefully add the chicken to the hot oil. Fry the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, flipping once, until deep golden brown. Remove the fried chicken from the oil and drain on the paper towel–lined plate, then season with salt. Repeat until all the popcorn chicken bites are fried.

Stir the chopped scallions and pepper into the blue cheese dressing. Serve the chicken immediately with the dressing on the side. Garnish the platter with the celery sticks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cranberry Pear Crisp

After impulsively buying some beautiful Bosc pears at the farmers market, I got home and realized I had no idea what to do with them. So I asked my friend Julie for some suggestions (and because she is awesome at finding recipes) and decided to start with Ina Garten's Pear and Apple crisp as a starting point, but I forgot to print the recipe. So when I got home I just winged it and ended up with a surprisingly delicious crisp.

This is a great modification of a traditional apple crisp. The pear is a very welcome change, both texturally and taste wise. The cranberries add beautiful color and the thick topping is always a favorite. This crisp is great straight out of the oven or the day after. This would be a lovely dessert to display on your Thanksgiving dessert table.

Adapted from Ina Garten

6-8 Ripe Bosc Pears
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Crasins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 11x7 baking dish.

Peel, core and cut the pears into medium sized wedges. Add pears to a large bowl. Sprinkle the vanilla extract over the pears and toss to coat. Add sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and crasins. Pour into baking dish and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, oatmeal and cold butter. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the pear mixture.

Place the crisp on a baking sheet and bake for one hour until the pears are bubbly. If the topping starts to get too brown, place a large baking sheet on a rack over the crisp to prevent burning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

As soon as I told my husband we were having "Spaghetti Squash Casserole" for a side dish that night, I instantly knew what he was thinking before he could say a thing.

Spaghetti and squash? in a casserole? Yuck!

I let him stew for a minute to ponder this idea before I told him Spaghetti Squash is a type of squash. I wasn't going to be combining spaghetti and butternut. He instantly looked relieved.

This was my first time using a spaghetti squash and I was definitely impressed. We both liked this casserole as a side dish very much and I loved how easy it was to make. This was a great weeknight side dish that is perfect for this time of year. I'll definitely make this again.

Adapted from All

3 pounds spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (8 ounce) can sliced mushrooms (I omitted as I don't like mushrooms)
1 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 slices bread, cubed (I used a few handfuls of plain stuffing bread that I had left over)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Cook squash on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until tender. Shred with a fork once cooled slightly, then transfer to a lightly oiled casserole dish, discarding shell. Do not turn off the oven.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions, mushrooms, and basil until onions are translucent and tender. Stir onion mixture and sour cream into the squash until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cover with bread cubes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until warmed through and top is lightly browned and toasted. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raspberry Crumb Brownie Bars

It seems like all I'm posting lately are sweets, but 'tis the season I suppose!

I've had this recipe for a while but never found an opportunity to make it. But last week we had a small party at work and I thought this would be great to bring in. I'm not usually one to used boxed mixes (cake, brownie, etc.) for anything, but I loved how simple the boxed mix made this recipe. It's a perfect recipe to make when you're in a time crunch. Plus, the boxed mix makes for a super-fudgy brownie which I just love!

Everyone loved these little bars because, let's be honest, who doesn't like chocolate and raspberry?! After I made these I also realized that I'm sure I've had them before, I just don't know where or when. But I knew I liked them so I'm glad I finally found a recipe!

This is a great dessert that is a crowd pleaser and easy to make. Additional, these will be making an appearance on my Christmas Cookie tray this year!

Adapted from The Noshery

1 box of brownie mix and however much oil, eggs and water the box calls for)
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup seedless red raspberry jam
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour a 13x9 baking dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light in color. Next add in sugar until combined. Slowly add in flour and salt just until combined and still crumbly.

Add half of this mixture into your greased baking dish and, with your fingers, push down the dough until it completely covers the bottom and a little ways up the sides. Place into preheated oven for 10 minutes.

White the crust is baking, make the brownies in a large bowl according to package directions.

In a small microwave safe bowl, add raspberry jam and melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals (stirring each time) until very smooth.

Remove the crust from the oven after 10 minutes. Pour brownie batter over crust, and sprinkle remaining crust over the brownies. Drizzle with melted raspberry jam and top with coconut.

Put back in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until brownie is completely cooked.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

If you are looking for the easiest dessert on the planet, look no further.

I had to make a sweet treat for a work party, but the night before I was SO busy and knew I wouldn't have time to make much. So I found this recipe online and thought it looked like a great, easy dessert. And it was. It only took about 15 minutes to make and what I liked was that it made enough to serve a decent size crowd (or a really hungry small crowd, like my office!). This ended up being a treat that everyone loved and one that I will definitely make again!

So if you are in a hurry and want to make something quick, this is a great recipe to try.

Source: Nestle Toll House

2 cups peanut butter, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
3 cups graham cracker crumbs (next time I would use 2 1/2 cups, my bars ended up being a little crumbly)
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips, divided


Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Beat 1 1/4 cups peanut butter and butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. With hands or wooden spoon, work in remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs and 1/2 cup morsels. Press evenly into prepared baking pan. Smooth top with spatula.

Melt remaining 3/4 cup peanut butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups morsels in a bowl over a double boiler. Stir constantly, until smooth. Spread over graham cracker crust in pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chocolate is firm. Cut into bars. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn Sugar Cookies

After making 95 cookies for a baby shower, I had some dough left over so I decided to make some cookies for work. Don't mind my shaky lines, but after doing 95 cookies I was a little beat.

However, my coworkers ate them all up with their morning coffee so I was definitely glad I made them!

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Cookies were decorated in Royal Icing. Here is a great tutorial on how to decorate beautiful sugar cookies: Good Things Catered

Monday, November 2, 2009

Penne Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

I've literally had this recipe in my drawer for over a year. I wanted to make it last year but my husband hates pumpkin everything (and he's not that when he doesn't like something I try to avoid it) and I just never got around to making it.

However, a few weekends ago he went up to hunting camp so that was the perfect opportunity for me to make this.

This was an easy dish to put together, and came out great. The pumpkin flavor was so nice and the creamy sauce just lent itself so nicely to the penne pasta. And honestly, the leftovers tasted almost better then the day I made this. It might take me another year to make this, but I will definitely make it again!

Source: Martha Stewart

12 ounces penne rigate (ridged), or other short pasta
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (I used dried)
3-4 leaves fresh sage, minced (I added)
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish (optional) (I omitted)


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 2 cups pasta water; drain pasta and set aside.

In pasta pot, heat oil over medium. Add rosemary and fry, stirring, until starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rosemary to a paper towel, leaving oil in pot.

Carefully (oil is hot and will spatter) add pumpkin puree, garlic, half-and-half, Parmesan, vinegar, red-pepper flakes, and 1 cup reserved pasta water to pot. Stir sauce until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add pasta to sauce, and toss to coat. If sauce is too thick, add some reserved pasta water. Season generously with salt. Serve pasta sprinkled with fried rosemary and, if desired, more red-pepper flakes.

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