Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Dip

As you know, I am an avid pumpkin lover.  I begin to crave it in August, and it is in full force by October.  For our tailgating party, we made a tasty fall finger food.  Pumpkin Dip.  Its simple, easy, and everyone seems to love it.  With Halloween only a day away, a pumpkin recipe seems completely necessary.  I did make pumpkin seeds last night for a pumpkin tasting at school, however, T and I both did not realize that they were put in the oven, and lets just say... they were a tad too crispy! So, they are not making an appearance on the blog!

6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (or if you made your own... more power to you!)
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Apples for Dipping (we also used grapes and gingersnap cookies)


1.  Put all of the ingredients in a food processor.  If you do not have a food processor, you could mix these together with a hand blender.  However, you would have to wait until the cream cheese is soft so that it can mix together.

2.  Blend the ingredients together until they are all incorporated and the dip is soft and creamy.

We served our pumpkin dip with apples, grapes, and gingersnap cookies! Yum!

Until next time...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Balls

Want a healthier version of the Buffalo Chicken Dip that I previously posted? Well, I also made these this weekend.  I had been wanting to experiment with Buffalo Chicken Balls, so I finally did it! I am not a huge spicy fan, so for me, Buffalo Chicken Dip is not my favorite! In going with my eagerness to try to cook low-carb, these are also in that category as well.  They are best when served right out of the oven.  When you bite into them, they are extremely creamy and delicious.  You also have the choice of dipping them in more buffalo sauce for a spicier taste, or just regular blue cheese, or ranch, whatever you prefer. They make a great passed hourdourve and can be fancy or perfect for tailgating!

3 cups shredded chicken (2 chicken breasts)
1/4 cup Frank's Buffalo hot sauce (you can add more if you prefer your a little spicier)
3 1/2 oz. cream cheese
1 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Buffalo Hot sauce and blue cheese dressing for dipping


1.  Add the shredded chicken and cream cheese to a bowl.  Mix well.

2.  Add the buffalo sauce to the chicken mixture and mix well.

3.  Add the cheddar cheese.

4.  Mix everything together so that it forms into one big ball.

5.  Form tiny 1-inch balls out of the mixture and set aside.

6.  First dip the chicken ball into the egg.

7.  Then, dip it into the panko bread crumbs.  You could use regular bread crumbs, but I just find that the panko bread crumbs are lighter and have a nice crunch to them.

8.  Place them on a baking sheet.

Here are all of them ready for the oven.

9.  Place in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

10. Serve alongside extra Buffalo hot sauce and your choice of dressing! Enjoy!

Until next time...

Buffalo Chicken Dip

We had a great weekend of preparing food, tailgating, and time with family and friends.  I was still (and still am) a little under the weather, but that didn't stop my mom and I from braving the kitchen for the day, preparing all of the food for the fun festivities.  There will be many posts to come with different tailgating suggestions, so keep your eye out! This dip is a family favorite.  My brother requests it every time he comes home to visit, my dad puts a large heaping mound on his plate and will eat it for days (if there are any leftovers), and my husband will eat it until he is full, right before the real food comes out.  There are SO many recipes for this dip out there; but this one is a success in our household.  We have tried so many different recipes over the years, and this one is the winner.

3 chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup Frank's Red Hot Wings, Buffalo Sauce
2 oz. Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Blue Cheese Dressing (We used Marzetti Simply Dressed)
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
Dipping items such as: tortilla chips, carrots, celery, etc.


1.  Roast three chicken breasts, bone-in, on 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  (We roasted a few more for a different recipe.)

2.  After the chicken is cooled, first remove the skin, and then, peel the chicken off of the bone.  The reason that we use bone-in chicken is because it keeps the chicken moist and juicy and prevents it from drying out.

3. Begin shredding the chicken with your hands.

4. Shred the chicken into a glass, shallow pan.

This is the type of hot sauce that we use.  Make sure that it is the buffalo flavor.

5.  Add the hot sauce and mix well.

6.  Add the cream cheese and mix well.

This the the blue cheese dressing that we used.  We found that it tastes the best to us, but feel free to use whichever kind you prefer.

7. Add the blue cheese dressing and mix well.

This is what is will look like when it is all mixed together.

8.  Add the extra blue cheese crumbles to the top of the dip.  They will melt into the dip when put into the oven.

9.  Put the dip in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Enjoy! 

Until next time...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

Yes, I know.  I have not posted in a week! A whole week! I have been quite under the weather.  No, I did not take any time off of work, so there is really no excuse as to why I haven't blogged in a while, but when I get home from work, all I want to do is rest and relax.  T has been in charge of meals this week, and he even gets brownie points for making me some chicken soup! I am still not feeling 100%, but we are making some delicious tailgating foods for the Florida/Georgia game this weekend.  I have to share them with you! We came to Jacksonville for the weekend, and its always fun to have a tailgating party for the football games, even if it is in the comfort of your home with the TV's blaring.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

4 cups cooked pasta of your choice (we used rotini, but bow-tie, penne, anything would work great)
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 oz. goat cheese
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons starchy cooking liquid (water from cooked pasta)
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Cook the pasta to the directions on the back of the box.  Make sure to save the water, as it will create a starchy cooking liquid that will later be added back into this dish.

2.  Drain the pasta when finished, and place in a bowl.

3.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes.

4.  Add the basil and garlic.

5. Add the goat cheese.

6. Mix well.

7.  Add the starchy cooking liquid to the pasta dish.

8.  Add the parmesan cheese.

9.  Mix well.

10. Add the balsamic vinegar and mix well.

11.  You can put this in the refrigerator for later, but actually we realized that it was the best when we ate it right after mixing the ingredients together.  The other people that we had over for dinner loved it cold, but it is just based on your preference. Enjoy!

Until next time...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It has been a LONG week/weekend! We went to Sea World on Thursday with 100 plus first graders! It was such a wonderful field trip! From the moment the kids walked in the door at 7:30am, I knew it was going to be a great day! The looks on their faces was just magical! They loved every second of the day! It was so exciting to be there with them!  The next day, I had a teacher work day.  It was much needed, and we seriously should have one each month.  Friday night was the start of one of my best friend's bachelorette party! We first had dinner in downtown disney.  We stayed up late, and then slept in a little on Saturday morning to prepare for a long day at the Annual Food and Wine Festival! I have been for the past 3 years; not only was I looking forward to hanging with great friends, I was also looking forward to eating some good food, drinking some good drinks, and taking some pictures... yea, my plan was to take pictures of all of the food that I ate, but after taking a picture of the Escargot in France... it wasn't happening anymore! Although I only have 1 picture to share, I do have a few favorites that I have highlighted below!

We first started in France! If you go, I highly suggest that you start here! Here are some of the wonderful foods that I saw/tasted along my way around the world... Epcot Style.

*Escargot in a puff pastry with a garlic cream sauce (France)
*Belgium Waffle with Berry compote and whipped cream (Belgium)
*Perfect Maine Lobster Roll (Hops and Barley)... seriously the best ever.... most of the food is usually mediocre, however, this Maine Lobster roll is a winner!
*Trio of Artisan Cheese (Cheese Stand)
*4 German beers (Germany)
*Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Braai Sauce (South Africa)
*Happy Lychee with Vodka.... drink (China)
*Avocado Margarita (Mexico).... yes Avocado......a MUST!!
* Beef Empanada (Argentina)
* Lobster and Seafood Fisherman's Pie (Ireland)... if I could recreate this I would! ...hmm...
* Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce (Greece)

There are so many other wonderful wines, beers, drinks, and of course food.  If I ate everything, I probably would not have been able to walk out of there! Let's just say... I definitely went to the gym today after work!

Here is my lone picture of the Escargot from France! All of the other food went happily into my belly!

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brownie Birthday Cupcakes

Today, we celebrated a birthday on our first grade team! Each year, we choose one another's birthday's and we are responsible for ordering them lunch and making/buying a dessert of their choice.  I was responsible for the first birthday! It was a very special birthday! The big 3-0! She told me that she wanted brownies.  Yet, last week I had overheard that she loved cupcakes.  So, I thought... why not make brownie cupcakes! Super chocolately, delicious, and easy to eat! They turned out to be great... and I hope that everyone thought that it was a huge success! The brownie cupcakes are homemade, however, I am guilty for using a can of frosting for the top.  I must admit that I am not the greatest baker, and I have definitely not mastered the art of making frosting.  Every time I have attempted to make frosting in the past, I have added too much sugar, or too much butter, etc. I decided to sit this one out and just buy the pre-made frosting.  I mean its so delicious, why would I want to out-do the can!

4 ounces (8 tablespoons) milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (not melted)


1.  Add the butter and 4 ounces of chocolate chips to a glass bowl and place it over a pot with boiling water underneath. 

2.  Constantly stir the chocolate and butter until it is completely smooth and melted.

3.  Set the bowl aside and let it cool for a few minutes.

4.  After a few minutes, stir in the sugar and vanilla.

5.  Next, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.

6.  Mix in the flour until well blended.

7.  Add the extra chocolate chips to the batter and mix well.

8.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  I chose to use the mini-muffin pan, but you could use the larger one as well.

9.  Add the batter to the muffin liners. The batter can be filled almost to the top because the batter will not rise much when baking.

10.  Cook in a 325 degree F oven for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. If you are using a regular sized muffin tin, they will need to cook for 25-30 minutes.

11.  Let the cupcakes cook before frosting them.  When they are cooled, you can begin frosting the cupcakes.  

12.  After frosting them, I dusted the cupcakes with a little powered sugar.

As you can see, the batter made quite a few cupcakes! Plenty for everyone!!  Enjoy!

Until next time...