Thursday, October 31, 2013

Double Layer Chocolate Cream Pie

One of the easiest dessert recipes you'll ever make.  My grandma used to always have chocolate cream pie at Holiday dinners for dessert...since we will all be thinking about Thanksgiving dinner soon enough, I thought I'd share!  

It's a no-bake dessert, including the crust.  Just use an already made graham cracker crust (directions will say to chill the crust first if you're not baking it).  Chocolate pudding, milk, cool whip - done! 

Serves 8

Double Layer Chocolate Cream Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 1/4 cups cold milk
2 (3.5 oz) packages instant chocolate pudding
1 (8 oz) container of Cool Whip, thawed

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, pudding and 1/2 of the Cool Whip for 1 minute.  Spread into crust (mixture will be thick).  Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the pudding mixture.  Serve chilled. 

(Source: recipe from

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

 This recipe has become such a staple in our house, I'm surprised I haven't shared it with you yet!  It's too easy - just about effortless.  I actually even use frozen chicken breasts so I don't even have to worry about defrosting.  And Sweet Baby Ray's sauce but I know that Frank's has one too.  

Yummy enough to just eat up with a spoon...or tortilla chip.  We've done that before!  I used a wonderfully doughy sub roll from Publix (love their bakery) with a drizzle of Ranch dressing on top.

Serves 6

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (12 oz) bottle Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 packet of dry Ranch seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
Ranch dressing, for drizzling

Place chicken breasts on the bottom of the Crock Pot.  Pour wing sauce over chicken breasts, then Ranch packet.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.

Remove chicken and shred.  Return to Crock Pot, add butter and stir.  Cook on low or warm for another 1/2 hour to allow the chicken to absorb some of the sauce.  Serve on buns or sub rolls with a drizzle of Ranch dressing.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

 By far the best peanut butter cookie recipe I've found.  A little crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and they stayed soft for days!  This was the latest of my cravings (you never know what will pop into a pregnant woman's head!) and they hit the spot.  

The dough is chilled for about 2 hours until firm, rolled into a ball then pressed down with a fork in a criss-cross pattern.  

Baked up nice and golden brown, a bit underdone, and they are perfect!  Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.   

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking sodand salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter.  Add the eggs and vanilland mix.  Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix until everything is combined.  

Place cookie batter into the fridge until firm, about 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll into balls.  Place on greased or non-stick cooking sheets about 3 inches apart.  Using a fork dipped in water, lightly press cookies, flattening and  forming a criss-cross pattern on each cookie.  

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

(Source:  Adapted from

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Baby Arugula, Cranberry and Pecan Salad

I'm obsessed with this salad!  Such a perfect fall dinner or side.  This is actually the first time I've ever tried arugula and it certainly will not be my last.  I've been missing out!  Tangy and peppery and delicious.  

I don't care for feta, but that is what the original recipe called for.  Feta is one of those things that I want to like (is that weird?) but I just can't do any of those really strong crumbly cheeses.  The dressing for this salad is simple but packed with flavor.  This would be a very pretty side dish to serve at a Holiday dinner.

Serves 2

Baby Arugula, Cranberry and Pecan Salad

1 head of Romaine, chopped and rinsed
1 cup of Baby Arugula
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

For the dressing 
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 small shallot, grated or minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the salad.  In a smaller bowl, combine the Balsamic, shallot and salt.  Slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. 

Pour dressing over the salad and toss gently. 

(Source:  adapted from Kali Orexi)

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

So this is probably not the Chicken Pot Pie you were thinking...there's not a crust baked on top of this dish.  Where I grew up, in Central Pennsylvania, this is Pot Pie, or more appropriately, Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie.  And if you want me to get really technical, "Bott Boi" - which is why we just ended up calling it pot pie.   I can still taste the way my grandmother made it - usually with leftover turkey from a holiday and sometimes with ham (not my favorite).  Creamy and chunky with potatoes, carrots and yummy square-shaped noodles.

This is my very Italian grandma I might add, not a trace of German roots in her!  Just goes to show that it's a PA thing.  And I call these noodles, some may call them dumplings.  I did not use all of the dough that I made.  Just use your best judgement when adding them to the broth.  You know how chunky or not chunky you'll want your soup. 

So inviting and comforting looking right?  Perfect for a chilly fall day.  And really very simple!  Serve with good bread for dipping. 

Serves 6-8

Chicken Pot Pie
2 quarts chicken broth
1 quart water
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast 
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 small red potatoes, diced 
2 tablespoons flour added to 2 tablespoons water (for a thickening paste)

For the dough
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 eggs
1 tablespoon cold water

In a large pot or dutch oven, combine the chicken broth, water, chicken breast, carrots, celery, onion and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until chicken is cooked through.

While that is cooking, make the dough.  Combine everything except for 1/2 cup of flour.  Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup and continue kneading to form a stiff dough, about 10 minutes.  Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to as thin a sheet as possible.  Cut into 2-inch squares.

When chicken is done, remove, shred and return to pot.  Check broth for seasoning; salt and pepper if needed.  Add half of the potatoes, then about half of the dough squares, gently pushing down each layer until covered with broth.  Repeat with remaining potatoes and dough.  Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes and dough are thoroughly cooked.  Stir in the flour paste at this time to thicken the soup (if desired).
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls

I have been dreaming about some sort of egg roll or dumpling with chicken and/or just veggies.  This recipe is exactly what I had envisioned.  Crunchy inside and out with flavors of ginger (I LOVE ginger!), garlic and soy sauce.  

I think you can pretty much use any greens you have on hand for the inside.  I used Romaine!  But, cabbage, kale, even spinach would be good, too.  

Yummy and easy to make - I whipped these up for lunch yesterday in no time!  I would make this filling again and use in wontons to make little fried dumplings.  They would make a fantastic party appetizer.

Makes 6-8 egg rolls 

Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1/3 cup shredded or diced carrots
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups greens, roughly chopped (Kale, cabbage, spinach, etc)
6-8 Egg Roll wrappers
vegetable oil, for frying

For the dipping sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon green onion, diced
dash of Sriracha sauce (or more to taste)
dash of sugar

In a large ziplock bag combine the ingredients for the filling up to the greens.  Turn and toss until everything is combined and coated with the soy sauce.  Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce.  Stir well and place in fridge until ready to use.

In a frying pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Cook the chicken mixture until the chicken is almost cooked throughout.  Add the greens, let wilt and continue cooking until chicken is done.

To make the egg rolls, place one wrapper at a time, like a diamond, on your work surface.  Place about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture across the middle.  Roll up the bottom first, tucking in the sides as you roll.  Brush the upper corner with water to seal them.  

In a medium saucepan, heat approximately 3/4 of an inch of oil over medium heat.  Test it by dropping in a small piece of egg roll wrapper - it should sizzle, but not brown too quickly.  Drop egg rolls in, 2 or 3 at a time, turning for 2-3 minutes until all sides are golden brown.  Repeat with remaining egg rolls.  Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

(Source: Adapted from Just a Taste)

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

I love baking with apples in the fall!  I'm on Pinterest (obviously!) and there is just so much inspiration out there.  This recipe comes from the blog, Sugar 'n Spice Gals and it is delicious!  I have a smaller Bundt pan, just a bit skinnier than a normal one, so I ended up with extra batter and an adorable mini version of this cake.

Cute right?  This would be such a nice treat to bring to a Holiday dinner.  Just bring the caramel sauce separate and drizzle on right before serving.  I think you're family would be pretty impressed!

The caramel sauce, as the cake sits, seeps into it and keeps it so moist.  My thought was that I was going to walk the mini one over to my neighbors house, but by the time I allowed my family to cut into one (you know, after the pictures were taken) it was gone in a minute!  Baked goods do not last long in our house... 

Makes 1 large bundt cake (or a couple smaller cakes)

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
apples, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

For the glaze 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup half & half
1/4 cup butter
dash of salt
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray and flour bundt pan(s).  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla extract.  Mix until everything is incorporated.  In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and give it a stir.  Fold in the apples and pecans (if using).

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  If using 2 smaller pans, you will need to adjust the time - the mini one took about 45 minutes and my thinner bundt pan took 1 hour and 15 minutes.  When your toothpick comes out clean, it's done.  

Let cool for 10 minutes, then gently slide a butter knife down the sides of the pan to loosen the cake.  Flip upside down onto plate or cake stand.  

Make the caramel glaze by combining the brown sugar, half & half, butter and salt in a medium saucepan; heat over medium heat until everything is melted and combined.  Let cool to room temperature then whisk in confectioner's sugar.  Drizzle over the top of the cake.  Cut into slices and serve room temperature.  

(Source:  adapted from Sugar 'n Spice Gals)
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Game-day Blackened Chicken Wings

Wings are pretty much perfect football watching food.  These are our favorite way to make wings - on the grill, spicy and crispy.  They take some practice and I'm not the one that typically cooks husband has his method down to a science.  

When we moved to Savannah almost 7 years ago we met a great group that we would always watch college football with.  Our Saturdays were spent drinking and eating good food - there was never a shortage of good food!  Our friends from Louisiana introduced us to this style of wing, and to Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  Which, I can tell you right now that I have 3 jars of it in my cabinet because I'm always afraid I'm going to run out!   

Hot sauce is brushed on the uncooked wings, followed by a generous sprinkling of Tony's.  The wings are cooked on low at first, then the heat is cranked up to blacken them at the very end.  If you can get your grill to flame up, it really helps with the charring.  I like mine really crispy and typically leave the ones I'm eating on for a couple minutes longer than my husbands.

I'm guessing how much hot sauce and seasoning I use for the purpose of writing this recipe.  I would say do a couple of shakes of hot sauce on each side of the wing, with a generous shake of Tony's.  Cover the whole wing with the a nice layer of the spice.  

Blackened, spicy wing perfection!  If you have a favorite sauce, you can add that on at the end but these have such a great flavor that we don't do a sauce or even dip them in anything. 

Makes 24 wings 

Game-Day Blackened Chicken Wings

1 bag of frozen chicken wings (24 count), thawed
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce
1/4-1/2 cup Tony Chachere's creole seasoning

Preheat grill on high.  Lay the thawed wings on a baking sheet and brush half of the hot sauce evenly onto the top of each wing.  Evenly sprinkle about 1/2 of the seasoning on each wing.  Flip and repeat on the other side.  

Place the wings on the hottest part of the grill and turn to low.  Cook for 5-7 minutes per side until they are pretty much cooked through.  Turn the grill back to high and group the wings onto the hottest part of the grill.  Cook for another couple of minutes to get the outsides crispy and blackened.  If you can get the grill to flame up at this point, it really helps with the charring (sometimes the fat from the wings will cause this and sometimes we spray non-stick cooking spray right on the grill to help it!).  Serve immediately.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Parmesan Pesto Roasted Tomatoes

Well, these are just about the best appetizer I have ever eaten.  Seriously...I mean, just look at the pictures.  Not only do these tomatoes taste amazing, they look beautiful, too.  I could've plated them on a nice platter, but to be honest, they didn't last that long.  My husband and I were eating them right off the baking sheet - we had to restrain ourselves long enough for me to take the pictures...and that was LONG enough.

Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Gorgeous already. 

Roasted tomatoes are so good on their own too.  So great for a caprese salad...but it gets better!  

Adapted from Ina Garten, so you know they are going to be good.  Double it if you're having company.  The pesto I used was her recipe, too.  I made it awhile ago and had it in the freezer.  Here is the recipe - super simple and freezes so nicely to use again and again.  Family - plan on having these as an appetizer at our next holiday!

Serves 4 (but really it's 2 because you won't be able to stop eating them)

Parmesan Pesto Roasted Tomatoes

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup pesto (store bought or homemade)   
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Arrange the tomato slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with oregano and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, spread pesto evenly on each tomato slice, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for another 7-10 minutes until cheese becomes golden brown.  I turned the broiler on for about 30 seconds just to get a nice crispy crust.  

(Source:  Adapted from Ina Garten)
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

'Tis the season for pumpkin recipes!!  I have so much canned pumpkin at my house it's not even funny.  Pinterest sure does inspire!  I also had a can of apple pie filling so thought I mix the two flavors together - these are amazing.  And it makes a ton of muffins, about 18 to 24.  

I added a streusel topping for a bit of added sweetness and crunch.  It's just butter, cinnamon, sugar and flour mixed together and sprinkled over the top before baking. 

Makes 18-24 muffins

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 can of apple pie filling
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the streusel topping
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 12-cup muffin tins with liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).  In a large bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin and apple pie filling until combined.  In a smaller, separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and stir just until everything is combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cup cake liners about 3/4 of the way full.  In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the streusel topping.  Using a fork or knife, keep cutting through the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Distribute evenly over the muffin batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

(Source:  Adapted from

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