Monday, May 30, 2011

Sassy Sweets: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

This post is for my grandma!  Lately, I have had trouble balancing a job, life, and blogging.  I'm sure you've all realized that by now.  Well, no one realizes it more than my grandma (we call her Awa).  Awa uses the internet almost daily e-mailing with friends.  When we told her about my blog, we set it up on her favorites.  All she does is click the button and up pops my blog!

Well, Awa reads the blog frequently and when I don't update enough, she lets me know that she "hasn't seen anything new" in a while.  So, on this beautiful Memorial Day, I am excited to share one of my new go-to dessert recipes.

I am not a fan of chocolate and peanut butter COMBINED.  Separate they are both awesome, together, not so much.  This recipe is perfect because one, I won't eat any of it!  My colleagues have been taking turns requesting treats on Fridays (see what telling everyone you have a blog does to you?!).  Last week, one requested chocolate and peanut butter.  These bars were the perfect treat.  Decadent, delicious, and relatively simple, these are elegant enough to bring to a party, or to make when you have that chocolate-y craving!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (adapted from Kraft)
1 devil's food cake mix (2 layer)
1 chocolate pudding mix (3.4 ounces)
1 stick butter, cold
1/2 cup skim milk, cold
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 13x9 pan with tin foil.  Then spray with cooking spray.  Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, butter, and skim milk.  The dough will form a sticky ball.  Press half the cake mix into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Top with half of the chocolate chips and half of the peanuts.  Melt the peanut butter in the microwave (45 seconds on HIGH).  Pour the peanut butter over the cake mix.  Then, cover with remaining cake mix mixture (I rolled it out and placed it over the top--it wasn't exact but the cake mix did spread out while baking).  Bake an additional 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.  Cut into bars and serve.

Important note:  keep the bars in the fridge until serving, that way the peanut butter won't begin to melt.  This happened to me while they were at work.  Once the peanut butter melts, it starts to ooze out.  Not the best idea ever! 

This week I have 2 more delicious recipes.  I hope you are enjoying your day today grilling outside, celebrating the start of summer, and most of all remembering those who gave their lives so we could do whatever we wanted today!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: Chicken Tandoori Sliders

If you are an Indian food lover like I am, these chicken tandoori sliders will really hit the spot!  I never ate Indian food before college, but once I tasted it, I was hooked.  But, I have hardly scratched the surface of making it.  I think it's too many spices, and exotic ingredients.  That's a lot of money just to try out a dish!  But, these sliders give you the same Indian tastes easily!  In fact, you can make these without really purchasing a lot of specialty spices.  The best part is they really do taste like Chicken Tandoori.  They have the same spices and tomato base. 

These are perfect for a spring/summer's day on the grill.  Of course, that would mean that there are actually nice days in Boston in which to grill (didn't have one day of sunshine last week, and not looking too promising this week either).  But, I have hope that sometime soon the sun will come out and all of Boston will turn up to soak it in.  These are perfect for those days.

Fast and easy; make them larger for normal size hamburgers, or keep them small and serve them on tiny brioche rolls that you can find in the bakery section of your food store.  There's nothing wrong with having a few, either.  I make them out of ground chicken for Chicken Tandoori twist purposes, but also it means they are pretty healthy too!

Chicken Tandoori Sliders
Serves:  4
1 1/4 pounds ground chicken
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon + 1 clove of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of minced ginger
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 ounces cream cheese or sour cream
2 tablespoons cilantro
12 slider buns or brioche rolls

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  Combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, minced ginger, hot paprika, cumin, and coriander.  Form into 12 small patties.  Grill about 5 minutes on each side, until fully cooked through.  Meanwhile, combine remaining garlic clove (minced), cream cheese or sour cream, and cilantro.  This will be the spread.  Spread some onto each bun.  Place a slider in between the bun and serve immediately.

I love the cilantro-garlic spread that goes on the bun.  I really think it makes the whole thing!  Also, I should note I added cream cheese to the burgers themselves for the Real Women of Philadelphia contest.  They weren't picked, and, to be honest, I like them better this way, without the cream cheese.  If you want to add it, I just toss 4 ounces in with the meat.  It keeps it juicy, but so does the tomato paste!

Until the next time my oven is on....
Monday, May 23, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: Saucy Mama's Tricked Out Taco Tart

This taco tart is seriously the best thing I have made with Saucy Mama and her products.  And, I have had a lot of success, so that is saying something!  This tart is an envelope of taco goodness.  It's like a deep dish pizza pie but taco. 

Okay, I'm going overboard.  But, I can't stop thinking about how good it is.  In fact, John and I desperately wanted more but were too full to eat it!  There's something to be said about Saucy Mama's Santa Fe Chipotle Dressing.  It makes it spicy, yet creamy.  So, in addition to the salsa, it is at the same time a cooling agent and heat seeking missile. 

Anyway, this is the perfect dinner for a Monday night when you are a lump after your first day back to work.  I use refrigerated pizza dough which rolls out easily and forms the shape of the pie without much fuss.  This is also a great use for any taco leftovers you have, whether it be meat or chicken.  If you are making it with leftovers you can just throw everything together and into the oven for 20 minutes. 
Saucy Mama's Tricked Out Taco Tart
Serves:  5
1/2 pound ground turkey
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup salsa
2/3 cup Saucy Mama Santa Fe Chipotle Dressing
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cook the turkey in a skillet and season with salt and pepper.  Grease a 9-inch pie pan and roll out the pizza dough to fit into the pan.  Mix turkey with salsa, and Saucy Mama's Santa Fe Chipotle Dressing.  Place into the tart shell and top with grated cheese.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Serve immediately in slices.
Sunday, May 22, 2011

And the Winner Is....

Saucy Mama's Prize Pack generated a huge response :) I am so excited that so many of you were thrilled about their products.  I hope you also enjoyed my All Grown Up Chicken Fingers and Fries!  My very last entry into their recipe contest is coming up tomorrow, and I know you won't want to miss it.  But, for now, the most important thing, the winner!

Congratulations to Jessica, a new GFC follower!  Jessica would marinate grilled shrimp kabobs and throw them on the grill.  YUM!  I think I might try that myself!  Jessica, I have e-mailed you and I know Saucy Mama will be thrilled to see how you like them for yourself!

See you all tomorrow with a delicious savory tart that any Saucy Mama would love!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: All Grown-Up Chicken Fingers and Fries

I'm so excited to bring you my next Saucy Mama's dinner idea!  If you haven't already, check out my giveaway for your own set of 3 Saucy Mama's products!  As you all know, I am about the quick and easy.  I love that Saucy Mama challenged all of us bloggers to make delicious meals with only five ingredients.  I think that just goes to show that anyone can make a delicious meal without a lot of hassle or fuss.

Today's dinner is one of my favorites that I have made with their products so far.  It features their Tarragon Lemon Mustard which is a little sweet but pairs perfectly with panko breadcrumbs.  I knew I wanted to do a dish like this almost right away.  There are times when I just crave some of my childhood favorites--hot dogs, chicken fingers, I hope you all know what I mean!

The french fries are ones that I make often for our house. The chicken fingers are baked but the panko breadcrumbs make it really crispy!  I love that it is healthy but doesn't taste it!!! 
All Grown-Up Chicken Fingers and Fries
Serves:  4
4 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons Saucy Mama's Tarragon Lemon Mustard
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
3 potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper

Slice the chicken breasts into small wedges, or fingers.  Place in a sealed bag with Saucy Mama's Tarragon Lemon Mustard (all but 2 tablespoons).  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.  Then, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, do not rinse.  Dip the marinated chicken breasts into the breadcrumbs, making sure it fully covers on all sides.  Place in greased glass baking dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked through.  Then, peel the potatoes and slice into small rectangles for fries.  Combine olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons of Saucy Mama's Tarragon Lemon Mustard.  Toss fries with oil mixture.  Add salt and pepper to fries.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until fries are lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, May 16, 2011

Time-Out: Limoncello

This post has been in the making for about a month.  When I first found a recipe for this in the Food Network Magazine, I couldn't believe my luck.  John and I love limoncello and often have it at the end of our italian meals.  The only problem is, it uses a lot of lemons.  A LOT of lemons.

And, it only uses the lemon peels so you need to figure out what to do with all the lemon juice.  That is where the wonderful Lemon Bars came in handy!  In fact, I'm going to make them again this week to bring into the office.  After my chocolate chip cookies were a hit, I really need a "wow" dessert this week! 

This limoncello is a little sweet, if you like it more lemony, less sour-y, remove one-half cup of the sugar mixture and it should turn out perfect towards your tastes.  If you've ever been skeptical about trying this, don't be.  It's time consuming, but the most time is the time it spends in the dark closet!  Even I can't screw that up!!

12 lemons
750 milliliters vodka (or vanilla vodka, which is delicous!)
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water

Clean the lemons thoroughly.  Then, using a vegetable peeler, carefully cut the rinds of the lemons.  Slice only the yellow part, trying to get as little of the white rind as possible.  Add the lemon peels (about 2 cups) to the vodka in a sealed mason jar for at least 2 weeks (we did 4 weeks, tasted great!) in a cool dark place.  Every day or few days, carefully shake the mason jar before returning to the dark place..  Strain the mixture well.  To make the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring just to boiling and then let cool completely to room temperature.  Stir the syrup into the vodka.  Cover and chill overnight.  Pour mixture into clean bottles, fasten lids.  Keep in the fridge and drink within 6 weeks.

The white part of the rind is bitter, so the less you have the sweeter it will be!

Have some good ones coming up this week and also, don't forget the giveaway on the blog!!!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, May 13, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: Asian Spaghetti and Meatballs + a GIVEAWAY

Like I mentioned on Monday, I'm participating in the Saucy Mama's Fabulous with Five recipe contest.  In the package that they were generous enough to send me was their newest sauce the Sweet Heat Marinade.  I'll be the first to tell you it is an asian-style sweet and spicy sauce that is amazing!!  After tasting it, John suggested we pair it with meat. 

Since I'd made so many asian dishes with other free products on my blog over the last few months, I wanted to use my five ingredients in a really unique way.  Also, I needed it to be SCRUMPTIOUS, not just delicious, or good. Both of us really liked this, and I liked using the asian stir-fry frozen vegetables.  That gave me a ton of vegetables with only one ingredient!  Way to get creative :) you can substitute this for any vegetables that you really like. 

Saucy Mama was also kind enough to give us a GIVEAWAY!  They will be sending my lucky winner a trio of their sauces, including the Sweet Heat Marinade.  I will have more recipes over the next few weeks so look for them.  For now, you must be a Follower through Google Friend Connect.  Leave a comment here that you are.  For an extra entry, tell me what YOU would make with this Sweet Heat Marinade if you won. You will have one full week to comment with the last day of entry being Friday, May 20, 2011 at noon Eastern Standard Time. I will use to choose the winner, and Saucy Mama will send the sauces from their headquarters.
Asian Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves:  4
1 pound of ground turkey
2 cups + 3 tablespoons Saucy Mama's Sweet Heat Marinade
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 box of chinese stir-fry noodles (also called chow mein noodles)
2 cups frozen Asian Stir-Fry Vegetable Mix

Combine the ground turkey, 3 tablespoons of Saucy Mama's Sweet Heat Marinade, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.  Roll into small meatballs.  In a large skillet, greased with cooking spray, cook the meatballs over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until fully cooked through.  Meanwhile, prepare the stir-fry noodles to package instructions.  And, cover the vegetables with water and place in a large saucepan until heated through.  Drain the noodles and vegetables.  Add both to the meatballs and toss with remaining Saucy Mama's Sweet Heat Marinade over low heat until fully heated through.  Serve warm.

So comment away my very loyal friends and followers!!  Note that for the recipe contest Saucy Mama provided me, free of charge, 6 sauces, as well as the 3 sauces for the giveaway.  I can win up to $1,000 for using their sauces in a 5-ingredient recipe.  But, of course, the delicious recipes are my own.

And, just can't let this post go without saying a VERY happy birthday to my wonderful sister K!  She is leaving Boston tomorrow to move-in with E in New York and I am going to miss them both terribly.  Enjoy the weekend and I'll be back on Monday with another delicious Saucy Mama dish!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sassy Sweets: Tiramisu Semifreddo

Once again, another week, another loser in the Real Women of Philadelphia contest.  Also like last week though, another WINNER of a recipe!  I swear this semifreddo recipe is now my go-to frozen dessert!  It can be adapted many ways, but this one is quick, easy, and delicious! 

As you all know, John's favorite dessert is tiramisu.  To be honest, he couldn't stop eating this; plus, since it is coming closer to summer, I love frozen desserts.  First of all, if you're entertaining, you don't want to turn on your oven.  With people in the house, and the oven on, my childhood home, which isn't airconditioned, gets hot fast!  So, Mom was always very creative with what we could do, making orange juice into simple pops, etc. 

Plus, I have made it very obvious that I LOVE ice cream.  Semifreddo is italian for half-cold and it is often frozen desserts and custards.  In fact, most are made in loaf pans and frozen for 8 hours.  Then they are turned out and cut into slices.  They are DELICIOUS.  But, they take so much time and Philadelphia Cream Cheese only allots one hour!  So this is a great dessert to be done in only one hour!
Tiramisu Semifreddo
Serves:  6
8 ounces of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
4 ounces of marscapone cheese
1 cup of coffee
3 ounces each: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
whipped cream

Cream the cream cheese, whipping cream, sugar, cheese, and coffee until fluffy.  Spread it into a tinfoil-lined 8-inch square pan.  Freeze it for 30-45 minutes.  Cut up the strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.  Set aside.  Scoop tiramisu semifreddo out into small martini glasses.  Top with berry mix and whipped cream.

Yum, I really want to make this right now!  But I'm exhausted and am still in the middle of my sister K's red velvet birthday cupcakes.  So, it will have to wait until Saturday :)

STAY TUNED for Friday's giveaway!  Followers only, so be sure to follow me and a great recipe featuring Saucy Mama's sauces.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, May 9, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: Pulled Chicken Tacos

These tacos come together in a flash, and don't think just because the chicken is pulled that they are hard to make.  In fact, I like to cut the chicken breasts into about 3 pieces.  Season them with taco seasoning, and then put them into the oven at 400 degrees in a glass baking dish.  After about 25 minutes, the chicken is done and I can start pulling it!

In that time, the cheese gets grated, salsa gets plated (like how that rhymed?) and I also made guacamole.  I'm thinking that I will post a recipe for that before long because John keeps reminding me how it is so good (and let me let you in on a little secret, so easy). 

Also this week, I am participating in Saucy Mama's Fabulous with 5 challenge.  With only 5 ingredients, I'm loving that we'll have a lot of dorm room dinners!  I'm featuring a few recipes this week and then, on Friday, I will also be giving away one of their condiment kits!  Let me tell you that this kit is incredible, and you won't want to miss out on the giveaway!  One of my favorite bloggers, and blog, Snappy Gourmet is also participating so check her blog often to find out when to win!
Pulled Chicken Tacos
Serves:  4
3 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 cup salsa
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup guacamole
8 taco shells

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the chicken into smaller pieces (either halved or in thirds).  Season with 3 tablespoons of taco seasoning.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Then, using two forks, shred the chicken and combine with remaining tablespoon of taco seasoning.  Serve pulled chicken in shells and top with salsa, cheese, and guacamole!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, May 6, 2011

Weeknight Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

Surprisingly, I had never made stuffed peppers before.  After reading a lot of recipes, I knew I didn't want to make the traditional ones with sauce on top.  Mainly because I didn't have most of the ingredients and I wasn't going to be home much this week either.  So rather than grocery shopping, I improvised.

I loved the way the stuffed peppers came out.  They were, to me, exactly the flavors that should be stuffed in a pepper, well, they were Mexican flavors, but that goes with peppers!  In fact, I made so much of the stuffing that there was some left over after all the peppers were stuffed.  However, this stuffing also makes an incredible DINNER.  It has meat, rice, and veggies in it so you really couldn't go wrong with the leftovers.  John, of course, took it for lunch.

Also, I blanched the peppers because everywhere I read told me I should.  When I explained this to my mom, who makes stuffed peppers now that it is just her and dad at home, she said she never had before.  So, I'm going to leave the blanching out next time.  Why waste the time if they still come out okay?  I guess this is completely your choice.
Stuffed Peppers
Serves:  4
4 green peppers
1 onion
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 cup rice
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Then, cut the pepper tops off the peppers (about 1/2 inch down from the stem).  Set the whole peppers aside and cut up the tops (except for the stems).  Slice the onion and chop the mushrooms.  In a medium size greased skillet, cook all the vegetables until the onion is translucent.  Remove them and place them into a bowl.  In the same skillet, cook the turkey until browned on all sides.  Add the meat to the bowl.  Make the rice according to the package directions.  Combine the rice, turkey, and vegetables.  Add the taco seasoning and half of the cheddar cheese.  Stir well.  Then, fill the peppers.  Top them with the remaining cheddar cheese.  Place the peppers in a greased baking pan and cover with tinfoil.  Cook for an hour until the peppers are tender. 

I can't wait to share some great recipes with you next week.  One is a recipe that I have been making for the past month and it will finally be ready to serve this weekend!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brilliant Brunch: Santa Fe Breakfast Burritos

Since I now know I didn't win the entree round of Real Women of Philadelphia, I am happy to share my recipe with you all!  I'm loving this contest and then women I have met through it, so every non-win is also a time to just reflect on how fun its been, where I've been, and where I'm headed!

These breakfast burritos are an awesome brunch addition.  I like that I can make all the components beforehand and then throw them in the oven.  By the time people get here, they are hot and delicious!  Further, you're not up at six in the morning planning for your company.  The more sleep I can have on any given day, the better.  Except for last Friday.  John ribbed me for getting up at 5 to watch the wedding, but it was truly magnificent, right?

Anyway, these burritos are just about perfect but you can feel free to jazz them up the way you'd like.  I have put sauteed peppers in them, or shredded chicken from baked chicken the night before!  When I made these for the video, it was in the afternoon.  I made 4 or 5 of them, and by the time my taping was done and video was edited, three were gone (two thanks to John!).  I promise you the smell alone will wake up even the most sleep-deprived teenager :)

Santa Fe Breakfast Burritos
Serves: 4
1 chorizo link (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Philadelphia Cooking Creme (Santa Fe Blend)
1/4 cup milk
4 eggs
2 tablespoons salsa
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
4 tortillas

Remove the chorizo from its casing.  In a medium greased skillet, cook the chorizo, until browned on all sides.  Reserve the drippings and transfer the chorizo into a bowl.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  To the bowl, add 1/2 cup of cooking creme, milk, and eggs.  Mix well.  Add the egg mixture to the drippings in the skillet.  Cook for 8-10 minutes on low, until the eggs are fully cooked.  Scoop 1/4 of the egg mixture into each tortilla.  Combine salsa and remaining cooking creme.  Spoon over the egg mixture.  Grate 2 tablespoons of cheese on top and then roll up the tortillas.  Place the tortillas in a greased baking pan and bake for 5 minutes.  Serve hot.

These are literally so easy but so tasty!  It's amazing the kind of flavors you get with the cooking creme.  If you don't want to buy the cooking creme, substitute 2 parts sour cream to 1 part chunky salsa and you will have a similar, though not exact, flavor.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: Korean Pork Stirfry

This stirfry was an invention of necessity.  You're all aware I have these kinds of inventions often!  Usually, when dinner is a mystery up until about 10 minutes before it's on the table!  We had Annie Chun's Chinese Stir Fry Noodles, which is what we used.  However, I think this would be just as good with rice.  So feel free to substitute!  Or, try whole wheat spaghetti.  They had similar textures and flavorings, I thought. 

We also used Annie Chun's sauces, both Gochujang and Korean BBQ.  I have put the recipe up for a substitute barbeque recipe a few times.  The Gochujang sauce is sweet and spicy.  Basically like a sweet sauce with red pepper flakes throughout.  Easily substitute this with a tiny bit of honey and extra red pepper flakes. 

This requires very little time, effort, or thought to put together but tastes surprisingly delicious.  I used the vegetables I had on hand but, obviously, you could substitute with your favorites!  Same goes with the pork; we used 3 pork cutlets that I had sitting in the freezer but it will taste just as good with chicken or beef or even steak!
Korean Pork Stirfry Serves:  4
1 box of Annie Chun's Classic Chinese Stirfry Noodles
3 pork cutlets
1 cup Korean barbeque sauce
1/4 cup Gochujang sauce
2 green peppers, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped

Make the noodles according to package directions.  Cut the pork into small pieces and toss with half of the barbeque sauce and half of the Gochujang sauce. In a large wok, heat two tablespoons of oil, and cook the pork until white on all sides.  Then, turn the heat to medium and add green peppers, mushrooms, and onions.  When the onion is translucent, turn the heat to low and add noodles and remaining sauces.  Use tongs to mix the noodles with the vegetables and pork making sure that sauce completely covers the stirfry.  Serve in bowls with chopsticks, or forks!

This week is going to be all about FAST meals!  Whether it's a fancy brunch or late-night dinner, this week I'm all about getting meals on the table quickly. 

Until the next time my oven is on...
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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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