Monday, January 30, 2017

Super Bowl 2017 Recipe Roundup


It’s that time of year again – Super Bowl Sunday is less than a week away. Even though most of us (at least in Indiana) don’t get to root for our favorite team, we can all appreciate the opportunity to gather with friends and eat good food!

I created this roundup of SEVEN (because it’s the number of points in a touchdown plus field goal) of my favorite recipes that would be perfect for your party.

All of these recipes come together very quickly, so even though I’m sharing them a week in advance, you can procrastinate and wait until Sunday to make them if you choose.

Also, all of these recipes are very budget-friendly which is important when you’re cooking for a crowd.

It was so hard for me to narrow down my favorites, so if you want more options, you can check out plenty more recipes in my recipe index here!

Like pizza but creamy and gooey and so much better


These poppable bites are delicious and filling


Buffalo Chicken
There are so many great buffalo chicken options that it’s practically a staple at all Super Bowl parties. That being said, I couldn’t choose between my two favorite buffalo chicken recipes, so I decided to include them in one category.



Surprisingly Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip


You friends will be amazed when you show up with homemade pretzel bites presented in a skillet.


Set it and forget it! This creamy dip gets a nice kick from the jalapeño!



Cheese Balls
Sweet cheese ball vs. savory cheese ball—how can I possibly choose?! For the sake of letting you experience the best of both worlds, once again, I decided to include both cheese balls in a single category.






Even though the pictures are sub-par, I promise this is the most addicting snack! The perfect sweet and salty mixture.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Peanut Butter Dessert Lasagna


I spent the past week in our nation’s capital with nine co-workers to cover the inauguration. It was such a big deal for our news station this year because our former Indiana governor Mike Pence is now the vice president.

It was an exhausting trip with no time to sleep or eat, but I know I will cherish the experience and memories of the trip forever.

That being said, I am very, very glad to be back to a normal routine.

Today is National Peanut Butter Day, and I’ve been thinking for a while about a unique treat to make on this special day. So I’m came up with this recipe for peanut butter lasagna. Now when I told people what I was making I got a lot of really confused looks.

As I’m sure you’ve realized by now, this isn’t a traditional savory lasagna—it’s a dessert lasagna. Essentially, it’s just a layered dessert like lasagna is a layered dish. Dessert lasagnas have become really popular in the past year, and I’ve seen a lot of recipes for chocolate lasagna. So I decided to create a lasagna based around my love for peanut butter.

What makes this dish so wonderful is that it’s no-bake, it’s easy to put together, and there are just a handful of ingredients.

The end result is almost like an icebox cake with layers of chocolate and peanut butter. So good!



Peanut Butter Dessert Lasagna
Yield: Makes about 9 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces Challenge cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 12 ounces whipped topping
  • 1 (14 ounce) box chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter cups, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (if desired)
Directions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. Stir in whipped topping and set peanut butter filling aside.
  2. Line bottom of 8x8 pan with graham crackers and spread 1/2 of peanut butter filling on top with spatula.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped peanut butter cups on top of filling.
  4. Add another layer of chocolate graham crackers, remaining peanut butter filling, and chopped peanut butter cups.
  5. Sprinkle top with peanuts if desired.
  6. Chill peanut butter lasagna for at least 4 to 6 hours before serving.







Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Spicy Cheese Pretzel Skillet


I always look forward to Super Bowl Sunday, and I’ve had some really great experiences throughout the years. And to be honest, all of my memories seem to revolve around food.

When I was younger, my family would always watch the game with our neighbors—one of which happened to be a chef! The food was obviously superb, and I became a big fan of stuffed mushroom caps at an early age.

When the Colts last won in 2007, I watched the game with my parents at a family friend’s house. I’m a big seafood fan, and that year Larry’s wife made the best cioppino and homemade sourdough bread. It was my first time having the dish, and I still think about how wonderful it was. That year was also extra special because we had a snow day on Monday.

Each year I try to come up with a signature Super Bowl dish, and because my memories are so closely tied with food, it has to be something really special. After making buffalo chicken dip the past two years I definitely wanted to do something really unique this year.

I decided I wanted to incorporate my cast iron skillet because it makes for a really nice presentation, and I definitely don’t use it enough. I started exploring the idea od homemade pretzels, and I ultimately came up with a recipe for soft pretzels in the skillet with a spicy, cheesy dipping sauce.


I had never made pretzels before, so I did some research on the easiest possible way to make them. It turns out the pretzel dough itself isn’t all that unique. It’s pretty much just your basic dough recipe. The method for baking the dough is what transforms it into a pretzel.

The way that you transform regular dough into a pretzel is by boiling it in water and baking soda before baking it. It’s the baking soda that gives the dough it’s brown color and distinctive flavor.

How does this work? Okay, we’re about to get really scientific.

The pH scale measures the acidity of a substance. It typically goes from 0 to 14 with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic. Generally, water on it’s own is neutral and sits at a 7 on the scale. But baking soda is very basic. So when you add baking soda to the water, it moves the pH level of the water to about a 10 or 11.

Letting the dough soak in a boiling water/baking soda bath alters the sugars and amino acids so that when it bakes the center puffs up and the outside turns brown.

If you skip this step, your pretzels will be pale and essentially just biscuits shaped like pretzels.

This proves once again that baking really is a science!

If that’s too much for you to handle, don’t even worry about it. Basically, all you need to know is that if you follow the directions below, you’ll have delicious, soft pretzels and a spicy cheese sauce.



Spicy Cheese Pretzel Skillet
Yield: Makes about 32 small soft pretzels
Ingredients
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (reserve 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top)
  • 8 ounces Challenge cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 2 Tablespoons water), for brushing pretzel dough
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cast iron skillet with oil.
  2. Make spicy cheese dip by mixing together cheddar, cream cheese, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder; set aside.
  3. Cut each pre-sliced biscuit into quarters and roll into a ball; set aside.
  4. Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a small saucepan. Drop biscuit dough into boiling water and let cook for one minute. Remove biscuit dough from water with slotted spoon and transfer to cast iron skillet forming a ring along the inside edge.
  5. Brush biscuits with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Transfer spicy cheese dip to center of skillet and sprinkle reserved cheddar on top.
  7. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and cheese dip is bubbly.
  8. Sprinkle sliced green onion on top before serving if desired.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Samoas Brownies


After a relaxing post-holiday vacation, I was finally starting to feel like I had my life back together. And then classes started back again... and I got the stomach flu (worst I've ever had in my life)... and then I found out I'm traveling to Washington DC for the inauguration!

So once again, it's a little crazy over here, but such is life!

Sometimes in the midst of chaos, it's satisfying and relaxing for me to bake. With baking, everything is very exact. I know that if I use the exact measurements and follow the directions, the recipe will turn out exactly how I want.

Baking is also great for stress-eating. And that's how these brownies came to be.

It was Saturday night and I really wanted some Girl Scout cookies. But for some reason they seem to be really hard to track down. No one at my work is selling them, no one has knocked on our door to sell them, and I have yet to see a troop selling them outside a grocery store or the mall. My neighbor down the street told me his granddaughter would be over to sell some, but I'm still waiting for that to happen.

How on earth is a girl supposed to get her cookie fix?!

So I took matters into my own hands and combined my favorite Girl Scout cookies, which are Samoas, with brownies.

The recipe is very similar to the Samoas Pie that I made last year; the ratio of ingredients is just a bit different. There's a little more coconut and a little less caramel so the brownies are easier to cut.

The end result was perfection. If you have a sweet tooth and love chocolate, caramel, and coconut, this is for you!



Samoas Brownies
Yield: Makes about 16 brownies
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup Challenge butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 18-ounce brownie mix
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate to drizzle on top
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit; line 8x8 pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Combine butter, milk, and egg; add brownie mix and stir until just combined. Pour batter into lined pan.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips and coconut on top of batter.
  4. Pour sweetened condensed milk on top of coconut and drizzle caramel sauce on top.
  5. Bake brownies for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the coconut starts to turn golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven. Using a spoon or sealed bag, drizzle melted chocolate on top in long, parallel lines.
  7. Allow pie to set for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving; brownies need plenty of time to set or they won't cut well.
  8. Store brownies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.




Monday, January 2, 2017

Fruitcake Biscotti


I think each New Year it’s a good idea to look at how we spend our time and where we place our priorities. I feel like we, as Americans, are always going going going.

For example, this is my average daily routine: wake up hours before the sun rises, check my email, work out, check my email, go to work for 9+ hours, go to class*, check my email (I get around 500 work emails a day), eat a quick dinner before starting on homework, fall asleep on the couch while working on something for my blog.

And I don’t have children, so I can’t even imagine how parents must feel!

The point I’m trying to make is we never seem to take enough time for ourselves. I think some of us even feel guilty when we do.

As we enter the New Year, I think it would do us all good to treat ourselves for at least 10 to 20 minutes every day. Use that time to read a chapter in a book, flip through a magazine, do a crossword puzzle, or even pray.

I think the way we treat ourselves has a direct impact on the way we treat others

Just start by thinking about when would be a good time to fit this in.

Personally, I think the best time for me is before going to work out in the morning. My emails are still going to be there when I return. I can wait to check them.

So I’m going to make it my goal to start the first 20 minutes of each day with a cup of coffee and my Bible.


The biscotti recipe I’m sharing today will hopefully provide some encouragement to treat yourself.

Originating from Italy, biscotti is a crunchy biscuit that can be sweet like a cookie and typically dunked in coffee or tea. For that reason, in my mind it’s a reminder to relax and enjoy the morning.

Biscotti comes in a wide variety of flavors, and there are especially a lot of seasonal flavors. Today I am sharing a recipe for fruitcake biscotti. Yes, you read that correctly. So why the fruitcake flavor?

Fruitcake actually combines a variety of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and cloves that work really well for the winter months. Additionally, since fruitcake is generally considered to be a “Christmas” dessert, candied and dried fruit typically goes on sale big time after the holidays. In fact, the candied fruit that I bought for this recipe was 50% off!

I got the idea for this biscotti from some family friends who gifted us with it for Christmas. This was actually my first time making biscotti, so I wanted to share some tips that I discovered while making several batches.


1. Definitely separate the dough into two parts before baking. If you try to bake it in one big blog, it won’t bake right.

2. The biscotti dough will be very sticky, so before you work with it, lightly moisten your hands with a splash of water or a little bit of vegetable oil.

3. Form the dough into two long, skinny logs no more than 3 inches wide.  You want the logs to be skinny because they will expand significantly. I can’t stress that enough!

4. After baking the first time, allow the dough to cool for approximately 20 minutes before cutting. If you cut it too soon, the dough will still be soft, and you won’t get clean-cut pieces. If you wait too long to cut it, the dough will harden too much and it will be difficult to cut.

5. Use a serrated knife to cut the biscotti into 1/2-inch slices. Don’t cut them any thicker than that.

I probably should have put these tips at the very beginning of the post since they are the most important part, but hopefully you’ve made it through this novel. As always, thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!



Fruitcake biscotti
Yield: Makes about 24 biscotti biscuits
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all spice (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit or candied fruit
  • Optional: 1/2 cup white chocolate chips for drizzling on top
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with silicone liner or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and beat until well combined.
  4. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and spices.
  5. Slowly add to butter mixture, beating at medium-low until just incorporated. Stir in candied fruit.
  6. Separate dough into two long, skinny logs about 3 inches in width.
  7. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes--the top should be lightly browned.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  9. Transfer biscotti to a cutting board, and use a serrated knife to cut pieces about 1/2-inch thick.
  10. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees and return slices to prepared baking sheet, cut side down.
  11. Bake on one side for about 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip each piece to other side to bake for another 10 minutes.
  12. Remove biscotti from oven and transfer to wire rack to let cool.
  13. You can serve biscotti plain or you can spruce it up bit by dusting powdered sugar on top each piece or drizzling white chocolate on top.
  14. Store biscotti in airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months. 
Recipe adapted from Taste of the South magazine.


*For those who aren’t aware, I’m taking classes in hopes of getting accepted into a didactic program and ultimately becoming a registered dietitian.






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