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28 April 2015

Pretzel and M&M Peanut Butter Cookies




::begin vent:: I have been searching my baker butt off to find a rental in the area between Providence and Boston. And have been pretty unsuccessful. I thought I would have choices in places on where to live ... I was wrong. Just finding ONE place is proving to be difficult. At first it was finding places that were in our budget. But I soon learned that this was not the biggest issue. The big issue was finding a rental that would accept dogs -- big dogs. And by big anything over 25-40 pounds. I mean seriously!?! There are other breeds beyond toy breeds. Do not get me wrong, all fur babies are wonderful and some people like the little ones but others like the big fur babies -- as in my Ninja face ... my love bug ... my baby! ::sigh:: Also big dogs can be just as well behaved and clean (if not better) than little dogs ... never judge a book by its cover.

I was even going to give in and just rent one of those fancy "luxury" living complexes and spend extra to bring Ninja with me but ... I hit my next road block. Apparently Shar- pei are considered an "aggressive breed." I mean really?!? Have you seen Ninja on his birthday -- that munchkin is anything but. If its not one thing, it is another right? I really hate to comprise safety so I am still searching for a safe place that is large breed pet friendly. Definitely proving to be more stressful than the fun I thought it would be. Keep your fingers crossed or if you happen to live in the middle of Boston and Providence and have some thoughts on where to live -- I am all ears!

So the hubby just learned that stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Clearly he needs to spend more time on Pinterest ;) Keeping with that theme and being the dessert loving food blogger that I am ... I decided to turn my stress upside down and make dessert. hahaha I actually made this dessert for the hubby's grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. But I did sneak some for myself and enjoyed them once we came home. I usually am a chocolate gal and do not like to mix my sweet and savory but every now and again I get these peanut butter cravings and I have really come to appreciate salty mixed with sweet. And man am I wishing for some right now to calm my apartment hunting nerves. Poor hubby had to come home to a grumpy wife so I bet he could have used these as well!






PRETZEL AND M&M PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
Peanut Butter Cookie slightly adapted from Lil' Luna 

INGREDIENTS


Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. peanut butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. pretzels*
2/3 c. M&M*

*Optional: keep extra for topping

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda - set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) shortening and both sugars until fluffy. Then add in peanut butter, eggs (one at at a time), milk and vanilla -- in that order. Scrape down sides. Then reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients. Combine until just incorporated. Remove from stand mixer and fold in pretzels and M&Ms.

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 1/2-2 inch, cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand. Press any extra pretzel crumbs or M&Ms into the top of the cookie dough balls. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Enjoy,

27 April 2015

Crispy Cheez-It Chicken




I really do love to travel. And although I did not have time to explore most cities on the interview trail -- I was able to squeeze in a few explorations (like my Birthday Weekend). I got some extra days in the City of Brotherly Love. I have a family friend who goes to Temple University and learned that area has a TON of food trucks. You can find almost anything -- Koren, Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Ice Cream, Cake, Crepes! It was awesome. For a quick snack, I got a cookies n' creme crepe with Nutella.


Luckily, I happened to come to Philly during restaurant week. I have never done restaurant week but I can't wait to try it next year in Providence/Boston. Well my family friends took me to a restaurant called Barbuzzo. I tried out the restaurant week menu and it was fantastic! I started with the rissotto balls. I have actually made them before but by the time I finished, it was late and I did not have a chance to photograph them :/ Guess I will just have to try to make them again. The best course, of course ;) was dessert. They had a salted caramel budino. Never heard of it before but OH MY! This was so so so yummy! I have been craving it ever since. I have found some copy cats on Pinterest and I am going to attempt to make it soon.



Another random fact for you. My most popular recipe is the Crispy Ritz Chicken. Funny to think that a dessert blog's most popular recipe is a savory dish...SMH. Only me right? Well, I have another one you are all going to LOVE. If you love that recipe you are definitely going to love this recipe. There is NO WAY you can not love this recipe. I mean, it is covered in sour cream and cheez-itz! It is delicious. Especially the crust/coating of this chicken. Do not feel ashamed or guilty if you find yourself scrapping the extra coating off of the baking pan. I sure did and there was no shame in my scrapping game ;) And a bonus: it is super duper easy to make!






CRISPY CHEEZ-IT CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

Pack of chicken breast tenderloins (I had about 12 pieces)*
1 1/2 - 2 c. of sour cream
5 c. of cheez-itz or cheese nips
3/4 c. butter melted

*BREAST tenderloins not regular chicken tenderloins

DIRECTIONS

Grease a large baking tray with cooking spray, butter or shortening. Crush cheez-itz using a food processor or by dumping them into a large ziploc freezer bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Place crumbs into a shallow dish. Set aside. In another dish, spread the sour cream. I set up my  dishes as follows: sour cream, cheez-its, and finally baking tray.

First completely coat the chicken tenderloin in sour cream and then roll in cheez-itz crumbs. Place the chicken tenderloin onto the baking tray. Repeat for the remainder of the chicken tenderloins. Once all the tenderloins are on the baking tray- sprinkle any non-coated areas with additional crumbs. Drizzle butter over tenderloins. Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy,

25 April 2015

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken and Rice




As I am getting ready for the big move, I knew that one day the stress would hit me and that day has come. I am definitely a ball of nerves. Figuring out the logistics of a cross country move is time consuming, overwhelming and expensive. Did I say expensive? And student? Those two words never really go together. After doing my due diligence about moving options -- I have come to the conclusion that if you want it done right and cost effectively...gotta do it yourself.


To distract myself, I wanted to re-cap some of the fun stuff I got to do while on the interview trail. Like...celebrating my birthday! Thankfully my birthday fell on a weekend I was not interviewing. And the next interview up was in North Carolina, which just happens to be where my cousin lives. He was so sweet and when I landed, he surprised me with an ice cream cake (one of my favs!).


He then took me to this sweet town called Ashville to do some sightseeing but mostly a lot of eating.


First stop was grabbing some brunch. Fried chicken and biscuits, anyone? Yesssss...gotta love my attempt at being healthy with a side of salad to my FRIED chicken HA!



Then we strolled through all the cute little stores -- and by stores I meant dessert stores where I ate till my little birthday heart was content. Birthdays are days meant to be diet free. Where calories are a foreign word and do not exist. A day in which it is impossible to gain weight. You did not get the memo? Glad I told you!






We finished the night at a local gastropub in the city my cousin lives in that had some delicious food. My favorite was the wonton, ahi-tuna tacos with a wasabi glaze. It was so so so drool worthy.

Now to the food. Ever have those days where you look into your pantry and refrigerator and think -- what am I going to make? And I really need to use these up. Well that was me with this recipe. Googled the ingredients that I had and wanted to get rid of, made a few little tweaks and voila ... easy one skillet meal! And did I mention yummy? ;)






Cheesy Southwestern Chicken and Rice
Adapted from Yammie's Noshery

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. garlic
12 oz. frozen bag of three pepper and onion blend (thawed)
1 3/4 c. corn of frozen corn (thawed)
1 15 oz. can of black beans
2 c. shredded chicken, cooked
1/2 c. salsa
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 1/2 c. cooked rice
1/2 c. sour cream + additional for garnish
1 c. shredded cheese + additional for garnish

Optional: Cilantro or green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet melt butter over medium-high heat. Once heated, saute garlic until slightly browned and fragrant, followed by onion-pepper blend, corn, beans and shredded chicken. Cook until warmed through and no residual liquid remains. Stir in salsa and taco seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Fold in cooked rice. Lastly, stir in sour cream and cheese. Garish as desired.

Enjoy,

20 April 2015

Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing




I am not sure if this is a "thing" but one running joke seems to be "in-laws" -- mostly how you are supposed to dislike them in some way. I think I am pretty darn lucky then because I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE my in-laws. I couldn't even imagine changing a thing -- other than relocating them all to California so that my family and the hubby's family can be in the same place. This weekend we went to visit them in Louisiana because the hubby's grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary! How amazing is that?


We headed there a day early to squeeze in some extra time with the father in-law (aka: Dad) before we moved and enjoy some good Cajun food! If you haven't tried Cajun food, trust me...you need it in your life. The first night, my Dad took me to a restaurant where I got crawfish and boudin egg rolls. I know! I have never heard of boudin egg rolls before, but it was not as good as you would think because you could barely taste the boudin. And it was drenched in oil. Though it did give me the idea of trying to make a "For the Love of Dessert version" :)


On Sunday before the anniversary party my dad took me to the original Don's Specialty Meats so I could pick up some stuff to take back with us to Texas. He says this store has some of the best Cajun meats you can find (they ship too! So if you do not live in Louisiana like us, but wants some yumminess do not worry). I stocked up on stuffed chicken (with cornbread and rice dressing), jalapeno sausage, boudin, boudin balls, roux, seasoning...the works! And got me some freshly made boudin to enjoy after all that hard shopping ;) #dontjudgeme


In true southern style -- here is a recipe that includes stuffing! There is no rule that says you can only have stuffing on Thanksgiving and if there was, I would break it. I found this recipe for my sister, who wanted some simple meals should could make in the Crockpot since she just bought one (right?! Who "just" buys a Crockpot). Its a super simple, throw it in the Crockpot come home from work and it's done recipe :) The perfect recipe for my super successful, busy big sister. She liked it so much, she shared it with her friends! #win






Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing
Adapted from Craft Corner

INGREDIENTS

3-4 thawed chicken breasts diced into cubes
1 (6 oz) box of stuffing
1 bag (10-16 oz) of frozen green beans
1 (10 oz) can of cream of condensed chicken soup
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. of milk*
Seasoning (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes)

Use less milk if drier stuffing is desired.

DIRECTIONS

Coat the Crockpot with cooking spray. Evenly distribute chicken cubes on the bottom of the Crockpot. Next, add layer of stuffing and then a layer of green beans.Mix together condensed soup, sour cream, and milk. Pour over the green beans using spatula to evenly spread it out. Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5 hours.

Garnish with preferred seasoning to taste (I added a little bit of red pepper flakes and salt).

Enjoy,

17 April 2015

S'more Cookie Bars




As the hubby and I are getting closer to the big move -- there are certain things I want to check off my Texas bucket list. One of the top things on this to do list was to go to the Houston Livestock and Rodeo one more time. This was a special event for me for a few reasons. First, I LOVE PITBULL...not just a little but a lot. I have been wanting to see Pitbull for awhile and could never find anyone to go with me. But I have one friend who shares my love of Mr. International and when I asked him if he wanted to go, he said "Dale" like only a true Pitbull fan would say.


I was a bit disappointed because Mr. International gave a shout out to each ethnic group -- White, Black, Hispanic...and then....NOTHING! Ummm...last time I checked there were also Asians...as in Indians and Sri Lankans...as in MEEEEEEE....the freakishly obsessed fan in section 634. ::waving:: How are you going to be Mr. International....Pitbull who sang with Priyanka Chopra and then forget to give a shout out to your Desi girls ::shock face:: Shame on you Pitbull! But I still love you!



The hubby came too, but not so much for Pitbull but for the fooooood. Which brings me to my second reason; the amazingly delicious, cholesterol filled, fat gaining food. And this year had some of the best Rodeo food finds everrrrrr. Let's start with Fried Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese frosting....yup, you read right and let me tell you OMG x infinity. But that was not it, they also had fried Nutella....again, yup...imagine a corn dog except with pound cake and stuffed with straight Nutella. I was in such a wonderful food coma.



The last but most important was spending it with the hubby. 6 years ago in March of 2009, a few weeks after dating the hubby, he took me to the Rodeo -- my first ever rodeo. It was so fun and we were so young. It is crazy how much time just flew by. To think that 6 years later he would be my sweet hubby, the love of my life and the only reason I would still be in Texas 6 years later...I would never have guessed! Plus, our good friend joined us and it was a fun get together and some good laughs.


In the trend of clogging your arteries, I had to share a recipe for another sweet tooth favorite -- S'mores :) Enjoy these fairly easy to whip up s'more bars. I made these for Deacon and his owner's farewell party (I know ::tear::) and it was a big hit. But who doesn't love s'mores, right?!? That would be the hubby..FAIL.






S'MORE COOKIE BARS
Slightly adapted from The Gunny Sack

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

FOR THE COOKIE
1/2 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. shortening
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (5 sheets)

FOR THE TOPPING
1 c. mini Hershey's Kisses, divided
1 c. mini marshmallows 

DIRECTIONS

For the cookie:
In a small bowl, combine water and baking soda. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla, egg and water-baking soda mixture. In a separate medium bowl sift together flour and graham crackers. Slowly mix into wet mixture until well incorporated, but do not over mix. Fold in 1/2 of the mini Hershey kisses.  Line a 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil and grease lining. Spread batter in lined dish and bake for 18-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

For the toppings:
Remove from oven and sprinkle mini marshmallows over the bars. Place under broiler for a few seconds until toasted (watch carefully as this happens quickly). Turn off oven and remove baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Hershey kisses over bars and return to oven for 2-3 minutes until Hershey kisses soften.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. I suggest refrigerating for clean and easy cutting.

Enjoy,