“I think of myself… as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.” ~ Louis L’Amour

I absolutely love S’mores! I believe I actually like them more than I did as a kid. The only problem is that I don’t spend much time around a campfire.

So when I came across the idea of making S’mores in an iron skillet in the kitchen, I was quite excited about that idea and I knew I must try it ASAP! 

Skillet S’mores

1/2 Tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
7-10 jumbo marshmallows, cut in half
Box of graham crackers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Swirl butter around the bottom and sides of an 8 inch iron skillet.
Evenly spread chocolate chips in the bottom of skillet.
Arrange marshmallow halves on top of chocolate chips (cut side down).
Place on middle rack and back 6-10 minutes or until the tops of marshmallows are browned.
Let sit for for 5 mins, serve immediately with graham crackers.

**caution – skillet and dip will be hot.

   
-abp

 

 

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“I followed my heart and it lead me to the fridge.” ~ unknown

Having spent the whole day yesterday watching college football and not have any food that even resembled tailgate food (aka appetizers, junk food, finger food), I was definitely craving something like that today!

But it needed to be quick and not huge because I may be the only one who would be snacking on it.

This old school dip came to mind and definitely handled my craving.

As I mentioned, this is not a large appetizer. It’s good for a few people to nibble on along with other items, although you could easily make 2 or double recipe and put on larger serving plate.

Easy Pizza Dip

  • 4-6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup Heinz Chili Sauce
  • ¼-½ cup shredded mozzerela cheese
  • 6 pepperoni slices, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 small olives (green or black) optional
  • Fritos

Evenly spread cream cheese in a small serving dish or dinner plate. Cover evenly with Chili Sauce.

Top with cheese, pepperoni, onion and olives.

Serve immediately with Frito chips or refrigerate until ready to serve.

I told you it was easy! 🙂


-abp

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard

Thanks to one of my husband’s wonderful patients – we have had a surplus of fabulous home grown tomatoes!

I can eat BLT’s all day long, all week – I love them that much – but it still doesn’t use all those home grown beauties before they go bad. So ,I had to come up with another way to use them.

Hello delicious pizza sauce!

I make this up in several batches and freeze.

Pull out of the freezer and use with a pre-made crust for a quick weeknight dinner.

It’s also great to make when tomatoes are not in season, just use canned crushed tomatoes.

Perfect Pizza Sauce

  • 15 oz of fresh tomatoes (peeled) or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-6 leaves of fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste

Blend tomatoes and basil in blender to a chunky puree.

Brown garlic over medium/high heat in olive oil until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Be careful not to burn.

Add blended tomatoes and basil to garlic/oil mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced.

Let cool and use to create your favorite pizza or freeze in a zip lock bag until ready to use.

-abp

“The early bird may get the worm, but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.” ~ Jeremy Paxman

Macaroni and Cheese is honesty one of my favorite foods of all time.

I really don’t think you can beat the kind in the blue box with the powder but it is always such a luxury to order the Mac n Cheese with black truffles in a fine restaurant.

Being someone that is still (yes still) trying to get the final baby pounds off, it’s not something I feel I should very make often. But luckily I get to indulge in my guilty pleasure more often because it is my sweet stepson’s favorite thing to eat and he always ask for me to try and make different ones.

I am always happy to oblige. 🙂

Copycat Panera Mac & Cheese

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ¾ cup whole milk
  • 8 oz. shredded white cheddar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ Tbsp of dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1lb pasta, cooked (corkscrew, shells, elbow etc.)

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium high heat until melted. Whisk in flour and cook for one minute to make your roux.

Reduce heat to medium and while whisking constantly, add the mild, cream, salt, pepper, mustard,  and hot sauce.

Continue to whisk until it starts to bubble.

Reduce heat to low and add cheese. Keep stirring until completely melted.

Remove from heat and stir in pasta.

Let sit for 4-5 minutes and serve.

Copycat Panera Mac & Cheese

-abp

 

 

“You can’t be a grown-up woman and not like chocolate.” ~ Julie Dawn Cole

The biggest thing I noticed about my pre-preggo self and my post-preggo self (besides the obvious shifting of all things body) would be my cravings.

I used to love good old salty, savory snacks and appetizers.  I was never really tempted by ordering desserts at a restaurant or I never ventured over to the dessert table at a party or wedding.  I sometimes never even had a piece of the brides cake.

Now, I’m like – “Is that chick ever going to cut that dang cake!”

Sweets.

I just can’t say no.

I also never liked dark chocolate at all.

Now, I dream about it.

This pie helps with my new found addiction.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie

  • 1 ready made graham cracker crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Hershey bars (1.5 oz), chopped
  • 3 Special Dark Hersey bars (1.5 oz.), chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounce container of Cool Whip

Melt cream and chocolate in microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 45-60 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted. If additional melting time is needed, melt for 10 more seconds.

In a stand mixer, cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth.

Next, in the mixer, add chocolate mixture to cream mixture, reserving around 1/4 cup of chocolate mixture for garnish.

On a slow speed, add cool whip to mixture.

Pour mixture into prepared crust, smooth top and drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Dark Chocolate Mouse Pie

-abp

“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” ~ Mae West

If you have visited my blog before, you know I like simple.

I also like good.

When I need a very impressive, delicious dessert, I turn to my mom. She is fabulous when it comes to wonderful desserts but when I make desserts – they are pretty easy and straight forward.

The following dessert is no exception.

It has a secret ingredient that makes it super moist – baby food.

I thought since I have a surplus of baby food on hand this would be a great, no fuss dessert to make for a weekday treat.

Pineapple Carrot Cake

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 jars (6 oz each) carrot baby food
  • 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts

Frosting

  • 1 block cream cheese (8 oz.), softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 box (1 lb) confectioners sugar
  • Chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl, stir to combine the dry ingredients.

Add the oil, eggs and baby food and mix on low speed with a hand mixer until well blended.

Stir in pineapple and nuts.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks to cool completely

For frosting, in a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

Remove cake from pan, frost top and sides. Garnish with nuts if desired.

Store in the refrigerator.


-abp

“Two old Bachelors were living in one house; One caught a Muffin, the other caught a Mouse.” ~ Edward Lear

I seem to keep adding to my list of food obsessions.

The latest one is muffins.

I think what started this new craving was around Christmas when we went to the Opryland Hotel.

There are several restaurants in the hotel but only one that really served breakfast – if you have ever been to The Opryland Hotel at Christmas, you can only imagine how crowded that one restaurant would be!

So breakfast would consist of grabbing a quick bite at one of the few coffee shops scattered across the property.

There was still a pretty long line and  I remember thinking – I hope these muffins are worth it.

Well, they were and now I guess I keep hoping to find some as good as those.

You know, they might not have been that good – it could have just been the wonderful Christmas atmosphere that only The Opryland Hotel can give you…..

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour

Muffins

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For topping:

Mix sugars, flour and melted butter with fork until crumbly, set aside.

For muffins:

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer, use whisk attachment to mix sugar and eggs. Continue until completely mixed.

Slowly add in the butter and oil until combined. Followed by buttermilk and vanilla.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the flour mixture and blueberries. Do not over mix (it’s ok if it’s a little lumpy).

Fill a muffin tin lined with muffin cups ( 12 muffins) to the top.

Now, crumble the streusel topping on each muffin.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and toothpick  comes out clean.

Cool muffins for about 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to continue to cool before serving.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
-abp

“Open Sesame” ~ Ali Baba

I always come across Asian recipes I would love to try but I never do.

You know why?

I never have sesame oil and they all call for sesame oil. I never can remember to pick it up at the store.

Guess what?

I bought some sesame oil today!!

Whoot Whoot!

Guess what?

We are having an Asian Inspired dish tonight.

🙂

Korean Beef Bowl

(adapted from Mel’s Kichten Cafe)

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 4 green onions, chopped, divided
  • Hot, cooked rice

First start your rice or quinoa so that it will be ready about the time you finish up with the beef.

In a large skillet, brown the hambuger meat with 2 of the green onions and garlic. When cooked through, drain excess grease.

In a separate bowl, mix together soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, one green onion, sesame oil, ginger and red pepper flakes.

Stir sauce into beef mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over warm rice, garnish with remaining green onion.

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“Kiss my grits!” ~ Flo Castleberry

Some things are just southern.

Fried chicken.

Pimento cheese.

SunDrop and Nehi.

Cornbread.

But nothing says southern like grits.

Luckily the rest of the United States have started to catch on and use them in recipes at great restaurants across the country.

If you are new to the south and want to solidify your place here – try this recipe. If you are already from here, you already understand the importance of trying this recipe.

This recipe is versatile – it’s great for breakfast or to add to any shrimp and grits recipe.

Perfect Cheese Grits

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grits
  • 3 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook grits according to directions in chicken broth, adding garlic before grits.

Once grits are cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter and cream.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

-abp

“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!” ~ Jane Austen

Some days I just need to make something quick for dinner.

I don’t mean a frozen pizza but something I actually make.

Something I can feel good about, knowing, I cooked dinner for my family.

But dang it,  sometimes I don’t feel like spending 30-45 minutes in the kitchen making dinner.

As you can tell, I’m not feeling very domestic today. I want/need to feed my family, I want/need to eat and I don’t want/need to get  take out.

The following recipe is a perfect fix for that dilemma.

Make a quick sauce. Boil noodles. Done.

20 minutes top.

I’ll even one up it and throw frozen garlic bread in the oven.

You know, I could try and be hip and say this is a “Meatless Monday” meal.

Even though it is just Sunday……but I’m just not that hip. 🙂

Oh well, it was very tasty, the hubs is happy and I can get back to working on my needlepoint.

Nice lazy day.

Pasta with Tuscan Cream Sauce

(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or the kind in a jar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.

Add basil, then cream cheese. Whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy

Stir in sun-dried tomatoes.

Gradually add the milk, ¼ cup at a time. Each time, whisking until completely blended in sauce.

Once all milk is incorporated, stir in cheese, pepper and salt.

Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring until the cheese is melted (5-10 minutes).

Serve over warm, cooked bow-tie pasta.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped tomatoes.

**This would be great with a grilled chicken breast**

IMG_0426

-abp