“You may be a redneck if… your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand.” ~ Jeff Foxworthy

The 4th of July may be over but it doesn’t mean you can’t still have firecrackers!

Below is a super simple recipe that would be great for any type of gathering. Whether it be July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day or for Tailgaiting.

It’s a spicy twist on the classic Baked Ranch Oysters crackers.

Every now and then we all need a little spice in our life!

Fire Crackers

  • 1 (13 oz) box of Cheez-Its
  • 1 (1 oz) package of dry ranch dressing
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1-4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (all depends on desired heat, omit if you don’t want any spice)

Preheat oven to 250º.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients making sure to get crackers evenly coated.

Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 or until oil seems to have absorbed.

Remove, cool on sheet and enjoy. Store in a zip lock bag.


-abp

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“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

 

 

“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

“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

“People who say, ‘Let the chips fall where they may,’ usually figure they will not be hit by a chip.” ~ Bernard Williams

In my strive to eat better/healthier this year, today I attempted Kale Chips for the first time.

I always heard people talking about how great they were but never really thought about giving them a go.

I mean, there were Fritos in the pantry, so why bother?!

Ha. 🙂

Well, the Fritos are now gone and I am a salty/crunchy kind of gal.

So,  I now had a reason to try them.

They are really good!

Granted, do they taste like Fritos? No.

Seriously, you can’t say you didn’t already know that.

But they are a great alternative for satisfying that need for crunch and flavor. They are versatile too. You can season them many ways and can even add something on after they are cooked, i.e – hot sauce, a spritz of vinegar.

Don’t wait as long as I did to give them a try.

Baked Kale Chips

  • 2 lighty packed cups of large pieces of kale, stems removed
  • ½ Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of you favorite seasoning (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 300º

Wash and completely dry kale.

Toss kale with olive oil in a large bowl. “Massage” it in, so it gets in every little nook.

Place a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle with seasoning of choice (I used an all purpose Seasoning Salt but there are numerous ideas).

Bake for 10 minutes, rotate baking sheet and cook for another 10 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes.

**all ovens bake differently so you will want to keep a close eye on them the first time because they can go from not cooked to burnt real quick**

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-abp

“Stolen kisses are always sweetest.” ~ Leigh Hunt

I really wish we could make Christmas Candy all year long!

It’s so good and it puts everyone in a great mood. The people who make it and the people to whom it’s gifted.

It makes for great gifts for friends, coworkers and hostess gifts.

Each year, I look forward to that day/evening my mom and I settled into the kitchen for a messy fun filled time of candy making and sampling – quality control at it’s best!

We have several more elaborate candies but one of my favorites and most simple are Mistletoe Kisses. It quickly makes a whole bunch and they are irresistibly popable!

Mistletoe Kisses

  • Bag of square pretzels
  • Hersey Hugs
  • Hersey Kisses
  • Red and green M&Ms

Preheat oven to 250.
Place pretzels on foiled line baking tray.
Unwrap kisses and hugs, place in the middle of each pretzel.
Heat in the oven for 4-6 minutes or until soft.
Remove and carefully push M&Ms down on the center of Kisses and Hugs.
Let cool on tray completely – for faster cooling, place in the refrigerator

*Make note: Hugs melt faster than Kisses and If you over heat them, Kisses will turn hard and the Hugs will be too runny.*

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“I like the cold weather. It means you get work done.” ~ Noam Chomsky

Brrrrr.

It’s that time of year again.

Cold.

Brutally cold.

At least in Southerners terms.

If it doesn’t get out of the 40’s, like today, I do not get out of the house.

Well, if I can help it.

Luckily, today I had nothing pressing to do outside of the home so I am staying in and have spent most of the morning in the kitchen.

It’s nice and warm in there with the oven on.

This gave me an opportunity to try a couple things that have been on my “want to do” list.

One being the very simple Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

  • 1 Box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Confectioners Sugar Glaze

Preheat oven to 350º.

Mix together cake mix, pumpkin, vanilla and nuts

Scoop even amounts into a lined muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Top with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar and prepared Sugar Glaze (recipe below)

Sugar Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Stir milk into sugar. Add vanilla. Drizzle on cupcakes.

May be thickened with confectioners’ sugar or thinned with milk.

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This would be a great last minute breakfast or snack to throw together because it’s quick, simple and you could easily have all the ingredients in your pantry.

-abp

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

You wanna know a sure fire way that you are officially a “grown up”?

When you feel like a kid at Christmas, I mean pure giddy over getting a new appliance.

I realized this a couple years ago when I got a deep freezer for the garage. But that does not even compare to the excitement of getting my new Vitamix in the mail!! Fun times!!!

Remember this is coming from the same girl who has been known to clean out the pantry on New Year’s Eve.

And call it a very successful night.

But, come on ladies (and gents), you know what I mean!!

It also means my poor husband will be drinking half his meals for the next couple weeks or until the new wears off!

Here is an example:

Blueberry Banana Oat Smoothie

  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

(makes one smoothie)

Yum!

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-abp

“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within the reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa

When I’m trying to eat healthier, one of the things I try and keep on hand are ingredients for smoothies. Frozen fruit, yogurt, juice, protein powder etc.

They are tasty, filling and if you make them right – good for you.

I usually have the typical one with strawberries, blueberries and bananas but I wanted to switch it up a bit.

The following recipe did just that and it did not disappoint.

Citrus Banana Oat Smoothie

(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup prepared quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 large banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Pour everything in blender and blend until smooth.

Makes 2 servings. Around 260 calories per serving.

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-abp