Here's My Answer

Category Archives: Snacks

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Merry (very) Late Christmas!  Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week.  The holidays just get a little crazy for us.  They usually consist of a lot of food, a lot of driving, a lot of presents and a lot of family time.  None of which I am complaining about, of course (expect for the driving thing, if that went away, I wouldn’t cry about it)!  We had a busy, yet much less stressful holiday than Thanksgiving.  There’s less people and less of a rush for Christmas and that’s why I love it so much.  I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday!

I debated posting this recipe because it’s really nothing special, but I left my camera at my parents’ house and so therefore can’t post about anything else until I go get it.  And because of that, I decided this recipe was worth posting!  It’s so easy that it almost seems silly to write about it, so I don’t really have a whole lot to say.  I thought maybe people would appreciate an appetizer post since there are many parties coming up for New Years (dang, I should have posted this sooner so you guys could bring this to all those damn ugly sweater parties!).  Currently, we are still debating on what to do for our New Years.  For some reason we have terrible luck with New Years so I’m really not going to bother putting pressure on it.  Honestly, with how much we have had going on lately, I wouldn’t hate being at home with the pups and cuddling (and falling asleep) with my hubby on the couch.  We’ll see what happens…

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Ok, so this dip requires 6 ingredients… I know, I know, it says FIVE Layer Taco Dip, but forgive me, you need SIX ingredients.  You need a can of refried beans, sour cream, taco seasoning, cheese, tomatoes and scallions.  Yep!  That’s it!  And it’s as simple as spreading the beans on a platter, mixing the sour cream and taco seasoning and spreading that over the beans and then topping with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and chopped scallions.  So simple, yet SO.FREAKING.GOOD.  You can add as little or as much sour cream/taco seasoning as you want (I went light as Brad isn’t a sour cream man) and you can even add mashed avocados as well (never tried it but thought I’d share the idea).  You can add salsa too!  Oh the options are endless.  Well, maybe not endless, but sort of endless.

So bring this dip (don’t forget the chips!) to any party, whether it’s for New Years, for a birthday or really… for a party in your own house on a Sunday that involves sitting and watching football in your pajamas and falling asleep on a couch under a blanket with a dog.  Wait… you guys don’t call that a party??  Oh… nevermind then.  Whatever, you get the idea.  Just make this and eat it and you’ll be very happy!

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Oh and two things to end on:  1) The world didn’t end so that is super exciting and 2) We got a blizzard here in Indy and it was pretty much awesome… except for the roads, the roads were not awesome.  But it was pretty fun and really hilarious getting to watch Cash see and play in snow for the first time!  Gosh I love having dogs!  Ok… I just wanted to talk about that stuff.  I’m done now.

photoSomehow this is the only photo I have of the blizzard.  I have about 5 videos of Cash playing in the snow, but no photos of the hour long driveway clearing or Etta running around or our trip to Lowe’s to get supplies for a project or anything fun like that.  Oh well.  You get the idea that there’s a lot of snow!

 

Wait.  I forgot… Happy New Year!!!

5 Layer Taco Dip
My mom has made this for years, so it comes from her
I have no idea how much this serves, it lasted for 2 days for Brad and I though!

1 can of refried beans of your choice (I always use the vegetarian ones)
1-2 cups of sour cream (depending on how much you want to use)
1 packet of low sodium taco seasoning
2-4oz shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 finely diced tomatoes
2-3 scallions, finely chopped

Serve with tortilla chips

Ok… so this is really something that you have to use the amounts based on your preferences.  Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a pie plate, serving platter or any kind of dish you want.  Mix your sour cream and taco seasoning (I used about 1 cup of sour cream and half a packet of taco seasoning.  Taste test as you add the seasoning and be sure to do a little bit at a time!).  Spread that over the beans.  Sprinkle the cheese over that (again, as much or as little as you want) and top with the diced tomatoes and chopped scallions!  Adjust quantities as you wish, it won’t hurt my feelings, I promise!  Enjoy!

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Last Wednesday I had the day off of work and I decided I was really going to use the whole day very wisely.  So I got up, walked the dogs with Brad, showered, did some Christmas shopping, came home, made some crumb cake, went to Sam’s Club with Brad and then made some chili.  Oh and then went to our town’s Christmas Main Street lighting thing and drove downtown Indy to see all the Christmas decorations.

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Like I said, I wanted to use my day wisely…  I think I accomplished my goal.

Ok, so every once and awhile I get on Pinterest.  Is Pinterest sill the thing to do?  I jumped on the wagon a little late and I feel like now no one uses it anymore, but I don’t really know.  Either way, I probably get on it once a week because I feel like the same recipes are always on there, but usually if I get on once a week I can find something new.  Anyway, so I was on Pinterest and realized that I am a dork because I have pinned some 100 recipe but have pretty much never made any of them.  And what better thing to do on a day off than to make some random recipe from Pinterest!?

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The reason why I had originally “pinned” this recipe and decided to make it was because it literally looks exactly like the crumb cake we spent like $20 on from Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ (aka Cake Boss) when we went to visit friends over my birthday in March.  Brad had seen it out of the corner of his eye in their case and asked that we get it and I, of course, was not going to pass it up.  However, we had thought we’d be getting just like a slice of it, maybe the size of an index card, but that’s not really how they do things there.  Instead we got a whole slab of crumb cake that was at least the size of a sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.  When I saw the girl put it in the box I thought to myself that we would never eat it all and that I hoped it was ridiculously good because I knew we were going to really pay for that thing.  Luckily and not surprisingly it was incredibly delicious.  Delicious enough that I am pretty sure we ate every last crumb of that thing within like 2 days.  It was basically too good to be true.  And so when I saw the photo on Pinterest and realized it looked exactly the same, I knew it was worth a try!

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Now, it doesn’t taste exactly like the one from Carlo’s Bakery (I swear theirs had a hint of lemon to it), but this was still pretty freaking good.  It it’s made with ingredients that most people have laying around the house.  The only thing is that it requires cake flour.  The recipe states at the very beginning to not sub all-purpose flour, but I’m a dork and thought I had more cake flour than I actually did.  So I cheated and used all-purpose flour for the crumb part.  And what do you know, just as the original recipe said, it was dry.  And of course, just as I had put everything together, my mom called me about something and I told her that I was making a crumb cake and that I cheated and used all-purpose flour and exactly like a mom, she told me I could make my own cake flour easily.  Wah.  It was too late.  But I’ll supply a link below to help you not have this situation yourself.

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Ok, so like I said, you should have most, if not all, of the ingredients and it’s really not complicated to make at all.  It probably took me 10 minutes to whip it all together.  It takes about 40 minutes to bake and in case you are wondering what you can do in those 40 minutes, I’ll tell you: You can eat the remaining 5 leftover steak fries from the night before, lick both the batter bowl and the crumb bowl clean, wash those bowls and all the other dishes including the ones that should have gone in the dishwasher had you thought to wait to start the dishwasher instead of doing it 1 1/2 hours before you made this crumb cake… dry all those dishes, clean up some dog vomit (twice) because one of them (I still don’t know who) got freaked by the FedEx man knocking on the front door… and after all of that, you will still be able to watch a good 15 minutes of Parenthood.  You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in 40 minutes!

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Anyway, the crumb cake is easy and awesome and I am really excited to make it for Christmas morning because it just seems like a good thing to make for Christmas morning.  It would also make a great gift!  Everyone loves a crumb cake, right!?  Oh and warning: it is pretty crumbly, but let’s face it, the crumbs are what makes crumb cake so amazing.

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Crumb Cake
Taken straight from Smells Like Home (found on Pinterest)
Makes 1- 8″x8″ pan

For the Crumb Layer:
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cup cake flour (don’t have cake flour?  Learn how to make it HERE!)

For the Cake Layer:
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still solid, cut into 6 chunks
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk (don’t have any?  Learn how to make it HERE!)

Powdered Sugar for dusting (I forgot this part.  Oops)

To make the topping: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with a spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper to cover the whole inside of the an 8″ pan.  I did this in 2 pieces, it works better.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.

Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer.  Break apart crumb topping and spread it evenly over the batter. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving (but not while it’s still hot!).  YUM!


Ok, ok, OK.  I get it.  I’ve been gone for awhile.  I can’t explain what happened.  I really have no excuse.  Oh, wait, I can explain.  And you’re in luck because I am going to explain.

Here’s what I think happened.  I got in a funk.  Does that ever happen to you?  I got in a funk with myself.  And what might that funk have included you wonder?  Oh… it included me being really, super, extra lazy.  Yea.  That’s really all it was.  Here’s how I think it happened.  I think I use the fact that I work at 4am as an excuse for everything.  Such as: “oh, I had to get up at 3 this morning, so therefore I can sleep all afternoon” or “oh, I had to get up at 3 this morning and work for 8 hours, so therefore I don’t have to workout at all today” or “oh, I had to get up at 3 this morning, therefore I don’t have to cook dinner” or “oh, I had to get up at 3 this morning so I don’t have to write any blog posts or take any photos of any of the food I have managed to make” or “oh, I had to get up at 3 this morning, therefore I pretty much don’t have to do a single thing with myself for the remaining 9 hours of my day.”

Do you get the point?  Needless to say, the past few weeks I haven’t been making a whole lot for dinner, and what I have been making (which there have been a few meals and granola bars and cookies), I haven’t taken photos of, and therefore, I have had nothing to blog about.  Another problem was that I had like 3 posts to catch up on, but it has been so long since I made the dang dish(es), that I can’t even begin to remember how good it was and what changes I made and such.  So, epic fail on my part.

But!  I think I’ve left my funk far behind.  How you ask?  Oh, well, you know, I only met my FOOD BLOGGING IDOL this week!!  Sometimes you just need a little motivation and inspiration to realize you truly have been wasting a lot of time lately.  Here’s the story behind that, and then I’ll explain the rest of the photos in this post and then I’ll explain the actual cookies this post is supposed to be about.

Jenna of Eat, Live, Run wrote a book called White Jacket Required and it’s an awesome book.  Very motivational as well.  It’s about her decision to go to culinary school, a family tragedy and how she overcame it and how she picked up everything she owned and moved across the country to where she knew like 1 person.  Yea… motivational alright!  Anyway, so she went on a book tour!  And her LAST stop just so happened to be Indy.  As in here.  As in the town that I love and live in.  Yea.  Dream.Come.True.  She set up a book signing at a little book shop a few weeks in advance and the late morning of the day it was supposed to happen it got cancelled.  Cancelled, I tell you, cancelled!!!  I almost lost all composure and cried while taking a sad, mopey shower.  But!  She was still going to be in town for a conference and when I tweeted her a photo of the cupcakes I made her that morning at work, she instantly responded.  And after a few tweets and instagraming back and forth, we had figured out a time and place to meet!  So my mom and I went to (a really tasty) dinner as we had planned to do before the book signing, walked around a mall for a few minutes and headed to the hotel she was staying at.

And I lost my mind.  Lost it.  I couldn’t remember anything I wanted to say to her, couldn’t stop laughing and smiling so much that my face looked literally hurt, I couldn’t think of any answers to any of her questions… I was a mess.  But it was still awesome.  Luckily, my mom was there to answer questions and take photos.  It was just a great 10 minutes because I wasn’t at a book signing talking  to her, I was at her hotel where she had so graciously met with me because she is such a wonderful person.  See!?  Wouldn’t that inspire you too!?

So, along with meeting Jenna, we have been up to some other things these past couple weeks.  We went camping last weekend, which may or may not have been a disaster.  No wait, it wasn’t a disaster, it just didn’t go as well as planned.  Allow me to explain this one as well- we arrived at our campsite on Friday night while it was raining really hard and it was really cold.  And it was dark.  And we had to set up our tents and get everything organized.  Oh and we had the 2 dogs.  So that was a mess and on top of all of that, Brad sliced his finger open pretty well.  Well enough that he couldn’t really do much the rest of the night, and well, weekend.  So that just put a bit of a damper on the trip.  Other than that drama, we had a great time, we just can’t wait to do a redo where Brad maybe doesn’t cut his finger open and we don’t get soaked and freeze to death.  Yea, that’d be nice.

So now we get to yesterday, which has to do with these cookies.  Yesterday was Purdue’s homecoming football game and my parents had planned it with my dad’s cousin (who went to Wisconsin, which is who we played yesterday) to go.  We were going to do breakfast before the game and do a cookout after the game with these delicious cookies.  Here’s what went wrong.  I forgot the cookies.  Let me repeat, I forgot… the cookies.  I forgot the one thing I was in charge of for the day.  The only thing I had to bring, the only thing I had to remember to put in the car.  And of course, I didn’t realize it until we were about 5 minutes from my parents house.  I hadn’t planned on doing a post about these cookies because I had to hurry to get them done on Friday afternoon/night so I didn’t get any photos.  But… I have a whole pan filled with some 30 cookies, so I figured, here was my chance to finally get back to the blog.

Now that you know all of that useful information I just rambled about, I can tell you about these cookies.  I had thought about a few different options to make a dessert that was Purdue themed with black and gold.  And these are what I landed on.  I found a few decent recipes online, but in the end, I went with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.  I was just going to dye the white icing gold!  They turned out really well!

I learned from Smitten Kitchen’s blog that they are actually like cake.  So they have a cake-like texture and definitely a cake-like flavor.  I really like them.  The only thing is, since they are cake-like, they don’t really keep too well.  I think they are best the day of and the day after.  Today, the bottoms are a little mushy and the icing seems to have somehow un-set itself.  They do still taste great though!  But if you are looking for a cookie that will last more than 2 days, this might not be your cookie.  However!  As I said, they are a delicious cookie!  The icing is really simple to make, all it has is water and powdered sugar and then you just add some chocolate.  Simple!  These are really fun cookies that I think you could make with any colors really.  You could just do the white icing and dye it two different colors.  Oh!  They’d make great Halloween cookies!  Leave the chocolate part the way it is and dye the white part orange!  Just keep in mind that they are best within 2 days!

Black and White (or Gold!) Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes, I don’t know like 30 cookies

2 stick of butter at room temp
1 3/4 cup of white sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (not straight out of the fridge because otherwise it hardens the butter you just creamed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup water
3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional, I felt it needed this though)

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add one egg at a time.  Then add the milk and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Scrape sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly add this to the wet mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Using a soup spoon or a cookie scoop, place heaping spoonfuls onto the parchment lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.  They do really spread out so be careful!  Bake until the edges start to brown, which is about 17-19 minutes.  Remove from oven and place them on a cooling rack.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Once the cookies are cooled, microwave a mug full of water until hot.  Slowly pour a little bit at a time into the powdered sugar.  Use a whisk to mix it.  If adding any food coloring, use a little less water as the food coloring will make the icing more liquidy.  You want the icing to be the consistency of thick glue.  You want it to pour, but not be runny.

Ice half of all the cookies with the white icing.  Then, add the chocolate chips to the rest of the icing and microwave for about 20 seconds at a time, pulling out the dish to stir after every 20 seconds.  Once the chocolate is melted, you can add the cocoa if you don’t think it’s dark enough.  In my experience, it will never actually be black you can just get it to be really dark brown.

Ice the remaining halves of each cookie.  Allow the icing to set for at least an hour before storing or displaying if they will be on top of each other.

 

OH!  By the way… all these photos are taken with my NEWWWWW iPhone 5!  Isn’t that awesome!  They are just as good, if not better than my camera!  And, I love being able to do panoramic photos!  Soooo cool


Friday night Brad and I and our furry children went to my parents’ house to celebrate my brother’s birthday.  While I was laying on the floor wrestling with those furry children, I noticed the small stack of books under my parents’ television in their sun room.  In that pile was a Julia Child baking book that I think my brother and I got her as a gift for some occasion a few years ago.  I started thumbing through it and realized I wanted to make every single thing in that book.  So I took it home and the second I had the chance, I made these pinwheels.

               

Every once and awhile I get in a baking mood, but not just a “oh let’s bake some cookies” mood.  More like a “I want to make something fancy and pretty and time consuming and more difficult than a cookie” mood.  I was in that mood Sunday.  And I am so happy that I was.  I had to finish these on Monday though because the dough had to sit in the fridge overnight, which I didn’t know until I had finished making the dough… But it was ok because my crazy baking mood was still in full force Monday (which for the record, doesn’t make any sense since I spent 7 hours baking cupcakes that morning).

              

My mom has gotten into canning lately and that basically means that Brad and I are fully stocked with apple butter, pickles, strawberry jam and… this just in… blueberry jam.  I don’t know if you have ever had blueberry jam, but believe me when I say this… It is incredible.  It is wonderful.  It is unbearably delicious.  It blew my socks off (wait, it’s hot out, I wasn’t wearing socks when I tried it, but if I did have socks on, they would have been blown off).  I was shocked.  I don’t know why I didn’t think blueberry jam would be very good (considering that I love blueberry pie) but I just didn’t have high expectations.  But I can officially say now that blueberry is my favorite jam.  And so when I saw that these pinwheels had jam in them, I knew exactly which one to use!  I used up all the blueberry jam though, so to fill the remaining 4, I used the strawberry jam my mom made a few weeks ago!

Ok… so these taste like something out of a bakery.  No joke.  The Danish Pastry dough is incredible.  It’s flaky and a little bit salty so the sweet jam balances it out perfectly.  These are absolutely incredible straight out of the oven.  They don’t really save super well because they get a little soggy with all the jam, however, they taste the same so it’s all ok.  I would highly suggest stuffing your face with as many as you can though when they are done baking because they are so perfect!  I’ve been eating them for breakfast, for a snack and for dessert!  So basically, I have been eating them all day.  You’ll just die when you bite into one.  They are that good!

Jam Filled Pinwheel Danishes
From Baking With Julia
Makes about 16 pinwheels

Danish Pasty
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, at room temp
1 large egg, at room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Mixing the Dough: Pour the water into a large bowl, sprinkle over the yeast and let it soften for a minute.  Add the milk, egg, sugar and salt and whisk to mix; set aside.

Put the flour in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Cut the butter into 1/4-inch thick slices and drop them onto the flour.  Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is cut into pieces that are about 1/2 inch in diameter.  Don’t overdo this- the pieces must not be smaller than 1/2 inch.

Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the yeast and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently turn the mixture over, scraping the bowl as needed, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Again, don’t be too energetic- the butter must remain in discrete pieces so that you will produce a flaky pasty, not a bread or cookie dough.

Chilling the Dough: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 4 days).

Rolling and Folding:  Lightly flour a work surface, turn the dough out onto it and dust the dough lightly with flour.  Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a rough square.  Then roll it into a square about 16 inches on a side.  Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, and turn it so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book.  (If at any time the dough gets too soft to roll just cover it with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge for a quick chill.)

Roll the dough out again, this time into a long narrow rectangle, about 10 inches wide by 24 inches long.  Fold the rectangle in thirds again, turn it so that the closed fold is to your left and once more, roll the dough into a long narrow rectangle, 10 inches by 24 inches long.  Fold in thirds again, wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 2 days.

To Make the Pastries
1 recipe of the Danish Pastry Dough
Jam of your choice
1 large egg white, beaten
Cane sugar for sprinkling

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour the top of the dough and place on a lightly floured work surface.  Roll the dough into a square that is 20 inches on a side.  Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, trim the edges to even them, if needed.  Score each side at 5-inch intervals, then cut through the dough, using the ruler as your guide, to make 16- 5inch squares.

To make the pinwheel, place the pastry square on the parchment paper and spoon a tablespoon of jam in the center of the square.  Using a pizza cutter or a thin sharp knife, cut a slash from the center to each corner.  Brush every other corner with with a little bit of the beaten egg white and lift those points off the surface and in toward the center, pressing the dough lightly against the filling and overlapping the points to create a pinwheel!

Rise: Cover with a kitchen towel and allow the pastries to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. (reserve the remaining egg white)  Although the pastries won’t double, they will look and feel fluffy.

Baking: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400.  Brush the risen pastries with the reserved egg white, sprinkle with the cane sugar and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.


Ok, so here’s the deal.  I had one of the busiest weeks ever this past week.  And I hate to even admit it, but I really didn’t even do that much cooking.  Tragic, I know.  Here’s what happened:

Monday we had to take Cash to get neutered in a town that’s about 45 minutes away from our house.  So rather than driving out there twice and coming home twice, Brad and I decided to make a little bit of a day of it and hung out at a local coffee shop for a few hours, drove to REI, wandered the aisles and then went rock climbing!  It was awesome!  Lucky for us (and Cash), the clinic called us early to pick him up.  Tuesday was hot has balls so we went to a local water park/public pool thing for a few hours and then came home and passed out and then I went and saw Magic Mike with Brad’s mom and one of my friends (it was surprisingly better than I thought it would be.  Made me quite a bit uncomfortable still!).  Wednesday I worked from 4am-12pm for my new job (oh yea… did I say anything about that?  I got a job at a local cupcake bakery and it’s pretty much the most awesome thing ever, even if it’s so early in the morning), came home and slept for a bit and then, well, didn’t do a whole lot as Brad had 2 softball games that I didn’t go to because I had to work the next morning at 4 again.  We did make chicken salads that night, but they just weren’t anything special to tell you guys about.  Thursday, I worked from 4-12 again, and then stopped by my parents house to hang out with my mom for an hour, then went home, took a nap, took a shower and went to the Indiana State Museum to help our wedding photographer (who is the best wedding photographer ever!) with a bridal show till about 10:30!  Then Friday I worked at the shoe store from 11-6 and went straight to my parents house for my brother’s birthday!  Oh and yesterday we ran some errands, went out on Brad’s parents’ boat, got some coal oven pizza and PF Changs and watched Fight Club at a theater at midnight that we damn near slept through.

Wow.  Did you think I would tell you all of that?  I didn’t think it would take that long to tell you guys about my week.  Whatever.  Now you know.  Sometimes I hate being busy like that, but every time I sit at home with nothing to do, I complain.  I just don’t handle being bored very well.  But this past week was actually really fun so I was ok with all of it!

Anywho… allow me to tell you about this buffalo chicken dip that I made and have posted all these photos of for you.  Someone I know once made this for a girl’s night out evening and I fell in love with it, made it at home twice and then instantly forgot about it.  Until I was wasting time on Pinterest (my name is eislerevans on there, you can follow me but I forget about Pinterest often and so I don’t have a whole lot pinned) and came across someone’s pin for buffalo chicken dip.  And I thought to myself “well son of a … I completely forgot about that!  I’m making that for lunch this week!”  I was pretty excited about it.

It’s very easy to make and you can eat it hot or cold.  Personally, though, I eat it cold because whenever I’m ready to eat it, I’m too impatient to heat it up.  The recipe that I found via Pinterest was unnecessarily complicated and time consuming.  You want to know what I did?  Threw everything in a bowl and mixed it.  Believe me, it’ll be just fine that way.  I also like to just go by taste with the ingredients.  Sometimes I want it a little bit more buffalo-y, sometimes I don’t.  It just depends on what I’m in the mood for.  So be sure to do some taste testing while mixing all of this together. Also, I skip the shredded cheese from time to time.  I’ve made this dip a total of three times and two of the three I have left the shredded cheese out… and I couldn’t tell a difference.  Add it if you want, but in my opinion, if I can’t tell it’s missing, then I don’t need it, especially the added fat and calories.

This dip would be suuuper perfect for Sunday football games when all you want to do is snack.  It’d be perfect for (obviously) the Super Bowl, but it’s also really great for a gathering, or, in my case, whenever you have a craving for it (because once you try this, you will find yourself craving it randomly).  Most people serve it with tortilla chips.  It’s great that way, but try it with some Tricuits too.  It’ll surprise you who well they go together.  I hope you consider this the next time you have friends over for something.  It’s just such a great dip.  And like I said, you can still have it in the summer by serving it cold… or hot.  However you like it!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Dumbed down from The Girl Who Ate Everything (I found this on Pinterest)

1- 12 oz can of chunk chicken
1- 8 oz package of lower fat cream cheese
1/4-1/2 cup of ranch dressing (go by taste on this one)
1/2 cup of your favorite buffalo sauce (again, go by taste)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

The easiest way to do this (when all the ingredients are cold) is to mix the cream cheese and chicken together first.  Then add the ranch and buffalo sauce, mixing as you add those in.  You can then add the shredded cheese if you choose.

I’ve heated this up in the microwave before and it’s worked just fine.

Serve with tortilla chips or reduced fat Triscuits.


I have a story to tell:

So one day I bought 6 bananas.  We only at 2.  I had 4 nasty, mushy bananas left.  So I made banana bread.

The End.

That is essentially all there is to these.  I bought a bunch of bananas and we didn’t eat them all and so I figured rather than wasting them, I’d make something with them.  I was going to make banana bread but then I decided I wanted to make muffins because they are so much easier to eat when you’re on the the run.  I made the right decision.  I just love muffins.

This recipe is from Joy of Cooking.  If you don’t have a Joy of Cooking cookbook in your home then there is something wrong with you.  I have my great grandmother’s version from oh so many years ago and then my mom gave me a newer version for Christmas or my birthday one year.  It was the first cookbook she gave me and it was an important one.  It has every conversion, every how-to and a recipe for just about anything you can think of.  This banana bread recipe has pretty much been the only recipe we ever bake in my family.  Every once and awhile my mom will make a different one, but this recipe is the go-to.  And it’s easy!

I love these muffins.  Like I said, they are great for when you’re running out the door because you are late for work.  And they even make a great afternoon snack!  If you decided to make it in a loaf pan, toasting the pieces and putting a little butter on them is incredible too!  Oh!  And this is a great way to use up all those old bananas that you overbought!

Quick Banana Bread
From Joy of Cooking
Makes 1 loaf or about 14 muffins

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together: (you don’t actually have to do this, I didn’t and mine turned out just fine!)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend until creamy:
1/3 cup shortening (or butter.  I used shortening because I was too impatient to wait for my butter to thaw)
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I have never done this)

Beat in:
1-2 eggs (I used 2)
1-1 1/4 cups ripe banana pulp (I used all 4 bananas)

Add the sifted ingredients in about 3 parts to the sugar mixture Beat the batter after each addition until smooth.

Fold in:
1/2 cup chopped nuts, like walnuts or pecans

Place the patter in a greased bread pan or a lined muffin pan.  Bake the bread for about 1 hour, bake the muffins for about 30 minutes (check them though at 20 minutes to be sure!)


There’s a bar Brad and I like to go to called The Sinking Ship.  It’s one of our favorite bars, especially now that Indy FINALLY passed a no smoking ban in bars.  They have really great, different beer and surprisingly, for a bar, they have really great food.  A few weeks ago, we went there to watch one of the Stanley Cup hockey games and hadn’t planned on getting food, but after a few beers my stomach started grumbling (this happens very often).  So we decided to split an appetizer.  From the second I looked at the menu, I knew I wanted to get their hummus and garlic naan.  Luckily, Brad was in the mood for something he doesn’t usually eat and he agreed to get it.  It was like heaven.  Flat yet fluffy bread with a kick of garlic and one of the best things of hummus I’ve ever had.

The next day I was determined to replicate it.

I did some searching and found a recipe for roasted garlic naan from one of the food blogs I follow and the same for the hummus.  I don’t know if you have ever tried to make hummus on your own, but it’s shockingly easy.  All you have to do is throw a bunch of ingredients into a food processor, pulse it for a bit and you’re done.  Literally… that’s it.

The naan was a little more time consuming only because it’s a bread and bread has to rise, but it was not difficult by any means.  I got a little stressed though because I cooked the naan in the middle of making dinner so it was sort of a chaotic disaster, but everything ended up getting cooked properly so apparently I am an excellent multitasker!

You could really get creative with the hummus too!  You add some roasted garlic instead of raw, you could roast up some red pepper and throw that in there, I’ve seen spinach and artichoke hummus so you could add some spinach and artichokes in there, you could add some roasted jalapenos… there are tons of possibilities!!

Naan and hummus make a great appetizer and a great snack.  I packed up some of this tasty combo for my mid-morning chow down at work the next day and it was perfect!

Roasted Garlic Naan
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run
Makes 4 naan breads

Naan:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp dry active yeast
3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Roasted Garlic:
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine yeast, water and sugar.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves.

In a bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer, combine the water/yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cups of the flour.  Mix on low speed for about 3 minutes.  Add the rest of the flour and the salt and mix on medium for about 6 minutes (she said to mix on high but all the ingredients went everywhere so I just did it on medium).  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl, when that happens, it’s ready!

Remove from that bowl and place in another, well oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours.  It should double in size.

When the dough is done rising, turn it out onto a floured surface.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces.  Flatten out each section out with your hands into a rectangular shape.  Drizzle with water and press your fingertips into it.  Lay each loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 475.

To roast the garlic:
In a ramekin, add the garlic and the olive oil, cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes at 400.  You can do this while the dough is rising.  When it’s done, and the bread is done, discard the garlic cloves and brush on the garlicky olive oil!

 

Hummus
Adapted from A Couple Cooks

1 can of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup water

In a food processor, combine everything but the water.  Pulse until everything is roughly chopped.  Turn the food processor back on and slowly drizzle in the water until blended and at desired consistency.  Add any other seasoning you would like, then you are done!



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