Thursday, September 22, 2016

Peanut Butter Bites

I will admit, I am a typical foodie, food blogger, etc.  If I see something on T.V. or in the store that looks delicious, I get right to the kitchen and try to recreate it myself.  This has happened a good handful of least.  I saw these peanut butter bites advertised on T.V.  This was actually quite some time ago.  I was hungry for peanut butter the other day and suddenly I remembered that I never tried to make them, or rather make MY version of them.  I got to work, and although I am not sure if they are exactly the same, in my world, they are the clouds of peanut butter heaven!

These are so easy, and you should totally get your kids or grand kids in the kitchen with you.  Nieces, nephews, cousins, just get them involved.   Who cares of they don't end up the same size, I am a grown woman and mine didn't! Who cares if they get dirty, there are these new fangled things called washing machines!  Who cares if they lick the peanut butter off before making a new one, germs are healthy!

Find a little person who can help you and have a blast!

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup rice crispy cereal
3/4 powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips
vegetable oil

In a bowl combine peanut butter, cereal, and powdered sugar.  Mix until completely combined.  Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes.  Use a tablespoon measure and roll mixture into balls.  Place on foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  When all of the dough has been rolled into balls, place into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Place peanut butter chips into a bowl and melt in microwave.  Use 30 second increments until all melted.  If your mixture is slightly thick, add a few drops of vegetable oil to loosen it up and make it perfect for dipping.

Using a fork to help you, dip the peanut butter balls one at a time, use a fork to lift out of the melted peanut butter and tap on the edge or let it drain.  Place back on to the baking sheet.  When all of the peanut butter balls have been dipped, place back in the fridge until set.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Easy Country Sausage Gravy

Hello!!  Long time no see!  You wouldn't believe it if I told you I feel like I am just now REALLY getting my mojo back after the loss of my mom and brother.  It has taken time, and it will probably take more but, it is what is best for me, and makes me happy.  Thank you for your undying patience, kindness and compassion during this time for me.

Breakfast for dinner!  Truth be told, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  Mostly because I love eggs.  I mean, I REALLY love eggs.  My husband and I were grocery shopping and I found a good sale on some breakfast sausage and he instantly said, "OHHHHHH please make sausage gravy and biscuits".  Well what kind of wife would I be if I didn't make it for him???  I make it pretty regularly, I don't know, I just kind of thought it was something everyone could make.  Truth is, I think someone will be able to benefit from the recipe.  I always use half and half.  Milk isn't rich enough and heavy cream is just to much, half and half makes a beautiful smooth, creamy, dreamy gravy!  I also add butter, because butter belongs in breakfast food!  Hey!  I didn't make the rules, but whoever did....God BLESS them!

I made a video to go with this post.  I will post here.  Please hit SUBSCRIBE on my YouTube channel, I would love to have you there!!

Side note:
I am so ready for winter.  That's all.

1 lb breakfast sausage
2 T. butter (divided)
5 T.  flour
2 cups half and half (1 qt)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown your breakfast sausage until completely cooked.  Add in 1T. butter and flour.  Stir until the butter is melted and the flour is no longer visible.  Add in your half and half slowly, constantly stirring.  Salt and pepper to taste at this point.  I did add a couple of grinds of salt, while the sausage is a salty, for me, it didn't lend enough salt for the additional ingredients.  I like lots of pepper too!  It will take a couple of minutes to come to a boil, but keep stirring.  When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer until smooth, thick and creamy!  Add in the last of the butter and stir it in until melted 

As you can see, I served this on biscuits, but love it just over toast as well.  With a side of scrambled eggs, it was our "breakfast for dinner"!


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cheese Stuffed Shells

 Here we are again!  I hope your day has been great, and happy!  I love this time when we get together to share food.  I especially enjoy sharing family favorites with you.  It is hard to not share them all at once, and spread them out.  This is one I have never shared, and it is just your everyday run of the mill stuffed shells.  My family loves them and this is what I would consider a quick weeknight meal. If you are a meal planner/prepper, have your sauce made, shells boiled and all of your grated cheeses put together in one large resealable bag.  When the night comes you want to make it, it is not much more than just assembly.

This makes about 20 shells.  You can only cook that many or cook them all and eat the leftovers with butter and salt and pepper!  That is what my husband lives for when I make extra pasta.

You will notice I use what some of you may consider a lot of salt.  I don't find that the saltiness of Parmesan cheese hits the same notes as actual salt seasoning in a dish.  I find ricotta needs plenty of seasoning and that is just what I do.  When you divide that salt out among a large casserole, I think you will live.  If you want to omit it, please do, or cut it back, please do that as well.  You have to adjust things to what is good for your family.  I won't mind, in fact, I will welcome it !  Lets get started on this basic stuffed shell recipe that your family will love!

Oh wait!  You can also shred some provolone to use in this.  I saw some of those cheese blends at the store include a provolone/mozzarella, YUM.  OK, now we are ready.

1/2-1 full box of jumbo shells, cooked per package directions
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz.  shredded mozzarella cheese (hold out 1/4 cup)
8 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (hold out 1/4 cup)
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 cups marinara sauce (divided)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 T. sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cook shells according to box direction, drain and run under cold water until they are completely cool.  Let sit and drain while you mix up the cheese filling.  In a bowl combine, ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Mix to combine.  Use about 1/2 cup of your marinara (just plain) to dump in the bottom of the pan.  Spread it around as it will keep the shells from sticking.  Fill your shells with a teaspoon.  This mixture will fill about 20 shells.  You can cook the whole package or just the 20.  Fill and place into the baking dish.

Continue until your filling is gone.  In the same bowl as the filling (hey I am not about using as many dishes as possible ya know?) Pour in the rest of the marinara and the diced tomatoes UN drained.  Add in sugar and stir.  Carefully pour over the shells as evenly as possible. 

Spread out the sauce with a spoon, and use the cheese you held back to sprinkle on top!  Now, confession time..........  I used like, a lot more mozz.  The photo below show only Parmesan but I decided I wanted more mozzarella on top!

ENJOY my friends!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cheesy Chicken Gnocchi my husband and I sit in a popular Italian chain restaurant, eating soup and bread sticks like tomorrow may never come, he says to me, "OMG, you need to make this soup into a casserole or a real "dish".  And that my friends is how the happy accident began.

.....Fast forward 2 days, he keeps asking me to make this.  Admittedly I have 2 packages of gnocchi in the cupboard.  I have everything else I need to create his own personal heaven.  I decide that today is THE day.  I turned on my fave music, put on some lipstick and off I went.  End result? Complete FAIL!   However, that is now how this story ends.  While it was a complete fail as far as a copycat, sort of, not really version of the soup, it turned out to be a pan of cheesy, chickeny, gnocchi-ee goodness and I do not for one second feel bad that it "didn't turn out".  I feel so "unbad" I am sharing it with you!

This will feed a crowd, and I can't imagine anyone not liking it.  If you groove on making your own gnocchi, get on with your bad self, I purchased mine.  If you make it make sure to tag me on Instagram or Twitter!!  Snap chat me!!

2 pkg. gnocchi (mine were 17.5 oz. each)
4 T. butter
2 large chicken breasts, cut into small cubes or pieces
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, melt your butter.  and add your chicken and carrots.  Cook over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked all the way through.  Add in flour and stir well, let it cook for about 1 minute.  Add in chicken stock, while still on medium high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, when it has begun to thicken add in heavy cream, parsley, and all of your grated cheeses.

Stir to combine, remove from heat and let sit.

Bring another large pot of water to boil.  Follow the direction on your package of gnocchi.  If you are making them homemade, you are a better person than me, so you will know how to cook them!  When the water boils, dump them in and the second they float they are done.  Make sure to get these out right away.  They will be going in the oven for a very short time and you don't need the overcooking.

So as I was saying, when they are done, use a slotted spoon or spider and scoop them out, let them drain and toss them in the pot with the sauce!  Get them all in, gently stir to combine and pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish or pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn to broil and let it get golden brown on top!  That cheese and butter, get a little crusty and it is heaven!!

Enjoy friends!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Baby Shower Fun, Food and Games!

Hello friends!  This is one of those posts that isn't necessarily all about the food, but we will chat about that.  I like to share little tidbits, things that pertain to many of us at some point or another.  How many of you have thrown a baby shower, no matter how big or small?  Many times we have them catered, or at a location other than home but since this was her second baby shower, I decided to have it at home.  Intimate, family and friends, and just some informal fun.  I want to share what I did, to maybe help you with some ideas if you want to throw your own for someone you love!

Here we go!  Some back history.  Kayla is my daughter in law.  She and my son moved to the city we live in 2 years ago.  She had a large shower given by her mother when she gave birth to the twins 2.5 years ago but, thinking she was done after them, she got rid of everything when they outgrew it or no longer used it.  SURPRISE!!  "I am pregnant"!  New city, new friends, family, and nothing left for baby.  So I decided to throw a small but lovely shower.

Here nursery is gray, yellow and I added a hint of blue for the decor.  Chevron, and anchors decorated the table.  I used a plain old plastic tablecloth for the bottom, notice how I cut the edges so it looked scalloped?  Simple and easy things to just take inexpensive things up a notch.  I found a perfect piece of fabric in gray with anchors for the center, and added the whales to the cupcakes.  I alternated yellow and white chevron plates with light blue plates.  The sweet banner above was made by my sister.

I wanted to really personalize it and decided instead of serving a luncheon, or just traditional cake and nuts, etc....I would create a "Craving Station".  I would serve all of the foods Kayla has been craving during her pregnancy.  We have a close relationship so I was able to do all of this without asking her.  OK, let me back up....  Back east where we are from, showers are a surprise.  The bride, mommy to be, isn't supposed to know when it is happening.  I tried hard to keep it from her, but I am pretty sure she knew and just didn't tell me.  I did want to add some cupcakes to the mix, and some dipped Oreo's because, well I needed some sweet stuff! 

Here is what she had craved at different times:
Sauerkraut on hot dogs
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Jordan almonds

I could have easily just ordered that stuff up and tossed it on a platter and called it good, but, I wanted to fancy it all up if I could and was working on a bit of a budget. 

Sauerkraut and hot dogs, I baked in a casserole dish.  I cut the hot dogs in half, along with the buns, and made them more appetizer sized.
Pizza, I made fancier with this recipe, Pizza Crescents
Peanut Butter and Jelly, I turned into roll ups.  I cut the crust off of plain white bread.  Rolled the bread out and spread peanut butter and jelly on it, and rolled it up.  Something a little fancier than plain old sandwiches, I thought!
Jordan Almonds, just served in a bowl!
Cupcakes, I made and used my butter cream cheese frosting.  I met a lady at a vendor show recently who owns a baking company.  With the theme being anchors and whales, she made me some whale toppers for my cupcakes.  Are they not precious?!!  You can find her here, if you are in the Omaha area, make sure to like her FB page,  Sugar Spiced and Everything Iced and tell her you found her at Chefwannabe!

 Now for games that we played.  Well, I don't know if I would call them games.  OK, maybe one was, but one was just for her.  I had wanted to give her a nice set of jammies for the hospital and after.  So I decided to ask my son, her husband some questions about her pregnancy.  The day of the shower, I asked her to guess his answers, so she was going to get the prize, which was her pajamas.  So if that is a game, OK, that was the game one.  The second game was actually a twofer.  I filled a gray storage cube with random baby things.  Outfits, bath necessities, socks, baby wipes, bottle brush, orajel, diaper rash cream, etc.  I had Kayla carry the basket around the room, and asked everyone to notice what was in the basket and what Kayla had on.  After she went around the room once, I had her go into a different room, and her guests had to write down everything they remembered.  All of those items became my gift to her.  I had also decorated with some packages of diapers with big bows on them as a centerpiece on the coffee table and those were also part of my gift to her.  See how you this budgeting thing comes in?

Here is a not so great, but still a photo of the table.  I had a chalk board that simply said, "CRAVING STATION" on it.  Everyone seemed happy with the food, I personally thought it was genius.  Pizza, pickles, peanut butter and jelly, etc.........very fun and unexpected!

For drinks I simply served a blue raspberry lemonade and some cucumber water.

I hope you enjoyed how I threw my baby shower on a budget!  Anyone can do it.  OH WAIT, I forgot the whale shaped cheese crackers that I found, so I simply had to toss them in the mix as well!!

Here are a couple of maternity photos I wanted to share............. (yes, I took them)

I can't wait to be a Nonna again, number 4 for me!  I am so thankful Kayla got to celebrate this birth with her new friends here in Nebraska and her aunts and cousins who love her so much.

Now...............we wait.................

Friday, August 12, 2016

Induction Cookies

DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT medically proven.  This is not medical advice, this is for entertainment and an old wives tale.  I assume no responsibility for the consequences of eating these, or any health issues that may result. (which will probably not even be the ones they are SUPPOSED to cause)

OK, now that, that is all clear,  lets get to the reason I made these to begin with.  Shall we?

My poor, POOR daughter in law is so pregnant, that I think even her pregnancy is pregnant.  She, due to other health issues will not be allowed to get past 37 weeks and she is so there.  She is so ready that she will try about anything for a natural induction.  ALMOST!!

She has tried it all, accept castor oil, she will NOT go that far.  The things she reads and I find on the internet are hysterical.  I have read anything from eating eggplant Parmesan to bumpy car rides, castor oil smoothies, and everything in between.

These cookies were just the icing on the cake and I HAD to amuse her and make them today!  I don't recall where I got the recipes since I hand wrote it down but, if I find it again, I will post it.  There was just no way I couldn't give them a shot.  This poor girl can't tie her shoes, can't dress herself, and can barely drive!

Without further explanation let me give this recipe to you.  She said they are good, but as you swallow them it has a kick from the red pepper!  I might have added a WEE bit more red pepper.  Don't judge, I want to meet my grandson too!

 2 1/2 cups  flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp/ ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
8 T butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar plus extra for rolling cookies in
1 cup  brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses 
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F,.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer.  Mix until combines.  Add in softened butter, sugars, and egg whites.  Mix until combined.  The dough may seem a bit crumbly but no worries it will all work out.

Place your extra granulated sugar in a bowl.  Roll dough into balls, about 3/4 inch balls and then roll in sugar and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Do this with all of your dough, molasses, and then bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown!  

Enjoy the this fun wives tale and don't forget to BREEEEEATH! 


Monday, August 8, 2016

Mozzarella Stuffed Pizza Burgers

 How many of you have pizza night at your house?  You know, every this day or that day you have pizza for dinner?  We always had Chinese food night at our house but, I know TONS of people who do pizza night.  Maybe this could be a little change up one of those nights that you surprise your family with!

I have made pizza burgers for years, but my husband, the wonderful genius that he is (yes, he made me say that) suggested I try a new version and stuff it.  Well, I don't know about you but when someone uses the words "stuffed" and "mozzarella" in the same sentence, something amazing is likely about to happen.  That being said, I of course tried it for him because after all, he is awesome and his birthday is tomorrow.  Wowzers, is about all I have to say.  I might have teased you on Instagram or Facebook!  (insert innocent face)

I hope you give this a try, if you do, post me photos friends!  I love to see how your versions of my recipes turn out!  Share the love!  Tag me, everywhere!

Heeeeeeeere we go!

2 lbs Ground Beef
1 T. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. black pepper
sliced mozzarella
shredded or thick slices of mozzarella for the "stuffed part"
pizza sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine your ground beef and all of your seasonings.  Mix well with your hands.  Yes, your hands!  Just do it!

When you have the meat mixed completely and the seasoning is distributed throughout, divide into equal parts, according to how many burgers you want.  I got 7 burgers, you might be able to get 8.   Once they are divided, divide eat part in half, making two THIN patties.  Place a chunk of mozz in the middle and carefully seal the edges.  I always just seal mine by going over the edges repeatedly but, you can use some water to help seal it.

When you have them all formed, stuffed and sealed, fry in a bit of olive oil for 2-3 minutes per side.  (Notice, ZERO cheese leaking out?) My husband and I had a bet.  You clearly see who won.   Anyway, when you have fried both sides, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Finish all the burgers.

Top each burger with a generous amount of pizza sauce, and then lay down the goodness.  One piece of mozz or shredded if you prefer on top.

Pop this beautiful burgers into the oven for 10 minutes.  They will be done absolutely perfectly.  I could lightly squeeze the burger and see the beautiful juiciness. Eat the hot, so the cheese in the middle stretches and is gooey!

Now, what takes these over the top is the bun.  Use regular hamburger buns.  Spread a light layer or butter on all of the tops and bottoms.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, a bit of salt and pepper and some Parmesan cheese.  Pop under your broiler for a couple of minutes until you pull them out and they look like this....

Now, go make it me.