Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Apple Cider Mini Donut Muffins

Crisp, sweet apple cider takes the flavor of these donuts up a notch!

apple cider mini donut muffins (

Our oldest just turned seven and has recently started flag football.  The other day after practice he asked me when he could start playing on Sundays {as in the pros}.  Lord heavens.  No one ever accused that one of low self-esteem.

I politely told him that he is great at football, but for now at the age of seven, he should probably focus on school and just being a good boy.
Actually if he were to be a pro at anything at this point in his life it would either be lego building or competitive eating.  That kid can build anything you set in front of him and he is growing like a weed. Therefore food is a major necessity.

For example: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner....then, 'can I have a snack'.  No way, buddy.  I'm all about feeding this weed, but not too much.  Really, how can they eat so much, yet stay so...normal?

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Although our breakfasts are usually something hearty {eggs, oatmeal, peanut butter on whole wheat toast, etc.} there are times I go outside the box to cheer them up a bit.

So 'tis the season for my favorite season!  FALL.  I love every ounce of it, as most of you already know, so with a half gallon of apple cider sitting in my fridge I had to do something more with it than just guzzling it down.

Since this past Monday was a teacher in-service day our older two didn't have school, which meant extra fun time at our house {cough}.  In all reality it meant a more laid back breakfast and me breaking up 1,479 fights before dinner....but hey, the donuts were good!

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I've made donuts many times before and remember what I've said, "everyone loves donuts, if they say they don't, then they're lying".

And they probably won't be my good friend.

But there is no one who won't like these!  Tart apple cider, cinnamon, nutmeg in a yummy batter, baked and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar.  What's not to love?

Oh, and your house will smell amazing!

Apple Cider Mini Donut Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. apple cider
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a mini muffin pan {whole batch makes 30 mini donuts) with cooking spray.
2.  In a stand mixer combine the apple cider, egg and vanilla.  Add in the sugars to combine.  Sift in the remaining dry ingredients.
3.  Using a cookie scoop fill the mini muffin tins with the batter.  Bake for 10 minutes or until spongy and golden brown.
4.  Turn the pan over and remove all the mini donuts from the pan.
5.  In a microwavable bowl melt the butter.  In another bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar.
6.  One at a time, coat the donut in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon and sugar.  Set on a wire rack to cool.

apple cider mini donut muffins (

Here are some of my other favorite donut recipes....don't be scared, they are easy!  If you are in need of a mini muffin pan, I use this Wilton 24-count one.  I love it!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Football Tailgate Guacamole Squares

Love guacamole, but want something different?
These Football Tailgate Squares are for you!

football tailgate guacamole squares (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Last weekend we invited two couples over and all their kids {we have 8 together!} to watch the big Iowa/Iowa State football game.  It was gorgeous outside ALL day, so the husband and I got the bright idea to move our big family room T.V. out to the deck so we could not only enjoy the game outside, but not be cramped in our small house.

Moving it, swiping out cords and cable boxes, actually proved to be quite easy.  However, the mosquitos had a different party planned and by halftime we were moving that T.V. back inside.

No amount of Bug Soother or OFF spray was fazing these guys {and I call them all guys, because ladies would not be this annoying}.

So we watched the second half inside, albeit a bit cramped, but it was fun nonetheless.  And the food! I made a big batch of my Iowa Crock Pot Maid-rites, which are perfect for big gatherings and everyone else brought side dishes to share.

I went completely out of my normal "dip" making and made these Football Tailgate Guacamole Squares...different, yet so tasty!

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There are only six main ingredients needed for this appetizer: crescent rolls, cream cheese, an avocado, bacon, a tomato, green onion and a few shakes of different seasonings.

It can be made well in advance {probably not the day before due to the crust getting a bit soft}, but most definitely the morning of the big night game.

If you are a guacamole and chip lover, I'm guessing your love this.  If you are a Mexican lover, I'm guessing you'll love this.  And if you are just a normal person who likes game day bites, I'm guessing you'll love this too!

Football Tailgate Guacamole Squares

1 tube Pillsbury crescent rolls
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 avocado
1/2 lb. of bacon
1 seeded and chopped tomato
1 green onion, diced
1/2 t. cumin

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and roll out the crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan, pinching the seams together.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
2.  In a skillet cook the diced bacon until crispy.  When done remove from the pan to a paper towel lined plate to drain, set aside.
3.  In a small bowl combine the softened cream cheese and the ripe avocado until smooth. Sprinkle in the chili powder and cumin.  Spread this mixture over the cooled crescent rolls.
4.  Sprinkle the squares with the chopped bacon, chopped tomato and sliced green onion.
5.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Cut into squares.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fried Stuffed Rice Balls

This post is sponsored by Veetee, but all opinions are my own.

fried stuffed rice bowls arancini de riso (

This post does contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Please stop whatever you are doing and save this recipe.


I know typing in all caps kind of sounds like I'm shouting behind the scenes of this blog at you, but that is because I am!

These fried stuffed rice balls, otherwise known as Arancini de Riso in Italian, are an easy, yet looks like you spent all day on them, type of appetizer that you could feed your neighbors or the Pope. Fancy, yet equally down to earth.

But why lie?  I ate them as my lunch the day I made them.  Yep.  Ate them as my lunch.  I have no shame.

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I am enjoying every single moment I have had this year as a Veetee Brand Ambassador. Who knew creating recipes could be so much fun?  I wandered into my laundry room the other day {where I'm storing my shipment of Veetee rice} and thought to myself, 'what can I make this month'?

I wanted something creative, a bit out of the box, abnormal with typical families, yet equally delicious and easy.

I first saw a version of these fried stuffed rice balls on T.V. a few years back.  First off, anything that you dip in red sauce is pretty much golden to me.  Secondly, it's fried.  Bless. Third, it's stuffed with cheese.

It's like the holy trinity.

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And can we just take a moment to talk about how beautiful they are?  They are fried to a golden perfection.  Crispy and crunchy on the outside and tender and cheesy on the inside. Sprinkle with some fresh Parmesan cheese, sit them on a bed of marinara and garnish with basil?

My god, I almost fainted just typing out that sentence.

Veetee's ready to heat rice is perfect for this dish.  A quick cook for 2 minutes in the microwave is half the work!  Once the rice has cooled, I mixed it together with some Italian breadcrumbs, basil, cheese and egg.  A little roll in my secret coating and dip in the hot oil and these babies were done! Honestly, super easy.

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You  know what's great about being a food blogger?  In my opinion it's having all these little tidbits of food leftover in your fridge from various projects and declaring dinner as a "grazing night".

The husband called mid-afternoon today asking what was for dinner and I replied, "Some leftover fried stuffed rice balls, leftover pizza from the birthday party last night, fresh fruit, a ham sandwich if you want it and chocolate milk that needs to be used up from the other day."

After 6 years of this, he is used to at least once a week eating up a hodgepodge of whatever we have left from my random cookerings.

Thank god he's flexible.

fried stuffed rice balls arancini de riso (

I'm so stoked for you guys to try these.  Make them for dinner {or lunch}, fry them up as a Saturday appetizer, bring them warm to a party, whatever works for your tribe.  

Kids love them.  Adults drool over them.  They are a hit!

Fried Stuffed Rice Balls

2 c. cooked Veetee Thai Jasmine rice {or any white rice}
2 eggs
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 pieces of string cheese, cut into 1/2 in. pieces

1/4 c. Italian style seasoned breadcrumbs
1 c. crushed corn flake cereal

2-3 c. canola oil, enough to fill a large saucepan halfway up

1.  In a large bowl combine the cooked and cooled rice, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and dried basil.
2.  With wet hands form the mixture into balls, about 1 1/2 in. in size.  Press your finger into the ball making a dent for the cube of cheese.  Fold the rice over the cheese and form it back into a ball.
3.  Roll balls in the breadcrumb/corn flake mixture and set aside while the oil is heating.
4.  When the oil is hot {around 350 degrees}, place 6-7 balls at a time in the oil.  Turning every couple of minutes until a deep golden brown.  Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
5.  Serve the balls warm with marinara sauce for dipping, garnishing with additional fresh Parm and basil.
6.  If cooking early and serving later, simple reheat the balls in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

See a full listing of where to buy Veetee rice HERE.

A big thanks to Veetee for sponsoring this post.
Stay tuned for next month's fun recipe!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Baked Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast

A delicious overnight French Toast dish.
One that everyone loves!

baked pumpkin stuffed french toast (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I just had one of the best weekends one could have.  It's like the weatherman knew I wanted to wear comfy leggings all weekend long and he delivered the perfect temps for it.  The humidity left the air, the breeze was cool and minus the swarms of mosquitos {which kinda ruined our game watching on our deck} it was just awesome.

We spent Friday night watching our son's flag football practice and then headed to dinner with just two kids for once {our middle cherub had her first sleepover}.  Saturday morning brought in cleaning and doing some rearranging in prep of friend's coming over that night to watch the big in-state rival game between Iowa and Iowa State.

I'm happy to report my Hawkeyes thumped the Cyclones.

And to wrap it all up on Sunday, the kids started Sunday School again, followed by church an easy lunch and naps for everyone.

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It's a shame I didn't make a batch of this pumpkin stuffed french toast again this weekend, as the temps were right and our mornings were pretty lazy.

I love, love, love a good baked french toast my friends.  My brown sugar cheesecake version is always hit and the kids LOVE when strawberries are in season and we make my strawberry cheesecake stuffed version.

Apparently I enjoy "stuffing" my French Toast?

This version is no different.  Although this time I crammed all things Fall into this dish; pumpkin, cream cheese, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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And you know what's funny?  I made this for a random Wednesday morning before school.  I didn't wait for company or a lazy weekend morning, I just made it.  Sometimes it's fun to surprise the kids on these mornings with something a bit more magical than their bowl of shredded wheat.

They loved it!  All three of them.  And since I made it all the day before it just had to bake in the oven while we were getting ready for school.  When finished I wrapped up the leftovers and we reheated them the following morning therefore giving us two delicious, a bit over-the-top breakfasts two days in a row.

So good!  Please make this.  

Baked Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast

1 long, crusty baguette, cut into 1/2 in. slices
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
6 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
whipped topping, optional

1.  In a large bowl combine the eggs, half of the can of pumpkin and spices, then set aside.
2.  On a cutting board cut the baguette into 1/2 in. thick slices.
3.  In another bowl combine the cream cheese, remaining pumpkin and vanilla with a mixer until smooth.  Gently add in the powdered sugar to combine.
4.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
5.  Take one slice of the baguette and spread with the cream cheese mixture.  Take another baguette slice and place on top of the first slice, making a sandwich.  Place in the greased dish.  Continue "stuffing the sandwiches" and placing them into the dish.
6.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread and then sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Place in the fridge overnight.
7.  Remove from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until it's golden brown.
8.  Serve warm.  Top with additional powdered sugar, maple syrup or whipped topping.

baked pumpkin stuffed french toast (

I need to mention this...

Last year my local grocery store RAN OUT OF PUMPKIN.  For the love.  It was awful for this food blogger. I'm a bit more prepared this year.

I ordered a case of 12 cans.  You know, just in case of another major grocery store malfunction.  If you live in a small town like me, you might want to do this same by ordering HERE.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Creamy Baked Ziti

Ultimate comfort is this Creamy Baked Ziti.
Everyone loves it and it's simplicity!

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You know how sometimes you make a meal again and again and it becomes a family favorite and it's just automatic?

That is this Creamy Baked Ziti to a T.  Our family loves it, I've made it for years and it has just become one of those staple dishes in our home.  So much so that it never even occurred to me to share this recipe with my readers.  If you follow me on Instagram you'll remember I teased you about this recipe last week.

By the way, follow me.  It's fun!

And the blue speckled dishes I served this meal on?  Well, those were my husband's grandmothers that I inherited after she passed.  I love how they look in photos.  They are super old and unless your grandmother has some to pass down to you, they are a bit hard to find.

BUT.  I did find these replicas!  This set of 6 mugs.  This plate in blue and red.  These super cute set of bowls.  And even a whole set perfect for camping.

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What I love about this ziti is how easy it is to throw together.  Bowl the penne pasta and then in that same pot throw in the cheese mixture, sausage and sauce.  Stir it together, pour it in a big 9x13 baking dish, spread on a little more sauce and cheese and call it good.

I'm all about simple.  Dinners included!  I do have a bit more time on my hands now that my two older kids are in school full time but that doesn't mean I want to spend all my time in the kitchen.

I'd rather be playing with my 2 year old, buying more LuLaRoe clothes that I probably don't need {ha!}, working on this blog {completely serious on that one}, adding more books to my Amazon wish list {currently eyeing...this one and this one} and like any other mom keeping a tidy house.

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So enter in this family favorite!  Put it in your meal rotation my friends.  You'll be happy I finally got my head in the game and decided to share it with you.

Creamy Baked Ziti

1 large jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. ground sausage, cooked and drained
1 large tomato, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded

1.  In a large stock pot, salt the water heavily and bring to a boil.  Cook the penne pasta to al dente, then remove and drain, putting the pasta back in the pot.
2.  Add in the spaghetti sauce {setting aside a 1/2 cup}, the cooked sausage, chopped tomato, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices.  Mix this together and pour into a large greased 9x13 baking dish.
3.  Spread on the reserved spaghetti sauce and top with the mozzarella cheese.
4.  At this point the dish can be refrigerated for up to two days or you can bake it off right away at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
5.  Serve warm with additional Parmesan cheese.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Glazed Peach Tart

This tart looks complicated, but it's easy!
Sweet peaches and an icing glaze make this perfect.

glazed peach tart (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

We are in the lingering weeks of summer.  School is barely back in session, a few remaining weekends for last minute vacations and perhaps just a few weeks left for classic summer desserts.

If anyone knows me, they know I have a sweet tooth.  A gigantic sweet tooth.  One that I try and hide behind and pretend to love salads when out in public, while most of my friends can probably see through my fake smile.  Hey, at least I try.

So when it comes to making and baking desserts I’m all in.  Although my food blog showcases ALL things food – casseroles, side dishes, appetizers, drinks and yes, even salads, those desserts are my calling.  Brainstorming an ooey, gooey, sugar laden filled creation is like walking to me.  It comes natural.

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When I visited my parent’s this last month and took one look at their peach tree {whose branches were being held up by ladders the fruit was so heavy} I just knew I needed to steal a few {or dozen} and come up with a dessert.

After making this classic crumble recipe and our family devouring it in one session, I still had glorious fuzzy, juicy peaches left.  Throw them into breakfast smoothies?  Yes, perhaps.  Eating them fresh?Yep, did that too.  Making a heavenly, simple and easy tart?  YES. 

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First off, get acquainted with frozen puff pastry.  This stuff is GOOD.  I will never attempt to make my own because this stuff is spot on.  Plus I have NO shame in purchasing this 20 count case of it from Amazon.  And being a baker at heart, of course I had some in my freezer.  And of course it jumped out at me the day I happened to be brainstorming ways to use up these peaches.

This dessert looks fancy and presumptuous be trust me when I say it is not.  Lay out the thawed puff pastry, coat the sliced peaches in cinnamon and brown sugar and drizzle on a three ingredient glaze once cooled.  That’s it!

I delivered one tart to my friend for her birthday, another one to a friend going through a bit of a tough time and kept one for us.

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We may have eaten a slice with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream that night after dinner.  Because hey, if you are going to eat a slice of a peach tart you go all out.  It can also be eaten ‘sandwich-style’ with your hands with the brown sugar juice dripping down your forearms, but alas I cannot fully attest to this….but that one friend told me so.

If you bring this dessert to a gathering you will be claimed the PASTRY CHEF OF THE WEEK by all, so be careful, those people will want more.

Glazed Peach Tart

3 peaches, sliced
1 t. cinnamon
¾ c. brown sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
1 t. almond extract
2-4 T. milk

1.  To thaw the frozen puff pastry, remove from the package and set on the counter for 40 minutes. The dough should be thawed, yet still cold to the touch when ready to handle.
2.  In a bowl place the sliced peaches and toss with the cinnamon and brown sugar, then set aside.
3.  On a large greased baking sheet, lay the unfolded puff pastry.  Cut each sheet in half, giving you four squares.
4.  Lay the peaches, overlapping down the center of the puff pastry.
5.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until puffy and just golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit.
6.  In a bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract and milk, adding more milk if glaze is too thick.  When fairly thin, drizzle the frosting over the tarts.
7.  Serve tarts warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Baked Rotini

This simple, quick dinner is bursting with buffalo flavor!
Just five ingredients brings it all together.

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I feel like every family goes through different seasons.  A few years back I had three kids under the age of 5 with multiple in diapers {bless}.  Last year I had one in school full-time and two girls pretty much tagging along with me for most of my day.

Fast forward to today and I have two in school full-time {praise the heavens} and just one here at home with me during the day.  Yesterday the husband pulled TWO TEETH from two different kids. Both older kids can shower ON THEIR OWN.  My oldest is getting involved in sports.  My youngest finally after much bribing on my part {tootsie rolls}, sat on the toilet for the first time {this is major}.

I feel like our family is coming into a new season where everyone, me included, is becoming a bit more independent and that my friends makes this mama happy.

Just two years ago I wouldn't have been able to serve anything "buffalo" to my family, yet last night they all ate it, with just one remark from my drama queen about how it had "a little spice".

Well, so do you sister.

buffalo chicken baked rotini (

I have a handful of five ingredient dinners.  Why?  Because even though I'm a food blogger I still need simple.  I crave simple.  Nothing is more satisfying than pulling a dinner together fast that tastes great and uses next to nothing.

My Chicken Pesto Meatballs are fantastic alone, in pasta or on a baked sub.  These Crock-Pot Maid-Rites are a bit world famous around the Midwest.  My Oven Sandwiches for the Freezer saved us many a nights during the summer when we had evening ball games.  And once Fall hits us you will bet I'll have my Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Sandwiches on the menu again.

And when in doubt and you are pinched on time, serve eggs.

Always, serve eggs {scrambled, over easy, whatever}, it saves me at least once a week.

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Buffalo Chicken Baked Rotini

8 oz. rotini pasta
15 oz. jar garlic alfredo sauce
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
20 or so shakes of hot sauce
2 c. cooked rotisserie or baked chicken, cubed
mozzarella cheese to top {optional}

1.  In a stock pot bring water to a boil.  Add a nice pinch of salt to the water.
2.  Cook the pasta to al dente, around 6-7 minutes.  Remove from the water, drain and set aside.
3.  In a large bowl combine the melted butter and hot sauce.  It should be a deep orange color.  Then add in the diced chicken, cooked pasta, alfredo sauce, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.
4.  Pour mixture into an 8x8 baking dish and cover with foil.
5.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes covered.  Remove the foil, add additional cheese if desired, then bake another 10 minutes.
6.  Serve warm.

My brown casserole dish you see above?  I have two and love them!  One is 8x8 and one is 9x13, so for obvious reasons I used them both equally.  And guess what...they come in an array of colors. Rachel Ray kinda knew what she was doing when designing dishes.

My two set of Rachael Ray Bubble & Brown Stoneware is under $30.  I completely recommend them.  Next up?  I'd love her Lasagna Lover Pan, because you know, I love lasagna.