Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tomato Basil Artichoke Chicken Bake

Here's a healthy and fun chicken dish that will please the family!

tomato basil artichoke chicken bake (

Remember when I wrote that blog post about 8 Chicken Dishes That Won't Bore You?  Well, guess what?  I should probably change that to nine, as this chicken dish falls easily into that category.  If you guys ask for one thing {besides meal planning posts} it is how to spice up chicken and not die from boredom when eating it.

I hear ya.

I was gone most of last week, then the hubs and I attended a Carrie Underwood concert, then we spent a day with his family and now finally we are home.

Which means I finally cooked something.  And by cooked I mean I used the oven and did not just slap together a ham sandwich for the kids.  Ahem, which happened two nights in a row and I am not ashamed.

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I've come to the conclusion that grabbing 4-5 ingredients and smothering those ingredients on top of chicken breasts and baking it all off in the oven, usually ends up a pretty good dish.

I've done it with my Italian Chicken Florentine and my Simple Oven Roasted Chicken. Heck, even my One Dish Baked Chicken Parmesan kinda fits the bill.  My point here is it doesn't take much to dress up "the bird".  Bake it plain and you'll be choking it down with a glass full of water {or wine}, but add flavorful ingredients {fresh veggies, herbs, cheese, etc.} and more often than not it will put a big 'ol smile on your face.

That is what happened with this recipe.  I had fresh grape tomatoes on hand, along with basil leaves as big as my black lab's ears from my garden, plus a jar of marinated artichokes in the cupboard. It was pretty much a no-brainer to bring these three ingredients together, right?

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This smells amazing while baking!  It is perfect by itself along side a salad, but also pairs well with a bit of pasta or a side of garlic bread.  It all depends on how healthy one wants to make it.

I served it with I'm trying to more closely monitor my calorie intake {any other My Fitness Pal app freaks out there like me?}, but honestly eating it just by itself is wonderful too.

And yes, I added a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese...just for that tangy bite.  What is a baked chicken dish without cheese?

It's like reading the Bible but it never mentioning Jesus.


Tomato Basil Artichoke Chicken Bake

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 c. grape tomatoes, halved, lengthwise
1 small jar marinated artichokes, chopped
1 c. basil leaves, chopped
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. Italian seasoning

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2.  Lay the chicken breasts in the pan and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.
3.  In a bowl combine the cheese, tomatoes, artichokes and basil, tossing to combine.
4.  Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the cheese/tomato/artichoke mixture over the chicken and bake another 25 minutes.
5.  Serve warm with a salad, pasta or garlic bread.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Comeback Dipping Sauce

The sauce of all sauces!
You'll be dunking and dunking again with this one.

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My brain is a little fried right now, but I NEEDED to share this sauce recipe with you guys before one more person asked me, "where is that dipping sauce recipe you promised over a month ago?"

This girl got busy, that is what happened.

I've spent the last two plus days traveling around Eastern Iowa with other food bloggers learning all about pork.  Yes, pork.  Include with that, wine and early settlers and fancy restaurant dinners and lasting friendships.  So, I'm tired.  But it was also amazing and I cannot wait to chat about it in a future blog post.  Stay tuned!

I mean tonight, after serving dinner to the fam and then two hours later having an ever-so-slight hunger pain, I opened the fridge to see a leftover bratwurst staring back at me.  I love pork, but I have eaten SO much of it the past few days, the sight of that brat about put me over the edge.

I settled for a piece of string cheese and a chocolate chip cookie.  About as well rounded as I could manage at that moment.

Back on track tomorrow, back on track tomorrow, back on track tomorrow...

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So, this SAUCE.

The sauce that people have been bugging for me to share.  Is it a sauce?  Or a dip?  Frankly I was a bit confused too, so I am calling it a dipping sauce.  As you can dip a crispy fried nugget in it or you can swipe a layer of it on the bun of your sandwich.

I put it on my B.L.T. last week.  Epic my friends.  Epic.

This sauce comes from the south {Mississippi and Louisiana}from what I'm told.  I'm about as far removed from the southern states as I am Prince Harry, but the sauce intrigued me so one day I dabbled around with it.  My second batch turned out perfectly and I nibbled on it with various things {fries, sandwiches, etc.} for the rest of the week.

It is mayo based, so if you are not a mayo fan {I know who you are}, this might not be your thing, but definitely give it a chance.  It has a bit of spice, some tang and is really just different than any other sauce I've had or tired.

It does NOT taste like ranch dressing in case you were wondering.  Just throwing that out there.

So here it is!  Make a batch and watch your kids drool.

Comeback Dipping Sauce

1 c. mayo
4 T. ketchup
2 T. hot sauce
3 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. pepper

1.  In a bowl combine all ingredients until smooth.  Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
2.  Serve with fried anything {french fries, chicken, pickles, mushrooms, etc.} or use as a topping on sandwiches.

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I've always said if I would ever land a cookbook deal, one chapter or section would be devoted completely, 100% to dips and sauces.

I kinda think they make the world go round.

Here are a few more of my favorites!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Raspberry Cheesecake Coffee Cake

Summer berries are the absolute BEST.
This Raspberry Cheesecake Coffee Cake will knock the socks off anyone.

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You know how people say there will come a moment in your life when you know you are "turning into your Mother"?

Well, it's true. 

I grew up with my mom going to dinner with her girlfriends, with her hosting "card club" late into the night with me trying to sleep upstairs and with her jetting off to have "coffee" with her girls every Saturday morning.

I have turned into her.  Are you reading this mom?  I have turned into you.  When I was baking this coffee cake last week to deliver to a friend, I immediately had the thoughts this would be perfect to bring to "coffee".

I don't even really drink coffee.  I love a good cappuccino, but does that even count?  And currently, my friends and I don't meet for coffee dates, but I imagine it is coming....once we graduate from 'our-kids-are-in-bed-lets-go-drink-wine-on-the-patio' kinda of nights.

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So to all my mom's coffee friends who are reading this right now {Pam, Debbie, Fran, Mary, Pat...and the many others} one of you needs to make this for your next coffee date.

The bottom layer is your classic yellow coffee cake.  Layer two is pure gold.  Cheesecake! Rich, creamy, tart cheesecake.  Then raspberries, because why not?  They are in season right now and are bursting with flavor.  And finally streudel, because a coffee cake is not a coffee cake without streudel.

It all comes together so beautifully.

Feel free to use whatever berries you like or have around.  I'd stick with blackberries or strawberries, but that is just me.  I'm sure any fruit would work.

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I used my springform pan for this cake.  It makes it SUCH a breeze when slicing.  I highly recommend my KitchenAid Nonstick 9" Springform Pan.  This $15.99 price tag is well worth it. Perfect for coffee cakes and cheesecakes.

Oh, and this mini version?  On my wish list too.

I only use mine about 3-4 times a year, but when I do I'm happy I have it.  Nothing ever sticks and it comes out looking perfect.  Never once have I had food stick to the pan.  And being nonstick it washes up in a cinch.

Raspberry Cheesecake Coffee Cake

Print this Recipe!

For the cake:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
6 T. unsalted, softened butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 t. almond extract
3/4 c. sour cream

For the filling:
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg white
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. raspberries

For the topping:
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
3 T. cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9" springform pan and set aside.
2.  In a stand mixer combine the cream cheese and sugar.  Add in the egg white and almond extract until combined and smooth.  Set the filling aside.
3.  In the same stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg and egg yolk along with the almond extract to combine.  Stir in the baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Lastly, add in the flour alternating with the sour cream.
4.  Transfer the batter to the pan spreading along the bottom.  Then spread on the filling layer spreading over the batter.  Top with the washed and dried raspberries.
5.  In a bowl combine the streusel toppings, using a fork to cut the butter into the sugar and flour until it it is broken up about the size of small peas.  Sprinkle the streusel over the batter.
6.  Bake for 1 hour or until the center is set.
7.  Remove from the oven and transfer the pan to wire rack to cool.
8.  Store in the fridge.

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Have a coffee group?

Here are some other "breakfast" items we love and I'm sure your group will as well.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sausage and Potato Sheet Pan Dinner

Nothing beats a 5 ingredient dinner!
This quick and easy dinner is a crowd pleaser.

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Gosh, sometimes I just want a simple supper.  Like something a third grader could throw together. Something that requires little to no thinking but in return gives you a delicious end result.

This supper also reminds me of the week I've had.  Simple.  Quiet.  No one asking me 48 billion questions.

Mom, why do we brush our teeth twice a day?

Mom, did you wash my favorite shirt?

Mom, I'm hungry, can I have a snack?

So many questions.  All the time.  I love those little buggers but why am I supposed to teach them about life?

Kidding.  They're great, but they are also great when they are visiting their grandparents.

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My week has been super quiet sans a few dates with friends {you can see the fun we had over on Instagram here} and it reminds me of this simple, quick summer meal.

I am for the most part a non-dramatic, easy going gal, so when I come across a meal that from start to finish is done in 45 minutes, only requires 5 ingredients, photographs beautifully, feeds a hearty bunch and tastes amazing, I know we were a match made in heaven.

This sheet pan dinner?  {They have become a popular 'thing', in case you aren't in the loop}.  I just love this meal.

Kielbasa sausage?  Loved it since I was a babe.

Roasted crispy potatoes?  Not a friend of mine would turn these down.

Fresh green beans?  One of the best parts of summer.

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Perhaps I also forgot to mention that the sausage, potatoes and green beans are drizzled in garlic butter prior to roasting in the oven.

Yes, I'll say it again.  GARLIC BUTTER.

It ranks right up there behind baby wipes {best invention ever}, margaritas on the rocks {duh}, girlfriends that know you better than your own husband {anyone with me?} and pizza {because, well, pizza}.

Please try this sheet pan dinner on your family.  Then let me know how you liked it.  It really could not be easier.  If you can do boxed mac and cheese you can do this.

Sausage and Potato Sheet Pan Dinner

1 kielbasa sausage link, cut into chunks
4 medium sized potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 lb. fresh green beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 stick butter, melted

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
2.  Place the cut potatoes face down on the baking sheet and bake alone for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the potatoes over {you should have a brown, crispy side}.
3.  Add the kielbasa and green beans to the baking sheet.
4.  Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish.  Add in the minced garlic and stir.  Pour over the sausage, potatoes and green beans.  Toss to coat.  Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
5.  Roast in the oven for another 20 minutes.
6.  Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brown Butter Banana Blondies

Leftover bananas?  No problem.
These Brown Butter Banana Blondies will become your new favorite.

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Hey y'all!

It's the beginning on another week {yes, I know it's Tuesday} and I have high, high hopes for this week.  I've shipped my kiddos off to their grandparents and I've got a to-do list about a mile long to tackle.

Yes, I'll miss them.  Yes, I do this every summer for my sanity.  Yes, I will get a LOT done while they are gone.

But in other news I have a ton of fun stuff coming up on the blog.  Next week I'll be traveling with the Iowa Pork Producers and Brenneman Pork for a fun filled 3 day blogging event.  I'm stoked!  I'll be knee deep with piggies {I'm not kidding}, plus I will be eating and tasting some of the best pork, veggies and wine around.  I'm excited to meet up with some old friends and meet many new ones all while tasting some great Iowa food.

Maybe I'll bring a pan of these blondies along...

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So sometimes we have two lonely bananas sitting on the counter and I'll let them sit there. Until they turn black.  I swat away any hands that try and grab one, just so they can turn brown enough to make some form of banana anything.

My #1 Voted Junk in the Trunk Banana Bread is usually my go to, as everyone loves it.  I mean everyone.  All my local friends and my kid's teachers.  It really is that good.  When I'm feeling healthier I make my No-Bake Banana Bites.  These are perfect for a quick snack on the go or even breakfast if you are running late.  And when I really have my act together and have some extra time I make a double {hell, one time I made a triple batch} of my Naturally Sweetened Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes.  Because really, who doesn't love a pancake?

Moral of the story is, if you see a brownish on-the-verge-of-death banana setting on my counter, LEAVE IT ALONE.

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The key to these bars is the brown butter.  Do not be intimidated.  Instead of just melting the butter into the batter, take the extra step to heat the butter on the stove to a medium heat {do not boil}, letting the butter turn a bit frothy and get the slightest brown in color.  You will also start to smell a 'nutty' flavor {can someone please turn that smell into a perfume?}.

Allow the brown butter to cool a bit and THEN add it to the batter.  Doing this easy step gives the bars a whole different flavor.  The best flavor in my opinion.

Make a batch of these bars and deliver them to someone.  Anyone.  Keep a few for yourself and watch your friends swoon over them.

Brown Butter Banana Blondies

1/2 c. butter, melted and browned
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
1 c. flour
2 brown bananas, mashed

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/8 c. milk

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and grease with cooking spray.
2.  In a small sauce pan on the stove, heat the butter to medium.  Stir as the butter melts and begins to turn frothy and turn a light shade of brown.  Remove from the heat and allow to slightly cool.
3.  In a stand mixer combine the browned butter and sugar.  Add in the egg, vanilla and mashed banana.  Then add in the salt and flour combining into a batter.
4.  Pour the batter into the foil lined baking pan.  Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the center is set. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
5.  For the frosting melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.  Add in the brown sugar and milk bringing to a boil.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
6.  Add in the powdered sugar, whisking to combine.  Frost the blondies when cooled.
7.  Cut into 9 squares and keep covered.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Sweet Kale Chopped Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Crunchy, sweet, tangy, creamy.
This Sweet Kale Chopped Salad has it all!

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I flipping love summer.

I love the warm days, the cool drinks, lazily reading a book, making last minute plans with friends, the feeling of not having to rush out the door every morning and the food.

I do not love having these wonderful summer plans halted by a sick kid {but that is another story for another day}, yet I love when I text a girlfriend to come and rescue me from my pity party and she is on it like flies on sugar.

Summer I've learned is a season of give and take.  You get some really awesome days and you get some really dreadful days.  Just like when it is the dead of winter and you are all confined to that square space we call home and the warm sun is a fleeting memory of months before.

The past two days have certainly shown me that I need to remember that life still throws you strikes and you just have to deal with them and move on.

A bit like this salad.

How you ask?  Well, summer can't all be about lake parties, salt rimmed margaritas and strawberry shortcake.  If it was I'd be in trouble.  Moderation still needs to be hovering around my inner circle or that new swimsuit I bought will most definitely stay in the dresser drawer.

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I'm fairly certain I've said this before, but when I've had two many days in a row of succulent sweets and creamy dips my body starts to crave some greenery.

I am NOT one of those women who eats salads every day.  I don't often crave them.  Hell, vegetables aren't really my thing but I eat them.

I first made this salad about a month ago and took it to a friend.  I'm pretty sure she loved it {unless she lied to me} and so when I bought a bag of kale at the farmer's market again last week I knew I wanted to make it again, as I only had a bite of the last one.

And seriously, kale lasts foooooooorever in the fridge.  Like weeks.  Does that stuff ever go bad?  But beyond the kale, I wanted to add in extra crunchiness so I also threw in shredded cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli {check out my garden broccoli photo HERE}.

Top that off with chewy dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and a light, yet creamy poppy seed dressing and this green bowl of goodness came together awesome.

Sweet Kale Chopped Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

1 c. chopped kale
1 c. shredded broccoli
1 c. shredded cabbage {I used the bagged variety, with radicchio included}
1 c. shredded brussel sprouts 
1/8 c. dried cranberries
1/8 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/3 c. white vinegar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. dried onion flakes
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry mustard
1 T. poppy seeds

1.  In a bowl combine all salad ingredients and toss to combine.
2.  In a blender combine all ingredients except the poppy seeds.  Blend on high for 1 minutes and until dressing is creamy.  Add in the poppy seeds and pulse a few times to incorporate.
3.  Pour dressing over the salad and toss and coat.  
4.  Eat and enjoy!

sweet kale chopped salad with poppy seed dressing (

Feta cheese would also be a great substitute for the Parmesan cheese, or any dried fruit instead of the cranberries.  Make this salad your own!

I thought I'd also share some other "green things" I often make when my body needs a refresher. Take a look at some of my favorites.

Broccoli Almond Chopped Salad
Sweet Heat Chicken Asian Slaw
Spinach Tortellini Salad
Green Monster Smoothie
Veggie Chop Chop Salad
Spicy Charred Broccoli
Balsamic Asparagus
Cucumber Salsa

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Creamy Garlic Spinach Ricotta Pizza

Craving a light summery pizza?
This Creamy Garlic Spinach Ricotta pie will satisify that craving!

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If there is one thing in my life that I love more than my children, it is pizza. I am not ashamed to admit this. I am one of “those”. You know the type. The ones that could eat it every single day and never get sick of it. Change up my toppings here and there and I'd do just fine.

The husband always, always makes fun of me for it – how could anyone love it that much? Well, I do. I crave it when I'm sick {weird, I know}. I suggest it when driving around figuring out where to go to dinner. I make it almost once a week in the hopes that the rest of my family is on board.

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I've made all kinds. Traditional meat and cheese. The beloved and invented here in Iowa version, taco. The classic margarita. I do not discriminate, nor hate on any.

I grew up eating frozen Tombstone pizzas every Thursday night with my siblings and my mom while my Dad played in his weekly golf league. It was a genius play on my Mom's part. One day each week where she didn't have to even think about meal planning...and we loved her for it.

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Fast forward to this Spring when I planted spinach for the first time in my garden {stay with me here}. I had no idea how it would take, nor grow, but I soon found out.

It grew like gangbusters.

I am finding myself picking it every other day and the leaves it is producing are ginormous. We eat a lot of spinach around here: in salads, in eggs, on sandwiches...but I still had A LOT.

So what do I do when I have a lot of something? I put it on pizza. Because everything tastes better if not great on pizza.

If you've never had a “white” pizza before, well then you are missing out! Forget the red sauce, white sauce pizzas are often made with a butter sauce, an alfredo sauce, a garlic sauce or a cheese sauce. This one I invented is a bit of a combo of two of those.

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I layered my refrigerated thin crust dough {take a short cut when you can} with a ricotta/roasted garlic/Parmesan cheese mixture {umm...hello!} then topped that with mozzarella cheese, the wilted spinach and a bit more Parmesan. Hubba, hubba.

The kids and I devoured this one night when the husband was working. Now, I've got it easy as my kids will gladly eat spinach. Fresh out of the garden, in a salad or on pizza. I've lucked out. But, if your kids are skittish, still give this pizza a try. The flavor is SO good. Make them take a bite.

Give them that whole story about Popeye and being strong, blah, blah, blah.

And if that story doesn't work, eat their leftovers. This pizza is green and green means vegetables and vegetables mean you can eat as much as you want.


Creamy Garlic Spinach Ricotta Pizza

1 refrigerated thin pizza crust {or my homemade version}
1 c. ricotta cheese
½ c. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 c. fresh spinach, wilted and cooked down

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Spread the pizza crust on a baking stone and set aside.
3. In a bowl combine the ricotta, bulbs of the roasted garlic {use my directions HERE} and half of the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
4. Spray a skillet with non-stick spray. Add the spinach to the pan and cook down over medium heat. After a few minutes, the spinach should wilt down to 1/6 of the size. Once cooked remove from the heat.
5. Spread the ricotta mixture over the crust. Add most of the mozzarella cheese, then the wilted spinach and finally the remaining cheeses.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Cut into slices and serve warm.

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Remember how I said I've made ALL KINDS of pizza? Well, I wasn't lying. Here are a few of our favorites!