Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sausage Pizza Puffs

Pizza puffs are an amazing after school snack or party appetizer.  
Make a double batch and freeze as well!

I just spent an amazing two days in Chicago with a handful of other food bloggers with the Aldi Blogger Ambassador Program.  I met some amazing, talented women.  All of whom will be lifelong friends.  Stay tuned for TWO recap posts.  One detailing the trip and what we did and one giving you the inside scoop on how to shop effectively at Aldi {it will include a meal plan as well!}.

I can't wait to share what we did and what I learned.

And just to be truthful.  I'm already missing the huge hotel room all to myself, the wine, the laughs and the food.  Oh, the food....we ate SO much!

So that is all coming, but until then I have this great 'snack' or 'appetizer' to share with you. My kids ate them as a snack but I can definitely see them as a finger food at a party as well. They hold up great and can be eaten fresh and warm out of the oven or at room temperature.

I developed these in a frantic panic one afternoon when it had been about two weeks since we had been to the grocery store.  It honestly looked like our fridge had been robbed by the food police.  We had slim, milk, some leftover ground sausage, cheese, apples and beer.

What the heck to do you make with that combination?

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

I was bound and determined to NOT load up the three kids and go grab a bite to eat.  I could do this. I could make something out of nothing.

What happened was brillent!  A fun, pizza-style, bite-sized treat.

And here's what's better.  They are freezeable!  You know me and my freezer have a tight bond.  Lay these babies in a single layer on a cookie sheet, stick them in the freezer, then throw them in a freezer sealable bag.

That way you can take a few out at a time, nuke and pop in your mouth!  We ate these with my homemade pizza sauce.  For dunking, of course.  But feel free to dip in whatever trips your fancy.

Sausage Pizza Puffs
Print this Recipe!

3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. milk
3/4 t. baking powder
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 T. Italian seasoning
1/2 lb. cooked and drained, ground sausage

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 24-count mini muffin tin.
2.  In a bowl combine all ingredients to form a soft, thick batter.
3.  Using a spoon fill the muffin tin 3/4 full.
5.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
6.  Serve warm with pizza sauce.

*Feel free to swap in your favorite pizza toppings if you are not a sausage fan.  Chopped veggies, pepperoni, mushrooms, etc.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sweet Potato Carrot Cake Quick Bread

If you love carrot cake, you'll love this bread with a little added nutritional boost!

Lately I've been finding that it is nice to have some sort of muffin, quick bread, pancake or the like on hand for the baby {who turns 1 in less than a month!}.

Bits and pieces of these breads keep her entertained and happy when I first put her in the highchair close to meal time.  I'm usually running around tending to the meal, getting the other kids settled, dishing out plates, drinks and ignoring the chaos around me.

Any type of muffin or bread will keep her happy until the "real" food comes out.  This bread was no different.  She inhaled it, jabbering for more.  So after she ate a whole piece, I didn't feel too bad as it is chalk full of sweet potatoes, carrots, healthy oil and limited sugar.

And did I mention we all loved it too?  It lasted two days in our house, this little loaf of didn't have a chance.

Speaking of breads.  Are you following my "Breads" board on Pinterest?  For the love of all things carb, I have it saved on this page!  Muffins, sandwich bread, monkey bread, dinner rolls, doughs and dessert breads.

Don't be ashamed.

I know you like bread just as much as I do.

And if you don't, well then, I know you are lying.

If you have leftover cooked sweet potato set it aside for this bread.  Or you can be like me and just nuke a small one in the microwave specifically for this bread.

Yes, I know I should eat it plain {without butter, without sugar, without know everything that makes it good}, but my mind doesn't work like that.

I wanted bread.

Sweet Potato Carrot Cake Quick Bread
Print this Recipe!

1 egg
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. melted coconut oil {or vegetable oil}
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 small sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease one loaf pan.
2.  In a bowl or mixer combine the first 8 ingredients.
3.  Sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda, stirring just to combine.
4.  Fold in the mashed sweet potato and grated carrot.
5.  The batter will be thick.  Pour into the loaf pan.
6.  Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly browned and golden.  Allow to cool, then invert onto a wire rack.  Keep wrapped or covered for a few days to stay fresh.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Creamy Tomato, Bacon and Artichoke Grilled Cheese

I've entered this sandwich into the 2015 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown.

I bought a jar of marinated artichokes at Trader Joe's a few months back and I've been hoarding them in my cupboard every since.  I was not about to waste these beauties on anything not worth while.  I didn't feel it was fitting to make spinach and artichoke dip and have no where to take it, then be FORCED to eat it all myself over the course of a week. sat.

Then April rolled around.  Do you know what April is?  It's National Grilled Cheese Month.  

I know.

A whole month dedicated to one of my favorite sandwiches.  It's like my birthday over and over for 30 days!

And then because I'm on various types of social media daily for my blog, I kept seeing links for the 2015 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown, with the Grand Prize being $15,000.

I can dream up a decadent grilled cheese in the hopes of winning $15,000.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure everyone and their brother is doing the same thing, so I'm guessing my chances of winning are SUPER low, but a girl can dream right?

I know for a fact that this grilled cheese is top notch.  I had one.  The husband had one.  He promptly said, "Please don't make these again.  Ally, I just can't.  I cannot even know what is in that sandwich. I know it had about 4,000 calories and if you keep making those I'll never stay in shape."

{Me, a bit heartbroken, looking sad}

"Ally it was awesome.  I just can't eat like that every night."

Well, duh!  I don't cook like this every night, but if there is a chance {a slim, slim, not even worth noting} chance of winning $15,000...well, then I'll do it!

And to all those haters thinking they don't like artichokes?  Let me prove you wrong!  This grilled cheese is creamy, salty, buttery and just so, so, so good.  You probably won't even know you're eating them.

I want all my friends to make it, and then report back to me.  Will you do that for me?  Make it and tell me if your husband claimed he could never eat it again for fear he'll gave a few pounds?

Join me!

Creamy Tomato, Bacon & Artichoke Grilled Cheese
Print this Recipe!

*This is enough for two sandwiches, you will have extra "dip" on hand.  Either make more sandwiches or eat the dip warm with crackers, chips, veggies or warm bread.

4 slices 12-grain, whole wheat bread
sliced tomatoes
4 slices cooked bacon
12 oz. jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T. minced garlic
2 slices fresh buffalo mozzarella

1.  In a bowl combine the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic and artichokes.  Mix to combine.
2.  Heat a skillet to medium heat.
3.  Butter the outsides of the bread.
4.  Layer the sandwich in this order:  Buttered bread, artichoke spread, sliced tomatoes, 2 slices cooked bacon, buffalo mozzarella, another slice of buttered bread.
5.  Cook the sandwich on one side until golden brown and crispy.  Gently flip and cook the other side until cheese is melted and golden brown.  You can place a piece of foil over the skillet to speed up the melting if needed.
6.  Cut into triangles and serve warm.

P.S.  I named this "The Choke" for the contest.  But for obvious reasons I am calling it a "Creamy Tomato, Bacon & Artichoke Grilled Cheese" here on the blog.  I didn't want to confuse my readers {i.e. my mom}.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

This dish is perfect for the lazy cook, the oven does all the work!

Sometimes I get really lazy when it comes to food.  I want a dish, it sounds good, but I have no intentions of making it.  Then I sit there and think about it, wanting it, and yet I still do nothing about it.

This is one of those dishes.

I had a hankering for something "teriyaki", but it was just one of those days.  The thought of defrosting chicken, cooking the chicken, stir-frying the vegetables, cooking the rice, well it sounded about as fun as a root canal.

I just wasn't in the mood.

Then I had a thought.

What if I simply put all the ingredients in a dish and made it more like a casserole?  Heck yeah!  Here in the Midwest, we are know for our casseroles.  I'm not really sure where it steams from....maybe the farmer's wives needing to throw together a dish that was easy enough to feed a crowd?  

Well I'm definitely not a farmer's wife, but I do love a meal that is easy, feeds a crowd and everything is in one, simple dish.  Veggies?  Yep.  Protein?  Yep.  Starch?  Yep.

I'm going to admit, I wasn't sure how this one would turn out.  I've had my share of flops.  If you only knew some of the stuff I've made that doesn't have a chance of making it here on the blog.  Horrible! Absolutely, positively horrible.

But this one passed the test.  It cured my craving for teriyaki "whatever".  It was simple and easy and better yet tasted good!

Chicken Teriyaki Casserole
Print the Recipe!

2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 c. broccoli florets
1/2 c. peas
1 carrot, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 c. chicken stock
3/4 c. soy sauce
1/8 c. teriyaki sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 c. uncooked rice

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2.  Place the cubed {non-cooked} chicken, broccoli, peas, carrot and garlic in the bottom of the baking dish.
3.  In a bowl combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Pour this mixture over the chicken and veggies.  Sprinkle in the uncooked rice and stir.
4.  Cover and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and give it a stir.
5.  Keeping the cover off, place it back in the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.
6.  Serve warm.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Reuben Wraps

No rye bread on hand?  No worries!  Wrap your reuben up in a tortilla!

I'm a list maker.

I've said before that I will put something down on a list that I've already done just so I can cross it off right away.  It's the Type A in me.  I very much like the "visual" of seeing things get done.

About a week ago, for whatever reason, our house seemed like it was in a tailspin.  Laundry was everywhere, the kid's rooms were a disaster, we had three days of dentist appointments, haircuts and vet appointments.  It felt like we were running in one door and out the other just as fast.

That kind of life doesn't sit well with me.

I need organization and some calm every now and then.

So when I got ALL the fixings for reubens and then realized I didn't have good quality bread to put it on, I said screw it, and threw it all in a tortilla and prayed it would turn out.

Guess what....

They turned out.  They really, really turned out good.  So much so, that the husband ate one COLD at 2 a.m. when he got home from work and said they were even tasty straight out of the fridge.

Because, you know, he ain't got time for that 'heating up in the microwave thing'.

I used my homemade thousand island dressing for these wraps, but you could certainly buy a store bought dressing.  I won't judge.  Really, I won't.  Remember my laundry filled, disaster of a house? Yeah, I have many faults too.

And please ignore my chapped, dry hands in this photo.  Really.  How did I not notice that?

Anyway, put these wraps in your lunch meal rotation {or dinner rotation, but for some reason I feel like reubens are meant to be eaten at lunch}.

Lots and lots and lots of things coming on the blog!  A healthy sweet potato and carrot quick bread {my 11 month old ate a whole slice yesterday and wanted more}, chicken teriyaki casserole, a cookbook review and giveaway and much more!

And don't forget I'm headed to Chicago later next week!

Reuben Wraps
Print this Recipe!

4 large flour tortillas
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 lb. corned beef, sliced thin
1 c. sauerkraut
thousand island dressing

1.  On a flat surface, lay down the tortilla, then cheese, meat, sauerkraut and healthy dose of dressing. Fold the sides of the tortilla in and roll up from the bottom.  Place wrap seam side down on a baking sheet.
2.  Bake wraps for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees or until heated through and slightly crispy.
3.  Serve with additional thousand island dressing for dipping.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Summer Bucket List: 10 Things I Hope to Accomplish...and Why I Won't Be Upset if it All Doesn't Get Done

I'm deviating from food a bit today {although I will mention it a bit}.  For the past couple of weeks I've been thinking about the upcoming summer.  I will have officially been a stay-at-home-mom for a year next month.  What a year it's been!

Even though I was home last summer, it didn't quite feel like "summer" to me.  I was feeding an infant every two hours and surviving on little sleep taking care of her older siblings.  So, this summer actually feels real to me.

I'm excited!  I'm ready for long days, park play dates, drinks on the back deck, t-ball games and yummy summer food.

I've been brainstorming some "bucket list" items that I want to accomplish this summer and have been scribbling them down when they come to mind.  So here they are!  BUT.  Here is the big disclaimer.  I am not going to be Hitler about this.

This list is just a list and only that.  Has anyone ever had a list that got completely accomplished?  If so, there aren't many.  I'm going into this fully aware that I may only get seven of these "items" crossed off and I'm okay with that.  I am not going to panic come August 15th looking at my list to see we still haven't made it to the zoo.  Or that I only accomplished two sponsored blog posts over the summer versus the four I was shooting for.....I am not going to sweat this.

If I get through this list, well then, great!  If I don't, I guess I'll try again next summer.

And it's okay to laugh at some of these.  I'm a pretty simple person.  

1.  Visit our local Children's Museum three times.  My brother and sister-in-law gave us a membership to this museum for Christmas.  What an awesome gift.  The kid's have a blast and they learn so much at the same time.  Plus it's connected to a great mall {and a Target, hello!} with a nice food court so we can make it a full stop.

2.  Shoot for three dates nights.  Right now the husband and I are lucky to get one date night a quarter.  His work schedule just makes it SO difficult.  But, his schedule is changing {praise the Lord!} so I have high hopes this will become easier.  I'm happy with a simple dinner out, but if we are lucky and can make it a night away or combine dinner with a ballgame or a party with friends, I'm happy with that.

3.  Naps, at least three a week.  Yes, you heard me right, I'm putting NAPS on my summer bucket list.  There are days I'm running from 5:00 a.m. till 8:00 p.m. with rarely sitting down.  I get tired!  I am not afraid to admit this.  Some of my best naps come when I'm reading my book on the deck in the sun.  I get about a chapter in and I'm OUT.

4.  Play dates with friends at the park at least once a week.  I have a great circles of friends I've made in this little town.  And although they are not my best friends from my hometown and college that I miss dearly sometimes, they come in at a close second {I hope they don't take that as an insult}. We like to meet around 10 a.m., pack a nice lunch and then head back home just in time for the kid's naps.

5.  Swim lessons for the two older kids.  I'll admit it's been since last summer since they had them, but they still swim like fish whenever they are around water.  BUT, I know they needs some touching up of the basics.  We are lucky to have a great babysitter/next-door-neighbor who the kids love and she does great private lessons with them.

6.  Visit our local zoo.  For the past 3 years we keep saying we need to take the kids to the zoo {they've been, just not with us} and for whatever reason it just never happens.  THIS IS THE SUMMER.  Our 5 1/2 year old and 4 year old will love this and I have a sneaky suspicion that our soon to be one year old {what?} will squeal with delight.

7.  Continue reading off my book list.  I have an ongoing list of books that I want to read.  I get most of my recommendations off of Instagram.  Once someone I like to follow starts raving about a book, I write it down and promptly see if my library has it.  Here are the next three on my list.

8.  Have at least three GNO's.  Girl's Night Out.  I can come off as a somewhat quiet person, but once I get to know you and you get to know me I'm a bit loud, in your face and blunt {all in a good way}.  One of my absolute favorite things in the world to do is to hang with my girls.  I do not need anything fancy. Just give me a drink, some good food and a table to sit my world that is perfection.

9.  Have "school" time once a day.  Our oldest will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall and our middle child will be in everyday morning preschool.  They are both as smart as a whip and I want to make sure they keep up with their ABCs, counting, matching, coloring, etc. as the summer goes along.  Does anyone know of any daily learning "tasks" out there that you can follow during the summer months?  I'd love to hear them!

10.  Continue with blog growth.  I don't really have a way to measure this {other than via money}, but I want to continue blogging three times a week, seeking sponsorships and freelance opportunities and continue meeting other bloggers.  We already have a great community, especially here in Iowa! And heck, summer is the best time for recipe development...we have SO much natural light.

I kept this list at 10, but I didn't even mention gardening, the farmer's market or my fitness goals.  So many to chose from!

What is on your Summer Bucket List?

And here are three other great "bucket lists" from friends of mine.  Hop on over to read their list!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How to Make Homemade Brownie Mix for Your Pantry

At just around .40 to make, this homemade brownie mix is 
perfect to have on hand when that sweet tooth arrives.

I often dream of having an immaculate, filled-to-the-brim pantry.  One where I can walk in, do a 360 and not hit any of the shelves, because it is just THAT BIG.

One that has everything I use on a daily basis and then some.  Five boxes of spaghetti?  Got it.  Row and rows of canned tomatoes?  Got it.  Bulk bins full of flour, sugar and the like?  It's there.

What a dream that would be!

I think like anyone, someday I hope I'll be able to have a pantry like this.  Until then, I'll stick with my two cupboards that hold my stash.

Last week we had a nice little "celebration" day when we got some really good, much needed news. Nothing major, nothing totally life changing, but something we've been wanting for, for a long time. So, like with any celebration I got the urge to bake.  The kids and I wanted chocolate.  Brownies to be exact.

But of course I did not have a brownie mix on hand in my two cupboard pantry.

Like any normal person I got on the computer and Googled different variations on making my own mixes.  I've made homemade brownies before {super easy}, I just never pre-measured the dry ingredients to keep on hand for a future pan.  

These brownies are perfect for birthdays.  And these I served at a dinner party once. And how could I forget these made with a VERY unusual ingredient?   All are mouthwatering!

After looking at a few recipes and making up my own, I got to work.  I made three mixes, using one of them for this pan.  I then threw in shredded coconut, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and pecans for good measure.  They were loaded!

You know what else this mix is great for?  Freezer Swap parties or when you are delivering goods for a new mom or neighbor.  Who doesn't love a homemade mix that only requires eggs, vanilla and butter to make it complete right before baking?


How to Make Homemade Brownie Mix for Your Pantry

What you'll need:
Gallon Freezer Storage Bags
Black Sharpie Marker

*this recipe makes one batch, feel free to double or triple to have more on hand

1 1/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. white sugar

Prior to baking {Wet Ingredients}
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. melted butter

1.  Before assembling, label the storage bag as "Homemade Brownie Mix" and then "To Bake: Mix in 3 beaten eggs, vanilla and melted butter to the dry ingredients.  Spread in a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.  Fold in other ingredients if desired: chocolate chips, nuts, etc."
2.  Place the storage bag in a bowl {to prevent spilling} and add in the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar.  Stir to combine.  Gently seal the bag, squeezing out all excess air.
3.  Keep this in your pantry for up to 3 months.  Or in your freezer for up to 6 months.