Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats: February 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chicken Cutlets in a Mushroom Gravy {one skillet meal!}


Ever crave a Sunday dinner type meal, but you most certainly do NOT want to take the time for it on a weeknight?

If you answered yes, then this is the DISH for you.

Better yet?  Everything is cooked in one skillet.  Did you hear that?  When are done and stuffed to the brim, you only have ONE dish to wash up!  More time for your family or if you're like me, more time to finally crash on the couch once everything is done for the day.

Chicken is a staple in our house, but like many it can get boring.  There is nothing worse than a dried out, plain, boring chicken breast.  It can make anyone turn up their nose.  Including kids.  {Trust me, mine have}. But you see, with this chicken it is sauteed in olive oil and seasonings and chicken stock and well, it just is super flavorful.


I served this with garlic mashed potatoes.  Do I really have to explain why?  I mean, chicken, garlic and mashed potatoes pretty much go together.  Like dark chocolate and almonds.  Or a burger and fries.  Or even better, milk and cookies.  You get the picture.

To save yourself a step have chicken cleaned, trimmed and pounded thin the day prior, preferably while alone.  That way when you pull them out of the fridge to get started on dinner this night, it saves you a step.

And the sanity of your children asking you OVER and OVER why you are beating the chicken with a mallet.

{This only comes from experience.}

Monday, February 24, 2014

Double Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake


Last week it was the husband's birthday and Valentine's Day.....and in the midst of all of that, we also had to say goodbye to our beloved Golden Retriever.  It seemed like every other day it was 'something'.

Our little guy was celebrating at school with his first Valentine's Day party one day, we were trying to squeeze in celebrating their dad's birthday with his crazy work schedule on another day and yet in the back of our mind's we had a very sick love able, genuine, companion who was nearing the end.

Our heart was breaking a bit.  She had been a faithful dog for 11+ years.  For anyone who has lost a pet knows how hard it is.  But what makes it even harder is explaining to a 4.5 and almost 3 year old why their best friend isn't coming back home.  We take care in knowing she is now with her best friend, Duke, whom we also lost just over a year ago.  I can't imagine our household will be dog-less long.  We just aren't a family that does well without a furry four-legger.  Even with a new baby coming along soon, I'm imagining hearing a pitter-patter on our floors sooner rather than later.

With all this being said, this yummy, delectable cake cheered us up a bit.


See that middle layer there?

It's a layer sent straight from heaven.  I experimented this past week and boiled a can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours and turned it into the most delicious dulce de leche sauce you will have ever tasted.

I was a little worried that it would explode all over my kitchen {I had heard stories} but it didn't!  The key is to keep it at a soft boil for 3 hours, turning the can over every 30 minutes {to prevent scorching} and to always keep water over the can during the boil.  I'm not scared of it anymore.

This is the key layer to this cake - don't skimp and buy a jarred caramel sauce, it will not be the same.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Iowa Food Blogger $225 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!


I've got something REALLY special for you today folks.  You see about a year ago, I started searching the web for all other food bloggers in my home state.  Well, low and behold there are a lot of them.  

A good chunk of us met up this past fall, another batch of us are meeting up in a few weeks and I'm sure they'll be another gathering yet this summer.  All of these girls {and a few guys!} are talented beyond measure.  We all bring something different to the table.  Some of us focus on homesteading, some on local eats, some dedicated to baking and others do a great job of combining all of the above.

Well, because we LOVE you, our readers, and because we love blogging, we thought we'd team up together and host a giveaway.

Starting today we'll ALL be hosting this giveaway.  We are excited to offer one of our readers a $225 Visa Gift Card.

To use on whatever you want.

We've given you multiple chances to enter via the Rafflecopter link below.  By simply "liking" our Facebook page or "following" us on Pinterest, you are entered for multiple chances to win.  This giveaway runs from today until midnight on next Friday, February 28th, at which point the system will generate a random winner and I'll ship that beauty of a gift card out in the mail to YOU.

Speaking of these great bloggers...have you visited their pages yet?  If you get a chance, stop on by and say hi.  We work hard on these little blogs and your comments make our day.


So, what would you use $225 on?

I'm not sure if I'd be practical and buy a slew of diapers for our upcoming addition or splurge on myself and put it towards a new laptop or camera.

Or maybe THESE?  Multiple boxes?  I'm obsessed.

Good luck!  And it may take a moment for the giveaway link to load.  Just let it take its time, very much worth the wait!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mushroom, Bacon & Swiss Macaroni & Cheese


Oh baby, I really outdid myself this time.

It started out with a simple lunch idea.  "I think I'll make some homemade macaroni and cheese for the kids". It had been awhile since I indulged them a bit.  But then I opened the fridge.

Some fresh, local bacon stared back at me.  And Swiss cheese.  And mushrooms.  It all came together like a perfect pairing.

One of my all-time favorite burgers to order when eating out is a mushroom and Swiss burger....so why not throw in some bacon and make it a trifecta?  Then I scrolled some of my mac and cheese recipes and I came across one where the noodles cooked in the boiling milk/water combo, making it extra, extra cheesy.

The fun didn't stop here.

Recently, KitchenAid {a brand that I ADORE} sent me a brand new toaster oven.  Just because.  They support food bloggers and for some great reason they decided to support me. I was over the moon the day it came.



So, as you can imagine, once I had this dish assembled, I put it into a 8x8 baking dish, topped it with some breadcrumbs and threw it in the toaster oven so it could get crunchy on the top, yet stay nice and creamy in the middle.

Greatest idea ever.

{P.S. stay tuned for a BIG giveaway on Friday.  It involves cash and would allow you to purchase a toaster oven like the one I received one - and more!}



By the way, you can purchase your own toaster oven HERE.

This is one of the creamiest, most flavorful macaroni and cheeses I've ever made.  Hands down.  The bacon and sauteed mushrooms just take it over the top.

My kids are a bit, shall we say, hesitant about mushrooms, so they picked around them, but bacon?  Well, they'd eat it for every meal if I let them.  If you dislike mushrooms as well, I suppose you could leave them out, but by all means....

DO NOT FORGET THE BACON.

The bacon adds the saltiness you need, without adding additional salt.  It adds crunch, texture and a hint of smokiness.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Homemade Frozen Pizza - Make Your Own!


I've talked about many my own frozen pizzas before, but honestly I just felt like it was time to talk about it again.  I hope you don't mind.

I'm starting to get into the "nesting" phase of this pregnancy.  I'm itching to get the kids rooms switched around, the babies room put together {nothing has been done yet}, clothes sorted through, etc.  With all these material things circling around me, I am also starting to think of doing a whole lot of meal prep.

Usually before each of my babies have been born, I spend a day or two prepping a big batch of freezer meals and "stocking up" so that when the babe arrives and all I can manage are diapers and feedings, at least I have food ready to go, that may only require some thawing.

It really makes a world of a different.  BUT, making these homemade frozen pizzas are not just for mothers-to-be, they are for everyone!  Whether single, retired or raising a family of six, it is always nice to pull one of these out of the freezer for a quick dinner.


So, want to learn how to make one?

Here we go.

{Print this Recipe!}

Step 1: Prepare pizza dough.  I use this recipe.  It never fails me.

Step 2:  Gather all ingredients and preheat oven and pizza stone to 425 degrees.

Step 3:  Roll/stretch out dough to desired shape.  Place dough on hot pizza stone and bake for 3-5 minutes.  Just until it is starting to cook and easy to remove from oven.

Step 4:  Place par-baked dough on a baking sheet and assemble {sauce, cheese, toppings}.

Step 5:  Place in a deep freeze or freezer for at least 45 minutes, uncovered.

Step 6:  Remove from freezer and tightly wrap in plastic wrap, also including directions for baking.  {Most pizzas will reheat at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so}.

Step 7:  Place back in freezer, where the pizza can stay for up to 3 months.

If you haven't invested in a quality pizza stone by now {and you eat a lot of pizza like us}, you need to!  It makes homemade crust crispy on the outside, yet chewy on the inside.  I will not make pizza without mine.

Here is a nice one that is 35% OFF on Amazon right now - snatch it up!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

These Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos find a place on our dinner table 
at least once a month.
A family favorite for sure!

crock pot shredded chicken tacos (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I realize I've given you two "taco" like recipes in the past two weeks, but what can I say? This pregnant mama is craving Mexican.

So I hope you can bare with me.  This are really, really good.  And really, really simple.  And it can feed a crowd, aka, my family.  Granted there are only four of us, but one is the husband who can put away a few platefuls and think nothing of it.

We did have a bit of this meat leftover the next day, so I wrapped them up with some cheese and extra sauce and made a few enchiladas.  Same stuff, different meal!

crock pot shredded chicken tacos (sweetandsavoryfood.com)


Now these tacos are exciting, but I also have some other things brewing on this little old blog. First off, have you been following my daily Facebook posts?  We are currently on Day #12. I can't believe the month of February is almost half way done.  I've gotten some great feedback from you guys....I hope you keep tuning in!

Also, during the last week of February a group of about 10 other Iowa food bloggers and I will be hosting a thrilling and fantastic giveaway.  One you definitely don't want to miss out on.  I'll give you a hint....it involves money.

For you.

Excited yet?

crock pot shredded chicken tacos (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I guess if money doesn't excite you, then I sure hope these tacos do!  Because let's be honest most of the work for this dinner is done with the help of a crock pot.  I use my 5 Quart Crock Pot and it works great!  The perfect size.

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

Print this Recipe!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 t. cumin
2 garlic cloves
1 onion, finely sliced
1 32 oz. can whole tomatoes
2 c. chicken broth
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2 T. oil

1.  In a skillet, heated to medium high, add oil.  Saute onion until translucent.
2.  Add onions, chicken breasts and chicken broth to the crock pot.
3.  In a blender combine spices, garlic cloves and tomatoes.  Blend on high until smooth.  Pour mixture into the crock pot.
4.  Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
5.  Remove the lid and shred the chicken once cooked, allowing to simmer in the sauce until ready to serve.
6.  Assemble as tacos.

Happy Hump Day!

And Happy Birthday to my husband.  For 6 months out of the year we are the same age.  Starting today.  I feel so much better during these 6 months.

crock pot shredded chicken tacos (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine Cream Cheese Cookies


Every year I try and bake something all "Valentine-y" for the kids and us.  We don't really do gifts, but we do bake!  Even though I'm a few days early I figured that was okay because now it gives my readers time to make them before the lovey-dovey day.

This is a really simple sugar cookie dough, filled with cream cheese and almond extract. Probably the best combination in a cookie, in my opinion.  And talk about easy!  Do not get intimidated.....heck, they aren't frosted so right there that takes out a step usually found in sugar cookies.

Much, much easier.


I added red crystal sugar {or sprinkles}to the dough, which gave it its pink hue.  Exactly what I wanted....pink cookies!

I also threw in some sprinkles, as the Little Miss was "helping" and "insisted".  That is why in some of these photos you can see some yellow, white and purple jimmies.  Just go with it - use whatever you want!

The kids and I made these while the husband was working....I was later woken up when he got home from work to "please...don't ever make those cookies again....they were so good, I had way too many".

I'll take that as a compliment.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Del Monte® Fruit Packs and Walmart Gift Card Giveaway


I often have product landing on my doorstep to try.  What can I say, it is the best part about being a food blogger!  When Del Monte® contacted me about trying their new Fruit Burst®Squeezers and  Del Monte® Fruit Cup® Snacks it didn't take me long to respond back with a quick "Yes"!

Knowing that I was a parent to two littles, one that attends preschool half-time, their new products are geared towards those busy days when things get hectic and a snack is needed PRONTO.  Not only for the sanity of the low-blood-sugar toddler standing before me, but for me, my sanity.

Saying my kids were excited to try these were an understatement.  I normally do not buy any prepared fruit or veggie snack, we eat mostly fresh, mainly due to the expense.  But I was happy to let them share these {which they sucked down like candy} for something new and fun.  It's all about experiences, right?

Here is some helpful and useful information on these two products:

About Fruit Burst Squeezers
Made in the U.S.A., Del Monte® Fruit Burst®Squeezers contain 1 ½ servings of fruit or fruit and veggies and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. In addition, Del Monte® Fruit Burst®Squeezers contain no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup.
-         Peach-MangoPear puree concentrate, water, pumpkin juice concentrate, peach puree concentrate, pear juice concentrate, carrot juice concentrate, carrot puree, mango puree concentrate, natural flavors, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid.
-         BlueberryPear puree concentrate, water, pumpkin juice concentrate, pear juice concentrate, natural flavors, carrot puree, blueberry puree concentrate, fruit and vegetable extracts for color, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid.
-         Apple CinnamonPear puree concentrate, water, apple puree concentrate, pear juice concentrate, natural flavors, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), cinnamon, malic acid.
-         Mixed Berry: Pear puree concentrate, water, pear juice concentrate, natural flavors, strawberry puree, red raspberry puree concentrate, blueberry puree concentrate, fruit and vegetable extracts for color, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), malic acid.
-         Strawberry: Pear puree concentrate, water, pear juice concentrate, strawberry puree concentrate, natural flavors, carmine, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), malic acid.
Mango Fruit Cup® Snacks
-         These rich and luscious mangos are a healthy way to add a little sweetness to your day - fat-free, cholesterol free, and high in Vitamin C - that you can enjoy anywhere.
-         Del Monte® Mango Pineapple Fruit Cup® Snacks combine two of the world’s most popular fruits: mango and pineapple. Made with rich and luscious mangos and pineapple, they contain no high fructose corn syrup and are a rich source of vitamin C.
Available at your local Walmart, be sure to add these squeezable snacks and fun fruit cups to your cart while picking up essentials for your family!

The kind folks at Del Monte® also wanted to give a little gift to one of my readers:
  • $25 Walmart gift card
  • 2 Del Monte VIP coupons

Who can't use a Walmart gift card?  And who wants to add some free food to their shopping cart?  I hope it is YOU!

Please enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter gadget below.  Many chances and ways to enter!  A random winner will be chosen Thursday, February 13.

The Del Monte products, information, gift pack, and gift card have been provided by Del Monte

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Green MONSTER Smoothie {a great meal replacement!}


A few days ago I posted some information on Facebook about a delicious and healthy green smoothie I made at home that kept me full for hours.  I was shocked to hear that many didn't know what a green monster was!

Well, I'm here to inform.

Yes, this shake {if you'd like to call it that} looks a little intimidating due to it's bright green color, but let me be the first to tell you, it's yummy!  It's creamy, smooth and pretty much goes down like a milkshake.  Yet - it is not unhealthy like a milkshake - it is the exact opposite - pretty darn good for you!

Don't be afraid, try one of these at home, okay?


With only 5 ingredients, this smoothie is super simple.  All you really need is a good blender to make it velvety smooth.

I made this for "lunch" the other day and it kept me full for hours.  I've also made them for breakfast on days I have to work and I'm in a rush to get out the door.  I just put a few ice cubes in it to keep it cold, attach my tumbler with a sturdy lid and straw and suck it down on my drive to work.

Yum, yum in the tum, tum.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Taco Pie


We are currently in a winter wonderland {along with most of the country} and I wanted something hearty, yet a bit light {the salad topping} for supper.

This dish is similar to one I first had in college at a friend's apartment.  Not sure why we were having such a good meal versus Easy Mac or take-out pizza, but I guess that is a good thing!  Ugh.  Just thinking back to what we ate in college has me grossed out.  How far we have come...

Anyway.  I remember eating something similar to this and magically a few weeks back I thought about it again.  I wasn't sure of all the ingredients, but I knew the basics and just made this pie my own.


What a crowd pleaser!  Everyone loved this and we had leftovers for another meal, which almost makes me even more happy.

The crust stays crispy, the middle is hearty and you can top this with whatever your little heart desires.  I stayed basic with lettuce, tomatoes and salsa, but feel free to add sour cream, crushed chips, jalapenos or onions.

I also went outside on the front step to take photos of this dish in my bath robe, with my hind end sticking up in the air.  It gives me the best light so I sacrafice the the "eye-daggers" I feel stabbing me in the back from my neighbors while I'm snapping shots.

I'm sure they think I'm crazy.