Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Gifts Unwrapped

I think there are only a handful of people out there who get excited about the gifts shown below. First off you've got to love food, and secondly you have to love to bake or cook. And third, if you don't like rules #1 or #2, well then you wouldn't like to receive these gifts. This is just a sampling of some of my gifts I received for Christmas this year. Excited? That is an understatement.

The Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcake mix, looks amazing. If you've ever watched her show on the Food Network, then you can just imagine how good they probably taste. I also received 4 (!) cookbooks this year, and the two shown are all about COOKIES. What could be better? And last but not least, the lovely hand grater. Yes, I asked for this. Trust me, it makes grating cheese, garlic, whatever that much simpler because it can be placed directly over your mixing bowl. Genius!

What did you get for Christmas? Anything cooking related?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quiche....ever made one?

I have never made a quiche before. Plenty of egg casseroles or egg bake, but never a quiche. And really what is the difference other than the crust? And maybe the texture? According to my research (i.e. Google), quiches tend to be fluffier and have a more custard like filling, as it typically has a more liquid to egg ratio. Regardless I made one tonight!

I had leftover ham from dinner last night (another great recipe - place ham in crockpot and slather on Newman's Own Light Honey Mustard dressing - delightful). Anyway, back to the quiche, I also added some chopped broccoli and pepperjack cheese. It turned out to be really, really good.
Ham & Broccoli Quiche

1 pint Egg Beaters
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. mayo
1 1/2 c. pepperjack cheese
1 c. chopped broccoli
1 c. chopped ham
1 pre-made pie crust
salt/pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prick pie shell with fork. Bake for 5 min. Take crust out and turn oven down to 375 degrees. Layer in ham and broccoli. In blender combine first 4 ingredients and pulse until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 35-40 min. or until knife inserted comes out clean. Let stand for 10 min. before cutting.

*You may want to cover edges of pie crust with foil to prevent it from browning too much*

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vitalicious Sample Pack Giveaway!

Head on over to and enter to win a 24-pack of Vitalicious Muffin Tops! Trust me...they are GOOD. My friend Lori and I came upon these a few years ago when we were doing Weight Watchers through work. They are soft, decadent and delicious! Oh, and they are even better with a dollop of whipped cream (fat free, of course).

You can enter up to 3 times by December 31st at 3pm Central Time. Maybe you'll be the winner!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pizza Night

I think I am in a food coma. I absolutely LOVE the holidays, but gosh, there is always so much food. Last night at my in-laws I went to bed with a stomach ache, and I'm pretty sure it was just from all the junk I ate all day. I do have a ton of pictures to sort through from the weekend and the various goodies we made/ate. So keep posted for those!

So, after these last few days and all the Christmas' we attended, I didn't think we could possibly consume one more morsel....but I was wrong. We needed something for supper tonight, and I personally didn't feel like leftovers (save that for tomorrow), so I took out the fixins for homemade pizza. I had two pizza doughs that needed to be used up and I also wanted to try a new kind I had thought up - White Pizza. Of course I made our usual (canadian bacon/mushroom), but I also threw in this new one to try. It was a hit! So easy to make and tastes yummy!

White Pizza

1 pkg. refridgerated pizza crust (I use Pillsbury thin crust)
1 c. garlic alfredo sauce
2 roma tomatoes
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 pkg. sliced canadian bacon
2 c. mozzerella cheese
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread pizza crust on greased baking sheet. Brush olive oil all over crust and spread on minced garlic. Cook crust alone for 5 min. in oven or until it is about 3/4 of the way done (I find this helps to prevent a soggy crust). Take crust out and spread alfredo sauce on crust all the way to the edges. Layer on sliced tomatoes and canadian bacon and sprinkle with cheese. Top with chopped parsley. Put back in oven and bake for an additional 5 min. Then turn oven to broil and cook until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Don't walk away from the oven when broil is on! Let the pizza stand for a couple of minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apple Crisp/Crumble for Two

Looking in the crisper drawer this morning I noticed I had 3 big apples in there that needed to be used up, and with us being gone this weekend for the holidays I knew by the time we came back they'd probably be mush! So what is better to do with leftover apples, than to make a crisp....or a crumble if you like. This recipe is so simple and makes your house smell wonderful!

On another note, I sure hope we can get to all our Christmas festivities this most know the weather in the Midwest isn't looking the best. I know....shocker! Iowa, bad weather? Never. I'm already dreading loading the truck with an almost 4 month old, presents, two large dogs (with kennels), diaper bag, pack-n-play, suitcases, food, and if we're lucky and if there is enough room - ourselves.

I will have tons of pictures to post after our family gatherings, because there will be oodles and oodles of food and homemade goodies. I'm looking forward to Christmas night as my side of the family is planning on different soups, sandwiches, finger foods and yummy desserts. We try and change it up every year, as that way it doesn't get boring! Last year was Mexican, but after a round of the stomach flu swept through the house later that night, I'm not sure if we'll ever go back to that theme:)'s my crisp/crumble!

Apple Crisp for Two
3 large apples, peeled and sliced
(toss the three sliced apples with 1 T. cinnamon, 1 t. vanilla and 1/3 c. brown sugar)

Crumble topping:
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted

Lay coated apples in greased 8x8 pan. Combine all crumble ingredients and stir in melted butter. Sprinkle crumble on top of apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 min.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nothing beats a good 'ol sandwich

Last year at Christmas, my mom and sister both got a panini press. I had been asking for one for the prior two Christmas', so right then and there I decided I would just go buy one myself. Luckily, my hubby must have gotten the hint as I got one the next day when we exchanged. Happy me!

I just love meats, cheeses, veggies, whatever, pressed between two yummy pieces of bread and cooked until gooey and crispy. Yes, things can be gooey in the middle and crispy on the outside....exactly how a good panini should be. Recipes for paninis are endless, you can literally put anything in between two pieces of bread and make it taste good. I think my absolute favorite panini comes from a restaurant/bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa, called Soho ( This place is half sushi/sandwich shop and half martini bar. It is wonderful! My panini there of choice is their #19 (roasted turkey, smoked ham, bacon, swiss, tomatoes, and sassy soho sauce). Not really sure what is in the sassy soho sauce, but it is GOOD.

So the other day, I made my own panini for lunch with what I had around the house - whole wheat bread, turkey, ham, tomato, cheddar cheese, and barbecue sauce. I know, the barbecue sauce sounds kinda funny, but honestly it is good. Just look at it dripping out this sides...try it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Homemade Granola....and Pita Chips?

Going through my recipes the other day, I found one for "Lori's Granola". Not sure if my good friend, Lori, came up with this recipe, or if she got it from someone else.....regardless it is yummy (and healthy)! It can be eaten plain as cereal or as a topper on oatmeal, yogurt, even ice cream! Trust me, this version will have way less sugar and preservatives (none!) than any store bought kind that has probably been sitting on the shelf for a month.

Lori's Homemade Granola
(this recipe makes a BIG batch, so I recommend halving it to start out)

4 c. oatmeal
1 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. flax seed
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. coconut (Lori's recipe doesn't call for this, but I added it in mine)
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 T. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. canola oil
1/2 c. honey
1 T. vanilla
1/2 c. water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In large bowl mix together oatmeal, wheat germ, flax seed, brown sugar, pecans, almonds, cinnamon and salt. In a seperate bowl combine wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix until coated. Spread in large, greased baking pan or roasting pan. Bake for 45 min, stirring every 15 min. or until toasted. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


P.S. - Below is my new favorite snack! Stacy's Pita Chips.....yum....much healthier than a potato chip! And they were on sale today, even better!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A dippy kind of day...

So, most days my husband would be going to work, but since the state has asked employees to take 5 furlough days before the end of the next fiscal year, he picked today as one of them and is at home with me and the munchkin. First off, can someone tell me why a baby always takes better naps when both parents are home? Can't quite figure that one out.

Since it's not a really exciting day at our house, our food has fallen in that same category it seems. "Dippies" were requested for breakfast. To all of you out there that don't live in our house, that is simply an over-easy egg with toast. They could quite possibly be the most recommended egg in our house. I guess its something about that runny egg yolk being sopped up with buttered toast that everyone loves. I case you're wondering....I opted for Rice Chex.

And for those of you that care, dinner will be MUCH less my annual bi-weekly shopping trip is tomorrow, and we need to stock up! I'm hoping I come back with some good finds and some good deals.

Oh, I almost forgot! I plan on taking a side trip in a few days to visit The New Pioneer Food Co-op in Coralville, IA. I have driven by it before and never really knew what it was, but I came across their website yesterday and fell in love! Check it out - They specialize in everything natural, organic and homemade. From baked goods, coffee, wine, cheese, deli meats, name it, it seems they have it. I'll be sure to post my findings when I get back!

Has anyone been there?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Iowa Girl Eats....another great giveaway!

If you haven't become a follower of yet, you should! Check out her website today, as she is continuing her Month of Holiday Givaways. You can enter up to 3 times by this Friday, December 18th to win one of two prize packages from Food Should Taste Good.

These chips look scrumptious! I am dying to try them.......and......wait for it......they are gluten free, cholesterol and trans fat free, low in sodium and have a good source of fiber! And better yet, everyone says they taste great! Check out their website at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Best Meal for a COLD day....Chili!

Was it really -5 degrees when I woke up this morning? Holy mother of god that is cold! In my opinion the best thing to eat on a cold day is a HOT bowl of soup or chili. Don't you think? And I was so happy when I woke up at 4:52 a.m. (long story) that I didn't have to worry about dinner that night, as I made it the day before! The great thing about chili is that it is even better on day #2 (in my opinion). Most of this recipe comes from my mom, as it was the chili that I grew up with, but I have tweaked it a little to my liking over the years. I have now started to make a somewhat healthier version, that honestly, you can't feel too bad about eating 3 days in a row. I'm not usually a person who can eat the same meal for multiple days in a row, but gosh, chili just gets better with age!

Turkey Chili

2 lb. ground turkey
1 large bottle V-8 or any large bottle tomato juice (I use the no sugar added/low sodium kind)
2 cans tomato sauce (again no sugar/low sodium)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Mrs. Grimes chili beans
1 c. water
1 yellow onion, diced
2 T. chopped garlic
1 T. red pepper flakes
2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
salt/pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add ground turkey and brown. Drain some of the excess grease out of pan (won't be much if using turkey), then add all remaining ingredients and simmer until ready to eat. After about an hour, taste test to see if it needs any additional salt, pepper, chili powder, etc. Can also be kept on low in a crockpot all day for a nice hot meal to come home to!

Anyone else have a good chili recipe? Something unique? Please share in the comments section, I may just try yours out!

Also - visit from now through Friday, December on her "Cans for Comments" page (the blog dated Monday, December 14th), and one can of food will be donated to a local food bank. It's an easy and simple way to help out during the holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Here Come the Gingerbread Men!

As promised, here is another recipe from my holiday baking day on Saturday. Truly, I think it is the cookie that turned out the prettiest! I cannot take credit for this was all Jenelle. Of course, I won't show you the "rejects" we had, but give the girl some credit - using a piping bag is not that easy!

Gingerbread Men Cookies

3 c. Flour
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with eclectic mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/4 in. thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown and cool on baking sheet. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days or freeze for a later use.
Blogger Alert!

P.S. - I made my chili yesterday! Except it was a slightly healthier version that used ground turkey and no sugar added/low sodium tomato juice and sauce. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Baking Extravaganza!

So, it's an annual thing with me to gather a bunch of girlfriends and do some holiday baking. I think it's so much easier to get together with 3 or 4 girlfriends for a whole day, each bring a few recipes and get it DONE! Yes, it makes for a long day, but in the end you go home with tupperware containers filled to the brim and your freezer stocked for the endless holiday gatherings you'll be attending. If you're willing to give up a Saturday to do this, then go for it! Of course there is also TONS of laughing, eating, drinking, and well, a few mistakes. (I won't mention names....ummm.....Jenelle:)

I will be posting a few of the goodies throughout the week. Try them!

One that I contributed was called a Pecan Meltaway.....probably because they do literally melt in your mouth! And this little bite is a nice change up from all the chocolate we tend to consume. To make things easier, I made the dough the night before and put it in the refridgerator. Trust me, this saves you tons of time the next day (and a lot less clean up).

Pecan Meltaways
1 c. butter, softened (I used unsalted butter sticks)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. chopped pecans
Additional powdered sugar

In mixer (KitchenAid is the best!!!), combine butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine flour and salt and gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in pecans. Refridgerate until chilled (or overnight like I did).

Roll into 1 in. balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 min. Roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar and cool on wire racks. When cooled, roll again in powdered sugar.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Another great website...and giveaway!

I encourage all of you foodies out there to visit

It details the life of another Iowan who loves to blog about great food finds and easy to make meals. Look at her page today as you can enter for the chance to win either a Starbucks giftcard or a coupon for a FREE bowl from Noodles & Company!

Check it out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comforting Enchilada Bake

I am so thankful I'm a stay-at-home mom right now....the weather out there is horrible! When I woke up today it was -5 degrees and that doesn't even include the windchill. Sometimes I wonder why we live here....

So last night I threw dinner together from a recipe I use often, but almost everytime it turns out different. It's a great one to just "throw" whatever is in your cupboard in the dish (mexican related, of course). Sometimes I add refried beans, chopped tomato, whatever I am feeling like or have readily available. I call it a "bake" because when you use corn tortillas they have a tendancy to break up and not stay to their true form, therefore sometimes it looks like you've just dumped all this in a dish and well, it doesn't always look pretty in the end, it sure does taste pretty!

I also served a side of mexican rice. Instead of adding the full amount of water it recommends, take out half the water and replace it with either salsa or taco sauce.

Helpful hint: I always try and now buy block cheese instead of the pre-shredded kind. It is cheaper, and somewhere (can't remember where) I heard that they actually use some sort of edible SAWDUST in the pre-packaged kinds so the cheese doesn't stick together in the bag. Now, I have no idea if this is true, but if it is that kinda grosses me out......and if anyone feels like researching it to prove one way or the other, by all means go ahead and let me know!

1 pkg. white corn tortillas
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies (or cut up your own)
1/4 c. sour cream
1 lb. ground beef
1 t. fresh garlic
1/4 t. red pepper chili flakes
1 t. cumin
1 c. monterey jack cheese
2 c. cheddar cheese

In skillet combine ground beef, garlic, chili flakes, cumin and 1/2 can of Rotel. Brown meat until no longer pink. Add sour cream and stir. Pour other 1/2 can of Rotel in bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Microwave tortillas for 30 seconds. Spoon ground beef and monterey jack cheese into tortilla, roll, and place seam side down in dish. Continue until dish is filled. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Place in a 375 degree oven for 30 min. or until cheese is bubbly. Top with shredded lettuce, sour cream, olives, etc.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since it is literally a BLIZZARD outside, I was in the baking mood. It's not like I could even leave the house, so why not make use of my time?

I came across this recipe a couple of years back, as I needed to find something sweet to bring to a family gathering that was gluten free. My husband's family has a couple members that are allergic to all glutens (i.e. wheat, barley, buckwheat, rye, etc.) Because of that they can rarely eat any of the desserts because more often than not they contain flour. If you don't know already flour is in everything! I came upon this recipe online, it looked very simple and only required a few ingredients (woo-hoo!). Even if you don't have a gluten intolerance, these cookies are so easy to make and always get rave reviews....and heck, they are a tad healthier since they have no flour!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. smooth or chunky peanut butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Mix first 5 indgredients together and then add chocolate chips. Forms into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 min. Do not overbake! Makes exactly 2 dozen.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken with Wine Sauce....and/or Beer Sauce

So, I have to admit I stole this one from Paula Deen. My parents went to Savannah, GA a couple years back and visited her restaurant The Lady & Sons ( They brought back a cookbook of hers for me (autographed!) and also said they tasted some of the best pecan pie they'd ever had.

I had most of the indgredients on hand and only substituted two things! Instead of the swiss cheese, I used muenster, which I think tastes somewhat in between swiss and monteray jack. And instead of the white wine I used beer. I know! I just couldn't bring myself to load up a 3 month old in the cold and snow and head to the small town grocery store for a bottle of white wine. I'm sure it would have been a sight though....unshowered, stay-at-home mom with a bottle of wine in one hand and a baby in the other. Actually, come to think of it, I might of fit right in:) And don't laugh at our choice of beer - the hubby is on a kick of drinking cheap beer.

Anyway, the meal turned out good! I would recommend not adding any salt to the recipe as the beer and stuffing made it pretty salty. Next time I'm going to try it with the wine, even if I have to trek out of the house. As a side I also made up my roasted potatoes....which I think we have at least once a week.

Chicken with Wine Sauce (or you can choose my option - Beer Sauce)

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. white wine/beer
4 slices swiss cheese
1/2 pkg. chicken flavored stuffing (I put the rest in the freezer for a later date...)
pepper, to taste
butter, to taste (always butter in a Paula Deen recipe!)

Spray bottom of 9x13 pan with cooking spray and place chicken in pan. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover chicken breasts with sliced cheese. Mix together soup and wine/beer and pour over chicken. Sprinkle stuffing on top and dot with butter.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 40 min. You may need to bake a little longer if you have large, thick chicken breasts, but mine were fairly small.

Oven Roasted Potatoes
3-4 baking potatoes
garlic powder
olive oil

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Dice potatoes into chunks. Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Take hands and mix, coating the potatoes with all the oil.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 40 min, or until golden brown and crispy.

Both of these dishes can be baked right beside each other, for the exact amount of time. Makes it very easy!



Sunday, December 6, 2009

My first post!

The Beginning Starts with Biscuits...

So, I love to bake and cook, hense the name of my blog "Sweet & Savory". Regardless of how geeky it sounds to some, in my free time (with is rare with a newborn!) I love to sift through cookbooks, cooking magazines and the internet for any food ideas. I came across some food blogs and got hooked reading them! Of course I thought I should do this....I'm staying home right now with our newborn son and what else do I have to do while he's napping? Clean! Well, after the cleaning is done, I might as well make use of my time.

I've decided I'll post whenever I get around to it. I'm not going to set myself up for failure. When I cook or bake something that is worth sharing, I'll share with you. Simple as that. I might even share the mishaps. Hopefully a few times a week? Maybe along the way I'll share some tidbits, exciting news, etc. We'll just see how it goes!

Since it is the Christmas season and I did put up our tree today I felt a little in the holiday, I made up a small batch of Christmas tree biscuits. Yeah, they probably sound more exciting than they really are - simply homemade biscuits cut out with a Christmas tree cookie cutter. I haven't tasted one yet (because they are technically to go with our dinner tonight), but of course my husband couldn't resist and I got a thumbs up. I will admit they looked a lot prettier before they baked, and next time I might reduce the cooking time from 12 min. to 10 min, but overall I think it was a success. I'm sure they'll go down nicely tonight slathered with butter and my mom's homemade strawberry jam!

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try them for yourself:

2 cups flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening (I used Crisco sticks)
1/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Sift together flour, shortening and sugar. Add Crisco and cut in with a fork. It will be crumbly. Add milk and blend until moistened. Put on floured board and knead for 30 seconds. With floured rolling pin, roll out to 3/4 in. thickness. Cut with any desired cookie cutter. Place on greased pan and spread melted butter on top (I sprayed my butter Pam on it). Bake for 12 min or until golden brown.