Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: June 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Caramel Brownie Cups

Look at these beauties.

A chocolate lover's dream.

I baked these up the other night, as Wednesday was the last day of a co-worker (the gal I'm replacing).  Nothing can beat a good send off like baked goods right?  She will be greatly missed and I just hope I can get through next week without her.

These are also gluten free, as I used Betty Crocker's GF brownie mix.  Betty Crocker has a great recipe contest going on right now, and I'll be entering this one.  Today is the last day to enter if you are interested!!!

I also entered my Strawberry Poke Cake.  A great 4th of July dessert by the way.  Just sayin'.

Caramel Brownie Cups
1 boxed brownie mix
12 chocolate covered caramel cups
dark chocolate frosting
12 cupcake liners

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place paper cupcake liners in muffins tins and spray with cooking spray.

Mix together brownie mix according to directions.  Fill cups 3/4 full.  Place a caramel cup into the center of the brownie.  Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies are just cooked through (I like mine a little fudgy).

Allow to cool, frost with desired frosting.  I used Betty Crocker's Dark Chocolate canned frosting.  Or show me up and make your own.  Keep in an airtight container and they will stay fresh for a few days.

If they last that long.

God blessed, it's hot out there today.  These brownies wouldn't last 5 minutes.  The little man and I made it out this morning before it got too hot, but I'm pretty sure we are stuck inside for the rest of the day.  Pray for me.

I'm thinking a nice glass of wine or a cold beer, then a fun-filled day of reading books, putting together puzzles and maybe tackling some cleaning.  Did I mention we are potty training?  Yeah, three accidents so far today.  Why does he do so much better at daycare?

And we have a chipped front tooth?  It's like a ticking time bomb with this child.  The husband and him were out in the boat the other night and he took a header....lovely.

Nothing a good caramel brownie bite can't fix.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Farmers Market & Thrift Store Finds

I stopped at the Farmers Market after work today, not only to talk to the gal I used work with at my town's farmers market last year, but of course to also check out the goods.

Ten minutes later I left with kale, fresh wild blackberries, dill and zucchini bread.  Two hours after arriving home, the kale is gone, zucchini bread half gone, the blackberries have a major dent, and half of the dill made into this...

Dilled Mayo
I slathered it on the grilled burgers we had tonight.  Then dropped it all on the floor in a heap.  At least the dogs got a good taste.  Luckily I have more dill and more mayo, so I'm sure another batch will be made.

Ever check out the racks at thrift stores?  I'm not a big looker in the clothing department, but I often browse the book aisles.  Last week I found a TON of cookbooks.  I have an addiction.  Better than coffee and cigarettes, right?

I could have easily walked out of there with about 6 more, but I controlled myself.  It will probably take me a month or two just to get through these.  Geeky, I know, but I love reading cookbooks.

Just about as much as I love trashy magazines.

What are the latest farmers market goodies you've found?

What about thrift store deals?

Now that I'm not working as much, I have time to "browse".  This could be bad!  Watch out!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A "Stuffed" Dinner

Before I get into my "stuffed" dinner, aren't these cupcake potholders and recipe cards adorable?  They went out to 4 lucky readers on Facebook today.  Yeah, if you aren't a fan of Sweet & Savory on Facebook yet, you need to get into the game.  I'm giving away stuff like this all summer!

Don't get your panties in a bunch...I'm giving away goodies on here too.

But, becoming a friend on Facebook doubles your chances.  Just sayin'.

We've had a nice relaxing weekend.  I've done a lot of cleaning, grilling, and quality kiddo time.  Yesterday we took the little man out on the river.  I'm pretty sure he is the only person who can pull off a onesie life jacket and look cute.

For some reason I've been dreaming up this stuffed tomato recipe for awhile now.  Think stuffed pepper, but tomato instead.  They are so easy to whip up, and we just threw them on the grill with the rest of our dinner.  There is no sense in heating up the oven if not needed.

We also tried Ore-Ida's new sweet potato fries courtesy of Foodbuzz and their Tastemaker program.  I would definitely buy these again, even if they weren't FREE!  I was only disappointed that we didn't cook up the whole bag, as we all wanted more.

Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 c. cooked brown rice (mix in 2 T. garlic with the cooking water)
1/2 c. cream cheese
1/4 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. crushed tomatoes

Core out two large tomatoes and remove all pulp and seeds.  Place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle insides of the tomatoes with salt and pepper.  Mix all remaining ingredients and stuff into the tomatoes.  Place baking sheet on upper rack of grill (of wherever there is low heat).  Grill for 20 minutes, or until tomatoes soften and cheese melts.

I also stuffed our burgers with pepper jack cheese and a little Lawry's seasoning.  After this shot I laid another piece of burger on top, sealed the edges, pressed them together and called it good.  Pretty sure all our burgers will be getting stuffed this summer...

Tomorrow starts another work week, but I am much less stressed about it, as I just can't say it enough, "I'm part-time!".  Sorry, if you are getting annoyed with me saying that, but it just makes me so happy.  I've been waiting a LONG time for things to turn around and it finally has.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Girls Night Out

Last night I was able to meet the girls for dinner at Salvatore's.  A great, authentic Italian restaurant.  My meal consisted of pinot grigio, a dinner salad, and their Ranch Romano pizza.  Crispy dough layered with ranch dressing, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese.  It was perfect and just the right amount.

I went in thinking a pasta dish, but was happy I did this instead, as I didn't leave feeling like a bloated whale.  It was good catching up, laughing and planning our our next dinner for next month.  Yes, we are going to make this a monthly thing!

Anyone else out there plan monthly dinners with friends?  If not you need to.  It makes all the stressors of life just roll away...

Today is my day off and I'm relishing in the fact that I have a three day weekend.  I am loving my new job, the people I'll be working with, and the most important part - what I'll be doing.  Finally....finally....finally....things are turning around.

Did I share what I also did last weekend? Made my strawberry freezer jam! I still have extra jars and another 10lb bag of sugar (what was I thinking?) to use up. If you are a jam lover, you'll need to try this recipe.  It could not be simpler and it takes out the hassle of canning (although I know many of you out there enjoy canning).

We spread it on homemade banana blueberry muffins this morning.  Out of a whole batch (12), I believe 5 are left and it's only mid-morning.  Needless to say the little man and daddy scarfed them down at breakfast!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

This is quite possibly the best snack/appetizer I have ever made.  And it couldn't be simpler.  I saw this recipe on IGE, and realized I hadn't consumed a buffalo wing in a long time (the horror!), so this little plate of deliciousness made it to our house over the weekend.

We all know I love my hot buffalo wing dip...and my inside out buffalo wings.  I am a little bit obsessed.  And frankly I am now starting to wonder what else I can stuff into an egg roll wrapper, bake and enjoy.  Why haven't I done this before?

I'm thinking barbecue chicken, nutella and peanut butter, and maybe even a traditional egg roll filling of cabbage, carrot, chicken and spices.

Here are the steps 1, 2 and 3.

Mix shredded chicken with buffalo wing sauce.

Place chicken and ranch cream cheese (8oz. cream cheese & ranch seasoning packet) on egg roll.

Roll up (brush sides with water to seal edges).  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once.
Are you convinced to try these yet?  Even the little man liked them.  I made a plain one for him and he gobbled that down, then gave him a bite of mine and he seemed to like it even better.  We may have a boy who likes the heat like his mama!

In other news...

I started my new job today.  A dramatic change from my previous position, but a good one.  I'm looking forward to flexible hours and being out in the community promoting various events, but I've still got a lot to learn!

Like the name of every president, vice-president, CEO, CFO, council member, etc. in a town I'm still getting familiar with.  But like I said, I will be learning a lot, and hopefully be making contacts with many.

On the Weight Watchers front, I've slacked a little (BAD!)...but I'll be getting back on track this week, with another weigh-in scheduled for Friday.  And check this out, I will be walking in my first race at the end of July.  Now, it's only a two-miler, but it's still a race right?

Gotta start somewhere.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Week in Review...and a WINNER

Here is how my week went:

1.  Monday woke up REALLY late.  Was still able to get two kids out the door in under 45 minutes by 6:15 a.m., and got myself looking presentable.

2.  Tuesday accepted a new job that is part-time, allowing me flexible hours and finally getting me back into the field of marketing, promotions and journalism (ahem...what my degree is in).

3.  Wednesday learned my current position was being eliminated and my last day would be Friday (yeah, thank god I already had a new job lined up).

4.  Thursday had an uneventful day, but relished that nothing life-changing happened that day, so I ate pizza, and paid for it later.

5.  Friday had my last day at my current job and said goodbye to many great co-workers.  Thankfully my new office is just down the street from them and we'll keep in touch.  Oh, and weighed-in.  Gained a pound.  I chalk it up to major life changes and eating pizza.

6.  Saturday celebrated Father's Day a day early as the husband works today.  Spent a few hours at a friend's pond and fished.  Made a yummy feast of chicken and steak kabobs, roasted potatoes, and loaded brownies.  (Not that kind of loaded...think pecans, coconut and chocolate chips).


7.  Sunday (today), relishing in the fact that I get one more day off tomorrow, enjoying my kids, and realizing how lucky I am that everything this last week just "fell into place".

Ever had one of these weeks?  Sometimes looking at these pictures makes everything better.

Our happy little peanut:)

Chillin' at the pond - she didn't do any fishing.

This guy was more interested in the tackle box than the fish.

And last but certainly not least, the winner of my 4th of July package....drum roll please...

Kristen from Change of Pace!  I have been a long time reader of Kristen's blog.  She has a wonderful family, two adorable kids, dogs, the works!  I admire her love for feeding her family healthy, nutritious food, but allowing for those indulgences as well. 

Kristen, shoot me an email ( with your mailing address and I'll get your package out just in time for the 4th!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Perfect GIVEAWAY for the 4th!

The 4th of July is sneaking up on us...I'm pretty sure most the country will be attending some sort of picnic, celebration, parade, or family gathering.

And what do we do at those gatherings?


I couldn't resist picking up these patriotic plates, napkins and silverware the other day while shopping.  Here is your chance to win this package!

24 large plates
24 small plates
2 packages of napkins
48 set of silverware

To enter:
1.  Leave me a comment telling me your favorite 4th of July food.
2.  Become a fan of Sweet & Savory on Facebook.
3.  Follow Sweet & Savory on Google Reader.

That is 3 separate chances people!  I will pick a random winner on Sunday.  Good luck!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Strawberry Poke Cake

This was the first dessert I had in a long while...write that down.  Since starting Weight Watchers again, I pretty much cut out all desserts.

But a girl has gotta indulge once in awhile right?

I strongly believe in having one day a week (especially if you are on some sort of diet), to splurge a little.  This cake was my splurge.  I made it when our friends were over this weekend, as it is one of the husband's favorites.

And well, mine too.

Strawberry Poke Cake
(otherwise known as Jello Cake to many)

1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 box strawberry jello
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
1 box white chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/3 c. milk
1 container whipped topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake mix as directed on box using water, oil and egg whites, bake in 9x13-inch pan.  Cool completely for at least 1 hour.

Pierce cooled cake with fork at 1/2-inch intervals.  In medium bowl, stir gelatin and boiling water until dissolved.  Stir in cold water.  Carefully pour mixture over entire surface of cake.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours or until serving time.

In large bowl, mix pudding mix and milk until well blended.  Gently fold in whipped topping, spread over cake.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve, and after for leftovers.

I haven't met a person who didn't like this cake.  It's light and refreshing for summer and tastes even better when topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries.

Speaking of strawberries...

Look who got caught stealing them off the kitchen counter last night!  My co-worker brought me a flat and a quart of fresh, organic strawberries from a local farm.  (I would have picked them myself, but when the hubby is working and I have the two kids I don't dare take them out alone by myself for more than an me, we'd all end up in tears.)

What's a girl to do with all these strawberries?  Make Strawberry Freezer Jam!  It's on the agenda sometime this week, stay tuned...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Last night we had some friends over - the boys went fishing in the afternoon, while us girls stayed back and played daycare with the little ones.  Then for dinner we made a feast.  It was probably the best supper I've had in the last month.  If not the last two months.

Filet wrapped in bacon, today's featured asparagus, kabobs, pasta salad, twice baked potatoes and a cake I'll be featuring later this week.

Oh, and one of my new favorite beers.  The perfect summer beer in my opinion.

See little miss in the background?
Here was my asparagus all wrapped up and ready to go.  I assembled it all in the morning, so I wouldn't have to do it last minute while trying to get everything on the grill.

Lets just say it was a HIT.  The husband was picking them off the grill as they were cooking and eating them.  He couldn't stop!

And of course the perfect twice baked potato.  I honestly believe you cannot eat steak without some kind of potato as a side.  Is that just me?

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
You will need:
freshly shaved parmesan cheese

Wash and cut off the ends of the asparagus (about the last inch) and paper towel dry.  Take a slice of prosciutto and wrap around the asparagus spear and lay on a platter or baking sheet.  Generously sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Grill on low heat for 10 minutes, flipping once when prosciutto starts turning light brown and gets crispy.  Grill another 5-10 minutes on the other side.

Eat one piece at a time while grilling with drink in hand, or try and have enough composure to actually bring them all in one piece to the dinner table.  Let's just say half made it to our table:)

Did anyone else grill out this weekend?  Any good recipes?

“Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Burrito Bowls Revisited

This really isn't just a pile of me.  It is a bowl of Mexican goodness.  Right up there with the likes of Pancheros or Chipolte.  Maybe not as pretty looking, but delicious nonetheless.

We visited our beloved Burrito Bowls this week and I'm kicking myself wondering why its been so long.  Who wouldn't want a glorified burrito, minus the mess of a tortilla?

To assemble, layer in:
brown rice
grilled meat (I used chicken breasts seasoned with garlic salt and chili powder)
sour cream

*And whatever else your burrito bowl craves...

Mix together and chow down!  If you live any distance from the nearest semi-fast and casual Mexican joint (like me), you just have to compromise sometimes.  But at least you know the ingredients and it's cheaper!


In other news Weight Watchers is going well, weigh-in time is in t-minus 3 hours.  Lets keep our fingers crossed for a loss!  And you are looking at the time correctly.  Little miss woke me up at 4 a.m. for a feeding, so here I sit multi-tasking in the wee morning hours.  I'd like to blame her waking up on the torrential downpour happening right now that has come with a side of ubber loud lightning and thunder...lovely!

But then again, it's Friday and I can't complain!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ham & Mushroom Lasagna {gluten free}

Another day, another long, long day.  I just now looked at the clock and it's 8 p.m., and here I was thinking it was around 6:30 p.m.  How do the evening hours go so fast?  Getting home, dinner, playtime, bath, bedtime.

And I still have one kid yet in bed.

But that is alright, as the last three nights she has slept straight through the night, and this mommy has woken up very refreshed.  I'm sure all you mothers out there with little ones can relate.

Our daycare provider is on vacation this week, so thankfully my mother-in-law offered her time to come and watch the kids while we are at work.  With a guest in the house you have to have good food right?  I whipped up this lasagna on Sunday morning and we are just finishing the last few pieces.  A change up to the regular beef or sausage lasagna, it's a nice variation with the salty ham and chunky, tender mushrooms.

Or course you could add whatever ingredients you like, but this was my version...

Picture quality isn't the greatest, sorry, but trust me, it's delicious:)
Ham & Mushroom Lasagna {gluten free}
1 box brown rice lasagna noodles
1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese
1 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese (more for topping)
1 c. button mushrooms, sliced
8 slices of ham (thinly sliced)
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil
1 t. garlic salt
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or homemade)
mozzarella cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions, rinse and drain.  Mix together ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, oregano, basil and garlic salt in a small bowl and set aside.  Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray and ladel in one cup of sauce.  Layer noodles, cheese mixture, ham, mushrooms and sauce.  Repeat layers until reaching the top of the pan.  Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 1 hour.  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until bubbly.

Who can resist cheesy, ooey, gooey lasagna???

*And before I forget, my turkey meatloaf turned out GREAT on the grill the other night.  It will definitely be a summer repeat*

Happy Hump Day tomorrow!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Exciting News!

Howdy is a beautiful Saturday here in Iowa.  Very hot and humid, but I'm not complaining!  The little man and I got outside early to run off some energy before it got too hot.  He'd stay out there all day if I let him.

So, after a long week (even though Monday was a holiday), I finally got around to checking my emails last night.  Guess what was in my inbox?

An invitation from Taste of Home to become one of their field editors!  I had applied many moons ago, and honestly had forgotten about it.  Of course I accepted.  My name will now be among the many other field editors across the country in the back of the magazine.  And who knows maybe some of my recipes will be published?

First I have to determine which ones to send in.  Way to many to choose from.  Do you have any favorites?

And if you do not already receive the Taste of Home magazine you should.  There, that is my plug.  I enjoy their easy, family style recipes.  No fussy ingredients, no 10-step recipes, no worries.

Last night after a LONG day, we still wanted to grill for dinner.  Somehow the husband put me in charge of the grilling, as he wanted to work on his boat.  I'm not quite sure how I agreed, other than I was ravenous, so I said yes, which is a tad scary as I am not the grill master in this house.

But, I think I did pretty good judging on these photos right?

Mushroom and Swiss Burgers

Garlic and Dill Roasted Potatoes
I'm pretty sure I'll be doing potatoes on the grill like this all summer.  On a high heat, they only took about 20 minutes, and got nice and crispy.  Tonight I'm even attempting my Sweet & Spicy BBQ Turkey Meatloaf on the grill.  With maybe a repeat of these potatoes.

Wish me luck.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!  I'm now off to put the kiddos down for a nap, and get myself a much needed shower:)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Barbecue Chicken Nachos

Well, I'm back at work.  The last two days have flown so fast, I've barely had time to breathe...but that is a good thing right?  Tomorrow is Friday!

The little miss slept through the night last night.  I had that moment of panic when my alarm went off this morning...

"I didn't get up last night...why haven't I heard her cry???"

Upon running into her room, tripping over the dog, and being not the least bit quiet...she was just starting to stir.  Ah...

Maybe she's getting into mommy's new routine?  We can only hope.

My dinners lately have been consisting of whatever is easy or that I can eat one handed.  I literally dreamt about these nachos the other night and woke up craving them.  I know, barbecue sauce on nachos?  Doesn't sound right, but trust me there is something about the sweet and savory goodness that makes them delicious.

You definitely need to try them.


Barbecue Chicken Nachos
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 c. barbecue sauce
cheddar cheese
sour cream
tortilla chips

On a microwavable plate or baking sheet if using the oven, place down a layer of tortilla chips.  Mix shredded chicken with the barbecue sauce and layer over chips.  Top with cheese and salsa.  Microwave or bake to desired meltiness (that isn't a word, but sounds delicious).

Top with sour cream, lettuce, or whatever other toppings you desire!

P.S. - These nachos entered my mouth before I started Weight Watchers on Tuesday.  And yes, still going strong and doing well so far!