Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: July 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beer Marinated Chicken

What is the worst thing that can happen while grilling?  Other than being burned...

Yep, the gas goes out.  If you're using a gas grill that is.  That is what happened to me yesterday afternoon while I was grilling this chicken.  First, lets get around the fact that I was grilling.  This is usually the husband's job, but since he went into work early yesterday, it became my job.

As I was sitting on the deck, little man playing in the yard, little miss taking a bottle, I glanced over at the grill and noticed the temp went down from 400 degrees to 200 degrees.  Yep, out of gas.

So we all trooped inside and finished up the chicken on the grill top and threw it in the oven to continue cooking.  Nothing like turning on the oven when it's 90 degrees out.  Surely, wasn't my plan, but dinner ended up delicious in the end.  Problem solved.

Beer Marinated Chicken
Received by Taylor - Greens and Chocolate

1 can beer
3 T. olive oil
3 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. paprika
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, sliced
4 chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and marinate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.  (I opted for the full 24 hours).  Grill until juices run clear (about 10 minutes a side), depending on the heat of your grill.

I served this up with the grilled onions (that the hubby promptly ate once he got home) and roasted garlic potatoes.  This is definitely a marinade I'll be keeping.  Thanks Taylor!

Here are the kiddos and I as we watched some of the RAGBRAI festivities downtown yesterday morning.  We opted to take the kids early, as it was already scorching HOT.  Please excuse my sweaty existence...clearly Little Miss was already pooped out, as she was assuming her "I'm so exhausted, please let me sleep" pose.

Did you have a nice weekend?  What did you do?  What did you eat?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grilled Bruschetta

I have many new and exciting things coming to Sweet & Savory.  Consider yourself warned.  There will be a new look and I hope to do more of what my readers want.

That is why yesterday I put up a poll on my Facebook page, asking fans to select the items they would like to see more of - Easy Meals for Busy Families, Appetizers, Simple Desserts, Giveaways, or Helpful Tidbits & Cooking Shortcuts.

What do you want to see?  Please go on Facebook and tell me.  My goal is to reach 180 fans by Labor Day.  Can I do it?  Will you help?  It's only 14 more!

Today's recipe would fall under the Appetizer category.  Or I guess Easy Meals for Busy Families, as it is what the little man and I ate for dinner one night last week.  He loved it!

Grilled Bruschetta
5 ripe plum tomatoes (cored, de-seeded and diced)
3 cloves garlic, mined
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 fresh basil leaves chopped
salt, pepper to taste
1 baguette of French bread

After de-seeding and removing all juice of the core of the tomato, dice into small chunks.  Mince up garlic and add to the tomato.  Drizzle with olive oil, add in fresh basil, salt and pepper.  Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Shortly before serving, preheat indoor grill pan or outside grill to medium heat.  Cut baguette into 1 1/2 in. slices, drizzle with olive oil and place on grill, flipping after a few minutes or when bottom side starts getting crispy.  Grill an additional 1-2 minutes on other side.

Place baguette slices on a platter and top with a spoonful of the tomato, garlic, basil mixture.  Serve immediately.

Like I said I could make a meal out of this dish, but it probably isn't a good idea as it contains no protein and little of anything else!  If you are thinking of serving it at a party or potluck, serve it as a dip.  Baguette slices on a platter with the tomato mixture in a bowl.  That way people can spoon the tomatoes onto their bread and it doesn't sit on a plate all night and get soggy.  Nothing worse than soggy bread!

Well, my weekend has officially started.  Anyone have any big plans?

We will be watching 10,000 (yes, I said 10,000) bicyclists go through our little town this weekend (in fact, our very street) as they make their way across Iowa for this year's annual RAGBRAI.  Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

The husband did it once and I was his support vehicle.  We've never done it again.  It is a LOT of work.  You start by dipping your back rear tire in the Missouri River on the western border of Iowa and end 7 days later by dipping your front tire in the Mississippi River on the eastern border of Iowa.  Crazy huh?

Don't think it's all exercise.  Well, it is, but it is more known for the pit stops you make in every little town about 10 miles apart.  Every town comes out in full force to show their best in food, drink and entertainment.

You pretty much end up gaining weight by the time you are done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chocolate Banana Bread

I love chocolate.  I love bananas.  I love bread.  I'm still trying to figure out why this is the first time I've come across this bread since I love all the elements.

When I baked this over the weekend, I safely tucked this recipe in my book of "good ones" and saved it.  It is truly that good.  Very moist and full of banana and chocolate flavor.  See those bits of banana?  I even left it a little chunkier than I usually make my banana bread and I liked the results.

I did good.

Chocolate Banana Bread
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
2 bananas, mashed
1/4 c. honey
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
2 T. cocoa
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter, eggs, sugar, bananas, honey, sour cream and vanilla.  Sift together remaining ingredients and mix just until incorporated.

Grease 2 loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans and fill batter half way in the pan.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I made 4 mini loaves, kept two for us, and packed up two for a friend I saw over the weekend.  I hope she enjoyed!

I've got some yummy recipes coming up - Grilled Bruschetta and Beer Marinated Chicken.  Yeah, you heard me - Beer....Marinated....Chicken.  I saw the recipe the other day and immediately wrote it down.  I hope it tastes as good as it sounds!

Any new recipes you are trying out this week?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Kids, Quinton's Bar & Deli, and a Winner

I cannot say it enough.  I have been blessed lately.  I get to work a part-time job I really enjoy and spend 4 day weekends at home with these cute kiddos.

4 months old tomorrow - can you believe it?

The Little Man - "helping" dad make his morning shake in the blender...
With the help of a babysitter (our neighbor high school girl), I was able to leave the house for a few hours last night and meet up with my good friend Pam for dinner, a drink, and much needed catching up.  I have heard that Quinton's in Iowa City and Coralville is a must stop, and since she had never been there either, Quinton's it was!

I arrived a few minutes early, probably due to my excitement of getting out of the house without kids, so I caved on their happy hour specials and got a "big girl" draw.  Fat Tire to be exact.  Delicious.

I quickly learned why Quinton's is such a popular place.  Their sandwich/burger/soup menu is gigantic.  Honestly, I could have picked any one sandwich and I knew I would have liked it.  They all truly looked that good.

I opted for the "McQuinton".  It did not disappoint.

McQuinton - Turkey, Cheddar, Bacon, Lettuce, Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing on a Croissant
After saying our good-byes, I dragged my overally stuffed butt to the car and headed home.  If I've said it once I'll gladly say it again - make a point to get together with old friends.  It may be a hassle to coordinate dates that work, finding a place to meet up, etc., but you will leave feeling refreshed.

At least I do.

Look what I baked up this morning?  Yummy, blueberry muffins.  I ran around the kitchen like a mad woman trying to get them out of the oven before the little man woke up.  Needless to say, I shouldn't have rushed, he didn't wake up till 9 a.m.!

This is a record for him.  Like clockwork he is usually chirping around 7 a.m.  He's my early bird.  I have no idea what sparked this, but I'm not complaining.

And finally, the winner of my tea towel giveaway!  Jessie, from Graze with "Us", is the winner.  Jessie and her husband are expecting their first baby girl in September and she is in the nesting mood.  Great time to clean out those old dish towels and replace them with your prize Jessie!

Jessie, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I'll get your prize shipped out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tea Towel Giveaway!

Aren't these adorable?

Once again, couldn't pass them up at Target the other day.  Does anyone else go into Target, with list in hand, and come out spending double of what is on that list?  I've often said if you want to give me a gift card, let it be to Target.  It's a girl's dream.

One lucky reader will win these two cute tea towels courtesy of Sweet & Savory.  I'll be picking a winner on Sunday, so that gives you three days to spread the word!  Who doesn't love free stuff?

To enter:

Tell me the most disgusting item in your house, that you never get around to replacing. 

(Obviously my item are dish towels - they get used to wipe up baby spit up, dog drool, food thrown across the kitchen from the little man, the list is never ending).

Simple as that!  See you again on Sunday when I announce the winner!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cheesy Stuffed Chicken with Prosciutto

Here's a quick and easy recipe to change up your normal "chicken dinner".  I think we all get sick of chicken sometimes and can find it plain and boring.

Not this chicken!

I pounded a chicken breast flat (about 1/2 inch thick) and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  I then took 2 T. of garlic and chive cream cheese, mixed it with 1 T. fresh parmesan cheese and spread over the middle of the chicken breast.

Then take flattened out chicken and place on one piece of prosciutto.  Roll up tight and secure with toothpicks.  Bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 375 degrees or for even better flavor throw on the grill.

I served this with some garlic mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.  The husband claimed it was one of the best dinners he's had in awhile!  Props to me.

Gotta run - dropping kiddos off at daycare and a busy day at work, but stay tuned the revamping of Sweet & Savory is coming soon!  Not to mention a CUTE giveaway...

Happy Hump Day!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trader Who?

Trader Joe's silly.

I had probably the best weekend I've had so far this summer.  Trust me, that isn't saying much.  I have some friends jet-setting all over the country, but I'm happy with a long car ride to Des Moines.

Not that I wouldn't take an "actual" vacation.  It's been 5 years people.  I think I deserve it.


Anyway, we headed to Des Moines this weekend to visit family and I made a few crutual stops - Trader Joe's, Des Moines Farmer's Market, Fong's Pizza and other hit and miss stops along the way.

2 Buck Chuck, yogurt covered almonds/raisins, raw almonds (for the hubs), popcorn and a TJ bag

I will say I was very impressed with Trader Joe's prices.  I was expecting it to be much more expensive.  On the many staples I purchase each week - yogurt, milk, cheese, meat, nuts, etc., all prices were cheaper than what I pay at Hy-Vee.

If only there was one closer...

I could have spent hours in there and purchased many more things, but I was limited, as I was traveling and didn't exactly have a freezer in the back in our already packed car.  There is a next time!

My brother and sister-in-law tagged along with me, sans kids, to the market Saturday morning and our first stop was breakfast.  Fong's Pizza is known for their unusal pizza creations.  Their most popular is probably their crab rangoon pizza - I know!  I didn't try it for breakfast, but I did try this heart attack on a plate.  Well, worth it.

The Godzilla.

Godzilla - scrambled eggs, potatoes, canadian bacon, alfredo, cheese, sausage gravy

Check out these crowds!  See the capitol building way back there?  Yeah, this market stretches for many blocks and is full of everything under the sun.  The temps were soaring, the dogs were panting, and by the end I was glad I didn't shower prior to going...

We also stopped at the Great Harvest Bread Company on our way home.  My brother's favorite food of ALL time are cinnamon rolls, so he needed that for his sweet tooth.  I picked up a cinnamon chip pecan scone.

And later that day, while the kids were napping, I treated myself to a pedicure.  If anyone knows me, I rarely, if ever, spend money on myself.  Trust me, I probably would if I had a money tree in my backyard!  Pedicures are one thing that I love getting.  I got all the kinks out of my back sitting in the massage chair (holding an almost 4 month old daily will do that to ya) and read my People magazine.

What else could a mom want?

I hope your weekend was as good as mine!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Giveaway Winner, Latest Eats & Upcoming Weekend

Before I forget - congrats to Pam Elliott for winning my latest giveaway!  I could not think of a better person for it to go to!  Not only is she a great friend, but she also happens to bake a few wedding cakes on the side for friends and family.

Perfect cookbook for her!

Thought I'd share a couple eats with you that we've had this last week.  It's been a busy week so meals have been hit and miss, but I did manage to put these two together!

Penne pasta, garlic sauce, parmesan cheese and grilled marinated chicken.

Enchiladas - corn tortillas filled with ground beef, peppers, salsa and sour cream.

I cannot wait for this weekend.  We are headed to Des Moines to visit family - and guess what stops I'll be making?  The infamous Des Moines Farmer's Market and Trader Joe's!

Yep, I've never been to a Trader Joe's.  Iowa only got their first one last fall (we are always the last to get everything).  So I plan on spending some time at the market (400+ vendors!) and shopping the aisles of Trader Joe's.  I'm still debating whether or not to bring the kiddos along.

Double stroller, 90-degree temps, huge crowds, kinda makes me want to throw up, but I guess we'll see what my mood brings come Saturday morning.

I'll be back with photos and a recap!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Smashed Berry Waffles

Who doesn't love a Saturday or Sunday morning with a good hearty breakfast?  At least once on the weekends I try and make a big breakfast.  It usually gets me out of making lunch (since we're still so full), and generally puts everyone in a good mood.

This last weekend I tried out the new Gluten Free Bisquick.  Wonderful.  'Nuff said.

If you haven't noticed we do eat a mostly gluten free diet at our house.  Celiac disease runs in my husband's side of the family, and although he has never been officially diagnosed, he feels a ton better when he stays away from all things gluten.

I will say at times it has been a challenge, but I am a strong believer in not giving up the foods we enjoy.  I've learned to substitute almost all ingredients.  I will not live a life of just eating plain, boring foods, just because.  Needless to say, I still make a killer lasagna, breads, pancakes, and enchiladas just to mention a few.

Did I mention the husband won't give up beer?  It's in his blood.  But can I blame him?  Beer is good.

Check out these waffles, so delicious.  I'm not a huge fan of huge chunks of berries in my breads, desserts, or waffles, so I went the "smashed" up style.

Smashed Berry Waffles
1 1/3 c. Bisquick (I used gluten free)
1 1/4 c. milk
3 T. oil
1 egg
fresh berries of your choice

Mix all ingredients together and add chopped up berries of your choice.  Take a whisk and "smash" the berries into the batter.  Pour a ladel full of batter into the waffle iron and cook until crispy and brown.  Serve with additional berries and warm maple syrup.

Doesn't this waffle picture just make you want to drool?  I had intended on freezing half the batch for later..but, well, they never made it to the freezer.

Only to our stomachs.

Don't forget to enter The Cake Doctor Giveaway!  You have until tomorrow night!  Good luck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Cake Doctor

I guess if you can get a doctorate in cakes, this lady has it.  There are recipes in here that will amaze you and make you want to get in the kitchen pronto and start baking.

It'd be a perfect gift for the baking lover in your life.

It'd be the perfect gift for my friend Mackenzie who has recently starting up her own cake business Kreative Kakes.  (Shameless plug).

It'd be the perfect gift for a mom who loves baking her kids own birthday cakes.  (We all know how I feel about that...)

And finally, it'd be the perfect gift for yourself.  Take her recipes and make them your own.  Want a chance at winning this book?

Today is your lucky day.  I'll choose one random winner for The Cake Doctor on Wednesday, July 13th.  I picked this date as that is one month from when I turn the big 30.  I have a feeling I'll be eating a LOT of cake that day.

Three different ways to enter, giving you three chances at winning!

1.  Describe the best cake you have ever tasted.
2.  Become a follower of Sweet & Savory.
3.  Become a fan of Sweet & Savory on Facebook.

Good luck!

Stay tuned this week for a delicious waffle recipe...and guess what?  Sweet & Savory will be getting a face lift soon.  I cannot wait.  I am so sick and tired of this look.  Thank god, for a great friend who is a graphic designer!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Green Grape Salad

First, let's clarify.  This is called Green Grape Salad, but to be honest it has little nutritional value, minus the grapes, pecans and some dairy.

But, that doesn't mean you cannot enjoy this "salad".

I got this recipe many years ago from an old co-worker.  Heck, she probably doesn't even remember me.  Kathy, are you out there?

Anyway, I distinctly remember sitting in an executive board room one day with a giant spread of goodies before me.  I looked at this salad and thought to myself, "What in the hell is that slop?"  To me it looked like a huge bowl of tuna salad with grapes thrown in.

After wrapping my head around the idea of someone actually bringing tuna salad to a food day, I got up the guts to take a plastic spoon and grab a bite.  Much to my surprise it wasn't tuna.  Nor did it taste like tuna.  It was smooth, creamy, sweet and a little nutty.


To this day I still have the worn copy from Kathy and I've made it time and time again.  It's great for potlucks or hot summer days. 

Green Grape Salad
3 lbs. green grapes, halved (lengthwise)
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
4 oz. chopped pecans
2 T. brown sugar

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Stir in grapes.  Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans, mix again.  Chill until served.  May be made a day ahead and stores well in the fridge for a few days.

Thought I'd give an update on the potty training, as some of you have asked.  It's exhausting.  I feel like all I do is lift the little man on the pot, talk about pee-pee, wait for him to pee-pee, clap and dance when he pee-pees, get mad when he pee-pees on the floor, and so on.

But, we have graduated to diapers only at nap time and bedtime.  He gets the concept and is doing well, but this mom is tired.  I wish you could ship them off to potty training camp for a week and they'd come back cured.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Meal that Allows More Time With the Kiddos

All of these pictures were taken in between the hours of 5-6 p.m. tonight.  That is usually when I'm running around in the kitchen trying to get everything on the table for my hungry boys, and our little peanut who is requesting a bottle.

Not exactly the best time to get in mommy's way.

But tonight it was different.  The crock pot is my savior.  She (I call her a she, as no man would clearly have thought of a crock pot, right?)  Anyway, she brought this dinner to us tonight.  Nothing fancy, but good none the less.

My no-fail roast beef dinner.  Three ingredients if you don't count the salt and pepper.  With a side of Alexia sweet potato tater tots and fresh fruit.  Needless to say nothing is left but one helping of roast beef for tomorrow's lunch.

Can't beat that.

See that roasted garlic sitting on top?  Yeah, it's pretty good.

No-Fail Roast Beef
(also great turned into french dip sandwiches, my fave)
4-5 lb. roast
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of beer

Throw all ingredients into a large crock pot, set on low and walk away for 5-6 hours, varying a little depending on your roast size.  You will know when it is done when it falls apart just to the touch.

The beer gives it such a rich flavor, but if your not a beer person you could substitute low sodium beef stock or even water.  But, I am warning you it won't have the same effect!

What is your mommy saving meal?

Monday, July 4, 2011

I've Been Dreaming About This Dessert...

Yes, it has been visited before on this little blog.  And yes, I think of it often.

And finally yes, I wish I would have made it for this weekend.

Were we going to a 4th of July party today?  No.  But that doesn't matter.

The four of us would have gladly divided it up and devoured.  Take that back, only three of us are on solids.  Oh well, more for us.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

P.S. - Make this dessert, you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

I love that our local grocery store has a chef on staff who is always cooking up great smelling dishes.  Yesterday when I walked in he was grilling pizzas.

I know!  He had me at "pizza".

His dish was a grilled bbq chicken pizza with mushrooms, artichokes, onions and fresh mozzarella cheese.  I took inspiration from that and made this.

BBQ Chicken Flatbread.

The little man and I ate this for dinner.  Let's just say there was none left once dinner was finished.  For some reason he loves finger foods, so anything where he actually gets his own "piece" seems to get gobbled down quicker.

Here was my take on the chef's pizza.

BBQ Chicken Flatbread
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked & shredded
1 c. barbecue sauce
1 Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese wedge
1 c. mozzarella cheese
1 t. basil
flatbread or already cooked pizza dough

Mix barbecue sauce with shredded chicken and set aside.  Spread cheese wedge onto flatbread, layer on shredded barbecue chicken.  Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with basil.

Grill on low heat until cheese melts or place in oven directly on the top rack and broil just until cheese melts.  Either way, it doesn't take long - just enough for the crust to get crispy and cheese to get gooey.

Does your grocery store have a chef?  Ours also has a registered dietitian, which is pretty neat.  I've never actually used her for anything, but I often see her there helping customers.  Gosh, if I worked in a grocery store I'd be eating and dreaming about food even more than I do now.