Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: May 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

4 Ingredient S'mores Cookies

I have been very lucky to find friends throughout the food blog world.  A few months back Steph, from Been There Baked That, sent me this cookbook.  

Just because.

She lives in the town I used to live in and we still have not met - we need to work on this Steph!  There is nothing I love more than sitting down to "read" a cookbook.  Yes, I actually read them, cover to cover, like a novel.

You should try it.

These fabulous cookies aren't found in this book, but were recently on Jenny Flake's blog site.  She has built an incredible food blog, won a ton of contests and now has produced this gorgeous {and delicious!} cookbook.

You know me and short list ingredient dishes.  I love them.  I especially love a cookie with only 4 ingredients!  That is typically unheard of, so I knew I had to give them a try.

4 Ingredient S'mores Cookies
1 banana
1 sleeve graham crackers {about 9}
1/4 c. marshmallow bits
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

In a food processor crush up the graham crackers, until they are fine crumbs.  Then add in the banana until a soft dough forms.  Fold in the marshmallow bits and chocolate chips.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Store in an airtight container, once cooled.

This little nugget decided to get in the photo op as well.  Whenever I'm taking photos of our food {which I'm sure she thinks is very odd...} she hunches down and watches.  You do not usually see the many, many photos where her hand is reaching for the these cookies.  

In other news the kids and most of my family are headed to Minnesota this weekend to visit my sister and her family.  Please send a prayer up the heavens for an easy car trip.  And me stuck between two car seats in the back, with a butt that will most likely be asleep for most of the trip due to cramped quarters.

I already have plans to bribe them to be good with lots of snacks.  And games.  And books.  It should be fun.

And before I forget!

The winner of my Del Monte giveaway from earlier in the week....


I have sent you a message via Twitter - so please contact me soon so I can get your prize sent.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Del Monte Can Creations {4 New Recipes + a Giveaway!}

Recently, I was contacted from Del Monte.  You know the company with a zillion canned goods, that we've all had?  They were looking for some bloggers to take their canned goods and create some unique and delicious meals, appetizers and desserts.

Of course I said, "I'm in!"

You know what's funny?  When the husband calls you at work and says "why did a box of canned goods come in the mail?"  You'd think he'd be used to these odd deliveries by now.

Anyway....I made four different dishes and delivered lunch to my friend and her husband.  Don't you want to be my friend?  Two appetizers, two desserts.  My kind of meal!

This White & Green Bean Warm Bacon Dip {got all of that?} was the first one we sampled.  Who knew adding green beans to a dip could make a great appetizer?

Spread on warm toasted garlic bread really took this dip to a whole new level.  My friend and her husband especially loved this - they were the perfect two to test these recipes on, they have great palates and great tastes.

White & Green Bean Warm Bacon Dip
1 can cannelini beans, drained
1 can Del Monte green beans, drained
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 c. fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 c. olive oil

In a food processor combine all ingredients, minus the olive oil.  Once all is blended, start drizzling in olive oil until smooth.  Move dip into an oven safe dish, fold in bacon.  Bake at 375 degrees until just warmed through, about 15 minutes.  Garnish with additional bacon.

At the same time, slice baguette diagonally and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at the same time as the dip.  Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.  Serve as a dipper for the bean dip.

Shall we move on to chocolate cake?

Del Monte sent me some recipes to get ideas from and this was one that I used, just tweaking a bit from the original recipe.  I loved, loved, loved how simple this cake was to make.  And the topping?  Well, I just might put this easy topping on all cakes I make from here on out.

If you want a cake that is light, airy, yet a bit sinful, this is for you......and can you guess what the Del Monte product is?  A can of pears.  Pears!  You would never know by taking a bite, but yet, I'm pretty sure they helped keep this cake very moist.

Chocolate Chipper Cake
1 pkg. (2.25 oz.) chopped pecans
1 pkg. (15.25 oz.) chocolate fudge cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) Del Monte® Lite Pear Halves in Extra Light Syrup, undrained
3 large eggs
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. unsweetened applesacue
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven according to directions on cake package. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Using the unopened can of pears, pound the pecans (in its package or in a plastic bag) until finely chopped and set aside.

Combine the cake mix, pears, eggs, water, and oil in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat according to cake package directions. (The pears will breakdown and become smooth while beating.) Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Immediately evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over hot cake and top with nuts.  Let cool. 

Now, let's talk pie.

I have to admit, I'm not a huge pie eater.  I don't know how or why I came up with this recipe, because most days I'd chose chocolate over pie, hands down.  But pie crust entered my mind and I just ran with it - and who doesn't like a good peach?

Mini peach hand pies?  Even better.  With cream cheese and cinnamon?  My mouth is watering.  


I took the easy route with store bought pie crust {I know, shoot me - but I think I was already punished because when I went shopping, there was only ONE box of frozen pie dough left in the biggest supermarket in town, and it was a brand I had NEVER heard of - so that in itself had me scared, thinking I should have just made it myself}.

Anyway, I bought that crust, and God must have been shining down on me, as it turned out fantastic.

Individual Peachy Hand Pies
*makes 8 hand pies
store bought frozen pie dough {4 sheets or 4 rounds}
1 can Del Monte peaches, drained
1/2 c. powdered sugar
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 stick melted butter
pinch of sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using thawed pie dough, flour your work surface and gently roll out dough with a floured rolling pin.  Using a large circle cookie cutter {or large peanut butter jar lid like I did}, cut out 16 circles.

On a large baking sheet, place parchment paper on baking sheet.  Lay down 8 of the circle cut-outs.  In a bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and cinnamon.  On each circle, place a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture.  Top with one peach.  Lay the other 8 circles down on top of the peaches.  With your hands gently press together/crimp the edges of the pie dough together.  With a fork prick the tops of each hand pie.

In a small bowl melt the butter.  Brush each hand pie with butter and lightly sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

And finally, FINALLY, the best dish of the day.  The three of us ate more of these than we probably care to admit, but they were so good.

Filled with Del Monte corn and tomatoes - plus my additions of black beans, green chilies, cheese and spices - these turned out amazing.  We then dipped them in my homemade salsa and mexi-ranch dipping sauce.

I'm sad to report that I did not get any leftovers, as the husband promptly inhaled them later that night after he got home from work.  He did.  I found the evidence in the sink the next morning.

Crispy Southwestern Egg Rolls
{Print this Recipe!}
1 pkg. egg roll wrappers
1 can Del Monte corn, drained
1 can Del Monte diced tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can diced chiles
2 green onions, finely diced
2 c. Mexican shredded cheese
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl combine all ingredients, draining excess juice once all combined.

On a clean work surface, lay down an egg roll wrapper.  Place two large spoonfuls of mixture at one end of wrapper.  Fold in sides, roll, then wet fingers with water to seal the edges.  Place seam side down on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip over and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.  Serve with fresh salsa or Mexi-ranch {1/2 salsa, 1/2 ranch dressing}.

This project was a ton of fun - I love creating recipes and sharing my food with others - perfect!  And I learned quite a bit about Del Monte products as well.  Did you know....

  • Del Monte products deliver the same essential nutrients as fresh, making it simple to incorporate a full serving of fruits and vegetables into your dish.
  • Since they’re packed at the peak of ripeness, Del Monte makes it possible to enjoy garden quality fruits and vegetables all year round, no matter what the season.
  • Del Monte® can help add an easy, creative twist to your meal while also helping save time in a savvy way that family or guests wouldn’t even notice.
One lucky reader is going to win a Del Monte prize pack for themselves!  

The gift pack will include:
  • (1) can Del Monte® Cut Green Beans
  • (1) can Del Monte® Diced Tomatoes
  • (1) can Del Monte® Whole Kernel Corn
  • (1) can Del Monte® Pear Halves
  • (1) can Del Monte® Sliced Peaches
  • 1 can strainer
  • 1 apron
For a chance to win, simply leave a comment telling me what canned good I could find in your pantry if I walked into your kitchen right now.

For multiple entries, follow any of Del Monte's social media pages, or any of mine listed below.  Leave a separate comment for each entry.
I'll pick a random winner this Thursday.  Good luck!

And try out these 4 recipes I created.  Or put your own fun twist on them!

The Del Monte products, information and two gift packs have been provided by Del Monte.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Barbecue Turkey Quinoa Meatballs

I think I've found the new party meatball!

And maybe a tad bit healthier?

Who really knows.  I'll just let you decide.  Have you ever tried quinoa?  Its only entered our palate in the last year or so, but we have really grown to love it.  We'll often eat it with grilled chicken or as any replacement for rice.

Want to know what it is?  Read here.

Between my love for the show Nashville {did you see that season finale?} and my need to be obsessed with all foodie books {this one, and most recently this one}......quinoa is giving them both a run for their money.  It is a great side, but most recently became a "filler" for these meatballs.

Who knew?

Oh, and I didn't even mention my love of cooking for people.  Not in the 'chef' way.  But just the 'take-a-meal-over-to-a-busy-family' kind of way.

Recently I spent 12 hours with a friend stocking her freezer with meals.  Next weekend I'm doing the same thing for my sister.  I'm starting to see a trend here....

But anyway, here's to the balls.


Feel free to baste these meatballs in my 3 Minute Pantry BBQ Sauce, because well, it's easy, and homemade and delicious.  Or use whatever is in your fridge door.  I won't judge.

Barbecue Turkey Quinoa Meatballs
1 lb. ground turkey
2 cloves garlic
1 small carrot
1/4 c. fresh cilantro
1 slice whole wheat bread (or any stale bread)
3/4 c. cooked quinoa
pinch salt/pepper
1 t. onion powder
olive oil
barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor combine garlic, carrot, cilantro, bread and a drizzle of olive oil.  In a bowl sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder over ground turkey.  Add in pureed vegetable/bread/oil mixture, along with cooked quinoa.

Shape into small meatballs (makes about 40 total) and place on a greased baking sheet or one covered in parchment paper.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn over meatballs and bake another 15 minutes.  Baste in barbecue sauce and bake another 5 minutes.

Serve as an appetizer, or with a side dish such as rice, mashed potatoes or salad greens.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

3 Minute Pantry BBQ Sauce

In our house it is officially grilling season and there is nothing we like better than a good barbecue sauce.  Preferably one not out of a bottle with the first ingredient listed as 'high fructose corn syrup'.  So last week I set out on a mission to make my own.

I've made some in the past but they all required fancy ingredients and a long simmer on the stove, that frankly I did not have the patience for this time around.  I wanted something quick.  Something easy.  And something that most definitely didn't require a trip to the store for 'liquid smoke' or any other pricey bottle that I'll never use again.

You guys.  This barbecue sauce is fantastic!

And I'm not lying when I say it only takes 3 minutes to put together.  I timed myself.  Literally.  I started at 3:03 and end at 3:06.

3 minutes.

Even better?  We used this sauce for THREE meals.  Two rounds of barbecue chicken on the grill and one delicious, fantastic, awesome new recipe {that I'll be sharing soon} for turkey quinoa meatballs.  Don't turn up your nose.  They are out of this world.

Just look how moist and juicy that chicken is?

Seriously, it's incredible.

3 Minute Pantry Barbecue Sauce
{Print this Recipe!}
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. ketchup
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 T. worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 t. ground mustard
1 t. pepper
1 1/2 t. salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients.  Whisk until sugar is dissolved and sauce is smooth.  Place in the fridge for up to a week.  Use as a marinade, dipper or just drink it.

Kidding.  I'm just kidding.  You probably don't want to drink it.


If you are still reading {I sure hope so}, I need to ask a favor.

My blog has been nominated for {hopefully} one of Circle of Moms Top 25 Foodie Moms.  I would love, love, love to make it into the Top 25.  Currently I sit at  #45.  But hey, I started at #87.  I am ssssllllooooowwwwlllyyyyy working my way up!

You can vote once a day, per computer, up until June 4th.  That means if you have a laptop, an iPad, a work computer, etc., you can vote on each of those!

So please take a moment and give me a vote.  Your encouragement, votes, comments and messages are what keep this little blog going.  You're like my food.  Don't think that I don't appreciate each and every one of you. 

Vote here!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Baked Cherry Doughnuts

Special times call for special breakfasts.

No, we don't eat like this all the time, but when I'm visiting a friend or we have something fun going on, I like to bring special food.

And doughnuts are special.

Don't they just put a smile on your face?  They should not be eaten everyday, but once in awhile just make your tummy happy.  Okay?

And of course anything pink goes over very well with the Little Miss.  When you have a boy first, you tend to forget that there is a world of very pretty colors out there waiting to invade your home when you have a girl.

Anytime I wear pink or she wears pink, it is prrreeeetttttyyy.  And really just makes her day.

A dozen of these doughnuts traveled to my girlfriend's house and thankfully none came home.  I ate one and tried desperately to forget about them as they gazed stared at me on her kitchen counter most of the day.

If you don't have a doughnut pan, sorry, I'm not really sure how you'd make these without frying them, but doughnut pans are relatively cheap {I think mine was $12} or you can sometimes find them at thrift stores or garage sales.

Baked Cherry Doughnuts
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. grenadine cherry syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease doughnut pan.  In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients.  Then stir in milk, eggs and syrup.  Beat together until blended.

Fill each doughnut cup 3/4 full {pouring batter into a Ziploc baggie and then snipping off the end works well}.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they spring back when touched.

Frosting:  2 c. powdered sugar, grenadine cherry syrup, a tablespoon {or 2} of hot water.  In a bowl combine powdered sugar, hot water and a little syrup.  If frosting is too thick, add more syrup, just until you get a semi-thin frosting that will pour well over the cooled doughnuts.

When ready, place doughnuts on a cooling rack with parchment paper underneath and pour frosting onto doughnuts.  Let the doughnuts set and the frosting will set up.  Keep doughnuts in an airtight container.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches

It has been beeeaaaaautiful this weekend.

The kids and I have been on long walks, playing at the park, at play dates, baking cookies and heading to bed early.  I love exhausting my kids during the day, so that they basically collapse in bed around 7:30 p.m.  Is that bad?

Because this mama likes her downtime in the evening.  I often wonder about those parents that don't have bedtimes for their kids, or their kids are hard to put to bed, and here comes 9 p.m. and their kids are still up.  Ugh....doesn't sounds like fun to me.

Okay.  Anyway.  This buffalo version of chicken salad.  I figured I've made everything else into a buffalo version, I might as well tackle chicken salad too.

Want my other buffalo meals?  Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls, Loaded Buffalo Chicken & Potato Skins CasseroleBuffalo Chicken Dip, Boneless Buffalo WingsPulled Buffalo Chicken SlidersBuffalo Chicken Pizza, Buffalo Chicken Soup, Inside Out Buffalo Wings, Buffalo Wing Wonton BitesBacon Buffalo Mac and Cheese {this one was a finalist in a cooking contest last year!}

Holy crap.  I didn't realize I had that many until I looked all of them up.  Sorry, obviously I have issues.

There is this cute, fun, hip, little coffee shop, deli and bakery {yes, they are ALL those adjectives} a few blocks from where I work - it was the first time I ever had a buffalo chicken salad sandwich.  They make their own homemade bread and it was fantastic.  I didn't, but you get the picture.

This stuff will stay good in the fridge for close to a week - so your lunches will be planned for at least a few days!

Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches
3 c. shredded, cooked chicken
1/2 of an avocado, mashed
1/3 c. mayo
1/4 c. ranch dressing
1/2 c. buffalo wing sauce
1/4 c. pickle juice

Combine all ingredients with the shredded chicken and serve immediately, or place in the fridge.  Will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.  Eat on croissants, bread or hoagie buns.

Okay, I'm out - it's Sunday!

Go enjoy your family, your friends or just do something for yourself today....ok?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Four Generations

Last Sunday we met my parents, Grandma and some other relatives for lunch on Mother's Day.  We almost walked out of the restaurant without taking this shot.

Can you believe it never occurred to us to take a four generation photo?  I'm glad I had my camera and made everyone get together right before we left.  The guys even got together for a "guy" photo, but I won't show you that one, you can pretty much tell they were miserable just having their photo taken.

Afterwards we visited some friends who happen to live right next to the restaurant we were at - many hours later we were back on the road!

The little man is such a stud.  Just check out his sunglasses and him crossing his leg like he's 45.  Love it.

While browsing around today, I happened to come across two recipes for homemade doughnuts.  So of course that meant I had to make some too.

Stay tuned.  These are either going to be really, really good or utterly horrible.  I'm hoping not the latter.  Do you eat doughnuts?  At least in your dreams?  I hope so.

Being a food blogger brings many opportunities.  Some good, some bad.  Its actually quite comical opening up my inbox sometimes.  I'll get random inquiries from kooks from around the country.  Many I ignore {sorry, but some of them aren't even worth developing a relationship with}, but many I listen to and reply back to.

In a couple of weeks I'll be working with Del Monte.  Developing a few recipes with some of their product.  Oh, and giving my readers some of their product too, did I forget to mention that?

Okay, tomorrow I'm spending ALL day in my friend's kitchen.  I think I've mentioned this but she is about 56 weeks pregnant with twins.  Like ready to pop any day.  Any minute.  So I am going over to her house, turning my kids loose to play with her daughter and making a zillion meals to stock her freezer.

Everything from soup, to marinated meat for the grill this summer, to breakfast burritos and loaves of banana bread.  I'm going to make sure her and her babies aren't hungry!

I'm doing this for my sister in a couple of weeks as well - she has a full-time job, two teenagers and a ridiciously crazy schedule with no time to cook or meal plan.

Maybe I should turn this into a little side business:)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Basil Pesto BLT Sandwiches

What a monster sandwich!

And so, so, so good.  But I do have a confession.  I've really only come to like bacon in the past 5 years.  I used to tolerate it, but often let it lie on my plate untouched.  What was wrong with me?

Somewhere along the way the indifference to bacon became love.  I'm not sure where my head was back in the day, but I'm happy to report it's back on track.

When I'm not making my own BLT's at home, I'm ordering one at Jimmy John's {the second best place for a BLT}.  And there I put their guacamole on it - genius!  I didn't do that here, but I have before.  

Here I put pesto on it.  And cheese.  And melted the cheese.

It's mind-blowing.

You're probably thinking how did she eat this whole thing?  Well, I didn't.  I ate half, wrapped up the other half and the husband ate the rest when he got home.

At a graduation party this past weekend, one of my husband's cousins said "I can't even look at your blog because I want to eat it all!"

Well, yeah, that is kinda the point of a food blog - to drool and dream.  So I hope she keeps looking at it.  I hope others don't stop looking because they think they'll gain weight just by reading.

Now I'm thinking into this too much.

Let's just eat this sandwich.

Basil Pesto BLT Sandwiches
{Print this Recipe!}
4 large kaiser or sub rolls
8 strips of bacon, cooked
8 slices of tomato
basil pesto {store bought or homemade}
mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cut the rolls in half.  Spread one half with mayo and pesto.  Lay slices of cheese on the other half.  Keep open-faced and toast until golden and cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and top with bacon and tomato.  Slice in half and eat!

The only thing I want more right now than air conditioning {it hit 90 today, but I refuse to turn on the air yet} is this sandwich.

It will DEFINITELY be put on our summer dinner rotation.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Silver Dollar Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

I hope all the Mother's out there had a wonderful day yesterday.  We had a FULL weekend.  The husband usually works every stinking weekend, so of course the first weekend he has off in ages, we cram about 4,000 things into it.

We finally tucked the kids in bed last night at 9 p.m. {way past their bedtime} so I'm just bracing for a nightmare day later today as they'll be recovering.  I'm not sure about your kids but ours are kept on a pretty tight schedule, so when busy, busy days are thrown into the mix, we all seem, well....a little off the next day.

Which usually includes tantrums and timeouts.

But, pancakes always cheer the kiddos up.  {And the adults}.  I used my basic Paula Deen version pancake, but switched up the ingredients a bit.  We always have unsweetened applesauce in our fridge and we love cinnamon on most anything - so why not merry the two together, right?

Then I made them silver dollar size, as the kids love that, plus it looks like we make a ton!  They are easy to keep in the fridge until the next breakfast, or freeze if you know they won't be eaten up right away.

Also, great slathered with peanut butter.

Just sayin'.

Did you know that when the husband is around during pancake making, he likes to take the reins for a round or two to make gooey-doughy pancakes?

I usually sit on the sidelines gagging.

He'll let them cook fully on one side, but when he flips the pancake, I swear he only lets it cook about a nano-second, before he flips it onto his plate.  He loves to eat them all doughy.

I'm not sure if this is even safe?

Cook these however you like.  Fully-cooked {like me} or still doughy {like the husband}.  I honestly hope you do not pick the latter.

Silver Dollar Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour

In a large mixing bowl combine applesauce, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.  Sift together all remaining dry ingredients and combine with the wet ingredients.  Fold gently to combine.

In a hot skillet, melt some butter and spoon a small doll-up of batter into the pan, cooking on one side until bubbles form and pop.  Flip and continue cooking for 30 seconds or until bottom is also golden brown.

Serve with desired toppings.

I'm so mad we ate up all these pancakes in less than two days.  The Little Miss was downing about 5 each sitting and then still asking for more.  I made her stop, only for the fear that she might explode.

What is one food your kids cannot get enough of?