Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: September 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Buttermilk Ranch Cornflake Chicken

My family flipped for this chicken.
Crispy, crunchy and flavorful!

buttermilk ranch cornflake chicken (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

You know there is a reason why moms do certain things and dads do others.  Like moms tend to most of the child sicknesses, the family dinners and the nasty bathrooms.  Dads will often tend to the lawn care, the car maintenance and their kid's sports activities.

Of course, all of these things can intermingle, but generally, at least in our house, I do the girly stuff and the husband does the boy stuff.

So when the husband asked me to come outside this past Sunday while I was prepping dinner to "help show our oldest a play in football" I wasn't excited.  Apparently his younger sister wasn't being a good fill-in and I seemed the next viable option.


Two plays in, the dog took off at the exact same time I became our son's lead blocker and well a collision ensued ending with me on the ground and our dog happily chasing a squirrel. Now, let me clarify, I was in sports, specifically volleyball and golf, I would consider myself semi-athletic {at least in my glory days}, but football was a sport I never took part in. 


I landed hard, on what I'm not sure, but I have a rolled ankle and a HUGE goose egg on my calf muscle {opposite leg of course}.  I'm hurtin'.

There is no point to this story, other than I was making THIS EXACT chicken dish when it happened and I will forever think of football when eating this.

The end.

buttermilk ranch cornflake chicken (

Once I caught my breath {and regained my composure} we sat down to dinner.  I served this delicious chicken with some classic crock pot mac and cheese and green beans.  Simple and delicious.

I can even say my 5 year old daughter helped in breading the chicken.  Kids will love helping with this recipe.  With only seven ingredients total, it's easy to break down, albeit a bit messy.  But you know, they are only young once right?

One bowl for the buttermilk, ranch dressing, hot sauce mixture and one bowl with the crushed corn flakes, garlic powder and Italian seasoning and you're ready!

Who said corn flakes were just for eating in a cold bowl of cereal?


Buttermilk Ranch Cornflake Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c . buttermilk
1 1/2 c. ranch dressing
2 t. hot sauce
5 c. corn flakes, crushed

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
3.  In one bowl combine the buttermilk, ranch dressing and hot sauce.  In another bowl combine the crushed corn flakes and seasonings.
4.  Dip the chicken breasts in the dressing mixture coating both sides and then press into the corn flake mixture again coating both sides.  Lay on the baking sheet.
5.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and chicken juices run clear.
6.  Serve warm with your favorite sides.

buttermilk ranch cornflake chicken (

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Casserole

All the best flavors in one dish!
This creamy, comforting casserole will delight all your Tex-Mex fans.

salsa verde chicken tortilla casserole (

You know how I have this on going love affair with all foods Mexican?  It's real.  Right behind pizza, I'd gladly eat a taco, an enchilada, a fajita or a big bowl of chips and salsa just about any old day. Hands down, this food group firmly sits in second place.

With school back in session our meals are a bit more thought out {hello...organization is needed} so I firmly plant a dish covered in salsa {because it's like water to me} on the dinner menu at least once a week.

Hopefully on Tuesdays if I can time it right.

Last week it was Thursday and I got an earful about it.

Why can't they just be happy with dinner set before them?

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Even though it was Thursday as soon as they took their first bite, they regretted giving me such a hard time.

This casserole is super creamy from the sour cream, salsa verde and monterey jack cheese.  I mean, that trio would be good on a flip-flop, but honestly it might be one of my new favorite combos.

Right behind pretzels, beer and pizza.  Or cheese, crackers and wine.  Or chips, salsa and margaritas. You get the picture, right?

It's a great combo.  End of story.

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It also reminded me to use corn tortillas more instead of flour tortillas in dishes like this. They get crispy and crunchy on the edges of the dish, yet get soft and squishy in the middle layered between all that sour cream and jack cheese.

Kind of like a person, hard and crispy on the exterior, yet warm and fuzzy on the inside once you get to know them.

Bust this dish out for your family, or a girl's night Mexi-style or to take to a friend that just had a baby, or whatever.  Make this dish.  Serve it up with a big bowl of chips and extra salsa on the side for dipping!

Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Casserole

*revised from this recipe

2 c. shredded chicken
1 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. salsa verde
12 corn tortillas
1 tomato, chopped
2 t. dried cilantro
2 c. Monterey jack cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8x8 baking dish.
2.  In a bowl combine the sour cream, salsa verde and chicken.
3.  Pour the remaining salsa verde in the bottom of the dish.
4.  Cut the tortillas into triangles.  Layer half of the tortillas on the bottom of the dish, then half of the chicken mixture, half of the tomatoes, half of the cilantro and half of the cheese. Then repeat with another layer.
5.  Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

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Crave Tex-Mex once a week like me?  Here are a few more of our favorites!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Apple Cider Mini Donut Muffins

Crisp, sweet apple cider takes the flavor of these donuts up a notch!

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Our oldest just turned seven and has recently started flag football.  The other day after practice he asked me when he could start playing on Sundays {as in the pros}.  Lord heavens.  No one ever accused that one of low self-esteem.

I politely told him that he is great at football, but for now at the age of seven, he should probably focus on school and just being a good boy.
Actually if he were to be a pro at anything at this point in his life it would either be lego building or competitive eating.  That kid can build anything you set in front of him and he is growing like a weed. Therefore food is a major necessity.

For example: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner....then, 'can I have a snack'.  No way, buddy.  I'm all about feeding this weed, but not too much.  Really, how can they eat so much, yet stay so...normal?

apple cider mini donut muffins (

Although our breakfasts are usually something hearty {eggs, oatmeal, peanut butter on whole wheat toast, etc.} there are times I go outside the box to cheer them up a bit.

So 'tis the season for my favorite season!  FALL.  I love every ounce of it, as most of you already know, so with a half gallon of apple cider sitting in my fridge I had to do something more with it than just guzzling it down.

Since this past Monday was a teacher in-service day our older two didn't have school, which meant extra fun time at our house {cough}.  In all reality it meant a more laid back breakfast and me breaking up 1,479 fights before dinner....but hey, the donuts were good!

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I've made donuts many times before and remember what I've said, "everyone loves donuts, if they say they don't, then they're lying".

And they probably won't be my good friend.

But there is no one who won't like these!  Tart apple cider, cinnamon, nutmeg in a yummy batter, baked and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar.  What's not to love?

Oh, and your house will smell amazing!

Apple Cider Mini Donut Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. apple cider
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a mini muffin pan {whole batch makes 30 mini donuts) with cooking spray.
2.  In a stand mixer combine the apple cider, egg and vanilla.  Add in the sugars to combine.  Sift in the remaining dry ingredients.
3.  Using a cookie scoop fill the mini muffin tins with the batter.  Bake for 10 minutes or until spongy and golden brown.
4.  Turn the pan over and remove all the mini donuts from the pan.
5.  In a microwavable bowl melt the butter.  In another bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar.
6.  One at a time, coat the donut in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon and sugar.  Set on a wire rack to cool.

apple cider mini donut muffins (

Here are some of my other favorite donut recipes....don't be scared, they are easy!  If you are in need of a mini muffin pan, I use this Wilton 24-count one.  I love it!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Football Tailgate Guacamole Squares

Love guacamole, but want something different?
These Football Tailgate Squares are for you!

football tailgate guacamole squares (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Last weekend we invited two couples over and all their kids {we have 8 together!} to watch the big Iowa/Iowa State football game.  It was gorgeous outside ALL day, so the husband and I got the bright idea to move our big family room T.V. out to the deck so we could not only enjoy the game outside, but not be cramped in our small house.

Moving it, swiping out cords and cable boxes, actually proved to be quite easy.  However, the mosquitos had a different party planned and by halftime we were moving that T.V. back inside.

No amount of Bug Soother or OFF spray was fazing these guys {and I call them all guys, because ladies would not be this annoying}.

So we watched the second half inside, albeit a bit cramped, but it was fun nonetheless.  And the food! I made a big batch of my Iowa Crock Pot Maid-rites, which are perfect for big gatherings and everyone else brought side dishes to share.

I went completely out of my normal "dip" making and made these Football Tailgate Guacamole Squares...different, yet so tasty!

football tailgate guacamole squares (

There are only six main ingredients needed for this appetizer: crescent rolls, cream cheese, an avocado, bacon, a tomato, green onion and a few shakes of different seasonings.

It can be made well in advance {probably not the day before due to the crust getting a bit soft}, but most definitely the morning of the big night game.

If you are a guacamole and chip lover, I'm guessing your love this.  If you are a Mexican lover, I'm guessing you'll love this.  And if you are just a normal person who likes game day bites, I'm guessing you'll love this too!

Football Tailgate Guacamole Squares

1 tube Pillsbury crescent rolls
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 avocado
1/2 lb. of bacon
1 seeded and chopped tomato
1 green onion, diced
1/2 t. cumin

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and roll out the crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan, pinching the seams together.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
2.  In a skillet cook the diced bacon until crispy.  When done remove from the pan to a paper towel lined plate to drain, set aside.
3.  In a small bowl combine the softened cream cheese and the ripe avocado until smooth. Sprinkle in the chili powder and cumin.  Spread this mixture over the cooled crescent rolls.
4.  Sprinkle the squares with the chopped bacon, chopped tomato and sliced green onion.
5.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Cut into squares.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fried Stuffed Rice Balls

This post is sponsored by Veetee, but all opinions are my own.

fried stuffed rice bowls arancini de riso (

This post does contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Please stop whatever you are doing and save this recipe.


I know typing in all caps kind of sounds like I'm shouting behind the scenes of this blog at you, but that is because I am!

These fried stuffed rice balls, otherwise known as Arancini de Riso in Italian, are an easy, yet looks like you spent all day on them, type of appetizer that you could feed your neighbors or the Pope. Fancy, yet equally down to earth.

But why lie?  I ate them as my lunch the day I made them.  Yep.  Ate them as my lunch.  I have no shame.

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I am enjoying every single moment I have had this year as a Veetee Brand Ambassador. Who knew creating recipes could be so much fun?  I wandered into my laundry room the other day {where I'm storing my shipment of Veetee rice} and thought to myself, 'what can I make this month'?

I wanted something creative, a bit out of the box, abnormal with typical families, yet equally delicious and easy.

I first saw a version of these fried stuffed rice balls on T.V. a few years back.  First off, anything that you dip in red sauce is pretty much golden to me.  Secondly, it's fried.  Bless. Third, it's stuffed with cheese.

It's like the holy trinity.

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And can we just take a moment to talk about how beautiful they are?  They are fried to a golden perfection.  Crispy and crunchy on the outside and tender and cheesy on the inside. Sprinkle with some fresh Parmesan cheese, sit them on a bed of marinara and garnish with basil?

My god, I almost fainted just typing out that sentence.

Veetee's ready to heat rice is perfect for this dish.  A quick cook for 2 minutes in the microwave is half the work!  Once the rice has cooled, I mixed it together with some Italian breadcrumbs, basil, cheese and egg.  A little roll in my secret coating and dip in the hot oil and these babies were done! Honestly, super easy.

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You  know what's great about being a food blogger?  In my opinion it's having all these little tidbits of food leftover in your fridge from various projects and declaring dinner as a "grazing night".

The husband called mid-afternoon today asking what was for dinner and I replied, "Some leftover fried stuffed rice balls, leftover pizza from the birthday party last night, fresh fruit, a ham sandwich if you want it and chocolate milk that needs to be used up from the other day."

After 6 years of this, he is used to at least once a week eating up a hodgepodge of whatever we have left from my random cookerings.

Thank god he's flexible.

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I'm so stoked for you guys to try these.  Make them for dinner {or lunch}, fry them up as a Saturday appetizer, bring them warm to a party, whatever works for your tribe.  

Kids love them.  Adults drool over them.  They are a hit!

Fried Stuffed Rice Balls

2 c. cooked Veetee Thai Jasmine rice {or any white rice}
2 eggs
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 pieces of string cheese, cut into 1/2 in. pieces

1/4 c. Italian style seasoned breadcrumbs
1 c. crushed corn flake cereal

2-3 c. canola oil, enough to fill a large saucepan halfway up

1.  In a large bowl combine the cooked and cooled rice, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and dried basil.
2.  With wet hands form the mixture into balls, about 1 1/2 in. in size.  Press your finger into the ball making a dent for the cube of cheese.  Fold the rice over the cheese and form it back into a ball.
3.  Roll balls in the breadcrumb/corn flake mixture and set aside while the oil is heating.
4.  When the oil is hot {around 350 degrees}, place 6-7 balls at a time in the oil.  Turning every couple of minutes until a deep golden brown.  Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
5.  Serve the balls warm with marinara sauce for dipping, garnishing with additional fresh Parm and basil.
6.  If cooking early and serving later, simple reheat the balls in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

See a full listing of where to buy Veetee rice HERE.

A big thanks to Veetee for sponsoring this post.
Stay tuned for next month's fun recipe!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Baked Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast

A delicious overnight French Toast dish.
One that everyone loves!

baked pumpkin stuffed french toast (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I just had one of the best weekends one could have.  It's like the weatherman knew I wanted to wear comfy leggings all weekend long and he delivered the perfect temps for it.  The humidity left the air, the breeze was cool and minus the swarms of mosquitos {which kinda ruined our game watching on our deck} it was just awesome.

We spent Friday night watching our son's flag football practice and then headed to dinner with just two kids for once {our middle cherub had her first sleepover}.  Saturday morning brought in cleaning and doing some rearranging in prep of friend's coming over that night to watch the big in-state rival game between Iowa and Iowa State.

I'm happy to report my Hawkeyes thumped the Cyclones.

And to wrap it all up on Sunday, the kids started Sunday School again, followed by church an easy lunch and naps for everyone.

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It's a shame I didn't make a batch of this pumpkin stuffed french toast again this weekend, as the temps were right and our mornings were pretty lazy.

I love, love, love a good baked french toast my friends.  My brown sugar cheesecake version is always hit and the kids LOVE when strawberries are in season and we make my strawberry cheesecake stuffed version.

Apparently I enjoy "stuffing" my French Toast?

This version is no different.  Although this time I crammed all things Fall into this dish; pumpkin, cream cheese, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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And you know what's funny?  I made this for a random Wednesday morning before school.  I didn't wait for company or a lazy weekend morning, I just made it.  Sometimes it's fun to surprise the kids on these mornings with something a bit more magical than their bowl of shredded wheat.

They loved it!  All three of them.  And since I made it all the day before it just had to bake in the oven while we were getting ready for school.  When finished I wrapped up the leftovers and we reheated them the following morning therefore giving us two delicious, a bit over-the-top breakfasts two days in a row.

So good!  Please make this.  

Baked Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast

1 long, crusty baguette, cut into 1/2 in. slices
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
6 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
whipped topping, optional

1.  In a large bowl combine the eggs, half of the can of pumpkin and spices, then set aside.
2.  On a cutting board cut the baguette into 1/2 in. thick slices.
3.  In another bowl combine the cream cheese, remaining pumpkin and vanilla with a mixer until smooth.  Gently add in the powdered sugar to combine.
4.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
5.  Take one slice of the baguette and spread with the cream cheese mixture.  Take another baguette slice and place on top of the first slice, making a sandwich.  Place in the greased dish.  Continue "stuffing the sandwiches" and placing them into the dish.
6.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread and then sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Place in the fridge overnight.
7.  Remove from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until it's golden brown.
8.  Serve warm.  Top with additional powdered sugar, maple syrup or whipped topping.

baked pumpkin stuffed french toast (

I need to mention this...

Last year my local grocery store RAN OUT OF PUMPKIN.  For the love.  It was awful for this food blogger. I'm a bit more prepared this year.

I ordered a case of 12 cans.  You know, just in case of another major grocery store malfunction.  If you live in a small town like me, you might want to do this same by ordering HERE.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Creamy Baked Ziti

Ultimate comfort is this Creamy Baked Ziti.
Everyone loves it and it's simplicity!

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You know how sometimes you make a meal again and again and it becomes a family favorite and it's just automatic?

That is this Creamy Baked Ziti to a T.  Our family loves it, I've made it for years and it has just become one of those staple dishes in our home.  So much so that it never even occurred to me to share this recipe with my readers.  If you follow me on Instagram you'll remember I teased you about this recipe last week.

By the way, follow me.  It's fun!

And the blue speckled dishes I served this meal on?  Well, those were my husband's grandmothers that I inherited after she passed.  I love how they look in photos.  They are super old and unless your grandmother has some to pass down to you, they are a bit hard to find.

BUT.  I did find these replicas!  This set of 6 mugs.  This plate in blue and red.  These super cute set of bowls.  And even a whole set perfect for camping.

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What I love about this ziti is how easy it is to throw together.  Bowl the penne pasta and then in that same pot throw in the cheese mixture, sausage and sauce.  Stir it together, pour it in a big 9x13 baking dish, spread on a little more sauce and cheese and call it good.

I'm all about simple.  Dinners included!  I do have a bit more time on my hands now that my two older kids are in school full time but that doesn't mean I want to spend all my time in the kitchen.

I'd rather be playing with my 2 year old, buying more LuLaRoe clothes that I probably don't need {ha!}, working on this blog {completely serious on that one}, adding more books to my Amazon wish list {currently eyeing...this one and this one} and like any other mom keeping a tidy house.

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So enter in this family favorite!  Put it in your meal rotation my friends.  You'll be happy I finally got my head in the game and decided to share it with you.

Creamy Baked Ziti

1 large jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. ground sausage, cooked and drained
1 large tomato, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded

1.  In a large stock pot, salt the water heavily and bring to a boil.  Cook the penne pasta to al dente, then remove and drain, putting the pasta back in the pot.
2.  Add in the spaghetti sauce {setting aside a 1/2 cup}, the cooked sausage, chopped tomato, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices.  Mix this together and pour into a large greased 9x13 baking dish.
3.  Spread on the reserved spaghetti sauce and top with the mozzarella cheese.
4.  At this point the dish can be refrigerated for up to two days or you can bake it off right away at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
5.  Serve warm with additional Parmesan cheese.

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