Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Appetizer Fusion: Buffalo Chicken Cheese Fries

The boys and I have a couple of favorite appetizers when we go out to eat.  Cheese fries, and Boneless Buffalo wings.  We usually have to play rock paper scissors to decide which one we order.  Occasionally we settle on both.  However, we don't go out very often anymore and sometimes you just get that hankering for those things.

So the other night I thought, you know what?  I can combine the two at home, take out some of the guilt and I think I can definitely get all of the flavor.  That is not to say that this is a low-calorie meal, um....not at all.  However, it's the flavors we love, and only the french fries are fried.  Win!

Here's what you'll need:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can Rotelle tomatoes
1/2 cup Frank's Wing Sauce (use your favorite wing sauce)

In an oven safe baking dish drizzle the chicken breasts with a little olive oil and salt n' pepper.  Pour the Rotelle evenly over the chicken and top with wing sauce.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender.  (30-45 minutes).  Shred the chicken after it's cook and allow the juice to soak into the meat.  If you like your chicken really spicy you can add more wing sauce to taste.

Next we're going to double fry the french fries and bake the bacon.

6-8 Russet potatoes
8 slices thick cut bacon
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 cup jack cheese shredded (you can use whatever cheeses you like here)

Slice the potatoes into fry size (1/4 inch) pieces.  I keep mine in cold water until ready to fry to keep them from turning brown.  Just drain and pat dry before frying them to avoid spattering in the oil.

First fry at 340 degrees for 4-5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  This process cooks the inside of the potato.  Once you have fried them all once and are ready, turn the heat on your oil up to 375 degrees.  Fry the once fried potatoes for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until golden and crispy.  (I use peanut oil for this, but feel free to use your favorite oil.  Canola or Corn would work well too.)

While you're frying up your french fries, bake your bacon off in the oven.  375 degrees until crispy.  Place the bacon on a broiler pan, or a sheet pan fitted with a wire rack to allow the grease to fall away.  Once the bacon is done chop it up and set aside.

Now that all your ingredients are done.  Grate your cheese, or just use the already shredded stuff in bags.  We layer this stuff up on a sheet pan.

Fries first.  With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken.  Allow the juices to drain so that you don't have soggy fries.  Add the chicken to the fries.  Top with cheeses and sprinkle with bacon.  

Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese is completely melted.

We drizzle a little Ranch dressing over these to serve.  You can use your favorite Ranch or Blue Cheese.  I make mine with Hidden Valley Buttermilk seasoning pack.  I use light mayo, 1/3 less fat sour cream and a splash of cream.  Less calories.  There's enough going on without the full fat Ranch dressing.  

I hope you give these a whirl.  I have to tell you, I impressed the boys, BDC and myself.  Best combo slash fusion slash fly by the seat of my pants concoction I've ever come up with.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Share a Spoon - Mock Hostess Cupcakes

 Think Tank Momma

I truly love cupcakes.  They are just so cute, and yummy, and perfect.  They are just the right size.   The ratio of sweet frosting to moist cake is just right! Yes, a cupcake is just the perfect sized sweet treat.

Now, ordinarily I am not that big of a fan of chocolate cake.  It's just o.k.  You know, unless you're talking about the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake at The Capital Grille or something equally as decadent.  However, most of the time I would prefer something like carrot, white, lemon, etc.

Save for one of my favorite Hostess treats.  I love the Hostess Cupcakes.  You know the ones.  The chocolate cupcake.  The creamy white filling.  The chocolate ganache topping with white squiggles.  When they are fresh, they are fabulous.  Since I can't always find them, or refuse to pay as much as they want for them, I decided I would figure out how to make my own version at home.

Google Images.

Mock Hostess Cupcakes

1 ¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 extra large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa, cayenne, salt and baking powder.

Cream together sugar and butter.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well.  Add milk and vanilla.  Slowly stir in flour mixture.  Stir until well incorporated but don't over mix.

Line regular sized cupcake tins with papers.  Fill 2/3 of the way full.

Bake 17 minutes.

Remove from cupcake tins and allow to cool completely.

Creme Filling

1 jar Marshmallow fluff 7oz.
2 teaspoons hot water
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
½ cup shortening
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Whip shortening and hot water.  Mix in marshmallow fluff, sugar and cream.

In a piping bag, or zip top bag, fitted with a round decorating tip, add the creme filling.  

Insert tip into the center of the cooled cupcakes about half way down.  Squeeze gently until the top of the cupcake puffs up just a bit.  Be careful not to over fill the cupcake.


1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 bag milk chocolate chips (I use Hershey's)
1 Tablespoon butter

In a small sauce pan over medium low heat warm the cream and butter until butter is melted.  Stir in chocolate chips until chocolate is smooth and shiny.  Remove from heat.

Allow ganache to cool to room temp.  Dip cupcakes.  Allow excess chocolate to drip down off.  Flip and leave ganache to set.

Decorate tops with melted white chocolate or vanilla frosting.

I add the cayenne pepper to these cupcakes to give the chocolate a little punch.  Kick up the flavor a bit.  You can omit if you like.  

These are a fun treat and the kids seem to LOVE them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Share a Spoon - Quick Pork Fried Rice

Think Tank Momma

I know, it's been too long since I posted here.  I've neglected this blog, and Share a Spoon over here.  I haven't gotten any recipes from followers lately, and with the holidays and baking.....yeah I'll stop with the excuses.
Anylazy, this week's theme is quick and easy.  I have a healthier version of a take out favorite for you this week, and....it's super simple!

I love Chinese food.  LOVE IT!  However, we tend to only indulge every so often.  All the fat and sodium.  Yikes!  However, my sister turned me on to this and it definitely sates the craving and doesn't break the calorie, sodium and fat gram bank.

Quick Pork Fried Rice

3 slices bacon
1 medium onion
1 bag Birdseye Steamfresh Rice w/veggies
Low sodium Soy Sauce
1 egg
olive oil

Chop the bacon slices and render them over medium heat in a large skillet.
Remove the crispy bacon and drain on a paper towel.

Cook the rice in the microwave according to the directions on the bag.

Discard the bacon drippings and add two tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet.  Saute the chopped onion with a bit of kosher salt until softened.  (4-5 minutes).

Add the steamed rice to the skillet.  Add the egg.  Stir well.  The egg with scramble and cook through quickly.  Toss the bacon in the pan and stir well.  Add soy sauce according to your taste and allow to warm through.

Garnish with some chopped scallions.


It's so good!  You could substitute turkey bacon, but I am a fan of the pork.  I serve it with this recipe, I Shared previously over at LIB!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Share a Spoon - Sausage Stuffing

Think Tank Momma

Marnie is Sharing her family favorite must have this week!

This is a tradition in our family and if I deviate from this stuffing my family will boycott the table.

Sausage Stuffing for Turkey (or Chicken)

6-8 cups fine bread crumbs (white or brown – whatever your family preference)
4-6 stalks celery
1 med-large onion
1 lb pork sausage or pork sausage links de-cased (or mild Italian sausages de-cased)
 1-2 TBSP poultry seasoning (or to taste)
½ TBSP garlic powder
salt/pepper (to taste)
warm water

The amount of bread crumb is going to depend on how big a bird you have so you will have to eyeball it a bit.  For a 16-18 lb bird it is about 6-8 cups so that’s what I including the instructions for. 

Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl.

Rinse celery stalks and whiz them up in a food processor until finely chopped and empty into bowl with bread crumbs.  Skin onion and rough chop, whiz the onion up in the food processor until finely chopped as well and add it to the large bowl. 

Add sausage meat and while doing so try and break up the clumps a bit.  Add salt, pepper, poultry season and garlic powder.  Now it’s time to get messy, get your hands in the bowl and mix ingredients together well.  Add warm water in small amounts until the stuffing begins to hold together a little in a ball.  It should be moist and hold together if you squish it together. 

Rinse the cavity of your bird well and dry with paper towel.  Stuff the cavity and pack the stuffing in firmly.  The fat in the sausage meat helps keep the bird moist.  Roast according to guidelines for a stuffed gobbler.  For food safety sake, be sure to remove all stuffing once the turkey is cooked.  Enjoy!

As always Marnie, Thanks for Sharing with us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Mock" Thin Mint(y) Cookies

Google Images
My husband, affectionately referred to as BDC has a little problem.  He is obsessed with Girl Scouts.  Not in the creepy, pedophile kind of way.  He stalks them every year at THAT time of year.  You know the time.  The same time we all want to knock them over the head and run off with their stash find them in front of our favorite shopping establishments.  

He loves THIN MINTS.  He actually comes home with a box or two every other day when it's THAT time of year.  He doesn't share them very well either.  He makes sure to pick up a box of Samoas or the peanut butter whatevertheheck they're called ones to deter me the boys from eating HIS cookies.

So I thought, I have to find a way to create something similar at home.  I scavenged the internet and found lots of recipes.  None of them looked perfect. So I pieced and parted and made my own.  

Here's what I came up with...

Cookie Dough:

1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 brick of baking paraffin wax
1/2 teaspoon mint extract

Cream together butter and shortening.  Add sugar and egg.  Blend until light and fluffy.  Add the extracts.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa and salt. Slowly add the mixed dry ingredients into the wet until they are completely incorporated.

Cut the dough (it's quite sticky) into two equal parts.  Roll into a log in waxed paper and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.  Until the dough is nicely set and hard.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the logs into thin slices.  Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes until they are slightly crispy to the touch.

Cool on cookie racks.

In a small sauce pan over low heat melt the paraffin wax.  Add the chocolate chips and stir vigorously until melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in extract.  Allow to cool.  With a fork drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies.

I let Kamden try the batter.  Asked him what it tasted like.  Expecting the answer Thin Mints.  To my surprise he said "heaven".  Not what I was going for kid, but I'll take it!

These were a big hit with BDC and Kamden.  They fought over them actually!  They definitely fill that void when you know, it's not THAT time of year!  ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hot Water Chocolate Cake with Ganache

Who doesn't love chocolate cake?  On Friday, last week, my Granny turned 86.  We had a family Birthday Celebration for her and I cooked for everyone.  We had a fantastic time and enjoyed good food and great company.  In all my haste to make lasagna, Italian dinner rolls and the cake I forgot to take pictures of the cake so I found an image on Google to give you a visual.

This cake is so moist and rich.  You will love it!  I don't remember where I found the original recipe, but I of course changed it to suit my baking style.


4 1/3 cups of flour
3 3/4 cups of sugar
3/4 cup shortening
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 extra large eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two 9in cake pans with cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pans with wax paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.  Sugar, flour, soda, cocoa, salt and cayenne pepper.  Cut in the shortening to the dry ingredients.  Crack the eggs into a 10oz coffee mug.  Fill the rest of the mug with milk.  Add to the dry ingredients.  Add another 1/2 mug of milk.  Add vanilla.  I heated my water in the microwave on high for 3 minutes, but you can certainly boil it on the stove.  Make sure it's screaming hot and pour over all the ingredients.  Mix on high until all the ingredients are well blended.  You will see tiny lumps of shortening throughout the batter.  It's supposed to look that way.

Pour equal amounts into the two cake pans.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool cakes completely.


1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag milk chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Over low heat in a sauce pan add the cream and butter.  Stir frequently until butter is melted.  Stir in vanilla.  Add chocolate chips and stir vigorously until melted and completely incorporated in the cream and butter.  It will look like a mess at first.  You'll think you messed up and that the chips aren't going to incorporate.  It's FINE.  Just keep stirring and it will turn into this beautiful shiny chocolate goodness that you want to bathe in.  Trust me!  Once it's shiny and beautiful remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Take the first cake that you have turned out onto your cake plate.  Pour the ganache into the middle of the cake.  Work the ganache to edges of the cake.  Gently top the ganache with the second cake.  Pour the remaining ganache over the top cake and work it down the sides of the entire cake with a spreading knife.  Put the cake in the refrigerator to allow the ganache to set.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mexican Chicken Roll-Ups

I threw something together today, and it was so yummy that I thought I just had to share it.

Here's what you'll need:

5 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can Ro*Tel tomatoes
1 can chopped green chiles
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
10 medium flour tortillas
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup salsa

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the frozen breasts in a casserole dish.  Drizzle olive oil over the chicken. Sprinkle the cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper over the chicken.  Add the sliced onions, Ro*Tel and green chiles.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is falling apart.  (You could certainly do this in the crock pot all day.)  Shred the chicken with two forks and allow to sit in the chicken juices.  Chicken will soak up most of the juice.

Spray another casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Separate the chicken into 10 equal parts.  Separate the Monterey Jack cheese.  Keep 1 cup for topping.  The other two cups separate into 10 equal parts.  Stuff each of the flour tortillas with chicken and cheese.  Roll and put them in the prepared casserole dish.

Top the rolled tortillas with the 1/2 cup of salsa and spread it over all the tortillas.  Top with the remaining cup of cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 until the cheese is nicely browned.  Serve topped with a bit of sour cream and your favorite Mexican or Spanish rice.