Friday, September 30, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

For all the things that I cook and bake, sadly there are very few dishes that get much of a rise out of Mr. Vittles.

For someone like me... this is kind of a nightmare.

I like feedback!

But if I had a dollar for every time I heard "It's pretty good" from my husband, I'd have a full little piggy bank.

(Luckily, he has other good qualities.)

Nonetheless, every now & again I stumble upon something that gets a reaction.

Pepperjack Bacon Mac & CheeseCoconut Kona Ice CreamRicotta Cookies.

And now... Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf.

I asked him if it would be better with the addition of blue cheese crumbles but he said it was already pretty "solid."  However, I will throw that suggestion out there in case you are so inclined.  You could also serve it with a side of blue cheese dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 T. ranch dressing
  • 3 T. Frank's Red Hot (or the hot sauce of your choice)
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C. plain bread crumbs
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1/4 t. celery seed
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 2 T. Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 T. ketchup
  • 1 T. honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a shallow Pyrex dish or pie plate with nonstick spray and set aside.  (You can also make this in a loaf pan, surprisingly little fat comes out of it).

In a medium bowl, whisk together ranch dressing, hot sauce, garlic & onion powder, celery seed, salt, pepper, cayenne, milk & egg.  Add bread crumbs & stir.  Add ground chicken and mix thoroughly with your hands until combined.

Form into a loaf and place into prepared dish.  Cook 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 T. hot sauce with ketchup and honey.  Brush glaze over meatloaf, and return to oven for another 15 minutes.  Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serves 2-4.

Recipe Adapted from

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Caramel Snickerdoodles

Today is Mr. Vittles' birthday.

His favorite cake is very simple (angel food cake filled with chocolate whipped cream) so I tend to feel guilty if that's the only thing I make for him. 

Especially since he also wants to go out to dinner tonight!

So last night we had one of his favorite meals (steak with garlic mashed potatoes) and I decided to make these cookies.

He likes anything pumpkin (one year I made him a Pumpkin Spice cake) so I thought this recipe would be a no-brainer.

When I took the dough out of the refrigerator, I gave him a taste and he said "It's good.  I have to say I was a little worried when you said they were going to be pumpkin snickerdoodles."

I guess he thought the taste would be too strong? 

Luckily, it's very subtle.

Then about a third of the way through the batch, I had him try just a piece of one of the finished cookies.  He tried to take a bite out of the half, but all the caramel came out with it. 

I asked him what he thought, and he said "It's ok.  The caramel is kind of a pain in the #*$ though."


I know someone else that's kind of a pain in the @#$.

I'm so sorry that gooey caramel deliciousness was just too much trouble for you, Mr. Vittles.  

(We should all have such problems.)

But since it is his birthday, I decided I better make a batch of just plain ones.  And for the record, they were also very delicious. 

...even though I forgot to put cinnamon in the rolling sugar until the last batch.


Anyway, if you think the caramel is too daunting, feel free to leave it out :)

Pumpkin Caramel Snickerdoodles

  • 3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour (you can just use all-purpose for all the flour if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. allspice
  • 1/8 t. nutmeg
  • 1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 24 soft caramel candies (such as Kraft)

Coating for Rolling:
  • 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. allspice

Make Dough: In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  Set aside. 

In large bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light & fluffy (2 or 3 minutes).   Add pumpkin puree, and beat until well-combined.  Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined.

Scraping down sides as necessary, add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated.   Add remaining flour mixture and beat only until no streaks remain.  Do not overmix.  Cover and chill dough thoroughly, for at least an hour, until consistency is easy to roll without sticking to your hands.

When dough is almost done chilling, unwrap caramels and slice each one in half.  Set aside.

Make Coating:  Mix sugar with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice in a small bowl and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare baking sheet with parchment or non-stick spray.

Using a large cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon, scoop out dough into 6-8 balls (return bowl of unused dough to refrigerator.)  Break each ball in half and place caramel piece on one half of dough.  Top with other half and shape back into a ball (so the dough completely surrounds the caramel). 

Roll each ball in spiced sugar coating and place on prepared sheet (if you're like me & want an extra-crispy coating on the outside, you can re-roll all the balls again before baking.) 

Bake 11-13 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Store in airtight container up to 1 week.  Makes about 36-48 cookies. 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Recipe adapted from DLYN, and Caramel-Center inspiration from The Baker Chick

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chunky Monkey Thighs

Let me apologize in advance for not having a personal recipe or lengthy post ready for you - but for the past few days, I was down in South Carolina visiting the BFF, Lauren!

And the BFF's handsome-adorable-squeezable-tickletastic-chunkalicious-sweet-as-sugar munchkin... Holt!

Actually, perhaps 'meatball' is a better term... considering his thighs have to be physically jammed into his Bumbo seat in order for them to fit.

Man oh man.

I wish I could have giant thighs and still be the cutest thing the world has ever seen.

Then I could spend my days mowing through these Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Pass the Sushi:

...with a side of these Dark Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies from Simply Scratch:

...right after I have this Pizza Nutella from Diethood:

... and this Back to School Cinnamon Bread from Scarletta Bakes:

I mean... is that really too much to ask?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pumpkin Cornbread

Today was a very emotional day for many people - not just in this country, but all across the globe.

I stopped by my grandmother's house (my stepdad's mom) for an early birthday celebration, and she has some friends visiting from the Netherlands.

When we arrived a little after noon, they were in the middle of watching the names being read at the ceremony held in New York City for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Her friends had actually insisted on watching it.  In fact, her one friend Nelly says she has watched it every year since 2002, from Holland.  And a few days ago, they visited New York City to see Ground Zero in person.

My stepdad and I were initially a little surprised to hear this, but they pointed out that the world changed after 9/11... not just America.

That comment really struck me.

Before I left my house, I had been watching the ceremony too - particularly to see my high school friend Mary's sister, who had the honor of reading their father's name.

He was in the South tower when the second plane struck it, and he never came home.

I can't believe that was 10 years ago. 

On September 11, 2001, I was a college freshman at the New College of Florida, in my first few weeks of school.  I woke up a little early that morning, so I went on the internet before class.

That was the heyday of Instant Messenger, and a friend of mine from home messaged me, asking if I heard about the plane hitting the World Trade Center.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Your class is probably cancelled," he wrote, but I wasn't comprehending the seriousness of the situation.

Wasn't it just an accident?  Why would classes be cancelled?

But they were, and this was no accident.  I didn't have a television in my dorm room, so I spent the rest of the day either glued to the TV in the student lounge or on my laptop.

I frantically tried to reach my father, who didn't work in the WTC specifically but sometimes had business there.  Of course, cell phones weren't working, so it took me a while to find out he and my stepmom (they also had an apartment in NYC) were physically fine.

Emotionally... not so much.

And then I heard about Mary's dad.

At the age of 18, I had little experience with devastating news of this caliber.

My heart went out to her, but I didn't know what to do.  I didn't know how to talk to her.  I didn't know what to say.

Watching that ceremony this morning, the same awful feeling of helplessness came back to me.

Seeing children pay tribute to mothers and fathers that they never really even knew brought tears to my eyes.  And my heart broke again for all the people that lost their family members & friends so suddenly. 

I look at Mary now and think how much has changed in 10 years.  She finished college, got a good job, and has an amazing husband and an adorable baby boy who's about to be a year old in November.

Her oldest brother is also married, with two kids.  Her older sister and other brother are happy and successful.

Why their father had to be taken from them in such a senseless act is beyond me.

But if there is another 'side' or another life out there beyond our understanding (as I like to believe) then I know that he is watching them, smiling, so proud of everything his family has accomplished and become.

Mary & her son Bryce, February 2011

Last week, I promised you the fall-flavored cornbread recipe I made with my slow-cooker chicken chili.

I think it's a good choice for today when we could all use a little 'comfort'.

Pumpkin Cornbread

  • 1 C. whole wheat pastry flour (regular all-purpose is also fine)
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 C. canola oil
  • 1 T. molasses
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8×8″ baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing out the top as much as possible.

Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm, with butter if desired.

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Sugarcrafter

Monday, September 5, 2011

Slow-Cooker Summer Chicken Chili

I know I've been kinda MIA lately, but we made it through Hurricane Irene safe & sound!

The worst that happened was that we lost power until Tuesday night, and also had some flooding in our basement. 

Thankfully nothing got ruined except for a few things I unfortunately forgot to take off the floor, and a lot of empty cardboard boxes we were storing for our next move. 

But there was a decent bit of cleanup and a decent bit of me being in a really bad mood over the whole thing.

And... a decent bit of Mr. Vittles being in a bad mood because I was in a bad mood.

So I decided that yesterday I needed to make something nice. 

I haven't made hardly anything in about 2 weeks, let alone any new recipes, but I saw this recipe for Slow Cooker Summer Chicken Chili on Friday evening and knew I had to try it.

Especially before summer is OVER! Can you believe it's Labor Day already?  I have no idea where August went. 

Maybe it got washed away in the storm?

 McLoone's, Asbury Park Boardwalk 8/28/11 - © 2011 Reuters

(This picture was taken right up the street from my house!  As I'm sure you can tell, waves are not supposed to be crashing onto the boardwalk.)

In any case, since the summer to fall transition is nearly upon us, this was actually a dual-season meal - I made a really fun & different fall-flavored cornbread to go with that I think you guys are going to like.  But more on that soon!

Until then - enjoy these final days of summer and have a safe & happy Labor Day!

Slow-Cooker Summer Chicken Chili

  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 C. frozen corn
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, diced
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 T. oregano
  • 1 t. brown sugar
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 C. white wine
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb. total)
  • optional : shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro for serving

Combine all ingredients except for the chicken breasts in the basin of a large slow cooker.  Place chicken breasts on top, and cover slow cooker.

Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10.  Remove chicken 30 minutes before serving, and shred using two forks.  Return to chili and stir well.  Adjust seasonings if necessary, then continue cooking.  Serve chili with sour cream, cheese, and/or chopped cilantro if desired.

Recipe Adapted from Back to Her Roots


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