Baked Cheese Dip with Tomato and Basil


I'm excited about this years Superbowl, yes, me, excited lol. And of course it has nothing to do with football but more so for the sole fact that Beyonce will be performing during halftime, yay! Anywho, whether I'm into the game itself or not I always enjoy cooking things to snack on during that highly anticipated Sunday. Instead of making a big dinner I prefer whipping up a variety of small dishes such as appetizers. I've never tried a homemade cheese dip before and this one caught my attention because of the pretty garnish lol. You can dip this in veggies, chips, bread, basically whatever you see fit, enjoy!


Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins | Total Time: 30 mins | Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
1 cup (233 grams) sour cream
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces (227 grams) shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
12 ounces (340 grams) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 tomato, diced
Extra basil leaves

Method:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Stir sour cream, mustard powder and thyme in a large bowl then add mozzarella, Monterey Jack and the cup of chopped basil leaves. Stir then add to a small baking dish or pie dish. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbling. After baking the cheese dip, turn oven to broil and broil the cheese dip 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown on top.

Notes:
I'm still on the fence about the basil. Maybe I should've chopped it up smaller (or used basil spice instead) but it has a very dominant taste that almost overpowers the dip. I think I may try cilantro next time just to play around with taste. Other than that it's a really tasty dip with lots of potential!

Recipe from Inspired Taste
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Sweet 'N Spicy Garlic Honey BBQ Wings


I particularly love cooking on the holidays so I'm always looking for snazzy recipes to try. I especially love simple dishes with minimum ingredients in case I want to whip up something really quick. As I was thinking of what I wanted to cook to ring in the new year I remembered a recipe from one of my favorite beauty blogs that I had previously  made a mental note to try one day.

You really can't go wrong with wings in general because there are so many ways they can be prepared. Whether you're entertaining guests or just in need of a quick solution for dinner These Sweet 'N Spicy Garlic Honey BBQ Wings will truly have you licking your fingers in pure bliss. And best of all? They are super easy to make!


Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 30 mins | Total Time: 35 mins | Serves: 5-6 

Ingredients:
1 lb frozen chicken wingettes or fresh wings, halved
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp Adobo w/ Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 packet Goya Sazon Seasoning
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 bottle of Honey BBQ Sauce
6 tsp Sriracha Sauce
1 tbsp Minced Garlic

Method:
Preheat oven to 400°. Soak wings in lemon juice and water for 10 minutes. Remove any feathers and fat, rinse and pat dry. Season with adobo, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and old bay, cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. I leave mine overnight. In a small bowl, mix the bbq sauce, sriracha sauce and minced garlic, set aside. Turn your oven to the broiler setting, line your broiler pan with aluminum foil, place wings on the pan and put into the bottom of oven to broil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until a little crispy, turn over and cook for another 10-15 minutes. I do this in batches of about 15 pieces. Remove wings from the broiler pan and place them in a baking dish.

Notes: I'm queen of taking shortcuts so instead of allowing the wings to sit overnight with the seasoning I just skipped that part to cut the time in half. Also, I left out the adoba seasoning, the highlight of this recipe is predominantly in the sauce so you can prep the chicken with seasoning of your choice whichever you prefer.

Recipe from The Glamorous Gleam

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Oreo Stuffed Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing


I mean who doesn't like a good cupcake? I've been meaning to post this one for awhile now but I originally made these a couple of months ago for my dads birthday. This is actually my first time ever making cupcakes and of course being me I couldn't just make a plain jane ole cupcake, I had to try something fancy on my first attempt. My absolute favorite dessert combination is cookies n cream, so I figured why not make Oreo cupcakes! This recipe is super simple and doesn't require many ingredients.

Originally I didn't anticpate posting this recipe at all which is why there aren't any step-by-step pics this time. However once I started topping them with icing I just had to go grab my camera! Anywho, this is a super easy recipe, great for parties, entertaining or just indulging ;-) enjoy!


 I was going for a Tiffany Blue for some of the cupcakes but they came out green lol.


Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins | Total Time: 35 mins | Serves: 18

Ingredients:
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix (usually requires, eggs, water and oil)
24 Whole Oreo Cookies
18-24 paper cupcake liners

Cream Cheese Icing:
8 ounce Philadelphia cream cheese
1 stick of butter (Land of lake unsalted) - sit it out until it is at room temperature
1 box of confectioners sugar (1 pound box)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Method:
Make cupcakes according to the box instructions. Fill each cupcake liner a quarter up the liner then place one Oreo cookie inside, continue to fill with cake batter until 3/4 full. Bake per box directions then allow to cool. For the Cream Cheese Icing make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before beginning. Mix all ingredients together with blender until smooth and soft enough to spread. Top the cupcakes. 

Notes:
I didn't list it with the ingredients but you need to buy food coloring if you plan on making colored icing or batter. Also I used a box cake as a quick alternative method but of course if you prefer homemade batter you can make that instead.

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Traditional Spanish Paella


Let me tell you, there is nothing like a traditional Spanish dish. My favorite Spanish dish by far is paella! If you're not familiar with paella it is a Spanish rice dish that originates from Valencia, Spain. There are many variations of paella but the most authentic consists of a mixture of meat, seafood, and veggies. The best paella that I've ever had comes from this little place here in Atlanta called Lafonda Latina - it's deliciously cooked in a cast iron skillet with yellow rice, calamari, shrimp, baked chicken, chorizo (Spanish Sausage), green peppers, onions, pimentos and clam juice.

I've made this dish probably a half a dozen times now and what I love most is that the versatility is virtually endless. Every time I make it I incorporate something new. You absolutely have to give this a try at least once, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Directions:

Since we're working with a lot of different ingredients the first thing you should do is get your chopping, seasoning and dicing out of the way. Start by chopping the chicken into 1 inch squares. 


Season and coat the chicken with olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt & pepper  in a small container. Then cover and  place in the refrigerator. 


Dice the peppers, onions, and parsley. 


Traditional Paella uses chorizo sausage but I can never find it at my local grocer so I use Conecuh Hickory Smoked Sausage which works just as well. You can keep or remove the skin, it's up to you. 


Chop the sausage into small pieces and bake in the oven until done. As an alternate method you can also cook the sausage in a skillet with the rest of the meat but I find it easier to cook it separately. 


Boil the frozen peas, drain and set aside. 


In a large skillet heat some olive oil over medium heat and stir in some garlic, red pepper flakes, and the rice. Be sure to coat the rice completely in the oil. 


Stir in the saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and a little lemon juice. 


Cook until boiling, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Then mix in the peas. 


In a large separate cast iron skillet heat some olive oil over medium heat and add the seasoned chicken. Cook the chicken until done on all sides and add the onions. 


Marinate until the unions are tender. 


Add the red peppers and shrimp. Cook for about 5-10 more minutes. 


Add in the cooked sausage and let everything simmer in the sauce and heat for about 5 more minutes. 


Now you're ready to serve ^_^


Enjoy!


Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins | Total Time: 1hr 10mins | Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil (for seasoning)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (for rice)
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bag of uncooked short-grain white rice (or paella rice)
1 pinch saffron threads (optional)
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil (for meats)
1 Spanish onion
1 red bell pepper
1 lb conecuh sausage (or chorizo sausage w/casings removed)
1 lb pre-cooked shrimp (peeled and tail casings removed) 

Method:
In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture.

Notes:
I still haven't quite mastered the art of cooking rice in a skillet. As many times as I've made this it still doesn't seem to get quite as tender as I'd like. It's still very good but if you're a stickler for tender rice I'd suggest boiling it instead of cooking it in a skillet. You can use regular short grain rice but I use 2 bags of store bought Paella rice which includes saffron threads. So if you get paella rice you won't need to buy the additional saffron threads.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
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Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells with Blue Cheese


You can probably look forward to seeing me post quite a few recipes adapted from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Inspired Taste. Inspired Taste is a cooking blog ran by Adam and Joanne who are a cute couple that enjoy cooking together ^_^ They have such a variety of delicious recipes in which I've been on a personal mission to try. What I love most is that all the recipes are pretty simple and I've found that most of them are variety dishes that can be made over and over again with different ingredients. Gotta love the versatility!

They introduced a few recipes for stuffed shells and I've tried a few of them and have fallen in absolute awe! One of their most recent shell recipes is the Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells. It makes a great party dish and I have paired them with wings and alone.

Directions:

First boil the pasta shells in a large boiler according to the directions on the box. Once cooked, drain and set aside in a bowl of cold ice water. Now let's add a little olive oil and brown the ground chicken over medium heat in a large skillet. 


Add some garlic powder. 


Throw in some diced celery and cook until slightly tender.


Mix in some Frank's Buffalo Sauce. 


Add the ricotta cheese. 


Mix in a few blue cheese crumbles.


Now add the parsley. 


Stuff each shell with a spoonful of filling and place in a lightly greased glass baking dish. Cook in oven for about 25 minutes or until shells become lightly crisp and the cheese has melted. Then you're ready to serve! 


Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins | Total Time: 45 mins | Serves: 4

Ingredients:
16 large pasta shells
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup diced celery
6-8 tablespoons Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 °. Bring a large pot of water to a boil then cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain cooked shells then add to a large bowl of ice water until ready to fill. Next add olive oil to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add ground chicken and use a spoon to break the chicken apart, cook 5-8 minutes until brown. Add garlic powder and celery and cook another 3-4 minutes until tender. Remove pan from the heat then stir in wing sauce, ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup of blue cheese crumbles and parsley. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary.Use a spoon to fill each pasta shell then arrange shells in a baking dish. Sprinkle tops with 2 tablespoons of blue cheese then bake in the oven 25 minutes until cheese has melted and tips of shells begin to crisp and brown.

Notes:
Transferring the cooked shells to a separate bowl is optional. If you cook it in a large enough boiler pot you can simply remove the hot water, drain the shells and add cold icy water to the boiler.
Recipe adapted from Inspired Taste. 
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