Oh hai, sweet + spicy + cheesy chicken sticks – where have you been my whole life this entire pregnancy? Kinda pizza-like, but more appetizer-like, these cheesy chicken sticks are your college-late-night Pokey Stix cravings amped up to a more adult level.
We love this recipe because it’s super quick and easy (looking at you, 5-ingredient list), and it is also a great way to use the chicken breast meat from last week’s roast chicken. (Rotisserie chicken breast also works well here.)
The combo of the sweet barbeque sauce with the spicy wing sauce is perfect, so you don’t have to choose between the two flavors. We’ve had this multiple times lately, and it gets two thumbs up from everyone that’s had it. If you want more of a “pizza” experience, just make larger pieces, but we love having the smaller stick version.
Sweet + Spicy Cheesy Chicken Sticks
2.5-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (homemade roast recipe here, or rotisserie is also great)
1 can refrigerated pizza dough (we use Pillsbury brand)
1/3 cup barbeque sauce (we use Sweet Baby Rays)
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce* (we use Franks)
1.5 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
2 green onions thinly sliced (optional – green parts only)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough onto the sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
While the dough is baking, add the chicken, barbeque sauce and wing sauce to a skillet and heat through over medium heat.
Pull the dough out, and cover with the chicken and sauce mixture, getting as close to the edges as possible.
Top with the cheese then bake for an additional 6-10 minutes, or until the dough is done.
Top with onions (if using), and enjoy!
*Make sure to use actual wing sauce, as hot sauce would make for a much much spicier sauce.
Notes: Anna Ruth loves these sticks, but I leave out a small portion of chicken to combine with just barbeque sauce, so she doesn’t get the spicy.
Whether you care who wins or loses this weekend, the Super Bowl calls for yummy snacks. We’re having friends over for the game, and I plan on making my turkey chili over cheese grits, but any of these would make a great addition to your party!
Pepperoni pull-apart bread, meet readers. Readers, meet pepperoni pull-apart bread. AKA gooey, cheesy, bready deliciousness. AKA my lifeline for weeks 6-15 of this pregnancy.
In last week’s announcement post I shared how my stomach rejected the idea of anything resembling healthy food and could only be satisfied with all the things bready, pasta-y, cheesy, saucy or meaty. This pepperoni pull-apart bread checks off four of those five boxes, so guess who has two thumbs and discovered an untapped love for pull-apart bread – this girl. I’ve seen several recipes for sweet pull-apart breads, but knew I wanted a savory option, and I’m so glad this turned out the way it did.
Pregnant or not, this is just really good Fall food. Like so many others, our Saturday and Sunday afternoons often revolve around Carolina football (Heels and Panthers). Our weekend mornings are generally lazy and involve a late breakfast, so a big lunch usually just doesn’t happen. Enter the afternoon football-watching snack.
Bonus is that Anna Ruth has a blast helping make it. She’s becoming really interested in helping us in the kitchen, so I’m always looking for ways to get her involved. This is definitely not the healthiest snack for her, but getting her comfortable in the kitchen is something I find important.
The measurements here aren’t approximate. I generally use between 1.5-2 cups of cheese just depending on how heavy-handed I’m feeling that day. Also, you’ll see AR using a rolling pin on the dough. Totally optional/not necessary, but if you’ve got a kid wanting to help in the kitchen it’ll give them good practice for Christmas cookie baking 🙂
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone for the kind words and shared excitement of our news last week. The comments, messages, calls and texts mean the world to us!
Picture credit goes to Heather Blackwood and Taylor Logan (a million thanks!) because it was too late to take pictures when I decided I wanted to document this on the blog.
Last week a couple girlfriends and I hosted a shower for some of our friends that are expecting their first baby. The expectant parents both work for my organization, and they happen to live in our neighborhood, so we’ve become good friends over the last couple of years. With help from others in our organization we pulled off a shower that I think turned out pretty great. The theme was “Fall in Love with Baby Simon,” and we just had a bunch of Fall food and décor.
The shower was so fun, and I think they really liked it!
We had the shower in the dining room at work, with the beautiful woods as the backdrop. It was kind of a windy day, so there were plenty of times that we would just see a flurry of leaves falling to the ground. Imagine a Winter themed shower with it snowing outside, but with Fall leaves instead. It was truly, magically Fall.
The menu was easy, and we had help from other people:
Sliced Jalapenos Waffle Bar
Pumpkin Whipped Cream
Caramel Sauce Fresh Popped Popcorn Pumpkin Pie Dip
Graham Crackers Chocolate Caramel Apple Bites (recipe below) Drinks
Décor was easy. My friends Sarah and Taylor had a bunch of wooden trays that we used as serving pieces, and we used lanterns and small pumpkins/gourds to round things out. I also ordered some custom onesies for baby Simon, so we made a banner out of those.
If you find yourself hosting a baby or bridal shower in the Fall, I would highly recommend this theme. It was so easy and had that effortlessly perfect feel. Now we just have to wait for baby Simon to make his intro!
Chocolate Caramel Apple Bites
Large Granny Smith Apples (each apple makes 6-8 balls, so multiply by the number you need)
Melting Chocolate (I use this kind – found in the baking section of the grocery store)
Melting Caramel (I found this kind at Michael’s)
Cake pop sticks (also found at Michael’s)
Using a melon baller, ball out 6-8 bites from each apple. Insert a cake pop stick through the skin side.
Melt the chocolate according to package directions.
Dip the apple bites in the chocolate, making sure it is completely covered, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once you’ve dipped all of the apple bites, set in the freezer for 15-20 minutes for the chocolate to set.
Melt the caramel according to package directions.
Dip each bite into the caramel, covering the bottom half of the bite.
Return to the parchment paper, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to set. Leave in the refrigerator until just a few minutes before serving or the bites will start to sweat.
Happy third day of Summmmmer, y’all!! Today I’m taking you to the core of our summer eating habits that get us through 2/3 of our meals: fresh, simple, no cook, ready to throw on a plate and call it lunch/dinner.
No – we don’t eat roasted garlic hummus per-se for 2/3 of our meals in the summer, but you get the gist of what I’m saying, right? This is just an example of how a summer meal might go.
Grill chicken breasts while playing in the back yard.
Buy and chop the entire produce section.
Put grilled chicken on plates with fresh hummus and crudité (crudité is fancy for chopped veggies <–someone please tell me you get that reference).
Let’s get a few things out of the way…
This recipe is adapted from a recipe given to me by one of Andy’s great uncles (hiiii, Jack!). His late wife was Syrian, and the base recipe was from her, so I feel pretty good about this being truly authentic. I just tweaked it by roasting the garlic, rather than using raw.
I know I said “no cook.” That’s mostly true, but – yes – to make this you do have to roast garlic first. If you’re feeling particularly lazy you can just substitute with 3-4 cloves of raw garlic. The flavor won’t be as sweet and caramelized-y as with roasted, but it is also very delicious.
Yes, you can buy a popular brand of hummus with roasted garlic, but then you’re not getting it evenly distributed like you are here, and this recipe makes about double what you would buy at the store (for about a third of what you would spend buying two tubs). Also, this fresh, homemade version skips all of the added toxic chemicals in store-bought roasted garlic hummus (<– J/K – I am SOOOOO not that mom – I am NOT seriously saying the added ingredients are toxic). We aren’t above store-bought hummus, but I generally have all of the ingredients on hand to make my own, and you know I love any excuse to use my food processor. 😉
As mentioned, we’re roasting our own garlic here. Don’t be afraid – it’s really easy! Cut the top off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, roast in oven. Easy peasy! A whole head of garlic sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t that pungent once it’s roasted and soft and golden. We love roasted garlic so much that I don’t think I would mind even doubling the amount in the recipe.
I generally keep things easy and just serve the hummus with pita wedges and crudité, but it’s also great on a Greek salad, or as a sandwich spread. Let me know other ways you enjoy using hummus!
1 head garlic
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 (15.5 oz) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
4 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top off of the garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until soft and golden. (Start checking around 40 minutes. The longer you roast the deeper golden it will become.)
Once the garlic cools, remove the cloves from the skin.
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for one minute, then scrape down the sides of the food processor to ensure all ingredients are well mixed. Run the food processor for another five minutes until very smooth and well blended.
Enjoy with crudité and pita wedges!
Notes: as written this hummus is thick. You can thin out to a looser consistency by adding 1-2 tbsp of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Today’s post is named as is for two reasons. Reason one is for the actual ingredient I use in my guacamole. Yes, you just read that right. And I probably just lost half of you. Wait wait wait! Just hear me out. By now it’s no secret that I add veggies in anytime I see an opening, so why not with guacamole? Guacamole in and of itself is already all veggies and pretty healthy, but avocados really do make the calorie count soar. My answer? Stretch it out by adding baby PEAS –> oh yes I just did. I will admit Andy was suuuuper skeptical the first time I mentioned I would be adding peas to our guacamole, but then he ate it and couldn’t even taste them. Literally, he thought I had changed my mind about using them.
Reason two for the name of this post is to give a nod to the fact that my own Baby Pea is turning TWO on Friday, and I. Can’t. Deal. How in the world has it already been two years??? I had no trouble when she turned one (probably because I was still in the hazy fog that is having a child under one), but for some reason I am so emotional about this next birthday. I guess it’s probably that the first year seemed so hard, and we were just grateful to get through it, but now we’re pretty comfortable with this whole parenting thing. I don’t know. They say it goes fast, and you believe them, but you don’t really, truly get it until it’s your own little nugget. If you need me on Friday, I’ll be crying in my office. How much she’s grown in the year since this picture was taken…*sobs*
For the last several years anytime we make guacamole we just use pico de gallo mixed with mashed avocados. I thought I was GENIUS, but then saw the Pioneer Woman has the same method, so I’m not alone….but that does mean that I’m totally twinsies with Ree, so yay for us and our awesome guac making ways!
I’m half and half on the pico. Sometimes I’ll make it fresh and other times I just buy it fresh from the store. No shame. If you want convenience, definitely go for the store bought. If you have a little time, though, making it yourself gives you that awesome feeling of accomplishment because 1) it’s healthy and 2) I MADE THAT FROM SCRATCH(!!). If you haven’t made it this way in the past, please try it. I don’t use all of the pico in the guacamole, so I wind up having two dips made entirely of veggies. Ummm, yes please.
Back to the recipe twist: baby peas! I guess you could do this by just mashing the thawed peas, but a food processor makes quick work of it. I should share now that I love love love my food processor. I rearranged most of the lower cabinets in my kitchen just to have it easily accessible. I use it ALL the time. I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but I will say that this is one that will remain in the event that I ever fall under a major purging spell. I can’t find my exact model, but this is similar to the one I use. They can be pretty pricey, but I can’t tell you how many good things come from it, and it is something I use at least twice a week. Quick sauces, hummus, shredded brussels sprouts and cabbage, nut butters <– all things easily made in the food processor. Really, do yourself a favor and get one, then make this veggied up guacamole. You won’t be sorry.
For the Pico:
5 vine ripe tomatoes
1 large fistful cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Guacamole:
1 cup pico de gallo (homemade or store bought)
1 cup frozen baby peas – thawed
1 tbsp lime juice
Prepare the pico: dice the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Combine veggies in a bowl with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Pulse the thawed peas in a food processor. (They won’t be smooth, but almost crumb-like.)
In another bowl, mash the avocado to desired consistency. Mix in peas, pico de gallo and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In case you haven’t heard – the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl!!!!! The last time this happened I was just a wee college freshman watching it in a dorm room with friends. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.
It’s not just that we’re going to the Super Bowl. The entire season gave us weekly cardiaCAT arrests ( <—bleh – WHY DO YOU LET ME SAY THINGS LIKE THIS???). However, Sunday’s game was almost magical. At one point I thought Andy was rewinding the game to rewatch an interception, but – NOPE – it was just another interception, thank you!
I swear I think he may have had tears in his eyes by the end of the game…and I…I just had a huge grin plastered across my face the entire time. I mean – how can you watch Cam and not just smile?? He is so fun. Sunday was also a great day because…
We were still snowed in, so lots of family time and snuggles
Carolina beat Virginia Tech in men’s basketball (Go Heels!)
This Chicken Philly Cheese Dip ↓
Andy took his first bite of this and did his quiet chuckle, followed by “wow.” If you’re someone that loves food, I’m sure you can relate when you know something is probably going to be good, but then is actually much better than you even expected. Close your eyes….now imagine the scent of baked chickenny, peppery, onionny, cheesy goodness wafting through the air. Now…dip a piece of soft, yet crunchy, baguette into said goodness, then taste……. I know, right?!?
One thing you should know about me is that I generally don’t do much in the way of dippy-type appetizers. Usually, I’ll just put out blocks of gouda and brie with some crackers and apple slices and call it a day. If not cheese, I’ll do little one-bite type things, but almost never a dip. I just don’t prefer making something so heavy when dinner is the star. The Super Bowl is an exception to that. If there was ever a day meant for purely snacking – this is it. Meatballs, chicken wings, pigs in blankets and dips….all the dips. I’m not gonna lie. I’ll even go for the processed cheese block dip. It’s fine for just one day, right?
This year I’m taking my dip making game up a notch, which (let’s be honest) is like from zero to one. I love this dip because it allows me to use two of my favorite kitchen things: my cast iron skillet and my stand mixer. You’ll see the iron skillet come across this blog quite a bit, but the stand mixer not so much because I don’t bake very often. But you guys (((YOU GUYS!!))) my stand mixer is seriously the most beautiful thing in my kitchen. It’s the Martha Stewart Blue that was only available at Macy’s a few years ago, and it was a gift from my now mother-in-law while Andy and I were still dating. I’m pretty sure she knew I’d stick around, but figured it would seal the deal. She was right! Just kidding, I’m not that vain, but it really did mean a lot because she knows how much I love the color. The picture makes it look similar to the Ice Blue color that’s still available, but it’s really much closer to a Tiffany blue. It has a permanent place in the corner of my kitchen (not as pictured), so we can see each other anytime we want. (Insert all the googly heart eyes.)
If you don’t have a stand mixer, no problem – just mix this by hand. You could try a hand mixer, but I just don’t think it would work as well. One other thing you’ll learn about me from this post……………………… I sometimes use canned chicken……… *Buries face in pillow.* Actually, no. I’m gonna own this. Y’all, in a pinch, canned chicken works well for stir-fries, casseroles and dips (and many other things, I’m sure). I actually prefer it for dips like this because why in the WORLD would I take time to boil or bake my own chicken just to smother it in cheese? And… (listen closely because you will never hear me say this again) –> I wouldn’t even substitute rotisserie chicken here. Just make this as is, and take it to your Super Bowl party with some fresh sliced baguette. And for all you people without kids that go to bed at 7:30, have fun at your parties! We’ll be at home watching with AR because she is totally obsessed with football and an early bedtime. If you happen to make this dip, can you just come over to our house and watch?? You bring the dip, and I’ll have plenty of gouda and wings!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion – diced*
1 green bell pepper – diced*
1 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning
8 oz block cream cheese – room temp
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for topping)
2 (10 oz) cans chicken breast
Garnish: chopped jalapenos from a jar (if desired)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil over medium-high in an iron skillet (or other frying pan if using a different baking dish). Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in steak seasoning.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, mozzarella, chicken, onions and peppers using the paddle attachment. (You don’t have to use a stand mixer for this, but it does make it much easier – I would not recommend using a hand mixer – just use your arm muscles 😉 )
Spread mixture back into iron skillet (or other baking dish), and top with additional shredded mozzarella and chopped jalapenos if desired.
Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot with baguette slices and additional jalapenos.
*You could easily double the veggies in this. I only had one of each on hand when I made it, but they cook down so much between the sauteing and baking that it would be fine. If you do that, I would add an additional 1-2 tsp of the steak seasoning.