Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Chocolate Chip S'mores Cookies

My husband and I share the same group of best friends, which is a really amazing thing.

In fact, his best man at our wedding introduced the two of us at college.

Every month one of us hosts a get-together weekend where we provide meals, housing, and entertainment. We plan these rituals so that we can keep in touch, even though we live within a 4 hour range of one another.

Last weekend, my friend Cup of Joe (who was also mentioned in my Breakfast Muffins post) really wanted to try these incredibly deceiving Chocolate Chip S'mores Cookies.

The idea is to make a tiny s'more and surround it with cookie dough.

I was reluctant because I wasn't sure how a crunchy graham cracker was going to taste in my cookie (since I love soft, chewy cookies) but Joe was super excited so we went for it.

Here's What You'll Need!

  • Graham Crackers
  • Mini Marshmellows
  • Hershey's Chocolate Bars
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (we used premade)
Putting it All Together!

1) Assemble mini s'mores.

2) Surround mini s'mores in cookie dough! (This part was tough! I needed a lot of cookie dough to cover up the edges and we used a whole roll of dough to make 7 of these cookies!)

Sticky business!

3) Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

We only made 7 cookies!

As you can see, a bunch of them exploded in the oven, cracking open. Overall, we didn't notice that much of a difference with the addition of the s'more. I mean, don't get me wrong, they were delicious...but I'd say more work then they're worth. Fun to say that we made these though! It was definitely an experience baking with my buddies :)

Stay Sweet,

Friday, September 28, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Nutter Butter Balls

Hey Sweethearts!

Long time no blog! Sorry that I have been neglecting my posts, I have had a few busy weekends! Nonetheless, today I am here to post about a super easy recipe I recreated this week-Bakerella's Nutter Butter Balls! I found these delicious treats through Pinterest (follow us here) and when a window of opportunity presented itself on Wednesday, I jumped at the chance to make them! The best part is that they are no bake! This is my first experience with a "no bake" recipe, and I was a little hesitant at first, especially working with an ingredient like cream cheese, which can be pretty iffy when left out at room temperature for too long. However, I was surprised at how easy the process was, and grateful for not having to wash so many dishes and utensils!

The overall process was super easy-

1) Start by using a food processor or the back of a spoon to finely crush all but 5 Nutter Butter cookies from the package.

2) Combine the 8 oz. of cream cheese with the cookie pieces. I found that it was easiest to use my hands, even though it got a little messy. Simply use a kneading motion to combine the crumbs and the cream cheese. It should take a little elbow grease, but I think that this is the best way. It's almost like creaming butter with sugar, except doing it without the help of a standing mixer.
3) Using your hands, form the mixture into little balls about 1 inch in width and place on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. I ran into a little trouble as I reached the bottom of my bowl because I hadn't incorporated all of my crumbs with the cream cheese. So, some of the balls ended up falling apart a little, but it didn't bother me so much.
4) Melt your chocolate in a small bowl. I really don't like semisweet chocolate, and was unable to find any milk chocolate baker's squares, so I used about 3/4 of a bag of milk chocolate chips.
5) Coat the balls in the melted chocolate. I used my hands and looking back realize that it was probably not the best idea. Try your luck placing the ball on a spoon and into the chocolate, rotating it to coat the bottom and top.
6) Place the newly coated balls back onto the wax paper, and leave them to set in the refrigerator.

Once your desserts have been left in the fridge for about 2 hours or so, they are ready to eat! Just make sure that you store them in the refrigerator to prevent running into any problems with spoiled cream cheese or melty chocolate.

I thought that these treats were great, easy for anyone to make (like many of my recipe to reality posts) and would satisfy any peanut butter-chocolate craving! Plus, it only took me 15 minutes tops to create them, so they would be perfect for anyone scrambling for something to bring to a last minute party. Since they are small, they are a great after school treat as well!

Foodie Friends Friday

Stay Sweet,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Tortellini with Pancetta & Peas

My husband lovingly refers to me as a "Pastatute".

Now, I know what you're thinking! Put it out of your mind!

The nickname refers to the fact that I love pasta more than any other dish out there!

Whenever I am asked the question: "If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?" My answer is always: pasta.

It is incredibly versatile and can be the foundation for a myriad of flavors.

Also, my mom's pasta with meat sauce is unbelievable! Even though it's slightly morbid, every time I have her pasta I can't help think that it is the meal I'd want to eat before I die.

So, that sums up my feelings about pasta.

You may be thinking, "Well, I don't see that many pasta recipes on her blog!" That's because I try not to make it that often, because of course, it's full of carbs!

But this tortellini recipe was too good to not share ^_^

I found the recipe from the Food Network Magazine.

Here's What You'll Need!

  • Salt
  • 1 lb. cheese tortellini
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 4 oz. chopped pancetta (Basically Italian bacon. Sometimes you can find at butcher counter. Boar's Head also sells pre-cut pancetta cubes which is what I used)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbs. fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Put it all Together!

1) Boil a pot of salted water, big enough to hold the pound of tortellini and cook according to directions.

2) While you are waiting for water to boil, start making the sauce. Add olive oil and pancetta to a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Allow pancetta to crisp up, about 3-4 minutes.

3) Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and let the flavors meld together, for about a minute or two.

4) Take a cup of the pasta water and add that to the pancetta, garlic, and tomato paste and allow to reduce by half (about 3-4 minutes)

5) Add the heavy cream and frozen peas and reduce heat to simmer. Allow sauce to thicken, about 2-3 minutes.

6) Drain your tortellini when they are done cooking, and combine with the sauce. Stir to coat, season with fresh parsley and Parm! 

This recipe is quick, easy, and most importantly, delicious! A perfect weeknight meal!

Stay Savory,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu

 Between all the season premieres (anyone watch How I Met Your Mother last night?!) and paper grading I've been doing, I haven't had much time to post! I'm still cooking, but have a queue of recipes that are just waiting to be discussed!

This Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu from the Food Network Magazine had all of the flavors associated with the traditional dish, without the extra carbs of breading. The nutty gruyere cheese paired with the sweet black forest ham really put this chicken on a pedestal!

Serves 4
Total Time: 35 mins

Here's what You'll Need!

  • 3 tbs. fig jam
  • 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 package thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 lb. black forest ham
  • 5 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 4 stalks of broccoli

Put it All Together!

1) Mix the jam, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.

2). Trim your chicken breasts and paint each breast with some of the fig jam mixture. You should only have used half the jam mixture after painting each breast.

3) Next, place a handful of the gruyere cheese on top of each breast.

4) Wrap a slice or two of ham around the chicken and cheese.

5) Heat 2 tbs. of olive oil over medium high heat in a medium sized nonstick skillet. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Then flip the chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

6) Cut broccoli florets off the stalks and blanch in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and rise with cold water to stop the cooking process. Mix the leftover jam with the shallot and vinegar and drizzle on chicken and broccoli.

Enjoy a healthy (but fancy!) weeknight meal at home!

The Mandatory Mooch
Stay Savory,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Zesty Shrimp with Quinoa

I'm constantly on a mission to improve my husband's opinion on seafood.

While he still won't go near a filet of fish (of any kind) I'm working on the shrimp front!

I found this shrimp recipe from Since my first experience with quinoa went so swimmingly, I decided to make it again with this Asian-inspired dish.

Serves: 3

Here's What You'll Need! (Adapted from
  • 1 1/2 cups of raw, frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 dashes of hot sauce (optional)
Put it All Together!

1) Start by making the sauce. Combine the the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, pepper, garlic, and hot sauce in a medium sized bowl.

2) Make the quinoa according to directions on package. Or view my instructions from my Monster Taco Salad with Chimichurri Quinoa.

3) While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tbs. of oil (I used sesame) in a skillet and add shrimp and onions.

4) When the shrimp starts to turn pink, add the sauce and continue cooking until the shrimp are completely cooked through (completely pink and opaque). 

5) To serve, make a bed of quinoa and add the shrimp on top! Enjoy!

I would make a few changes the next time I prepare this, one being to use less soy sauce. I followed the recipe and used 1/2 cup of soy and it was way too salty for me and my husband.

Also, the recipe says to add the quinoa straight into the shrimp/sauce mixture (which I did) and the quinoa totally soaked up all that salty sauce... I would prefer to serve them separately next time.

The great thing about this meal was that I had all the ingredients in my house already!

I think this dish could be really successful with a few changes that I included in my recipe! It was quick, easy, and full of protein! 

Stay Savory,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Pillsbury Biscuit Pizzas

After a long work week, Friday evening screams, "TAKE OUT!" but instead I tried out this super easy and fast Pillsbury Biscuit Pizza recipe.

Here's What You'll Need! (Adapted from

  • 1 can of Grands Homestyle Biscuits
  • Pizza sauce (I used premade, but feel free to make your own)
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Turkey pepperoni

Put it All Together!

1) Open your biscuits and roll out / flatten the biscuits.

2) Spoon your designated amount of sauce on each biscuit.

3) Add cheese and toppings of your choice. I also like to season with garlic powder and oregano.

4) Bake for at least 15 minutes until bottoms are golden brown and cheese is bubbly.

I made the mistake of underbaking mine and the crusts were not fully cooked...we had to put them back in for a bit ;)

Although these were super fast, I think I prefer the taste of regular pizza dough more. 

These would be really fun to make with kids though!!

Stay Savory,

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Hearty Meatball Stew

There's nothing I love more than fall for a number of reasons.

1) Cooler weather! This means I can start pulling out my sweaters, scarves, and leggings!

2) Pumpkin everything! Need I say more?

3) Soups and Stews galore!

Although my husband is not the biggest soup/stew fan, I find it very comforting to make one pot meals that taste great the day of and even better the day after.

This week I decided to make Giada DeLaurentiis' Hearty Meatball Stew, which I have made once before, but this time I made my own meatballs from scratch for the first time and they came out delicious!

Here's What You'll Need! (Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis' Hearty Meatball Stew)

For Meatballs:

  • 1 slice of potato bread, torn into pieces
  • 1 lb ground meatloaf mix (beef, pork, & veal)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
For Stew:
  • 1 tbs. flour
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small red onion sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Italian seasonings
  • 2 small red potatoes, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup frozen green beans, cut into 1-inch long pieces
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained (I used the one with garlic, basil, and oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
Put it All Together!

1) Put the torn bread and 3 tbs. of the water into a big bowl and use a spoon to mash the bread to a thick paste. Add your ground meat, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and use your hands to thoroughly combine ingredients. Form the meat mixture into about 14-16 meatballs and store on tin foil until ready to use them.

2) Sprinkle the meatballs with flour, and roll them around to try and coat as much as possible.
3) Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat for one minute. Then add 2 tbs. of olive oil to your pot.
4) Drop the meatballs into the pot trying to space them a little bit apart.Cook for two minutes until the bottoms and browned, and then rotate the meatballs cooking for another 2 minutes. Continue until all sides are browned and you can't see any more pink. Then remove meatballs from pot and reserve on a plate.

5) Heat another 2 tbs. in the pot and add the onions, peppers, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Deglaze with white wine. 

6) Then add potatoes, beans, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and chicken broth. Return meatballs to the stew and bring the stew up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until meatballs are cooked through and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. 

I decided to serve my stew in a sourdough bread bowl from Panera instead of over rice, but feel free to be creative with your serving style!

A perfect dish for the incoming autumn weather!

The Mandatory Mooch
Stay Savory,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Product: Kraft Fresh Take

Back to School week has kicked my butt!

While I don't have children of my own yet, I'm a 6th grade teacher at a middle school. While all my students are proving to be quite well behaved so far, bring a mom to 40 kids daily wears you out! Even though this only marks the end of week two, I'm exhausted! So when I'm leaving work after a long day, I have no desire to cook for hours.

I wanted to share my opinions on a relatively new Kraft product called Fresh Take. It's a mixture of breadcrumbs, shredded cheese, and spices that you coat a protein in and then bake in the oven. It retails for about $4 and can be found in the refrigerated aisle of your supermarket next to the cheese.

This product is incredibly tasty, and so simple! The amount of flavor that is packed into the breadcrumb/cheese mixture is actually hard to believe! This is a perfect weeknight meal to pair with a quick salad or a veggie with about 5 minutes of prep time and 25 minutes in the oven.

There are many different flavor combinations to choose from and the Kraft site also suggests a wide variety of recipes to use their Fresh Take product with.

If anyone has been toying with the idea of trying this out, I highly recommend it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Chicken Cacciatore

Did you know that the word "cacciatore" means "hunter" in Italian?

I didn't! 

Let's just say I embraced my hunting instincts and cooked up some boneless skinless chicken thighs for the first time this past weekend!

Let's add on-the-bone chicken to the list of foods I don't I was up to trying the boneless thighs, but wasn't used to so much cleaning! They have much more fat than the breasts.

This is a classic dish my grandma used to make, but I didn't use grandma's recipe! Instead I got this recipe  from the February 2012 edition of Food & Wine Magazine.

Time: 45 minutes
4 servings

Here's What You'll Need!

2 tbs. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbs. tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

Put It All Together! 

1) Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet.

2) I wasn't completely sure about the chicken being cut into "2-inch pieces" so I cut mine into strips and seasoned with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet over high heat for about 4 minutes on each side until browned. Remove the chicken from the skillet and transfer to a plate.

3) Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, rosemary, and spices to the skillet. Also season with salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are soft and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and allow to reduce by half before adding tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.

4) Return the chicken to the skillet and bring to a boil.

5) Cover the skillet containing the chicken and tomato sauce partially and simmer over low heat for about 15. At this point the chicken should be cooked through and sauce should be thicker.

 Serve over rice and enjoy!!

After this experience I will certainly try chicken thighs again! The meat was juicy, the sauce tangy and flavorful. My husband took one bite of this and looked over at me with a gracious "Mmmmmmm!"

Hope everyone had a great back to school week!

Stay Savory,

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Nutella Cookies

Hi Sweethearts!

Today's post involves one of the most delicious ingredients ever- it is brown, usually imported from Italy, and has been featured in at least one of the majority of food bloggers' post's......

You guessed it! Nutella!! This is one of my favorite companions to pretzels, crackers, whole wheat toast, and more. I found this recipe on Laura Vitale's youtube channel and have made the cookies once before, which worked out great as well.

I personally had most of the ingredients in my house, except for the cacao powder, which I am glad I was able to add to my pantry since it is frequently featured in the recipes I have tried out.

The process is definitely standard procedure if you call yourself a seasoned baker like I think of myself, simply mixing the dry ingredients, creaming the butter, sugars, and adding the eggs. However, there were some changes I made to the recipe. For one, I substituted Nutella for my Jif Hazelnut Spread, and I honestly didn't find any difference in the taste of the cookies. (P.S. There is a significant amount of hazelnut spread used in this recipe, 1 cup, so make sure that you have a backup jar. I found myself with only a little bit of Jif left, and I started with a fairly full jar!) I also added a tiny splash of milk into the batter because I thought it looked a little dry, and I was happy to find  that I didn't throw off anything in the recipe. As for time in the oven, I would say for a perfectly chewy cookie, 11-13 minutes is the way to go.

When transferring the batter to the cookie sheets, I made each cookie with a medium amount of the batter. As you can see from the pictures, they definitely spread out! In the end, I was able to detach the cookies from each other with a knife, and there was no harm done. I even made a mistake and forgot to grease one pan, and the treats came off with only a little elbow grease!

The first time I made these cookies, I brought them to my grandparents house where I was meeting my cousins for the weekend. We used these cookies to make ice cream sandwiches, and they are great paired with vanilla ice cream. I totally recommend these cookies for any occasion, and like many of my featured Recipe to Reality posts, it is super easy to make in no time!

Stay Sweet,
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