Buffalo Chicken Salad {in your Crockpot}


I love buffalo wing sauce and I’ve posted several recipes in the past starring the orange goodness like Buffalo Shrimp with Blue CheeseSpicy Buffalo Chicken Soup and Buffalo Blue Cheese Dip.  Today I’ve got another one for you! The best part about it is you  can make in your slow cooker with under ten ingredients.  It’s truly simple and delicious! Alternately, you could make this as lettuce wraps or sandwiches and if you’re a dressing fan, it would be great with some ranch.  DSC_0431

What to buy (serves 2):

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 head lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

What to do:

  • combine chicken, onions, garlic and broth in crockpot cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-7 hours until chicken is no longer pink
  • remove the chicken, save  1/2 cup broth and discard the rest
  • shred the chicken, return to the slow cooker with the 1/2 cup broth and the hot sauce and set to on high for an additional 30 minutes
  • using a slotted spoon so you don’t get too much liquid, serve on a bed of romaine, sprinkled with blue cheese



A Blue Coconut Birthday Cake for the BOYS in my life!

DSC_0415This weekend we’re celebrating Joe’s birthday and we both got the best present ever on Friday at the doctor’s office when we learned that we’re having a BOY! I was convinced it was a girl because both of our families are full of girls but I’m thrilled!  Having a son is going to be a whole new world and I’m happy to remain the only woman in the house.

To celebrate Joe and the the little man on the way, I made a decadent blue coconut cake that looks disastrous (how’s that for honesty on a food blog?)DSC_0409 but thankfully still tastes pretty good.   The trouble started after I planned to make coconut cupcakes but realized at the last minute that my muffin tins didn’t make the trip from VA to NC.   I used a bundt cake pan instead but didn’t vary the recipe.  I promise I sprayed the pan well but half of the cake stuck when I tried to flip it out.  I did some surgery to cover the uglier bits with icing and served already sliced to hide my handiwork.

Admittedly, I’m a huge cheese ball so I also wanted to dye the cake according to baby news but my Target didn’t have food coloring so I picked up some blue jello mixDSC_0387 and using the zebra cake technique I found here, tried to give the cake a marbled look.  It sort of worked (!?)DSC_0423 and the cake has a slight blue tint and subtle blueberry flavor.  I sprinkled the top with edible gold stars to make it festive and served with blueberries.  I hesitate to share the recipe as the finished results aren’t beautiful but decided to post anyway because it tastes great.  If you decide to make this recipe I’d recommend making cupcakes or using 9 inch cake pans to make a layer cake instead of a bundt pan.

What to buy:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs at room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoons food coloring or jello mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)

for the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk

What to do:

  • preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • cream the butter and sugar on high speed with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes
  • with the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition
  • add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well
  • in another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry
  • spray or butter and flour pan
  • set aside half the batter and to the remaining half add food coloring or jello mix, stir until blended
  • using an ice cream scooper, pour two scoops of vanilla batter into pan and then pour one scoop of colored batter on top of vanilla
  • continue to alternate between vanilla and colored layers until pan is filled
  • bake cake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean
  • cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, invert the cake onto the rack and cool completely
  • to make frosting, using a mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt, and coconut milk
  • add the confectioners’ sugar and coconut flakes, mix until combined
  • frost the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut if you like




Kale Pesto Stuffed Baked Potatoes {in your Crockpot}

DSC_0427This recipe was inspired by one from the Easy Sides section of my April Food Network magazine.   I’d heard you could make baked potatoes in the crockpot so I decided to give it a go and it worked great.  I was using my slow cooker to make a chicken recipe so I cooked the potatoes at the same time using my metal shelf insert.  If you’re not using this you can just lay your potatoes in the base of the crockpot.  I also used pine nuts instead of walnuts in the pesto and parmesan instead of Swiss cheese.  Kale makes for a wonderfully flavorful and beautifully green pesto.  I doubled the magazine’s recipe so I could freeze half of the pesto to use another time.  DSC_0407

What to buy (serves 2 if serving one potato per person and makes 4 cups of pesto):

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for baked potatoes
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups chopped kale

What to do:

  • pierce potatoes a few times with a fork, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil per potato and sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil
  • add wrapped potatoes to crockpot and cook on hight for 2-3 hours or until softened
  • puree pine nuts, olive oil, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic and kale in a blender or food processor
  • serve potatoes warm with pesto spooned inside halved potatoes (the amount is up to you and how much you like pesto!) and sprinkle with parmesan







Apple and Blueberry Hand Pies

I often use frozen berries in smoothies and in baking so I jumped at the chance when Wyman’s of Maine asked me to try their frozen blueberries in a Sally Cooks recipe.

I was having a few friends for dinner so I decided to make individual apple and blueberry pies for dessert.  I experimented with a few different ways of making the pies.  My first attempt sprung from a Pinterest image but didn’t work out very well.  I cored two apples, drizzled the inside with lemon juice to prevent browning and sprinkled a filling of brown sugar, spices and oats inside.


Then I mummified the apples with pre-made pastry dough, using half a pie crust on each apple.  DSC_0231

I baked them until the dough was golden brown and while they smelled wonderful, I wasn’t thrilled with the results. The apples didn’t bake all the way through so they had a uneven texture and mushiness.  The pastry flaked off the apples when I cut them which would make serving difficult and a whole apple plus half a piecrust worth of dough made for a too large serving size.


So, the following recipe is my second attempt which allows you to use frozen blueberries and to make serving size smaller. Again I used pre-made pie crusts but feel free to roll out your own pasty dough.  You’ll see from my pictures that I tried a few different ways of folding my hand pies but I think a triangle shape worked best.DSC_0222

I served the bubbling fruity hand pies with vanilla ice-cream and an oat crumble topping. DSC_0249

DSC_0259They were a big hit and the blueberries couldn’t have tasted sweeter or fresher.   Wyman’s guards against mushy berries by freezing the fruit within 24 hours of harvesting to prevent the slow growth of ice crystals inside, which expand and destroy the cell structure.


Thanks to Wyman’s for the delicious berries!

What to buy:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 apple, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 pie crusts, chilled (not frozen, if they’re too cold or too warm they’ll be hard to work with)

What to do:

  • preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • in a blender or food processor blend butter, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt
  • cut pie crusts into 2 or 3 triangles (depending on how many you’re serving/how big you want the pies to be)
  • spoon apples and/or blueberries onto triangles, sprinkle with oat mixture and fold closed, dough should stick to itself
  • place remaining oat mixture on a lined baking sheet (or you can use the aluminum pie tin as I did) and toast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes
  • at the same time as oats are toasting, place pies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until crust turns golden brown, about 25 minutes
  • serve while still warm with ice cream and sprinkled with toasted oat topping






Spinach Artichoke Pasta

If you’re a fan of spinach artichoke dip, this is a recipe you’ll love because it is like eating your favorite appetizer for dinner.

DSC_0320Unlike my favorite spinach artichoke dip that counts mayo as a main ingredient, this one skips the mayo.  Instead, a roux (flour and butter) and a combination of parmesan and mozzarella give the sauce its flavor.  On the healthier side, this dish is loaded with fresh spinach and canned artichoke hearts.  Most importantly, it’s creamy, delicious and easy to make for a crowd.  I used angel hair pasta but substitute in whatever kind of pasta you like; bow tie or penne would be great.  You could also add warm grilled chicken and/or crumbled bacon.

What to buy (serves 4-5):

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-6 cups spinach
  • 14 ounces canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 8-12 ounces angel hair pasta (adjusted to how many you’re serving), cooked according to the package directions
  • red pepper, to taste

What to do:

  • melt butter in a large pan, add garlic, spinach and artichokes stirring until spinach wilts
  • remove from heat and set aside
  • add butter to the pan, as it melts add flour and whisk until combined
  • pour in milk and whisk with flour/butter mixture to combined, allow it to cook for 3 to 4 minutes
  • add cheeses, salt and pepper and stir
  • add spinach/artichoke mixture and pasta, stirring to coat
  • sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve with extra parmesan sprinkled on top






Pork Tenderloin Roast with Red Curry, Garlic and Herbs {in your Crockpot}

Happy First Day of Spring! I hope the weather where you are actually feels like spring too.  We’re getting there in NC; the sun is shining and the temperature is tip-toeing past 60!

This week I finally unboxed a new crockpot friends gave us for our wedding.  Exciting, right?!  It really does make me excited, I’ll admit it.  This one (a Cuisinart) allows you to program exactly how long you want to cook things and will automatically cut off when it is done.  My old one was well loved and was starting to really put the slow in slow cooker. I’ve already used the new one twice this week, first to make soup and yesterday to make dinner, a pork tenderloin roast which we had with roasted asparagus.

This is a simple recipe that yields delicious results.  I marinated the tenderloin overnight and it was flavorful and juicy.  Joe said it may be the best way I’ve ever made a pork tenderloin (and I make a lot of pork tenderloin!) You should be able to find red curry paste in the thai food section of your grocery store and while just a tablespoon won’t make things very spicy, you could substitute tomato paste or just leave it out if you don’t like the heat. Cheers to the amazing crockpot!

What to buy:

  • 2 pound pork tenderloin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste

What to do:

  • combine everything except pork in a bowl, mixing well
  • puncture the tenderloin with a fork on all four sides
  • pour marinade over pork, allow it to rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight
  • add pork and marinade to your crockpot and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low
  • serve hot with a few spoonfuls of cooked marinade on top



Cheesy Vegetable Soup {in your Crockpot}


One of Joe’s favorite soups is broccoli cheese which inspired this cheesy vegetable soup you can make in your crackpot.  I’m not always a fan of creamy soups but I love this one!  It’s cheesy and rich without being too heavy and it’s packed with vegetables.  The sharp cheddar combined with the carrots and red bell pepper give it this beautiful color.  DSC_0221I decided to puree the soup after cooking in the slow cooker to give it a smooth texture but if you don’t have a stick blender or prefer chunky soups, you can skip that step and the soup will be great.  It will be delicious as a leftover lunch too, in fact I’m tucking into some for an early lunch today!

What to buy (serves 4-5):

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup yellow onions, chopped (I used 2 onions but they were pretty small)
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped (I used 4 carrots)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped (I used 4 stalks)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped (I used 1)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 baking potato, chopped (I didn’t peel mine but feel free to!)
  • 1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

  • add butter to a pan over medium heat and add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring for about five minutes until tender
  • add onion mixture, potato, herbs and chicken broth to crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours
  • mix milk, cheese, flour and cornstarch until combined and add to crockpot, stirring to combine and cover for 10-15 minutes
  • using an immersion blender,  puree soup until smooth and serve hot, seasoning with salt and pepper



Roasted Winter Vegetables with Balsamic and Feta

It seems appropriate to post a winter vegetable recipe when there is ice on the ground today in my neighborhood.  This dish makes the most of winter root vegetables before the summer vegetables hit the grocery stores and farmers markets.

I really like pickled beets (well pickled anything)DSC_0098 so I added them at the end when I tossed the roasted vegetables with the dressing but leave them out if you’re not a fan.

 I like to eat this when the vegetables are still warm out of the oven but it is also good cold or reheated.  I love the combination of balsamic vinegar and the tanginess of feta cheese over the vegetables that are slightly sweetened from roasting.

What to buy (serves 3-4):

  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 sweet potato, cut into small pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 acorn squash, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 can of pickled beets, cut into small pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

What to do:

  • preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • in a roasting pan, toss vegetables with two tablespoons of the olive oil
  • season the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until tender and lightly browned in spots
  • whisk together the lemon juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and one tablespoon of olive oil
  • pour dressing over vegetables and toss with feta, serve warm or at room temperature




Chocolate “Dirt” Pudding

It’s a cold dreary Monday in NC and I for one, am ready for daffodils, sunshine and flip-flops.  At least there is lots of basketball this week and chocolate, always chocolate!

This is a dessert that will be popular with both the big and little kids in your life.  I think the first time I experienced dirt pudding, complete with gummy worms, was in science class in lower school.  It rocked my world.  Today, I like serving this as dessert because it always makes people smile to see a worm coming out of their glass.
DSC_0197If you’re making this for kids you might want to go more milk chocolate route versus semisweet or you could just use a jello chocolate pudding mix.  Grown-up kids will be fans of the darker, more bitter chocolate taste from semisweet morsels and cocoa powder.  If you want to make these mint chocolate dirt puddings, add a teaspoon of mint extract when you add the vanilla and garnish with mint sprigs. DSC_0155 You could also alternate layers of pudding and cookie crumbles if you love Oreos or throw a few mini-Cadbury or malted eggs on top for a lovely nature scene! 

What to buy (makes 10 small servings):

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 and 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 15-20 Oreos
  • mint sprigs and gummy worms for garnish (optional)

What to do:

  • whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in a saucepan over medium heat
  • combine cream, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl
  • pour 1 cup cream mixture into sugar mixture, whisk until cornstarch is dissolved
  • add remaining cream mixture, whisk until smooth
  • bring to a boil, whisking constantly, cook until thick, about 5 minutes
  • reduce heat to low and add chocolate, whisk until chocolate melts, about 1 minute
  • remove from heat and add vanilla and butter, whisk until butter melts
  • divide pudding, pouring or spooning into 8-10 small glasses or glass flowerpot votive candle holders leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of each
  • refrigerate until set (which will take about 2 hours)
  • pulse Oreos in a food processor or blender until finely ground and top each pudding with ground cookie “dirt,” and garnish with worms and a mint sprig
  • serve chilled




Chicken Pot Pie with a Biscuit Crust {Happy National Pi Day!}

Happy National Pi Day! To celebrate, Inkling asked me to join in the fun by sharing an original pie recipe along with their two delicious pie related recipes from the Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook: Flaky Pie Crust and Sous Vide Vanilla-Cinnamon Pastry Cream.

I love sweet pies, especially cherry and apple pie but I decided to go with a savory pie that’s always a favorite: chicken pot pie!

On Wednesday night I had guests over for dinner and served this pie loaded with chicken and vegetables alongside a spinach salad.   I think it’s perfect for a casual dinner party because you can make everything ahead of time and let it cook while you spend time with your guests.  Pot pie is the definition of comfort food and topping with biscuits makes a good thing even better.

I took a shortcut and used canned biscuit dough that you can find in the refrigerator section of your grocery store but you could always roll out your own biscuit dough.  I forgot to take a picture of the finished product during my dinner party but as soon as I make this again I’ll update with a picture!  For now, just imagine flakey golden biscuits on top of a bubbling pie filling!

Happy Friday and Happy Pi Day!

What to buy (serves 5-6)

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1⁄4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1⁄4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (I used 4 chicken breasts)
  • 1 can refrigerated flaky-style biscuit dough

What to do:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • melt butter in a skillet and add onion, celery, and carrots, cooking until the celery and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • stir in peas, parsley, thyme and flour, stirring for about five minutes as the flour coats the vegetables
  • whisk in chicken broth and half and half, cooking until sauce thickens and bubbles
  • season to taste with salt and pepper
  • transfer the vegetables and sauce into a 2 quart baking pan, add chicken and stir to combine
  • arrange biscuits on top of the pie filling
  • bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the pie filling is bubbling, for about 15 to 20 minutes
  • let rest a few minutes before serving