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Friday, December 31, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I've been making this a lot lately. It's been a big hit at parties and makes for a great snack at home! And it is OH. SO. YUMMY.

Here's the recipe:

2 large cans of chicken, drained
2 packages softened cream cheese
3/4 cup wing sauce (I use mild since there's usually kids around, but you can use medium or hot if you want to pump up the heat a bit)
1 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Put both cans of chicken and wing sauce into a large pan over medium heat. Break up chicken and stir until heated through. Then add dressing and cream cheese and stir to combine. Stir constantly until heated through. Add half the cheese and remove from heat. Pour into a casserole dish (or crock pot) and put the rest of the shredded cheese on top. Put on low until cheese is melted and dip is hot or cover with foil and put in the oven at 175 until heated through. Or if you want, you can put it in a covered bowl and refrigerate. I like it cold as much as I do warm. (-: It's like a spicy chicken cheeseball when it's cold. (-:

Serve with tortilla chips, cracker, and/or celery sticks. (-:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Apple Cider Caramels

I found a new blog to read....and I'm addicted.

I used one of her recipes today and I have to say, it took me forever, but it was well worth it. Apple Cider Caramels.

I can't say I did anything better or different than she did, so here's the link: Apple Cider Caramels

You'll be seeing me do more of her stuff this week, too. (-:

Thursday, December 16, 2010


So I was thinking today that I wanted to try something a bit different with whatever sweets I decided to bake.

I love making things in my mini-muffin pan. They make just nice little servings and they are small enough for my son to eat. I was debating on chocolate chip banana bread with candied ginger or brownie bites. I decided on brownie bites. (-: And I decided to hide a surprise in them.

Here's the recipe:

Brownie mix (and ingredients to make them)
Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups


Preheat oven to 350*. Mix brownie batter according to instructions. Grease mini-muffin pan. I ALWAYS use Baker's Joy for greasing my bakeware. It is AMAZING. It has flour in the spray. Love this stuff....and nothing ever sticks.

Fill mini-muffin pan with about 1 Tablespoon of batter in each cup. I ALWAYS use my small scoop for this. It measures 1 Tablespoon and there's no mess of pouring. Works like a charm.
Once they are filled, unwrap all your Reese's cups and shove them in (smaller side down). Push down pretty far....just about all the way. Try to cover up the top with the batter, but if there's not quite enough to cover it, don't worry too much about it. (-:

Bake about 8-9 minutes. Let pan cool on a cooling rack until brownies are set up and completely cool. Take them out and enjoy! These also freeze really well. (-:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


When someone says you think of a fungus or a chocolate? :-)

I'm not a mushroom fan, so of course, I think of chocolates. But these luscious, smooth, amazing chocolate treats hae a very interesting background. Chocolate truffles got their name because they were traditionally rolled in Dutch process cocoa, which made them look like the fungal variety, covered in dirt.

Many many many people would disagree with me, but I think that the chocolate variety tastes a bazillion times better than the fungal variety.

Here's my best recipe for chocolate truffles. Enjoy.


For truffle mixture:
8 oz (by weight) of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (highest quality available), chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons liquor (optional), I have used Kahlua, Baileys, and rum all with good results

For truffle coatings:
Dutch process cocoa
Toasted and chopped nuts (any kind)
Shaved chocolate


Place the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and butter over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk the cream and chocolate together until very smooth. If desired, mix in liquor.

Cover and store in refrigerator until truffle mixture is firm (at least 3-4 hours, but overnight is usually best).

Place coatings on plates or in shallow bowls.

Scoop truffle mixture out with a small cookie scoop (I can sell you an amazing one, haha) into a bite sized ball. roll in truffle mixture of your choice.

These can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or even frozen for longer preservation. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I LOVE risotto. Love it. And I don't mind making it, but it's just so darn needy. It makes a great appetizer, side dish, or even main dish with the right components.

Here's my basic risotto recipe.


a couple tablespoons olive oil
about 5 cups chicken brothabout 1 1/3 cups Arborio Rice1 small onion, diced1/2-1 cup white cooking wine
fresh grated Parmesan cheesea few tablespoons of butter

You'll notice that none of these ingredients are exact. They don't need to be. Ah, the beauty of Italian cooking.

So, The first thing you do is heat up the chicken broth in a pan on the stove. You want to keep it just below simmering.

Next, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering (but not smoking), add your diced onion and saute until the onion is translucent on the outside.
After the onion is cooked, add the rice to the pan and stir quickly to coat all the rice in oil. Arborio rice is what you want to use. It's kind of pricey, but you just can't make risotto with anything else. Trust me.
Once the oil is absorbed, add 1/2 cup of white wine and stir rapidly until all the wine is absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat down to medium or even medium low, if you're extremely patient.

Add about 1/2 a cup of the hot chicken stock at a time to the rice, each time stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more. This process is VERY time consuming. You MUST stir the rice constantly or it will not cook correctly.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to TASTE along the way. This will tell you when your risotto is nearing completion. You may or may not need all of the broth you have sitting on heat. If you use all of your broth and still need more liquid, that's what the rest of the wine is for. It will absorb into the rice and leave a very nice flavor. You'll know when it's time to remove your risotto from the heat when the rice no longer has a bite to it and has a nice creamy texture.

At this point, you add the butter, fresh grated cheese, and I usually add some type of vegetable. Sometimes it's frozen peas, sometimes sauteed mushrooms (that I do BEFORE I cook the onion, etc, but in the same pan and then remove them until the end), and sometimes it's asparagus. If you use peas, please make sure they are frozen and not canned. Eeew. In this picture, I used peas. It was delicious. :-)

Enjoy your risotto! It can take several tries to get it just right, but the end result is always well worth it. All in all, I'd say this recipe takes about 30-45 minutes to complete. But again, well worth it. (-:

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I never thought I'd have problems in this area, but I need help deciding on a dessert to make for a meeting! Most of you know I sell (un-named) kitchen items in homes. Well, my team is having a big meeting with our National Executive Director at her house this Saturday and I'm supposed to bring a non (un-named kitchen tool company) dessert along with copies of the recipe for everyone. Most of the people in my cluster know me as a total foodie, so something that will impress is necessary. I'll have most of the day on Friday to work on it, but little preparation/baking time on Monday morning, as the meeting is an hour away at 10:30am.

So, any suggestions as to what I should make? Of course, whatever type of dessert I decide on, I'll blog about my creating experience. :-D

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beer Bread

Probably my all-time favorite comfort food is beer bread. Can we say yummy?

Lots of companies sell beer bread mixes that are SO EASY to make. Just mix in a can or bottle of beer and melt some butter on top, pop it in the oven and you're done! Right? Yes. That is easy. But it's also expensive.

My beer bread is SO easy to make you'll start to wonder why you've been buying those high priced mixes at the grocery store.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy.

3 cups self-rising flour **
2-3 Tablespoons of sugar (I don't like sweet beer bread)
12oz can or bottle of beer (or other carbonated beverage)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter, melted

** If you're using all purpose flour, use 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. SIFT YOUR FLOUR! This really is a necessity unless you want your bread to come out really heavy and brick-like. ALWAYS sift your flour. You'll notice I had mine in a sifter. My sifter has a measuring cup that catches the flour underneath and measures it for you. Measure your flour AFTER you sift.

3. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and give it a little stir to disperse the sugar.

4. Add your beer. It will foam up (due to the baking powder and salt). Now, you can use soda, but I really think beer brings out a yeast-y flavor in this bread. I'm not overly fond of the use of soda in this bread, but others are. Play around with it and see what works for you.

5. Stir well, but do not over-mix. Dough will be elastic-y.

6. Prepare your loaf pan (regular 9x5 pan) by either spraying with non-stick spray or do as I do and put a teaspoon or so of olive oil in the bottom and brush it over the bottom and sides of the pan with a basting brush. I like this method because it adds a little of that olive oil flavor on the crust.

7. Pour your melted butter over the top of your bread. Yum. You can leave this part out, but come on....who wants to do that? It gives you a nice crispy crunchy top to your loaf.

8. Bake at 350° for about 55-60 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

I guarantee this will be as delicious as any store bought mix you've ever had. And just as easy! Enjoy!

It's in the Bag....

Do you have a larger family and HATE doing omlettes in the morning because it takes forever to get them all done...and then by the time they are all done the first ones are cold? Or maybe you just hate all the dishes that come with making omlettes. Or maybe you just can't flip an omlette to save your life. Whatever the issue, I have a solution for ya. (-;

Omlettes in a bag. Yes. You read that right.

In. A. Bag.

This is perfect for family breakfast at Christmas. The kids can even participate! And your omlettes will get cooked at the same time.

Here's what you do:

Give each person a sandwich sized Ziploc Bag (I do recommend the brand name for this....but I did use the store brand today and it worked just fine). They can write their names on the bags with marker so they know which one is theirs when they are done. Each person cracks 2 eggs into their bag. Don't do more than 2, please. You'll end up with runny eggs.
Then each person adds in the fillings they would like in their omlette. Bacon, ham, sausage (all of the meats need to be cooked already), tomatoes, cheese, peppers, etc. can all be used.
Seal up your Ziploc Baggie and make sure you get all/most of the air out. Squish and shake your egg to mix everything up. The kids will LOVE this part. Push the egg and filling down to the bottom of the bag and drop it in a pot of boiling water.
You can put 4-6 omlettes in a pot at a time, depending on the size of your pot. If you're doing more than that, I'd boil two pots of water.
Try and keep the edges of the bag away from the pot as much as you can. I haven't had any issues with mine melting yet, but you can't be too careful. (-:

Set your timer for 13 minutes. No more. No less. Keep your water at a medium boil. Not a simmer, but not a rolling boil, either.

After 13 minutes, remove your pot from the heat and take your baggies out of the water. Open the up and the omlette (aka - Egg Log) will slide right out.

Pretty neat, huh?

My son LOVES doing this. And for those of you who love to camp, this makes an amazing camp breakfast. Easy. No dishes. And everyone gets what they want.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

How much does it weigh?

In all seriousness, though....a pound cake does not weigh a pound. A pound cake was given its name because of the amounts of the ingredients used. It was originally made with flour, sugar, butter and eggs....and one pound of each! That is a lot of batter!

Today is my son's 3rd birthday. And we're having a traditional cake later today with the family, but as a part of breakfast (and snack) I made an almond pound cake this morning. Perhaps this will become birthday tradition?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Am I at the fair?

Am I at the fair? Oh It's just me cookin' up some deliciousness. (-:

Adlai (my [nearly] three year old son) and I were sitting on the couch watching "How To Train Your Dragon" and he said he wanted popcorn. We don't keep microwave popcorn in the house, so I went to get out the pot and make some stovetop popcorn and decided, instead, to make kettle corn. (-:

I LOVE the combination of sweet and salt in the same dish. And this has the perfect mixture. Here's my recipe:

1/3 cup Vegetable (or canola) Oil
1/2 cup popcorn seeds (I use Orville Redenbacher)
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
Popcorn salt to taste

Heat the oil in your pot (or really big pan) over medium high heat. Put in 4-6 "test" kernels. Put the lid on. When those test kernels have all popped, you know that your oil is hot enough. Take your lid off long enough to put in your sugar and popcorn kernels. Put the lid back on and shake your pot over the heat for 3 seconds, hold it still for 3 seconds. Alternate shaking and holding still for the three seconds until popping slows to a few seconds between pops. Remove from heat, carefully take the lid off, and VERY carefully transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. The popcorn will be very sticky at this point and touching it could lead to some BAD burns. Shake it around in the bowl for a minute until it's cool enough to touch. Start breaking the popcorn up by shaking and using your fingertips. Once it's not sticking too much anymore, add your salt (to taste) and shake it around a bit to distribute. Once it's completely cool, you'll be able to break it up into individual pieces easily. ENJOY!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Coma

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It's all about family, friends, and food. No expectations of gifts. Just getting together and having a good time.

My family is notorious for going overboard at Yesterday, our feast consisted of:

Two types of cranberry sauce, turkey, ham, baked beans, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, whiskey glazed sweet potatoes and apples, crackers and cheese, relish tray, dressing, gravy, jalapeno cornbread, deviled eggs, 7-layer salad, Hawaiian rolls, and probably some other things I'm forgetting about. Oh, and that was just the main food. For dessert we had cherry almond cookies, lemon cookies, fudge, chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin pie, sugar free chocolate pie, a trifle, pumpkin roll, and some other odds n ends.

How many people did we feed, you ask? Oh, 8 adults and 3 kids. Well, really 7 adults and 1 kid....the other adult and 2 kids ate somewhere else before coming here. Hahaha. Yes. We go a bit overboard.

So I have to say, my favorite things from yesterday were the mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, green bean casserole (which I made from cream of mushroom soup for this chica), and the chocolate pecan pie.

All of this to say, it was a ridiculously good meal....and I'm still stuffed. :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm entering the blogging world.

I'm not a chef. I'm not a food critic. I'm not a wine connoisseur. I'm really nothing special. I just like food. I like to cook. I like to bake. And I really like to eat. :-)

If you know me personally, you know that all of the above statements are true.

I'm a stay at home mom of a darling (read: destructive) almost 3 year old boy. I'm a former music teacher. And I am a sales consultant for one of the oldest direct sales companies in existence. I can't mention the name of that company here, but I can tell you that they sell some of the world's most popular cookware, cutlery, and kitchen tools. :-)

My husband is a farm hand. I live in a 130 year old farm house surrounded by corn/bean/wheat fields. My nearest neighbor is about half a mile away. Aside from the long hours my husband works at the farm a lot of the time, I love this life. This is what I was meant for.

So, about my food choices, I don't really like a lot of red meat. I actually just don't like a lot of meat. I'm far from a vegetarian. And I'm light years from being a vegan. I am pretty sure I would die without milk products and eggs.

So, I've decided to start this food blog due to several friends prodding me to do so. It's going to be a blog about my food experiences. Eating, cooking, baking, and things I want to make. (-:

My blog name is Mangiare Benne! This is Italian for "eat well!" Italian is one of my favorite cuisines. And rightfully so because my DH is Italian.

I hope you enjoy reading and looking at the pictures I'm going to post here. I think I'm really going to like this blog.