Entertaining

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Whenever I visit my daughter, we indulge in lunch at P.F. Chang's. While we have many favorites, their Chicken Lettuce Wraps are at the top of my list. Since there is no P.F. Chang's restaurant near my hometown and since I crave these things more than four times a year, it was crucial for me to find a copycat recipe so I can make these leaves of goodness at home. 

I tried a few recipes, but none truly mimicked the flavor. After much experimenting and tweaking, I think I finally found the secret to their addictive chicken lettuce wraps and I'm excited to share with you today!

These are super easy to make and are perfect for those nights when you don't want to spend much time in the kitchen. 

CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Chicken Breasts, diced
1/2 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Ginger, freshly grated
1 Tablespoon Smokey Chipotle Sauce or Sriracha
1 (8-oz) can Water Chestnuts, drained and diced
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
Pink Himalayan Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 head Butter Lettuce, washed, dried and divided into leaves (this lettuce is very fragile, so use caution when separating leaves to prevent tearing)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned; about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent; about 4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, ginger, and hot sauce. Cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add water chestnuts and green onion and stir to incorporate. Cook 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into center of one lettuce leaf. Fold bottom leaf up toward the center and pull sides together, similar to the shape of a taco.

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July 4th Beach Barbeque Recipes

July-4th-beach-barbeque-recipesCelebrating July 4th at the beach with family and friends was something I dreamed about as a kid. As a Midwestern, the closest thing I experienced to a beach was our above ground swimming pool in the backyard.

In 2006, my immediate family relocated to Florida and I finally had the chance to celebrate July 4th at the beach. Since then, we've created a fun menu that is easy to prepare and transport to the beach. It has become our tradition and each year more people join in the fun.

Our beach barbeque menu consists of jerk chicken kabobs, pineapple BBQ shrimp kabobs, multi-colored peppers pasta salad, baked beans, fresh veggie platter with Beau Monde dip, and grilled banana boat S'mores.

 

JULY 4TH BEACH BARBEQUE MENU

Jerk-chicken-kabobs-the-cheap-gourmetJerk Chicken Kabobs
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 24 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup Jerk Sauce
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 Red Bell Peppers, cut each pepper into 12 wedges
1 medium Sweet Onion, cut into 12 wedges and separated into chunks

Directions:
1. In a resealable gallon-size plastic bag, add chicken and 1/4 cup jerk sauce. Gently toss to cover chicken then store in refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Using extra-long skewers, thread 4 chunks each of chicken, pineapple, peppers, and onion. Alternate ingredients and leave space between each piece. Lightly brush kabobs with remaining jerk sauce.
3. Cook kabobs over open-flame and rotate every 2 to 3 minutes for about 15 minutes or until chicken juice runs clear and vegetables are tender.

Pineapple-bbq-shrimp-skewers-the-cheap-gourmetPineapple BBQ Shrimp Skewers
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 to 8 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Barbeque Sauce
3/4 cup fresh Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup fresh Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro, loosely chopped
24 large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into 2-inch chunks

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine BBQ sauce, pineapple juice, lime juice, and cilantro. Using a wire whisk, combine ingredients until well incorporated.
2. Pour half of mixture into a resealable gallon size plastic bag. Reserve the remaining sauce for basting and dipping. Add shrimp, seal the bag, and shake well until shrimp is coated. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Using extra-long skewers, thread 4 shrimp and pineapple chunks; alternating pieces and leaving space between each. Lightly brush pineapple with BBQ sauce.
4. Cook kabobs over open-flame and rotate every minute or two for 6 to 8 minutes or until shrimp begins to curl and turn translucent pink.
6. Serve with remaining pineapple BBQ sauce.

Multi-colored-peppers-pasta-salad-the-cheap-gourmetMulti-Colored Peppers Pasta Salad
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1 (16-oz.) box Rotini pasta
1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper
1 small Red Onion
2 medium Carrots
1 (7.5-oz.) can medium, pitted Black Olives
1/2 bottle spicy Italian salad dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, slice peppers, onion, and carrots into thin strips. Drain juice from olives.
3. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. Transfer pasta, veggies, and olives to a large bowl.
5. Add salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper and mix until ingredients are well combined. 6. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour prior to serving.

Baked Beans

Crock-pot-baked-beans-the-cheap-gourmetI'm a little bit lazy when it comes to baked beans. I buy 2 cans of beans and add a few ingredients to boost the flavor. My favorite combination is 2 strips cooked bacon crumbled, 2 Tablespoons diced white onion, 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons ketchup. I cook these in the slow-cooker for 4 to 6 hours and transport to the bonfire in a covered foil pan.

Fresh Veggie Platter with Beau Monde Dip

Beau-monde-chip-vegetable-dip-the-cheap-gourmetMy sister's Beau Monde Chip and Veggie Dip recipe has been a family favorite for over 30 years. This dip is amazing with just about anything. It's perfect for veggies, chips, and pretzels.

Beau Monde dip is made with cream cheese, so must be kept on ice. I found a great serving bowl that can be placed in the freezer overnight and remains cold for 4 to 6 hours. If you often eat outdoors it's a product you might want to look for.

I serve a variety of veggies including Bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks, radishes, zucchini and cucumber slices. The dip is somewhat thick so it's best to use durable veggies. I arrange on a sectioned vegetable platter and insert a bowl of dip in the middle. If you don't have a chill platter, set a bowl of ice in the center and place the bowl of dip on top. Don't leave out in the heat for more than 15 minutes without ice underneath, and no more than 30 minutes with ice.

Grilled Banana Boat S'mores

Grilled-banana-boat-smores-betty-crocker-the-cheap-gourmetI discovered the recipe for grilled banana boat S'mores at the Betty Crocker website. This is a great dessert for kids and grown-ups and is super easy to make.

The original recipe is prepared by grilling bananas wrapped in foil. However, you can cook the S'mores over an open flame by sticking an extra-long skewer half-way into the banana.

Banana boat S'mores ingredients consist of whole bananas, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and chopped pecans. We store the chocolate chips in a small plastic container placed in the ice cooler until ready for use.

Once you try these S'mores you'll be hooked. Grab the recipe for Grilled Banana Boat S'mores at BettyCrocker.com.

Even if you aren't able to make it to the beach for July 4th, you can create a beach-themed party and cook foods on the grill. Close the night out with sparklers and fire crackers, weather permitting.

 

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Red Potatoes with Bacon and Gorgonzola

My family refers to these red potatoes with bacon and gorgonzola as "crack" potatoes because they are so addicting! Better yet, they are easy to prepare and make the perfect side dish for just about anything. We enjoy them with hamburgers, steaks, pork chops, ribs, and even seafood. 

When selecting red potatoes, look for small to medium sized tubers as they will cook faster and be much easier to smash. Larger potatoes are a bit more difficult to work with and often fall apart during the smashing. If this occurs, simply use your hands to form potato patties. Be certain that potatoes are fork tender and lightly oil the bottom of a glass for a more uniform smash.


Crack-potatoes-bacon-gorgonzola-the-cheap-gourmetRED POTATOES WITH BACON AND GORGONZOLA

Yield: 12 potatoes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

12 small red potatoes
3 teaspoons Himalayan Pink Salt or coarse Sea Salt (2 teaspoons for salting water and 1 teaspoon for seasoning)
4-5 slices thick Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup Peanut Oil or Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese crumbles

DIRECTIONS:

1. Thoroughly wash potatoes and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover potatoes with about an inch of water above.

2. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring water to a boil over high heat. 

3. Reduce heat to simmer and cook potatoes until completely tender; about 30 minutes. 

4. While potatoes are boiling, prepare bacon. Fry in a skillet or bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes. Drain grease from bacon and after it's cooled, chop into pieces and set aside.

5. Drain cooked potatoes and let cool for a few minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Lightly grease the bottom of a drinking glass. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and gently smash each one to form a patty.

8. Brush each potato patty with a light coat of oil, then season with salt and pepper.

9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning potatoes over once.

10. Remove potatoes from oven and top each with bacon crumbles and Gorgonzola cheese. 

11. Return to oven and bake for 3-4 minutes or until cheese becomes bubbly and light golden brown.

12. Remove from oven, transfer to serving plate and serve immediately. 

 

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Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos Stuffed with BBQ Meatloaf and Cheese

When making the BBQ Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Onion Bombs from the previous post, you'll likely have some leftover meat. Here's a way to utilize leftover meatloaf and squeeze an extra meal out of it.

Not only are these stuffed jalapenos perfect for a fast dinner, they also make fabulous appetizers. They pair well with garlic butter rice, brown rice, fries, and loaded baked potatoes. 

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-3-the-cheap-gourmetBACON WRAPPED JALAPENOS STUFFED WITH BBQ MEATLOAF AND CHEESE

Yields: 12 individual peppers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

6 large Jalapeno peppers, cut in half with seeds removed and stems intact (cut stems to 1/2")
1/2-cup raw BBQ meatloaf
6 slices thick Bacon
1/4-cup Cheddar Cheese, finely shredded

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fill each jalapeno half with meatloaf mixture; about 1 Tablespoon per pepper.

3. Cut bacon in half and wrap diagonally around each pepper to cover meatloaf. (Start on the top and gently pull bacon to extend length as you wrap).

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-the-cheap-gourmet

4. Place in a baking pan and bake for 15-18 minutes; until bacon is slightly crispy with brown edges. Remove from oven and carefully top each pepper with a pinch of shredded cheese.

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-2-the-cheap-gourmet

5. Return to oven and bake for 2-3 minutes; until cheese is melted and bubbly.

6. Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy.

 

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Super Easy Pepperoni and Mozzarella Pizza Rolls

Need a fast, yet flavorful appetizer or meal? If so, you'll love these pepperoni and mozzarella pizza rolls. With only 4 ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you can enjoy ooey-gooey pizza rolls for a fraction of the cost of delivery pizza.

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SUPER EASY PEPPERONI AND MOZZARELLA PIZZA ROLLS
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes
Yield: 16 pizza rolls

INGREDIENTS:

1 can Pillsbury 'Original' Grands Biscuits

40 slices Pepperoni (we like Bridgford brand)

16 (1-inch) cubes Mozzarella Cheese

1/3 cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated

1/4 cup Marinara or Pizza Sauce, for dipping

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease 9-inch pie dish.
  3. Place biscuits on lightly floured cutting board. Cut in half and gently smash with hand palm. Carefully remove from cutting board and shape into round disc.
  4. Add 2 slices of pepperoni (side-by-side and slightly overlapped) and place cheese cube in center. Wrap excess dough around pepperoni and cheese, roll into a ball, and place in pie dish. Repeat until you have 16 pizza rolls.
  5. Place one slice of pepperoni between each roll. Top with shredded mozzarella.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving plate with marinara sauce and serve immediately. 

Pepperoni-stuffed-pizza-rolls-3-the-cheap-gourmet


Chocolate Covered Marshmallows on a Stick

Chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick are one of the easiest treats to make and almost everybody loves them. I prefer to use the giant-size marshmallows, but you can use regular or mini marshmallows. When using mini-size, opt for a toothpick rather than a stick!

Kids love making chocolate covered marshmallows. Depending on their age they can do a variety of tasks. Little ones can help put in the sticks or decorate, while older kids can help dip in melted chocolate. It's a great way to create lasting memories or even family traditions. 

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOWS ON A STICK

Servings: 28-30 using giant marshmallows
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Dipping and Decorating Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag giant marshmallows
1 (12 ounce) bag Milk or Dark Chocolate melting discs
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, peanuts, sprinkles, or mini chocolate or butterscotch chips
28-30 Sucker Sticks

DIRECTIONS:

1. Using a double-boiler, add chocolate wafer discs and heat over low heat until melted.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sucker stick in the center of each marshmallow and place on sheet.
3. Dip each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Shake off excess, then lightly roll the sides in nuts, sprinkles or mini chips. Set on baking sheet and let dry for 20-30 minutes.

 

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Rustic Italian Chicken Sandwich

Here is a simple rustic Italian chicken sandwich recipe that's affordable and easy to prepare. I purchase a loaf of freshly baked bread from our local bakery, which yields 4 good-sized sandwiches. My favorite breads include poppyseed (as shown in the picture), sesame seed, and of course, Italian.

It's best to marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes to infuse the Italian dressing flavor. It's even better if you can marinate for a few hours. This Italian chicken sandwich is perfect for lunch or dinner and is always a favorite at family gatherings. 

RUSTIC ITALIAN CHICKEN SANDWICH
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Servings: 4
Marinate time: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minute

INGREDIENTS:

1 loaf Italian bread, quartered
1-1/2 cups bottled Italian Dressing
4 (4-ounce) Chicken Breasts
1 medium Tomato, sliced
4 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pour Italian dressing into a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken breasts and gently massage dressing into each piece. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. 

2. Slice bread loaf lengthwise, then cut into 4 sections. Wrap in foil and set aside.

3. Slice tomato and chop lettuce; set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and place in skillet. Cook for 6-7 minutes per side, until no longer pink.

6. While the chicken is cooking, place bread in oven and heat for 7-8 minutes.

7. Assemble sandwiches and sprinkle each chicken breast with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Pairs well with chips and a pickle spear!

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Introducing Spinach and Kale Chips from The Better Chip

When The Better Chip asked me to review their new Spinach and Kale chips, I was hesitant. I love raw spinach and baked kale chips, but couldn't imagine combining these flavors into a tortilla chip. This is probably why I'm a food blogger instead of a recipe developer.

I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the The Better Chip spinach and kale chips. They were incredibly fresh and had a nice crunch. Each chip had the perfect amount of sea salt which enhanced the flavor of the kale.

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While the chip wasn't lacking in flavor, I wanted to experiment with various types of dips. First, I dipped the spinach and kale chip in guacamole. It was pretty good, but I felt the avocado wasn't the best match for the flavor profile. Next, I tried salsa and enjoyed the contrast between the tomato and spinach.

Finally, I tried my all-time favorite Beau Monde dip consisting of cream cheese, onions, and Beau Monde seasoning. For me, this was the perfect match because the cream cheese married well with the spinach and kale. In fact, it was so good that I soon devoured almost half a bag – oops!

In addition to sending a full size bag of kale and spinach chips, The Better Chip also sent snack pack bags of Sweet Onions, Red Pepper, and Jalapenos chips. I also received an awesome T-shirt that has a really pretty green design on the front. It's made from super soft fabric and is very lightweight; making it ideal for the hot weather we've been experiencing.

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I thoroughly enjoyed all the flavors, but my all-time favorite is the Red Pepper chip. It has a lot of zing and paired well with the salsa.

What I like most about The Better Chip snacks is they are made with fresh ingredients that you can actually see in the chip. Even better is these chips are non-GMO and gluten-free. They are perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores who enjoy real food manufactured from natural ingredients.

Overall, I'd rate all the chips at a 10. I am still surprised at how much I enjoyed the spinach and kale chips. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to sample them because I have found a new snack that I can enjoy without feeling guilty. Learn more about The Better Chip at www.TheBetterChip.com or follow them at Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheBetterChip.


Deep Fried Bacon and Cheese Biscuit Appetizers

Okay, so I know there is absolutely nothing healthy about these deep fried bacon and cheese biscuit appetizers, but sometimes a person needs a little guilty pleasure. This is one of mine. Chances are it will become one of yours too!

Not only are these bacon and cheese biscuits deliciously tasty, they are also super easy to make. You can enjoy these wicked appetizers in about 20 minutes from start to finish. Experiment with different types of bacon and cheeses to create your own flavor profile.


Deep-fried-bacon-cheese-biscuit-appetizers-the-cheap-gourmet

DEEP FRIED BACON AND CHEESE BISCUIT APPETIZERS
Yield: 20 appetizers
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
1 can of 5 count Buttermilk biscuits
10 slices bacon – medium to thick cut works best
20 1-inch cube Mozzarella cheese
20 toothpicks

NOTE: It's best to use a deep fryer, but if you don't have one use a large skillet.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oil in deep fryer or skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. While oil is heating, quarter each biscuit and set aside.
3. Cut Mozzarella cheese into 1-inch cubes.
4. Cut bacon slices in half.
5. Gently flatten biscuit quarters into rounds. Place cheese cube in center; fold sides over cheese; and roll into a ball. Wrap with ½ slice bacon and cover as much of the biscuit as possible. Secure with toothpick.
6. Carefully drop biscuits into hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip. Remove from oil when bacon is crisp. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease. Serve and enjoy!

 


Bacon Wrapped New Potatoes

My husband saw someone making bacon wrapped new potatoes on a TV show and decided to try them. They were so yummy that they quickly became one of our favorite side dishes.

Besides being delicious these bacon wrapped new potatoes are easy to prepare and quick to cook. They can be baked, broiled or grilled and make a great side dish or appetizer.

Since the bacon is secured to potatoes using toothpicks it's best to soak the picks in water for a few minutes to prevent them from burning – unlike the ones in the photos.


Bacon-wrapped-new-potatoes

BACON WRAPPED NEW POTATOES
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Servings: 12-18 potatoes (varies depending on number of potatoes in cans)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

8 slices thick Bacon, cut in half (adjust according to number of potatoes)
2 (15 ounce) cans whole new potatoes, drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toothpicks

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place toothpicks in small bowl, cover with water, and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Wrap each potato with half-slice of bacon and secure with toothpick.
4. Place potatoes in baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp. Turn potatoes halfway through cooking time.
5. Remove from oven and transfer to plate lined with paper towels to absorb grease. Let sit 2-3 minutes then transfer to serving plate.

Bacon-wrapped-new-potatoes-2


How to Make High Heel Cupcake Shoes

Have you ever wondered how to make high heel cupcake shoes? They've become all the rage and bakeries charge an arm and leg to make them. The good news is you can make these gorgeous edible shoes for a fraction of the cost. Better yet, recipients will be highly impressed with your baking talent.

Making homemade high heel cupcake shoes isn't difficult, but does take some time. It takes about two hours to make a dozen shoes from start to finish. Here's what you'll need to prepare the shoes, along with a step-by-step pictorial.

Homemade High Heel Cupcake Shoes
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Yield: 12
Prep Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

1 box Cake Mix
1 container Frosting
12 designer paper cupcake tins
12 Graham Crackers (regular or chocolate)
12 Pirouette Cookies
3 ounces Ready-to-Use Gum Paste
Food coloring
½ cup granulated Sugar

Directions:

1. Prepare cupcakes according to package directions. Use elegant, funky designs, or colored cupcake papers.

2. Make a shoe stencil by cutting a piece of paper the length of a graham cracker and trimming the edges at an angle. Place stencil over each cracker and trim edges with a sharp knife.

3. Apply a thin coat of frosting to each cracker and let air dry for 30 minutes.


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4. Once cupcakes are done let them cool completely before applying frosting.

5. Add a small amount of food coloring to icing. I used the colors of gold and red to create different styles of shoes.

Assemble-cupcake-shoes

6. Frost each cupcake and top with colored sugar, sprinkles, or edible gold dust.

7. Now it's time to assemble the cupcake shoes. Begin by placing a small ball of gum paste on the pirouette cookie and gently attach to the angled portion of the graham cracker.

8. Place the graham cracker about 1/3rd of the way on the top of the cupcake. Carefully position the heel and pipe a thin layer of icing to hold it in place.

9. Pipe icing around edge of cracker and across the edge that rests on the cupcake.

Piped-icing-cupcake-shoes

10. Make embellishments from the remaining gum paste. I made bows and balls which I attached to the back of the shoe and on top of the cupcake.

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Tray-gold-cupcake-shoes
Red-cupcake-shoes

11. Put a pair of shoes in a small cake box and surround with tissue paper to prevent them from sliding around.


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12. Stick a candle in a designer cupcake shoe and give them as a birthday gift!

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Potato Chip Cookies | Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

This is the first year I've participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I must say it was a lot of fun. Not only did I receive three dozen yummy homemade cookies, I also met four new food bloggers.

While it was challenging to choose one cookie to exchange with my newfound foodie friends, I decided upon Potato Chip Cookies. Reason being, they are one of my all-time favorites and since they contain greasy potato chips they stay fresh for quite some time.

Before revealing the recipe for Potato Chip Cookies, I wanted to share these photos and introduce you to the cookie swap partners.

Great-food-blogger-cookie-swap
The first batch of cookies I received were Boozy Salted Fennel Pollen Shortbreads sent from Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Pictured above on the top right, these square shortbreads were packaged in adorable green and red polka dot containers. Very festive! They had a really unique licorice-honey flavor from the fennel pollen and the slightest hint of Ouzo. Tasty!

The second batch of cookies was Peppermint Tea Shortbread dipped in White Chocolate and dusted with Christmas sprinkles sent from Amber at Bluebonnets and Brownies. They are pictured above on the bottom right. It's easy to spot them by the colorful sprinkles! These cookies were crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and had a delightful undertone of peppermint. I found them to be perfect for dunking in a cup of tea. I was going to try them with hot cocoa, but by the time I got around to it they were gone!

The third batch of cookies was good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies from Amishi at NaiveCookCooks.com. I was very happy to receive these cookies because they are definitely one of my favorites. Amishi packaged her cookies in a super cute red box covered in snowflakes. It was such a great touch and very much appreciated. Not only was the packaging great, the cookies were amazing!

My cookie exchange partners included Camilla from Culinary Adventures, and Amber of Blue Bonnets and Brownies, along with Kimberly from Eat the Evidence.

What's great about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is it is helping raise funds for my favorite organization, Cookies for Kids' Cancer. You might recall that this past October, The Cheap Gourmet hosted Team Logan Bake Sale in honor of my friend Sherry's son Logan and to raise money for this non-profit organization.

Cookies for Kids' Cancer is doing great things to advance pediatric cancer research and is one of the most honest and ethical charities I've ever had the pleasure of working with. I hope you will support them by hosting your very own bake sale, cookie swap, or donating funds.

Since I had some packaging supplies and marketing materials left over from the bake sale, I decided to package my cookies with CFKC stickers. Since the potato chip cookies are somewhat fragile I hoped the packaging would provide extra cushion during shipping.

Cookies-for-kids-cancer-potato-chip-cookies
The ladies who organized the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap provided an array of stickers and labels, so I prepared gift tags and printed an ingredients list which included their logo.

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Here is a box of Potato Chip Cookies ready to go to Kimberly.

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One of the reasons I chose Potato Chip Cookies is they are sweet and salty. Normally, when I prepare these cookies I drizzle them with melted chocolate chips. Since I was shipping cookies across the country I elected to leave off the chocolate for fear it would make a mess.

POTATO CHIP COOKIES RECIPE

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Yield: 4 dozen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-22 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup granulated Sugar
3-1/4 cups all purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups Potato Chips, coarsely crushed (I use crinkle cut chips because they are thicker than regular chips)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Slowly add flour and vanilla extract until well blended.

3. Stir in crushed potato chips and mix well.

4. Using a cookie scoop, drop one scoop of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to slightly flatten each cookie in a criss-cross pattern. (Flattened cookies on left and center rows and non-flattened cookies on right)

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5. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until light golden brown around edges. Let cookies stand for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack until completely cooled.

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6. If desired, sprinkle cooled cookies with confectioners' sugar or drizzle with melted chocolate. To make melted chocolate, place 1/2-cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening in a small bowl and heat in microwave for 45-60 seconds.


Chocolate Chip Cookies with Orange Zest and Vanilla Bean

Want to add a twist to traditional chocolate chip cookies? If so, you'll love the following Chocolate Chip Cookies with Orange Zest and Vanilla Bean! The addition of these two basic ingredients creates an amazing flavor profile that will leave everyone asking for more.

Baked-vanilla-orange-chocolate-chip-cookies
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH ORANGE ZEST AND VANILLA BEAN

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Yield: (30) 2-inch cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 8-10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
2 vanilla beans, pulp only
2-1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chip morsels

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using a grater, scrape orange zest into small bowl.

DSCF2060

3. Scrape pulp from vanilla beans and add to orange zest.

Vanilla-bean
4. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, granulated and brown sugars until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add egg and mix well.
6. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until well-incorporated.
7. Stir in orange zest, vanilla bean pulp, and chocolate chips.
8. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Orange-vanilla-chocolate-chip-cookies
9. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks until completely cooled.

Baked-vanilla-orange-chocolate-chip-cookies-be-good-cookie-spatula

Click here to learn more about the "Be a Good Cookie" spatula.


Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies | Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies

Sometimes the best holiday cookie recipes are the ones found on the side of a packaged cake mix box. A good example is these Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies from Duncan Hines. Those of you who have followed The Cheap Gourmet for awhile know that I can't resist deviating from original recipes. However, I only modified this one a little bit.

What I like about these Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies is they are super easy to make and ideal for shipping. They are also great for holiday cookie exchange parties. It's hard to find sturdy cookies that won't crumble after being tossed around in a postal truck. It's also hard to find cookies that won't lose their moistness while enroute to family and friends. Not only are these cookies durable AND moist, they taste amazing!

Red-velvet-crinkle-cookies-baked
RED VELVET CRINKLE COOKIES

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Yield: 36 (2-inch) cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 9-11 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
1 cup Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 large Eggs
2 Vanilla Beans, pulp only
2 teaspoon fresh Orange zest

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave; set aside to cool.

3. Place confectioners sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix with a fork to blend. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, add cake mix, cooled butter, eggs, vanilla pulp, and orange zest. Mix by hand until well blended and a dough ball forms.

5. Use a cookie scoop and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioners sugar and shake off excess.

NOTE: I found it easiest to roll out all the balls first,  then dip in powdered sugar.

Red-velvet-crinkle-cookies-balls-powdered-sugar

6. Place cookie balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Red-velvet-crinkle-cookies-powdered-sugar
7. Bake one sheet at a time, in center of oven until set. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. 

Red-velvet-crinkle-cookies-baked-2

8. Store in airtight container and separate cookies by placing sheets of wax or parchment paper between layers.

Click here for the original Duncan Hines Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies recipe.


BBQ Turkey Crostini Appetizer

Looking for something different to make from Thanksgiving leftover turkey? Try this tangy BBQ turkey crostini. It's super easy to make and only requires a few basic ingredients. Best of all, this tasty appetizer is ready in less than 30 minutes.

The BBQ turkey crostini appetizer is perfect year-round. If you don't have leftover turkey, a good alternative is packaged turkey meat chunks, smoked turkey legs, or use chicken or pork instead.

Bbq-turkey-crostini-appetizer
BBQ TURKEY CROSTINI APPETIZER

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Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 slices Farmer's Bread
1-1/2 cups Turkey meat, chopped
1/4 small Red Onion, diced
2/3 cup BBQ Sauce (try this homemade sweet and tart BBQ sauce)
4 slices cooked Bacon, chopped
6-8  slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Add turkey, onion, and BBQ sauce to a small skillet. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until sauce begins to bubble. Stir frequently.

Bbq-turkey-meat
3. Place bread slices on ungreased baking sheet. Top each slice with 1/4 cup BBQ turkey mixture.

Bbq-turkey-crostini-spread

4. Add 1-2 tablespoons chopped bacon.

Bbq-turkey-crostini-with-bacon

5. Top with cheddar cheese. If bread slices are long, you might need to break cheese slices into smaller pieces to cover the entire crostini.

Bbq-turkey-crostini-with-cheese
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese bubbles and begins to turn brown.
7. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!

Bbq-turkey-crostini-with-bacon-cheese-baked

 


OXO "Be a Good Cookie" Spatula Review

As a member of the OXO Blogger Outreach Program I receive products to try out and share my opinion about. Last week, I received the OXO "Be a Good Cookie" spatula which helps raise awareness and funds for my favorite charity, Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

I was introduced to OXO while organizing the Team Logan Bake Sale event for Cookies for Kids' Cancer. Gretchen Witt, founder of the non-profit, works for OXO and the company developed the "Be a Good Cookie" spatula to help raise funds her organization. 50% of the proceeds of each spatula sold go toward pediatric cancer research.

Oxo-be-a-good-cookie-spatula
There are many things I like about this spatula. First of all, it is relatively small which makes it ideal for lifting cookies, as well as the perfect size for kids. Secondly, the head is flexible; making it easy to lift cookies from baking sheets even when they are close together. Also, the handle includes a soft, non-slip grip that keeps it tight in your hand.

The spatula head is made from stainless steel. On the front, the words "Be a Good Cookie" is etched on the steel, while the back reflects the website address. The head is coated in orange silicone so you'll never have to worry about the words rubbing off.

The OXO spatula is designed specifically for cookies, but it can be used for other types of cooking. It's great for flipping eggs and dollar size pancakes and is ideal for stir-fry prepared in a wok. It is also perfect when cooking sticky foods, such as teriyaki glaze, because of the non-stick coating. At only $7.99, this spatula is a great bargain and makes a great gift for all your baking friends. Click here to order your "Good Cookie" spatula from OXO.

To give the OXO "Good Cookie" spatula a good workout, I whipped up a batch of my favorite Orange Vanilla Chocolate Chip cookies. These cookies are small and dense, yet packed with flavor. Best of all, they are incredibly easy to make!

Baked-vanilla-orange-chocolate-chip-cookies
ORANGE VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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Yield: (30) 2-inch cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 8-10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
2 vanilla beans, pulp only
2-1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chip morsels

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using a grater, scrape orange zest into small bowl.

DSCF2060

3. Scrape pulp from vanilla beans and add to orange zest.

Vanilla-bean
4. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, granulated and brown sugars until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add egg and mix well.
6. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until well-incorporated.
7. Stir in orange zest, vanilla bean pulp, and chocolate chips.
8. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Orange-vanilla-chocolate-chip-cookies
9. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks until completely cooled.

Baked-vanilla-orange-chocolate-chip-cookies-be-good-cookie-spatula
Enjoy these Orange Vanilla Chocolate Chip cookies with a steaming hot cup of coffee or cocoa and a great book such as "Those We Love Most" by Lee Woodruff. I received this book as a gift from Cookies for Kids' Cancer after answering a question on their Facebook page.

Orange-vanilla-chocolate-chip-cookies-coffee-book
The author has dedicated this book to Gretchen Witt's son, Liam, who is the inspiration behind the organization. "Those We Love Most" is an amazing story about the trials and tribulations of a family caused by secrets they kept and is a MUST-READ!

Interested in raising funds for Cookies for Kids' Cancer? Consider hosting a holiday cookie swap. Currently, GLAD is donating $1 per cookie exchanged to the organization. This is a fantastic way to complete your holiday baking while helping out a good cause.  Click here to learn how to host a Cookies for Kids' Cancer bake sale.


Pepperoni and Cheese Crescent Roll Pizza Bites Recipe

Today, I'm happy to provide a delicious Pepperoni and Cheese Crescent Roll Pizza Bites recipe contributed by guest blogger, Brianna Collins. I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Brianna for taking time to supply this recipe to The Cheap Gourmet blog.

From Brianna...

As a college student, I am constantly searching for new and easy recipes to make. It's hard to fight the temptation to spend each meal in the drive thru or at happy hour with friends.

Upon browsing Pinterest I came across a picture of what looked like a crescent with pepperoni and cheese. I was instantly interested. While a commercial pizza oven would be amazing to have for any time you're craving some homemade pizza, we don't always have the luxury.

I worked on the recipe and came up with a delicious and extremely quick way to make these pizza rolls! Cheap and easy, this recipe is fun and tasty.

PEPPERONI AND CHEESE CRESCENT ROLL PIZZA BITES
Servings: 8 rolls

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Ingredients:

1 Bag of pepperonis
1 Can of refrigerated crescent rolls
2 Mozzarella string cheese
1 Can of marinara sauce
1 Bag of parmesan cheese
1 small bunch of parsley

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2.  Slowly warm marinara sauce on low heat.
3.  Unwrap the string cheese and cut each one into fourths.
4.  Unroll the crescent dough and lay out on sprayed baking sheet.
5.  Lay down around 3 pepperonis on the larger part of the crescent rolls.
6.  Place the fourth of string cheese on top of the pepperonis on each triangle crescent rolls.

Pepperoni-and-cheese-crescent-roll-pizza-bites-1

7.   Roll each triangle crescent up.
8.   Sprinkle parmesan and parsley on the top of the rolled crescent.
9.   Put in oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Take out of oven and let cool off.
11.  Place a spoonful of marinara sauce on each roll.

Pepperoni-and-cheese-cresent-roll-pizza-bites-3

AUTHOR BIO:  I'm a Texas Longhorn with an appetite for learning new things, experiencing the world around me, and communicating with all types of people. I plan on graduating in May of 2013 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Sociology. Get to know me more and view my work at www.b-collins.com. Follow me on twitter @BriannaCCollins


Deep Fried Parmesan Cheese Puffs

Deep-fried-parmesan-cheese-puffsIf you're looking for a delicious and easy-to-prepare appetizer you will love these deep fried parmesan cheese puffs

These bite-size parmesan cheeese puffs are light and airy with a hint of saltiness from the cheese and a crispy outer shell. They are perfect on their own or can be paired with a light dipping sauce.

The cheese puffs can be fried in a deep fryer or heavy saucepan. I prefer using peanut oil, but they can also be fried in vegetable or canola oil. They are perfect for dinner parties, BBQ's, family gatherings, holidays, and wine tasting parties.

DEEP FRIED PARMESAN CHEESE PUFFS

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Yield: 24 (1-inch balls)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4-5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups Peanut Oil (can substitute with vegetable or canola oil)
2 cups finely grated Parmesan Cheese (can also use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1/4 cup all-purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
4 large Egg Whites at room temperature

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy 3-quart saucepan to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, mix grated cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl, add egg whites and beat with a hand or stand mixer until stiff peaks form.

4. Add 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and gently mix until ingredients are incorporated.

5. Add remaining cheese mixture and gently mix into a soft ball. 

6. Use a cookie scoop to form 1-inch balls. Carefully drop cheese puffs into hot oil and cook until crisp on both sides. It's recommended to fry cheese puffs in batches of 8 to 10 balls. 

7. Transfer cheese puffs to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease. Transfer to serving plate and devour!

Deep-fried-parmesan-cheese-puffs-plate


Super Easy Pasta Salad

This super easy pasta salad is a favorite for any kind of gathering from Super Bowl parties to weddings and everything in between. The salad can be made with any kind of pasta, but I prefer to use penne. I've also tried it with elbow macaroni and medium size shells. One benefit of using shell pasta is it holds some of the dressing, so prefer extra dressing try using shells instead.

Although this pasta salad is easy to make it does require a bit of prep time to cut all the veggies. It is also best to chill it for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

SUPER EASY PASTA SALAD

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Serves: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS:

1 (16 ounce) box Penne Pasta
1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounce) can Whole Pitted Black Olives, drained
1/2 pint Whole Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 bottle Italian Salad Dressing
Salt and Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, thinly slice bell peppers and onion and cut cherry tomatoes in half.
3. When pasta is cooked, drain in a collander and rinse with cold water.
4. Transfer pasta to large bowl. Add peppers, onion, and cherry tomatoes.
5. Add 1/2 a bottle of Italian Salad Dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
6. Gently mix all ingredients together until well combined.
7. Cover bowl and chill for 2 hours prior to serving.

 

Penne-pasta-with-peppers-and-black-olives


Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Patties No-Bake Recipe

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Patties No BakeDark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Patties are one of my favorite no-bake cookie recipes. They are super easy to make and include common ingredients most of us have on hand in our pantry and refrigerator. These are a great standby when unexpected guests show up because you can whip up a batch in less than 15 minutes.

I recently updated this recipe by using dark chocolate instead of regular cocoa. If you don't care for dark chocolate, feel free to substitute with unsweetened cocoa powder. While this recipe calls for smooth peanut butter, there is no reason you can't use chunky.

These no-bake cookies are exceptionally rich, so avoid the temptation to make them larger than the instructions state. Keeping them small also helps eliminate some of the guilt. I hope you enjoy them so much that you begin your own family tradition of serving them!

DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CRUNCH PATTIES NO-BAKE RECIPE

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Yield: 18 cookies
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cool Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 stick unsalted Butter
3/4 cup granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (or Unsweetened Cocoa, if preferred)
1/4 cup low-fat Milk (substitute with Soy or Almond milk, if desired)
1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1-1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons quick-cooking Oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

1) In a large saucepan, combine butter, sugar, cocoa and milk.
2) Over medium-high heat, cook the mixture until it boils; stir constantly. Once this comes to a boil, it will begin to bubble. At this point, remove pan from heat.
3) Add peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Stir well to combine all ingredients.
4) Drop mixture by teaspoonful on waxed or parchment paper. Flatten with backside of spoon to create 1/4-inch patties.
5) Let cool 15 minutes and serve.


Bacon Buttermilk Pancake Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream Frosting

Bacon-buttermilk-pancake-cupcakes-maple-syrup-buttercream-frosting-chocolate-covered-baconI selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at food blogs.

I'm excited to share my Bacon Buttermilk Pancake Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream Frosting recipe. Not to brag, but these are the best cupcakes I have ever baked. Not only do you receive the goodness of a bacon-stuffed pancake, but also the divine decadence of maple buttercream frosting topped with a piece of chocolate covered bacon. Life doesn't get much better than this!

I created the bacon buttermilk pancake cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting as an entry into the Denny's/Foodbuzz BACONALIA challenge. Not only do I have a chance to win cash and a gift card to Denny's restaurant, I was able to experiment with one of my favorite foods – BACON!

These cupcakes taste like buttermilk pancakes, but are the texture of carrot cake. They are very easy to make and perfect for birthday parties, cook-outs, and special occasion events.

It's best to prepare the bacon beforehand to provide ample time to drain excess grease. I used thick sliced smoked bacon and baked in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You can find the recipe for spicy hot chocolate covered bacon here. You don't have to garnish with chocolate bacon, but it takes the cupcake to an entirely new level.

BACON BUTTERMILK PANCAKE CUPCAKES WITH MAPLE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING AND CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON

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Yield: 18 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bacon Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Cupcake Bake Time: 10-12 minutes

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:
12 slices thick Bacon
2-1/2 cups Cake Flour (can substitute with all-purpose or wheat flour, if desired)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 stick unsalted Butter, softened
3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 large Eggs
1-1/4 cups pure Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Buttermilk (shake well)
3/4 cup Walnuts, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line 18"x13" baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange bacon slices, leaving a bit of room between each slice.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until dark golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and transfer to paper towel lined plate to absorb grease.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger together.
5. In a large mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. Using a handheld mixer on medium setting beat butter and sugar together until creamy.
6. Add eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix until ingredients are incorporated.
7. Add one-third of flour mixture and mix for about 30 seconds. Add one-third buttermilk and mix for another 30 seconds. Repeat, alternating one-third flour and one-third buttermilk at a time.
8. Chop 6 slices of bacon into small bits.
8. Add bacon bits and walnuts to mixture and gently stir ingredients by hand to incorporate.
9. Line muffin tin with paper or tin cupcake liners or lightly grease muffin pan with butter, vegetable oil, or vegetable oil spray.
10. Bake for 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
11. Transfer to baking rack and let cool to room temperature.

MAPLE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Yield: 2-1/2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup unsalted Butter, softened
3 ounces Philly Cream Cheese, softened
2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Pancake Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Confectioner's Sugar

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, add butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and salt. Using handheld mixer on medium setting beat ingredients together until creamy.
2. In a measuring cup, combine maple syrup, pancake syrup, and vanilla. Slowly drizzle into butter mixture until ingredients are incorporated.
3. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, about 1/4-cup at a time, into frosting mixture. Increase speed to high and beat until frosting forms fluffy peaks.
4. Place frosting in refrigerator and chill for one hour.
5. Frost cupcakes using a flat icing knife or decorator bag with large tip.
6. Break remaining 6 pieces of bacon into 3 pieces per slice.

Bacon-pancake-cupcakes-maple-buttecream-frosting-chocolate-covered-bacon
Bacon-pancake-cupcakes-maple-buttercream-frosting

 


You might also like:
Outrageous Bacon Buttermilk Belgian Waffles with Homemade Maple Syrup Whipped Cream
Spicy Hot Chocolate Covered Bacon


Outrageous Bacon Buttermilk Belgian Waffle

Bacon buttermilk belgian waffleIf you crave dessert for breakfast, you'll love this Outrageous Bacon Buttermilk Belgian Waffle recipe. The past few weeks I've been experimenting with bacon recipes to submit in the Denny's/Foodbuzz BACONALIA challenge. Regardless of whether I win or not, I've had a blast playing with bacon. My kitchen has become so aromatic that my neighbors are calling wanting to sample my creations.

The following Outrageous Bacon Buttermilk Belgian Waffle recipe is made from a homemade batter that is slathered in organic creamy peanut butter and topped with brown sugar glazed bananas and homemade maple syrup whipped cream. Are you drooling yet?

I'm certain you could make this recipe using a boxed waffle or pancake mix. If so, I'd recommend using less water because the batter needs to be rather thick to accommodate the bacon slices. Before we get to the recipe, please note that this recipe is being submitted for competition to win prizes in the Denny's Foodbuzz BACONALIA challenge.

This recipe requires a bit of multi-tasking. Prepare the maple syrup whipped cream first and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Next, prepare the bacon and drain excess grease before preparing the waffle batter. While the waffles are cooking, prepare the glazed bananas.

OUTRAGEOUS BACON BUTTERMILK BELGIAN WAFFLE WITH PEANUT BUTTER, BROWN SUGAR GLAZED BANANAS AND HOMEMADE MAPLE SYRUP WHIPPED CREAM

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HOMEMADE MAPLE SYRUP WHIPPED CREAM
Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 15 to 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:
1. Chill a medium size metal bowl in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Remove bowl from freezer and add heavy cream.
3. Using a handheld mixer, beat cream on medium setting until it begins to thicken.
4. Add vanilla extract and nutmeg to maple syrup and gradually drizzle into cream while beating at medium-high speed until whipped cream is thick. Place in refrigerator until ready for use.

BACON
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
12 slices thick Smoked Maple Bacon

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat griddle or large skillet over medium-heat.
2. Place bacon slices on griddle and cook 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy.
3. Transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate to drain excess grease. Set aside.

BUTTERMILK BELIGAN WAFFLE MIX
Yield: 4 waffles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 to 4 minutes per waffle

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Cake Flour (can substitute with all-purpose or whole wheat, if desired)
1 Tbsp. granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 cup Buttermilk (shake well)
3 Tbsp. unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 large Egg
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil for waffle iron

DIRECTIONS:

1. Lightly brush waffle iron with vegetable oil, then preheat to desired temperature. I prefer the high setting for golden brown, crispy waffles.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk ingredients until well incorporated.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, melted butter, and egg. Whisk until ingredients are incorporated.
4. Slowly add flour mixture to liquid ingredients and gently stir until combined. The batter will be lumpy and thick.
5. Pour 3/4- to 1-cup waffle mixture to hot griddle. Using a wooden spoon, spread mixture to edges.
6. Place 3 slices of bacon on top of mixture.

Buttermilk-bacon-belgian-waffle-glazed-bananas-maple-syrup-whipped-cream-waffle-iron
7. Gently close waffle maker top to prevent bacon breakage.
8. While waffles are cooking, start preparing brown sugar glazed bananas.
9. Remove waffles and transfer to serving plate. Cover with foil or place in warm oven until ready to eat.

BROWN SUGAR GLAZED BANANAS
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 medium ripe Bananas
1 Tbsp. unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat a small skillet over medium heat.

2. Add butter and heat until melted.

3. Slice bananas into 1/2-inch diagonal slices.

4. Add to melted butter and cook until medium golden brown.

5. Add brown sugar and gently stir until bananas are coated.

6. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until brown sugar begins to bubble. Remove from heat.

Buttermilk-bacon-belgian-waffle-glazed-bananas-brown-sugar

BUILDING THE PERFECT BACON BUTTERMILK BELGIAN WAFFLE

1. Place Belgian waffle on serving plate.

Buttermilk-bacon-belgian-waffle
2. Slather with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (smooth or crunchy).

Buttermilk-bacon-belgian-waffle-peanut-butter
3. Top with 2 Tbsp. maple syrup whipped cream.

Buttermilk-bacon-belgian-waffle-maple-whipped-cream
4. Top with 1/4 cup brown sugar glazed bananas.

Buttermilk-bacon-belgian-waffle-glazed-bananas-maple-whipped-cream
5. Serve with a glass of cold milk or freshly squeezed orange juice.

If you love bacon you might also enjoy my recipe for Spicy Hot Chocolate Covered Bacon.


Spicy Hot Chocolate Covered Bacon

Spicy-chocolate-covered-bacon-on-a-silver-platter If you've never tried spicy hot chocolate covered bacon you are in for the treat of a lifetime! The saltiness of the bacon combined with heat of freshly ground chili peppers and slathered in melted chocolate offers a taste bud sensation like no other!

Before divulging the spicy hot chocolate covered bacon recipe, allow me to tell you how it came to be. Last November, I was invited to participate in "A Chile and a Spoon Competition" hosted by Marx Foods.

Marx Foods provided a variety of dried chili peppers to food bloggers and allowed competitors to create any dish we wanted as long as it contained one or more of the sample peppers and could be eaten with a spoon. My entry was Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake.

I've been like a kid in a candy store since receiving the generous supply of chili peppers from Marx Foods. I've made a few dozen varieties of chili powder and used them in soups, stews, side dishes, desserts, marinades, sauces, and as meat rubs.

My all-time favorite use of freshly ground chili powder is pairing with chocolate. I can say with certainty I have not made one chocolate dessert without chilies since the chocolate lava cake entry. So, when my favorite foodie website on the planet, FoodBuzz.com, announced they were hosting a bacon recipe contest with a grand prize of $500 cash AND $100 Denny's restaurant gift card, the idea of spicy hot chocolate covered bacon came to mind. 

Please note the following recipe was created as part of the Denny's and or FoodBuzz BACONALIA challenge and is an entry for a chance to win.

This recipe calls for thick sliced bacon. If the bacon is too thin it will fall apart when coated in melted chocolate. I used hardwood smoked bacon, but I bet maple or pepper-crusted would be delicious as well.

While you can use any type of chili peppers, I highly recommend Marx Foods. They have a fabulous supply of unique peppers and the flavors are absolutely divine!

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Here's the chocolate covered bacon recipe. Enjoy!

SPICY HOT CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON

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Yield: 54 pieces
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 22-25 minutes


INGREDIENTS:

18 slices thick hardwood smoked Bacon
1 dried Mulato Chili (mild)
1 dried Organic Limo Rojo Chili (hot)
7 ounces Chocolate Candy Discs or Baker's Dipping Chocolate

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove stems from chili peppers. Roast chilies in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic; about 5 to 6 minutes. Frequently turn to prevent scorching.

Mulato-chili-peppers

3. Grind peppers in coffee grinder or food processor until fine powder. Transfer to small container and set aside.

Freshly-ground-chili-pepper

4. Line 18"x13" baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bacon strips side-by-side, leaving a little room to prevent sticking. Lightly sprinkle each side with chili powder.

5. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until bacon is dark golden brown and crisp. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease.

6. Using a double-boiler, melt chocolate candy discs over low heat or microwave according to package directions. Transfer melted chocolate to a medium bowl large enough to accommodate your hands.

7. Using kitchen shears, cut bacon slices in thirds. Add to melted chocolate and gently toss with hands until evenly coated.

8. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently shake off excess chocolate and place bacon pieces on baking sheet.

9. Place in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to serving dish or resealable container. Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Spicy-chocolate-covered-bacon-on-a-silver-platter


Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Today, I'd like to share a delightful Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary recipe. This was my first experience eating lamb chops. I don't know why, but I've always had an issue with eating baby lambs and could not bring myself to try it.

Last year, I entered the Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary recipe in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. Although I did not progress through the contest, I discovered I actually enjoy lamb chops and this recipe has become one of our favorites.

It is very easy to prepare and the roasted garlic and rosemary topping adds a ton of extra flavor. I hope it becomes one of your favorites as well!

BABY LAMB CHOPS WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY

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Adapted from Michael Chiarello's Lamb Chop recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use 1/8 cup for marinade and 1/8 cup for cooking lamb chops)
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Tablespoons fresh Rosemary leaves
1 Lemon, zested
4 Baby Lamb Chops
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat 1/8 cup olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until light golden brown. Add rosemary leaves and cook until crispy.
2. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer to small bowl, add lemon zest, and mix well.
4. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Season both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper.

Baby-lamb-chops-stovetop

6. Cook lamb chops in skillet 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
7. Transfer to serving platter and spoon rosemary-garlic marinade on top.

Baby-lamb-chops-with-garlic-and-rosemary


Gorgonzola Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto

I recently served these gorgonzola cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto appetizers at a wedding. They were a big hit and several people asked for the recipe. Not only do the dates taste amazing, they are super simple to make and can be served warm or at room temperature; making them a great appetizer for nearly any occasion.

Another great thing about the gorgonzola cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto is they can be made a day ahead. I stored them in a resealable plastic bag placed in the refrigerator overnight. I wouldn't recommend making them more than 1 day in advance to prevent the prosciutto from drying out.

You could substitute prosciutto with bacon or thin slices of maple-glazed ham. These can be baked in the oven; grilled on a flatop griddle or electric skillet; or an indoor grill. I hope you enjoy this semi-healthy-dessert-appetizers as much as we do!

Gorgonzola-cheese-stuffed-dates-with-proscuitto-baked
GORGONZOLA CHEESE STUFFED DATES WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO

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Yield: 24
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 8-10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

24 whole Medjool Dates, pitted
1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled
12 slices Prosciutto

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place 24 toothpicks in water and soak for 10 minutes to prevent burning in oven.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Slice dates in half, being careful not to slice all the way through. Remove pit.

4. Stuff each date with 1 teaspoon Gorgonzola cheese.

Gorgonzola-cheese-stuffed-dates
5. Wrap each date with 1/2 slice of Prosciutto and secure with toothpick.

Gorgonzola-cheese-stuffed-dates-with-proscuitto
6. Place dates on baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble and prosciutto starts to crisp up.

7. Remove from oven. Transfer to serving plate and serve immediately. Place leftovers in airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


Stuffing Wrapped in Bacon Appetizers

My husband made bacon wrapped stuffing appetizers for our Super Bowl party. They were so yummy that we've added them to our 'Favorites' menu and have indulged twice since Super Bowl Sunday.

Not only do the stuffing wrapped in bacon appetizers taste great, they are super easy to make. We used packaged stuffing mix, but these appetizers could be made using homemade stuffing as well. Additionally, you can substitute bacon with prosciutto or hard meats such as salami or pepperoni. We used one-half round of sandwich pepperoni for one of the stuffing balls and it was quite tasty as well!

Bacon-wrapped-stuffing-balls

 BACON WRAPPED STUFFING APPETIZERS

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Yield: 12 balls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 15-18 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

 3 cups homemade stuffing or 1 box stuffing mix
6 slices Bacon, cut in half

DIRECTIONS:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. If using homemade stuffing proceed to step 3. If using boxed stuffing, cook according to package directions.Remove from stove and let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Use a cookie scoop to create stuffing balls or roll 2 Tablespoons of stuffing mixl into 2-inch balls.


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5. Wrap with 1/2 slice bacon and secure with a toothpick


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6. Place stuffing balls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-18 minutes or until bacon is crisp and top of stuffing is lightly browned.
7. Transfer to serving platter and enjoy!

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Marx Foods: A Chile and A Spoon Recipe Competition - Voting Now Open!

Yesterday, I published my Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe for the Marx Foods: A Chile and A Spoon Recipe Competition. Today, I am asking for your vote and encouraging you to view all the amazing chile recipes submitted by food bloggers.

Marx Foods: A Chile and a Spoon Recipe Competition offers an eclectic collection of amazing recipes. Discover Peanut Butter Mole, Ice Cream Sundae with a Chile on Top, Aji Cereza Chili Pumpkin Soup, Slow Cooker Japones Pulled Pork with Thai Red Curry, Spicy Squash and Black Bean Chili, Vanilla-Almond & Chocolate-Cinnamon-Chile Pudding, Cuatro Chile con Carne, Chinese Hot & Sour Soup, and much more!

To cast your vote for your favorite Marx Foods: A Chile and a Spoon Recipe, click on the banner below. Voting is limited to one vote per ISP, so choose wisely. While I hope you vote for The Cheap Gourmet Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake, please vote for your favorite. All the participants worked hard to create unique chile recipes and each offers a delightful spicy dish.

Marx-foods-a-chile-and-a-spoon-competion-smokin-hot-molten-chocolate-lava-cake
While you're casting your vote, enter to win Marx Foods "Random Sausage Sampler Giveaway." All that is required is to post a comment about which Marx Foods sausage you would like to try.

Thank you for taking time to vote! May the best chile recipe win! Voting ends Sunday, December 5th.


Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake: A Chile and A Spoon Recipe Competition

The following Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake is a recipe I have created for the Marx Foods "A Chile and A Spoon" contest. Marx Foods sent me a generous supply of chiles and I have been having so much fun experimenting with them. 

For the Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake recipe, I chose the cascabel chiles, which rattle when shaken. These unique looking chiles piqued my curiosity the moment I saw them. The heat index is mild, but when the cascabel chiles are roasted their flavor intensifies.

After much experimentation, I've finally perfected the chile lava cake recipe and am excited to share it with you today. It's best to roast the chiles first, make the chocolate ganache icing, than prepare the cakes. Let's get started.

Marx-foods-chiles Thanks to MarxFoods.com for these amazing dried chiles!

Fresh Roasted Cascabel Chile Powder

The cascabel chiles need to be roasted in order to grind them into chile powder. Simply heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the stem from 2 cascabel chiles and place in the skillet. Heat the chiles until they become aromatic; about 7 to 8 minutes. When the chiles begin to sweat, remove from heat and transfer to a coffee grinder or food processor. Pulsate grinder until peppers are a medium-coarse grind. Store leftover chile powder in an airtight container and place in the pantry.

Visit MarxFoods.com for a detailed guide to roasting chile peppers and making your own chile powder.

Tip: To clean peppers from grinder, add 1 tablespoon white rice and pulsate until a fine grind. Dump rice powder and wipe grinder clean with a paper towel. I learned this trick from MarxFoods and it works really well!


Chocolate Ganache Icing

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Yield: 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:
1. Chop chocolate and place in a medium bowl.
2. In a small pan, heat heavy cream over medium-heat. Bring just to a boil. Keep a watchful eye to avoid scorching the cream.
3. Pour cream over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside until cakes are ready to frost.

Chocolate-ganache-icing
Smokin' Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Yield: 4 (6-ounce) Souffle Cakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 7 to 8 minutes

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon butter (to grease souffle cups)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (for dusting souffle dishes)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon cake flour
2 to 3 teaspoons cascabel chile powder (2 teaspoons is mild-medium heat, 3 teaspoons is smokin'-hot)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Lightly butter bottom of each soufflé cup. Dust the bottom of each cup with cocoa powder. Tilt to coat and tap out excess cocoa.

Chocolate-dusted-souffle-dish
3. Using a double-boiler, melt butter stick and chocolate.

4. While butter and chocolate are melting, add eggs, egg yolks, and sugar to a medium sized bowl. Using a handheld mixer, beat until light and thick.

5. Slowly add butter and chocolate mixture. Do not add all at once or the egg mixture will curdle. 

6. Add flour, chile powder, and cinnamon and mix well. 

7. Divide mixture between 4 (6-ounce) soufflé dishes. Each dish should be about half full.

8. Place dishes on baking dish and place in oven.

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9. Bake until sides are set and center is soft; about 7 to 8 minutes. DO NOT over bake or the cakes will not have a molten liquid center.

Smokin-hot-molten-chocolate-lava-cake
10. Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes.
11. Add 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons chocolate ganache icing per cake.
12. Grab a spoon and dig in!

Chocolate-lava-cake-with-ganache-icing

 


Black-eyed Peas Salsa Recipe

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I was introduced to black-eyed peas salsa while dining at Flip Flops; a favorite local restaurant that became famous when head chef, Chef Danny Veltri won the reality TV show, Hell's Kitchen. Flip Flops serves used to serve the salsa to bar patrons and diners as they awaited their meals.

I became addicted to black-eyed peas salsa the first time it crossed my lips. One of Flip Flops bartenders, who just happens to be the brother of Executive Chef, Erik Amalfitano, shared the ingredients so I could make the salsa at home. The recipe has become a staple in our house and is the first appetizer I make for guests. Everyone loves this salsa and I hope it becomes a favorite for you as well!

BLACK-EYED PEAS SALSA

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Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 (15.8 oz) can Seasoned Blackeye Peas, drained
1 medium Celery stalk, sliced thin
1/4 Red Onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. Drain blackeye peas and place in medium size container.
2. Add celery, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
3. Mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
4. Serve with tortilla chips or flat bread.


Cheese and Honey Phyllo Rounds

Cheese-an-honey-fillo-rounds
I created cheese and honey phyllo rounds for my Greek Feast for Two entry into the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. Although, The Cheap Gourmet did not proceed to the next round, I've acquired a love for Greek food and indulge in it whenever I can. If you haven't experimented with Greek recipes, I encourage you to do so. The flavors are amazing and many of the traditional recipes are relatively easy to prepare.

The cheese and honey phyllo rounds make a great appetizer and a semi-guilt-free dessert. As with anything, moderation is the key. You can change the type of cheese, but it's best to use a semi-hard cheese for this recipe. Soft cheeses will melt too much and you'll end up with a product that's more like a mozzarella cheese stick. 

The original cheese and honey phyllo rounds recipe called for cutting the dough into rounds. I didn't have much luck with that method and cut the sheets into quarters. This dish is intended to be served at room temperature, but my husband and I liked them best straight out of the oven. 

CHEESE AND HONEY PHYLLO ROUNDS

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Yield: 16 rounds
Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 14 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

8 sheets refrigerated Phyllo dough, cut into quarters
4 ounces Pecorino-Romano cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil for basting
1-1/2 Tablespoons Honey

Athens-fillo-phyllo-dough
 
DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place phyllo dough on large cutting board. Cut sheets into quarters and stack into a pile.
3. Use two sheets of phyllo dough for each cheese-stuffed round. You will need to work quickly so the dough doesn't dry out.
4. Place two sheets of dough on cutting board and lightly brush with olive oil. Place 1/2-teaspoon of cheese near the end of the square. Gently roll and lightly baste with olive oil. Carefully roll one end toward the center to create a snail shell.
5. Place on baking sheet and lightly baste each round before placing in oven.
6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until light golden brown.


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7. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to serving platter. Drizzle with honey. Serve at room temperature.

Cheese-and-honey-fillo-rounds-baked