Monthly Archives: September 2012

Homemade Cocoa Roasted Almonds

Homemade Cocoa Roasted Almonds

I made these a few weeks ago, and I guess I forgot to post it! Matt and I are huge Big Brother fans and after a few times of watching Big Brother Afterdark, I quickly realized the cast was obsessed with cocoa almonds. I’d never had them before and I was definitely interested. Seriously, Brittany, Frank, & Ashely ate them alllll the time.  After checking them out at the grocery store, (and finding out how expensive they were for a small container!) I figured I could easily make my own version at home. I bought a huge bag of almonds at Sam’s Club a few months ago for something like $9 bucks, so it was definitely worth taking the 15 minutes to make my own as opposed to wasting money.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1-1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • Small sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp honey–this made them a little sticky, next time I may omit the honey and add the same amount of sugar instead 
  • 1 tsp water

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Spicy Mac & Cheese

Spicy Mac & Cheese

Matt and I were watching the Best thing I’ve Ever Made: Comfort Food and when Sunny Anderson’s recipe came on for Spicy Mac & Cheese. Matt decided he wanted to help me make it and that he wanted it right away. Matt doesn’t spend too much time in the kitchen, so when he says he wants to help out I usually let him and try to supervise only and not take over (which can sometimes be a challenge for me in the kitchen). He even was responsible for making the list for the grocery and I let him do all the choosing when it came to the cheeses. He did a great job because (with just a tiny help from me) it came out delicious! So this recipe for sure is boy tested and wife approved! You should give it a try too:)

The original recipe called for something like 2 cups of heavy cream and I immediately nixed that idea. I told him there was PLENTY of cheese in the recipe and that it will taste just as great with 2% milk. I also told him that we could use Panko breadcrumbs for the top in place of making our own since we didn’t have any day old bread. At first he wasn’t too keen on that idea but after some explaining about fabulous breadcrumbs coming from day old bread he agreed that panko would be a better option too. I absolutely love a crunchy crust on Mac & Cheese and think that Panko has so far given me the best results! The top was perfectly brown and ridiculously crunchy! Oh, and don’t be too worried–the spiciness isn’t in a hot burn your mouth kind of way! It’s a much different heat from the dry mustard and the pepperjack cheese. A really delicious kind of heat.

The Ingredients:

Recipe adapted from Sunny Anderson’s Spicy Mac & Cheese 

  • 1 box elbow pasta, cooked until almost al dente
  • 8 ounces Cheddar, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 shredded
  • 8 ounces Colby cheese, cubed
  • 8 ounces Monterey pepper jack cheese, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk–I used 2% and it came out great 
  • 1/4 cup finely grated onions
  • Panko Bread crumbs
  • Cooking spray

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Spiral Chili Dogs

Spiral Chili Dogs

I saw a video on youtube showing how to spiral cut hotdogs and I thought it was brilliant! You may be asking yourself why you’d ever want a spiral cut hotdog…but believe me, there are lots of benefits!

For example:

  • A) your toppings sit nicely in the created slots and don’t slip off
  • B) you are able to get an equal char on each side of the hotdog
  • and C) the hotdog actually gets crispy in that crispy bacon kind of way, mmmm

I think that once you give it a shot, you’ll never go back to eating a regular hotdog…who would have guessed that a wooden skewer could improve a hotdog so much.

I had never had chili dogs before I married my husband, but I will admit that they are delicious. We love to eat chili in the fall and I especially love that you are able to make a big batch of chili with very little hassle. I use ground turkey in place of ground beef and always throw in lots of veggies. I have made several batches of chili for our friends and our friends in Indianapolis used to request it all the time. I will tell you that my chili has a bit of a kick–so if you are not into spicy food, I’d recommend going a little lighter on the spices. 

The Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 15 oz cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers, diced–I used a red and green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 large sweet or red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp hot sauce–or less or you can omit it if you’d like 
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

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Amazing Stuffed Shells

Amazing Stuffed Shells

We are back in Philly and I couldn’t be happier! It’s nice to travel but nothing beats coming home:) Anyhow, I wanted to share one of my favorite dishes growing up, stuffed shells! The first time I ever made them for Matt he had never had them before. He was pleasantly surprised with how delicious they were and requested them often. He even made me serve them to his Mom and Grandmother the first time they ate dinner at our place. Luckily for me, they are a fantastic and tasty…and a never fail recipe. The great thing about them is that the can be prepared in advance and can be thrown in the oven and forgotten about for an hour and come out perfectly gooey and delectable. Plus these are one of the few leftovers I actually will eat. Believe it or not, I actually think that they taste better the next day and I am typically so anti-leftover (it’s a terrible habit!).

The true funny story that accompanies these stuffed shells is that Matt had no idea I actually made them! He was under the impression–for the several times I made them–that I had bought them from the store already prepared! He was nearly shocked to come into the kitchen one night and to see me actually stuffing each individual shell. I couldn’t decide if I was offended or flattered that he thought my shells were pre made! We laugh about it every time I make them for dinner now.


This recipe is super versatile and can be made with whatever your favorite ingredients are. I typically use ground turkey as my filler but sausage, ground beef, or even pepperoni would be fantastic. I hope you give them a try and enjoy them as much as we do!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 box Jumbo Shells
  • 1 Jar of Pasta Sauce
  • 1 lb of ground meat of your choice
  • 1 15 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/4 c chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 c chopped sweet onion
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese--I use mozzarella 
  • 1 Egg
  • Fresh Basil–about 1 tbs chopped
  • 2 tsp of Herbs de Provence (never heard of it? packed with savory, thyme, sage, basil among a lot of other delicious things!)
  • Salt & fresh cracked black pepper

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Ah. So sorry for the hiatus! It’s not that I haven’t been cooking but I have been so busy that today is the first day I’ve had a chance to upload any photos to our computer. This past week with the holiday and celebrating Matt’s birthday hasn’t left me with much free time at all. The good news though is that for the holiday and Matt’s birthday I came up with some delicious treats and meals that I can’t wait to share. Tonight we are packing up to spend the weekend in Maine with my family–so hopefully I’ll have a little time to update you all on all things delicious from Maine that we eat.

Anyway, enough with the catchup and onto one of my favorite cookie recipes. Matt isn’t a big fan of birthday cake so I spoiled him with two non-cake desserts for his birthday. One being white chocolate macadamia nut cookies–also known as crack cookies in our house because they are so addictive and another treat that you’ll have to wait and see. I will tell you though that the other dessert is a fall favorite and is as equally as addictive as these cookies. Beware!

The Ingredients: 

Recipe adapted from: Joy of Cooking

  • *2 1/2 cups all purpose flourI substituted in 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • *1 tsp. baking soda
  • * 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup–2 sticks–room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate–if you’re going to use white chocolate chips I’d recommend Ghirardelli

*Mix 3 bolded dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together before starting the recipe

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