MOVE – THAT – WORDPRESS.COM ENDING!
It’s been just about a year since we entered food blog land, and I can honestly say it’s been a blast – I truly have enjoyed every last minute, even the failed recipes, awful pictures taken and kitchen disasters that came with it.
A few weeks ago, I was blog surfing, and one of my favorite bloggers, Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction, started this amazing new series not too long ago on building your blog, as she herself is a food blog superstar whose amazingly delicious and creative baking blog BLEW UP in record time, which is such an inspiration. So I started reading this series of hers and through it I learned how she transferred the hosted version of her blog over to the self-hosted version. Little bit of techincal stuff, that she explained perfectly for anyone whose thinking of doing the same thing, so I won’t rehash her hash. But basically in a nut shell, a self-hosted blog, while being a bit more work and responsibility on the blogger, gives a lot more flexibility with the design of your site, giving you the chance to really grow.
One thing lead to another, and I contacted Cory from Zesty Blog Consulting, as he helped Sally with the transition of her blog from hosted to self-hosted. Cory even has his own cooking blog, so I figured he’d be the perfect guy for the job (and he’s based in Prince Edward Island where one of my most FAVORITE series of all time, Anne of Green Gables, was filmed – this was the selling point, clearly) Cory was great, walked me through the process, and after a few phone calls and some site design tweaks, it’s finally ready.
So if you’ve followed us up until this point, THANK YOU! And pretty please with a cherry (and whip cream) on top continue to do so! Get our updates on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram – the best part is that your fingers will have 9 less keys to type to find us. From here on out, we’ll be at www.andtheycookedhappilyeverafter.com, hold the wordpress.com, add a side of fries :) Tell your mom – tell your friends – tell your local butcher – we’ve got lots of great things planned for our fresh new blogover, including a great giveaway that you won’t want to miss. Details to come!
Thanks everyone – we’re looking forward to sharing lots more great stuff with all of you in the future!
“Rise and shine, campers, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.” (love that movie). Happy GROUNDHOG DAY folks!
Ya gotta feel for poor Punxsutawney Phil – he lives in a hole, and the one time that anyone cares what he has to say is one day a year, when 9 times out of 10, he let’s us know that there will in fact be another 6 weeks of Winter. And then everyone gets mad at him and he goes back in his hole all sad until next year.
I guess I have a weakness for furry animals with buck teeth.
Well today I’m giving Phil a shout out – these cute little Groundhog Cupcakes, adapted from an idea a co-worker sent me from Family Fun where they actually used chocolate pudding cups and Milano cookies, which is equally as fun and delicious! But I decided to up the anty a smidgen and make brownie cupcakes out of them. The groundhogs take a bit of time to assemble, but once they’ve come to life, well they’re almost too cute to eat. Almost I said. Sorry Phil :)
Adapted from Family Fun
*yields 12 cupcakes
1 box of your favorite brownie mix, prepared according to the instructions
12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 Nutter Butter cookies
sliced almonds (not slivered)
peanut butter chips
white chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
*green sprinkles or Oreo crumbles
1) Prepare your brownie mix according to instructions. Take a 12-muffin tin, spray with non-stick cooking spray, and fill each muffin slot 2/3 way full with brownie batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.
To assemble your groundhogs:
1) Start by taking 1/2 of the 12oz bag of chocolate chips (6oz) and melting them over a double boiler or in the microwave. This chocolate will be used as the ‘glue’ to paste your eyes, cheeks, teeth, etc. to the groundhog.
2) When the chocolate is melted, you can start putting his ‘face’ on. Start with the teeth – find some broken almond pieces that kind of look like teeth and if you can’t find any, just take some of the slivers and break them. They don’t have to be perfect. Take a toothpick, dip it in the melted chocolate, and dab a little bit of it on back of the almond and stick it in the center of the Nutter Butter, about half way down.
3) Then add the nose by taking another dab of chocolate and making a small circle right at the top of the teeth/almond.
4) Then add your ‘cheeks’ by cutting the tips off of 2 peanut butter chips so that they lay flat on the cookie. Take another dab of chocolate to the side of the chip that you cut off, and then place a chip on either side of the almond teeth, underneath the nose, almost making a diamond shape.
5) Add your eyes by again, cutting the tips off of two white chocolate chips, dabbing chocolate on the cut side of the chip, and then gluing the eyes to the top part of the nutter butter. Take another small dab of chocolate to make the ‘pupils’ of the eyes in the center of the white chips.
6) Lastly, take 2 sliced almonds and stick them on either side of the top of the nutter butter to make the ears. They stick really nicely in the peanut butter so you won’t even need to use the chocolate to glue them in.
To assemble the cupcakes
1) Prepare your chocolate ganache topping by combining the remaining 6oz. of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Top each cupcake with the ganache so that it covers the entire cupcake top (it’s ok too if it spills over the sides).
2) While the ganache is still wet on the cupcake, sprinkle the green sprinkles (for grass – slightly unrealistic for Groundhog Day) or the Oreo crumbs (for dirt – I used sprinkles – trying to be optimistic about spring!).
3) Take each groundhog, cutting about 1/4 off the bottom (otherwise they’ll be a bit too tall for the cupcake) and sticking in the center of the cupcake, just so their heads are peeking out.
And the best part is that I made sure these guys did NOT see their shadow, so get your bikin’s out folks :) Spring’s a comin’!
There’s a lot of things in life that I’m impatient about:
3) New seasons of Dexter and Homeland to start
So for me, slow-cooking is a real challenge. I’ve been known to burn an entire layer of skin off the inside of my mouth because I can never wait for things to cool down before I dive into them, because sometimes things just look sooooo goooood that I am willing to sacrifice a burnt tongue and those funny little blisters that form on the roof of my mouth to get that first bite.
And after waiting 6 hours for this Texas Beef Brisket to cook, well let’s just say R.I.P tastebuds.
I found this recipe on Food Network, and after reading a lot of the reviews underneath, it seemed to me that most people used it as a base and then added their own touches to it. Which is exactly what I did, and while sometimes my ‘a little bit of this and a little of that’ can lead to a mess of a dinner, this time I’m pretty sure I nailed it. And what better to serve Texas Pulled Brisket on than buttery biscuits?
Don’t even think about those 100 calorie sandwich thins. Don’t you dare.
Texas Pulled Beef Brisket Biscuit Sliders
*Inspired by Food Network – Biscuit recipe from Alton Brown
For the Brisket:
3-4 lbs of beef brisket
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons chilli powder
1 bay leaf crushed
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons stone ground dijon mustard
2 cups beef broth
2 – 12oz cans/bottles beer of your choice
(I used Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale which is like an IPA)
1) Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. In a small mixing bowl, prepare your spice rub by combining all of the spices (from Kosher salt to red pepper flakes). Set aside.
2) In another small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and dijon mustard until combined. Then rub the mixture all over the brisket. After the brisket is covered in the dijon marinade, you can then cover it with the spice rub.
3) Place the brisket in a roasting pan and cook uncovered for 1 hour.
4) After an hour, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Remove the brisket from the oven and add the beef broth and beer to the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover with foil and cook for another 3 hours or until the meat has become fork tender and shreddable.
5) Shred the brisket, place the meat in a dutch oven or heavy bottom skillet with the juices from the bottom of the pan and simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours. This step really is optional, but I like to let the meat absorb all the flavors of the juices. You could also take the juices and reduce them in a small saucepan to make a reduction for the brisket.
For The Biscuits
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup chilled buttermilk
1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.)
3) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
4) Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter (I don’t have a cutter, but the top of a wine glass works great!) Be sure to push straight down through the dough.
5) Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.
6) Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until biscuits are tall and light gold on top.
7) Assemble your sliders by slicing a biscuit and loading it up with shredded brisket.
I had some broccoli slaw that I threw on for a splash of color, but even just on their own, these are little pieces of heaven :)
In college, there were two nights that were my favorite: Fridays and Toasted Ravioli night in Ray Cafe. The line would snake out the door and down the stairs, even in the dead of winter. Cheesy goodness sandwiched between two plump sheets of pasta, breaded and fried to perfection.
The irony of this particular recipe is that I was actually gonna round up this BC series with a skinny version of the Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls that I made a while back, as I knew I had some egg roll wrappers left in the freezer. When I went to take the egg roll wrappers out of the freezer though, I discovered that they were in fact won ton wrappers. Shoot.
Wait. Won ton wrappers. hmmmmmm.
The wheels turned.
“What can I do with won tons wrappers”?
BUFFALO CHICKEN RAVIOLI! That’s it!
Oh and I’ll fry them – what the hell.
When I say these are beyond amazing, they are b-e-y-o-n-d amazing. If you don’t need them all right now, fry half and freeze the rest for another time. Or make them all at once, and try not to finish all 3 dozen – I triple dog dare ya.
Toasted Buffalo Chicken Ravioli
*yields just about 3 dozen ravioli
1 -15oz container part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten + 3-4 more eggs, lightly beaten for lining won ton edges & dipping the raviolis
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup cooked chicken
2 stalks of celery, chopped small
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch of scallions, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
72 won ton wrappers
vegetable oil for frying
3-4 cups bread crumbs
*ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping/drizzling and sliced green onions for garnish
1) In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg and ricotta cheese together until mixed. Then fold in the blue cheese crumbles and set aside.
2) In a medium saucepan, saute your cooked chicken, celery, garlic and scallions for about 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. After 3 minutes, add in the Frank’s hot sauce and stir for another 1-2 minutes.
3) Add the hot chicken/veggie mixture to the ricotta/blue cheese and stir until combined.
4) Line 3 baking sheets with wax paper. Lay out 12 won ton wrappers on each sheet. Baste the edges of each won ton wrapper with egg wash, and then place 1 tablespoon of the buffalo chicken/ricotta mixture in the center of the won ton wrapper.
5) Cover each won ton with the other 36 wrappers, and seal each ravioli together with a fork, similar to how you would if you were sealing the edges of a pie together. These won ton wrappers make a sizeable ravioli, so feel free to trim them if you don’t want as much edging.
6) Let raviolis chill in the refrigerator for about 20 – 30 minutes. This will help them to stay together when you’re frying.
7) When your raviolis are ready, take medium-large, heavy bottomed skillet and fill it about 1/3 way with vegetable oil. Heat your vegetable oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until you start to see little ripples form, or when you flick it with water it makes a ‘sssssssssssssssssss’ noise (very technical I know – I don’t have a heat thermometer, so I make up my own methods!)
8) Take 2 shallow mixing bowls: in one, place the other 3-4 lightly beaten eggs and in the other, the breadcrumbs. Take 3-4 raviolis at a time, dipping them first in the egg and then the breadcrumbs, and then place them in the hot oil You don’t want to crowd them, so I’d advise only doing about 4 or 5 at a time, depending on how large your skillet is.
9) Let cook on one side for about a minute and a half, and then flip over and cook on the other side for another minute and a half. You can judge this time by how golden brown you want your raviolis, but 90 minutes on each side gave them a really nice golden brown color and a great crispy crunch.
*I highly recommend heating the oil in batches as well. You’ll find that the breadcrumbs will start to fall into the oil and burn, and if you use the same oil for all 36 raviolis, well they might get some burnt crumbs on the outside of them. So try refilling/heating your 2-3 times to avoid that burnt taste.
10) Once all your raviolis have been fried, you can drizzle them with ranch or blue cheese dressing and garnish with sliced green onions.
OR you could do what I did.
Skipped the dipping and garnishing – ate three of them right out of the oil and burnt the top layer of skin off of the roof of my mouth.
It was totally worth it :)
Many apologies for the um – strange angle on this potpie photo.
My plan was to cut a little sliver, then take a picture. But after tasting that little sliver, and then Dave tasting a little sliver, I cut and ate another sliver because the oozy goodness was like a bad drug that I couldn’t get enough of.
And before I knew it, half the pie was gone – oops.
Well I tried my best, and this was just far too delicious not to share with all of you! Adapted from my girl Ina, cuz’ she knows that it doesn’t really matter what the pie looks like, but more so what it tastes like. And it tasted gooooooooooood.
Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie
*Adapted from Ina Garten
*yields 1 – 9″ Chicken Pot Pie
For the Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
For the filling:
4 cups chicken stock
(obviously Ina wants you to use homemade – I however did not)
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
2 small onions chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
4-6 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into cubes
(In a pinch, the pre-cooked Rotissere chickens that you can get at the grocery store are a great option to save some time)
To prepare your crust:
1) Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour.
2) Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas, then with the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. 1/2 cup was plenty.
3) Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can prepare your filling.
To prepare your filling:
1) In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock.
2) In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions, garlic, celery and carrots over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.
3) Add the flour and blue cheese to the veggie mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock and hot sauce and simmer over low heat stirring, until the mixture starts to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and then add the heavy cream and cubed chicken and mix well.
4) Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes a thicker, gravy like texture.
5) Take your crust from the refrigerator and split it into two halves. Roll each half out to about 10″ in diameter.
6) Grease your 9″ pie plate with butter or non-stick cooking spray. If you’re using a cast iron skillet like we did, no need to grease the pan beforehand. Place one half of the dough on the bottom, letting the edges hang over, add your filling, and then cover the filling with the other half of the rolled out dough. Cut off any excess dough, leaving just enough to pinch the edges together to seal the pie.
7) Brush the top of your pie with the egg wash.
8) Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the top of the crust becomes golden brown. Let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
I think that 3 of the 5 lbs. I gained over the holidays were pockets of Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese dispersed all over my body. Yup. Definitely.
It was our Clinton Christmas Party – on a Saturday night, which never happens – dress theme was “Shiny & Bright” – gift theme was “Naughty or Nice in the bedroom” (Mom if you’re reading this I got a lovely fleece blanket – swear to god) – food was a free for all, a delicious free for all, that included my dream meal – Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. My friend Katie made it, and boy did she hit the nail on the head. After about three heaping plates full and two days of heartburn, I knew it was blog worthy.
And only about a month later, here it is folks.
Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
*Adapted from The Food Network & my friend Katie VaJanda
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 pound elbow macaroni
(I actually used cavatappi, cuz’ it’s fun and twisty)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 and 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.
2) Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.
3) In a separate saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.
4) In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta, the onion/celery/garlic/chicken mixture and then the cheese mixture and mix together with a spatula. Place mixture in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
5) Put the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Been a while since we dipped into the Buffalo Chicken bank – we’re long overdue! I hope you don’t mind that the next few recipes will be allllllll buffchick allllllll the time.
What’s come out of our Buffalo Chicken Bag of tricks in the past? So many things…Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers – Buffalo Chicken Tacos – Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls – Buffalo Chicken Salad...drool…type….The idea for this little number though is totes stolen from one of my favorite guys on the planet, Trader Joe. I really can’t say enough about him and his amazing ability to reinvent food and make it fun, frozen (sometimes) and affordable!
What’s this rant about? Well, Dave and I are kind of obsessed with TJ appetizers. We’ve been known to even have “TJ Appetizer Dinners” which consists of heating up the oven to 425 (because somehow, it seems that nearly every TJ appetizer magically requires a preheated 425 degree oven) take out a cookie sheet (unless Joe has provided a handy dandy one that you just pop in the oven) and 20 minutes or less later, dinner is SERVED.
Last time I was there, I stumbled apon a new appy from Joe, Savory Profiteroles with Spinach Artichoke Cheese Dip a combination of my two favorite things – hot and cheesy spinach dip and cute little puffs of dough! And instantly I thought “ohhhh I know what I’m making this weekend for a hot new appy!” (no pun intended).
Buffalo Chicken Dip Profiteroles
*Profiterole recipe adapted from Anne Burrell
*yields 2 dozen profiteroles with a little bit of dip left over, depending on how much you stuff them
1 cup water
1 stick butter
2 Pinches salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch powdered dip mix
(the Dip mix, not the dressing mix)
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2) In a small saucepan combine the water, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the flour and dip powder all at once and stir it vigorously with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture has formed a ball and has a slightly sweaty sheen to it and it has pulled away from the pan.
3) Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture does not have to be cold, just cool enough not to cook the eggs when added. Using an electric mixer or lots of good old-fashioned elbow grease, beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Do not add the second egg until the first is fully incorporated.
4) Take 1 tablespoon of the dough and place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave about an inch in between each ball as they’ll expand as they cook. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the cooking time to insure even cooking. When done, the puffs should be light, airy and dry inside. Cool on a rack before cutting. While cooling, you can make your Buffalo Chicken Dip.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 tablespoon olive oil or non-stick cooking spray
2 stalks of celery, diced into small pieces
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 – 8oz block of cream cheese
1 cup of ranch dressing
3/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
(I used an Extra sharp, but mild or pepper jack would work too)
1 cup of cooked, shredded cheddar chicken
1) Heat olive oil (or non-stick spray) in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Once heated, add the celery and garlic and saute for about two minutes. Add the cream cheese, ranch dressing and hot sauce, stirring until the 3 ingredients have combined together. After everything has combined, add the cheddar cheese and chicken, stirring until the cheese has melted.
2) Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture on stove top for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to thicken.
3) In the mean time, your profiteroles should be cooled and ready to be cut. Take each puff and dig out a small hole in the center of each one, almost as you would with a bread bowl, creating a space for the dip to ‘sit in’. (slicing them in half won’t work as well). Place each puff back onto you baking sheet.
4) Add about 2-3 tablespoons of Buffalo Chicken Dip to each puff and then put the top on each puff.
5) Place back in the oven for about 5 minutes, just enough time to reheat the profiteroles. The dip will be hot so you dont have to worry about that.
Thanks for the inspiration TJ – keep up the good work!