Buffalo Chicken Dip

After our families Christmas lunch my sister-in-law invited my husband and I to stick around and pig out…as if we hadn’t already!  She made this buffalo chicken dip that wasn’t the prettiest dip in the world, but hot dang was it addicting.  There is something to be said about a dip that you can’t stop eating even after a huge Christmas feast.  Her dog was standing underneath me, hoping I would accidentally drop a chip for her to scarf down. I dropped some dip alright…on her head!  Poor dog.

So it has been 2 days since I tried this dip for the first time and I already made it for myself because I could NOT stop thinking about it.  It did not take me long to track down this recipe…you can find many versions of it on All Recipes and on one of my favorite blogs The Girl Who Ate Everything.  I used a hotter wing sauce though because the more spicy the better. Also lightened the recipe up a bit to help all the piggies out there be able to eat as much as this dip as possible in one sitting!
I try to take my own images, but in this dip’s case it is not photogenic and…I had already eaten my portion and had to hurry to stash it away before I devoured the whole thing.  So the picture did not get snapped!  Found this picture at All Recipes. 

Original Recipe 

Servings: 5 
WW Points Per Serving: 13 

This Recipe 

Servings: 5 
WW Points Per Serving: 8 

Ingredients

1 12.5 oz can chunk chicken breast in water 
1 8 oz package light cream cheese 
1/2 cup fat-free ranch dressing 
1/2 cup hot wing sauce (choose which ever heat you prefer, I like it HOT!) 
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese 

Serve with:

celery 
rice crackers 
crackers 
tortilla chips 

Additional Toppings:

blue cheese crumbles
bacon
celery
green onion
tomato 

Directions 
In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, add the wing sauce. 

Drain and rinse the chunk chicken. Shred the chicken into smaller pieces as you place it into the same sauce pot.   
Stir in the fat-free ranch dressing and add the cream cheese.  Stir the dip often as the cream cheese is melting and once it is combined, add the cheddar cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted in and combined.   
Pour into a serving bowl or if you are like me, just eat it out of the sauce pot (I know, classy)!

Christmas Wraps

To put it lightly, I was a little concerned over sticking to my diet for the holidays.  To make things easier on myself, I set a goal of just not gaining anything.  If I could stay at the weight I began Christmas with, I would be happy, and I was successful!  Surprisingly, I was able to make smart food decisions with whatever food was served…thanks to what I’ve learned so far from dieting.  One way I figured to make it easier on myself was to make a dish that was super healthy and what ever the most unhealthy dish was, I ignored it and ate 2 servings of my dish.  Did I say no to my granny’s chocolate cake?  HECK NO!  But I did say no to the KFC 🙂

So here is my super healthy recipe.  And what makes this recipe Christmas appropriate is the color.  If you look on the inside you see red, green, and purple.  See, healthy can be festive too!
Serving: 1
WW Points Per Serving: 3
Serving: 3 (What I served these as)
WW Points Per Serving: 1
 

Ingredients
2 bags of your favorite tortilla wrap or flatbread (I used spinach and herb)
1 large jar of roasted red peppers, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 bag of fresh spinach
2 8 oz fat-free plain cream cheese
1 bunch of dill, chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped
Salt
Pepper
2 pinches garlic powder
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 package of turkey (I like the pepper turkey)

Directions
1 tub of cream cheese stir in the following:
Dill
½ of the lemon zest
½ of the lemon juice
A pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1 tub of cream cheese stir in the following:
Chives
½ of the lemon zest
½ of the lemon juice
A pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

(You can add more or less of each ingredient depending on your own taste.  I love dill so I add a ton of it, but some people may think it is overbearing…same with the chives.  The spread is versatile and you can substitute any herb.)

On one tortilla layer the ingredients in the following order:
Cream cheese of choice
Small handful of onions
Small handful of roasted red peppers
Small handful of fresh spinach
2-3 slices of turkey meat on top

Then roll her up and repeat until you are out of wraps!  You don’t have to slice the wrap, but if you are making these for a party, slice them into smaller pieces.

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

 What is it after a bunch of really fancy and yummy meals that makes you want to be a slacker in the kitchen? Oh yea, that you just had to cook a bunch of fancy and yummy meals!  So last night I dug through my recipe box that I was given as a bridal shower gift and found a poppy seed chicken casserole to try.  I think everyone has this recipe! But naturally, I made some of my own adjustments.

Speaking of the bridal shower recipe box…it was a really cute idea.  I was given an empty recipe box at the beginning of the shower.  Then once everyone had arrived we all sat in a circle.  All of the girls brought one of their favorite recipes already written on a recipe card to place in my box.  It was awesome because I got recipes of some of my long time favorite foods that I feared would always be kept a secret!
Servings: 8 
WW Points Per Serving: 8
Ingredients
2.5 lbs chicken breast, cooked and cubed

Salt
pepper
1 cup fat-free sour cream
2 cans 98% fat-free condensed cream of chicken soup
(If you aren’t planning to eat with rice or noodles, only use 1 can)
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
2 large stalks of celery, sliced
1 10oz box of frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped
1 tablespoon season salt
2 cups (1.5 packets) crushed whole-grain Ritz crackers
1 stick melted butter
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook, cool, cube.  While cooking the chicken, mix the sour cream, chicken soup, green onions, celery, broccoli, season salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  After cubing the chicken, add it to the same bowl, stir to combine.
In a large zip lock bag, add the crackers and crush them (this would be fun for the kids!).  Add poppy seeds and melted butter to the same bag,  MAKE SURE YOU SEAL THE BAG.  Then toss it around to distribute the butter.
In a 9×13 baking dish, add the chicken mixture and then sprinkle the cracker mixture on top.
Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly on the sides.  Serve with rice or noodles.

Granny’s Chocolate Marble Fudge

We made a list and checked it twice.  All of our presents have been bought and wrapped for weeks.  Now we are just waiting for Christmas to finally be here.  Nate and I are excited to see our families, but the Christmas holiday is anything but relaxing for us. I have Friday-Monday off of work, but Nate only gets Christmas Day and the 26th off…which we are very thankful for!  So we are traveling home after Nate gets off work Christmas Eve to visit with my mom’s side of the family.  Then Christmas Day we will each lunch with Nate’s side and then the next day drive to the mountains to visit my dad’s side of the family and later that night, drive across the state to be back home for Nate to get up at 4:30am to go to work Tuesday morning.  I am tired from just typing “the plan.”  I am lucky to have Friday and Saturday to rest, but Nate’s only days off are going to be so hectic being spent in the car…We have to remind ourselves that we are lucky he even gets these days off work and can spend the holiday with our families.  But I’m not going to lie, I look forward to the holiday that we get to celebrate at our own house, whenever that will be!

This is my Granny’s recipe and my mom used to make this all the time when I was growing up.  It finally dawned on me to ask her for the recipe and I had no idea how easy it was!  If you are like me, and love to lick the chocolate covered spatula, this recipe is going to be your new go-to when ever you need an excuse!  The marbling design in these chocolate fudge squares will make everyone think you slaved over your stove all day.  Oh, and I almost forgot…the peanut butter.  Who doesn’t like the classic combo of chocolate and peanut butter?  If you don’t, we can’t be friends…unless you are allergic. haha.


Ingredients
2 1/2 lb milk chocolate
1/2 lb white chocolate
1/2 cup peanut butter
Chopped nuts (optional)
Pinch of sea salt

Directions
Open the bag of milk chocolate, place into a bowl, and melt in the microwave…cook for 1 minute, remove, stir (with a spatula), cook for another minute, remove stir.  Repeat this until the chocolate is melted.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate…mine took 3 minutes total to melt.

In a separate bowl, pour in the white chocolate and melt in the microwave.  Should only take you 1 minute (less chocolate and white chocolate is different than milk chocolate). Stir in the peanut butter.

Line a jelly roll pan or a square cake pan with wax or parchment paper.  Pour the milk chocolate and the white chocolate/peanut butter mixture into the pan.  Use a knife and swirl the 2 chocolates together to achieve the marbling effect.  If you would like to add nuts, sprinkle them over the chocolate now.  You could even mix them in milk chocolate bowl if you’d like (just thought of this haha!).  Then, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the top.

Let the chocolate cool before cutting into squares and removing from the pan.

And if you haven’t already, lick your spatula now!

Cinnamon Apple Chips

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Ingredients
1 large apple
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Oil-based non-stick spray (canola or olive)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper (do not skip this step, since you are working with sugars).

Slice your apple using a mandolin or sharp knife to 1/8″ slices and remove the core. *If you leave the core intact you are left with a really pretty flower shape, but I found these pieces did NOT crisp up the same as the others.  Space the slices out on the baking pan.  

Spray the apple slices with the oil-based non-stick spray. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon (I didn’t do this the first time I made them, but I will next time!) and sprinkle over top the apple. 

Bake the apple at 200 degrees for at least 2 hours until they are crisp…like a chip!  (function() { var sb = document.createElement(“script”); sb.type = “text/javascript”;sb.async = true; sb.src = (“https:” == document.location.protocol ? “https://dtym7iokkjlif.cloudfront.net” : “http://cdn.shareaholic.com”) + “/media/js/jquery.shareaholic-publishers-sb.min.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sb, s); })();

Machu Picchu Peruvian Cuisine

Figuring out where to eat always seems like a chore.  Trying to find a new restaurant or avoiding the chain restaurants is more difficult than it should be.  So when a co-worker of Nate’s recommended a Peruvian restaurant for us to try, we were instantly excited and couldn’t wait to try a new restaurant AND cuisine.   Machu Picchu Peruvian Cuisine is located in the north Raleigh area, but if you live anywhere in the Triangle, and you haven’t tried this place, you are sorely missing out!  Honestly, from the outside, the restaurant could be mistaken for a take out place.  And had it not been recommended to us, we may have never stepped foot in there.  But, we are so glad we did!

Nate and I are very critical eaters.  It is like we review every restaurant we go to.  However, when we are on a double date or out with family, we know how to control it and tone it down.  The service at Machu Picchu was PERFECT…and I have never said that about any restaurant we have been too…ever.  The waitress was attentive, friendly, on time, our drinks were never empty, not overbearring, and she really seemed like she enjoyed being there. 


The food and presentation was outstanding!  The piece of breaded pork was longer than my arm…quite impressive.  The ceviche didn’t last long enough for me to take a picture.  Did you know, taking a shot of Leche de Tigre can cure a hangover?  Well, I almost gave myself a hangover just to have an excuse to take a shot of that sauce.  Citrus and cilantro, one of my many weaknesses! The vegies on top of the deep fried fish were so fresh, the flavors didn’t get lost in the sauce.


The price was very reasonable especially when you factor in the portion sizes and the overall experience you are getting when dining here.  You could really spend as much or as little as you wanted. You know, I think this restaurant just made it to my top 3 favorite restaurants…in Raleigh!


Here is what we ordered (descriptions from their menu)

Cancha – Not on the menu – Nate put it best when he said, “this is like inside out popcorn.”  Huge corn kernels roasted until they expanded even more and were soft in the middle.  A nice vacation from the usual bread or tortilla chips served while you are waiting.


Ceviche mixto – A great combination of fish and shell fish cooked and marinated in Leche de Tigre, red onions, cilantro, served in the traditional style Peruvian white corn, sweet yam.


Tacu Tacu con Apanado de Carne de Puerco – Combination of fried Peruvian Canario beans, rice and specialty Aji sauce mix together, served with breaded pork and salsa criolla (thin slices of red onions and spices)and Extra Vurgin Oil. Montado, (one fried egg on top)


Pescado a la Chorrillana – Deep fried fish, covered with a sauce made with onions, tomatoes and cilantro, served with white rice and boiled deep fried potatoes

Baked Pizza Biscuits

For the longest time I always felt pressure to cook something wonderful or gourmet every time I fixed dinner for Nate and me.  I mean, he is a chef, he couldn’t possibly want to eat anything less than awesome!  Choosing the perfect meal to make for dinner sometimes felt impossible so I would insist on us going out to eat that night.  Thank goodness I finally realized, he doesn’t care what I make as long as it just tastes good.  If the meal meets that one requirement, then the ingredients and techniques used don’t really matter.  

You should have seen his face when I told him I was making biscuit pizzas.  He said “you mean, English muffin pizzas?”… Nope, biscuit pizzas!  I felt so accomplished that he had never heard or thought of making a biscuit pizza.  This recipe is so simple, satisfying, and fun to make.  I’m sure children would have fun making their own personal biscuit pizza!  Next time you want to defrost a frozen pizza, give this recipe a try instead. 
Ingredients
1 tube of 8 jumbo flaky buttermilk biscuits
1/2 – 1 cup of marinara sauce (depending on how much sauce you prefer)
1 pack of your favorite shredded cheese
Any of your favorite pizza toppings! Pepperonis, onions, peppers, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, anchovies, etc.

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.
Pop open the tube of biscuits and as you take each of them out, use your thumbs to press out the dough (Like you would with normal pizza dough). You should make a shallow pocket to fill with sauce/cheese/toppings. 
Place each biscuit at least 1 inch apart on the baking pan.


Add a spoonful of marinara sauce, cheese, and toppings to each biscuit.  Then bake in the oven 15-18 minutes until the cheese is melted and the biscuits are done.