Cheesy Bacon Dip

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It’s cold out now so bring on the warm, gooey foods. Okay, who am I kidding? I’d never turn down gooey foods, even if it were summer give me a gooey brownie or some cheese and I’m a happy girl. As most of you have figured out, I’m an appetizer lover and dips are my favorite. Baked dips are always the winner. My husband and I will often bake up some concoction on a weekend afternoon and sit around the kitchen while the kids are napping and dig in. This was is extra tasty and you can play around with your favorite cheeses as well. My favorite way to eat it is with bread, but I actually like to dip celery in it as well. See, I can be healthy!

Using quality ingredients are always important and will yield a better taste as we all know. So naturally, using Kerrygold cheese for one of your gooey, warm dips is really going to up the ante. Knowing where your ingredients come from is just as important as how they’ll come together in the kitchen. For over 300 days a year cow graze on lush, green Irish grass, producing a rich, sweet milk you can’t find anywhere else in the world-milk that is the key ingredient in Kerrygold salted and unsalted butters, as well as a full line of incredible tasting cheese.

I received samples from Cooking Light, courtesy of Kerrygold, but the opinions expressed here are my own. I’ve been a long fan of Kerrygold products and enjoy their butters and cheeses.

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Cheesy Bacon Dip

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • sliced green onions for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Mix all ingredients, saving some bacon and the green onions for garnish, together and pour into a baking dish. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. You can also turn on the broiler for the last minute to get some nice browning.

Serve warm with bread, chips, or some veggies.

Inspired by Crunchy Creamy Sweet

Rapunzel Tower Cake

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Each year we go a little above and beyond the standard birthday cakes we grew up with and make something fun for my daughter Caroline. The first year or two they were my idea, but now my husband has gotten in on the action. He’s always helped, but he’s done it because he has to ;) This year, I wanted to go for something simple. My son George was almost 5 months and we had our hands full, but my husband thought we could pull off this Rapunzel cake and we did. This is only the third time we’ve worked with fondant and I’ve gotten a lot of questions and compliments so I wanted to answer a few here and show you how we did this cake. You can see our how we’ve progressed from our first time with the Puppy Cake and the following year with her Hello Kitty cake. There are links below for recipes, the party, and inspiration.

So, since we do have kids and a regular kitchen we have to do the decorating of the cake the night before the party. What I do to make my life easier the night before is do as much prep beforehand. I start off with baking the cakes a couple of weeks beforehand and then freezing them. A week out, I make the marshmallow fondant and storing that in the refrigerator. This way, once the kids go to bed we can frost and decorate the cake and not need to make everything as well. It still takes a few hours to decorate so leave plenty of time! I wish we had kept track of how much time decorating took, but I’d say probably 4 hours in all??? (This doesn’t include the preliminary cake and fondant making time.) Good music and good company makes it go by pretty fast :)

For this cake, the base cake was pretty easy to make. I used 3 sheet cakes and stacked them on top of each other, did my crumb-coat and then frosted. We rolled out a large piece of green fondant and covered the cake. Easy enough. The tower was a little trickier. I made a 9-inch cake and then used biscuit cutters to cut some circles out of it. I purchased a foam piece from the craft store and used that for some of the tower to give it support and drove dowels into it anchor it into the sheet cake. We measured the foam piece base and used the appropriate sized cutters to start with our tower and then eye-balled it using a knife and a Microplane to shaves down the edges. Frosted and covered it with the fondant and then the decorating begin. Remember, you don’t need it to be perfect, frosting layers before adding the fondant can be used to fill in the gaps. You do want it to be good before you add the fondant though since everything will show up when you apply the fondant.

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I used the inspiration cake and we really went from there. With lots of straight pieces for the wood it really isn’t that difficult to free-hand. My husband had the tower covered and the roof tiles in place before I could doing some other party prep. I originally started using the end of a paintbrush to gently press into the fondant and create a stonewall up the tower, but it didn’t come out as nicely as I had seen online so I ditched that pretty quickly. Tools for doing the fondant work: a fondant smoother, a rolling pin, paintbrushes, edible adhesive, toothpicks, and a knife. Nothing too fancy. For the flowers along the tower and cake, I purchased some punch cutters and used that the same way as a cookie cutter, then I placed a tiny edible pearl in each one for the center of the flower.

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We did all of the fondant work on the cake and then put it in the refrigerator for the night. Quickly cleaned and decorated for the party and went to bed. That morning I woke up and finished the details on the cake; my daughter’s name, vine work and flowers. Place the Rapunzel figurine on top and it was done! For the vine work and name I used a new toy, the Nordic Ware Decorating Pen . This worked so well! I don’t have the best handwriting and I don’t have much experience in writing names with icing and this helped me out quite a bit. While I typically have no problem using a piping bag, this made the task very easy and go much faster than normal.

I hope this has answered some questions and has given some of you encouragement to try playing around with fondant cakes too. Frankly, we’re fans of any kind of cake in my household, but it’s always so much fun to see my daughter’s face light up when she sees what craziness we create for her. We always let her pick what kind of cake, but design is always a surprise. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below so that I can answer them and others can learn as well.

A Very “Tangled” Rapunzel Birthday

Marshmallow Fondant

Chocolate Cake

Yellow Butter Cake

Buttercream

cake inspiration Rapunzel Cake by words, pictures, & cake…,

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Last week the weather here was unusually warm, which meant I pushed my thoughts of pumpkin recipes from my mind. Alas, along with the start of a new work week it has gotten cold and I believe it is here to stay now. So, I grabbed a recipe that was at the top of my list and whipped up a batch of these yesterday morning. I usually don’t share a recipe that I try right out of the gate, but these are pretty tasty and easy to make. Well, I will admit that I totally botched one step, but I blame that on the cold that is going through my house right now! In just 20 minutes, we had a tasty morning snack that was hearty from the pumpkin, yet deliciously sweet.

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Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

For the Muffins:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup milk

For the Coating:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients, up to ground cloves. In a large bowl, whisk oil and then remaining 5 ingredients until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly into mini muffin cups. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the muffins bake, melt butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Remove the muffins from the oven and all to cool for 2 minutes. After the muffins have cooled, remove from the tin and dip each muffin into the butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar until coated.

As seen on two peas & their pod , originally from The Craving Chronicles

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Our freezer died on us last week. It caught me by complete surprise as it’s only four years old and I thought we were good friends. I was always filling it with tasty goodness. I had never had a separate freezer before and now I’m afraid I can barely live without. Thankfully, we saved all of the meat, but we lost all of my fruits from the summer, frozen doughs, etc. Everything was moved to regular freezer and it all fit, barely. Naturally, I had just frozen a ton of chicken so for the next couple of weeks we’re having lots and lots of chicken!

One of my favorite things to do when I purchase chicken is to a cook up a bunch and shred it and store it in 2 or 3 cup servings. Then, on busy nights I already have my prep work done. It makes an easy recipe like these enchiladas even easier! Don’t be fooled by other recipes that claim they can be ready in 20 minutes either, these truly can be made in that time, including the prep work. Love it! We’ve already had these twice since the freezer died and they never fail to disappoint. I will typically make these and freeze half, but we know that is out of the question so instead we just have leftovers! So, four nights in 8 days of enchiladas should show you that these are very tasty!

20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pre-chopped onion
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 3 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 15 ounces)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 ounces pre-shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream

Pre-heat broiler.

In a medium saucepan, combine the first 9 ingredients with a whisk. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups sauce mixture. Add chicken and beans to saucepan and cook 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.

Stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels and microwave at HIGH for 25 seconds. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with reserved sauce and cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbly. Top with tomato and cilantro. Serve with sour cream.

Serves 6 (2 enchiladas and 1 tablespoon of sour cream)

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 374 Calories, 13.2g Fat, 31.2g Protein, 35.2 Carbohydrates, 6.2g Fiber, 100mg Cholesterol, 569mg Sodium

Source: Cooking Light July 2013