Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip
adapted from THIS recipe

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained & chopped
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
chives for garnish

Combine all the ingredients above except for chives and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
Garnish with chives.
** I made this a day in advance and replenished my mini crockpot as needed.

Chili Cheese Dip

Chili Cheese Dip
adapted from
THIS recipe

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15 ounce) can chili
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 tomato, chopped & seeded
chopped chives for garnish

Combine all the ingredients above except for chives and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
Garnish with chives.
** I made this a day in advance and replenished my mini crockpot as needed.

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted

1 10oz package frozen spinach, defrosted
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder
onion powder
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup italian cheese blend

Combine all the ingredients above and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
** I made this a day in advance and replenished my mini crockpot as needed.

Holiday Veggie Appetizer Wreath

Holiday Veggie Appetizer Wreath
recipe courtesy of Pampered Chef

1 pkg. (340g) refrigerated flaky rolls
1 container (250g) chive and onion soft cream cheese
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 C. broccoli, chopped
1/2 C. cucumber
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and choppedPreheat oven to 400°F. Separate rolls horizontally in half to form 20 rolls. In center of a round stone, arrange 6 rolls in a circle and add 1 in center with edges touching, in another circle around ring of rolls.

Using lightly floured pizza roller, flatten and roll rolls together to seal, leaving outside edges scalloped for petal effect. Bake 11-13 minutes or golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully loosen and slide onto cooling rack it cool.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, garlic and dill weed.

Score cucumber lengthwise; remove seeds. Slice cucumber; cut slices into quarters. Chop tomato.

Return crust to crust to cooled stone; spread evenly with cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with broccoli, cucumber and tomato. Arrange 3 seeded and scored cucumber slices at top to create bow effect, if desired pull rolls apart. Yields 20 servings.

Fresh Vegetable Pizza Squares

The following recipe was made for my guests during my Fall Snacks cooking class. You can read and view links to other recipes I made HERE.

Fresh Vegetable Pizza Squares
Recipe adapted from HERE

2 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 cup fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
– Roll out crescent rolls onto a large non-stick baking sheet. Stretch and flatten to form a single rectangular shape on the baking sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
– Place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Mix cream cheese with 1/2 of the ranch dressing mix.
– Adjust the amount of dressing mix to taste. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust.
– Arrange carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes.
– Sprinkle cheese over top.
– Chill in the refrigerator and cut into bite-size squares to serve.

Creamy Crab Filling

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Creamy Crab Filling

1 brick cream cheese

1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 bunch green onions sliced
1 1/2 cups imitation crab meat, chopped
pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon white sugar

Combine all the ingredients.

Don’t Be a Dip…

I’m a snacker and love snack food & snack portions. One of my fave snacks are dips (preferably involving cheese) with something crunchy. However these days I’ve been trying healthier alternatives to our favorite foods without sacrificing flavor.

Rather than whipping up a spinach & artichoke dip to munch on for lunch, I decided to throw a little spin on it by using a healthier version of the dip to create a more substantial and healthier meal. So for lunch today, I made Spinach & Artichoke Chicken adapting this recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Dip. Rather than using as a traditional dip, I topped boneless, skinless chicken breasts with it and served it with a sauteed yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms and tomato.


Here’s my recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Chicken:

1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts
6 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Breadcrumb Topping:
1/4 panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid.
Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft.
Stir in rest of ingredients and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350.
On a baking sheet, place chicken and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Top each chicken breast with the spinach & artichoke mixture.
Combine the ingredients for the breadcrumb topping and sprinkle over the spinach & artichoke mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.

Sixteen Spice Chicken w/Cilantro Cream Sauce

So what’s for dinner? Well, we couldn’t decide on whether to have burgers or BBQ. I figured chicken would be our best bet and decided on Bobby Flay’s recipe for 16 Spice Chicken. This was the entree I ordered when I visited his restaurant, Mesa Grill, in Vegas this past January. It was so wonderfully seasoned, I definitely wanted to try recreating it at home. Why not today?
Here’s Bobby Flay’s recipe for Sixteen Spice Chicken:

3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
3 tablespoons pasilla chile powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon chile de arbol
3 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Canola oil

Combine spices in a bowl. Rub chicken breasts on both sides with rub. Marinate at least an hour or overnight. Oil up the grill until well coated (so it won’t stick) and grill for 10-12 minutes.

With the chicken entree I ordered, I recall having a cilantro cream sauce. So with that, I also made this great Cilantro Cream Sauce.

My husband is a big fan of cilantro and it worked out perfectly with the chicken! Eek, blurry pic, but trust me with how well it tastes! It would work as a great dip with chips and salsa too.
Here’s my slightly adapted recipe for Cilantro Cream sauce, using some of the great Florida food gifts I received:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 cup prepared salsa verde
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon bottled or fresh key lime juice

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, pepper, celery salt, cumin, garlic powder, cilantro and lime juice in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place in a serving bowl.

Puff, Puff, Give…

It’s Sunday and that means it’s a cooking class! Sundays have been a great day for me to schedule cooking classes to teach folks about various culinary techniques and applications, in hopes to inspire them to tackle cooking challenges they may face. So today, the challenge was puff pastry.

Food trivia ~ how many layers are typically in a sheet of puff pastry dough that’s been made by the classical method? 10? 24? 50?….. No. The answer is 729! How can that be? Well the classic method in making puff pastry involves working a simple pastry dough into a stick of butter by rolling & folding the dough into thirds, then chilling the dough for at least an hour after every fold. This is done 6 times so 3 folds to every 6 times is 729. (Think of it as 3 to the sixth power – if that helps!). As you may have guessed, this is an extremely time consuming process which is probably why puff pastry can be a pricey ingredient to work with.

Another piece of information I talked about was why the dough puffs up to begin with. Because the dough uses so much butter that’s been embedded into the layers, the butter still has water molecules within it. When these water molecules heat up, they produce steam and expand, hence the dough “puffs”. Interesting huh?!

This is why I love teaching folks so much. Its one thing to blog about recipes I’ve made, but its a whole other reward when I’m able to apply what I know to empower and inspire others in the kitchen personally…. and to create opportunities for people around me to learn hands on and interact with them.
So back to my puff pastry. In the 2 classes (afternoon & evening) I hosted today, everyone made their own puff pastry creation, either sweet or savory. For the savory version, we made a caprese tart using fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. For the sweet version, we made a strawberries & cream tart, with fresh strawberries and a vanilla cream cheese spread.Here are pictures of our final products, along with the recipes:


Caprese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, scrambled (egg wash)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt & pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to cover.
Brush the egg wash along the sides of the dough.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prepare the tomatoes.
Slice the tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towels on a single layer.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let side for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, dab the top of the tomatoes with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper to create a garlic infused oil.
Set aside oil.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
Top the mozzarella cheese with slices of tomato.
Brush the tomato slices with the garlic infused oil.
Bake in the same oven for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese has melted and baked golden.

Strawberries & Cream Tart
1 puff pastry sheet
1 block cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup sliced or quarted strawberries

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prep the vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Whip the cream cheese until soft, adding half 7 half to help ease it.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining half & half until fully combined.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the frosting on top of the pastry dough.
Top with fresh strawberries.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe was featured in my Springtime Cupcake swap event, which you can read about HERE.

Tricia’s Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 cup Guinness
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350° and grease and line with parchment paper a 9-inch springform pan. Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan and add the sliced butter. Heat until the butter is melted and remove from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. Add the sour cream mixture to the Guinness mixture in the saucepan. Finally, beat in the flour and baking soda. Pour the batter into the greased and lined springform pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

For cupcakes, pour into lines cupcake pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. (keep checking with a toothpick for doneness. Your oven may vary.) Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

For the frosting, beat the powdered sugar and cream cheese together until well combined and creamy. Add the cream and beat again until it’s a spreadable consistency. I found slowly adding the cream and beating the icing very well gave excellent results. At first there seems like a lot of frosting for just the top of a 9-inch cake but don’t skimp! The idea is to frost the top of the cake until it resembles the frothy head of a pint of Guinness.