Category Archives: Food

Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizzas

This is something I kept seeing on Pinterest and finally decided it was time to try it out.

I sort of used this recipe, but I knew I wanted something a more vegetabley than this recipe, so I kind of added my own twists. I also used boneless skinless chicken thighs rather than breasts. We just like the dark meat better, as it stays moister. It’s also cheaper, which I’m not complaining about. 🙂

My first step was to lightly saute some green peppers and red onion in a bit of vegetable oil.

Green Peppers firstI then added my cubed chicken and continued to saute until the chicken was pretty much done. Once the chicken was sauteed I added buffalo sauce to coat the chicken. I didn’t want it to be soupy, but I knew we wanted it to be good and buffalo flavored, so I added a bit at a time until it was pretty well coated.

DSCN1564In the meantime, I sliced up some french bread, lightly sprayed it with olive oil and lightly toasted  it in the oven. When the bread was toasted, I piled the chicken/pepper mixture on the side that had been down in the oven (the one that was more toasted), sprinkled some mozzarella on top, and put it back in the oven for a few minutes to get the other side of the bread more toasty and the cheese melty.

DSCN1565Once the cheese was melted, I plated the pizzas, drizzled them with ranch and sprinkled sliced green onions on top.

DSCN1566They were delicious! Next time I make them I will probably put more green pepper in them, as they do tend to cook down quite a  bit.

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Fogo de Chao Parmesan Pork

I love Fogo de Chao’s parmesan pork. The other day I was surfing Pinterest and found a coypcat recipe. Last night we gave the recipe a shot!

We used this recipe.

The flavor of the pork was fantastic. The marinade seems a bit odd, but is so delicious. Some of the pieces turned out a bit dry, specifically the ones on the ends of our skewers and the smaller pieces. It suggests cutting the cubes as evenly as you can, but it’s a bit tough to do that since a pork loin isn’t traditionally square. All in all, definitely a recipe we will be using again. I think maybe next time we will try either cooking the loin whole and injecting some of the marinade or cutting it into medallions rather than small cubes to try to find  a balance between maximum flavor and maximum moisture.

A couple of changes, specifically to the parmesan part. I bought a block and grated it myself. The parmesan was pretty strong, and I didn’t use the full 5.3 oz block. I used about half of it, and it was plenty. I also didn’t leave it on the grill a full minute on both sides after adding the parmesan. I did on side for a minute and then just left it on the grill for a few seconds to get the cheese melty on the other, although the pork is still hot when you put it on, so that’s maybe not even necessary.

Fogo de Chao copycat parmesan porkAddendum: As you can probably tell in the picture, my skewers got a little crispy. That’s because I forgot to soak them (and I just now realized this. A week later.). However, only the ends got crisped, so it didn’t really hurt anything. But next time, I’ll soak them first. 🙂


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Jalapeno Poppers, BRBP Style

One of our favorite restaurants in Indianapolis is Broad Ripple Brewpub. They have great food, great beer and are a great place to take groups. Their menu holds an appealing variety and their specials change weekly. One of their specials are jalapeno poppers. When we ordered them the first time, I was expecting a pretty conventional popper. What came out were halved jalapenos in a delicious cheesy sauce. I attempted to recreate those poppers.

The first time I made them I just put a little block of cream cheese in each jalapeno half. The second time I made them I mixed freshly chopped garlic with cream cheese and filled the halves with that.

The next step is covering the jalapenos with shredded cheese. I use mozzarella and freshly shredded Cabot sharp cheddar and any other shredded cheese hanging out in the fridge. This batch includes shredded Mexican cheese blend. If you didn’t put garlic in the cream cheese, sprinkle a little garlic powder on now.

The final step is to bake them. I bake them at around 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and I like to let it get a little brown and crunchy around the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes.

We do jalapeno poppers several ways, but these so far are my favorite!

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Apple Butter Season

For a few years now, I have made a tradition of making homemade apple butter each fall.

This year’s batch turned out especially delicious, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all. The recipe is from a canning kit I got Paul for his birthday a couple years ago, with a slight modification.

First things first, we upgraded this year from a paring knife to this lovely contraption…

For $25, we peeled and cored 5 lbs of apples in less than 30 minutes. Worth the investment? I think so! It can also peel potatoes. Mashed potatoes, anyone?

In just 12 short hours (of a house smelling of delicious tart apples drowning in cinnamon and cider) this…

became this…

Then Paul put it in jars.

And we canned them!

They all canned properly, which was really exciting for it being both of our first attempt.

Here’s the recipe:

5 lbs. of apples, peeled and cored

1 cup of apple cider (We used apple cider purchased at the orchard where we got the apples. We chose their option without preservatives)

3 cups of sugar

1 tsp of cinnamon

The recipe called for cooking it really hard several times, but I opted for the slow cooked method. I put it in the crock pot for 1 hour on high and then about 11 hours on low. Time can be adjusted based on how thick and dark you want it to be.

Some other fall highlights in our household:

Our Jack o'Lanterns - Paul carves Yoda and I carved the sheep

Tucker loves the leaves! (Because people have asked before what is on his nose, I thought I'd mention that he isn't wearing a muzzle. It's called a gentle leader, and makes it easier to control him when he is on a leash. It also keeps him from choking himself out, which is good. Apparently a mother dog would gently bite her puppy on the nose when he is misbehaving, so this device sort of mimcs that. I highly recommend it if you have a dog who wants to go a million miles an hour on the leash, like Tucker. It doesn't inhibit his ability to bark, eat, drink or pant. Sometimes Tucker has a little trouble with the panting due to the combination of his massive cheeks and the gentle leader, but if that is the case we just take a quick break from the gentle leader so he can cool down.)

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Chipotle chicken burritos

We love making salmon tacos but we’re always left with half a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Last time we made them, I also had some chicken thighs in the freezer that needed to hit the road and decided that burritos sounded like a great idea. I looked some for a recipe on, but in the end came up with my own recipe. Here goes!

Slow cooked chipotle chicken

3 chicken thighs
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tequila
2 tbsp lime juice
2 large chipotle peppers in adobo, plus sauce
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Throw them all in a crock pot and cook on low until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and falls off the bone. Note: This takes a little while. I think I left it in there for about 5 hours, stirring every once in a while.

(Sorry I somehow end up with a lot of photos of raw chicken on this blog)

When the chicken was ready, I sauteed some green peppers and onions.

Next, I added the chicken and some quartered fresh cherry tomatoes to the skillet just until the tomatoes were heated.

Then we layered rice, black beans I had whipped up in the pressure cooker and the chicken/pepper mixture on a tortilla that had been steamed slightly in our rice cooker. Microwaving for a few seconds would work, too. Heating the tortillas makes them stick to themselves a bit better, so when you roll up your burrito, it stays that way.

After we rolled the burrito, we smothered them in green chile sauce and cheese and microwaved them just long enough to melt the cheese.

Then we added a couple dollops of sour cream, some jalapenos and a few more fresh tomatoes, poured ourselves a couple of margaritas, and enjoyed! They were awesome, if I do say so myself. (Paul agreed)

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4th of July Weekend – 1 year wedding anniversary and Barbecued Buffalo Beer Can Chicken

As many of you know, July 3 was our 1 year wedding anniversary! To celebrate, we ate at Oceannaire, an absolutely amazing seafood restaurant in downtown Indianapolis. I definitely recommend this place if you are into seafood. They have a raw oyster bar, with oysters from several different places. They have specials that change frequently (possibly daily) and all their seafood is flown in fresh. They also went all out for our anniversary, giving us an anniversary card, personalized menus and a free flaming ice cream dessert. It is a bit expensive, so maybe best saved for special occasions.

After dinner, we ate our cake top. The outside was a bit stale, but the further toward the center you got, the better the cake got.

We also went to the Ball & Biscuit, a really neat Mass Ave. establishment. The drinks there are also a bit expensive, but they only use top shelf liquors and the drinks are fairly strong. The high quality of the liquor make the strength not only tolerable, but enjoyable. They have quite a few signature cocktails, which are their specialty, and they make all of their own syrups, so everything tastes great. One drink at the Ball & Biscuit is worth more than 3 drinks at a cheap college bar and the decor and vibe are really great, too. We also got a couple of the cheeses they offer, which were also amazing.

For the 4th Paul and I decided it would be fun to grill, as is tradition, but weren’t in the mood for hamburgers and hot dogs. Instead, I made up this recipe, and it turned out pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) so here it is! The breasts turned out a little dry, but I’m going to go ahead and decide to blame the dead battery in our meat thermometer for that one (because it’s my blog and my cooking and therefore I can do that).

Barbecued Buffalo Beer Can Chicken

Rub whole chicken with spice rub made with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, a bit of nutmeg for good measure and a touch of brown sugar. Rub the mixture under the skin. Also pour some Frank’s between the skin and the chicken.

Cut the top off of a beer can and pour out (or drink) about 1/4 of the beer. Put the beer can inside the chicken.

Cook the whole chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes in a hot grill with the lid on. Baste with buffalo sauce (1/2 cup Frank’s and 1/3 cup melted butter) around 45 minutes in. Use about 1/2 cup to baste and the rest to dip the chicken in when it is finished.


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The roasted chicken

A while ago, I got a wild idea that I wanted to roast a whole chicken. Long story short, it was delicious, and is now something I do quite frequently. Whole chickens are fairly inexpensive, and if you pay more than about a dollar a pound, you are probably getting a little ripped off.

I will add this disclaimer: roasting a whole chicken has its gross moments and so those who are faint of heart or stomach may not want to attempt  this without a stronger stomached assistant. Also, this post contains photos of raw, whole chickens. Just saying.

I also suggest having an empty dishwasher (or slightly full of dirty dishes) before starting this process. Of course, I never do this, I just realized halfway through that it would be nice if I could put those chickeny dishes straight into the dishwasher. Instead, I put them into the sink, which means I have to touch them again.

First, make sure the chicken is thawed and take out all the extras inside. They may be in a bag or just loose in there. Put those in the bottom of the roasting pan.

The first thing I do is stuff the chicken. I always always ALWAYS stuff the chicken with an onion. First of all, yum. Second of all, it adds a nice moisture. You don’t eat the onions at the end. Well, I guess you could if you really wanted to, but we never have. I also add at least three cloves of crushed fresh garlic. This time, I added a few sprigs of thyme, too.

Flavor ready to go in the chicken.

This chicken is full! Some places suggest tying the legs together. You can if you want, but I can't ever seem to find kitchen string so I don't do it.

Next, you rub the outside of the chicken. This time, I rubbed it with softened butter mixed with thyme, parsley and oregano but you can add any combination of herbs that sounds good to you. Some recipes say you should rub the chicken and then let it flavor through over night. This is a good idea, but the last time I did it I forgot and it still turned out well. Be sure to rub your seasoning all over the chicken and between the skin and breast meat of the chicken. Check out my original recipe (mentioned below) for a really savory, unexpected combination of flavors.

Homemade herb butter

The original recipe I used didn’t call for anything in the bottom of the pan. The one I use when I roast potatoes with it does. This time I added 1.5 cups of chicken stock and a touch of white zinfandel (which someone had left at our place. We don’t really drink sweet wines, so it therefore becomes cooking wine) The little bit of the moisture in the bottom a) helps keep the chicken moist, b) gives you a nice start for some gravy and c) can sometimes keep the bottom of the pan from getting too burnt.

Next, grease your v-rack if you are using one and put the chicken in the V breast side down. I put it breast side down because that’s the way I did it the first time. I know there are other schools of thought. That’s the way I did it the first time. It worked great. That’s the way I do it. I also do not tress the chicken.

When your chicken is all ready to go, it’s time to bake it!

Chicken, ready for the oven

I LOVE this cooking method. It requires you to pay attention, but I generally am working diligently on side dishes when I roast a chicken anyway so it isn’t a big deal. I think that this cooking method is really the key to a successfully roasted, deliciously juicy and flavorful chicken.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put the chicken in for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 450 and roast an additional 15 minutes.

Ohhhhh, we're halfway there, whooooaaaa, roasting on a prayer

Next you baste the chicken. The recipe I used the first time said to use the pan drippings. Well, there were only a few tablespoons of drippings and I burnt myself trying to get them out (I do not have a basting syringe thingy.) So I just melted half a stick of butter and poured it over that sucker. Delicious. This time I basted with a mixture of melted butter and wine.

Put the chicken back in the oven, reduce the heat to 425 and roast for an addition 30 minutes or until an internal temperature of 160 degrees. The first time I did it, I roasted to 165, waited 15 minutes for it to cool, sliced in and it was still totally pink. So back into the oven. It’s kind of hard to know if it really is done, so I suggest testing the temperature in a few places. The tip of your thermometer should be deep in the meat but NOT touching a bone. Once I baked the chicken to 190 internal temperature, then freaked out and whined about how it was going to be dry the whole way to the Thanksgiving party I had made it for. It was perfect. Sometimes it is just hard to know, and more often than not, it will turn out fine. (Also, make gravy. That way if it is dry your guests can help it out a smidge)

Voila, a chicken masterpiece!

Some side dishes I enjoy with whole roasted chickens:

Potatoes roasted in the bottom of the pan in some white wine

Mashed potatoes (I especially like this recipe with goat cheese. One amendment, I just mixed the goat cheese in instead of putting little pats on top.)

Fresh green beans, prepared this way

Roasted broccoli and cauliflower. I always use the precut kind, but you don’t have to. Mix flourettes of broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice and some herbs. I like to use oregano, garlic and some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Put in the oven in a casserole (I suggest lining it with parchment paper) and bake for 30 to 45 minutes around 450 degrees.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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I just thought I would tell you all about my new favorite pie. It is delicious and warm and gooey and oh so simple. In fact, there’s a good chance you have all the ingredients in your home already!

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I got this recipe from a pie shop in Monticello, IL, for a story I wrote for At Home (one of the magazines I wrote for in Champaign)

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (courtesy of Pies by Inge, Monticello, IL. As published in the Jan. Feb. 2011 issue of At Home in Central Illinois)


1 prepared pie shell, unbaked; 3/4 cup softened butter; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup brown sugar; 2 teaspoons vanilla; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 cup flour; 2 eggs; 1 cup milk chocolate chips


Combine butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Mix in salt and flour. Add chocoalte chips. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 325 for one hour. Drizzle top with chocolate or sprinkled with chocolate chips. Serve with a large glass of milk or a scoop of ice cream.

The first time I made it, I used a store bought pie shell (It said it was deep dish, but it was a pretty shallow deep dish if you ask me). It tasted good, but the shell wasn’t in the best shape, the tin was bent and some of my filling leaked out. I would recommend maybe using a non-deep-dish crust to get the correct filling-to-crust ratio. The second time, Paul made the pie crust recipe that came with our Crisco sticks, available here. He modified it slightly, using a combination of butter and Crisco. It turned out absolutely delicious! We used a pie plate we received as a wedding gift, similar to this, which turned out to be too deep, so our filling only came halfway up the shell. The shell was delicious, so it was good to eat it plain, but in the future I will likely double the filling recipe to use in this plate.

I also recommend either eating it warm out of the oven or heating it up for 30 seconds in the microwave! It’s so delicious and gooey and really, how many people don’t like chocolate chip cookies? (I served it to a crowd and got rave reviews!)

Later this week I’ll give you all some more information about our dog, Tucker (as promised)!

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