Thursday, August 30, 2012

Butterfinger Cake - Guest Post

I know right?  I literally want to just pick a small piece of the candy...

Today my guest writer is Stephanie Carlson from "It's Not Just About the Recipe" found HERE.
I am truly honored and humbled to have Stephanie guest post for me.

Stephanie and I just "clicked" from the word "get go".  Has that ever happened to you? 
That's exactly what happend with Stephanie and I.  We just clicked!!  We share our love of food, family, drink (who said that, is my mom reading... ), animals and most of all, life!!
She loves to cook, create, revamp but most of all enjoy...
Please take a moment and visit her blog, you will be hooked, I'm telling you!!  I know I am!!
Without further ado!!

Hi Everyone!   

I’m so excited to be here with you today! I’ve been a regular follower of Didi for some time and I am continually inspired as a person, foodie and blogger by her creativity and style.  I didn’t hesitate to say “YES” when she honored me with an invitation to be a guest host. 
Today I’m sharing a recipe I learned back in Home Economics class. I’ve kept this dessert recipe in my recipe box for over 35 years. It’s an oldie, but a goodie and it never fails to please. The best part about this recipe is there’s NO BAKING involved!
Thank you to Didi and all of you for letting me share this recipe with you. Congratulations to Didi, her family and especially her daughter and new son-in-law.  

“May their life be long and happy,
their cares and sorrows few;
And the many friends around them
prove faithful, fond and true.” 

Butterfinger Dessert

1 cup saltine cracker crumbs, finely crushed
1 cup graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
2 Butterfinger candy bars, coarsely crushed
1 large pkg. (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
1 ½ cups milk
3 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
2 cups whipped topping (Cool Whip)
Line the inside ring of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. You can find a really great tutorial for how to do this HERE.  You don’t need to line the bottom, just the sides.

Combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and mix well.  The mixture should resemble wet cement. Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture to use as a topping for the dessert. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the crumbs of 1 Butterfinger candy bar over the crust. Refrigerate until needed.

In another bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the pudding, milk and ice cream until smooth and well blended. Pour the filling on top of the crust and chill until firm – at least 1 hour.

Before serving, spread the whipped topping over the filling. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the whipped topping and then sprinkle the remaining crushed Butterfinger candy bar over the crumbs.

Carefully loosen the springform ring and remove the ring and parchment paper. Smooth any rough spots with an offset spatula, if necessary. Store in the refrigerator.

This dessert can also be made in a 9 x 13 pan, but you’ll need to adjust the ingredients to the following:

1 ½ cups saltine cracker crumbs, finely crushed
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
10 tbsp. butter, melted
3 Butterfinger candy bars, coarsely crushed
2 small packages (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
3 cups whipped topping


 Thank you Stephanie!!  I cannot wait to make this scrumptious cake!!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nested Potato Skins [Potate Skin Nests] - Guest Post

Don't these look amazing?  I just want to reach in and pluck one!!
I want to thank Melissa from Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen  blog here, Facebook page here.
for sharing with us this absolutely delicious recipe!!
She is a whiz in the kitchen, an award winning cook, a published author... and she's gorgeous!!
Without further ado, I will let Melissa share her award winning recipe with us.

Hello, followers and friends of Dishin with Didi! First of all, let me say, we have something very special in common. If you're a regular follower of Dishin with Didi, then you too recognize how very special our friend Didi is and what an incredible and creative cook! I'm deeply honored she asked me to guest post one of my recipes for you. When I developed these potato nests, I had hoped that others would enjoy them as much as we do. My goal in creating these nests, was simply to attempt to update a classic party munchie, and, I am so glad I did! These potato nests earned a blue ribbon from Just A Pinch Recipe Club, a popular online recipe club that Didi and I both belong to, and a spot in the September issue of Southern Living Magazine. I'm delighted Didi asked me to share them with you. They're simple to create, and the filling options are endless. I hope you enjoy!
You'll need:

3 cups of freshly shredded russet potatoes, frozen shredded hash browns or refrigerated shredded hash browns
1 1/2 cups of colby-jack cheese
1 16 oz. sour cream
3/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
6-8 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
2 beaten egg whites
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4-1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped parsley or chives for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with butter flavored cooking spray and set aside. Grate/shred the unpeeled potatoes into a medium size mixing bowl using a box grater. Blot gently with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture, but, don't rinse. If you're using frozen hash browns, thaw them completely before adding to the mixing bowl. To truly simplify, a 20 ounce package of refrigerated hash browns found in the Dairy section of the grocery store, will also work beautifully for these potato nests. Mix the shredded potatoes, beaten egg whites, shredded parmesan cheese and seasonings together.

Scoop approximately 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into each muffin cup. Depending on how you divide the shredded potatoes, you may be able to yield more than 12, so, have another pan handy just in case. Using your hands, or a small glass, press the potato mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of each cup. Spritz each nest with butter flavored cooking spray or, you can drizzle them with a couple of tablespoons of melted butter, if you like.

Place the potato nests into the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes until golden. Remove the pan from the oven and gently run a knife or an off set spatula around each nest to loosen the edges. Don't attempt to remove them immediately, allow them to rest in the pan for around 2 minutes. If you want your cheese to melt completely sprinkle the nests with the shredded cheese during the last 2 minutes of baking. Otherwise....
To assemble, place the warm nests onto a serving platter, and top with a tablespoon of grated colby-jack cheese.

Using a large star tip attached to a piping bag, pipe sour cream into the center of each nest. Of course, you can also use a teaspoon for this step. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top, and garnish with finely chopped parsley or chives. Serve warm. Yield: 12-14 medium or 24 minis

Cook's note:
If you'd like to make these bite-size, use mini-muffin pans. They make the perfect bite sized version. Bake at 450 degrees for around 15-16 minutes until golden.

Didnt' I tell you that this was an amazing recipe?  Melissa thank you so very much for sharing with us, I know I will be making these again soon!!

Till next time,

Dishin with Didi


Saturday, August 25, 2012

My daughter is getting married....

My gorgeous daughter and very handsome future son-in-law

Are they not the cutest couple?  Okay well maybe I'm a little biased, but nonetheless... in my eyes, they are perfect together!!

So I am leaving town in the early a.m. I wanted to be there for my daughter this last week. It's been a very hard wedding planning to say the least.  Two different countries... basically all our communications and likes, dislikes, "what do you think of this mama"? Has been through picture text, text and phone calls.  It's been "uber" hard, I gotta be honest with you!!  So "mama knowing best", took this week off and a few days next week so I could be there for her... just holding her, telling her everything will go perfectly, and if not, just look at your partner in life, your "other half", and smile.... this is what's all about!!  I will be encouraging my child, consoling my child, and LOVING HER just because!!!
She is an amazing young woman whom I am so very proud of!!

I will not be leaving you "high and dry", hello??  McCfly?? ;-)  I have a couple of amazing cooks/chefs that will guest post for me in my absence.  Let me tell you that first and foremost these cooks are just amazing and outta this world!!
The fact that they are willing to share their talent and delicacies with me and you, just astounds me!!!

One of my guest posters is Melissa from Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen FB, here.  Melissa is published in Southern Taste, and is the grand prize winner of Just a Pinch Baking Competition "Flour Power", for her Caramel Chocolate and Almond Gooey Cake  here    What a delectable recipe, trust me... it's drool time!!!  Follow her journey and creations, you will NOT be disappointed, I promise!!  You will be inspired to create, try and devour!!!

The 2nd amazing cook is Stephanie Carlson from "It's not just about the recipe"...  here  
She not only has amazing recipes, her tips are outta this world!!!  Let's talk about her Facebook page, oh my heavens!!!  You will want to follow her for sure!!  She is the most generous, talented, and amazing cook!!

I can't thank my two sister foodies enough in my time of absence!!

So, my  friends, I wanted to leave with you a few pictures of my bride to be.  If you have been following me, you know that I'm an emotional wreck, and that I see my gorgeous daughter in half views...
One is of her growing up, and being the best "big sister ever", and the other "eye" for sake of a better term, sees her as the gorgeous young woman she is today...
Ready to remininsce with me?

Anna, 5 months old.  Look at the hair!!! She was the smartest baby ever!!!  (can we say heartburn galore during pregnancy, ugh)

Anna, 3 years old and being the best big sister to her twin siblings!!!  My poor little Eva was stung by a bee just that previous evening, look at the left side of her face!!

Anna, 10 years old, feeding her little sister which is now one of her bridesmaids!!  She loved and loves her siblings with her whole heart.  She has always been there for them, encouraged them, guided them, and beat them when necessary!! ;-)  Hey, she is a big sister after all!!!

My gorgeous daughter now....

So my friends, I will be a mess, you know I will!!  I will have the industrial size Kleenex with me, super water proof mascara on, lots of love, lots of tears, laughter, Greek food and dancing!!  I will be bestowing tons of blessings to this beautiful union of my daughter to this handsome young man, now my son!!!

Till next time!!!

Dishin with Didi

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Peach/Mango/Jalapeno Chutney (canning recipe)

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I know right? Golden peaches, mango, onions... what's not to love?

So yesterday the "canning bug" bit me.  Actually truth be told, its been about a week now that the ideas were a rolling in my head and I had the hankering to preserve and can. 
I don't know about you, but for me, there is nothing in the world that taste as good as the summer bounties you have lovingly prepared. Especially in the dead of winter, yes??

I adore peaches, and am very partial to mangoes as well... now throw in a jalapeno and I will... what do my amazing Southern Belle's say??  Oh yes, "stand right up and slap your grandma"!! *grin*
Something about the sweetness of the peaches and mangoes, the spiciness of the fresh ginger and the fire of the jalapenos all together in a vinegar and brown sugar bath. Well my mouth is drooling as we speak!!  
So chutney is on the menu today.

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go:

4 cups peaches - skins removed, pitted and diced
1 large mango - skin, pit removed and diced
1 large onion diced (any kind)
4 jalapeno peppers, seeds and membranes removed, diced fine
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1 pkg sure jel for fruits & vegetable
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown)
1-1/2 tsp salt
few cranks of black pepper

Wash and dry your canning jars and lids.  Place a large saucepan on stove with water and bring water to a hard boil.  Reduce heat and place your jars and lids only not your rings in to sterilize them, leave them be.  

Prepare your fruits by cleaning and dicing them.

In a medium stainless steel saucepan, add your ingredients.

Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes till onions have softened.  Chutney is done, so you can either transfer the mixture to a container when cool and keep in fridge to use within 1 week, or.... cover and keep chutney hot for canning, instructions below. 

Using tongs, (or if you have a canner, the jar lifter) take out the sterilized jars and lids from the water bath and dry them.  Bring temperature up to high and let the water boil again.
Working quickly, you want hot jars and a hot mixture.  Fill your sterilized jar with the chutney mixture leaving 1/4 - 1/2 inch of head space.  Center lids on jars and then using the rings, tighten them.  You want a good seal.

Place jars in the water bath (water should be well above 2 inches over the jars), and boil them for approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from bath and using your fingertip, press on the lid, it should be firmly in place.  If it moves it is not sealed properly.  I have never had that happen, and cannot advise you as how to salvage it.  I would love feedback on that if you know how to salvage a jar that has not sealed.  Maybe you can't?  I would eat it then, yum!!

Yield:  5 half pint jars

Since I had the large pot and water bath going, I thought I would make up some peach jam too!!  I told you the bug had bitten me!!  I made a beautiful vanilla peach jam!!

Look at the beautiful golden color!!  If that doesn't spell "summer" right there, I don't know what does!!  The golden pureed peaches simmered lovingly with the vanilla beans... I wish you could of smelled the aroma!  HEAVEN!!
I cannot wait to slather these babies up!!  

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Greens & Beans - Not your ordinary recipe, frugal recipe and thoughts...

I am attempting to cook from the pantry/freezers only this week.  My pantry is literally overflowing and so are my freezers.  With the "oncoming drought warning", I am trying to stockpile and make sure my family can and will be blessed with amazing foods and we will be prepared for the upcoming price increases!!   However, I have to rotate the stock, and make room for more.  I  am not trying to scare you or be the bearer of bad news, alas my friends, this is the truth and it's all over the news!!
I know that I will be making more "one pot meals", from scratch bread and baked goods and keep a good supply of basic ingredients.  I will also freeze more, and starting this weekend I will be canning some chutney's etc.  America as we "knew it" has changed, the news are stating that, the world has already stated it, so let's get prepared!!!

One of my ultimate favorite blogs for ideas and inspirations is:  Mr. Food website found here
His website is one of my ultimate "to go to for  ideals"!!  Every time I am looking for inspiration or better yet an explanation, I always visit the website.  It's bookmarked and highly used!!!

As for my "frugal blogs"; my favorite frugal blog "frugalmakescents" introduced me to the second blog listed, and I gotta tell you, I'm hooked!!
The menus and ideas these amazing women have and prepare literally blew me away.  Great meals prepared at home all without breaking the bank on simple pantry ingredients!!!  Links are below.


theprudenthomemaker - how to eat beans every night

So back to the recipe...
step dad had given me a giant garbage bag full of picked Vlita (aka wild greens)  Vlita   .  Mine were wild from our 2 amazing farmer friends that have absolutely adopted my mom and aunts to clean their fields of  "weeds"!!    Vlita greens are so mild in taste reminiscent of spinach!!  They can be found also at such markets as Trader Joe's!
Now mind you, I do not like bitter greens of any kind, I will go only as far as broccoli rabbe, that's it.  Bitterness in a food does not thrill me or my family anyway, so when I tell you I love these greens, know that they are mild and slightly sweet in taste. They are organic and delicious!!  Trust me, I wont' steer you wrong!! *grin*
So, as I was washing and re-washing and bagging and freezing... dinner ideas crept into my mind. I knew the task of preparing the greens was time consuming, so I wanted something very fast, easy and delicious for dinner.

I have to tell you, "greens and beans" do not necessarily have to be "white beans" and "escarole"!!  They can be dandelion greens and pintos, they can be spinach and garbanzo beans, they can be beautiful swiss chard and lentils, kale & quoina, mustard and black beans...
You see where I'm going with the yes??

For tonight, I had 3/4 of an Italian loaf of bread that was starting to get stale.  Aha... I had ideas already!!  The girls and I would of been perfectly happy with the vegetarian versian of greens & beans  and bread, but I had to make "meat" for hubby!!
This is where my B1G1 Rosina meatballs come into play.  I save them for quick dinner and emergencies.  I counted this as an emergency!!!

So we start off with the bread to which I  basted with olive oil and sprinkled granulated garlic over the bread and a smidgen of sea salt.  Why did I baste my bread with olive oil?  Because the olive oil seeps right thru the bread and makes the entire bread slice crusty, not just the "top" as it does with butter only... YES! YES!!!  Bake at preheated 375F for 15-17 minutes... voila, the most crispiest, golden bread with amazing garlic olive oil flavor ever!!

Ready for the Greens & Beans recipe?  Here we go:

8 cups of greens, wild or picked or (2 pkgs)
2 cans of pink beans drained and rinsed
3 garlic cloves pressed
good pinch of pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups water
1 tsp chicken base (2 bouillon cubes)
1/4 cup olive oil + olive oil for finish drizzle

Cover the bottom of your sauce pan with olive oil and heat to medium/high heat.  Add your fresh pressed garlic and pinch of pepper flakes.
When garlic starts to turn golden, not brown (bitter, you DO NOT WANT THAT), add your fresh greens.

Don't worry, they will literally cook down in a matter of seconds.

Start turning your greens so all our coated with oil, and they start to wilt.

Once our greens have wilted, add your water and chicken base (bouillons). Let simmer for a few minutes till the hardiest parts of the greens have softened.

Notice the hardiest stems are now nice and soft and just delicious!!!

Next add your reserved beans.

Stir beans beans gently till evenly distributed, and let simmer for a few minutes till heated thru.  The starch in the beans will literally thicken the sauce!! Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

That was it!!  Seriously, how easy was that?  How many variations of your favorite greens and beans or grains can YOU MAKE??
Will you incorporate sauce, butter, olive oil?  Lemon and oil?  Butter and cheese?  The variations are endless!!  
I served these amazing greens and beans with baked frozen meatballs and homemade garlic bread.

Dinner was less than 30 minutes, literally from start to finish!!  We actually have leftovers for lunch tomorrow, much to hubby's delight!!!
So as I attempt to provide for my family with today's socieo-economic status at hand I encourage you as well my friends, to make homemade, think ahead and be prepared always!!!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stuffed sweet Italian peppers with potatoes & sausage

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I don't know about you guys but I adore, I mean adore peppers, all kinds and shapes!  One of my ultimate favorites is the sweet Italian peppers come summer.  I don't know if it's because they are so short seasoned, or just the funky shape of them that intrigues me... but I love them nonetheless!

I love grilling them, frying them, cutting them in salads, quick pickling them, or my ultimate favorite?  Stuffing them!  I love to stuff things, have you figured that out yet?  Do I need help?  Is there a "stuffers anonymous" out there?  Should I possibly attend?
I have stuffed them many different ways in the past, but the above filling is one of our favorites.  They're stuffed with a baked potato filling, soppressata sausage, fresh herbs and of course, CHEESE!  Can you see the beautiful diced sausage peeking thru?  Just like bacon is the end result but no grease!  Double fist pump!
Sprinkled liberally with a beautiful panko bread crumb and cheese topping...
They're screaming for you to grab your knife and fork!

What is Soppressata Sausage?  Soppressata

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go:

2 medium potatoes, baked or cooked in microwave till tender (skins on)
4-6 medium Italian peppers
3/4 cups diced Soppressata sausage
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 green onion minced (whites and all)
1/2 cup diced Kasseri cheese    Kasseri Cheese
(a nice sharp Parmesan would do very well as well)
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Good pinch of black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Kasseri Cheese (or parmesan)

This is what the Soppressata sausage looks like.  Slice off about 8-10 slices.

Remove black peppercorns (unless you really like them, we don't), dice and set aside.

Wash and scrub the potatoes.  Microwave or bake till tender, I microwaved and it took 5 minutes.
Set aside to cool enough to handle.  As potatoes are cooling, dice the fresh herbs and onion.  Wash the peppers, remove tops and seeds with membranes,  place on baking pan and set aside.

  Roughly dice the potatoes, don't worry, you will be mashing them so the size of the dice doesn't matter.  Add to the bowl along with the fresh parsley, onion, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. 

With a fork, combine all seasonings, then mash using a potato masher till even consistency.  To which you will add the diced sausage and cheese.

Stir thoroughly and proceed to add the stuffing mixture into the prepared peppers.  Here's a little trick for getting into those tiny little corners and narrow ends of the peppers.  Place a good portion of the mixture to the top largest part of the pepper.  Then "gently push the mixture back" into the smaller parts.  You will have to use your hand to guide it so it doesn't spill over, but this works wonderfully!  That is something I taught myself since I am literally a "stuff-a-holic"... so where are those meetings again?

Preheat oven to 375F.  Sprinkle with bread crumb and cheese topping and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for another 15 minutes till crumb topping is nicely golden.

I served them with baked crispy chicken thighs.  You certainly can have them as a main meal for sure! 

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ratatouille, meatless dinner night - show and tell...

Summer harvest... can I say more?
Japanese white eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, green Italian peppers, bursting with flavor summer tomatoes, green onions from my garden, fresh mushrooms, fresh basil, fresh parsley...

The food of the Gods!!

Now that I gave you the description above, I can tell you I am beyond angry at the moment!!
After dinner last evening, I sat with a nice glass of wine and proceeded to post the above to my blog.
It was lengthy and heartfelt, coupled with pictures.  I published, walked away to give myself a refill. Came back, there was a comment, I answered, and then, I say, 'AND THEN'... the entire post DISAPPEARED!!  I tried for almost 3 hours to find out where the post went.  Obviously into the great internet sky because the only thing that remains that I can literally control is the post name. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

So if you see "post is not available", I apologize.  I have/had no control over this issue and I'm livid.  Hubby was involved as well trying to see if someone was hacking into my account.  As far as he could tell no one had.  But my work and thoughts are gone!!!  
I will be moving my blog to another server in the near future.  No fears, you do not have to do anything, it's a technical move only.

Meanwhile, I can tell you that I will not be sharing the Ratatouille recipe with you. Everyone makes Ratatouille individually, and there is a plethora of recipes on the internet.  

I will share that I made mine with a good ration of olive oil, garlic, green onions, assorted summer veggies, a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of white wine.  This is what the Ratatouille looked like cooked before the cheese.

Now with a good sprinkle of finely grated Parmesan prior to serving.

Who needs anything else right?  A piece of crusty bread and were good to go. Heck, that is my lunch today!!  But it was out of this world delicious over the bowtie pasta with a little more cheese sprinkled on top!!

Even though the picture no longer fits into this post, I still wanted to share with you the beautiful picture of my sage.

Isn't she gorgeous?  

So my friends, I will leave you with the taste of summer bounties fresh in your mind. What type of Ratatouille is your favorite?  What is your favorite summer vegetable?

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spicy Crispy Chicken Tenders - (Cereal is the secret ingredient)

This was a recipe that I created last year on a "faux chopped" challenge over at my favorite recipe site, Just a Pinch.  The secret ingredients for that particular challenge was "captain crunch cereal, feta cheese and hot sauce"...
I know right?
So I put my *thinking cap on* and came up with this amazing recipe.  The chicken is crispy, tender and just bursting with flavor.  Spicy and slightly sweet... you have the best of both worlds!!  Then add the creamy dipping sauce, it was literally out of this world!!I have since made this dish using various cereals as well.  The above picture is I believe a crunch flake of some kind and rice crispies cereal.  I left the rice crispy chunkier and it gave it such an amazing crunch!!
This recipe has literally become a family favorite.

Frugal tip:  You know when the kids (or hubby), leave just a little cereal at the bottom of the box?  Is it just my  house??  There is never enough for a serving, and you just hate to waste it...  I now place the various cereals in a tuppeware container and stick it in the freezer to use when needed.  

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go:

1-1/2 lbs or 3 medium size boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 cups buttermilk, (or make your own using the 1 cup per 1 tbsp acidic ratio)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

3 eggs
3 Tbsp water
1 cup cereal
1-1/2 cups flour *divided*
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs (or bread crumbs of your choice)

1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled fine
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 Tbsp Greek seasoning
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
**See cooks note**

Start by filleting the chicken breasts. Once you have achieved 6 breast slices, slice the the chicken breasts vertically into strips. Slicing them as thin or thick as you like. Place in a bowl.
To bowl add; seasonings, hot sauce and finally buttermilk. Place in fridge to marinate for approximately 1/2 - 1 hr.

Meanwhile, as chicken tenders are marinating, prepare you dip. In a small bowl add crumbled feta, blue cheese dressing, mayonnaise, sour cream, seasonings and parsley. Combine thoroughly and pour into a pretty bowl and set in fridge to chill till ready to serve.

In a mini food processor or large one, add the 1 cup of cereal and pulse till desired consistency, you can make as fine or bits of pieces, I prefer the later. Set aside.
Let's prepare our dredging station.  Using three plates add;
#1: Add 1 cup of flour, paprika and the onion powder, mix till thoroughly combined.
#2: Add the eggs and water.
#3: Add the cereal, Panko bread crumbs and the other 1/2 c of flour, mix till thoroughly combined.
Set aside.  

At this point, the chicken tenders should be ready, let's get ready to RUMBLE!!! I have no clue how that popped into my head, but alas it did!! :-)
Heat your deep fryer or favorite pan with enough oil to deep fry, usually about 1" deep.
Bring temperature to medium high heat.
Drain the marinated chicken tenders. Using tongs or fingers. Dredge the chicken tenders, first in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, and finally into the cereal/panko bread crumb mixture.

Add to frying pan and fry for a few minutes on each side till nice and golden brown.  Remove onto paper lined plate and keep warm.  Continue cooking  the rest of the chicken tenders.

Serve with dip, veggies or your favorite side dish.  I served them with battered fried zucchini and fresh cucumbers and tomato slices.

Have to share with you a picture of the delectable battered zucchini bites, HEAVEN!!!  Light and crispy and it married perfectly with the spicy chicken tenders!

I leave you with a comment; sometimes "odd ingredients", create the best dishes...

Cooks note:  You can certainly use your favorite dipping sauce for this recipe.  I have to be honest with you though, this dipping sauce is absolutely delicious!!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Italian Shepard Pie (crockpot)

Go ahead... grab a fork!!

This is a recipe I long ago tweaked to fit my family's busy lifestyle.  I love Shepard's pie, ADORE IT!!  However it can be quite time consuming as you know to make for a busy mom during the work week.  
"Never fear... Didi is here"!!! ;-)  {I like the ring of that}

This dish certainly can be made with ground beef only as the traditional way... 

However, I wanted to kick it up more than a few notches, simply  because I literally love vegetables.  Any kind, any day, anyhow... I adore them!!  I've taught my family to do so as well.  Well the occasional,  "I hate coleslaw and sprouts thingie", but alas...

So I created this dish for the base of the shepherds pie to  be cooked in the crock pot, chock full of vegetables.  But the best part was using Italian sausage as the base.  Can you say "absolutely out of this world good"?? 

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go?

Ingredients Pie Base:

5 Italian Sausage links (1lb) casings removed and crumbled
2 yellow/orange/red (whatever you have on hand) peppers largely diced
3 cups button bella mushrooms sliced in half
1 large onion largely diced
3 carrots largely diced
2 celery stalks largely diced
2 small zucchini largely diced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp each salt & pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 14.5 can beef broth
**1/3 cup instant mashed potatoes (to be added after cooking)

**1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (to be added after cooking)
**1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley ( to be added after cooking)

Ingredients Mashed Potatoes:

8 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
1 tsp dried thyme
Pinch of pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt

Additional Ingredients:

1/4 cup Pecorino/Romano (or any sharp cheese, Asiago etc)
1/2 tsp paprika
Pinch of pepper

1)  In a large skillet add your 3 tbsp of olive oil and heat to high, add your casings removed sausage and saute till no longer pink.

Prepare your crock pot by drizzling 1 tbsp olive oil and coating it.  

2)  Dice all your veggies and and place in crock pot.  I usually do this the night before except for the mushrooms and keep them in water till the next morning when I'm ready to prepare this.

3) Add your dried seasonings over the veggies and finally add your sausage. Pour in your beef stock.  Cover and cook on high for 3-1/2 - 4 hours or on low for 6-1/2 - 7 hours.  This will ensure nicely cooked vegetables without them becoming mushy.

4) When you come home, remove the shepard's pie base mixture from the crock pot and using a slotted spoon (you don't want all the excess juices), add the mixture to a pre coated 13 x 9 casserole dish).  Add in your instant potato flakes, your Parmesan cheese and finally your fresh parsley.  Stir thoroughly and  set aside to cool.

5) As the base is cooling, let's start on the decadent mashed potato topping!
Peel and cube your potatoes and place in pan with enough water and a few pinches of salt till nice and tender, about 15-20 minutes.

6) Once cooked till tender, drain and return potatoes back to pan.  Using a hand masher, mash larger chunks etc.  Add remaining ingredients except the Parmesan cheese and egg into the hot potatoes.  Using a hand mixer now, whip till nice and creamy.

Now add your egg & Parmesan cheese and whip again.  Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F.

7) Spread the whipped mashed potatoes over the base mixture and spread evenly.

8) Sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese along with the paprika and pepper.

bake for 35-45 minutes till topping is nicely golden brown.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
This would be a perfect time to slice up some fresh tomatoes to go with this, or toss together a salad.

9)  Cut into squares, try and contain yourself, heaven's knows I had to!!!

10)  Plate onto plate and serve with your favorite salad or vegetable, grab yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!!  Knowing you made this amazing gourmet meal in 1 hour on a work week night!!  *cheers my friends*

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi