Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Do you love nachos? Buffalo Wings? Ranch Dressing? Tired of the same old, same old thing? Then this creative spin on a familiar favorite is the recipe for you! These mouth-watering nachos are a perfect powerhouse of flavor. Quick and easy to assemble, this recipe is great for a busy weekday dinners. With it’s affordable ingredients, most of which are probably already somewhere in your kitchen, they’re party and event friendly. Finger-lickin’ good, Buffalo Chicken Nachos are a must-try. ‘Regular’ nachos will never seem the same again.

Family-friendly or crowd-pleaser, this versatile recipe will put a smile on the diner’s face. Mom and/or hostess beware: you will be asked for the recipe. Repeatedly.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

4 Sons 'R' Us: Buffalo Chicken Nachos

recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

  • 2 grilled chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Ranch Dressing (I put my ranch in the blender with some cilantro and blend together for our dressing)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mexican blend, or cheddar, cheese
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • tortilla chips

Directions

  1.  In a small pan, heat up buffalo sauce and water.
  2. On a baking sheet start layering the nachos.
  3. -spread half the desired amount of tortilla chips
    -spread 1/2 the lettuce
    -spread 1/2 the tomatoes
    – drizzle 1/2 the Ranch dressing
    – spread 1/2 the cheese and 1/2 the chicken over it
  4. Repeat to make the next layer.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes.

Boneless Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

I love apple season. I really, really do. Even after using my entire orchard-picked bushel, I still can’t get enough. Luckily, with fall underway, I don’t have to make another trip to the orchard for farm fresh apples to put into delicious recipes for my family. I’ve gotten some GREAT prices on organic apples from the grocery and also found these amazing, locally grown Granny Smiths from our ‘Farmer’s Market’ at an irresistible price.

Those Granny Smith’s went straight into this gourmet dinner for my family. All at an affordable cost and using ingredients I keep on hand! Thank you, Martha for this delicious recipe full of hearty fall flavor.

Boneless Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

4 Sons 'R' Us: Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

 

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart 

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tsp black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 boneless pork chops, cut about 3/4 inches thick
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 green apples (preferably Granny Smith) cored, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine, or chicken broth (you can use apple cider vinegar, but the flavor was WAY to strong for us)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of pork chops; add to skillet. Saute until golden brown, about 2 minutes; flip. Cook 2 minutes more; place pan in oven.
  2. Roast until meat is cooked through and registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add apples; saute 4 minutes more.
  5. Add wine, raisins, ginger, mustard, and cayenne. Stir well to combine; cover.
  6. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until apples are very tender but hold their shape, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve over pork chops.

Mummy Dogs

I love seeing the look on the littlest son’s face when I make him ‘fun’ food. Holidays provide the ultimate opportunity to surprise him. Still, sometimes I just don’t have the time, or the energy, but these Mummy dogs are so simple and quick. From start to finish it took less than 20 minutes. Add some fun to your Halloween lunch or dinner with this adorable idea.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Mummy Dogs

recipe adapted from Pillsbury

  • 1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls, or homemade crescent roll dough
  • 2 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered (optional)
  • 10 large hot dogs
  • cooking spray
  • mustard or ketchup

Directions

  1. If using Pillsbury crescent roll dough, unroll the dough sheet. Press together at the perforations to seal it into one large rectangle.
  2. Cut the rectangle into ten ‘bandages’. Stretch the bandages a bit to elongate them.
  3. Wrap one bandage around one hot dog and 1 quarter of cheese. Repeat for each hot dog.
  4. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate the ‘bandages’ so that the hot dog shows through for it’s ‘face.’ On an ungreased baking sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down).
  5. Spray the dough lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 13 to 17 minutes or until the dough is light golden brown and the hot dogs are hot.
  6. With mustard, draw features on the ‘face.’

M&M Apple Caramel Cheese Ball

Fall is simply my favorite season. Winter is a close second though. That being said, I always look forward to the special limited edition seasonal candies that debut and/or return this time of year. I just love the Fall themed M&M’s. So much more fun to eat than regular ones. Needless to say when I went grocery shopping last, I stocked up (with several packs).

Yesterday was a crazy day that also included an impromtu visit from friends. I ended up making this delicious cheeseball to serve before dinner. While I was wrapped up in visiting, I didn’t get an immediate picture. FYI, the color on M&M’s runs when you let them sit for a few. Don’t let the looks fool you though. This was delicious. The perfect appetizer to serve for friends visiting in Fall. The perfect treat for any Fall occasion or event. Even an impromptu dessert.

Did I forget to mention how much I love the Fall themed M&M’s?!

M&M Apple Caramel Cheese Ball

4 Sons 'R' Us: M&M Apple Caramel Cheese Ball

recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbs vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup of peeled, cored, and finely diced apples (we used sweet Crispins, but you could also use a tart Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup of Kraft caramel baking bits
  • 1 tbs light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • About a cup of fall M&Ms for rolling the cheese ball

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, apple, caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla until evenly mixed.
  2. Using your hands (remember to wash first!), form the mixture into a nice round ball.
  3. Wrap the cheese ball in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remember, the colors on the M&M’s will bleed so don’t roll your cheeseball in the candy until just before serving. If ready to serve roll the ball around in M&M’s until completely covered.
  5. Serve with pretzels, apple slices, or non-salted cracker crisps.

Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

My kids love almonds. Come to think of it, they go ‘nuts’ for any type of nut really. I always keep almonds stocked in the pantry and they’re constantly sneaking handfuls here and there from the 3 lb bag. They think they’re being sneaky. Naturally, I don’t dissuade them of their ideas. I can’t have them thinking that I actually want them eating moderately healthy snacks, or worse that they like them. Plain-Jane almonds? How boring.  Imagine their surprise and delight when they came home from school to a batch of candied almonds to munch on during homework time. They loved these.

I usually get the eye roll whenever I mention the healthy benefits of anything to my boys. Like, really Mom? We just want to eat. Don’t ruin it by making it good for us! I refrained from mentioning that almonds are ‘good for them’ as the crunched away on ‘candy’. My house smelled like fall the entire day after making these. I just couldn’t resist the temptation to sample a few while they were still cooling and let me tell you, they were de-lish when still warm! Eat them out of a bag for a quick snack or sprinkle a few over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a truly delicious dessert.

I ended up taking the leftovers on a trip out of town and sharing them with our entire family to rave reviews from all! It doesn’t get more tried and true than that from a family full of Italians.

Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 3 cups of almonds
  • 1/8 cup water

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk egg and vanilla until it begins to get a little frothy. Stir in your almonds until the are all coated in the mixture.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add Almonds to cinnamon mixture and toss until completely coated.
  3. Spray your crock pot with non stick cooking spray. Cook the almonds on high for two hours stirring every 20 minutes.
  4. After 2 hours pour your water over the almonds and mix very well to make sure there are no clumps! Reduce heat to low and cook for one more hour, still stirring every 20 minutes.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out the almonds to cool and dry on the paper.

P.S. Christmas is coming and these make delicious gifts for neighbors, teachers, even family dinners!

{Crockpot} Perfect Baked Potatoes

It may come as a surprise in 2013 when everyone has gadgets and gizmos, whose-its and what’s-its galore for everything, but we don’t use, own, and probably couldn’t even operate a microwave. While I love a hearty baked potato, I’ve never had good luck making them in the oven. They’re either overdone, or more often than not, underdone and then I’m left checking them every 10 minutes until they’re cooked through. Meanwhile, with burns on my fingers and a growling stomach, everyone else has already finished eating every other scrap of their dinner. Hopefully, by this time the potatoes would finally be done. When a friend mentioned making them in the crockpot, I believe I said, ‘No Way!’

Yes, way! Every single time, my baked potatoes come out perfect. Hence, the name. There’s no longer any guess work involved and I can easily plan ahead, get them going, and set to be finished and edible when I’m ready to serve dinner. Added bonus: 1. I save money since I no longer need to heat up the oven. The general rule of thumb is that 8 hours in the crockpot only uses half the heat of 1 hour in the oven. 2. This same technique works great for sweet potatoes too! Loaded sweet potatoes have now become a new fall favorite of mine.

{Crockpot} Perfect Baked Potatoes

4 Sons 'R' Us: {Crockpot} Perfect Baked Potatoes

  • russet, yukon gold, or sweet potatoes (you don’t want to fill your crock pot more than 3/4 of the way full to prevent under/over cooking between the potatoes on top and the ones on the bottom)
  • olive oil (optional)
  • salt & black pepper, to taste (optional)
  • aluminum foil

Directions

  1. Wash and scrub your potatoes thoroughly. Remove any eyes or bad spots if necessary. Let the skins dry before proceeding (only takes a few minutes).
  2. Prick each potato with a fork 6-8 times per potato. Do NOT skip this step! The holes allow steam to escape as they cook. Exploded baked potato isn’t fun to eat or clean up.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil onto each potato. Using your hands, rub into the skin all over the potato. Repeat for each potato. You can omit this step, but I like the extra crunchy skins the olive oil creates.
  4. Salt and pepper, to taste, the skins of the potatoes.
  5. Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, sealing them up tightly.
  6. Place the wrapped potatoes in the slow cooker, foil seam side up. There’s no need to grease the crock pot or add any liquids. Cook them ‘dry’.
  7. Cook them on low for 8 hours, or until tender when pressed with fingers. Slow cooker times may vary a little.
  8. Remove the potatoes. Remove the foil. Cut a slit in the top along the center of each potato to open them up, and serve with topping of your choice.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Baked Potatoes4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Baked Potatoes 2

Green Bean Fries

My kids always count on fries with their burgers. I mean it’s like a burger staple for them. Serve them a burger without a side of fries and they’d probably look at me like I had just sprouted a second head, or antennae. They’re actually really good sports because burger night, which only falls once a month (maybe twice a month on a leap year) is the only night they get fries with dinner. Despite knowing that it was in fact burger night, I forgot to check to make sure I had potatoes. I also had a gaggle of kids at our house that day and no way to get to the store. What I did have? Several pounds of fresh green beans! Green bean fries came to my rescue. These were so good that it actually took me several minutes to convince my husband that I hadn’t gotten them carry-out from a restaurant or from the frozen food section of the grocery store. Every son raved about them. I mean a vegetable turned french fry? It was awe-inspiring. I’ve got to admit the way their jaws dropped and the awe-struck looks on their faces…it was pretty magical. Next time though I think I will try baking them instead of frying.

Green Bean Fries

Green Bean Fries

recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a few cups of vegetable oil in a deep pot or fryer over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, pour chicken broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the green beans and let boil for 5 minutes.  Remove beans from broth with a slotted spoon and set in a bowl of cold water.
  3. After beans are cooled down, pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Whisk the egg and milk together in a shallow bowl.
  5. In another shallow bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  6. Dip the beans into the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture and place in hot oil, a few beans at a time.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Serve with ranch dressing or other dipping sauces. Add a few drops of wasabi to ranch dressing and mix thoroughly for a wasabi-ranch dipping sauce

Caramel Apple Blondies

I know, I know. Another apple post this week, but I just couldn’t help myself. I might need an apple intervention. However, as luck would have it I am almost through my bushel.

I really try not to overload the kids on sugary snacks, even for dessert. But again, I just couldn’t help myself. I reasoned that on a crisp, fall day nothing could taste better than some ooey, gooey blondies. Especially when they just scream fall. I also couldn’t wait until dessert to have the sons try them. So to celebrate hump day (I can’t every say that without hearing my kids, echoing that extremely annoying commercial) and good attitudes so far and to fortify them to finish the week out that way, we had them for an afternoon snack. Shh, don’t tell anyone. I don’t want the mommy-verse frowning upon me.

We enjoyed these with a cold glass of milk, but warmed up and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream they are to die for. We were in Fall Heaven!

Caramel Apple Blondies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Caramel Apple Blondies

 

recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup apple, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Kraft caramel baking bits

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined. Add the vanilla and the eggs to the brown sugar mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture and stir until all combined. Fold in the apple and caramel baking bits.
  4. Scrape the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top using a knife or spatula.
  5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the blondies comes out clean.
  6. Let the blondies cool completely and then cut into large squares.

Caramel Apple Snickers Salad

The boys all look forward to having this for dessert when we come home from the orchard, and this year was no different. I love how easy this is to prepare and how it takes advantage both of the fantastic prices on fresh picked apples, but also the sales on candy in anticipation of Halloween. Cheap and easy? That’s my kind of dessert! Inundated with apples after an orchard trip? Trying to find recipes to use to take advantage of the awesome fall prices at the grocery store? If you’re looking for something different to do with all those apples, be sure to give Snickers Salad a try.

Caramel Apple Snickers Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Caramel Apple Snickers Salad

  • 5-6 full-size snickers candy bars
  • 4 medium apples, we used Crispin
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix, dry
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 16 oz tub of cool whip, thawed to room temp
  • 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping or syrup

Directions

  1. In a bowl add pudding, milk, and cool whip. Stir until evenly combined.
  2. Chop up snickers and apples into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Stir the snickers and apples into the pudding mixture until evenly combined.
  4. Pour the snickers salad into a serving dish and drizzle with the caramel topping.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Dessert Kabobs

Every year the football team the boys play for hosts a homecoming game. The entire association goes out of it’s way to make the night memorable for the kids. There’s moon-bounces. There’s cotton candy and giant popcorn machines. All the Moms are decked out in team colors, and proudly sporting their players’ number and pictures on pins for the whole world to see. There’s even a parade. All the Dads get together and they bring their big trucks. The bigger the better. The trucks are covered in excessive amounts of crepe paper, streamers and posters. You could probably see the team colors from space at that point, but just in case there was any uncertainty the posters clarify which team they represent and which age group. All the kids climb up into the backs of the trucks and are ferried around the field, on the track, several times. The team gets to watch as all the younger kids (and parents too) scramble to catch the candy they’re tossing out, and every Mom takes at least 1,385 pictures of the entire event. The whole night everyone is feeling pretty special. It’s definitely a huge confidence boosting event for the kids. It’s pretty awesome stuff. Best of all,  the proceeds from everything gets funneled back into the association to pay for new equipment, uniforms, field maintenance, etc.

Every year there’s also the biggest bale sale I’ve ever seen. The parents of every player either make or buy something to be sold to help earn money towards whatever the goal is. At the end of the night the players are allowed to ransack the table and enjoy as many sweat treats as they’re allowed. This is my contribution, Dessert Kabobs.

Dessert Kabobs

Dessert Kabobs

  • wooden skewers
  • large marshmallows
  • fresh blueberries
  • fresh strawberries
  • 1 box brownie mix, cooked according to package directions, cooled, and cute into bite sized squares

Directions

  1. It’s super simple. Alternate threading fruit, marshmallows, and brownies onto your skewers until you’ve achieved the desired look and amount.
  2. Serve as is, or wrap in cellophane if packaging for an event.