Tag Archives: Cooking

Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes from Williams-Sonoma

28 Feb

In honor of IHOP’s National Pancake Day, I decided to review one of my favorite pancake mixes. Yup, that’s right folks, Mrs. Dish Dash Dime isn’t always making things from scratch, I’m just always trying to make things yummy and easy. And this recipe couldn’t be an easier or tastier way to celebrate such a carbo-laden day.

Sometimes, I like a little help in the kitchen. That’s where Williams-Sonoma’s Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Waffle & Pancake mix make my life a bit easier. This flavorful blend of spices has become a favorite in this household.

The directions are straight forward and simple. Combine the mix with butter, eggs, and milk to make pancakes or waffles.

For me, I wanted to make a small batch of pancakes for my hungry hubby. To make the smaller batch, I combined 1 cup of mix with 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 cup of skim milk, and 1 egg, separated. I separate the egg because I fold in the egg white at the end.

The recommended portion on the mix makes 9 5-inch pancakes, using 2 1/4 cup of mix.

I used a whisk to add some air to my egg white to give the batter a light and fluffy texture.

Then combine them with a batter blender, being very careful to not over-beat. The egg white should be gently added in as a last step. The smell of the batter should be heavenly at this point.

Heat a skillet to medium high and spray with vegetable oil. Carefully pour out whatever size pancakes you desire. I like smaller ones because they are easier to flip. But if you have a griddle, make those giant ones and flips away.

The pancakes are ready to be flipped when bubbles form and stay. Be sure to watch the heat on the pan. Too high and they’ll cook too fast to cook all the way through. Too low heat, and the texture will turn out funny.

Enjoy them plain, with warm maple syrup. For non-maple syrup connoisseurs, my hubby prefers blueberry syrup or plain. Apple preserves would also make a great topping. Or for a desert, make Belgian waffles with the mix and top with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce.

Cuisinart Elite 4-Cup Food Processor

12 Feb

I really like Cusinart.

Being a deal seeker, I try hard not to be a brand snob. But there are times when I can’t help myself! This silver 4-cup processor is usually $110. But today on Amazon, it’s only $32! I have a mini chopper and have been meaning to upgrade for bigger and tougher tasks. I think this one will do the trick.

Shipping is FREE. And, if you’re looking for color, you can also pick one up in pink, red, white, or black for $44.

Superbowl Food Extravaganza!

1 Feb

Let’s be real for a moment here, I’m not a huge sports lover, but I am married to one! And for this reason, I have learned to make events like the Superbowl more of a social and fun gathering that just happens to involve the TV. And what a better way to do that then devour in making and eating yummy food?

I also have to admit, I love competition and commercials too. And don’t forget hearing people talk smack about another person’s team, like they coach or own it; that always makes me laugh.

But you’re here for the food. So what has Dish Dash Dime selected to make this weekend? Well, for Superbowl food this year, I thought about three things:

  1. Fast and Easy – This isn’t a gourmet feast
  2. Don’t wanna break the bank over appetizers
  3. Quality in quantity – Feeding the masses as you’d feed just your family

Now those three things seem like they don’t really go together. Rarely do you find quality with quantity at an inexpensive price. Or something that is fast and easy, but also has a quality aspect as well. On another note, since I’m not hosting, but rather attending a party this year, I wanted to make sure that Mr. Dash and myself would have some healthy go-to eats while still enjoying the comfort foods sure to tempt us all night long. I also know some friends that enjoy healthier takes on what should be fatty foods. So on the Superbowl menu this year, we have a selection of seven appetizers, some healthier than others, made for easy snacking and grazing.

  1. Sweet BBQ Chicken Bites
  2. Potato Skins
  3. Guacamole
  4. Turkey Pigs in a Blanket
  5. Potato Wedges
  6. Turkey Bacon Sliders

Now off the bat, those all just sound, well, like good old-fashion bar food/comfort food, filled with all kinds of hidden calories and fat. But you already loose about 20% of those hidden ingredients by cooking up these simple and easy appetizers yourself.

To help with preparation, the guacamole, chicken for the bites, turkey burgers, bacon, and chicken for the nachos can be made the night before. Potato Skins, Wedges and the Pigs in the Blanket are best served fresh they can become soggy in the refrigerator.

Throughout the next few days, we’ll talk about each of these appetizers, sure to make you’re Superbowl party a food extravaganza!

Cookware, Utensils, and More: Up to 80% off Flash Sale

31 Jan

Ready for a Valentine’s Day Sale? 1saleaday.com is having a sale on kitchen items for up to 80% off. All the items are a fun red color too. Check out all the items here, and my favorite deals below. Prices include FREE shipping too!

Kitchen Aid Food Processor
List Price $149.99
Savings $65.00 (44%)
Our Price $84.99

Lock & Lock Storage
List Price $119.99
Savings $95.00 (80%)
Our Price $24.99

Cuisinart 10 Pc Cookware
List Price $349.99
Savings $270.00 (78%)
Our Price $79.99

And my favorite:
Rachel Ray Knife

Rachael Ray Red Rocker Knife
List Price $49.99
Savings $32.00 (65%)
Price: $17.99

Crispy Chicken Tenders and Homemade Fries

13 Jan

When it comes to frying things, it usually reminds me of a big, greasy mess. Both on the counter and later in my stomach. But they are just too good to pass up sometimes. And what works even better when I have those greasy cravings, is to make my homemade version.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. First grab your chicken batter ingredients. For these, I used a dijon/mayo egg mixture (see in two bowls below. I just used egg white, 2 tbsp mayo and 2 tbsp of dijon mustard. I then mixed them together right before I used it. On the white plate is a 2 part cornstarch, 1 part flour mixture with about 1 tbsp of cornmeal mixed in. You could also just use egg and flour and season the flour to your liking as well (salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, etc.)

Next, grab about 1.5 medium sized potatoes per person. Wash, peel, and slice the potatoes into even thickness to ensure even baking. I used my mandoline slicer, but you can use your knife too…and lots of patience!

Try to get as much moisture out of the potatoes as possible. This is important so that you get crispy potatoes and not soggy limp ones. After they are mostly dry, separate them and sprinkle with cornstarch. Toss together and then separate the fries again to let them dry. Leave them aside while you prepare your chicken.

Since this is so messy, I don’t have a step by step process of making the tenders. Its quick and easy though – just use one hand for wet ingredients and one hand for dry. First lightly coat the chicken with flour. Then dip it in your egg mixture. Next put it into the cornstarch mixture. Have a plate ready for transport to the frying pan.

Before you start your chicken, toss your fries with some olive oil, dash of salt and pepper and about a 1 tsp paprika. I use stoneware for the best crispy texture. If you use a cookie sheet, be sure to spray with oil so the fries don’t stick. Also, with a cookie sheet, I recommend turning over the fries halfway through baking them.

Heat about 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add about 4 or 5 tenders at a time. If you add too many, the oil temp will decrease, causing your tenders to become soggy and just absorb the oil as opposed to getting a nice crispy skin. In this step, you are just browning the chicken. Each batch should take between 3-5 minutes. Chicken should not be cooked through when you remove it from the pan. The outside should be a nice golden brown.

Place chicken on an ungreased cookie sheet, as the chicken already has oil on it, and place in oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Pull  both fries and chicken out of the oven. Immediately sprinkle fries with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy your not-so-deep-fried crispy chicken and french fries!

 

TK’s is much more than OK

11 Jan

It’s hard to find a restaurant that makes fresh and flavorful American cuisine and bar food favorites without compromising service, quality, or atmosphere. A restaurant that feels like a home kitchen filled with gourmet flavors and concepts but that offers something different from a local self-proclaimed fast-casual concept chain. If simple, good eats is what you’re after, then TK’s Urban Tavern is the place.

TK’s Urban Tavern is a moderately priced casual eatery offering everything from comforting bar classics like mac ‘n cheese to grilled halibut filets that might just put your favorite seafood restaurant to shame. The bar hosts a variety of craft beers, a familiar wine list, and some unique specialty cocktails. The atmosphere is just like a tavern should be – dark wood floors, exposed brick walls, a vaulted ceiling with small spotlights, and floor to ceiling windows for natural light when there is some.

During the warmer months, outdoor seating is located on a small patio and offers guests an even better people-watching vantage point while they enjoy their cuisine. During our visits, the staff and service was truly refreshing and added to the enjoyable and relaxing atmosphere. Every person we encountered, whether one of the friendly owners, Tom Kelly and Brian Pierce, our server, or someone clearing the table, made sure our dining experience was perfect.
Our server treated us like we were all friends hanging out for the first time in years. She welcomed us to the restaurant like we were at her house and she was the one cooking the meals. She answered questions with ease and made us very comfortable – water glasses were always full, and empty plates never lingered.

On one occasion, we chose the barbeque chicken quesadilla. Not being the biggest fan of barbecue flavors, I was skeptical to put something smoky in what should be a spicy Mexican dish. The appetizer came out hot, fresh, and presented in way that you would find at most upscale restaurants. It came with a delicious side of guacamole and had the perfect combination of meat and cheese. This is the kind of quesadilla that requires some fork and knife attention. It’s gooey, messy, and flavorful. Excellent.

Our gang of four ordered the Cobb salad, the pulled pork sandwich, yet another barbeque chicken quesadilla, and an order of the special that night: mahi mahi street tacos.

Admittedly, Cobb salad might not sound like anything fancy; particularly when most dinner salads these days come with five parts greens to one part toppings. TK’s Cobb salad came already tossed with large pieces of tomato, avocado, and tender chicken breast. Bacon, egg, and mild blue cheese crumbles served as the perfect complement to the mixed greens. The salad is served with tasty ranch dressing that beautifully brings the flavors together. While a simple dish, it was a memorable salad.

The fish tacos were a special that night and could be ordered individually or as an entrée. The entrée came with four small tacos. There was some sort of seasoning on the fish that didn’t quite mesh with the other ingredients like theguacamole. But the mahi mahi was grilled perfectly and each street-sized taco was amply filled with fish. The entrée wasn’t large by any means, but enough for one person to be very satisfied.

The pulled pork sandwich is a TK’s Tavern favorite and has made quite a name for itself with frequent visitors. On top of a large toasted baguette comes a heaping portion of pulled pork, topped with Havarti cheese and cold apple slaw. Served up next to this monster sandwich is a mound of homemade French fries and a spicy ketchup accompaniment. Unlike most pulled pork sandwiches, which offer more sauce and mess than meat, this sandwich is all about the protein. And then French fries are hot, crispy, and worth every calorie. Out of the four items we sampled, this was the clear winner and easy to see why it was such a favorite among regular visitors.

Once again too full for dessert, our eyes did happen to glimpse (or maybe stare) at some of the desserts on our neighbors’ tables. We did see a root beer float, served up in a chilled mug with vanilla bean ice cream. And for chocolate lovers, a decadent layered chocolate cake is served with caramel ice cream – and definitely big enough to share.

Overall, we enjoyed our dining experience at TK’s. Even though the restaurant was closing by the time we left, we never felt rushed to order or eat; and we even lingered a bit afterwards. TK’s Tavern is a great place to eat quality food in a relaxed environment. Almost like your best friend had become your very own personal chef, and happened to re-do his living room to look like a dimly lit, yet modern tavern. For lunch, dinner, or happy hour, TK’s Urban Tavern is worth the visit. Your taste buds will thank you.

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

7 Jan

Yesterday I got my “subscribe & save” shipment (from amazon.com) of reduced fat Skippy Peanut Butter. Immediately, I had to make cookies — mostly since we still have 2 jars left in the pantry from our last shipment. $8.xx isn’t too shabby for 6 jars of my husband’s favorite peanut butter, either!

This recipe requires peanut butter, one egg, one cup sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract. Seriously, that’s all you need! (Not to mention, these are gluten-free cookies, too!) Now, since I’m trying to cut down fat, I actually used 2 egg whites instead of one whole egg.

Then cream together the sugar. If you’re using one whole egg, this is obviously one step. But I like to whip my whites a bit first.

Next add your peanut butter. This is where one of these cool measuring gadgets would come in handy. Perfect for sticky things that need proper measuring. Combine the peanut butter with the other ingredients and add a dash of vanilla.

So this mixture is probably different from most cookie doughs you’ve made in the past. It’s not firm and crumbly. It’s actually quite thin. Carefully place your dough in small, one inch size balls onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet (for easy removal, later).

Next, sprinkle the cookies with sugar, and criss-cross a fork design into each cookie to flatten them down.

Now I also had three chocolate kisses sitting on the counter. So naturally, they soon appeared on the top of three cookies.

Place cookies in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. I will warn you, these are not your typical cake-like peanut butter cookies. They actually come out quite flat (which you could control with the size of the cookie, and how much you flatten before you put them in the oven). No worries, they are delicious.

If you like warm cookies out of the oven, be careful – these will appear flimsy at first. But they will set up pretty fast. And with parchment paper, they should slide right off. Cool cookies on a wired rack and store them in an airtight container. They should last about a week on your counter.

If you’re watching calorie intake, replace the sugar with a sugar substitute and be sure to use the egg whites. Enjoy!

For recipe lovers:

1 cup sugar + extra sugar for sprinkling
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Making a Healthy(er) Pumpkin Pie

5 Jan

Pumpkin Pie and healthy aren’t two words that typically go together well. Pie, in it of itself brings on feelings hefty calories. But for me, I must have pumpkin pie this time of year. So I did a lot of searching a couple of years ago, and came across a recipe from Hungry Girl. Surprising to me, pumpkin is actually a great food if you’re watching your waistline.  It’s naturally very low in fat and also rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s the eggs, sugar and thick buttery crust that adds all the extra fat, calories, and ups your sugar intake to keep you up into the wee hours of the night – after your turkey coma, of course! So next year when you get that hankering for a sweet, creamy, pumpkin pie, try this alternative.

Combine pure pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling), evaporated fat-free milk, splenda (sometimes I use half sugar, half sugar substitute, and other times, I use full sugar), and egg whites. I use egg whites instead of the egg substitute since I don’t care for products like that. Then add the syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the mixture. The mixture will appear very thin, but don’t worry.

And now…the crust debate:

Hungry Girl uses a crust using their popular secret ingredient, ground up fiber one cereal. However, I don’t care for the consistency, so I use ready-made pie crust from the store. Its convenient, and no-fuss. I know its going to bake right and I like it for those reasons. However, when I made this pie on Christmas Day, I forgot to bring the crust over to my parent’s house. In two years, this was the fifth pie I had made there and was use to the ingredients I needed to bring and the ones my parents had on hand. Whoops!

I discovered this mistake on Christmas Eve, so we had planned to go to the store in the morning. Nothing was open when hubby went – he checked five different stores, four different shopping areas — only Starbucks was open (haha!). So my dad decided to surprise us and make a crust. While all the women in the house were out of the kitchen, he tried his hand at his first ever pie crust. You see, my dad is the number one fan of this pumpkin pie. I think he likes it better than any full fat, gourmet, restaurant, or even…yikes…Costo’s pumpkin pie! I was skeptical since my dad is a steak guy – and a great steak guy at that. Put him on the grill, making potatoes, or gravy, and it will taste amazing. Pastry chef? Not so much. Here’s what he turned out:

And into the pie shell went the pumpkin pie mixture. For reference, this dish is a 9 inch pan.

We’ve learned to time this with eating dinner and put the pie in when the holiday meat of choice (turkey, prime rib roast, etc) comes out of the oven. The pie takes about 45 minutes. We let meat rest for about 20 minutes. And take out the pie towards the end of our meal. By the time we’re ready for dessert, pie has been cooling on the counter for about an hour. Although Hungry Girl recommends chilling in the fridge for several hours or even overnight, we indulge ourselves in the pie within two hours of it coming out of the oven.

The reason for the bubbles on the pie is because of the crust. The crust wasn’t too bad – just a simple sweet pie crust. Maybe one of these days I’ll experiment with a healthy pie crust too? Remember to refrigerate the leftovers. This pie serves as a great breakfast the day after as well…!

So is this a healthy pumpkin pie – you do the math:

Regular Pumpkin Pie
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 400
Fat: 18g

Hungry Girl’s version (with fiber one crust)
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 133
Fat: 3g

My version of Hungry Girl’s version of Pumpkin Pie (estimated)
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 200
Fat: 6g

Recipe Lovers:

For Filling
One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
One 12-oz. can evaporated fat-free milk
3/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, granulated
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)
1/4 cup sugar-free maple syrup
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
Optional Topping: Fat Free Reddi-wip

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