Crazy Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

IMG_9560So, I won a chili cookoff at work last week, and people are clamoring for the recipe. I based it off a recipe I found online but have made a couple of tweaks to it to make it sing. It’s like a runny queso with a bit of a kick, and we love it with tortilla chips and Fritos with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese on top. It’s just a magical, magical chili – and did I mention it takes 10 minutes to make? Dump and go.

My husband Kevin and I love it, and it’s just super simple to make. And it’s a hearty chili, so it’s a stand alone meal and perfect for a chilly day outside. It might be our new favorite chili, but we still do love our taco soup.

Crazy Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours on high, 6-8 hours on low
Serves: 8-10 big bowls

3 medium chicken thighs, still frozen
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
2 cans corn kernels, do not drain
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 packages Ranch dressing mix
2 tablespoons cumin
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1-2 teaspoons of paprika (optional for heat)
1-2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 8 ounce package cream cheese

Lightly grease your crock pot, and place the chicken thighs on the bottom. Top with the tomatoes, corn, the drained and rinsed beans, ranch dressing packages, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion and chili powders. Stir to combine the mixture, then top with the cream cheese. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4, stirring once or twice to blend in the cheese (if you can). Shred the chicken into large pieces and serve over rice or with tortilla chips. You can also serve in tortillas or taco shells.

Dip Variation: Drain all of the cans and serve as a savory queso dip with tortilla chips.

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Cinnamon Zucchini Bread

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Until last week, I had absolutely no idea that I liked zucchini. I had never ordered them at restaurants; I was never served them as a child (at least that I can remember). And when Kevin and I subscribed to emeals, we were sent a basic tomato and zucchini salad recipe that I absolutely fell in love with, so I’ve been on a huge zucchini binge the last week.

But, since it’s me, I have to bake something to truly love it.

Introducing my Cinnamon Zucchini Bread recipe, adapted from Ettie’s Fail-Proof Zucchini Bread recipe.

Cinnamon Zucchini Bread
Yields 1 loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon for garnish

3 eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil

1¼ cup white sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups zucchini, grated

½ cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and zucchini. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir to combine. Mix in the walnuts.

4. Pour the batter into a prepared bread pan. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of batter.

5. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.

Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

My dear co-worker Morgan brought chocolate chip scones to work last week for our fearless editor’s birthday (I brought marble cupcakes for the afternoon). After one bite of these soft and delicious chocolate chip scones, I knew that I had to have the recipe. She graciously shared her recipe, which actually turned out to be her mom’s. But I give you the best, simplest scone recipe I’ve ever found. For a healthier take on this simple recipe, Morgan suggests throwing in a tablespoon of protein powder and substitute chocolate chips for dried fruit. Or, use a cup of Activia plain vanilla yogurt. For a not-so healthy version, I added a tablespoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of cinnamon. But this is one of those scone recipes that you can play with and make your own, and I know it’ll stay in my recipe box for a long time.

 

Chocolate Chip Scones

yields 2 dozen small scones

2 1/4 cups Bisquik Baking Mix
2/3 cup milk (whatever you type you prefer)
1 plain yogurt cup
3 big spoonfuls of sugar
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. First, mix dry ingredients. Then, add wet ingredients and combine. Place 1 spoonful of batter onto an un-greased cookie sheet, sprinkle sugar on top. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the tips and tops of the scones are golden. Place on a cooling rack after three minutes and let cool until warm. Enjoy with a cup of hot tea or a glass of cold orange juice. Divine.

Simple Sweet Potato Superbowl Dip

ImageSo, I know this is a baking blog, and I know that I love to bake more than I love to cook and all that. However, I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest (I know, I know, I’m not a real cook because I find recipes on Pinterest, whatever). I was looking for a dip recipe for a Superbowl party I’m attending tomorrow, and this seemed like an easy and healthy option. I made my shopping list, headed to the grocery store with my beau (who’s making buffalo chicken wings tomorrow, by the way) and embarked on the journey.

I was blown away.

So easy, so delicious, so savory and light and flavorful. The ingredients seemed simple enough and I love them all on their own, so combining them seemed like a natural fit. Plus, who can pass up a healthy-ish Superbowl dip?

Coconut Sweet Potato Dip

yields 1 3/4 cup

2/3 cup hummus

2/3 cup sweet potato, mashed

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened (optional)

Mix together hummus, mashed sweet potato, and greek yogurt.  Scoop into serving bowl.  Sprinkle coconut over the top.  Serve with blue corn tortilla chips, sweet potato chips, normal tortilla chips, veggies, veggie chips, or really just a spoon.

Almond oreo balls

DSCN1287 (2)Oreo balls are delicious and incredibly easy. If you don’t mind the calories (which I didn’t look up, thank you), they’re the best holiday treat that will be your  New Year’s resolution motivation. And they are made in four simple steps. So incredible easy; it’s one of those bites that tastes so good it really isn’t fair. But that’s what baking during the holidays is all about! And for a cookie swap, use dark chocolate almond bark, sprinkle crumbs on top and call it a lump of coal. Perfectly easy and no oven needed!

Almond oreo balls

1 package of oreos
1 package of cream cheese
1 package of almond bark (whatever flavor; I used white chocolate and dark chocolate)

Step 1:

With a food processor, finely chop up the entire package of oreos. Set aside 1/4 cup of oreo crumbs as garnish.

Step 2:

Blend in a room temperature package of cream cheese. This will take considerable time and patience blending in a large bowl, but it’s important that the mixture is well blended. Let chill for 30 minutes.

Step 3:

Form oreo mixture into 24 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Allow to set for one hour.

Step 4:

Melt almond bark in microwave (about 2 minutes, mixing almond bark every thirty seconds). With two forks, dip oreo balls in almond bark and cover completely. Set on parchment paper and let set in fridge completely (about 1 hour). Optional: when almond bark is freshly applied, sprinkle oreo crumbs on top as a garnish.

Happy dipping!

Reindeer cookies

ReindeerCookies (1 of 1)I love to pretend that I’m a Southern belle; that all I do is lunch with ladies, be glamorous and bake adorable little treats for my neighbors and handsome beau. Well, I do bake for my handsome beau most of the time, but I made these reindeer cookies for a cookie swap I organized at work with about half a dozen co-workers. They were adorable and time consuming, but not really complicated. I would recommend freezing the cookie dough for an hour to make it more manageable, but the cookies’ taste is always more important than the shape of the reindeers’ noses, right? At least that’s what I tell myself.

Merry Christmas from Sprinkles & Sugar! I hope these adorable little cookies help make your season and cookie swap merry and bright.

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate-colored mini pretzels
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
40 regular-sized M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until just blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Form dough into 1-inch balls. To make reindeer-shaped cookies, pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form a point, then gently flatten with your hand. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until set or just beginning to brown.

Remove from oven and immediately and delicately press two mini pretzels into the tops of the cookies for the reindeer’s antlers. Press two mini chocolate chips in for the eyes and one red or brown M&M for the nose. Allow to cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack or paper towel to cool completely. Yields about three dozen reindeer cookies.

 

Spiced Beer Cake

Photo by LG Patterson

For a touch of spice with a nice bottle of dark beer, try this spiced cake recipe sure to please any crowd. And for the beer, pick up a growler of the very dark and stout Oil Change Stout at Flat Branch from Columbia, Mo. Use some, drink the rest. Sounds good to me.

For this cake, though, I would recommend storing it in an airtight container. The ingredients combine in an interesting way to create a unique texture and flavor, but the cake has a strong negative reaction to air exposure that makes it hard very quickly. Put a lid on your cake pan or wrap it up with cling wrap as soon as its cool, regardless of the amount of time until you serve it. Also, lightly dusting it with powdered sugar takes some of the bite off of a very harsh clover flavor. This cake is not for the sweet tooth, but is the perfect pairing of a very dark, very stout beer.

Yum.

The most important part to remember about this: honey or powdered sugar sprinkled or drizzled on top must be done to make this a sweet cake. It’s not a heavy, rich dessert for those craving sugar and cream. It’s a traditional beer cake, and I think will be a perfect pairing for a couple of pints and a hearty meal for Oktoberfest.

 

Spiced Beer Cake

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch allspice
1 pinch salt
1 ½ cup Oil Change Stout

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dissolve brown sugar in beer by adding brown sugar gradually and whisking until completely dissolved. Sift flour, spices and baking soda into beer and mix gently until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 cake pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Slice thinly and serve with cold butter on top.

[Originally posted here]