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Food, Savory

Spicy Cheesy Layered Bean Dip

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It’s bonfire season again! And you know what that means? It means I get to make party food. Lots of appetizers and dips.

And while I love taking the opportunity to painstakingly make a dish, sometimes, I just don’t have the time. So I’ve come to find making layered dips an art, and something that often makes it look like I spent hours slaving over the stove and cutting board, when in fact, I only spent about 15 minutes of prep time and threw it in the oven.

So for a go-to, last minute party offering, might I suggest a Spicy Cheesy Layered Bean Dip?

Spicy Cheesy Layered Bean Dip

1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 16-oz can of spicy refried beans
1 and a half cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small rectangular pan, evenly spread out cream cheese. Sprinkle garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and black pepper over this layer, enough to lightly coat the layer.

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Top with a can of refried beans. Evenly spread out. Top with diced tomatoes and green peppers. Cover with cheese.

Use aluminum foil to cover the top of the pan. Place in oven and heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starts to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. It will be hot. Serve with tortilla chips.

Food, Savory

Recipe: Easy Herbed Pasta and Shrimp

I love shrimp. I especially love pasta and shrimp. I love shrimp stuffed in wonton wrappers and often tossed in a taco for a more seafood-inspired Mexican dish. Living 15 minutes from the ocean, you’d think I would eat it more often.

I have memories of shrimp, that quite honestly, might frighten some people. You see, when I was younger and visiting my grandparents in Florida, I remember going to the fish market to get fresh shrimp for dinner. Now, when I say fresh shrimp, I don’t just mean it was pulled out of the ocean that day, I mean they still had their heads on and were nowhere close to looking like those curled pink gems you find on a Sunday brunch buffet. I blame my grandmother for the next part. Mostly because she had the confidence in me not to freak out and needed a kitchen assistant when no one else would aid her. I would cut the heads off the shrimp, then, as swift as a samurai, I’d devein the little devils.

At least I knew my food was fresh, right?

So the other night I was hungry, and to be honest, I didn’t want to spend too much time making anything, so I went to the seafood counter, purchased a quarter pound of shrimp and a box of Pasta-Roni Angel Hair Pasta and Herbs and started my pasta and shrimp mea.

I sauteed the shrimp in garlic and butter, made up the Past-a-Roni and voila, dinner was served in less than 15 minutes!.

Easy Herbed Pasta and Shrimp

1 box of Pasta-Roni Angel Hair Pasta and Herbs (plus 1 and 1/3 cup of water, 2/3 cups of milk, and 2 tablespoons of margarine)

For shrimp:
1/4 pound of medium size shrimp
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
Black pepper to taste

Prepare Pasta-Roni according to box.

Unshell and devein shrimp. In a small skillet, melt butter. Add shrimp and garlic powder. Let shrimp cook on either side until pink, should take about a minute on each side. Remove from pan and add to pasta. Sprinkle with black pepper.


Food, Savory

Buffalo Chicken “Hot Pocket”

This is delicious. You’ve been warned.

Buffalo Chicken Hot Pocket

Turns out, that after I made the Philly Cheesesteak Stromboli, I was destined to continue creating similar dinners, like this Buffalo Chicken Hot Pocket. So when one of my friends came over today, we decided chicken was going to be our main subject. Buffalo chicken, to be exact. But I had this feeling that I couldn’t just stuff some buffalo chicken in some dough and call it a day. So we went all the way: carrots, celery, ranch dressing, and cheddar cheese stuffed inside, too. The result? A very fabulous adult version of a Hot Pocket.

Buffalo Chicken “Hot Pocket”

1 chicken breast
1 roll of whole wheat dough
1/4 cup of Franks Red Hot sauce
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons of Parmesan peppercorn ranch dressing
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 stalk of celery, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.

In a skillet, cook diced chicken cubes. Add butter and hot sauce, cook until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened. Should not be runny.

Cut dough in half. Roll each half into a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place on a cookie sheet.

In a bowl, add celery, carrots, cheddar cheese, ranch dressing. Mix. Add chicken from skillet into bowl. Mix.

Evenly scoop out mixture onto dough.

Buffalo Chicken Hot Pocket


Fold dough over chicken to enclose the filling. Flip over. Score two lines on the top.

Mix melted butter and garlic powder. Pour over the top of each “pocket.” Grate Parmesan cheese over the top.

Buffalo Chicken Hot Pocket


Place in oven. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until dough is golden brown. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.

Food, Savory

Spicy Cajun Kielbasa Pasta

Cajun Kielbasa Pasta

So this one isn’t entirely made up by me. A long time ago I received a pasta cookbook. It was overly loved and the edges were chewed off by an equally loved pet bird who I like to believe was just trying to help decide which recipe to tackle one day while helping out in the kitchen.

Inside of that lovely cookbook is a recipe for spicy cajun kielbasa pasta made with (of course) kielbasa, peas, and shrimp. And while I love shrimp, I didn’t exactly want to add it into this particular dish. But I did love the fact that it was a white sauce. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not fond of tomato sauces. On chicken Parmesan and inside a lasagna, yes. Dropped over my spaghetti, no.

This recipe turned into one of my go-to meals for when hoards of my male friends would come over and it was my duty to feed them. Depending on how much pasta you put in, you can serve up to six or eight people. (Although with them, three men could finish an entire pan made with a whole box of pasta in a single sitting.) So I’m sharing my altered, feel-good meal with you – a deviliously delicious pasta recipe for those cold winter nights.

Cajun Kielbasa Pasta

1-lb link of Hillshire Farms Polish Kielbasa
1 cup of heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup of water (optional to swap in chicken broth)
1 cup of frozen peas
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup of white wine (although any wine works)
Olive Oil
1/2 box of linguini pasta, cooked al dente and strained
1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pan, saute sliced kielbasa on medium-high heat in a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil until browned. Add garlic and cayenne. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until garlic has released flavor (you’ll smell it) and browned. Add wine to deglaze pan.

In a bowl, mix heavy cream, egg yolk, and water. Add to kielbasa pan with frozen peas. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken. It will still be slightly runny, add al dente pasta and Parmesan cheese. Cook until pasta is coated in sauce and it is no longer runny.

Serve and enjoy.