Ultimate healthified buffalo chicken dip (+few extras)

 
 
***Welcome Pinterest visitors!! So glad you liked my healthified buffalo chicken dip (it IS as good as it looks – maybe even better ;) ). I have lots of other juicy content on the blog so I hope you stick around and do a little digging. For other fun healthy appetizers, you may want to try roasted red pepper, tomato and anchovy crostini, tofu and mushroom lettuce cups, double tomato bruschetta or chipotle-lime two-bean hummus. And for something a little indulgent, the pizza monkey bread is always a HUGE hit! For more ideas, check out my favorite recipes page on top. Thanks again for coming!! :D ***
 

Onto the post…

Hi y’all (I’m currently in the airport on the way to New Orleans, so I’m getting myself in the mood). Happy Friday!! I am obviously in a great mood since vacation is just hours away. The weekend is just around the corner for you too, so I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe with you before I shut my computer down for a few days.

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Buffalo sauce. OMG, I love buffalo sauce. If I didn’t worry about killing my taste buds, I’d be totally cool with covering everything in it – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Something about how acidic and spicy it is. LOVE.

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Luckily, it’s football season so instead of bathing myself in it (gross + I don’t have anything to wear with neon orange Smile with tongue out), I can just show up to a football-watching party with a buffalo sauce covered concoction and be the most popular person in the room. Win-win. Smile

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A lot of buffalo chicken dip recipes call for canned chicken (eww) and butter (totally unnecessary). I came up with this on a whim the other day and it was the best buffalo chicken dip I’ve ever had. It’s not exactly health food but it’s just a little lighter.

Ultimate healthified buffalo chicken dip (serves a crowd)

  • 2 poached chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 packages (8oz ea) neufchatel (low fat cream cheese), softened
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s RedHot buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1.5 cups shredded reduced fat cheese (I used 1/2 mozzarella, 1/2 cheddar), divided
  • Baby carrots and pita chips for dipping

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven, or toaster oven, to 350*.

2. Mix all ingredients together, hold 1/2 cup cheese. The Kitchen Aid with a paddle attachment does an amazing job of creaming it all together. Super easy!

3. Transfer to 9×5 loaf fan (or another baking dish), sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

4. Broil for 1-2 minutes to get the cheese extra golden on top.

Enjoy!!

Creamy, buffalo-saucy, cheesy. Dig in!

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For a few extra snacks, consider making the Eat, Drink and be Vegan two-olive sundried tomato hummus.

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And Trader Joe’s blueberry goat cheese is perfect for those craving something a little sweeter… or  those that may just be goat cheese obsessed Winking smile [I’m both!]

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This stuff seriously tastes like cheesecake. Crazy awesome!

One of my 2011 goals (btw, I should really look at those again) was get into sports watching. I may not be a die-hard football fan just yet, but I’ve got the game day snacks down for sure! Smile

Do you love buffalo sauce? Any favorite game friendly snacks?

*Last reminder about the Pomi giveaway. I’ll be announcing the winner on Monday.*

Pizza monkey bread + Pomi giveaway

I had plans to blog about something else today but you guys convinced me that I can no longer hold out on you on the monkey bread recipe (as seen here and here). Better yet, I have a special treat for you – a giveaway that will go perfectly with the recipe. Am I good or am I good? ;)

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Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, all I have to say is that you’ve come at the right time. I’m talking about a savory monkey bread made of pizza dough balls stuffed with pepperoni and cheese. Each individual ball is brushed with garlic butter (oh yeah!) and then nested inside a bundt pan.

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They puff up beautifully together in the oven, which creates a nice crust on the outside and incredibly soft/fresh-out-of-the-oven softness on the outside. Seriously incredible! The original recipe came from Confessions of a Foodie Bride so please check out her post for more gorgeous mid-process photos. I used this recipe for the dough the first time – make sure to double it - and 2 store-bought dough balls the second time. Easy! On and because I wanted each ball to be uniform in size, I weighed them prior to stuffing (3/4oz is perfect!)

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The “stuffing” possibilities are of course endless but I’d argue that cheese, garlic butter and some quality tomato sauce are a must.

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This Pomi Pomodoro e Basilico sauce was sent to me by the company to review and I really enjoyed this fresh tasting, slightly chunky tomato sauce. The basil and other spices were not too overwhelming, which allowed the tomatoes to shine. I also really love that all Pomi products come in cardboard boxes, which are BPA-free and have a lower environmental impact (since they are lighter than cans to ship). This was the perfect dipping sauce for these pizza bites!

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It’s like a little surprise inside :)

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OMG, I want one in my belly right now (Btw, can you see how it’s crusty on the top and soft on the bottom? Who’s hungry??! Just me?). I served these at a football-watching gathering and the whole thing was gone in less than 2 minutes. I honestly wish I took a video of this. People were on top of each other, ripping off bun after bun. There was lots of mmmm’ing going on. My blogger friends were a little more well-behaved when I made it the second time, but it was still gone in minutes! Yup, make it. Asap.

And now it’s time for a Pomi giveaway! One lucky winner will receive 1 box Pomodoro e Basilico, 1 box Alfredo, & 1 box Vodka sauce. I tried the vodka sauce as well and enjoyed the flavor although it seemed a bit runny. I have more in the fridge to taste-test ;)

Ready to win? Here are the rules: there are plenty of ways to enter.

1) Leave a comment on this post – Tell me whatever you’d like, like how good this monkey bread looks (lol), what stuffing you’d use when you make it (you are going to make it, aren’t you?), what your favorite game day snack is, or whatever else you feel like telling me. :)

2) Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway (my twitter handle @elinaholbrook and a link to this post must be included to qualify)

4) Subscribe to Healthy and Sane by email

5) Like Healthy and Sane on Facebook.

6) Link to this post on your Facebook page.

7) Add Healthy and Sane to your blogroll.

8) Like Pomi on Facebook

9) Link to this post on your blog, if you have one. If you don’t, let someone else know about this giveaway and tell me so in the comments section after they’ve entered the giveaway.

Please leave a separate comment on this post for each qualifying entry. This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!) and ends at midnight on Sat October 8. I will randomly choose 1 winner using random.org and announce him/her the following Monday. Good luck! :D

Midweek entertaining do’s and don’ts

The past few weeks I had a few after work get-togethers, which taught me a few lessons about mid-week entertaining.  Last week went smoothly, while last night I was scrambling last minute and then ended up putting a few of my guests to work to help me push out some food (thank you Megan and Meghan - I couldn’t have done it without you!).

So here are my DO’s and DON’Ts based on my experiences:

DO

  • Adjust your own expectations. This is a mid-week gathering and you have a full time job. No one expects a feast of all feasts. Which brings me to…
  • Have a manageable plan. Last week I gave myself the task of making 2 apps and 1 dessert which I quickly whipped up together the night before. Everyone was more than happy with just that and a cooler full of beer!
  • Get helpfrom your guests and your grocery store :) Guests always ask what to bring – give them specific instructions (beer, dessert, etc.) or go a step further and make it a potluck gathering. Last night the feast below (and more! we had to use a side table) was all put out by my guests!! A few items from the grocery store completed the table. You don’t have to cook every single thing from scratch. Cheese + cured meats went quickly. Crostini from fresh baguette + ricotta and sour cherry jam (all store-bought) was one of my favorite appetizers of the night! Even on the night of the party, get help from your guests with last minute touches if you need it. Many of them offer help, take them up on it if it’s going to ensure you’re not stuck in the kitchen all night while everyone else is having fun (although that shouldn’t happen if you actually plan right – see don’ts.)
  • Have a partner in crime – Adam buzzed people in and was making sure everyone had a drink in hand and enjoyed each other’s company while I was still finishing up my dish.

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  • Make things ahead of time. I know this is obvious but man, was I reminded of this last night. I left a lot of things to last minute and paid the price. I like dips and dishes that can be warmed up or baked right before the party. Do the work ahead of time and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy the party you’re hosting!

DON’T

  • Don’t over commit – seriously, don’t! I know you may feel like people have high expectations because you’re known as the food blogger or a really great cook, but remember – this is a midweek party. Keep it simple and manageable and your guests will be happy. I promise! :)
  • Don’t be cocky – Last party went so smoothly that you think you can just wing it and end up watching 5 episodes of Top Chef Just Desserts instead of prepping the night before? (totally hypothetical ;) ). Nope – not a good plan. Have a plan and execute on it  – this is how you keep your reputation as the hostest with the mostest!
  • Don’t be a perfectionist – Last minute things at work so you couldn’t get off early to make sure everything was 100% ready before your guests arrived? It’s OK! As I was still making the pizza monkey bread below and needed my guests’ help, I kept rambling about how I was the worst host ever. Megan said something so sweet that really brought me to reality. She said: “Elina, look around. Everyone is having fun in the living room. You’re among friends. And you’re human.” Phew! It’s good to be among friends.

Last night’s guests were some of my favorite blogger friends: Meghan, Megan, Elizabeth, Cara (and husband Ben), Lizzy, Bridget, Shannon (and boyfriend Mike), Melissa and Josh, Kerstin, Ranjani, Tiffany (and husband Kyle). Check out their blogs if you don’t follow them yet!

I made this pizza monkey bread again last night but since this post is getting too long, I’m going to ask you to wait a little longer for the recipe. I promise you it will be worth the wait. Just ask the people above!! :)

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And these Russian cheesecake lollipops will be shared on Russian Bites next week. Be sure to check back there! Edited to add: here is the recipe. Don’t miss it! :)

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Speaking of Russian Bites, please give me some love on my post on vareniki (vegetarian Russian dumplings). Thanks! You’rethebestest. Winking smile

Are you an entertaining guru? Share your do’s and don’ts with us! Smile

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