Double Take: Easy Game Day Appetizers

Superbowl Snack Ideas

Game Day.  And this weekend, its the ultimate game day – the Super Bowl.  From the start of pre-game conferences and split-square bets, to cheering on your team, to half-time scandals and ranking new commercials, we all know what the real highlight of the day is…the food.  A marathon of food, to be exact.  Not everyone will wake up ready to bring their A-Game but we can guarantee that everybody brings their appetite to the Super Bowl. We’ve got two quick and simple recipes that are both large group friendly and delicious.  Everybody wins.

And in true team fashion, we made this post a DOUBLE TAKE.  We both set out with the idea of Super Bowl Snacks in mind, went our separate ways, and then shared what we came up with.  Hayley shared her mom’s perfect pepperoni bread recipe, and Katie altered her mom’s buffalo chicken recipe to make chicken vodka-parm dip.

PEPPERONI BREAD:

Easy Superbowl Snacks: Pepperoni Bread

This pepperoni bread is an appetizer that my mom has been making for all kinds of gatherings for as long as I can remember. It is sooooo good! And with only three ingredients, also really easy and affordable. Perfect combination for the Super Bowl.

three ingredient pepperoni roll

All you need is some frozen bread dough, pepperoni, and provolone cheese! I like to go with a plain white dough and some large sandwich pepperoni from the deli. Just keep in mind that your dough will need a good amount of time to thaw and rise – about two days in the refrigerator, so plan ahead!

assembling the pepperoni roll
Once your dough is thawed and soft, spray a large bowl with non-stick spray on place the ball of dough inside. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit out at room temperature until it doubles in size.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, then on to the assembly! First, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Then place an even layer of pepperoni, leaving an inch or so around the edges uncovered. Follow with a layer of provolone. Fold in the shorter edges, then roll up lengthwise and pinch the seam and the ends closed.
Simple pepperoni roll
Place the roll onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and poke a couple holes in the top so that steam can escape. If you would like, you can add an egg wash here to help make the top of your bread nicely golden brown and shiny, but if you’re short on time or eggs, don’t worry about skipping this part. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the pan half-way through.

It’s going to smell really really good at this point, but try to hold yourself back – it’s best to let your pepperoni roll rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting, or you’ll have a greasy mess!
Superbowl foods - quick and easy pepperoni bread
Slice that baby into thick pieces and serve warm!  If your timing isn’t spot on for your game day festivities, no worries! These are just as good (if not better) toasted back up in the oven for just a few minutes.

 CHICKEN VODKA-PARM DIP:

Superbowl Appetizer Dip Recipe

I wanted to make a dip recipe for game day, but knowing how popular Buff-Chick dip is nowadays, I tried to come up with something a little different.  This dip is inspired by one of my cousins’ favorite sandwiches that can be found at a local pizza shop.  The brother cousins are still fighting over ownership of the idea to replace the marinara sauce on a chicken parm sub with vodka sauce, but I’d guess the “invention” originated somewhere in the late 90s.

I took my mom’s famous buffalo chicken dip recipe, and replaced the ingredients to change the flavor. You’ll need a rotisserie chicken, vodka sauce, ricotta cheese, creamy garlic parmesan dressing (creamy caesar could also work), grated parmesan, and shredded mozzarella.

Chicken Vodka Sauce Ideas

Start by preheating your oven to 350 and shredding the rotisserie chicken breasts – I used my hands, its messy.  Mix the chicken with 1 and a half cups of vodka sauce, and sautee over low heat in a large skillet.  When things are starting to simmer, add a quarter cup of the creamy garlic dressing, and a quarter cup of the ricotta cheese, and stir.  Once everything looks well combined, remove from the heat, add one third cup grated parmesan cheese, mix, and pour into a baking dish.  Cover the top with the mozzarella, and bake covered in the oven for ten minutes, then uncover the dish and bake for another 10 or until the cheese is starting to brown.  Not many (any) process pictures for this dip because well, it’s just not too pretty when it’s being mixed together.  But rest assured.  Once those cocottes come out of the oven with the cheese all brown and bubbly, you won’t be able to resist.

Chicken Vodka Sauce Casserole

I think the dip tastes best when eaten.  But if you’re looking for some dipping options, I’d choose toasted bread – I used a seeded semolina loaf from a local italian bakery, and would love to try it with some crispy garlic tostadas.

This is not your average dip recipe.  It’s a creamy tomato garlic italian chicken cassarole overload.  I kid you not I made a test batch of the recipe and ate it with a spoon. By myself. At 7am.  New high, definitely – Chicken Vodka-Parm dip FTW!

Buffalo Chicken Dip Spin off Recipe

And just like the pepperoni bread, this recipe can be made a day or two before and baked off fresh before kickoff.  I’d actually recommend letting this one sit overnight in the refridgerator to let the flavors meld together

Fudgy Butterscotch Blondies

Perfect Blondie Bar Recipe

Prepare yourself, for the best and only blondies recipe you will ever need.  Ever.  Unlike other blondie recipes, this bar style dessert will NOT remind you of a cookie.  They are the EXACT texture of the dense, fudgy, most wonderful brownie of your dreams (recipe for that one to follow).  The only difference between these heavenly squares and their brownie cousin is the chocolate factor.  My sister doesn’t like chocolate – I KNOW, I know.  I don’t get it either.  To be honest, I felt bad for her.  Not only because she misses out on all the wonderful chocolate recipes out there, but because she also misses out on that texture element – and after a ton of experimentation, this sinful recipe was born!   Do yourself a favor.  Buy the ingredients. Make these blondies. Don’t share.

White Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownie Bars

Ingredients: (for an 8×8 pan)

-1 ⅓ cup flour

-1t baking powder

-1t ground cinnamon

-¼t ground nutmeg

-¼t cream of tartar

-½t salt

-1 cup brown sugar, packed

-1 stick unsalted butter

-1 egg

-½-1T vanilla extract

-½-1 cup both white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips

*see some of our other baking posts for flour/vanilla measuring and mixing techniques!

Butterscotch Blondies

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350, and line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment, butter and flour the pan to prevent sticking.  Measure all dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar until well combined.  Next, add the egg and vanilla and mix until it looks like the second image above.  Gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined – don’t over mix! Add the chips and stir by hand, then scoop this heavy sticky batter into your pan and (patiently) spread it out until you have an even layer of deliciousness.

White Chocolate Chip Brownies

Bake for 20-28 minutes, until the middle is just set (remember, not cookies, brownies).  When the top is glistening but slightly brown, take the pan out to cool.

Homemade Blondies Recipe

When cooled enough to handle, lift the parchment out of the pan and slice your bars – try not to take a bite. I dare you.

Best butterscotch bars ever

Sometimes, I like to make these bars extra cinnamon-y – like snickerdoodle blondies – and replace the chips with cinnamon chips, add some more spice, lean towards the 1T side of the vanilla pour, and add a spiced whipped cream drizzle.  Is it time to eat yet?

White Chocolate Butterscotch Brownies

If you do nothing else this week…make/devour these blissful little squares.  You will feel more accomplished than you ever have, not to mention totally sweet-tooth satisfied.  I failed a ton of times until I came up with this recipe – I can’t WAIT to know what you think!

Recycled Tin Candles

 

scented soy candles in recycled vintage tins

There’s no denying the cozy vibe that a few well-placed candles can bring to a room. I often feel the same way about cute vintage pieces. One of the items I am always on the lookout for when I’m on a thrift hunt are small, interesting, vintage tins. They’re usually pretty abundant at secondhand or antique stores, and always very cheap! There are tons of different uses for them: taming small collections, storing precious items, or even holding little plants! For this post, I used a few to put a cute and thrifty twist on a crafting classic, the homemade candle.

soy candle making supplies
You don’t need a ton of supplies to make candles at home, especially if you opt to use natural soy wax. The supplies are also surprisingly inexpensive if you buy in bulk. A 10 lb bag of soy wax flakes will cost you around $20 on Amazon. If you’re using recycled containers it averages out to around $2 – $3 a candle – that’s way cheaper than buying something similar in a retail store! Like I said, we’re getting thrifty today!

Candle making is a science, and I certainly do not profess to be an expert or even very experienced in candle making, but these simple soy candles are a great way to start experimenting!

The basic supplies:
– small metal tins
– soy wax flakes or pellets
– wicks long enough to fit your containers
– fragrance or essential oil of your choice

The other tools you will want to have handy are some scotch tape, a hole punch, a microwavable measuring cup, some scissors, and a disposable stirrer.

use scotch tape to steady wicks
Start by preparing your containers. First things first: give them a good wash and dry. Cut a few strips of scotch tape long enough to fit across the top of each tin, and punch a small hole in the center of each piece. Center a wick in each tin. If your container is on the larger side, or unevenly shaped, you should use multiple wicks, evenly spaced apart.

Use the tape to steady and hold each wick in place. You can also secure the wicks to the bottom with a small bit of wax or glue, but I found that if you are careful when pouring, this step isn’t strictly necessary.

making scented candles

You can melt the wax right in your kitchen microwave! Times will vary depending on how much wax you are melting at once and how strong your microwave is. Mine is a bit on the wimpy side, so it takes roughly three minutes on high to fully melt 2 cups of wax. Heat in intervals until the wax is just fully melted. If there are still a few chunks floating around, that’s hot enough, they will melt as you stir it.

Once melted, let the hot wax rest for a few minutes to cool down a bit, then add your fragrance oil. My favorite is a combination of vanilla and clove, I think it’s warm and wintery! Many sources will recommend about 1oz of fragrance per pound of wax, but I like to add a little more than this, since soy candles don’t have as strong of a scent as their paraffin counterparts. (Although soy wax is touted to be a cleaner and more sustainable alternative!) You can do a lot of your own experimenting with this step.

pouring soy candles

Arrange your tins on a flat surface in a space where you can leave them for a while. You don’t want to move them around while they are cooling. Gently pour the wax into each container until it reaches about 1/2 inch below the rim. Do the pouring indoors at room temperature so that the wax can cool and harden evenly. Now leave them alone until completely hardened! The time it takes can vary depending on the size of the container, but just be patient and err on the side of caution if you are tempted to move them.

Recycled tin soy candles

Too cute right? There are so many cool containers you can find for this project aside from a boring old glass jar. Katie is probably going to gasp when I say this, but… Mason jars are overrated! Take a look around your local thrift shop or even in your own pantry – pretty tea and spice jars are equally adorable, so are dainty teacups!

vintage tin candles DIY

This is a really fun creative project to do with friends! If you try your hand at making candles, share some pictures with us by using the hashtag #wtdwlemons

Dirty Rice with Roasted Chicken and Turkey Sausage

Turkey Sausage Creole Rice

“Dirty Rice” is a creole spiced dish that has earned it’s name from the brown-ish color the rice turns when you cook it down with seasoned poultry innards.  Now, as much of a eat-with-your-eyes kind of person that I am, I’m starting to discover that I’m also sensitive to how things are cooked, and what they are cooked with.  Something about changing the color of rice because it becomes “dirty” from livers and such just didn’t seem appealing to me, especially because I love the creole spices. 

Choosing black rice gives this recipe rich color, and replacing the protein with roasted chicken and sausuage adds to the smokey flavor of the dish – nothing dirty about it!

Black Rice Trader Joe's Recipe

Ingredients:

-chicken, cooked – I prepared boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven

-smokey sausage – I used turkey

-1 cup black rice

-1 zucchini

-1 red pepper

-half of one onion

-1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

-1T minced garlic

-2T olive oil

-2t creole seasoning

-¼ – ½ cup white cooking wine

-½ t cayanne pepper

-salt and black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

Start by cooking your chicken –  I cooked my chicken in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, brushed with some olive oil, salt and pepper – and cooking your rice according to package directions.  One that’s all cooking, chop up your vegetables.  I like a good half moon for the zucchini, a bite-sized dice for the peppers, and a finer dice for the onions.  I also ran my knife through the thawed, chopped spinach just to break it up.  In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil, onions, and garlic over medium heat,  Once the onions become translucent, add the rest of the vegetables.  Remember to stir so that all vegetables are coated and get equal time to brown on the hot surface.

Clean Eating Dirty Rice

 After about 8-10 minutes, add in the seasoning, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.  Cube the chicken and the sausage, and add the sausage to the dish – cook another 5 minutes.  By now, your rice should be done. 

Zucchini Dirty Rice with Chicken Sausage

Add the rice, chicken, and wine to the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes so that the flavors combine.

Dirty Creole Rice Low Fat

I’m so happy with how this recipe turned out – like most of my savory dishes, it’s simple and healthy, and packed with flavor.  And, it’s pretty flexible!  Use whatever leftover starch you have lying around – quinoa, orzo, riced cauliflower – or add to the flavor pallet with some rotisserie chicknen.  So long as you keep the seasoining the same and be sure to add a protein with some smokiness, you won’t be dissapointed!

Black Creole Rice

Jumbo Frosted Animal Cookies

home made frosted circus animal cookies

Remember those awesome little Circus Animal Cookies many of us used to eat as kids? I loved them. For me, their appeal was more about the aesthetic quality: bright happy colors and adorable animal shapes… what’s not to love? Eating them always felt like a mini party!

This week I decided to recreate this classic treat in jumbo size, using some cute animal shaped cookie cutters that I have been meaning to put to use. While my party animals are not all exactly “circus” animals, they still put a big smile on my face, and that’s really the best part!

Frosting Cookies with Candy Melts

You could use any plain sugar or shortbread cookie recipe to make these yourself. The plainer the better, I think, since the candy coating will ultimately steal the show! I’ve shared the recipe I used below.

cut out animal cookie shapes
You will need:

For the dough:
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
– 1 egg
– 1 tbsp vanilla
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 3 cups flour

For the decoration:
– some cookie cutters in animal shapes
– candy melts in white and pink
– rainbow nonpareil sprinkles

shortbread animal cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. First, cream together the butter and sugar. Then stir in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the baking powder and flour until a homogenous dough forms, divide into 3 balls, then chill the dough for at least an hour.

Using a little extra flour for sprinkling, roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out the animal shapes. Place your party animals on a parchment lined baking sheet about an inch apart (they won’t spread much). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until browned along the edges.

cover cookies with melting chocolate

For the frosting: set up a double boiler by filling a medium sized pot with water about half way, then placing a bowl of slightly larger size on top. (If you have a bowl with handles it will work particularly well here.) Heat the water on medium and fill the bowl with one color of the candy melts. Stir until smooth and melted through, then turn the heat down to low.

Dip each cookie face down into the coating, then gently lift out and place onto a sheet of wax paper or a wire rack. This part can be a little tricky, so its nice to keep a spoon on hand to help cover any missed spots. Don’t worry about them looking perfect, a generous helping of sprinkles with cover any imperfections! After you’ve frosted about half your batch of cookies, wash out the bowl and continue coating cookies with the other color. The coating sets pretty quickly, so don’t forget to pause after every few cookies and sprinkle with nonpareils!

pink and white frosted animal cookies DIY
Aren’t these guys so festive and fun? The pink piggies are my favorite. I think they would make a really great Birthday surprise for someone, or you could customize with other shapes or colors.

It’s a lot of fun to try to recreate your favorite classics at home. Sometimes the homemade version turns out even better (and usually healthier). Are there any other classic snacks or treats you would like to see us DIY on What to do with Lemons? Let us know! We would love to hear from you!

Chicken Broccoli and Orzo en Cocotte

 Chicken Broccoli Orozo and Parmesan

I must have been good this year, because Santa brought me some amazing kitchen gadgets that I can’t wait to use (and share!).  I’ve always wanted cookware from Le Creuset, and I fell in love with the concept of these little cocottes when I was at a restaurant out west.  All of the sides – roasted broccoli, cheesy potatoes, brussels sprouts – were served to the table en cocotte, and all of a sudden the dinner out with friends felt more like a meal with family.

They are like mini casserole dishes meet ramekins meet tiny dutch ovens. Did I mention they’re mini?!  But don’t be mistaken – they are marketed as “individual servings” but I think you can get a full meal out of a cocotte, or a side to share!

Cooking in Cocotte

Aside from the presentation, finishing off a dish by baking them in the cocottes really helps to meld all of the flavors together, and that’s where this recipe comes into the story.  My mom used to mix pan seared chicken, steamed broccoli, cooked orzo, chicken broth and spices together in a big pan and serve it to us on cold nights.  What better first meal to make in my new cocottes?

Ingredients:

 -1lb chicken breast

-1 head broccoli

-1 cup orzo

-4 cups chicken stock, unsalted

-minced garlic

1 T olive oil, divided

-salt & pepper, to taste

-parmesan

Instructions:

Start by cutting the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Heat a large skillet over medium, add 1 t of olive oil, and sautee the minced garlic – I used 2 heaping teaspoons.  Once the garlic starts to brown, add 1t of olive oil and all chicken.  Cook the chicken through, making sure to brown on all sides.

Pan Seared Garlic Chicken and Orzo

While the chicken is cooking, heat 3 cups of chicken stock in a pot, and cook the 1 cup orzo according to instructions on the package.  Be sure to slightly undercook the orzo, as you will be heating it later in the oven.  I like to use stocks instead of water to bump up the flavor.  When it comes time to drain the orzo, pour the leftover stock into a bowl – we’ll use it later in the dish.  Mix 1t of olive oil into the drained orzo to prevent sticking.  At this point you can also steam/blanch the broccoli, and start to prepare your cocottes!

Chicken Broccoli Orzo Broth

Preheat your oven to 300.  Layer the orzo, broccoli, and chicken into each cocotte, and pour overtop a few ladles of stock (use any from the extra 1 cup if necessary).  Top the cocottes, place on a baking tray, and heat in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Finish each dish off with a sprinkle – or six – of parmesan.  When serving the cocottes, keep in mind they will be very hot to touch!  Chicken Broccoli Orzo

The cocottes really bring the flavors all together, in an almost stew-like way.  Can’t wait to see what else these little guys can do!

Make Your Own Flavored Coffee Syrups

make your own flavored coffee syrups

You guys! I got an espresso machine for Christmas this year and it might be the best thing that’s ever happened! I’ve had to limit myself to only making lattes on weekend mornings, or I would be a total caffeine crazed maniac 24/7. I’ve been a little obsessed with all the possibilities this opens up for my daily coffee fix, and in the midst of all that orange-mocha-frappachino dreaminess I made some flavored syrups. They turned out to be incredibly easy, and surprisingly versatile!

You know that lineup of sweet Italian syrups they use at Starbucks to make your regular latte a hazelnut, pumpkin spice, or cinnamon dolce? These are just like those, and quick and easy to whip up at home. You can use them in an espresso drink, regular coffee, hot chocolate, tea, cocktail…. virtually anything that you would normally sweeten with regular sugar, but this way it’s just… fancier. I made four flavors: vanilla, almond, dulce de leche, and cinnamon. (Side note: you only see two flavors pictured above because I only had two cute glass bottles on hand, but I promise the other two are just as good!)

easy coffee syrups

The recipe for these syrups couldn’t be simpler: Mix equal parts water and sugar. Heat until dissolved. Add desired flavoring. Pour into a bottle. Done.

making cinnamon syrup with whole cinnamon sticks

Just start with a basic simple syrup: sugar supersaturated into water. Based on the size of my containers I used one cup of each. Heat the sugar and water mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Then, stir in your flavor (amounts of each below) and continue to heat until just a bit thickened.

DIY cinnamon coffee syrup

For Dulce de Leche syrup: add 2-3 tbsp dulce de leche sauce (this works the same with caramel sauce)

For Vanilla syrup: add 1 tsp of vanilla extract

For Almond: add 1 tsp of almond extract

For Cinnamon: add 2-4 whole cinnamon sticks, depending on size of sticks and desired amount of flavor

DIY flavored coffee syrups

These are so easy to make, it’s no problem to make one of each to have a whole arsenal of flavor on hand. Having overnight guests or hosting brunch? Your new barista skills are sure to impress! Did I mention these are perfect for iced coffee? The sugar is already dissolved, so they mix in easily.

So. Many. Options.

“Calligraphy” Cards

DIY Calligraphy Cards

Happy New Year!!  2014 brought me and Hayley some great memories – I ran a half marathon, Hayley moved into a new home, and of course, we started WTDWL and haven’t looked back!  It’s been a crazy adventure, and we are SO excited to see what this year has to bring!  And what better way to kick off our 2015 posts with one of our favorite things…Snail Mail!!!!  You already know we love all things handwritten and homemade, and we spend a lot of time writing letters, cards, and notes to friends.  You may also know that we really like to keep things simple and affordable.  There are already so many excuses out there that keep us from writing notes to friends – email, texting, social media, inconvenience – and those pricey Hallmark cards can just put us over the edge.

Thankfully, calligraphy is so in this year, and we’re taking full advantage of it with these DIY “calligraphy” cards.  They are the perfect rainy day, music binge, or just couch sitting activity – who doesn’t love a good doodle session?

Materials:

-blank cards, or heavy paper (like card stock, oaktag, or even manilla folders)

-envelopes

-sharpies, or other heavy inky markers (like staedtler fineliners)

-pencil with eraser

Instructions:

When hand-drawing your own cards, I think there are a few key things to focus on:

-Font(s)

-Doodles

-Theme

It’s a short list, but it’s an important list.  Design, colors, mediums used…none of those things really matter!  No one expects handwritten items to be perfect, and quite frankly, I think they look better when they are less perfect.  Though I do think my handwriting is pretty “neat,” my hand isn’t always steady and I’m definitely not a good “drawer.”  Calligraphy was so…intimidating to me.  I guess that’s sort of embarrassing to admit, but whatever its 2015 anything goes!  I’ve found with a few tricks, anyone can impress themselves and their friends with a fancy card.

Let’s start with themes/fonts.  FUN fonts, to be specific.  Stray away from the thin, delicate looking fonts.  The theme part of the card is incorporated here into the words you choose – if you’d rather not put words, the same idea applies to images! I start by writing out my word/phrase (image) in the shape of the font, but using one stroke.  Next, shape those letters into the font you chose.  You can do this by making the outlines thicker or adding dimensions.  I like using bold letter outlines.  Fill in any blank spaces, and move on to the next font.

Fake Calligraphy

Fun fonts have made my life one zillion times easier – there are no special pens involved, and by shaping each letter you have multiple chances to make it look cohesive.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so!  Check out what Hayley found on Cupcakes and Cashmere’s blog from last June – I didn’t know there were real calligraphy classes!!

Calligraphy without Calligraphy Pen

Don’t be bummed if you’re card looks too blank – that’s where the doodle comes into play.  Dots, circles, arrows, stripes, flowers, swirls – anything goes.  These are space fillers, and really make the card unique.  This is where theme can also be enhanced – choose images that represent the idea of the card.

Copy Cat Calligraphy Card

When I first started drawing my own cards, I just used a thin, black sharpie.  I think the black keeps the card looking neater, especially if you haven’t mastered steady handwriting.  For design inspiration, look to quotations, an object to trace, a favorite doodle, or holiday – and don’t be ashamed of using the image searches!  There’s nothing that a good clip art-doodle-google search can’t fix, especially when thinking about fonts.  I used cookie cutters in this thank you card that I got while in Disney with a friend – use a pencil to outline, erase the lines, and trace with marker!

Stencil Calligraphy

Disney Calligraphy DIY Card Cookie Cutters

My favorite cards are pretty busy – lots of doodles, and different font styles…can you tell?  What are your favorite card styles? Don’t forget to email us, tag us @whattodowithlemons, and use the hashtag #wtdwlemons with your creations!