Where Whine Meets Wine

Monkey Bread Madness

Do to my love of all things Pinterest, I have an ever growing list of foods I want to make. Well, after looking through my fridge, I decided on pizza… and then I remembered this. Monkey breadish pizza. (Seriously, the pictures are so good it’s no wonder they’re on pinterest for the rest of us to drool over!)

Looks fantastic, right? Photo Credit: Confections of a Foodie Bride. (You can go there for the original recipe too.)

In the morning, Big E had called one of his uncles asking him if he could come over and play. So just as I was gathering up things for dinner making, I got a phone call asking if I’d mind some visitors for dinner time. And we were so happy they could join us.

photo credit: Biggest E

I will admit that this took a little longer to make than I originally expected. With some organization -or an extra pair of hands- it could be done a lot more seamlessly. Overall, I did find this a great way to use up some leftovers! The original recipe used cubes of mozzarella, and pepperoni. I had neither. I did have shredded mozzerella, bacon, and chicken… all just sitting in my fridge, begging to be used before they went bad.

First things first, though… the pizza dough.

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 cup water
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend the water, olive oil, and vinegar and whisk to mix. Pour the liquid ingredients of the flour mixture. Stir hard, briefly, to make a smooth, soft batter. Occasionally, I have to add a little more flour to get the batter so that it holds it’s shape. If more flour is necessary, I use tapioca flour, and add it in a tbs at a time.

Step Two

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded/chopped chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 package bacon
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, for dipping

Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit. Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan  with garlic butter. Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten- trying to stay consistent with the size. Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (I used shredded but you could certainly use cubes. Might be easier to seal with cubes instead of shredded.), chicken, and bacon. Wrap the dough around the toppings, pinching well to seal. Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is very brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Not a terrific picture, but you get the idea.

These were so good… super filled. And they went fast.

Ok, so I have a confession- the photos, and story, are actually from December… but for some reason I never posted. So, today seemed like perfect day to get back in the foodie saddle! Because a)it’s cold and grey out today, which makes me think about warm, yummy food. And b) my 3 little ones are all cuddled in a blanket together on the couch. Their being so sweet I’m a little worried they’re plotting something. Seriously, they’re all snuggled in, sharing a blanket and pillow. Giving each other hugs and occasional kisses on each others’ cheeks. So I’m going to be spending time soaking all this sweetness in.)

*I just wanted to add that I made this recipe again tonight and it was even better than I remembered. Biggest and Miss helped me, and I’m not sure if they added more water/oil or what, but I did end up adding about a full cup extra of GF all-purpose flour before I could actually get it to be the consistency I needed. But they weren’t too dense or too floury or anything. They were perfect. That said… after hubby helped himself to them right out of the pan (hence no new, great photos), I discovered the bottom layer ones were not cooked through all the way- they were still a little doughy, so I threw them in for about 5 more minutes. I just didn’t want anyone trying this out and feel like I sold ’em a bag of worms! (Because that would be just gross)


Impressively Simple Thursday

So…I’ve done an “Impressively Simple” post before, and love to make and create meals that look and/or sound difficult, but are really easy. So, I’ve decided (and hoping to stick to!) doing an “Impressively Simple” recipe every Thursday. We’ll see how it works out. But seriously, who doesn’t want to have a repertoire of recipes that they can throw together for the surprise guests or unplanned get together that is sure to impress!?

This week is Chicken Cordon Bleu. I saw a recipe in a magazine and thought, that looks so good, but it sounds like a lot of work… which to me sounded just like a challenge! So I made it about 4 times, 4 different ways. Trying to find the best, the easiest, and the impressivest! (Yes, I am aware that’s not an actual word, but let’s just go with it ok, just this once!)

My first attempt was traditional. My second attempt was spicy. My 3rd attempt was easy. And my 4th attempt was impressive. They were all delicious.

Ok so… here’s the best that I came up with:

Usually it’s one whole chicken breast (plus everything inside) for each person, which is a whole lot of chicken…. so I butterflied it (as best I could), cut it into three strips, and made it so that it had the look of an appitizer, but the taste (and stomach filling powers) of a huge meal.

So…here’s what I feel is the easiest, easily impressive way to make chicken cordon bleu:

4 chicken breasts, cut in half length wise (so it’s like you butterflied it- kitchen scissors will do the trick) and hammer flat and even- I used a rolling pin to do this). Cut into 2 or 3 long (1 1/2  inch width) strips (depending on size of the breast)

Place one slice of cheese (I used the spicy cheddar I’d used previously, I used swiss, and I also used just plain cheddar, because it’s what I had… all of them were good. I vote you pick out your favorite cheese and use that -I’m always going to vote for using what you already have!)

Lay a slice of ham (I also used prosciutto -because I love it- and that was really wonderful!) over the cheese and roll tightly.

You could secure it with a toothpick, but I found that it wasn’t necessary if you rolled them tightly.

*This part is optional* dip rolled chicken in egg. It just helps the next step to stick the chicken.

I dipped them in 1 1/2-2 cups of almond flour that I seasoned with seasoning salt and pepper. (If you are not a GF household, you can also use breadcrumbs, as it traditionally calls for)

Place in greased pan (with the seam on the bottom)  and top each with some shredded cheese (I used a shredded asiago/parm blend)

bake @ 350 degrees for 35 minutes. And viola mini chicken cordon bleu! In healthier portion sizes! Use as appetizers or as the entree! I made it a combination of both! Once as the main entree (in whole chicken breast form… so stuffing, which is why I thought about making the portions smaller…) and then when I made the smaller rolls, I served 2 rolls over broccoli and rice. Very good!

Variation: This adds time, but it was really good, so I’m going to throw this out there, just in case you want to go above and beyond: Before placing the cheese and ham on your chicken, drizzle each chicken slice with some hollandaise sauce. (here’s the recipe for that I used) I had all the ingredients to just make it (And I wanted to start out my chicken cordon bleu process by starting with the fanciest version I could and work my way from there), but they sell packets for easy hollandaise sauce at your local grocer and that will work too. Just before baking drizzle remaining sauce over the rolled chicken. I would highly recommend trying it with the sauce. So yummy. I’m not sure if that’s traditional or not, but I read a lovely blog where he tried it, and figured I’d give it a go- well worth it!

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I Was Feelin’ Saucy

So I went to a cousin’s graduation party over the weekend, and my aunt sent me home with TONS of food!! So yesterday as I was looking through all the leftovers and trying to decide what kind of meal I could make with it- and really not wanting to have to go to the store… I had a gallon bag full of veggies (broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and celery) but no meat. Suddenly, I remember that when I was separating chicken to put in the freezer, one of the bags had been leaking so I’d rewrapped it it another bag…which meant I did have chicken after all. So I decided on a stir fry. I should mention that this was what I wanted because I was sent home from some BWW (Buffalo Wild Wings) sauce that I thought would be perfect for a stir fry!

So I cut up the chicken in stir-fryable pieces, threw them in the pan, and then realized I’d forgotten the container of sauce on my Auntie’s counter! Shoot! I was so disappointed. And I knew that I’d just thrown out the last of our very expired teriyaki sauce last week when I cleaned the fridge out! So just when I was contemplating running to the store after all (or more likely, sending hubbyman to the store)…I thought I’d just look up some stir fry sauces and see if I could happen to have the ingredients. Turns out, I didn’t. But I had similar ingredients. It turned out AMAZING. Hubby was so impressed!! He even asked that I make it in bulk and freeze so that it can be used again and again! I’d call it a success!!

So as I cooked the chicken, I got out all the veggies (leaving out the celery) out, and began to throw together the sauce. True to my normal form, I don’t have exact measurements for you, but hopefully close enough! And it’s all about taste anyways! So if you like more of one ingredient, and less of another- do that!

4 chicken breasts cut into strips

as much and many veggies as you want (I did throw the tomatoes in, but not until the very end)

sauce: 3/4 cup soy sauce (our favorite brand just went gluten free! so exciting!!), 1/2 cup sunflower oil (you could use olive oil, or if you had some- sesame oil would be perfect), 2 1/2 tsp (ish) ginger (I may have used a little more, but I like ginger), minced garlic (about 1/4 tbs), some toasted sesame seeds, and some crushed red pepper (maybe a little too much but it just swooshed on out of the jar), about 1/2 cup of brown sugar and maybe a tbs or two of honey (because that’s all I had.) Oh yeah, and a couple pinches of corn starch to thicken it up. See, I told you it’s not exact, but it was good… maybe next time I’ll get specifics.  I also took pictures, but for some reason they’re not wanting to upload…so I’ll have to add them as soon as they do! Ok, so still can’t find my camera (boo!), so I had to use my phone…so they’re small and not great quality, but they’re there, so there you have it!

I may have had some swooshing out of the toasted sesame seeds as well...


It looks like we’re going to have our first sunny day in weeks today! So I’m hoping to get out and enjoy it!!

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Spicy Mama

You would think my husband would know my cooking by now, right? You would think that after all these years he’d know to take a “taste test bite” before he starts shoveling it in like someone who’s never tasted the wonders of food before. Well, apparently, when hungry, that goes out the window. I had gotten this amazing cheese at the grocery store and was excited to try it out! I made “macaroni” (or my homemade version of) for the kids and so I was able to pull this amazing dish out of the leftovers that are currently taking over my fridge. Which brings me back to my original point- the food shoveling. You see, the cheese I used was cheddar. Habanero cheddar. And since both hubbyman and I are spice enthusiasts, I thought this would be a great way to spice up plain ‘ol macaroni. (pun not intended, but what a happy coincidence! *wink*) I was so excited to see his expression! Unfortunately, he though it was just plain and shoveled it in, only to have his mouth catch on fire, and exclaim, “What did you put in this?!” I’m not sure if he thought it was another prank or not (see here, here, and here), but I just about cried because I’d been so excited about my new twist on a classic that I did not see this coming at all! I probably should have gone with it being a prank.

Spicy MamaRoni

noodles (I used rice)

Parmigiano Reggiano (or whatever kind of parmesan you have on hand)

Habanero Cheddar (for a little kick but less overall spice, you could use pepper jack)



flour (I used coconut flour)


cracked pepper


seasoning salt

It’s really, really, really simple. Boil your water, cook your noodles, and while noodles are cooking in a sauce pan over med. heat cook 1 cup of milk, 2 tbs butter, and 2 tbs flour. Bring to a boil, about 2 min. Add in cheese. O used about 1/2 cup of the habanero cheddar and 1/2 parm. Add in seasoning (I just used pinches of mine because the cheese already had so much flavor). I also added in about a cup-cup and a half of cubed chicken, because I had it on hand. I think it would be really great with spinach and maybe even broccoli. That’s how I’ll try it next time. I garnished with some diced red onions that needed to be used up and it added a nice crunch!  This was seriously, so, so, so good! And once he knew it was spicy, hubbyman also agreed it was good. And he had some for lunch the next day and declared it really good. As in something he’d like to eat again…when he’s been properly informed of the spice factor.

(end note: I highly recommend going to your local grocer and get the most flavor infused variety of cheese you can find, and then coming up with ways to use it! Put it in a recipe that you already make that maybe could use a little excitement!  Plus, cheese freezes pretty well, so cut it/shred it up and freeze it in “this is how much I’d use before it goes bad” amounts!)

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Impressively simple

So this is quickly becoming a favorite, at least for me… or I see it becoming a favorite is probably a better term because I have only actually made this twice, but it is so yummy!

It’s pretty much the same chicken recipe that I used here With a few new twists. I found that this chicken is both delicious and easy. And since we also have guests this week it’s a good meal to make if you want to impress with your culinary skills and stick to a time limit and a budget! I think this would also be good served over rice (or quinoa), but I wasn’t sure when I made it, so I skipped that part. Next time, I think I’ll add rice. This time I used a ton of chicken (I figured it would be a crazy week so I cooked up between 6-8 (I can’t remember which now!) chicken breasts that I’d cut into strips. After cooking through I took out about 1/3 of the chicken to save for future meals. If I were only cooking the amount for this dish I would have cooked the “mix ins” along with it. The “mix ins” were one yellow onion, about 2+ cups of fresh spinach, about 2/3 cup of fresh chopped mango, about 1 cup of Trader Joe’s tomato-less salsa (a corn and chili salsa- so, so yummy!) with a few drizzles of olive oil. I did this in a pan along side the chicken.


Once I removed the chicken to save for the rest of the week, I added in the “mix ins,” cooking over a low heat while stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. I also realized at this point that I’d forgotten to cook the chicken in lime, so I squeezed some extra lime juice in the mix. Voila! 20 minutes and dinner was done! And delicious!

See, wouldn’t this look terrific on top of rice?

So good, so easy, sooo… go make it!

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The Leftover Mama

I have at least 3 other posts in the works… but I’m just not feelin’ any of ’em. At least at this particular moment. In fact, the reason I haven’t done any new posts for about a week, is I haven’t been feelin’ any topic! I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’m going to attempt and muddle my way through to break the spell.

I stay busy…pretty much all day, pretty much every day. And I am guilty of snack meals. I make the kids lunches and yet I just grab something quick. If at all. Sometime in the afternoon, the cups of coffee without any food jitters start to set in… and then I grab something. For me the worst is when the husband is working late… I make the kids dinner and sometimes will eat with them. But I’m very much less into making a family meal, when we’re not eating as a family. Which is silly because by the time I’ve searched through the pantry or fridge trying to decide on something that sounds good… I could have actually made something that tasted really good. Last night was a victory for me, small, but a victory none the less! You see, I’m kind of queen of the leftovers! I LOVE finding random things left over from meals that don’t have enough left to be a meal itself and finding a way of combining and making it new!  Especially when it’s just the kids and I (they’re much less picky!). So this last week or two we’ve had: chicken sausages (the yummy kind from Trader Joe’s), cannelloni (ricotta filled!), pizza (Chicken, spinach, white ranch sauce), and of course various forms of noodles, just to name a few.

So night-without-daddy #1: There were only 2 chicken sausages left. Sweet Italian and Jalapeño. I put them in the food processor, mixed with some ricotta (left over from the cannelloni and ravioli) and put over noodles. (note: I always make at least one extra serving of all meals so that there’s enough for hubby’s lunch the next day). The kids ate THREE whole bowls full- each! I repeat: 3!! I barely had any, and there was none left for Daddy! But the kids were happy and full, and let’s face it, we wouldn’t trade that for all the lunches in the world!! Night #2: Also inspired by leftovers. Made rice noodles (that taste like wonderful egg noodles- seriously, so, so good!). Used leftovers from pizza! Ranch sauce had been thrown in the fridge in a dish with the spinach and chicken, so I put it all in a pot. Sauteed some more spinach, threw a small dish of leftover breakfast sausage in the food processor, and added in some of my “add to everything” almond flour… it was so yummy! Night #3: Made kids their favorite kind of sandwiches: gluten-free waffles (used just like 2 slices of bread) filled with nutella, a dollop of peanut butter, and a drop of jelly. Just as I was thinking about eating a waffle myself… I looked at the breast and a half of thawed chicken that needed to be cooked anyway. And the leftover mama (how many names can I make up out of this?) opted for delicious! And all but the almonds were left over from previous meals: spinach, blue cheese crumbles, chicken, toasted almond slices, and strawberry poppyseed dressing. So good.

We are hoping to start eating more fish… here is what I’m making this weekend:

Chili-Seared Salmon

  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sweet Pepper Salsa

Combine chili powder, salt, and pepper; rub evenly over salmon fillets. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add salmon, cook 4 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Serve with Sweet Pepper Salsa.

sidenote: For an easy but delicious salmon dish with crispy skin, be sure to use “pure” olive oil, not extra-virgin olive oil, which burns more easily.

Sweet Pepper Salsa

  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and julienned
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 lg yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1 sm red onion, julienned
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Stir together all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I may double it, just so I have leftovers I can work into another recipe! What are your favorite meals to make out of leftovers?

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food glorious food!

I don’t especially like when hubbyman has to work late. But… sometimes I appreciate that it gives me extra time to get things done, because I like to make the most of the time he has with us! And if you read yesterday’s post you know I am undertaking the project of “The Love Dare” on my family. Yesterday’s dare (on top of continuing the “not saying anything negative”) was to do something kind. Well, I’m at home all day with 3 little ones and the puppy… and I was a little tempted to just say the not saying anything negative thing was kindness enough! Instead, I put my kindness into “man language.” Also known as food. A language my husband, and even my children, recognize as love. I’d gotten a wonderful magazine (Disney FamilyFun) from my aunt with “ways to jazz up dinner” by Andrew Zimmern (from the TV show Bizarre Foods). And two caught my eye: Korean Fried Chicken Fingers and Chinese Peanut-Sesame Noodles. I opted for the first, but I’m hoping to try the noodles this weekend! While Erik came home earlier than anticipated and I started it a little later than I’d anticipated… it was still a hit! While fried of course isn’t the healthiest of choices, it’s better for you (and tasting!) than mcnuggets! The kids really LOVED it and so did the adults. So much in fact, I’m tempted to make it again tonight! And maybe you should try it too! Here’s how:


  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup minced scallion
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 8 lg boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each sliced lengthwise into three strips

Side note: I didn’t have everything to make this recipe “exact” (and it just might kill me to follow a complete recipe word for word) used 1/2  cup minced red onion (because that’s Erik’s favorite so it’s what we had) and I didn’t have white pepper so I just used my black pepper grinder. I also used sea salt instead of table salt. Oh, and I used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of thigh (again because it’s what I had!)

In a  large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken and marinate it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, but as long as overnight.   (I suggest overnight or a few hours. I only did maybe 1/2 hr and it was still really good but I’d like to give the flavors longer to set in next time)


  1. Oil for frying
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 2/3 cup corn starch
  4. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 tsp pepper
  7. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  8. 3/4 cup cold water

Side note: I used veg. oil, but plan to try sunflower oil next time! And the flour I did 1/4 cup almond meal flour (because it’s just so yummy!) and 1/4 cup all-purpose gluten free flour. Again, I also used sea salt instead of table salt.

Fill a heavy, deep pan with 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat it to 350 degrees. combine the dry ingredients for the batter. Quickly whisk in the water until the mixture is evenly blended.

Use tongs or a pair of chopsticks to dip and coat the chicken in the batter. Fry the strips in batches of 6 for 5-7 minutes, then drain on paper towels.  (I found that about 6ish minutes was a good time. And once you put them in, let them settle, and then scrape them off the bottom. If  you wait to long they stick and removing them pulls a lot of the breading off. Also I’d just the next 6 strips in the batter while the other batch was frying.)

Heat the oil to 380 degrees. Fry the chicken in batches once more until crisp, about 60-90 seconds. Place the cooked chicken fingers on fresh paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

*If you were in a time crunch and didn’t mind using the extra oil, you could have a second pan set up so that after you drained the chicken you could immediately move it into the hotter oil.

The chicken would be good with rice or any kind of potato, or really any vegetable for that matter! I made mashed potatoes but forgot all about them! (Guess what we’re having tonight?!) And for the dipping sauce we used sweet and sour. (the recipe suggested it) Although really any kind of dip you have or enjoy would be good with this, I would think. It did also suggest a dip you could serve with it for a spicy kick…but I didn’t have most of the ingredients, and Miss E is allergic to most of them anyways. Plus I kind of shy away from recipes where I’d have to buy a lot of ingredients that I wouldn’t know what to do with other than this one recipe. (Although I do admit it does sound good.) So for the bold, here you go:

Spicy Korean Red-Pepper Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste found in Asian markets)
  • 3 tbs ketchup
  • 1/4 agave nectar (or in a pinch, corn syrup)
  • 1 tbs dark sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Mommy’s Helper Note: I like to make things the kids can help with and the kids LOVE eating things that they’ve helped to make. While they obviously can’t help with the raw chicken or the frying… I did put the chicken in a ziploc and had them help me pound them with a rolling pin (not necessary but thought they’d cook more evenly if they were uniform and I knew the kids would enjoy the activity). And I always let them help me “unload”  all the ingredients into the bowl for the batter.

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