6 Perfect Party Dishes To Whip Up In December (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Got a party on the horizon? Don’t have time to stress over the menu when you’re this busy making sure you hit up the mall before the pre-Christmas shopping rush gets even worse?

No problem! Cooking should always be fun — even relaxing, when possible — and there’s just no dang reason to stress just because you have a cool holiday party coming up.

Whip up some of these relatively easy dishes and you won’t have too much to worry about. Pssst! You can make anything that won’t get soggy ahead of time, and the rest — like the mushrooms and the potato bites — can be prepped a day or two in advance of the big occasion.

1. Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

Wow! So easy and flavorful! The fresh herbs and simple seasoning really elevate the humble potatoes, and the bacon wrapping keeps them moist and juicy. Of course, you can sub the potatoes for tater tots or even similarly sized sweet potato cubes if you wish.

2. Cranberry and Walnut Pinwheels

Whether you serve these for a snack or dessert (or both), it’s pretty much guaranteed that everyone will adore these fun, sweet pie-crust rolls.

3. Portobello Mushroom Bruschetta

These are healthy, vegan and gluten free, but more importantly, they are so fresh and delicious that even people who hate veggies might fall in love with them.

4. Supreme Pizza Dip

With just 15 minutes of prep, this dish is as easy as it comes, but it is robust and hearty enough to feed a crowd. Let’s be honest, though: I had you at pizza dip.

5. One-Pot Chicken Piccata Pasta

Need a fast meal to satiate your hungry guests who need more than a snack? This creamy, savory, lemony 30-minute dish based on the classic chicken recipe is the way to go! It’s pretty hard to mess up. You can sub any kind of cream, milk or even plain yogurt for the heavy cream, and you can swap out the capers for something like roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes or even chopped green olives if you are so inclined.

6. Super Easy Slow Cooker Eggnog

Don’t forget to offer your guests some sweet, creamy beverages! And yes, you absolutely can and should make some eggnog in your slow cooker — it’s impossibly simple, and it has every bit of that delicious home-cooked taste. With or without rum (or brandy, or even a mellow whiskey), these sippers are super tasty, or you can go a different direction and turn these into lattes.

Featured Image: Foodista/Flickr

Tags: December recipe, fast dish to serve at a party, party food, party recipe, Tasty Tuesday
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6 Easy, Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers With Store-Bought Dough (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

November can be a pretty busy time!

With the cold weather, it’s a great time to fire up the oven, but visiting relatives and the Thanksgiving break can sometimes make the month fly by a little too quickly.

Fortunately, there are a few shortcuts you can take to make things easier on yourself, especially in the kitchen. Grab some pre-made dough from the store and prep some easy appetizers — many of which can be made and frozen ahead of time — so that you’ll always be ready to entertain family members and other hungry guests.

1. Bacon and Pimento Cheese Puffs 

Slightly spicy pimento cheese spread and crispy, chewy, savory bacon are a match made in heaven, especially when you roll them up together in a big crescent roll log and slice them up. Be sure to make extras, because these go fast!

2. Peach and Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Honey and Thyme

Delicious! Peaches may be just out of season, but you’re more than welcome to use frozen or canned ones, or even something a little easier to get your hands on, like winter pears or apples.

3. Crescent-Wrapped Asparagus

These are sure to be a crowd-pleaser! They are so easy to make and so universally enjoyable that you can not only enlist the kids to help you make them, but you also get a good shot at watching them eat their veggies without a fuss.

4. Chicken Enchilada Empanadas

Two of the best foods ever combine into one super appetizer! Throw in whatever leftovers you have on hand, and feel free to freeze them so that you’ll never be unprepared to entertain anyone who drops by unannounced.

5. Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Gruyere Tartlets

Puff pastry gets a simple, classy upgrade with some delightful ingredients that you can prep ahead of time. If you want to switch it up, the options are endless: bacon and cheddar, olives and feta, chicken Alfredo …

6. Ham And Cheese Ring

It’s delicious, it’s hearty, and the gorgeous folding makes this deceptively easy Italian sub-flavored crescent dough ring into a work of art. Plus, you can totally mix this up as you please. A pizza ring packed with marinara sauce, pepperoni, Italian spices and cheese, for example, doesn’t sound too bad.

Featured Image: stu_spivack/Flickr

Tags: crescent dough recipe, easy recipes, puff pastry appetizer, Tasty Tuesday, Thanksgiving appetizer
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7 Positively Scrumptious Copycat Halloween Candies (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

First and foremost: Happy Halloween!!

This year, let’s make our own candy!

Whether you and yours just want to try something new, or your have food allergies or certain other dietary restrictions that can make Halloween candy a real pain, the good news is that there are tons of copycat recipes out there that make DIY candy a real treat. And if you have a very specific diet, you can easily make substitutions as needed.

Plus, sometimes it’s just fun to make a homemade version of your favorite snack. It’s often a tad healthier, and it is almost always going to taste way better.

1. Chocolate Toffee

Halloween candy or not, few things are better than the sweet, buttery crunch of homemade toffee. The best part? When you make it yourself, you can control the ratio of chocolate to toffee, and if you’re more into white or dark chocolate, you can use that instead so that it tastes exactly the way you want it to.

2. (Gluten Free) Red Cherry Licorice

For some strange reason, candies like Twizzlers are often made with wheat flour, which sucks for gluten-free folks. Rather than buying stupidly expensive (and often tasteless, let’s face it) GF alternatives, try making your own! You do need to have a (cheap!) candy thermometer, as it’ll help you get that perfect chewy consistency that tastes just like the real thing.

3. Twix

If you love this candy, you’ll LOVE this giant three-layered version that ends up in big pan and gets chopped into pieces — huge ones, if you want!

4. Pop Rocks

These are just plain impressive! With little more than a candy thermometer and a few simple ingredients, you can create your own spin on the nostalgic fizzy popping candy. This recipe tends to yield somewhat tart pop rocks, so if you like it sweeter, consider either subbing the honey for corn syrup or adding a bit more sugar than the recipe calls for.

5. Peanut Butter Cups

These silky delights come up much richer than the grocery store version, and though they are delicious with the dark chocolate that the recipe calls for, you can absolutely use whatever kind you like. These will get you cups that resemble the mass-produced kind, but you’re welcome to skip that step and layer chocolate (allow it to cool), peanut butter and chocolate and then just slice it up if you prefer.

6. Candy Corn

Say what you will about the controversial candy, but it has lived through yet another Halloween season, and it’s clearly here to stay. So you might as well embrace it and make the festive waxy treat for your friends and family.

7. Starburst

You know how when you get a pack of Starbursts, you invariably end up crossing your fingers and hoping that you get your favorite color, but instead you end up with multiples of your throwaway flavor? Yeah. Fortunately, you can go ahead and avoid the disappointment by making them all pink — or whatever your favorite happens to be.

Featured Image: Carissa Rogers/Flickr

Tags: copycat dessert recipe, DIY candy, Halloween candy, homemade chocolate bar, Tasty Tuesday
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6 Mind-Blowing Ways To Eat Potato Skins (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

You’ve certainly heard that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and that absolutely applies to the kitchen, where scraps can be the best part of a meal.

Case in point: potato skins. If you’re making mashed potatoes or something similar that doesn’t require you to use the earthy outer covering of the starchy roots, consider saving them (along with a bit of inner flesh) for an exciting and budget-friendly appetizer or meal!

1. Reuben Stuffed Potato Skins

It’s not just your favorite sandwich anymore; it can be your favorite snack too. With tender, savory pastrami or corned beef, flavorful sauerkraut, gooey, melty Swiss cheese and a sweet, spicy sauce to bring it all home, you might find yourself getting hooked on these.

2. Crispy Potato Skins with Pesto Cream Dip

You had me at pesto cream. But in case you need any further convincing, you can crack an egg on these once they are done cooking (or to revamp any leftovers) and bake until the whites are set just to make it that much more dippable and delightful.

3. Bacon Blue Cheese Burger Skins

The hearty ground beef, sweet caramelized onions, crispy bacon and crumbled blue cheese make for the perfect bite. You can also totally apply these principles to another type of burger combo like beef, cheddar cheese, pickles and mushrooms or even something a little less conventional like ground turkey, smoked provolone cheese, pesto and cherry peppers.

4. Crab Salad Stuffed Potato Skins

Deep-fried potatoes with creamy, mustardy crab salad piled high on top? I sure can’t resist!

5. Garlicky and Cheesy Crispy Potato Skins 

If you’re a garlic fiend who loves cheesy mashed potatoes but also craves a bit of crunch here and there, these crunchy, aromatic skins are for you.

6. Mac n’ Cheeze Stuffed Potato Skins

Those in the know will recognize that the “z” in “cheeze” is the stamp of a vegan recipe, although cheddar fiends can use their favorite dairy-packed recipe, of course. Either way it’s super melty, crunchy and delicious.

Featured Image: Public Domain Pictures

Tags: affordable recipes, appetizers, Potato Skins, snack recipe, Tasty Tuesday
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5 Wild, Loaded Quesadillas That Could Change Your Life (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Few things are as craveable as a gooey, crunchy quesadilla, especially when it’s loaded up with fillings and topped with a cool, creamy addition, like guacamole or sour cream.

Quesadillas are super easy to make, but don’t limit yourself to just cheese! Let’s get wild: the sky’s the limit! Here are some wacky ‘dilla mashups that are nearly too good to be true:

1. Macaroni and Cheese Quesadilla

Creamy, dreamy mac gets an extra kick from added spices and gets smushed with extra cheese and zesty black bean salsa between two crispy tortilla layers.

2. Cheeseburger Quesadilla

With sharp cheddar cheese, crumbly bacon bits, perfectly seasoned, moist ground beef and your favorite cheeseburger toppings like pickles, ketchup or yellow chili peppers, this is a real crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike.

3. Bacon Jam and Guacamole Quesadilla with Fried Egg with Bacon Jam Vinaigrette Drizzle

It’s clear from the ingredient list alone that this quesadilla is perfection. Bacon Jam. Guac. Fried egg. Just ONE of these makes any recipe a dang sight better, so naturally, you’re going to need to combine them into one ultimate melt.

4. Cuban Quesadilla

You know those fabulous sandwiches with ham, pickles, mustard and melty cheese, all smushed together in a thin, crunchy bite? Yeah THOSE. You can and should totally ‘dilla them for an extra crispy, cheesy way to enjoy the ol’ ham and cheese.

5. Blueberry Breakfast Quesadilla

SWEET QUESADILLAS???? How have I never thought of this before??? Eat these cinnamon cream cheese and berry (you don’t need to stick to just blueberries, of course) melts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or dessert. Just be warned: you may get hooked! This is game changing!

Featured Image: Jan Murin/Flickr

Tags: cheeseburger quesadilla, easy recipe, loaded quesadilla, quesadilla recipe, Tasty Tuesday
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7 Beautiful Tater Tot Dishes You Won’t Want To Share (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Whether you’re looking for a fun, easy dinner, a tasty appetizer or an indulgent weekend breakfast, you really can’t go wrong with crispy, tender tater tots. 

Whether you want to make them from scratch (you can find a traditional tot recipe here) or grab that bag you keep in the back of your freezer and load them up, I say go for it!

You can make your tots out of broccoli, load them up like nachos or pile them inside a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s all up to you!

1. Tater Tot Breakfast Nachos

Every breakfast should include fried potatoes, two different kinds of cheese, spicy fresh jalapenos and a couple of fried eggs! Feel free to use any of your favorite breakfast meats, like crumbled sausage, chopped bacon or chorizo, for a little extra protein.

2. Mac And Cheese Tater Tot Casserole

It’s a simple but revolutionary idea: Make your favorite kind of classic mac and cheese (maybe mix in some bacon if you’re feeling wild?) and top it with crunchy tots and smother them with cheese. If you’re in a dangerous mood, you can even top your mac with cheese-filled tots and really live it up.

3. Cheeseburger Stuffed Tater Tots​

A mini meal rolled into a single tater tot? Sign me up!

4. Honey Mustard Chicken Tater Tot Nachos

Sweet honey mustard chicken thighs, crispy tots and gooey cheese get topped (optionally) with creamy avocado, cool sour cream, savory green onions and fresh grape tomatoes because YUM.

5. Churro Tater Tots with Homemade Dulce de Leche

You can totally make regular ol’ frozen tots into this magical dessert snack. All you need is a bit of a cinnamon sugar and some sweetened condensed milk and BAM! Churro tots!

6. Chorizo e Papas Grilled Cheese

Every grilled cheese sandwich needs some bold spiced Mexican chorizo, soft caramelized onions and crispy tater tots wedged in the middle for a perfect flavor and texture harmony!

7. Broccoli Tots​

Tasty tater tots made with broccoli and cheddar? Dreams really do come true!

Featured Image: anokarina/Flickr

Tags: loaded tater tots, Tasty Tuesday, tater tot nachos, tater tot recipes, Tater Tots
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7 Foods You Can Probably Make Without Going Shopping (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Look, I know how it is. You’re hungry, and you’re hungry now. There’s not much in the fridge, and going grocery shopping is not an option.

Whether you’re not feeling the whole “going out in public” thing, you don’t have transportation or you’re on a budget, you can probably make do with stuff that you already have. All you need to do is check your fridge, freezer and pantry again — chances are, you overlooked some stuff that you can work a little magic on and turn into a glorious meal!

1. Tomato Soup with Bacon Grilled Cheese

Even if you don’t have the material for both, you might be able to whip up one of these deceptively simple comfort foods. If you want, you can also turn those sandwiches into bacon grilled cheese croutons because YUM.

2. Spinach and Cheese Strata

What the heck is a strata, you ask? It’s basically a savory bread pudding. And as long as you have a few important ingredients like bread and eggs, you can change around the specifics based on what meats and veggies you have. When you’re low on supplies and stuck eating scrambled eggs and toast for every meal, this is a fun way to mix things up!

3. French Onion Soup

What do you make when you have practically nothing in your kitchen? Onion soup, of course! If you want to cut down on work, this slow cooker version is brilliant.

4. Thai Peanut Soba Noodles
 

You can use just about any noodles for this creamy, zesty dish. Linguini, spaghetti or instant ramen all work beautifully!

5. Pizza Mac and Cheese

Truly the best of both worlds! Is it possible to muck up this combination? Doubtful! The great thing about this dish is that as long as you have a few things (macaroni or other short noodles like penne or orecchiette, marinara sauce and just about any melty cheese), you can mix it up as you please by adding anything that makes a good pizza topping.

6. Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Don’t forget about dessert! Take the classic easy sandwich and revamp it into a fudgy brownie-style bar for a real treat.

7. Jacked-Up Banana Bread

The secret? A couple spoonfuls of bourbon combine beautifully with vanilla and spices to give a subtle complexity to this easy but wonderful way to use up browned bananas before they go bad.

Featured Image: Jason Hutchens/Flickr

Tags: cook without grocery shopping, easy French onion soup, easy meals, recipe with ingredients you already have, Tasty Tuesday
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5 Snacks You Can Make With Only 3 Ingredients (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Hungry? Lazy? Busy?

Don’t let that stop you from cooking! You can still whip up some fabulously tasty snacks with almost no effort at all. In fact, you really don’t need more than three ingredients!

The best part about three-ingredient recipes? There’s a good chance that you can find at least one that doesn’t even require you to go to the store, since you might already have everything on hand. So easy!

1. Pizza Rolls

Nothing against the iconic pre-made frozen ones, but why would you buy them when it’s so ridiculously easy to DIY it? If you’d like, you can also add pizza sauce and/or herbs like oregano or basil to make things even fancier.

2. Nutella Bread

If you happen to have a jar of chocolate hazelnut spread and a can of crescent roll dough, you’re all set! It’s super easy to braid this sweet treat, although you can also just roll it up like normal crescents if you’d prefer.

3. Watermelon Sherbet

Who knew that all you need for a healthy and delicious dessert is fresh melon and yogurt? I sure didn’t. This is life changing!

4. Flourless Cheese Breadsticks

Making your own bread always seems like a lot of work, but this low-carb version is as easy as it gets — plus it stays dense, moist and tender even if you overcook it a tad. Want to kick things up? Add a bit of minced garlic or garlic powder, Italian seasoning and/or chili flakes to your dough. You’ll love it!

5. No-Bake Cereal Bars

If you’re hooked on eating cereal bars in the morning, then you should totally start making your own! They are delectable, healthy, easy to customize and they will save you a ton of money in the long run.

Featured Image: PX Here

Tags: 3 ingredient, easy recipe, fast appetizers, snacks, Tasty Tuesday
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7 Awesome Things You Can Do With Pepperoni (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Pepperoni is a totally underappreciated food!

Are you still thinking about what to do with pepperoni?

Everybody knows it’s great atop a big cheesy, classic slice of pizza. And when you taste a slice, it immediately brings to mind your favorite childhood meal.

But there’s so much more to make with pepperoni than that! From gooey sandwiches to bite-sized appetizers to savory waffles, the spicy sliced sausage really is a versatile star. Even the fancier stuff is usually a lot cheaper than its cured cousin, salami, though you can use them interchangeably if you want to mix around your flavors a bit.

Here are some excellent things to do with pepperoni and uses for pepperoni, everything from pizza-inspired treats to slightly more unexpected delights (Try all 7 recipes with pepperoni):

1. Cheesy Pepperoni Bites

This is sort of like a thick, dense pepperoni bread, and it’s just amazing. The batter will come together in just a few minutes if you chop your leftover pepperoni and cheese the day before. You can totally sneak some spinach, mushrooms or cooked zucchini in there too!

2. Pepperoni Pops

Look, cake pops are fabulous, nobody is disputing that. But have you ever tried pizza pops? Puff pastry or canned pizza dough make for perfect pockets that you can fill with sauce, cheese and all your favorite pizza fillings.

3. Roasted Red Pepper, Pepper Jack and Pepperoni Sandwiches

I don’t know why nobody called this thing a Triple Pepper sandwich, but please let’s make this catch on. The melty Triple P is so easy when you bake it in the oven, although you can absolutely use a panini press if you have one.

4. Pepperoni Pizza Waffles

Are you one of those people who just loves savory breakfasts? If so, you can’t do much better than this super easy pizza waffle. It’s delicious, and you can top it with anything you want — parmesan cheese, marinara sauce and a fried egg, maybe?

5. Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna Roll Ups

Can’t pick between your two faves, pepperoni pizza and lasagna? You don’t have to! They are absolutely wonderful when combined into this cheesy casserole dish. This is so good that the kids probably won’t even mind if you sneak a bunch of chopped spinach into the bottom.

6. Mini Cauliflower Pizzas

No gluten? No problem. If you’re cutting down on calories, carbs or flour, this is a very sensible but super tasty, crispy way to get your pizza fix. Even if you could care less about calories, you’ll still love these — they are that good!

7. Pepperoni Roll Ups

Pepperoni, string cheese, crescent roll dough and a bit of seasoning — that’s all it takes for a fabulous appetizer. Perfect!

Featured Image: PixnioTags: appetizers, leftover pepperoni, make with pepperoni, Pepperoni, pepperoni recipes, Pizza, Pizza Snacks, Tasty Tuesday, things with pepperoni, to do with pepperoni, uses for pepperoni
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You’ll Go Weak In The Knees For These 7 Stuffed Burgers (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

When you’re hungry, sometimes an ordinary burger just won’t do it. If you’re looking for something filling and absolutely oozing with juicy goodness, consider stuffing your burger with something creamy and rich.

All of these thick patties are absolutely fabulous charred over the grill, so if you’d like to whip up something special for an end-of-summer barbecue, this is a great way to go.

Plus, these burgers are easy to customize based on your nutritional needs. There are some dairy-free and vegetarian options here, and you can easily mix and match your favorite elements of each recipe. Not into beef? Try these with ground turkey instead — the stuffing method is a great way to ensure that they don’t come out as hockey pucks.

No matter which route you choose, you’re sure to devour these moist, juicy burgers with gusto. Enjoy!

1. Cheese-Stuffed Burger

This recipe calls for extra sharp cheddar cheese, but feel free to use anything melty that you like — you really can’t go wrong! This is also a great template if you need a basic burger-stuffing guideline.

2. Mozzarella Stick Stuffed Chicken Burgers

If you love crunchy, gooey mozzarella sticks, this burgerfied version is for you! Love taking shortcuts? Go ahead and mix the cheese right into the patty blend like so.

3. Avocado and Spicy Mayo Stuffed Burgers

This juicy paleo-friendly burger packs a ton of protein into each hearty serving, and the spicy chipotle and fresh herbs bring a much-needed zing of flavor.

4. Bacon Mac and Cheese Stuffed Burgers

I can’t think of a better use for leftover mac and cheese, can you? If you want an ultimate, reckless Cheat Day treat, you can top this with another layer of bacon strips, cheddar cheese, avocado, bacon jam and/or crispy fried onion strings. Whoa!

5. Caprese Stuffed Veggie Burgers​

Cooked quinoa and lentils bring lots of flavor and healthy, filling protein. Plus, they make for an easy, eggless binder; as such, this recipe is super easy to veganize. Just swap out the cheese for dairy-free Daiya, balsamic vinegar-coated avocado or tofu ricotta.

6. Bacon, Onion and Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Garlic powder and barbecue sauce get mixed right into your ground beef, so you know this one is going to pack a serious punch when it comes to flavor. Add the cheesy, smoky, caramelized stuffing mix to bring it all home.

7. Wasabi Cheese Stuffed Veggie Burger

Veggie-oat burgers are anything but boring when you stuff them full of powerful wasabi cheese. If you can’t find the unusual dairy product, just use any mild, creamy cheese and mix in some wasabi paste.

Featured Image: jeffreyw/Flickr

Tags: juicy burger recipes, paleo, stuffed burger, Tasty Tuesday, vegetarian
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7 Winning Breakfast Burritos And Wraps For Any Occasion (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Need a filling breakfast, a quick meal or a mini appetizer or snack?

Then make some breakfast burritos. Everybody loves breakfast burritos, right?

Here’s how to roll one up:

If you need to entertain some guests, why not make mini versions? If you want, you can pan-fry them until they are golden and crispy for an extra dose of fun.

Either way, they’ll be delicious for just about any occasion.

1. Pulled Pork Breakfast Wraps

These seem elaborate, but they couldn’t be any easier, since you can make the pulled pork in the slow cooker beforehand. Then all you need to do is roll it up with your favorite fixings. Yum!

2. Breakfast Taquitos

Ok, not technically burritos (you can make them that way if you want!), but these easily freezable baked egg/sausage/sun-dried tomatoes/avocado/cheese wonders are as delicious as they are easy, so I just couldn’t leave them off.

3. DIY Starbucks Spinach-Feta Wrap

Look, nobody really knows why this semi-healthy breakfast option just tastes so dang perfect when you order it from ‘Bux. Make them at home and you’ll save money and calories, plus you can customize it as you please. Want to add in some bacon or remove the spinach? It’s all up to you.

4. Crispy Breakfast Burritos

These pan-fried delights have a nice crunch on the outside, and the inside is full of deliciously tender, flavorful scrambled eggs, ham, fresh tomatoes and melty cheese. Add some veggies like sauteed peppers, mushrooms or spinach if you want to trick yourself into eating some nutritious food.

5. SuperSonic Breakfast Burrito

Whether you’ve never tried the drive-in fast food chain’s delectable breakfast burritos or you’re completely hooked, you’ll adore the homemade version that gets jam-packed with creamy eggs, breakfast sausage, gooey cheddar, crispy tater tots, jalapenos, crunchy onions and fresh tomatoes.

6. Vegan Breakfast Burrito with Daiya Pepperjack

The impossibly melty vegan cheese (of course, you can use regular if you want) melts down into what almost tastes like a cheesy sauce and perfectly coats the spicy sauteed mushrooms. Seasoned and browned tofu, seitan or tempeh would be great too!

7. Cinnamon French Toast Wrap

Are you craving something on the sweet side? If savory breakfasts just don’t hit the spot for you, these wraps — which use a similar egg-soaking process as regular French toast — will rock your socks off, especially when you add in a little almond butter and/or your favorite fruit.

Featured Image: Sodanie Chea/Flickr

Tags: appetizers, breakfast burritos, easy breakfast recipes, Tasty Tuesday, wraps
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8 Glorious Things You Should Be Doing To Your Nachos (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Hey, you there! You need more nachos in your life.

I am completely sure of this. Whether you’re looking for an indulgent, quick meal that is both filling and snacky at the same time or you have a pile of guests to entertain, nachos are the way to go.

I mean honestly, who can say no to nachos? Here are some glorious things you can do to jazz up the classic cheat food:

1. Green Chile Chicken Nachos 

The home-fried tortilla chips are fabulously fresh and crispy, although you’re more than welcome to use store-bought chips. If you want to save even more time, you can make a simpler version of the chile verde chicken in your slow cooker, provided that you plan ahead a little!

2. Pepperoni Pizza Supreme Nachos

Because obviously, the only thing better than pizza is pizza nachos! For a doughier flavor, you can sub the tortilla chips for pita chips or even pizza crust chips.

3. California Roll Nachos

Want to kick these up another notch? Make these with wonton chips or even consider using nacho-flavored Doritos. Once the nachos are done in the oven, feel free to top with anything else you like in a sushi roll, like spicy tuna, sashimi cubes, eel sauce, even pineapple or mango. Anything goes!

4. Pineapple and Bacon Nachos With Brie and Chipotle-Orange Salsa 

These individually topped nachos are perfect for entertaining. They are a lot tidier than your standard pile, and the fun ingredients bring a classy sweet and savory balance. Your guests will devour them!

5. Grilled Sweet Potato Nachos

Healthy? YES, HEALTHY! With sweet corn, refried black beans, bold cilantro and a fabulous cheese sauce, this really doesn’t get much better. P.S. If you want to make it even healthier, you can use this vegetable-based vegan, gluten-free cheez sauce instead.

6. Waffle Breakfast Nachos

Honestly, I don’t know why people don’t mix tortilla chips and waffles more often. Waffles + savory flavors are just stupendous. Top these with anything you like.

7. Chicken Pad Thai Nachos

Can you nacho pad thai? Yes! Should you nacho pad thai? YES YES YES! It’s so good! Top with whatever you want — I won’t be mad if you want to throw in some shrimp, pork and/or fried tofu.

8. Korean Nachos With Kimchi and Bulgogi Beef

If you’ve never eaten kimchi with cheese before, you are missing out so hard. There’s just something magical that creamy cheese brings to the spicy, tangy crunch of kimchi. You must try it, and what better way to do so than piled high atop wonton chips and thinly sliced, sweet, tender bulgogi beef?

Featured Photo Credit: NatureBoyMD/Wikimedia Commons

Tags: appetizers, loaded nacho recipes, nacho upgrades, Tasty Tuesday, unique nachos
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7 Quick Party Snacks You Won’t Want To Share (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Craving finger food? 

If the summer heat is addling your brain and affecting both your appetite and your desire to cook large meals, consider whipping up a fun main course that consists only of appetizers.

It’s lots of fun, and you’ll love this one just as much as the kids do.

Plus, you can make a few of these and throw a party, because what better way to spend those long, summer evenings?

The salty, smoky crispy bacon is the perfect match for the soft, sugary dates with a nice nutty crunch in the middle. If you’d like, you can stuff them with goat cheese or cream cheese instead of nuts.

1. Waffle-Battered Chicken Wings

The best way to turn this favorite meal into bite-sized appetizers is by dipping the fried chicken in waffle batter and then waffling it. Obviously. Want to make it even easier to eat? Use boneless wings, chicken strips or nuggets and serve with toothpicks.

2. Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

If you’re like me, you vastly prefer medium or thin asparagus spears to those really fat ones, which have a tendency to be a little tough and overwhelming. But if you see some, snag a bundle, because once you wrap them in crispy, savory puff pastry, you’ll want to be eating these with every meal.

3. Bite-Sized Baked Brie and Jam Puffs

Fool your guests by offering them this classy, slightly sweet snack. They’ll think that you spent hours on it, but in reality all you need are five ingredients and 15 minutes of prep time. Flaky, buttery crescent rolls really can do it all.

4. Bacon-Wrapped Dates

5. S’more Brownie Bites

Adorable and delicious! I could totally eat a whole batch of these all on my own. The brownie batter is really easy to make, although you’re more than welcome to buy boxed mix if you want to take shortcuts — just add about two teaspoons of vanilla extract to match Giada’s gourmet flair and go from there.

6. Loaded Totchos

Nachos are classic. French-fry nachos are great. And tater tot nachos are absolutely heavenly. Make sure you make these extra crispy, because they do tend to fall apart — that soft, greasy, crunchy crumble completely adds to the appeal, though.

7. Cereal Ice Cream Sandwiches

These make perfect little desserts or hors d’oeuvres, and you can make them way ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, which is great if you’re having people over and want to cut back on time. Kids will love to make and eat these too. Make mini ones for guests and hide some giant ones in the back of the freezer just for you.

Featured Photo Credit: Sam Craig/Flickr

Tags: appetizer recipes, finger food, Party Snacks, summer recipes, Tasty Tuesday
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10 Amazingly Easy 3-Ingredient Appetizers (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

You thought you were doing great. You cleaned the house, got yourself ready and prepped all the food for your party with extra time to spare — or so you thought. But that’s when you realize that — GASP! — you forgot the appetizers!!

If you’ve ever been in this stressful scenario, or if you just simply don’t have the time and/or energy to whip up any elaborate apps, whether it is for a potluck or even just for a relaxing afternoon at home, you can breathe easy.

Here are some incredibly simple appetizers you can make that have three essential ingredients or fewer. You might need to add some seasoning or oil here or there, but I’m assuming you already have that stuff, ok?

1. Super-Easy Mozzarella Sticks

Yep, all you need to do is fry some string cheese folded into egg roll wrappers. P.S. If you happen to not have an egg within reach, you can skip the egg wash and just brush the final fold with water so that it seals better.

2. Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Two ingredients! So simple! You can also grill these, if you want. If you’re taking this route, I recommend tossing the asparagus in olive oil and pre-grilling it for around five minutes if you like your asparagus more tender (if you like it more al dente, skip this step). Then wrap in the bacon and put back on the grill for five or so more minutes, until it is nice and crisp.

3. Apricots and Creme Fraiche

Summer is definitely the wrong time to sleep on fresh fruit appetizers, especially if you have access to some good stuff. Don’t have apricots? You can sub for a similar stone fruit like peaches if you’d like. The fresh, sweet flavors with that tiny pop of savory pepper is just perfectly balanced goodness that’s sure to be a hit.

4. Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Wrap anything in bacon and it instantly becomes tasty, especially if that thing happens to be a cheese-stuffed jalapeno. By the way, if you want to cut down on cooking time, you can cook the bacon in the microwave, crumble it and mix it into the cream cheese instead of wrapping it.

5. Three-Ingredient Creamy Sweet and Sour Wonton Dip

This one is honestly so easy, especially if you have extra wonton skins on hand from making #1. An excellent reason to keep sweet and sour sauce on hand.

6. Citrus Crisps

You might think you don’t have anything lying around that you can make into a quick appetizer, but if you’ve got any type of citrus fruit, you’re good to go. Martha recommends using sweeter stuff like Meyer lemons and grapefruit, but you can absolutely play around with lemons or limes, though you might want to really smother them in sugar to keep them from tasting too sour.

7. Easy Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

These are fast, semi-healthy and stunningly tasty. Feel free to switch it up and mix in anything you want, like crab meat, crumbled Italian sausage or leftover chicken. P.S. Here’s how to make pesto from scratch, if you’re into that.

8. Three-Ingredient Five Minute Crab Dip

The secret is that particular Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy blend. If you can’t find it, however, you can probably get away with some Old Bay, cayenne pepper and salt. I won’t tell anyone.

9. Cheesy Pesto Crescents

Pesto. Crescent rolls. Cheese. It’s that simple! If you don’t have string cheese, you can use absolutely anything else you want. Shredded mozzarella, ricotta, blue, jack … it’s all good.

10. Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Wings

You know those ranch powder packets that you keep around for no known reason? Yeah, that’s the secret ingredient that makes these chicken wings so good. If you like them a little crispier and have a few extra minutes to spare, you can bake them like so and simply toss them in the sauce right before serving.

Featured Photo Credit: Palmetto Cheese/Flickr

Tags: appetizers, easy appetizer, five minute recipe, Tasty Tuesday, three ingredients
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8 Indulgent Sides You Can Make Instead Of French Fries (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Let’s get this disclaimer out of the way: French fries are super tasty. There is no way around it. Whether you prefer the thin shoestring fries, thick, soft steak fries or crispy double-fried Belgian fries, they pretty much never get old.

But nonetheless, you might occasionally want to switch things up and impress guests or your own taste buds, so it’s time to get creative! Here are some excellent things you can make instead of the same old french fries:

(Note: If you want to be slightly healthier, you can bake, rather than deep-fry, most of these recipes. Throw them in the oven in a single layer and bake on 425 for roughly 10-20 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.)

1. Portobello Fries

These easy, baked mushrooms are indulgent to boot, but they are still relatively healthy despite tasting like a guilty pleasure, and the basil aioli really takes this to another level. If you want to lower the calories a little, swap out either half or all of the mayo for plain yogurt.

2. Bacon Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Everyone knows that beer-battered onion rings are the best kind — with that light but thick, savory crunch, nothing really beats it. Except for bacon. Because bacon makes everything better.

3. Dauphine Potatoes

Deep-fried mashed potatoes and choux pastry?? WHOA. How can anyone say no to that? These are fantastic with honey mustard or your favorite dipping sauce.

4. Beer Battered Jalapenos

AKA bottle caps, these easy, spicy, crunchy bites are addicting! If the jalapenos are a little too spicy for you, feel free to remove the seeds, as that’s where most of the heat is. You can also fill the center of these with cream cheese, spicy tuna or really anything you want!

5. Easy Avocado Fries

YUM. If you don’t have a deep-fryer, you can use any thick-bottomed (NOT non-stick) pot or pan (woks are great!) that can handle high heat. Dump a few inches of oil in there and heat until a tiny piece of batter instantly floats and starts bubbling/turning golden brown.

6. Crispy Fried Pickles

Can’t get enough of the briny, tangy glory of pickles? Make them even better and DEEP FRY them for the ultimate appetizer/side that is delightful when dipped in hot sauce and/or ranch. What could be better with a burger and beer?

7. Almost-Famous Green Bean Fries

These crispy breaded green beans are PHENOMENAL, but it’s the spicy cucumber wasabi ranch dip that’ll really seal the deal for you.

8. Fried Pizza Bites

All pizza is good. Fried pizza is absolutely no exception!

Featured Photo Credit: Tavallai/Flickr

Tags: bite sized appetizers, deep fried, fried, Tasty Tuesday, veggie fries
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8 Amazing Burger Bun Substitutions (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Hey, you there! Dump those burger buns, I have something waaaay more fun for you.

Sure, a nice brioche or pretzel bun can be tasty, but those cheap little soggy burger buns can get old sometimes, let’s be honest.

Why not mix things up, and see how shameless you can make your burger? From cinnamon rolls to meat hunks to deep fried stuff and even *gasp* vegetables, there’s something for everyone here, whether you are looking for a healthy (or just fun) gluten replacement or you want to go HAM for a bacon overload.

1. Ramen Bun

Honestly, the ramen burger is DELICIOUS, fun and easy. Personally, I like to cook my ramen in concentrated broth until it’s still a bit crunchy (it will cook through all the way later, I promise) and then make sure to chill and press it for long enough so that it keeps its shape. P.S. Here’s an eggless version.

2. The Ultimate Mac-and-Cheese Burger

I just have one question: How come mac and cheese buns are not the standard way to eat burgers? What’s with this whole “bread” thing?

3. Zero Carb Bacon Bun Burger


 
“Healthy!” This “bun” is just gobs of bacon rolled up together, and it really couldn’t get more fabulous. If you’re in the mood, you can stuff it with whatever you want, likely maybe some pre-cooked mushrooms, cheese and/or avocado. It really doesn’t get much better than a bacon mound though.

4. Mushroom Cheeseburger Calzone

These easy and conveniently portable calzone/burger hybrids are super versatile. You can play up the pizza aspect by adding marinara and pepperoni, or you can make it more burgeresque by searing a patty (instead of crumbling the beef as this recipe recommends) so that it takes on a more burgeriffic texture.

5. The Hamburger Fatty Melt

This burger more than earns its name, considering that two halves of a grilled cheese sandwich act as the bun in a common sense-defying act of brilliance. Add anything you want to it, like bacon, a fried egg, pickles or chipotle mayo.

6. Arepas

Fried cornmeal makes for an AMAZING and often gluten-free bun, just so you know — but if you’re banking on it being totally GF, make sure you double-check the packaging, since not all cornmeal is free of the stuff.

7. Deep-Fried Burger

Forget the bun. Take two thin patties, smoosh them together with some cheese and then dunk the whole thing in a beer batter (batter recipe here). Drop it into a sizzling hot deep fryer or vat of boiling oil, and you have yourself an artery-clogging meal for the ages.

7. Cinnaburger

If sweet-savory combos never fail to lure you in, you’ll need to make this easy, shamelessly delicious abomination. This recipe is great with store-bought rolls or dough, but if you want to go the extra mile, here is a great way to DIY them. You can also make a similar burger with a glazed donut. 

8. Portobello Mushroom “Buns”

There are a number of different ways you can do this — do you want them crispy? Softer? These buns won’t let you down. Try them with a turkey burger topped with mozzarella (optional), fresh basil, heirloom tomatoes and a bit of olive oil/vinegar, marinara sauce or pesto.

Featured Photo Credit: Michael Saechang/Flickr

Tags: deep fried burger, fried burger bun, gluten free burger bun, Tasty Tuesday, unique burger
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10 Unique Pizza Crusts And Toppings Anyone Will Love (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love pizza, and those who are wrong.

Don’t be the second kind of person. Make some pizza. And enjoy it.

Crust

Let’s start with the crust. Admittedly, making your own crust at home in your tiny oven can be difficult and more often than not results in pizza that is either soggy, tastes like cardboard, or defies logic and some is both soggy AND cardboardy at the same time. Not only that, but honestly making your own crust can be kind of a pain sometimes, and it’s infinitely worse if you don’t do the whole gluten thing.

Want to make a traditional crust at home anyway? Here are two different approaches that will give you the best at-home results:

Thin Crust

A lot of other pizza dough recipes are labor-intensive and produce mediocre results. Not this one! This thin crust recipe might not be quite the same as a wood-fired oven, but it’ll definitely make a reliably tasty and QUICK crust.

Grilled Pizza

It turns out that firing up your grill not only gets the job done in minutes, but the intense, charring heat does a great job at mimicking Neapolitan-style pies.

If you’re cutting back on grains, want a fun new way to switch it up or are looking for an easier way to make pizza crust at home, check out these unconventional methods:

Chicken Pizza Crust

You can use ground chicken, or you can throw a chicken breast into your food processor and grind it yourself. It’s surprisingly tasty, full of protein and oddly resembles those crusts you know and love.

The Best Ever Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Sounds weird, right? I’m here to tell you, cauliflower pizza crusts are actually pretty good. (How can any crust with cheese mixed in be bad??) It’s an awesome way to sneak more veggies into your dinner. Pro-tip: The secret to a successful crust is making sure you have removed as much water as possible from your cauliflower. If needed, you might want to squeeze any leftover liquid out through a kitchen towel.

Crispy Tortilla Pizza

Short of buying a premade crust, this is probably the easiest way to make an appetizer or meal that tastes pretty darn close to regular pizza. Feel free to swap out the tortilla for anything similar, like pita, lavash, gluten-free wrap, etc.

Toppings

Ready to go wild? Use any of the crusts above — or hey, buy a premade one, I won’t judge you — and let loose.

10-Minute Mac and Cheese Pizza

Because carbs on carbs are always right. Instant or leftover mac is stupendous with MORE CHEESE and your choice of toppings (I’d love it with bacon, buffalo sauce, spinach and/or peas) for a kid- and adult-friendly meal.

Shrimp Tempura Pizza

This one is WILD with that black squid ink pizza crust, although I won’t be upset if you totally skip that step. I could see this being tasty with some type of buttery cajun sauce or alfredo in place of the marinara sauce, but you do you.

Cheeseburger Pizza

That’s right. You don’t ever have to choose between your two faves.

Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza

Are you in the mood to cheat? Grab naan bread and fresh or frozen chicken tikka masala, and it’ll be ready in minutes.

​Photo credit: thebittenword.com/Flickr

Tags: gluten free pizza, grain free pizza, pizza at home, pizza recipe, Tasty Tuesday
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8 Cool Ways To Make Dinner Fun (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

There’s no way around it. Dinner can be a drag sometimes. 

Whether you have picky kids that get bored with their evening meal, or you feel the need to jazz up dinner for party guests (or just yourself), it can be a lot of fun to find new and exciting ways to serve up your favorite foods.

It doesn’t matter if you are cooking for an 8-year-old or an 88-year-old, anyone who is young at heart will adore these fun twists on food that you’re probably eating anyway:

1. Pasta Cake

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just proud or yourself for making it through a long day of work, this delicious lasagna-ziti hybrid will hit the spot. Alternately, you can make pasta pie for a similar effect (recipe here).

2. Breakfast Flowers

Want to score bonus points with your loved ones? Serve these easy egg and ham (or whatever fillings you like) wonton cups with sweet bacon roses (recipe here) and/or rainbow pancakes (recipe here). This is a particularly great last-minute, affordable anniversary or birthday meal.

3. Chorizo-Egg Rainbow Tacos​

 

It’s easy to eat vegetables when they look this good. If you hate poorly mixed tacos and burritos with the same fiery passion as I do, you’re more than welcome to make thin lines in the opposite direction, or just lay everything out in a gorgeous rainbow and let everyone serve themselves, because let’s be honest, that onion and lettuce bite ain’t going to cut it.

4. Macaroni And Cheese Pie With A Bacon Lattice

For a moderately more nutritious version, consider making this with hidden veggie mac and cheese instead (recipe here), and/or mix in some peas and spinach. Or don’t. I won’t tell.

5. Mini Salad Cakes

Look, there’s no way around it. Sometimes vegetables are boring. If you’re looking for a fun way to trick yourself or your kids into eating salad, it doesn’t get much better than these gorgeous and versatile appetizers.

6. Rainbow Grilled Cheese

I know grilled cheese is already pretty exciting as is, but here’s a way to make it even cooler and hop on that rainbow bandwagon while expending minimal energy. Plus, it tastes fantastic.

7. Macaroni and Cheese Waffles

Got leftover mac and cheese? You absolutely must WAFFLE IT. You’ll only regret not doing this.

8. Crispy California Roll Tacos

Woo! How fun is this? This crispy version of a sushi roll uses a “krab” mix, but you can use anything you want — spicy tuna, avocado or even fresh sashimi, which would be super delicious if you cube it up and toss with sauce, poke-style (recipe here).

Featured Photo Credit: Dennis Brown/Wikimedia Commons

Tags: easy dinner recipes, fun dinner, kid recipe, rainbow recipe, Tasty Tuesday
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8 Unexpectedly Awesome Ways To Use Pizza Dough (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Some people say that shortcuts don’t pay off. Those people must spend way too much time in kitchen.

If, like me, you are always looking for ways to shave off prep and cleanup time, ignore those people and grab your favorite pizza dough. You can whip up something super tasty with a fraction of the effort that it takes to labor over homemade dough.

Here’s an easy pizza dough recipe if you need one.

1. Chili Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets

AKA Pigs in a Blanket 2.0 — this recipe includes an easy way to make chili, but you can totally use leftover or canned stuff if you’d prefer to shave off half of your cooking time. Kids will love this one.

2. Buffalo Chicken Pizza Bites

Choosing between buffalo wings and pizza is never easy, but it’s occasionally necessary. Don’t put yourself through that. Make this instead.

3. Easiest Cinnamon Rolls Ever

Ok, these might not taste exactly like something that you destroyed your kitchen over, but they are honestly pretty darn close.

4. Cheese and Crab Cups

If you don’t have lump crab, you can use imitation crab or even something like shrimp or chicken, although you might want to swap out the dill for something like freshly cracked black pepper or basil. Up to you!

5. Easy Samosas

Crunchy, pillowy samosa pockets are the best vehicles for curry-spiced potatoes and veggies (or anything else you want to stuff inside, like maybe pizza fixings), but it can take a bit of work to knead out the dough. Solved. P.S. these will also turn out great if you use puff pastry for your dough.

6. Pizza Rolls

Use crescent rolls or slice some pizza dough into triangles — either way, you have a fun, homemade way to make everyone’s favorite childhood snack. I personally would not recommend sharing in this case.

7. Cinnamon Sugar Messy Bread

If you’ve never had Messy Bread (aka Monkey Bread or Bubble Bread) you are missing out! Using canned pizza dough is so simple; all you need to do is cube it, toss it with butter and some sweet stuff and throw it in the oven. Craving something savory instead? Use the same basic idea but top with parmesan and garlic (details here).

8. Donuts

Who knew you could make this fried, sugary treat so easily? I’m definitely saving this one for the next time I find myself with a little extra dough left over from another dish. Score!

Featured Photo Credit: jeffreyw/Flickr

Tags: easy appetizers, Pizza Dough, pizza dough recipe, shortcut recipes, Tasty Tuesday
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10 Glorious Bacon Appetizers (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

What’s the best food to eat on a cheat day? Bacon, of course!

Salty, savory, smoked, chewy, crispy and sometimes even sweet — however you like your bacon. 

Enjoy these top-notch bacon appetizers:

1. Bacon-Wrapped Fries

Because sometimes potatoes, glorious though they may be, just need a little more oomph. PSA: You can also make these with tots.

2. Chicken Fried Bacon

Ever had chicken-fried steak? Imagine that same seasoned crispy batter coating a chewy, crunchy, fatty smoked slice of bacon! It is as amazing as it sounds. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top or serve with maple syrup on the side for dipping.

3. Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers Wrapped in Bacon

Jalapeno poppers are great, but this ultimate comfort food delight is proof that you can improve on perfection.

4. Deep Fried Bacon-Wrapped Pizza Balls

Because bacon and pizza are made to be dunked in hot oil together.

5. Sweet and Sour Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple

These flavorful, glazed appetizers are actually fairly healthy, especially if you use turkey bacon.

6. Deep Fried Bacon-Wrapped Peanut Butter Balls

Use maple bacon for the perfect marriage of sweet-savory. Oh yes, you’ll be hooked!

7. Elegant Pancetta Cups

You can dress these up or down — fill them with salad for something classy and light, scrambled or poached eggs with cheese for a fun breakfast or even some cheeseburger or taco fixings.

8. S.T.’s Tex-Mex Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Nuggets​
 

These are super easy! Just use any leftover cooked chicken and wrap in some spices, cream cheese and jalapenos for a fun spin on poppers. If you want to go less spicy, you can swap out the jalapeno for sweet mini bell peppers.

9. Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Curd Bun Cheeseburger

Make these as bite-sized sliders for a more manageable appetizer, since the full-sized ones are pretty overwhelming!

10. Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Cheese Sticks

Sure, you could just put bacon inside of your grilled cheese sandwich, but when you cut that sandwich into strips and twist luscious bacon around it, the grease will fuse with the crispy bread to give it an even more delicious crunch.

Featured Photo Credit: Foodista/Flickr

Tags: bacon, bacon appetizers, bacon recipe, easy appetizer, Tasty Tuesday
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Make These 10 Animal Cracker Desserts, You Unicorn You (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

April 18 is a very important moment! It is National Animal Cracker Day!

What to do with animal crackers?

Between finishing filing your taxes (am I the only one who left them until the last minute? Yeah? Hmm…) and just enjoying Tasty Tuesday, the week definitely calls for something sweet. So why not pick up your favorite bag or box of animal crackers or those delightfully sweet frosted circus cookies and go wild with some exciting new ways to enjoy your favorite sweet snack?

Some recipes using animal crackers. Let’s do it.

1. Homemade Animal Crackers

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? There’s not a thing wrong with a classic box of animal crackers, but if you want to DIY it, it’s pretty simple, and it’s got to taste amazing.

2. Lemon Cheesecake

This sweet yet tart cheesecake is absolutely phenomenal with a crust made out of animal crackers dessert, while the thick lemon curd topping (feel free to use store-bought if you want to save on time) will absolutely rock your socks off with its bold flavor.

3. Circus Animal Cookie Blondies

Brownies are great. Blondies are just as wonderful — better, some say. You know what’s even more stupendous? Mixing Circus Cookie chunks right into the batter. Don’t  blame me if you get hooked.

4. Chocolate-Covered Animal Cookies

They are a bit like Circus Animals, but chocolate, and you can adjust them to your taste, if, for example, you love sweet milk chocolate or prefer bitter dark chocolate. Plus they have that delicious homemade vibe, so everybody wins.

5. Circus Animal Cookie Ice Cream Birthday Milkshake

This is so easy! All you need are three ingredients, a blender and a few minutes of your time. If you’re as much of a boozy milkshake fiend as I am, you’ll want to dump in a hearty glug of whipped cream vodka. Trust.

6. Circus Animal Cookie Dough Truffle Bars

WHOA WHOA WHOA. Hold it. Is this real life? It IS, my friends. It is. You can absolutely enjoy these fudgy white chocolate cookie treats any time that you want, because they are that easy to whip up.

7. Coney Island Cheesecake

Prepare yourself for the amazingness that is this crust! Animal crackers, sugar cones and salty, roasted peanuts get crushed up and mixed with butter, but that’s debatably not even the most exciting part. Guess what else is in this beauty? Smooth, melted ice cream, fun colorful sprinkles and COTTON CANDY WHIPPED CREAM. Yes, I said it. It’s real. It’s. All. Real.

8. Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Butter

Seriously, this is so stupidly easy, but it’s incredibly luscious. All you do is pulse these cookies in a food processor with a bit of oil until they form a smooth, creamy paste. And then you eat it on EVERYTHING.

9. After School Snack Cookies

All your favorite snacks mixed into one, for a harmonious blend of sweet, salty and crunchy that you can only get when you mix up chocolate chips, toasted coconut, potato chips and animal cracker pieces. Wow, I never would have thought of that!

10. Lucky Rainbow Bark

This delightfully sweet, crunchy white chocolate/Lucky Charms/Circus Animal Cookie bark is as rainbowy as it gets. You’ll feel like a unicorn princess eating it.

Featured Photo Credit: The Domestic RebelTags: animal crackers, animal crackers dessert, circus animals, Crackers, easy rainbow dessert, recipes with animal crackers, Tasty Tuesday, unicorn desserts
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These 11 Delicious Bread Boats Are Deceptively Easy (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

All hail the mighty bread boat! This delicious but hearty dish is super easy and quick to prepare, but it always makes for a respectable breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer or even dessert. What are you waiting for?

1. Chicken Bacon Alfredo Bread Boat

When you can’t decide between pasta and a sandwich, this heavenly bread boat is here for you. The best of both worlds!

2. Sausage Stuffed French Bread Boats

You know those delicious sausage, onion and pepper sandwiches that usually come on crunchy French bread? Take that concept and stuff all those ingredients into a bread boat, complete with a baked mixture of cheese, egg and milk for an amazing new version of the tried-and-true classic.

3. Taco Bread Boat

If we had to label this delight, we’d say it’s sort of like an American torta, but one thing’s for sure — it’s amazing, whatever you want to call it.

4. Cheesy Artichoke Bread Boat

We love chips and dip as much as anyone, but they are really more of a snack than a meal. Let’s fix that.

5. Pizza Boat

Not that pizza gets old or anything, but sometimes you might want to switch things up (or else you might just not have the time or energy to whip up pizza dough every time you or your kids have a hankering), so we invite you to take this delicious shortcut.

6. Stuffed Bread Boat

This is the perfect EASY family dinner. Hollow out a loaf of bread and cram it full of ground beef, veggies and whatever you want. It’s sort of like a more fun, crumblier version of meatloaf.

7. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Bread Boat

Basically a better breakfast sandwich. These freeze well, so they work great for a quick on-the-go morning meal. Score!

8. Buffalo Chicken Bread Boat

Buffalo chicken. Cheese. Carbs. Yes, this is the perfect meal, in case you were wondering.

9. Southwestern Chicken Bread Boats

You wouldn’t think that stuffed French bread could be very nutritious, but this chicken, tomato, black bean and corn version is relatively healthy, especially if you swap out the white bread for something fluffy and wheaty and go easy on the cheese. Or don’t! Either way, this is super delicious, especially if you top with guacamole or a little canned enchilada sauce.

10. Cheese Boat

This spicy cheesy dip makes for the perfect appetizer, especially when you serve it with corn chips. The recipe recommends mixing in some finely chopped corned beef, but feel free to add any type of your favorite cooked meat — ground beef, chopped chicken or crumbled bacon would be excellent too.

11. Chocolate Stuffed Bread

Of course we wouldn’t forget about dessert! We’re sure you can make a version of this out of store-bought bread, but the fresh stuff will be so delicious! Chocolate lovers will absolutely adore using this recipe as a base and then stuffing it with MORE CHOCOLATE.

Featured Photo Credit: Christine Han/The Kitchn

Tags: bread boats, easy dinner, easy pizza bread, kid recipe, Tasty Tuesday
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10 Marvelous New Ways To Enjoy A Corn Dog (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Do you love corn dogs as much as we do? Why not whip up your favorite childhood treat for an indulgent dinner that kids of all ages will love?

If you’re looking to make your favorite classic corn dogs, here’s a good, simple recipe. And here’s how to make a vegan version.

But don’t stop there! The sky’s the limit with these deliciously crunchy, breaded treats. We’ve found some truly delightful ways to put a new spin on the classic comfort snack, just in case you want an update. Here are our favorite ways to eat corn dogs:

1. Ramen Corn Dog

Hearken back to your college days with this super affordable, simple way to make your corn dogs extra crispy! If you really want to embrace the ramen-ness of the whole situation, we recommend swapping out the salt in the batter for some of the seasoning packet. It’s more fun that way!

2. Jalapeno Pretzel Dogs with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Ok, maybe these are a bit of a departure from your usual battered corn dogs, but if you’re looking to switch things up, these spicy pretzel dogs might just be exactly what you need. Plus, you get to dip them in tangy beer cheese fondue, as if you needed any more incentive to eat them.

3. Mini Beer Corn Dogs

Mini food always tastes better, for some unknown reason. (Seriously, we don’t know why.) Add some beer into your batter to give that extra touch of savory appeal, and you’re in for a real treat. Simple, yet delicious.

4. Spicy Hot Link Corn Dogs with Cajun Honey Mustard

If you’re looking to add some more flavor to your corn dog, you’ll love this spicy Cajun take. You can use any type of sausage that you want (just make sure they are fully cooked before dunking in the batter), but we recommend sticking with the pre-cooked variety, as the texture resembles a hot dog much more than the kind you cook yourself, if you’re going for that.

5. Crunchy Nacho Crescent Dogs

If you love corn dogs but don’t want to deal with the mess and hassle associated with a big bowl of batter and pan full of hot oil, just pick up a can of crescent rolls and skip that step entirely. Coat the whole thing in your favorite type of cheese-flavored tortilla chips and you’re good to go.

6. Doughnut-Sausage Corn Dogs

If you’re big on breakfast but can never quite decide whether you want something sweet or savory, why not just have it all and fry your breakfast sausages in donut batter? This is not a drill!

7. Indian-Inspired Corn Dogs with Mango Dipping Sauce

Talk about FLAVOR. These garam-masala-spiced batter-wrapped kielbasas are the perfect complement to the lime/jalapeno/mango aioli-style dipping sauce. Amazing!

8. Shrimp Corn Dogs

We’re going to go ahead and say that these count as corn dogs, since they get dipped in the right kind of batter, but we invite debate on this one. As long as we can dunk these fried shrimp bites into the horseradish honey mustard while we do it.

9. Spicy Chicken Corn Dogs with Homemade Tangy Chili Sauce

CHICKEN SAUSAGE CORN DOGS??? That’s almost as uncorndoglike as the shrimp ones!! Yeah, yeah, we know. But taste how delicious these are, and you won’t care.

10. Biscoff Spread Filled Corn Dogs

Make these for dessert! The ingredient list is rather short, so it’s pretty simple once you freeze the cookie butter, so long as you make sure to thoroughly coat each “dog” in batter to keep that biscoff sealed in.

Featured Photo Credit: Bev Cooks/Tablespoon

Tags: corn dogs, corndog recipe, hot dog recipes, Tasty Tuesday, unique corn dog
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10 Supremely Tasty Ways To Load Up Your Nachos (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

We know how it is. Most days when you cook at home, you strive to prepare a nutritious, satisfying and balanced dinner. (Maybe you don’t, which is fine too. We’re not here to judge you.)

But sometimes, you just crave an easy evening meal that you can trash up and devour with (or even after) a big beer or soda, while you sprawl out on the couch and catch up on TV.

We hear ya, and we’re here to the rescue with some fiiiine looking gloriously garbage nacho recipes.

We’re not saying that any of these chip-based dishes are actually healthy, but they do make a nicely rounded meal, in the sense that you have a good mix of protein and carbs that will fill you up. So go forth, load up your plate and thank us later.

1. Bacon and Egg Breakfast Nachos

This just goes to prove that you can have nachos for every meal. This versatile dish gets topped with all your favorite breakfast ingredients for the ultimate party breakfast. If you’re feeling dangerous, add a couple fried eggs on top for maximum ooze.

2. California Roll Nachos

These tasty, vaguely sushi-inspiring nachos are also super delicious with wonton chips or even nacho Doritos, the latter of which go stupendously well with spicy tuna. You really can’t go wrong here.

3. Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos

This dish is everything that is good and addicting about buffalo wings converted into nacho form. Who can resist?

4. Mexican Street Corn Nachos

Elote lovers, this is about to change your lives! The secret to this dish’s deliciousness is the creamy, mild cheese sauce that gets poured all over the tortilla chips to keep the delicious and nacho-like without detracting from the elote glory.

5. Shawarma Nachos

Crunchy pita chips get topped with tender chicken, garlicky hummus, creamy, salty labneh and fresh Israeli salad for a deliciously exciting spin on your favorite wrap. Note: The recipe shows how to make all of these toppings from scratch, but you’re more than welcome to buy some or all of them pre-made so that you can pile up your nachos in a flash.

6. Loaded Pizza Nachos with Creamy Garlic White Sauce

These nachos have so many things going for them, but what shines the brightest about them is that they use super easy to make PIZZA CRUST CHIPS. That is all.

7. Indian-Style Nachos with Warm Spices and Tamarind Chutney

Roast up some potatoes and chickpeas — throw in some meat for good measure, if you’re so inclined — and pile them high atop your chips, along with whatever your heart commands.

8. BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Nachos

Feel free to swap out the chips for french fries or waffle fries if you want to be extra bold. We bet these would be absolutely stupendous topped with a drizzle of ranch and/or honey mustard, and maybe even some onion rings or french-fried onions on top. Just imagine!

9. Irish Nachos

We just love how crispy these thin-sliced potatoes get when you roast them! If you care to make it more “Irish” tasting, feel free to top with corned beef and pour some thick, creamy Guinness cheese sauce on top.

10. Strawberry Churro Nachos

You didn’t think we’d forget about dessert, did you? Go ahead, combine all your favorite foods together for one tasty superdessert. Plus, March 21 is California Strawberry Day, so you might as well celebrate, right?

Featured Photo Credit: My Name Is Yeh

Tags: easy dinner recipes, game day snacks, nacho recipe, nachos, Tasty Tuesday
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