Creamy Fruit Dip


"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Oh how I look forward to my Guilty Pleasure Mondays, a.k.a. The Bachelor! It's funny to think that I used to hate these kinds of shows, and now, I'm hooked! Like for this season, Adrian and I both made our own teams of 3 each. Adrian's team consists of Corinne, Liz, and Vanessa. My team is made up of Danielle L., Danielle M., and Kristina. Sadly for Adrian, his team is actually down to two people after last week's episode, but my team is still going strong, and one of the ones on my team had a great starring moment during the Backstreet Boys part of tonight's episode :) :) I know, I know, no spoilers, and trust me, I'm trying super hard not to give too much away just in case some of you haven't seen tonight's episode yet. I mean, I'm still watching it as I'm writing this - speaking of, OMG, is Nick crying??!!

In preparing for tonight's episode, I decided I wanted a light dessert, something I could pair with all of the strawberries and blueberries I have in the fridge. I didn't want anything sticky or overly sweet, but I did know I wanted something fast, easy, and creamy, and something that Adrian would like as well, since this is his post-birthday week. Since he was at home today, I had him set out some cream cheese for it to get to room temperature, you know, something easy but enough for him to feel like he really took part in making this dip lol - it's one of my inside jokes with him. Once I got home, I mixed the cream cheese with the sour cream and the brown sugar in my stand mixer until everything was mixed well. I added a splash of vanilla and some milk, just enough for it to be creamy without being too liquidy, and oh my, it was delish! It reminded me of that cream cheese marshmallow fruit dip they sell at Publix, except sans the marshmallow. It was very lightly sweetened and really brought out the natural sweetness of the berries - a great way to end my Monday night. Now, let me sit back on the couch to enjoy the rest of this dip while watching the second half of The Bachelor. Good luck to all of the contestants!

 
Creamy Fruit Dip
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*makes: 2 cups*

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
1/8 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
2 tbsp whole Grade A milk

Directions:
1) In a small mixing bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.
2) Gradually add sour cream, beating until combined.
3) Add brown sugars and vanilla; beat just until combined.
4) Stir in enough milk to reach dipping consistency.
5) Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
6) Serve with assorted fruit.



Spice Fruit Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
1/8 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
2 tbsp whole Grade A milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon



Lower-Calorie Fruit Dip

8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
8 oz light sour cream
1/8 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
2 tbsp whole Grade A milk



Creamy Marshmallow Fruit Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
7 oz marshmallow creme
1 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
2 tbsp whole Grade A milk




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Crunchy Onion Chicken


"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering 'It will be happier.'" - Alfred Lord Tennyson

It's the last Friday of the year folks! Can you believe it? It's so crazy to think that a whole year has gone by so fast, almost as if in the blink of an eye. So much has happened this year, both good and bad, but thankfully mostly good. I'm beyond thankful that my family and friends have all been in good health throughout the year, and that nothing seriously bad has happened in my life. I know that, unfortunately, the same can't be said for many around the world, such as the shooting in Orlando, the terrorist attacks in France, the current situation in Aleppo, and for some, our country's new presidential choice. Although so much has happened this year, one can only hope that many good things are coming our way in 2017. Let's all hope for good health, happiness, love, and fulfillment of dreams. I, for one, have a mental vision board of everything that I'm hoping for. I would love to have a healthy year, as well as for my parents and my fiancé. I need to help my Dad lose some serious weight before it really starts to affect his health for the worse. I need to also keep on planning my small 2018 wedding and hope for the best. I would like to keep on growing in my relationship with my fiancé, having a strong one full of love and understanding and moral support and development. I am also hoping to start the search for our next place, which would be the first house we own - we've been renting apartments for some time now. I would love to help my Mom with her dream of starting her own business in the food world, whether it's manufacturing and selling her homemade jams and preserves or maybe starting a small bakery of some sort. Just, there's so much to look forward to next year and I'm not the only one in my family with all these goals.

Christmas Day at my parents' house was definitely full of thoughts and aspirations; we even went around the dinner table saying our goals and wishes, promising to help each other out in achieving them. During this dinner, one of the things we all enjoyed eating was this Crunchy Onion Chicken, which features French's Original Crispy Fried Onions. I received the Crispy Fried Onions for free courtesy of Influenster's Tasty VoxBox around Thanksgiving (and all opinions are my own). For many years now, I've grown used to seeing the box of Crispy Fried Onions at my parents' house since my Mom has always used it when making her Green Bean Casserole, but I had never personally used it in my cooking adventures - until now. I browsed the French's website looking for a non-traditional recipe that would fit well in my family's Christmas Day dinner, and this recipe stood out. It had a small list of ingredients and a minimal cooking time - a perfect combination for cooking on Christmas Day. At the 10 minute cooking mark, my whole apartment smelled divine, and I knew that the chicken was going to come out amazing. And it did! The 20 minutes it took to cook the chicken was just enough time to cook it thoroughly while leaving it plenty juicy and tender. The flavor also really stood out. The onions, somehow, didn't taste like straight up normal onion, and instead took on a whole new dimension of flavor. It's hard to describe but it had that umpf factor, a bold flavor but rich at the same time, which took a normal chicken breast to a different level. My family loved it, and is even having me make it again for New Year's! I wonder... maybe I should try using the Caramelized Onions next time, or even the White Cheddar Onions :) I'll keep you posted.

  
Crunchy Onion Chicken
adapted from: FRENCH'S Crunchy Onion Chicken

*serves 4*

"Crispy fried onions add flavor and crunch to your chicken for an easy week night meal the whole family will love!"

Ingredients:
2 cups French's Original Crispy Fried Onions
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1.64 lbs (or close to 20 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
1 large egg, beaten

Directions:
1) Place onions and flour into plastic bag. Lightly crush with rolling pin. Transfer to pie plate.
2) Dip chicken into egg; then coat with onion crumbs, pressing firmly to adhere. Place chicken on baking sheet.
3) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in center.




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Blackeye Peas Salsa


"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius

Oh my god, guys, it's Thursday!!! Yes, I know, I'm stating the obvious, but if you're a TV junkie like I am, you know what that means... it's time to catch up on last night's American Horror Story season premiere via On Demand!!! You can't even begin to imagine how excited I am, since apart from the show starting, this means that my entire Fall lineup is about to start as well! There's Gotham, and Modern Family, and How To Get Away With Murder, etc, etc. I'll make sure to get all into it as the days go by. So, I have theories about this year's AHS theme. After going through all of the teasers and pictures, and after reading the description that Uverse provided on the Guide, I'm thinking the theme has to do with poltergeists, or people's nightmares, or maybe some Children of the Corn vibes. Regardless, I'm prepared to be spooked and just straight up freaked out. Since I was pressed for time tonight in making dinner after the gym, and since A and I are on a health kick lately, we wanted something filling without being overbearing, and we didn't really want something that required a fork and knife. After browsing the pantry, the fridge, and the cookbooks, I came across this quick and easy blackeye peas salsa (since I chose to not leave everything in the fridge overnight). It has great nutritional value while being tasty, fresh with a spicy kick, and easy to eat: you just have to use tortilla chips to scoop it up with no need for forks and big plates! This plate can be recreated as a pre-planned snack or as a party platter when having people over, since everyone can just serve their portions with chips all from a big bowl, without any fuss. Speaking of no fuss, once I finish this post, you best believe we'll be munching on this post-workout meal while watching the season premiere of AHS. To my fellow American Horror Story fans, cheers to a great season, and please, no spoilers! :)


Blackeye Peas Salsa
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*makes: 2 cups*

Ingredients:
15 1/2 oz canned blackeye peas, rinsed and drained
2 thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 fresh jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp pure ground black pepper
dash salt
1 tsp minced garlic
scooped tortilla chips

Directions:
1) In a bowl combine blackeye peas, green onion, bell pepper, oil, vinegar, chile pepper, black pepper, salt, and garlic.
2) Cover and chill overnight.
3) Serve with tortilla chips.



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