One of my favorite quotes is from Dolly Parton. She said, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap." That makes me giggle every time. What she meant was that she always wants to be "dolled up". And why not? Who doesn't like to get all dressed up? It makes you feel good. It changes the everyday ordinary into something special. Well that's what I'm writing about today. How to "doll up" ordinary things that you have in your pantry or fridge. How to change the everyday weeknight meal into something that feels a little more special.
I want to start with dessert, because, frankly, who doesn't?
If you have brownie mix in your pantry, you can make a fun dessert. First of all just doll up regular brownies with whatever you have on hand. Throw in some shredded coconut and almonds to make almond joy brownies. Or chocolate chips and walnuts to make them a little more fancy. Today I put in some chopped roasted peanuts and white chocolate chips. They tasted completely different from regular brownies, almost like peanut butter fudge!
Another dessert I make with brownie mix is:
1 pkg brownie mix
ingredients to make them
candies (kisses, m&ms, caramels, whatever ya got)
Mix up the brownie batter by following the directions on the package (they are all different). Grease a mini muffin tin. Distribute batter evenly among muffin cups (about a tablespoon in each). Place a candy in the center of each. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. These are so much fun to make with the kids or for a party. And they taste great!
If you have a box of instant pudding mix, you can use it to make cookies.
CHOCOLATE PUDDING COOKIES
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix (4 serving size)
1 cup baking mix(like Bisquick or you can find my recipe in an earlier post)
1/4 cup oil
chocolate chips (or candies or coconut, etc)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pudding mix and baking mix in a bowl until well blended. Add oil and eggs. Mix until dough forms a ball. Shape into one inch balls. Place them about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the middle of each to make a well. Put 3 chocolate chips (or a candy) in each well. Bake about 8 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. These are good because they aren't overly sweet.
Now, if you're like me you have a can of crescent rolls in your fridge. I love those things just as they are. But I doll them up to make this next recipe. I also use canned chicken. A lot of people think that's gross, and I used to, too. But I had some in my hurricane supplies (Louisiana thing) and as luck would have it we've been pretty quiet on that front, so I needed to use it. And it's not bad at all. Especially when you put it in a delicious recipe. But if you don't have it just use some left-over chicken diced up.
CHICKEN SALAD PUFFS
1 8oz can chicken (or leftovers diced up)
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 TBS Mayonnaise
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1 pkg crescent rolls
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. (If you don't have a mini, you can make these for a regular muffin tin, just cook longer)
Roll crescent roll dough into a large rectangle. Press seams together. Cut the dough into 24 squares (I like to use a pizza cutter for this). Roll each square into a ball and place into muffin cup. Press dough down and up the sides to form a little tart shell. In a bowl, combine chicken, cheese, mayo, onion and celery. Spoon a tablespoon of the chicken mixture into each tart. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
These are great for a party or for an appetizer for the family. I even like to eat a few with a salad for lunch.
Another thing we can "doll up" is boneless chicken breasts. Now, they are very healthy and we all buy them, but honestly they can be a bit boring. Baked or grilled chicken is good, but if you're like me, you make it a lot, so it can get tiresome. Here are a couple of ways you can doll it up.
SAUCY PARMESAN CHICKEN
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
Place all ingredients in a large zip top bag. Turn to coat chicken well. Put in fridge for a while (I like to do this in the morning and let it marinate all day, but you can do it for 30 minutes or so). Remove from fridge and let sit at room temp while you preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Yummy!
You can adjust the amounts up or down depending on how many mouths you have to feed.
PEACHY KEEN GRILLED CHICKEN
4 boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup bbq sauce
1/4 cup peach preserves
Season chicken on both sides with season salt. Grill chicken on medium heat for 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat bbq sauce and peach preserves. Whisk together to form a glaze. After chicken has cooked brush glaze on and cook for a minute or two on each side.
There you go, two easy ways to Doll Up chicken.
So, the next time you get a little bored with your food, just try dolling it up. It'll make any old weeknight feel like a special occasion!