Friday, August 30, 2013

Taco Bell Chicken Cantina Bowl

Taco Bell Chicken Cantina Bowl | A #copycat #recipe that includes citrusy chicken, rice, & creamy guacamole ranch |

The next Taco Bell copycat that I wanted to try to create was the Chicken Cantina Bowl.

Per their site:
          "Experience our new citrus-herb marinated chicken, flavorful black beans, guacamole made
          from real Hass avocados, pico de gallo prepared fresh daily, roasted corn and pepper salsa
          and a creamy cilantro dressing, all served on a bed of premium Latin rice. Also available in
          Steak or Veggie."

What I did was used my favorite marinade, Baja Citrus, and then basically tried to find ways to deal with what ingredients I could find. I used Spanish Rice with diced tomatoes instead of Latin rice and pico de gallo, guacamole ranch dressing and chopped cilantro instead of cilantro ranch and guacamole, and a black bean and corn salsa I found on a whim instead of black beans and the corn/pepper salsa. I wanted a little salad feel to this too, so I added spinach.

It ended up being a very delicious bowl of food. All of the different flavors worked perfectly together and there was a lot of different textures that made this a very interesting concoction.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Cheesy Gordita Crunch | This #copycat has everything: flatbread, seasoned beef, cheese, and a crunchy taco shell |

I've already posted what I came up with for Taco Bell's Beefy 5-Layer Burrito - the Cheesy Gordita Crunch was next on my list. I used the same method as the Cheeseburger Flatbread Melts to create my flatbread. I did run into a little issue when I realized that the flat-bottomed shells (anyone else singing Queen right now?) were not the right kind to use for this recipe. So word of advice - use just regular hard shells.

I can't really recall getting a gordita crunch from Taco Bell...ever...but I've always wanted to try it. I loved the flatbread. LOVED. It definitely helps contain the mess that happens when your hard shell breaks into a million pieces.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Copycat Papa Murphy's Veggie Pizza

Copycat Papa Murphy's Veggie Pizza | The best veggie pizza there is - zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes - and lots of cheese! |

I have some really weird thing with ranch dressing - most of the time I don't like it and refuse to eat it. However, there are exceptions. 1) I love cucumber ranch dressing - but it's really hard to find it. I used to eat it with carrots all the time as a kid. 2) If there is a veggie tray out, I may dip the broccoli in the ranch. 3) Veggie pizzas with ranch "sauce" - om nom nom. And that is exactly what this veggie pizza has. It also has my favorite veggie: zucchini! I loved this pizza. Love love loved. I've never had Papa Murphy's version (we get it when we're home with family and a white sauce would send most of them running) - but I will have to somehow manage to do it as soon as I can.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Troyer's Chicken Salad

It's time for yet another Secret Recipe Club reveal day. For those of you like HUH? Secret Recipe Club is a group of a couple hundred food bloggers separated into 4 groups. Each month, each blogger gets assigned to another blog in the group secretly and they make a recipe or two for reveal day. Each group posts on a different Monday - today is Group D's day to reveal what blogs we had and what we made. We've had a lot of new bloggers join and Group D got a wave of newbies for this month. So a huge welcome to our new Group D members: Melissa, Tara, Susan, Paula, Nicole, Chris, Lynn, Sarah, and Karen. So glad to have you in the group!

Troyer's Chicken Salad | A perfect #recipe that you can't help but make regularly |
Lately, I've been finding any excuse to use my new Ninja and when I was looking at Kirstin's blog, Loving Life, that's what kind of recipe I looked for. I actually am surprised for as long as both Kirstin and I have been in Group D that I have yet to get her blog! She's a complete sweetheart and she has a gorgeous family (check out her about me). I was excited when I found this recipe for chicken salad. I've made a few chicken salad recipes, but none of them really stood out to me and made me fall in love with them. This one totally filled the empty place in my soul for a good chicken salad recipe! Having it on a bagel just made it that much better. My kids loved it and that is a huge deal since my son hates mayonnaise - or so we thought.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Personal Pan Pizzas {Copycat}

Copycat Personal Pan Pizzas | Make your own Pizza Hut one-person pizza |

How many of you did the Book It program in elementary school? This was one of my favorite things in the whole wide world when I was in school, except maybe DEAR (Drop Everything And Read). Most memorable is my 4th grade year and getting a free personal pan pizza every month because I read over 1,000 pages. I loved seeing my little Book It certificate hanging up with my friends'  at the front of the classroom.

I also always chose Pizza Hut for my reward dinner for good grades too. It was pretty much the only place we didn't go very often out of Dairy Queen, McDonald's, and Pizza Ranch (yeah, we had like NO restaurants where I grew up). I loved personal pan pizzas because I mean, c'mon, who doesn't like a pizza all to themselves?!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zucchini Chicken Parmesan

Zucchini Chicken Parmesan | Add a little squash to your boring ole Chicken Parm. |

Now that I'm a certified chicken parmesan freak (thanks, PDub!), I've opened the window to some variations. The first I wanted to try was this zucchini version. Zucchini is one of those vegetables I will eat by the boatload in any which way - whether it's with hibachi or in a tasty bread.

What I loved about this is that the spices bring out such a mouthwatering flavor and the juicy tomatoes contrast perfectly with the crunchy zucchini and chicken. I served ours over angel hair and I'm working on convincing my husband that it needs to be on his home-from-deployment-missed-this list :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

S'mores Stacker Pancakes

S'mores Stacker Pancakes - graham cracker pancake layers with marshmallow fluff and chocolate bars |

When I made these s'mores pancakes...I thought they were the best pancakes I had ever had. When I saw these, my mom side saw how they looked a little more tidy than the other version. These are a much simpler version that are just as amazing as the other version. You get a little more control over the quality of ingredients with the other one, but this one is quicker to make.

It's also way more aesthetically pleasing :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chicken Florentine Pasta

Chicken Florentine Pasta | A light pasta with veggies and chicken - no heavy sauces here! |

I am a lover of all things pasta and I am starting to dig pastas without heavy sauces, like this one. What I love is that there are so many flavors that make this so delicious without a sauce. There's different textures and the flavors and textures work together perfectly.

Last year around this time, I had an incident with my 3rd or 4th microwave since I've been married. I was microwaving a stick of butter to soften it up - only for 15 seconds. I turned my back to go back to the stove because in addition to baking something, I was also cooking dinner. Suddenly, the microwave pops loudly and starts this nails-on-the-chalkboard screeching. As I go to stop it, the interior sparks and starts flaming. I stopped it with 5 seconds remaining. This is the point that I just said "Screw it all. No more microwaves." I'm a pretty frugal person. I don't like spending money. This particular microwave was a beast and was a little out of our price range because we wanted one that would last.

Like I said, it's been almost a year and I don't miss our microwave at all. I heat leftovers in the oven or on the stove. I ate the pasta leftovers for 2 days in a row. It got better each time I ate it...and there is something so much better about heating leftover meat without a microwave to make it taste all fake.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread | Homemade bread doesn't get much better than this #zucchini |

I've been so done with living in New York lately. We've hit our six year mark which is basically unheard of in the army. Usually it's three years and then you're off to your next base. I grew up in Minnesota, so I'm used to the north (especially the winters)...but the northeast is completely different.

My least favorite part about this particular area is the lack of good produce in the a farming community. There are two farmer's market within a close enough range - one on Wednesday and one on Friday. The one on Wednesday is in the middle of the square and the parking is horrible and I just couldn't imagine going with my kids in tow. The other I haven't been able to go to yet because I either have something going on or it's raining.

I was able to get some zucchini early in the summer - when it didn't really feel like summer here. The rest of the summer was a hit or miss with zucchini.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

BLT Wraps

BLT Wraps - a spin on the sandwich that can be tweaked to your liking |

When my bestie, Amber, posted this on her blog My Three Bittles - I knew I needed to make it as soon as humanly possible. It's a super simple recipe, but that doesn't mean it's not a complete winner! There are quite a few possibilities to change it up - like adding avocados or using different types of bacon (maple flavored, applewood smoked, or peppered) or even adding different seasonings to the bacon itself. You can use lettuce or spinach. I'm sure they'd even be amazing as Nick likes his BLTs - with eggs!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

Nutella Stuffed French Toast - perfect for a #backtoschool breakfast - sweet & filling! |

How many of you parents are looking forward to the school year or already have kiddos back in school? My kids have a little over two weeks and this is my first year with both of them going to school. Matthew starts first grade and Cami starts kindergarten. They are counting down (and so am I) and can barely contain their excitement!

I've been testing out quick and filling recipes throughout the summer for the start of the school year. I think this one takes the cake. You can pair it with any type of fruit, really. Nutella goes well with all of the berries and I'm sure it'd be amazing with pineapples or apples. So not only is it sweet and filling, but it's a great way to sneak in some fruit before they start their school day!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese - spicy jalapenos, flavorful buffalo chicken, and bacon, oh my!

This is a pretty lengthy recipe, so it'll probably only be made every once in a while like for holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter. It is, however, a very great recipe and is the right fit for a spicy food lover! It's hard for us to not have something that is either buffalo or jalapeno popper on our meal plan regularly. They are two of our favorite flavor combinations and I knew this one would be a definite keeper for combining the two and it has inspired me to try and combine the two with some of other favorite foods too.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fantastical Feature: Food Network Magazine #3

As part of my spring cleaning, I gathered up all my Food Network magazines and put them on one of our bookshelves with sticky note tabs placed on pages of recipes I want to make. Then I finally got around to making some of them over the last couple of months, so here are SOME of those that I highly recommend. I can't be completely positive, but I think that Food Network posts their magazine recipes online.

From The Light Issue, January/February 2012.
Penne with Turkey Ragu, p. 72.
This one was my first recipe with leeks. I have to say I really liked the texture and overall flavor of the dish. It was simple, but delicious.

Baked Buffalo Wings (with Blue Cheese-Yogurt Dip that I didn't make), p. 104.
I'm not a fan of blue cheese and that's why I didn't make the dip to go with these wings. I think they were made spicy purposefully because of the dip and so these were a little too much heat for the kids and me. I do think that for those who like blue cheese, it is a recipe to test out!

From The Chocolate Issue, March 2012.
Cocoa-Rubbed Steak (with Bacon-Whiskey Gravy that I didn't make), p. 106.
My first time using chocolate in a savory dish and I loved it!

From Let's Grill, June 2012.
Kids'-Menu Burger, p. 92.
After seeing this burger in the grill edition, my kids were excited about me making it. I loved the French fries on top of the burger itself.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Corn on the Cob, p. 148.
This was a grilled seasoned pork tenderloin with a yummy sauce over the top. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did, but wow! The flavors all worked together perfectly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

S'mores Pudding Cookies

S'mores Pudding Cookies | All the flavor of the classic treat in a not-so-messy soft and chewy cookie |

S'mores are coveted in my household. If my kids see something with s'mores on the package, they beg for it. They have loved the other s'mores cookies, s'mores pancakes, s'mores rice krispies, and s'mores snack mix that I've made previously. I actually prefer these cookies because they cut down on the messiness of s'mores - the melted marshmallow and chocolate plus the graham cracker crumbs mess is kept to a minimum. If y'all haven't tried a pudding cookie, they are so soft and delicious. It's hard to go back to a non-pudding cookie recipe. I would love to try these with mallow bits instead of marshmallows to see what happens!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Stromboli | Delicious Italian bread stuffed with salami, ham, and mozzarella |

As a child, my only experience with salami was in a cold cut sandwich. It was definitely not my favorite thing. As an adult, I'm finding the more I try new foods and foods I once disliked, the more new foods I'm finding I love. I now have no qualms with salami and I don't shy away from eating it or making a recipe with it.

This stromboli was so yummy. The saltiness from the meat mixed with the cheese and the sweetness of the tomato sauce perfectly. All the textures worked together perfectly. We ate the whole thing within 15 minutes. Next time it is made, it will be a double batch for sure!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Crockpot Week: Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip: be everyone's favorite guest when you bring this addictive dip to the party |

I'm ending Crockpot Week with my new favorite crockpot recipe. For years, I've searched for a chicken wing dip WITHOUT ranch dressing. Nick has me hooked on buffalo everything, but he hates ranch. I finally found a few that didn't have it and I adjusted them here and there to fit what I wanted.

Unfortunately for him, I made this after he deployed. I know, I know, I'm such a tease! But I did want to make sure it was perfect for when he got to try it. Personally, I thought it was fine in heat - the cream cheese definitely cuts it down some, but I know Nick is going to want double the sauce. I could not stop eating this dip though. I ate way more than I should have.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Crockpot Week: Slow Cooker Caesar Chicken Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Caesar Chicken Sandwiches - creamy Caesar dressing makes for an extremely addictive sandwich |

Do y'all remember McDonald's Salad Shakers? They came in a cup like the McFlurries and you drizzled your packet of dressing and shook that sucker. Those were my favorite food to get at McDonald's for the longest time. My favorite flavor (gotta tie this in!): CAESAR! The grilled chicken caesar - oh my goodness, can we just drool collectively and wish McD's would bring those back already??

So tying in with today's recipe - the reason I put this one in my hoarded pile of recipe was because of that salad shaker. I haven't had anything Caesar dressing flavored since my last shaker. I don't really understand why because I like Caesar dressing, but perhaps it's because I only eat French dressing and it has to be the kind that tastes like French dressing NOT Western/Catalina dressing.

Anywho...these sandwiches were so moist and tender. So juicy. So addictive. I wish I had four stomachs like cows do...I would fill them up with these sandwiches. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Crockpot Week: Pepperjack Potato Soup

Pepperjack Potato Soup - adding a kick to potato soup for all those spicy food lovers #crockpot |

Since Nick is a spicy food fiend, it wasn't even given a second thought when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. Potato soup is such a good soup because it's filling. A lot of soups have that problem where you can eat 3 bowls and feel like you've eaten nothing. Not only is this amped up with pepperjack cheese, but it also has bell peppers in it. I would go as far as to say a few jalapenos would be perfection in this soup, but I had no clue how spicy it would turn out (which it wasn't terribly spicy, both kids handled it just fine).

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Crockpot Week: Cheeseburger Scalloped Potatoes

Boring old scalloped potatoes just won't do - these Cheeseburger Scalloped Potatoes are anything but boring! | #crockpot

I've noticed lately that my cooking has eased away from potatoes - a lot. I noticed a foul smell in my kitchen and it freaked me out because I couldn't figure out WHERE it was coming from. I went to make some roasted potatoes with burgers one night and found the source of my smell. My only potatoes were completely rotten. That is how little I use potatoes...I have no idea how long there were sitting there unused, but I digress...

Every once in a while I really crave a good potato dish. Moderation, right? I love shepherd's pie in the crockpot and that's what this recipe really reminded me of.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Crockpot Week: Root Beer Pulled Pork

It's #crockpot week on the blog - and it's all about the Root Beer Pulled Pork today | #rootbeer

It is time for crockpot week here on Fantastical! My crockpot is one of my favorite appliances in my kitchen and I love to use it all year round. I am a very stubborn person by nature and will put off using my air conditioner as long as I can. Nick hates this...we are always the opposite temperature too, which definitely doesn't help.

New York was pretty mild this summer, but we did have the heat wave where it was feeling like 99* at 10am. This is when my crockpot was a life saver!

This pork was flavorful as all get out. Root beer is the reason I can't swear off soda for good. I enjoy a root beer float or a can of it every once in a while. I made this back in April or May (yes, I'm posting my tried recipes from then!) and that's probably the last time I had root beer. I just bought a pack yesterday for a breakfast recipe for this week and I'm so stoked :) LOVE root beer!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Nutella Donuts

Nutella Donuts: fluffy #donuts made with #Nutella and dipped in a Nutella glaze |

Today is Fantastical's 3rd blog birthday! Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been that long already, but I love sharing what my adventures from recipe hoarding have brought to my kitchen :) This month, I decided to take a semi-break from making a ton of new recipes like I normally do since I have enough recipes to post into November. I'm going to focus on two cookbooks I have for review and picture retakes of recipes from when I first started blogging. So watch out on the Fantastical social media outlets for updated pictures of old favorites over the course of next month.

I've recently become a bit of a Nutella recipe fiend. I'm not big on it by itself, but I love foods flavored with it. These are soft, fluffy Nutella donuts dipped in a Nutella glaze. Surprisingly, it's not overwhelming. It's just bombtastic. Yes, so good that you have to make up words to describe it! Probably one of my favorite donuts to date and one you definitely need to try!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Copycat Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

#Copycat Beefy 5-Layer Burrito: the best Taco Bell burrito - at home! |

Recently, I've gone on a Taco Bell copycat recipe creating kick. *Phew* That was a mouthful! Our local Taco Bell (much like all the other places to eat at) is not the best. In fact, it's pretty awful. And while I don't eat much fast food, I can't deny that I do crave fast food every once in a while. It's the reason why we usually get Burger King once or twice a month for lunch.

I took to Taco Bell's website and went through all of the items on their menu. I wrote down which ones I wanted to make copycat recipes for and by the descriptions, tried to figure out what to put in them.

If you've never had a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, it's so good (if your TB is good). My brother-in-law actually was the one who told me about them when we had gone on a Taco Bell run for the family. They are just way better than a regular ole burrito. There's the seasoned beef (or turkey, if you want to make these a smidgeon less "unhealthy"), refried beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and then NACHO CHEESE. I subbed it with salsa con queso which gets about the same effect with maybe a tad more heat and some tomatoes in there too.