Bacon, Spinach, & Artichoke Bites

Spinach and artichoke dip is one of my favorites to get whenever we decide to share on an appetizer at certain restaurants. I decided to put it together in a way that they can be served in one poppable bite. 

What was leftover of the dip was used as a regular dip too!

Start with chopped spinach and artichoke.

Preparing the fillo shells! How fancy, right?

Then garnished with bacon when finished to give it an extra layer of flavor.

Bacon, Spinach, & Artichoke Bites
Ingredients (serves 8 or more)
  • 2 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup of frozen Artichoke Hearts, thawed and chopped
  • 1 pkg Reduced Fat Cream Cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese or Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 packet Lipton Vegetable Recipe Mix
  • 3/4 cup Reduced Fat Mayonnaise (optional)
  • 2 slices of Bacon, cooked and cut into bits
  • 2 pkgs Mini Phyllo Shells
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat a medium-size saucepan on medium high heat.
  3. Saute garlic until fragrant, then add spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, shredded cheese, vegetable mix, and mayo (if using). Stir together until heated through.
  4. Remove Phyllo shells from packaging and place onto cookie sheet or mini-cupcake pan.
  5. Spoon cheesy spinach and artichoke mixture into mini shells.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until filling is hot and bubbly.
  7. Garnish with bacon bits.
  8. Serve immediately.
Happy Eating!

- Vicky from Sugar Junkie Blog

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Tortilla Bites

These tortilla bites are so colorful and beautifully presented, but made with very simple ingredients. The pulled pork is made "carnitas" style with a store bought sauce then topped with a vibrant mix of just 3 vegetables! Sweet corn, diced tomatoes, and diced green bell peppers. Then we garnished with shredded cheese to hold the bites all together.

Pesto & Mozzarella Crostini

Where did 2013 go? The middle of December is already upon us! And that means prepping for holiday parties. The internet is already quite saturated with tons of holiday entrees and desserts so we thought we'd put the spotlight on holiday appetizers this week. We'll be featuring a number of appetizers that'll make your life easier. First up is an appetizer I learned to make during my recent trip to Tennessee in November. It's so simple it only requires 3 ingredients but it tastes way more complex!

Start with fresh french bread, sliced into thin slices. Then toasted slightly until barely golden brown.

I have used pre-sliced fresh mozzarella, ball-shaped fresh mozzarella that I sliced myself, and grated mozzarella in making these before. What works and tastes the best is whole, ball-shaped mozzarella because you can slice it thinner or thicker to your tastes and preferences. Thinly sliced cheese works the best for us!

This appetizer is seriously one of my favorites now and I've tried different variations of it already. Slicing tiny cherry tomatoes and placing them on top of the cheese is also another really good and beautiful way to make these. Or even switching it up and using other soft, fresh cheese. :)

Pesto & Mozzarella Crostinis
Ingredients (serves 8 or more)
  • Buitoni's Pesto with Basil
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • French Bread loaf
  1. Slice french bread into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Toast slices in toaster oven or under broiler in conventional oven until slightly golden and toasted, about 2-3 minutes, flipping them halfway.
  3. Remove toasted bread slices from oven and let cool.
  4. Spread pesto onto slices and top with slices of fresh mozzarella.
  5. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.
  6. Serve immediately.
Happy Holidays!

- Vicky from The Sugar Junkie Blog

Papa Turney's BBQ - Nashville, TN

During my visit to Tennessee, the one thing I absolutely had to do was try some BBQ. There were so many options though but Papa Turney's became my number one choice as it was close to the airport (about 8 minutes away) and it was rated highly on lots of review sites.

I didn't bring my camera, unfortunately, but took a few photos on my phone. Papa Turney's is located at the end of a small plaza right next door to a gas station off of the freeway. Definitely a humble, little restaurant. Once you stepped out of the car, you knew you were in the right place by the smells. 

And the sight of this smoker at the end of the lot, cooking away!

The place is filled with tons of hand-drawn paintings and pictures, as well as many photographs lining the walls. Once we walked in, we were welcome by a friendly gentleman who we assumed were one of the owners. The place was pretty empty and we asked him what people usually get. He recommended we get the two or three meat combo platter so that we could try several meats at once. I ordered the two meat combo platter with ribs and pulled pork. I got a choice of two sides so I went with the grilled cabbage and macaroni and cheese. A sweet tea as my beverage, natch!! 

The food didn't take too long, and it came out hot and prepared with love. It was life-changing. The grilled cabbage was really darn good. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and flavorful. The pulled pork was seriously just as amazing. If I could box another one of these meals up and bring it back home with me, I would have done it!  

The gentleman who took our orders (I'm so sad I've forgotten his name!) even came to our table to talk to us a bit and he even thanked our friends, Chris and Aaron, for their military service. Very humble and amazing people at this establishment. If you're in or around the Nashville area, or even have a few hours layover at the BNA airport, get your way over to Papa Turney's!  

Papa Turney's BBQ
3979 Bell Rd, Nashville, TN 37076

(615) 788-5000

Happy Eating!
Vicky from the Sugar Junkie Blog

Momo's Korean BBQ - Clarksville, TN

I just recently returned from a lovely trip to Nashville and Clarksville, Tennessee. Where fellow blog writer Pheng and I got to hang out, cook some amazing food together, and eat some life-changing BBQ in the Nashville area. Towards the end of our trip, we ate lunch at Momo's. A Korean BBQ establishment in the Clarksville area. I absolutely loved their food! We had the dumplings as an appetizer and I ordered the Bulgogi and Teriyaki Chicken dish. Bulgogi is Korean barbecued slices of beef and it's seriously so tender and flavorful. I'm honestly going to have to find a restaurant here that sells Bulgogi or learn to make it myself.

Deep Fried Shrimp Scampi Ravioli

After a very long, drawn out two weeks of being sick and settling for soups, other easy-to-eat foods, then dealing with everyone in the household being sick, I was definitely in the mood for something crunchy in my meals. Buitoni Shrimp Scampi ravioli was on sale during a quick grocery run yesterday. I bought it initially to boil, then eat with some regular pasta sauce. Today, I decided to bread them and make fried ravioli.  

Best decision I've made all week, honestly!

Baked Loaded Fries

I've made this dinner before and wanted to recreate it again for friends who came over to hang out. We had some leftover nacho cheese already but this recipe can be made without that. It's another recipe that can be made using 5 ingredients or less, assuming you've already got salt and pepper. This would also make a perfect game day recipe, if you made a whole batch of fries and served the toppings buffet style for people to create their own "Frachos," nacho fries.

DIY Wall Mounted Tin Planters

We made these really crafty looking wall-mounted planters and they turned out great for being a DIY project for under $10. We bought these tins for $1.50 each at Michael's craft store, we originally bought 2 tins to start off with but after making these, we were happy with how they turned out so much that we went back and bought 3 more.  The tins originally looked like this...

Fried Pickles with Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Fried pickles made with less than 5 ingredients? Cloud 9! Even better; not using any dishes to make them? Heaven! And this creamy Sriracha dipping sauce is so simple, it's made with just sour cream and Sriracha. It's cool at first with a slight kick, perfect pairing for fried pickles. If you're not a fan of spicy sauces, like myself, you'll love this one. More Sriracha can be added for those who like their stuff spicier!

Looking for a Sunday night football appetizer? Or just have a fried food craving that you can't satisfy? :)

Semi-Homemade Chocolate + Caramel Apples

Happy Halloween! It rained today in Milwaukee but luckily for me, I planned on making Chocolate and Caramel Apples today and not much else. I had never made these before, so I planned on taking the easy route. Semi-homemade is the way to go, unless you're a purist and absolutely want to make your own caramel. I bought ready-to-melt caramel bits, a bunch of granny smith apples, slivered almonds, chopped pecans, and 1 bag of chocolate chips.

Initially, I wanted to try something different by slicing the apples into thick slices and putting them on the sticks as pictured:

Easy Crockpot Gumbo

Slow cooker liners were on sale at the store, so I purchased a box and decided to utilize the Crockpot right away. Cold weather means hearty soups and meals! This recipe for Crockpot gumbo is so tasty and easy. Throw everything in the cooker and let it simmer for the entire day. Still mindblowing...

Homemade Candied Almonds

I'll never forget when I was younger my parents would take my sisters and I to the Wisconsin State Fair every year. 

During the day we would walk around and see the animals and then later at night we would go to the rides and play games.

The best part about State Fair was the food! You could get anything from regular food to exotic types of food such as the ostrich burger. Both of my parents tried the bison and ostrich one. I still remember the disgusted face I made when they told me what it was. The one food I always had to get were the candied coated almonds! They were my ultimate favorite. I could literally smell them a mile away. The crunchiness, sweetness, warmness from the cinnamon, everything came together so well and my taste buds were instantly dancing. The sad thing was, I had to wait til next year to get more. They're not sold anywhere else and usually they can be a bit pricey. A small bag would've cost you about $3 and big bag $5 for maybe a scoop more. 

Chicken & Spinach Rice Bowls

Got bacon in the fridge? How about chicken breast that you don't know what to make with? Any veggies in there too? I realized I had one huge chicken breast, a couple slices of bacon, and half a pack of spinach in my fridge...

Pork Chop Milanese with Risotto

Pork Milanese is one of my favorite things to cook. Milanese can be made with thin chicken breasts or boneless pork chops. This recipe is so easy, it's got about 5-ingredients or less if...

Sweet Pumpkin Fries

We are into the second week of October and I cannot get over my pumpkin obsession. Usually when this season rolls around, everyone is so tired of pumpkin things already but I get super excited every year! Yesterday, we made an All-Natural Pumpkin Honey Face Mask using the innards (aka pumpkin guts). We saved the seeds for roasting later and, I'm not one for wasting food so if I'm going to use a pumpkin, I am going to use the whole pumpkin, folks! After de-seeding and removing the guts yesterday, we cooked up the rest of it in this recipe.

Sweet pumpkin fries; familiar because they're prepared the same way you'd make sweet potato fries yet different because we're switching them up! This recipe is pretty impressive, I loved how well the flavors worked together. The texture is completely the same, and the color stays brighter than sweet potatoes! Start with a small pumpkin to make it much easier to work with...

All Natural Pumpkin Honey Face Mask

Last Thursday, I visited the farmer's market on a whim. I was headed towards the grocery store and saw the farmer's market was open so I figured I would try and get some fresh vegetables through there instead.

I scored a really nice assortment of vegetables, a bunch of apples, and a small pumpkin!

I wanted to test out a bunch of different pumpkin recipes so when I went home, I started preparing my pumpkin for multiple uses! First, I wanted to chop up my pumpkin into french fries so that I could make Sweet Pumpkin Fries. Very similar to sweet potato fries, but with pumpkin instead!

Of course the seeds are saved for toasting later. What to do with the pulpy insides of the pumpkin? Make a face mask!

There are surprisingly many skincare benefits in using pumpkin...

Banana Nutella Wontons (3 Ingredient!)

Banana + Nutella. We all know this combination is one of the best duos in the history of desserts. We also know that anything deep fried is automatically good, although not good for your health, still automatically good on the taste buds. These Banana Nutella Wontons are outrageously simple and easy to make, using only 3 ingredients! Wonton wrappers, which can be found at most grocery stores, Nutella, and bananas. Fool proof! 

Cinnamon Apple Iced Tea

As of this post, Wisconsin is undergoing this undecided weather mixture. Some days it's cold enough for hoodies, boots and it definitely feels like October... then on other days it's 75 degrees out, sunny, and perfect for shorts! 

October is usually when I stock up on boxes of tea. I found this Cinnamon Apple Spice flavor and have been waiting for the mood for tea to strike me so that I could taste it. Naturally, after I buy a new hot tea flavor, the weather decides to give us a series of really hot days! So it was time to make Cinnamon Apple Iced Tea!

The recipe is really easy to follow, most of your time is literally spent waiting for the tea to cool down. I used a vanilla simple syrup to give it a sweeter flavor. This simple syrup is something that you could use for a lot of other beverages, especially cocktails! I suggest keeping the extra simple syrup in a glass or plastic container with a lid, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Creamy Harvest Soup & Fried Bowtie Pasta

Some days, you just have to really make the effort to put some time and love into a meal. In return, that meal pays you back by filling you up in a warm and fuzzy way. Cooking doesn't have to be a rushed thing every single day, nor does it have to be a quick and easy hunger relief. If you have a day off or hours to kill, why not wind down by creating something worthwhile in the kitchen.

This Creamy Harvest Soup is complex but worth it! It's heartwarming and oh so amazing. And don't even get me started on these fried pasta bowties! I put more than I should've in my bowl. They are just too good. I'm a sucker for crunchy food!

I named this Harvest soup because it's got a little bit of everything: chicken, shrimp, crab, spinach, carrots. It can also be tweaked to be made with just chicken, or just shrimp, or just veggies! It's the perfect soup for you to pick and choose whatever meats, seafood, or vegetables you'd like to incorporate... 

TGIF #15

Favorite Drool-Worthy Dessert of the Week: Lemon White Chocolate Krispies Treats. My two favorite flavors in my ultimate favorite treat. Could this be true? From The Tasty Fork!

An exciting new feature to our blog!

We are so excited to announce another new change we've added to The Sugar Junkie Blog. If you notice on the navigation bar, there is now a new Recipes tab and there was never one there before.

We did have a Recipes link that showed you all of the recipes that have ever been posted, but it was difficult to find specific ones you could be looking for or search through them. We've been working hard on developing an easier way to navigate through the many, many recipes posted to this blog. After a long while of building it, we can now announce our amazing new recipes page

It's got snazzy pictures, thumbnails, and different categories.

You can now Search for specific recipes using keywords, or click through by these nifty Categories

For example, if you click on Key Ingredient, there is a huge list of ingredients you can click on that will take you to a list of recipes containing that ingredient! Or if you don't know what you want to eat, you can always click on Course and it will show you a list of Dinner ideas, Lunch Ideas, Dessert ideas, etc. Check it out for yourself or let us know what you think below. 

- The Sugar Junkie Blog

Rosemary + Garlic Pork (5 Ingredients)

I am beaming at how amazing this meal turned out. If you are not a fan of pork or have trouble cooking your pork, this is it. This is the recipe that will make it all better. The pork was so flavorful and juicy, much similar to the consistency of a good steak or roasted chicken. It wasn't dry or grey; it was amazing!

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