Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce

With New Year’s Eve parties planned for this week, I thought this would be the perfect time to share my new favorite dip recipe.  I originally made this as a dipping sauce for meatballs, but we’ve tried it on just about everything.  It’s a great sandwich spread.  It makes Sauerkraut Balls even better.  I’ve even eaten it just spread on a cracker.  Besides all that, I find its orange color kind of festive.

Creamy Red Hot Dip by Crafty Staci
Creamy Red Hot Dip by Crafty Staci

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce Ingredients
Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce Ingredients

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix with a mixer or stir until completely blended.  This is even better after it sits in the fridge for a few hours.  If it’s too thick for your taste, just blend in a little milk or cream.

I called this “Red Hot” because of the pepper sauce, and it is spicy, but not in a crazy way.  I can’t wait to try this on a burger, or as dip for chicken tenders, or with french fries, or veggies…

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce from Crafty Staci
Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce from Crafty Staci

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

We all know pumpkin is a fall flavor.  Sure, you can buy cans of it year round, but eating pumpkin in summer is like eating a strawberry in January.  You can do it, but it just feels weird…unless you’re my daughter. 

The kids wanted cupcakes instead of layer cake for the wedding, and there’s a local cupcake shop that makes them gluten-free once a week.  For a while, Codi was a Bella Cupcake Wednesday regular.  When it came time to place the wedding order, the one flavor she was absolutely sure about was pumpkin chai.  Thankfully, Bella was accommodating and agreed, even though it wasn’t pumpkin season for them.  Out of the four flavors, it ended up being the most popular.  Well, being the experimenter that I am, I decided to attempt my own version.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1

First of all, let me say I cannot compete with Bella Cupcake.  I didn’t get a chance to try one of theirs (like I said, popular) but I already know these don’t taste the same.  However, for an amateur, starting-with-boxed-mix version, these are delicious. 

I made these gluten-free, but you could certainly use a regular cake mix.  Just adjust the amount of eggs and water to reflect what’s required on the box.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

  • 1 box of vanilla cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup instant black tea
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2

Dissolve the instant tea in the water.  Mix all of the dry spices into the cake mix.  Add the butter, eggs, pumpkin and tea/water.  Continue with the mixing and baking instructions on your box for cupcakes.

I had to try this recipe three times before I had one with the flavor I was looking for.  For the first attempt I replaced some of the water with liquid chai concentrate, and they were very pumpkinish and had very little chai coming through.  It was all we could do to scarf down the whole batch.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3

The second time, I referred to my Spiced Chai drink mix for the spices to add.  I went a little light because I didn’t want them to be too overpowering.  They were good, but it was still hard to taste anything but pumpkin.  When I read the drink recipe a second time, I realized the number of servings was nearly the same as my cake mix, so I went all-out and added the same measurements for the spices.  You can even see the difference in color between the two batches.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4

Bingo!  These are definitely spicy, but a good dose of cream cheese frosting on top tones them down just enough.  I’m pretty sure nothing has ever said fall quite as loudly as these do.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait

I find it a little difficult to find healthy snacks when I’m away from home.  It’s even worse that I often end up in the coffee shop, full of cookies and other fat-laden baked goods.  I’ve given up a lot of things for this diet, but I still budget in the occasional Starbucks drink now and then.  Recently, I discovered their yogurt parfaits in the refrigerated section.  The berry version is only 220 calories and it’s delicious.  It didn’t take long before I was wondering if it was something I could replicate at home.  Oh, yes I can.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 1
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 1

This actually doesn’t take a ton of different ingredients, and one batch can make 4 – 8 servings, so you’re set for breakfast for at least a few days. 

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 2
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 2

Start the granola first, so it can bake while you whip up the fruit compote.

Granola

  • 3/4 cup oats (gluten-free, if that’s how you roll)
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Spread on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake for 15 minutes longer, stirring every 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Pour onto wax paper to cool.  Once it has cooled, break up some of the larger pieces.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 3
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 3

Once the granola is in the oven, you can start the fruit compote. 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (5 – 6 large)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until bubbly.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken, around 5 minutes.  Add the blueberries and cook just until they’re heated.  Remove from heat and cool.  Makes about 1 cup.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 4
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 4

You can also cook both berries together from the beginning, just be aware that while the flavor is there, your blueberries will not be recognizable in the final product.

To assemble the parfait, start with 2 tablespoons of the berry compote on the bottom for 8 servings, or 1/4 cup for 4 servings.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 5
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 5

Add 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt for either number of servings.  I like Zoi.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 6
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 6

Top with 1/4 cup granola for 4 servings or 2 tablespoons for 8.  You should have a little granola left over.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 7
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 7

After you’re done looking at how pretty it is, mix it all together and enjoy.  Oh, and it’s still pretty.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 8
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 8

One thing I really love about the Starbucks parfait is that the granola is in its own container so it doesn’t mix with the yogurt and get soggy.  You can just dump it in when you’re ready.  After a little brainstorming I solved that problem with my homemade version too.

Save and wash an empty applesauce container.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 9
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 9

Fill it with the granola and top it with a piece of foil.  Put it upside down on top of the wide-mouth jar lid and twist on the ring.  The foil keeps it in place!  I shook this and it didn’t budge.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci

Here’s the REALLY good news.  If you make this recipe into four servings (as shown in the first photo above), each one will have 206 calories, which is 14 fewer than Starbucks’.  If you make it into eight servings, as shown in my awesome travel container here, it’s only 125 calories!

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci 2
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci 2

Healthy on-the-go snack problem?  Solved.

Buffalo Chex Mix

I love you guys.  I asked for help yesterday to make a decision, and you jumped in to give your opinions.  I can’t begin to tell you what that means to me.  Thank you!  By the way, the winner of the one-way trip to Japan can be found on yesterday’s post.  It was very close for a while there!

Now, on to today’s recipe.  I discovered Frank’s Red Hot Sauce about a year ago.  Why had I never tried this stuff before?  I am seriously hooked. (I also just had my first taste of Sriracha a few days ago – don’t even get me started.)  Frank’s is good on everything, so I decided to give it a go as the star of this Chex mix.  Of course, then I learned Chex already had a version, but mine differs in a few areas.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 1
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 1

Do you like my non-committal colors?  A little Seahawks, a little Broncos?  That’s me – Go Team!

Buffalo Chex Mix

9 cups Rice Chex cereal (one 12.8 ounce box)

2 cups Bugles

2 cups pretzels

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 packet ranch dressing mix

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 2
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 2

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the cereal, Bugles, pretzels and cashews.  Of course, you can use combine different flavors of Chex if you’d prefer, I just like using up one whole box. 

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 3
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 3

Melt the butter in the microwave.  Add the hot sauce, ranch and celery seed.  Mix well with a whisk.  This is very mild on the hotness, so feel free to add more sauce if you’d like.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 4
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 4

Pour over the cereal mixture and stir until the pieces are evenly coated.  Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and gently stir.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 5
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 5

Spread on two large cookie sheets. 

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 6
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 6

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 7
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 7

If I wasn’t on what I’m affectionately calling The Mother of the Bride Diet, I’d spend Sunday with a big bowl of this waiting to find out what the Budweiser Clydesdales and that E-Trade baby have been up to.  Oh, I mean who wins the game.  Yeah, that.