Saturday, February 25, 2012


Let me start by saying I have the world's greatest campus job.  I work for VIP which stands for Visitor & Information Programs and I am an Information Guide (IG).  This campus organization helps with campus tours, staffing the front desks of various locations, and general customer service to anyone on this campus.  As an IG I get to staff the front desk at Union South, the Welcome Center, and the Discovery Building.  I help people who are visiting, hanging out, calling campus, e-mailing campus, chatting campus, and so on.  As an IG I get to be one of the "faces of the university" who is responsible for welcoming visitors to campus and providing the best information to anyone who needs it.  This is a great job because I love to help people out and I love my university.  Also, I LOVE my fellow IGs.  The people I get to work with are absolutely amazing!  Every time I work I leave feeling as if I just made 2 or 3 new best friends.  Everyone is just fantastic.

One of the fantastic traditions that we fantastic people take part in is the Progressive Dinner.  It's simple: 4 locations, 4 dinner courses (Drinks, Appetizers, Main Course, and Dessert), and of course, a theme!  Tonight is Progressive Dinner and the theme is high school cliques.  When I found this out I was thrilled.  I am going to get even more use of my old cheer uniform!  I also get to show off some of my culinary skills :)

I am making a Reese's Pieces Cake.  I found the recipe on Tasty Kitchen and I fell in love with the simplicity of it.  I knew that my day was going to be busy and I wouldn't have all the time in the world to bake, so I picked this guy.  Also, this cake represents a food that I just can't live without: Peanut Butter.

In my opinion, Peanut Butter should just be it's own food group.  You can eat it with any meal and it's good for you.  I can't wait to try this cake at our last stop tonight!!!

Reese's Pieces Cake

For the Cake:
1 18 oz box of chocolate cake mix
Ingredients specified on box, but instead of oil, replace with peanut butter (I used Natural Creamy)
3/4 cup of chopped reese's pieces
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Creamy Peanut Butter
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Make cake as directed on box, replacing the oil with peanut butter and then stir in the lightly copped reese's pieces.  Bake as directed on box.
2.  Make the frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly beat in powdered sugar and beat until well combined.  Spread on top of the cooled cake.
Enjoy :)

And here begins the fun part.  Because it is Progressive Dinner, I figured I would share with you the recipes/pictures from all the IGs who are cooking/baking for tonight's event.

Stop 1: Appetizers: Apples, Grapes, Southwestern Black Bean Hummus, and Brownies (they can be an appetizer too!)

The Apples and Grapes were simple and obviously don't have a recipe, but seriously they made the start of the night great...who doesn't love fruit?

Southwestern Black Bean Hummus
By: Melanie

Melanie is another IG with a fabulous food blog.  Seriously, head over to her site, Melanie's Mixtures, and check out all of her amazing recipes.  This dip was great and you gotta try it.  Plus, you don't need a food processor! In fact, I am not going to post the recipe because I really want people to head over to her site.  Just follow the link and enjoy :)

Stop 2: More Appetizers: Greek Dip, Stuffed Peppers, Empanadas, and Cinnamon Sugar Kettle Corn

Stuffed Peppers
By: Max
Source: Food Network
15 assorted mini bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow)
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup goat cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic, and basil until well combined.  Cut off the tops of the peppers and clean out the seeds.  Fill each pepper with the cheese mixture.  Enjoy!

Chicken Empanadas (from Food Network)
By: Paul
Source: Food Network
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 8 oz bag of shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seedless and chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 15 oz package refrigerated pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  In a bowl, mix chicken and the next 7 ingredients.
3. Unroll pie crust and, using a 3 inch circle cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the pie crust.  Reroll and continue to make rounds until you have 12-15.
4. Assemble the empanadas by laying the rounds flat on a clean surface, brush the edges with water, place a heaping teaspoon of the chicken mixture in the center, and then fold the dough over and press the edges of the crust together.  Using a fork, press the edges together and make little indents in the sides.
5.  Arrange the empanadas on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Cinnamon Sugar Kettle Corn
By: Lauren

1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

If you have an oil popper: Put the kernels and the oil in the popper.  Once the oil starts to boil (or once the first kernel pops) sprinkle the sugar all around the pan.  The popcorn will pop in the sugar/oil glaze. Dumb into a large bowl.  Salt once popped (be careful, it's hot!).  I usually take a knife to turn the popcorn and break away any clumps as I mix.

If you are using the cinnamon, mix the cinnamon and sugar together beforehand.  Make sure to mix well! Then, add as normal.

To stove pop: Put the kernels and oil in a big kettle with a top.  Once the oil starts to boil (or once the first kernel pops) sprinkle the sugar all around the bottom.  Make sure to shake the kernels back and forth in the pan so they don't burn! Pour into a bowl and salt with instructions above.
Enjoy :)
Source: Simply Recipes

Stop 3: Main Course: Cheesy Spinach and Tomato Quiche, Couscous with Chicken and Veggies, Chili, and Spaghetti-Pizza Style

Cheesy Spinach and Tomato Quiche (from Heather's Dish)
Made by: Leigh
Source: Heather's Dish
1 whole russet potato, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into thin rounds
3 cups packed fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup cubed cheese (white cheddar, feta, Parmesan, or asiago are good)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
2. Place the potato slices on the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they start to look translucent. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until smooth.  Whisk in the seasonings until well combined.
4. Layer the spinach on top of the potatoes and then the cubed cheese on top of the spinach in the pie pan.  Pour the egg mixture into the pie pan and then lay the tomatoes on top of the egg mixture.
5.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the middle is no longer jiggly.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Couscous with Chicken and Veggies
By: Kaitlin

Your favorite couscous (She used Near East)
1 cup of chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup of cooked broccoli
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper for taste

Make the couscous.  In a large pan, mix in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.  So easy and so good!

Chili (slightly adapted from All Recipes)
By: Briana
Source: All Recipes
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 10.75 oz cans tomato puree
1 15 oz can kidney beans, with liquid
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, with liquid
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
a dash of hot pepper sauce
1 16 oz box of elbow macaroni, cooked according to box

1. Cook the beef in a medium skillet until browned.  Drain the grease.
2. Place beef in a slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients.  Cook covered on low for 8 hours.
3. Mix in cooked macaroni and serve!

Spaghetti-Pizza Style
By: Maria
Source: Busy Cooks
1/2 lb thin spaghetti or a little more
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
24 oz or more of spaghetti sauce
1/2 lb ground beef
1/4-1/3 lb sliced pepperoni, cut in quarters and separated
1 cup shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.
1. Prepare spaghetti according to box and drain.
2. In a saucepan, cook the beef until browned.  Drain the grease.  In a bowl, mix the beef with the sauce and the pepperoni pieces.
2. Spread spaghetti in a lightly greased 9x13 inch pan.  Top with the sauce/meat mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
4. Bake for 30 minutes covered and then uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Stop 4: Dessert: Reese's Pieces Cake, Cookie Dough Cupcakes, and more Brownies

Cookie Dough Cupcakes
By: Sami

Sami is another IG with a cooking blog.  Seriously, we need to all get together and have a giant cooking party.  But anyways, Sami  made FANTASTIC cupcakes for last night.  She blogged about them a while back and you can find the recipe here.

Accidental Brownies
By: Jiawen

1 box of chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, beat cake mix with water, butter, and eggs.
3. Bake according to the directions on the box, about 30 minutes.
These were supposed to be cake bars, but ended up being more dense and like brownies...they were great!

Such a fun time!