Thursday, December 24, 2009

Orange Rolls

I've never made homemade orange rolls before...that could be why I've never liked them. This year I couldn't afford to buy orange rolls (I know they are like $1.64 or something, but I'm trying to save money, so if I can make it at home, then I do), so I tried out a new recipe. It seems a little involved, but no more so than making cinnamon rolls. I found this recipe on a blog called

Orange Rolls-

1 cup milk (scald & cool until lukewarm)

3 TBSP Butter

1 Cup flour

3 eggs beaten

1/2 Cup sugar

1 TBSP Yeast

Beat the above mixture together

Then add:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

Mix together well, kneading slightly. Form a nice ball of dough, that is soft,but doesn't stick to your fingers. Add additional flour if needed. Grease a large bowl with butter, place dough in bowl, and cover with tight lid.

Rise dough until doubled in size.

Tip: Place 2 large clean bath towels inside your dryer.Turn your dryer on, and heat those towels, until they are very warm. Open dryer, and nest your bowl of dough in the warm towels. Close your dryer door.........DO NOT TURN ON YOUR DRYER!!!!

The dough will raise in no time at all. Trust me it works wonders.


6 TBSP melted butter

1/2 C. Sugar

Grated rind of 1 orange


1 bag of powdered sugar

All the freshly squeezed juice from your orange

2 TBSP Vanilla

1 cube softened butter

Enough milk to make frosting the right consistency

Mix together until fluffy with your hand mixer.

Cut frosting ingredients in half if you are not doubling recipe.

When the dough has doubled in size, you are ready to roll!

Sprinkle a generous amount of flour across your counter.

Roll out dough, in an oblong shape, about 1/2 to 3/4 " thick. Spread dough with glaze mixture. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Roll up your dough into a long log and pinch and seal the edges. Cut 1" slices with a long piece of sewing thread or floss.

Put in sheet pans. Rise again.....until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Frost while they are warm.

I don't know why it posted like this, but enjoy anyway. And MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Connie's Chicken and Pasta Salad

This stuff is fantastic! I LOVE it! Maybe because it has so much Miracle Whip (which I'm sure you can substitute with Mayo for all you purists).

Connie's Chicken and Pasta Salad

2 cups cooked chicken cup up

2 cup jack cheese cubed

2 cups diced celery

1 bunch green onions

5 cups uncooked small shell macaroni

2 cups diced granny smith apples

Cook macaroni and mix 3 cups miracle whip (can not use mayo) plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice add salt and pepper and mrs. dash. Mix everything ltogether put in the fridge over night.

Before serving add 8oz pkg cashews, a can mandarin oranges, can pineapple tidbits, and purple grapes (sliced in half)

Jennifer, I like to add a couple cans of mandarin oranges and a pineapple. add as much as you would like. (same with the grapes)

Love Connie

Connie's Artichoke Dip

I had this at the RS Christmas Party last week. It is SO good! And really easy. I'm gonna make it for a New Year's Party and I can hardly wait to eat it again!

Connie’s Artichoke dip

2 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese
2 small jars artichoke hearts, marinated and drained
1 cup mayonnaise
¾ cup Parmesan cheese

Mix altogether and bake 350 for 30-40 mins. serve with crackers or veggies

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bacon-Cliantro Fried Rice

This is by FAR the best fried rice I have EVER eaten!  Brian was watching a show called Simply Ming and decided to make the recipe.  It's easy and delicious.  We ended up taking about half of the bacon grease out of the pan because we had such fatty bacon.  

Bacon-Cilantro Fried Rice

4 eggs
8 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 bunch scallions sliced thinly, separate white and green (we used green onions)
8 cups cooked jasmin rice, day old
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil for cooking

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together until well-combined. In a large sauté pan over high heat coated with 1/4-inch of oil, gently lower the eggs in and season. Eggs will puff up and cook through very quickly; transfer eggs and oil to a paper towel-lined plate. In the same pan, cook the bacon. When bacon is almost fully cooked, add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites and stir-fry for 1 minute, until softened and fragrant. Add the rice, soy sauce and eggs and stir to heat through and break up the eggs. Check for flavor and season if necessary.  Toss in the cilantro and scallion greens and serve.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

So, Brian requested some butternut squash the other day.  Those are some big squash, so I thought I'd just make a meal out of it instead of serving it just as a side dish.  I found a recipe from the Gourmet Magazine and got to work.  I think the soup turned out beautifully, fantastic color, savory food-like consistency...ew.  That was the only problem, the texture was just like baby food (and I know that because, despite having no baby at home, we played "baby food roulette" at the EQ activity last week).  I don't know how I could have blended it any smoother.  Anyway, that was the main complaint.  If any of you try it out, tell me if you are able to obtain a silky smooth texture.  

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash
1 medium onion
1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger (optional)
3 Tbs. butter
3 cups chicken broth
1-2 cups water as needed (for thinning out the soup, although I used half cream and half water)
salt and pepper
sour cream for garnish

Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut side down in roasting pan that has been sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Bake squash in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until very tender at 350-425. Set aside to cool. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin. 

While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened, Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash to the sauce pan. 

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to the sauce pan and cook over moderate heat until it is hot. Garnish each portion.

Okay, I didn't use the ginger.  And I used about a cup of heavy whipping cream as a replacement for some of the water.  And it took about an hour and a half for my squash to 400.  Of course, my oven sucks, so maybe for you people who have a good oven, it would be less time.  Anyway, all in all, it had a great flavor.  

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Raspberry Cream Bars

I first tried this dessert at Richard's aunt's house, who by the way is an AMAZING cook. She never gives recipes out though so I did a search on the Internet for it. I finally found it and now it's one of my favorites! Enjoy!

1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1 cup pretzels, crushed
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

Cream Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cool whip

Raspberry Layer:
1 six ounce package raspberry jello
2 cups boiling water
20 ounces frozen raspberries, partially thawed and undrained (is that a word?)

Dissolve the jello in boiling water, add raspberries. Put in the refrigerator to thicken slightly. Mix crust ingredients and press firmly into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Cool completely. Cream the sugar and cream cheese, fold in cool whip. Spread over cooled crust. Pour raspberry jello mix over cream layer and chill.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Green Beans with Bacon

This is my favorite way to eat green beans. I'm not sure where I got the recipe but I've been making it for years and everyone in the family loves them.

1 pkg (16 oz) frozen green beans (whole, cut, French, whatever)
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
bacon bits - a spoonful or two

Put everything in a saucepan or pot except for the bacon. Cook over medium heat until beans are tender-crisp (or really soggy, because they taste really good that way too). Right before serving add the bacon bits and give it a good stir so the bacon can warm up a bit.

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

or at least that's what my husband thinks. I make it every year for his birthday at his request, and about 10 other times in the year, too. This makes a fairly dense cake and tastes very old-fashioned. It's not the fluffy, airy kind of chocolate cake you get from a box. One great thing about this is that it doesn't use eggs or any type of refrigerated foods - only stuff from your food storage!

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
6 tbsp. baking cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 c water
2/3 c vegetable oil
2 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Beat on low for 1 minute. Beat on medium for 1 minute. Pour into a greased (or sprayed) 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

We typically don't frost this, just dust with powdered sugar or whipped cream.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Banana Crumble Muffins

I like banana bread, but I haven't found a REALLY good recipe yet, until this one. Technically it's supposed to be muffins, but I stuck it in a 9x9 and it turned out marvelously!! I love it!! Of course, you have to bake it MUCH longer. Like and hour and a half or so. Just poke it in the middle with a tooth pick or something. Take it out of the oven when the toothpick comes out clean. And I don't see why you can't put it in a bread pan to make actual bread. I got the recipe off

Banana Muffins

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 bananas, mashed
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs. butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 20 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Falafel Wraps

I sort of made this up, so quantities are guesses. Sorry. I hate recipes like that! But this is so very yummy that you'll want to try it.

Falafel mix - 1 or 2 boxes depending on your family
1 bag of broccoli slaw
tortillas or flatbread or pitas
any combination of mayo, sour cream or yogurt
curry or garam masala seasoning
oil for frying

Make the falafel mix according to package directions. Usually you mix it with water and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. While it's sitting, mix the sauce. I took 2 or 3 large spoonfuls each of mayo and sour cream and mixed them together then added a tsp or so of curry and tasted it. I added another bit of garam masala and some salt then tasted. I LOVE curry so I ended up using a few tsps but taste it as you go until you find the level you're comfortable with. Throw it in the fridge to chill.

Once the falafel mix is done "resting" (lazy falafel, get back to work) fry it in oil. I just blobbed a medium scoop into the oil so they were about the size of an egg, only flatter because I squished them.

To assemble the wrap, put some sauce down the middle of a tortilla or bread of choice then add a falafel nugget or 2 or 3, then broccoli slaw then a bit more sauce. Eat.

These were so dang good. We pretty much ate them all and didn't have leftovers. The first time I used flour tortillas and this week we'll be trying whole grain tortillas. We'll also be trying it with yogurt mixed in. I loved that this was fast, vegetarian, and mostly healthy. And that the kids ate it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Caramel Frosted Cake

My mother-in-law was telling me how her mother made a caramel cake that was so good. She had lost the recipe, so figuring it was on the back of a box, I looked it up. There is a great website called back of the box, or something like that and there it was. Most recipes people pass down really are from the back of boxes, so I tried it out. I thought the instructions were a little weird, but it was really good.

Golden Caramel Cake-
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
Caramel Icing (below)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 round pans, 9x1 1/2 inches.

2. Beat all ingredients except Caramel Icing in medium bowl with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl constantly (batter will be thick). Beat 2 minutes longer. Remove 1/2 cup of batter; cover and refrigerate to use in icing. Pour remaining batter into pans.

3. Bake 28 to 33 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Fill layers and frost cake with Caramel Icing.

Caramel Icing

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup reserved cake batter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat butter in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until brown; remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, cake batter and evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until smooth, bubbly and almost thick; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool slightly.

Special Touch: Caramel and chocolate are natural companions. Drizzle caramel-frosted cake servings with melted chocolate chips.

Golden Caramel Cake

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chicken with Peach and Melon Salsa

So as I was surfing the foodnetwork website for some ideas on what to cook that week, I came across this recipe. Let me tell you, it is soooo good! Chris was a little sketchy at first with the fruit salsa, but even after all the chicken was gone he ate it with chips, cause it's so tasty!

It's a really, really easy recipe, if you can't find jerk seasoning (which I couldn't) then just get some good chicken seasoning, and I doubled the recipe for the salsa. Also, you can just find a pre-cut melon medley for like 2 bucks ready to go at walmart.

1 (15-ounce) can peach halves, drained and rinsed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons Jamaican Jerk seasoning
1 cup pre-cut melon medley, diced
1 tablespoon diced pimientos
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Place peaches halves on grill pan and grill 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside to cool and then dice into small pieces.
Season both sides of each chicken breast with 1 teaspoon Jamaican jerk seasoning. Place chicken breasts in pan and grill for 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine grilled peaches and remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly.
Serve chicken topped with peach and melon salsa.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

French Onion Soup

I just this soup yesterday. I love it! And the best part of it is that my house smells like onions for the night!!

French Onion Soup
(Pampered Chef)

4 large onions
¼ cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

8 1-inch-thick French bread slices
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

For soup:
Slice onions. Melt butter over medium heat; add onions and sugar. Cook and stir 15-18 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are tender and golden brown. Stir in flour and salt. Gradually add beef broth; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Pour into soup bowls, put French bread on top, sprinkle (I use much more than a sprinkle) on cheese and broil until cheese is melted.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sharon's Meatloaf

I hate meatloaf. Well, until I ate my mother-in-law's. It's pretty good. In fact, it's the only meatloaf I'll eat. I just made it the other day, and it was good.

Sharon's Meatloaf

2 lbs. Hamburger
1 package of Mrs. Cubbison’s bread stuffing
1 egg
½ cup chopped celery
Small onion, chopped

Mix all ingredients together until the loaf is firm. Shape and place into a pan. Bake at 350 for 1-1½ hours.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tagliatelle Contadina

Don't be intimidated by the ingredients, it's a really easy and delicious dish!! Of course, my family, being who they are, doesn't like pasta (unless it's spaghetti...). My aunt was stationed in Italy (her husband is now a General in the Air Force, congrats) for 3 years or something and she picked up this recipe...or I got it from Martha Stewart, I have a similar one and can't remember which goes to whom. But I'm pretty sure this is my aunt Yvonne's. Not positive though.

Tagliatelle Contadina

4 fresh sage leaves (I usually put in a few pinches of dried sage)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (again dried)
2- 4 oz. hot Italian sausages
3- 4 oz. sweet Italian sausages
3 Tbs. olive oil (I use only 1-1½ )
¾ cup plus 2 Tbs. heavy cream
3 roma tomatoes, diced
¼ cup frozen peas
2 tsp. butter
¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lb. fresh tagliatelle , linguine or fettuccine
¼ tsp. crushed red-pepper flakes

Boil water and some salt. Remove casings from sausage and brown over medium heat in olive oil. Add sage, rosemary, ¾ cup cream, and tomatoes to the sausage. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add peas, and cook, 1 minute. Add butter, and gently stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Add pasta to boiling water. Drain immediately and add to sauce. Toss well and serve with garlic bread or whatever.

Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars

I used to make these ALL the time for a guy at Brian's old work!! He loved them! And I love them too! Somehow, the white chocolate (which I generally don't like, as a rule) is not too prominent a flavor as it is in other baked goods. Anyway, I love these bar cookie things. And I think I got the recipe off the back of a Nestle package, not sure though.

Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars

½ cup butter
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. almond extract
½ cup raspberry jam
¼ cup toasted, sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and SUGAR a 9” square baking pan. Melt butter and add 1 cup of chips and let stand; do not stir. Beat eggs in bowl until foamy. Add sugar and beat until lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in morsel/butter mixture. Add flour, salt and extract; mix until combined. Spread 2/3rds in pan and bake for 15-17 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Heat jam and spread over warm crust, stir remaining chips into remaining batter and drop onto jam. Sprinkle with almonds and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool on wire rack and cut into bars.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Parmesan-crusted pork chops

This is one of my favorite recipes. It is SOOOOO good. And super fast and super easy. Here is the link:
Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time:
15 min
Cook Time:
12 min
4 servings
2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.
Copyright 2009 Television Food Network G.P., All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pickled Asparagus Rolls

My sister-in-law introduced me to these - and I ate almost the whole plate. They are seriously delicious and wickedly addictive.

a jar of pickled asparagus - not regular mushy asparagus, but pickled
1 pkg of cream cheese, softened
about 1 lb. ham slices (honey, hickory, whatever)

Spread a thinnish layer of cream cheese on a ham slice and place an asparagus spear at one end. Roll tightly. Repeat. Then cut each roll into thirds. You can make these the night before and they keep nicely.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Texas Caviar

This isn't real caviar, so don't worry!! BUT, it is a fantastic dip for good old tostitos (sometimes, I just eat it with a spoon, it's so good)! I LOVE it!

Texas Caviar-

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed with cold water
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed with cold water
1 can corn niblets (I just use normal corn)
1 jar pimentos, chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup scallion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2-3/4 cup oil (I don't always use that much)

Chop all those thing that need to be chopped and rinse your beans. Boil sugar, vinegar and oil until sugar is dissolved. Pour in onto everything else and refrigerate. You can substitute chickpeas or black beans for the black-eyed ones if you want. And white beans for the pinto.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BBQ Chicken

I don't have a picture of this (or really much of a recipe), so I'll just tell you how I do BBQ chicken. And maybe this is a well known way of preparing BBQ chicken and I just found out.

First, I get bone-in thighs and legs (they don't dry out). I've found that Tyson chicken is the largest and most juicy. So, you take a ton of mustard (which I hate-mustard in general) and rub it ALL over the chicken. Make sure you get under the skin and everything. Let this sit for an hour or two. Then bake the chicken for ten minutes at 300. Take it out and pour BBQ sauce all over it (I usually skip the pre-baking step...don't tell Brian). Now, we use the best BBQ sauce EVER! Head Country. Only made in OK. In fact, if we ever move, I'll be buying tons of it before we go (now that I think about it, it might be available in some parts of the west). After slathering the chicken with sauce, you can either continue baking in the oven (I don't know how long, an hour maybe?) or you can grill it-I'm not the griller in the family, so I don't know how long that takes.

Anyway, this chicken is great and really quite easy!! Serve it with whatever. Leftovers are quite good in bbq chicken salad. Or just plain salad with some ranch.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

My absolute FAVORITE cookie is the peanut butter cookie!! And the perfect way to have them is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (although I prefer every cookie that way, so...). I made them tonight because Brian isn't home and he dislikes them. All the more for me, yay!!

This recipe makes the best peanut butter cookie I've had. And of course, I got it from my mom. Somehow, she can always make the cookie look perfect-I have yet to perfect that...I'll get there though, even if it takes me 20" (on my waist....or thighs I suppose, but most likely waist). And I have no idea of the caloric intake of each cookie, because while I am relishing every single crumb, the thought is far from my mind (until I look at the scale the next day).

Peanut Butter Cookies

½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 egg
½ tsp. Vanilla
1¼-cup flour
¾ tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. Salt

Thoroughly cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture. Shape in 1-inch balls; Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press gently with floured fork tines to make a crisscross on the top of each cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from pan. Makes 4 dozen. I usually cook them for only ten minutes. That makes a perfect crunchy outside and chewy inside.

They look a little pale, but that was the flash on the camera.

On a side note, I found this interesting website on peanuts and...did you know that you press the crisscross pattern into the cookies because it more evenly distributes the dense dough? I always wondered that. And now I know.

Let me know if you decide to make any of the peanut recipes in the above link (it's the "105 Ways to Use the Peanut" section. I'm curious to try a few, but don't have the guts.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Homemade Baked Beans

These are REALLY good baked beans!! In fact, we had these for Memorial Day and my friend's husband ate all the leftovers by himself! I got the recipe from my Mom when I first got married and she's been making it since she got married, but where it originally came from, I don't know.

Baked Beans

2 large cans Pork-n-Beans
1 green pepper
1 chopped onion
1 lb. Hamburger
7-8 slices bacon
2/3 cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. molasses
¼ cup chili sauce

Brown hamburger, add pepper, onion and pork-n-beans and cook. Fry bacon and cut up. Combine all ingredients and bake at 325 for 1½-2 hours. Make sure you DO NOT over bake or they will be dry. It's definitely worth the frying of the bacon and browning of the meat!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pasta Bake

This is great when I need something fast with minimal preparation. It's very kid-friendly and adult pleasing.

16 oz. box of chunky pasta
28 oz. jar pasta sauce
1/2 lb. brown & serve sausage, crumbled (I use the cooked sausage links and slice them)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

In a 13x9 pan mix the pasta, sauce, one jar full of water and the sausage. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Stir well, recover and bake another 10 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

Cheesy Chili

I serve this when the missionaries come over because it makes a ton. I also like to take it to ward chili dinners. My kids think it's great that you eat it with a chip instead of a spoon.

2 1/2 lb. ground beef, cooked (I usually use a pound)
3 cans (15-oz ea.) tomato sauce
2 cans (16-oz ea.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained (I sometimes use more to make up for less meat)
1 can (10-oz.) diced tomatoes & chilies (undrained)
2 envelopes chili seasoning
2 lbs. Velveeta, cubed
1 c. whipping cream
Fritos Scoops chips

Heat all the ingredients together except for the Velveeta cheese and the whipping cream (and obviously the chips!). Once it's heated through add the cheese and stir until melted, then add the whipping cream. Serve with the chips, using them like spoons.

Mexican Stew

I got this recipe from a good friend who is also an excellent cook. This recipe looks weird and the ingredient list looks like it would taste horrible BUT IT DOESN'T. It is really, really yummy. The kids love it because they can 'customize' it.

1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 c. cooked rice
1 can tomato sauce - med. soup size
1 can tomato paste - 7 oz. size
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 c. mushrooms, sliced (okay, I usually add the whole 8 oz package)
1 c. water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook all the above ingredients together until thoroughly heated through.

Serve on plates with the following toppings:
Fritos corn chips
chopped olives
grated cheese
avocados, chopped
Italian dressing
tomatoes, chopped

Wet Burritos

I originally got this recipe from These are big and messy, but really yummy. They're also really filling. We usually have leftovers for lunch for several days afterwards. The long list of ingredients makes it look complicated, but it's super easy and fast to put together. The sauce is a bit spicy (not really unless you're a total wimp, like our kids) so we don't put the sauce on theirs.

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced or 1 tsp. minced garlic from the jar
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chile peppers
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 can (15 oz) chili without beans
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed tomato soup
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce or the equivalent homemade
tortillas - flour works best
shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese, sour cream, etc

Brown ground beef in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent. Drain and season with garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in green chilies and refried beans until well blended. Turn off heat, but keep warm. In a saucepan, combine the chili without beans, tomato soup and enchilada sauce. Mix well and cook until heated through. Turn off heat and keep warm. Spoon a generous amount of ground beef mixture into center of tortilla. Top with cheese if desired. Roll up and spoon generous amount of sauce over the top of the rolled burrito. Top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, whatever.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I have made these a few times and they are really tasty, if you make sure to soften your butter and don't over bake them, I repeat do not over bake them or they will be really crispy. Recipe found on Stephanie's Kitchen blog.

makes 3 dozen

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt. Set aside.2. Using a mixer, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in eggs. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until well incorporated.3. Mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Shape in to 1 1/2 inch balls and dip in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake or they will be too crispy. Bake just until light and golden.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chicken Curry

I love curry. Love it. If I see a recipe for curry something I want to make it and eat it. Fortunately my family shares my love for it, or at least they humor me by eating it cheerfully. This has a very straightforward curry taste.

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
2 tsp. curry powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 can (13 1/2 oz) coconut milk
2 tbsp. tomato paste (okay, I leave this out sometimes and it still tastes great)
3 c. fresh baby spinach
hot cooked rice

Throw the chicken and onion in a skillet and sprinkle with curry, salt and pepper. Sauté until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in the coconut milk and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Serve over rice.

The kids like this a lot, but they tend to push the spinach to the side. I've decided that it's better to not add the spinach to the curry, but to serve it as a side salad. They happily eat the fresh spinach this way. You do what's best for you though!

Crispy Fish Tostadas

These are fabulous. My husband asks for them more than just about any other dish. My fish-hater sister loved these too!

Fish fillets or fish sticks - 2 or so fillets per person
tostada shells
cheese - we grown-ups put sliced pepper jack on ours, the kids use shredded mozzarella
angel hair cabbage
avocado, sliced

Bake fish according to directions. Put cheese on shells at bake at 475 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Top with fish pieces, salsa, avocados and then cabbage. You can use guacamole instead of the avocado slices. I do that when the avocados are yucky or really expensive. I also cook up tilapia with some salt and butter and use that instead of 'fish fillets'. It just depends on what I have on hand or can find at the store. The kids usually eat 2 each.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spinach Empanaditas

I really like spinach and have been trying to incorporate it into meals (Brian doesn't really like it, so I'm trying to convince him through wonderful tasting food). I was searching the food network site trying to find spinach filled main dishes. Emeril Lagasse provided this dish, which is spinach filled AND cheesy (which makes it extra good)! UNFORTUNATELY, while they are quite delicious, they are in no way a main dish (if I spoke Spanish, I could have deduced that from the name). And, they are just little dry, I felt like I needed to dip them into something. The crust was really flaky, so that's good. But I'm labeling this recipe as an appetizer. Brian ate some chicken tortilla soup after a couple empanaditas. For the record, he did like them. And I would add the picture from, but it honestly doesn't look as appetizing as they really are. AND this recipe may look pretty involved, but to me, it was no different than a regular meal.

Spinach Empanaditas

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

2 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and crumbled (drippings reserved)-I tried to use 6 pieces, but Ellie ate 2...I would definitely go with more bacon
½ pound fresh spinach leaves, washed
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, or ricotta cheese-I used ricotta
Ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg-I didn’t have any and it turned out well
Egg, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until very smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, little by little, and the salt, and process until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Form the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. I didn’t do that, I just stuck it in the fridge until I was done with the filling.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the reserved bacon drippings in a medium nonstick skillet and, when hot, add the spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach is wilted and has released its liquid, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander to drain. When the spinach has cooled enough to handle, squeeze to release any excess water, then transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Set aside. I didn’t squeeze any excess water either, it was fine.

Add 2 more teaspoons of the bacon drippings to the same skillet, then add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved spinach, crumbled bacon, cottage cheese, pepper, nutmeg and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool thoroughly. It doesn't take long to cool, maybe 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, working on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Using a biscuit cutter or a small glass as a guide, cut the dough into as many 3-inch circles as possible. Place a teaspoonful of the spinach filling in the center of each dough circle. Using your fingers, lightly moisten the edges with some of the beaten egg-water mixture, then fold 1 side over so that the edges meat, and press to seal. Crimp the edges using the tines of a fork and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all of the empanaditas are assembled. Brush the tops of each empanadita with some of the beaten egg and bake uncovered until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. I also didn’t use the egg on top, I just used butter, maybe that’s why it was all nice and golden and flaky.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Strawberry pizza

I just made this last night and it is already gone!  That could tell you I am really fat or that it is really delicious... ;)

Strawberry Pizza

sugar cookie dough (that comes in a tube at the store)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 C sliced fresh strawberries

1 C sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
2 C crushed strawberries

Spread sugar cookie dough onto a pizza pan for crust and bake as directed. It should start to become a little golden. I usually do a toothpick poke in the middle to make sure that it is cooked. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar and spread over the crust. Arrange fresh strawberry slices on top.
Bring sauce to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool slightly. Spoon over fresh strawberries and refrigerate.  I like to refrigerate it all before serving so that it is all cool.

Cafe Rio Chicken

Debbie and I were comparing our recipes of the Cafe Rio Chicken vs. the Pork and so we both decided to post them. There really isn't that much of a difference and I think the rice is exactly the same. Anyway, she can make the chicken one, while I make the pork. Enjoy.

Café Rio Dressing
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet (make as per recipe)
2 tomatillos
1⁄2 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño

Use a food processor (or blender) to blend all the ingredients well. Refrigerate.

Cafe Rio Chicken
1 small bottle of Italian Dressing
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. cumin
3 cloves garlic—minced
5 lbs chicken breast

Cook all together in a crock pot for 4 hours, shred meat and cook 1 additional hour.

Café Rio Rice
3 cups water
4 tsp. chicken bouillon
4 tsp. garlic –minced
The other 1⁄2 bunch of cilantro
1 can green chilies or fresh, about the same amount
3⁄4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. butter
1⁄2 onion
3 cups of rice- if you are not making instant rice, you might need a little more water

Blend cilantro, green chilies and onion together in food processor. Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered 30 minutes.

Take a flour tortilla and melt some cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheese on top and layer everything else the way you like-or just make a taco type of thing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

BBQ Pork - Cafe Rio Style

I'm sure many of you have seen this recipe circulating in one form or another and while I love Cafe Rio, I can't say for certain whether this recipe is in fact authentic or not. No matter, it is very good and I recommend trying it out. It looks complicated but it's really not. In preface, I want to add that I substitute the pork with chicken. I'm not a big pork fan AND sorry for the layout of the recipe. It was given to me this way and I'm just too lazy to rework it.

Pork loin-place in crock pot and cover with water. Cook on high for 5 hours and then drain the water and add sauce.

1 large bottle Pace's Salsa
1.5 cups Apple Juice
1.5-2 cups Brown Sugar

Cook another three hours. Then remove, shred and return to sauce.

3 cups water
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 bunch Cilantro
1 can green chilies
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups rice

Start a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes OR throw all the ingredients into the rice cooker and cook according to rice cooker directions.

1 Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Packet. Make as directed and then mix in...
1/3 jar La Victoria Green Salsa
1/2 bunch Cilantro
1 clove Garlic
1 lime squeezed
Jalapeno, optional

Blend all ingredients in a blender.

Serving: Top a tortilla with pork, rice, black beans, dressing, chopped lettuce, cheese and fried tortilla strips.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemons were on sale this week, a quarter a piece, so I bought a bunch in anticipation of making this pie yesterday. I LOVE this pie!! And best of all, Brian loved it and ate half of it last night. Although, maybe that wasn't so good because now I have to make another one.... And once again, I forgot to take a picture, but there are a few slices left, so I'll try to snap a few before they are devoured.

Lemon Meringue Pie
1½ cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. flour
Dash salt
1½ cups hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. lemon peel (I add more when I'm using a fresh lemon)
1/3 cup lemon juice (I also use about half a cup of fresh lemon juice)

In a saucepan mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Slowly add hot water and bring to boil stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half of the sugar mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Pour all the egg yolks into sugar mixture and bring back to boil, stirring constantly. Cook at boiling for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie shell, spread meringue and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden.

3 egg whites
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tbs. sugar

Beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar until mixture becomes stiff and glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I got this from Reader's Digest. I am telling you ladies, I am totally in love with it. But my kids didn't like it at all. I went a little crazy with the lime juice though. :o) It really is yummy.

You Will Need
3 corn tortillas (6 inches each), cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup frozen corn
1 can (4 1/2 oz.) chopped green chilies
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbs. lime juice

What to Do

1. In large resealable plastic bag, combine tortilla strips, 1 tsp. oil, and salt. Seal bag and shake to coat. Arrange tortilla strips on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp, turning once. Remove to paper towels to cool.

2. In large saucepan, sauté chicken in remaining oil until lightly browned. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add corn, chilies, cilantro, and pepper, and heat through. Stir in lime juice. Top each serving with tortilla strips.

Yield: 6 servings ($1.62 per serving)

-- M. M., Traverse City, Michigan

Nutrition Facts: One serving (1 1/2 cups) equals 221 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 757 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 19 g protein.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Grandma Swain's Sausage Soup

This is Grandma's famous soup, talked about in hushed and reverent tones at family gatherings. We all adore this soup. It is fantastic. I usually have the ingredients on hand so I can whip this up anytime. Okay, I keep the ingredients on hand specifically so I can make it often. There have been fights over the last bowl.

1 lb. uncooked breakfast sausage links
1 small to medium sized onion, chopped
1/3 c. chopped green pepper (I often leave this out since the kids don't like them)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. water
18-oz. can tomato juice (2 1/4 c.)
16-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1/2 c. long-grained rice (both white and brown work; brown just takes a little longer)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper

Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces and brown in a large saucepan. I usually throw the onion (and green pepper if I'm using it) in at the same time and let it cook with the sausage then add the garlic right at the end. Add water, tomato juice, beans, rice and seasonings. Simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. We wipe out the entire pot in one sitting. This does not hold up well as leftovers since the rice turns super mushy. If you will have leftovers cook some rice separately from the soup and add a little to each bowl as you serve it.

Russian Potato and Mushroom Soup

This is so light and lovely, but filling at the same time. This soups makes me feel happy and healthy after eating it.

5 tbsp. butter, divided
2 leeks, chopped - clean those suckers well because they hide a lot of dirt
2 large carrots, sliced
6 c. chicken broth
2 tsp. dried dill weed
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced (Yukon Gold is the best, really)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 c. half-and-half
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
fresh dill weed, for garnish (optional)

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix in leeks and carrots, and cook 5 minutes. Pour in broth. Season with dill, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Mix in potatoes, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but firm. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Melt the remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir into the soup. In a small bowl, mix the half-and-half and flour until smooth. Stir into the soup to thicken. Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh dill to serve.

Olive Garden-like Zuppa Tuscana

Or something like that. I like to serve this with breadsticks and salad and pretend we're eating out. Maybe I should tip myself....

1 lb. ground Italian sausage - mild or spicy, your preference. I can only find the links so I remove the casings and chop it up
1 large diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or about 2 tsp. minced garlic from the jar
1 quart water
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz each) OR 3 2/3 c. homemade chicken broth OR the equivalent in bouillon
2 or 3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced (Yukon Gold works too)
1 c. heavy cream (the whipping kind works well as does evaporated milk)
2 cups or so chopped Kale or Swiss Chard
4 tbsp. real bacon bits (or a few strips cooked bacon)
salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage, breaking into small pieces. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water and garlic in a large pot. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add sausage, bacon bits, salt and pepper to taste and simmer another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat and add kale and cream. Heat through. I've made this with turkey sausage and it tastes just as wonderful.

Russian Borscht

The funny thing is that one of my kids is Russian by birth and he doesn't like this soup at all. The rest of us love it. I make it several times a year, in hot or cold weather.

1 to 3 lbs. bone-in beef shank (depends on how meaty you want it - I use 1 lb.)
1 onion, chopped
6 c. water
1/2 lb. carrots, cut into bite-size pieces (I use baby carrots)
2-4 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 medium head cabbage, shredded (I use half a package of shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix)
1 lb. beets, peeled and shredded or julienned
1 c. tomato juice (one of the pop can sizes of juice works perfectly)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. white sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

In a large pot, add beef, onion and water. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Watch this as I've often needed to add additional water. Remove meat and let cool, then cut meat into bite size pieces. If you want to defat the broth, set in fridge overnight then lift the fat off. When ready to cook, stir remaining ingredients into broth; add more water if needed to come just to the top of the veggies. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add meat and heat through. Serve with sour cream.

This makes great leftovers and can sit in the fridge for days without getting all mushy. Do wear an apron when you're working with beets as they have a nasty habit of staining clothes, and hands!

Baked Oatmeal Squares

We eat this at least once a week, usually more. I can stir this together in minutes and relax while it's baking. If we have any leftovers the kids like to eat them cold like a soft granola bar.

2 eggs
3 c. quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional
1/2 c. raisins, optional
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
milled flax seed - a large spoonful or two

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cut into squares. My kids like theirs in a bowl with milk, or not. One kid hates milk on his. I like to put craisins and almond slivers on mine. I typically don't add the raisins and nuts to the baking process as all 4 of my kids hate cooked raisins. They take after their mama.

I've made this with applesauce instead of the oil/butter and the kids didn't like the apple flavor. Yours might. I also have forgotten to add the butter and it's turned out just fine, just a little drier than normal. To add further complications - I have done half butter (1/4 c.) and half applesauce (1/4 c.) and they seem to be okay with that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ivory Cake

Ivory Cake

1 pkg. white food cake mix (I used butter this time)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup water
½ cup oil
4 eggs
1 large pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix

Mix all ingredients for 5 minutes at medium speed. Pour into a greased and floured bundt, rounds or 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 55-65 minutes if using a bundt. I used two rounds and it probably took about 30-35 minutes or so, I just checked it at 20 minutes and then reset the timer. I'm not sure about a 9x13....

I frosted the cake with the normal chocolate buttercream frosting on the back of the powdered sugar box, except that I added much more cocoa powder. You are supposed to just use white, when I do, I add a little almond extract. I have to say, next time I make the frosting I am NOT going to use an entire stick of butter in the frosting, it was WAY too buttery for the cake (of course I also used a yellow butter cake mix instead of a white...). Anyway, Brian likes it and that's all that counts in my house!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jucy Lucy

We were watching Man v. Food the other night. They featured someplace, somewhere, that makes what is called a 'jucy lucy', no spelling error. Anyway, we made one last night and it was great.

Basically it's just a hamburger stuffed with American cheese, but since I hate American cheese, we used cheddar and I had chipotle cheddar in mine.

So, you take 2 patties (we thought 1/4 lb. each was way too big, so next time we'll go with a fifth or so), put A LOT of cheese stacked in the middle of one and sandwich them together. Toast your buns (hamburger buns, not tanning your own buns). We preferred grilled burgers, but didn't have time last night, so we fried them on the stove. Then you know, put whatever you want on top. It's pretty hot, so the kids might want to let it cool, but the cheese just oozes out. I couldn't get my mouth around it, so I'll make them flatter next time. Anyway, just a twist on a hamburger, but still pretty tasty.

My kids were pretty excited about eating cheese in a hamburger. Sneaky....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Easiest, best tasting CHILI I've ever eaten...hands down!

This may not be Brian-approved Jenn (because I've seen you slave away making chili his way) but it's darn good and takes me longer to brown the meat then it does to mix everything else together. Definitely a must try with some of Corcor's homemade cornbread (recipe somewhere below)!

1 can corn, undrained
1 can white beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can red beans, undrained
1 can Rotel's chili fixens tomatoes
2 big cans diced tomatoes
1/2 pound hamburger, cooked
2 tablespoons white vinegar or to taste
Salt/Pepper to taste
Water if you like it a little more soupy

Mix all together, heat up and enjoy!
*NOTE: The original recipe called for both hamburger and Jimmy Dean's spicy sausage. I ended up omitting the sausage in future batches because one, I don't like sausage and two, I didn't feel like it added anything to the kick, no spice, in fact I couldn't even taste it in there. BUT having said all that, for those that do like sausage, it's worth giving it a try.

Macadamia Nut Cookies

My hubby really loves Macadamia Nut Cookies and I have found this to be the best recipe, he agrees. It actually came from the back of a bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups (one 11 oz bag) Ghirardelli Classic White Chips or whatever brand you have on hand - Ghirardelli are pretty tasty though.
1 1/2 cups Macadamia nuts chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Blend in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in white chips and nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookies sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

* I have equally separated the dough and used half for macadamia cookies and half for chocolate chip cookies. They were both yummy!

Click for cookie envelope directions.

Strawberry Pie

This has been the most flavorful strawberry season I can remember! I've made cases of jam since Brian won't eat any other (flattering, but sometimes frustrating). I decided to make a couple of strawberry pies. They are super easy and oh, so good!!

Strawberry Pie

1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
5 cups fresh sliced strawberries

Crush 1 cup fresh strawberries and cook with water about 2 minutes and sieve (I never do that, it just makes the glaze smoother and I like chunks of strawberries). Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into berry juice. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add a few drops red food coloring (never do that either). Place 2½ cups sliced strawberries in baked and cooled pie shell. Pour half sauce over. Repeat layers with 2½ cups berries and remaining sauce. Chill.

Brian likes it with whip cream.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Noodles

Chris and I love Thai food and a NY friend of mine made this for me during my moving frenzy and it was delish and so easy, so this has become one of our favorites. If you are making it for more than two, I suggest doubling the recipe. I boil one chicken breast, shred it, and add it to the mix. I always use spaghetti noodles. You can vary the ginger and garlic to taste but I like the recipe as is. The minced ginger may be hard to find, I used pureed ginger and it worked wonderfully. It will be a lot more work if you have to mince the ginger yourself -- not fun.

1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tsps)
8 ounces spaghetti or Udon noodles

1 cooked chicken breast (shredded)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. [Add chicken and stir to coat] Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.

Egg Sausage Casserole

6 slices of bread cubed (I like to use the not so good for you wonder white bread)
1 pound breakfast sausage, browned, drained
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (I usually use more and I sometimes throw in Monterey jack cheese too)
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt (you may not want this because the sausage is pretty salty usually)
pepper to taste

Cube bread and place evenly in greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle evenly with sausage and cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over ingredients in pan. Cover and chill overnight if desired. (If left overnight, remove from fridge 15 minutes before baking.) Bake 45 minutes at 325 or until eggs are set. Cut into squares and serve.

8-10 servings.

Sometimes I half the recipe but this is one that also reheats really well -- I think.

Corn Bread

1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C corn meal
1/2 C sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C milk
2 T oil
1 egg beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients and pour into greased 8"or 9" square pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

I love this recipe because it is just sweet enough and moist. YUM!

Cheesy Artichoke Dip

1 C mayo
1 C grated cheddar cheese
1 C grated parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic minced (about 1-2 tsps)
1-2 cans of artichoke hearts (in water)

Preheat oven to 375. Drain artichoke hearts and cut into bite size pieces. Mix all ingredients except paprika in a mixing bowl. Spread dip in an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with bread or tortilla chips.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Veggie Melts

I was smelling some basil in Jenni's garden while we were in Phoenix and thought of these awesome sandwiches. I think it's a really old Pampered Chef recipe, but I'm not sure. In any case, they are delicious! I make them as a main dish with fruit and salad, but Brian thinks they are more of an appetizer.... I don't really have a specific recipe, but I'll tell you how I do them.

Veggie Melts

I usually use day-old French bread sliced thin. Depending on how many you think you'll be making, slice 1 or 2 Roma tomatoes very thin and a zucchini very thin. I like to slice the zucchini on the diagonal so it makes the slice cover more surface area of the bread. Mix about ¼ cup-ish of Mayonnaise with 1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic and about 1/2 tsp. dried basil. (I'm not completely sure of these quantities - I may shake a little more basil in than that and I can't even tell you how GOOD these are with some finely chopped fresh basil!!). Spread this mixture on the bread slices (¼ c. mayo will do about twelve melts). Then top with zucchini and tomatoes slices. Finally, cover each veggie melt with grated mozzarella cheese (I use sliced because it's a lot less messy). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Serve warm. It's melty goodness.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet Smoky Chicken Legs

This was the first meal I made for Chris when we were married. It's super easy and so delicious! He asks for it all the time!

2 medium onions (Or 1 large onion); sliced
3 pounds chicken legs (skinned)
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons hickory smoked salt (or I just use some Johnny's seasonings salt)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard


1. Place sliced onions in a greased 13 x 9 x 2 in baking dish; arrange chicken in a single layer over onions and sprinkle with salt.

2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over all, completely coating the chicken.

3. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 1 hr or until juices run clear, basting several times.

And Serve!

Sweet Smoky Chicken Legs Recipe

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pepper Jack Enchiladas with Green Chili-Sour Cream Sauce

Super yummy, not too time consuming and a perfect meal to take to someone who's just had a baby!

8 flour tortillas
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese mixed, divided
2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I like to use a rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 cans diced green chilies
Cilantro, chopped
2 cups chopped green lettuce

1. Spread 2 tablespoons of cheese on flour tortilla. Layer a corn tortilla on top of shredded cheese. Then spread some chicken on corn tortilla. Roll up the tortillas and place it seam side down in a 13x9 baking pan. Repeat with the rest of tortillas.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and then stir in the flour. Add the broth all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir in the sour cream and the chilies. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble, but do not boil. Pour the mixture over the tortillas.
3. Sprinkle left over cheese on top of tortillas as well as the cilantro.
4. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through and cheese on top has melted.
5. Serve over lettuce and drizzle extra sauce on top. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cheater Chicken Mozzarella

Over the years this recipe has evolved from breading the chicken by hand to buying the frozen chicken strips.  Either way tasted fantastic.  It's fast and the kids gobble it up without complaint.

You'll need:
Enough breaded chicken strips to feed your family - you can go cheap or spend lots of money
a jar of your favorite pasta sauce - we're partial to Ragu Mama's Special Garden Sauce
enough cooked spaghetti noodles for your family - we like Barilla Plus and use 1/2 a box
mozzarella cheese

Cook the chicken however the box tells you to.  Boil those noodles.   When the chicken is nice and crispy spoon some pasta sauce over each piece and top with mozzarella cheese.  Add the remaining sauce to the pasta (drain it first!).  Put the chicken back in the oven for a few minutes so the cheese can melt.  To serve, scoop some pasta onto the plate and top with a chicken strip or two.  Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.  Helpful hint - I like to get the chicken started first because it usually takes longer than the pasta.  When the chicken is about halfway done I start the pasta.  Oh, you can bread your own chicken if you want.  Just dip in milk then a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and bake until juices run clear then top with pasta sauce and cheese.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Tonight I decided I would reorganize my recipe box (since it gets totally rearranged by me and my kids) and I came across my favorite cheesecake recipe. I think I will have to dig out those spring form pans! It has a smooth chocolate layer on top with the chocolate chip filling below and a chocolatey crust. The recipe came from a 2003 Taste of Home magazine, although I have altered it a little.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2 C vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts
1/4 C sugar
3 T baking cocoa
1/3 C butter, melted

4 pkgs. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 C sugar
4 t cornstarch
4 eggs
1/3 C whipping cream
3 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 C miniature semisweet chocolate chips

3 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate, melted
1 T butter, melted
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 C whipping cream

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes,
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine sugar and cornstarch; beat on low speed just until combined. Add the cream, vanilla and chocolate chips,. Pour into prepared crust.
Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until center is nearly set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosed; cool 1 hour longer. (Cheescake top may crack but topping will cover.)
For topping, combine chocolate, butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Slowly beat in cream until mixture achieves spreading consistency. Spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken

Seriously, this is a good recipe AND it takes me fifteen minutes tops to cook up and serve.

2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (I like Kikkoman)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking rice seasoning, see note below)
1 garlic glove
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (more if needed)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 scallions, sliced thin

Cut up chicken into strips. Cook in oil until barely done. While the chicken is cooking mix soy sauce, water, sugar, mirin, garlic, cornstarch and red pepper flakes together in a bowl. When the chicken is done, stir in soy sauce mixture. Simmer until sauce is thick and glossy. If it's not thickening up, add more cornstarch. Serve over rice and sprinkle the scallions on top.

NOTES: First don't be intimidated by mirin if you've never heard of it before. You can find it in ANY asian market and just recently, I noticed my WalMart had it in stock. It really does add a nice flavor.
Second, I omitted ginger in this recipe because I don't like ginger but feel free to add it AND lastly, you can use beef in place of Chicken.

Moroccan Hummus Cups

1 container (7 oz) plain hummus spread
1 T Moroccan Rub (from Pampered Chef, but any rub might work??)
1 plum tomato
1 1-in piece seedless cucumber
1/4 c pitted kalamata olives (I hate olives and don't use them)
2 T packed fresh parsley leaves (or cilantro)
24 tortilla chip cups (ie Tostitos)
1/3 c plain yogurt

Combine hummus and rub. Mix and set aside.

Slice tomato in half lengthwise and remove seeds and dice.

Slice cucumber into circles, then into strips and dice.

Chop olives and parsley.

Combine vegetables together and mix well.

Put hummus into tortilla chip cups. Spoon a dollop of yogurt over hummus. Divide veggie mixture evenly among cups.

I could not put them down!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Apple dumplings

2 tubes (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter melted
¾ c Mountain Dew soda
Ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream

Unroll rolls and separate into 16 triangles. Cut each apple into 8 wedges. Wrap a roll around each apple wedge. Place in a greased 13x9x2 pan.

In a bowl, combine sugar and butter; sprinkle over rolls. Slowly pour the soda around the rolls, but do not mix. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
Makes 16 dumplings

NOTES: This is the exact recipe, but I have never made it like this. I love this recipe because it is so easy to have the stuff on hand without worrying about spoilage. I don't drench it in butter. I just melt a couple table spoons and brush it over the top. And then I just spinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top. This recipe seems like it has too much sugar for my taste, but I thought I'd show the original version first. Also, I’ve never used Mountain Dew. It tastes just fine without any soda at all.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

This is my favorite Oatmeal Cookie recipe I have come across and since we made them last night, I thought I would share! I got it years ago from a piano teacher and have been enjoying them ever since. They are great plain or you can add raisins or chocolate chips (my personal favorite). The recipe is also calculated in case you want to make 1 1/2 batches and those numbers are in parentheses.

Oatmeal Cookies

Mix: 1 C shortening (1 1/2 C)
3/4 C brown sugar (1 1/8 C)
3/4 C white sugar (1 1/8 C)
1 t vanilla ( 1 1/2 t)
1 t water (1 1/2 t)
Add: 2 eggs (3)
1 t baking soda (1 1/2 t)
1 t salt (1 1/2 t)
Add: 2 1/4 C flour (3 3/8 C)
2 1/2 C old fashioned oats (3 1/2 C)

Bake at 335 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

White Chili

I thought all white chili tasted gross. I was wrong. I found this recipe from the Year of CrockPotting blog. (Seriously, check out her amazing recipes.) This is so easy to make and so delicious. The chili is fairly sweet so we don't like to add cheese.

16-oz. bag of frozen white corn (yellow works too)
2 cans of white beans (any kind will do - DON'T DRAIN)
1 4-oz. can of green chilies
1 small to medium onion, chopped (I like to use sweet onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth (you can use bouillon and water)
juice from one lemon (or a shot or two of lemon juice from a jar)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Dump everything into the crockpot. You don't need to drain and rinse the beans or the chilies. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or high for 4-6.

Chicken Salsa and Rice

This is made in the crockpot. I told you I loved my crockpot! If you don't have one it's pretty easy to adapt to the stove. My family snarfs this up and we rarely have leftovers.

2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or the equivalent homemade)
1 1/2 c. salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 tsp. minced garlic from a jar
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes - low fat works fine, but I like the regular one better
hot cooked rice - white or brown, whatever your kids will eat

Toss all the ingredients into the crock pot except for the cream cheese. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, stir in cubed cream cheese and turn off heat. Let it sit while you make the rice and yell at the kids to set the table. Stir it right before serving.

For my family I use two chicken breasts because a) I'm trying to use less meat and b) it's cheaper. You can cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before you put it in the crockpot or you can throw it in completely frozen and shred it before serving. You could add another can of corn or beans to make it a little thicker and/or make up for less chicken. I also think this would work well without chicken entirely. Hmm...that will be my next experiment. This works really well on pasta too, or over chips or in a tortilla like a burrito/enchilada thing.

Breakfast pizza

I've never actually made this before so we'll see how it turns out. We tried it at the Scout pizza pack meeting and we all liked it.

2 pkgs. crescent rolls or the equivalent homemade (I'm going to try it with whole wheat)
1 pkg. white country gravy dressing or the equivalent homemade
1/2 to 1 lb. sausage, cooked
6 eggs
enough milk and butter to make scrambled eggs with the above eggs
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked
a handful or two of mushrooms, sliced
shredded cheese - whatever kind you want

Spread the crescent rolls (or homemade dough) onto a pizza stone or large cookie sheet with sides. Cook according to directions until lightly browned. While the dough is cooking mix up the gravy packet (or make your own) and brown the sausage and and bacon. Scramble the eggs - I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how to do that. When the crust is done top with gravy, then sausage, bacon, eggs and mushrooms. Sprinkle with cheese and stick it back in the oven until cheese is melted.

For the gravy I'll be doing this:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
a dash or two of pepper
2 c. milk

Melt the butter then whisk in the flour, salt and pepper. Let it cook for a few minutes, whisking now and then. Slowly stir in the milk and keep stirring until it thickens. You may need to add a tbsp. or so more flour or milk to get it the thickness you want.

My menu for this week

In case anyone is interested this is my menu for the week. I'll post the recipes now and update with pictures as I make them.

Sunday - Bean tostadas, fruit
Monday - Breakfast pizza, cottage cheese, fruit
Tuesday - Baked potatoes, veggies and dip, fruit
Wednesday - Chicken salsa and rice, kale, fruit
Thursday - White chili, cornbread, fruit
Friday - new recipe - this week I'm trying a spicy black bean chili
Saturday - Lasagna, salad, fruit

I don't think I'll post a recipe for the tostadas because they're pretty easy - smear refried beans on a tostada and top with whatever you want.

And I think you can figure out the baked potatoes, too.

My lasagna recipe is one I just throw together without quantities so I can't really pass that on. Use your favorite recipe. If you don't have one let me know and I'll try to talk you through mine.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Oatmeal Pancakes

Should I be embarrassed that I have about 10 different pancake recipes? And should I feel ashamed that we eat them for dinner? Well, I'm not. We ate these for breakfast today. But I'll probably make them for dinner soon. I like to shake things up like that. And everyone here likes pancakes. My boys ate the leftovers with peanut butter for lunch, like a pancake sandwich. This made enough to feed the kids and myself. If my husband had been eating with us I would have done another batch.

1 1/4 c. quick cooking oatmeal
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. packed brown sugar (you could probably use 1/2 c.)
2 eggs
4 tbsp. melted butter or margarine or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. buttermilk (or regular milk - I used the powdered buttermilk today)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then chuck in the wet ingredients and stir it until combined. The oatmeal will want to hang out at the bottom so make sure you make it join the party. Cook on a hot griddle, at about 300 degrees. These are so sweet you don't really need syrup. Or if you do use syrup, add just a touch.

You could use all whole wheat flour, or all white flour. I've found that cinnamon and vanilla help to "hide" the wheat flavor.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mom's Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of this.  We were rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get all the groceries put away, cook dinner and get the older boys to Scouts and before I knew it all the sandwiches were gone!

This is my brilliant mother's recipe and it's one I use when I do my shopping.  Or when I need something really fast, but totally delicious.  It's also one I can't give exact quantities on because it will depend on how many people are in your family.  Quantities listed below are a family of 6 - 2 adults and 4 children ages 8 and under.

3/4 to 1 lb. roast beef (from the deli)
3/4 to 1 lb. sliced white cheese from the deli - muenster, provolone, mozzarella, etc.
hoagie or french rolls - one per person
1 lb. sliced mushrooms, optional
1 lg. onion, quartered, optional
softened butter

If you want a buttery flavor then slice each roll, spread with butter and lay butter side down on a large cookie sheet.  Toast at 400 degrees for a few minutes, until butter is melted and bread is barely crisp.  You can also just toast the bread without the butter.  Flip them over and add a few slices of roast beef and some cheese.  Stick back into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  If you want (and I highly recommend it) you can saute the mushrooms and onions in butter while everything is toasting and then put a large spoonful or two on top of the cheese once it's melted.  Or on top of the roast beef, then add the cheese and melt it all.  My kids don't like the mushrooms/onions so they eat theirs with meat and cheese only.  The two littlest guys (2 and 5) split one.

An alternative to the roast beef is to use some sort of beef sliced super thin, or stir fry meat (make sure you cut it smaller if the strips are very long).  Brown the meat in some butter and throw in some garlic powder, onion powder, beef bouillon granules, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and Jane's Mixed-up seasoning or salt.  This is sometimes cheaper than a pound of roast beef, but takes longer to make.