Saturday, March 31, 2012

German Chocolate Bars with Salted Caramel sauce

I got the recipe for these bars from my friend Angie over at a lil country sugar.... you all know Angie...I have blogged about her before..she is an absolute wonderful cook...check out her blog here.  Angie sure knows her way around the kitchen.... thanks Angie for this wonderful recipe....
These bars were easy and yummy.  I did make some changes to her recipe.  I added 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips to the top, 1/3 cup coconut to the top & a 1/3 cup nuts (I used sliced almonds & pecans to the recipe).  She used caramel ice cream topping (and I forgot to buy some at the store) so I decided to invent a caramel sauce... so you can use either they are both delicious.... I like my caramel a little "salty"... you know that sweet & salt thing together...YUM... but if you are not a fan of salty caramel just put in a slight pinch.  I cooked my bars for 45 minutes, but I started checking them at 35.  The outside was a light golden brown and the center was still a little runny when I moved the pan, but they firmed up upon sitting.  I let them cool about an hour before making the caramel sauce (they were still slightly warm when I served them).  Also when making these instead of dirtying 2 separate bowls & sets of beaters, I just ran them under hot tap water between steps (less dishes to do and no cross contamination since they were getting first :)  Enjoy these bars...

German Chocolate Bars with Salted Caramel sauce

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cup butter, melted & divided
3 eggs, divided
1 pkg cream cheese, softened (I use 1/3 less fat kind)
1 T. vanilla
1 lb. confectioners sugar
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut, divided
1 1/3 cups nuts ( I used 1/2 chopped pecans & sliced almonds), divided
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 13 X 9 pan with non stick spray. In large bowl place cake mix, 1/2 cup butter, and 1 egg.  Mix well with electric mixer.  Pat mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Rinse bowl and beaters under hot water.  Add cream cheese, beating well with mixer until fluffy.  Add in eggs and vanilla beat well.  Beat in 1/2 cup butter and powdered sugar.  Stir in 1 cup coconut & 1 cup nuts.  Pour mixture over cake mixture.  Sprinkle top of batter with remaining 1/3 cup each coconuts and nuts, and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (start checking at 35 minutes) or until outside is golden brown (center will be soft but will firm up upon cooling). Remove from oven and let cool around an hour.  Make caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 cup water
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t cornstarch
1 t vanilla
1 t butter
1 t half and half

In saucepan add brown sugar, corn syrup, water, salt & cornstarch.  Stir well and cook over medium heat until bubbly.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Turn off heat and add vanilla, butter and half and half.  Whisk until butter is melted and sauce is combined.  Drizzle over pieces of the german chocolate bars.  Enjoy

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beans 2 ways

It has returned to a little cold spring like weather here in Michigan.  When I say returned we had an early spring present of 70 & 80 degree weather in March (I still can't believe it :).. it was so wonderful in March to have the windows open and enjoy going outside.  But back to reality and a little 30 & 40 degree (which is normal) weather.  So since I was a little chilly the last couple of days with freezing temps I thought what about some soup... and as I was looking around the freezer I saw some ham hocks that needing cooking and a thick slab of bacon that also needed using.  I thought beans.....which made me want both bean soup & cornbread, and also thinking ahead to summer and wanting slow cooked baked beans in the oven, thick and rich with molasses,brown sugar, onions and bacon in them...yummmm so as they say... why not have 2 meals with one base cooking... So I made a huge pot of beans and cooked them together and then separated them into 2 different things... easy ... I made the big pot of beans one day let them cool, refrigerated them overnight and made soup and baked beans the next day...YUM  you can just make the soup, or just cook the beans and make a huge pot of beans...(the base bean recipe is delicious served over a big scoop of hot white rice) a big ladelful of beans and a few dashes of hot sauce.. served with hot cornbread...  your choice... I serve the beans with cornbread...  Enjoy


2 lbs. northern beans, soaked completely covered in water for 4-5 hours or overnight
10 cups water
2 onions, quartered
3 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
3 stalks of celery .washed and ends trimmed, cut into big chunks
1/2 cup baby carrots
2 bay leaves
3 beef bullion cubes
1 12 oz. can V8 vegetable juice
2 ham hocks (can use smoked or unsmoked)
1 large piece of whole slab bacon, diced medium

seasonings of your choice (I used regular & seasoned salt, pepper & a pinch of red pepper flakes)

Drain beans and discard soaking water.  In very large stockpot add remaining ingredients and bring to a full boil.  Turn down heat to low and simmer for around 3 hours stirring often.  Turn off heat and let beans completely cool. Mixture will be thick.  Refrigerate overnight. Remove most of the hardened fat off of the top.  Take out ham hocks and remove meat from them (discard bones and skin).  Shred meat and save.

Bean Soup

1 carton of beef stock
2 T. molasses
2 T brown sugar
1 T worchester sauce
1T. white wine
salt & pepper to taste
couple of dashes of hot sauce
1/2 the beans,bacon and liquid from recipe above
veggies from the mixture above (remove and coarsely chop) add to soup pot
1/2 the meat from the ham hocks

Add all of the ingredients to a big stock pot.  Bring to boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. Taste & adjust seasonings if necessary.  Enjoy

Oven Baked Beans

1/2 beans (with the bacon in it) and about 1 cup liquid (put the remaning liquid into the soup)
1 onion, small diced
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 maple syrup
1/2 beef stock (adding an additional 1/2 cup if necessary in last hour of cooking)
1 T worchester sauce
1 T Red wine
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T mustard
6-8 strips of raw thick sliced bacon
 1 T. vinegar

seasonings of your choice (I used salt & pepper,  pinch of cinnamon,nutmeg & red pepper flakes)

Grease a large baking dish.  Add remaining ingredients and stir very well.  Cover dish (with foil or dish lid) and bake at 300 for around 2 hours stirring every 30 minutes. If mixture is dry add another 1/2 cup of beef stock  Place raw bacon on top and bake(uncovered) for 1 hour.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Enjoy

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baked FrenchToast Casserole

We love french toast at our house.  I love to make it even easier for my family of 5 by making it in a casserole form.  Easy and let the oven do all the work.... You can use whatever kind of bread that you like, I use either white or wheat regular old sliced bread and I always throw in about a 1/4 of a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread to jazz it up, use what you like.  You can always add fruit to this, or raisins mixed in with the bread, lots and lots of variations.  I serve this with sliced polish sausage sauteed until browned in a skillet;(my 6 year old calls these "silver dollar" sausages cause they look like their the size of silver dollar coins...LOL anyway I like the contrast of some meat with french toast, it can be whatever you like, bacon, ham, sausage.  I serve this with maple syrup.  Enjoy

Baked French Toast Casserole

1 loaf sliced bread, crust removed, torn into pieces
1/4 loaf cinnamon raisin bread, crust removed, torn into pieces
2 cups milk
6 eggs
1/2 t cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling on top of casserole)
1/3 cup EACH brown & white sugar (plus a little more brown sugar for sprinkling on top of casserole)
1 stick of cold, butter, thinly sliced
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla
maple syrup

Heat oven to 350.  Spray a 13 x 9 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place torn bread pieces into pan, mixing to distribute the raisin bread throughout the pan.  In a large mixing bowl add eggs, both sugars, salt  & vanilla whisk very well until mixed.  Whisk in milk, mixing well.  Drizzle mixture over the bread.  Push down on the bread to completely cover with egg mixture.  Wash hands.  Sprinkle a little additional cinnamon & couple of tablespoonfuls of brown sugar over top.  Place slices of cold butter over the top of the casserole.  Bake for 50-55 minutes until slightly puffed and light brown (the center will be like custard).  Remove from oven and serve.  Drizzle each serving with maple syrup. Serve with meat of your choice.  Enjoy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tag & I'm "IT"

I have been tagged by Marsha at "The better baker"... check her out here... this is a just for fun tag... to get to know the person behind the blog. Here are the Revised  rules for the game:  Thinking I already broke one cause I don't know how to post a picture of me...just look on the side of my facebook pic is there...LOL...and I really don't know that many bloggers so I only have a couple I am sending this too..sorry.....Have fun with this....

1. Post a photo and eleven things about yourself in a blog post.

2. Answer the questions the person who tagged you, asked.

3. Create eleven new questions for the people you tag.

4. Contact them and let them know they have been tagged.

So onto the answering :)

1. Name a kitchen tool you wouldn't want to live without. Whisk

2. Do you have children/grandchildren? If so, how many? 3.  1 have a 19 year old son Charlie, a 2 year old son Jackson & a 6 year old step son Dakota

3. Do you consider yourself to be organized? Yikes...somewhat..but with a 2 year old going behind me constantly... it sure doesn't look like it.   LOL

4. What's your favorite household cleaner? Clorox Bleach

5. Are you a city gal or a country gal? Country Gal :)

6. Have you accomplished something in particular that you're proud of? Besides my children, I have my real estate license...

7. What's your favorite board game? Monopoly

8. How long have you been a blogger? 2 years

9. What is your favorite dessert recipe?  I so love desserts and have so many to choose from...cowboy cookies (see the recipe in the 2011 section) I love those things.....

10. Do you have a special talent? ummm.... cooking...LOL

11. Have you ever won anything?  If so, what?  I won a 50/50 drawing of almost $400 several years ago :)  and won a 10-speed bike from the Boy Scouts....

Here are my 11 questions :

1. Why & what motivated you start writing a food blog?
2. What's your favorite food?
3. What's your favorite dessert?
4. Do you have any children? & if so do they share your love of cooking?
5. What hobbies/activities do you do in your spare time? 
6.What city & state do you live in?
7. What state where you born in?
8.How many children were in your family?  And where (birth order do you fit in?)
9.What do you do for a living?
10.How many blogs do you write?
11.Where is your favorite place that you have visited and why?

The blogs I am choosing are:

A Lil' country sugar

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Oh I love you.... all kinds of yumminess mixed in with eggs & cheese...what could be better?  For those of you that don't know what a Frittata is (hubby this is for you...:)  it is eggs with meat, veggies & cheese.  Simple, easy and absolutely delicious.  I  make all kinds of frittatas.  Vegetarian with asparagus & fresh mushrooms in the spring, with all kinds of vegetables(whatever is fresh at the farmers market) & diced turkey in the summer, with potatoes, peppers, onions and ham in the fall/winter... the possibilities are endless.  Alot of times I use whatever is leftover from last nights dinner (a great way to use up those leftovers, steak, potatoes, broccoli, onions,peppers,spinach whatever... Different ingredients & the same technique... Use whatever seasonings you like..sometimes in the summer I pick a little rosemary or parsley and add to the eggs delicious, and as always use what you like.  I also sprinkle a couple of tablespoonfuls of shredded cheese & freshly grated Parmesan it gives this a wonderful flavor, but again it is completely optional.  This serves 5  (kids & adults, but you can add more ingredients and eggs and feed more).  I serve this with buttered toast.  Enjoy


2-3 small diced red/yukon gold potatoes (if raw scrub first)
1/4 onion, diced small
vegetables of your choice (I used red, yellow,orange peppers about 1/4 each diced small)
1/2 cup ham diced (deli is fine)
6 eggs
1 T water
2 T each, colby jack cheese & freshly grated parmesan)
1 T each olive oil & butter

seasonings of your choice (salt & pepper, garlic & onion powder, pinch of parsley flakes & red pepper)

 Pre heat broiler to high.
In oven safe frying pan add olive oil & butter over medium high heat.  Add potatoes and onion (if using already cooked leftover potatoes add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding potatoes) but if using raw potatoes put them in together, add vegetables (if raw, if using cooked vegetables all you want to do is put them in to heat them up when you add your cooked meat just to heat it up).  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Cook until vegetables are fork tender.  Add meat & seasonings (and cooked vegetables if using.  Heat for 1-2 minutes or until hot.  Pour over mixture eggs.  Move egg mixture around the pan getting ingredients in an even layer.  Sprinkle with additional seasonings.  Turn down heat to medium. Continue cooking until bottom of eggs are set and if you wiggle the pan the whole mixture moves a little.  Place the mixture under the broiler watch carefully cause this should take just a couple of minutes. The eggs should be puffed and set.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and cook just another minute under the broiler till the cheese is melted.  Remove from oven & cut into wedges serve.  Enjoy

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reuben Quesidilla with Homemade Russian Dressing

Happy St. Patrick's Day :)  I love Reuben sandwiches in any way shape or form... sandwiches, grilled Panini's, Reuben dip... I love cornbeef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese & Russian Dressing's a marriage of ingredients made in heaven.... well my husband would disagree cause he doesn't like sauerkraut at all in any way shape or form...LOL  but what I don't like is how sometimes the sandwiches are made... I like my sauerkraut "wrung out"...meaning that I like it dry with the liquid squeezed out.  I don't like a soggy Reuben sandwich.  Also people make Russian dressing sometimes with just mayo & ketchup no other flavorings... you all know me... I love flavorful things... nothing bland about my food...LOL :)  so my Russian dressing is kicked up a little with lots of flavor.  I also cook my Rueben and add the sauerkraut when it is done and the Russian dressing.  I like the cold sauerkraut next to the hot sandwich.  Also when you cook the sandwich/quesidilla the Russian dressing oozes out all over the pan when added before you grill the sandwich  and I want the dressing on my sandwich/quesidilla NOT on the pan.  So I decided after trial and error to add them both (sauerkraut & russian dressing to the finished product.  This can be done with bread instead of the tortilla as well so either a sandwich/or a quesidilla the technique is the same way.  The only difference is if you use bread butter the outside of the bread like you would a grilled cheese... Both equally yummy... Enjoy
* note the Russian dressing recipe makes enough for 2 quesidilla/sandwiches.  (For the quesidilla I serve the dressing on the side to dip the quarters (I cut the quesidilla's into quarters) into.

Reuben Quesidilla

2 tortillas
4 slices swiss cheese
1/4 lb. thinly sliced cornbeef (from the deli)
1/4 cup cold sauerkraut, squeezed dry)
Russian Dressing *  see recipe below

In a skillet place a tortilla.  Add 2 slices of swiss cheese.  Spread cornbeef out in an even layer.  Top with other 2 slices of cheese, top with tortilla.  Turn heat on to medium and cook occasionally pressing down on tortilla.  Turn sandwich over when tortilla is a light golden brown.  Cook on other side until all the cheese is melted and sandwich is hot and golden brown.  Remove from heat and place on plate, carefully open tortilla (be careful it is hot) and add in an even layer the cold sauerkraut. Cut into corners ( I use a pizza wheel cutter) and serve Russian dressing on the side.  Enjoy

Russian Dressing
1/4 cup mayo
1 T ketchup
1 T sweet pickle relish
2 dashes hot sauce
1 T banana pepper juice (from the jar of peppers)

Whisk all ingredients together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wet Burrito

My dear friend Mandi said "I need a Wet Burrito" recipe... I am like ok... all wet burritos are is burritos smothered in a yummy sauce and baked...YUM... They are super easy and delicious.. a real crowd and family pleaser..which is a good thing in my book :)  I have made these with both chicken and ground beef.  Both are delicious and I will be putting the recipe for both versions on here... the only difference is the meat.  The technique is the same. For the seasonings these are just always use what you like, and you can make these as spicy as you want..adjust for more heat. I serve these with cooked rice (rice cooked in beef or chicken stock). Enjoy

Wet Burrito

1 lb ground beef or 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders
1 onion, finely diced
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 small can tomato sauce
1 t sugar
3 dashes hot sauce
1 t worchester sauce
seasonings of your choice: (I use cumin, chili powder,paprika seasoned salt & pepper and a pinch each of red pepper flakes & cayenne pepper)

Package of tortillas
combination of mozzerella & colby jack shredded cheese (around 2-3 cups -saving 1/2 cup for the top)

In saute pan add ground beef ( if using chicken, dice chicken in small pieces & add 1 t olive oil, then the chicken) and onion.  Cook until meat is thoroughly cooked.  Drain off any fat.  While meat is cooking add remaining ingredients (EXCEPT: tortillas & cheese) and stir together heating until warmed.  Preheat oven to 375.  Add a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a baking dish.  Add a couple of spoonfuls to the meat mixture and stir to coat meat well.  On  plate place tortilla.  Spoon a spoonful of meat mixture to the side & sprinkle with a little cheese. Roll up the tortilla into a roll and place seam side down in the baking dish, continuing until all of the meat is done.  Spoon the remaining sauce over the top.  Place in oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle cheese over the top & place back into the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve & enjoy 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I am very picky about Hummus.. I do not like it commercially made at all.. there is something about the chemical preservative taste that is so NOT good... but I am trying to eat healthier and come up with ways to incorporate more protein in my diet..but still want hummus that tastes good... There are a million ways to make hummus...most in my opinion are too "lemony" or too "garlicy"....I want flavorful and delicious... a little spicy, a little just plain yumminess... You can always add more garlic and lemon if you like it more lemon/garlic flavored... I roasted garlic cloves in olive oil for a few minutes on the stovetop and added the oil and garlic to the food processor... I added a little worchester sauce, white wine and cumin to jazz up the flavor... I serve this with bias cut (meaning cut on an angle) english cucumber, pita (cut into wedges) pretzels, or crunchy pita chips.  You can serve it with crackers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes... lots of healthy varieties and some not so healthy ;) Some people save the liquid from the chickpeas to add to the finished dip to thin it out.. I did not do this because it has a tin taste & in my opinion is not good.  I add water to the dip to thin it out and make it not too thin I want it to be a little thick to stay on the pita, cracker etc (not run off).  I also just mix it till it is smooth but not pasty.  I like just a little body to it...  Enjoy


2 cans chickpeas, drained
3 T tahini
1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves smashed on the counter to remove the skin
3-4 T water
1/2 t worchester sauce
1/2 t white wine
1-2 T lemon juice (I start with 1, then I taste the finished product and if I need a little more to brighten the flavor then I add it)

seasonings of your choice ( 1/4 t.cayenne pepper, paprika & cumin, pinch of regular & seasoned salt, cracked pepper

Over medium heat in a frying pan add olive oil and garlic.  Cook until garlic is browned about 3-4 minutes stirring often to avoid burning garlic. Remove garlic from oil (save garlic) and let oil cool completely.

In food processor add chick peas, olive oil, garlic cloves,lemon. worchester sauce, wine and seasonings.  Blend completely.  Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time (no more than around 3-4) mixing with each tablespoon. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Remember that flavors will blend together and be stronger.  Just before serving taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Before serving I always drizzle top of dish with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper & paprika. Serve with assorted dippers, and refrigerate any leftovers...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jello Fluff salad

I think spring is in the air...well maybe not cause it's still a snowin' here.... and really cold outside...yuck :(  but I do know that spring is right around the corner as well as Easter :) I love the holidays.... I have been thinking spring recipes.... and nothing says spring like Jello.  I  love it plain, in salads, finger jello squares... any old way.  I have made this Jello fluff salad as long as I can remember... I have no idea where the recipe came from but I have had it almost everywhere..home, church potlucks, bridal & baby showers... all different varieties.  This one has orange jello (I use sugar free and ONLY jello brand gelatin), cottage cheese (either the large or small curd will work just fine)& mandarin oranges in it.  It's a good way to get added calcium, protein and more fruit into your diet and the varieties are endless... as always use what you like...Enjoy

Varieties: Leave out the mandarin oranges and orange jello and substitute the following:

Strawberry:  Strawberry jello & fresh or frozen sliced strawberries (if using frozen let thaw and drain any liquid off)
Lime: Lime jello & a small can of drained pineapple
Cherry: Cherry jello & halved pitted black cherries
Peach: Peach jello & sliced canned peaches (drained)

Jello Fluff Salad

1 container cottage cheese
1 container Cool Whip, thawed
1 small box orange jello
1 small can Mandarin oranges, drained

In large bowl add cottage cheese, mix in dry jello blending well.  Fold in cool whip, mixing well.  Fold in mandarin oranges.  Cover and place in fridge for a couple of hours.  Enjoy.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

This Sausage biscuits and Gravy recipe is the best on the planet...No seriously it is so incredibly good...The absolute bomb as my teenager would say...LOL well maybe not him....maybe it would be me saying that... It has incredible flavor and is easy...This is my families absolute favorite breakfast.. they love it... I usually use those jumbo "canned" biscuits but sometimes I make homemade biscuits which is even better...but unfortunately I don't always have the time to do that..use what you like canned, homemade, drop biscuits it all works.... there are a couple of tricks to this flavorful recipe... a couple of tablespoonfuls of white wine... I know it sounds a little weird but it adds so much flavor( I buy those small individual bottles of wine with the screw on lid I know.. I don't drink wine but I like to always have some on hand to add flavor to lots of things so a small single serve bottle works perfect for a little here and a little there....also Worcester sauce... yummy...and the seasonings very important to add them... you don't just want to taste milk, flour and a little sausage... you gotta flavor things..people  LOL :)  also at the end I put a little butter into the finished sauce to add a little richness....It's not everyday you eat this kinda stuff but  2-3 times a year...go for it... and I always use Bob Evans original sausage.  I also use about 3 cups of milk cause I want this to be thick but not super gloppy glue like thick.... just thickened.   Enjoy

Sausage Biscuits & Gravy

1 can Jumbo biscuits cooked according to package directions
1 roll Bob Evans original flavor sausage
3 cups milk
1/2 heaping cup flour
2 T. white wine
1 T. Worchester sauce
butter (1 pat added to finished sauce, and more for buttering the inside of the biscuits)

seasonings of your choice ( garlic & onion powder, seasoned salt & pepper) a pinch of salt & pepper at the end of cooking-taste before seasoning to see if it needs it)

In large pan with deep sides add sausage.  Cook over medium high heat breaking all of the sausage up into little pieces as it cooks with a spoon.  Cook until sausage is no longer pink and done.  Sprinkle cooked hot sausage with the flour stirring to coat all of the sausage pieces with flour.  Off of heat add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan.  Add milk, worchester sauce, and seasonings stirring to incorporate.  Cook stirring often until sauce is thickened and bubbly.  Taste sauce and add pinch of salt & pepper if needed.  Add pat of butter and stir until melted.  Serve immediately over buttered biscuits.  Enjoy