Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Andes mint cookies

I saw this recipe floating around the internet years ago.  I tried them, and the recipe as written didn't turn out so well, so I improvised and tinkered around and it is now super easy and perfect :) But thinking of adding mini chocolate chips next time.. LOL always thinking ahead :) I make these really small, kinda like 2 bite cookies, but you can make them bigger, and use a full mint, and bake a couple of minutes longer.

 Make these today your family will love them... Enjoy

Andes mint cookies

1 chocolate cake mix (I use Pillsbury)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 egg

Andes mints, unwrapped and broken in half

Preheat oven to 350. Spray cookie sheet with non stick spray.

 In bowl add chocolate cake mix, water, oil and egg, stirring until combined.   Batter will be really thick. Roll dough into small balls and place apart on a cookie sheet (they will spread so leave some room).  Bake for 7-8 minutes until puffed.  Remove from oven and immediately place 1/2 of a Andes mint on a cookie just slightly pressing them into the cookie, put back into the oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until Andes mint starts to melt, with the back of a spoon gently spread candy over the top of the cookie like frosting, and immediately remove from the baking sheet and place either on a baking rack or waxed paper.  Repeat until mixture is done.  Yield about 2 1/2 dozen small cookies. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beef & mushroom shepherd's pie

I love shepherd's pie... at Thanksgiving I made it using a stuffing crust on the bottom, then making the filling using cooked turkey, cream of chicken soup, sour cream mixed veggies, a little white wine then topping with mashed potatoes & cheddar & parmesan cheese... soooo good..

Basically it is a really good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, & veggies... You can use ground beef, turkey, chicken anything works.  I used oyster mushrooms this time, because if you haven't noticed the price of mushrooms are really going up , and these were on sale, use any kind, portabello, oyster, button just chop them up fine.  Make this today, easy and good...

Beef & mushroom shepherd's pie

1 lb ground beef (I used chuck)
1 small package mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 package frozen mixed veggies
1/4 cup red wine
1 T worchester sauce
1 clove garlic minced
2-3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1/3 cup grated cheese ( I usually use co-jack & Parmesan mixed)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheese ( I usually use 3/4 cup co-jack and 1/4 cup Parmesan)
1/4-1/3 beef stock

Seasonings of your choice ( I used seasoned salt, pepper, parsley flakes, garlic & onion powder, pinch of red pepper flakes, pinch of celery seed, pinch of thyme)

Preheat oven to 400.
In large skillet add ground beef, onions, garlic and diced mushrooms.  Add seasonings and cook over medium heat until browned and the vegetables are done. ( If the meat is greasy drain fat.)  Turn heat up to medium high and add wine (take pan off of flame when adding wine) and add worchester sauce.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until very bubbly and wine mixture is reduced stirring often.  Add vegetables, mushroom soup and beef stock stirring until mixed.  Cook until bubbly about 2-3 minutes.  Pour into greased casserole dish.  Spoon leftover potatoes over the top using small spoonfuls and spreading out as best you can, it doesn't have to cover every inch of casserole just the majority of it.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for 35-45 minutes until cheese is melted and entire casserole is bubbly on the outside.  I usually take a spoon and scoop out a very small spoonful in the center to make sure the casserole is hot all the way thru. Smooth out the mixture where you scooped it out, it will be fine :) .  Serve it and enjoy.

Chicken & drop Dumplings

I love Chicken & Dumplings.  I usually use Bisquick, but sometimes I am adventurous and make my own noodle/dumpling dough.  Sometimes I roll it out and cut it into squares, but most of the time I am pressed for time and just drop pieces of dough into the soup and cook it that way.  Not the prettiest but still oh so good.  The base of my chicken and dumplings always starts by simmering a whole chicken, bones and all.  I have used a whole raw chicken and removed it just before it starts to fall apart, let it cool and then de-boned it and used half the meat (then saved the other meat , for lots of stuff, chicken spaghetti, easy quesadillas, chicken salad etc.. ) I have also taken the leftovers of a whole chicken and boiled them with whole carrots, a quartered onion, and 2 whole celery stalks along with seasonings then strained the broth out, cut up the carrots, celery and onion putting them back into the broth along with with any chicken that was leftover.  It is a nice way to use up a chicken without throwing it away, and you get another stretcher dinner out of one chicken, which is a bonus in my book :)  Whatever way you do it, it is a good way to get veggies into your family. I am enclosing both ways to make this... make it soon for your family.   Enjoy

Chicken & drop dumplings

(If using Raw chicken)
1 whole chicken
1/2 package of carrots, cut up
2-3 stalks celery cut up
1 onion, diced
1/2 package frozen mixed vegetables
2 T white wine
1 T worchester sauce
 (**seasonings of your choice, I used parsley flakes, seasoned salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder)

Add all ingredients including the seasonings(EXCEPT frozen mixed veggies & dumpling ingredients) add enough water to cover chicken by 1-2 inches (the water will evaporate during the cooking process.   Bring to a boil over medium high heat turn down to low and cook until the chicken is completely cooked (I cook mine about an hour, sometimes up to 2 hours depending on the size of the chicken, just before it starts to fall apart turn off the heat and let the chicken cool a little to remove from the pan (remember to place in a bowl to catch all the juices).  Remove skin and bones & disgard).  I usually use 1/2 the meat in this recipe and save the other 1/2 for other uses.  Bring soup to boil, and add frozen mixed veggies, cooking at a rolling boil for around 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  During this time mix up the dumpling batter, and when the soup has boiled for about 5 minutes, drop the dumplings working quickly into the batter, I use 2 spoons and drop small amounts.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and cook until dumplings are done around 5-8 minutes.  Turn off heat & serve.  Enjoy

If using an already cooked chicken (homemade or rotesserie chicken)
I whole leftover cooked chicken
1/2 package of carrots, peeled and left whole (or can use baby carrots too)
2 whole celery stalks, washed & ends trimmed
1 whole onion, peeled & quartered
3 chicken buillon cubes
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables
2 T white wine
1 T worchester sauce
(**seasonings of your choice, I used parsley flakes, seasoned salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder)

Place all ingredients including the seasonings (except frozen mixed vegetables into a big pot).  Add enough water to just cover the chicken.  Cook for around 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  In a large strainer with a large bowl underneath pour the mixture into the strainer saving broth.  Put the broth back into the pan, and on a cutting board cut up the carrots, onion & celery into pieces and put into broth.  Add any leftover chicken too.  Bring to a boil and add frozen mixed veggies, cooking at a rolling boil for around 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  During this time mix up the dumpling batter, and when the soup has boiled for about 5 minutes, drop the dumplings working quickly into the batter, I use 2 spoons and drop small amounts.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and cook until dumplings are done around 5-8 minutes.  Turn off heat & serve.  Enjoy

2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
pinch of salt & sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup cold water
1 T olive oil

Add flour, baking powder, sugar & salt mix well with whisk.  Add remaining ingredients and mix slightly until mixed (might have to add a couple more  tablespoonfuls of water to make the batter mixable start with 1/4 cup and work from there). 

Peppermint Bark

I love Peppermint bark at the holiday time... well I love it any old time :)  but when you buy it, NOT such a big fan.  Sometimes the chocolate tastes off, or there is not enough pepperminty goodness on top, or sometimes way too much on top.  I like it to have a nice mix, of not too much on top so that you can taste both the chocolate & the peppermint.  Creamy goodness :) I have put my variations that I try below.  Usually I use chocolate chips, cause they are the easiest to find, but I just recently tried almond bark and it was equally successful. Also, I don't own a double boiler, I melt my chocolate in a heat proof bowl above simmering water. If you have a double boiler use that.

 Whatever you use, ENJOY.....

I make this a variety of ways.  I use 3 bags of chocolate chips. Here are my variations thru trial & error: (I like the contrast of flavors but you can use all one kind of chips)

2 bags of white chocolate chips, drizzled with a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips.
2 bags of milk chocolate chips, drizzled with a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips.

**NOTE I have used 2 packages of almond bark for the chocolate too.  Then they have bags of colored candy melts from Wilton and I have used those to drizzle over the top of the almond bark..so cute I use white almond bark, then drizzle red & green over the top.  Cute for holiday bags.

Peppermint Bark

4 candy canes, unwrapped and crushed fine
3 bags of chocolate chips

**Or 2 packages of almond bark if using
Wilton candy melts if using

Line a large baking sheet with wax paper, making sure that you have enough that hangs off the sides of the pan so you can lift the bark out of the pan.  In a large heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water place 2 bags of chips (or the one color of almond bark).  Stir very often and melt completely.  Pour melted chocolate onto the middle of the waxed paper and spread very thin.  Hurry and melt the other chocolate or candy melts if using, and quickly taking a fork (I find this works best) and hurry and drizzle the other color over the bark before the first one sets (you can also do this in a mug in the microwave try for 30 seconds at a time and it happens very quickly, so stir very often, I usually do this while the first chocolate is melting) and then sprinkle with the finely crushed candy canes.  Let cool completely lift the waxed paper lined off the baking sheets peel off the chocolate, then break into chunks. Keep in a moisture free environment and keep in a sealed container.  Enjoy

Monday, December 2, 2013

Crab Dip

I got this recipe from my friend Tina... and boy am I glad that I made it...it is so yummy.... I as usual put my own little spin on it.  Another friend of mine's mom makes a delicious shrimp dip which is very similiar to this.  She puts mayo in it instead of cream cheese and it is just awesome.  Tina's recipe didn't call for the finely chopped celery & onion, but I added that and it was delicious.  I also added a dash of cayenne pepper to jazz it up, and next time I am thinking I will add a couple of dashes of hot sauce.  YUMMY... I used fresh lump crabmeat, and Tina used imitiation crab.  Both will work fine, you can also use canned crab or shrimp, drained well in place of the crab. 

I served this with crackers, however crusty bread or veggie dippers would be equally delicious. Enjoy :)

*recipe from my friend Tina Cox

Crab Dip

8 oz, cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/8 each, finely chopped celery & red onion
1/2 t dried onion flakes
1/4 t each soy sauce & worchester sauce
1/4 t garlic powder
2 dashes cayenne pepper
couple of dashes of hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup lump crab meat
 Crackers/Crusty bread or veggie dippers for serving

In large bowl combine softened cream cheese & sour cream.  Add remaining ingredients (EXCEPT crab meat) mixing well to combine.  Fold in crab meat.  Cover and place in the fridge for several hours to let flavors blend.  Stir gently. Serve with crackers (or crusty bread) or veggies.  Enjoy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pecan Pie

I love the holidays... and really love Thanksgiving.... I love all the traditional holiday favorites, turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes & gravy...I could go on and on... I also love pies...pumpkin & pecan...which is my husbands favorite.  For some reason people seem to think that it is really difficult making a pecan pie, which is so not the case.  It is one of the easiest pies to make.  Just mix and pour, literally it takes longer to heat up the oven, than to get this pie ready to go in.  I have tried several and keep coming back to this recipe off of the Karo syrup bottle.  I made a few adjustments, (added more pecans, and a pinch of salt to the recipe) but the rest is the same as always.  Love , love, love this easy recipe.  Make this for your family today. Enjoy

*Recipe adapted from the Karo syrup recipe

1 cup light Karo corn syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 T. melted butter
1 t vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans
pinch of kosher salt
Frozen deep dish uncooked pie shell (or you can use homemade one)

Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl place corn syrup, eggs, sugar, melted butter, vanilla & pinch of salt.  Mix well using a spoon.  Add pecans mixing well.  Dump mixture into pie shell.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 60-70 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Baked kale chips

I just made Baked kale chips and SCORE!!!! they are awesome :)  I have been wanting to try these for quite some time and so so glad I did... they are crispy crunchy awesomeness... I seriously could probably eat the entire baking sheet full myself..   There are countless ways to dress these up, garlic or onion powder, pinch of cayenne or hot pepper flakes for some heat, your favorite seasonings so delicious.  I used a splash of low sodium soy sauce (so watch sprinkling them with salt) wait till they are done to put any salt on them, cause the flavor intensifies with cooking in the oven. When mine where done I just tasted a few and some were salty enough with the soy sauce others needed a little sprinkle of salt.

**Note, when you put prepare them make sure you take the stems/ribs out of them, or they will not cook all the way through and be tough and chewy instead of crispy.  Also make sure that they aren't touching and are in a single layer or they will not be crispy but soggy and that's NOT what you want. I also used the bag of pre-washed kale but think next time I will just buy a bunch of kale and do my own washing a preparing so that I can have bigger chips.  When you use the pre-washed kale and remove some of the stems/ribs the pieces of kale shrink up and become very tiny. 
Also, if you are using other seasonings add them to the soy sauce/olive oil mixture.  Go sparingly on the olive oil/soy sauce.  If you use too much liquid they will not crisp up in the oven. Enjoy

4 cups kale leaves (tough stems/ribs removed washed and dried)
1 t olive oil
1 t low sodium soy sauce

Baked kale chips

Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl mix olive oil & soy sauce.  Place washed prepared kale on top of seasoning.  Toss with hands well making sure kale is coated (won't look like enough but it will be fine).  Place chips in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until kale is dried and crispy.  Remove from oven, taste then sprinkle very lightly with salt if necessary and eat immediately. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cheesy grits

My poor mom had to have several teeth pulled.  And anyone that has had that done knows how awful it is.  You can't eat much because of the stitches, so soft foods it is.  Although soup is yummy, and so are mashed potatoes they get old really quick.  So thinking of other foods that are easy on the mouth but still so good. 
That's where these grits come in.  I love cheese grits, bur am not a fan of having them out anywhere.  It seems they usually taste like nothing, which is not a good thing.  So I came up with this way after several failed attempts, of trying to come up with big flavor, but still delicious. 
 I use quick cooking grits so these are done within 5 minutes from start to finish.. easy peasy....
I sometimes top these with a poached egg, and some frizzled ham, or fried bacon bits..soo delicious...But they are just as good as it...

So make these today for your family.  Enjoy..

Cheesy Grits

3 1/3 cups water
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 chicken buillon cube
Seasonings of your choice ** ( I used 1/4 tsp each, seasoned salt, garlic & onion powder & a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper and a pinch of kosher salt)
2 T butter
1/3 cup co-jack cheese
2-3 T grated parmesan cheese

In pan add water, buillon cube, & seasonings.  Bring to a full boil.  Add grits stirring and cooking often until thickened and cooked about 2-4 minutes.  Turn off heat & add butter and cheese and stir well.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with additional cheese if desired..  Enjoy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chocolate zucchini bread

I love zucchini bread..especially chocolate zucchini bread!!! My aunt makes the best zucchini bread ever!!! But alas, since we have moved I can't find my recipe box... better get on that pronto..the holidays are coming up and I am gonna need it....So anyhow, had to do some research on finding a new recipe.  There are all different kinds or recipes but  most call for a cup to 2 cups of oil. No zucchini bread needs that much oil unless you are baking say 4 or 5  loaves.  I decided to develop one that uses applesauce to keep the bread moist, and just use around 1/2 cup oil for 2 loves.  Thinking even next time to cutting down the oil to 1/3 of a cup and just using 2/3 cup applesauce.  If so I will make the changes to the recipe... My ex mother in law made wonderful chocolate zucchini bread, and she just cut  the sugar down in the basic recipe and added a box of sugar free instant chocolate pudding and chocolate chips to the batter and it was amazing.. so I should try that too :)

I use a micro plane grater to grate my zucchini's.. and I usually buy the really small ones so the seeds are barely existent... and I also when I do make it, try and grate an extra batches worth to stick into the freezer so in the winter when I want to make some zucchini bread I can just whip it up lickety split..thinking ahead ;)
**Really grease your loaf pans, this bread has a tendancy to stick.

 Make this today.. enjoy

Chocolate zucchini bread

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
2-3 T vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa (baking kind)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1/3 cup chocolate chips (mini kind) optional

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 2 loaf pans really well.
In large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs,vanilla & cinnamon.  Add flour, salt, baking powder & baking soda.  With spoon start mixing together, when about 3/4 of the way combined add zucchini  & chocolate chips (if using)and mix just until mixture comes together. Pour into 2 loaf pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into bread comes out clean.  Remove from oven & immedately invert bread out of the baking pans to cool.  Slice and enjoy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies

I love these cookies.. they are soo good... my friend Chris since I have known since elementary school loves them so much, when she comes over she asks me to make these for her, and I do... then we have to have some tea, visit and eat cookies :)  which is always a good thing :)

You can leave out the chocolate chips, and add a touch of cinnamon and raisins and they are equally as good, although us girls LOVE chocolate...so usually I don't do that, but I have and it is still good.  You can use what ever kinda chocolate chips you like, I usually use semi-sweet, but you can use dark, or milk chocolate use what you like.  I also use pecans, but again use what you like and have on hand...

I use a 1/4 sheet pan for baking. And I can put 6 cookies per baking sheet.  I used a 1/3 measuring cup to measure these cookies, then I take a wet hand and flatten them down and they make around 9-10 big cookies...  Make these for your family today...enjoy

Chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies

1 stick butter/margarine softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups oats (I use old fashioned)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a baking sheet or line with a silpat.
In large bowl with a wooden spoon, cream (mix) the butter.  Add both sugars, vanilla and egg and with spoon work together until smooth and creamy.  Add flour, soda & salt and just start combining, add chocolate chips, & pecans mixing until just comes together (don't over mix). With 1/3 measuring cup, scoop out mixture flattening dough out so you have an even 1/3 cup,  remove dough to the baking sheet (I just wiggled the scoop a little and the dough came right out) continue placing 6 cookies on your baking sheet. Wet the palm of your hand a little shaking off any excess water, and flatten cookies down.  Place in oven and bake for around 17 -18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden and the cookies are done.  Do not overbake.  Let cool for a minute then remove to a baking rack or onto waxed paper.  Enjoy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pimento cheese spread

OH MY GOSH!!! Where has homemade pimento cheese spread been my whole life??? I am asking myself that question... I have seen it multiple times on TV being made, and in cookbooks etc... and my only recollection of pimento cheese is the yuckky stuffy from the grocery store that I avoid like the plague.  I remember trying it one time and almost gagging..LOL from that stuff..YUCK.. NOT good..trust me.  the commerical stuff... no thank you ..I'll pass :)

But homemade, where you control what goes in there, put the flavorings and things you like in it... yes please....
I have a secret... I don't like cheese..there I said it.. I am not a cheese fan.  I like cheese on things... tacos, nachos, pasta, lasagna, but too much cheese I am not a fan.  My sister jokes..how did you get into our family?? LOL  anyway, I was walking by the little jars of pimentos at the grocery store, and it hit me.  I am making pimento cheese spread.  So I researched and saw all different ways, spicy, creamy, salty and thought woah..thinking I am going to come up with my own recipe, I can put what I like in it,so this is how the recipe was born.

You can eat this with crusty bread, or on crackers/breadsticks.  But I remember seeing one time a chef on TV made grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. So that is what I did, and oh my gracious I was in absolute heaven.  The best grilled cheese sandwiches ever.. My husband was like this stuff is awesome, and this is the best sandwich ever... A win/win in my book anytime :) thanks honey... I put a thin layer of the pimento cheese in between 2 slices of bread and put a little butter on the outsides of the bread, and cooked it over medium low (that is the trick, you need a lower heat so that the sandwiches have a chance to melt all that cheesy goodness without burning the bread). 

NOTE** Also, I used about 1/2 T of grated onion, you don't want pieces of onion in your dip cause it will overpower the taste of the dip, I just used a micro-plane grater), and I  used about 4 dashes cayenne pepper (start with 2 dashes and taste it, then go from there).  Also you have to let the cheese spread sit for a while and let the flavors blend, so you don't want to go overboard with the seasonings/flavorings.  They will get stronger and intensify while sitting. Also, I used finely grated cheese, but you can use what you have and like. 
Start with 1/3 cup mayo, and mix then add a tablespoonful at a time until lightly creamed together.

Make this for your family today.. enjoy

Pimento cheese spread

8 oz finely grated mild cheddar cheese
1/3 cup mayo (plus more if needed)
2 oz. jar of chopped pimentos, drained
1/2 T grated onion

Seasonings of your choice (I used a dash of seasoned salt *remember cheese is salty so use accordingly, a few grinds of cracked black pepper, 1/4 t garlic powder & 4 dashes cayenne pepper)

Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well with fork till mixed.  Cover dish and place in fridge to meld flavors.  Serve with crusty bread, crackers/breadsticks or make heavenly grilled cheese sandwiches.. Enjoy

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Crockpot Spaghetti sauce w/ Meatballs

Who doesn't love the easy of the crockpot/slow cooker?  I know I sure do.. It makes getting dinner on the table easy when you have a busy day. 

My 3 year old has been asking me for sghetti & meatballs.. (well that's how he says it :)  we had a really busy day today, so thought how can I make this easier so I don't have to fuss with it.. ah yes..crockpot here I come...
I use really lean ground beef (93/7) to make this.  You don't want to have a lot of added grease to your finished sauce so use lean meat.  Also these are softer than say if you oven bake or fry your meatballs.  They simmer from the raw state in the sauce for hours, so they are a little softer, but oh so delicious. I also got out my micro-plane grater and grated my onion, celery & carrot for my sauce, you can chop this mixture too, but I was in a hurry and didn't feel like grabbing  my food processor out... You can also add chopped up mushrooms or green, red or yellow peppers.....make these for your family today.. we like our sauce a little sweeter, if you don't cut back on the brown sugar...enjoy

I serve this over spaghetti, but use what your family likes, or you have on hand.  I serve this with extra grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Crockpot Spaghetti sauce w/meatballs

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (I use 93/7)
2 slices white bread torn into very small chunks
2 T half & half
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs(start mixing it with 1/2 cup and if it's not firm enough to make meatballs add the remaining 1/4 cup)
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 grated parmesan cheese 
1/4 grated onion
 Seasonings of your choice ( I used seasoned salt & pepper, and a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash, and Italian seasonings)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jar or large can of Spaghetti sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
2-3 T brown sugar
splash of Worchester sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 of a grated onion
1 grated carrot
1/2 stalk of grated celery
Seasonings of your choice ( I used pinch of red pepper flakes, dried parsley, Italian seasonings, Mrs. Dash, salt & pepper)

In crockpot, add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, paste and wine.  Whisk till smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.  In bowl add meatball ingredients and with hands mix well.  Form into meatballs and drop into sauce in the crockpot.  Continue till all the meat is used, and very gently stir the meatballs into the sauce  covering to coat each one with sauce.  Cook on high for about an hour or until the sauce is rapidly simmering.  Move to low and simmer for 5-6 hours stirring occasionally until meatballs are done.  Serve over cooked pasta and sprinkle the top with freshly grated parmesan cheese... enjoy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chicken pot pie soup

Oh my gracious... this is absolutely my new favorite soup.. this stuff is heavenly :)  I had chicken pot pie soup in a restaurant recently.  I had never had it before and it was wonderful. But as my typical self ; I thought I bet I can put my own spin on it and make it better at home... which is exactly what I did. And the bonus, on the table in about 30 minutes from start to finish, even better in my book.  Super good & super easy.. Make this today.. Enjoy

**NOTE**  I used pre-cooked chicken (I used the cut up chunked pre-cooked chicken from Tyson you can find it in the refrigerated section by the lunch meat at your grocery store, the kind you put in your salad) but you can also chop up rotisserie chicken or use left over chicken, use what you have.   (I would NOT recommend using the stuff out of the can, it is too mushy for this recipe)

Chicken pot pie soup

1 package Tyson pre-cooked chicken, cut up in small pieces (or use leftover chicken see note)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 box chicken stock
1 potato cooked, diced (I cooked mine in the microwave for a couple of minutes until fork tender)
2 cups frozen mixed veggies
1 T white wine
splash of worchester sauce
1 refridgerated pie crust

1/4 cup half and half
1 heaping T of sour cream
3 T of corn starch

Seasonings of your choice (I used 1/2 teaspoon each of poultry seasoning, garlic & onion powder,  dried onions, & parsley flakes)
Just a pinch of seasoned salt & pepper, dried thyme, celery seed )

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray and unroll pie crust in a even layer.  With fork prick all over the crust to keep it from puffing up.  Sprinkle lightly with poultry seasoning, pepper and a pinch of kosher salt.  Bake for around 10-15 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from oven. With a fork break up into small pieces to top soup.

While crust is baking in big pan add the soup & whisk in chicken stock.  Add rest of ingredients (except half & half, sour cream and cornstarch) mix together well.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for around 5 minutes.  In bowl whisk together sour cream & half and half, stir in cornstarch.  Add mixture to boiling soup, and stir until mixture comes back to a boil and thickens.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Remove from heat and spoon soup into bowls and top with the pieces of pie crust on top.  Enjoy

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pear crisp

My friend gave me an entire bag of pears. She picked them from her Aunt's tree and had so many she didn't know what to do with them.  I started thinking what to do with all of these yummy pears.. Thinking, pear tart, pear crumble, pear pie, pear & applesauce, then it hit me..Pear crisp... It is fall and I love all things topped with a crisp topping, you know butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, oats, & a little flour... Heavenly, goodness right there... I made it just like I make apple crisp and voila.. perfection.. so darn good... I invited my friend over and she said oh my gosh..this is soo good... love hearing that :)  so use what you have.. pears, apples etc.. it's all good.. enjoy
**NOTE** These pears were small and not very ripe, a little on the hard side still, so I baked them extra longer & used a little extra sugar.  If your pears are RIPE, cut down on the sugar & total baking time..

Pear crisp

10-12 small pears
3/4 cup sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1 T vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger (I used the spice kind from McCormicks)


1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oats
2/3 stick butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray baking dish with nonstick spray.  Wash, peel and core pears.  Chop into medium dice, place in large bowl. .  Add sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, 1 t cinnamon & ginger and stir to combine well. Pour into baking dish. 

In another bowl combine flour, sugar, oats salt & cinnamon.  Mix well.  Add butter and with fork mix until combined and crumbly resembling the size of peas.  Sprinkle over pear mixture.  Bake for around 40-45 minutes (***see NOTE).  Check with inserting fork into a pear and when the pear is soft, and the crisp is bubbly and light golden brown, remove from oven... Serve (can top with ice cream. or whipped cream) optional.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fresh green beans, new red potatoes, onions & kielbasa one pot meal

I love fresh green beans in the summer time... there is nothing like them...I like them cooked lots of ways...with bacon, (what isn't better with a little bacon ;)  new red potatoes, onions, garlic, kielbasa, or just plain.. I could go on and on... but I usually do the bacon route, but thought I had a package of kielbasa that needed using, so I tried it..and it was absolutely delicious... My 3 year old ate seconds (yeah he's eating.. well that's another whole blogpost altogether sigh..)  Use what you have, if you have turkey kielbasa, or polish sausage instead of kielbasa use it.. If you wanna add a clove or two of whole garlic smashed, add that.. as always use what your family likes... enjoy

One pot meal:  Fresh green beans, new red potatoes, onions & kielbasa

1 T. bacon grease (or olive oil)
3-4 cups fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
6 red potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
1 package, kielbasa, sliced
1 beef bouillon cube
1/3 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
1 onion, peeled, medium diced

In large pan with a lid add bacon grease, melt and add onion.  Stir onion covering in hot grease.  Cook on medium high heat for just a couple of minutes, add green beans, and red potatoes, salt & pepper (being careful not to over salt, cause the bouillon cube and kielbasa both have salt in them).  Stir vegetables to coat and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add kielbasa, water & bouillon cube stirring well.  Cover pan and bring to simmer, turn heat down to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes till vegetables are 3/4 of the way done, stirring often.  Remove lid from pan, turn heat up to medium high and cook till the water is almost completely gone, and vegetables are done about 5-10 more minutes.  I like my beans cooked completely soft and my potatoes soft too.  If you like your vegetables a little crunchy, cook less time.  Turn off heat, stir and adjust seasonings if necessary.. Enjoy

Monday, September 2, 2013

Healthy sloppy joes

Healthy and sloppy joes are not something you see in the same sentence... but they are when you use really lean meat and sneak in lots of veggies... I added red & green pepper, zucchini, red onion to my meat, then slow simmered the sauce & meat together..YUM  Use what you have.  If you have chopped frozen veggies (I have seen them small diced for soups or fajitas in the frozen section by all means use them) or you can get them pre chopped on the salad bar, or if you have another color pepper use that.  I have even sometimes finely grated carrots in this mixture... any way I can sneak some more veggies into my boys I will do...

 My family likes the sloppy joes more on the BBQ side and less on the tomato side so I use tomato soup, ketchup etc.  I make these with extra lean ground beef, but have made them with ground turkey & ground chicken too.. good and super easy.

  My hubby who like stuff on the hot side likes these topped with cheese, diced onion & jalapenos.. but the kiddos on the other hand, not so much... make these for your family today, so good and easy....

Healthy Sloppy Joes

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (or can use ground turkey or chicken)
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
1 small red & green pepper seeded,diced very small
1 small zucchini, seeds & ends removed, diced very small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomato soup
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T mustard
3 T brown sugar
1 t worchester sauce
1 t red wine (optional)

Seasonings of your choice (I used salt & pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic & onion powder, Mrs. Dash, couple of dashes of cayenne pepper)
Hamburger buns for serving
condiments (mustard, chopped onion, cheese, jalapenos) optional

In large pan, place olive oil, heat over medium high heat.  Add onion, peppers, zucchini (salt & pepper)and cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are starting to soften.  Add ground beef & garlic, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and start breaking up and cooking until meat is no longer pink.  Drain meat if necessary (usually not necessary since your using lean meat).  Add remaining ingredients, bringing meat to a simmer , turn heat down cover and simmer until hot and vegetables are really soft. Turn off heat, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve with buns and condiments of your choice.. Enjoy

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blueberry coffee cake w/strusel almond topping

Yeah :)  it is blueberry season in Michigan...so happy and the blueberries this year are sooo yummy.. I had some in my fridge just waiting for something yummy to go into.. I have been wanting blueberry coffee cake.. so decided that is what I was making..then needed to add a delicious topping to it..why not go all the way :)
You can use frozen blueberries too..no need to unthaw them..just fold them in frozen, they will unthaw when they bake.. make this for your family today... Enjoy

Blueberry coffee cake w/strusel almond topping

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2-2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 cup butter,softened
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 10 inch round or square pan.  In large bowl cream together the shortening & sugar (I used a fork) then add egg mixing well.  Add milk & sour cream, whisk until smooth.  Add flour, salt and baking powder, mix just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.  Spread in even layer in pan.  Mix topping ingredients together with a fork until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over coffee cake.  Place in oven and bake around 35-45 minutes (check at 35 minutes, and every 5 there after) until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (might have a little blueberry juice on it :) but the batter is not runny.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly, cut into squares and enjoy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pumpkin magic- Double chocolate Brownie muffins & Pumpkin muffins

I love pumpkin in any way shape or form...and these are a couple of my favorite ways to use it... I learned the pumpkin muffin recipe from a co-worker of my ex-husband's wife..sorry I don't remember her name but she was so nice to share it (I just changed it a little..she used spice cake mix and I am not a huge fan of spice cake, so I thought carrot cake..why not and it turned out great..I also add a couple of tablespoonfuls of water to each recipe to make them mix better.. I invented the brownie one thinking ..wonder if some other cake mix would work, and bumped up the chocolate cause you can never have enough chocolate!!!EVER... LOL :)

Now onto these muffins... they both are healthier alternatives of the originals... and believe it or not you don't even taste the pumpkin at all... it just makes the muffins creamier, gooier, and more delicious..soo good..

The pumpkin muffins involve a carrot cake mix..and the brownie muffins begin with a chocolate cake mix...and these are super easy and good and take less than 5 minutes to put together and get into the oven.. a win/win in my book :)  Make these for your family today... Enjoy

Double chocolate Brownie muffins

1 chocolate cake mix (I used devils food)
1 15oz can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2-3 T water
1/4 cup chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350.  Put cupcake liners in pan, or spray pan with non-stick cooking spray if not using liners.  In large bowl add cake mix and chocolate chips.  Stir together.  Add pumpkin and water mixing well. Scoop into liners spreading out into an even layer.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven... Enjoy

Pumpkin muffins

1 carrot cake mix
1 15 oz. can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2-3 T water

Preheat oven to 350.    Put cupcake liners in pan, or spray pan with non-stick cooking spray if not using liners. In large bowl add all the ingredients, mix well.  Scoop into liners spreading out to an even layer.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven.  Enjoy

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Strawberry jello pie

I love summer.. (well minus the really hot heat )... and I love summertime fresh fruits & vegetables.  One of them being strawberries :)  I make strawberry freezer jam (already made a triple batch :) , lots of fruit salad, and every year make this strawberry jello pie... It is fast & easy ..which is a winner in my book... 
I used sugar free strawberry jello, but you can use regular too. I serve this with thawed whipped topping, but you can use whipped cream too.  I love it equally as well, but since my little guys & big guys love spoonfuls of whipped cream outta the can, it sure doesn't last long ever at our house..LOL .  Also, store this in the fridge and it is best eaten within one day of making it.  Make it soon, it is super good, so much so that my 3 year old has been asking me about strawberry pie, ever since I told him I was making it... so funny.... Enjoy

Strawberry jello pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 3 oz (small package) strawberry jello
3 T sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 t. lemon juice
2 lbs strawberries, washed, hulled & sliced (they usually come in 1 pound containers, so you'll need 2)
1 1/2 cups cold water

whipped cream or whipped topping thawed

In large pan add cold water & cornstarch over medium heat.  Whisk together.  Bring to a boil and cook a couple of minutes whisking constantly until thickened.  Add sugar, & jello whisking till sugar is dissolved.   Stir in lemon juice.  Add strawberries careful, mixture will be hot.  Stir gently till all is combined and all the berries are covered in the strawberry jello mixture.  Pour carefully into the pie shell. Cover the pie loosely and place in fridge for 2-3 hours our until set.  Cut into pieces & serve with whipped cream. Place any leftovers in the fridge and use within a day.  Enjoy

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Peanut butter cereal bars

I had some cereal that I was looking to use up instead of throw it away.  I had a little bit of both Multigrain Cheerios & Rice chex not enough of either to use for an entire breakfast and I absolutely HATE waste... so I try to be creative.  Also it has been hot outside and who wants to bake when it's summer & hot house?  This way you can have a treat and keep your house hopefully cool.... Use whatever plain type of cereal you have around, Kix, Crispix whatever will work.  Make these for your family soon... Enjoy

Peanut butter cereal bars

7 cups cereal ( I used 5 cups Cheerios & 2 cups Rice chex)
1 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 -1 cup salted, shelled peanuts

Spray a 13x9 pan with nonstick spray. In large pan add corn syrup & sugar.  Bring to a rapid boil.  Boil for 1-2 minutes turn off heat leaving pan on hot burner, add vanilla & peanut butter stirring until it is smooth.   Add cereal, and peanuts mixing well to coat.  Pour mixture into pan, spreading into an even layer.  Let bars cool, and cut into bars.   Enjoy

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Calico baked beans

I LOVE these beans... everywhere I take them, they get devoured.  Tasty, and they make the house smell good too... I use all different kinds of beans, but use what you have and love.  You can also make them when cooking the meat mixture instead of putting them on the stove to simmer, put them in a crockpot and simmer them say for a party or open house too. So good.  You want these thickened and delicious.  Even my 3 year old Jackson asks me "mommy make me beans"... LOL so they must be good :)

 Make these soon..enjoy

**NOTE* I use a little more brown sugar because I like my baked beans sweeter.  Start with 1/2 cup and just add extra if you like your beans on the sweeter side. I usually use 1 cup..
Also instead of cutting up raw bacon, you can also use a package of precooked bacon pieces or bits to save yourself some time *just remember to take out the" do not eat" packet.  Put those in with the beans.

Calico baked beans

3 strips bacon, sliced
1 onion, small diced
1/4 cup green (or yellow, red, orange sweet) pepper, small diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 lb. hamburger (I used ground chuck/sirloin)
 1 medium sized 28 oz. can Bush's baked beans
1 15.5 oz (regular size) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz (regular size)can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz (regular size) can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1  15.5 oz (regular size)can northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup white wine
1 to 1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 T mustard
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T worchester sauce
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar

seasonings of your choice ( I used onion & garlic powder, paprika, pinch of chili powder, red pepper flakes& cayenne, cumin,  black pepper and just a pinch of seasoned salt & kosher salt)

In large dutch oven place hamburger, bacon (if using raw), onion, & green pepper. Cook and break up meat until meat is done.  Add garlic clove and stir around cooking for a couple of minutes until garlic is no longer raw.  Add remaining ingredients (don't forget if using bacon pieces(bits) add now)  and stir well.  Bring to low boil, turn heat down & simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings or brown sugar as needed.  Enjoy

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Grandma B's Egg pancakes

I so miss my Grandma B... she passed away in October 2012.. she was a wonderful woman loved by all.  and a really good cook :)  she used to spoil all of us rotten and make us bread, homemade jam, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, homemade noodles... and these delicious egg pancakes, which are kinda like crepes.  When we were little and would go up north (in northern Michigan) to our cabin in Gladwin, she would make all of us (which was a houseful :)  these every morning... we would fill them with butter & syrup, or with her homemade strawberry jam roll them up and devour them, until we possibly couldn't eat one more ever!!! good times and wonderful memories... here's thinking of ya grandma..love and miss ya....

We would just stand around waiting for these pancakes hot outta the skillet.  These are super quick to make, and have everything ready for serving cause they only take 1 to 2 minutes per pancake...and just a reminder to keep the kiddos away from the stove cause you are moving quick and the burner for these is really hot... want good memories not bad burned ones... :)

Grandma B's Egg pancakes

6 eggs
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 1 T milk
vegetable oil (for cooking)

For serving:
syrup (or homemade jam)

In a big bowl, add eggs and salt.  Mix with electric mixer until the eggs are combined.  Add flour & mix until combined.  Add milk and mix until combined.  In 10 inch skillet heat pan until super hot.  Add a small amount of vegetable oil and swirl around pan (pan should be smoking hot).  Add 1 small ladleful of batter and swirl around pan like you would a crepe, covering the bottom of the pan, should take about 30 seconds to a minute and be slightly brown around the egdes, flip and cook for about 30 more seconds until other side is light golden brown.  Remove from pan.  Continue and repeat above steps until batter is gone.  When serving, spread pancake with butter and drizzle with syrup or jam, roll pancake into log, cut and eat.. Enjoy

Dr. Pepper cake

My family loves Dr. Pepper pop.. I hate it....not my thing... when I saw a recipe floating around online for Dr. Pepper cake, I though ah ha...then when I looked at several recipes that called for a cup of butter, I thought wait a sec. and then I did a little research of reviews and several did not get good reviews... so thought hmmm.. better come up with my own easy recipe that still tastes good.  I used the pop in both the cake and icing.  It was good, had just a hint of the pop flavor, but next time I am putting maraschino cherry juice in both the cake & icing (cause they wanted more cherry pop flavor).  this has a very slight pop flavor, even I could eat it and like it...tasted like chocolate cake with just a little something... make this for your family..enjoy

**NOTE.. I used Betty Crocker triple chocolate cake mix (which has little chocolate chunks in the cake mix, but use what you like.
Also:  for the icing, you might depending on how hot, humid or damp it is adjust the amount of powdered sugar you use.  I added more cause I made it on a hot humid day, then I added too much powdered sugar, then had to add a little more pop to thin it out... 

Dr. Pepper cake

1 chocolate cake mix (**see note)
1 small box instant chocolate fudge pudding mix (I used sugar free cause it's what I had)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups Dr. Pepper pop
1/8 cup maraschino cherry juice (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350. Spray either a 13x9 or a bundt pan with nonstick spray. In large bowl place all of the ingredients, mix with a electric mix for 2 minutes.  Pour into whatever pan you are using. Place in preheated oven, and bake according to package directions (I baked my 13x9 for around 30 minutes).  Insert a toothpick into the center to make sure it comes out clean) remove from oven.  Let cool completely.  If using bundt pan after 3 minutes invert cake onto platter to let cool.

Dr. Pepper chocolate buttercream icing

4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Dr. Pepper
2-3 T sour cream
1 stick butter, softened
1 t vanilla
1 T maraschino cherry juice (optional)
1/4 cup cocoa powder

In large bowl with electric mixer cream butter, add sour cream, cocoa powder, vanilla, cherry juice and Dr. Pepper mix well (be careful cause it will splash and be liquidy) Add powdered sugar 1 cupful at a time until icing comes together and is spreadable.  Depending on the humidity etc, you will have to adjust the powdered sugar until you have a soft spreadable icing.  Taste to make sure it taste okay.  Spread over cooled cake.  Enjoy

Monday, June 24, 2013

Baked Pita Chips

I went to buy some pita chips to go with hummus... nice and light for the summer... They were $3.99 a bag...Highway robbery I tell ya...I thought my gosh you can buy a package of pitas for about a $1.50 and I can make more than what would be in that bag... I lucked out and got a bag for .89 cents..which is even more of a bonus:)  I saved myself $3.10.. which is awesome in my book...

You can customize these anyway you like.  I don't put the spices in my oil but I sprinkle each chip lightly with the spices cause I like very seasoned stuff... you can use these with hummus, spinach dip, or just eat them.  They are so good... try them for your family today... you will love them...

Baked Pita chips

6 pitas
olive oil
seasonings of your choice ( I use, garlic & onion powder, cumin, chili powder & seasoned salt)

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  I cut the pitas like this, in half then each half into quarters, then each quarter in half making wedges.  Lay them in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Brush each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with the seasonings.  Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, checking after 10, until they are light golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven, and repeat until all the pitas are used.  Let cool and enjoy with your favorite dip. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Peach "tini's"

Can you say YUM!!! I am not much of a drinker, maybe 1 or 2 cocktails a year, but have been hearing about all of these martini's..chocolate, peach, vanilla, apple, smores..they all look yummy and sound yummy.  But since it's summer and I wanted something girly & fruity I thought peach..  Then I researched the recipes and holy cow martini's are almost always all alcohol.  I do not like the taste of straight alcohol or strong drinks whatsoever, so thought hmmm, how can I lighten these up but still make them taste amazing?  So this is my version of a peachtini.. You can obviously add as much alcohol as you want but I enjoy a lighter cocktail... Enjoy


1 can peach slices, drained
1 cup frozen peach slices (Plus 1 extra frozen slice per glass)
2  cups homestyle orange juice
1/4 cup peach scnapps
1/4 cup whipped cream vodka
4-5  ice cubes

Place all ingredients EXCEPT 7UP/Sprite into blender and blend until smooth and combined. Place 1 slice frozen peach in cocktail glass, pour 3/4 of the glass full of cold mixture.  Top (drizzle)with a very small amount of 7UP/Sprite just to make the top bubbly.  Enjoy...

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Who doesn't like brownies???? anyone..anyone.... that's what I thought..everybody LOVES brownies... they go great with picnics, BBQ's, or just any old time.  These are easy, and oh so good.  You can frost these with your favorite frosting, but I like them just plain.   Make these today...you will love them....Enjoy


1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 sticks of butter, melted & cooled
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 bag chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 baking pan.

In large bowl place melted butter, melted cooled chocolate chips, 4 eggs (slightly beat with a fork before adding them in), vanilla & sugar.  Mix well with wooden spoon.  A flour, baking powder & salt mixing just until combined.  Pour into pan and spread into an even layer.  Bake for around 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  DO NOT OVERBAKE.  Remove from oven, let cool, cut into squares and enjoy...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Dip

I came up with this dip recipe for my wonderful hubby Ian.  A while ago, he asked me why haven't you ever made me jalapeno poppers?  I stopped and said, huh I have never thought about it.  Then when I got to thinking more about them, I thought cause what a pain in the neck.  They are so time consuming and when you have a 3 year old, sometimes time is of the essence... or in other words ..3 year old's can be very demanding of your time... not to mention "terrible 3's" have hit our house... sigh...am I going to make it past these 3's??? Well I do have a 20 year old as well so I know that the time does go by super quick, so I am trying to savor each and every moment...
 So anyway back to this delicious dip.  I thought what would I like in my jalapeno poppers.  Sometimes they are way too hot, sometimes not flavorful enough.. and as you all know I like the volume turned up.  Not persae spicy hot, but really, really flavorful.  So this is what I came up with.. a hot, creamy, melty dip with bacon, cheese, jalapenos  yum... isn't everything in life better with bacon & cheese??? I mean what's not to like with that? If you like it hotter add more jalapenos, and hot sauce.

I served this with tortilla chips, but crackers or breadsticks would work just as well.  Try this today... enjoy

**NOTE** I used diced pickled jalapenos, and I like Mt. Olive brand, just my humble opinion but oh so good.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

8 oz. cream cheese ,softened
1/2 c mayo
1/4 c shredded parmesan
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c jalapeno peppers
1 T. jalapeno pepper juice
2 dashes hot sauce
1/2 cup shredded co-jack cheese
1/4 t garlic powder
1/3 c real bacon bits

1/4 stick butter, melted
1/4 bread crumbs
1/4 grated parmesan
1/4 cup french fried onions

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 8" baking dish with nonstick spray.
In bowl place softened cream cheese, mix well with fork.  Add mayo, parmesan cheese,sour cream, jalapeno peppers, jalapeno juice, hot sauce, co-jack cheese, garlic powder & bacon bits, mix well.   Spread into prepared baking dish, and bake 10-15 minutes. 
While dip bakes combine topping ingredients mixing well with fork until crumbly.  Remove dip from oven and sprinkle topping over the dip.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until dip is hot.  Remove from oven and serve with tortilla chips or crackers of your choice.  Enjoy

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Whatever muffins

If you follow my cooking blog you all know I have been in the process of moving.  And can I tell you... what a pain in the neck it is to move...but in the process of moving I found some old cookbooks and recipes that I completely forgot about... like these muffins.. I have no idea whatsoever where I got this recipe, but it is so amazing. 

**NOTE**They are called whatever muffins cause at the end you stir in 1/2 cup of "whatever" you have on hand...chocolate chips, dried cranberries, smashed bananas, candies, nuts, raisins, apples, carrots, applesauce, blueberries etc..use what you have and what your family likes.

 I used 3 T peanut butter, chocolate chips, and bananas... yum.. they were awesome and turned out so good...  I just mixed the chocolate chips with a tablespoonful of flour to coat them (so they don't sink to the bottom of the muffins).  I also thought I might next time use orange juice instead of the milk and use dried cranberries to make cranberry orange muffins..so many possibilities... make these for your family...

** With the weather just starting to get warm, sometimes I make extra muffins, cookies and store them in the freezer to pull out when it is just too hot to bake in the summer... note to self..get cracking on this task :)  Enjoy

Whatever muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 t salt

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 t vanilla

1/2 cup "whatever" see above note

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt.  In a small bowl mix together the wet ingredients (egg, milk, oil & vanilla).  Add the wet mixture to the dry, adding in the "whatever" mixture with the wet ingredients.  Mix just until combined.  Fill 12 muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for around 17-19 minutes (check at 17 minutes) mine were done at 18 minutes but my oven cooks fast.  They should be light golden brown and rounded.  Remove from oven.  Let cool, and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Roasted Vegetables

Yeah my first picture on my food blog :)   Now I can show you what I am cooking... oh happy day... anyway I love roasted vegetables. The rich deep caramelization and golden brown color from cooking at a high heat in the oven.  The flavors intensify and makes regular old vegetables into incredible vegetables.  My step son who used to hate vegetables  now LOVES roasted vegetables in the oven :) which makes this momma happy.  Healthy food into the body makes for healthy people...
You can choose any vegetables that your family loves, asparagus, carrots, cabbage, potatoes (both regular and sweet potatoes), green beans, cauliflower, broccoli  anything works...I usually just use a little olive oil, and simple seasonings of kosher salt & pepper but I have used a little red pepper flakes, rosemary etc and it always turns out wonderful.... as always use what you like and have... Enjoy

Roasted Vegetables

Vegetables of your choice, cut into pieces, washed and peeled if necessary
Olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Place veggies on a sheet tray patting dry with paper towels if they are wet.  Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and toss to coat well with the oil (they should be very lightly coated with oil, not dripping wet) sprinkle with salt & pepper and bake until the veggies are golden brown turning after about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Homemade croutons

Yeah I'm back :)  sorry I have been MIA but our family has been in the process of moving....sigh..17 years in one house and downsizing to a much smaller house has been trying nonetheless... and back to college full time has kept me busy, busy, busy..  I will try and go back to posting recipes more often, thanks for sticking with me. :)
Our church gets day old bread from Panera bread company and they share it with the congregation :)  So I am always looking for ways to use it up...think Panzanella (Italian bread salad, bread cubes, with tomatoes, olives, onions, cucumbers drizzled with a homeade Italian vinagrette dressing), or bread pudding, or breakfast casserole... but one of my favorite ways to use leftover bread is to make homemade croutons.  I love them they are so good and tasty.  I could eat an entire pan of them when they come out of the oven... They are so easy to make, and you can flavor them anyway that you want.  Make these today, your family will love them.. Enjoy

Homemade croutons

1 loaf day old bread, cut into bite size cubes
olive oil
seasonings of your choice (I use garlic & onion powder, kosher salt & pepper)

Preheat oven to 350.  Place bread cubes on a big sheet pan.  Drizzle bread with olive oil and toss bread to coat cubes with oil.  Sprinkle the bread cubes with garlic & onion powder, sprinkle with kosher salt & pepper.  Bake for around 15-20 minutes(turning bread halfway thru the baking with a spatula)  or until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven and serve over your favorite salad.  Enjoy

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Easy blueberry peach cake

I have seen recipes with boxed angel food cake mix that look amazing.  I have made it with a 20oz (big can, not the 8oz can size) of crushed pineapple, and the dry cake mixed in and it is so delicious.  Now my little 3 year old son Jackson was watching the cooking channel with me and saw someone make peach cake.  He said what they making? (his vocuabulary is not all the way developed, so his sentence structure is a little lacking..LOL) I told him, the person was making peach cake.  He said, mommy make me peach cake..how can you say no to that.  Well we are in the middle of moving, so all my cookbooks are packed up in boxes, so I looked online, and didn't see one that I really wanted to try.  The online recipes called for a pound of butter, or a cup of oil, and I wanted something a little lighter.  Then while I was looking in my cupboards I saw the box of angel food cake mix.  I looked in my pantry and saw blueberry pie filling, then remembered a recipe that I ran across somewhere, and I saw a can of peaches and voila...blueberry peach cake... you can use any kind of pie filling that you like or have on hand, and skip the peaches, or you can add canned crushed pineapple and skip the pie filling completely.  It is so easy and yummy... you can serve this with whipped cream or ice cream or just plain....Enjoy

Easy blueberry peach cake

1 box angel food cake mix
1 can blueberry pie filling
1 can sliced peaches, in juice drained and sliced

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 13x9 inch pan with nonstick spray.
In big bowl mix together the pie filling and peaches.  Mix in the dry cake mix and mix well with big spoon.  Pour mixture into pan and spread into an even layer.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and inside is done testing with a toothpick. Remove from oven.  Serve.. **NOTE  The cake will shrink a little when removed from oven.  Enjoy

Monday, March 18, 2013

Corned beef hash

I love corned beef hash... But not any old kind will do.  and say NO to the canned kind...that is just yuck!!!
that makes me shudder just thinking about it...yikes that stuff is really bad so just avoid it :)
I love corned beef, & cabbage...yum.. you know corned beef brisket cooked slowly with potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage. It is so yummy (my family doesn't like it but that's another blog post :)  I made it for dinner on St. Patrick's day and had lots left, which makes yummy Reuben sandwiches, but my favorite is corned beef hash.  I serve the hash with over easy eggs, and rye toast.  So delicious.  I had this in a diner many years ago because I had never had it and wanted to try it, and it was wonderful.  I don't like this made with corned beef lunch meat.  Usually corned beef lunch meat is chopped & pressed and paper thin, so when you are making the hash it over cooks and becomes like little bits of shoe leather hard & crunchy..not appealing.  So I usually use the corned beef brisket leftovers, just my personal taste.  Use what you have and like as always.  Enjoy

Corned beef hash

2 cups leftover corned beef brisket, chopped into small chunks
1/2 small green pepper, small diced
1 small onion, diced

2 cups leftover potatoes, cut into small chunks
 1-2 T oil (divided)
seasonings of your choice (I used garlic & onion powder, salt & pepper)
Eggs over easy(optional)
Rye toast (optional)

In large skillet place one tablespoonful of oil heat over medium high heat.  Add onion & green pepper, sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Cook for 2-3 minutes then add potatoes and corned beef, sprinkle mixture with garlic & onion powder, a little more salt & pepper.  Add oil if mixture is getting too dry.  Continue cooking until mixture is browned and onion & green pepper are done.  Serve with eggs over easy, and rye toast.  Enjoy

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Roasted fingerling potatoes

I just made found little fingerling potatoes.  Do you all know what fingerling potatoes are?  They are like mini potatoes that are shaped like your fingers. I just scrub them under running water with a vegetable brush, then cut them in half the long way, and just blot them dry with paper towels. I drizzle them up with olive oil, then season them up well and bake them.  They turn out crispy and delicious wonderful.  I served them with garlic aoili sauce and ketchup for the kiddo... they are so good and make a great side dish.  Make these for your family... they will love them.. Enjoy

Roasted fingerling potatoes

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes
3 T. olive oil
seasonings of your choice ( *I used salt & pepper, garlic and onion powder).

Preheat oven to 350. Scrub the potatoes with a brush under running water. Cut potatoes in half long way, (horizontally)  and blot with paper towels.  Place on sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with seasonings, shake pan and make sure potatoes are in a single layer and bake for 1 hour.  Turn potatoes halfway through with a spatula. Potatoes are done when poked with a fork and are tender.  Enjoy

Friday, February 8, 2013

Italian Beef Sandwiches

I love Italian Beef.... flavorful,yummy, juicy and oh so delicious.  What is Italian Beef you ask?  It is a big beef roast, cooked in delicious broth & seasonings cooked with garlic & onions served on crusty rolls dipped in a little of that delicious aj-jus juice... YUM 
I serve these with carmalized mushrooms on them as well ( just saute sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, butter and sprinkle them with salt & pepper, cooking until they are brown and caramlized.  YUM  I also serve these with pepperconi peppers on the side..so good..

I always buy a very big roast so I can make beef vegetable soup with the leftovers.  Just add extra broth/water, frozen mixed vegetables, and cook the egg noodles right in the broth.  Serve with rolls and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.. so good. 
Try these today, your family will love them.  Enjoy

Italian Beef Sandwiches

3-4 lb beef roast
1-2 onions, peeled and sliced very thin
1 can beef broth
2 packages Good Seasons dry Italian salad dressing mix
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
crusty rolls
Sauteed mushrooms & pepperocini peppers (optional)

In crockpot place 1/2 the broth and 1 package of the Italian salad dressing, stir well.  Add onions and garlic stirring to coat onions with the seasoning mixture.  Add the roast on the top.  Sprinkle roast with the seasonings and pour the remaining broth over the top.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until the meat is falling apart, or 7-8 hours on low.  With a fork shred the meat mixing it into the broth and onions.  Serve meat on crusty rolls (with mushrooms & pepperocini optional).  Serve the broth on little bowls to dip the sandwich in while you devour it :)  Enjoy

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chocolate Molten Lava cakes

My husband came across a recipe for chocolate Molten lava cakes. He came to me and said how about this being your next "project".. He knows how I like trying new things... I have saw these out in restaurants but have never had them..until now... oh my gracious sakes alive..these things should be illegal :)  just kidding  but oh my gosh are these things good.... chocolatey, rich and lucious and lovely... see I could go on and on but seriously, these are heavenly.  I will be making these again..and thinking about the variations... thinking instead of the cinnamon & wine adding a little orange to these, or using all white chocolate..mmm the possibilities.  and I whipped up some salted caramel sauce to drizzle over the top of these... yum... made them even more heavenly.  These would also be good with chocolate sauce or raspberry sauce drizzled over the top...or just sprinkled with powdered sugar... try these soon..you will love them...

Recipe adapted from a McCormick recipe

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

4 oz semi sweet baking chocolate
1 stick butter, softened
1 T. red wine
1 T vanilla
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 t cinnamon
6 Hershey's kisses, unwrapped
hot salted caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 425.  Spray 6 small cake pans/ramikens with non stick spray.  In microwave safe bowl melt butter & chocolate for 1 minute.  Whisk with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted.  Whisk in wine, vanilla and powdered sugar until combined.  Whisk in eggs, egg yolk, mixing well. Stir in flour & cinnamon mixing until just combined.  Pour evenly in the 6 baking dishes.(should be about 1/2 to 2/3 full).  Place ramekins on baking sheet and bake for around 11 minutes center should be soft but outside should be firm.Remove from oven and take a knife and loosen edges of pan.  Immediately invert (being careful when inverting them so you don't break them open).  Place Hershey's kiss over top and drizzle immediately with hot caramel sauce.  Serve immediately. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sour cream coffee cake

I woke up wanting coffee cake...not any old coffee cake but yummy, cinnamony (if that's even a word ;)  delicious coffee cake... saw many recipes but good night..they called for 2 cups of butter, tons of sour cream etc... I thought hmmm... need to come up with a delicious yet less fattening version.. (you know it is the new year after all..and in moderation we can still enjoy our delicious goodies ) so I came up with this recipe.  The house smells amazing too which is an added boost to making this... don't you just love when your house smells good....mmmm... Enjoy

Sour cream coffee cake

1 stick butter/margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
2 1/4 t baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
1T vanilla
1 t almond extract

Filling:( Mix together in a bowl)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 T cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a bundt pan with nonstick spray.
In large bowl cream together sugar, butter, & brown sugar.   Add eggs, beat well.  Add sour cream, applesauce, vanilla & almond extracts, mix well.  In small bowl whisk together flour, soda, baking powder & salt.  Pour 1/2 the flour mixture in the butter mixture and beat with mixer just until almost combined.  Add remaining flour mixture and mix until just the mixture just slightly comes together.  With rubber spatula fold in lightly (DO NOT OVERMIX) the remaining flour, scraping down the bowl.  Spoon 1/2 the mixture in the bundt pan (I used the back of a spoon the make the mixture in an even level).  Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly in a layer around the cake ***IMPORTANT to try and NOT get the filling up to the sides of the pan because it will bake & stick into the side of the pan and not let the cake release from the pan .  Gently spoon the remaining cake batter on top of the filling being sure to seal and spread the cake batter over the  filling layer. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and taking a butter knife, loosen around the center hole and the edges of the pan. Invert onto a serving platter immediately.  Enjoy

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Banana cream cheese muffins

Today is going to be one of those days....I was awake at 3:45 and couldn't go back to sleep.  So finally at 4:30 I crawled out of bed.  Thinking it is going to be a long day with all day classes... so I needed something to kick start my day..along with lots of caffeine ;)  muffins... wanted something a little different, so I came up with this recipe.. it is so delicious, and moist.  The cream cheese & bananas in the center make them a little gooey and oh so good... Make these soon you will love them.. Enjoy

Banana cream cheese muffins

1 cup sugar+ 2 T
8 oz cream cheese, divided, softened
3 bananas, 2 mashed, and 1 diced fine
1/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla, divided
2 cups flour
1 stick butter/margarine,softened
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners.  In large bowl, place 1/2 the softened cream cheese, butter & sour cream.  Mix well with an electric mixer.  Add sugar and mix well.  Add eggs, bananas & 1 t vanilla and mix well.  In bowl whisk together flour, baking powder & soda.  Add flour mixture in thirds to wet mixture, beating just until combined (don't over-mix).  Fill muffin cups 1/2 full.  In small bowl place remaining cream cheese, 2T sugar, and 1/2 t of vanilla mix well with fork.  Spoon a heaping teaspoonful into the center of each muffin, then top with some chopped banana, continuing until all the muffin cups are done.  Carefully spoon the remainder of the muffin batter over the top of the cream cheese/banana mixture smoothing out (I used my finger but you can use a spoon), continuing until all the muffin cups are done.  Bake for 25-28 minutes (mine were lightly browned cause I like my muffins on the lighter side). Remove from oven.  Enjoy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chinese Ramen Coleslaw Chicken salad

I love chinese ramen coleslaw salad.. It is one of my favorites... just tasty ,tasty, tasty :)   I thought since it is the new year 2013 and one of my resolutions is to eat better.  Eat healthier,and to incorporate more vegetables and more protein into my diet.  What better way than to eat a tasty salad..YUM... I added a handful of raw almonds and shelled pumpkin seeds to boost the protein up, but you can add sunflower seeds or just leave them out entirely.  I think that they add a tasty crunch to the salad.  You can also add whatever veggies you like to this salad... I used green peppers, but you can add red, orange or yellow ones... or cucumber or anything.. add what you like...
**NOTE** This salad is best eaten the day it is made.  I usually make it a couple of hours before serving to let the flavors blend.  If you do have any leftovers store in a covered container in the fridge and splash just a little more rice wine vinegar on it and mix well to boost the flavor.   Enjoy

I also make this salad in the summer time and leave the chicken out altogether.. It makes a nice side dish with grilled meat...

Chinese Ramen Coleslaw Chicken salad

1 package shredded coleslaw mix (from the produce section)
1 small bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1 cooked chicken breast, chopped in small pieces
1 cup shredded carrots, (I buy the bags of them in the produce section)
3 T sesame seeds
1/2 green pepper, small diced
1-2 packages Oriental ramen noodles, broken up fine

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1/3 cup sugar
1 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
The seasoning packet from (1) of the ramen noodle packages
pinch of salt & pepper

In large bowl place coleslaw, green onions, almonds, seeds, carrots, chicken, Ramen noodles & green pepper.  Mix well.  Place dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Pour over salad and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of  hours.  Mix well before serving.  Enjoy