Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Easy turtle bars

Mmm turtles.. just the name of turtles (the candy not the animal lol ) makes me think of creamy caramel & pecans drenched in dreamy chocolate..yummy!!

 I love them... so I was happy when in a surprise Christmas box I received the recipe & ingredients to make them.. once I took a bite I was so happy... thanks for the gift Wendy :)

Patting the crust out is a little work, it is a really, really sticky batter.. but I solved that issue by sprinkling the crust batter with a little flour until I got it into a thin layer.  And don't be like me and use way too much non-stick spray which makes it even harder to spread out the layer.  You want the bars to come out of the pan, but you also want to make a bottom crust, so moderation of non-stick spray is the answer. 

Also, thinking next time I am adding a layer of shredded coconut and turning these into German chocolate bars.. then I was thinking chopped up Heath bars instead of chocolate chips and you have toffee bars.. I could go on and on...as always use what you like.. make the soon.. enjoy

Easy Turtle Bars

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 stick butter/margarine, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips ( I used mini chips)
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 jar (12 oz) caramel ice cream topping

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray with non-stick spray a 13 x 9 pan.  In a large bowl mix cake mix, butter and milk with a fork until combined.  Spoon 1/2 of the batter in the cake pan (use a spoon and divide along the pan a little batter in each corner, along with a little batter in the middle it makes it easier to spread.  Very lightly sprinkle the batter in the pan with a small amount of flour and using your fingers pat into an even layer, sprinkling with more flour to help the sticking stop.  When in a layer bake for 7-8 minutes or until a crust begins to form, remove from oven.  Sprinkle chocolate chips in an even layer over the crust, and drizzle caramel topping over chips. Sprinkle with 1/2 the pecans over the caramel topping.  Drop small spoonful's of the remaining chocolate cake batter over the top of the caramel topping and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched (caramel center will be soft).  Cool completely.  Cut into bars and serve. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lentil soup

Well now... we now have the first snow of the 2015 season in Michigan, and a winter weather warning and a snowstorm too boot.. gosh for someone who has lived in Michigan my entire life, the older I get, the less I like this winter snowy weather.. not a fan...  So needless to say it's blowing, cold, snowy & yuck! So something yummy, warm and preferably a soup, or stew is just what this weather needs..

I like this with cornbread, so make your favorite, I cheated and used a box mix (gasp, I know.. I usually like homemade, but doctored it up.  I added extra cornmeal, and frozen corn to the batter to make it more "semi-homemade".  And I greased the pan with bacon grease, to add even more flavor.  When it comes out of the oven brush it with butter to add even another layer of flavor.. easy additions and so good. 

My local Kroger store has a soup starter kit.  It is located by the cut up vegetables.  I included fresh chopped up onions, celery & carrots, along with a fresh spring of thyme & rosemary, along with a bag of lentils.   It ran around $5, so it was great to grab for when your in a hurry.  I added extra stock, and lentils, but this would work out great.

I also made this with ham hocks, but you can use smoked turkey wings, or leftover smoked ham (I hate throwing away the ham bone when I make a bone-in ham, this is a perfect thing to make with that. You can also add any leftover, chopped up ham to this for extra flavor.

Leftovers are great, and freeze well (make sure you cool completely before freezing).   However you make this, make it soon and enjoy.

Lentil soup
2 ham hocks ( you get these in the refrigerated area, by the  hams)
1 cup , carrots & celery chopped small to medium
1 onion, ends removed and outside peel removed, chopped small to medium
1 sprig of fresh thyme & rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 T brown sugar
2 T molasses
1 bag of lentils
1-2 cans broth (can use, chicken, beef or vegetarian
**seasonings of your choice, I used kosher salt, pepper, about 1/2 t onion & garlic powder, 1 t of parsley flakes)
8 cups water

In large soup pan with lid, add water, ham hocks, celery, onions & carrots.  Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and seasonings. Bring to a rolling boil, turning down to simmer for around 1/2 hour.  Cover the pan and simmer for about an hour till veggies are tender.  Add lentils stirring well.  Place the cover back on the lid, and simmer slowly for around an hour stirring occasionally, checking to make sure the lentils are not dry, adding the broth one can at a time until the lentils are tender and cooked thru. When the lentils are almost done add the molasses, and brown sugar.  Check the seasonings and adjust adding more if needed.  If the soup seems like not enough liquid add the remaining can of broth.  Bring to boil, taste and if more salt & pepper are needed add it at this time.  Remove the thyme & rosemary stems & bay leaf.  Serve with cornbread or rolls. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Banana muffins

I always seem to have overripe bananas that need using up. It seems like when I buy less bananas we go thru them fast and then I never have any.  When I buy more, they just seem to sit there and get overripe & brown.  Every time I freeze them for smoothies they end up getting freezer burned before I use them up.  I can't seem to win for losing... I have been wanting banana muffins so now is the time. 

I topped mine with mini chocolate chips, which unfortunately makes it so you can't turn them upside down to get them out of the pan when they are done.  You have to carefully remove them from the pan ( I placed mine on a cookie sheet to cool then stored in baggies, for easy grab & go for lunches etc.).

You can add  nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or whatever you like to the batter and not top them.  I even thought an oatmeal streusel topping would be good too. If you add ingredients to the batter add at the end (and mix 1-2 t flour into the nuts, chocolate chips etc so they don't sink to the bottom of the batter when cooking)

My oven runs a little hot, so adjust your baking times as needed.  As always use what you like, and enjoy.

Banana muffins

2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 t baking soda
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips(if using)
3 mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray muffin tins (or use paper baking cups).
In large bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, regular & brown sugar, & cinnamon whisking gently until combined. Add butter, egg, milk, vanilla, and bananas mixing well. Add to dry ingredients gently mixing just until batter comes together.  Divide mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups.  Top with chocolate chips.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Immediately remove from muffin tins, and place on cookie sheet to cool.   Enjoy

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chili queso dip

Queso dip... thinking this is my new obsession.  I developed a sausage queso dip just this week, and seriously could not get enough.  Thinking how else I could tweak the flavors to eat more of this dip.  So I had some leftover meat & bean chili that I didn't know what to do with and thought chili, queso hmmm.  Let's give this a try and viola... YUMMY chili queso dip was born.  It is super good.. creamy a little spicy, and oh so good.  I served this dip with tortilla chips, but you can use fritos, scoops, pretzels or chunks of crusty bread...

You can add hot sauce, or use hot Rotel tomatoes (I have little ones eating this dip, so I make it mild but serve hot sauce on the side for my husband and myself to jazz it up)

 Make this soon.. Enjoy

Chili Queso dip

8 oz package of Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 cup leftover prepared meat & bean chili
1/2 can drained mild Rotel tomatoes
pinch of sugar
**Seasonings of your choice, I used garlic & onion powder, pinch of celery seeds, paprika)
Tortilla chips for dipping

In microwave safe dish, add all of the ingredients.  Cook for one minute, then stir, continue cooking stirring after every 30 second increments until creamy and melted.  Serve with tortilla chips. 

Beef tips and noodles

When the weather turns cooler I love Beef tips over noodles.  The creamy yummy goodness just makes me happy :)  Between making the house smell good & when you eat it, you get nice and warm YUM.  I like to add some sour cream to my sauce to make it extra rich and creamy.  It gives it a little tangy goodness, but if you don't like it leave it out. 

I serve this over wide buttered egg noodles, but you can serve it over mashed potatoes, or rice and it would be equally good.. I also add fresh mushrooms & onions, but you can omit them if you don't like.  Like I always say, adjust things to how you like them.  Make this today.. Enjoy

Beef tips & noodles

2 lbs cut up, beef stew meat
1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 8 oz. package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth
1 T Worchester sauce
1T Red wine
1/4 cup water
2T cornstarch
1 T. butter
1/3-1/2 cup sour cream (I usually start out with the 1/3 cup and if it needs more I add a little more)
**Seasonings of your choice ( I added pepper, seasoned salt, garlic & onion powder, dried parsley & a pinch of celery seed)

Cooked buttered egg noodles (Boil regular egg noodles, drain add butter, salt & pepper)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In large covered oven safe dish whisk together the mushroom soup, Worchester sauce,wine and beef broth.  Add mushrooms, onions, beef & seasonings mixing well breaking apart the meat cubes and coating everything with the sauce.  Cover the dish and cook for around 2-3 hours (stirring every hour). Remove from oven and stir well.  Mix water and cornstarch pour over beef mixture, stirring well.  Place back into the oven uncovered for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.  When sauce is bubbly and thickened remove from oven and add sour cream & butter stirring really well to make a creamy sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve over buttered cooked egg noodles.  Enjoy

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sausage queso dip

YUM!! Just yum.. where has sausage queso dip been all my life?? I have had regular old queso dip, and always thought yeah it's ok, but I could take it or leave it, might be my not loving cheese so much, and that's all I tasted was cheese.. (yes my sister Danielle wonders how I could be part of our family & not love cheese, but it's true I do not love cheese)... back to this dip, but add sausage and seasonings and I am all over this dip.. Even Jackson's says.. mom I LOVE it!!! Everyone at the table who was tasting it says, this is a winner, and make this again... I am thinking next time of sautéing a chopped up onion along with the sausage to add even more flavor, then deglazing the pan with a little white wine.. I love variations on things...

If you like things spicy, (I had children eating this dip) so I used mild rotel tomatoes, you can always use hot & spicy rotel tomatoes, and add a finely chopped jalapeno to the mix.  Also you could use hot and spicy sausage.  Speaking of sausage, I only like Bob Evans (in the white package), but use what you like.

 I had a small gang eating this (this would easily feed 8-10 guests, along with other party items), so you could easily double the recipe and feed a crowd.  This would be great to put into the crockpot on low along with the cooked sausage and melted in there and then kept warm in there, just make sure you stir it often. 

I served this with plain nacho chips, but you can use fritos, or scoops or this would be good with hunks of crusty bread for dipping.. YUM.  Use what you like..

I tried uploading the image of the finished product but cannot get this blogger website to cooperate.  I am going to be checking around and am moving from this blogger website to another site.  Too many problems and no solutions available.  So I will keep all of you informed of my new website hopefully soon.  Thanks for your patience.

As always make this today you will love it.....enjoy....

Sausage queso dip

1/2 lbs of Bob evans sausage (I buy the white package/roll kind)
1 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes w/green chilies (I used the mild kind)
1 16 oz package, Velvetta  cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp each onion & garlic powder
1/4 tsp parsley flakes
pinch of celery seeds
Plain nacho chips for scooping

In a large skillet brown the sausage breaking apart and cooking till no longer pink (do NOT drain the sausage), add rest of the ingredients (except nacho chips) turning heat down to low and stirring well.  Place lid on a cover dip, stirring very often until cheese is melted and dip is creamy and smooth.   Turn off the heat, and remove from burner.  Serve with nacho chips for dipping.. Enjoy

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mini frittata's cooked in muffin tins

Sorry I haven't posted in what seems like forever... I have had a very busy 2015, finished & graduated from college (yeah one thing off my bucket list:).  Had a much needed surgery and now onto recovery... So I'm back and hopefully you will see a little more of me now.

Now onto these yummy things... Eggs cooked in muffin tins are the new "fad".. I have seen them everywhere but I have to say they don't look so good.  Not much flavorings or toppings, most of the time plain eggs, which is fine say if your making a sandwich or something with some meat & cheese but plain eggs with no seasonings.. I vote NO!!  LOL 

These frittatas (what's a frittata  you say, basically it like a mixed up omelet).  It is a base of eggs, a little half & half, and whatever you like to put in it, like meat, veggies, cheese, etc. and seasonings and cooked.  It is so yummy and delicious.. I used scallions, red & orange peppers, fresh cut up spinach,cubed ham, spinach and topped with a little parmesan cheese.  So good, but bacon bits, cooked sausage, or polish sausage (most of the time it is fully cooked so just dice it up and your good to go), leftover cooked baked potatoes would be great, different kinds of cheese,  you get the idea.. It is also a great way to use up leftovers.  Roast beef, pork loin, chicken breast, any veggies leftover from last nights dinner.. a great way to get the kiddos to eat their veggies. 

Seasonings use what your family likes.  I like really flavorful things, so I used lots of seasonings. Same with cheese, I used parmesan but use what you like or have on hand, anything works. 

Mini Frittatas

7 eggs, cracked into a large measuring cup
1/4 cup half & half
Shredded parmesan cheese
Meat or your choice (I used small cubed ham)
Fresh spinach 1/2 cups small chopped
Fresh veggies of your choice small chopped ( I used scallions, red & orange pepper)
seasonings of your choice ( I used garlic & onion powder, seasoned salt, regular salt & pepper, parsley flakes )
Dash of hot sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins very well.

Divide the meat, veggies and spinach between muffin tins.  In large measuring cup ( I used a 4 cup pyrex one), I mixed the eggs with a fork, added the seasonings and half and half and mixed well.  I poured the mixture over the meat/veggies in each muffin cup filling about 1/2 way (the mixture will puff up so don't worry about covering the ingredients).  Top with shredded parmesan & put into the oven.  Cook for around 10-20 minutes (checking after the first 10, then in 5 minute increments till eggs are done), checking to see if the top is lightly browned and a knife inserted in comes out clean.  Remove from oven let cool a couple of minutes, run a knife around the edges of the frittatas in case they stick to the side and remove and put on a heat proof plate to cool.  Wrap and refrigerate any leftovers.  You can individually wrap and place these in the freezer after cooled as well, unwrap and microwave until warmed through.  Enjoy

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thai chicken lettuce wraps

Oh my gravy... Thai chicken lettuce wraps... I love lettuce wraps of any kind, throwing all kinds of delicious stuff inside a lettuce leaf..so good.. especially since I am trying to lose weight and eat  more veggies.  Boy when your paying attention it is not always easy to get 5-7 servings of fruit and veggies in a day.  Sometimes you only get 1-2 servings and the day is over with.  Not so with these yummy things. 

What they basically are is cooked chicken in a delicious, flavorful sauce with lots of fresh veggies, put together in a lettuce leaf.  My kids like the wraps in a flatbread, and my oldest son likes them in sheets of nori seaweed along with a lettuce leaf, so the varieties are endless. 

I was also thinking maybe next time I am thinking they would be good made into a salad with everything layered over lettuce, and a little extra sauce drizzled on top. 

The sauce ingredients are a mixture of sweet, savory, spicy and just plain flavorful.  You can add more vinegar, brown sugar,or more soy.. taste it and make any adjustments that you like.  Also, you can vary the types of veggies, I used red & yellow peppers, green onion, and then I take a little help from the store.  I buy bags of already shredded carrots, cabbage (think for coleslaw), and shredded radishes ( I try and keep these things cut up in the fridge to put together a quick salad, so they have multiple uses in my house.  I also cooked thin rice noodles in salted water and added them too.  I also used chopped up cocktail type peanuts, but you can leave them how they come outta the can, less chopping.  Also, you can use the same mixture and put into rice spring roll wrappers and they would make great spring rolls too.

   I used really lean ground chicken which makes me happy, cause the less I have to chop raw meat and worry about the contamination after affects makes me a happy girl.  But substitute whatever meat your family likes, even thinking Tofu would be good, or seafood too.  Whatever you choose, make these today Enjoy.

Thai chicken lettuce wraps

1 lb. lean ground chicken
couple of dashes of sesame oil
Veggies of your choice ( I used sliced seeded red & yellow peppers, julienned cucumbers, shredded carrots & radishes, 1 bunch of sliced green onions, tops removed,
2 T. sesame seeds
1 t olive oil
1/2 package thin rice noodles prepared as package directs
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt  & pepper

Chopped cocktail peanuts
Chopped fresh parsley
Bibb lettuce washed
Nori sheet (optional)
Flatbread (optional)

Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 brown sugar
1/3 cup hoison sauce
1 t Asian garlic chili sauce( can substitute a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a clove of minced garlic)
Dash of sesame oil
1 T molasses
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

Mix everything together and let sit to blend together.

In large skilled heat olive oil, add chicken, sesame oil,  pinch of red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and cook breaking up with a spoon until meat is no longer pink and is cooked through.  When cooked thru add 1/2 of the sauce stirring well, add sesame seeds and bringing up to a boil. Turn off heat and remove from heat.

To assemble, put a spoonful of the meat mixture onto the lettuce leaf (or nori sheet.or flatbread if using).  Add a small handful of the noodles, some of the veggies (making sure not to over fill, you need to be able to shut the leaf), then drizzle with a little of the remaining sauce, sprinkle peanuts and fresh parsley over the chicken and veggies.  Fold/Roll the lettuce (or nori sheet up) and eat.  Enjoy