Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Balls

No fancy intro here. I just have to say that these are awesome!

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (it's best to use a name brand such as Jif)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Melting Chocolate (I use the 70z. container of Baker's Dipping Chocolate)
Plastic wrap

1. Cream together peanut butter and butter until smooth.
2. Add powdered sugar and beat slowly until incorporated.
3. Spread peanut butter mixture on to plastic wrap, a layer about 1 inch thick. Cover with a second layer of plastic wrap and refriderate atleast 4 hours.
4. When firm, use a knife to cut flattened mixture into 1 inch squares. Quickly roll each square into a ball.
5. Place shaped balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Insert a toothpick into each and place in freezer until very firm.
6. Dip frozen peanut butter balls into melted chocolate. Allow chocolate to harden at room temperature or in the fridge if you just can't wait!

*It's best to try and roll peanut butter balls when they are very cold. If they become too messy, allow to chill longer and dust your hands with powdered sugar.
**You may as well double or triple this recipe. Take my word for it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cookie Cake

Who doesn't love to see a giant chocolate chip cookie sitting on the table in front of them!? Everyone loves a giant cookie! Try this, it's this is really delicious!

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2/4 cup brown sugar
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking oda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two 12 inch pizza pans. (or just grease one and plan to save half of the dough for later.)

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar, until smooth. Beat in the cream cheese, then the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Divide the dough in half and press each half onto a prepared pizza pan.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden at the edges. Cool completely in pans. Cut into wedges like a pizza and serve. Don't forget the frosting! Chocolate and or buttercream.

Monday, November 28, 2011


This recipe comes from Worldwide Ward Cookbook by Deanna Buxton.  It's original title is "Chapel Fudge" but we renamed it in honor of our toddler, King Henry V (well, Henry, but he's the fifth child and pretty much rules our kingdom).  We named it Budge in honor of Henry for two reasons:  (1)  when he tries to say "fudge" it comes out "budge", and (2) while it was cooling on the counter, he proceeded to dig into it with his hands, prompting an emergency bath!  Whatever it's called, it's good.  I'm not normally much of a fudge eater, but I really do like this recipe and plan to use it often.

4 cups sugar
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk (1 1/3 cups)
20 large marshmallows
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter
1 (12 oz) package semisweet chocolate chips

1.  In a large pot, cook sugar, milk, and marshmallows on medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  When mixture comes to a rolling boil, set timer for 10 minutes and continue stirring constantly.  (I had to reduce the heat a bit here as it start to burn just a tad.)  Remove from heat and add vanilla.
2.  Place butter and chocolate in a large mixer bowl.  Pour the hot mixture into this bowl, over the butter and chips.  Beat for 5 minutes.  (I used my Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment.)
3.  Spread into lightly buttered 9x13 pan and let cool.  Cut when set.  (This took several hours in the fridge.)

Makes 35-40 pieces of fudge

Source:  Worldwide Ward Cookbook by Deanna Buxton

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's In Your "Wallet?"

I was looking up information on for my upcoming lesson in Young Women and I saw this video for youth called "The Lost Purse."  Oh my goodness.  It really makes you think about what your "stuff" says about who you are.  Take a look at this video.  I, for one, am going to check my "purse" and see what I am putting out there about who I am.

"The Lost Purse"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hungry Jack Casserole

I made this hearty dish for a "Girls Night In" I hosted a few weeks ago and everyone seemed to like it (because a few actually said so). I recommend sides that go well with BBQ--like broccoli slaw and potato salad.


1 lb. ground beef

1 t salt

16-oz. can pork and beans

3/4 C Kraft BBQ sauce

2 T brown sugar

1 T instant minced onion (I used dehydrated)

1 can flaky biscuits

1 C grated cheese (I used cheddar)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Brown beef; drain. (Remember not to pour the grease down your sink!)

2. Stir in salt, beans, BBQ sauce, sugar, and onion. Heat until bubbly; pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.

3. Cut biscuits in half. Place cut side down around edge of casserole.

4. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until biscuits are golden (20-30 minutes).

Source: my mom

Creamy Italian Tomato Sauce

Here's another new recipe from the Worldwide Ward Cookbook that I reviewed here a little while back.  I'm not a big fan of red sauces, in general, so when I saw a creamy version I was very interested.  It's got a nice flavor and is a perfect replacement for marinara or spaghetti sauce.  It also made a LOT.  I served my family a generous portion of rotini pasta and still had two quarts to spare.  Those went straight to the freezer for future meals.  My next adventure with this sauce will be to try it on pizza in place of traditional pizza sauce!

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. dried basil
pinch of red pepper flakes
3 medium onions, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
dash salt
3 (29 ounce) cans tomato sauce
7 ounces Gouda cheese
1 pint heavy cream

1.  Heat olive oil and butter in large pot over medium to medium-high heat.  Add basil, red pepper flakes, onion, garlic, and salt and cook until onion is tender.
2.  Add tomato sauce and simmer over medium heat for at least 20 minutes.
3.  Cut Gouda cheese into chunks and add to sauce, stirring until melted.  Add heavy cream and remove from heat, stirring until well combined.
4.  Serve over pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Source:  adapted from Worldwide Ward Cookbook

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ranch Slow Cooker Chicken

I love my crock pot.  I love how easy it is to throw a few ingredients in it in the morning and have a yummy dinner that night. I love how 'homey' this dish tastes. I know you'll enjoy it too!

Ranch Slow Cooker Chicken
2 pounds chicken (you could easily substitute with pork chops)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 ranch dressing packet (or 3 Tbsp. if you have the shaker)

1. Combine soups and seasoning in your slow cooker.
2. Add chicken, mix until chicken is coated.
3. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.

To serve, prepare some mashed potatoes, make your little pool in the potatoes and fill it with this yummy goodness. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grilled Asparagus

These look so much better than mine!
Image by Tina Phillips/

I bought 2 lbs. of fresh asparagus this weekend to have with some leftover brisket--hmmm...need to post that recipe one day--anyway, it looked kind of sketchy but I got the best two bunches I could at Walmart.  I planned on grilling them on my George Foreman grill but knew they would just roll off and there were too many spears, so then I remembered that I bought a stove top grill last year and had not used it but once.  Well, here was a perfect opportunity to try it again.  It worked perfectly!  And OhMyGosh...that asparagus was awesome.  Here is what I did...

Fresh asparagus spears
Olive Oil
Sea salt
Garlic Salt

1.  Wash and trim ends of asparagus stalks. 

2.  Place in a gallon-size plastic reclosable bag along with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a few shakes of garlic salt. 

3.   Close the bag and "moosh" the asparagus around in the bag and get it well-coated with the oil mixture.

4.   Place on a preheated stove top grill and sprinkle with the salt.  Grill until the asparagus is just flexible but not mushy.  You want it to have a little crunch when you bite into it.  You can also just saute the asparagus in a non-stick skillet if you don't want the grilled effect, but really...grilled is sooooo good...

Source: Original

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mini Pumpkin Spice Cakes

Let me begin by saying that this recipe was created after I tried THIS recipe by our very own Kara.  Can I say YUM!!!  It turned out we wanted more and the only box of cake mix I had was Spice Cake.  Hmmm...I thought.  And then remembering a cake recipe my sister gave me I decided to give it a shot!

1 box of Spice Cake mix (I used Duncan Hines) 
1 15oz can pumpkin

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Mix together the cake mix and canned pumpkin
  3. Drop by spoonfulls (about 1T) onto a cookie sheet, slightly flatten
  4. Bake 7-10 min, remove from oven and cool completely
4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 Stick (1/4 Cup) Butter or Margarine, softened
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 - 2.5 Cups Powdered Sugar
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until nice and creamy
  2. When the cookies are completely cooled, smother the frosting between 2 cookies and...voila! A fall version of the "oreo"!   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fried Rice

This is my fried rice recipe. It is still a work in progress. But, I thought I'd share it now since it was especially yummy this go round. I think the trick was cooking my rice in beef broth. We love this stuff. Its easy and filling!

3 cups rice, cooked and cooled
1-2 cups of beef broth

3-4 slices of bacon
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp. onion, chopped fine
1/3 c. carrots, chopped into pea size pieces
1/3 c. frozen peas
1/2 cup ham, chopped pea size pieces
(or package of chopped ham for salads and use half)
1-2 eggs, (your preference)
low sodium soy sauce, to taste
1-2 scallions, chopped
garlic powder
onion powder

Cook rice according to directions of package. BUT, use beef broth for part (or all) of the liquid when cooking the rice. Set aside, and leave the lid off of the pot. You want the rice to cool! You could even dump it into a baking dish and spread it out so it cools quicker.

Prepare all ingredients and have them ready to add to the pan.

Cook bacon in a BIG pan. Remove the bacon and set aside. Lower temperature and add the garlic and onion. Saute. Then add the rice to the pan. (if you need to, add a bit of extra bacon grease so it doesn't stick) Stir the rice, incorporating the garlic and onion. Add in the carrots, peas, and ham. Stir. Push all ingredients to one side of the pan, making room to scramble your egg. Add egg to the space provided and stir quickly. When done, stir all the rice mixture together. Add some salt, pepper to taste and stir. Add in a sprinkling of garlic powder, and onion powder and stir. (just sprinkle them over the top...but easy! not too much!) Also, add in some soy sauce to taste. You can continue to stir this in the pan on low until the carrots and peas are to your liking. We like them with a bite to them. Serve with a bit of scallions on top! Delicous!

This is even better as leftovers!

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Mexican and pasta.......a win/win recipe. I used a creamy salsa dip instead of plain salsa and it gave the recipe a nice flavor. My family loved it. I have a chicken version of Mexican stuffed shells that I created. I will blog that at a later date. Enjoy!


1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
3 green onions
sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 350. In a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely. While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don't stick together.

2. Pour salsa on bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9x13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed. Top with any condiments you'd like (green onions, black olives, etc.). Serve with sour cream.

Source: Adapted from "A Pinch of This & That

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

My husband LOVES anything mint and chocolate.  So I recently made this for him from The Ice Cream Deck.  It was a big hit, especially with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce.  Hot fudge would also be great and be lend a little more sweetness.  It was a little strong for me, so next time I'll use half the peppermint extract (1 tsp instead of 2).  I also think I might try semisweet chocolate in place of bittersweet, just for fun.
2 cups half-and-half
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1-2 tsp. peppermint extract
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated or chopped

1.  Prepare a large bowl or pan with ice water.  This will be used as an ice bath for the custard you make.  The depth of this ice bath should be about half the depth of your double boiler.
2.  In the top of your double boiler, heat the half-and-half over simmering water until steaming.  Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until blended, then whisk in the sugar.  Whisk some of the steaming half-and-half into the egg mixture.  Then pour the whole thing into the double boiler.
3.  Stir and cook over the simmering water until the mixture forms a custard and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and place the top of your double boiler in the ice bath.  Stir occasionally until it cools to room temperature.
4.  Strain into a container and stir in the cream and the extract.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
5.  Freeze according to ice cream maker instructions.  When almost frozen, add the chopped or grated chocolate and allow to churn until it's mixed in well (about 15 seconds).
6.  Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Makes about 1 quart of ice cream.

Source:  The Ice Cream Deck

Friday, November 18, 2011

Basics: Mashed Potatoes

This is an incredibly basic dish to prepare, but as I talk more and more to friends of mine, I'm shocked how many of them don't know how make mashed potatoes from scratch. I admit - I usually always have a box of instant mashed potatoes in my pantry, but man oh man, real mashed potatoes taste so much better! They are so easy too!

6 medium potatoes, peeled (2 pounds)
1/3 - 1/2 C. milk
2 Tbsp. - 1/4 C. butter (REAL butter!)
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper

1. Place diced potatoes in a 2-qt. sauce pan, add enough water just to cover potatoes. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain. Return potatoes to pan and shake pan over low heat to dry the potatoes. (this will give you fluffier potatoes)
2. Mash potatoes in pan (if it's a non-stick pan, and plan to use a hand mixer, transfer to a mixing bowl). Mash until no lumps remain. Add milk in a little bit at a time. Continue to mash potatoes until you reach your desired consistency.
3. Add butter, salt, and pepper. Mash vigorously until light and fluffy.

Seriously, how easy is that! Take the pledge to make mashed potatoes from scratch! You'll be glad you did.

Quick Stromboli

Last Sunday was my daughter's birthday and she requested her favorite meal, Stromboli, for dinner. I love it because it's super easy and reheats well.

The original recipe called for olives and red pepper flakes, but I have small children so those got nixed. I generally make two, even though there's only four of us, so we're guaranteed leftovers for lunches or another dinner later in the week. Plus I can put black olives on one for the adults and leave the olives out of the kids'.

[Adapted recipe]
16 oz. loaf frozen bread dough, thawed, or pizza dough
8 oz. lean ham, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pitted ripe black olives, sliced

1. Grease large baking sheet.
2. Roll out dough to a large square.
3. Layer ham on top of rolled out dough and top with cheese and olives.
4. Roll starting at one of the long ends, sealing the ends.
5. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375° for 25 minutes.
6. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

[Original recipe]
16 oz. loaf frozen wheat or white bread dough, thawed
8 oz. lean ham, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pitted ripe black olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp reduced-fat milk
1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil, grease foil. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll bread dough to a 15x8-inch rectangle. (If dough is difficult to roll out, cover and let rest a few minutes.)
2.Top dough rectangle with ham to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Top ham with olives, mozzarella cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes. Brush edges with water.
3. Starting with a long end, roll into a spiral, pinching edges to seal. Pinch ends and tuck under.
4. Place seam side down, on prepared baking pan. Brush surface with milk.
5. Using a sharp knife, make shallow cuts diagonally at 2-inch intervals along the top to allow steam to escape.
6. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
7. Bake in a 375° oven for 25-30 minutes or until brown. (If necessary, cover loosely with foil after 20 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.)

Source: Better Homes and Gardens' New Dieters' Cookbook (2003)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Boyd's Famous Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

OK, so maybe these cookies aren't famous. But they should be!  We eat them all year round, but during the fall they especially hit the spot!

2 C pureed pumpkin (or one 15 oz can--That's what we use.)
2/3 - 3/4 C Vegetable Oil (I use closer to 2/3 C)
2 tsp Cinnamon
4 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda ("Baking Powder AND Soda?" you say? Don't ask me; IT WORKS!)
2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla
4 Cups Flour
2 Cups Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Walnuts (opt)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a stand mixer, add ALL ingredients, one by one, and mix on Medium speed until fully incorporated. Really. That's all you do.
3. Drop heaping spoonfuls 1 - 2 Inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until springy to the touch.
5. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack or some such device--we use a cheesecloth on our counter.


Source: By AWESOME Father-in-Law, Boyd.


Eventually Chicken Soup

Yes.  That is what it is called.  Here's the deal...I put some frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a can of cream of mushroom soup, about 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables, sea salt and fresh ground pepper in the crock pot before church and cooked it on high for about 4 hours.  When we got home it was like a chicken stew.  It was okay, but needed help.  The next night I added cilantro, a can of chopped green chilies and some farfalle pasta, some kosher salt and water and let it cook until the pasta was done.  Now that was good and it ended up being a soup.  We ate the last of it tonight--glad there was enough left to get a picture for our blog.

4 frozen chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used Campbell's Healthy Request)
1 1/2 - 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 small can chopped green chilies
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups farfalle pasta (bow tie)

1.  Place chicken breasts, soup, vegetables, salt and pepper in a crock pot.  Cook on high for 4 hours.

2.  Add chilies, cilantro, pasta and enough hot water to desired amount and cook until pasta is done.   

Source: Original Recipe

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baked French Toast

It's not my day to post a recipe, but I couldn't help sharing this absolutely delicious recipe with y'all!  It.  is.  so.  good.

I found it last night while searching for a make-ahead recipe for breakfast (I'm trying to get as much done the night before as possible so I can get all my exercising in early....which is a good thing cuz this ain't no diet-friendly recipe!).  I started searching Pinterest for overnight breakfasts, but then thought, "Oooh, I bet P-Dub has something good on her site!"  I was not disappointed.

I told my kids this morning that we were trying a new recipe from Pioneer Woman.  My oldest daughter said, "Oh, then it'll be really good."

And it is.

Really good.

Like, make you wanna slap yo'self good.

1 loaf sourdough bread (I used Pepperidge Farm, 1.5 pound loaf)
8 eggs
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces (1/4 lb.)

1.  Grease a 9x13 pan with butter.  Tear bread into bite-size chunks and place evenly in the pan.
2.  Mix together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Pour evenly over bread.  Cover tightly and store in the fridge for several hours (I put mine in was about 12 hours).
3.  In a medium bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until it all looks nice and crumbly (like small pebbles, according to P-Dub).  Place in a ziploc bag and put in fridge.
4.  When ready to bake, take pan and bag out of fridge.  Remove wrap and evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees (or 45 minutes if you like it more soft and pudding-like).

Update:  IMPORTANT!!!!!!!  You must use a dense bread or this dish will turn out soggy.  After getting a few comments below about soggy outcomes, I figured I'd better make sure you understand that.  You can't use regular ol' sandwich bread because it will NOT soak up the egg mixture!  I highly recommend starting with the bread listed in the ingredients above as this has ALWAYS turned out perfectly for me.
  • You can serve with syrup, but we made a quick glaze with powdered sugar and milk.  Delish!
  • If you don't have brown sugar, mix 1/2 Tbsp. molasses with 1/2 cup sugar until well blended.
  • Like I said, you can bake it for less time if you like it softer, but I love how the top gets crispy when it's baked for an hour.  The underneath part is still somewhat soft.  One hour in my 350-oven was just right.
  • The directions said to scoop out, but I wanted to be able to control the portions so I cut it into 12 servings (they were large, and this is rich, so you could serve other breakfast dishes and use this as more of a side dish and get 24 servings).
  • If you have a hot oven, cover the dish with foil for the last 15 minutes or so if you notice that it's starting to get too brown (I have never had to do this, though).
  • If you don't have a pastry cutter, use two knives moving away from each other to cut in the butter for the topping.  Do NOT use a fork to mash!  It will be a globby mess!

Makes 12 large servings

Source:  slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Niki's Beans and Dawgs

This is one of my kids favorite meals. And mine too... because its super easy.

2 packages of all beef Hotdogs
8 slices of bacon, cut in 1/2
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 -2 cans of baked beans (depends on how many people you are feeding)
1-2 cans stewed tomatoes, pour into dish and cut them in small pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c brown sugar
kosher salt

Mix together all ingredients and pour into a baking dish. Season to taste, sweeter or saltier. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap a half piece of bacon around a hotdog and place ontop of beans. Continue with all bacon and dawgs.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes ...or until desired crispiness of bacon and dawgs are reached.

Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes With Coconut Frosing

Honestly, these are some of the best cupcakes on the planet! The salt in the frosting is genius! The secret to these moist cupcakes? Reduced coconut milk.


Reduced coconut milk:
(2) 13-14 oz cans unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)


For reduced coconut milk:

1. Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep sauce pan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes.

2. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes;

1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350. Line eighteen 1/3 cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth.

2. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg.

3. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended.

4. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.

For frosting:

1. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.

2. Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2 inch plain border.) Sprinkle with coconut.

Source: Epicurious

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spring Green Risotto

Whenever I heard "risotto" I always figured it meant "super complicated fancy food".  But when I saw Ina Garten make it on Barefoot Contessa, I knew it was as easy as it looked.  It just takes a little babysitting on the stove.  And it is SO worth it!  Such an amazing comfort food.  It's one of my favorite dishes EVER! We eat it as a meal, but you could have smaller portions and use it as a side.  The key ingredient, in my opinion, is homemade chicken stock.  It just improves this dish so much, giving it a depth of flavor unequaled in any store-bought stock, broth, or bouillon cube!

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
3 cups chopped leeks (about 2 leeks, using white and green parts)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 quarts simmering chicken stock (homemade if you can at all help it!)
1 pound thin asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1 1/2" lengths
10 ounces frozen peas
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving if desired)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh chives

1.  Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and saute for 5-6 minutes until tender.  Add the rice and stir till all the rice has been coated with oil/butter.
2.  Add a ladle of chicken stock and simmer over medium to low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the stock has been absorbed.  Continue adding chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be nearly absorbed before adding more.
3.  When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the asparagus, peas, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, until rice is tender but still firm (another 10-15 minutes).
4.  Whisk lemon juice and mascarpone cheese together in a small bowl.  When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture, Parmesan cheese, and chives.  Allow to set aside a few minutes before serving.

Source:  adapted from Ina Garten's recipe

Buttermilk Syrup

This goes great with the School Morning Pancake recipe. When my extended family was together for Christmas last year this became a quick favorite. Everyone was asking for the recipe. Definitely not a diet worthy recipe so what special occasion will this become a tradition for you and your family?

Buttermilk Syrup
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

1-Melt butter in a pot on stove-top.
2-Add sugar and buttermilk.

3-Whisk, and bring to a boil.
4-Take off of the heat.
5-Add vanilla and baking soda.

*Refrigerate any leftovers in a glass container. It will "set" and is much easier to warm back up by sticking a glass container in a pan full of water on the stove.

Source: Momzoo Blog

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mormon Morsels: Don't Forget to Pray

found on Pinterest
A favorite pastime for me lately has been collecting inspiring and motivational quotes on Pinterest.  I like the ones that, when you read them for the first time, they just kinda getcha right in the heart.  This one got me good.

I do forget to pray.  I don't intentionally say no to prayer.  I just get so flustered and busy and task-driven that I forget the essentials sometimes.  Lately, more often than I'd care to admit.

This was a wake up call.  (Get it?  Wake up call?  Cuz it talks about God waking you up and stuff?)  I must seem like the most ungrateful daughter in the world to Him sometimes, constantly worried about what I don't have and not being mindful enough of what I do have.

But God didn't forget about me today.  He let me wake up to have another chance to make more out of myself than I did the day before.  The very least I can do is to thank him for yet another chance.

Prayer is often a struggle for me.  I don't know why, exactly.  I just know that other gospel things come easier to me than prayer.  But I have learned a lot from Elder David A. Bednar's General Conference talk entitled "Pray Always".  It's one of those talks you listen to and think "yep, I'll need to be hearing that one at least once a year."  His talks are always so methodical and easy to follow.  He outlined three things we can remember that will improve our daily prayer:
  1. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings.
  2. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude.
  3. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.
Consult the Lord in all things, express gratitude, and pray for others.  A simple formula for more meaningful prayer.  But the first step for me is remembering to do it!!!

I'd be interested to hear what y'all do to help yourself remember to get on your knees.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

This is for all you pumpkin lovers!  

1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cup old fashioned oats 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8 dish with Pam (or other non-stick spray).  I used a 9x13 dish.
2.  Pour pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.  Using a whisk or hand blender, mix ingredients  until smooth.  Add milk.
3.  Combine oats with pumpkin mixture.  Pour into prepared baking dish.
4.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  When 15 minutes are left, remove foil.

*Top with additional sugar, syrup, whipped cream or nuts!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pink Milk

My kids love Charlie and Lola, a couple of cute British kids that used to come on the Disney Channel. We own pretty much every book and DVD on those two. One of Charlie and Lola favorite drinks is pink milk.

I found a recipe which involved ice cream, milk and strawberries, i.e., ingredients I did not have. So I adapted the chocolate milk recipe below. For pink milk, simply substitute strawberry powder for the chocolate powder (and yes, I do prefer Nesquik).

Pink milk
1 quart water
3/4 cup dry powdered milk
1/2 cup strawberry milk mix

Whisk together dry ingredients in the bottom of a pitcher. Slowly add the warm water as you are stirring. Chill for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Adapted from: I Can't Believe It's Food Storage

Chocolate Milk

My kids love chocolate milk. I mean, whose kid doesn't? But let's face it, milk is expensive. So to save a little dough I started keeping chocolate milk (made with non-instant powdered milk) in the fridge.

Chocolate Milk
1 quart warm water*
3/4 cup non-instant dry powdered milk
1/2 cup chocolate milk mix (We prefer Nesquik.)

Mix the dry ingredients in the bottom of the pitcher, then stir in the warm water. Chill for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving

No one has complained that it doesn't taste as good as fresh milk (just don't let them see you mixing it!). Go ahead and double it; it's gonna disappear fast.

*Crystal Godfrey claims that the powder will dissolve easily in any temperature water. I don't like to argue with the experts, but I have been much more successful mixing it with warm water and then refrigerating.

Source: I Can't Believe It's Food Storage

Semi-homemade Caramel Apples

I love caramel apples, like REALLY love them. I've never made them, but decided that this was the year. It was so easy and fun. It'll definitely become a yearly tradition in our home.

Ingredients Needed:
- Apples, make sure they are really cold. 
- Kraft Caramel bits (one bag per 5 apples)
- 2 Tbsp. milk per bag of caramels
- Popsicle sticks
- White chocolate chips (I used Nestles)
- Bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Nestles)
- 1 Tbsp. of Shortening per cup of melted chocolate
- Cinnamon sugar

In just a few steps, you  can have chocolate-shop worthy caramel apples.

First, CLEAN your apples. My apples came from the grocery store - which means tons of wax and who knows what chemicals.

 I use a fruit/veggie wash to rid my produce of the gunk that's on them at the store. I highly recommend this brand. I get it at Trader Joe's.  Nice scrub with this wash, and it's completely noticeable that a lot of the wax is washed away.

Once the apples are washed, make sure they become completely dry. Caramel will not stick to wet apples! While drying - stick them back in the fridge to make sure they are extra cold.

While the apples are drying empty the bag of caramels into a pot on the stove. Add 2 Tbs. of milk per bag of caramels. Cook on medium-low. Stir often. Do not allow your caramel to boil. (it'll take a while to melt)

Once the caramel is melted transfer to a smaller container. I used a glass 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Doing this will make it easier to get the caramel higher on the apple.

Once you have the craft sticks stuck in your apples... dip your apples! Shake off excess caramel, use a butter knife to scrape it off the bottom. You don't want too heavy of a coat. Transfer to either wax paper or a greased cookie sheet.

Let the caramel set.
 While the caramel is setting melt your chocolate (and shortening) in either a double boiler or in the microwave. I used the microwave. Cook it 30 seconds at a time, stir. Transfer white chocolate to a smaller container for dipping.

For an Apple Pie style caramel apple - dip the caramel apple in white chocolate, scrape of excess. Then while chocolate is still wet - shake cinnamon sugar on the chocolate.

For a Chocolate Lover's Apple, transfer white and bittersweet chocolate to plastic bags. Cut a TINY corner off and drizzle the chocolate over the apple.

Let the apples completely cool and set in the fridge. I allowed them to set overnight.

Then... most importantly.... ENJOY! These are great neighbor gifts. I wrapped each apple up in cellophane wrap and tied them with a ribbon. Make sure to chill them until you deliver or eat them.

And please.... use a knife to cut into them! Save your precious teeth!! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meatball Subs

Mr. Blue Eyes and I love these sandwiches! The meatballs are pretty run of the mill, but I love something that can be used in many recipes and stores or freezes easily. Sometimes I make the meatballs and freeze them for later use. SO great!

Ingredients for the Meatballs:
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 C Bread Crumbs (we use Italian Seasoned)
1 egg
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

Additions for the Sandwiches:
1 (32 oz) Jar of your favorite Spaghetti Sauce (We use Classico, Tomato and Basil)
3-6 Hoagie Rolls (We slice three, and eat them open)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Mozzarella is great, too!)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a Medium sized mixing bowl, mix all the Meatball ingredients together by hand.
3. Roll into balls. I make mine with a cookie scoop--heaping.

4. Place about 1" apart on a cookie sheet. (We use lean meat. If you use higher fat content, you may want to put these in a cake pan.)
5. Bake for 10 - 13 minutes.

6. After removing the meatballs from the oven, turn it to Broil--500 degrees--and move your rack up to the highest setting.
7. After letting them cool a bit (or not--depending how rushed you are. Just be aware that they may break a little if you handle them too much when they're hot.), add them with your spaghetti sauce in a sauce pan. Warm them up over Medium heat, about 3 - 5 minutes, stirring gently.

8. Halve your hoagie rolls lengthwise, place them on a cookie sheet, and spoon some meatballs over the bread BOTTOMS (if you're going to Sandwich it. We do tops and bottoms because we eat them open)--enough to get a bite of meat when you chomp into it.
9. Sprinkle some cheese over each sandwich half and place on the top rack under the broiler until the cheese is nice and melted, about 3 minutes. (Don't over bake!!) Serve hot.

Source: A family recipe


Apple Cobbler

Back in 1992 we moved from Winterville to Wilson, NC so that Mike wouldn't have a 45 minute commute to work before the crack of dawn.  We had the most wonderful real estate agent helping us find a home.  Talk about service after the sale!  We moved into our  home in the summer and come Fall she brought several beautiful mums for me to put on my front steps.  Not long after that, she brought me the best apple cobbler I have ever had--she had made several for a church function and just thought I would like one--oh yeah!.  I called her and got the recipe and have used it all these years as a go-to, quick, yummy dessert for when I am in a hurry or when the family begs for this dish.  Sometimes I call this Apple Crisp, but Bea Newton--my realtor and friend--calls it a cobbler.  Whatever you call it, I call it scrumptious!  You will probably have everything on hand except maybe the apples.  Go out right now and buy some Fujis or Galas or Honeycrisps.  Just make this and enjoy!  And if you are ever in Wilson, run over to First Wilson Properties and say hey to Bea for me, if she hasn't retired or isn't on one of her many mission trips to a Third World country.  What a lady!

4 large apples, peeled and sliced
Cinnamon, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Spray a 9x13 (or square) pan with cooking spray.  Add the apples and sprinkle generously with cinnamon and brown sugar (I get pretty heavy-handed here).
3.  Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl--this will be your crust.  Break the egg into this mixture and stir with a fork until crumbly.  Stir in nuts.
4.  Sprinkle crust mixture on top of apples.  Pour melted butter over crust.
5.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

SOURCE:  Bea Newton, realtor extraordinaire!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Salisbury Steak

I can probably count on one hand just how many school luches I actually consumed. I was convinced that they were all "icky!" I can even remember how terrible the cafeteria smelled on salisbury steak day. Now that I'm a grown-up, I have decided to give certain foods another try. I found this recipe while searching through food blogs one day and after reading over the list of ingredients, I figured I was brave enough to give it a try. I was completely surprised that it was actually good, very good!

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 package Lipton's Onion Soup mix
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 package brown gravy mix, plus the required amount of water called for on the back
1/2 cup sour cream
1, 8 oz. package fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)

1. Mix together ground beef, onion soup mix, bread crumbs and egg. Shape into 5 patties.
2. Fry patties in a skillet until brown, about 10 minutes on each side.
3. While the patties are cooking, mix together the dry gravy mix, water and sour cream.
4. Spray a 9x9 inch baking dish (or whatever you may have that's about that size) with nonstick spray and arrange patties in a pan.
5. Cover patties with gravy mixture and sliced mushrooms.
6. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, turning patties halfway through.

* These are best served with rice or mashed potatoes.

Source: Mommy's Kitchen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cheesy Breadsticks

These are just plain good! This is the same dough as used in my taco pizza that I posted a few weeks back. They are perfect!

1 tsp. active dry yeast
1-1/2 cup warm water
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cups of olive oil
1 cup monterey jack cheese, grated
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
a good marinara sauce, optional

Mix yeast with warm water and set aside for 8-10 minutes. mix flour, salt, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. With speed on low, drizzle in yeast/water mixture. Allow to mix until totally combined. Cover bowl with a towel and set bowl in a warm, draft free place. Allow to rise for 1-2 hours.
Place overn rack in the bottom position of oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Remove half of the pizza dough from teh bowl. (save remaining dough or make more bread sticks!) With hands, spread pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet, making sure its relatively thin.
Sprinkle grated cheeses over the dough and bake for 9-12 minutes. Serve with or without marinara sauce.

Good Morning Pumpkin Pancakes

Really......I do try so hard not to be obsessed with pumpkin! This week I made pumpkin mac and cheese, pumpkin hot chocolate and these pumpkin pancakes that I've been making for decades. I like to put mini (as well as many) chocolate chips in them too! Don't use regular size ones because it overwhelms the star of the show.........the pumpkin of course!


2 Cups biscuit mix
2 T. packed light brown sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 t. ground allspice
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 T. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla


1. In large mixer bowl combine biscuit mix, sugar, cinnamon and allspice.

2. Add evaporated milk, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth.

3. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter onto heated and lightly greased griddle. Cook until top surface
is bubbly and edges are dry. Turn, cook until golden.

Source: Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wiener Schnitzel

This is a German dish my father learned how to make on his mission to Austria. I ate it frequently at my house as a child, and recently rediscovered it.

Serves 6
6 pork loin cutlets (or boneless pork chops)
1/4 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 T. milk
3/4 C. dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. shortening

1. Pound pork thin to about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut small slits around the edges to prevent curling as it cooks.
2. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
3. In a second dish, combine the egg and milk.
4. In a third dish, combine the breadcrumbs and paprika.
5. Coat both sides of the pork cutlets with flour mix, then egg mix, then breadcrumb mix.
6. Heat the shortening in a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the coated cutlets in the skillet 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

Source: My father, who has been known to wear a lederhosen.