Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Cake

This is a really easy recipe. It requires little effort with a big payoff! This is delicous!

Cake batter:
3 cup a.p.flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla flavor
1/2 cup butter, melted

Cinnamon batter:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP a.p. flour
1 TBSP. cinnamon

2 cup powdered sugar
5 TBSP. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all cake batter ingredients together except for butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and then pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Mix the cinnamon batter together. Drop by TBSP fulls all over the cake batter. With a knife, swirl together the two batters. Do not over mix! You want to see the marble effect when you slice it after baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. Watch it. You don't want to over cook it. You will need to touch it or insert a toothpick to check when its done. Prepare the glaze and set it aside. While its cake is warm pour the glaze over it and let it cool. This is sooo good with a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Pasta

This recipe has all the quintessential Italian ingredients to satisfy your cravings and is easy peasy to boot!


3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup roasted red bell pepper (fresh or jarred)
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. penne pasta (I like to use the miniature version)
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional


1. Place garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.

2. Add Parmesan, red pepper, basil leaves, salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined.

3. With motor running, add olive oil through the feed tube and process until incorporated. Set

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Add the pesto to the
pasta and stir to combine. Stir in heavy cream if desired for a creamier sauce. Heat until
warmed through.

Source: Picky Palate

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuscan Pork Chops

Let's be honest with each other, ok? Pork chops don't always turn out that great. They can be tough, easily overcooked and bland. Today I am rescuing the pork chop. This recipe has amazing flavor and texture, and put pork chops back on the dinner menu at our house. Before I get to the recipe, here is a link to a tutorial on how to finger test the doneness of meat:

Remember that pork needs to be cooked all the way through. I would recommend cooking on a cast iron skillet if you have one because it retains it's heat well and allows you to turn the stove off completely and still have warmth for your pork chop to finish cooking through.

4 Servings
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste

1 large tomato, sliced into chunks, OR pint of grape tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 T dried basil
2 tsp. of italian salad dressing OR balsamic vinegar
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook until golden brown. Remove onions from pan and set aside.
2. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil to the hot skillet. Season pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and place in skillet. Seer about 2 -3 minutes on first side until browned. Turn and seer on second side for about 2-3 minutes, then turn the temperature down to medium-low or (off if using cast iron) Test for doneness and cover for about 2-4 minutes more (testing for doneness often). When the meat is done, remove from pan and keep warm under some foil.
3. Return the heat to medium. Heat remaining oil in the skillet. Return onions to skillet, and stir in tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Cook and stir about 3 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender. Mix in dressing or balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Top chops with the onion and tomato mixture, and sprinkle with feta cheese to serve.

Source: adapted from an allrecipes.com recipe

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Choose The Right

At Church I have the amazing opportunity to work with the children ages 18 months - 12 years old. This year when we were planning out everything and all the new materials were being delivered, I was thrilled to see that the new Theme for 2012 was "Choose the Right."

Many people are familiar with this little ring and what it stands for. If you've never heard about it, well... today is your lucky day!

The Ring and symbol was brought about in the mid 1960's. The Church wanted something to help the children of the church to have a good moral code. Enter, the CTR Ring. The shield is to remind us to "shield" us from temptation. The green background was given to remind us of the evergreen tree, a tree that remains constant as seasons change. "CTR" stands for Choose the Right. We are to do the right thing, in every place and in every situation. We have been given this wonderful gift of agency, and we are to use it wisely.

I love this goal! There is a song that goes along with this theme, the very end I just love.... "Choose the Right way, and be happy.... I must always Choose the Right!"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Is that a black and white photograph of food? Why, yes, it is. Because whipped cream is white, anyway.

My husband has recently had a hankering for strawberry shortcake. So at Food Lion today, I was going to buy some whipped cream in a tub from the frozen section--but then I looked at the ingredients. Cream was not one of them. In fact, the main ingredient was water. So I decided I'd whip my own cream.

1 C heavy whipping cream
3 T confectioners' sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract

1. Chill a small mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator ahead of time.

2. Using your chilled bowl and beaters, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until soft peaks form. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: Do not overwhip your cream or it will start becoming runny.

Strawberry Sauce

Yummerz...and it can do so many things...

1 pint (which is 2 C or 32 oz.) strawberries
1/3 C white sugar
1 t almond or vanilla extract

1. Wash strawberries and remove stems.

2. Combine berries, sugar, and extract in medium saucepan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, constantly stir/break up the strawberries. Allow to simmer for five minutes as you continue to stir and break up the berries.

3. Once it's been five minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool enough to transfer mixture to blender. Pulse to desired consistency.

I didn't put this batch in the blender because I was making it for use in strawberry shortcake, and my husband likes the chunks. But other times, when I use the blender to truly make it a sauce, I like to use it for strawberry lemonade/limeade. See the source for some other usage ideas and for a picture of it with a thinner consistency.

Source: Kate from Our Best Bites

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ground Beef Chili

My favorite grocery store (Publix) often has meal demonstrations with samples to try. They also conveniently have all the ingredients ready to pick up right next to the station. I swung in to get a few items, and came out with a whole meal ready to cook. This chili is great. Originally, it has a good bit of a kick to it, I love that, but my husband's tummy doesn't... so I tamed it down a bit. The leftovers were great over baked potatoes too!

You can cook this fast or slow. Both variations are included below.

Ground Beef Chili
Serves 8

1 onion, coarsely chopped  (my husband doesn't like onions, so I substituted onion powder, tasted great!)
1 1/2 lb ground chuck beef
3 tablespoons chili powder (I only used 2 T.)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (10.75-oz) can condensed tomato soup
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes/sweet onions, undrained (I used regular diced tomatoes to tame the spice a little) 
1 (10-oz) can milder diced tomatoes/green chiles, undrained (Ro-tel Brand)
1 (16-oz) can chili beans in mild sauce, undrained)  (Bush's Brand)
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained

Preheat large saucepan on medium-high 2–3 minutes.
Place beef, chili powder, seasoned salt, pepper, and one-half of the onions in pan; cook 4–5 minutes, stirring to crumble meat, or until meat is brown and no pink remains.
Stir in remaining ingredients, including remaining one-half onions.
Bring to a boil, stirring often.
Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 10 more minutes to blend flavors. Serve.

Slow Cooker Variation
Combine everything, except beef, cook on low 4-6 hours. About 10 minutes before serving, brown the beef then stir into chili.

I served it with some cheddar cheese and sour cream along with some Corn Muffins on the side. YUM!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spinach Dip

BEWARE: Once you take this dip to a party, it's the only thing your friends will ask for in the future. It is THAT GOOD! And I'm not even a Swiss Cheese fan. I mean, LOOK at all that cheesey goodness!

2 (9 oz) packages of Creamed Spinach*, thawed (found in the frozen veggie section)
3 2/3 Cups Shredded Swiss Cheese
3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cups Sour Cream
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Loaf Sour Dough Bread

1. Mix all ingredients, except for the bread bowl, in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Using a knife (we use a steak knife), cut into the bread bowl diagonally, making a circle--much the same as a jack-o-lantern top-- and remove the top. Trim off extra bread to make the underside flat, and set both aside.
3. Cut all the way around the inside of the bread bowl, leaving 1/2" wall. Carefully remove the bread from inside the bowl. We try to leave fairly big chunks of bread. Store all the extra bread pieces in an air tight ziplock bag for later.
4. Empty the cheesey contents from the mixing bowl into the bread bowl.
5. Put the "lid" back on the bread bowl.
6. Wrap the entire thing in tin foil (we use 2 sheets. One wrapped one way, the other for the other way) and bake at 450 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Serve immediately with extra chunks of bread or your favorite crackers. Our favorites are Club and Multigrain Toppers, although really, ANY cracker will do! Refrigerate and reheat leftovers...if there are any.

*One time I couldn't find creamed spinach anywhere--honestly, what is WRONG with grocery stores these days?  I used 1 10 oz. (or less) bag of frozen chopped spinach instead and it still turned out deliciously. Thaw the spinach and dab away any excess water with a paper towel. Kind of eyeball the amount you put in. There should be more cheese than spinach. Add a few Tbsp cream, evaporated milk, or regular milk to help with consistency.

When the dip is gone, rip into the bowl!  Go ahead. Say, "Ahhh..." and take a bite!

Source: I can't remember, but Mr. Blue Eyes actually made this round of dip. So the credit is all his!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Best Ever Biscuits

Did you ever have a day when you "needed" comfort food? This has been my day and one of those foods for me is a light, flaky biscuit.

I love biscuits! You can make them savory with garlic, cheese and other spices, sweet with Cinnamon sugar etc., or "original". This is one of the best recipes that I have tried so far. This is my daughter's recipe. The low fat version is the outcome of a conversation that I had with a lady handing out samples at Sam's (thank you) and of course some trial and error. The low fat version is noted with the original recipe.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter(real - butter) - for low fat otion - 1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil or melted butter with 2 tbsp Applesauce
1 cup milk or buttermilk - for low fat option increase milk by 1/4 cup

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl
2. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into dry ingredients
3. Add milk and stir until blended and soft dough forms
4. Pat dough out onto floured surface.
5. Using Biscuit Cutter or top of a drinking glass, cut into shapes and place on an un-greased cookie sheet
6. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until tops are a light golden brown

Source: a Jessica and Jennie original

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tortellini Skewers

Need to serve something tasty but don't have the time or energy to make something that's gonna be really involved?  Want a fun main dish for dinner that you can prepare in a snap?  Have I got a dish for you.

Buttoni premade, refrigerated Tortellini...I got two packages:  Three Cheese and Spinach Feta (I think!).  They were BOGO at the store.  (Please ignore my nasty tile countertop.  I do my best to ignore it.  I've given up cleaning it because in a day it's stained again, even after scraping, bleaching, grout-line-painting, and sealing.  My new counter top is on it's way, thank goodness!)

refrigerated Tortellini
olive oil
Pesto sauce
Spaghetti or Marinara sauce
wooden skewers

1.  Boil pasta as directed on package.  When done, pour into colander and rinse well with cold water.  Allow to cool and drain completely.
2.  Toss cooked tortellini in a bowl with a little olive oil.  Either store in a container in fridge, or go ahead and skewer the pasta to serve immediately.
3.  Serve with pasta sauces of your choice, but my preference is for pesto (which I also bought premade).  Drizzle sauce over the tortellini skewer once it's on your plate.

Source:  photo idea found on Pinterest

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Power of Patience

Lately I feel as though I have come to understand the saying, "all at once or none at all." Am I alone here, or do we feel as though trials and tests seem to appear all at the same time? Maybe it's just that as soon as one difficulty shows, we look for anything else that add to burdens, no matter how small, so that we can feel just a little sorry for ourselves. Thankfully, I am usually quick to understand that there is always someone else with bigger problems, greater challenges and heavier burdens than myself.
We all encounter trying situations in our lives. These situations and experiences are personal and unique to each one of us. Isn't it amazing that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ understand each and every experience that we face? Sometimes it's almost hard for me to comprehend. I know that our prayers are heard and answered, specifically for us.
Recently I found a quote that gave me a lot of perspective, but mostly just put me in my place.

"Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete. We must be careful that we don't resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature."
Paul V. Johnon
April 2011 General Conference

One of the greatest blessings in my life, is an answer to a prayer at the right moment and with a solution that my Heavenly Father sees fit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mud Hen Bars

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated (1 whole egg plus 2 yokes, 2 egg whites)
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I mixed pecans and walnuts)
1 cup mini-marshmallows
1 cup brown sugar (make sure it's soft and clump free!)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a medium bowl, cream together butter and granulated sugar.  Beat in 1 whole egg and 2 egg yokes (saving the 2 whites for later).
3.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to butter mixture and combine.  Spread into greased 9x13 pan.
4.  Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips, nuts, and marshmallows.
5.  In a medium bowl (wipe clean your flour mixture bowl and reuse that!) beat remaining 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in brown sugar.  Spread over mixture in pan.
6.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until bars are a deep golden brown and the crust is cooked through.  Cool on wire rack before cutting.

Source:  Sunday Baker

Friday, January 20, 2012

Easy Baked Parmesan Tilapia

If you're looking for a way to get your family to eat more fish, try this dish. It's fast and easy, plus my husband will eat anything if you put a little cheese on it.

4 Tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated

1) Preheat oven to 400ºF.

2) Pat Tilapia dry (if frozen, it should be thawed first) with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Lay on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 10-12 minutes.

3)While fish is baking, mix butter with garlic, thyme and Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano for this batch).

4) Remove fish from oven and gently flip. Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of butter mixture on the fish, and heat the broiler in your oven.

5) Set fish under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, or until cheese gets golden and bubbly.

Source: Tasty Kitchen via BigOven

If you're wondering about the asparagus, I simply tossed the spears with a little olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted it at 350° for 8 minutes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Southern Chicken & Corn Chowder

This is probably the first corn chowder I have ever made and possibly the first one I have ever eaten.  I pinned this recipe on Pinterest.  You can get it at this site Add A Pinch.  I made it this afternoon but didn't get to actually partake until after 9:00 tonight.  Busy, busy Sunday!  Hope you enjoy.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (I used 3 shallots, because that is what I had on hand)
2 carrots
3 celery stalks (I used a cup of chopped, re-hydrated celery from my pantry)
3 garlic cloves (didn't use, since I was using shallots, but think it would be better if I had used some)
1 jalapeno pepper
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 pieces cooked bacon
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 20-oz. packages frozen creamed corn, thawed

1.  Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a large, lidded soup pot.  Place over medium heat.

2.  Add roughly chopped onion, carrots, celery, and minced garlic.  Cover pot with lid and cook for about 5 minutes.

3.  Remove stems, seeds, and membrane from jalapeno. Dice pepper finely and add to other vegetables.

4.  Cube chicken breasts and add to vegetables.  Add enough water to slightly cover all ingredients.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is done.

5.  Crumble bacon and add to the chowder.

6.  Combine milk and flour in a measuring cup and stir well.  Add to chowder.

7.  Open packages of creamed corn and add to the chowder.

8.  Sprinkle dried thyme into chowder and stir to combine.

9.  Cover pot and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.  Be careful not to let it burn.  I actually scorched mine but didn't realize it until I was pouring the leftover chowder into a bowl to put it in the fridge.  Had a great time scouring the bottom of the pan.  Yeah.

Source: Add A Pinch

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black Bean Burgers with Avacado Salsa

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp jalepeno pepper, minced
1 (15 0z.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 pieces of toasted whole wheat bread, pulsed into breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cups cooked brown rice
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 chopped cilantro

2 avacados, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tsp lime juice

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add onion and saute until soft. Add garlic and jalepeno and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
2. Scrape mixutre into a food processor. Add black beans, brown rice, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pulse just until beans are chopped, but not pureed.
3. Scrape black bean mixture into a large bowl. Add half of the breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Stir mixture until combined.
4. Divide mixture into equal portions and form patties. The original recipe says 8 patties, I ended up with 6. If the mixture is too moist to form patties, add more breadcrumbs.
5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until a good crust forms. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and remaining patties.
7. For the salsa, gently stir the avacado, tomatoes and lime juice.
8. Serve salsa over 2 patties.

Source: Cookin' Canuck

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No Milk Pancakes

"Can we have pancakes this morning?" my children asked. "Sure", I said. Off I went to the kitchen in search of the ingredients. Opened the refrigerator and there was NO MILK! I thought, "How had I missed that? Oh well. I promised to make pancakes,they can drink juice with them." But, I still didn't have one of the necessary ingredients to make the pancakes with ...MILK! So, I found this recipe online and they were great. No milk required! Yay for me!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBSP. oil or butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
2 TBSP. sugar
2 cups water
2 eggs

Mix wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together in seperate bowl. Combine the two bowls and stir. Get all of the lumps mixed in good. No lumps! Let batter rest for 5 minutes. And cook up some yummy pancakes...to heck with the milk!

1785 Inn's Ten Layer Cookies

Oh yeah baby! You know that 7 layers are never enough. I dare you to add another layer.


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup butter scotch chips
1 cup Heath milk chocolate English toffee baking chips
7 oz. sweetened coconut
2 cups chopped walnuts (I like to use pecans and toast them first)
7 oz. canned Dulce de Leche (find it on the ethnic food aisle)
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk


1. Melt butter in a saucepan and mix in the crushed graham crackers. Press the mixture into
the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

2. Layer on the next 6 ingredients .

3. In a small bowl, mix the Dulce de Leche and condensed milk (warm in the microwave for a
few seconds if necessary to blend and make pourable). Pour mixture evenly over layered

4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan and cut into squares.

Source: Inn Cuisine

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies

My husband and I are head over heals for each other, AND for these cookies!!! Go ahead and jump on the sea salt bandwagon, it's so worth it! If you are not a fan of the salty/sweet trend, then skip the sea salt and enjoy these cookies the old fashioned way.

2 1/4 C. cake flour
1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 C brown sugar
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
20 oz. semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl.
2. Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
4. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
5. Drop chocolate chips in and incorporate by hand.
6. Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate 1 hour (dough can be refrigerated up to 48 hours if making ahead of time).
7. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a natural aluminum baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat.
8. Roll cookie dough by hand into golf ball sized pieces, arrange on baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt and bake until golden brown and to desired level of doneness. –10 to 12 min. for soft chewy cookies, 12 to 15 min. for crisp cookies.
9. Cool cookies 10 min. on baking sheet before removing. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

TIP: If a recipe asks for softened or room temperature butter, you should also have room temperature eggs. To bring your eggs to room temperature, fill a glass with warm water and submerge the eggs for a few minutes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Creamy Italian Chicken

This recipe is so easy and yummy! And when it's done cooking, the chicken is so moist.

4 Chicken Breasts
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 packet dry Good Seasons Italian dressing

1. Cut up the cream cheese and the butter.

2. Place chicken (can be frozen*) in slow cooker. Place cream cheese and butter all over the top of the chicken and sprinkle with Italian dressing packet.

3. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours.

4. When cooking is complete, you will need to stir the sauce to reincorporate the cream cheese and butter. Goes well served atop rice.

Source: Callie H.

*I didn't use frozen chicken and cooked it on high for 4 hours (technically for more than that b/c I didn't get home right at 4 hours). I would be hesitant to try cooking it for 4 hours from frozen; my guess is using frozen chicken would only be alright if it was cooking for 6-7 hours.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cheesy Enchilada Stack

This recipe was a Pinterest find, don't you just love Pinterest? It's totally changed my cooking lately. Anyways - this recipe is amazing. My picky husband as well as my 3 year old son loved this. I'm crazy for it. I hope you enjoy it too!

Cheesy Enchilada Stack

1 lb. Lean ground beef
2 (10 oz) can Red Enchilada Sauce (Our favorite is the Old El Paso brand)
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 (8 oz) bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
1 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies

-Cook the beef in a skillet over MED-HIGH heat until well browned. Drain off fat. Stir 1/2 cup enchilada sauce in the skillet with the beef.
-Spray a baking sheet (I used a pie plate... I was afraid I'd have a big mess on my hands if I used a baking sheet) with non-stick cooking spray.
-Place 1 tortilla onto the baking sheet.  Top with 1/3 of the beef mixture and 1/4 cup cheese.
-Top with 1 tortilla, half the refried beans, 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, 1 can drained green chilies, and 1/4 cup cheese.
-Repeat the layers one more time.
-Top with 1 tortilla, remaining beef mixture and 1/4 cup cheese.
-Top with remaining tortilla.
-Cover the stack with aluminum foil.
-Bake at 400 F for 40 minutes or until the filling is hot.
-Uncover the stack and top with remaining enchilada sauce, cheese and green onion.
-Bake 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted.
-Serve & Enjoy!!

** If you wanted to make this gluten-free, I think it would taste great with Corn Tortillas!

Source: Chef in Training

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creamy Chicken

My fabulous sister-in-law introduced me to this recipe and I would classify it as a comfort food.

5 - 6 Frozen Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts (or the equivalent of tenders)
2 (10 oz) cans of Cream of Chicken Soup (or, if you're like me, make your own here)
1 packet of Italian Dressing Seasoning
1 (8 oz) package of Cream Cheese

1. Place chicken in your crockpot.
2. Dump soup and dressing packet on top. When I make soup base, I mix the Dressing seasoning into the soup and then add it to the crockpot.
3. Cube the cream cheese, and throw it in on top of the chicken.
4. Cook on low, 4 - 6 hours*.

Serve over rice. Brown rice is pictured here, but my kids like white rice.

*I imagine you can cook this in your oven for not as much time. Try thawed chicken at 350 for 45 mins to an hour and let me know how it turns out! :)

Source: My Fabuloso Sister-in-Law, Debbi


Cream of Chicken Soup

I don't know when it happened, but I have become a "Cream of...Soup Snob." I promise I didn't mean for it to happen--and truth be told, I'd still use canned if I were in a pinch--but homemade is just SO MUCH BETTER. Plus, it's fairly quick and it's easy. What can be bad about that?

This recipe can be used as pretty much any kind of soup base. Use different bouillon for a different flavor.

1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter
6 Tbsp Flour
2 cups Milk, room temperature
2 tsp Chicken Bouillon (or two cubes)
salt/pepper to taste.

1. Measure milk into a 2 cup measuring cup and sit it on the counter.
2. Over Medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir constantly until a paste forms (aka: roux).
3. Add milk, bouillon, salt, and pepper, and stir until thickened--about 10 minutes.
4. This is now ready to use. Add more ingredients (cheese, potatoes, onions, etc) to make a soup or use as-is in a recipe.

Yeild: equivalent of 2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup

Source: allrecipes.com (Nell Marsh)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This has been a work in progress recipe. We no longer use a tempura batter on the chicken. My family prefers it without (plus it saves calories and time). This is our current favorite version. You can sneak a few extra veggies (sliced carrots or zucchini) in this and it still tastes delicious!

2 tsp Olive Oil
12 Chicken tenderloins cut in thirds or 3 chicken breasts cut into 8 pieces each
1 green pepper "chunked"
1 medium onion chopped
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 - 2 cups sugar
2 cloves fresh garlic or 1 tbsp garlic powder
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks with juice
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (optional)
1/3 cup cornstarch dissolved in 3/4 cup water
5 cups (or enough for your family) cooked rice - brown or white

1. Slightly warm Olive Oil in large skillet.
2. Place chicken in pan and lightly brown on each side without cooking all the way through.
3. When turning chicken over to brown on the other side add the peppers and onions.
4. Remove from heat before chicken cooks through.
5. In Stockpot or large sauce pan combine water, ketchup, sugar, garlic, pineapple, Soy Sauce, and ginger. Stir until well blended.
6. Cook until mixture starts to boil, add chicken and veggies
7. Bring back to a boil. Stir in cornstarch and water mixture. Mix well to avoid lumps
8. Cook at a low boil for 15-20 minutes. Sauce will be slightly thick and bubbly.
9. Serve over rice

Source: A Jennie original

Pancakes (yummy and easy!)

My oldest daughter is a fantastic cook. This is her recipe and I had so much fun making these with our grandson over Christmas that I had to post it. I have added a lower fat option with the original recipe.

2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar or honey equivalent
1/2 tsp salt
4tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter (substitute the oil with 1/2 cup applesauce and 2 tsp Olive Oil or use only the applesauce)
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups milk

1. Mix all ingredients until blended
2. Using 1/4 cup batter per pancake (can use more for larger pancakes) pour onto hot griddle or frying pan
3. Turn over when golden brown. Brown on other side and remove to platter.
4. Top with butter, syrup, jam, powdered sugar, applesauce etc.


Source: My daughter

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Creamy Ham and Cheese Pasta

WARNING:  This delicious high-carb, high-fat pasta dish will probably go straight to your hind end.  But your taste buds will thank you.  =)

2T Butter
1 C diced ham
1 C heavy cream
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp or more garlic herb seasoning
milk for thinning, if necessary
3 C Cooked Penne Rigate'

First of all: let me introduce you to my new best friend:  

McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic and Herb Seasoning.  It's salt free, calorie free, and MSG free.  I've added this to just about everything lately...mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, scrambled eggs...the list goes on...and includes this tasty dish:
  1. Melt butter in a sauce pan and saute' diced ham until lightly browned.  (You can skip this step if you're using leftover ham that has already been baked) 
  2. Add cream.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat.
  3. Add egg yolks, stir until well blended. 
  4. Add mozzarella and parmesan, stir until completely melted and creamy.  
  5. Sprinkle the garlic herb seasoning freely, to taste, of course.  Incorporate well.  
  6. If you find your sauce too thick, return to low/med heat and add some milk, a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.  
  7. Serve over pasta or stir in pasta until sauce is evenly distributed. 
So you may see in the introduction photo that I served this with broccoli.  Well...that's how it started.  THEN...I kind of did this number while I was eating:  (Mmmmmm)

And THIS is what I did with the left-overs:  (Yummmm)

So...Moral of the story is:  If you like broccoli, chop it up and add it in at the beginning with the ham. =)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Taco Soup

This is such an easy recipe and leftovers can also be frozen.

Taco Soup

2-3 pounds hamburger meat, cooked & drained
1 large onion, diced
3 cans beans (any variety desired-I use Black beans & Pinto beans), drained & rinsed
1 can corn, drained
2 cans tomato soup
2-3 cans water (use tomato soup can)
3 packets taco seasoning (or 6 Tbs. if you buy taco seasoning in bulk)
3-4 large cans diced tomatoes with juice

Throw everything in a 6 quart crockpot and forget about it until supper time. Serve with corn bread or crackers and cheese (if desired).

Heather original

Mud Balls

Of all holiday treats, Mud Balls are hands down my favorite.  Ever since I was a kid, I just can't resist them.  So I don't make them very often, but I just have to have them at Christmas.  And this past Christmas was no exception.

I mean, how can you resist such yumminess?

My chocolate dipping tools:  two inexpensive forks with the middle tines bent backwards with pliers.  

I use both forks for dipping but I had to hold the camera with one hand!  I use both forks to roll the ball around gently in the chocolate to cover it completely, then I use the fork in my dominant hand to cradle the ball while gently tapping the bottom of the ball on the other fork.

The final product displayed on plastic Target dishware made into a tiered server using Lucite candlesticks and glass/bead glue.

2 sticks butter, melted 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 pound powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 bar household wax*
8-10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the wax and chocolate.  Shape into balls.  (I use a small cookie scoop for this to portion the balls, then I roll them in my hands to make them smooth).
2.  In a double boiler, melt the wax and chocolate chips completely.  Keep on very low or remove from heat altogether (but keep the double boiler sitting over the hot water).
3.  Dip balls one at a time, allowing excess chocolate to drop off before setting each ball on waxed paper to set.

Makes about 60. 

Source:  my Mom

  • Please use butter.  Please, please, please!
  • The original recipe calls for 12 ounces of chocolate but that always leaves a LOT leftover.
  • *Don't freak out about eating wax.  I have checked on this and it's fine.  It's completely edible.  I promise.  Plus the amount per ball is so tiny.  It will make the Mud Balls shiny and smooth and they will dry better with it than without.  (I use GULF brand...it comes in a small box and has 4 rectangular bricks in it...you can find it in the canning aisle usually.)
  • If you want the taste of Mud Balls without the work, make Mud Bars.  Instead of making the "dough" into balls, press the mixture into a 9x13-inch pan.  Then melt the chocolate chips (without the wax) and pour over the top, spreading evenly.  Allow to set before cutting into bars.


Friday, January 6, 2012

"Baked" Potato Soup

One of my favorite appliances in my kitchen are my Crockpots! I use them a lot. It is so easy to prep dinner while my son is eating lunch. I simply turn it on, and dinner is pretty much done. I love not having to worry about dinner once 5 o'clock rolls around.

 "Baked" Potato Soup 

5 lbs. Russet Potatoes, peeled & chopped into cubes
1 lb. Ham, cubed (I simply buy one of those air sealed packages of cubed ham at the store)
1 1/2 C. chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
48 oz. container chicken broth
1/4 C. butter
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 C. whipping cream
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese

 1. Combine first 8 ingredients in crock pot. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. (Make sure you have a BIG crockpot, mine is a 5 or 6 quart, and it was plenty big).
2. Mash mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped and soup is slightly thickened. Stir in cream and cheese. 3. Top with additional cheese and/or sour cream if desired.

This makes a ton, but if you're like me.... you'll be happy to have a yummy soup to eat for lunch all week!

** The soup pictured did not have any cheese in it, it tasted great without!

Beef Stroganoff

There are definitely fancier stroganoff recipes, but this is perfect for a quick weeknight meal and it's kid-friendly (at least, there is only one ingredient my 7-year-old picks out - the onions).

Simply slice a half-cup of onion (the recipe says to chop, but I keep 'em big so my daughter can easily find them) and your red meat of choice. Sautee them 'til cooked through in a pan with a little vegetable oil, or I sometimes just spray the pan with cooking spray because it's gonna get pretty juicy in there.

Then you'll add the soup, sour cream and paprika. Feel free to add more paprika; it really makes the dish. Mix together well and heat through.

[I don't have a picture of those added ingredients because I ended up transferring this to a larger pan. Maybe you suspected that was going to happen.]

Then you dish out some of these yummy egg noodles onto plates and top with the stroganoff.

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb. boneless beef sirloin steak
1/2 cup chopped* onions
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp paprika
Hot cooked egg noodles

1. Cut steak into thin slices across the grain.
2. Brown the steak and onions in a small amount of oil.
3. Add soup, sour cream and paprika. Mix and heat until smooth.
4. Serve over noodles.

*Or large slices if someone wants to be able to pick them out.

Source: My mom, Beverly