Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread is not just for Christmas anymore. These soft in the middle and crisp on the edges cookies are scrumptious anytime. If you're in a hurry, these will work without chilling them just roll, bake, and go.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup Sorghum Molasses - if you don't have this use 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp regular molasses
2 eggs
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups all purpose flour
Extra granulated sugar for rolling balls of dough in

1. Cream butter, shortening, and sugar
2. Add molasses and eggs and beat well
3. Add remaining dry ingredients
4. Chill dough for 30 min or more (if you have time)
5. Roll dough into desired size balls and roll in sugar
6. place on ungreased cookie sheet
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes depending on size of balls don't over bake
8. Cool on wire rack
9. Store in covered container - makes 6 dozen cookies
Source: Lion House - with a few changes

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Basil & Lemon Shortbread


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 T. fresh basil, chopped (or 3 1/2 T. dried basil)
2 T. grated lemon zest, divided
2 3/4 cups flour
pinch of salt
Lemon Glaze


1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add basil, lemon zest, flour and salt. Gently stir until combined.

2. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour. On a floured surface, roll chilled dough to 1/3 inch. Cut out circles or rectangles, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

3. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Cover with lemon glaze while cookies are slightly warm.

Lemon Glaze


2 cups powdered sugar
4-5 drops pure lemon essential oil or lemon extract
2 t. (or more) water


1. Gently whisk all ingredients together until all lumps are gone. Drizzle over cooled basil cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ham, Cheddar and Red Onion Bread Pudding

That's right, it's a savory bread pudding! You could serve this during a brunch or have it for dinner. I served this to some kids I was babysitting, and they gobbled it up and asked for seconds (they did pick out the onions, but hey, I still count it as a win)! Here's the recipe:

Serves: 6

Oil for the dish
4 large eggs
1 1/2 C. whole milk
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 12 oz. loaf French or Italian bread, cut into 1-in. pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-in.-thick wedges (go ahead and leave the layers together, imagine you are slicing an apple)
1 crisp, tart apple, cut into 1/4-in.-thick wedges (the original recipe calls for a red apple like gala or braeburn, but we found it to not have much flavor after baking, so try a tart apple like granny smith.)
4 oz. sliced ham, torn into pieces (I bought a packaged ham steak, so the ham was nice a thick)
2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 2 1/2- 3 quart baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
3. Add the bread and let sit, tossing occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Before soaking:
After soaking:
4. Fold the onion, apple, ham, cheese and the rest of the salt and pepper into the bread mixture.
5.Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil or lid. Bake 30 minutes then remove foil or lid. Bake another 15-20 minutes until set (a knife inserted in the center comes out clean) and top is browned.

Source: adapted from Women's Day Magazine

Saturday, February 25, 2012

D.I.Y. Foaming Hand Soap

This method of refilling your soap helps reduce and reuse since you'll use less soap over time and can use an old bottle.

foaming soap dispenser
liquid soap

1. Add water to the soap dispenser, about 3/4 full. Keep in mind the size of your container and the size of the pump when the top is on.

2. Add several pumps of soap or 1-2 squeezes of a large refill container to the water, enough so that once shaken (see step 3) it's the same watery consistency as it would be if you bought the foaming hand soap as is.

3. With one hand covering the top of the bottle, shake it so the water and soap mix. You don't want to put the top back on before shaking because if water gets in the pump, it won't make foam anymore.

4. Screw the top back on and test your soap. It may take a couple pumps to get the right foaminess. (Did you know foaminess is a word? I looked it up to make sure it didn't need quotation marks.) If it's still not quite right, adjust soap and water as needed (this part may take some experimenting).

When I first starting using this method, I stuck to clear liquid hand soaps. After experimentation I've found it also works with the moisturizing type with a pearly sheen appearance (as pictured), but these soaps do make it a bit harder to get the right soap:water ratio since they're thicker--so be careful not to add too much.

Source: Myself, basically. Years ago my mom bought some soap pumps from Pampered Chef that caused liquid soap to foam. All you had to do was add soap to a certain line, add water to the top line, and shake. (Yes, my instructions have you put the water in first...I think it sort of "pre-mixes" the solution for you.) So I figured I'd try it on an empty Bath and Body Works dispenser one day, and it worked!

Friday, February 24, 2012


2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup brown sugar-packed
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (that's 1 stick)-and it has to be butter. No margarine.
1 beaten egg yolk
8 oz. sour cream
Mini chocolate chips (I have always used regular chocolate chips), amount desired

Mix together the flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2-In another bowl cream the butter, egg yolk, and sour cream.
3-Add the two mixtures together and mix.
4-Add chocolate chips & fold those in.
5-Drop by 2 tablespoons on a lined cookie sheet.
6-Bake 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Source: A patron at the library that my sister worked at during school.

Grandma's Banana Bread

I'm a simplest when it comes to Banana Bread. No spices, nuts, or chocolate. Just bananas. This recipe is a winner. It's my grandmas, probably my great-grandma's. You can't go wrong with a recipe that has been passed down generations.

Grandma’s Banana Bread 

1 stick margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 large mashed ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

-Cream margarine and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy, add mashed bananas.
-Mix the flour, salt, and soda together and add to the banana mixture. Mix well.
-Bake in sprayed loaf pan at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Mini loaves take about 30 minutes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Orange Creme French Toast

We went to Utah's State Fair several years ago and watched a nice woman make this. It's so simple and so delicious that we can never go back to the "old flip-flip-fry" way of baking french toast. Take a look, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

6 Slices Thick Bread*
6 Eggs
3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 tsp Orange Flavor
1/2 tsp Mexican Vanilla**
6 Tbsp Sugar
Squirt of fresh orange juice or a few teaspoons of orange juice (optional)
6 Tbsp Butter

1. Preheat a griddle to 300 - 325 degrees F. (Or a frying pan on your stove to Medium - Med/High heat.)
2. In a shallow dish whisk together eggs, milk, both flavorings, sugar and orange juice.
3. Dip one side of the bread into egg mixture and flip over (as you would normally).
4. Prick the egged side all over with a fork. Flip the slice back over in the egg mixture.
5. Prick the other side all over with a fork.
6. Carefully lift the bread onto a medium-hot griddle, frying pan, etc. Don't worry if the bread falls apart a little. Just put it all together on the griddle and it'll cook back together.
7. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes. Flip over. Lather with 1 Tbsp Butter. Cook for another 3 - 5 minutes or until puffy and done. The toast will be soft, but not gooey.

Serve Hot with POWDERED SUGAR.  Please, please, I BEG YOU, do not ruin this with syrup! (Ok, you can if you want. Just don't tell me, ok?)

*Texas Toast is too thick, Wonder Bread too thin. We use Nature's Own 100% Wheat Bread, but my FAVORITE when I'm not worrying about calories and fiber and all is Grandma Sycamore's White Bread (found in Western U.S.). I think Pepperidge Farm's Country White is excellent, too. Just use a good hearty bread.

**The lady who did the cooking show insisted that imitation vanilla would ruin this recipe, and while I'm not arguing that Mexican Vanilla is DIVINE, imitation is fine.

Source: Utah State Fair--Owner of The 1887 Hansen House Bed and Breakfast Inn, Sandy, UT


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Key West Chicken

I <3 (heart) Lime
A little limey marinade, a little heat on the's just like you're in Key West!  And who doesn't want to be there this time of year?!  
3T Soy Sauce
1T Honey
1T Vegetable Oil
1tsp (or more...I like more) Lime Juice
1tsp Chopped Garlic (bottled minced is ok too)
4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves

1.  Preheat your grill for high heat. If you're using thicker whole chicken breasts, use medium or low heat-- says the love of my life glaring over my shoulder.  =)  

2.  In a shallow container, blend together the soy sauce, honey, oil, lime juice and garlic.  Slap that chicken in there, flip it a few times like your drenching it in suntan oil, and marinate refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.  The longer you marinate it, the stronger the flavor.  We usually go for about 4-5 hours.  

3.  Lightly oil the grill grate, and grill the chicken for 6-8 minutes (longer for thicker breasts) on each side, until juices run clear.  

4.  Where's my piƱa colada? 

Pepperoni Roll Ups

These pepperoni roll ups are delicous! We have added this recipe to our list of family favorites. I can see so many possibilities with this roll up! You can add anything to these, and everyone will love them!

cling wrap
Rhodes White Bread Loaves
Olive Oil
1/2 lb. Pepperoni Slices, thin slices from the DELI

*if too spicy for you, then use salomi slices - not spicy and delicous!
1 bag grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of less of parmesean cheese, or romano
Italian Seasonings, a light sprinkle is all you'll need
Garlic powder
4 TBSP melted butter
marinara suace, optional

Spray baking sheet with Pam and place two frozen loaves onto pan. Spray cling wrap with pam and place over top of the loaves. Let loaves rise for about 7 hours.
Roll dough out to 11x11 square. Brush with olive oil. Lay pepperoni slices out cover the entire square. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesean cheeses over the pepperoni slices. Don't over do the parmesean cheese. Sprinkle, very lightly, the italian seasoning over the square. Sprinkle garlic powder over the square. Roll up loaves. Brush butter over tops of the pepperoni Rolls.
Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees. for 15-25 min. The tops of the pepperoni rolls should be lightly brown and hollow when you thump them.
Serve immediatly. You may serve this with marinara suace for dipping.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cottage Ranch Dip

In an attempt to eat healthier and also to sneak some more protein in my diet, I came up with the recipe for veggie dip.  It's easy and even cottage cheese haters (like my husband) will be fooled that it's not a traditional fatty dip.

It helps tremendously to have a Magic Bullet-type blender thingy, but you can use a regular blender too.

16-ounce container small curd cottage cheese (lowfat)
1 envelop ranch dip or dressing mix (I used Hidden Valley Harvest Dill Dips Mix)
sour cream to taste (I used about 1/4 cup)
milk to thin

1.  Place ingredients in a blender, adding milk to thin to the desired consistency.  (With the Magic Bullet type blender, you may have to place half the cottage cheese in, blend, then add the rest, and blend.)
2.  Refrigerate for a few hours for flavors to blend.  Serve with your choice of veggies.

Makes about 2 1/4 cups

Source:  a Julie original

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Love: The Lodestar of Life

"Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue."

"Love is the only force that can erase the differences between people or bridge the chasms of bitterness."

"Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors!" (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing For Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Our Homes, pg 3.)

I am thankful for the love my Heavenly Father has shown me through those around me. Love shown through the countless acts of kindness rendered in my, and my family's behalf--each appreciated immensely. I hope that I can repay those kindnesses by serving those around me with love and compassion. With Charity. For isn't this why we're here on earth? To buoy one another up?

For "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

One Bowl Brownies

4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
chocolate chips (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Microwave chocolate squares and butter in a large bowl on HIGH for about 1 minute (or until butter is melted).  Stir until chocolate is melted.
3.  Add sugar and mix.  Stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Mix in the flour and nuts.  At this point I tossed in a few handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
4.  Spread batter into a greased 9x13" pan.  Bake for 33-35 minutes.  Do not over bake.

Source:  Sweet Designs: A Blog By Amy Atlas 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Roasted Asparagus with Olives

This is a quick and easy side dish and perfect for spring when asparagus is in season (and on sale!).

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Place asparagus and olives on prepared baking sheet. Drizzles with olive oil and sprinkle the lemon pepper. Toss to coat.
3. Roast in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on thickness of the asparagus).

Source: Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade 20-minute meals

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats

These are a tasty rendition of the classic Rice Krispie Treat and are great for any holiday involving chocolate and mint--and they are so pretty!

1 10.5 oz. bag of peppermint mini marshmallows*
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra to butter the pan
5-6 oz. krispy rice cereal
3 tablespoons semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided (I used shortening)
a few drops peppermint extract
2-3 medium sized candy canes, crushed

* If you can't find the peppermint marshmallows, use regular and add about 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract to the melted marshmallow mixture.

1.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil and lightly butter bottom of pan and about 1 inch up the sides.

2.  Melt butter in a very large bowl in the microwave.  Add marshmallows and stir to coat. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until melted and smooth, stirring as you go.  Add the krispy rice cereal and stir to evenly combine.  With buttered hands, press mixture into pan.

3.  Place the white chocolate chips and about 1/2 teaspoon or less of shortening in a small bowl.  Heat in microwave in 30 second intervals on 50% power, stirring in between until melted and smooth.  Repeat same process with the semi-sweet chocolate chips and add a few drops of peppermint extract. 

4.   Drizzle both chocolates on top of the treats and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes--I used those that are more porous, you know, the kind you can stick into a hole in an orange and suck the juice through?   Really...have you never tried that?  Anyway, let sit until chocolate is set. You can put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process.  Cut into squares and oh my goodness....

Source:  Our Best Bites

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bread Excellent - White or Wheat

This bread lives up to its name - it is delicious! The title of this bread comes from my mom's recipe. This recipe is a compilation of her recipe, my additions, and a "Make-a-Mix" recipe. I use my bread machine as a dough machine then put the dough into bread pans - but this works just as well being made in a bowl by hand. I make a bread "mix" and store it for making bread throughout the week. The process is the same for White or Wheat Bread.

Ingredients for White Bread Mix:
20 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 1/3 cups gran. sugar
4 1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for Whole Wheat Bread Mix:
20 cups whole wheat flour ( I grind my own flour to insure we are getting all the goodness. I use 12 cups Hard White flour, 3 cups Hard Red or Bronze flour, 5 cups Spelt flour - you can use what works for you)
1½ cups powdered milk
1 1/3 cups gran. Sugar
6 tsp salt

1. Mix all ingredients together in a large container. This will store for 4 months in the pantry.

Ingredients for Bread:
1 tbsp Instant Yeast
7 Cups Bread Mix
1 tbsp Lecithin Powder (optional)
1/3 cup oil (I use olive)
1 egg beaten
2 cups very warm water

1. Put yeast, bread mix, Lecithin Powder, and oil in large bowl or bread machine
2. Add Olive Oil
3. Add beaten egg with enough of the very warm water to make 2 ¼ cup liquid.
4. Mix all ingredients together until very well blended adding additional mix 1 tablespoon at a time, if dough is too sticky

If using a bread machine set on dough setting, if not:

5. Pour out onto flour covered or non-stick sprayed surface. Knead for 10 minutes.
6. Place dough in large greased bowl , cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until double.
7. Punch dough down. Let rise about 20 min more.
8. Turn dough out onto non-stick sprayed surface.
9. This will make 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves or 6 baguette shapes. Separate bread according to how many loaves you are making. and roll into bread loaf shape.
10. Place into non-stick sprayed bread pans or large cookie sheet for baguettes. Let rise for 30 minutes in warm place. I turn my oven on at this point and let the bread raise in the pans on top of the oven covered with a cloth – if they are raising fast they will only need 20 min to raise.
11. Bake for 18-25 (depends on the size of your loaf) minutes in 350 oven or until golden - wheat bread will take longer than white and will be darker.
12. When bread is done, remove from pans, place on cooling rack and brush tops with butter.


Source: My mom, Make-a-Mix and me

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Ultimate Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Forget those canned onions. This is not yo' mama's green bean casserole! Don't be alarmed at the length of directions. It's quite simple, really.


1 lb. shallots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
2 cups canola oil
kosher salt
1 1/2 lbs. white button mushrooms, rinsed and spun in a salad spinner
2 t. soy sauce
2 t. lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup flour
freshly ground pepper
2 lbs. green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch segments


1. Combine shallots and oil in a wok or medium non-stick saucepan. Shallots should barely stick
out above level of oil. Place over high heat and cook, stirring frequently until shallots are
completely soft, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, line rimmed baking sheet with 6 layers of
paper towels.

2. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until shallots are light golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Immediately strain through a fine mesh strainer set in heat proof bowl or saucepan. Set
shallot oil aside. You should have about 2 cups of fried shallots.

3. Transfer fried shallots to paper towels. Lift up one end of top paper towel and roll shallots
off onto second. Blot with first towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat 4 more times, transferring
shallots from one paper towel to the next until only one paper towel remains. Season well with salt. Allow to cool completely, about 45 minutes. Once cooled, transfer shallots to sealed airtight container. Shallots can be made up to 1 month in advance.

4. Smash mushrooms under bottom of large skillet until broken into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces. Roughly chop into pieces approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inches large. Set aside. Combine soy sauce, lemon juice, chicken stock, and heavy cream in 1 quart liquid measure or medium bowl.

5. Add 2 tablespoons reserved shallot oil (save remainder in an airtight container for another use) and butter to 12 inch non stick skillet. Heat over high heat until butter is melted and foaming subsides. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms begin to sizzle, 6 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium high. Add garlic and cook stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until light golden blonde, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add stock and cream mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until mixture achieves a texture between pancake batter and heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350. Bring 1 gallon of water and 1/4 cup kosher salt to boil over high heat. Fill large bowl with 1 quart ice cubes and 2 quarts water. Add green beans to water and boil until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain through colander set over sink and immediately transfer to ice water until completely cooled. Drain green beans and set aside.

7. Combine green beans, mushroom sauce, and 1 cup fried shallots. Transfer to 9x13 rectangular casserole or 10x14 oval casserole. Bake until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Top with remaining cup fried shallots and serve.

Source: Serious Eats

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

You may as well be eating dessert for breakfast with this recipe. You can use other fruit, I've just usually stuck with blueberries.

Oatmeal Bake

1 egg
1/4 c. applesauce (unsweetened)
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. sugar
1 1 /2 c. quick oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbs baking powder
Desired amount of desired fruit (I've only ever used blueberries-and at least 1 cup)
Brown Sugar
Yogurt (we love vanilla flavored with this)
Fruit to top with

1-In a mixer (or by hand works also-a mixer is just faster) blend the egg, applesauce, milk and sugar.
2-Add the oats, salt, and baking powder to the mixture and mix until combined.
3-Add you fruit and combine that by hand mixing gently (especially if blueberries).
4-Place in a greased 8x8 pan.
5-Sprinkle Brown sugar and cinnamon on top until desired coverage is reached.
6-Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
7-Remove from oven and cool for 2-3 minutes. Top with yogurt and more fruit.

**For my family of 4 "real food eaters" an 8x8 pan is not enough. Remember, it tastes like you're eating dessert. I usually double the recipe, put it in a greased 9x13 and bake for about 40-50 minutes.

I looked everywhere online to find this particular recipe to give credit to it. I remember I got it from a couponing website when I was "researching" when I first started couponing. I couldn't find a link that I e-mailed to myself (my sole purpose for signing up for Pinterest-so I wouldn't have to go through 100 e-mails to find the recipe link I sent to myself). I also could not find a comparable recipe (comparable enough to suit me) online when I did a search.

Stuffed Peppers

This stuffed pepper recipe is adapted from an America's Test Kitchen recipe. Who can resist Christopher Kimball with his tiny round glasses, bow tie, and apron....*wink, *wink!
At any rate, these southwestern gems pack tons of flavor and texture. A great vegetarian option, and the filling and be frozen for another meal down the road!

4 large sweet bell peppers (green is pictured, but I would recommend using red, yellow or orange)
1 T. salt
1/2 C. white rice
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2- 1 jalapeno, minced (or you could use a 3 oz. can of mild green chilies)
1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed.
1 C. corn (canned or frozen, whichever you prefer)
2 green onions, sliced
1/2- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder (start with less and add more to taste)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 C. cheddar or pepperjack cheese, divided
3-4 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare peppers by washing, slicing tops off and removing insides. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 T. salt. Boil whole peppers for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove from water with tongs and place on paper towels to drain.
3. Add rice to the already boiling water and cook until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain carefully and throughly.
4. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno (or chilies) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
5. Add corn, beans, green onions, chili powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.
6.Remove skillet from heat and add rice, tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add any salt, pepper, or more chili powder as desired.
7. Place peppers in a baking dish whole and upright, or slice them in half (pictured) and lay them in the baking dish. Evenly divide mixture between the peppers.
8. Top peppers with remaining 1/4 C. cheese.
9. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and fresh chopped cilantro, you could also add some crispy tortilla strips.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sour Cream Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Admittedly, this recipe is similar to some previous postings: Anne's Banana Chocolate Chip Bread and Julie's Banana Sour Cream Muffins. But since this recipe has sour cream and chocolate, I guess you could say it's a great combination of the two! If you'd like to lessen the fat by replacing the sour cream with yogurt, you may be interested in viewing this article beforehand.

non-stick cooking spray
1 stick of salted butter, softened to room temp.
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
2 large or 2.5 small ripened bananas, mashed
1/2 C sour cream
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
2 T cocoa powder
1 C flour
1 C mini (or regular) chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped walnuts (opt.)

1. {Mash your bananas if you haven't already.} Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan--or 2 mini pans--with non-stick cooking spray (I recommend the type with flour in it).

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.

3. Add baking soda, cocoa, and flour. Mix everything until well incorporated (about 3 minutes in a KitchenAid mixer).

4. Add chocolate chips and nuts.

5. Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake 50 min.-1 hour. (This loaf took around an hour and 10 minutes.)

6. Insert tooth pick in center of loaf; the bread is done when the tooth pick comes out clean. Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.

7. Remove bread to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Source: I found this on Pinterest, originally posted by Alice to

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jamba Juice's Strawberries Wild Knock-Off

I'm expecting my second child in just two short weeks. I've started to pull out my recipes that are quick to make, nutritious, and can easily be eaten while I'm nursing. (I was always starving while I nursed my first baby!)  Enter Smoothies. I LOVE Jamba Juice.... sadly I live in the part of the country that there are none. That's not a problem.... with some trial and error, I think I've made up a good knock-off of one of their more popular smoothies. Enjoy!

Jamba Juice's Strawberries Wild Knock-Off 
1 c. apple juice
1 banana
1c. frozen strawberries
1 (6 oz.) light vanilla yogurt (you could also use frozen yogurt if you have that)
½ c. ice

Blend, and enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

German Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Do you see that ooey-gooey, nutty goodness amidst the chocolate? Oh yeah, baby. THAT'S why I LOVE these brownies. THAT'S why they're my all time FAVORITE. Mmm-MMM! And don't let the steps (or the margarine) fool you, either. They're pretty easy and most definitely worth it.

50 Kraft caramels (1 pkg)
1 Cup Evaporated Milk, divided
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix
3/4 Cup (1.5 sticks) Margarine, melted (as much as I LOATH to say it, butter does an ok job, but margarine does it better. Please tell me I never have to say those words again...)
1.5 Cups Chocolate Chips (your favorite--we use semi-sweet)
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans--pecans are shown here, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degress F, and unwrap all the caramels into a medium-small microwavable bowl.
2. Add 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk to the caramels and microwave for 1 minute increments (about 5 increments), stirring between each minute until smooth and creamy (or melt in a double broiler). Set aside.
3. Mix the cake mix, the last half cup of evaporated milk, and melted margarine with a mixer for 3-4 minutes until everything is well incorporated, smooth, and light brown in color. The batter should be fairly stiff.
4. Pour 1/2 of the cake batter into a greased 9x13" cake pan and smooth to the edges.

5. Bake for 6 minutes.
6. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over the cake, immediately after removing it from the oven. They may sink a little and that's ok.

I was trying to appease the nut-lovers (myself and Mr. Blue Eyes) and the nut-haters (the kids) and did half and half. What we won't do for love? (notice they're equal halves...muahahahaha!)

7. Pour creamy caramel mixture over the chips and nuts.

8. Using the unused portion of the cake batter, drop spoonfuls over the caramel. Try to smooth it out over the top as best you can. Sometimes it seems like it doesn't work too well, but don't give up! Even if you can still see mostly caramel, it's ok. (That has happened to me.) The cake batter seems to have a mind of its own and knows to bake up over the caramel.

9. Pop it into the still-hot oven and bake again for 18 minutes. Voila! The yummiest brownies you'll ever eat!
10. Cool completely and dive in!

A Few Notes:
~Kraft caramels melt the best. 
~German Chocolate Cake mix tastes and bakes the best, although I have used Devil's Food and Swiss Chocolate and they turned out fine, too. The German Chocolate seems to hold the chips and nuts up best.
~I have seen recipes that use caramel ice cream topping--the kind in the microwavable jar--in place of the caramel/milk mixture. I have never tried it, but it seems like a good idea if you're in a pinch.
~There is really no way (that I know of) to test to see if these are done. Because of the caramel, they will always be slightly "jell-o-ish" (is that even a word?!) right after you get them out of the oven. There's no harm in leaving them in for a few extra minutes just in case, but be careful not to overcook them. Hard brownies/hard caramel = No Bueno!
~I don't know why, but I have never made a batch that didn't "fall" a little. If you know why this is and how to prevent it, PLEASE let me in on your secret!
~And this is the most important! These are a taste-melding brownie. As much as I love hot, fresh-from-the-oven brownies, these taste the best when they are made the day before (or the morning of at the latest). Trust me.

Source: The best mama in the world, Karri H!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

7 Up Biscuits

I have always wanted to learn how to make a good, "from scratch" biscuit. This recipe caught my eye because the biscuits not only looked great, but only requires 4 ingredients! Looks like lots of effort, right?


2 cups baking mix (Jiffy or Bisquick)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup 7 Up
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Cut sour cream into biscuit mix.

3. Stir in 1/2 cup 7 Up. The dough will be very soft.

4. Sprinkle additional baking mix on to your counter. Knead and fold dough until covered in your baking mix. Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit/cookie cutter.

5. Melt butter in a 9 inch square pan.

6. Place cut biscuits on top of melted butter and bake for 12-15 minutes or until brown.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Almond Joy* Brownie Bites

Going, going, gone!
Found these little gems on a cute blog called Flour Me With Love.  If you like Almond Joy candy bars, these gooey little guys will crack your coconut!  And to those of you who don't, I say: C'mon, give coconut a chance. ;)

1 box of family size Chocolate Fudge brownie mix 
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz.) bag coconut

1/4 C milk
1 C chocolate chips, melted
1/4 C almonds, crushed (or I thought whole almonds might work too*)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350* and line mini muffin tins with paper liners
  2. Prepare brownie mix according to the directions, and fill muffin cups only half way. 
You know we licked that bowl clean!
3.  Bake brownies for 12 minutes. 
4.  While the brownies are baking, mix together the coconut, milk and sweetened  
     condensed milk 
5.  Remove brownies from the oven and spoon "mounds" (get it, Mounds??...Almond 
     Joy??...Ok..never mind.) of coconut on top of the brownies, being careful not to let the
     gooey mess spill over the edges.  
6.  Bake another 14-16 minutes. The coconut will get nice and toasty. =)
7.  Melt the chocolate chips in microwave or over a double boiler. You can add a little 
     Crisco to thin it out, if you'd like, for easier drizzling. (you can lick that bowl too)
8.  Obviously, the next step is to drizzle the chocolate over the coconut and sprinkle the
     nuts on top.  OR* you could press a whole almond into the brownie before loading on
     the coconut.  Just an idea.  
9.  Cool completely before removing from paper liners.  Enjoy!

*Almond Joy is a trademark of the Hershey Company
*P.S. I just found out that this was originally made in regular sized muffin tins. Even  
 Better!! Interesting that the baking time still worked out nicely.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nutella Fruit Dip

Yummy Nutella Fruit Dip
I love Nutella.  Any recipe I see anywhere that has Nutella in it, I'm interested!  And this one is so quick and easy.  Great for breakfast or for dessert.  Seriously.  Dessert!

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
1/2 cup Nutella

1.  Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir till smooth.
2.  Serve with your favorite fruit!

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Source:  Babble

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Quiet Service

Image Credit: Media Library

I was at a Stake Relief Society function last weekend at which I got to enjoy a class on missionary work. Sometimes I don't feel like I do enough of it. Sometimes I also feel like I don't serve others enough. So when I came across this quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in "Created for Greater Things," I found it reassuring and encouraging.

"All but a prophetic few must go about God's work in very quiet, very unspectacular ways. And as you labor to know Him, and to know that He knows you; as you invest your time--and your convenience--in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that 'He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up' [sic] (Matthew 4:6)."

So let's keep on keepin' on (by doing things like serving our families by cooking dinner, for example--in case you didn't get my pic), and our loving Heavenly Father, Who knows our hearts, will help us out. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart

Oh my goodness, what a yummy tart!  I pulled this from the internet to use at Thanksgiving but since we ended up having it at my sister's house, I put the recipe away.  I found it the other day and decided to make it for our Christmas Eve Eve dinner.  That was not a typo.  We had our Christmas Eve dinner early because we went home to eastern North Carolina the next day.  Anyway, this was our dessert and it was really good.  The crust--oh my--I may have to make my next pie with this.

1/2 cup butter, chilled                                                     1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream cheese                                                      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour                                           1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg  
2 apples peeled, cored, sliced                                         1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 pear peeled, cored, sliced                                            1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice                                                      1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

1.  Cut the cold butter and cream cheese into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. I usually use a pastry blender but this time I used my Ninja which was much quicker.  You just pulse the butter and flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal, then add the cream cheese and pulse until it looks like the size of small peas.  You should be able to squeeze a handful of the dough and make a ball.  Shape the dough into a small disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2.  Toss the apples and pear with the orange juice.  Whisk together the brown sugar,spices and cornstarch.  Toss the fruit with the sugar-spice mixture and set aside.

3.  Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.  Set out an 8-inch tart pan or do like me and make a free-form tart, lightly greasing a baking sheet.

4.  Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to form a 10-inch circle.  Transfer the dough to the tart pan or baking sheet.  Arrange the fruit decoratively Plop the fruit in the middle of the pastry (really, I just had no time to be fancy).  If you are using a baking sheet, leave a 2-inch rim of dough and fold it up over the edge of the fruit (the folds will overlap).

5.  Bake the tart in the oven until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Remove the tart from the oven and brush it with the apricot jam.

I served this with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.  You could use whipped cream.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cream Puffs, Eclairs and more

My Great Aunt Addie used to be famous for her cream puffs. This is her recipe. They are so fun to make with your family not to mention, yummy!

These are not just dots of puff! They can become many traditional or festive things. Don't let the list of steps fool you, these are easy peasy. They are good with savory fillings as an appetizer or finger sandwich. I've listed ideas for different "shapes" below the recipe. This doubles well.

1/2 cup butter ( not margarine)
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs

1. In a medium saucepan melt butter.
2. Add water and bring to a boil.
3. Add flour and salt all at once. Stir vigorously, cooking and stirring until mixture forms a ball that doesn't separate.
4. Remove from heat, cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth.
5. Drop batter by teaspoons or Tablespoons depending on the size you want (the batter will "puff" to around three times its size) onto ungreased baking sheet.
6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-30 minutes (depending on size) until golden brown and puffy.
7. Remove from oven, let cool slightly on cooling rack.
8. Split open and remove any soft dough, fill with --- Chicken Salad or other Savory spread, whipped cream, jam and cream, pie filling and cream, pudding, ice-cream or pudding custard .
9. For Eclairs: Frost filled puff with chocolate icing below:

Eclair Icing:
3 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or 1.5 oz bitter sweet chocolate
3 Tblsp half and half
1/4 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
5 + Tblsp milk

1. Melt butter, choc. and half and half together in microwaveable bowl or medium saucepan
2. Remove from heat and add vanilla and powdered sugar
3. Add milk a few tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached. Mix until smooth and creamy.

Pudding Custard:
1 small box Vanilla (or your choice) instant pudding
2 cups whipped cream

1. Prepare pudding according to package directions except use 1/3 cup less milk
2. Mix ingredients together and chill for 20 minutes


Shape Ideas:
1. Drop batter in the shape of mini footballs, frost with choc icing. Use white icing to make lines on the footballs
2. Drop batter in the shape of mini hearts or one large heart with a hole in the center (it will puff better). Fill with Cherry Pie filling and cream. Drizzle with chocolate and white icing.
3. Drop batter in the shape of Easter Eggs, ice with choc. icing. Use white or other color icing to write names on the egg.
4. Drop batter in the shape of Shamrocks, Flowers, Hats, Flags, Pumpkins, Christmas Trees, etc. Experiment - Have fun!

Source: Aunt Addie, My mom and Me