Friday, December 16, 2011

Memaw's Cheese Ball

Memaw's Cheese Ball
Courtesy of John's grandmother

2 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper
1 teaspoon chopped onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
dash salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and roll into chopped pecan pieces (approximately 2 cups).

Chill for an hour or so in the refridgerator before serving, and serve with your favorite crackers.
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Strawberry Jello Salad

I've made this for my work Thanksgiving party, and then again for Thanksgiving Day too.

Strawberry Jello Salad
Courtesy of an old family recipe

1 large package strawberry jello (I use sugar free)
2 cups boiling water
1 package frozen strawberries
1/2 pint sour cream (I think that I use the whole pint)
2 riped bananas, mashed
1 big can crushed pineapple, drained well
1 cup chopped pecans
1 container of whipped cream

Dissolve jello in water. Add strawberries and stir until thawed. Add bananas and pineapple. Pour 1/2 of the mixture into a 13 x 9 inch pan. Let set up in refrigerator until firm. Place the bowl with the other 1/2 of the jello mixture in the refrigerator as well.

Mix the sour cream and the pecans together. Spread on first layer of jello. Pour the rest of the jello mixture on top of the sour cream layer. Refrigerate until firm.

Spread the whipped cream on the top. Serve and enjoy!
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel Cookies
Courtesy of: Our Italian Kitchen

2 cups flour, plus possibly a few more tbsp
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (cut in chunks)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp of food coloring of your choice
1/2 tsp of any desired extra extracts, optional
1 1/2 cup holiday sprinkles

I started by cutting each stick of butter in half, and then in half again... then into small cubes. I placed the butter in a small bowl and put it back in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it. In a stand mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars with paddle on medium until well blended. Add butter in, 2-4 cubes at a time, and continue mixing. Add in vanilla extract. At this point, your dough will form a ball on your paddle.

Remove all your dough and divide into two equal parts. Return one portion back in to the mixer and add the food coloring and any extra extracts. I used Wilton gel food coloring in leaf green and red and vanilla extract for my batches. You could add mint flavoring in with the red or green coloring. You could do these for other holidays as well with yellow coloring and lemon flavoring, orange coloring and orange flavoring - the possibilities are endless. Also, if you are using liquid food coloring, you will need to add a few tbsp of flour to keep the dough from becoming too wet. Mix until the color is spread out evenly.

I put the balls of dough back in the refrigerator before rolling out the dough. I wanted it to firm up slightly before the next step. Roll out each portions of your dough, between two sheets a wax paper until is reaches about 11 x 9 inches and is 1/4 inch thick. Slide both unto a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

When firm, remove the top sheets of wax paper from both. Then flip the colored dough onto the vanilla uncolored dough so they are stacked atop each other and even. You can use a slight brushing of water between the layers to help seal the dough together. Press the edges lightly with your fingertips to seal them together. Using a small pairing knife, trim the edges of the dough to make straight, even lines.

Be sure your dough is still cold, but flexible. Once it's ready, begin rolling the long side of dough into a swirl, jelly-roll style. Don't get nervous if the outer layer of uncolored dough tears a bit. It's no problem, just pinch and pat those tears back together, and just keep rolling. I wrapped the dough in wax paper and placed the dough back in the refrigerator overnight to firm up completely before cutting. Having the dough cold, helps with keeping the pinwheels in shape.

You can also wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. You will need to allow the dough to defrost in the refrigerator for a day or so before continuing on with the next few steps for baking.

Pour your sprinkles onto a cookie sheet. Now gently lift your dough log onto the sprinkles and roll away. Cover the log completely with your sprinkles.

Slice your dough into 1/4-1/8 inch slices and bake on parchment lined baking sheets. Allow for plenty of room in between the cookies - as they spread a bit. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move them to a cookie rack to finish cooling. We ended up doing 4 batches of these - 1/2 red and 1/2 green... and alternated which colors were on the outside - I LOVE how they turned out! Enjoy your whimsical Christmas cookies!

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Fudge-Filled Cookies

Fudge-Filled Cookies
Courtesy of: Taste of Home

1 cup butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chopped walnuts
Confectioners' sugar, optional

In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour and mix well.

Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Divide dough into fourths; cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and milk; stir until smooth. Stir in walnuts. Cool to room temperature.

Roll out each portion of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet into an 11-in. x 6-1/2-in. rectangle. Spread 3/4 cup chocolate filling down the center of each rectangle. Fold long sides to the center; press to seal all edges. Turn over so the seam sides are down.

Bake at 350° for 27-32 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Cut into 1/2-in. slices. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 3 dozen.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies
Courtesy of: Recipe Girl

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut up
1 Tbsp. red food coloring (I used gel food coloring and didn't measure it)
3 ounces white chocolate (or white Almond Bark), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. butter flavored shortening
festive sprinkles

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. I start by cutting the stick of butter in half, then cut the halves in half again - then just cut into small cubes. I then place the butter in a bowl and put it back in the refrigerator until I am ready to add it to the dough mixture.

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Cover and pulse until combined. Add butter and red food coloring. Process by pulsing until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Then continue to process until mixture begins to clump together.

Scoop dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until nearly smooth. Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured 1-1/2-inch round cutter, cut out dough. I used a regular biscuit cutter, but if I had it to do over again - I would use something with a more decorative edge. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press scraps together and roll again.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

In a microwave safe bowl, add in 1 package of the white chocolate and shortening - heat for 1 1/2 minutes in microwave. Stir. If the mixture isn't melted and smooth - you can microwave it an additional 30 seconds at a time until melted. Make sure to not over do it with the heat or you will ruin the chocolate. I often pull mine out and am able to melt it the rest of the way by just stirring it in the warm bowl for a minute or so.

Once your mixture is melted, dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with festive sprinkles, nonpareils or chopped pistachios. Let stand on waxed paper until set.

Yield: About 24 cookies.
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Pecan Balls

Pecan Balls
Courtesy of: My

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 oz.)

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and the vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and beat on low speed to mix, then on medium speed until well blended. Stir in pecans.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (we used a cookie scoop for uniform size and shape) and place about 1 inch apart on buttered or cooking parchment-lined 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 300° regular or convection oven until cookies are pale golden brown, about 25 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking. Let cookies stand on sheets until cool enough to handle.

Place remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a paper lunch bag or shallow bowl. Gently turn warm cookies, a few at a time, in powdered sugar to coat. Set cookies on racks to cool completely.

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Salty Turtles

Salty Turtles
Inspired by Pinterest

These are really not a true recipe - it's just layering ingredients. We were making a lot of these for John's employees & coworkers.

1 bag of square pretzels
2 bags of Rolos (Or you could use Hershey's Hugs)
1 bag of pecan halves

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap your Rolos or Hugs. Place the pretzels on a baking sheet, and put 1 candy on top of each pretzel. Bake for 5 minutes. The candy will not change shape in the baking process. Immediately upon pulling them from the oven, push a pecan down into the melted candy. You can then place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes or in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes - then they are ready to serve or package for gifts!
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef
Courtesy of: Pink Bites

Serves 4

2 lb of steak, thinly sliced crosswise (The original recipe used flank steak, I used sirloin)
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger
(I used the ginger from the tube - it keeps longer and is good for the price)
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic (about 2 -3 large cloves)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (I skipped this, but if you like spicy - go for it!)
3 large green onions, sliced crosswise into thirds

Prepare the meat:
First, make sure the steak slices are dry (pat them dry) and mix them with the corn starch. Using your hands or a spoon, move them around to make sure all pieces are coated. Place beef slices in a strainer and shake off excess corn starch.

Make the sauce:
Heat half of the oil in a large pan at medium-high and add the garlic and ginger. Immediately add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Don't worry if the sauce doesn't look thick enough at this point. The corn starch in the beef will thicken it up later. 

Cook the meat and assemble dish:
Turn the heat up and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook, stirring until it is all browned. Pour the sauce back into the pan and let it cook along with the meat. Now you can choose to cook it down and reduce the sauce or leave it thinner. Add the green onions on the last minute so the green parts will stay green and the white parts crunchy.

Serve it hot with rice. If I were to do this over again - I'd likely add some fresh broccoli to the pan until sauteed for a little bit of vegetable in the meal. We also had it with a green salad with a ginger based dressing.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Slow Cooker Jambalaya
Adapted from: Plain Chicken

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes
1 medium green bell pepper (diced)
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 tsp minced garlic
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I left this out, but if you like spicy - go for it)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
white rice or instant rice

In a slow cooker, mix the chicken, sausage, tomatoes with juice, onion, bell pepper, garlic, celery, and broth. Season with oregano, parsley, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and thyme. 

I sometimes do this the night before and put it in the fridge.  Just pop it in the slow cooker in the morning before you leave for the day... or just for ease of prep. For me it helps to not have to spend some of nap time putting the meal together - I can just throw it in there the night before. Win!

Cover, and cook 7 to 8 hours on Low, or 3 to 4 hours on High. You can mix in the cooked rice about 15 minutes before serving - or we like to just put the rice in the bottom of our bowl and spoon the Jambalaya on top.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brown Sugar Cake

Brown Sugar Cake
Courtesy of: SuperChikk

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 pkg (3 oz size) vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup water
½ cup oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350. Beat first 6 ingredients with mixer 3 minutes or until well blended. Add brown sugar and mix well.

The original recipe calls for mixing 1 cup of pecans in with the batter. I just sprinkle the pecans into the bottom of my greased bundt pan, but my cake got stuck in the end... so I might try mixing some into the batter next time and have some on the top.

Pour into 12-cup fluted pan or 10-inch tube pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. (I baked 1 hour, but probably should have gone a bit longer)

Cool in pan 15 minutes. (Mine cooled longer than the 15 minutes, but still had some problems coming out of the pan) Loosen and invert. Cool completely and enjoy!

This is a GREAT cake, and is similar to my chocolate chip bundt cake... I will be making it again and playing with the pecans a bit to see if that helps with my little bit of sticking.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Breakfast Cupcakes

Breakfast Cupcakes
Adapted from: Love from Texas

1 pound sausage (cooked)
6-7 pieces of thick cut bacon (cooked, chopped)
12 eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar (sharp or cheddar jack)
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 small onion - diced
1 jalapeno pepper - diced (optional)
salt and pepper
1 can Grands Flakey Layers biscuits - the 10 count per can

Spray muffin pans with cooking spray. Divide each unbaked biscuit in half, separating at the layers (they should just peel apart).  Press each layer in to a cup on the muffin pan. This will make 20 total. Add some of the bacon pieces on top of the biscuit.

Brown the sausage in a skillet and once brown, add the onion and pepper (if desired) and cook them until they are soft or to a texture you desire.

Whisk eggs together and season with ground mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir in cheese and cooked sausage crumble/onion/pepper mixture.

Pour one a large spoonful of the egg/sausage mixture in to each muffin cup.  This would probably be equivalent to a little less than 1/4 cup.  Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes, or until egg is done and tops are golden.

We freeze the muffins, and I send 2-3 with John every morning for breakfast at the office. He pops them in the microwave for 1 minute and they're good to go. He also adds a little hot sauce in them for his enjoyment.

Revision:  Recently our muffin pan started to stick, so John experimented with doing this in a regular 16 X 9 cake pan and this was very successful.  It allows you to place a full can of the biscuits (10 - or 20 halves) in the pan all at one time.  With this revision we recommend that you sprinkle the bacon on top as it will get washed around and won't be evenly distributed if you put it on top of the biscuits and then pour on the egg mixture.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Kisses

Peanut Butter Kisses

1 tube or package of peanut butter cookie dough
1 bag of Hershey's Kisses

I used a package of break apart peanut butter cookie dough. Separated the cookie dough pieces and rolled them into balls. Put them in a mini muffin pan, baked according to package instructions. Immediately upon removing from the oven - I placed a Hershey's Kiss in the middle.

I've also used mini peanut butter cups in this type of recipe as well. Either way is GREAT!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Candy Corn Cookies

Candy Corn Cookies
Basic Recipe by Land O' Lakes and the idea for the adaptation from - Sweet Sugar Belle

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and orange juice.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Then begin to mix into the other ingredients in small stages. This will keep you from wearing all of the dry mixture. (I had this experience the first time)

One the dough is combined, portion out in three bowls. I used a 1/4 cup to make sure that I got evenly portioned dough. From here you can complete the cookies as I made them... or you can go a different route.

To complete as I made them:
Mix yellow food coloring into 1/3 of the dough. Mix orange food coloring into 1/3 of the dough. Leave the last remaining portion of the dough without and coloring. (I used Americolor Food Color for mine) Once you get the colors mixed, you will use a 9x5 (or 8.5 x 4.5) loaf pan to combine the dough. Line the pan with wax paper or plastic wrap... then take the white dough and press into the bottom of the pan. You will then press the orange dough on top of the white, and finish with the yellow on the top. Cover the dough with the remaining plastic wrap or wax paper. It will look something like this:

Let the dough sit in the refrigerator to let the butter get hard again... this will make the cookies easy to slice and bake. I let mine sit overnight. The next morning, I pulled my dough out of the pan (the above photo was at that step) and prepared to slice them for baking. I sliced off a piece, and then slice again in diagonals to make the candy corn triangles. Like the photo below.

Transfer to a cookie sheet, you can put a bunch on the pan because they don't spread much if at all. I will dust mine with a good sanding sugar next time. Bake on 375 for 7-10 minutes. (8 minutes did the trick for mine)

I can totally see myself doing these for other holidays too - in different shapes... but you could do some Easter Egg type ones... red and green with white for Christmas... red, white and blue... you name it!

To adapt the recipe so that all the cookies look like real candy corn:

You make the cookies just as the recipe states, but instead of dying 1/3 of the dough yellow... leave it white... you'll end up with white on the bottom, orange in the middle, and white on the top. Slice and bake as I did... but then you will get some yellow melting chocolate, and dip the bottom end of each cookie into the melted chocolate. The link to the Sweet Sugar Belle blog did hers that way, and you can go take a look at how she did them for more specific instructions.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Dip

Peanut Butter Dip
Recipe adapted from Taste of

1 cup smooth peanut butter
3 (6 oz) containers vanilla yogurt
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips (or as many as desired)

This recipe is so simple, I just mixed all of the ingredients together. I started with the peanut butter and mixed in 1 container of the yogurt at a time. It takes a minute to get it to combine into a smooth mixture. Then add the cinnamon and chocolate chips. I served with pretzel sticks, graham crackers, and apple slices. (Sorry the picture isn't great... it was served at my son's 1st birthday party.)
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zucchini Hamburger Casserole

Zucchini Hamburger Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon uncooked medium-grain white rice
1 cup water
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can (19 oz) Progresso Vegetable Classics tomato basil soup
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place rice and water in baking dish; stir to mix. Layer cooked beef, zucchini and diced tomatoes over rice. Pour soup over top. Cut 16x20 inch sheet of foil; spray with cooking spray. Cover dish with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake 40 minutes. Uncover dish; sprinkle cheese over top. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes longer or until edges are bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. (We like our cheese really brown as you can tell in the picture)

In higher altitudes - add 5 minutes to the cooking time before adding the cheese.

* I changed the recipe to use the diced tomatoes instead of chopping a large fresh tomato. If you'd rather do that - drop the extra tablespoon of the rice out of the recipe. I added that because of the additional juice from the canned tomatoes.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake

Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake
Inspired by: Taste of Home
Yield: 1 casserole for dinner and 1 for the freezer!

1 (16 oz) package of penne pasta
6 cups cooked chicken, cubed
4 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes - *I used diced Fire Roasted tomatoes instead
1 jar (15 oz) Classico Alfredo sauce
1 jar (8 oz) Classico Pesto sauce
1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Bake your chicken in the oven - I season mine and bake it on 400-425 for about 20 minutes. Cool and then cube it. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine: chicken, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, alfredo sauce, milk, and pesto. Drain the pasta and add to the chicken mixture; toss to coat.

Transfer to two greased 9x13 inch baking dishes. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the casseroles.

Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.

To reheat the frozen casserole; thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking cover and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slow Cooker Italian Mushroom Chicken

Slow Cooker Italian Mushroom Chicken
Inspired by: Cleverly Inspired's Angel Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1 8-oz. pkg. fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 8-oz. pkg. fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 0.7-oz. pkg. Italian dry salad dressing mix
1 10-3/4-oz. can condensed golden mushroom soup (I used regular cream of mushroom)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 of an 8-oz. tub cream cheese spread with chives and onion (I used Roasted Garlic Cooking Creme)
1/2 package of egg noodles, cooked

* I added some minced onion because I didn't have the chive and onion cream cheese

Layer your crock pot with the mushrooms on the bottom, lay the chicken on top of the mushrooms, and I sprinkled my minced onion on top of the chicken. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter - once melted add in the Italian dressing mix, mushroom soup, wine, and cream cheese. Pour the combined sauce over the chicken, and cook on low setting for 6-8 hours. 

Before serving, I shredded the chicken and put it back in the sauce. I boiled my noodles, and once they were ready - I mixed them into the crock pot and let it sit in the sauce for about 20 minutes or so to soak up some of the sauce and flavor. I did this because the sauce is rather thin, and I thought this would be a good way to not waste it - if it soaked up in to the pasta.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Courtesy of: Niki via

Yield: 30-32 regular sized muffins

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (yes, that is correct)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

* I added a dash of pumpkin pie spice
** If I wasn't serving these to the babies - I might have added some pecans or walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a second large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and oil together until smooth. Continue beating, adding little bits of the flour mixture in at a time until all combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins about 3/4 full. I used a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup to fill mine to make sure they were all equal in size. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes and Orzo

Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes and Orzo
Modified from: My

YIELD: 6 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs and about 1/3 cup sauce)

12 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), skinned -- (I used 3 thighs for us)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil (I skipped this)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper (I skipped this)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (I used a 14 oz can)
1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dried parsley)
 ** I added minced onion, some Italian seasoning, and mixed in Orzo

I'm going to tell you how I made this dish here - and the original recipe is below in case you want to compare. I put the chicken in the crock pot raw... I knew I was going to cook it all day - so it was easier for me. I then put the tomato paste in a bowl and whisked it with the white wine. I mixed that in the crock pot with the chicken and tomatoes. I added the rest of the ingredients: salt, pepper, garlic, dried parsley, minced onion, Italian seasoning, and olives. Put everything on low for 5-6 hours.

I then boiled 1 cup of dry orzo in water, and once it was cooked - I added it to the crock pot and put it on the warm setting. I did it for ease of cooking with the kids - that was when I tested it and took the photo above. When I served it to my family - the sauce had completely soaked into the orzo... so if you have the ability - I'd add the orzo and mix it in just before eating.

You could serve it over rice or something else if you'd prefer. It does change the nutritional values below... but I think it's worth it to balance out the meal.

Original Preparation

Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place chicken in an electric slow cooker. Add garlic to pan, and sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add wine,
scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 30 seconds. Place wine mixture in cooker. Add tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes to cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, olives, and parsley.

Nutritional Information: Amount per serving
Calories: 270
Fat: 12.9g
Saturated fat: 3.3g
Monounsaturated fat: 5.6g
Polyunsaturated fat: 2.8g
Protein: 29.1g
Carbohydrate: 8.7g
Fiber: 2.2g
Cholesterol: 99mg
Iron: 2.4mg
Sodium: 658mg
Calcium: 44mg

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Green Cake

It took me a couple of years to weasel this secret family recipe out of a friend... you simply MUST try it... immediately!

Green Cake
Courtesy of: Angela F.

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease 11x13 cake pan & sprinkle 1 tbsp cake mix to "dust" pan
1 box white cake mix
1 jello pistachio pudding mix
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water + 1 tbsp
4 eggs
1-2 cups pecans, finely chopped (or your favorite nut)
Mix ingredients until smooth, and pour mixture into prepared cake pan. Sprinkle 1-2 cups finely chopped pecan pieces evenly over cake. (If you don't like pecans, I would expect that any nuts would work beautifully here.) Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
2 cups packed powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix ingredients while cake is in the oven. When cake is done, remove it from oven. With a fork, puncture the cake several times until surface is evenly "poked". Gently spoon frosting mixture evenly over entire cake (pouring on frosting makes it pool & doesn't coat evenly). Bake the cake for an additional 5 minutes so the frosting becomes flakey. Cool to room temp and enjoy!
** I considered warming the frosting ingredients before putting them on the cake and to make sure they mix evenly... we didn't do it, but I wonder if it might work better than ours did. 
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lasagna Roll-Ups

Lasagna Roll-Ups
Courtesy of ME!

Package of Lasagna Noodles
1 container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 medium zucchini, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Classico Spinach)
1-2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

This recipe makes about 9-10 rolls - which for our family is plenty because currently John and I only eat about 1 roll per meal. For larger families, or if you think your family will eat more - you might want to double up on the ingredients in the filling mixture. I had quite a few lasagna noodles left over - so you should be fine with one package. 

Boil your lasagna noodles. Drain and rinse with cold water. Separate the noodles and lay them out on a towel lined cookie sheet. We had more than one layer - so I just covered each layer with a separate towel and kept stacking.

In a skillet, brown your ground beef with salt, pepper, the Italian seasoning, and onion. Once browned, allow the mixture to cool. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan, 1/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce, and beef mixture.

In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a few tablespoons of the spaghetti sauce. You want to make sure that the bottom of the dish is covered lightly so that the noodles don't dry out.

Lay out 1 lasagna noodle on a cutting board, spoon some of the ricotta mixture on the noodle to cover it.

Then roll up the noodle.

Ideally, the rolls would stand up in the pan. Mine wasn't deep enough - so I had to lay them side by side. You will want to pack the rolls in tightly so that they can keep their moisture. If they stand up in the pan, you will be able to fit them all in one dish - I had to use two in order to bake mine.

Once you get all the rolls made up, cover them with the remaining sauce - a little bit on each roll so that the noodles continue to have plenty of moisture so they don't dry out. Top them with mozzarella cheese and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the mozzarella cheese is melted and the rolls are warm.
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Margarita Pie

Margarita Pie
Courtesy of: A grocery store cookbook (my son ripped off the cover and I'm not sure who's it was)

1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 envelope KOOL-AID Lemon Lime Unsweetened drink mix
1 tub (8 oz) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed

For the crust:
Mix pretzel crumbs, sugar and butter together. Press into bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie crust. For best results - use a glass or metal pie plate instead of a disposable one. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

For the filling:
Mix the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and KOOL-AID drink mix together in a large bowl. Whisk in COOL WHIP. Pour the contents into the pie crust, and freeze for 6 hours.

Remove the pie from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving, let stand at room temperature until slightly softened. Use a large knife dipped in warm water to cut the pie into slices. I dipped the knife in the water after each cut. You can top the pie with more COOL WHIP if desired.

My crust came apart a bit - so I sprinkled the pretzel crumbs on the top so no one missed any of their salty bite with the sweetness of the filling.
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