Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
makes 18 muffins

For Cream Cheese Topping:
1 (8 Oz.) Package Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

For Muffin:
2 1/2 Cups AP Flour
1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1 1/3 Cups Canned Pumpkin
1/3 Cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a muffin tin and set aside.  For the topping, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add egg, vanilla, and brown sugar.  Set aside.  For the muffin batter, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and gradually incorporate the 2 eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla extract.  Beat together until smooth.  Fill the muffin  cups about 1/2 full of muffin batter and spoon about 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese topping on the batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Of course it wouldn't really be fall without a pumpkin recipe!  These moist little muffins are perfect on a chilly morning with a cup of coffee.  I was a little concerned when I was mixing the muffin batter that they would get too dry since all the wet ingredients are mixed in with the dry instead of mixed in a separate bowl  then incorporated into the dry but it turned out not to be an issue at all and then I didn't have to dirty an extra bowl!  Side note, these muffins freeze beautifully.  I just set them out in a covered container the night before and the next morning they are ready to go.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sausage, Potato, Pepper Casserole

Sausage, Potato, Pepper Casserole
serves 4-6

2 -3 Russet Potatoes
1 Large Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Pound Baby Carrots
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 1/2 Teaspoon Italian Herbs
Salt and Pepper, To Taste
2 Pounds Sausage Links

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut potato and onion into bite size pieces and bell pepper into strips.  Place cut veggies and carrots in a large casserole pan.  Pour olive oil over veggies and toss until veggies are nice and oiled (add more oil if needed).  Sprinkle on seasonings  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes until veggies are fork tender. Add the sausage to the veggies when the 45 minutes is up then put it back in the oven, uncovered, for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Another recipe with sausage.  But really, can you ever have too much sausage?  My husband doesn't think so!  I think you'll be surprised how simple and delicious this recipe is.  Also, it's very family friendly!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


serves 4-6

1 Large Onion
1 Large Green Pepper
2 Stalks Celery
1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Raw
1 Pound Andouille Sausage
1 (28) Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Cup Chicken Broth
2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
2 Teaspoons Dried Parsley
2 Teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (Or More To Taste)
1 Cup Rice, Dried

Chop onion, green pepper, celery, chicken, and sausage.  Place all ingredients, except rice, in a dutch oven and bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours until chicken is no longer pink (or in a slow cooker low for 7-8 hour or on high for 3-4 hours).  When the chicken is done, transfer the dutch oven to the stove top and bring the jambalaya to a boil.  Add rice, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes until rice is done.  Serve with corn bread muffins.  If you are using a slow cooker, add cooked rice to the jambalaya  and serve.

I've wanted to make jambalaya since M and I lived in our campus apartment and they made it all the time on Food Network.  However, every recipe I found was a mile long and I never found the perfect one.  Two to three years later Pinterest came to the rescue!  I actually had all the veggies already chopped waiting for me in my freezer.  I have to say, this recipe was worth the wait!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Banana Pancakes and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Banana Pancakes and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Today I have two recipes for you.  Both are super easy and require just a few ingredients that I know that you have sitting in your kitchen - bananas and eggs.  

Banana Pancakes
serves one, makes about 5 cakes

1 Ripe Banana
2 Eggs

In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork.  Add the two eggs and stir until combined.  Spoon the batter on a greased, hot griddle.  Cook on a few minutes per side until golden brown.  Serve with pancake syrup.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
makes one loaf

1 Box Yellow or White Cake Mix
2 Eggs
3 or 4 Ripe Bananas
1/2 Cup to 1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl smash the bananas.  Add the eggs and cake mix (no need for oil or water, just the cake mix!) Stir until well combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
serves 8

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Celery, Diced
1 Cup Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
4 Tablespoons Flour
1 Quart (4 Cups) Half-and-Half
1 Cup Carrots, Shredded
1 Cup Chicken, Cooked and Shredded or Diced
2 (14) Oz. Cans Chicken Broth
1 Package Gnocchi
1 Cup Fresh Spinach
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Thyme, Dried
1/2 Teaspoon Parsley, Dried

In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add celery, onions, and garlic and saute until onions become translucent.  Add flour to make a roux.  Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute then add the half-and-half.
In a separate pot, cook gnocchi according to package directions.  Set aside.
To the half-and-half add the carrots and chicken.  Once the mixture is thick, add the chicken broth.  Once the mixture thickens again, add the gnocchi, spinach and seasonings.  Serve when spinach is wilted and gnocchi is heated through.

My husband loves this soup from the Olive Garden.  So I had to make it for him right away when I found this recipe!  I served it with Italian Olive Oil Balsamic Bread Dip and french bread; however, if you wanted to, I bet you could Google an Olive Garden bread stick recipe.  The soup came together really fast because I used cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, used preshredded carrots, and used diced onions and celery from my freezer.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs
family recipe
serves about 6

2 Pounds Ground Hamburger
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Cup Rice, Uncooked
1 Package Dry Onion Soup Mix, Divided
1 Small Can Tomato Sauce
1 Teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet or Worcestershire  Sauce

Mix together hamburger, pepper, rice, and half of the onion soup mix (about 2 teaspoons).  Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Brown the meatballs in a frying pan, but don't cook all the way through.  Place browned meatballs in a casserole dish.  In a separate small bowl mix together the tomato sauce, 1/2 can of water, the rest of the onion soup mix, and the kitchen bouquet.  Pour sauce over meatballs and bake at 350 for 1 hour, covered.  Serve with mashed potatoes.

I was talking with my sister a few weeks ago and these meatballs came up in the conversation.  My mom use to make them for us all the time when we were growing up.  I had totally forgot about porcupine meatballs and I decided I needed to make them ASAP.  I have to say, they are as good as I remember.  Perfect weather-is-getting-cold-and-I-need-some-comfort-food!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Overnight Blueberry Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Overnight Blueberry Brown Sugar Oatmeal
serves 1

1/4 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 TeaspoonsDried Chia Seeds
2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Blueberries or enough to fill jar

Combine all ingredients in an 8 oz. jar.  Cover and shake well to combine.  Stir in blueberries.  Return lid to jar and refrigerate over night or up to 2 days.  Serve chilled.

Have you tried chia seeds yet?  If you haven't you need to immediately.  They are all the rage.  These little seeds are packed with tons of nutrition and are perfect for breakfast.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cheesy Pepperoni Bread

Cheesy Pepperoni Bread
from my mom's kitchen
makes about 8 slices

1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/3 Cup Pepperoni, Slices Cut into Quarters or Eights
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
Sliced Green Olives (Optional)
Rustic Italian Bread, Sliced (Can Pre-Toast for Extra Crunchy Bites)

Preheat oven on broil.  Mix all ingredients together (except bread), making sure the mixture is very chunky.  Spread the mixture thinly on the bread slices and stick under the broiler for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and the mixture is hot and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

This is my mom's new go-to recipe.  She makes it all the time.  It's perfect with a light main course, like a salad or a piece of fish.  Also perfect for a snack!  She says there is no need to measure the ingredients, it should be very casually thrown together.  Eye-ballin'.  

Chunky mixture

Ready to go in the oven

Broiled and ready to eat!  Well-done in a few spots.  

Monday, July 16, 2012


from my madre
serves 8-10

10 Lasagna Noodles, Give or Take, Raw
1 to 1 1/2 Pound Ground Hamburger and/or Sausage
1 Jar Pasta Sauce
12 Oz. Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Eggs
Italian Seasoning, To Taste, Optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown meat in a large skillet.  Add the pasta sauce to the meat, rinsing the jar out with a few tablespoons of water and add the water to the meat.  Set aside.  In a small or medium bowl, mix together the eggs, ricotta cheese, and the Italian seasoning, if using.  Lay half of the raw noodles on the bottom of a sprayed 9 x 13 glass or metal baking pan.  Spread half of the Ricotta mixture over the noodles, then sprinkle half of the cheese on the Ricotta.  Then spread the meat mixture on the cheese, making sure the noodles are all covered. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, noodles, Ricotta, mozzarella, and meat, making sure the noodles are completely covered.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until hot and bubbly throughout.  Can top with additional mozzarella cheese for the last 5 - 10 minutes and finish uncovered.

Lasagna is one of those things that everyone knows how to make (or should know how to make).  I think, with lasagna, less is more.  Perfect for a weeknight meal.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pesto Chicken Burgers

Pesto Chicken Burgers
from Every Day Food Magazine Jul/Aug 2012
serves 4

1 Pound Ground Chicken
1/4 Cup Pesto, Divided
Salt and Pepper
4 Slices Tomato
3 Oz. Mozzarella, Sliced
4 Pieces Focaccia, Halved Or Buns

Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.  Combine 1 tablespoon pesto, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and chicken and form into 4 patties.  Lightly oil the hot grill.  Brush tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill patties, covered, 4 minutes.  Flip patties and top with cheese.  Add tomatoes to grill and cook, flipping once, until tomatoes are lightly charred and burgers are opaque throughout.  Assemble sandwiches in focaccia with a spread of pesto, burgers, and tomatoes.

These burgers were super flavorful and moist.  And I don't even like tomatoes that much!  I was concerned that the patties would fall apart while cooking but they held together beautifully.  This whole meal took about 10 minutes start to finish.  Perfect for a summer evening!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DIY Chili Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

DIY Chili Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Small Pasta, Such as Shells
1 Pound Ground Beef
2 1/4 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup of Veggies, Such as Canned Tomatoes or Green Peppers (Optional)

Mix together corn starch, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and sugar.  Can premix spices and store with pasta to use for a later time.  In a skillet, brown ground beef.  Add water and milk to beef and bring to a boil.  Add pasta, spices, and veggies, if desired.  Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes until pasta is tender.  In the last few minutes of cooking, add cheese and cover the pot again.  When the pasta is tender and the cheese is melted, uncover and take off the heat and let stand for a few minutes so the sauce will continue to thicken.

When M and I were still in school and newly married we ate a lot of hamburger helper.  It was simple and convenient after a long day of school and work.  However, I wasn't a big fan of all the preservatives that go in there.  Now, I know that this isn't super healthy either, but it is good comfort food and very convenient on those busy days.  If you would like to check out other varieties, go to the link above, she's got every kind of DIY HH imaginable!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pesto Peas with Bacon and Red Potatoes

Pesto Peas with Bacon and Red Potatoes
inspired by Food Network Magazine 50 Things To Do With Pesto 
serves 4 as a side dish

3 Slices of Bacon, Chopped Into 1-inch Pieces
2 Red Potatoes, Cubed Into 1/2-inch Pieces
1 Cup Frozen Peas, Heated
2 Tablespoons Pesto
Salt and Pepper, To Taste

Add bacon and potatoes to a skillet and cook until bacon is crisp and potatoes are fork tender.  Add heated peas and stir in pesto.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I'm a bad blogger... I missed my 2 year anniversary!  I had a whole basil themed week idea months ago but completely dropped the ball on that one.  So, to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of Basil Development, I give you this, a recipe with pesto.   Basil, as you know, is a main ingredient in pesto. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Almond Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting

Almond Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting
makes 24 cupcakes

1 Box White Cake Mix
Butter, Melted
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract

Follow instructions on box mix except substitute melted butter for the oil and add almond extract to the mix. Bake as directed.

3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 to 2 Tablespoons Milk

Beat powdered sugar and butter together on low speed until well blended then increase to speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes.  Add almond and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 more minute, adding more milk if needed.

M and I just celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary.  To commemorate, I thought it would be fun to make these cupcakes since our wedding cake was a white almond.  For our main course we had Jimmy John's, which we also had on our wedding day.  I have to admit I sometimes feel like I'm cheating when I bake with a mix.  However, when I add a little something extra and make it my own they can taste delectable.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies
family recipe
makes 3 dozen cookies

1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Shortening
1/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Egg
Additional Sugar For Topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, beat together shortening, butter, peanut butter, and white and brown sugars.  Mix in flour mixture. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and dip the balls into additional sugar if desired.  Flatten crisscross style with a fork or ridged end of a meat mallet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or just until edges begin to brown.

My husband eats peanut butter like it's going out of style.  Do you remember that commercial where this mom sends her college daughter a jar of peanut butter and she sits around eating it by the spoonful?  That's what my husband does. Every day. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Copycat Granite City Dip

Copycat Granite City Dip
makes 1 1/2 cups of dip

1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Dill Weed
1/8 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Worcestershire

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Garnish with a another little sprinkle of dried dill.  For best results, chill in the fridge a few hours before serving.

I'm usually not a bit fan of copycat recipes.  I feel like the copies have high standards and they are never quite as good as the original.  However, this recipe comes pretty darn close to the real deal.  Of course it's amazing with some seasoned waffle fries, but it's also a great sandwich spread or veggie dip.  I haven't tried this yet, but I imagine that you could substitute Greek yogurt for some or all of the sour cream and mayo and it would be just as tasty!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pink Peppermint Cake

Pink Peppermint Cake
Family Recipe

1 Box White Cake Mix
1 Stick of Butter, Sotftened*
1 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
Red Food Coloring
1 Jar of Fudge (Mrs. Richards is best!)
16 oz. Cool Whip**
1/2 Teaspoon Peppermint

Make cake mix as directed except substitute butter for oil.  Mix in 1 teaspoon peppermint and add a few drops of red food coloring.  Bake as directed on box. Let the cake cool.

When the cake has cooled, spread the fudge on top.  Mix together the cool whip, 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint and a few drops of red food coloring.  Spread the cool whip over the fudge.  Plate using your fanciest china and enjoy!

*Can substitute shortening for some of the butter for a different texture!
**Can substitute real whip cream for the cool whip.  Beat together 3 cups heaving whipping cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

I've been holding out on you.  This recipe is one of my favorites and I'm just now posting it!  I only have it once a year since it's the only cake that I will have on my birthday.  I'm very particular about the way it's made, it's gotta be just right!  On my 21st birthday, my family came up to visit me at college and, of course, were bringing up my cake to help me celebrate.  I had a particularly rough week and was especially looking forward to having a slice. My mom got all the forks and plates ready and I lifted up the lid of the cake and to my horror I found that it was GREEN!  Not my PINK peppermint cake!  My mom had made it with Creme De Mint instead of the peppermint extract and as a result, I had a green cake.  We still laugh about that now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
from The Girl Who Ate Everything
makes about 36 cookies

2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup (2 Sticks) Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Orange Extract
2 Cups White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a large bowl beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, vanilla extract, and orange extract until smooth.  Gradually add flour mixture until combined.  Fold in white chocolate chips.  Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Cool for several minutes on cookies sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

These cookies were an uphill battle.  I had to do some substituting because I ran out of butter and I realized in the middle of making these that I was being sloppy with the measurements.  Basically these had the potential to be a huge failure.  However, because I'm an amazing cook, they were infinitely successful!  And I know that when I make them again they will be even more amazing.  Also note my new stoneware baking sheet.  Now that I know not to stick stoneware directly under the broiler I think that we may have a long and happy life together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Apple Pie

Apple Pie
family recipe
serves 8

2 1/3 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Shortening
1/4 Cup Butter
1 or 2 Tablespoons Water

About 6 Cups Apples, Peeled and Chopped.  We used 4 Granny Smith Apples and 2 Honey Crisp
1 Tablespoon Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Butter

For the crust:  In a medium bowl mix together flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening and butter.  Add water a little at a time. The dough should be pretty crumbly.  Set aside.

For the filling:  In a large bowl toss the chopped apples with the lemonade concentrate.  In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, corn starch, and cinnamon.  Combine sugar mixture with the apples.  Set aside.

Back to the crust:  Divide the dough into two parts, one a little bigger than the other (about 40:60 ratio).  Take the larger and roll it out on a lightly floured surface, using additional flour if needed so that it doesn't stick to the board or the rolling pin.  Carefully transfer the crust to a 10-inch pie pan.  If the dough breaks just wet your fingers with a little water and patch the crust back together.  Make sure the dough goes all the way up the sides of the pan.  Spread about a tablespoon of butter on the crust then add the apples.  Roll out the other ball of dough, same as the bottom crust and transfer carefully on top of the apples.  Cut some slits on top if yours made it all in one piece and bake it at 375 for about an hour until crust is golden brown and nice and bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

In honor of Pi Day, March 14, I thought it would be fun to have pie!  I'm visiting my parents for a few days so I suggested to my mother that we bake an apple pie since she is the resident pie expert.  Also, I don't have to do all the dishes. My mom is a serious pie baker... so are all of her sisters, my aunts.  At family gatherings we usually have about 6 different options of pie.  Minimum.  Mmmmmmm....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cheesecake Dip

Cheesecake Dip
serves 8

8 Oz. Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter, Softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).  Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat an additional 3-4 minutes.  Serve with pretzels, oreos, graham crackers, strawberries, animal crackers,  teddy grahams, sliced apples, or whatever else you think would be awesome.

Cheesecake is my all-time favorite dessert.  This dip is all the flavor with little-to-no effort needed.  Try a dollop on top of a bowl of fresh fruit for a little treat or just eat it by the spoonful :)  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


makes one 8 x 8 pan

1 Stick of Butter, Melted
1 Cup Brown Sugar, Light or Dark
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
(I like to add:) 5 Reese's Cups, Chopped, About 3/4 Cup or 3/4 Cups Chocolate Chips, Nuts, Other Candies, or a Combination!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan.  Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl, beat until smooth.  Beat in egg, then vanilla.  Add salt, stir in flour.  Fold in Reese's.  Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack before cutting them.

This is a great basic recipe to have.  It's quick and easy to whip up and it's easily adaptable to your taste.  Make this for dessert tonight!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Pork Butt
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1 Can Cola
1/2 Bottle BBQ Sauce (About 1 Cup)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Generously coat pork butt with seasoning salt.  Place the seasoned pork, cola, and BBQ sauce in a dutch oven and cook for 4-5 hours or until the temp reaches 145 degrees.  Shred the meat with two forks and serve on a bun with extra BBQ sauce if needed.

Simple. Fast.  Delicious.  Melt in  your mouth goodness.  Use whatever cola you have in your fridge, even diet.  You could also do this in a crock pot on low for 4-5 hours.  Serve with whipped potatoes and a side of delicious veggies.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jammin' Turkey Sandwich

Jammin' Turkey Sandwich

2 Slices of Bread
Sliced Deli Turkey
Dijon Mustard
Apricot Preserves

Butter both slices of bread. Assemble the sandwich, keeping the butter on the outside, with the mustard on one piece of bread, then the turkey, cheese and the apricot preserves on the other slice of bread.  Throw the sandwich into a pan over medium low heat and cook for a few minutes on each side until the toast is golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Cut into triangles :)

I love a good grilled cheese, but sometimes you got to step it up a little.  This gives you a little protein and a lot of flavor. Great for a lunch or an afternoon snack.

Friday, February 17, 2012


from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook
makes about 8, 3-inch pancakes

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg, Beaten
1 Cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (I used vegetable oil)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk, and oil.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Pour about 1/4 cup batter into a 3-inch circle onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet.  Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are golden brown, turning to second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and edges are slightly dry. Serve with maple syrup.

Pancakes are the ultimate comfort food.  When I need extra comfort, I sprinkle milk chocolate chips into the batter and serve with peanut butter, like in the picture.  These are so easy and fast to whip together, just like these waffles!  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Eating on a Budget

Eating on a Budget

Raise your hand if you don't like saving money.  Yeah, that's what I thought.  Although saving money on your grocery bill is sometimes easier said than done.  I've complied a few tips that I try to do to make that process a little easier.

7 Tips For Stretching Your Grocery Bill

1.  Eat less meat.  Instead try to:
2.  Eat more beans, legumes, and eggs.  These are all inexpensive ways to add protein to your meals.  I also like to add beans to recipes to stretch them out a little more.
3.  Buy in bulk.  If you have room for storage, buying in bulk can save you big.
4.  Take time to write a shopping list and search for coupons.  Impulse buys and going shopping hungry can defiantly hurt your grocery bill.  And it seems like those impulse buys are never a healthy choice anyways!  
5.  BYOB - bring your own reusable bags.  A lot of places are giving a small discount or incentives for bringing your own bags.  Plus, you help the environment.
6.  Make your own.  Cooking from scratch is a great way to save money.  Too busy on weeknights?  Spend a weekend afternoon prepping for the week by planning, chopping, and cooking so that you have less to do on the busy nights.
7.  Eat smaller portions.  One of the worst feelings for me is feeling stuffed.  I like to eat till I'm content instead of full.  Eating smaller portions not only makes your meals go farther, you'll feel better when you're done eating.  One trick I have is to eat on smaller plates because it makes your meal look bigger than it actually is.

For some more recipes and tips check out these sites.
Budget Bytes
Skinny Taste (see Under $10 tags on the right column)
Pinterest  (Ideas x one million)

What do you do to save on the grocery bill?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mason Jar Salads

Mason Jar Salads

I'll admit it, I could defiantly use more veggies in my life.  But a good salad takes a lot of prep.  Enter mason jar salads!  Assemble a few salads and they keep in the fridge for up to four days.  Put the dressing in the bottom, add veggies, and greens on top.  As long as the greens don't touch the dressing, they will stay fresh.  This is a great way to use up leftovers!  Perfect to bring with you for lunch, and ready to go when you go to the fridge hungry and don't want to make anything.  Enjoy!

For these mason jar salads I used:  Italian dressing, mozerella cheese, shredded carrots, chopped green pepper, chickpeas, and spinach.

This one was: ranch dressing, chopped green pepper, green onions, diced ham, cheddar cheese, shredded carrots and spinach.  

*I've noticed that if I use strong flavored ingredients like onion or hard boiled egg, the flavor and smell seems to intensify in the jar.  Still tastes great but you may end up sitting alone at lunch!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fabulous French Dip with Whipped Potatoes

Fabulous French Dip with Whipped Potatoes

French Dip
adapted from Betty Crocker

Roast (Such As Arm Roast)
2 Cans Beef Broth
1 1 Oz. Packet Onion Soup Mix
Your Favorite French Dip Bread

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a dutch oven, place roast, 1 can of beef broth and soup mix.  Cover and cook in the oven.  My roast was pretty small, only about a pound, and it was done in 4 hours.  A two or three pound roast would take 6 or more hours.  Check for doneness by inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and it's done when it reads 165 degrees.  To serve, take out roast and add the last can of beef broth to the juice in the dutch oven and heat on the stove or put back in the oven.  Shred the meat with two forks and distribute on the bread.  Serve the warmed juice in little bowls for dipping the sandwiches.

I don't even think I can describe how good this is... Literally one of the best meals I have ever had!  You'll just have to take my word for it... so good...  You could also prepare this in a crock pot, same method just cook on low 6 - 8 hours.

Whipped Potatoes
serves 4

2 Russet Potatoes
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Oz. Cream Cheese
Chicken Stock
Spoonful of Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Pierce the potatoes with a fork and microwave for 10 minutes, flipping them over half way, until they are fork tender.  While the potatoes are cooking, melt butter and cream cheese together in a medium pot over low heat.  When the potatoes are done, give them a rough chop and add them to the pot.  Add a good splash each of milk and chicken stock (start with a little liquid, you can add more later) and add the sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Let it all heat up for a few minutes then whip the potatoes with a hand mixer until desired consistency is reached, adding more liquid if needed.  Serve with Fabulous French Dip!

This is another example of a recipe that I thought was scary but turns out is incredibly easy.  I didn't even use a recipe, just threw together whatever I had in my fridge.  The key here was eyeballing.  You could use all chicken stock and Greek yogurt for a healthier mash, or all half-and-half and cream cheese for a more sinful smash.   I ended up leaving the skins on because A) they're healthy B) because I'm lazy or C) both.  The answer is B!  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dipped Pretzels

Dipped Pretzels

1 Bag of Pretzel Rods
1 Bag of Almond Bark (I only needed about 3/4 of the bag for the almost 30 pretzels I made)
Assorted Toppings such as sprinkles, melted chocolate, crushed nuts, crushed oreos, candies, etc.

Melt almond bark according to package directions.  Dip pretzels in the melted almond bark and place on wax paper.  Sprinkle toppings while the almond bark is still melted.  Repeat!

I am a huge fan of sweet/salty goodness.  I'm surprised it took me so long to make these.  They do look a little intimidating, but they are ridiculously easy!  And elegant.  And delicious.  And fun.  And festive!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Skillet Cookie

Skillet Cookie
serves 8

1 Stick of Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (I used half white and half milk chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a 8- or 10- inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat.  Let rest until the pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.  Mix the egg into the butter/sugar mixture and use a fork to whisk it into the  mixture.  Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir the mixture until smooth and well mixed.  Stir in the chips. Place in the oven for 15-25 minutes or until starting to turn golden on the top around the edges, but still soft in the center.  Serve with ice cream, if desired.

How fun is this recipe?  You get one big cookie instead of 2 dozen smaller ones, which is perfect when there's only two of us to eat it all.  And you only use one pan!  This pinterest inspired recipe is my new guilty pleasure.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baked Penne

Baked Penne
from Kraft
serves 6

3/4 Pound Ground Italian Sausage
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Cup Chopped Green Pepper
1 24 Oz. Jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 10 Oz. Tub Philly Italian and Herb Cooking Creme
1/2 Pound Cooked Penne Pasta
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown sausage with onions and green peppers in large nonstick skillet.  Stir in spaghetti sauce and cooking cream.  Add pasta; mix lightly.  Spoon mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish and top with cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through.  Bake uncovered last 5 minutes.

Have you used Philly cooking creme yet??? It's amazing.  This is what it looks like:
They've got at least 4 different flavors and tons of recipes online.  All the recipes are simple, fast and perfect for a busy weeknight meal.  This particular recipe was uber comfort food, an overall win and a crowd pleaser.  Next time I make it, i'll veg it up with zucchini, spinach, and/or more peppers.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bean Salad For A Crowd

Bean Salad For A Crowd
from my mom's kitchen
serves a lot!

For The Salad:
1 Can Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed
1 Can Pinto Beans, Drained and Rinsed
1 Can Corn, Drained
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped Finely
1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped

For The Dressing:
1/3 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1/3 Cup Sugar
Salt and Pepper, To Taste

In a large bowl, mix all salad ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mix ingredients for dressing and pour over the bean salad.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley (optional).  Easy!

Bring this crowd-pleasing side dish to your next potluck.  Very easy and versatile!  Add whatever beans you have lying around and switch up the veggies to your taste.  Since the dressing is a 1:1:1 ratio, you can make this salad as big or as small as you need!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip
adapted from Alton Brown's recipe on
serves 6 as an appetizer

10 Oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach, Heated According To Package Directions
14 Oz. Can Artichoke Hearts, Drained and Chopped
6 Oz. Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Mayo
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning, To Taste (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray, set aside.  In a medium microwave safe bowl, microwave cream cheese until hot and soft.  Stir in sour cream and mayo.  Add seasonings, spinach and artichokes.  Spread into the baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, bread cubes, or veggies.

Happy New Year!  I thought I would make this classic appetizer to kick off 2012.  It breaks all the 'healthier you' resolutions, but I'm sure you could justify it if you use low fat everything and dunk carrots in it(it does have veggies in it!)