Sunday, December 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Zesty BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

It has been so long since I have cooked anything new!  Life has been a little too crazy for anything but quick and easy around here.  Earlier this week, I needed a slow cooker menu item and wasn't in the mood for my usual recipes.  I found this one on, and it turned out great!

Slow Cooker Zesty BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

6 frozen chicken breasts (I halved this whole recipe and it was perfect for my family)
12 oz. barbecue sauce (a tip here: use a good quality sauce. I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 c. italian dressing
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, italian dressing, brown sugar and worcestershire sauce.  Place your frozen chicken breasts in your slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.  When the chicken is cooked, shred it and stir it well before serving.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This chocolate chip cookie recipe was given to me years ago by my good friend, Amber.  We already have a couple of chocolate chip cookie recipes on here, but this one is a little different than the others.  This one is a smaller batch size--really the perfect batch size.  My other two recipes are huge.  This recipe is easy to whip up, and delicious, and also calls for an entire bag of chocolate chips!  With that much chocolaty goodness in there, you really can't go wrong!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
by: Amber Severts

2/3 c. butter (room temperature)
2/3 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar (I always use a little less sugar than it calls for)
1 c. white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 package chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar.  Add the vanilla and eggs and mix it well.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir it to combine.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop them by teaspoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake them for 8-10 minutes, or until they just start to brown.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thai Chicken With Basil

We had an abundance of basil from our garden this summer.  Basil is one of my favorite herbs and it was so nice to be able to go pick it fresh from my backyard.  Plus, it saved me money!!  This is one of many dishes that we made that used our fresh basil.  It was delicious and easy!

Thai Chicken With Basil
adapted from:

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce (the original recipe called for Asian fish sauce, but this is what I had)
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 onion, cut into thin slices (I used dehydrated onion)
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 c. lightly packed basil leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, water and sugar.  Add the chicken and let it soak up those yummy flavors, while you begin cooking your onion.  In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook it for 2 minutes.  Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and stir it for another 30 seconds.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and add it to the frying pan.  Cook the chicken until it is no longer pink inside.  Then add the marinade to the frying pan and cook it for another minute.  Remove it from the heat and gently stir in 1 cup of the basil leaves.  Top it with the remaining basil leaves when you serve it over rice.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Homemade Freezer Salsa

This year, my tomatoes went absolutely crazy in my garden.  We are not huge tomato eaters, so in order to use them up, I made freezer salsa.  The rest I just washed, dried and froze them by 10's (or so) in a freezer bag.  Then, when I want fresh salsa in the middle of January, I will take them out, toss them into a pot of boiling water, remove them and take the skins off, and I'll be ready to start a batch of freezer salsa!  At least I hope that is what I will do, I've never tried it until this year, but my neighbor assures me that it works.

Freezer Salsa
by: Carolyn

10-12 tomatoes
2 small peppers (I used some from my garden, and I don't know what variety I planted.  But they are small, light green, and not very hot.  Does that help?)
1 serrano pepper, sliced, with the seeds removed (you can leave the seeds if you want more heat in your salsa--we're a mild family, around here)
handful of cilantro
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. dried, chopped onion, rehydrated (actually, just slightly less)
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Blanch your tomatoes by putting them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then taking them out and putting them right into a bowl of freezing cold water.  Then the skins should slide right off.  Remove the stems, cut them in half from the top and then squeeze out the seeds.  Toss them in a blender and blend them up until they are the consistency that you like.  In a food processor, finely chop your peppers (whatever kind those were...), serrano pepper, and cilantro.  In a large pot, stir together the tomatoes, pepper mixture, garlic, onion, sugar, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer it for 10-15 minutes.  Feel free to pull out your tortilla chips and start tasting it now.  I added things and got it to the flavor I wanted, while I was cooking it.  Pour it into your jars, or containers and freeze it until you are ready for it.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Creamy New Potato Soup

This is the time of year when soup and vegetables from my garden sound so appealing.  The other night I was really wanting something.  I just wasn't sure what.  So I let my taste buds lead the way, and I ended up with this soup.  It was delicious, and Fall-y, and worked for a sick neighbor, too!

Creamy New Potato Soup
by: Carolyn

4 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. onion powder
small potatoes, or larger ones, cut into chunks (I used all my little "new" potatoes from my garden)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 c. milk
1 bag of frozen peas
fresh ground pepper
ham, cut into small pieces

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth, onion powder and salt to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, whisk together the butter and flour over medium-high heat.  Slowly pour in the evaporated milk, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until it begins to thicken.  Add this mixture to your pot with the potatoes and stir it gently.  Stir in your frozen peas (I added about 3/4 of the bag, but you can add more or less, according to what you like).  Add your sliced ham and milk, and bring it to a low boil, then turn the heat down and cook it until your peas are tender.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pickled Beets

My husband's grandfather Theurer used to pickle beets and Dustin grew up loving them.  He has been begging me for years to make some pickled beets, and they just sound so disgusting that I couldn't bring myself to do it.  This year, we planted two rows of beets in our garden (which was a big sacrifice, in my opinion, giving up two whole rows of space).  The weather must have been perfect for beets this year, because they grew like weeds!  I used the leaves for green smoothies, and we pulled all the beets last week and pickled them, using Dustin's grandpa's recipe.  So, I am putting this on here for future posterity (and maybe for future me, as I will probably get talked into this again).  Now these are not spiced pickled beets.  Dustin's grandpa didn't make them that way, so Dustin didn't want them that way.  These are just regular ol' pickled beets.  If you want spices, google it.  There are tons of recipes.

Pickled Beets
from: Herman LeRoy Theurer

1 quart cider vinegar
4 c. brown or white sugar (or mix them, like I did)
1 pint beet juice
1 Tbsp. salt

First, wash your beets and remove the greens.  Boil them for 30-45 minutes, or until they are tender.  Remove them from the water and the skin will easily peel off.  Slice them into chunks, or slices, or if they are small enough, you can leave them whole.  Put them into quart size jars, leaving about an inch of headspace.  Meanwhile, in a large pot, stir together the vinegar, sugar, beet juice and salt and bring it to a boil.  Carefully pour it into the jars (with beets in them), leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Then you will need to put lids on your jars and process them, based on your altitude.  For my altitude, I had to process them for 40 minutes.  Leave them alone for a couple of weeks, to let the beets pickle (this has been the hardest part for my husband!).  

I don't know how many beets we used, but I did end up making another batch and a half of the sauce to pour over the beets.  You may need to make more if you have more beets than sauce.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Easiest Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Ever

One of those yummy recipes came across my Facebook feed yesterday, and I couldn't resist.  This is seriously easy.

1 yellow or white cake mix (I used yellow)
2 eggs, beaten
5 Tbsp butter, melted
2 cups mini chocolate chip cookies (although I'll try it with regular chocolate chips next time)

Mix everything together and spread into a greased 11 X 13 baking dish
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Cool, cut and devour.  So good!  I'll edit and add a picture when I make these again.

Mashed Potatoes and Ham Casserole

Tonight I needed to come up with a quick dinner without a trip to the store.  I had ham in the freezer & some packages of mashed potatoes to use, and I found this recipe online.  I've already lost the link but it was so easy I actually remember how to make it.  It actually turned out quite delicious.

Mashed Potatoes and Ham Casserole

4 cups mashed potatoes (I used instant potato pearls)
1 1/2 cups diced ham
1/2 onion
2 Tbsp butter (used separately)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup crushed cornflakes

Dice the onion very fine (I so love my Pampered Chef chopper) and place it in a bowl with 1 Tbsp butter. Microwave the onion and butter, uncovered, for 2 minutes (stirring after one minute)
Prepare your mashed potatoes, and add the onion, ham, salt, pepper and garlic powder (you could use minced garlic instead or leave it out and I'm sure it would be fine).
Grease the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, and pour the potato mixture into it.
Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, layer that with the crushed corn flakes, and cut up your remaining 1 Tbsp butter over the top.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kalua Pork (Gluten Free)

My mother-in-law is in town again.  That means that I have to think Gluten Free in my cooking.  Which is actually pretty hard for me to do.  My friend, Jacque, was also in town and told me to try this recipe, given to her from her sis-in-law, who does all gluten free cooking.  She actually has a great website:  Anyway, this recipe was super easy (in fact, it was ridiculously easy) and very tasty.  And, of course, gluten free.

Kalua Pork (or is it Khalua?)
from: Jacque

1 2-3 lb. pork roast
1/2 Tbsp. salt
4 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1 c. water

In a crockpot, pour the salt, liquid smoke and water over the pork roast.  Cook it on high for 6-8 hours.  When it is done, shred it with a fork and serve it over rice.  You can add pineapple to the top of it, which I thought added so much to the taste.  But I do love sweet with salty.  You could also get creative with veggies, or cheese, or whatever you wanted to spice it up a bit.  But it was delicious simple, too!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Spicy Sausage Pasta

When I was in Ohio visiting Nicole after she had her babies, a friend brought them dinner and this is what she brought.  It tasted soooo delicious.  I finally got around to making it for my family, and I must admit, things always taste better when someone else makes it for you.  That being said, it was still a delicious meal, creamy and flavorful and definitely worth making again.  Especially if you have a sausage lover in your household.  

Spicy Sausage Pasta

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. smoked sausage
1 1/2 c. diced onions
2 cloves minced garlic
2 c. chicken broth
1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, mild
1/2 c. heavy cream
8 oz. penne pasta
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 c. sliced green onions

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and onions and cook until browned and cooked through.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir it all together.  Bring it to a boil, cover skillet and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer it until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the green onion on the top.  If you want, you can broil it in your oven until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Slow Cooker Three Cheese Chicken and Noodles

I have a slow cooker cook book that I have used a few times lately, and have been happy each time.  This one was an easy, macaroni type recipe, with a little bit of a twist.  Peppers and chicken give it a more adult taste, and also a little bit of spice.  I really enjoyed it!

Three Cheese Chicken and Noodles
adapted from: Crock Pot brand cookbook

1 chicken breast
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. diced green or red bell pepper
1 c. shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 (8 oz.) package of egg noodles

Combine all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, except the egg noodles, and stir.  Cook for 6 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high.  Take your chicken breast out and shred it and then add it back in.  Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions, and the add them to your slow cooker and stir gently until they are coated evenly.  (The recipe actually says to cook them, then add them to the crock pot at the beginning and cook it all together.  I was afraid of super soft noodles falling apart, so I did it this way.  But it might be worth trying the other way to save a few minutes at dinner time.)  Enjoy!  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

This is a re-creation of my friend's chicken salad sandwiches.  It uses very little mayo, so it is a little healthier than other options.  It is really easy to throw together, especially if you use canned chicken.  The recipe I came up with only served two, so be prepared to double or triple it if you are making for a big family.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
by: Carolyn

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 (5 oz.) can of chicken
1 handful of craisens
1 handful of sliced almonds
2 large croissants

In a bowl, combine the mayo, chicken broth, garlic, onion and sugar and stir it until it is smooth.  Open and drain your chicken and add it to the bowl and stir well.  Add the almonds and craisens and mix it all together.  Spread the mixture on your sliced croissants and enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sausage and Pepper Pasta

I haven't posted anything on here for a long time, not because I didn't want to, but purely because I haven't cooked in, oh, nine months-ish.  I made dinner tonight with a bunch of things I needed to use up and decided to post it as a quick and simple meal idea if you want to spice up the old go-to pasta dish.  I'm leaving the amount open-ended depending on how many you're cooking for.

Sausage and Pepper Pasta

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
sweet peppers, thinly sliced
fully cooked sausage*, chopped into 1/2 inch slices
sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
your favorite jar of pasta sauce
linguine noodles
fresh basil, chopped

Cook linguine according to package directions.  Set aside.  

Heat olive oil on medium-high heat.  Saute onion and peppers until tender.  Add sausage and sun-dried tomatoes, saute until heated through.  Dump in pasta sauce and stir until hot.  Add linguine noodles and toss until everything's combined.  Sprinkle fresh basil over the top and serve.

*Use any sausage that you like: Italian sausage, chicken, pork, or turkey sausage, sausage with cheese in it, sausage with herbs in it... you get the idea.  I used chicken sausage with cheese, red peppers, and garlic! If sausage is uncooked, slice thin and saute in a separate pan with a little olive oil until cooked through, then add to the pasta.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Strawberry Cream Cheese Jello Dessert with Pretzel Crust

I have a great friend who is an awesome cook and loves to share her food with others.  She has randomly brought me dinner, or dessert, a number of times, and I have never been disappointed.  She brought me this yummy concoction last fall, and I finally made it a few weeks ago for Easter.  It is sweet and salty and oh so delicious!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Jello Dessert

2 c. crushed pretzels
3/4 c. melted butter
3 Tbsp. white sugar
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 (8 oz.) container whipped topping
2 (3 oz.) packages strawberry jello
2 c. boiling water
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen strawberries (I used fresh strawberries and cut them up the night before and put them in the freezer so that they would be frozen, to help set my jello)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, stir together the crushed pretzels, butter and 3 tablespoons of white sugar.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until it is set.  Then set it aside to cool completely.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar.  Fold in the whipped topping.  Spread that mixture onto the cooled crust.  Make sure that you spread it all the way to the edge of the pan (and up against the edge) so that your jello (next step) doesn't leak through to your crust.  In another bowl, dissolve your jello in the boiling water.  Stir in the frozen strawberries and allow it to begin to set (the original recipe says to wait until it is the consistency of egg whites before you pour it on).  Pour it over the cream cheese layer and spread it evenly.  Put it in your fridge until the jello has set completely.  Then serve and enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Homemade Play Dough

The other day the kids wanted to play with play dough.  Of course, the play dough was hard and yucky.  And, I really needed them to entertain themselves for an hour.  So we whipped ourselves up a batch of homemade play dough, which takes about 5 minutes, from start to finish.  And it is super soft.  And we added lavender essential oil so it smells nice.  We did green food coloring in ours, and none of the color came off on our hands. This recipe makes a lot of play dough, and if you store it in a ziplock bag, it will last for a long time.  If you have never made play dough, you really should!  (I'm saying this to my sisters, who all have young kids and probably hard play dough, as well.)

Homemade Play Dough

2 c. flour
2 c. warm water
1 c. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. cream of tarter (it said this was optional, but I used it)
food coloring
scented oils

In a large sauce pan, mix all of the ingredients together and stir it over low heat.  The dough will start to thicken.  Keep stirring.  It gets thick pretty fast.  When the dough pulls away from the side and clumps together in the center of the pan, remove it from the heat.  If it is still sticky, cook it a little longer.   When it has cooled, remove it from the pan and play!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I have been meaning to post this recipe for a long time (almost 2 months to be exact) and today I decided I would finally do it!  I needed to share this because it has changed our life.  We have Stromboli all the time now.  We make it for friends who come over for dinner, we make it for people who are sick and need a meal, and we make it for ourselves because we like it that much.

The first time I made this recipe I did it for Valentines day and thought I would get creative by shaping it into a heart.  I will admit, I was pretty pleased with the result.  It looked so beautiful!  Even with the cheese spilling out and the dough busting out at the bottom, it was still so goldeny delicious.  I got the recipe from this blog and I used her pizza dough recipe too.  The only change I really made from her recipe is that I didn't ...This is Eliza!

My post was highjacked.  As I was saying, the only real change I made was that I left the sauce off and we dipped our Stromboli! (you always have to say it with an exclamation point) in the sauce while we ate it.

The pizza dough recipe is this:
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey {or sugar}
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup...depending on the heat & humidity}
for the cheesy garlic bread sticks-
1/2 recipe Fail-Proof Pizza Dough from above
2 tablespoons softened salted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese {use the real stuff!}
1/4 pound grated mozzarella cheese
{salt & pepper, if desired}


For the pizza dough--In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix. Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when you touch it it doesn't stick to your hands. Once you reach this stage, knead for 6 minutes. Turn a timer on and walk away! Resist the temptation to stop earlier than 6 minutes! That seems to be the magical number. The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean! {*This is the point when you could freeze your dough!! Divide into portions, place into freezer bags, seal removing all air and freeze. To use, remove from freezer and let sit out to get to room temperature and double in size; 6-8 hours. Then use as you'd like.} Lightly grease the bowl & the dough so it doesn't dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours. That's it! Use as desired.
For the Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks- Preheat oven to 500 degrees with pizza stone inside. {If you don't have a pizza stone, use an upside down cookie sheet...a tip I got from Natalie!}
Mix butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
Spread pizza dough out into a 12-inch circle on parchment paper. {This makes it easier to transfer to the pizza stone.}
Spread the butter and garlic mixture over dough and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired. {That step is totally optional!}
I copied the recipe straight from Lauren's Latest.  I love her site too, in case you are in the mood to browse a food blog.
Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 500, split the dough in two and then roll out a rectangle shape.  spread the cheese on one-third of the dough and then spread your toppings on top of that.  My favorite toppings are red onion, diced bell pepper, and spinach.  
Once the toppings are on, grab an egg and beat it (just beat it! No one wants to be defeated!) in a bowl.  Fold the shorter edges in about an inch and baste the folded edges and the third of the dough left without toppings.  

Roll the dough, beginning at the end with the toppings and roll until shaped like this:

Only you can keep it shaped as a straight log if you don't love your family as much as I do...

Place the log on top of a pizza stone or upside down pizza pan.  I wasn't sure why it said an upside down pan but then I tried it without and the Stromboli! didn't brown quite as evenly.  Next, baste the log with the egg and sprinkle pizza flavored herbs on top (I use a spice I own called Pizza Spice but I'm sure a little basil, oregano and garlic would do just fine) and some parmesan cheese. Slit the top of the Stromboli! every inch and a half or so.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and beautiful.

Cut it up into slices and dip in whatever favorite pizza sauce you might own.  Or  if you're like me and never have pizza sauce on hand, whatever spaghetti sauce you have lying around.

And viola!  You are done and ready to eat your Stromboli!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jello Poke Cake

This is a classic recipe for a jello poke cake.  Did everyone's mom make this when they were growing up?  It definitely reminds me of my mom.  The other day I needed to make dessert on St. Patty's Day.  I was going to make coconut tres leches cake, which is fabulous, but I ran out of steam with my busy day.  Instead, I did this poke cake, using lime jello.  It was an easy way to do a lightly sweet, delicious cake, and it was green!  Perfect!

Jello Poke Cake
this is really from my mom, but I got my measurements from

1 white cake mix
1 package (3 oz) jello, any flavor that you want
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
1 tub whipped topping

Mix and bake your cake, according to the package directions.  Let the cake cool.  Using a fork, poke the cake all over.  In a bowl, mix the jello with the 1 cup of boiling water.  Stir it for 2 minutes, or until it is completely dissolved.  Stir in the cold water.  Pour the liquid jello all over the cake.  Put it in the fridge for a few hours.  Spread your whipped topping over the top before you serve it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Super Moist Almond Poppy Seed Bundt Cake (Which Can Be Done Gluten Free!)

My mother-in-law is gluten intolerant.  She is in town this week and so we tried out a new cake one night.  This is a semi-homemade cake, and it is really only gluten free because of the gluten free cake mix that she bought.  You could make the cake non-gluten free by using a regular old cake mix.  And it would probably still be delicious.  But, if you can't do gluten, this ended up being easy, moist and delicious.  My mother-in-law says she will never make gluten-free cake any other way now!

Almond Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
adapted from:

1 yellow cake mix (we used a gluten free cake mix)
1 package instant vanilla pudding (the small box)
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 c. water
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs
2 tsp. almond extract

Almond Glaze
I didn't really measure my ingredients for this glaze, but I used appoximately:
2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. butter
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. sliced almonds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, pudding mix and poppy seeds.  Make a well in the center and add in the water, oil, eggs and almond extract.  Mix it for 30 seconds on low speed and then 4 minutes on medium speed.  Pour it into the cake pan.  Bake it for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, almond extract and stir it until it is smooth. Drizzle it over your cooled cake.  In a small frying pan, toast the almonds over medium heat until light brown.  Then sprinkle them on your cake.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Smothered Pork Chops

This was a great recipe for smothered pork chops.  The pork chops had a great flavor, and the sauteed mushrooms and onions in the gravy added a delicious tangy-ness.  I served it with garlic mashed potatoes, which was a great fit.  The night I made it I had to run to my bookclub before I could eat.  When I got home, I heard words that I always want to hear, but usually don't: "Mom, dinner was SO good tonight!"  What?!  Could you please repeat that, just because it is so soothing to my ears?  I will definitely be making this again.

Smothered Pork Chops
adapted from:

1 packet brown gravy mix
6 boneless pork chops
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 1/2 c. mushrooms, sliced (I used a can of mushrooms, water drained)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
2 Tbsp. steak sauce

Lay your pork chops out on a baking sheet and generously season both sides with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.  In a heavy frying pan, heat your olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork, turn it down to medium and cook until it is cooked through.  Remove it from the heat.  In another pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Saute' your onions and mushrooms until they are tender.  In a small sauce pan, cook the brown gravy according to the package directions.  Add the minced garlic and steak sauce and stir it well.  Stir the mushrooms and onions into the gravy.  Serve the pork chops with the gravy mixture over the top.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Easy Cream Cheese Alfredo Sauce

So, I totally took this picture from another alfredo recipe that we have on this blog.  The problem is that this is a really easy alfredo recipe, that I wanted to share, but the only picture I have taken is one with really bad quality.  I was afraid no one would want to make this recipe if the picture looked really ugly.  And it is a really easy, yummy recipe.  So please forgive the stolen picture (Monica, I'm pretty sure this is your alfredo picture), and just know that your alfredo will turn out just as pretty as this one!

Easy Cream Cheese Alfredo Sauce
adapted from:

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. milk
6 oz. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the cream cheese and butter, stirring occasionally.  Add the milk and Parmesan cheese and continue stirring until it is smooth.  Add the garlic, basil and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then serve it over your favorite pasta. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quick & Easy Homemade Donuts (Using Canned Biscuit Dough)

The other day I was looking for a fun treat to make for our Family Night.  We were having neighbors over to join us, and I wanted something different and exciting for my kids.  Monica told me how she had recently made homemade donuts and what a hit they were.  But her recipe took over night to accomplish (the dough had to rise, and refrigerate, and multiply and replenish, etc.).  This conversation took place at about 2:30 PM, on the day of our Family Night, so that idea was out.  However, she also knew of friends who had made donuts using canned biscuit dough.  I searched and found this recipe on food network, ran to the store, bought some Grands Biscuits, and we had (semi) homemade donuts that night!  They were so easy and really so delicious.  In fact, the comment from my neighbor was "This is the best homemade doughnut I've ever had!"  Wow!  And it was such a fun cooking project for us all to do together.  I had as much fun as the kids did!

Quick & Easy Homemade Donuts
adapted from:

1 package of canned biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grands)
cooking oil

For Glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large pot, heat about 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees.  Cut the centers out of your biscuits.  Fry the biscuits (and holes that you cut out) in the oil until they are golden.  Using tongs, flip the donuts and fry the other side until golden.  Take them out and set them on paper towels.  In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until it is smooth.  While the donuts are still warm, dip them in the glaze.  You can then sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar or sprinkles, or just leave them alone.  And then hurry and eat them!  They were so delicious while they were still warm.  We had some leftovers the next day, and they were definitely better fresh.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Russian Potato Soup

I absolutely loved this soup.  I wasn't sure what to think about dill, and I'd never cooked a leek before, so I was a little unsure, but it turned out so delicious.  I will definitely be making it again.

Russian Potato Soup

5 Tbsp butter, divided
1-2 leeks, chopped*
3 large carrots, sliced
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced (original recipe called for 2 lbs)
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp dried dill weed
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 lb fresh sliced mushrooms (next time I make this I am going to try canned, since I like them better)
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup flour
fresh dill weed, for garnish (optional, I didn't use this)

First, chop your vegetables.  *Now, the leek... I didn't even know what a leek was prior to making this recipe, let alone how to chop it, so I googled it and found instructions on cutting a leek.  Except, I wasn't paying close attention, and I chopped up the long leaves, too.  Apparently those usually get thrown away.  I've read up on it since, and apparently some people don't like the texture.  I thought it was delicious the way I made it though, so if I do it again I'll prepare it the same way.  The original recipe called for 2 leeks but they were huge so I just bought one.

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a large pot over medium heat, and cook your carrots and leeks for 5 minutes.

Pour in your broth, and add the seasonings (dill, salt, pepper and bay leaf).
Add the potatoes and cook covered for 20 minutes.
Saute the mushrooms in the remaining 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, and add to the soup.
Mix the half and half and flour in a small bowl, and then add to the soup.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This may be my new favorite recipe.  It was so, so good. It made a lot and my kids would only eat the noodles, so I got to enjoy this as leftovers a few different times.  Note: This is a little spicy, so maybe use less Cajun seasoning if that's not your thing.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from

8-12 oz linguine Pasta (I probably used about 10 oz)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
3-4 tsp Cajun seasoning (I started with 3 tsp and added about an additional tsp at the end)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Green Pepper
1/2  Red Pepper, chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 green onion, minced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used 1 cup heavy cream, and 1/2 cup half & half with 2-3 tsp cornstarch)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese,shredded (optional)

Cut your peppers and onions, and set aside.
Slice your chicken breasts and put them in a bowl with the Cajun seasoning, and toss to coat.
Combine all your seasonings in a small bowl and set aside.
Start your water boiling for the linguine and cook it while you are cooking the chicken.
Stir fry the chicken in the 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Add the peppers, onions and mushrooms and stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the heat, and add the heavy cream (and/or half & half already mixed with cornstarch) and seasonings.  Simmer until heated through and the sauce thickens.  At this point I added the additional Cajun seasoning and some salt until it tasted right to me.
Add the cooked linguine and serve with shredded Parmesan cheese and bread of your choice.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Almond Cupcakes

Tonight our family held a little cupcake war in our kitchen.  We only used one kind of cupcake, but the frosting was a free for all.  I found this recipe on allrecipes for our cupcakes.  For my frosting, I used a cool whip frosting, which I thought was delicious with the almond cupcake.  But the judges didn't agree with me.  I lost.  They preferred the frosting from the can that you buy at the store (and the 3D Christmas trees, over my abstract, modern art Christmas tree).  However, they are only 8, 6 and 4 and they seemed to be easily swayed by sprinkles and piled high frosting.  Go figure!

Almond Cupcake
adapted slightly from:

1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.  Add the eggs, almond extract and vanilla and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.  Alternately add in the milk and flour mixture to the batter, mixing well after each addition.  Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins (about 2/3 full).  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the cool whip frosting:

1 package vanilla pudding (the small box)
1 carton of cool whip (the small one)
1 c. milk
caramel syrup (ice cream topping)-optional

In a medium bowl, mix together the pudding and milk until combined.  Stir in the cool whip.  It will set up a little if you put it in the fridge for a few minutes.  Frost your cupcakes, then drizzle caramel syrup over the top.

*makes 12 cupcakes

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thai Chicken Vegetable Soup

Soups are very hit and miss with me, but this really hit the spot tonight.  It might be because we're all sick and just needed some comfort food, but it did not disappoint.  I will definitely be making this again.  This also marks the first time in my life I have happily eaten mushrooms, and if you know me, you understand what that means. They really worked well in this recipe!  I modified it just a little from this recipe, and I imagine you could substitute or add any number of other vegetables and it would still be delicious.

Thai Chicken Vegetable Soup

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Carrots (I used about 8-10 baby carrots), sliced very thin - matchstick size
1 Red Pepper, sliced very thin
1 cup Sliced Mushrooms
4 cups Chicken Broth
Ginger, dashed
2 cups Shredded Chicken
1 can Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
2 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over a medium-high heat.  Add the carrots and peppers and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, chicken broth, and about 8-10 dashes of ginger.  Bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then turn down to a medium-low heat.  Add the shredded chicken and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and cook until it gets hot and bubbly, stirring frequently.  Just before you serve it, add the lime juice and fresh cilantro.