Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Ever Chocolate Cake with Glaze

I've been making this cake for a couple of years now and it had definitely become a favorite.  It's so delicious and chocolately that you don't even really need frosting but the chocolate glaze adds a little something extra to it.  Enjoy!

1 package chocolate fudge cake mix
1 3.9 oz. package instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup coconut oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, water and milk.  Mix on low and add eggs one at a time.  Once eggs are incorporated, mix on med high speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter in well greased bundt pan.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes at 350.  I start checking the cake at 50 minutes with a tooth pick to make sure it doesn't over bake.  Cool cake in bundt pan on wire rack for 30 minutes before removing.  Once cooled, place on plate, ready to add the glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
3/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp. butter
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla

In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup.  Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes, this gives the glaze a chance to thicken up so it doesn't just slide completely down your cake.  Pour the glaze slowly over the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

I have seen on Pinterest putting potatoes in a Crock Pot so I was dying to try this because my husband and I love baked potatoes, we eat them as a meal!  This is so incredibly easy, you won't believe it!  The taste is to die for and I'm going to have a hard time making them any other way now!  Enjoy!

3-4 large Russet potatoes
Olive Oil
Sea salt (regular salt is fine too)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Aluminum foil
Scrub your potatoes to get them nice and clean.  Poke 6-7 holes all around each potato.  Cut sheets of foil big enough to cover each potato completely.  Place a potato on each sheet of foil.  Pour a little bit of Olive Oil on each potato, a little over a teaspoon.  Pick up the potato and rub the oil all over the potato.  Now wash your hands so you don't get oil all over everything :)  Sprinkle seasonings over each potato, as much or as little as you'd like.  Wrap up potatoes nice and tight and place a single layer (if you can) in the Crock Pot.  I cooked mine on low and we had a late dinner that night so after 9 hours they were absolutely perfect but 7-8 hours should be long enough.  I'm sure if you wanted to put them on High they'd be done in about 4-5 hours.  Remove from Crock Pot and unwrap, add toppings and eat!

Peppermint Pretzel Bark

The perfect combination of sweet, salty and pepperminty!  Super easy to make and it will make a big impression at your holiday party!  Enjoy!

1 bag of mini pretzel
2 packages white almond bark
1 package of peppermint candy canes

Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Place pretzels in a single layer on foil, trying not to over lap but keeping them close together.  Next, unwrap candy canes and place in large plastic bag.  Using a heavy spoon or meat tenderizer crush candy canes until they are small pieces (a food processor would work for this as well).  Place almond bark in a large bowl and cook in microwave for a minute, take out, stir, then place back into microwave and cook for 30 secs and stir again.  Repeat this until all the almond bark is melted and smooth.  Pour melted almond bark over pretzel trying to cover each one.  I then used a spatula to gently spread the almond bark around to try to reach all the corners.  Finally, sprinkle the crushed candle canes on top of the almond bark.  Place in fridge to harden for at least an hour.  When completely harden, remove and gently lift bark off the pan peeling back the foil.  Break into bite size pieces.  It will not need to be refrigerated, should stay firm.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Super Mario Bros. Birthday

My big guy turned 4 last week and he is obsessed with Super Mario Bros. right now so here are pictures of the cake I made for him and his decorations. This is the 4th cake I've made for him and the 5th cake I've made overall. Every time I get gradually better and this time I used fondant for the first time! I got the Mario figurines from Wal-Mart.com and used Wilton Sugar sheets for the rest of the decorations. I cut them out with either cookie cutters or an Exacto knife, all purchased from Hobby Lobby. The Mario party items were purchased on eBay as well as the moustache candy molds. Enjoy!

super mario brothers bros cake birthday 4 boy

The party table

mario birthday boy party cake

Favor boxes, centerpiece, and milk and dark chocolate moustaches.

super mario chocolate mustache

I got these adorable candles at Dollar Tree, they went perfect with the cake.

birthday cake mario boy party

The birthday boy checking out his cake!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Cheddar Biscuits


These are always a huge hit whenever I make them.  They taste just like Red Lobster's and go great with my Baked Potato Soup recipe.  Enjoy!
4 cups Bisquik
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (just regular shredded, not finely shredded)
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
Combine Bisquik, cheese and water in a bowl and mix until dough is well incorporated and firm.  I used my Kitchenaid for this and it works beautifully!  Using a small cookie dough scoop, scoop dough on to a greased, foil lined or silicone baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.  While biscuits are cooking, combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and as soon as biscuits are done take a brush and slather the butter mixture on each biscuits immediately after you remove them from the oven.  I do this while they're still on the pan and let them sit for a couple minutes to let the butter soak in.  Place on a plate and they're ready to eat!
**Disclaimer- once again I forgot to take a picture when I made this so I graciously borrowed this picture by searching "cheddar biscuits" on google.  No copyright infringements intended and I do not own this picture!

Baked Potato Soup

This recipe has quickly become one of my favorites and it has been requested quite a few times by people in my family to make when we all get together.  This is thick and hearty and I guarantee there won't be any leftovers!  Enjoy!

1 lb. package bacon
6 cups (3lbs.) Chicken broth
5-6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quart half & half
6 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 package cheddar cheese

Cook bacon according to package instruction, (whichever method you prefer, I always cook mine in the oven).  When bacon is done cooking, remove and place on a plate with paper towels to cool and to soak up some of the grease.  Reserve 2 tbsp of the bacon grease.
In a large pot, pour reserved grease into pot and cook on medium low heat while adding onion and garlic to pot.  Simmer for just a minute and then stir in flour, salt, pepper, and basil, mix well.  You want all the grease soaked up by the flour, be careful not to burn to the mixture.  Gradually add chicken broth and bring mixture up to a boil for 2 minutes while constantly stirring (with a whisk) to ensure it does not stick and burn to the bottom of the pot.  Reduce heat to medium and stir in the half & half and hot pepper sauce.  Last add the potatoes and stir.  Leave on medium heat to make sure that you don't boil the soup.  This is going to need to cook for at least 30 minutes to get the potatoes cooked through, maybe more if the potatoes are big.  I take a potato out and check the consistency with a fork after 30 minutes and go from there.  This can also be put on low heat and simmered for several hours.
After bacon is cooled and firm, place on cutting board and chop into pieces for garnish.  When soup is ready, serve in bowls with cheddar cheese and bacon as garnish.

Pair this with my recipe for Cheddar Biscuits and you've got a wonderful meal for a cold night!

**Please excuse the lame picture of potatoes, forgot to take a picture last time I made this!  No copyright infrigements intended, I do not own this picture! :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crock Pot Beef Stew

delicious stew beef dinner
Thick and meaty with a little bit of a kick.  This stew is sure to please everyone!  Enjoy!

1 lb. stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper
Dried minced onion
Garlic powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can beef broth
1 cup water
5-6 medium sized potatoes
4-5 medium sized carrots

Place meat in Crock Pot.  Sprinkle with flour, salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder and paprika (I use about 10 shakes of each).  Stir to coat meat with flour and spices.  Next, stir in Worcestershire sauce and add bay leaf. Gently pour beef broth and water into Crock Pot.  Cube potatoes (I cut mine in half and then quarter the halves), slice carrots and add to Crock Pot as well.  Give the ingredients a little stir to mix it together.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-7 depending on how fast your Crock Pot cooks and how tender you like your veggies.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pink Lemonade Cake

delicious cake
I made this cake for my mom's birthday and it was DELICIOUS!  It's tart and sweet just like pink lemonade.  Enjoy!

1 box Pillsbury strawberry cake mix
2/3 cup melted butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 pkg. Kool-Aid Lemonade mix
1 7 oz. container of marshmallow fluff
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 12 oz. container Cool Whip
Yellow food coloring (optional)

I made my cake the night before and covered it in Saran Wrap to seal in some moisture but you can make this all on the same day if needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter, eggs and milk until incorporated.  Mix on med high speed for 2 minutes.  Pour batter evenly into 2 8 or 9 inch round baking pans that are either butter and floured or sprayed with the cooking spray that has flour in it (that stuff is amazing!).  Bake cakes for about 29 minutes, checking them with a toothpick at about 25 minutes to make sure they don't over bake.  Once tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, remove cakes from oven and place on cooling racks. Let cakes sit for 10 minutes then transfer cakes from the pans onto the rack itself and let completely cool before icing.
Once cakes have completely cooled, cover in Saran Wrap and place in the freezer while you're preparing your icing, this will make them easier to cut each layer in half.  They should freeze for at least 20 minutes.

Cream together cream cheese and lemonade mix.  Add food coloring at this time if desired. I made mine a little on the brighter yellow side so once I added all the other ingredients it'd be a pale yellow (even though it looks white in the photo).  Next you're going to add the marshmallow fluff and lemon juice and then slowly add the powdered sugar so it doesn't make a mess.  Once mixture is fully incorporated, fold in cool whip until mixed well. 

When you're ready to frost the cakes, remove the cakes from the freezer, unwrap them and place on a flat, clean surface.  This next step can be kind of tricky if you don't have a cake leveler (lucky for me I bought one a couple years ago and have been shocked how much I use it!).  With a serrated knife, slowly begin to cut each cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers out of one cake.  If you gently place your hand on top of the cake while you do this it'll help keep it in place.  When you've done this to both cakes you're going to have 4 layers.  Place first layer on a cake plate and begin assembling the cake by frosting that layer, putting another layer on top of that and then frosting that layer, etc. until you've done all layers.  Frost the top and sides of the cake.  I sprinkled mine with pink sugar sprinkles to make it look pretty.  Refrigerate the cake until you're ready to serve it. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baked Fried Chicken w/ gravy

OMG... you're not going to believe how simple this is to make and how DELICIOUS it is!  I paired this with mashed potatoes and my sweet coleslaw. Tasted like we were eating at KFC!  Enjoy!
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 to 2 cups milk (I used whole)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 stick of butter (cut into pieces)
1/2 can chicken broth
3 tbsp. corn starch

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your chicken breasts into tenders.  How I do this is I first cut them lengthwise, top to bottom in half.  Then I take each half, place it on it's side, cut side down, and then cut it in half, top to bottom lengthwise again. Place the cut chicken breasts in a bowl and cover completely with milk and let sit for about 30 minutes.  When you're done doing that, take the chicken out of the milk bath (shake off any excess) and put on a plate.  Place butter in a 9x13 baking dish and place into oven.  Let bake until all butter is melted, remove the dish and make sure the entire bottom is coated with butter then set aside.  In a large Ziploc bag add the flour and spices.  Place 1 or 2 chicken tenders in the bag, seal it then shake the bag to coat the chicken evenly.  Remove the chicken and then place in a single layer in the buttered 9x13 baking dish.  Place the dish back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes then turn each piece of chicken over then cook for another 15-20 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Remove dish from oven and place chicken onto a plate and cover to keep warm (Make sure to use a clean plate to not cross contaminate!).  I turned off my oven and then placed the whole plate inside to keep the chicken warm while I was making the gravy.  If you decide not to make the gravy then you're ready to eat, otherwise please see below!

Chicken Gravy:
While the baking dish is still piping hot, take about a half can of chicken broth and pour the broth into the pan. Take a spoon or spatula and scrape the bottom of the pan getting all the drippings loose.  Pour the chicken broth mixture into a sauce pan and place on stove over medium high heat.  You want the mixture to come to a little bit of a boil but you don't want to scorch it.  While that is heating up, in a small measuring cup add 1/3 cup of COLD water.  To that, add 3 tbsp. of cornstarch and mix really well until completely liquid.  While chicken broth mixture is slowly bubbling add cornstarch mixture slowly while whisking the chicken mixture.  This is what is going to thicken up your gravy.  Now you're going to need to add some seasoning so shake in some salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Reduce heat and let the gravy simmer for a minute or so.  If the gravy isn't as thick as you'd like it you can repeat the cornstarch step again but keep in mind that when you add more cornstarch it really alters the flavor of the gravy and makes it get a jelly like consistency.  Serve gravy over mashed potatoes with the chicken.

Sweet Coleslaw

I love Machine Shed's coleslaw and have never been able to duplicate it but this is pretty darn close!  Full disclosure- this a VERY SWEET coleslaw so if you're more into tangy and sour coleslaw then you're going to hate this!  For those of you that love sweet coleslaw- enjoy!

1 bag of coleslaw mix (just the cabbage, no sauce)
1 cup Mayo
3 tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Whisk together Mayo, oil, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and spices in a large bowl until blended completely.  Add the coleslaw mix right on top of the sauce mixture and with a spoon gently mix the ingredients together (you could also put a lid on the bowl and toss it to mix it together).  It's okay if the coleslaw looks a little dry, once the sauce starts soaking in, the cabbage will shrink.  You're going to need to let it refrigerate for at least a couple hours before serving.  Stir again before serving. 

Banana bars w/ cream cheese frosting

I had some bananas on my counter that were so ripe they were black and starting to shrivel a little bit so I thought it'd be a good time to try to a new banana bar recipe.  I found a couple online and this is the recipe I came up with. Enjoy!

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flaxseed meal (totally optional but a great way to get some fiber in there!)
3 REALLY ripe bananas, smooshed

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In your mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and mix until completely incorporated.  Next you're going to add your eggs one at a time, making sure the first one is mixed well before adding the second one. Now you're going to add your yogurt and vanilla.  Mix well, then add the dry ingredients slowly as the mixer continues to mix.  Lastly, add your ripe (I'm talking RIPE!) smooshed and smashed bananas to the mix.  Let the batter mix together for about a couple minutes to make sure it's all combined.  Spray your pan with cooking spray before pouring in batter. When I make these I use my jelly roll pan that is 17x12 but you could use a 9x13 pan if you don't have a jelly roll pan.  Pour the batter into the pan and then place in oven.  If you're using a jelly roll pan 25 minutes should be plenty of time, but start checking it with a toothpick at about 20 minutes in case your oven cooks fast.  For a 9x13 pan you're probably going to need at least 30 minutes.  When the toothpick come out clean the bars are done! Remove from oven then place on a cooling rack away from the oven (don't want them to keep cooking!) and let cool completely before topping with frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together cream cheese and butter.  Add the vanilla and when it's completely incorporated then add the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix completely until frosting is smooth.  When bars are completely cooled, spoon frosting on top of bars and level out and smooth with a spatula or knife.  I would definitely recommend refrigerating the bars otherwise the cream cheese just gets really gooey. Cut into squares and serve!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sweet 'n' Sour Meatloaf

Most people don't like meatloaf, until they try this recipe!  This is a recipe that my mom made for us when we were kids and through the years I've made it so many times I don't even have to look at the recipe.  The sweetness from the brown sugar and the sour of the vinegar just gives the topping a great taste and really finish off the meatloaf.  Enjoy!

2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs
15 oz. can tomato sauce (divided in half)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. yellow mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine beef, bread crumbs, eggs and half a can of tomato sauce in large bowl.  Season with salt, pepper, minced garlic, minced onion, garlic powder and oregano (7-8 shakes of each).  Mix well with hands or you can put it into a mixer if handling raw meat freaks you out.  Put into either a large loaf pan or I use a glass 8x11 baking dish.  Push meat mixture into the dish until it's level.  Put in your 350 degree oven and let it cook for about 45 minutes.  When you get down to the last 5 minutes, put the other half of the tomato sauce, the sugars, vinegar and mustard into a small saucepan and heat until mixture comes to a bubble.  Immediately remove from stove and your meatloaf should be done now.  Take the meatloaf out of the oven and take a fork and poke several holes all throughout the meatloaf.  Next, pour the tomato sauce mixture all over the top of the meatloaf.  Place meatloaf back into the over for another 10 minutes.  Let stand for at least 5 minutes after done baking, it'll stay together better when you cut it.  Cut into slices (or squares) and spoon sauce from the pan over the top. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Sweet 'n' Spicy Chicken

I saw a recipe on Pinterest that inspired this recipe.  My husband LOVES bacon so I'm always willing to try new things with it.  I have to say, this was so stinkin' delicious, I even surprised myself!  Pretty simple too because it goes in the Crock Pot and makes your house smell delicious!  Enjoy!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package thick sliced bacon
Frank's Red Hot or any other hot sauce of your choice
2 cups brown sugar

Cut chicken breasts into halves.  Lay the chicken breasts out on a plate or cutting board.  Now you're going to season them heavily.  Start with salt and pepper then you're going to use garlic powder, onion powder, mild chili powder, and paprika (7-8 shakes of each on both sides).  Next, drizzle the hot sauce on each chicken breasts then rub it in gently with your fingers, make sure to coat both sides.  With the hot sauce you can use as little or as much as you like depending on how spicy you want the chicken to be.  Depending on how big the breasts are is going to decide whether you use one or two strips of bacon per breasts.  In the package I had, I had enough for all the breasts to have 2 strips each.  Wrap the strips of bacon around each chicken breasts then place them in the bottom of the Crock Pot in a single layer if possible.  To finish the chicken off you're going to cover them completely with brown sugar, 2 cups should be about enough but you can always use more if you need to.  Cook in the Crock Pot on Low for 5-6 hours (mine were done in 4 because my Crock Pot cooks fast).  When you're ready to eat, remove the chicken, place on a plate then drizzle some of the drippings from the Crock Pot over the top.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Watermelon on a Stick

I saw this on Pinterest and thought "What a genius idea!".  We were going to a BBQ for the 4th of July so I thought this would be great to take.  They were a hit, especially with the kids!  I found the craft/popsicles sticks at Target in the kids craft section.  For $2 I got a package of 60 sticks so I had plenty with lots extra in case I want to build a popsicle stick birdhouse. :)

1 whole watermelon
1 package craft (popsicle) sticks

Lay the watermelon on it's side and start at one end and begin to slice watermelon into about inch thick slices.  Then cut each slice like a pie into about 4 pieces (maybe 6 if it's a big watermelon).  To insert the sticks, take a knife that has a really pointy tip and insert the knife into the rind of the watermelon about a half inch deep.  Take the popsicle stick and push it into the rind.  This will take a little practice, the first two I did the sticks came right out the flesh part of the watermelon!  Once you do it a couple times though it's easy to get the hang of keeping the stick straight and not going too far into the watermelon.  You'll definitely want to store and serve these in a bowl because the watermelon gets super juicy!  

Crock Pot Hail Caesar! Sandwiches

chicken sanwiches yummy
So simply and delicious!  The chicken practically shreds itself and this is so easy to serve!  This is one that I have in our dinner rotation a lot and my husband is always excited to have these!  Enjoy!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 bouillon cubes
6 cups warm water
1 bottle of your favorite Caesar dressing
1 package shredded Parmesan cheese
1 package leafy romaine
1 package of buns

First you're going to start this off by cooking the chicken breasts in the Crock Pot.  Since you're not going to be using any of the chicken stock after it's cooked, I don't get too particular about what the chicken is cooked in and bouillon cubes are super easy and I always have some in my cupboard.  Salt and pepper the chicken generously, don't be stingy!  I also season mine with garlic powder, onion powder and some oregano.  Place 6 cups of slightly warm water into the Crock Pot.  The reason for this is so that it will start to break down the bouillon cubes faster.  Don't make it too hot or you'll start cooking the chicken! Add bouillon cubes and place chicken into water. Cover and cook for 4 hours on Med/High or about 5-6 hours on Low depending on how fast your Crock Pot cooks.  I can easily cook mine on Low for 4 hours and have them completely cooked. 
When the chicken is done, remove chicken and place on plate or cutting board to shred.  Shred into whatever sized pieces you prefer.  For this recipe I like my shreds to be a little chunkier to really hold onto the Caesar dressing.  Once chicken is shredded, dump out the chicken stock in the Crock Pot leaving just about a cup behind, then put the shredded chicken back into the Crock Pot.  Now you're going to add the Caesar dressing.  This is going to be purely about preference.  I typically use about a half bottle but if you have more chicken you're going to want to use more and less if you used less than 3 breasts.  The first time I made this I actually didn't use enough dressing so I added more after I tasted it.  Mix the chicken and dressing together until all the chicken is coated.  Turn your Crock Pot on Low if it isn't already and cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.  When you're ready to eat, place a heap of chicken on a bun, top with shredded Parmesan and lettuce.  This is really good with chips and dip or waffle fries.  Yum!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

I've never had chicken tacos before but decided it was something I definitely wanted to try and my husband about squealed when I told him I was making them!  This is so incredibly easy but tastes like you put a whole lot of effort into them.  My husband said they are pretty even par with taco truck tacos! Enjoy!

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg taco seasoning (I used Taco Bell)
1 jar salsa (I used Chi Chi's)
1 package small tortilla shells
Shredded lettuce
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sour Cream
1 lime

Season chicken before placing in Crock Pot.  I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, mild chili powder and cumin.  Place chicken breasts on bottom of Crock Pot, sprinkle taco seasoning over the top then pour entire jar of salsa on top.  Let cook on low for about 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 (depending on how your Crock Pot cooks, mine was done in 4 hours on Low).  Remove chicken and shred into small pieces then return to Crock Pot to soak in the juices until you're ready to eat.  Place chicken into soft tortilla.  I topped ours with shredded lettuce, Mexican cheese, sour cream and a squirt of fresh lime. I served it with Chi-Chi's Corn Cake, black bean and Spanish Rice......YUM!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mostaccioli Salad

pasta salad
This isn't your typical pasta salad.  It has a hint of sweetness that really adds to the flavor.  This is something you definitely want to make the night before to let it sit and have the noodles soak up all the flavor.  Enjoy!
1 lb. Mostaccioli, cooked and drained
1 cucumber, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 can garbanzo beans (also called Chick Peas)

Cool Mostaccioli, place in large bowl and mix in veggies.

1 cup olive oil
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. parsley flakes

Mix together until well incorporated.  Pour over noodles and veggies and mix together until all noodles are well covered.  Refrigerate overnight, covered.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Best Green Bean Casserole

I LOVE Green Bean Casserole! I eat it as an entree sometimes! I've played around with the recipes for a couple years now and this recipe is how I've made it the last several times we've had it and it's just so yummy I just have to share! Typically with my recipes I don't use brand names but with this one I am going to specify what brands I use because it's what really makes it so delicious! Generics just aren't going to cut it for this recipe! Also, I don't use the smaller can of the french onions, oh no! I go for the big daddy and use the 6 oz. size, makes all the difference.

2 cans Kitchen Sliced Green Giant green beans, drained
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
1 6 oz. container French's French Fried Onions
2/3 cup whole milk (you can use skim but whole is definitely tastier)
Salt and Pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 2 qt. casserole dish combine green beans, soup and milk. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder (typically 6 shakes of each) and stir together. Once ingredients are completely incorporated, pour half the container of french fried onions in the mix and mix together completely. Put into the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Take casserole out of the oven and sprinkle the remaining french fried onions on top. Place back in the oven and cook for 4-5 minutes or until french fried onions look really golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken and Rice Skillet

One night I was looking at the raw chicken breasts I was going to make for dinner and decided I was going to try to make a new recipe.  I used some things I had in my cupboards and after making it several times I feel confident calling it a "recipe" now.  This is incredibly quick and easy and it heats up wonderfully the next day.  Here's my very first original recipe for Chicken and Rice Skillet.  Enjoy!

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 package Knorr Chicken flavored rice
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 cups Minute rice
1 cup milk

Cut raw chicken into bite size, cubed pieces.  Salt and pepper chicken thoroughly.  In a large skillet on medium heat melt coconut oil until completely liquid then add chicken.  Cook chicken until no longer pink.  Add remaining ingredients and stir, mixing ingredients completely.  Bring to boil.  After about a minute, reduce heat to simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hogs in a blanket

I wanted something super easy to make for dinner tonight and Sean and I have been craving Cheddar wurst so I decided to put a little twist on Pigs in a blanket.   You can't get any simpler than this and it really hit the spot!

1 package of your favorite Cheddar wurst. (tonight I used Johnsonville Beddar with Cheddar)
1 can crescent rolls

Roll one crescent roll around each Cheddar wurst, place on a baking sheet and bake according to directions on the crescent roll package and voila! 
Super duper yummy and so quick and easy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lasagna Cups

I have seen on Pinterest recently a lot of lasagna cup recipes and decided to try my hand at making them.  I will warn you that these are kind of labor intensive, just as much as making regular lasagna, if not more.  So this would be a good recipe to keep for weekends, special occasions or when you're having guests over for dinner!  They're well worth it though, they're delicious and look really cool!

1 jar spaghetti sauce- any flavor or brand would do, I used Ragu meat flavored because I didn't want any big chunks in the sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 10 oz. tub Philadelphia Italian Cheese and Herd Cooking Cream
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (I always grab the 4 cheese Italian blend but just mozzarella would work)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
1 box of lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Noodles- Fill a large pot with enough water to cook all the noodles, make sure to add salt to the water.  Bring that to a boil and gently add lasagna noodles, making sure to keep them in tact. Add a little olive oil to the water while the noodles are boiling, this will prevent them from sticking to each other.  Cook the noodles for about 8 minutes, you don't want them completely done.  Remove the noodles from the pot and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil, set aside.

Sauce- Brown ground beef in skillet.  Whenever I cook ground beef I always add spices to it while it's cooking.  I used dried minced onions, garlic powder, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Drain meat after it's completely browned then add the entire jar of spaghetti sauce and a bay leaf.  Let that simmer on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.

Cheese filling- Mix together cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, egg and spices until well incorporated, set aside. 

Now the fun part!  This part can be a little tricky but if you're patient you'll get great results!  I used my jumbo muffin tin for this recipe and for how much filling you need to put in each cup I would say that is the best pan to use.  I cut 12 squares of parchment paper big enough to line each cup.  I pushed each square into the cup, it's okay if it doesn't look pretty, it's there for function!  Now you're going to wrap each of the cups with one whole lasagna noodle around the sides.  This is a little tricky at first because the noodles will be kind of sticky but just take your time.  The noodles will overlap a few inches but that's what they are supposed to do.  Now that you have each cup lined with a noodle now you're going to build inside the cup.  Take the remaining noodles and cut into 5ths.  I have a handy pair of kitchen shears that I used to do this but a knife would work just as well too.  Grab a couple of measuring spoons and starting with the sauce you're going to spoon about a 1/2 tablespoon of sauce into the bottom of each cup.  Next, press one noodle piece into the cup on top of the sauce.  Top noodle with a generous tablespoon of sauce,  a generous tablespoon of cheese mixture, a sprinkle of the Italian cheese blend and then another noodle.  Press down on the noodle gently to compact the layers.  Then you're going to start all over: sauce, cheese mixture, Italian cheese and then one more noodle.  Once again, press down gently on the noodle to compact the layers.  Add another heaping tablespoon full of sauce on the top of the noodle then you're going to top all of the cups off with the remainder of the Italian cheese.

Pop the cups into your 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cups are bubbly.  Once the cups are done, pull them out of the oven and you're going to want them to rest for about at least 10 minutes.  This gives the lasagna a chance to set up, other wise it'll just fall apart when you try to eat it.  Once you've let them sit, lift the cup out of the pan by pulling up on 2 of the sides of the parchment paper.  Slide the lasagna cup off of the parchment paper with a knife.  The noodle that is on the outside is going to be a little crunchy and not really consumable so what we do is peal back the noodle until it exposes the softer part of the noodle then you're ready to enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

White Chili

dinner chili deliciousI never thought that chicken and chili would go together but if you haven't tried white chili it's something you at least have to try once!  It's kind of a combination of chili and chicken tortilla soup.  I got a recipe online that I made once and since I've made it several times I've done a lot of tweaking to it to really make it my own.  This is my recipe for White Chili.  Enjoy!

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
4 cans chicken broth
6 cans Great Northern beans
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 package Monterrey Jack cheese
1 bag of Frito's

Place the chicken in the bottom of a large stock pot.  Season chicken (about 5-6 shakes of each) with salt, pepper, dried chopped onions, garlic powder, cumin and oregano.  Pour 3 cans of the broth around chicken until chicken is completely covered.  If you need to use more broth to cover the chicken it won't make much difference.  There's 2 ways you can cook the chicken: You can either simmer it on low heat for a couple hours to make it super easy to pull apart or you can just boil it on medium high heat for about 20 minutes. 

Once chicken is cooked, remove from pot and shred and then return to the pot.  Next, add the last can of chicken broth, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and green chiles.  Since I don't like chunks of peppers I puree my chiles in my food processor first but you can leave them as big as you'd like.  You're going to mix all this together and bring it to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and now you're going to add the beans.  I take 2 cans of the beans, drain one of  them and then mash them up in my food processor.  You could do this with a blender, a Bullet or even by hand if needed.  I add the mashed beans to the pot and then I drain 2 of the other cans of beans add those and with the remaining 2 cans I add them to the pot undrained.  Stir really well to get everything mixed together and now you're going to let it simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Once you're ready to eat, pour into bowls, top with cheese and Frito's and enjoy!

*Sometimes the chili comes out soupier than I like, so I will mix together 1/3 cup cold water with 3 tbsp corn starch and stir it into the chili.  This typically thickens it right up.  You can repeat this step a couple more times if necessary.

My Adventures in Cake Decorating

1st birthday boy
birthday cake boy one

Every year for my oldest son's birthday I made him a cake.  I would always bite off more than I could chew but somehow pulled it together in the end.  I've actually come to really enjoy making the cakes but can see the look of panic on my husband's face whenever I talk about the next cake I'm going to make!  I usually spend hours just trying to find the right ingredients and mostly I'm successful but sometimes the image I have in my head doesn't get brought to life.  This year was no exception with Parker's first birthday!  I found a couple of pictures on Pinterest that I thought were totally do-able so I made my plan of attack!  The lion cake was for Parker's smash cake and it went surprisingly very smooth!  The most tedious part was putting all the chow mein noodles on for its mane, that sucked!  I was quite pleased with how it turned out though.  The "ONE" cake was a totally different story though.  The "O" was simple enough because it was just an 8" round cake but I had to cut out the "N" and the "E".  The cutting out part was easy because I had made a template for it but the dirty icing part was horrible!  The cake just literally was crumbling as I was trying to dirty ice it.  I had a moment of panic thinking "oh my gosh, this isn't going to work!"  I took a second though to collect my thoughts, said lots of prayers and moved on.  I somehow pulled it together and was incredibly pleased with how it all turned out.  The best part was that the cake also tasted good!  That's always a pleasant surprise!  Now I have 6 months to plot my next cake for Mitchell's 4th birthday!

Here are the other cakes I have made:

1st birthday cake sports boysbaseball smash cake

         This was the cake I made for Mitchell's 1st birthday.  It was a "Baby All-Star" theme.

mickey mouse clubhouse cupcakes cakemickey mouse clubhouse cake
         The cupcakes I made for Mitchell's 2nd birthday.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was the theme.

        For Mitchell's 3rd birthday it was a rockstar theme so I made him this guitar cake.

Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Layer Mexican Dip

 This is a dish that I mostly make for work pot lucks.  It's one that Sean requests a lot for me to make because it's easily portable and just down right yummy!  There are several variations you can do to this recipe depending on how you like your Mexican dip.  I make this just slightly spicy but you could really spice it up by adding chili's and more Tabasco.  I don't have an exact recipe for this, it's pretty much different every time I make it so feel free to be as liberal or conservative with the spices as you see fit! 

16 oz sour cream
1/2 packet of Taco Seasoning
2 16 oz cans of refried beans
8 oz package of Mexican cheese
16 oz jar of salsa
1 bag of shredded lettuce

In a large bowl (I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer) combine sour cream and HALF of the packet of taco seasoning.  Using the entire packet overwhelms the sour cream so make sure to only use half or slightly less than half.  Mix together really well and then you're going to add some spices.  The spices I use for this recipe are:
garlic powder
onion powder
salt and pepper
mild chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Tabasco (typically 6-8 drops)

Once you've added the seasoning, mix it all up really well to make sure it's completely incorporated.  Give it a taste, or in my case have your husband taste it, and see if it's good.  There's typically something more you're going to want to add, Sean always wants more garlic and Tabasco.

Now you're going to start your layering.  Since I typically make this to travel then I use a disposable 9x13 foil pan but you could use any 9x13 pan.  The first layer is going to be the refried beans.  I dump the 2 cans into the bottom and use a rubber spatula to spread it all around and get it as even as I can.  I then sprinkle mild chili powder over the top to give it a nice dusting.

Next comes the sour cream layer.  Once again, dump the whole thing on top of the refried beans and spread it out evenly.

Next layer is the salsa.  You can use as much or as little of the salsa as you like, I typically use the whole jar.  Dump it on top of the sour cream layer and spread it out evenly.
On top of that sprinkle the cheese then sprinkle on the lettuce and you're done!

I would definitely suggest making this the night before.  When it sits in the fridge all night it gets really good flavor to it and the juices and spices play together nicely.  I buy the Tostitos Scoops to go with this because it definitely is a hardy dip so you'll need a chip that can handle it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh Lord have mercy!

Not a recipe but wanted to share with you some righteous chips my friend Madison got me hooked on!  Sun Chips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic chips are my new addiction (eating them as I type this).  I've never been a fan of Sun Chips but these are amazing and not that bad for you either!  I've noticed recently that the multi grain things that are coming out are actually super good!  I also LOVE the multi grain Tostitos.  The multi grain gives them a kind of sweet taste.  I find myself picking up a bag of these every time I'm at the store.  Curse you Madison!  :)

Coconut Oil

A couple of months ago my mom was telling me about all the health benefits of coconut oil and what a difference it makes in cooking so I decided to try it.  Wow.  Once you try it you'll never go back to using vegetable oil!  I found a couple of articles online about all the health benefits and all the different uses for coconut oil and it's just amazing.  Coconuts really are one of nature's most perfect foods.  I use it almost everyday in my cooking and use it in baking as well.  I originally started off using an organic version I found at the store but with how much I used it I was able to find a much bigger package of it at Wal-Mart.  Since whether or not it was organic didn't bother me I decided to use it instead.  It comes in somewhat of a solid form which first weirded me out because I was expecting it to be liquid like most oils.  It does melt at a very low temperature which is really helpful when you're using it for baking.  When I use it for baking, I'll measure out how much I need and then I'll pop it into the microwave in a measuring cup for a couple seconds to get it liquefied, especially if I'm using it in a cake or brownie batter.  I've used it for pretty much everything I've needed oil for since the very first time I used it.  Occasionally I still do use olive oil but I could myself phasing that out too.  Don't be fooled by the name because it has no coconut flavor to it at all, it takes on whatever flavor you're cooking.  I'm excited to try using it for some of the things I've read about on these website. 


Parmesan Green Beans

The first time I made these Sean gave me this look like he fell in love with me all over again!  Once again, a super simple recipe that tastes like you slaved all day over it!

Package of fresh green beans, trimmed and washed  (as many or as little as you'd like)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place green beans in a bowl and lightly sprinkle olive oil on top, just enough to coat all the beans.  Now add your salt and pepper (to taste) and mix until everything is coated.  Lay your green beans onto a cookie sheet (I'd definitely suggest putting some foil down first) and then sprinkle a healthy amount of cheese on top, I coat the suckers!  Bake for about 15-17 minutes.  Green beans should be crisp outside but tender inside.  Keep an eye on them once they reach about 14 minutes because you don't want a bunch of shriveled up green beans!  Transfer to serving plate and there you have it. 

*This would also be great on asparagus!

Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing

This is an incredibly easy meal that tastes like you spent all day on it!  I'm making this tonight for dinner and already the smell is amazing. 

4 thawed chicken breasts
Box of Stove Top stuffing mix (any flavor will do
  but I use chicken)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup milk

First and foremost- salt and pepper both sides of your chicken.  ALL protein needs to be salt and peppered before it's cooked.  To not salt and pepper it is to do it a disservice!  Be kind to your protein and season!

Put your chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Pour the package of dry stuffing over the top and pat it down so it is evenly coating the chicken.  Next, you're going to combine the sour cream, soup and milk in a small bowl and stir until well incorporated.  Pour the mixture evenly over the top of the stuffing.  Put the lid on and cook on LOW for about 4 hours.  If you need this to cook longer it could probably go as long as 6 hours but any longer would dry it out too much. 
When you're ready to eat, spoon out the chicken and stuffing and place on plate.  The soup mix acts as a gravy and you'll be amazed at how incredibly juicy and tasty the chicken is! 

Tonight I'll be serving the Parmesan Green Beans with this as well.