Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hamburger Stroganoff

Here's another recipe I've made dozens of times. It's not fancy, but it's yummy and my whole family likes it! :) 

5/2013 Update: I still make this quite often for my family, although now I use homemade cream of mushroom soup

Hamburger Stroganoff
Printable version here

1 lb. lean ground beef (or less; I typically use 3/4 pound)
1/2 small onion, chopped (or however much onion you like)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of onion)
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup. sour cream
Cooked noodles

Brown ground beef & onions; drain. Stir in soup, milk, butter, salt & pepper; simmer, covered, 10-15 minutes. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Heat through. Mix with hot noodles.

One nice thing about this recipe is that it can be frozen. What I do is make it as written, but stop before putting in the sour cream (because it doesn't freeze well). Freeze the mixture in a ziploc bag. When you're ready to use it, thaw, heat in a saucepan, then add the sour cream once it's hot. Add to noodles, and voila! Dinner in like 5 minutes! (plus time to cook the noodles, but that's easy) I just thawed a bag last night for our dinner; here's what it looks like:

Why I love it? It's inexpensive, easy, tastes good, and requires a small number of ingredients.  I also like that it can be made ahead and frozen!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Poke Cake

(c) Kraft Foods

This cake is a Christmas tradition for me. I love it! You can make it as either a 2 layer cake or as 24 cupcakes. Having just finished making a batch of the cupcakes, I can assure you that the layer cake is easier! :) It's much faster, easier, and I think it looks nicer (since you get both colors in each serving). So, here is the recipe for the cake version:

Holiday Poke Cake

2 baked 9-inch round white cake layers, cooled
2 cups boiling water, divided
1 pkg. (3 oz.) red Jell-O, any flavor
1 pkg. (3 oz.) lime Jell-O
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
Decorative topping (such as raspberries, sprinkles, etc.)

1. Place cakes, top-side up, in clean 9-inch round pans; pierce with large fork at 1/2-inch intervals.

2. Add 1 cup boiling water to each flavor dry gelatin mix in separate small bowls; stir 2 minutes, until completely dissolved. Pour red gelatin over 1 cake and lime gelatin over remaining cake. Refrigerate 3 hours.

3. Dip bottoms of cake pans in warm water 10 seconds; unmold. Fill and frost cake layers with Cool Whip. Refrigerate 1 hour. Top with decorations right before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

(Here is the cupcake version)

This is what my cupcakes looked like after poking & pouring Jell-O on them.

The inside (these got a little too much Jell-O on them; normally there's a little more white to them)

Why I love it? My favorite things about this recipe are that it is very festive looking, the cake is very moist, and it is really flavorful. It's light & refreshing. You can vary the colors too, for other occasions. I just love the red & green. :)

Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

I made this dinner for the first time the other night. We all liked it. :) It's from Kraft.

Whenever I can, I try to get the ingredients ready beforehand like this. It makes things go so much more smoothly!

After you put the last cheese on top, bake it only until the cheese melts. Too long and it will start to dry out.

Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake
Printable version here

1 1/2 cups rotini pasta, uncooked (about 6 oz.)
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or less; I use 10 oz.)
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 oz. cream cheese, regular or light (just under 1/2 a package)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (4 oz.), divided
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
Garlic powder and/or Italian seasoning

1. Heat oven to 375º. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, adding broccoli for last 4 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add a little oil & swirl it around, then add chicken. Cook 3 min. or until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; simmer 3 min. or until chicken is done. Add cream cheese; cook and stir on low heat 1 min. or until melted. Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella. (Also, the original recipe doesn't state this, but at this point you should add a little salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you'd like. I used about 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. Italian seasoning.)

3. Drain pasta & broccoli. Add to chicken mixture, mix lightly. Spoon into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with foil.

4. Bake 10 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake, uncovered, 3 min. or until melted.

Why I love it? The sauce tastes really creamy & flavorful, but it's lower in fat than traditional alfredo sauce. Broccoli is my favorite vegetable (really, one of the very few I like), so I enjoyed this new way to serve it. It was really easy cooking it with the noodles. The kids asked for seconds, too, which means this is a make-again recipe!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sloppy Joes

I got this recipe years ago from a friend, and it's a staple in our house. Even my pickiest eater likes it!  All I need to buy is ground beef & onions (or I typically have them in the freezer), and the other ingredients are already in my pantry.

Sloppy Joes
Printable version here

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
Ketchup (to desired consistency)
1 tsp. each dry mustard*, celery salt, & vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
Few drops Worchestershire sauce

Brown meat with onions and bell pepper; drain. Add remaining ingredients; cook over medium heat until hot. Serve over buns.

*Prepared mustard may be substituted

Why I love it? It's inexpensive, quick, and uses ingredients I almost always have. The sauce is good- a little tangy, and really flavorful. You can also make the meat mixture and freeze it. Put it in a freezer bag, then just pull it out later and heat! Dinner in no time! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Refried" Beans

This recipe has been one of my best finds from seriously!! I had never known how to cook dried beans before. Now I do! :) There is no turning back. Canned refried beans is another thing to add to my list of "Things I used to buy store-made, but now that I've made it from scratch, it's the only way I like it!" I've made these probably 10 times now. Since it's a technique most people probably haven't done before, I took pictures to add to the recipe.

I serve these one of two ways. One is to just serve them as a side, along with enchiladas, or something like that. The other is to make bean burritos with them. This is our favorite! I either do just beans for a filling, or sometimes I'll cut up one cooked chicken breast, and divide that among all of us. It's a great way to either stretch, or skip, the meat. To make burritos, I put beans, (maybe chicken), sour cream, cheese, and a little taco sauce, and roll them up. Another idea- they're great in this Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup.  Sometimes I purposely make leftovers so I can make the soup!

(Note- I always halve the original recipe. That makes enough for my family of 5, with maybe a tiny bit leftover. That's how I'm writing it here.)

*** I made a separate post of my tips for making these, you can see that here***

Refried Beans
Printable version here

1/2 onion, peeled and halved
1 1/2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or chopped green chilies, about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
4 1/2 cups water
Taco seasoning

1. Place all of the ingredients (besides the taco seasoning) into a slow cooker. (This fits perfectly in my small 1 1/2 quart crock pot) Stir to combine. Cook on high for 6 hours. (If too much water is evaporating, then the temperature is too high. Add more water as needed. I've never had to do this step). If you make a bigger batch, or use a bigger slow cooker- you'll need to increase the cooking time.

2. Once the beans have cooked, strain them (along with the onions), and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency. Add taco seasoning and salt to taste.

Why I love it? It fits all of my desired qualities in a recipe- it's cheap, easy, yummy, and healthy! I love knowing exactly what's in the beans, and they are so much more appealing to look at than refried beans that have just been dumped out of a can. My whole family loves these, and I've converted other family members into cooking their beans this way, too! :)

What it looks like just before cooking:

Just about finished cooking:

I take the beans out with a slotted spoon, and put them in a plastic bowl.

Mash them until they're the consistency you like. Add seasonings, and you're done!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Roll

This is what I signed up to make for Thanksgiving this year. :) I love it even more than pumpkin pie!

Libby's Pumpkin Roll
Printable version here

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

For cake: Preheat oven to 375º. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan (such as Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan); line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper (or use parchment paper). Set aside. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. (I use 1 tsp. PC Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend in place of the cinnamon & cloves) Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan (layer will be thin).

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched (in my baking stone, it took about 16-17 minutes). Immediately loosen and turn onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

For filling: beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Why I love it? It's fun to make (because it's a little challenging, and it's so exciting when it turns out right!), the filling is rich & tasty, it looks awesome, and it tastes great! It also can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge until the time you need it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce

I've made this recipe several times now.  Like all good crockpot recipes, it's easy to make and the chicken comes out tender, but the reason I keep coming back to this recipe is the sauce! The ingredients are so flavorful!

Chicken with Creamy Chive SaucePrintable version here
1 to 2 lbs. chicken breasts
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 (0.7 oz.) pkg. dry Italian dressing mix
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
4 oz. chive & onion cream cheese

Combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan; stir until melted. Cut chicken into large pieces (about 3 pieces per chicken breast), place in a crockpot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, depending on the amount of chicken you use. Serving suggestion: Serve over rice.

Why I love it? As I wrote above, my favorite part is the sauce.  It is creamy & flavorful, but not too rich. I like to save the leftover sauce, and have it the next day either with toast or leftover rice. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is the chili recipe I've used for years. After I tried it, there was no turning back to canned chili. ;) Sometimes I use a little less meat, and sometimes I use less chili powder, depending on how spicy I feel like making it.  My favorite thing to serve this with is, of course, corn bread!

Printable version here

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
Diced red bell pepper (optional)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tbsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can beans (chili or pinto beans)

Cook beef, onion, red pepper & garlic in 3-quart saucepan until beef is brown; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients except beans. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans (rinse and drain the beans first, unless they're chili beans). Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness. Serves 4.

Why I love it? It's easy to make, inexpensive, and filling (lots of protein & fiber). Plus, my whole family will eat it! It tastes so much better to me than canned chili, mainly because of the texture. It's not mushy! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup

I made this for dinner tonight, and will definitely make it again in two weeks- when it's actually the day after thanksgiving. :) The picture hardly does it justice. I've made it many times now, and every time it turns out fantastic! I found it on, and made just a few changes to it. The main thing I did was cut the recipe in third, because the original one serves a ton. As written here, it serves about 4 people. It's plenty for the 2 adults, 2 kids, and 1 baby in my family.

After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup
Printable version here

1 quart turkey broth*
Cooked turkey, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup whole milk or half & half
1/3 cup long grain white rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 tsp. pepper

*To make turkey broth, place leftover turkey carcass in a large pot, cover turkey with water, cover pot & simmer for one hour. Remove turkey, pick off any remaining meat, and strain broth. Measure 4 cups of it for use with the soup.

In a large pot, saute the onions, carrots, and celery in butter until tender. Reduce heat; stir in flour until blended. Gradually add 1 1/3 cups of broth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add milk, rice, salt, bouillon, pepper, remaining 2 2/3 cups of broth, and turkey. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat; leave covered 10 more minutes. Serves 4.

-I was out of chicken bouillon, so I subbed a little extra salt and about 1/4 tsp. chicken seasoning. It worked well.
- This soup may be frozen. To do this, add all the ingredients for the soup except for the rice. Set aside any soup that you want to freeze, and then finish cooking the soup with the rice. To serve later, thaw the soup, gently heat to boiling, add the rice, and cook until rice is soft.
- You can also make this with chicken broth and cooked chicken. Either way, it’s delicious!

Why I love it? According to Dave, "Cause it's just really good! It's creamy, and it's filling." Daniel says "Well, I like it because of the rice & chicken." We all like it, and it uses ingredients I almost always have on-hand. It has turned into my annual day after Thanksgiving meal!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dinner Rolls

 This recipe is from my Betty Crocker cookbook. They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

Dinner Rolls
Printable version here

3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cup all-purpose or bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1/2 cup very warm water (120º-130º)
1/2 cup very warm milk (120º-130º)
1 large egg
Butter or margarine, melted, if desired

1. Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, 1/4 cup butter, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water, warm milk, and egg. Beat on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. (Or, knead 5 minutes in stand mixer with dough hook) Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched. (Hint- to make a warm place for the dough to rise, turn on oven for a few minutes while you are mixing the dough. Turn it off once it's slightly warm.)

3. Grease rectangular 9x13 pan with shortening.

4. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Diving dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; place in pan. Brush with butter (optional). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double. (I remove it from the oven a few minutes before it's done rising, so I can preheat the oven for baking)

5. Heat oven to 375º.

6. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown (mine take around 15). Serve warm or cool.

You can click here for more options, including how to make these using a bread machine.

**Pictures of making them:

Here's the dough after step 2, when it's done with the first rise

Step 4, I placed the dough on my pastry mat and pushed gently to deflate

I cut the dough (with my pastry cutter) into 15 pieces, then you pinch the ends together on the piece of dough, so you have one flat, smooth side (the top) and one side with the pinched ends (the bottom).

The rolls after the 2nd rise, just about to bake

Why I love them? They're inexpensive, they make a good amount (enough for my bread-loving family, with some left over), I find them fun to make, and they're just flat out delicious!

Monday, November 1, 2010


I found this recipe years ago in my Betty Crocker cookbook. Our whole family loves meatballs, and I much prefer making these to buying them in the store.  They can easily be made ahead of time, too.


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large egg
Other seasonings if you'd like, such as garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc.

Heat oven to 400º. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into meatballs*, place in ungreased pan or baking sheet. Bake uncovered until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160º, or until no longer pink in center and juice is clear.

*Meatball options- you can make these small or medium, depending on your preference.
- Small: uses a small (1 tbsp.) cookie scoop, makes 45 meatballs, bakes for 17-18 minutes (these are what's in the pictures)
- Medium: uses a medium (2 tbsp.) cookie scoop, makes 24 meatballs, bakes for 20-25 minutes

*Tips on how I make them: I always use a pair of disposable gloves, because I don't like getting my hands so grimy. After I mix the meat, I scoop all the meatballs, and just drop them on the baking sheet. At that point it looks like this:

After they're all on there, I roll each one between my hands to make it nice & round, then I line them up (that's where the perfectionist in me comes out!). Them, bake 'em. Ta da, perfect meatballs! :)

Why I love them? They're easy; if I buy ground beef I normally have all the other ingredients in my kitchen already; they're versatile; they taste great; they're freezable (I cool them after baking, then stick a dinner's worth of them in a freezer bag)... and I just like them so much better than the kind you get at a store. The beef ones at a store are so high in fat, and the turkey ones are better, but not as tasty (and a little mushy). I like that I know exactly what ingredients are in these. That's it! :)

What I do with these meatballs- I can think of 3 different things:

- Serve them with spaghetti & sauce
- Dave LOVES meatballs with mashed potatoes, so I'll make it that way. I serve it with either a brown gravy or country gravy.
- What I did this week was make it sort of like Swedish meatballs. I put the meatballs over cooked egg noodles, and made a sauce by heating a jar of beef gravy, and mixed in a spoonful of sour cream at the end. It made a nice, creamy sauce.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

I got this recipe several years ago from Dave's family. I was asked to bring it for Thanksgiving, and I have since fallen in love with it!! I altered the original recipe a little bit- I reduced the sugar (it used to taste more like a dessert than a side dish), and I learned to roast the potatoes instead of steaming them. That really brings their flavor out, as well as bringing out their natural sugars (and reducing the need for added sugar).

This size batch is enough for a big Thanksgiving dinner- last year I brought it to our 25 person gathering! There were so many dishes that everyone had just a little of everything. I have also cut the recipe in half just to make for a normal dinner here at home.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Printable version here

Filling ingredients
4 large sweet potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Topping ingredients
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
3 tbsp. cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup pecan pieces, chopped

1. To cook the sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 400º. Rinse & dry sweet potatoes, place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (flipping them halfway), until tender. Let them cool, then take off the peel and cut into chunks. Mash until desired consistency. (I use my food grinder with a fine grinding plate for this step, or a potato masher.) *If desired, you can peel, cube, and steam the potatoes instead.

2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, beaten egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 tbsp. melted butter, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.

3. In a food processor (or by hand), combine 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Next pulse in the cubed butter until it is well dispersed and in small pieces. Stir in the chopped pecans, then sprinkle over the top of the potatoes.

4. Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes or until heated through and topping is crisp and lightly browned.

Make-ahead: I have made this casserole ahead of time. I make the sweet potato mixture, put it in the baking dish, then cover & refrigerate. I make the topping mixture in a separate bowl, and put it on the potatoes just before baking (so it doesn't get soggy). Take the casserole out of the refrigerator an hour or so before baking to help take the chill off. Bake as directed, increasing the cooking time if necessary.

Why I love it? I think it's the yummiest thing you can do to sweet potatoes! I like this as much, if not more, than pumpkin pie. Besides being delicious, it's packed with vitamin A! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mexican Rice

(This also goes with the post below, which is the chicken recipe) In the plate above is this Mexican rice. It is fantastic!! I've never found a great Mexican rice recipe, until the other day when I was searching online. I made this last night for the first time, and we loved it!! I will make it again for sure.

Mexican Rice

1- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (or 12 ounces fresh tomatoes, very ripe & cored, if desired)
1 medium white onion
3 medium jalapenos, fresh or canned (or more, depending on your tastes)
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Drain diced tomatoes, reserving liquid. Process tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno in food processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. (Remove seeds from jalapenos first; wearing gloves if possible) Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. (Add some of the reserved tomato liquid if you don't have 2 cups.)

3. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for 1 1/2 minutes, or until water runs clear. Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.

4. Heat oil in a large oven-safe pan or skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle, it is ready. Add rice and cook, stirring often, for 6-8 minutes or until rice is light golden brown and translucent.

5. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.

6. Stir in broth, tomato mixture, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

7. Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes. Stir well after 15 minutes of cooking. (If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, you can ladle the boiling mixture into a different baking pan, then cover it with a lid or with foil.)

8. Stir in cilantro, extra minced jalapeno if desired, and serve with lime wedges.

Why I love it? It tastes fantastic! It's such a yummy side dish for any Mexican meal. It tastes really authentic (much more than, say, a Rice-a-Roni dish). It also is a good recipe, in that it turned out perfectly the first time I made it. Enjoy!

Crunchy Taco Chicken

I tweaked another recipe and came up with this one. We had it for dinner last night. I don't measure out the ingredients; you don't need to for this recipe.

Crunchy Taco Chicken

Boneless chicken breasts
Taco sauce
Taco seasoning (or I use Pampered Chef Southwest Seasoning)
Grated cheddar cheese
Handful of tortilla chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 400º. Slice chicken breasts length-wise so they're thin. Put in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Spoon taco sauce over chicken; sprinkle with taco seasoning. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until almost done.

Sprinkle chicken with grated cheese, then top with crushed tortilla chips. Bake for 2-3 more minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken reaches 180º.

Why I love it? It has all the flavors of a taco, but on a piece of chicken. (Good if you're trying to eat low-carb) It tastes delicious, and is quick to make- about 1/2 an hour start to finish! That's why I cut the chicken in half- it cooks quicker, and it lets you get more topping to chicken ratio! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

This is a basic, but yummy pancake recipe. We all enjoy it. I found it here-

Mom's Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1 1/8 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. butter, melted

1. Preheat and lightly grease a large skillet or electric griddle.

2. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl. Add the egg, buttermilk, and butter; stir together lightly, but keep it lumpy. The batter should look thick, spongy, and puffy.

3. Drop 1/4 cup of the batter onto the cooking surface, spreading lightly with the bottom of the cup. Cook until lightly browned on each side. Serves 4.

(I double this recipe, so it serves us 5, plus leftovers)

Why I love it? It's easy, yummy, cheap, not too unhealthy, and it's something my whole family can agree on! :) The pancakes are a good thickness. My favorite topping for this is berry syrup. Last time I did that, I heated about 1 cup of frozen berries in a pan (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries) with a little water & sugar. It was a perfect topping, and it gave us all a serving of fruit!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Muffins

In honor of fall, I HAVE to share this recipe. :) It is deeee-licious. The kids and I just devoured a few.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Muffins
Printable version here

2 cups white sugar (you can substitute a little brown sugar for the white, if you'd like)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
* I use 1 tbsp. Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus in place of the above three spices
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup Hershey's cinnamon chips (you could use chocolate chips instead, or omit these)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease muffin tins (with nonstick spray or Crisco), or grease & flour loaf pans. Mix sugar, oil and applesauce in large bowl to blend. Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in another large bowl. Gradually mix flour mixture in with pumpkin mixture. Mix in cinnamon chips, and walnuts if desired.

Bake as directed; cool briefly before transferring to rack. Eat muffins warm, or cool bread completely before slicing. Cooled loaves can be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to 1 month. Enjoy!

**Baking options:
  • 2 loaves (9x5x3 loaf pans), baked for 1 hour 10 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean), or
  • 48 mini muffins (PC small scoop, rounded, bake for 15 minutes) and 12 regular muffins (PC large scoop, rounded, bake for 22 minutes)
  • About 2 1/2 dozen regular muffins, cups about 3/4 full, bake for about 22 minutes
  • What I normally make is one loaf and 12 muffins
Why I love it?
They're easy to make, comforting on a fall day, and just YUMMY! You can freeze one of the loaves for later if you'd like, too.

(The last batch of mini muffins was still baking when I took this picture)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creamy Fruit Salad

I got this recipe a few years ago from my brother in law's mom. It makes a lot, so you might want to cut it in half if you're just making it for your family. Or, it's a great thing to take to a potluck because it fills a huge bowl.

Creamy Fruit Salad
Printable version here

2 cups buttermilk
1 large package instant vanilla pudding
8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
Several cups of chopped, mixed fruit

In a large bowl, beat together buttermilk and pudding until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip until combined. Stir in fruit until desired consistency; chill.

Pudding mixture

Combined with this:

Equals this! :)

Why I love it?The sauce part of it is really good. The buttermilk gives it a slightly tangy flavor. My whole family gobbles this up. It's as yummy as a dessert, but still has the healthiness of fruit!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chocolate Mint Cookies

I found this recipe on one time, and fell in love! The cookies are kind of small, so it makes a bunch. If you like chocolate and mint, you must try it!

Chocolate Mint Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
45 chocolate mint water candies (Andies)

1. In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.

2. At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350º.

4. Roll dough into balls (I used my small cookie scoop, which is 1 tbsp.) and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes (mine took 11).

5. While cookies are baking, unwrap mints and divide each in half. When cookies are brought out of the oven, immediately put 1/2 mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!

(Made with 1 tablespoon of dough, this makes about 90 cookies- 7 1/2 dozen!)

Why I love it? The cookies are soft, rich, and chewy, and the mint makes such an easy, delicious frosting! I have always had good feedback when I've made these.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crockpot Beef & Gravy

I've had a very busy past week, including a trip to Moses Lake and a night stuck in a hotel in Cle Elum because our car's brakes stopped working. Yikes! But we're back now, and *almost* recovered from the trip. So, back to posting I go. Here's a recipe I got from my mom years ago. We had it for dinner last week.

Crockpot Beef & Gravy

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, trimmed of fat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can French onion soup

Combine the two soups in a crockpot. Add meat, and stir until meat is covered by the sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve; add salt & pepper to taste.

Why I love it? Crockpot + 3 ingredients! What could be better? :) The meat tastes great, the sauce is good, and my whole family enjoys it. I served it with mashed red potatoes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chocolate Trifle

This is one of my ABSOLUTE favorite desserts to make, especially for a crowd. I've made several variations of it, too. You cannot go wrong with this!

Chocolate Trifle
Printable version here

1 (19.8 oz.) package brownie mix (plus ingredients listed on the box), or homemade brownies baked in a 9x13 pan
1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup water
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
16 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed*
Grated chocolate for garnish, optional

1. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares.

2. In a large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup water, then stir in pudding mix. Mix until smooth, then fold in half the container of Cool Whip until no streaks remain.

3. In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the remaining Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Shave chocolate onto the top layer for garnish, if desired. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving. Serves 12.

Recipe Source:

* The original recipe calls for 20 ounces of Cool Whip, but I have found one 16 ounce carton to be enough.

Why I love it? It's easy to make, it can be made beforehand, it easily serves a lot of people, it looks impressive, and it tastes fantastic!! Plus, if there are any leftovers, they taste good for several days. If they last that long ;) I make it in my Pampered Chef trifle bowl, and that fits perfectly.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yogurt Berry Smoothie

A few months ago, I noticed this new product in the freezer section. Surely, I could make it at home for cheaper! :) So, here's what I did.

I froze a 6-ounce container of strawberry yogurt. It made 7 cubes (not quite full to the top). I looked online and found that the Yoplait ones use a 7.6 ounce bag of frozen yogurt & fruit, so I measured mine to be close to that. The smoothie ended up using 5 yogurt cubes & 4 large frozen strawberries.

Add to a blender with 1 cup of milk (I used skim milk), and blend until smooth

It made the perfect amount for me & two kids!

I've made these many times now, with different flavors of yogurt, different fruit, etc. The basic directions are the same:

Yogurt Smoothie (Serves 2)
Printable version here

1. Freeze yogurt in ice cube tray; freeze fruit.

2. In a blender, combine 5 yogurt cubes, frozen fruit (approx. 1/3 cup), and 1 cup milk. Blend until smooth.

Why I love it?
They were great!! It had a good consistency (thick, but still drinkable through a straw), and a good balance of yogurt & fruit taste. By freezing the yogurt beforehand, it's so easy to make- just put in the frozen ingredients and milk, and voila! Easy snack or breakfast!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup

The first time I made this soup, I was amazed at how different it was from canned tomato soup.  I shouldn't have been surprised, because homemade is always better- but I was shocked at how good it was!  It tastes creamy, flavorful, and just real! Like what canned soup is trying to imitate!  Even though I don't like tomatoes (or even ketchup), I love this.

I served this with homemade multigrain bread.  I found the recipe from Our Best Bites, here.  It was the perfect complement to this soup!

Roasted Tomato Soup
Printable version here

6 cups (3 pints) cherry tomatoes
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. chopped onion
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 t. thyme
1 cup whipping cream (I use whole milk)

1. Heat the oven to 400º. On a baking sheet, combine the tomatoes, 2 T. oil, salt & pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat evenly and spread them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35 to 45 minutes.

2. In a large pot, heat the butter and remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the broth, the thyme, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

3. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. (You will need to do this in batches, and you might want to cool the soup a little before pureeing it) Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt & pepper if necessary, and add a little sugar if it's too tart. Makes about 10 cups.

Recipe source: Family Fun magazine

* Last time I made this, I only made a half batch (to save money on ingredients). It made enough to feed my family of 2 adults & 2 kids, plus 1 bowl leftover. I used my immersion blender to puree it, being very careful not to splash myself with hot soup.

Why I love it? It's the best tomato soup I've ever had!! It had a more appealing feel than canned tomato soup- there was a little texture to it, and it just tasted real, like actual tomato soup! :) It's also a great way to use up tomatoes if you have a bunch of them. Plus, tomatoes are high in vitamin C! I've also served this with a yummy sourdough grilled cheese. Those 2 things combined tasted like they were from a restaurant!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Layered Raspberry Dessert

I made this dessert for Labor Day, and it was a hit! The recipe comes from a friend at church, Kristen Peterson.

Layered Raspberry Dessert
Printable version here

1 cup flour
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
2 T sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip, thawed, plus more for serving
3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
¼ cup cornstarch
1 ½ cups sugar (or ¾ cup Baking Splenda)
1 large pkg. raspberry Jello

1. Crust layer: Mix flour, butter, and 2 T. sugar with a pastry blender; spread into 9x13" pan. Press flat with your hands. Bake at 350º for 20 min. Let cool.

2. Cream cheese layer: Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Cool Whip until smooth. Spread over cooled crust.

3.Sprinkle raspberries evenly over cream cheese layer.

4. Berry layer: In a medium saucepan, stir 3 cups water, cornstarch and sugar together. Cook until thick and clear, whisking often. Remove from heat. Add Jello and mix. Allow to cool for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally. Pour liquid over raspberries. Chill until firm.

Why I love it? It has a good balance of richness (the buttery crust and the creamy middle layer) and fruity-ness , it's refreshing, and it can be made in advance. Requires no prep time when you're serving it, just cut into squares, and add a dollop of Cool Whip if you'd like. I also loved the creamy layer- it seems like that would also make a good fruit dip. The gelatin part was fun to make, too. Mmm! :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Buttermilk Sandwich Bread

I might as well start off this blog with the recipe for the picture (that used to be) at the top of my blog . I've only made it once, but need to again very soon! It's called Buttermilk Sandwich Bread, and it's from this awesome cookbook:

It's only $23 on Amazon- I'd add it to your Christmas list if you don't already have it! :)

Buttermilk Sandwich Bread
Printable version here

3 3/4 cups (18.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cold buttermilk (can use 1 cup of milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice as a substitute, mix milk and lemon juice and let it set for about 10 min. prior to using)
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey (2.2 oz.)
1 envelope instant yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

2. Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour (17.5 oz.) and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about 10 min. (After 5 minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 1/4 cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds. (Don't be alarmed if this makes your mixer go nuts!! LOL)

3. Place dough in very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place it in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes. (This picture is before rising)

4. Gently press the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With a long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with damp cloth; set aside in warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size 20-30 min. (Picture is after rising)

5. Keep one oven rack at the lowest position and place the other at the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour boiling water into the empty pan on the bottom rack and set the loaf onto the middle rack. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes (mine took 42 minutes). Remove bread from the pan, transfer to wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.

*If you'd like, you can substitute wheat flour for part of the white flour. I do about 2:1 regular to wheat flour.

Why I love it? For one, the smell while it's baking is amazing!! I think they should make candles in this scent! The bread tastes fantastic, it's inexpensive, and I like that I know exactly what's in it. Simple ingredients, nothing funny. It does take a bit of time to make, but most of it is hands-off. I timed myself tonight as I made another loaf, and start to finish it took 3 hours. That was with distractions- I'm sure it could be made a little faster in a quiet kitchen. :)