Friday, December 19, 2008

{chocolate cookies with peppermint buttercream frosting}

This is for Melissa's mom. :) I have always loved the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies on the back of the Reeses Peanut Butter chips bag. This year I decided to adapt it for the holidays.I omitted the peanut butter chips, frosted them with peppermint buttercream frosting, then sprinkled crushed candy canes on top. Yum!!


2 c. flour
¾ c. Hershey’s cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ c. (2 ½ sticks) butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture; beating well. Stir in peanut butter chips.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes. (Do not overbake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling.) Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 ½ dozen cookies.

PEPPERMINT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (This my recipe for traditional buttercream frosting. Just substitute the vanilla extract for peppermint extract, and add one or two drops red food coloring if desired.)

{white hot chocolate}

I was watching a Food Network holiday special last night, and when Miss Paula Deen demonstrated her white hot chocolate recipe, I knew I needed to try it. This might be a great addition to Christmas Eve...

WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE (click for recipe)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

{chalupa grande}

I tried this recipe this week, after perusing some more of my cookbooks. This particular one is from a friend, and I'm so glad she shared it! It's wonderful--full of flavor, and so many options to serve.


2 c. (1 lb.) dry pinto beans
3 lb. boneless pork roast
7 c. water
1/2 c. onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2-3 tsp. cumin
1-2 T. chili powder
1/2 T. salt
1 tsp. oregano leaves
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

Add to crockpot and cook on high 8 hours. After cooked, shred roast and mix. Serve with chips, grated cheese, green onions, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, olives, or anything else you like. I loved it best over chips, but Rick preferred using warmed tortillas.
**I also tried this using canned pinto beans, and it turned out well. Just omit the dry beans and 7 c. water, and use as many drained cans of pinto beans as you would like.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

{walnut crescents}

Christmas wouldn't be the same without making these cookies. This is my grandmother's recipe, and after we moved away and didn't live near her anymore, she would send these to us along with all of her favorite cookie and candy recipes every Christmas. We looked forward to it all year!


2 c. unsifted flour
1 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. powdered sugar
2 T. cold water
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. chopped walnuts

Beat butter and sugar together. Add flour and water alternately. When mixed, add vanilla and walnuts. Shape into crescent shapes and bake about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Sift some powdered sugar on a cutting board. Place baked cookies on sugar directly out of the oven, and coat completely with sugar. Let cool.

{hot fudge sauce}

I grew up eating this hot fudge, and I love it! It's perfect over ice cream, or any other dessert that requires lots of yummy chocolate!


6 T. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. cocoa
1 c. evaporated milk

Over low heat melt butter thoroughly. Add sugar and cocoa. Mix well, then gradually add milk. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from stove, then serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

{cranberry salad}

I couldn't let Thanksgiving pass by without including one of our traditional recipes, and one of my favorite Turkey Day dishes. Enjoy!


2 c. whole cranberries, ground (1 package)
3/4 c. sugar
3 c. mini marshmallows
2 c. diced apples
1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. red grapes, halved
1/4 tsp. salt
whipping cream, whipped and sweetened (I use powdered sugar--no granules)

Combine the first three ingredients and let sit overnight. Add the next four ingredients and mix well. Add whipped cream right before serving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

{fettuccine alfredo}

I have searched high and low for the perfect Alfredo recipe, and I think I've finally found it. This is a favorite dish, and is requested so often, that I really needed to find one that we all loved. Most of the ones I tried didn't maintain that really creamy texture, and had a tendency to separate easily. The cream cheese in this recipe cures that, and gives it a rich flavor. This is so, so good--it won't last long!


1/2 c. butter
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c.- 1 c. milk (depends on how thick you want it)
1 c. Parmesan cheese (not in the can)

Melt the butter, and then using a whisk, add the cream cheese and stir until it's melted. Whisk in the milk, stir in the cheese, then bring to a low boil while stirring often. Serve over fettuccine, or favorite pasta (we like farfalle).

{smothered chicken}

This recipe is in our ward (church) cookbook, and is such a great way to serve chicken. Ingredients can be added, or removed, so each family member can have it just the way they like it!


4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
garlic powder to taste
seasoned salt to taste
1 T. canola oil
1 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 c. green onions, chopped
1/2 c. crisp, cooked bacon, crumbled

Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and seasoned salt. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil until halfway done; turn. Cook for a few minutes more, then top with cheese, green onions, and bacon. Cover and cook until chicken juices run clear and cheese is melted.
*the recipe calls for mushrooms too, but since I hate them, I left them out. :)

{hawaiian haystacks}

Everyone knows Hawaiian Haystacks, right? Well, I like to make mine a little different. Instead of using the ever-popular Cream of Chicken soup (of which I am not a huge fan), I use a basic white sauce that I've seasoned. LOVE it!


You'll need: (another great thing about this recipe is that you can adjust the amounts to however many people you are serving)

1. Chicken breasts, cubed (or sliced) and cooked
2. Basic white sauce, seasoned to taste (see recipe below)
3. Toppings: mandarin oranges, pineapple, green onion, tomatoes, cheese, Chinese noodles, etc.
4. Cooked white rice

-Layer rice, sauce, chicken, and toppings.

White Sauce-Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 T. butter
1 T. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
3/4 c. milk

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Stir in milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1minute more. Makes 3/4 c. sauce.
*You can either add the chicken to the sauce, or serve them separately.
*We 5x this recipe for a family of 5, but we like extra sauce.
*You can also add any other seasoning you would like---I like to add some thyme and seasoning salt.

{english toffee}

I really wanted to make English Toffee this past week, but I was in search of an easy, but good, recipe. I found this one at, and it was successful by both standards. Very few ingredients, easy to make, but totally delicious!


Monday, October 27, 2008

{spinach pasta salad}

A good friend of mine gave this recipe to me a few years ago, we love to have it when we get together for lunch. Her mother actually created this recipe after eating a similar salad at a restaurant,and she got it right! It's full of so many yummy things, and they are all brought together beautifully.


8 oz. penne pasta (or bowties)
Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 package baby spinach

1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. vinegar
salt and pepper

Place rinsed and drained spinach in a large bowl. Saute onion and red pepper in a skillet while pasta is cooking. Drain pasta well, then add both the pasta and vegetables to the spinach while they are still hot. Add bacon, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes and toss well. Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

{baked chicken parmesan}

This is a very fast and easy take on this delicious dish.


2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. Italian bread crumbs
1 jar Three Cheese Prego Sauce (or same amount homemade sauce)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Mozzarella cheese

Cut chicken into pieces and place in baking dish. Pour melted better over the chicken, and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Pour half of the jar of sauce over the crumbs, then add both cheese to your liking. Cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle more cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, then serve over spaghetti noodles.

{caramel popcorn}

I could eat gallons of this. Really, it's that good! Caramel popcorn is one of my favorite things ever, and I belong to the "chewy" group. It seems like people fall into one of two categories when it comes to caramel popcorn--crunchy and chewy. We have all kinds in our family, but this is an easy recipe to manipulate to your liking. I also like to add a handful of nuts--pecans and cashews are my favorites--to the popcorn right before I pour on the caramel, then I toss it all together. Yummy!


1 stick butter
1/2 c. Karo
1 c. brown sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan, then add Karo and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and while stirring constantly, continue boiling until it reaches the soft-ball stage. Take off the heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Pour over popcorn and stir well. If you like it crunchy, continue boiling until the hard-ball stage.

{toasted cinnamon & sugar pumpkin seeds}

What a yummy fall treat this is! A few years ago we decided to try a sweet version of our favorite pumpkin seed recipe, and this is waht we came up with. They are sweet, crunchy, and delicious!


2 c. pumpkin seeds
2-3 T. butter, melted
cinnamon & sugar

Wash seeds well. Boil seeds in a small amount of water in a medium saucepan for 10 minutes. Spread out evenly on aluminum foil and dry well. Toss the dry seeds in the butter, then coat with cinnamon & sugar. Spread out on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 225 degrees for approximately 1-1.5 hours or until toasted brown.


2 c. pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. butter, melted
1 1/4 tsp. seasoning salt (or table salt, if preferred)

Follow same directions as above.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

{cajun chicken pasta}

Okay, this is another seriously amazing recipe (click on "recipe")from my friend Melissa. I was introduced to this one last week as well, and I quickly requested it as my birthday meal on Sunday. It is definitely a new regular on our family menu, as well as a new favorite of mine. Enjoy!

{tortilla soup with cilantro}

One of my good friends shared this recipe with me last week, and we have already made it several times. It is wonderful! The soup is delicious all on it's own, but the cilantro and homemade tortilla strips make it one-of-a-kind. Since she already has it typed out on her blog, here's the link! (click on "link")

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

{stuffed green peppers, casserole-style}

A friend shared this recipe with me several years ago, when we were making freezer meals in preparation for her new baby. It has great flavor, and is the perfect alternative to individually-stuffed peppers.


2 large sweet peppers
dash salt
1/3 lb. bulk pork sausage
1/3 c. chopped onion
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. long grain rice
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried basil or dried oregano, crushed
1/2 c. shredded cheese

In a large skillet cook meat and onion till meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, water, uncooked rice, W sauce, basil or oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15-18 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in 1/4 c. of the cheese. Chop up peppers into bite-size pieces and layer in bottom of a 2 quart square baking dish. Layer rice mixture on top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven 15 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.

{chocolate chip toffee bars}

This recipe is hands down my favorite bar recipe. They are rich and delicious, plus easy to make!


2 1/3 c. flour
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 c. chocolate chips
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 3/4 c. toffee bits (10 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the flour and sugar together. Cut in butter until the mixture is coarse crumbs, Add beaten egg and mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips and nuts. Reserve 1 1/2 c. of that mixture. Press the rest into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the top in an even layer. Top with 1 1/2 c. toffee bits. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top, followed by the remaining chocolate chips. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits on top, the cool completely before cutting into bars.

p.s. I'm hoping to make these in the next day or two, so I should be able to update with pictures!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

{chicken corn chowder}

Fall is coming! Yay! The weather has been a little cooler here, and it has started me thinking about some of my favorite soup recipes. I discovered this one about a year ago on a camping trip, and it quickly became a family staple. Not only is it yummy, but is also low in fat (11% of calories). Can't beat that! This recipe originally came from Lion House Light.


2 slices bacon
1/4 c. chopped onions
3 T. water
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 T. flour
2 c. skim milk
2 c. cooked chicken or turkey (light meat), chopped

Cook bacon till crisp in a large heavy saucepan. Drain bacon, wiping drippings from saucepan with a paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside.
In same saucepan, cook onions in 3 T. water until tender. Add chicken broth, frozen corn, potatoes, celery, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and summer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir flour into milk until smooth. Pour into vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Add chopped chicken or turkey and stir over heat 2-3 minutes more, until heated through. Top with crumbled bacon. Makes 6 servings.


Total fat: 3 g (11% of calories)
Protein: 28 g (48% of calories)
Carbohydrates: 24 g (41% of calories)
Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 515 mg

Sunday, August 17, 2008

{cheese enchiladas}

This is an incredibly easy recipe, and really quite delicious! It takes just minutes to put together, and bakes in under an hour. These are items I always have on hand, so many times it's my go-to meal on busy nights.


10 large corn tortillas (you can use flour tortillas if preferred)
1 large can El Paso enchilada sauce (red)
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 c. cheddar cheese

Saute onions in olive oil until cooked through, then set aside. Place inside each tortilla a good amount of cheese, followed by desired amount of onion. Roll tortilla up, then place seam-side down in a greased 9x13 pan. Repeat until all tortillas are finished. Pour enchilada sauce over the top, making sure everything is covered, then layer generously with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Friday, July 25, 2008

{taco salad}

Salads are some of the best things about summer, although this particular recipe can easily be enjoyed all through the year. The rice makes it not only very filling, but helps it go a long way. This is a great recipe to serve to a crowd, as well as your own family. It makes a lot, but can easily be halved if necessary.


2 lbs. hamburger
2-8 oz. cans tomato sauce
4-8 oz. cans water
3-6 oz. cans tomato paste
2 c. cooked rice
1 can red beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin (I use more!)
4 T. sugar
Garlic salt

Brown the beef with the onion. Add everything else except the rice. Simmer 1 hour, adding rice the last 10 minutes. Assemble your own taco salad--layer chips, lettuce, meat mixture, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, etc.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

{crockpot chicken cacciatore}

I can't say enough good things about my crockpot. :) I use it a lot in the winter, but it's also wonderful in the summer--when you're busy, outside all day, and just want to come in and eat without much fuss. This is a great recipe for that reason, and it's just really good!


2-3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 jar Prego sauce (or equal amounts homemade sauce--the Italian Tomato sauce I posted would be delicious with this recipe)
green pepper, julienned
red pepper, julienned
onion, chopped
minced garlic, to taste

Place chicken in crockpot, then pour sauce over the top. Add vegetables and garlic. Cook on high until chicken is tender. I like to cut the chicken into pieces to serve--easier for little mouths! Serve over pasta, with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

{no-bake cookies}

This is hands-down the best no-bake cookie recipe I have ever tried. A friend gave this to me several years ago when we were at the University of Utah, and I haven't found a better one yet! It's the perfect mix of chocolate and peanut butter, and just plain delicious. They don't sit around too long at our house!!


2 c. sugar
2 T. butter
2 T. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
*3 1/2 c. oats

Bring the first four ingredients to a rolling boil, then remove from heat. Add peanut butter and mix well, then add the salt and vanilla. Add oats last. *I actually don't measure the oats. I like my cookies to be a certain consistency--not too dense, and not too runny. I add them a little at a time, until it's to the point I like them to be. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray, then let them cool to room temperature. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

{mexican chicken casserole}

It's camping season, and along with that comes Dutch oven cooking! This is one of my favorite Dutch oven recipes, but it can be baked in the oven at home too. The jalopeno gives it just a little bit of a kick, and the Fritos give it great flavor and crunch. Yum!


2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can evaporated milk
1 jalopeno pepper, chopped (for less spice, de-seed the pepper)
1 small bag Fritos
8 oz. cheddar cheese

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Grease bottom of 8-9 inch baking dish, or line bottom of Dutch oven with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place Fritos evenly in the bottom of the dish, then pour the chicken mixture on top. Cover with cheese.
If using a baking dish, bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is bubbly and casserole is heated through. For Dutch oven, cover an area underneath your Dutch oven with approximately 12-15 coals and place 10-12 coals on top of lid. Cooking time is approximately 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

*For a camping trop, this can be done beforehand and frozen. The chicken will remain frozen for several days, so this meal can be planned for later in the trip.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

{fruit dip and apple dip}

I love summertime because of all the yummy fruit, and these dips make a great side for parties, picnics, and BBQs. The apple dip is also perfect in the fall--school parties, Halloween parties, and any other time!


1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
half of a bag of Skor or Heath bits

Beat the first 4 ingredients welll; stir in toffee bits.


1 package cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
16 oz. strawberry flavored Cool Whip

Whip condensed milk and softened cream cheese together until smooth, then fold in Cool Whip. Serve with fresh fruit.

Monday, July 14, 2008

{cafe rio shredded pork salad with creamy cilantro dressing}

Oh my goodness, this is so, so delicious! I have had these recipes for a long time, but it wasn't until my good friend Erica tried them a couple of months ago that I became inspired to try them myself. I'm not sure if I thought they would be too time-intensive or what, but it actually didn't take long at all, and since the pork goes in the crockpot, it makes it that much faster to put together.


6 lbs. pork loin (I used a smaller roast and adjusted the other ingredients)
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 can Coke
2 c. brown sugar

Mix last three ingredients together and pour over roast after it has been placed in the crockpot. Cook for 3-5 hours, or until meat is falling apart. Shred with two forks.


There is a different recipe for this dish, but I condensed it to make a shorter version. It's perfect as a layer on this salad.

2 c. uncooked rice
4 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. salt
cilantro, chopped

Bring the water and salt to a boil, add rice and cilantro, then cover with a lid. Simmer covered 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.


1 buttermilk ranch packet, prepared according to directions
2 tomatillos
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (it's already pretty spicy without the seeds, but you can add them for extra spice)

Blend all together in food processor or blender, store in fridge.


Layer romaine lettuce, cilantro rice, black beans, and the shredded pork on a plate. Top with the Creamy Cilantro Dressing. ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

{italian tomato sauce}

This is an AMAZING recipe! You can use canned tomatoes, or fresh ones from the garden, and if you make big batches, it can be frozen for later use. This recipe came from a friend, who adapted it from The Moosewook Cookbook. I had this sauce both on spaghetti and lasagne this week, and my mouth is still watering!


2-3 T. olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
1 medium-sized bell pepper, diced
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 (29 oz.) can tomatoes (or use equal amounts fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 T. honey
Lots of black pepper
4-6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. freshly minced parsley

Heat the olive oil in a big pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, bell pepper, herbs and salt; saute over medium heat until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. ADd tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 10 minutes more.

At this point, the sauce can sit for several hours, or be refrigerated for up to a week. Add parsley at the last minute. Serve over spaghetti or other pasta, or use as a sauce for lasagne. You can add 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 pound chopped mushrooms, 1-2 diced zucchini, and a handful of freshly chopped basil leaves to make a marinara version.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

{mint brownies}

Last night I had a little get-together at my house, and I really wanted to make mint brownies. I have a recipe that I have used before, but the brownie part isn't my favorite, and the chocolate on top was hard to spread. So, I decided to create my own, using a combination of recipes. They turned out SO good! I will definitely be making them like this from now on.



3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. + 2 T. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
2/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. chocolate chips
handful mini marshmallows
3 eggs
2/3 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugars and butter. Add eggs and vanilla, then cocoa. Mix in flour and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-32 minutes, or until well done. Do not overbake. Let cool to room temperature.
*Usually I make these and frost with a chocolate buttercream frosting. They are really versatile, and very delicious! You can also add white chocolate chips, which give it a different, yummy taste.

Mint Frosting:

1 recipe Traditional Buttercream Frosting
2-3 drops green food coloring
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring

Make frosting as directed, then add food coloring and flavoring. Add more flavoring to taste. Beat well, until light and fluffy. Once brownies are completely cool, spread generously over the top.

Chocolate Ganache:

2 c. chocolate chips, or finely chopped chocolate squares (I prefer milk chocolate, but semi-sweet is generally used.)
8-10 T. whipping cream

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Add 8 T. of the cream, then a little more if necessary, stirring until glossy. Spread over mint layer carefully. Let the brownies sit for a few minutes before cutting.
*This is based on a basic recipe I found on Picky Palate, but you can use any recipe for chocolate ganache that you like.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

{sesame beef}

This recipe came from a friend, and those that have tried, love it!


1 lb. beef boneless sirloin steak
2 T. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. finely chopped green onions (about 3)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. sesame seed
2 T. vegetable oil
2 c. hot cooked vermicelli or rice

Cut beef diagonally across grain into 1/8 inch slices. (Beef is easier to cut if partially frozen, about 1 1/2 hours.) Mix sugar, soy sauce, pepper, onions, and garlic in a plastic bowl. Stir in beef until well coated. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Drain beef mixture. Heat sesame seed in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until golden brown. Serve over vermicelli or rice. Sprinkle with sesame seed.

{potato chip chicken}

What a fun, kid-friendly recipe...not to mention delicious! These bite-sized nuggets are easy to make, and yummy to eat. Try serving with sides of ranch, honey mustard, and even BBQ sauce.


2-4 boneless, skinless chick breasts, cut into strips or nuggets
1 egg
3-5 T. buttermilk
1 bag potato chips, crushed

Mix together eggs and buttermilk. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, then to the potato chips. Lay on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

{the BEST peanut butter cookies}

Rick was in the mood for peanut butter cookies, and last night I decided to try a new recipe from a friend, since I didn't love any of the ones I had. I made a few changes to it, and it is our new favorite! If you like soft and chewy cookies, peanut butter and chocolate, this is the cookie for you. Enjoy!


1 c. sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
*2 c. flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. chocolate chips (I use the large Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 325. Cream together the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars; beat in eggs. Stir together *flour (I didn't sift mine, just used a spoon to place it in the measuring cup. I ended up adding another 1/2 c. after it was all mixed, because it was still too "wet") and baking soda; add to creamed mixture. Beat just until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll into balls, then roll them in granulated sugar. Place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Use 2 fingers to press them down slightly. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before removing from pan to cooking rack.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Navajo Tacos

I grew up in the West, and frybread (or scones as we also called them) were a yummy part of my childhood. I have experimented over the years with different bread recipes, and I finally settled on a favorite. The best part? I buy it at the store! It's fast, easy, and delicious.


1 lb. ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
salt and pepper
2 loaves Rhodes frozen bread dough

Green onion
Sour Cream

Using 2 loaves makes enough so we have extra scones, and we either sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on them, or honey butter. YUM!

Thaw bread dough out according to package directions--usually 5-6 hours before the time you plan to prepare them.
Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat until cooked through; add taco seasoning and salt and pepper. Simmer over low until ready to use.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until it bubbles when you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the middle of the pan.
Take medium balls of dough, and stretch them out thinly, making sure there aren't any really thick areas. It's okay if there are some holes--this makes it extra crunchy in those areas, and delicious! Place in the hot oil, and let it cook until golden brown. Using tongs, flip it over and brown on the other side. When done, let it drain on a large platter covered in paper towels. Repeat the process until all the bread dough has been fried.
Serve them with the meat mixture, and garnish with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, cheese, sour cream, and even guacamole.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mexican 7-Layer Dip

This is one of my most favorite things ever! I love love love to eat this with really yummy tortilla chips, and it's perfect to eat at home or take to a get-together.


1 can traditional refried beans
1 pint fresh salsa or pico de gallo
1 pint guacamole (not guacamole dip--homemade works well too)
1 pint sour cream
green onions, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
Cheddar cheese, grated

Mix the beans and salsa together in your serving dish, then spread evenly across the bottom. Layer the guacamole on top of the bean mixture, followed by the sour cream, cheese, onions, and tomatoes. Easy peasy!

Salsa and Black Bean Pasta

This originally was a Salsa and Black Bean Stuffed Shells recipe, which I still make occasionally, and which we really like. I came up with this version when I was in a hurry (that happens to me all the time!), and I didn't have time stuff each shell. My family prefers it this way, and it is easier for younger children to eat. It is SUPER easy, and totally delicious!


1 pint fresh salsa or pico de gallo
1 can black beans
1 lb. hamburger
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 c. mozzarella cheese

Cook 1 lb. pasta (I use farfalle or penne) according to box directions. While it's cooking, brown the hamburger in a large skillet with the garlic until cooked through. Add the salsa and black beans, heat through. Toss the hamburger mixture with the pasta in a large baking dish, then sprinkle generously with cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chocolate Mousse Squares

These are divine. Truly. They need to have a warning on them: GIVE THESE AWAY. YOU WILL EAT EVERY ONE OF THEM IF YOU DON'T. :)

12 Oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1 c. thawed Cool Whip

MIX crushed cookies and the butter in a foil-lined 9-inch square pan. Press firmly onto the bottom of pan to form crust.

BEAT cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on lowspeed until creamy. Gradually add condensed milk, mixing well after each addition. Blend in chocolate. Gently stir in Cool Whip. Spoon mixture over crust; cover.

FREEZE at least 6 hours or overnight. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving to soften slightly. Cut into 16 squares and serve. Store leftover dessert in freezer.

Bowties in a Sausage Cream Sauce

This is one of the best pasta dishes we've ever had. It's definitely not low-fat, but it's creamy, a little spicy and definitely delicious. My family requests this often, and when sausage goes on sale I stock up!


1 package bowtie pasta
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
-(you can also use the rolled sausage, i.e. Jimmy Dean)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 can (28 oz.) Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. minced fresh basil

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8 minutes, or until al dente; drain and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add sausage and red pepper flakes. Cook until sausage is evenly browned, then stir in onion and garlic, cooking until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, heavy cream, and salt. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Apple Dumplings

I can't even remember where I came across this recipe, but it one of my husband's favorites. In fact, I have to double the recipe if anyone else is going to eat any! They are delicious alone, or served with vanilla ice cream.


8 oz. package crescent rolls
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 pieces
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. orange juice (already prepared)
3/4 stick butter

Lay apple slices at the wide end of the crescent roll triangle, and roll over once. Pinch edges to seal, then roll up the rest of the way. Place in an 8x8 baking dish. In a saucepan, mix sugar, juice, and butter. Bring to a boil and pour over dumplings. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos

Wow is the best word to describe these amazing burritos. This recipe came from one of my MOFs a couple of years ago, and it is fantastic. Be prepared though, because once you make them, you'll want to eat them all the time!


2 1/2 lbs. pork, any cut
Salt and pepper
Garlic salt
10 flour tortillas (1 package)
2-15 oz. cans mild green chili sauce, divided
1/2 c. brown sugar
1-15 oz. can black beans, well drained
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/3 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, grated


Chopped tomatoes
Sour cream

Cut pork into large cubes and place in slow cooker with 1/3 c. water. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Remove from cooker and drain. Shred meat and place in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 c. green chili sauce and brown sugar (you can use 1 c. of each for more flavor). Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Warm the tortillas in the microwave to make them easier to roll.
Pour 1/2 c. green chili suace into the prepared pan. Place 1/3 c. of the meat mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Sprinkle 1-2 T. black beans, and 1-2 tsp. cilantro over the top, then roll the burrito and place seam-side down in baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour 1 1/2-2 c. green chili sauce over burritos and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and burritos are warmed through.
*To save time, I have also mixed the meat mixture, black beans, and cilantro together first, then used that mixture to place in the burritos all at one time.

Hawaiian Smoked Sausage and Rice

I found this recipe years ago, and I like it because it breaks up all the chicken I use! :) It really is delicious, and kids like it too!


1 ring smoked turkey sausage
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. beef broth
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can pineapple tidbits, plus reserved juice
2 T. cornstarch

Cut the sausage into 1/2 inch slices, and brown then in a skillet with the pepper and onions. Add undrained diced tomatoes, beef broth, brown sugar, garlic powder, pepper, and drained pineapple. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch to the reserved juice, then add to skillet. Boil for another 2 minutes, or until thick. Serve over rice.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Honey Teryaki Chicken

I got this recipe from a good friend just a couple of months ago, when I was searching for something to bring to a themed Scout Pack Meeting. I tried it, and loved it. When my friend made it for her family the first time, her husband asked her if she had gotten takeout! It is that delicious, and easy to make.


2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken breast
2-3 T. oil
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2/3 c. soy sauce
2/3 c. honey
2 T. apple juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
sesame seeds

Cut chicken into 2 inch squares. Add oil to skillet over medium high heat. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a paper sack or large plastic bag. Add chicken and shake to coat. Add chicken to skillet, and cook, turning as needed, for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, honey, juice, garlic, and ginger in a small pan and bring to a boil. Cook briefly and set aside. Remove chicken from oil and place in a baking dish. Pour soy sauce mixture over chicken and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken, and serve with rice.

Salsa Chicken and Black Beans

LOVE this one. Not only does it use black beans and fresh salsa, but it's cooked in the crockpot! Can't get better than that!


2-3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 pint fresh salsa
1 can black beans

Place chicken in crockpot, followed by salsa and black beans. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until chicken is tender. Shred chicken mixture with two forks. Serve inside warm tortillas (both flour and corn are delicious with it--they can also be lightly browned in oil first if desired), sour cream, guacamole, cheese, and any other garnishings of your choice.

Breaded Lemon Chicken

This is a yummy recipe that is fancy enough for company, but simple enough for everyday. I credit this recipe with helping Ryan learn how to eat chicken, and like it. :)


4 halves chicken breast, skinless and boneless
3/4 c. bread crumbs (I use the Italian kind)
1/2 c. Parmesan, grated
4 1/2 tsp. parsley
1 ranch dressing mix packet
1/3 c. butter, melted
3 T. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. paprika

Combine bread crumbs, cheese, and parsley in a shallow dish or pie plate. Combine the butter, lemon juice, and garlic in another pie plate. Dip each chicken breast into butter mixture, then roll in the crumb mixture. Place in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle with remaining butter and sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Wow, this recipe brings back a lot of memories. My mom made us ice cream quite a bit when we were young, and it was a family tradition to make it on the 4th of July and eat it while we were watching fireworks. I was so excited when I bought our ice cream maker, and we use it frequently. We pulled it out for the first time since the late fall/early winter yesterday, and it was delicious! I really can't wait for spring and summer, when we can make this all the time and enjoy it outside! This is one of the best I've found, and I love that it doesn't have eggs in it. I'm just not a fan of using eggs, and prefer the taste without them.


2 1/2 c. whole milk
2 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. half and half
1 1/2 T. vanilla
5 c. whipping cream

Scald milk until bubbles form around edge of pan. Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved. Stir in half and half, vanilla, and whipping cream. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Freeze as directed.

*I usually switch the amounts of whipping cream and half and half, just to make it lower in fat. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Southern Cornbread

Oooooh, just reading the name makes me hungry for cornbread! This is my grandmother's recipe, and it's baked in a cast iron skillet. It does have a different texture than a "northern" cornbread, which is typically more cake-y. This is so good with any type of chili, and any other time you want it!


1 3/4 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/8 c. sugar
2 c. milk
2 beaten eggs
1/3 c. oil

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, and the milk and eggs in another bowl. Combine both bowls into one large bowl. In a 400 degree preheated oven, heat oil in a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet. When oil is hot, pour into the batter and stir with a fork. The batter will be very runny. Pour the batter into the hot pan and return to the oven. Bake about 30 minutes or until the center turns golden.

15 Minute Chicken Chili

Can I tell you how much I love recipes that I can make in under 30 minutes? From start to finish, this chili takes even less than that! I don't remember where I found this recipe, but I'm sure glad I did! This is yummy to serve in bowls with cornbread, inside a bread bowl, or even over baked potatoes. It's perfect for that chilly fall or winter day!


1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2-2 T. chili powder
1 1/2-2 T. cumin
2-14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1-15 oz. can diced green chilies
yellow whole kernel corn, frozen or canned
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, saute chicken in oil over medium high heat for 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Stir in chili powder and cumin to coat chicken. Saute 3-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, then heat through. Serves 4.

Hot Spinach Pasta Salad

This is one of my very favorites EVER! One of my good friend's mom created this recipe, after having something similar in a restaurant. We love to make this when we get together for lunch. It delicious right when you make it, plus the leftovers are amazing!


8 oz. penne pasta (or farfalle)
Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6-8 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 package baby spinach


1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. vinegar
salt and pepper

Place rinsed spinach in a large bowl. Saute onion and red pepper in a skillet while the pasta is cooking., Add both the pasta and vegetables to the spinach while hot, so the spinach will wilt. Add bacon and feta cheese, the toss with dressing. Serve hot or cold.

Dill Dip

This is delicious for every veggie, and is really yummy with artichokes. It's also great with crackers and chips.


1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1-8 oz. carton sour cream
2 T. finely chopped green onion
2-4 T. freshly snipped dill, or 3-4 tsp. dried dillweed (or to taste...I like a lot!)
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
Milk (optional, if necessary)

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, dill, green onions, and seasoned salt with an electric mixer on low speend until fluffy. Cover and chill 1-24hours. If dip thickens after chilling, you can stir in 1-2 T. milk if you'd like. Serve with vegetables, crackers, or chips.

Traditional Buttercream Frosting

I LOVE homemade frosting. My mom taught me the basic recipe when I was young, and I never even knew there was such thing as canned frosting! I have now tweaked it, and made it enough times to come up with this recipe. I think there's a myth that making frosting takes a long time, but it only takes minutes, and WELL worth the effort. It completely changes the taste of your dessert, and once you switch over you can't go back!! It's wonderful on cakes, cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, and I even use it for gingerbread houses!


4ish cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
whole milk
dash salt

Place the powdered sugar and butter in large mixing bowl, and begin beating with a handmixer on medium speed. Slowly add milk, until you receive desired consistency. If you realize it's not enough frosting, add more powdered sugar and then milk until it's as much you need. It should be on the thicker side, but not too thick. Add salt and vanilla to taste, and mix well. Once completely mixed, turn the speed up and beat the frosting for another 30 seconds or so. This makes it creamy, and easier to spread.

*I also like using other extracts, depending on what I'm making. Some of my favorites are lemon, mint, and almond.
**To make chocolate frosting, whisk together cocoa with the powdered sugar before adding butter and milk. You can keep on adding cocoa until it's the desired chocolatey-ness.

Dashboard Cake

I've used this recipe forever, but this name was created just last Sunday! We were invited to another family's home for dinner, and I made this cake to bring for dessert. We were almost there, when the cake started sliding, and I made the move to try and get it to a safe place. The car jerked a little, and the cake ran right into the dashboard, taking a big chunk out of the side. When I explained what happened to the other families, it was immediately christened "Dashboard Cake". I think the name is here to stay!
This cake is incredibly moist, with kind of a crunchy crust. It's also extremely versatile, and you can change the flavor of the cake to meet your needs (or mood :)) very easily.


1 Dark Fudge cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines, but you can use any brand)
1 package chocolate instant pudding (regular-sized box)
4 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. oil
1 1/2 c. water
chocolate chips (I like to use the large Ghirardelli chips)

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips on low speed for about 30 seconds, then beat on a higher speed for 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Spray a bundt pan with cookin spray, then coat with granulated sugar. Pour cake batter into pan and place in a 375 degree preheated oven. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (check the toothpick closely--you may stick it into a melted chocolate chip, and think it's not done yet). Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before flipping onto your cake plate. Make a traditional chocolate buttercream frosting, then melt it in the microwave for a few seconds until you cam drizzle it over the cake. YUM!

*I also love using a lemon cake mix and lemon pudding, then serving with a lemon buttercream frosting. Place raspberries in the center of the cake and top with fresh mint.

Almond Green Beans in Garlic Butter

We eat this at least once a week! I believe in introducing new seasonings and herbs to my kids at an early age. With my first, I was very hesitant to give him anything other than bland food. He turned out to be quite a picky eater, and while I have no proof of any correlation, I have decided to do things much differently with my girls. This recipe is actually Kate's favorite, and she can't eat them fast enough! I love that they all love garlic, because I adore it!


Fresh or frozen green beans, in whichever amount you choose
Garlic, minced
Sliced Almonds
Salt and Pepper

Cook the green beans in just enough water to cover them, just until barely cooked, and still a little on the crisp side. Drain, and immediately place in ice water to stop them from continuing to cook.
Place a little butter and the garlic in a saucepan, and then saute the almonds in this mixture until browned. Reheat the green beans for a few seconds until warm, then pour the garlic butter and almonds over the top and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pizza in a Can

This is a great meal for kids--they love the fact that they can create their own pizza, but it doesn't take any extra effort on your part! I have also added some ideas to make it more adult-friendly, and I think you'll really like it.


1 can Pillsbury Grand biscuits
Pizza sauce
mozzarella, colby jack, or cheese of your choice
toppings of your choice

Preheat oven according to can directions. On an ungreased cookie sheet, lay the biscuits down and press them down with your fingers until flattened. Layer with sauce, cheese, and any toppings. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
* For the adult palate, try using fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, and fresh herbs--including flat leaf parsley, basil, or even a little mint. Drizzle with olive oil and bake as directed.

Ranchero Beef

This is a new family favorite! It's a spin-off from a good friend's recipe, but I wanted to try something a little different last night. This is a crockpot recipe, which I love. It's just so nice to throw it in first thing in the morning, and just have a few minutes of prep before dinner. I wish I had a picture to show!


1 2-4 lb. roast, thawed (I used a Beef Round Tip Roast, cap off)
1 large can enchilada sauce (you can also use a package of enchilada mix & water)

Place the thawed beef inside the crockpot, and pour the enchilada sauce over it. Cook it on low until it's falling apart, about 6 hours. Take two forks and shred it, then set the temp to warm until time to eat.
In the meantime, fry either flour or corn tortillas in oil over medium high heat until lightly browned. Place between paper towels to drain extra grease.
To serve, place meat inside tortillas, with cheese, onions, tomatoes, sour cream, and guacamole.