Sunday, December 5, 2010

{peanut butter cream cheese brownies}

Okay, so I experimented with brownies this week, and they turned out SO yummy. My husband was out of town, it had been a long week, and I was craving chocolate. I usually make brownies from scratch, but it was late, and since also love Ghirardelli Double Chocolate boxed brownies, I whipped up a batch. Then I thought I needed a little peanut butter, cream cheese, and chocolate ganache to go with it. :)

Though I love how it turned out, I don't have exact measurements since I was experimenting, but I'll do my best to explain what I did.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies

1 box brownie mix, baked according to package directions
1 package cream cheese, softened
approx. 1/2 c. peanut butter
approx. 1/2-3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
8-10 T. heavy cream

Bake your brownie mix according to package directions, and let cool completely. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, then add peanut butter and mix well. Add more peanut butter if you want to---these measurements are approximate. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat until fully incorporated. You will want to taste this-and add more sugar if necessary. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the brownies evenly.

In a glass bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave--stirring every 30 seconds until melted just enough to stir well. Slowly add the heavy cream, and stir until smooth. Pour over cream cheese mixture, making sure to get to all the edges.

If you're impatient like I am, you can eat them right away. If not, let the chocolate firm up in the fridge, then cut into squares. You will want to eat the whole pan!

Monday, October 11, 2010

{bacon & cream cheese bites}

The party season has started! From now until New Year's, it can be a steady stream of fun parties and get-togethers, which means bringing appetizers and treats. These bacon & cream cheese bites are delicious, fast, and super easy to make.


1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
1 8 0z. package cream cheese, softened
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Lay out all the crescent rolls on a large cutting board, and pinch together the seams to form a rectangle. Mix the cream cheese in a large bowl, then add the bacon bits. Spread the cream mixture over the crescent dough, leaving a small border around the outside. Starting at one end (the short end) roll up the dough into a log shape. Using a serrated knife or piece of floss, cut the dough into slices, and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 14-17 minutes at 375 degrees until lightly browned.

*You can also add chopped scallions if desired.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

{cheesy chicken soup}

One of our favorites!


1 c. carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 c. green onions, sliced
3 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk (at least 2%, or half and half)
1-10.75 oz. can chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper

In a large pot, cook the carrots and onions in butter for 8-10 minutes, or until tender, not browned. Stir in flour. Slowly add milk, broth, W sauce, and pepper. Stir constantly until thickened, and until barely bubbling. Add chicken and cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

{cinnamon swirl bundt cake}

This cake is the epitome of fall. It's absolutely delicious (especially warm out of the oven), with swirls of cinnamon & sugar, and iced with a cinnamon buttercream icing. YUM!

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. milk
1 cube melted butter
1 cube melted butter (yes, 2 total!)
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. flour
1 T. cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, vanilla, milk, and melted butter, and mix well. The batter will be on the thick side. Spoon into a sugared (sprayed with cooking spray, and coated with sugar) bundt pan. Melt the second cube of butter, then stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Pour on top of the cake, and with a butter knife, swirl it through the cake. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Prepare the buttercream icing, then melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until you can pour it over the cake. **The original recipe calls for using a 9x13 pan--bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

8 T. butter, room temperature
3 3/4 c. powdered sugar
3-4 T. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Place the powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, and 3 T of milk. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated, then add the vanilla and cinnamon. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until fluffy. Add more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

{easy beef stroganoff}

Remember this recipe fro BBQ Pulled Pork? It was a McCormick seasoning packet that was the secret, and now I've stumbled onto their seasoning packet fr Beef Stroganoff. It tastes just like you made it from scratch, and because the stew meat is simmering all day long in the crockpot, it it is incredibly tender, and just falls apart. Yum!! I do not include the mushrooms...I am not a fan. :)

Beef Stroganoff

You Will Need:

2 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pkg. (8 oz.) mushrooms, halved or sliced
½ cup chopped onion
1 pkg. McCormick® Slow Cookers Beef Stroganoff Seasoning
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream (I use light, or Fat-free)

Place beef, mushrooms and onion in slow cooker.

Mix Seasoning and water until blended. Pour over beef and vegetables; toss to coat well. Cover.

Cook 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Stir in sour cream until well blended. Cover. Cook 10 minutes longer on LOW. Serve over noodles, if desired.

Makes 10 servings.

{summer salads}

Summer = Salads!! Here are a few of my favorites...

Chicken Pasta Salad

Everyone has a favorite chicken salad, and this is just one of mine. It takes a little more time to make, but definitely worth the effort.

1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, marinated overnight in:

1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. thyme

Grill the chicken, then cut up into 1/2 inch cubes.


20 oz. multi-colored corkscrew pasta
1 c. broccoli, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. purple onion, diced
1/2 c. green pepper, chopped
1/2 c. red pepper, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
1/4 c. + 1 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Grilled, marinated chicken


1/2 c. olive oil
4 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. mayo
2/3 c. sour cream

Combine salad ingredients, toss with dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Hawaiian Chicken Salad

Talk about refreshing!

3-4 cooked chicken, cubed
3 c. cooked rice
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1 can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. slivered and toasted almonds
1 1/2 c. red grapes, halves

2 T. orange juice
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise

Mix dressing together and pour over chicken. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well, and chill at least 2 hours.


Peanut Thai Noodle Salad

1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. unsalted peanuts

Place in blender; blend until smooth.

2 carrots
1 c. pea pods
1 small red pepper

Cut into matchsticks.

8 oz. fusilli pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions, add vegetables to water during last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain water from pasta and veggies, then toss with sauce. Sprinkle peanuts on top to serve.


Frog Eye Salad

I have loved this salad since I was a child, despite its name. :)

1 1/3 c. (8 oz.) Acini Pepi pasta, uncooked
1-20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve 1/4 c. juice)
1 3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1-3.4 oz. package instant vanilla pudding
1-8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
2-11 oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 c. Cool Whip, thawed
3 c. mini marshmallows (optional)
1/2 c. flaked coconut

Cook pasta 11 minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain well. In a large bowl, beat reserved pineapple juice, milk, sugar, and pudding 2 minutes. Gently stir in pasta and remaining ingredients; cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours. Makes 12 servings.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

{creamy salsa chicken}

I honestly can't remember where I got this recipe, but I'm glad I did! Can I tell you how much I love crockpots?


4-6 chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. fresh salsa
1/2 c. sour cream

Layer chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot, then sprinkle taco seasoning over them. Combine salsa and soup in a bowl, then pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high 3-4 hours. Stir in sour cream right before serving. Serve over rice.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

{chewy caramel corn}

I am a CARAMEL CORN LOVER. It is my most favorite treat, hands down. The only catch? It has to be chewy. The chewier and gooey-er the better. So, I went on a hunt to find the best recipe, and I think I've found it. This is so delicious--and totally addicting. Just thought I would warn you.


1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c. Karo
8 quarts popped popcorn

Put all ingredients except popcorn into a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly over medium heat. Boil and stir until mixture reaches soft ball stage, 234 degrees. Pour over popcorn and stir until coated. Let cool, then eat and enjoy!

P.S. I would have taken a picture, but it was gone too fast. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

{penne arribiata}

I'm so excited to share this recipe with you! It came from my good friend, smartmama. It's one of my personal favorites, and my family loves it too. I love it for so many reasons--it's yummy, only has a few ingredients, and doesn't take long to prepare or cook.


1 T. olive oil
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (increase or decrease for more/less spiciness)
1-28 oz. can petite dice tomatoes
1 package penne (16 oz.)

Saute onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes in the olive oil. When onions are clear/soft, add the tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, cook penne according to package directions, then drain. Mix with the sauce, and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

{french fried onion chicken}

I happened to see this in a magazine, but wasn't able to write it down at the time. I went home and decided to try it anyway, based on what I could remember. It is delicious, and SO easy. It was a definite hit at our house!


4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 package French Fried Onions
1 c. buttermilk

**You can use eggs, instead of buttermilk, but buttermilk is a natural tenderizer...making the chicken especially tender.

Crush the French Fried Onions into small pieces, then pour in a pie plate. Pour the buttermilk into another pie plate. Dip each chicken breast into the buttermilk first, then roll in the French Fried Onions. Place on a cookie sheet, lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. We like to serve these with honey mustard and ranch dressing.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

{caramel shortbread bars}

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in the doctor's office, and ended up waiting for some time. I found myself thumbing through quite a few magazines, and stumbled across a recipe that I could not wait to try. I pulled out the notebook and pen from my purse, and hastily scratched down the recipe. Unfortunately, I did not document the name of the magazine, so if anyone knows, please let me know so I can give them credit!

This afternoon I had a chance to try them, and holy moly, they are fantastic! If you are a caramel lover, these bars are for you. The crumbly goodness of the shortbread crust, combined with the rich chewiness of the caramel = DIVINE.


10 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1 2/3 c. flour

Mix ingredients well, then press into a 9x9 pan that has been layered with foil or parchment paper and goes over the edges of the pan about an inch. Prick with a fork, then freeze for 5 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely.

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T. sugar
6 T. Karo syrup
1 tsp. salt
2 T. heavy cream

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then add 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Pour over the cooled crust, then refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

{farfalle chipotle chicken pasta in a roasted tomato cream sauce}

I found this recipe on Picky Palate last year some time, and I'm so glad I printed it out, because I couldn't find it again when I looked! It is DELICOUS!! Can I tell you how much I love cilantro? I was so happy to find this recipe!

My family loves it, and it's one that's perfect for company too.


1 lb. mini (or regular-sized) Farfalle pasta

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. white finely diced onion
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from can), chopped (3 if you like spicy)
1 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed (It was wintertime when I first made this, so I subsituted frozen corn that had been thawed.)
1 c. black beans, drained
2 c. cooked chicken, diced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

2-14 oz. cans Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I didn't use the fire-roasted, just plain diced tomatoes.)
1/2 c. heavy cream
Pinch salt, pepper, garlic salt

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions--drain and set aside.

2. Heat 2 T. olive oil into a large 5 qt. skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, chipotle, corn, and beans. Cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in cooked chicken and cilantro leaves until heated through. Reduce heat to low and set aside.

3. Place both cans of tomatoes into food processor and pulse until nearly smooth. Pour into chicken mixture. Stir in cooked pasta and combine well. Stir in heavy cream, salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste. Cook until heated through and serve. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

{lemon bread}

Lemon feels like spring to me!!


3 sticks butter, softened
3 c. sugar
5 large eggs
3 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
7/8 c. ginger ale (1 c. minus 2 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees (yes, that's right). Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla, lemon, almond extracts, and ginger ale. Add the flour, one cup at a time. Mix well. Bake in 2 loaf pans, for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Let cool in pans.

{lemon cheesecake bars}

(Lemon Cheesecake Bars..recipe & picture courtesy Kraft Foods)


1-1/2 cups soft coconut macaroon cookie crumbs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix crumbs and margarine. Press firmly onto bottom of greased 8-inch square baking pan.

BEAT cream cheese, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Pour over crust.

BAKE 20 to 25 min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into bars to serve. Store leftover bars in refrigerator.

Monday, February 8, 2010

{chewy chocolate cookies}

I'm not usually a fan of cake mix cookies, but after my kids begged me this afternoon, I made this recipe off of the Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe box. It's a little different than others I've seen, and talk about YUMMY!!! These are so fast and easy, it's a triple bonus!!


1 package Duncan Hines (my cake mix preference) Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
2 large eggs
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cake mix, eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large bowl. Stir with spoon until thoroughly blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by level measuring tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes for chewy cookies (cookies will still be puffed) or 14 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to cooling racks. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

{hawaiian cake}

I can still remember the first time I tasted this cake. I was in 3rd grade, and enjoying a class swimming party at one of my classmate's homes. We had this cake for dessert, and I have never forgotten it! I LOVE it!


1 package yellow cake mix
3 packages instant vanilla pudding
4 c. cold milk
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1 package cream cheese
1 can crushed pineapple
1 c. heavy cream, whipped and sweetened
2 c. flaked coconut (optional)

Mix cake batter according to directions. Pour into 2 greased 9x13 baking dishes and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the test done. Cool completely. In a large mixing bowl combine pudding mixes, milk, and coconut extract. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat well. Stir in pineapple and spread over one of the cooled cakes. Place the second cake on top, making a layer cake. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with coconut (optional). Chill for at least 2 hours.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

{turkey & broccoli lasagna rolls}

This is a great twist on a traditional lasagna. It's yummy, and a great way to use ground turkey.


8 dried lasagna noodles
12 oz. ground turkey or chicken
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. broccoli, steamed and chopped
2 beaten eggs
2 c. ricotta cheese
1 c. mozzarella cheese
3 tsp. fresh or dried thyme, crushed
3 c. meatless spaghetti sauce
1/2 c. finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook lasagna noodles for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Lay out on paper towels to dry, and cover with more paper towels. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the turkey and onion. Drain any fat, and set aside. Steam broccoli and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, other cheeses, egg, and thyme; stir in turkey mixture and broccoli.
Remove paper towels from the top of the noodles. Spoon filling down the middle of each noodle, then roll up. Place in a 4-quart square baking dish, seam side down. Spoon the sauce over the top. Bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

{homemade egg noodles}

One of our favorite soups ever is Chicken Noodle, with homemade egg noodles. I could seriously eat the whole pot. This recipe is originally from


2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1 T. butter

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth--about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Allow to air dry before cooking. Boil fresh pasta in a large pot until al dente.

**We triple or quadruple this recipe for our family 5--we love extra noodles!

{parmesan fondue}

Be careful. You will want to eat every bit in one sitting!


1 1/2 to 2 c. milk
2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each)
1 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 loaf French bread, cubed

In a large saucepan, cook and stir the milk and cream cheese over low heat until cheese is melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and garlic salt; cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to a fondue pot or mini slow cooker; keep warm. Serve with bread cubes. Makes about 3 1/2 c.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

{bbq pulled pork}

(recipe and picture taken from

Our family loves pulled pork sandwiches, so when I stumbled across this seasoning packet by McCormick, we were all in heaven. Not only is it SO easy, it is by far the best pulled pork I've ever had. I love to make it in big batches, and freeze portions for future meals. Yum!


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH
Makes 10 servings.

You Will Need:

3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast, well-trimmed
1 pkg. McCormick® Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar

PLACE pork in slow cooker.

MIX Seasoning, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar until blended. Pour over pork. Cover.

COOK 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Remove pork from slow cooker.

SHRED pork, using 2 forks. Return pork to slow cooker; mix and heat with sauce before serving.

Important: For best results, do not remove cover during cooking.