Thursday, December 29, 2011

Heath Bar Cake

This cake recipe is known as "The" Cake in my house. My oldest son requests this every time I am supposed to bring dessert to a gathering, and also for his birthday. Anytime I bring this to a gathering, I usually return with an empty pan. So if you are looking for a home run dessert, this is the cake for you!

Heath Bar Cake
1 package chocolate cake mix
Ingredients to make cake as indicated on box
1 container caramel sauce- found with the ice cream toppings, I like the one in a squeeze bottle best
1 tub Cool Whip, thawed
1 Heath Bar, a chocolate covered toffee bar
Bake cake according to package directions. Once you remove the cake from the oven, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a skewer, or some thin long object. Once you have enough holes, squeeze the caramel sauce all over the cake so that it can sink into all those holes that you have made. Let the cake cool completely. Once the cake is cool, spread with Cool Whip. Place your Heath bar in a zip lock baggie and then place that baggie into another baggie. Whack away at the candy bar until you have pulverized it into crumbly little bits. Sprinkle those bits all over the top of the cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pleated Apron with built in hot pads

I found this apron tutorial on Pinterest a few months ago, and I knew that I wanted to make several of these as Christmas presents this year. I found the tutorial to be very well written and the pictures helped when I was faced with trouble. This is a great project to make! I really liked the built in hot pads, because I am always setting mine down and loosing track of them when I need them!

 A big thanks to my wonderful apron models, Cathy and Megan!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas! God Bless you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peppermint Thin Mints

The Thin Mint is the most popular cookie sold by the Girl Scouts. I have been guilty of buying these whenever I see a Girl Scout selling them. They are only sold once a year. But now, you can whip these treats up when you have a craving for a Thin Mint.
Peppermint Thin Mints
1 package almond bark
1 box Ritz crackers
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Candy Canes, crushed
Melt the almond bark and stir in the extract. Dip each cracker in the chocolate and shake off the excess. Place on waxed paper, and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Allow to harden before you move them into your storage container. That is it, easy-peasy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cranberry Bliss Bars- a Starbucks knock off

I can remember the first time I had a Cranberry Bliss Bar from Starbucks. They are so good!  However, they are pricey. So instead of having sticker shock at Starbucks, you can whip these up at home and share them with your family as you wrap presents.

Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup diced dried cranberries
6 oz. white chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350°. Make cake by beating butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger and salt. Beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Mix in the cranberries and the white chocolate by hand. Pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Spread evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. Cool completely before frosting.

4 oz. cream cheese  (softened)
4 tsp. lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup diced dried cranberries
Combine all the above ingredients, except the cranberries. Mix until smooth. Spread over the cake. Sprinkle the cranberries on top of the frosting. Lastly, stir together the drizzled icing and drizzle on top of the cake.

Drizzled Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
Whisk together, and add more milk if needed to reach a thin consistency. Drizzle over cake. Allow cake to sit for several hours before you cut and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

These little morsels remind me of a Reese's peanut butter cup.  Yummy! The hardest part about this treat is waiting for them to freeze!

Peanut Butter Buckeyes
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 package almond bark
Mix peanut butter, butter and sugar together. Use hands if needed. The dough should be thick and stiff, not crumbly or sticky. Roll into 1 inch balls and freeze until firm. Dip in melted almond bark and freeze until set.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Triple Ginger Bars

One of my favorite things in the world is ginger. Anytime I can add a little ginger to a recipe, I will. This recipe is one of my very favorite recipes. It has ginger in three forms, ground ginger, fresh ginger and crystallized ginger. Yum, yum and yum!

Triple Ginger Bars
1 package white cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp sugar
Heat oven to 350°. Grease bottom only of 13x9 inch baking dish. Mix cake mix, butter and eggs with spoon until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients, except sugar. Press dough in pan. Sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until the edges are a very light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saltine Toffee aka Christmas Crack

Times are hard. People are looking for ways to stretch every penny. This is a very inexpensive treat to make to take to your Christmas potluck lunch at work or to make for your neighbors. The base of this toffee is made out of Saltine crackers. They make a yummy salty counterpoint to the sugary toffee and chocolate layers.  This is so easy to throw together and as the name suggests, you won't be able to stop eating it- it is addictive!

Saltine Toffee aka Christmas Crack
1-2 sleeves saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 12 oz. package chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 400°. Line baking sheet with foil. Lay crackers out in a single layer. In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Stir often and bring to a full rolling boil for exactly 3 minutes. Pour over saltines and bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top and spread them when they are soft and melty. Next, sprinkle the nuts evenly over the chocolate layer. Refrigerate for 2 hours and then break into pieces and store in an air tight container.

Simple Pretzel Turtles

I am on a roll with all my Christmas baking. These candies are a staple in my house. I started making these a few years ago, and now they make the "must have" Christmas baking list every year. They are a variation on the Chocolate Pretzel Bites. The strategy is the same, but you will need pecan halves and Rolo candies. Rolo candies are chocolate covered caramels and are quite delightful all by themselves, but when you melt them slightly on to a salty pretzel and press a pecan half on top, the yummy factor sky rockets!

Simple Pretzel Turtles
Small pretzels
Rolo candies
Pecan halves
Lay out the desired amount of pretzels on a baking sheet lined with foil. Unwrap as many Rolo candies as you have pretzels and place each one on the center of a pretzel. Place in a preheated 275° oven for 3 minutes. Immediately press a pecan half into each Rolo candy. Let the chocolate harden in a cool place, I just stick them in my cold garage for half an a hour or so. Enjoy! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Pretzel Bites

These little bites are super easy to make when you are looking for a quick little treat. They look so festive when they are sitting on a cookie tray or when placed in bags and given as a small token of your appreciation to your child's guitar teacher, or basketball coach.

Chocolate Pretzel Bites
Small pretzels
Hershey Kisses
Holiday colored M&Ms
Lay the pretzels on a baking sheet that you have lined with foil. Place a single Hershey kiss on the center of the pretzel. Place in a preheated 275 ° oven for 3 minutes. Immediately press a single M&M in the center of the Hershey kiss. Chill until the chocolate has hardened

Oreo Truffles

A few years ago, I came across a delightful treat that I am going to share with you. Anytime you take the humble little Oreo cookie and turn it into something else, you will have a winner, every time! These little balls of delight are super easy to make, almost embarrassingly easy, but that doesn't stop me, and it should not stop you! They make a great addition to cookie plates that you give to your neighbors or as a take along to a Christmas party!

Oreo Truffle
1 package Double Stuff Oreos
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 package white almond bark- found near the chocolate chips
1/2 tsp mint extract
Place oreos in a food processor and crush them into fine crumbs. Place in mixing bowl, and stir the cream cheese and the extract. Roll into walnut sized balls and chill for 1 hour. Dip in melted almond bark. Chill and let the chocolate harden.

Here are a few variations that I made this year. They turned out really tasty!

These are Coconut Oreo Truffles- in place of the mint extract, add 1/2 tsp. coconut extract. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top after dipping the truffles into the chocolate.

These are the Orange Chocolate Oreo Truffles. In place of the mint extract you would substitute 1/2 tsp orange extract.
There are so many variations that I am sure you could dream up. These really tasted good. The orange and coconut flavors were not over powering. They were just right.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peppermint Cookies

This week I am going to be baking up a storm. I bought 5 boxes of butter at the store today. I have never done that before. I will be making dozens upon dozens of cookies.  This is one of the recipes that I will be making. It is a classic Christmas cookie studded with crushed candy canes.  Simple and lovely.

Peppermint Cookies
2/3 cup butter flavored shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
Cream shortening and sugars, beat in egg. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in the candy canes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until cookie edges just begin to brown.

*Just a quick note about the shortening, I have tried butter in the past,substituting it for the shortening, but the texture was off. The shortening produced a better cookie, at least my family thought so!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

My friend shared a wonderful soup recipe with me from Dinner's On Me. As usual, I changed it a little due to personal taste preferences and also because I forgot to get heavy cream from the store. I used half-and-half instead. I added more carrots and onion, and also a teaspoon of thyme. This soup is super comforting on a cold winter day!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cooked & shredded
1 (4.3 oz) box Rice-a-Roni Long Grain & Wild Rice (original flavor)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and saute for 7-8 minutes. Add chicken broth, water and shredded chicken. Bring to a boil and add rice (save seasoning packet!). Cover pot and remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the seasoning packet and stir to combine. Slowly add the flour (in 1/4 cup increments) to form a roux and continue to stir. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in heavy cream and milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook and continue to stir until thickened - about 5 minutes.
Return broth/rice mixture to the heat and add cream mixture. Cook over medium heat until rice is softened and soup is thickened and heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cranberry Apple Pie

I have two things to confess today. The first is that I LOVE pie. It just simply rocks my world! The second confession is that I am such an amateur about making pie crusts. They terrify me! My mom could make such wonderful tasting pie crusts that also looked so pretty. I have friends who have made amazing, flaky pie crusts, but not me! I am so intimidated by the whole crust thing. So this pie recipe is for what goes on the inside, not the crust. Use your amazing crust recipe, I just bought a pre-made crust which was just fine.

Cranberry Apple Pie
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
2-3 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup cranberry juice
3 firm apples sliced 1/4 in. thick
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp.  butter

Preheat oven to 425°. In a saucepan, stir together cranberries, sugar, orange zest, flour and juice until slightly thickened. Place your bottom crust in your pie pan. Place your apples neatly in your pie pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter. Pour cranberry mixture over the apples and cover with a latticed top. Brush the top of the pie crust with milk and sprinkle sugar on the crust. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Philly Cheese-Steak Sloppy Joes

In the past two years, I have recently began to develop a strong feeling about Philly Cheese-Steaks. I love them! There is a restaurant here in Utah that makes the most amazing sandwiches, but they are a little pricey. So I started making them at home, but they are not as quick and easy as I thought they could be. I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest (original recipe here ), and knew I had to try it out. Both my husband and I really like it, and my friend did as well. My super picky boys didn't like it, but then again, they don't like cheese-steak sandwiches or sloppy joes, so no real big surprise there! I keep trying with them, I hope that someday they will out grow their picky habits!

Philly Cheese-Steak Sloppy Joes
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. steak sauce
3/4-1 cup of beef broth (depends upon how "wet" you like your sandwich)
Salt and pepper
Dinner Rolls
Provolone Cheese slices

In a large skillet, brown beef, onion, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Once your meat is cooked, stir in steak sauce and broth. Bring to a bubble and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Split open the rolls and remove some of the insides. Butter them and lightly toast them under the broiler. Scoop meat onto the bottom of the roll and add a slice of cheese (you can put them back under the broiler to melt if you desire) and top with the other half of the roll.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I saw this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and finally got around to making it last night.The recipe is was posted here. My husband and I LOVED it, my kids, however, did not. Two of them have a strange aversion to red sauce, poor kids, they miss out on a lot of yummyness. My third son, didn't care for the garlic flavor, but said if that had been toned down a bit, he would have liked it. The baby was being a two year old and was boycotting anything that I labeled "dinner". I will make this again and see if the results change, but I loved it! The croutons were wonderful- most of them stayed crunchy, but those that didn't were like a wonderful breading to the chicken. Try this recipe and let me know what your family thinks.

Chicken Parmesan Chicken
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
Hot Pepper flakes, to taste
Boneless Chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders)
2 cups Marinara sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 5 oz. package Garlic Croutons

Spray a 9 x 13 in. casserole dish. Place oil, garlic and pepper flakes in the casserole. Lay chicken on top of the oil mixture. Pour marinara sauce over top of the chicken. Sprinkle with the basil, half the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Place croutons on top as evenly as you can and top with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes (check the temp of your chicken to make sure it is done- it could take longer depending upon the thickness of your chicken).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice

There are times when we have left overs and we just can't bring ourselves to eat it again. Not that it wasn't good, just that we were tired of it. One of my favorite things to do in cases like this, is to remake the ingredients into something new. If I have left over chicken or pork, rice and veggies, I will whip up this very tasty fried rice. This is one of my favorite lunches. I feel good that I am not wasting food. I just cringe every time I have to throw some thing out. This makes me feel better about our food usage.

Chicken Fried Rice
1 1/3 cup water, divided
1 1/3 cup minute rice
2 Tbsp butter
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup cooked chopped chicken
Veggies, chopped

Cook rice with one cup water, following the directions on the box. Meanwhile, cook egg in butter in a non-stick skillet until set. Add onion, veggies and rice and cook and stir over medium heat until rice and onion are lightly browned- about 5 minutes. Add chicken. Stir until warmed through. Stir remaining 1/3 cup water with soy sauce. Stir into rice and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fiesta Style Cranberry Sauce

I love November! Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite days of the year. As soon as Halloween is over, my thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and all the yummy things that you can make. One of my favorites is a cranberry recipe that I got from my sister and her husband a couple of years ago, Before she made this recipe, we would always open the obligatory can of cranberry sauce, slide it into a bowl and nobody would touch it except for my nephew who LOVES canned cranberry sauce. Blech! This lovely sauce rocked my cranberry world. I am never going back. Give this a try. I even like to use the leftovers as a fruit spread on toast- it is that good!

Fiesta Style Cranberry Sauce
3 cups fresh cranberries
2 oranges, chopped
1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Serrano chili, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. lime peel, grated
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Combine cranberries, oranges, sugar, and water and cook over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and boil until cranberries pop and start to thicken slightly. Stir in chili and lime peel. Cool completely. Stir in cilantro.  Yield- 2 cups

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

Every week our church puts on a mid-week fellowship meal before Awana and youth group. This was the cake that we served. It is perfect for fall. I have to tell you, by the response of all the people last night, this cake is killer! It is wonderful! My friend Kym found the recipe via Pinterest.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
1/3 cup water
1 can pureed pumpkin (15 oz)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the dry cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined. Grease a 9 x13 in. pan with butter and pour the batter into the pan. In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, walnuts and melted butter. Use fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Combine the other 1/2 cup of brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and the heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Once the the cake has finished baking, remove from the oven and poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick or a knife. Pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover the entire surface. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Popcorn Balls

I was looking through my mom's cookbook that she had pulled together years ago. It was like walking through the history of my family. She had uncovered recipes from many generations of our family and put them in one book. In a smaller way, it was a quick spin through  the years that I was able to spend with her. She wrote her love on my life in so many ways. Now as a mom myself, I can see even more of the love that she gave unselfishly to my brother, sister and I. It showed in so many little ways. I have a memory of her making popcorn balls for one of our school Halloween parties when we were young. I am going to make these this week for my boys, remembering how loved I felt when my mom made them for me, and praying that my boys will feel the love I have for them.

Popcorn Balls

8 cups popped corn
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Food coloring, if desired
Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and salt and bring to a boil. Cook to soft ball stage * and then add butter, vanilla, and if desired, food coloring. Pour over corn, stirring with two forks. Butter hands and make into balls. Place on waxed paper.

*Soft-Ball Stage occurs at 235-245 degrees. This stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Green Chili Beef Burritos in the Crock Pot

Double yum. That is what these burritos are. They are also easy and they make lots of leftovers! I am starting to look for recipes with bigger quantities because my teen and my pre-teen boys are eating anything that is not tied down! You can reduce the jalapeno or eliminate it if you choose- it is still super flavorful.

Green Chili Beef Burritos
2 boneless beef top sirloin roasts (I aim for 4-5 lbs. of meat)
4 cans diced green chilies
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Lawry's season salt
1 cup beef broth
24 flour tortillas
Sliced tomatoes, lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese

Trim fat from roasts, and cut meat into large chunks. Place in slow cooker. Top with chilies, onion, jalapenos, garlic, cumin, chili powder and season salt. Pour broth over all. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours. Remove beef and shred with two forks. Cool cooking liquid slightly and skim fat. In blender, process cooking liquid until smooth. Return to slow cooker with beef and heat through. Place 1/3 cup on each tortilla and top with desired toppings and fold up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Yummiest Granola Bars!!

In my quest to fill my boys up, I try to have snacks that are easy to put together, fairly cheap, and most of all, tasty. These granola bars, shared by my friend Rhonda Teaford, are the best granola bars that I have ever had. We love them!! I know you will as well!
Granola Bars
2 1/2 cups Rice Crispies
2 cups old fashioned oats
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional

In a large bowl, combine rice crispies and oats. Grease 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Mix brown sugar, honey and peanut butter in small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pour over cereal mixture. Mix well. Stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Press into prepared pan, and let then harden a little bit before serving.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies

One of the things that I love about Fall, is the use of pumpkin in recipes. Pumpkin pies, breads, cakes, and these tasty cookies! Several years ago, one of my Grandma's neighbors brought over these cookies. I have been loving these ever since! Maybe you should take some time this week and make these little gems and bring some to your neighbor, I promise you won't regret that you did!

Pumpkin Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream together butter, sugar and pumpkin. Add egg. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly stir into moist ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookies sheet. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes.
Frost when cool.

3 Tbsp. butter
4 tsp. milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla
Mix well and frost cookies when they are cool.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crockpot Potato Chowder

Today I have a recipe that is for the crock pot, and is my very favorite potato soup recipe. It really could not be any easier than this recipe. Simply delish.

Crock pot Potato Chowder
1 bag frozen cubed hash brown potatoes- or 8 cups fresh diced potatoes
3 cans chicken broth
1 can cream of onion soup
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/2 package bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
Chives- diced

Combine potatoes, broth and onion soup in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream cheese. Mash with potato masher for chowdery consistency. I don't know if that is even a real term of speech, but that is how I think about the consistency of the soup after I mash it for a bit! Stir in bacon. Top with chives before serving, or you can just stir them in with bacon., that is what we do!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Green Tortilla Chili

Today I want to share with you a recipe that I found on It is a recipe that was on Rachel Ray's TV show. I usually like her recipes. They always have lots of flavor and are easy to make rather quickly. This soup/chili is not an exception. It is really good. We love it because it is spicy, but you can tame the flame, so to speak by using a milder Salsa Verde, or by eliminating the jalapeno. Just don't tell me about it- we love, love, love the spice!

Green Tortilla Chili
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 (16 oz) jar of Salsa Verde
1 bottle of beer
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 bunch cilantro, rough chopped
2 limes, juiced

Heat oil over medium- high heat. Add onions, garlic and jalapeno and cook until soft. Toss in chili powder and cumin and cook and stir for one minute. Stir in Salsa Verde, chicken stock and beer. Bring to bubbling, then add chicken. Simmer for 10- 15 minutes. Stir in the crushed tortilla chips and cilantro and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and more tortilla chips.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Soup

A good friend and I were talking about how much we both like soups. We are both excited for fall to be here, so that we can make soup more often. That conversation stuck in my mind, and when I was planning this current weeks menu, I found myself looking in my recipe book at the soups. This is the one that we are having this week. It has some of my very favorite ingredients; cumin, red and green bell peppers, corn, green chilies and chicken. Yummy!  It is a crock pot recipe, which I love! There is nothing better than coming home after a long day away to a delicious smelling dinner, just waiting to be devoured!

Southwestern Chicken Soup
1 1/4 lb. chicken breasts, roughly chopped (or to save time- use the meat from a deli rotisserie chicken)
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (you would skip this if using the rotisserie chicken)
2 cans chicken broth
1 - 16 oz. package frozen corn
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 can green chilies
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Cilantro for topping

If using raw chicken, saute in oil until lightly browned. Transfer to crock pot. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Top with cilantro before serving, if desired.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breakfast Burritos

This is one of my  favorite cookbooks. I just love it! She has wonderful recipes for things like; Sangria, Pot roast, chicken fried steak, pizza, and jalapeno poppers, to name a few. The recipe that I made was her Breakfast burritos. Before you can make her burritos, you need to make her Basic Breakfast potatoes. They really make the burritos super yummy.

Basic Breakfast Potatoes
4-5  potatoes
1 onion cut into a large dice
Vegetable Oil for frying
Salt and pepper
 Bake the potatoes in a 375° oven for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Carefully cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Heat skillet over medium heat and add some oil. Add your onion. Cook and stir your onion until it starts to get a brown and happy looking. Next, add your potatoes and carefully stir them until they are crispier and brown. Salt and pepper them well. Set aside for use in your breakfast burrito.

Breakfast Burrito
1 lb. breakfast sausage
One batch basic breakfast potatoes
2 red bell pepper, chopped
10 eggs
1 tsp. Lawry's seasoned salt
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
12 flour tortillas
Fry the breakfast sausage in the largest skillet you own. Cook until no pink remains, drain grease. Add the potatoes and red bell peppers. Cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile in a large bowl, whisk together your eggs, seasoned salt, pepper and half-and-half. Stir in the chives and the cheese. With the heat still on low, pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Gently stir and cook until the eggs are set. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Place a heaping spoonful onto your tortilla, sprinkle on a little extra cheese if you want, fold in the sides of the tortilla and roll it up. Wrap each little burrito in foil. I sometimes keep these warm in my crock pot, or if we are eating them right away, I will throw the extras in the freezer. These guys heat up nicely for a quick breakfast or snack!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Zesty Oven Baked French Fries

I love french fries. They are so yummy! They are so bad for you though! So in an effort to have moderation in the diet of my family, I make these baked not fried fries. This is such a simple recipe, as all the best ones usually are. It is easily adapted to your preferences and how large (or small) of group you are serving. I originally found this recipe here, but I modified it, of course! Enjoy your healthier fries, I know that we will!

Zesty Oven Baked French Fries
5-6 large baking potatoes, cut into slices (I usually use russets and leave the skins on for a more rustic fry)
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. black pepper
Heat oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Arrange in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and they look crispy and golden brown enough to you. I also try to give them a stir about half way through.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

Today I took a step of faith. I made my own laundry detergent. It was a big decision for me because I was afraid that it would be a waste of money, wouldn't work, or make my kids into zombies, ok, not that last one, but I was scared to try. So today after seeing the price of laundry detergent go up, yet again, I decided to be brave. I found this recipe on Pinterest : . I found her directions to be clear and easy to follow. All the ingredients were near each other at Walmart. I made my first batch today, which only took about 10 minutes to mix together,  and have done several loads. I have to say that I am relieved and excited that the clothes are coming out clean! Whew! It was also cheaper that the box of detergent that I had on my list! I think that I will try homemade dish detergent next! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cheesy Potato Soup

We are back in the busy evening season. It seems like three or four nights of the week we are out of the house during the time when I would be preparing dinner. It is so easy to find myself in the drive through lane. I have several things that I do to help me not stop by the local burger joint. Sometimes I will have everything assembled and ready to pop in the oven. Other times, I will make dinner, usually sandwiches and bring them with us to the game or practice. My favorite thing to do on these time shortened evenings is to use my very favorite appliance- the Crock Pot. I love soups, roasts, and other comforting meals that I can just throw in the crock pot in the morning and it is ready for my hungry gang 8 hours later! Here is what is in my crock pot right this very minute, Cheesy Potato Soup. I will serve this with a green leafy salad and some fresh baked bread that I will throw together this afternoon. I hope you will try this soup- it is really filling and so comforting!

Cheesy Potato Soup
1 package frozen cubed hash browns
5 cups water
2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
4 tsp. or 4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 package bacon, diced and cooked
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups Velveeta cheese- cubed

Combine all ingredients in crock pot except milk and cheese. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Stir in milk and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Last night, we had homemade pizza. I went to the fridge and pulled out all the ingredients, but could not find my pizza sauce (that I know that I had bought at the store last week.) Don't you hate it when that happens? I am certain I bought it, I just wonder where it went between the store and home! We had to have pizza sauce for our pizza! In a fit if desperation~ a lovely garlic pizza sauce is born. I don't think I will buy pizza sauce again!

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional for those who don't like heat)
2 fresh garlic cloves
Throw all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and combine well.