Thursday, June 27, 2013

S'mores Stackers

Summer time seems synonymous with being outdoors and eating s'mores to me.  A campfire isn't always readily available but recreating the flavors is easy with these cookies.  They are basically a chocolate chip cookie with graham cracker crumbs added. While the cookies are still warm I spread them with some Marshmallow Fluff and sandwich two of them along with half a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar. Yummm! Today I want to wish a very Happy 13th Birthday to our Luke! Love you!


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups Mini Hershey’s Kisses (or chocolate chips)
7 oz. jar Marshmallow Fluff
Hershey Bars broken in half


Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Add the chocolate and stir to combine.

Place large sized scoops (3 T) of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn over and place half of a Hershey's Bar on half of the cookies. Scoop a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff on top of the chocolate and top with a second cookie.

Adapted from Kevin and Amanda

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Provence Pork

This meal is big in flavor but not on preparation making it a great combination in my book!  If you don't eat pork, this works equally well with turkey.  The star is the Herbes de Provence* seasoning which can be found in most supermarkets these days.  Otherwise it can be ordered online from places such as Williams-Sonoma or Penzeys. The smell and taste of the seasoning will have you awaiting the timer on your oven. 


1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 T. olive oil
1 T. Herbes de Provence
1 tsp. kosher salt


Remove meat from refrigerator. Rinse and pat dry. Place on baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Pour olive oil over pork and rub all over tenderloin coating entirely. Sprinkle evenly all over with seasoning and salt. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. By the time your oven has preheated, the pork should have been sitting out for at least 20 minutes which is good - it allows for the seasonings to soak in a little and the meat to come to room temperature before baking. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked to proper temperature of 145°F internally. Remove from oven and allow meat to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

*My favorite brand is from Williams-Sonoma (comes in a cute little french clay crock even). It is described as a blend of Italian herbs with fennel and lavender (don't be thrown by those last two - I promise this is an amazing taste if you've never had it before). 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cookie Cake

The birthday girl from yesterday took a treat in to school for her lunch table last week.  Instead of heading to the mall for a cookie cake, I made one instead. Of course I had to make two so that everyone at home could have some too, because when the smells of cookies baking waft throughout the house, people expect something to eat when they follow their noses into the kitchen. ☺


3/4 C. butter, softened
3/4 C. dark brown sugar
1/4 C. sugar
1 egg
1 T. vanilla
2 C. flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 C. chocolate chips or other mix in (M&M's, Reese's Pieces, Sprinkles, etc.)


Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9" square pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. Slowly add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips (or other item of choice). Press dough evenly into prepared pan and bake for 16 minutes or until the edges just start to turn brown. Do not over bake (you don't want to have to cut a cracker). Let cookie cool completely in pan. Frost as desired.

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birthday Buffet

15 years ago today we became a family of four (we have since added two more kids, but I'm talking about a specific date here).  Our second daughter was born in the wee hours of the  morning. She enjoys my baking and cooking and this year came up with a 4 page list (large font!) of potential menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner the day of her birthday.
She also had an itinerary for the day in the 4 pages so it wasn't all food, but I joked with her that what food she did have listed was enough for a "Birthday Buffet" for a huge group not a family of 6 ☺. Her breakfast requests were my Crescent Cinnamon RollsMix-In Muffins with chocolate chips and Poppy Seed Bread.  I managed to have her narrow it down to Cinnamon Rolls since we will be having this S'mores cake later today. (I will post the recipe soon. )
Lunch was simple enough - French Bread sandwiches and fruit.  Dinner options were Chicken Parmesan, Meatball Subs, Meatloaf, Chicken Noodle Soup, Lemon Piccata Chicken, Pesto Pasta, Homemade Pizza, Pepperoni Roll and Steak Salad. We will have to see what we end up eating. Maybe this will be my menu plan for the week . . . Happy Birthday, Marshmallow! I love you to the moon and back ;)

Friday, April 26, 2013

French Style Bread

This bread is to good to eat and not difficult  to make. It does take some time, but you can do in between laundry or other things you're doing around the house. There is nothing like the smell of bread baking in the oven and the taste is hard to beat! Butter will melt on a warm slice of this bread and warm your mouth and heart when you take a bite.  If you have any leftover, it makes great toast or panini sandwich bread.


2 T. yeast
2 1/2 C. warm water
7 C. flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. salt
1 egg


In a large mixing bowl mix yeast, water and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add in 2 cups of flour and salt and stir together, then add rest of flour. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let rise until double (1 hour or so). Grease cookie sheet. Punch down bread and knead one minute. Divide in two. Roll each piece into a rectangle and then roll up jelly roll style. Place seam side down on cookie sheet and make several evenly spaced shallow cuts diagonally in the top of each loaf. Let rise until double (about 30 minutes). Before baking brush with egg wash. Place pan of hot water on lower shelf of oven. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until bread gives a hollow sound when tapped.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

I've been making this pumpkin bread for years. I've been eating pumpkin bread for even longer. My grandma made a glazed pumpkin bread that had a lot of spices in it. It was very good and perhaps another time I'll post that recipe. This recipe is subtle and more simple. It was requested by our oldest today for her birthday breakfast. She looks forward to the fall and being able to order a slice of Pumpkin Bread at Starbucks along with a Pumpkin Spice Latte (an ideal breakfast!). Happy Birthday, K! Love you ☺ 


1 1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. oil
2 eggs
1 C. canned pumpkin (puree, not pie filling)
1/3 C. water
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining ingredients together and slowly add to first mixture. Mix just until thoroughly combined. Pour into greased 9" x 5" loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blue Cheese Dressing

If you like blue cheese, you should try making this dressing some time. It mixes up in minutes and is so easy to make. We go through a batch every time I make it! (This is a favorite recipe in our house.) We like it as a dip for vegetables and homemade chicken nuggets as well (especially if covered in Buffalo Hot Sauce). If you don't have red wine vinegar, cider vinegar will work, it might taste a little more tangy. You may want to use half vinegar and half milk.


8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
2 - 3 T. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Smash blue cheese as you mix dressing.  If dressing is too thick, thin by adding vinegar or milk one tablespoon at a time and stir until desired consistency. Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homemade Condensed Soup

On occasion a recipe will call for a can of "Cream of Mushroom" or "Cream of Celery" soup or something similar.  I realize how convenient it is to open those cans, but the sodium content and a few of the other ingredients made me search for an alternative several years ago.  This recipe cooks up quickly and only has 5 ingredients.  I have been using it in our family favorite Green Bean Casserole and Hash Brown Casserole for years without any complaints!


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook until the mixture bubbles. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a sauce consistency. Stir in the pepper. Use in recipes calling for condensed cream soups. Yield: 2 cups.

Adapted from recipe on Life As Mom

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dinner Rolls

We are a bread loving family.  Our kids love it when I bake rolls. These rolls are soft and light and worth every minute of making them. The kids will eat some store bought rolls. One holiday I bought a Sam's Club package of King's Hawaiian Rolls and when it came time to eat there were literally only 10 rolls left to put on the table for the 10 people eating.  I was horrified and exclaimed to the kids, "What happened to the rolls?" There were smiles all around the table on all 4 of their faces and on my younger sister's as well.  I heard, "Well, they were so fresh and they tasted so good and we were hungry and there is still one left per person . . ." I have made sure to have plenty of rolls ever since . . . and to hide them☺


2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5-6 cups flour


In a large bowl, combine the yeast and water. Let stand 5 minutes (however, if using instant yeast, add the yeast, water and milk together with the other ingredients). Add sugar, butter, salt, 2 cups flour and egg. Beat together until very smooth. Add remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. Knead the dough for five minutes if using an electric mixer and for at least 10 minutes if mixing the dough by hand. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl and turn to grease top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Separate the dough into two portions. Roll each section into a 11"x14" rectangle. Brush the top with melted butter. Cut the dough across lengthwise making 2 long rectangles. Then cut those five times so you end up with 10 rectangles. Roll each rectangle up like a cake roll and place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Rolls can be touching. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise until doubled. Bake at 375°F for 12-14 minutes until they are nicely browned.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Mango Punch

This is a light and fruity punch that is perfect for any Spring celebration. If you want it to be less sweet, substitute some or all of the soda with sparkling water. Pouring, stirring and serving are all kid friendly steps in this recipe. Drinking this yummy punch is their reward.  Hopefully they will serve you some!


4 cups mango juice, chilled and well-shaken
4 cups citrus flavored soda, chilled
Juice of 2 regular limes
Additional lime slices for garnish
Maraschino cherries
Ice cubes


Into a large punch bowl, pour mango juice, soda and lime juice. Stir to combine. Garnish with lime slices. Serve over ice cubes.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Whole Wheat Bread

I found this recipe through one of my favorite blogs, Amy's Finer Things. Amy actually credits it to another blogger's great-grandma so it's been time tested and served many family members. I can vouch for it both in taste and ease to create. The recipe even yields 3 loaves and they freeze well in case you wondered. As Amy points out on her post - no double rise time! I think that is a big turn off to so many people in making home made bread because we all feel as though we don't have enough time, right? You can mix up this bread before you start dinner and have 3 loaves made in the time before you clean up(presuming you eat at home and not at a drive through). It really is that simple!


1/2 cup water
2 T. yeast
1 T. honey
2 1/2 cups very warm water
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour


  1. In mixing bowl, stir together water, yeast, and 1 T. honey. Let rise for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups water. Beat together at medium speed for a few minutes.
  3. Stir melted butter, honey, and salt into the flour mixture. Add remaining flour. Knead for several minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Separate dough into 3 balls. Shape into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans. Allow to rise 10-20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake bread for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Brush each loaf with butter. Remove from the pans to cool.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

White Cake

I have been making this white cake recipe for over 15 years.  It is a very moist cake that I have experimented with using all vanilla, all almond or the mixture of the two extracts as I have written below.  The picture you see is the stunning creation of our daughter, M, who wanted to make a pretty cake for Easter Sunday.  She saw a picture online and wanted to recreate the look.  She made my white cake for the base and a vanilla buttercream to ice it. The star of this cake is not the cake itself, but her skillful decorations. Beautiful!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract


Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour or spray two 8" round cake layer pans. Place  the flour, sugar, oil, salt, and 2/3 cup of the milk in a mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed. Stir in the baking powder. Add the egg whites, 1/2 cup milk, extracts and beat for 2 more minutes. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Bunny Bait

This is a highly addictive snack mix that yields a huge amount so it is great for parties, packaging cutely for class gifts, etc. If you get the impression that I'm encouraging you to share it with others so that you don't eat it all yourself, then you would be correct. It is one of those things that you start eating and think, "enough," then you pick a piece with a pretzel with an M&M attached and think, "I'm done." Then you go back for a cluster of popcorn with the bright sprinkles and maybe a few M&M's in there.  It's never ending with this mix, so just package some up and share it with others and go bite the ears off your chocolate bunny.☺


3 cups popped popcorn or 1 bag microwave popcorn
3 cups pretzel twists
1 bag M&M's
1/4 cup sprinkles
1 bag white Wilton candy melts or white chocolate chips


Melt candy melts or white chips according to back of bag. Spread some waxed paper onto a large cookie sheet.In a large bowl (or stock pot if you don't have big enough bowl), mix together popcorn, pretzels, M&M's, and sprinkles. Hands are great for this especially if your kids are helping. Pour melted white chocolate over mixture in large bowl and use a spoon or spatula to carefully stir all together to coat everything. The M&M's and sprinkles will tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl so try to scoop them into the mixture as it will start to dry pretty quickly. Spread out onto cookie sheet and spread out to dry. Let dry for a while and then store in baggies or airtight bowl.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Lemon Snack Cake

This is a quick dessert that a person of any age can mix together. It creates a flavorful and moist cake square. Serve with fresh berries for a pretty dessert perfect for Spring or Summer. 


1 box angel food cake mix
15 oz. can of lemon pie filling


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, add cake mix and pie filling. Mix together with mixer or by hand until completely combined. Bake in a 13"x9" cake pan for 20 minute until golden brown on the top. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powder sugar before cutting.

From Living Practically Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Easter Fruit Salad

This is a quick salad to put together as a great side dish for your Easter table whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  You don't need to have a kid to make it, either.  If you do though, it's a great recipe for kids to help make . Younger kids can use a plastic knife to cut the fruit and stir it all together making it "all by themselves" with minimal supervision.  Older kids can do it all on their own and get back to nibbling at their Easter basket contents. It's called "Easter Fruit Salad" because of the symbolism of the ingredients. As you are making the salad you can be reminding your kids about the significance of each ingredient as it is added.

  • Strawberries or Red Grapes: Red for the blood Jesus shed dying for our sins on Good Friday
  • Marshmallows: White for the empty tomb found on Good Saturday
  • Green Grapes: New life in the Resurrection on Easter 
  • Lemon Yogurt: Combines everything and is sour and sweet like our sorrow and joy experienced during Lent and Easter. 


1 lb. strawberries or red grapes, sliced
2 cups marshmallows
2 cups green grapes, halved
6 oz. lemon yogurt


Combine all ingredients in a pretty serving bowl. Cover and chill for 24 hours before serving.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mushroom and Leek Quiche

This is one of those indulgences that is worth it for the once or twice a year that I make it (usually Easter and a birthday lunch).  It is so rich and so worth it! If you don't love mushrooms like I do, then you can substitute ham, sausage, asparagus or something else that you like. Pair it with a salad for a full meal or slice it smaller and serve it as a side item on a buffet table.  It is so versatile because it tastes great warm or at room temperature. It really is a perfect Spring treat to make for yourself!


16 oz. mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 leeks
2 T. butter
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Pie crust for a single pie


Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray or lightly grease a large baking sheet and place the mushrooms on it in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Meanwhile, cut off the tops and bottoms of the leeks and cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each half thinly and soak the leeks in cold water for about 10 minutes to remove any grit or dirt. Drain and dry. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the leeks in the butter for 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown. Set aside. Press/roll pie crust into deep dish tart pan. Place on a cookie sheet to prevent leakage when baking. Spread leeks evenly over bottom of crust. Layer mushrooms and cheese on top as well. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Carefully pour over the ingredients in the tart pan, then cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning. Bake for 45 minutes, remove foil and bake 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pancake Mix

Do you like being able to wake up and make a hot breakfast quickly that doesn't involve the microwave? If you prepare a few bags of this pancake mix to have on hand ahead of time, you will be able to whisk them up in no time. You are controlling the ingredients, too, so there aren't any ingredients you can't pronounce on the list ;-)  These are fluffy and yummy and you may be told as I have been that "these are the best pancakes ever". Definitely a great way to start the day!

Dry Mix Ingredients

2 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
2 eggs


Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Place in bag and label "Pancake Mix." You might also write the wet ingredients needed on the bag (or make a recipe card to keep in a bigger bag along with several bags of dry mixes). To make pancakes, pour dry mix into a mixing bowl. Add milk, oil or melted butter, and eggs and whisk until smooth. Make pancakes in desired size in frying pan over medium heat or on an electric griddle.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Red Rice

This recipe has been called "Mexican Rice"by some as well as "Tomato Rice." I like the alliteration of "Red Rice" myself and since it isn't spicy, I don't think it qualifies as "Mexican." It does contain diced onion so I think plain old "Tomato" doesn't apply either, so "Red Rice" it is! Call it whatever you'd like, but please do try it as it is super easy and a nice alternative to plain white rice on occasion. (And, yes, those are thin pats of butter on top of the rice in the picture. If I think a tomato recipe tastes a little too acidic, I add a little butter for balance. I did stir it in to this rice, but for the picture I thought it looked better this way.)


2-4 T. oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups white rice (uncooked)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken broth


In a skillet or 4 qt. pot, heat oil, onion and rice for 5-7 minutes stirring over medium heat. Slowly add tomato sauce and chicken broth being careful adding the liquids to the hot pan (it might spit at you!). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Continue heating for 5 more minutes or more until liquid is completely absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cheesy Dip

If you ever find yourself in need of a quick appetizer to take to a gathering or if you find yourself hungry for something a little more substantial to go with the chips you are eating while watching your favorite TV shows, give this dip a try.  I was a bit skeptical at first due to onions being one of the 4 ingredients, but I figured with the addition of the cheeses all married in real mayonnaise, it was worth a shot.  I wasn't prepared to like it so much or to have everyone else in this house under the age of 20 like it either! That's actually a good thing, though, since the dip is rather rich and a bit addictive so sharing the dip shares the calories too.☺


4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 small Vidalia or other sweet yellow onions, finely diced
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup real mayonnaise


In large bowl, mix cream cheese, diced onion, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise. Spoon into greased baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned on top. Serve with corn chips, vegetables or crackers.

Adapted from Southern Plate

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cookie Dough Paleo Style

Here is a cookie dough recipe for those of you wanting a version with no refined sugars, dairy or gluten. Keep an open mind and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I prefer this version cold myself.


2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 T. honey
2 T. almond butter
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips


Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil, honey, almond butter, and vanilla and combine well. Use your hands to get it all combined if necessary. Mix in the chocolate chips and roll into 1" to 1 1/2" balls. Store in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Perry's Plate

Monday, March 18, 2013

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

This is our oldest's favorite treat and popular with all 4 of our kids.  I was accused of eating too much of the real thing as a kid so it comes as no surprise to me that they all like cookie dough☺ They have great taste! I posted this on The Pioneer Woman's recipe sharing website "Tasty Kitchen" back in 2009 when it was new.  Click here to go to it and check out the site if you've never visited it.  I won't apologize for any inspiration caused by the amazing recipes and food pictures posted there (or possible drool on your keyboard).


1/2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsps. kosher salt
2 T. milk
1 cup chocolate chips*


Cream butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix just until combined. Add milk until blended and fold in chocolate chips.

*Other kinds of chips or cut up candies (Reese’s, M&M’s, etc.) work very well in this recipe also.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Rice Soup

Some days are just soup days, aren't they? This one is simple, tasty and gluten free. I think the smell of homemade soup cooking on top of the stove makes any house smell like a place you want to pull up a chair and settle in for a bowl of soup and good conversation.


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 quarts chicken broth
2 cups chicken meat, chopped*
1 T. parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Heat a soup pot over medium heat with olive oil and rice. Add onion, carrots and celery. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent, then add chicken broth and parley.  Bring to boil. Add chicken and stir. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. 

*If you don't have precooked chicken, you can add a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the boiling soup. Remove after 30 minutes, chop or shred, and then add back to soup.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Wacky Cupcakes

I am very proud and happy to have my first guest poster today. She happens to be our daughter, Marshmallow. She wanted to make her own recipe and headed into the kitchen and did just that! Her creation turned out to be moist and delicious. (I have to add that she is even sweeter than her cupcakes☺.)


1 recipe White Wacky Cake
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 recipe Paleo Chocolate Frosting


Follow cake directions except substitute vanilla extract for almond extract using a total of 1 teaspoon in the recipe. Stir in chocolate chips once batter is made. Divide batter into 12 cupcake pretty paper lined muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cake lightly springs back. Cool before frosting. Make frosting per directions.And enjoy! Oh and don't forget to lick the bowl when you're all done, a personal tip of mine☺

Friday, March 8, 2013

Party Punch

One of the easiest punches I've ever made is one that conjures up fond memories of my Uncle F. He made it for holidays and special occasions. It only requires 2 ingredients and I am not sure if its simplicity was born out of need due to having a very large family or just because there was no need to further complicate it. As kids anticipating it to be made we didn't notice anything other than the sherbet looked like pretty floating clouds and it tasted really good! You were considered a "big kid" when you were asked to help scoop the sherbet and stir the punch. Oh, happy day, when that day arrived! The great thing with this punch is you can tailor the color of the sherbet to your occasion (raspberry for Valentine's or girl themed party, orange for Halloween, lime for St. Patrick's Day, etc.). This recipe also multiplies very easily. Cheers!


1 qt. sherbet, your choice of flavor
2 L bottle ginger ale, chilled


Pour ginger ale into punch bowl.  Scoop sherbet into bowl and stir. Some of the sherbet will melt into the ginger ale creating the punch, but many scoops should remain floating making them in high demand when serving☺.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slice'N'Bake Mac'N'Cheese

This baked macaroni and cheese is easy to make and so cheesy.  Every bite is rich and buttery.  The best part is that the sauce makes itself while baking.  While you boil the pasta, you slice butter and cheese to layer along with the macaroni and milk and it all goes in the oven.  The picture you see only has half topped with breadcrumbs as that is our family's taste preferences and not the recipe instructions ;-) This recipe can be easily doubled and made in a 13"x9" pan for parties and potlucks.


1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
10 oz. bar of extra-sharp cheddar cheese (like Cracker Barrel brand)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a shallow 8" square dish with butter or olive oil. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes (you only want to cook it partially). Drain. Slice cheese as thinly as possible. Slice butter about the same width as the cheese. Place half the macaroni on the bottom of the baking dish. Dot with half of the butter squares and half the cheese. Add half of the milk. Repeat layers. Cover the dish with foil and place on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir and top with bread crumbs. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Adapted from recipe on Vanderbilt Wife

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Busier Day Banana Bread

Our kids are used to my kitchen experiments and some turn out better than others.  This one combines two flavors we love - bananas and chocolate. It's almost as easy as the original recipe I posted and definitely worth the extra step! And if you want to add even more Nutella on top, I am with you 100%! (It does contain chocolate, hazelnuts and milk so several of my favorite food groups are covered.☺)


1 recipe Busy Day Banana Bread
1/2 cup Nutella


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour pan. Follow directions for making banana bread. Once mixed, add half of the batter to a second bowl and add Nutella. Mix just until uniform. Checkerboard the two batters into loaf pan on the bottom and then on top of each other as well until all the batter is in pan. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack.

Inspired by this recipe on What Megan's Making Blog

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix

Having this dry cake mix on hand can be useful for the many recipes that call for a yellow cake mix especially the ones that only call for "1 cup" or "2 cups." It makes just under 9 cups of mix so if you store it evenly halved you can also make smaller batches at a time should the need arise ("12 cupcakes for after dinner? Turn on the oven!")


2 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3 T. cornstarch
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1 T. vanilla extract


Process sugar, flour, milk powder, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a food processor for 15 seconds to combine. Add butter and vanilla and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Freeze the dry mixture in a plastic bag for up to 2 months or use immediately.

To make cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour your pan(s) of choice.* With an electric mixer, mix the prepared cake mix with 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 eggs until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake(s) in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

*For two 9" round cakes, bake for 20-25 minutes; for one 13"x9" cake, bake for 35 to 40 minutes; for one 12-cup bundt pan, bake for 40 - 45 minutes; for 24 cupcakes, bake for 18 - 20 minutes.

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

Head to your pantry and spice cabinet for the ingredients to whip up the sauce for these chicken enchiladas. It's mild so if you want to add any heat add a little cayenne or some canned jalapeños.  I like to serve this with a rice dish and salad for an enjoyable family meal.


1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. butter
16-oz. can diced tomatoes
4-oz. can green chiles, diced
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
2 cups shredded chicken
Green onions, olives, cilantro, sour cream, salsa


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until tender.  Add the tomatoes, chiles, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano and basil. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. (At this point I like to use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth or you can transfer to a blender for this process or you can leave the sauce chunky!) Dip each tortilla briefly in the sauce to soften. Place 2 tablespoons of chicken and 2 tablespoons of cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in a 13" x 9" baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Garnish with olives, cilantro, sour cream and salsa.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Buttermilk Cinnaswirl Bread

This is an easy recipe that can be put together quickly. The yield of two loaves allows you to share one or freeze one. You could also bake mini loaves making plenty and not have to choose☺


4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 T. cinnamon


In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add buttermilk, vanilla and eggs; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill two greased 8" x 4" loaf pans half full. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle half over the batter. Top with remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar. Swirl batter with a knife. Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taco Meat

Cook up a pound of ground meat and serve up some tacos in a flash. This works well as a topping for nachos or salads as well - go for the snack or the lunch or both!


1 lb. ground meat
1 onion, chopped
1 T. paprika
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper


In a skillet add meat and onion. Cook until meat is browned and then add remaining ingredients. Stir well to distribute spices. If mixture starts to dry out, add a little broth or water (1/4 cup). Cook for 5 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

White Wacky Cake

This is a white version of the more commonly known wacky cake that is chocolate. Both versions are great first recipes for beginner bakers as they can be mixed up quickly and even right in the pan. Our house is divided on the two versions - half prefer this version and half prefer the traditional chocolate one.  If you're baking something for dinner and the oven is on anyway, try making this sometime.  It really is easy and delicious!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 T. oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract*
1 T. white vinegar
1 cup water


Preheat oven to 350°F. In an 8" square or round baking pan, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add oil, vanilla, white vinegar, and water. Whisk until well combined. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

*This gives it that "white" cake taste, but if you have allergies or do not have any on hand, just use all vanilla.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wacky Cake

You can mix this cake up in a bowl or right in the pan. Call it a science experiment instead of dessert, and I think that makes it officially calorie free☺. The cake is very moist. It is also economical since it is dairy and egg free. I read once that it originated around the Great Depression for that very reason. Nowadays it is popular in some circles because it fits a vegan diet. It was popular with our children's teachers I gave it to as a gift mix in the past. Moist chocolate cake always seems like a good thing to me (especially when it is so easy to make).


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
5 T. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. white vinegar
1 cup water


Preheat oven to 350°F. In an 8" square or round baking pan, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add oil, vanilla, white vinegar, and water. Whisk until well combined. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Garnish with chocolate chips, frosting, ice cream, whipped cream, powdered sugar, etc.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crescent Cinnamon Rolls

If you've made my recipe for "Kick The Can Crescents" then you know how good the rolls taste. The dough makes amazing cinnamon rolls as well. You can make them fairly quickly(in less than 1 1/2 hours). It should satisfy those cravings you might get from walking in the mall that send cinnamon aromas to your nose permeating every fiber of your being that scream "Come here NOW and order a jumbo cinnamon roll that won't taste as good as what you can make at home but it smells SO good you can taste it!" You know what I'm talking about, right? Making these rolls at home allows you to share, freeze some for another time, eat a proper size, control your ingredients and save money. I haven't done a cost analysis, but I'd bet the entire batch at home costs close to what you pay for just one of those jumbo rolls at the mall. Oh, yeah, your house will smell amazing and your kitchen will become a magnet for all those following their noses to the cinnamon scent. So, you may need to get plates and forks ready.☺


1 batch of "Kick The Can Crescents"
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 T. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 T. cream or half & half
1 tsp. vanilla


Prepare dough according to recipe directions through preparation stage only (not the rising, etc.). In a small bowl mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14 inches. Spread butter over the surface. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over the surface pressing down lightly. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed. Score the roll into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls. Place in buttered or sprayed round pans(2) or a 13"x9" pan. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. In the mean time, preheat oven to 350°F. When rolls have finished rising bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. While baking, mix icing ingredients together until smooth in a small bowl. Spread rolls with icing while still warm. Makes 12 rolls.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pronto Pizza Sauce

This pizza sauce is full of flavor, thick, yet still spreadable, and most importantly delicious! It's an easy recipe to make and is easily doubled or tripled to make extra to have on hand or give away.  You know how great pizza sauce tastes with mozzarella sticks and cheesy bread, so have some on hand for those nights you pop those in the oven.


1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. honey
1 T. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. can tomato paste


In stock pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is golden being careful not to burn. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes. If using right away, cool slightly before using on pizza. If making ahead, cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Adapted slightly from Good Cheap Eats

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Food Processor Pizza Dough

Making pizza dough at home is a lot of fun but you might think "making the dough will take forever and I can pick up the phone and order it so-o-o-o much more quickly." While that may be true, I'd encourage you to try this sometime especially since I discovered a method to make dough in the food processor. It literally takes minutes to make. You then place the dough in a bowl to rise, walk away and come back when you are ready to bake. You could also make the dough in the morning and refrigerate it during the day. The dough is great for pocket sandwiches, calzones, pepperoni rolls, stromboli . . .(I am making myself hungry☺)


1 T. active dry yeast
2 T. honey
1 cup warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
2 T. olive oil


Dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine the flour and salt and process with 3 or 4 pulses. With the motor running on the dough speed, slowly add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Continue processing until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute, then process for 1 minute more. Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Follow directions for recipe you want to use.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma and Barefoot Contessa

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hot Chocolate Mix

When you're craving something chocolate to warm your insides if it's cold outside make some of this mix to have a creamy cup of hot chocolate.  While you heat the milk you can decide whether to top it with whipped cream or marshmallows (or both). If you sample either while waiting, I hear those calories are for testing and therefore "don't count."☺ 


1 cup instant dry milk
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Add the dry milk, cocoa powder and brown sugar to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, then add the chocolate and process to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To serve, mix 4 tablespoons with 1 cup of hot milk.

Adapted from a recipe seen on Pennies On A Platter

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sausage Balls

If you need a quick appetizer or even a new lunchbox item, try these sausage balls. You can alter the flavor by trying the different types of sausage (maple, spicy, etc.).  These are very moist, but be careful not to over bake them as I once did because then you will either have a happy dog (should you have one) or a full trash can.☺


1 (16 ounce) package pork sausage (the kind in a plastic cylinder)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese*
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery


Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Form into 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet; bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with cocktail forks or toothpicks.

*If you use pre-shredded cheese in a bag reduce baking mix by 1/4 cup due to the anti-caking agents in pre-shredded cheese.