Monday, December 31, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms

This Stuffed Mushroom recipe from was delicious as part of our New Year's Eve celebration meal. (Ok, the kids wouldn't touch them, but Jesse and I LOVED them!)  I used only 1/4 lb. Jimmy Dean Sausage and still got 12 Stuffed Mushrooms.  Also, a great way to cook them is in a muffin tin so they stay upright.

Brown Sugar Smokies

These Brown Sugar Smokies from All Recipes are great as an appetizer or as part of a breakfast buffet.  We served them as part of our New Year's Eve celebration meal with the following dipping sauce:

Creamy BBQ Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
3 T. BBQ sauce (good quality)

Mix together and serve as a dipping sauce for Brown Sugar Smokies.

Baked Potato Wedges

Our New Year's Eve celebration meal included these delicious potato wedges.  We served them with  homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, although the kids enjoyed them with ketchup.

Potato Wedges
4 large russet potatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. parsley flakes
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. granulated garlic
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes with oil and seasonings; toss well to coat.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on prepared pan.  Bake for 50-55 minutes, turning wedges halfway through cooking time.  Sprinkle with additional seasoned salt, if desired (we thought they were great without any additional seasonings).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nutella No Bake Cookies

I love peanut butter chocolate no bake cookies, however Morgan can't eat them, so I was excited when I found this recipe.  I made them for an activity days refreshment.  They were yummy--of course I missed the peanut butter, but Morgan loved them and they were pretty tasty still. :-)

Nutella No-Bake Cookies

8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup hazelnuts chopped (I didn't have these so I left them out)
1/4 cup flaked coconut

In a medium saucepan, bring butter, sugar, cocoa and milk to a boil and cook for one minute.  Add Nutella, vanilla and salt and stir to combine.  Remove from heat.  combine oatmeal, hazelnuts and coconut into a medium-sized bowl.  Add chocolate Nutella mixture and mix to combine.  Spoon 1 inch balls onto Silpat or parchment paper and sprinkle with a few extra chopped hazelnuts.  Cool for 20 minutes.


I was in the Christmas Goodie Baking spirit yesterday.  I don't know why I chose fudge, because honestly I'm not a big fan of fudge, but it seemed Christmasy and easy, so I spent some time searching on Pinterest and found a few fudge recipes to try.  All four turned out good, but I'm listing these in my favorite order:

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Fudge
(yummy!  you just can't beat chocolate and peanut butter!)

 3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
7 ounce jar Marshmallow Crème
1/2 cup peanut butter

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in a medium pot.  Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium and continue boiling for 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate pieces until melted.  Add 1 cup marshmallow crème and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat until well blended.  Pour into a lined or greased 13x9 inch pan.

Repeat the process with remaining ingredients substituting peanut butter.  Then spread over the chocolate mixture in the pan.  Cool and cut into squares.

Eggnog Fudge
(this was Morgan's favorite out of the two she could eat...she loves eggnog!)

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup dairy eggnog
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, plus a little more for the top of the fudge
7 ounces marshmallow crème
1 tablespoon rum extract

Line a 8x8 inch pan with foil or parchment paper.  In a heavy saucepan combine sugar, butter and eggnog.  Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling 8-10 minutes over medium heat or until a candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat.  Using a wooden spoon, work quickly to stir in white chocolate and nutmeg until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in marshmallow crème and rum.  Beat until well blended and then pour into prepare pan.  Sprinkle a little freshly ground nutmeg on top.  Let stand at room temperature until cooled.  When completely cooled, cut into squares.  Store in a covered container.

Nutella & Sea Salt Fudge
(this is quite rich and more of a dark chocolate flavor, but nice and smooth)

14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
8 ounces 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Nutella
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.  In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate chips, nutella and butter.  Form a double-boiler by setting the bowl over a medium pot of gently simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth, 5-7 minutes.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, spread the top smooth with a spatula, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Refrigerate until the fudge is firm.  Cut into squares and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Easy Peanut Butter Fudge
(this one was good flavor but a little gritty on the texture)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter.

Bring sugar and milk to a boil.   Boil for 2 1/2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a 8x8 lined pan.  Cool and cut into squares.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Caprese Lasagna Rolls

I made this recipe today after Stake Conference and it was delicious!  Of course, in my opinion, you can never go wrong with Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil.

8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
14 oz freshly shredded, low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
1 large egg white
1/3 cup freshly, finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 oz)
freshly ground black pepper
3 - 4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/6 inch thick slices)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 cup Simple Marinara Sauce, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package to al dente. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse with water) and align lasagna noodles in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.
For filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and egg white until well blended. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Mix in 12 oz. of the Mozzarella cheese and season with black pepper to taste (I wouldn't recommend seasoning with salt just because the cheeses already have plenty of salt).
Place 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and spread into an even layer, going from one end of the lasagna to the other. Align 4 thin tomato slices over cheese mixture then sprinkle fresh basil over top. Snugly roll lasagna noodles to opposite end. Spread about 1/4 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Align lasagna roll ups, seam side down in dish. Top each roll up with about 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce (covering edges of pasta so they don't dry out while baking). Sprinkle top with remaining 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate pasta and garnish with plenty of basil ribbons. Serve warm.

Simple Marinara Sauce
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions to hot oil and saute about 3 minutes until soft, adding garlic during last minute of sauteing. Pour in crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 25 - 30 minutes (which will allow some of the water in crushed tomatoes to evaporate) while you prepare pasta and lasagna filling (you can freeze or refrigerate left over sauce in a small airtight container for later use, adding fresh basil if desired).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

California Pasta Salad

California Pasta Salad Recipe

I made this for our dinner last night.  I've made it before because I had "yum" written by the recipe.  It comes from my "A Taste of the Country" cookbook.  This time I didn't have tomatoes or zucchini and didn't want to run to the store so I just left it out.  Bryn liked it and took some left-overs in her lunch today.  My nutritional facts are probably different because I used fat-free zesty Italian dressing.


  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 1 bottle (16 ounces) Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  • Cook pasta according to package directions; Drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the vegetables and olives.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over spaghetti mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 10-15 servings.

Nutritional Facts1 serving (3/4 cup) equals 257 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 567 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nanaimo Bars

We love these layered bar cookies! The original recipe was for an 11x7-inch pan, but I doubled it for a 15x10-inch pan. I'm glad I did--because we love these bars! The recipe below is already doubled and sized for the 15x10-inch pan.
Nanaimo Bars Ingredients Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa preferred
2 large eggs
2 cups (6 ounces) sweetened or unsweetened coconut
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups (20 ounces) graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if you use salted butter)
4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1.75 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 tablespoons milk
2 cups (12 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate (Belcolade bittersweet disks are good) or semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) shortening (or use 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or heavy cream--I used the shortening)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper & spray with Baker’s Joy) a 15 x 10-inch baking pan.

To make the crust: Place all of the crust ingredients in a mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed just until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the prepared pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and set it aside to cool.
To make the filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, 2 cups of the sugar, and the vanilla, beating until smooth. In a small bowl, combine the instant vanilla pudding mix with the milk, stirring until thick and smooth. Add the pudding mix to the butter/sugar mixture, stirring to combine. Add the remaining sugar, and beat until the filling is smooth. Spread it over the cooled crust, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.

To make the icing: Combine the chocolate and shortening in a saucepan set over medium heat (or double-boiler) or microwave-safe bowl; stir until mixture is smooth. Spread the frosting onto the bars. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.

Cut into small bars or rectangles to serve. The bars will be very stiff when cold, but will soften quickly at room temperature.

Yield: about 50 bars—depending on size cut

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars

I got this recipe from Marcia, I think.  I don't know where she found it.  I made this for the first time last week when we were getting ready for our bake sale.  This is a keeper recipe for my familty; though I probably shouldn't make them very often.  Bryce said the only problem with these bars is that "They are so good."  I recommend cutting them small.  I cut big ones since I was selling them for 25 cents at the yard sale.  Bryn loved them but said, "They made my teeth hurt."  (Yes, she is weird in more ways than one.)

1 box of yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup mini milk chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup Skor toffee chips (I used the Heath Toffee Bits)

32 caramels
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick of butter

Mix together the cake mix, vegetable oil and eggs. Then mix in different chips.  In a greased 13x9" pan, press half of the mixture.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  While that is in the oven, melt in a sauce pan the caramels, sweetened condensed milk and butter.  When the crust is done baking for the first 10 minutes, pour sauce over the crust.  Then sprinkle over the top, in chunks, the rest of the cake/cookie mixture.  Bake for another 22-25 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Bryn and Paige love these bars.  Paige made them a couple days ago.  The recipe comes from a cookbook Paige got for Christmas one year called "All New Cookie Dough Fun."  They taste best after being refrigerated.  I also have to cook them longer than 35 minutes.  I've made these with home made cookie dough, too.  I just calculate the ounces and use my scale to measure what I need.

2 packages (18 oz each) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 13x9" pan.  Let both packages of cookie dough stand at room temperature about 15 minutes.  Reserve 3/4 of one package of dough (13 1/2 ounces).  Press remaining 1 1/2 packages of dough (22 1/2 ounces) evenly onto the bottom of prepared pan.  Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer at high speed until well blended and smooth.  Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cookie dough in pan.  Break reserved 3/4 package of cookie dough into small pieces; sprinkle evenly over cream cheese mixture.  Bake 35 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars to serve.  Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.  Makes about 24 bars.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

I found this recipe on my friend, Heidi's, blog.  We tried it the other day and I thought it was pretty tasty.  She said we could serve it with chips, on rice, or tortillas.  So, since I had all three, I put all three on the table.  Paige liked it with chips.  I made myself a little burrito type of thing by using a flour tortilla, with rice and the chicken as the filling.  Oh, I also didn't have pinto beans so I used my home-canned great northern whites.  I also used 4 chicken breast halves.  (I'm not sure if Heidi meant whole chicken breasts or chicken breast halves, but mine turned out just fine with what I used.)

1-15 oz can Pinto Beans
1- 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 pkg. of taco seasoning
2-3 chicken breasts (depending on size)
1 pkg. cream cheese

Add beans and chilies with juice, chicken and seasoning in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. An hour before it is done shred the chicken and add the cream cheese. Serve with hot tortilla chips, rice or on tortillas.

Bart's Mom's Salsa

Mom and Dad brought me some tomatoes and onions to make salsa. I looked all over for the recipe and couldn't find it. So I tried Teresa's salsa. Paige didn't like it very much and pleaded with me to please make my normal salsa. So I waited a couple days for Mom and Dad to get home from Utah so I could get the recipe. Now that I have it, I thought I'd post it here as another place to store the recipe. My family really likes this recipe for canned salsa.

6 quarts peeled and diced tomatoes
4 cups diced bell peppers
4 cups diced onions
5 to 6 diced jalapeno peppers (seeds removed from half of them)
2 teaspoon dry minced garlic
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon dry parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon dry oregano
6 Tablespoons plain salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons vinegar
2 cans (12 ounces each) tomato paste

I used my food processor to dice the peppers and onions. This time I also used it to dice the tomatoes. It turned it more soupy rather than chunky salsa, but my kids like fewer tomato chunks anyway. I kept the seeds in two of the jalapeno peppers and removed them from 3 of them. Combine all the ingredients in a big pot. (Mom's roasting pan is awesome for this.) Cook the mixture down until it is the thickness you want your salsa to be. Place salsa in clean, prepared pint jars. Wipe the rims and place lids and rings on the jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Makes about 13 pints. (This time I made 15 pints with a little bowl left over plus all the salsa Paige kept stealing from the pot while it was cooking.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicken and Rice

This is one of our favorite comfort foods.  It reminds me of mom's home cookin'!

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each cut in half or thirds
2 cans cream of chicken soup
6 T. finely chopped onion
2 T. parsley
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme (or a teaspoon or so of fresh thyme from the garden, if you have it!)
1 tsp. celery flakes
3 cups water
2 cups minute or instant rice, uncooked

Roll chicken pieces in flour and brown in oil in a large skillet.  In a large saucepan, mix together the soup, onion, parsley, salt, thyme, celery flakes, and water.  Bring to a boil.  In a 9x13 pan, sprinkle minute rice on bottom, pour sauce over the rice, and mix.  Place chicken pieces on top of the rice and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until chicken is cooked through and tender.

Note:  I actually like to use 2 or 3 pre-grilled chicken breasts, chopped in bite-size pieces and cook this recipe on the stove-top.  Once the sauce comes to boil, stir in rice and chopped chicken.  Turn down heat to low, and cover pot with lid.  It only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook this on the stove-top because the chicken is cooked before you start, so all you're doing is cooking the rice and heating everything through.  This is a great camping dinner to make in a Dutch oven on a Cache cooker.  We always serve this with green beans (home canned, of course!) and a fruit side dish.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The delicious cookie recipe that my sister-in-law shared with us.

1 1/4 cup sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat shortening and sugar in large mixing bowl. Add softened butter and beat just enough to mix. (over beating will soften the butter too much and makes the cookies flat) Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add into the sugar mixture until combined.

Roll dough into balls. then roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes ( until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy)

Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

Chicken Pasta Fruit Salad

This is my sister-in-law Janel's recipe that she brought to Alena's baby blessing picnic.  Delicious and so refreshingly yummy!

12 oz. bowtie noodles
12 oz. spiral noodles
4 cups grilled chicken, cubed
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1 large can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups grapes
12-16 oz. cashews, broken
1 bag craisins

1 cup mayonnaise (no substitutes)
16 oz. Kraft coleslaw dressing (no substitutes)

The salad is more flavorful if you mix everything together (except the nuts and craisins) the night before.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ranch Dressing Mix

I keep my own Ranch Dressing Mix on hand.  I like mine better than store-bought because my recipe includes just a hint of dill.

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
15 saltine crackers
1 cups dry parsley flakes, minced
½ cup instant minced onion
2 T. dry dill weed
¼ cup onion salt
¼ cup garlic salt
¼ cup onion powder
¼ cup garlic powder

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until completely powdered.  Keep in sealed container.

To use:  For DRESSING - combine 1 T. dry mix, 1 cup mayonnaise (no substitutes), and 1 cup buttermilk. For DIP - combine 1 T. dry mix with 16 oz. sour cream.

And, according to Taste of Home, you can add additional ingredients to make other types of dressings, although I have never personally tried these versions:
  • 2 T. chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and pureed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Best Brownies & Frosting

I subscribed to a meal-planning service for a short time.  This was one of the recipes our family enjoyed from the service.  And it seems that everyone else at Alena's baby blessing enjoyed them, too.  That is, if anyone besides Bryant and Kaysen got any (they ate 13 between the two of them!).

Best Brownies from Deals to Meals
4 cubes butter
1 cup baking cocoa
4 cups granulated sugar
8 eggs
3 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 T. vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

In a large pot, melt butter.  Remove from heat and add cocoa.  Then beat in sugar and eggs, one at a time.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir just until combined.  Pour into a greased and floured (I used a lightly sprayed parchment paper) large cookie sheet (10x15).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cut into 48 bars.

WW PointsPlus:  6 (very worth it!)

Variations:  sprinkle baked brownies with powdered sugar, top with homemade chocolate frosting, or layer with mint or peanut butter frosting and then chocolate ganache.

Buckeye Frosting (Peanut Butter)
Gooseberry Patch
4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
¼ cup milk

Add powdered sugar, butter, and peanut butter to mixing bowl.  Mix with beaters until fairly well incorporated.  Slowly add milk, as needed, until frosting is desired consistency.  Spread frosting carefully on cooled brownies.  Top with Chocolate Ganache.

Grasshopper Frosting (Mint)
Betty Crocker
4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter
1 tsp. peppermint extract
¼ cup milk
Green or red food coloring

Add powdered sugar and butter to mixing bowl.  Mix with beaters until fairly well incorporated.  Slowly add milk, as needed, until frosting is desired consistency.  Tint with desired color.  Spread frosting carefully on cooled brownies.  Top with Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache
Gooseberry Patch
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup butter

Melt chocolate chips and butter together in microwave-safe bowl (mine took about 90 seconds).  Stir until combined and all chips are melted.  Spread carefully over frosted brownies.

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

Another recipe I brought to Alena's baby blessing.  Again, everyone seemed to enjoy it!  I doubled the recipe for the party, but ended up having lots of leftovers.  Unfortunately, on the way home, the lid came off and ice water got into the bowl and I had to throw all the leftovers away.  I was SO bummed out!

5-6 chicken breasts (boiled) and cut up in bite size pieces
1 cup finely chopped celery (use your food processor)
2 cans mandarin oranges (drained)
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mayonnaise (give or take to get right consistency)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together.  If you use your hands, you can easily shred the chicken and mandarin oranges into fine pieces.  Garnish with additional sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, and fresh parsley.  Serve on croissants or freshly baked rolls.

Fruit Dip (Marshmallow Creme Version)

I brought this to Alena's baby blessing, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 jar marshmallow creme (7 oz.)
1/2 small tub Cool Whip
Dash of vanilla

Mix together.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with your choice of fruit.

Note:  You can also add lemon or orange juice (1-2 T.) to give the dip a light citrus flavor.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

English Muffins (King Arthur Flour's Rolled Version)

Mom's down for the weekend, and when I mentioned I was going to the store to purchase English muffins, she convinced me to stay home and make them from scratch.  I'm glad I did!  These muffins tasted so fresh and delicious.  I'm not sure I can ever buy them again!  I love that this recipe requires no special equipment (rings) to cook them!

English Muffins
1 3/4 cups milk, warm (we used a heaping 1/3 cup powdered milk + 1 3/4 cup warm water)
3 T. butter, melted
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 - 4 1/4 cups flour (bread flour is great if you have it; if not, all-purpose worked fine for us)
2 tsp. yeast

Mix 2 cups flour with powdered milk (if using), sugar, and yeast.  Add warm water or milk, egg, and butter, and whisk well.  Add 2 additional cups of flour with salt.  Mix until flour is incorporated.  Add additional flour as needed to make a VERY SOFT dough.  Knead in mixer for 3-4 minutes.  Cover mixing bowl with sprayed plastic wrap, and let dough rise for approximately 30 minutes.

Sprinkle cornmeal thickly on a board or flat surface.  Gently remove dough from mixer bowl, trying not to break bubbles that have formed.  Gently pat out to 1/2-3/4", and use a 3" cutter to cut into circles (we used a cup, but a clean tuna-fish or water chestnut can would work well).  Let rise for another 10-15 minutes, until dough has begun to "puff" again.  Bake on a 300 degree preheated griddle, sprinkled with cornmeal, 7 minutes per side.  Adjust heat if needed if it's browning too fast or not fast enough.

When the muffins are brown on both sides, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.  If eating them hot, use a fork to pry apart (otherwise, you'll ruin all the air holes on the inside of the muffin; you must have air holes to hold all the butter and jam you'll be spreading on the muffin!).

This made 23 English muffins for us, although the original recipe said it would make only 16.  I think our circles were only 2 1/2" rather than 3", and we patted the dough to 1/2".

WW PointsPlus:  2 points (if you make 23 or 24); 4 points if you make only 16

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zucchini Ribbon Pasta with Light Creamy Lemon-Basil Sauce

We had this for dinner tonight.  Jesse thought it needed meat, but I thought it was perfect as-is.  I liked how light and refreshing it was for a summer evening dinner.  An extra squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of basil on top would be much welcomed!  I served it with green salad with Olive Garden dressing and grapes.

Picture and Recipe from OUR BEST BITES

WW PointsPlus:  7 points for 1/4 of recipe.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Oven Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders

These sandwiches were SO good I couldn't stop at just one.  Now I'm so full I'm slightly regretting that extra sandwich.  Just slightly.

Oven Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders
6 Rhodes dinner rolls, baked
1 T. mayonnaise
1 T. miracle whip
6 slices Black Forest ham
6 slices provolone cheese
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. poppy seed
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. dried minced onion

Slice rolls in half.  Mix mayonnaise and miracle whip, and then spread on both the bottom and top halves of rolls.  Place bottom half of rolls in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet close together. Place 1 slice of ham, folded to fit, and one slice of cheese on each roll.  Replace top.  Mix poppy seed sauce ingredients and pour evenly over the tops of the sandwiches.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until tops are browned and crispy.  Serve warm.  Note:  sandwiches can be prepared a day ahead and kept in fridge.

WW PointsPlus:  10

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Healthier French Toast

I've been trying to make a few healthy changes to our diets without sacrificing flavor or texture (and that I can maintain throughout our lives).  Here's a successful change that no one could tell the difference between the original and the healthier version.

Healthier French Toast
8 slices high fiber wheat bread (at least 3 grams fiber, but preferably 6 grams) - I used Granny's Delight 100% Whole Wheat Bread
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
1/3 cup 1% or 2% milk

Mix egg, egg whites, and milk.  Quickly dip both sides of bread in egg mixture and place on a hot non-stick griddle.  Cook until golden brown on both sides.  I served mine with fresh strawberries and 1 T. powdered sugar sprinkled over top.  Delish!

WW PointsPlus:  5 pts for 2 slices (syrup, sugar, etc. are extra points)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Twice-Baked Potatoes

I made these delicious potatoes from The Sisters Cafe for dinner last night.  I doubled the recipe so I would have leftovers to freeze, which I plan to take to Heather's on Friday!  I used low-fat buttermilk rather than butter and milk.  Also, the Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon (I get mine at Costco or Sam's) works great for this recipe (1 tsp. per potato half was perfect!).  Even Kaysen tried this with no complaints once I told him the inside is like mashed potatoes, and the outside shell is a baked potato!

WW PointsPlus (using 11-13 oz. potatoes - baked weight): 9

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dinner Roll-Ups

We usually call these Tuna Roll-Ups, but you could probably use any cooked or canned meat, as well as your preference of cream soup.  In fact, let's have a Roll-Up Challenge!  Try a different meat/soup combination and tell us all how it turned out!

Tuna Roll-Ups
1 recipe Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 cup water

Make Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits according to recipe, except roll into a 16x10" rectangle. Spread 1/2 cup condensed soup over biscuit dough, leaving about 1" on the lengthwise side furthest from you without any soup.  Open cans of tuna and drain.  Flake and sprinkle with your fingers over the rolled out dough/soup.  Roll up lengthwise, like cinnamon rolls.  Seal the portion of dough to the roll that didn't have any soup on it.  Cut into approximately 1 1/2" slices, making 10 roll-ups.  Place each roll-up on a parchment-lined baking pan.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.

In a medium saucepan, mix remaining soup, lemon juice, and enough water until gravy consistency.  Heat and serve over roll-ups. Makes approximately 1 cup gravy.

We always serve these with green beans, but they would be good with any side vegetable or green salad.

WW PointsPlus:  5 points per roll-up + 1 T. gravy

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This is what I'm having for dessert tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning. I got the original recipe from Will Cook for Smiles, but decided to tweak the ingredients just a tad.  I love how plump the muffins turned out.  They are very moist, with a deep chocolate flavor. I'm not sure how the original muffins taste, but I like my edition A LOT!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
2 cups shredded zucchini (I peel the zucchini and remove seeds before shredding)
3 egg whites
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda

Mix wet ingredients, including zucchini, in a medium mixing bowl.  Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Using a medium scoop (Pampered Chef), place 1 scoop of batter into 16 paper-lined muffin cups.  Using a small scoop (also Pampered Chef), add an additional scoop of batter to each muffin cup.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  WW PointsPlus:  4 points per muffin.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lemon Pepper Zucchini & Onions

We had sauteed zucchini and onions from the garden tonight.  Delish!  Here's my method.

1 small zucchini (I used gold rush)
1 small onion (I used a wala wala white)
2 tsp. canola oil
lemon pepper seasoning

Slice zucchini into fourths lengthwise, then slice horizontally into pie-shaped pieces.  Set zucchini aside.  Slice onion.  Heat oil in non-stick skillet.  Add onion and stir to coat onion with oil.  Let cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add zucchini and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning.  Enjoy!  This made 2 large servings of vegetables.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Moist Chocolate Cake

I found this recipe in The Taste of Home Baking Book (pg 126). It is seriously THE BEST cake I have ever had. It was easy to make, I had all the ingredients on hand, I could lick the cake batter left over in the bowl (b/c there aren't any eggs in it!), AND the cake is SO moist and good, it doesn't need frosting. Delicious!

PREP: 10 min.
BAKE: 30 min. + cooling
YIELD: 9 servings

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil (I thought this was annoying measuring 6 tablespoons... anyone know the equivalent in like 1/4 cups?)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cold water
Confectioners' sugar

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. using a spoon, make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour oil into one, vinegar into another and vanilla into the third. Slowly pour water over all. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined (batter will be thin).

2. Pour into a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Really Crispy Potatoes

(We watched this on America's Test Kitchen, and I didn't get the name of this recipe, so the name above is my description of the potatoes.)
2.5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Rosemary (I didn't have Rosemary, so I used parsley)
1 teaspoon corn starch
     Wash the potatoes.  (I peel mine but you can leave the peelings on.)  Cut into 1/8-inch slices.  Place into a large bowl of cold water to remove the starch.  Swish around with your hands, then drain the potatoes in a colander.  Dry the sliced potatoes really well by dumping some onto a clean kitchen towel and drying with another clean kitchen towel.  Let sit as you prepare the flavoring. (At this time I turned the oven to 450 degrees to heat it up.)
     To flavor the potatoes prepare the following in a bowl that will hold the potatoes.  (I just rinsed out the bowl that I had used and dried.)  Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, whisk in the salt, pepper, rosemary and corn starch.  Add the potatoes to the bowl and, using the best two tools in the kitchen--your hands--toss the potatoes with the butter mixture until well coated.
     Prepare the pan--they used a 10-inch non-stick frying pan that the handle could be put in a hot oven.  I used my castiron frying pan--the heavier one.  Put 1 tablespoon melted butter into the pan and coat all the sides and the bottom (you may have to use your fingers).  Arrange a layer of potatoes on the bottom (starting at the center and moving out to the edges), this is for appearance.  Then dump in the rest of the potatoes and move around and press down until it feels level.  Place the skillet on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium high, and cook about 5 minutes--just to sizzling.
     Place a square of sprayed aluminum foil over the potatoes, pressing it down.  Put a 10-inch round cake pan on the foil, and place pie weights in the cake pan.  (This is to weigh down the potatoes.)  Place in a 450 degree oven and bake 20 minutes.  Remove the cake pan and foil from off the potatoes, and continue baking another 20 minutes. 
     America's Test Kitchen, then removed the pan of potatoes from the oven and placed on the stove top and over medium heat, shook the frying pan until the potatoes loosened from the bottom of the pan--this only took a minute or two.  (This did not work with the castiron skillet.)  Invert the potatoes onto a serving platter, slice and serve.
     This potatoes are really crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  The taste is really good, too.  I can't wait until our Yukon Gold potatoes are ready.  We have just been using Russet, Burbank.  To do in a 12-inch Dutch Oven, we put aluminum foil in the bottom and sides; followed the directions above adjusting the potatoes and flavoring as needed for the number of potatotes we used, put 10 briquets on the bottom and loaded the top.  We put the sprayed foil over the potatoes, and weighted it down with a 10-inch Dutch Oven lid, baked 25 minutes.  Removed the 10-inch lid and foil and continued baking another 25 minutes.  The potatoes didn't get very crispy, but they were very delicious. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chicken and Guacamole Tostadas

This is a recipe I found online. I didn't take a picture of the completed meal--so this picture is from the recipe I found. I like to buy rotisserie chicken meat that has been cut off the bone and packaged at Costco. You can ask for it at the deli counter. We found this meal to be refreshing, super easy to prepare, and very yummy! It's perfect for summer because it doesn't involve any heat to prepare.

1 ripe peeled avocado
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato, divided
3 tablespoons minced fresh onion, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 (6-inch) corn tostada shells

1. Place avocado in a small bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons tomato, 1 tablespoon onion, 1 tablespoon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and garlic.
2. Combine remaining 1 cup tomato, 2 tablespoons onion, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and jalapeño; toss well.
3. Combine chicken, remaining 1 tablespoon juice, and paprika; toss well to combine. Spread about 1 tablespoon guacamole over each tostada shell; top each with 1/4 cup chicken mixture and about 2 tablespoons salsa.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Pioneer Woman's Restaurant-Style Salsa

This recipe will surely impress your family and friends, especially if you use cilantro growing in your garden!  It's good with chips, all Mexican food, scrambled eggs, as a side dish with ANY meal, etc.


  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice (I used a quart of home-canned tomatoes)
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Onion (from the garden, baby!)
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin (from the garden!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!) (again, from the garden!)
  • 1/2 whole Lime Juice

Preparation Instructions

Note: this is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor (I used my blender), or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like---I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Harriet's Potato Salad

I've always loved Harriet's potato salad and was thrilled when she included the recipe in the Wilson Family Cookbook.  I usually half the recipe for our small family, but the full recipe would be perfect to bring to a family reunion or party.

5-6 medium potatoes boiled or baked until tender
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 - 1/2 cup finely diced purple onion, to taste
1/2 cup minced dill pickles
1/4 cup minced sweet pickles
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-2 cups mayonnaise (NOT miracle whip)
1 tsp. yellow mustard

Peel and finely chop warm potatoes (they seem to soak up the flavors better when they're warm).  Add finely chopped eggs.  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.   The size of the potatoes will determine how much mayonnaise you use.  Refrigerate until chilled.

Rice Pilaf

We're having this for dinner tonight, with Catalina Chicken and Grilled Trout.

2 cups long-grain rice
4 T. butter
4 cups boiling water
2 T. chicken bouillon (or 6 cubes)
2 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup grated carrots
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Brown rice in melted butter on stove-top.  Place browned rice in 9x13 pan.  In sauce pan, boil water and bouillon.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice.  Pour carefully over rice and stir.  Cover pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Add veggies and nuts and fluff with fork.  Cover with foil again and continue to bake for about 20 more minutes.  Note:  I've also made this as a "skillet" dish, similar to the directions on a Rice-a-Roni package, with great results.

Crockpot Fajitas

Crockpot Fajitas
Serves 6 people
Recipe slightly adjusted from The Ultimate Bulk Buying Cookbook

1 1/2 lbs flank steak (or london broil), trimmed and cut into three pieces (the best price was at Winco for $2.98 per pound; Sam's Club was double the price, and Albertson's best sale price was $3.99/lb!)
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 cups salsa
salt and pepper
flour tortillas
toppings as desired:  shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Add oil to a saute pan over high heat.  Combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano.  Rub steak with the mixture.  Sear steaks in the hot pan until browned, and then let cool on a plate.  Once cooled, transfer steak to gallon-size ziploc bag, and add salsa.  Seal and freeze flat.  Place sliced onion and peppers in a quart-size ziploc bag and freeze flat. Place tortillas in a gallon-size ziploc bag and freeze flat.

Thaw steak completely.  Place in crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours.  Shred steak and leave shredded steak in sauce.

Use a small amount of oil or butter to stir-fry the onion and peppers.  If desired, mix onion and peppers with shredded steak and sauce.  Or, for picky eaters like mine, serve the stir-fried onion and peppers separately for individual assembly.

Wrap steak and peppers/onion in warm tortillas and top with your favorite toppings.  We like to serve this with a squeeze of lime juice.

Taco Seasoning

I was making Taco Soup and realized I didn't have a taco seasoning packet.  I found this recipe for taco seasoning on  It made the equivalent of one packet of seasoning.  And it tasted great!

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix spice together and store in an airtight container.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Summer Drinks

I love serving a fruity drink with summer dinners.  Here are two recipes we've enjoyed lately:

Virgin Watermelon Margaritas


  • 4 c. watermelon, chunks, seeds removed
  • 6 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 4 C. ice cubes
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges for garnish


Combine all ingredients except lime wedges, in a blender; puree until smooth. Divide among 4 glasses. Garnish with lime wedges. 

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 5-8 lemons) - I actually just used the lemon juice you can buy in a bottle
1 cup sugar
2 cups sliced, fresh strawberries
Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds to combine. Add the strawberries and puree or pulse until the strawberries are at the desired chunkiness. I liked the strawberries slightly chunky but my husband preferred it to be more smooth – blend to your own preference!
Pour the lemon/strawberry mixture into a pitcher and add 4 cups of cold water. Mix well and serve chilled.