Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chocolate Crackle Cookies


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks butter)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 12 oz. package semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • Rolos (if you so choose)
  • Confectioners sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan combine brown sugar, butter and water. Heat on med until butter has melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and let stand at least 5 minutes. Beat eggs into the chocolate mixture. Gradually add in dry ingredients. Let the the dough stand for 10 minutes or until cool. Roll into 48 one-inch balls. Place 1 ball in each indentation of a mini-muffin pan. Bake 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately press an un-wrapped Rolos candy, top side down, into each cookie. When cooled, sprinkle with Confectioners sugar and carefully remove each cookie from the pan. Enjoy!
Variation: use mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups rather than Rolos

Layered Doritos Casserole

  • 1 (10 oz.) bag Doritos, Nacho Cheese flavor
  • 2 T. dried chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can beans of your choice (black, kidney, or pinto), drained
  • 1 package low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or Tex-Mex blend)
Optional toppings
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Olives
  • Sour Cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place salsa in a strainer to drain while preparing beef.
  2. Cook ground beef with onion and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat, if necessary. Add drained beans, taco seasoning, and water. Stir until thickened and remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine drained salsa, sour cream, soup, and 1 cup of cheese. Add in beef and stir well.
  4. Slightly crush Doritos (not completely, you don't want crumbs). Layer Doritos in the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish . Top with ½ of the beef mixture. Repeat layers. Finally top with an additional layer of Doritos and remaining cheese.
  5. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover casserole. Bake 30 minutes covered, remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and olives if desired.

Note: I used Valerie's Refried Beans Without the Refry (but not smashed) instead of canned beans. I also tripled the recipe and placed it in a huge foil pan from Sam's Club (one of those chafing dish pans). It will be perfect for our neighborhood party tonight!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Wild Rice Soup

This soup is sooo yummy! We've had it the way it is listed and it is delish, but today we made it without the half and half (cuz we didn't have any and forgot that ingredient) and substituted brown rice for the wild rice and it was still very good.

Courtesy of


  • One 1 1/2- to 2-pound butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and strings removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 quarts Chicken Stock or
  • canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 3/4 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (about 2 large fresh ears of corn)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  • Preheat the oven to 400?F.
  • Rub the cut sides of the squash halves with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet flesh side down and roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Let the squash cool until easy to handle, then scoop the flesh from the skin with a large spoon. PurÈe the butternut flesh with 2 cups of the stock in a food processor or blender.
  • Bring 4 cups of the stock and 1/2 cup of the chopped onions to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the wild rice. Return to the simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook just until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups onions, the corn, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 6 cups stock and the squash purÈe and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming any fat that rises to the surface.
  • Stir in the rice and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and parsley.
  • Serve hot ladled into bowls.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

J-Dawg's Homemade BBQ Sauce

J-Dawg's Homemade BBQ Sauce
J-Dawg's is a restaurant in Utah Valley (created by a BYU business student). Jesse has been there several times and likes their "dawgs." I found this recipe on the Internet, so Jaret made the sauce and served it on a bun with grilled Hillshire Farm Beef Smoked Sausage which he grilled on his George Foreman Grill. We learned that the sausage is too big for his grill, and we should have cut it in half (lengthwise). One package of sausage made 4 servings how we did it, but if we had cut it in half, it would have made 8 servings. This meal was served with corn on the cob and watermelon.

3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and heat until almost boiling. Remove from heat, cool, and serve on grilled hot dogs with good quality buns. If you add criss cross X's all down the dog before grilling, you have more surface area for the sauce.

We used dill pickles and banana peppers as condiments. The restaurant also offers jalapenos, sauerkraut, and yellow mustard. On request, they also have ketchup, celery salt, mayo, relish, and spice brown mustard.

Best-Ever BBQ Ribs

Best-Ever Barbecued Ribs
(We ALL agree with this title! The ribs really were the best-ever! It's the first time we've had baby back ribs at our house. I think you could easily substitute boneless spare ribs which are typically a lot less expensive than the baby back ribs. I think the DRY RUB is the key to making ribs "best-ever." I've never used a dry-rub before on the spare ribs we've cooked, but this recipe has changed my way of thinking about ribs!)

1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper

3 - 3 1/2 lbs well-trimmed pork baby back ribs, cut into 4-rib pieces

BBQ SAUCE of your choice (we used Sweet Baby Ray's), or:
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T. packed dark brown sugar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. soy sauce

Combine dry rub ingredients. Sprinkle over meaty sides of ribs and rub mixture into meat. Place ribs in crock pot. Cover; cook on LOW 7-8 hours or HIGH 3-4 hours or until ribs are tender.

Combine sauce ingredients, or use favorite BBQ sauce of your choice. Remove ribs from crock pot; discard cooking liquid. Coat ribs with sauce; return ribs to crock pot and cook on HIGH 30 minutes, or until ribs are glazed. We served the ribs with French fries and corn on the cob.

Chunky Chili

Chunky Chili
1 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained (we used a quart of tomatoes, blended)
2 can (15 oz each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup prepared salsa
2 T. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
Toppings: shredded cheese, diced onions, black olives

Cook and stir beef and onion in large skillet at medium-high heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat. Place beef mixture, tomatoes with juice, beans, salsa, and seasonings in crock pot; stir. Cover; cook on LOW 5-6 hours or until flavors are blended. Serve with toppings, if desired. We had this with scones made from Rhodes rolls.

Chinese Cashew Chicken

Chinese Cashew Chicken
1 can (16 oz) bean sprouts, drained (we used a package of fresh sprouts)
2 cups sliced cooked chicken (we used 2 cooked chicken breasts)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup sliced celery (we sliced diagonally)
1/2 cup chopped green onions with tops (we used 2 green onions)
1 can (4 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained (we used 6 fresh mushrooms, sliced)
3 T. butter
1 T. soy sauce
1 cup whole cashews (we used pieces because they're a lot less expensive)
Hot cooked rice

Combine bean sprouts, chicken, soup, celery, onions, mushrooms, butter and soy sauce in crock pot; mix well. Cover; cook on LOW 4-6 hours or on HIGH 2-3 hours. (Note: if using fresh sprouts and mushrooms, saute them in the butter before adding them to the crock pot.)

Serve over rice. Sprinkle each serving with desired amount of cashews.

Simple Shredded Pork Tacos

Simple Shredded Pork Tacos
2 lbs boneless pork roast
1 cup salsa (we used medium)
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Flour or corn tortillas
Toppings: sour cream, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, rice, beans, etc.

Place roast, salsa, chilies, garlic salt and pepper in crock pot. Cover; cook on LOW for 8 hours, or until meat is tender. (The roast we used was partially frozen, so Jaret cooked it on HIGH for about 7 hours before it was tender enough to shred.)

Shred pork roast in crock pot with 2 forks. Mix meat with any juice and chilies in crock pot. Serve on tortillas. Top as desired.

Creamy Peach Smoothie

In an effort to change my lifestyle and develop healthy habits, I created this smoothie recipe. Everyone loves it, and Kaysen even has the recipe memorized (it wasn't hard since there are only 3 ingredients!) so he can make an individual smoothie whenever he wants.

Creamy Fruit Smoothie
1/2 cup skim, 1%, or 2% milk
4 or 5 slices frozen peaches
1/2 fresh banana

Place all ingredients in blender. Mix until blended and thick. Makes 1 serving, 1 WW PointsPlus.

Variation 1: The banana adds the sweetness. If you don't have a banana, you can add a few teaspoons of granulated sugar or agave nectar. (This will add an additional PointsPlus.)

Variation 2: If you don't have an aversion to green drinks, add a small handful of washed baby spinach.

My Favorite Quick & Easy Breakfast

I love oatmeal! I never thought I'd say that, especially when I was younger. Maybe it's an acquired taste. Regardless, the important thing is I love it now, and it's a super healthy way to start my day! One of my goals is to reduce my cholesterol. Oats is one of the best foods to eat to help with that goal.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup water
1 tsp. agave or honey
1/4 cup skim, 1%, or 2% milk

Mix oats and water in microwaveable bowl. Cook on HIGH in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in agave or honey. Add a splash of milk. Enjoy! Makes 1 serving, 3 WW PointsPlus.

A note about agave: I'd heard a lot of hype about agave before finally giving it a try. Really, the only reason I purchased it was because I walked by it at Sam's Club, and it seemed to be a reasonable price. I bought Better Body Foods Organic Agave with fiber and calcium, and the package says:

  • it is a low glycemic sweetener
  • it saves calories versus sugar and honey
  • it is great for cooking and baking
  • it is raw & vegan.

I compared calories per tablespoon:

  • agave = 32
  • honey = 60
  • granulated sugar = 48 calories

In my opinion, the important thing is whether or not it tastes good. I'm happy to say that I like it! But I also like honey, and I have a lot of that in our food storage. I'll continue to use both honey and agave.

Sticky Finger Salad

This main dish makes everyone in my family happy. Kaysen is happy because he gets to have chicken fingers for dinner. I'm happy because the main dish is a salad and has lots of vegetables. And Jesse is happy because it's delicious food, and he gets to eat it all!

Amazing Sticky Finger Sauce
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 T. Frank's Hot Sauce
1 1/2 T. corn syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for about 1 minute. Cool. Leftovers will keep in refrigerator. Makes approximately 1 cup; 16 servings; 1 serving = 1 T. = 2 WW PointsPlus.

Sticky Finger Salad
Classic romaine salad
baked and chopped chicken tenders of your choice
shredded cheese
grape tomatoes
thinly sliced red onions
optional add-ins: craisins, chopped apples tossed in lemon juice, brown-sugared chopped pecans

Layer the salad ingredients on individual plates; drizzle salad with Amazing Sticky Finger Sauce and Ranch salad dressing.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Funfetti Cupcakes

Funfetti Cupcakes

I was looking for a way to jazz up Funfetti cupcakes.  Of course, making them from scratch already helps--but I wanted more pizzazz.  So I came up with the idea to add a cherry marshmallow filling to the center and to top them with cherry ganache before swirling on the buttercream.  Success!  A truly festive cupcake celebration with an explosion of flavor!

The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake (Baked by 50 Bakers and Counting)
Yield: 16 cupcakes Ingredients

• 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
• 1 vanilla bean
• 1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour, not self-rising
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• 1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream (room temperature)
• 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml—55 grams)
• 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
• 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk (room temperature)
• About ½ cup confetti sprinkle quins, assorted colors (may use assorted shapes as well)—plus more for topping Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
5. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
6. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
7. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
8. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.) For confetti cupcakes, add quins to batter.
9. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full. Sprinkle each cupcake with additional quins.
10. Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
11. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool.

Cherry Marshmallow Filling

• 2 cups marshmallow creme
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• Cherry candy flavoring
• Pink gel food color

To make the filling, combine the marshmallow creme and butter in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar and salt and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes more. Blend in a few drops of candy flavoring and gel food color. Transfer the majority of the filling mixture to a disposable pastry bag. (You will cut the tip off the bag just before filling the cupcakes.)

Cherry Ganache

336 gm white chocolate, chopped
112 gm heavy whipping cream
Few drops cherry candy flavoring
Pink gel food color

In stainless steel bowl, combine ingredients. Heat over hot water bath until white chocolate has completely melted, stirring frequently. Let cool until consistency is correct for topping cupcakes.

For frosting, use either the Whipped Vanilla Frosting (from Sweetapolita) or the Swiss Style Meringue Buttercream (from Woodland Bakery). Both are delicious. The whipped vanilla frosting is by far the faster one to make.  For the pictured batch I used Swiss Meringue Frosting, but the first time I made these cupcakes I used whipped vanilla frosting.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting
Yield: enough for about 36 cupcakes


1 lb + 4 ounces (575 grams) unsalted butter, softened & cut into cubes
1 lb + 5 ounces (600 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
70 mL (4 ½ tablespoons) milk
1 ½ tablespoons (23 mL) vanilla
Pinch or two of salt
Sprinkles as desired (for decorating)

Method: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (4 on KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low-speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. If you want all of your frosting the same color, add a drop of gel color and mix gain, adding one drop at a time until desired shade is achieved. Top cupcakes with a swirl of frosting and sprinkle with confetti quins.

Swiss Style Meringue Buttercream
Yield 6 cups (Recipe from Woodland Bakery) (enough to ice 30 cupcakes, or fill and ice 1- 8″cake)
**Yield may differ in results from person to person due to the volume of the meringue, whether you weighed your ingredients or use volume measure, so this yield is approximate

Fresh Large Egg Whites 180g (6Lg)
White Sugar 300g (1 1/2 cups)
Confectioners Sugar 240g(2cups) (sifted—even though it is an extra step, it really is necessary)
**Shortening 170g (3/4 cup) (I definitely recommend High Ratio Shortening—such as Sweetex. Crisco just doesn't work the same.)
Unsalted Butter 454g (2cups)
Vanilla Extract 1T


Over a double boiler, in a large metal bowl whisk together the granulated sugar and the egg whites stirring constantly until the mixture reaches approximately 115 degrees F and the sugar grains have dissolved and are no longer gritty to the touch. Pour this mixture into the metal bowl of your Kitchen Aid Mixer with the WHISK attachment and whip on high speed until it is thick, glossy and white in color. The peaks should be as firm as firm can be. In the meantime you can sift your confectioners sugar, and once you have achieved STIFF peaks meringue, add the confectioners sugar all at once with the mixer on very low speed to avoid having a snow shower of sugar all over your kitchen! Once all of the sugar has been incorporated you can turn the mixer speed to med-high until it is all nicely mixed in. Be sure your butter and shortening are at room temperature and they are the same consistency. Add it in about 2-3 additions, but FAST Additions. 1-2-3 fast fast! To add colors to this buttercream, I recommend using Gel Paste Colors like Americolor or Chefmaster or an oil based color is great too, since this is a high fat recipe. The gel paste color should be added at the end after you have achieved Buttercream Greatness!! After you get to the point of done, you will then switch to paddle attachment and add color. You may color the whole batch, or divide it up and color smaller portions at a time. Gel paste colors are the best since a little goes a long way and they do not add extra liquid to the recipe like food colors do. Turn the speed up to high and let it mix smooth. Add the vanilla extract at the end, and you are DONE! Best Buttercream EVER! ***THIS RECIPE CAN BE STORED 4 days room temp, 2 weeks fridge, 2 months freezer **its fine to store it in the fridge/freeze, but just know that you will now have to bring it back to room temperature before re using. Take it out HOURS before you need it, and let it get to room temp, then you will put it back on the mixer and with the PADDLE attachment on low- medium and let it mix, it will look as if it is BROKEN, and curdled, don’t be alarmed this is NATURAL, it will come back together eventually, you can turn the speed up to med-high and it will mix out smooth.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

This recipe is from my friend, Carisa Smith. Imagine a no-bake cookie and a peanut butter cup collided and this is what you get. It's like a peanut butter flavored no-bake cookie, in bar form, with chocolate on top. Super yum!

½ cup butter
½ cup milk
¼ tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
1 and ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp peanut butter
optional peanut M&Ms

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove and add the sugar, salt and milk. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for
a minute on medium heat.
2. Remove from heat and immediately add 1 cup peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until all the peanut butter is melted
and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
3. Add oatmeal and continue stirring until it is mixed well.
4. Grease a 9X13 pan lightly and spread the mixture into the pan until it is even.
5. In a microwave safe bowl, place chocolate chips and 2 tbsp peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.
Repeat until the mixture is melted and creamy. Spread over the top of the oatmeal mixture until it is perfectly
6. Sprinkle crushed Peanut M&M's over the top. The color of your choice!!

Recipe by Messes to Memories at