Sunday, November 8, 2009

Carrot Cake

It had been a long time since I made this cake. How in the world could I forget just how good it is? BEST
carrot cake I've ever had!

(I also just realized this is the 3rd post for this cake--guess I really, really like it! :) )

Oreo Cookie Bars

A family in our ward brought these to us a while back and I immediately fell in love. They are basically just crushed up Oreos with homemade fudge. Who can argue with that combination?!

Oreo Cookie Bars
(thanks Rachelle!)

24-30 Oreo cookies (depending on desired crust thickness)

6 Tbs. butter, melted

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Set aside 6 cookies and grind the rest in a food processor or blender. In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and butter until well blended. Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt 1 cup chocolate chips together with the condensed milk and vanilla. Stir frequently until smooth. Spread evenly over the crumb crust. Sprinkle the remaining cup of chocolate chips over the top. Break remaining cookies into pieces by hand and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chill completely (up to 1-2 hours) before cutting into bars or it will make a big mess.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

Marc has been bugging me for 12 years (seriously) to make him pumpkin cookies. I never have, because I am not a huge fan. But my college roommate promised me these were good.

She was right! BOTH Marc and I were huge fans! Thanks, Angie.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken

(MS EveryDay Food, ???)

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
2 Tblspn. dry sherry
2 tsp. minced, peeled fresh ginger (I used about 1 1/2 tsp. dry ginger)
3 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
coarse salt
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 Tblspn. soy sauce
1 Tblspn. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tblspn. + 2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 c. unsalted cashews, toasted
2 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
cooked white rice, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with sherry, ginger and 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch; season with salt. Refrigerate 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 2 tsp. cornstarch; set sauce aside.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tblspn. oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add 1 tsp. oil to skillet and cook remaining chicken (reduce heat if chicken is over-browning). Transfer to plate.

3. To same skillet, add 1 tsp. oil, garlic, cashews, and scallion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic begins to soften, 30 seconds. Whisk sauce and add to skillet along with chicken. Cool until sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Top with scallion greens and serve with rice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cookie Friday

I made these cookies for "Cookie Friday" this month. The cookies were just OK (in my opinion)--so I'm not posting the recipe. However, my neighborhood cookie idea was shared on my college roommates blog, so I thought I would pass the link along:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Banana Boats

I ran across this blog posting today and decided to try these out for dessert tonight. Let me just say that the kids LOVED making them! Very fun, very easy, and very yummy. They would be the perfect dessert for camping, too--no measuring, no dishes, no clean-up (just roll up the foil and toss!).

Rather than try to re-explain this, I am just posting the link for the instructions/pictures:

My only improvement would be to go lighter on the chocolate chips, heavier on the marshmallows and cook for closer to 20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Coffee Cake

When we were living in Rochester, NY for business school, my good friend JoAnna and I would randomly make dinner for each other's families. She brought this cake one night and I fell in love. I have been making it ever since. Even Marc likes it--and that is saying a lot, since he really doesn't eat any dessert that isn't chocolate!
This can also be made for breakfast, brunch, a baby shower, etc.

Coffee Cake
(thanks JoAnna!)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding

2 eggs

3 Tblspn. vegetable oil

1 1/3 c. water

Mix all ingredients and pour ½ of batter into greased & floured 9-inch square cake pan.


½ c. flour

½ c. brown sugar

2 Tblspn. cinnamon

3 Tblspn. butter

Mix above ingredients and cut in butter to make a “crumble.”

Sprinkle first layer of batter with ½ crumble mixture.

Pour remaining cake batter on top of crumble and then top off with remaining crumble.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Drizzle with powdered sugar icing.

Coconut Chicken

The real name of this recipe is "Coconut Chicken Wings" but I can't bring myself to include the "wings" part--they seriously gross me out. As I said in a recent post, I only use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders. For this recipe I used tenders, and also substituted "cream of coconut" for coconut milk--since that is what I had on hand. The chicken came out almost candied (maybe due to the cream rather than milk)--it was really good, and my kids loved it!

Coconut Chicken
(Family Fun magazine, July 2009)

3 Tblspn. vegetable OR light olive oil
2 Tblspn. soy sauce
2 Tblspn. sugar
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 c. coconut milk
3 lbs. chicken wings (or tenders)
1 c. flaked coconut
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients, then whisk in the coconut milk. Reserve and refrigerate 1/2 cup of the mixture divided evenly in two containers.

2. Cut off the tips of the wings (reserve them for stock or discard), then halve the wings at the joint. Place them in the bowl and toss them with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.

3. Just before grilling the wings, toast the coconut in a medium-size skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Pour the flakes onto a plate and allow them to cool, then lightly crumble the flakes with your fingers and set them aside.

4. Prepare the grill for cooking and oil the grates. Grill the wings 8 to 10 minutes per side, turning once, or until the meat is no longer pink inside. Use one container of the reserved marinade to baste the meat at each turn.

5. As the wings finish cooking, warm the other container of reserved marinade in a small saucepan until heated through.

6. Transfer the cooked wings to a platter and coat them with the warmed marinade. Sprinkle the wings with the toasted coconut and serve them immediately. Serves 6 as a main dish or 12 as an appetizer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chicken & Bean Slaw Wraps

Sounds gross, looks gross, but tastes GREAT!

Chicken & Bean Slaw Wraps
(I have no idea--I've had the recipe for forever)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 1/2c. coleslaw mix with carrots
1 (15oz.) can spicy pinto beans OR Ranch Style beans OR whatever bean you like
1/3 c. Ranch dressing
1/2 c. green onions, chopped
flour tortillas
shredded cheese
BBQ sauce

Mix together cubed chicken, coleslaw mix, beans, Ranch dressing and onions.
Set aside (can be refrigerated and eaten cold, too)
Place tortillas on baking sheet and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Bake tortillas at 350 degrees for about 3-5 minutes.
Spoon chicken mixture onto hot tortilla, lightly drizzle with BBQ sauce, and roll up.

**If looking for a nicer presentation, you can roll up in parchment paper, twist ends, tie with raffia and then cut in half on diagonal**

Spinach and Bacon Frittata

Breakfast for of my most favorite things! :)

Spinach and Bacon Frittata
(MS EveryDay Food, Sept/Oct 2009?)

6 large eggs
1 c. ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
coarse salt and ground pepper
5 strips bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 red potatoes, boiled and quartered
fresh spinach

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Set aside.

2. In a medium, nonstick ovenproof skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, 6-7 minutes. Drain all but 1 tsp. fat from pan. Add potatoes and cook until warmed through, 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and toss until barely wilted, about 30 seconds.

3. Add egg mixture and stir until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until center is set, about 15 minutes.

Tomatillo Chicken & Classic Cornbread

I am back on the bandwagon...I think. I will try to play catch up today and post a few of the recent recipes we have tried this past week. I have pictures of most of them, but need to figure out how to download my new camera--so they are coming...a bit later.

Before posting this chicken recipe, let me just state the obvious. I don't like meat on the bone. No chicken, no steak, no ham, no pork, no nothin'! Therefore, I adapt many recipes to my good ol' boneless, skinless chicken breast/tenders--which is exactly what I did here--just substituted chicken tenders for the whole chicken. I also halved the recipe for my little family and then only used 1/2 a jalapeno so it wouldn't be so spicy for my kids.

Tomatillo Chicken
(MS EveryDay Food, Sept/Oct 2009?)

2 lbs. tomatillos (husks removed, washed & halved)
1 Tblspn. vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (3-4lbs), cut into 10 pieces (wings reserved for another use)
(or about 8-10 chicken tenders)
coarse salt and pepper
2 jalapenos, chopped
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (15oz) hominy, drained (optional)
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a food processor, puree tomatillos; set aside. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot, skin side down. Cook until browned on one side, 6 minutes. Transfer to plate.
(I still lightly browned my chicken tenders, too)

2. Add jalapenos and onion to pot and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatillo puree and hominy (if using). Season with salt and pepper. Nestle chicken, skin side up, in sauce. Cover pot simmer until chicken is cooked through, 22-25 minutes. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and pepper.

I think I must have a little bit of my dad in me. He loves to go for drives, discover new places (especially ones off the beaten path), appreciates history and isn't afraid to just get in the car and go. So a few Sunday's ago, that is exactly what I did. My family was not up for the "Sunday drive" adventure, so I went alone. Quite enjoyable, actually.

There is a street in town called "Anderson Mill Rd." It recently came to my attention that this road was actually named after a real mill--that still exists. It is only open one Sunday a month and is run by the local garden club. So I went to check it out. An interesting piece of local history, a great photo backdrop and very friendly seniors anxious to show me around. While there, I learned that the mill still grinds organic corn, donated by WholeFoods. The women swore it made the best cornbread--so I bought a bag and here is the recipe that was attached:

(thanks to the woman from the Anderson Mill Gardeners Club)

Beat together:
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tblspn. shortening
1 egg

In a separate bowl, mix together:
1 c. regular flour
1 c. cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda

Alternating with dry mixture, add:
1 c. buttermilk

Beat enough to mix well.
Grease 9 x 9 pan or muffin tins.
Bake @ 375 degrees until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fresh Apricot Pie

I am visiting family "up on the farm"--literally. My girls think they are in heaven feeding the horses, chickens and dogs every day. They also LOVE checking the garden each morning to see what is ready to pick. Aside from the countless zucchini, squash, tomatoes and berries they gather each morning, they also bring in a basket FULL of fresh apricots. My SIL's apricot tree literally has thousands of apricots on it--it is quite the sight to behold. I was excited to use them in a new recipe this week. I never, ever, make fruit pies because "if it's not chocolate, it's not dessert" (according to my husband) which means that I end up eating the whole thing by myself. But since we are here with lots of family around, this was the best time to make pie. I cheated and bought the frozen pie crusts and then just added the following filling:

Fresh Apricot Pie
(courtesy of )

4 cups sliced fresh apricots
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
Additional sugar

In a bowl, toss apricots, sugar, flour and nutmeg.
Sprinkle with lemon juice; mix well.
Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom crust; add filling.
Roll out remaining pastry to make a lattice crust. Place over filling; seal and flute edges.
Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Cover edges of pastry loosely with foil.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown.

Of course, this is great a la mode (but can also be eaten for breakfast, as my BIL can testify!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pineapple Pork Stir-Fry

When I was chatting with my neighbor a week or so ago, we were both complaining about being out of dinner ideas. But when I asked what she was cooking that night, she mentioned this recipe. This was a totally new dish for my family, so we were excited about it. It was easy, different than a traditional ol' chicken dish and yummy!

Pineapple Pork Stir-Fry
(thanks Cheri!)

1 can (20 oz.) Pineapple chunks
1/2 pound pork roast, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tblsp. vegetable oil
2 tblsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 small bunch (about 3/4 lb.) broccoli florets
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Drain pineapple, reserve 1/2 cup juice. In skillet or wok, stir fry pork with garlic, onion, and ginger in hot oil. Mix reserved juice, soy sauce and cornstarch. Stir into pork mixture. Top with pineapple, broccoli, and nuts. Cover; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender. Remove from heat and stir all together. Serve over rice.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lemon Lime Tartlets

My friend Chelsea sent me a link to this recipe just the other day. I usually just print things out and add it to my "to-try" box but this sounded so good at the time I made them right away. I had to laugh though--Chelsea thought it would be insulting to me for her to recommend a recipe that wasn't 100% from scratch. WHAT? Whatever Chels. I love easy, simple recipes that taste great--so thanks for sharing!
OH, one more thing...the recipe calls these "mini tartlets," but I would disagree. They are muffin sized, which was fine, but next time I make them, I am going to try them in mini-muffin tins--they would be awesome bite-size!

Mini Lemon Lime Tartlets
1 pkg. (16.5 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Refrigerated Sugar Cookie Bar Dough
1 can (14 oz.)
NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 pkg. (8 oz.) 1/3 less fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel) or regular cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups thawed fat free, reduced fat or regular frozen whipped topping
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
Additional lemon and lime quarter slices, peel curls or grated peel (optional)

Directions:PREHEAT oven to 325º F. Paper-line 24 muffin cups.
CUT dough along pre-scored lines; place one piece of cookie dough in each muffin cup.
BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cookies will be puffy. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
BEAT sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese in large mixer bowl until smooth. Gently fold in whipped topping. Divide mixture into two medium bowls. Stir lemon juice and lemon peel into one bowl and lime juice and lime peel into other bowl.
POUR about 3 tablespoons lemon cream cheese mixture over 12 cookie cups. Repeat with lime cream cheese mixture and remaining cookie cups.
(this step really confused me--I am not sure what they are trying to say, except to just put a scoop of the lime and a scoop of the lemon in each sugar cookie cup, which is what I did)Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Decorate with lemon and lime quarter slices, curls or peel, if desired. (or slice of strawberry or a raspberry)
TIPS:• Using low and reduced fat cream cheese and whipped topping helps to make these treats lower in fat.• Love lemon but not crazy about lime? Simply double the lemon juice and grated lemon peel in the recipe and leave out the lime, and make 24 lemon tartlets. Tartlets may be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Allow to thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Broccoli with Bleu Cheese

My sister emailed me this recipe a while back. We decided to try it out for our Father's Day dinner, since Marc is a huge bleu cheese fan. We ALL became fans after this recipe--we loved it!

Broccoli with Bleu Cheese
(thanks Rebecca!)

2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c. milk
3 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. crumbled bleu cheese
1 1/4 lb. fresh steamed broccoli

Melt butter in saucepan.
Stir in flour and heat until bubbly.
Slowly add milk and stir until mixture thickens.
Add cream cheese adn bleu cheese.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.
Pour over broccoli and serve.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

S'mores Cookies

Smores are such a traditional camping food. And summer is such a traditional time to go camping. But we live in TX and it is just too darn HOT and humid to camp in the summer. So this cookie recipe came in quite handy--it mimmicks the traditional smore without having to feel like you are in a tent sauna surrounded by singing cicadas!
I pulled this recipe out of this month's MS EveryDay Food. I can usually link to the actual recipe on her site, but for some reason can't find this one. Too bad, because I was hoping you could see her picture--I forgot to take one and they look neat. Oh well, just imagine a stacked cookie, then chocolate, then marshmallow toasted. YUM!

S'mores Cookies
(MS EveryDay Food, July 2009)

1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 c. all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 c. whole wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 large egg
8 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, but into 30 squares
(I used the snack-size Hershey bars and broke them in half)
15 large marshmallows, halved horizontally

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse oats until finely ground.
Add flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; pulse to combine.
In a large bowl, using and electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg, scraping down side of bowl.
With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture just until combined.
Drop by tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto two baking sheets.
Top each with a chocolate square.
Bake until just lightly golden, 11-13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
Remove sheets from oven; heat broiler.
Top each cookie with a marshmallow.
One sheet at a time, broil until marshmallows are lightly browned, 1-1 1/2 minutes.
Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Water Chestnut Appetizers

I was looking for an easy but yummy appetizer for Marc's birthday party last weekend. My college roommate, Courtney, offered this suggestion. It was a huge hit! Definitely the first thing gone and many requests for the recipe, so here it is!

Water Chestnuts & Bacon
(thank Court! )

1 5 oz can of WHOLE water chestnuts, drained
1/4 c. soy sauce
8 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise (good quality maple bacon like they have at Costco works well for this recipe)
1/4 c. sugar

Bake bacon in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Combine drained water chestnuts and soy sauce. Let stand for 30 minutes. Discard soy sauce. Roll chestnuts in sugar.
Wrap bacon around each chestnut. Put a toothpick through it to secure it in place.
Arrange in broiler rack.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.

Note: Do not use the fancy toothpicks with the foil stuff at the top. It burns and isn't so pretty. Trust me on this one.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Yesterday was one of those days when I called Marc at work and asked what he wanted for dinner. I honestly had no ideas, didn't feel like anything specific and just needed a little inspiration. This is what he asked for and we all loved it!

Spaghetti Carbonara
(thanks to

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.
Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add wine if desired; cook one more minute.
Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together. Add beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. Quickly add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste (remember that bacon and Parmesan are very salty).
Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan cheese at table.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Everything Salad

This is yet another salad recipe from my Rochester, NY recipe swap group. Still making it, 7 years later, and people are still asking for the recipe. Here it is!

Everything Salad
(thanks to Jessica Lee)

Salad greens (preferably spinach, or a “spring mix”)
Sliced mushrooms
Red onion
Feta Cheese
Blueberries (FRESH!)

½ red onion
2 c. sugar
4 tsp. Dry mustard
1 tsp. Salt
1 c. red wine vinegar

In Cuisinart, blend until frothy. Then slowly add 2 c. extra virgin olive oil.
(**Makes a LOT of dressing—you can store it for a while, or just cut the recipe in half)

Cafe Rio Pork Tacos

I have only eaten at Cafe Rio in Utah once or twice, so I am not the fanatic like others I know, and don't really know if this truly tastes like the real thing. Probably not--most knock-offs are a let down. But this recipe is still REALLY good--a favorite of mine--and it came with the name "Cafe Rio Pork," so I'll stick with it.

Cafe Rio Pork & Tomatillo Dressing
(thanks to Cami Arnold for passing this along during our online recipe swap!)

1-2 lb. pork loin
1 can tomato sauce
1 can green chiles
½ c. brown sugar

Put all 4 ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hrs.—just cook until pork can pull apart easily & shred.

**This can be adjusted depending on how much meat you need to cook or how sweet or spicy you like it.

**I love the small, individually wrapped pork loins you can get at Costco. They come individually wrapped and sold in sets of 3.

Serve in tortillas with cheese, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, avacado, pico de gallo, etc………….whatever you like, but make sure you don’t forget the tomatillo dressing—it is the key!!!

Tomatillo Dressing
1 Buttermilk ranch dressing packet (Hidden Valley recommended)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayo (do not use low fat or fat free)
2 tomatillos, husk removed and diced (usually sold near tomatoes- they are green)
½ bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of one lime
1 jalepeno – remove seeds- unless you like lots of spice (you could substitute a few drops of green tobasco)

Use a food processor to blend the ingredients well. Refrigerate for one to two hours before using.

**I halved the recipe and we still had more than enough, and also left out the jalepeno and/or tobasco because I didn’t’ have it, and it was still great and had enough kick.

Double Chocolate Brownies

A co-worker of mine brought these into work one night. I just about died. I LOVE brownies and these are some of the best I've tried. Maybe it's because I have gotten used to box brownie mix, I don't know, but these from-scratch brownies are amazing! They have a kind of crispy/flaky/sugary top and are super moist inside. DE-lish!

Double Chocolate Brownies
(thanks to Neal for sharing his mom's recipe!)
3/4 c. butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
(can substitute 12 Tblspn. cocoa powder + 1 tsp. margarine)
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 9 X 13 pan with nonstick foil, leaving overhang.
In a large glass bowl, heat butter and unsweetened chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes.
Stir until smooth, and let stand for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Whisk in sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla.
Stir in nuts and 1c. of the chocolate chips.
Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, until top is dry to the touch.
Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Lift brownies from pan with foil, cut and serve.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

I actually made these muffins for Easter--sorry it's taken me so long to post. Man, I am seriously slacking off. Thanks to Courtney for giving me a kick in the you-know-what and getting me going again. I have been in a serious rut--so much so, that I had to post on Facebook and ask for dinner ideas. Sad. Anyway, I made these muffins back at Easter. They were delish. They taste more like a scone---they are quite dense. After "dehydrating" my strawberries, I realized I could have skipped this very lengthy step and just used some of my food storage dehydrated strawberries! Next time...because there will be a next time!

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins
found the recipe online:

2 cups medium strawberries
3/4 cup ricotta
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
10 Tbsp. butter melted and cooled, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lime zest
2 cups flour
2 tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently wash,
hull, and cut strawberries into quarters. Place berries on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Bake until strawberries are partially dried, about 45 minutes. Let cool.
Increase oven to 400 degrees. Brush a 12-mold muffin tin with 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in remaining butter.
In a large bowl, use your fingertips to rub together sugar and lime zest until sugar is moist. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Use a spatula to gently but quickly fold ricotta mixture into dry ingredients. Don’t overwork it. The batter will be thick and heavy. Stir in strawberries and spoon batter evenly into muffin tins. Bake until tops of muffins are golden and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


A coworker of mine in Boise, ID brought her leftovers of this for lunch one day and gave me a bite. I loved it and asked for the recipe. She knew it off the top of her head and so I jotted it down on a papertowel--which I still have. Time to get it written somewhere a little safer...

(thanks to Sharon, at SLRMC in Boise, ID!)

1 large or 2 medium pieces of Round Steak
(**ask butcher to put meat through tenderizer about 4 times—it will be almost shredded!)

1 c. soy sauce
½ c. sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tblspn. sesame oil
1/3 c. vegetable oil
½ c. minced scallions
1/3 c. toasted sesame seeds

Marinate meat for about 1 ½ hours.
Barbeque (can BBQ on piece of foil, so meat doesn’t fall through grate).

Slice meat in thin strips, across the grain.
Serve over rice.

**I also cook and reduce the marinade to make a sauce to drizzle over meat & rice when serving.

**Serve with stir-fry vegetables for a complete meal.

Strawberry Chicken Salad

I have a few other versions of a strawberry salads that I love, but Marc actually liked this one because it wasn't as sweet as my others. This one has chicken and bleu cheese, making it a bit more "hearty"--it was really, really good!

Strawberry Chicken Salad
(Simple & Delicious, July/Aug 2007)

5 cups spring mix salad greens
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1-1/4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 medium kiwifruit, peeled and chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup poppy seed salad dressing

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.

Basil-Tomato Grilled Cheese

Just ready to try something new, so I pulled this one out of my file. It's kind of like a grilled bruschetta sandwich--yummy! I served it with the Strawberry Chicken Salad (to follow).

Basil-Tomato Grilled Cheese
(Simple & Delicious, July/Aug 2007)

8 slices Italian bread (3/4 inch thick)
8 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 large plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

On four slices of bread, layer cheese and tomatoes; sprinkle with the basil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Top with remaining bread.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder; brush over the outsides of each sandwich.
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sandwiches until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted.
Yield: 4 servings.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

I found a scrap of a magazine page with this recipe on it--don't know where it came from. These cookies reminded of the Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies that are so good--but these are even better because they are homemade!

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
(ripped out of a cookie brochure that came in the mail)

1 1/2 c. shortening
2 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 c. old-fashioned oats

3/4 c. shortening
3 c. powdered sugar
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
1-3 Tblspn. milk

1. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; add to creamed mixture. Stir in oats.

2. Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. (make sure you really keep them small because they really spread out) Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

3. For filling, in a mixing bowl, cream the first three ingredients. Add enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread filling on the bottom half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Penne Rustica

One of Marc's favorite dishes is Macaroni Grill's "Penne Rustica"--so when I asked him what he wanted for dinner the other night, that is what he said. Well, thanks to the internet, I found a recipe that tastes exactly like the restaurant's version. I omitted a few things simply because I didn't have them on hand, but otherwise, just followed this recipe (OH, but I only used 4 c. of cream instead of 8 and it was still PLENTY of sauce for 16oz. of pasta)

Penne Rustica

Gratinata sauce
2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons chopped
1 teaspoon
Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon chopped
1 cup
marsala wine
1/4 teaspoon
cayenne pepper
8 cups
heavy cream

For Gratinata Sauce:
Saute butter, garlic, and rosemary until garlic begins to brown. Add Marsala wine and reduce by one-third. Add remaining ingredients, reduce by half of the original volume. Set aside.

Penne Rustica
1 ounce
pancetta or bacon
shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 ounces grilled chicken breasts, sliced
16-24 ounces
penne pasta, cooked
3 teaspoons
chopped pimiento
6 ounces
1 teaspoon chopped
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 cup
parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon
6 sprigs
fresh rosemary

For Penne Rustica:
Saute pancetta until it begins to brown.
Add butter, shallots, and shrimp.
Cook until shrimp are evenly pink but still translucent.
Add chicken, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly.
Add gratinata sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
Simmer until sauce thickens.
In a large bowl, combine shrimp& chicken mixture with the cooked pasta.
Pour into a large casserole dish or roaster.
Top with remaining cheese, pimientos and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 475 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove and garnish with fresh rosemary sprig.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicken Marsala

Even though this doesn't measure up to The Cheesecake Factory's "Chicken Marsala" (honestly, what could ever come close to that? It is the BEST!)--this was still a great meal. I found the recipe on the back of the marsala wine bottle--thanks Holland House!

Chicken Marsala
(on the back of Holland House Marsala Cooking Wine)
Here is what I really did:

8-10 chicken tenders
flour, salt & pepper
2 Tblspn. butter
3/4 c. Holland House Marsala Cooking Wine
1/4 c. water
2 Tblspn. parsley
1/4 tsp. rosemary

Dredge chicken in a mixture of flour, salt & pepper.
Melt butter in large skillet and cook chicken, about 4 minutes on each side until cooked through.
Remove chicken to serving platter.
Stir in Marsala wine, water, parsley & rosemary.
Reduce by 1/3 and then add chicken back for a few minutes until heated thru.

I served this over angel hair pasta.
This recipe calls for 2 c. mushrooms (saute before the chicken, remove and then add them back into the sauce to heat thru before serving.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Betsy's Rolls

I am a serious carb-addict. The problem is, I can't make bread to save my life! I have tried all the "fool-proof" recipes that friends swear I can't mess up--but I do. Somehow, every bread/roll recipe turns into a solid brick of tasteless carbs. So frustrating! I have the electric wheat grinder, Bosch mixer, KitchenAid, you-name-it, but they don't help me make a decent loaf of bread. Honestly, I think it's the bread recipes where they give you a range of the amount of flour to use and I just don't know what consistency I am going for. I need to see it, feel it and have someone walk me through step by step. Well...I think I finally hit the jackpot! I wasn't able to see or feel it, but Courtney's step-by-step instructions for her mom's rolls has been the winning recipe for me. I am so excited! I made a whole batch this morning and took them to a potluck lunch with friends--they we gone. That's a big deal considering there were only 4 friends and about 36 rolls!

Betsy Cannon's Rolls
(thanks Courtney--these have changed my life! :))
OH, check out Courtney's blog here--it's great!

2 packets yeast
1 Tblspn sugar
Warm water to dissolve yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 butter or margarine, melted (I use butter) - the original recipe calls for oil
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
approx. 5-6 cups flour

Step 1:
Put yeast and sugar in a large plastic cup (I doubt the cup needs to be plastic this is just how she does it), cover with warm water and stir with a fork. Set aside.

Step 2:
Put milk in a glass container and microwave for 2 minutes or you can scald it on the stovetop in a small pan. After scalding the milk, put the stick of butter in the container of milk. This melts the butter while also bringing the temperature of the milk down so it won't cook the eggs. Set aside.

Step 3:
In a mixer, combine the sugar, eggs and salt.

Step 4:
Add the yeast mixture and the milk/butter mixture to the mixer and mix everything together.

Step 5:
Add the flour 2 cups at a time. Mix well after each addition. Once all the flour is added, mix for at least 4 or 5 minutes. When I asked my mom how much flour she used, her only directions were "it's more than the recipe says" (Louise says 4-5 cups, sifted). She makes these so often that she just knows when the dough is the right consistency. I'm not that good so I started at 4 cups and then added flour 1/4 cup at time until I decided that 5 3/4 cup is right for New Jersey. We don't sift either.
The dough should pull away from the side of the mixer. If you have too little flour, the rolls won't hold their shape. If you have too much flour, they are too dry. My mom instructed that if I added too much flour, I could add another egg.

Step 6:
Leave in mixer, cover and let raise for about an hour.

Step 7:
Run the mixer (I do this on the lowest setting) for a few revolutions. This is supposed to make the dough finer.

Step 8:
Roll out the dough on a floured surface. The first time I made these, I spread butter on the top of the dough. I was planning to make part of the dough into cinnamon rolls and got ahead of myself. I like the extra butter so I still do it that way. My mom does not (unless she is making cinnamon rolls).

Step 9:
Form rolls into desired shape. My mom usually does knots so I do too. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into strips (approx 3/4 inch wide) and then cut the strip into 3 or 4 smaller sections. Tie each piece in a knot and tuck the ends under the roll. Place formed rolls on a greased pan.

Step 10:
Let rolls raise another hour or so.

Step 11:
Bake at 350 degrees until light brown - maybe 10 minutes or so.

This recipe usually makes enough for two nights of rolls for our family as well as a batch of cinnamon rolls. After I form the rolls into knots, I will put enough for that's night meal on one greased pan and let them raise for dinner. For the rest, I grease a pan and put the rolls on a cookie sheet. I cover the cookie sheet with foil and freeze (don't let them raise for the second time before freezing). Once the rolls are frozen, I take them off the cookie sheets and put them in ziploc bags (laid out flat) in the freezer. I then just take out as many rolls as I need. The rolls need about 2-3 hours to thaw and raise after being frozen.
My mom typically doubles the recipe in her Bosch. I have the basic-sized Kitchen Aid and it's a bit small to double so I don't. When doubling, you don't need to double the yeast (my mom says Pam Craig who is a wonderful homemaker told her that). The original recipe calls for two packets of yeast (or 1 1/2 Tbsp) - my mom says she uses 2 Tbsp of yeast when she doubles.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza Crust

I am posting this more for my own sake--I need to keep it somewhere so I can find it again. Every year I make fruit pizzas for the teachers at Addison's elementary school. I'm not so good at sugar cookies--which is the crust--so every year I panic over what to do and how they'll turn out. My neighbor gave me this recipe and it worked PERFECT this year! So I need to remember it...

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza Crust
(thanks Cheri!)

2 1/2 c. butter
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
3 T. water
1 T. vanilla
8-10 c. flour
2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, water and vanilla.
Add the flour (using all 10 cups if mixing with a KitchenAid), baking powder and salt.
Roll dough between aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
At this point, you can cut out sugar cookies or use the rolled out dough to fit in 4 jellyroll pans (there is just enough).
Bake at 350 degrees.
14 min for thick sugar cookies
17 minutes for jellyroll pans

Cucumber Chicken Salad Sandwiches

A nice change from my standard turkey and cheese...

Cucumber Chicken Salad Sandwiches
(Light & Tasty)

1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dill weed

Combine ingredients, mix well and chill until ready to serve.

Great on thick slices of sourdough with a slice of provolone!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

In trying to figure out the name, these are my thoughts:
1. I thought of the phrase "everything but the kitchen sink"--but there really isn't that much stuff in these quesadillas
2. Maybe because you empty cans of stuff and drain them in the sink before preparing the quesadillas?
I seriously have no clue, but they were good and the Mexican side salad was a nice change (I added tomatoes and cucumbers).
I loved this because all the quesadillas were baked, not fried with butter, and they were all done at once!

Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
(Real Simple, January 2007)

1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained
1 11-ounce can corn kernels, drained
3/4 cup salsa, drained
1 8-count package large flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 to 2 limes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced 1 inch thick

Heat oven to 400° F.
In a medium bowl, combine the beans, corn, and salsa.
Place 4 tortillas on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle with half the cheese.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the black bean mixture on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and sandwich with the remaining tortillas.
Bake until the cheese has melted, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice, and oil.
Add the lettuce and toss.
Transfer the quesadillas to a cutting board. Cut each into 6 wedges.
Serve with the salad.