Thursday, December 18, 2014

sparkly sugared cranberries

This photo doesn't do these sparkly sugared cranberries justice.  That's because I didn't want to make a scene photographing these at my friend Julie's party.  She hosted an amazing party in her amazingly decorated home.  Every square inch of her home screamed Christmas and in a beautiful way.  Our friend Nicole brought these and they are so pretty.  The perfect addition to any holiday party.  And delicious too!
P.S.  Don't feel bad if you weren't invited to the party.  There were two qualifications: Your spouse had to work with our husbands and have a church connection.

sparkly sugared cranberries (Nicole W. got the recipe from Our Best Bites)
12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
additional sugar for rolling
note: You can use regular granulated sugar for this recipe but Best Bites suggests first rolling in a slightly course sugar then rolling in regular granulated sugar that has been pulsed several times in a food processor to create a slightly finer sugar.

Wash cranberries and discard any damaged ones.  Place in a bowl.  Combine sugar and water in a pot and heat until simmering.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool for a few minutes until warm (not hot).  Pour over cranberries and let sit in fridge, covered, overnight.
Use a slotted spoon to remove berries from syrup.  Set berries on a cooling rack that is placed over foil to collect drips.  Spread berries out so they are not touching each other.  Let dry for 1 hour.  Roll berries a handful at a time in sugar.  Place sugared berries on a baking sheet and let dry for an hour or two.  Store in a container at room temperature.  Try not to stack them too deep if possible.

Friday, December 12, 2014

tomato basil swiss quiche

I made an enormous quantity of this quiche for tomorrow's ward Christmas brunch.  I made this recipe EIGHT times!  And there are others making just as much as I did.  My friend Lindsey made it easy- she delivered all the ingredients along with the recipe.  I can tell you one thing- this recipe is going to be to-die-for.  I just know it.  One of my favorite salad recipes came from Lindsey- Rockey Mountain Salad.  Look it up on this blog.  You'll love it.

tomato basil swiss quiche (my friend Lindsey M.)
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
4 teaspoons dried basil

Mix above ingredients well then stir in carefully:
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
1 cup chopped tomato

Pour into greased glass pie dish or 9x9 pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until set.  Sprinkle with Swiss cheese and serve hot.

What I have to say- If you want to make it eight times, simply 4x the recipe twice and bake in really large pans- they looked like double 9x13 although I didn't measure them. You can mix everything up the day before and bake the next morning.  If baking a larger quantity, bake 45-50 minutes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

eggnog fudge

I've made all kinds of fudge- chocolate, rocky road, peanut butter, pumpkin but I hadn't heard of eggnog fudge until my friend Rachel mentioned she had made it.  I knew I was in for a real treat with this one.  I can't wait until my husband tries it- he loves eggnog.  Terrific recipe.

eggnog fudge (Brown Eyed Baker)
2 cups  granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup eggnog
pinch of salt
12 ounces white chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus more for dusting the top of the fudge
7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon rum extract

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and let it hang over the side.  Spray lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, eggnog and salt over medium heat.  Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling 8 to 10 minutes, until a candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat.
Using a wooden spoon, work quickly to stir in white chocolate chips and nutmeg until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in marshmallow creme and rum extract.  Beat until well blended and then pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle a little ground nutmeg on top.  Let stand at room temperature until cooled, then refrigerate overnight until firm.
When completely cool, cut into squares.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator or better yet share with all your friends!

Friday, December 5, 2014

homemade snowglobes

Obviously you wouldn't want to eat these but my kids loved making them using old chicken bouillon jars that I'd been saving all year for this project and a few other items that are easy to find.  We made six snowglobes with the amount of glycerin you see above.

homemade snowglobes
a jar you'd like to recycle
figurines- easy to find at the dollar store!
1-2 teaspoons glycerine (found in the cake decorating part of the craft store)
a couple teaspoons glitter
hot glue

Glue your figurines into the bottom of a lid that tightly fits onto the coordinating jar, making sure to leave plenty of room for the jar to be screwed onto the lid.   While that cools, pour 1-2 teaspoons glycerine into the jar.  Add water until the jar is 1/4" from full.  Add glitter, as much as you'd like!  Screw the lid onto the jar as tightly as possible.  Shake and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

lighter chicken cajun pasta with bacon

My family went CRAZY over this meal.  Hall of Fame!  This is the kind of meal I love but I am not a teenager anymore so I can't get away with it very often.  I made guilt-free so I don't feel guilty.  Quite the contrary- I feel fantastic!!

lighter chicken cajun pasta with bacon (pass the peas, please)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts freshly grilled then sliced (seasoned with Pappy's)
1 bottle light alfredo sauce (I use Classico)
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon real bacon bits
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
hot, cooked pasta (I cook whole wheat for myself and tri-colored for the rest of the fam)

Pour sauce into a pan (I used a wok- I use mine for almost everything!), add everything listed except pasta.  Warm until nice and bubbly.  You might want to thin it down with a little milk.  Serve over hot, cooked pasta.  Serve with a salad or seamed veggies.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

i am blessed, grateful and thankful

The other day I stopped by my friend Shonda's house and she gave me these beautiful kitchen utensils that express exactly how I feel.  I am very blessed, very grateful and very thankful for endless reasons.  I saw these utensils online a while back and wanted them but I hadn't ever attempted such a project.  THANK goodness I am so BLESSED to have such talented friends.
I re-found this great craft idea HERE.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

slow cooker latin chicken

That's how dinner tonight looked before cooking and after cooking.  This dish was delicious!!  I will write the recipe according to the way it should be prepared but at the end I will show you how I made it healthier and with frozen chicken instead of thawed.

slow cooker latin chicken (
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 (15.5 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 cup hot salsa
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (I omitted because I am sometimes uncertain about this spice)
3 cloves garlic, minced
lime wedges for serving
sour cream for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet; season the thighs with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro over the chicken thighs; brown both sides of the chicken.
Arrange the chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Place the sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, and black beans on top of the chicken.  Mix together the chicken broth, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, salsa, cumin, allspice and garlic together in a bowl; pour into the slow cooker.  Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 4 hours.  Garnish with lime wedges and top with sour cream.

I'm not in my twenties or thirties anymore so no chicken thighs for me!  I put frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker and followed the rest of the directions except I cooked it on HIGH for 5 hours.  At the end I took some of the broth out and thickened it with some cornstarch to make a gravy and poured it over the top.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

apple & gumdrop turkey

My kids had a play date yesterday afternoon so we made these fun apple turkeys.  I considered using all fruit but what's the fun in that?!

apple & gumdrop turkeys
to make one:
1 apple
6 toothpicks
15 gumdrops
1 sugar gummy orange slice

Just look at the picture and take a stab at it. ;) 


Monday, November 17, 2014

triple layer chocolate mint brownies

My double layer mint brownies have gotten a lot of attention (with good reason).  Well today I did something I've never done before.  I think I took them up a notch by turning them into TRIPLE layer chocolate mint brownies!  I served them at a primary meeting this morning and they were very well received.  It was even suggested that they might be even better than the double layer mint brownies.  Could it be?!  Let me know what you think.
Update: my kids think these are BETTER than my double layer brownies.  My husband enjoyed them but thinks the others might be more "balanced"- these are rich!!

triple layer chocolate mint brownies (pass the peas please)
1 box family size brownies, baked according to directions on package
1/2 can chocolate frosting
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bake brownies according to directions on package.  Let cool.
Mix the chocolate frosting with the peppermint extract and spread over brownies.
In a small saucepan, heat butter on low heat, stirring constantly.  When melted stir in chocolate chips and stir until smooth.  Pour over brownies and spread evenly over the top.  Let chocolate set then cut into small pieces- they are rich!

super duper giant cupcake

If you haven't made a giant cupcake, you should- it's fun!  The last time I borrowed this Wilton cupcake pan (go here to buy one) I borrowed it from my friend Julie when we both lived in Pennsylvania for my daughter's first birthday.  Six years later I borrowed the same pan from the same friend for the same daughter only now we both live in the same town in Oregon.  Crazy.  This is what the cupcake looks undecorated.  You can use your imagination to envision what it looked like when my daughter was done with it- iced in chocolate with candy star sprinkles.

giant cupcake (cupcake pan by Wilton)
All you need is some non-stick cooking spray to spray down the pan.  Mix up two boxes of cake mix according to the package directions and pour the cake batter into the pan.  Bake, let cool and ice.  Piece of cake.

butterscotch sticky buns

Instant family favorite!  My family LOVED these little goodies.  We hold our FHEs on Sunday evenings- I prepared the lesson (to see a great new twist on the "grateful list" go HERE) and my son prepared the treat- butterscotch sticky buns.  They're super easy to make and they were devoured in no time.   This would be the perfect thing to pop in the oven on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. Thanks to an old friend from Hershey for the recipe!

butterscotch sticky buns (my friend Linsy at Recipe Picnic
15 frozen Rhodes rolls, cut in half (you may need to let them thaw a half hour before cutting)
1 small box cook and serve butterscotch pudding
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
cinnamon to sprinkle 
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional (we opted not)

Spray bundt pan with cooking spray; cover bottom with nuts.  Place rolls around the pan.  Sprinkle with butterscotch pudding powder.  Combine butter, milk and brown sugar and pour over rolls and butterscotch.  Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Let rise overnight (or see below).  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Another baking option:  If you don't have all night to wait (I didn't read the entire recipe beforehand-oops!) then give the frozen rolls about a half hour to soften then cut them in half and place them into the bundt pan.  Follow all directions except do not bake yet.  Let the rolls sit for 2 hours while the rolls thaw and rise before baking.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

chipotle pork with tomato onion relish

This dish was outstanding!  The flavors were "just right" and there certainly wasn't a lack of flavor- it was bursting!  We'll enjoy this dish again for sure. 
Note:  This dish is a good one to serve company.

chipotle pork with tomato onion relish (adapted from Your Home Based Mom
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup olive oil (I omitted to make it healthier.  Next time I might use 2 tablespoons.)
4 bone-in pork loin center cut pork chops (I used boneless and suggest it!)

Combine chiles, sauce, garlic, cumin, thyme, cinnamon and 4 teaspoons salt in a food processor and pulse to make a paste.  Place mixture in a bowl and add onions, tomatoes, cilantro and 1/3 cup olive oil.  Add pork chops and marinade into a zippered plastic bag and let refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  When ready to cook, remove pork chops and put the "relish" into a saucepan with 1/4 cup water.  Cook over medium high heat until onions are soft, about 10 minutes or so.  Grill pork chops about 8-10 minutes per side.  Top with tomato onion relish and serve.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

pirate party

We enjoy parties and it was time for a pirate party- AArrgg!  The cake was almost too simple to make and since this party was for kids I used a box cake mix and two tubs of blue raspberry icing (I'd say yuck! but the kids loved it so it was a good move).  My son crushed up some graham crackers for an island and loved placing the sharks in the water ever so meticulously.  It was a busy day so last minute I had the idea to make the apple sailboats with salami sails.  We threw in a tattoo parlor, pin-the-eyepatch-on-the pirate a treasure hunt and some pirate t-shirts and called it a day!

italian chicken stew

It's soup season and this is a good one especially with a lot of sourdough bread for dipping! (I modified this recipe to be a crock pot recipe- who has 50 minutes to prepare dinner around dinner hour?!  Not me.)

italian chicken stew (Food Network, specifically Giada De Laurentis)
 3 frozen chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
salt and freshly black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can chopped tomatoes (I used pureed, my kids don't like chunks)
14 ounces chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (we omitted)

Place frozen chicken breasts in a large crock pot and turn the crock pot onto HIGH.  Add everything else and cook for 5-6 hours until you can shred the chicken right in the crock pot.  Serve with crusty bread.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

tangy slow cooker pork roast

I had two pork roasts in the fridge and wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do with them.  I was out of liquid smoke so knew I'd better come up with another alternative.  That's when I found this recipe.  It's great!  I drizzled a little soy sauce over mine but the others drizzled teriyaki on theirs.  Either way, served over some brown jasmine rice and steamed carrots on the side- you're all set!

tangy slow cooker pork roast (
1 large onion, sliced
2.5 pounds pork roast
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic

Place sliced onion on the bottom of your slow cooker.  Place the pork roast on top.  Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour on top of the pork roast.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve over jasmine or basmati rice with soy sauce and/or teriyaki sauce.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

oatmeal coconut cookies

My new visiting teacher delivered some delicious cookies to us one evening (how's that for a good first impression?!) and my kids were delighted to sample them for breakfast with a tall glass of milk.  Here's the recipe!

oatmeal coconut cookies (my visiting teacher Laura Lee)
2 cups butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Add flour, salt and baking soda mixing well.  Mix in rolled oats and coconut.  Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 325 degrees about 10 to 15 minutes.  This recipe is for soft and chewy cookies.  Do not over-bake.   Makes approx. 4-5 dozen.

Friday, August 8, 2014

baked salmon patties

I've been going strong eating like a saint for over a month.  I indulged for lunch by having a couple of these baked salmon patties with some petite peas, apple slices and a glass of milk.  These were great- crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle.  I'll make these again for sure.

baked salmon patties (Fill Up To Slim Down by Edward B. Diethrich, M.D., and Jyl Steinback)
2 (6 ounce) cans salmon, drained
1 cup corn flake crumbs, divided (I used low fat Triscuits, broken up)
1 tablespoon nonfat sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard
3/4 teaspoons garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Combine the salmon, 1/4 cup corn flake crumbs, sour cream, lemon juice, egg whites, onion powder and mustard in a medium bowl; mix until the ingredients are blended.  Shape into 4 patties.  Combine the remaining 3/4 cup of crumbs and garlic powder in a zip-lock bag; shake until mixed.  Place the crumbs on a plate.  Place one salmon patty on top of the crumbs and flip over to coat both sides.  Place breaded patties on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and crisp.

226 calories, 5g fat, 18g carbs, 24g protein
exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch

ninjabread cookie cutters

Have you seen these?  We got them for my husband for Christmas but it's taken us a while to get around to baking with them- Ninjabread cookie cutters!  You can find them HERE.  Instead of baking with gingerbread I went with our favorite sugar cookie recipe which you can find here.  We're going to surprise my husband with a little Ninja party.

ninjabread cookies (
Mix up your favorite sugar cookie recipe and use these cutters to create ninjas!  Then frost and ice with details.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

store bought favorite: rojo's tomatillo avocado salsa

This photo demonstrates how much I love this salsa.  The serving size is 2 tablespoons but I use at least 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup every time.  I'm not cooking as much for myself lately because I've had to simplify.  My body wants to gain weight but I will not let it (that's what happens when you leave your thirties) so I've been sticking to the basics of grilled chicken, shredded chicken, whole grain tortillas, whole grain pasta and fresh fruits and veggies.  REALLY simple.  What makes it okay (I LOVE TO EAT, DANG IT!) is the delicious sauces I put with my chicken because the intense flavors satisfy me- not necessarily the food or the quantity.  I was born a lover of rich foods but am learning to enjoy the simple flavors of real food.

store bought favorite:  rojo's tomatillo avocado salsa (purchased at Costco)
made from all-natural ingredients- roasted tomatillos, avocado, garlic and cilantro
great cooking sauce for beef, pork, chicken or chile verde

Thursday, July 24, 2014

store bought favorites: trader joe's whole wheat pizza crust and pizza sauce

After trying a different store's pizza crust last week I am convinced that Trader Joe's is the best.  It rolled out better.  It cooked better.  It tasted better!  The pizza sauce was equally delicious.  Whereas we normally have leftovers in the fridge there weren't any tonight!  In fact my daughter just said her tummy hurts from eating too much.

trader joe's whole wheat pizza crust & trader joe's pizza sauce
We rolled our crust onto a greased baking tray then topped it with sauce, mozzarella, grilled Walla Walla onions (my husband grilled them and wow are they delicious), ham and salami.  It was super, super delicious.

coconut watermelon refresher

I had plenty of watermelon in the fridge and a can of coconut milk and a great memory.  I remembered a great drink I tried while living in Hawaii many moons ago.  This is a simplified version but you can add coconut and pineapple if you wish.  I thought this was just perfect.

coconut watermelon refresher (a quick search and I found Global Table Adventure although I didn't really follow the recipe)
light coconut milk
ice cubes

Fill a blender with cubed watermelon.  Pour in half a can of light coconut milk.  Blend until you get the consistency you want.  Pour ice cubes into a goblet followed by your coconut watermelon refresher and add a straw!  Swirl the drink around with the straw to get it nice and cold.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

store bought favorite: harissa simmer sauce

Dinner tonight was very worthwhile.  This sauce is very tasty and I'm not sure I waited so long to try it- it has been in my pantry for months.  I did not use  lamb as the recipe called for but chicken breasts with peppers, radishes and carrots.  I served it with naan bread and everyone wished there had been more sauce so next time I will prepare two envelopes.  Simple, delicious meal.

store bought favorite: harissa simmer sauce (World Cuisine Saffron Road)
This is an authentic moroccan recipe with all natural ingredients, verified non GMO, certified gluten-free, vegan and no MSG.
Ingredients: water, roasted red pepper puree, tomato paste, red bell pepper, pear juice concentrate, non-gmo native corn starch, lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, spices, onion, garlic.

Saute cubed chicken in two tablespoons oil until browned.  Add veggies until just cooked through.  Add sauce.  Stir gently and simmer until sauce just begins to bubble.

What I have to say- I really have to watch what I eat these days since I am leaving my thirties.  My metabolism just doesn't want to be as quick.  I've been eating a lot of "real" food but I have been missing my sauce!!  I love sauce!  This sauce is fat-free and has 1 gram of sugar- something else I watch closely.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes

Look no further.  These pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes are so moist and delicious you won't need another recipe.  My sister-in-law served these at our family reunion and I'm pretty sure she developed the recipe.  My son asked for the largest pancake on the plate and ate every last bite.  Nobody had a hard time cleaning their plate.  This recipe is a keeper.

nicole's chocolate chip pancakes
3 cups bisquick
3 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic 7 Grain Pancake & Waffle, Whole Grain Mix
1/2 to 2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 cups milk
1/3 cup oil
1 large can pumpkin
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Mix until blended.  Pour by slightly less than 1/4 cupfuls onto hot greased griddle.  Cook until edges are dry.  Turn; cook until golden.  For thinner pancakes stir in additional milk.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

melissa's berry peach cobbler

My family recently went to a reunion in Colorado.  One of the highlights was getting to stop and see my friend Melissa and her family on the way.  We were blessed to get to know them when we were living in what Melissa calls "the armpit of America" which is funny because she's from there.  We got to go to church with them then went to their home for "lunch".  What it really was was a huge feast- grilled steak & shrimp, grilled keilbasa, burgers and hot dogs, grilled zucchini & summer squash, grilled asparagus, grilled corn, watermelon, cherries,berry peach cobbler and homemade ice cream.  I'm not so sure Ryan left anything at the store when he shopped for our lunch.  Everything was amazing but what was even better than the food was seeing our dear friends.  I miss them so much!
I didn't try the cobbler because I don't eat sugar but my husband said it was amazing.  We'd never seen bread torn then placed in a cobbler but the topping that was spread onto the bread magically turned it into a pastry.
P.S.  That was my first visit to Colorado.  I love it there- what a gorgeous, clean state.  I'd move there in a heartbeat. :)

melissa's berry peach cobbler (my friend Melissa in Colorado)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour, heaping
1 egg
1 stick butter, softened
6 slices white bread
fresh peaches and berries

Slice peaches and place in a bottom of a 9X9 baking pan.  Fill 1/3 to 1/2 off the pan with peaches and fresh berries.  Sprinkle peaches lightly with sugar.  Cut crusts off bread and cut each slice into thirds (long-way).  Place bread slices on top of peaches.  Mix remaining ingredients well and pour batter on top of bread.  Spread.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with ice cream.

What I have to say- Melissa doubled the recipe and made a 9x13.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ice cream cone cupcakes

Today is my ward's first primary picnic of the summer and I put myself in charge of treats.  I showed the primary children all the ingredients for these treats on Sunday hoping to peak their curiosity so they'd come find out exactly what you can do with cake mix, ice cream cones, powdered sugar and sprinkles.  We have a terrific primary and I can't wait for the picnic!

ice cream cone cupcakes (the frugal girls)
1 box white cake mix, batter prepared as directed on the box
1 box ice cream cones (package of 24)

Prepare cake mix batter according to package directions.  Place ice cream cones in a 9x13 pan (you may need more than one).  Fill cones 2/3 of the way full.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until they are cooked through.  Let cool.  If cake rises and bakes over the top of the cone, use a knife to level the cake so it is level with the cone.  Use a 1M Wilton tip to pipe the icing onto each cupcake cone.  Top with sprinkles!

1 big bag powdered sugar
1 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
red, white and blue sprinkles

In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, Crisco, extracts and enough water to get the consistency of icing you desire.  (I probably used 1/2 cup of water or more but definitely start out with 1/4 cup and gradually add more.)


Monday, June 16, 2014

store bought favorites: naan bread pesto pizzas

Everyone loved dinner tonight thanks to Costco.  My kids tried these pizzas as a sample on Saturday and had to buy everything to make them again at home.  Tonight was the lucky night.  They are super simple to make and taste gourmet.  I served them with English cucumbers and grape tomatoes (from Costco!) and strawberry banana smoothies (fruit from Costco too!).

store bought favorites: naan bread pesto pizzas
Kirkland basil pesto
Stonefire mini Naan bread
fresh mozzarella cheese or shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.  Place naan bread on the tray.  Spread 1-2 tablespoons of basil pesto onto each mini naan.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.  Bake until the cheese starts to bubble.  If you want to serve it like Costco, cut it into fourths.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

store bought favorite: fiesta dip & spread

I bought a few extra things at Costco thanks to their GREAT samples and to my four kids who tagged along and enthusiastically gave just about every sample they tried two thumbs up.  This dip is super delicious and made with Greek yogurt.  It's full of black beans, roasted poblano peppers, Monterrey Jack cheese, roasted red bell peppers, spinach, green onion, roasted corn, roasted Anaheim chiles and delicious spices.  Today for lunch I served this dip with quesadillas and tortilla chips.

FIESTA Dip & Spread (purchased at Costco, made by La Terra Fina)
No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
gluten free
serve hot or cold

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

soft lemon sorbet

This sorbet is delicious, no doubt about it.  My oldest made it last night for the sister missionaries.  It had the perfect tartness but was also very sweet.  Just right for the start of summer and went well with the summer salads we served.  I wish I had pulled out some Nilla wafers to serve alongside this sorbet.  Would've been a nice touch.

soft lemon sorbet (Cuisinart)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer without stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Cool completely.  This is called a simple syrup and may be made ahead in large quantities to have on hand for making fresh lemon sorbet.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
When cool, add the lemon juice and zest; stir to combine.  Turn the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker on, pour the lemon mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Note:  Melts quickly; serve and eat right away.

julie's husband's favorite salad

Julie brought her husband's favorite salad to a preschool picnic last week.  It's delicious!  It was so delicious I wanted to make it right away but forgot my grocery list at home so got everything I needed except the cucumbers and tomatoes and I bought the wrong dressing!  Julie is sooooo nice that I found a grocery sack with those items on our doorstep.  This recipe makes a lot of salad and will go a long way.  I've been eating it for two days and today will be the third (and I was also able to share some with friends at a luncheon and the sister missionaries for dinner!).

julie's husband's favorite salad (Julie B.)
1 pound shell pasta (we both used whole wheat)
2 cucumbers, cut into fourths then sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 carrots, diced
1 (6 ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
1 package feta cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 bottle of Newman's Own Family Italian dressing (you'll only use 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle)

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.  Rinse with cold water.  Put the pasta in a large bowl.  Add the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cheeses and half the dressing.  Refrigerate overnight.  Before serving add the rest of the dressing.  Add grilled chicken to the pasta or enjoy it on the side for a complete meal!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

knothole egg


My oldest made these knothole egg "sandwiches" for dinner tonight with some fruit salad.  She cooked mine so that the yolk was just a tad bit runny- perfect!  All the kids in the family loved it.  One even thought to drizzle a little syrup over the top.  Not exactly my style but perhaps it tasted a little bit like french toast?

knothole egg (cookbook: Cooking Fun by Rae Grant)
1 slice of bread (my daughter used whole wheat)
1 little bit of butter (much less than the called-for tablespoon)
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Using a small drinking glass or a round cookie cutter, cut a hole in the center of the bread.  Remove the cut-out circle of bread. (You can fry this bread later or make a cute PB&J sandwich).
In a small skillet melt the butter on medium heat.  Place bread in skillet and crack the egg into the hole in the bread.  Cook until the underside of the toast is golden.  Then with a spatula, flip the egg and toast.  Cook until the other side is nicely browned.  Use the spatula to slice the egg and toast outof the pan oto a serving plate.  Serve hot.  Serves 1.

Monday, May 26, 2014

rigatoni with grilled peppers and onions

This salad was SOOOO GOOD!  I am even more disappointed now that we couldn't go to a BBQ with friends this evening because one of my kids has strep throat because this would've been a good dish to share.  I can't enjoy a meal without my protein so I threw some grilled chicken into mine and I had a complete meal with this dish.  The one other disappointing thing was that as I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner I noticed the basil sitting with the fresh fruit.  I FORGOT THE BASIL!  Dang.  I'll add it to the leftovers.

rigatoni with grilled peppers and onions (Cassie Craves got it from Real Simple) 
2 medium red onions, sliced into rings (I simply halved mine)
2 large sweet bell peppers, cut into quarters
olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
12 ounces (4 to 5 cups) rigatoni
1 bunch spinach, stems trimmed, or one 5-ounce package
1 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.  In a large bowl, toss the onions, bell peppers, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Grill, turning occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the grilled vegetables, spinach, the reserved pasta water and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine.  Top with the basil and the remaining Parmesan before serving

firecracker cake

My oldest and I made this cake together and we can't wait to slice into it tonight.  Can you see the bottom layer is blue followed by white then red?  It's going to be pretty and festive!  We have some yummy food planned for dinner tonight and this cake will top it all off.  Happy Memorial Day!  A special thank you to everyone who has ever fought in any way to protect my country's freedom and for everyone who will continue to do so.  God Bless America!

firecracker cake (Spiced)
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoise white cake mix
water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box
red food coloring
blue food coloring
1 container white icing (or make your own but be sure to add a little lemon extract!)
red, white and blue sprinkles

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Generously grease a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan.  Make cake batter as directed on box.  Pour 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl; stir in red food color until well mixed.  Pour another cup of the batter into a separate bowl; stir in blue food coloring until well mixed.
Pour red cake batter into bottom of pan.  Carefully pour remaining white batter over red batter in pan.  Carefully pour blue batter over white batter.
Bake as directed on box or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool cake 5 minutes.  Turn pan upside down onto a cake plate.  Cool cake completely, about 30 minutes.
When cake is cool, divide frosting evenly into 3 bowls.  Add food coloring into bowls so you have red, white and blue icing.  Snip one corner on 3 different zip-lock baggies.  Pour each color icing into a baggie.  Drizzle the food coloring onto the cake.  We used each color then went over the cake with each color again.  Sprinkle with sprinkles.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

food on a stick

My second oldest daughter came home from school yesterday super excited about a couple of books she got at her school library- a cookbook for "cooking school" and an art book for "art class"- classes that she teaches her younger sister and younger brother.  By the time I got into the kitchen she had everyone in aprons, the food was spread out and every child had an assignment.  The only thing she wanted me to do was to get a cutting board down for her- nothing else.  These little goodies are delightful and it was crazy to me that we had every ingredient on hand. The only thing I wasn't impressed about was the name given to this delectable little appetizer.  Food on a stick?

food on a stick (cookbook:  Better Homes and Gardens Snack Attack!)
cutting board
sharp knife
measuring cups
twelve bamboo skewers
serving plaste
plastic wrap

6 ounces sliced salami
6 ounces mozzarella or provolone cheese (we used pepper jack- we love it!)
1/2 cups cantaloupe and/or honeydew melon
1 cup purchased large pitted herbed green olives
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes

On the cutting board use the knife to slice salami and cube the cheese.  Use the mellon baller to ball the cantaloupe or a sharp knife to cut it into chunks.
On six of the bamboo skewers alternately thread salami, cheese, and melon balls.  On the other six skewers thread salami, cheese, olives and cherry tomatoes.  Place on a serving plate.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill up to 2 hours before serving.

Monday, April 28, 2014

dinner menu for the week of April 27

dinner menu for the week of April 27
I decided to copy and paste what you'd find posted on the front of my oven this week:

chicken parmesan soup, toasted sourdough bread


pork cuban sandwiches, pretzels,fruit

green pork enchiladas (using leftover smoked pork), chips & salsa, sliced pears

still thinking...

Subway sandwiches, fruit

pizza party!