Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Corn Casserole

This tastes just like Chi Chi's corn cakes. I use an ice cream scoop to serve it just like Chi Chi's did. Really simple side dish that goes great with tacos, fajitas, etc.

Combine and poor into casserole dish:

1 can corn (not drained)
1 can cream style corn
1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
1 stick of melted butter

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heath Blonde Brownies

I like these because I usually have all ingredients on hand.

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
4 chopped Heath Bars or about a half bag of Heath Toffee Bits (found in baking aisle near choc. chips)

Cream butter with the two sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Blend in dry ingredients. Stir in Heath pieces. Spread over well greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When cool, cut into bars. They are ooey gooey, not crisp.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spaghetti Casserole

This recipe is a little bit more involved than some, but I like that I can make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven at dinner time. That is how this recipe is "keeping it simple" (the do-ahead factor!)

1 lb. ground round
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce with garlic (or plain and add some garlic)
1/3 c water
1 1/2 c low fat sour cream
1/2 c green onions
1/4 c (2 oz) of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
7 oz box of ready cut spaghetti
5 oz shredded sharp cheddar

cook meat over medium heat until brown, drain

stir in salt, pepper, tomato sauce, & water. Bring to a boil & reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes.

cook pasta (al dente since it will be baked later)

combine sour cream, cream cheese, & green onions

spray 9 X 13 glass pan

layer pasta, cream cheese mixture, meat/sauce, cheese

Bake 350 degrees covered with foil for 25 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes.

We serve with salad & garlic bread.

Love that it tastes great reheated too!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Super Easy Sirlion Tips

This is so simple, does it even count as a recipe? Do I even need to post this, or is this how most people make them? Well, regardless, I'll share:

1 to 2 pounds sirloin tip meat
1 can beef broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
salt & pepper
mushrooms (optional)

put meat in slower cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper
pour soups & soup mix over
Cook on low 6 to 8 hours

*if adding mushrooms, wait until there is only about an hour left

Serve over buttered noodles

How easy is that?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My mom's dumplings.

I have always LOVED these. I don't make them very often because I think that I am the only one in my house that eats them. They are a really light, fluffy dumpling (not dense, heavy like those used in soups).

1 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 c milk
2 Tbls melted butter

Combine all ingredients. Drop by spoonful on top of gravy in large sauce pan (Use a thinner gravy b/c the dumplings seem to soak it up/thicken it. To "keep it simple", I use canned gravy that I dilute with chicken broth.) Cover and cook for 15 minutes. DO NOT lift cover. Cook on med/med low. (If the stove top is too hot, they will scorch.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chocolate Fondue

One of our kitchen appliances that gets a lot of use is our fondue pot. This is our favorite dipping sauce. We like to dip strawberries, raspberries, bananas, & oranges in it. I took bits and pieces from all different fondue recipes to come up with this one that we really love.

1/4 c milk
6 oz milk chocolate chips
6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine milk and chips. Stir until chips are melted. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir to combine.

(variation: For Chocolate Orange Raspberry-substitute Orange Juice for milk and add about 1/4 c of raspberry preserves/jam/jelly)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Minestrone (tastes just like Olive Garden's)

My friend Kristen gave me this recipe. She brought this delicious soup over after I had Ellie. I HAD to have the recipe. I LOVE soup. I make soup all year round. Derek will come home on a hot August day to a pot of Chili and make a comment like "Do you know it is 90 degrees outside?". What can I say, I love me some good soup. I've learned to turn my leftovers into soup as a way to reduce throwing away leftovers that sit in my fridge too long. Enjoy this soup with some Italian cheeses sprinkled over the top and some fresh warm bread to dip.

(Sorry there isn't a picture)


3 (14 oz) cans of chicken broth

1 can Italian Style tomatoes (undrained)

1 can of beans (kidney, garbonzo, etc)

Frozen bag of Italian Stir Fry with Marinara Packet (I've only found this at Aldi....I've had to substitute frozen Italian vegetables with about a cup and a half of marinara sauce)

garlic, salt, & pepper

pasta cooked and drained (small or medium shells are great)

*Throw everything in a big pot and simmer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shamrock Shakes

I don't do beef brisket, corned beef and cabbage, etc. so on St. Patrick's Day, my only endeavor in the kitchen is Shamrock Shakes.

Here is how I make mine:

(To serve 2 adults & 2 children.)

4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/4 c Creme de Menthe syrup
milk (more or less depending on how thick you like your shake)
green food coloring (the syrup alone doesn't get it very green)
garnish with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips

2 for 1 with Dirty Rice

On Sunday, I made dirty rice and served it on tortillas. Today, I made the leftovers into soup. Here is what I did for both.


2 boxes Zatarans Dirty Rice Mix
1 pound ground beef (browned and drained)
1 can corn (drained)

Prepare as instructed on box but used only 1 pound of beef and added corn.

Serve on flour tortillas with shredded cheddar cheese. We had company and everyone had seconds (and some even thirds and fourths) So glad everyone enjoyed it, and it was SOOOO easy.


used my leftover rice mix
added a can of petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
and enough chicken broth to cover rice and still be "soupy"

heated through and served with shredded cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Am thinking a dollop of sour cream might be tasty too.

(Note: No picture of tortillas from Sunday)

Egg Bread

My friend H made this last week for a lunch get together. It was VERY good. So, I asked her how easy it was to which she responded "very". So, here it goes.

4.75 to 5.25 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 c milk
3 Tbls. sugar
3 Tbls. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

1) In large bowl, add 2 c flour and yeast packet; set aside. In saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt until warm and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to flour mixture along with the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. With wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

2) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double in size (about 1 hour).

3) Punch dough down. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes while lightly greasing two 8 X 4 X 2 inch loaf pans.

4) Shape each portion of dough into a loaf. Place in prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place till nearly double. (about 30 minutes)

5) Bake in a 375 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or till bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans and cool on wire racks.

(Note: for planning purposes, this takes a total of about 2 1/2 hours start to finish)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chocolate Banana Shakes

There is this awesome burger/ice cream joint here. Someone told Derek to try their chocolate banana shake so he did and loved it. Then I tried it and loved it. So tonight, I tried to duplicate it. Very yummy. I'm not sure if it was exactly the same, but it was pretty close.

For two generous servings:

4 scoops of vanilla ice cream
2 bananas
chocolate syrup (enough to give shake "chocolate milk" color)
milk (more or less depending on how thick you like your shakes)

Put in blender, magic bullet, or smoothie maker.

I served with a dollop of whipped cream.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Baked Oatmeal

I got this recipe from a local mom that I met at the library. My 3 year old loves it as do I.

3 c oatmeal
1 c brown sugar (although I only use 1/2 c)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 c applesauce
1 c milk

Mix all ingredients together. You can add fruit, nuts, and/or chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a greased 8 X 12 pan.

It is very cake like. Cut in squares and serve with a dollop of whipped cream/cool whip.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chicken Salad

Whenever I have just a little bit of leftover chicken, I make a small batch of chicken salad and pick up a few croissants from the bakery. Here's what I put in mine.

leftover shredded or cubed chicken
Mayo (not salad dressing)
Rosemary (crushed)
Nature's Seasoning
walnuts (or other nuts...I sometimes use almonds)
dried cranberries (I sometimes add dried apricots too)

Mix together using your personal preference for amounts. I personally like lots of cranberries & nuts but just a little bit of mayo.

I serve mine on a croissant with a little lettuce.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dinner Rolls/Buns

I LOVE homemade rolls and buns, but as a stay at home mom that doesn't actually stay home all that much, I don't have time for the rise, knead, rise, knead, etc. So, how do I "keep it simple"? Use the "dough setting" on your bread maker. It takes care of all the extra tedious steps.

Here's an awesome recipe my dear friend Kristen passed my way. (Many of my recipes are from her. She is AWESOME in the kitchen.) I was so impressed with her domestic skills. We ate dinner at her house and she had made her very own hamburger buns...from scratch AND she had two little kids and a job as well. Then she tipped me off to that sweet "dough setting"! I've been a fan of these ever since. We make them whole wheat, but you could do white by using only all purpose flour.

Into bread maker, add ingredients in this order:

1 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 yeast packet

1 c warm water
1/2 tbls salt
1/4 c + 1/8 c oil
1/4 c sugar or honey

1 egg

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour

turn on bread maker and set to "dough setting" (Mine takes 1.5 hours)

when time is up, do a quick knead on a very lightly floured surface and form into buns or rolls

let rise an additional 30 minutes

this makes about 12 burger buns OR about 2 dozen small rolls

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes (give or take depending on size of buns/rolls)

(Sorry. No picture to post because my bread maker died mid-process today. Bummer!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Snickers Salad

This is one of my husband's favorites. For some reason, we both grew up with Jello salads at every big family get together. He doesn't like most, so I often make this, knowing he'll eat it.

1 small instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 c milk
12 oz Cool Whip
3 large Snickers candy bars or 6 regular sized (cut into bite sized pieces)
3 apples cut into bite sized pieces
2 bananas cut into bite sized pieces

Combine pudding and milk and let thicken a bit.

Fold in Cool Whip.

Add rest.

Note: This is best made the day of b/c otherwise it separates. Also, I like to add the bananas right before serving to prevent them from being too brown.

I am very particular about that sweet/salty balance (HAVE to have nuts on my ice cream kind of a gal) so the peanuts in the Snickers pair so nicely.

Brownie Bites

This isn't really a recipe, but rather another dessert to pair with the yummy frosting from my previous post.

Simply prepare a brownie box mix as directed. Line mini muffin pan with mini muffin liners and fill with brownie batter. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. When cool, frost with previous post frosting recipe and add sprinkles. I put my frosting in a pastry bag and piped it on because it is much faster than spreading with a knife AND looks prettier.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cut Out Cookies and Frosting

These cut outs are delicious. My sister found the recipe and passed it along. It is egg-less and my mother-in-law is allergic to eggs. I always get asked for the recipe whenever I make them. My husband normally doesn't eat cut out cookies, but loves these. BEWARE, the dough is super soft. You need to roll on a heavily floured surface. They are a moist cookie; not crisp.

The frosting recipe was passed along by a girlfriend of mine. Also delicious. It pairs really well with the cut out cookies. It is also great when paired with angel food cake.


8 oz cream cheese (softened)

3/4 c butter (softened)

1 c sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 c flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

-cream cream cheese and butter, add sugar and vanilla, add rest

-chill 1/2 hour

-roll w/lots of flour

-bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (will be light in color)


1/2 c butter

1/2 c crisco

1/4 c flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp butter flavoring

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/4 c (scant) water

3 3/4 c powdered sugar

-mix butter & crisco first

-then add the rest

Spinach Dip

Now I'm sure EVERYONE has some version of this dip. I never made it before until I tried some at our grocery store's holiday open house. I've made it 3 times since. I've looked at about 10 different versions of the same recipe and just tooks bits and pieces of each to make the one we like best. It is best to make and chill before serving. I serve it with fun crackers or bagel pieces.

1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach (thaw completely and squeeze out water)
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 pkg dry vegetable soup mix
1 c sour cream
1 c mayonnaise

Mix soup mix, sour cream, & mayo. Add water chestnuts and spinach. Chill.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pineapple or Banana Fritters

What is your favorite item on the all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet? Easily, mine is the donuts. I found this recipe way back in college when I was searching for things to make with my new wok. I forgot all about it until I noticed how much pineapple was sitting in my fridge. In fact, college might be the last time I made them. Surprisingly, I found it without too much searching. I promised the girls homemade donuts for breakfast. (It was a special treat for them without a lot of work or time involved)

1 c flour
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 c milk
1 Tbls cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla
additional oil for frying
3 bananas cut into 1 inch pieces OR chunks of pineapple
Hot fudge sauce, maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or other dipping sauce of your choice.

In bowl, combine dry ingredients. Combine egg, milk, 1 tbls oil and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients until smooth. Heat 2 inches of oil to medium-high heat (375 degrees). Dip bananas or pineapple into batter and fry a few at a time in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Roll in sugar, dust with powdered sugar, or dip in hot fudge, honey, maple syrup, etc.

If you choose to not use the bananas or pineapple, then they will taste just like the Chinese buffet donuts. I'm pretty sure they'd taste awesome "jelly filled" as well, but haven't tried.

Note: The only thing about these is that they taste best fresh and warm. Not a "make ahead" type recipe.

Beef Stew

Here are 3 things I do to "keep it simple" in the kitchen (all of which are found in this recipe)

1) make an entree that contains your meat, starch, and vegetable all in one recipe (no extra pots, pans, things to prepare...)

2) use your crockpot

3) used canned soups as the bases to your sauces

NOTE: I was skeptical on pairing a chicken based soup with beef, but when mixed with everything else, it was fine.

Beef Stew

1 pound beef stew meat
1/2 c boiling water
1 can creamy chicken mushroom soup
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 Tbl Minute Tapioca pudding
1 medium onion
4 peeled and chunked potatoes
4 peeled and chunked carrots (or I use baby carrots to save time from peeling/cutting)
whole mushrooms (optional-I'm the only one that likes these, so I leave them whole so they are easy to avoid for my other family members)
2 beef bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp granules)

Put stew meat on bottom of slow cooker. Slice onion and lay on top of meat. Mix water, soups and Tapioca in small bowl and pour mixture over meat. Turn crockpot on low. Meanwhile, peel potatoes & carrots, chunk them, and add them to the crockpot. Add beef bouillon. Stir throughout the day. The mushrooms first need to be added about an hour before serving time. Let cook in crockpot all day, about 6-8 hours. I like to serve this with warm bread or rolls.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Microwave Apple Crisp

I stumbled upon this when I was craving apple crisp, but had only 30 minutes before dinner. We've been having this A LOT lately because all four of us love it AND it is easy. I've tweaked it to fit our tastes. We actually use it as a side dish rather than a dessert.

First off, I insist that you invest in one of these babies to aide in your quest to "keep it simple". I peeled, sliced, and cored a dozen apples in about 10 minutes, and this 10 minutes included dealing with a 3 year old who wanted to help, insisting she could do it herself.

8 cups of peeled, cored, and sliced tart apples (I used a dozen small apples)
3/4 c packed brown sugar (divided)
1/2 c flour (divided)
1 c quick cooking oats
1/2 c cold butter

Toss apples with 1/4 c of the brown sugar and 2 tbl of flour and cinnamon (to taste); place in microwave safe casserole dish (sprayed with cooking spray).

In a bowl, combine oats, remaining brown sugar and flour, and more cinnamon (to taste). Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a corner open to vent. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until apples are tender.

Note: the topping will not be "crisp". It is more ooey gooey! (I always eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day)

Restaurant Style Chinese Chicken

I LOVE this recipe. I always have a ginger root in my freezer (doesn't spoil before I can use it AND it grates super easy when frozen). The marinade for the chicken is so good and easy that during summer grilling months, I marinate cubed chicken in it, skewer, and grill. See, one recipe, two ways to serve it...

1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c water
3 cloves of garlic, minced (I buy it in a jar, already minced. 1/2 tsp = 1 clove)
1 tblsp fresh grated ginger
1 lb chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1 tblsp oil (divided)
1/2 c unsalted roasted peanuts (I've used "lightly salted" before and it was fine)
1 red pepper cut into bite sized pieces
3/4 c chicken broth
1 tblsp cornstarch
3/4 c sliced scallions

1) mix first 4 ingredients into a zip top bag; add chicken and turn to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes

2) heat 1/2 tsp oil; brown peanuts and remove

3) heat 1 1/2 tsp oil; add chicken (setting aside remaining marinade) and stir-fry; remove

4) heat remaining oil; stir-fry pepper

5) whisk broth, starch, & reserved marinade; add to skillet along with chicken and peanuts; boil to thicken; remove and top with scallions

We serve it with brown rice and a tossed salad. The girls love it too because we bring out the chopsticks.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

One of my all time favorites is "breakfast for dinner". We do this more often than I'd like to admit. French toast is great for getting rid of old bread and THIS recipe is great for getting rid of brown, mushy bananas.

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

1 c flour
1 egg
1 c milk
1 to 2 mashed bananas
2 T oil
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
cooking spray
chocolate chips

Mix first 8 ingredients together. Spoon on hot, sprayed griddle (approx. 1/4 c per pancake). Sprinkle with chocolate chips before flipping. Serve with maple syrup, spray whipped cream, and fresh berries.