Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jeans Bars (guaranteed to make your jeans tight)

My mom made these as a kid.  I loved them.  I'd forgotten all about them.  Probably haven't had one in 10 years or more.  The other night, I had a dream about these and woke up craving them.  I called my mom, but my mom has hundreds of cookbooks and wasn't sure which one they were in since she probably hasn't made them in 10 years or more.  Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?  I googled them and BAM, they were all over!  It came from the 1983 Pillsbury Classic, No. 30, "Best Recipes."

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter 
1/4 cup sugar

1 cup graham-cracker crumbs
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I omitted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, cut butter into flour and sugar until crumbly. Press in bottom of ungreased 13-inch-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; mix well. Spread over partially baked crust. Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes more until golden brown. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, blend frosting ingredients until creamy; spread over bars. Cut into bars.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps

I stumbled upon Iowa Girl Eats while specifically searching for a PF Chang's lettuce wrap copycat recipe.  She just might be my new BFF (blogger friend forever).  Her recipes look INCREDIBLE.  She gave me permission to share her awesome take on PF Chang's lettuce wraps (only less greasy and healthier!)  They were a hit at my house.  Derek had like 5 and said it was a keeper.  He rarely gives his input on recipes, so you know this is a winner.  Even my picky children ate it without complaints.  I will share her recipe, but comment on what I did differently.  I know I typically avoid long ingredient list recipes, but this one is well worth it.  And it is still quick and easy to throw together.

1lb ground chicken breast
1/2 medium onion, minced
salt & pepper, a dash of each
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch nob fresh ginger, peeled & minced (I grated it and probably used a lot less than an inch)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil (I didn't have this, so I used Canola Oil)
2 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I used 1 tsp chili powder)
dash of fresh pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (I threw them in my food processor on "chop")
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry (I used Boston Leaf)
*I will add match stick carrots next time to up the veggie content and add some color*

In skillet, add chicken, onion, salt & pepper, and cook until chicken is nearly done, stirring often to break up the meat. Add in minced garlic and ginger, and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine sesame (canola) oil, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, honey, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce (chili powder) and pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until smooth. Add into the skillet and stir to combine.

Add green onion and water chestnuts into the skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are heated through.  (Here is where I would add the carrots next time).

Stir in chopped peanuts.  Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My sister passed this recipe along years ago. Not sure of where it came from, but it is delicious!

2 tbl oil
1 medium onion
2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
1 (15.25 oz) can corn (drained)
1 (15 oz) black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes (NOT drained)
1 (4 oz) green chilies (drained)
1 (1.25 oz) taco seasoning packet
2 (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 tbl lime juice

Saute onion in oil until onion is clear/tender

add all except broth and lime juice, mixing to blend seasoning & heating through

add broth and bring to a boil

simmer for 10 to 15 minutes

add lime juice

top with tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips (we did those with "a hint of lime"), shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro & sour cream

Lemonade Punch

I LOVE making punch for special occasions.  I came across this on that evil, evil, time sucking, but oh-so wonderful pinterest...

1 cup Countrytime Lemonade mix
2 cups cold water
1 can of chilled pineapple juice {46 oz}
2 cans chilled Lemon Lime soda

Garnish with ice and sliced lemons

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Eggless Jello Poke Cake

I've mentioned it before, but my mother in law is allergic to eggs. My youngest turned "6" earlier this week and I wanted to try something other than my "go to" eggless cake recipe. It was delicious, everyone liked it, and the birthday girl was happy. (This is a higher calorie version of the Weight Watchers Jello Cake).

1 cake mix (we used yellow)
1 can of lemon-lime soda (use cola or rootbeer if making chocolate)
1 box of small jello (we used cherry)
small tub of cool whip

Mix dry mix with can of soda. (That is NOT add the oil, water or eggs!) Spread in greased 9 X 13 pan.

Bake according to mix directions. Let cool. Prepare Jello using ONLY the hot water (skip the cold water). Poke holes in cake & pour Jello over cake evenly. Refrigerate. Before serving, spread Cool Whip over cake.

(For a lower calorie version, use diet soda, sugar free jello & fat free cool whip)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Toffee Strips

My siblings are quite a bit older than me. Growing up, my sister that is 14 years older than me used to watch me a lot while my mom worked nights and my dad did things around the house. She always did fun things with me. The last time I ate these, I was probably 4 years old, when her and I made them together. I forgot all about them until I came across them in a cookbook a few years back and was like "Hey, I've had these before. I made them with Kris when I was little!" I FINALLY got around to making them. They taste just like I remember them. Enjoy!

1 1/2 c butter
1 3/4 c brown sugar
box of graham crackers
chopped pecans (optional)

Break graham crackers in 4. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place graham crackers pieces on foil. Melt butter with brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, so caramel sauce is smooth. Pour over graham crackers evenly. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Bake in a 350 degree for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dilly Crackers

These are such an easy snack, and super delicious. However, they are a bit addicting. You've been warned. I've seen variations on this recipe, some you need to bake, some have other seasonings, etc. I've taken bits and pieces of them all and this is how I make mine.

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix (NOT dip mix)
1 c olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp. dill weed
2 bags oyster crackers

Pour dressing mix, oil, garlic salt, dill weed and oyster crackers together in a big bowl. Mix well.

That's it...easy, right? Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Artichoke Dip (Cold)

My mom put me in charge of "a cracker dip" for our Fourth of July celebration. Thought I'd try this since I already had ALL of the ingredients on hand. (LOVE that...because I don't know about you, but if I run to the store to JUST get what I need for a recipe, I end up with 23 other items in my cart.) Anyways...

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained
1 (8oz) sour cream
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise

Crush artichoke hearts in a food processor. Mix with the rest of the ingredients and chill. Serve with your favorite cracker.

How easy was that?

It was a hit! Definitely will make this again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pink Lemonade Cookies

I found Pillsbury Pink Lemonade Cake Mix & Frosting We were planning a day at the beach, but thought cupcakes would be a messy hassle. Yet, Pink Lemonade sounded so "beachy"....what was a girl to do? I decided to try cookies instead, using the "Funfetti Cookie" method.

1 box Pink Lemonade Cake Mix
2 eggs
1/3 c oil
Pink Lemonade Frosting

Mix cake mix, eggs & oil until combined. Using cookie scoop, drop uniform dough on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. Frost and decorate.

The lemon flavor was definitely there, but not too tart or overpowering. These were easy and had a very nice flavor. Definitely will make again. They were a nice "summery" cookie! Everyone had seconds, (or thirds or sixths).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rainbow Cupcakes

Last weekend, we went to a birthday party for a neighborhood friend. I was asked to bring cupcakes, so I looked for something "fun" for a five year old. I saw a bunch of recipes for rainbow/tie dyed cupcakes, but all called for a yellow or white box mix which I didn't have on hand and wasn't going to run to the store. So, I started searching for "homemade" batter and found these. YUM! Definitely my new "go to" yellow cake recipe. It only makes 12 which is what I was looking for. However, I may stretch it to 14 next time since they rose a lot.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

food coloring

sugar sprinkles in red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple

I made batter as directed and then separated it into 4 bowls & dyed them red, orange, green & blue. (Next time I'll add yellow & purple). Also, next time I will add more food coloring because when they rose, it seemed like they were too light in color. Layer the batter in your muffin tins. (I went in backwards order by accident).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

I frosted with my favorite butter cream frosting and added a stripe of each sugar color. Needed to frost & decorate one at a time so that the icing would allow sprinkles to stick. Definitely nice that it only made 12 since the decorating was tedious.

PS-We joked that the cupcakes looked like Marty's clown wig in Madagascar 3. (Everybody now...."Afro Circus, Afro Circus, Polka Dot, Polka Dot, Afro Circus...")

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Easy "Homemade" Donuts & Holes

Every now and again we make these for a special weekend treat. SUPER simple, but taste like you slaved over them.

1 tube of refrigerated biscuits or dinner rolls
oil for frying
sugar/cinnamon mixture

separate biscuits/rolls

cut out hole in center (I used my apple corer, but the holes really weren't quite big enough)

fry in oil until done

drain on paper towel

roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture

best served warm

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spicy Sausage Corn Chowder

While clipping coupons the other day, I came across a picture of this delicious chowder with instructions to find the recipe online. Here is where to find the original recipe. Ironically, my sister made note of the exact same recipe this week. Funny!

I changed the recipe a little bit, so here is my version.

19 oz Gold'n Plump® Hot Italian Chicken Sausage(my grocer didn't carry, so I bought "The Turkey Store Hot Italian Sausage")
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
1 large red pepper (chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
3 medium russet potatoes (cubed, unpeeled)
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 can (about 15 ounces) cream-style corn
1 cup whole kernel corn (I used frozen corn & I would add more next time)


I didn't want big sausage "coins" in my soup, so I took the skins off the sausage and browned it so it would be "ground turkey". I will do the same next time as well.

In soup kettle, saute onion, pepper, carrot & celery in olive oil.

Stir in potatoes, Italian seasoning, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.

Stir in evaporated milk, cream-style corn, whole kernel corn, and ground sausage. Simmer 1o minutes over low heat until hot.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zuppa Toscana

Derek and I enjoy the Olive Garden when we get a chance...especially if it is the Olive Garden sans kids. About a month ago, we went while my kiddos spent the night with grandma and grandpa. Man, without our kids along, I was extra annoyed by other peoples' children. Anyways...Derek ALWAYS gets Zuppa Toscana. I finally decided to also order it to see what the big deal was. It was delicious! I decided to look online for a copycat recipe. I didn't follow one specific recipe that I found, but rather put bits and pieces of different ones together, picking out what I thought would mimic it the most... It was pretty close, but lacked the "punch" (next time I'll try either "hot" Italian sausage or the addition of red pepper flakes). I brought it to work and it got rave reviews. Now all I need is one of those hand cheese grinders so I can ask "Would you like fresh grated cheese on that?"

1 lb ground Italian sausage (next time I'll use "hot")
1 small onion, diced
3 strips of bacon (I cut mine small with scissors to avoid having to crumble)
3 medium to large potatoes unpeeled and cubed
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups of kale, torn into bite sized pieces
32 oz chicken broth
2.5 cups of water
1 pint heavy cream
salt, pepper, garlic salt (to taste)
red pepper flakes if not using "hot" sausage (not sure on amount)

brown & drain sausage in fry pan, remove
fry bacon with onion until bacon is crisp and onion is tender, drain & remove
add sausage, bacon and onion to soup pot
add garlic, potatoes, kale, chicken broth & water
simmer until potatoes and kale are tender
stir in cream shortly before serving and heat through
season to taste

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

These. Were. Delicious. Wish I would have thought of such a thing...

Out of respect for Lori's blog, I will refer you to her blog for the original recipe. I did NOT add the chocolate drizzle/additional sprinkling of chocolate chips.

To keep up with "keeping it simple", these would be super easy if you simply used a box mix for the brownie portion. Also, my family likes chocolate chip cookie dough without too many chocolate chips, so I only used half the amount in the cookie dough batter.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cornflake Baked Chicken Legs

When Derek and I were first married, I made chicken legs A LOT. (Cheap, easy... and I had not one, but TWO recipes that I liked) Anyways, I either made them too much or Derek never really did like the recipes or both...but one day I got this confession "Could you lay off the chicken legs for awhile? I don't really like chicken legs that much." I kind of stopped making them all together. But recently, our girls seem to love chicken legs, so I gave them another try. This time, I looked for a different recipe. The girls and I really enjoyed them. As for Derek, he ended up working really late that night and picked up fast food on the way home, so I guess I won't know until next time if he still dislikes chicken legs.

3 c. corn flakes, crushed
10 chicken legs
3/4 stick butter, melted
Seasoned salt

Wash drumsticks and pat dry with paper towel.

Dip chicken legs in melted butter. Roll in crushed cornflakes. Lay on cookie sheet covered in foil. Sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Macho Nachos

There is a wonderful family that gets Peyton on the bus for us in the morning. To help return the favor, we watched their girls so that they could go out to dinner. When they came to pick up the girls, they brought us a HUGE bag of chips and some delicious salsa. I didn't want to let the abundance of chips go to waste, so I made "macho nachos". I had some leftover taco meat in the freezer from another meal, so I thawed & warmed that.

Here's what I did:

spread chips on bottom of large pizza pan
spread taco seasoned beef over them (would also be good with shredded chicken)
sprinkle cheddar cheese
add diced tomatoes and black olives
(next time, I may add re-fried beans or black beans)

bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted

we served with sour cream, salsa & guacamole

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cherry Cobbler

I think I have finally perfected my cherry cobbler recipe to our liking. Some people like more topping, some like more cherries...but after playing around with the proportions enough, this is what I've finally written down in pen!

1.5 c flour
3/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tbl melted butter
3/4 c milk

2 (15 oz) cans of tart cherries (1 can drained, 1 can un-drained)
1 c sugar
1/2 c hot water

Combine batter ingredients and pour into Pampered Chef Deep Dish Baker (or something similar). Combine "fruit" ingredients and pour over batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. We like to serve it warm with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pineapple Pretzel Fluff

You know how sometimes someone describes a recipe and you are like "What? That DOES NOT sound good...AT ALL!" Well, I was skeptical when I heard this recipe. BUT it ended up being soooooooo delicious. Can't wait for the next "potluck" type of event because I am totally bringing this!


1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1 c broken pretzels

combine melted butter, sugar and pretzels until well coated. Spread on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes.


12 oz cool whip, thawed
20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar

beat sugar with cream cheese, fold in cool whip, fold in pineapple

*Before serving, mix in pretzels. Reserve some pretzels to sprinkle on top.* (Note: not as good the next day when the pretzels are soggy. If you think you'll have leftovers, maybe allow guest to mix in their pretzels individually)

This is THE perfect blend of sweet and salty. LOVE it. And, if you have leftover pretzels, they are addicting on their own!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Igloo Cake with Milano Penguins

My oldest daughter celebrated her 8th birthday this past weekend. She loves penguins and picked out this cake. The "recipe" was found in this month's issue of "Family Fun" but was simply an "ice cream cake". Peyton wanted "real cake"; so I did my best to make it work. We baked a 9 X 13 for the base. Then, the igloo was one Pampered Chef 4 cup batter bowl and one cupcake for the entrance.

We baked the 9 X 13 first. While that was cooling, I baked the batter bowl cake and cupcake 25 degrees cooler, so that the batter bowl cake would cook through evenly. I think it took almost an hour. Then I let those cool. After all three were cool, I placed the igloo and cupcake on the 9 X 13, using a toothpick to secure the entrance to the rest of the igloo. I covered with frosting and used a toothpick to draw the lines on the igloo to look like blocks of ice.

I sprinkled with clear cake sprinkles to add the look of shimmering snow. The pond is blue gel topped with blue sprinkles.

The Penguins are Milano cookies with 3 sides dipped in melted chocolate. I laid them on wax paper to set. Then, I piped on frosting features (eyes % beak). We placed them on the cake, using toothpicks to prop them up.

Overall, I am happy with how it turned out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Asian Sesame Salmon

Have you tried the McCormick Recipe Inspirations? AWESOME! They pre-measure out the spices you need and have a small list of additional ingredients. SOOOOO convenient. My husband LOVED this salmon.

IF you buy the Recipe Inspiration kit, this will be included:
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced onions
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional...we did not use)

You will need to supply:
1/3 c honey
1/3 c green onion
2 Tbl. soy sauce
2 pounds salmon fillets

Mix honey, green onions, soy sauce and all the spices except red pepper in small bowl until well blended. Stir in red pepper to taste, if desired. Place salmon in 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Spoon honey mixture evenly over salmon.

Roast salmon in preheated 375 degree oven 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting occasionally with honey mixture.

Apple Cake w/Cinnamon Butter Sauce

I'm back! Sorry for my lack of posts, but I started The 17 Day Diet and was limited in what I was "allowed" to eat for the first two cycles. Also, my husband spent 2 weeks in Africa, therefore me and the girls were living on Mac & Cheese, chicken nuggets, cereal, and oatmeal. But now I'm back with many new recipes to post!

While my husband was away, a dear friend was thinking of us and sent a sweet care package to entertain the girls and I. Included were some cookbooks. This cake is definitely post worthy. YUM!

This recipe was from Pillsbury Down-home Cooking & Baking.

1 c brown sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I omitted)
1/4 tsp salt
2 c chopped apples (I left the peeling on)

Beat brown sugar with butter until light and fluffy. Add egg. Add try ingredients. Stir in apples. Spread batter in greased 8 inch square pan. (Batter will be thick). Bake 25 to 35 minutes in 350 degree oven. (We needed 35 minutes).

Meanwhile, make CINNAMON BUTTER SAUCE...
1/3 c butter
2/3 c sugar (I used brown)
1/3 c half & half (I used milk)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all sauce ingredients in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and sauce is hot, stirring frequently. Serve warm sauce over warm cake.