Sunday, November 10, 2013

Crockpot Tomato Basil Soup

I picked up more hours this fall which means I am not home until at least 3:30pm most days.  With dinner between 5 & 5:30pm, I really need to "keep it simple" this year.  Because of my limited prep time, my crockpot is getting a workout this year!  A coworker pinned this recipe and brought in her leftovers for lunch.  She let me snitch a spoonful.  It was delicious, so I made it later that week.  Although my kids didn't really like it, my husband & I did.

NOTE: This recipe has about 45 minutes of work at the end to finish it, so prepare accordingly.

  • 2 (14-ounce each) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained (I used the garlic & olive oil variety)
  • 1 cup finely diced celery (I omitted this)
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots (I used matchstick carrots)
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

  • In crockpot, combine the tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, oregano, basil, broth, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours until the vegetables are tender.
  • About 45 minutes before serving, melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden, about 3 minutes. 
  • Whisking constantly, slowly ladle in 1 cup of the hot soup from the slow cooker. Whisk until smooth and bubbly. Add another cup and stir again until smooth. Add another cup or two and stir until smooth.
  • Stir the creamy, hot mixture back into the slow cooker. Add the Parmesan cheese, half-and-half, salt and pepper, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  • Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes until ready to serve. Top with croutons.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Bars (no baking required!)

So, my husband was leaving at 2pm.  At 10am, he informed me that he needed "a dish to pass".  We didn't have chips & salsa.  I was all out of brownie mix.  I didn't have oatmeal, sweetened condensed milk or caramels, so my go to bar recipes were falling by the wayside.  I offered grapes, but he seemed disappointed in that possibility.  So, I remembered hearing about no bake peanut butter cup bars so decided to "google" it.  I got lucky on the first recipe I tried.  Thank you "Brown Eyed Baker".  And I had all the ingredients on hand!

Here's what you need:

For the peanut butter layer
½ cup unsalted butter
1¾ cups powdered sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs

For the chocolate layer
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup milk chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)

Line an 8 X 8 with aluminum foil and grease.  (Be sure to leave some foil hanging over the edge for easy removal of the bars later)

For peanut butter layer, melt butter in saucepan or microwave.  (I melted in the microwave in my Pampered Chef Batter Bowl).  When butter is melted, remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Stir in peanut butter.  Stir in graham crackers.  Spread into pan and smooth out.

Next, for chocolate layer, melt butter in saucepan.  Add chocolate and stir until melted.  I suggest a low heat since chocolate & butter seem to burn easily.

Pour chocolate over peanut butter layer and smooth evenly.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set.  Remove foil from pan and cut using a pizza cutter (super easy way to cut!).  16 small squares is good since they are pretty rich.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Next time, I may try to make individuals in mini muffin tins with mini muffin liners to resemble Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Banana Ice Cream (One Ingredient)

I saw this posted by multiple people on Pinterest.  I tried it out and was amazed that it actually worked!  Here is the site I referenced. 

Bananas, extra ripe (We used 4)

Peel the bananas and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Lay on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.  Freeze for a few hours.

Pop them into a food processor or blender.  (We used a food processor.)  Keep pushing the bananas down with a spatula.  At first, the bananas will just look liked chopped bananas and you will doubt that this will really work.  Just keep scraping down the sides and as you continue, it will get more and more like ice cream.  If you eat it immediately, it will be more like "soft serve"...which is the perfect opportunity to add some mix-ins like chocolate chips or peanut butter (or both).  Pop it in the freezer to eat later and it will be a more traditional, harder ice cream.

Our girls enjoyed it topped with Magic Shell...(tasted like a chocolate covered banana).  YUM!  Such a fun & healthy treat.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Grape Salad

For the 4th of July, we all offered to bring something.  I had a craving for grape salad.  It makes so much that a family gathering was the perfect opportunity to make it.

2 pounds green grapes
2 pounds red grapes
8 ounces cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
8 ounces sour cream (I used light)
1/2 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c pecan pieces

wash and dry grapes
beat cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar & vanilla with electric mixer
coat grapes with cream cheese mixture and spread in 9 X 13 pan
just before serving, toss brown sugar & pecans and sprinkle over the top of grapes (I don't recommend adding nuts/brown sugar ahead of time...the nuts loose their crunch and the brown sugar dissolves into the cream cheese mixture)

Also, I only added nuts to half because I didn't know if everyone liked nuts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guest Post: Keeping It Simple's Kiddos-Elise's Creation

Because Big Sister was having fun in the kitchen creating masterpieces, Little Sister wanted to follow suit.  Apparently Graham Crackers area staple in their recipes...

Graham Crackers (broke into rectangles)
Cool Whip Vanilla Frosting
Aerosol Whip Cream
Cherry Pie Filling
Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

First she laid out the graham crackers on a fancy serving platter.
Next, she spread the cool whip vanilla frosting on each graham cracker.
Then she sprayed a dollop of spray whip on each.
She then topped each dollop with a cherry.
Lastly, she drizzled Hershey's Chocolate Syrup on each.

They were actually pretty tasty.  Who doesn't love chocolate with cherries?  They did get pretty soggy pretty quickly, so make right before serving and only make as many as you will eat.

Guest Post: Keeping it Simple's Kiddos-Peyton's Creation

Summer Vacation is here!  My kiddos are both experimenting in the kitchen these days.  My oldest asked if I could feature her on "Keeping It Simple" if it turned out.  She put a lot of thought and research into creating a "s'more bar" that she could do all by herself without following a recipe.  Here is what she came up with.

Graham Crackers (broken into squares)
Jumbo Marshmallows
Chocolate Chips
Graham Cracker Crumbs

She placed the graham cracker squares in a baking pan.
Then she added a marshmallow to the top of each square.
Put in a 350 degree oven until marshmallows were soft enough to push down (5 to 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, she melted chocolate chips on the stove top with a little bit of milk.
She added the melted chocolate to a baggie and snipped the end off, then piped it onto the crackers.
Lastly, she sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs.

I am not a big s'more fan, but these were definitely edible.  She was so proud of her creation and that it turned out.  An easy snack that you can make with your kiddos...wouldn't these be perfect on a rainy day with blanket tents "camping indoors"?  Or if a backyard campout gets rained out/kids chicken out?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mini Quiche

I had some leftover pie crust to use up from a cobbler that I made and decided to try mini quiches.  I will definitely be making these again.  This is my go to pie crust.  It is so flaky and easy.

  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup warm water

    •  6 eggs
    •  1.5 cups milk
    • salt and pepper
    • FILLING:
    • cheese
    • mushrooms
    • ham
    • bacon
    • sausage
    • etc 
    For the crust, mix all ingredients with a fork.  To roll, lay out a piece of wax paper.  Put dough on wax paper.  Cover with second piece of wax paper.  Roll crust between two pieces of paper.  Cut with a glass.  (Should be able to get 12 with a few dough scraps leftover)  Place one pie circle in each of 12 muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray.  (If you want to make it even simpler, you could use store bought crust...but I like this recipe much better than store bought).

    Sprinkle crust with cheese of choice, if desired.

    Beat eggs with milk, salt, & pepper.  Add fillings to egg mixture if you are making them all the same.  Otherwise, add egg to each muffin tin and top with filling of choice.  (Customized for each family member's liking...or if making for a brunch, provide a variety...lots of possibilities).  I had some egg mixture leftover.  4 eggs & 1 cup of milk may be enough.

    Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until egg is set.

    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Cherry Crisp (5 ingredients)

    My husband sent me a recipe on FB that someone else had posted.  If you know my husband, that is somewhat comical.  So, with his request, I made it...TWICE this week.  So simple, so yummy.

    1/2 c butter (I used cold, cut into small pieces)
    1 c brown sugar
    1 c flour
    1 c oatmeal (I used old fashioned once, and quick cook once...I preferred the old fashioned)
    1 can cherry pie filling
    (vanilla ice cream)

    Mix the first four ingredients together, until crumbly.  Press half of the mixture into a pie plate.  Add can of cherry pie filling on top of that.  Crumble remaining mix over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Spoon into bowls while still warm and top with vanilla ice cream. 

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Crockpot Pork Tenderloin (only 4 ingredients!)

    This pork tenderloin was so easy and so yummy.  My 6 year old, who isn't a big meat fan, had seconds and thirds.

    2 pounds of whole pork tenderloin
    1 can of cream of mushroom soup
    1 can of golden mushroom soup
    1 can of french onion soup

    Place tenderloins in crockpot.  In bowl, whisk together the 3 soups.  Pour over tenderloins.  (DO not add water)

    Cook, on low, for 4 to 5 hours.  Remove & slice.  The soups make a delicious gravy over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Andes Brownies

    I made these on St. Patrick's Day when we had dinner at our friends' house (the highlighted post is from her & her sister in law's blog, Scrappy Love...check it out!)  I used the Andes Baking Chips as garnish on my "Shamrock Shakes", but because it was only used as garnish, I had about a half bag left over.  So, today, Ellie & I made some delicious brownies!

    box mix brownies for 9 X 13 pan (or homemade...but you know me, I "keep it simple")
    1/2 tsp mint extract
    leftover Andes Baking Chips

    Prepare box mix according to directions (adding eggs, oil, water accordingly) and also stir in the mint extract

    Bake according to directions

    Immediately after the brownies are out of the oven, sprinkle Andes Baking Chips over the top.  Let cool completely so that Baking Chips harden.  Enjoy!

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    White Pizza Dip

    My sister made this last month for a family get together.  It was SOOOOO yummy.  Yesterday I had my "Biggest Loser" results party/potluck, so I made this into a healthy recipe, using whole wheat french bread and fat free cheeses/sour cream.  Those that ate it seemed to enjoy it.  Today, I brought the leftovers to work, and everyone loved it.  Definitely a "make again" recipe.  (I forgot to take a picture, so if you want to know what it looks like, take a peek here.) 

    1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix
    1 container (16 oz.) sour cream (I used fat free)
    1 cup (8 oz.) ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used fat free)
    1/4 cup (1 oz.) chopped pepperoni (I used the mini ones and left them whole)
    1 loaf Italian or French bread, sliced (I used whole wheat)

    Preheat oven to 350°. In shallow 1-quart casserole, combine Lipton Recipe Secrets Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix, sour cream, ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with bread.  (I actually made mine in a mini crockpot instead)

    Cheesy Garlic Chicken

    This was REALLY good.  My 6 year old, who is not much of a meat eater, had 4 helpings.  I found the recipe on the back of the Lipton packet.


    4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/4 lbs.)

    1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped (I used a can of Petite Diced)

    1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix

    1/3 cup water

    1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz.)

    1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

    (Next time I think I will also add some quartered artichoke hearts)

    Preheat oven to 400°. In greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish, arrange chicken and top with tomato.  In small bowl, blend Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix, water and Olive Oil. Pour over chicken.  Bake 20 minutes. Top with cheeses and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly cooked.

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Pancake Squares

    Thanks again Pinterest for providing my family with another "keeper".  Not sure I will EVER make regular pancakes again.  The possibilities are endless!

    I ended up doubling the recipe below to fit a 9 X 13.  I sprinkled blueberries on one third, left one third plain and added sliced bananas & chocolate chips to the final third.

    HERE is the original recipe found at Big Red Kitchen.

    3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
    2 Tbl melted butter (I always use salted)
    1 large egg
    1 Tbl sugar
    1 cup flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt

    Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, whisk milk, butter and egg.  Then add sugar.  Gradually add the flour. Stir in the baking powder and salt. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4-6.

    We cut it into squares and topped with butter & syrup.

    (Big Red Kitchen also has a Baked Cinnamon Roll Pancake that looks AMAZING)

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Thick and Chewy M & M Cookie Bars

    These were so delicious!  Thank you pinterest, once again.  Here is where I found them.  LOVING her blog and found some other recipes I might try as well.

    2 1/8 cups flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    12 TBL butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 large egg
    1 large egg yolk
    2 tsp vanilla
     1 (12oz) bag M&M's, divided  (I may use less next time...maybe 1/2 a bag to 3/4 of a bag)

    Combine flour, salt & baking soda.  Set aside.

    Add sugars to melted butter.  Add eggs & vanilla.

    Add flour mixture to butter mixture.  Do not over mix.  Fold in 1/2 the M & Ms.  Pat into a 9 X 13 pan (sprayed with cooking spray).  Top with remaining M & Ms, pressing them in slightly.

    Bake at 325 for 24 to 28 minutes.  Cut into bars when cool.

    I will definitely make these again!  I am thinking about making individual servings in mini muffin tins topped with a little buttercream frosting for a school treat for my girls.  I'll let you know if I do and if they turn out!

    Sunday, January 13, 2013

    Bacon & Cheese Crockpot Potatoes

    Looking for a new way to prepare potatoes?  Well, look no further.  These.  Were.  GOOOOOOD.  Here is where I found them.

    • 3 large potatoes
    • 1/4 pound of bacon, chopped into small pieces
    • 1 medium onion sliced thin
    • 2 - 3 cloves of minced garlic
    • salt and pepper
    • 3 tablespoons of butter
    • 1 cup of cheese for layering
    • sliced green onions  
    • 1 cup of cheese for topping
     Slice potatoes in half horizontally, and then vertically. Slice quartered potatoes into approximately 1/4 inch slices. Layer potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, bacon & cheese then repeat.  Dot with 3 tablespoons of butter. Cook potatoes on high for 4 - 5 hours, or on low for 8 - 10 hours. When the cooking time is done, top with remaining 1 cup of cheese, and sliced green onions.


    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    Crockpot Chicken Tacos

    It's a new year!  Time to make resolutions (and break them)!  I hope to try (at least) one new recipe a week (and of course blog about those that are delicious). 

    Thank you to pinterest for this simple, alternative to ground beef tacos.  (I couldn't link to the original post because I received the error message "blog not found")

    6 chicken breasts (mine were frozen)
    1 jar of salsa (I used Chi Chi's original, mild)
    1 packet of taco seasoning

    Lay chicken in crockpot.  Sprinkle with taco seasoning.  Pour salsa over the top.

    Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low 6-8 hours.  I hred mine with a fork about 30 minutes before eating, to let the flavors get on all the chicken.  Eat in tortilla of your choice, served with toppings of your choice (we used cheese, lettuce, sour cream & guacamole...would have used tomatoes & black olives too, but we didn't have any).

    For sides, I served with black beans & Spanish rice.  So good & so easy.