Friday, September 30, 2011

Potato Cheddar Soup

This soup was very easy with basic ingredients in your pantry.  What a comforting supper to come home to in the crockpot.  Next time I would probably put in a bit of Velveeta for a bit cheesier taste, but it was good.  It's also quite low in calories!

Potato Cheddar Soup

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups water
1 tablespoon chicken base*
1 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Place potatoes, carrots, onion, water, and chicken base in greased 3 quart crockpot.  Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours until vegetables are tender.
Stir in half and half and pepper then cook 15 minutes more.  Stir in cheese until melted and serve.

*If you don't use chicken base or have it on hand, omit the water and chicken base and use 3 cups of chicken broth.

Makes about 6 servings
Nutrition per serving:  Calories - 322, Fat - 17.3g, Cholesterol - 54mg, Sodium - 883mg, Carbs - 29.1, Fiber - 4.3, Sugars - 3.4, Protein - 13.5g

I get my nutritional info from: Calorie Counter

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chocolate Red Wine Cake

I was feeling a bit blue the other morning and was trying to cheer myself up.  It was too early (before noon) for a glass of wine so I decided to put it in a cake.  I've made this cake quite a few times.  We all love it at our place and I've handed out the recipe a few different times.  The texture is quite dense.  Almost like a cross between a brownie and fudge.  It's quite 'heavy', but we like it best with cool whip or ice cream.  Since you use a dry red wine in it, it doesn't have a 'sweet cake' flavor.  Not that you can't eat it without extra toppings, but it's better with.  I would also put strawberries on top.  If you will notice the nice little child plate... Vayle really wanted the first piece. 

Chocolate Red Wine Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup dry red wine (I always have a box of Peter Vella Merlot, so I used that)
powdered sugar (for dusting)
cool whip

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a bundt cake pan with cooking spray.  In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl with electric mixer beat butter with sugar until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer.  Working in two batches alternately fold in dry ingredients and wine until just incorporated.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Let cake cook in pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack completely.  Dust cake with powdered sugar and serve with cool whip.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dressing

This is definitely going in the 'make again' recipe list.  Super easy and delicious.  There is quite a bit of 'sauce', but I think if you have any left over it would be great over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles the next day!  Just shred up whatever chicken you have left.  I'm not a big fan of swiss cheese, but it tasted great with the chicken.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dressing

5-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
5-6 slices swiss cheese
14 ounces water
2 teaspoons chicken base*
2 cans cream of chicken, celery or mushroom soup
(I used chicken and celery)
3 cups packaged stuffing mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Spray 4 to 5 quart crockpot with cooking spray and place chicken (I placed mine in the crockpot directly from the freezer) on the bottom.  Sprinkle with a bit of pepper then place a slice of swiss cheese over top of each piece of chicken.  In a bowl combine water, (warmed so the chicken base will dissolve) chicken base and soups.  Pour over top of chicken then sprinkle stuffing mix all over top.  Pour melted butter over all.  Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or high 3 to 4.

*If you don't have chicken base, then omit water and chicken base and use a 14-ounce can of chicken broth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pronto Pastitsio

Pastitsio (pah-steet-see-oh) is a Greek casserole made with layers of pasta, meat sauce and a creamy white sauce.  Traditionally it's made with lamb because more sheep are raised in Greece then cattle.  However, it's just as good with beef.  Some day I'd like to try a from scratch version with lamb, but until I get around to doing that, this recipe will serve just fine.  This recipe is in Ava's Southern Living: Kids Cookbook and it's delicious and super simple.  I re-vamped it just a bit to make it a bit bigger since I get my hamburger in 1 1/2 pound packages instead of 1 pound packages.  If you want the recipe using just 1 pound, drop me a note and I'll get it to you.

Pronto Pastitsio

10-12 ounces whatever your choice of noodles, elbow mac, shell macaroni, penne
1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 26-ounce jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 15-ounce jar Alfredo sauce
2 cups 5 or 6-cheese Italian blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook macaroni in one pot and brown hamburger with onion in a skillet.  Drain grease from beef and add pasta sauce and cinnamon and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.  Drain liquid from noodles and spoon half into a greased 11x7 inch baking dish.  Top with meat sauce then spoon rest of macaroni on top.  Pour Alfredo sauce evenly over top of noodles then sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Corn Dogs

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I am a BIG lover of corn dogs.  Whenever the fair comes around I always get a footlong corndog with lots of mustard.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  When Hogan asked me to make corn dogs for supper I whipped out my trusty Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook* and found a recipe for them!  They don't look perfect like you usually see, but they tasted fantastic!  We all enjoyed them and my nephew told me it was just like being at the fair. 

Corn Dogs

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup diced onion (I didn't add this)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
10 hot dogs (I used Oscar Mayer)
vegetable or canola oil
skewers (soaked in water for 10 minutes)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl then make a well in the center.  Combine egg and milk then add to cornmeal mixture stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. 
Insert skewer in one end of each hot dog leaving a 2 to 3 inch handle.  You will probably have to cut the ends off the skewers so they aren't too long.  Dry each hot dog with a paper towel (this will help the batter stick better) before dipping in batter.  Coat completely and use a spoon to help coat the hot dogs if needed.
Pour oil into a large skillet (or you can use a deep fat fryer if you have one) until deep enough to place the corndogs inside.  Fry hot dogs in oil 2 to 3 minutes or until browned flipping when the bottom side is dark golden.  Drain on paper towels and serve with mustard and ketchup.

*Even though the previous version of The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook isn't as widely available anymore they have The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook which is truly just as awesome as the original.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ground Beef Stroganoff

This is a super simple supper to make and very kid friendly.  This always goes over well in my house.  Tonight I was lazy and did ground beef over noodles instead of making meatballs.  Either way - it's delicious and another good noodle option would be egg noodles.  I am not very good at taking photos of my food - it's hit and miss if I get a good one and I don't think this photo does the meal justice, it's a delicious 480 calorie dish.  Add a side salad or some steamed veggies!  Hope you try it and enjoy!

Ground Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons beef base*
2 cups water*
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 pound spaghetti noodles (or whatever kind of noodles you would like to use)

Brown hamburger with minced onion then add nutmeg, ground cloves, flour and beef base and stir in well.  Add water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened.  Remove from heat and add sour cream.  Serve over hot noodles.

*if you don't have beef base - use 2 cups of beef broth and omit the beef base and water from the recipe

Nutritional info:  Calories - 480, Fat - 12.9g, Cholesterol - 165mg, Sodium - 588mg, Carbs - 44.4g, Protein - 43.9g

I get my nutrition info from: Calorie Counter


I'm a big fan of granola.  I was going to send my hubby to the grocery store (he was going to town anyways) to get me some, but instead I decided to make my own and he only had to pick up one ingredient that I didn't happen to have on hand.  This is so easy to make and WAY cheaper than buying a bag/box in the store.  I can't wait to sprinkle it on my vanilla Chobani for a snack later! 

Homemade Granola

3 cups regular oats, uncooked
1/2 cup flaked coconut (I didn't put this in mine, but if you like it - go for it!)
1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans
1/4 cup regular or honey-crunch wheat germ
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raisins (optional)

In a large bowl combine first 5 ingredients and set aside.  In another bowl combine honey and next 5 ingredients, pour over oat mixture and stir well.  Spread mixture evenly on a lightly greased 15x10-inch jellyroll pan.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden stirring every 5 minutes to maintain even baking.  Cool then stir in raisins and store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Per 1/2 cup serving: Calories - 275, Fat - 12.1g, Cholesterol - 0mg, Sodium - 69mg

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Family Burgers

We had mixed reviews about these burgers.  I thought they were great and 2 out of my 3 kids said they were good.  Chris said he wasn't sure what it was, but that he didn't like them as much as a regular old plain ground beef with nothing added to the hamburger.  I thought they were yummy with a nice flavor to them.  I have to give my husband credit for making these burgers.  I wasn't home to make them, so he mixed, pattied and grilled them outside... in the rain no less.  Make them for yourself and see how you like them!

Family Burgers

1 pound ground beef
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon grated onion (we just put in a half tablespoon of dried minced onion)
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning (I have the Pampered Chef Greek Rub)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 hamburger buns

Combine first 8 ingredients, blending well.  Shape into 4 patties.  Grill over medium coals - 300 to 350 - for about 15 minutes or until done turning once.  Serve on buns. 

Broiling - place patties on broiler pan and broil 3 inches from heat about 10 minutes until done, turning once.

Pan frying - Heat a heavy skillet until hot.  Add patties and cook over medium heat about 8 minutes or until done, turning once.

Also pictured with the hamburger are Parmesan Crusted Potato Wedges.

Parmesan Crusted Potato Wedges

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These wedges are delicious and easy.  I can take no credit in making them myself because my husband made them while I took Ava to TaeKwonDo.  He also made the burgers.  The only thing I can take credit for is complimenting the cook.  He did a good job.  The wedges are bit on the salty side.  I think next time I make them I'll use garlic powder instead of garlic salt. 

Parmesan Crusted Potato Wedges

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt (or just use garlic powder for less sodium)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 medium potatoes, unpeeled (I used the russet potatoes)
1/2 cup butter

Combine grated Parmesan cheese, flour, garlic salt(powder), salt and pepper in a large heavy duty Ziploc bag.  Cut potatoes lengthwise into fourths, unless they are fatter then you might want to cut them into 6 pieces.  Add wedges to bag and shake gently to coat.  Set aside.
Place butter in a jellyroll pan lined with aluminum foil.  Place pan in 425 oven until butter melts.  Spread potato wedges in a single layer in pan and return to oven.  Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes turning wedges after 15 minutes.  Stick potatoes with a fork to make sure they are done.  You might have to add on a bit of cooking time.  Makes about 6 servings.

Here's a photo of the potatoes before they went in the oven.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two-Way Ketchup Chicken

I called this two-way ketchup chicken because you can make it one of two ways.  Just depends on how you want to make it.  One way is in the crockpot (which is what this picture shows and how I made it today), the other way is to just bake it.  Either way, it's delicious.  You can make it as hot or mild as you want depending on the salsa you use and how much cumin you put in.  It's also low-calorie! 

Two-Way Ketchup Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon cornstarch
water (how much depends on which way you make it - either 1 cup or 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups rice

Crockpot Instructions:
Spray a 3 quart crockpot with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts (fresh or frozen, I put mine in frozen) in the crock.  Combine ketchup, salsa, honey, Dijon mustard, chili powder, cumin and cornstarch then mix in 1 cup water (if you are NOT going to add the rice in the crockpot then just use 1/4 to 1/2 cups water).  Pour mixture over chicken, cover crockpot and let sit on low 5 to 6 hours.  Add the rice to the crockpot and stir it in.  Let sit another 1 to 2 hours until rice is cooked through and liquid is absorbed.

Baking Instructions:
Put chicken in a greased 9x13 pan.  Whisk ketchup, salsa, honey, Dijon mustard, chili powder and cumin and pour over chicken breasts flipping the chicken to coat both sides.  Bake at 400 for about 30 minute or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm.  In a small saucepan whisk cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water then whisk in sauce from the chicken pan and bring mixture to a boil to thicken and whisk constantly.  Pour over chicken and serve. 

Nutritional info with white rice:  Calories - 420, Fat - 3.9g, Cholesterol - 82mg, Sodium - 746, Carbs - 59.4g, Dietary Fiber - 1.4g, Sugars - 19.2g, Protein - 33.6g

I get my nutrition information from: Calorie Counter

Sausage and Vegetable Soup

This was something different to try.  We had mixed reviews in our house.  My husband wasn't a real big fan, Hogan said it was just OK, Ava said it was good and Vayle... I don't even remember if she ate (typical 3-year old behavior).  I thought it was good.  It seemed to be missing something.  It didn't have a rich flavor.  I ended up crushing up some Doritos into the soup and that was pretty good.  So - try if you want something different.  I used tomato sauce, but maybe diced tomatoes with some sort of 'flavorings' in it would add to it.

Sausage and Vegetable Soup

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 pound beef ring sausage (I used Hillshire Farm Smoked Beef Sausage)
2 cups diced potato
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried basil

Combine all in a 3 quart slow cooker and mix well.  Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours.

Makes about 8 servings
Nutritional info: Calories - 381, Fat - 13.1g, Cholesterol - 66mg, Sodium - 753, - Carbs - 46.3mg, Dietary Fiber - 9.9g, Sugars - 7.6g, Protein - 22.3g

I get my nutrition info from:  Calorie Counter

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread is delicious.  I think it's better than banana bread, but both are great.  This is just the basic Betty Crocker recipe, but I love it.  You can make 2 8-inch loaves or one 9-inch loaf.  You only need 3 cups of shredded zucchini, so if you have a big one - shred the whole thing and fill Ziploc bags with 3 cups of shredded to have on hand in your freezer!

Zucchini Bread

3 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and shredded
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 350.  Mix zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into greased pans.  If making two 8-inch loaves bake 50 to 60 minutes, if making one 9-inch loaf bake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes on wire rack then remove from pans to finish cooling on wire racks.

Nutrition per slice: Calories - 95, Fat - 4g, Cholesterol - 20mg, Sodium - 110mg, Carbs - 14g, Protein - 1g

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

Homemade soup is really the ultimate use of leftover items.  You can mix and match all your ingredients just the way you want with whatever you have in your kitchen.  It is also very low-calorie as long as you leave things like butter and cream out.  I figured out this soup made about 6 big servings at about 250 calories per serving, but the sodium is a bit high*.  Last night I was being lazy and didn't want to make what I had on my weekly menu, considering it was a crockpot recipe I would've had to start in the morning.  It was about 4pm and Ava had TaeKwonDo, so I figured I'd better whip up something that could basically simmer while I was gone (don't worry - Chris was home with the other two kids so I didn't leave my stove unattended).  I had a 1 1/2 pound package of hamburger in the fridge, so I browned the whole thing and saved 2/3 of it for another use and made soup.  It was delicious and it made about the perfect amount for our family of 5.  Just a little bit left over.  Here's how I made it last night and you can revise it however you want with whatever veggies you have on hand.  I never go by a recipe when I make homemade soup.  I just 'throw stuff in the pot'.  So I had to make sure to write this down while my memory was fresh because I know not everyone is a 'dump-cook' like me.  ENJOY!!

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

1/2 pound hamburger
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed small
1 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh peas
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tomato sauce cans water
2 teaspoons beef base (you can use bouillon if you don't have base, just measure out accordingly)
1/2 cup barley (I have medium pearled barley on hand at all times)

Brown hamburger with onion and garlic.  Drain grease if there is any and add all the rest of the ingredients and let simmer about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve with crackers or crusty bread. 

*Nutritional info - Makes about 6 larger servings (about 2 ladles-full in your soup bowl):
Calories - 249, Fat - 3.3g, Cholesterol - 29mg, Sodium - 929mg, Carbs - 39.4, Fiber - 8.7g, Protein - 16.8g.

I get my nutritional information from: Calorie Counter

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Another good recipe from my binder.  This one had a few steps and I dirtied a few pans, but it was pretty good.  I shared with my mom and some gals she has lunch with every day and they enjoyed it also.  Of course Frank's Red Hot Sauce was added to the top, but it was good without also! 

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

1 16-ounce package shell macaroni
**You can also use a 12-ounce package of jumbo shells and fill them
2 large green and/or red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 16-ounce can refried beans
1/2 of a 1.25-ounce envelope taco seasoning mix (about 3 tablespoons)
2 10-ounce cans enchilada sauce
1 8-ounce package Mexican-style four-cheese blend, shredded
2 cups nacho cheese tortilla chips (Doritos) crushed

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook pasta according to directions drain, rinse, drain and set aside.  In a skillet saute peppers, onion, jalapeno and salt in 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil about 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in chicken, beans, seasoning mix and 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce.  Cook and stir 5 minutes; mix in shell macaroni.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Pour 1 cup of remaining enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan, put the shell macaroni/chicken mixture on top of sauce then drizzle with remaining sauce.  Bake, covered, 35 to 40 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with cheese and bake about 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.  Sprinkled with crushed chips.  Serve with optional avocado dip and sour cream and of course Frank's!

*if you decide to use jumbo shells, stir 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese in with the chicken mixture, stuff them and bake the same way using the remaining cheese to top the shells before serving.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Caramel Apple Oatmeal

This oatmeal was yummy.  I got up at 2am to turn the crockpot on so it would be ready by 5:30 so I could turn the setting to warm and it would be a nice temperature for the kids to eat before they got on the school bus.  The kids enjoyed it, but next time I would personally leave out the apple chunks.  I prefer a smooth oatmeal and apparently so does Hogan, but Chris and Ava enjoyed the apple pieces.  Vayle was too cranky that early in the morning to have an opinion.  If you would rather not set your alarm for the 2am wake up call, make it in the afternoon or evening and put it in the fridge and warm up fresh bowls in the morning.  It is just as good either way.  We also put a little scoop of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of our bowls because everyone can always use a little extra sugar and spice!

Caramel Apple Oatmeal

3 cups uncooked oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
3 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped apples (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

Combine all ingredients except raisins in a greased 3 quart slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 3 to 4 hours or until thickened.  Stir in raisins and serve hot.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zucchini Soup

This is the only time of year I usually make this soup. It's so delicious and warms you up on a cold day.  What I really should do is make it in batches and freeze them so that we can enjoy it through the winter.  My family enjoyed it with a couple of crackers and a sandwich.  It's a pretty low-calorie soup.  Really the only calories come from the whole cup of butter you have to put in it.  Not sure if there is a way around that considering it adds a lot of flavor.  Hope you can find a big zucchini and enjoy this soup!!

Zucchini Soup

8 cups zucchini, peeled and cut into large chunks (basically a large zucchini about a foot long or more)
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup water
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup butter
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk (I used skim)
2 to 4 ounces of Velveeta, cubed - to your taste, I cut a piece about an inch thick and used the 2% Velveeta

Place zucchini pieces, chicken bouillon and water in a pot and boil 10 to 15 minutes until tender.  Let cool a little bit then put into a blender (including the liquid) blend until smooth.
In a large pot melt butter then saute onion about 5 minutes then add flour and whisk.  Slowly whisk in milk then add mixture of blended zucchini.  Add Velveeta then simmer until well heated and cheese is melted through.

Makes about 10 servings: Calories - 274, Fat - 24.1 g, Sodium - 595, Carbohydrates - 10.4g, Fiber - 1.2g.

Crockpot Cherry Cobbler

Anybody that knows me knows I love to cook with my crockpot.  Breakfast, Dinner, Supper & Dessert... it doesn't matter.  When Chris asked me what was in the crockpot for dessert, and I told him, he said he wasn't a fan of cherry dessert.  I didn't say anything.  The rule in our house is you have to try at least one bite before you decide whether you care for it or not.  After we had our zucchini soup for supper I dished up bowls of cobbler with a scoop of ice cream, set one bowl in front of each of the kids and just waited.  Hogan took a small taste and decided it 'wasn't terrible'.  He proceeded to finish the bowl... but not before his dad got a taste to decide if he wanted some too.  Yeah - he had a bowlful.  So, this dessert is a hit and I bet you could use other types of pie filling also.

Crockpot Cherry Cobbler

1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
1 18.25-ounce package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional - I didn't use)
whipped topping or vanilla ice cream

Grease a 2 to 3-quart crockpot and pour pie filling inside.  Mix together cake mix and melted butter and crumble as evenly as possible over pie filling.  Sprinkle the walnuts over top.  Cover and cook on low 3 to 4 hours or high 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Serve warm with whipped topping or ice cream.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Steak and Black Bean Chili

Tired of the same old chili?  Beef, beans, tomato, etc?  Try this recipe!  It has a lot of black beans so you should get your fill of fiber, but you can also make it as spicy or as mild as you want with your choice of canned diced tomatoes.  It's very yummy and just in time for the cool weather to hit.  Enjoy!

Steak & Black Bean Chili

2 pounds tenderized steak cubed (or any kind of steak you want to use up)
3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
2 10-ounce cans any style diced tomatoes - this particular time I used 1 can of diced mexican fiesta tomatoes (Our Family brand) and 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies*
1 can tomato sauce
1 bottle beer, the darker the better
1 to 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin (leave this out for less spicy)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Put all ingredients in a 6-quart crockpot, cover and cook on low 8 hours on high 5 hours, until meat is tender.  Serve with toppings of shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, sour cream chopped jalapeno peppers, and dried tomatoes.

*You can find many different kinds of diced tomatoes in the store.  Pick two of the same kind or use 2 different kinds like I did.  Taste your chili after it's been cooking for a while to test the level of heat.  If it seems too spicy for your palette then add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar to cut the heat.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pizza Mac Bake

Sometimes I try a new recipe I have stowed away for safe keeping in my recipe box that I know I will try some day.  Sometimes when I finally get around to trying them I think 'Why have I not made this before???'  THIS is one of those recipes.  It's mac & cheese and pizza in one.  Super.... really super delicious.  I even had a girlfriend over for supper with the kids and I, all of us had seconds and all of us thought it was fabulous.  Of course I topped mine with some Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce because it goes on my pizza too... and other various things that aren't spicy enough for my palette.  Okay - enough idle chatter... here's the recipe.

Pizza Mac Bake

1 box macaroni and cheese
1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 14-ounce jar pizza sauce
1 3 ounce package sliced pepperoni
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Prepare macaroni & cheese as directed on package in one pot and brown hamburger with minced onion in another pan. 
Grease a 9x13 pan.  Layer in the following manner:  mac & cheese, cheddar cheese, hamburger, pizza sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Let sit for about 5 minutes after taking out of the oven to let it set.

Caramel Sauce

I got this caramel sauce from a friend who had a deliciously gooey sauce for her caramel rolls.  I was using another one and it just didn't have that gooey texture that I love for the rolls.  Is a whopping 3 ingredients.  Making it this way (instructed below) is mainly for the caramel rolls, however you can bring the sauce to a boil for a minute or two stirring constantly and then store it in your fridge for about 2 weeks and use over top of ice cream, pour a bit in your morning coffee or use with anything you might need a caramel sauce for.

Caramel Sauce

1 stick butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup brown sugar

Melt butter in a bowl and stir in whipping cream and brown sugar until well combined.  Pour into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan then place the rolls on top.  Bake the rolls until they are a darker golden brown and be sure to let sit in the pan to cool afterwards before flipping over onto another pan so the sauce thickens.

Pasta Ham Hotdish

I had some leftover ham so decided to make this recipe.  It was good, not great, but good.  It seems like it's missing something.  I think next time instead of putting in more whole kernel corn, I would put in peas or instead of cream corn I would maybe put in cream of mushroom soup.  It had a tasty cheesy flavor.

Pasta Ham Hotdish

4 ounces spaghetti
2 cups cooked ham, cubed
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-ounce can cream style corn
1 cup Velveeta, cubed
1 tablespoon dried minced onion*

Cook spaghetti then mix all ingredients in a bowl and put in a 2-3 quart greased casserole dish.  Cover and bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes stirring once or twice and right before serving.

*You can also saute 1/4 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of butter instead of using the dried minced onion.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


My kids smelled these as soon as they walked in the house after getting off the school bus and their first question was 'Can we have one now?!'  So they all enjoyed a warm bun for their after-school snack.  Now really... what can be much better than a warm homemade bun fresh out of the oven.


4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons yeast
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup dry milk powder
3 eggs
2 tablespoons salt
about 12 cups bread flour

In a large glass measuring bowl add 4 cups warm water, 3 tablespoons yeast and sprinkle some sugar over top.  Right around 1/2 to 1 teaspoon or so.  Whisk well to dissolve all the yeast and let sit.
In a mixing bowl with a dough hook combine the crisco, sugar, dry milk powder, eggs & salt.  Pour in water/yeast mixture and then mix.  Add about 6 cups of the bread flour and mix well.  Then add about 5 more cups and mix.  Now just add 1 cup at a time mixing after each addition until the dough forms a ball cleaning the sides of the mixer and the dough is sticky to the touch, but doesn't stick to your fingers.
Run the mixer another 10 minutes to knead it well and set your oven at 200.  Get a large bowl and put about a tablespoon of oil in there.  After the dough is done mixing, shut off the oven, dump the dough into the bowl and flop it around so it gets covered with the oil all around.  Cover with a flour-sack towel (or dish towel) and put it in the oven for about 1/2 hour to proof until it has risen a bit.  Punch down and then let rise in the oven again for another 1/2 hour until doubled in size.  Remove dough and pan up the buns onto greased sheets.  Heat the oven up to 200 again while you are panning your buns.  Shut the oven off and place the buns in the oven (covered again) to proof about another 1/2 hour.
 After buns are done rising remove all the pans from the oven and heat the oven to 350.  Bake each pan separately for even baking for about 10 minutes until soft golden on top.  Remove from oven and take off pan and place on counter top.  Butter bun tops with a brush and butter or margarine and leave covered with a towel on counter until buns are all cooled.  Place some in freezer bags to save for later and keep some in your kitchen, but they won't last long!  It makes about 4 to 5 dozen nice sized buns.  Don't be skimpy when panning the dough - make nice big dough-balls.  You can also make caramel rolls with the dough too!  Usually I get 3 dozen buns and a 9x13 pan of caramel rolls when I do them.  I got a really great caramel sauce recipe (3 ingredients) from a friend that is fabulous!  I will share if you want it!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vegetable Beef Casserole

This recipe is so easy and fast to make.  You can literally assemble it in 5 minutes if you have your hamburger browned.  It's low-calorie and delicious.  My family likes to put a little ketchup on top of it for a little extra flavor, but I like it without.  It's an all-in-one casserole - meat, potatoes and veggies in one pot.  What can be better?!

Vegetable Beef Casserole

3 medium unpeeled potatoes, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown hamburger with minced onion.
In a greased 3-quart casserole, layer half the potatoes, carrots, celery and green beans.  Crumble half of ground beef then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of thyme and pepper.  Repeat layers and top with tomato sauce.  Cover and bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake 1 hour longer or until vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle with cheese; cover and let stand until cheese is melted.

Yields 8 servings (or maybe a little more) and is just under 300 calories a serving with 10.5 grams of fat, 4.8 grams of fiber, 21.3 carbs & 481 mg of sodium.