Wednesday, October 21, 2015

baked potatoes with broccoli cheese sauce...

This is a new favorite dinner at our house! Baked potatoes are hearty and filling and perfect on a cold night. Pair with a green salad and call it good. For my family I cooked five large russets it was the perfect amount of sauce. Bake potatoes at 425 degrees for 45 min to one hour. Prick potatoes with a fork several times and rub with olive oil and salt and pepper first before placing in oven.

1 head of broccoli, cut into florets 
1 cup milk 
1/2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp seasoned salt (Lawrey's)
1/4 tsp pepper 
1/8 tsp salt 
1/8 tsp chili powder 
6 oz Velveeta, cut into cubes 
2 oz cheddar cheese, grated 
2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated 

Steam broccoli for 3-4 min, or until slightly tender. Set aside.

Heat butter and milk over medium low heat until hot. Stir in seasonings. Add Velveeta and stir until melted and creamy. Stir in cheddar and Jack cheese until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning (add a little salt if necessary)

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mini pizza's...

We had some friends over for dinner recently and because a lot of  kids were present I decided to make the easiest thing I could think of. We have "make your own pizzas" on a regular basis here...for two reasons. 1- they are soooooo easy to throw together 2- they really are delicious. My friend asked why she hadn't seen this on my blog. I guess I never even think to post the super easy stuff, but isn't that what we all really want??? Anyways... Here you go!

1 pkg Greek flat bread (Costco sells these in a pkg of six for dirt cheap & they freeze really well)
Italian seasoned tomato paste (trust me on this one) Also freezes well if you don't use all of the tiny can
Shredded mozzarella cheese 
Turkey pepperoni (regular if you like to live on the wild side)
Dried oregano 
Additional pizza toppings of your choice 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pizzas. Bake 10 min (approximately) or until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted. Run under broiler for a min until cheese is extra bubbly!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

s'more cookie bars...

Not too much to say here except that these are the BOMB! Everything you love about a s'more and everything you like about a really goooood cookie is present in these yummy bars. Enjoy, my friends!

2 sticks butter; room temperature 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla 
2 2/3 cups flour 
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (1 1/2 packages)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6-8 Hershey bars (regular candy bar size)
6 cups mini marshmallows 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray*

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; mix. Combine dry ingredients and add along with graham cracker crumbs.

Press half of the dough into the pan. Bake for 15 min.

Remove from oven and immediately cover cooked dough with chocolate bars-breaking the chocolate to fit, if needed. Sprinkle on the marshmallows. Scatter bits of remaining dough over the top of the marshmallows. Bake for 20-25 min or until the top and sides are lightly browned.

Cool on wire rack and serve.

*you can line the pan with foil and spray OR with parchment paper. If you skip this step the marshmallows become baked on to the pan and it is reeeeaaaalllly hard to get them out. A little bit of sticking will probably still happen in the corners, but that's ok.

Monday, July 6, 2015

blender wheat pancakes...

We are breakfast people. I don't usually make breakfast, but we do have breakfast for dinner about once a week. These pancakes are a childhood FAVORITE! They come together so easily. The whole thing is done in the blender and can be poured right on to the griddle. We have always eaten these with boysenberry syrup (store bought), but whatever strikes your fancy!

1 cup milk
3/4 cup whole wheat kernels (wheat berries)
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda 
2 tsps baking powder 
1 Tbsp sugar or honey 

Put milk and wheat in blender and blend for a few minutes or until wheat is completely broken up. (In my Blendtec it took less than a minute) Add remaining ingredients. Blend well. Cook on lightly greased griddle; turning once. Keep warm in 200 degree oven until ready to serve. Makes approximately 12 pancakes. I usually double and freeze leftover pancakes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

coconut jasmine rice...

You know what goes great with huli huli chicken???? This does. I've always liked rice, in all its forms, but this might just top the list. Jasmine rice has a light, subtle, almost floral taste. With the addition of coconut milk it takes it over the top. I've used full fat and light coconut milk and honestly couldn't tell a difference. Grill up some pineapple spears and you have an amazing meal.

2 cups jasmine rice; rinsed
1 can light coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 1/4 cups water 
1 tsp salt
1 green onion; thinly sliced 

Place rice, coconut milk, water and salt in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 min. Fluff with a fork and stir in green onions.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

hawaiian chicken (or huli huli chicken)...

I am constantly looking for new ways to make chicken. My husband made this for a neighborhood luau last summer and it was a hit. I'm a little disappointed that it took me a year to make it again! Plus, with 100 degree temps I'm not interested in turning the oven on or standing in front of a hot stove to cook chicken.
This recipe calls for chicken thighs...going to be completely honest here, I would probably prefer this with chicken cutlets. I'm not a huge fan of dark meat. However, chicken thighs are definitely more moist and much less expensive. So, go with whatever you prefer.

*Note...I cut this recipe in half for six people. Recipe, as shown, makes 12 plus servings

1 cup packed brown sugar 
3/4 cup ketchup 
3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 
1/3 cup chicken broth 
2 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger*
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic 
24 boneless skinless chicken thighs 

In a small bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Reserve 1 1/3 cups for basting; cover and refrigerate. Divide remaining marinade btwn two large re sealable plastic bags. Add chicken thighs to each; seal bags and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 minutes per side or until no longer pink; baste occasionally with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes.

*you can purchase a large piece of ginger and keep in an air tight container/bag in the freezer. Peel using the back of a spoon. Grate or mince finely.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Monday, June 22, 2015

honey almond granola...

I love making large batches of granola to keep on hand. I actually always double this disappears fast and if you're going to make it, you might as well make a lot! It stores well in an air tight container, and will even freeze nicely in a freezer bag. Our favorite way to eat it is with honey vanilla Greek yogurt, but my kids also grab it by the handful & go to town!

1/3 cup honey
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/8 tsp almond extract 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
3 Tbsp coconut oil 
1 cup almonds; chopped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine chopped almonds, oats, salt and brown sugar. Stir to combine.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine honey and coconut oil and heat 30-40 seconds. Stir to dissolve coconut oil. Add extracts.

Pour honey mixture over oats and stir until evenly coated. Pour evenly onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes, stir and bake for 5 more minutes. 

Let cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

crock pot baked potatoes...

If you've never tried this, then you need to!! Foolproof way of baking potatoes that turn out fluffy and delicious! 

Olive oil or butter
Salt & pepper 

Prick potatoes with a fork. Rub each with either butter or olive oil. Place in slow cooker. Cover. Cook on high 3-5 hours, or low 6-8 hours.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

lime bars...

Lemon bars are usually the favorite, but I like to shake it up sometimes and use limes instead. This is my moms tried and true recipe and the one we love the most! It's been in the family for years and is always a favorite!

2 cups flour 
1 cup butter; room temp
4-5 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together and press into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min.

4 eggs
2 cups sugar 
1/2 tsp baking powder
7 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp lime juice
Zest of 3-4 limes

Slowly beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, and blend well. Pour over hot crust and return to oven. Lower temp to 325 degrees and bake for 25 min. Let cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Refrigerate before cutting.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

creme brûlée...

 I got one of these mini blow torches for my Birthday...

So I had to make this. Good call.

It always amazes me how a few simple ingredients can result in something so delicious, with minimal effort. This really is a fairly simple dessert to make. I used vanilla beans, but if you'd rather use vanilla extract, it would be just as delicious. In fact...this particular recipe only called for a vanilla bean but next time I will add a teaspoon of vanilla, as well. Just make sure it's pure vanilla extract. 

1 quart heavy cream 
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 
1/2 cup sugar, plus a little extra for brûlée 
6 large egg yolks 
2 quarts hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place cream, vanilla bean and it's pulp into a medium saucepan set over med high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.

In a medium bowl (or bowl of mixer), whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and pale yellow. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour through a mesh strainer. Pour mixture into 6 (8 oz) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake just until the cream is set but still trembling in the center, approximately 40-45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove from refrigerator for at least 30 min prior to browning the sugar on top. Sprinkle 1/2-1 Tbsp sugar evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow creme brûlée to sit for at least 5 min before serving.

*brulee method can also be done under the broiler set on high. Watch closely until it begins to brown and bubble. Using hot pads, remove from oven.

Recipe source: Alton Brown;

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

waffles...and the BEST buttermilk syrup you've ever had...

This is good. Oh, so very good. These waffles are so easy to throw together, just as easy as a mix, but soooo much tastier. I double the recipe and get about eight thick waffles. One batch would make about 4 Belgian waffles and 5-6 in a regular waffle iron.

 And let me just go on about this syrup for a minute...I've been making this for years for my family and it is unbelievably delicious. Like, lick the spoon/bowl/plate delicious. I usually make it with vanilla extract, but you can substitute for coconut extract and it is just as good. The leftover syrup stores well in the fridge, and makes a fabulous ice cream topping, as well. 

3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt 
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Preheat waffle iron. Melt butter in microwave. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In another bowl beat together milk and eggs. Whisk liquid mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in melted butter. Spoon approx. 1/2 cup batter onto iron and cook until golden brown and crisp around edges. 
Remove from iron and keep warm on baking sheet in oven while making the rest.

Buttermilk syrup:
1 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup butter 
1 Tbsp light corn syrup 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp vanilla extract or coconut extract 

Heat first four ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Let boil 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. NOTE: the mixture will bubble up when baking soda and vanilla are added and it is HOT. Stand back until it settles down and stir until combined 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sunday pot roast...

I've made pot roast more times than I can count. However, I haven't had a favorite recipe. They've all been good, for the most part, but not necessarily good enough to make twice in one week.

The very best thing about this "Sunday pot roast" is that it happened on a Thursday...that's a fabulous thing. It had been a long, busy, rainy day and I had no plans for dinner. It needed to be easy and stick-to-your-ribs delicious (and NOT pizza). Well, it delivered in all categories. Throw it all in one pot, put in the oven and in three hours you have a melt in your mouth dinner. Don't be turned off by the gravy packet. I don't usually use them, but it worked perfectly here. It made a lovely little sauce under the beef that was so delicious.
The name for this came from the fact that my mom would put a roast in the oven on Sunday's before church and three hours later we walked in the door and dinner was done! My kids do not know that luxury.

The only catch here is that you need a Dutch oven (type) pot with an oven-safe lid. You could transfer everything to a 9x13 pan and cover with foil if your pans are not oven safe.

1- 3lb (approx) chuck roast 
Potatoes (1-2 per person); quartered *
Carrots (1 per person); sliced in half, then in half again 
1 onion; quartered
1 pkg low sodium brown gravy
Salt and pepper 
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Heat Dutch oven on medium heat with olive oil. Season meat with salt & pepper. Place in pot and cook until golden brown and a crust begins to form. Turn and repeat on other side. Turn off heat and remove pot. Add vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle gravy mix over everything in pot and pour in water. Cover and place in oven for three hours.

*I use white or red potatoes, russets have too much starch and would not hold their shape & turn out mushy...not good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

oatmeal muffins...

I have a picky eater at my house. She doesn't "do" sandwiches. She loves muffins, though, so when I saw this recipe I thought it might be a good addition to her lunchbox. One batch makes 18-24 muffins so I freeze them and pop a frozen muffin in her lunch. 

These are perfect for a weekend breakfast/brunch, as well. 

The recipe has a lot of steps but each one is easy. Plus, when you get so many for your efforts it's worth it.

2 T butter
2 cups oats 

Melt butter over medium heat and toast oats until golden, 6-8 min.*

*(I usually skip this step)

Place oats in food processor and process to flour. Add:

1 3/4 cup flour 
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda 

Pulse to combine and set aside.

In a large bowl mix 1 1/3 cups brown sugar and 6 Tbsp melted butter. Stir until lumps are gone.
Add 1 3/4 cups milk and 2 beaten eggs. Mix to combine. 

Add dry ingredients in two stages (folding in with a whisk), turning and shaking off of whisk as you go. Let batter sit for 20 min.


1/2 cup oats 
1/3 cup flour 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
Pinch of salt 
4 Tbsp melted butter 

Stir to combine 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tins really well. Fill muffin cups to the top with batter. Top each with 2 Tbsp topping. Bake 18-25 min. Rotate pan halfway through baking. Let cool in pans for 10 min on top of cooling rack.

If freezing, let cool completely and place 9 muffins in a gallon sized freezer bag.

Recipe source: Americas Test Kitchen 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

loaded mashed potato bake...

This is a favorite at our house. Any time 4 lbs of potatoes are polished off in one sitting...(keep in mind I do have three teenage boys) you know it must be good. 
This is everything you love about a loaded baked potato and everything you love about mashed potatoes combined in one delicious, creamy side dish.

4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper 
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese 
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled 
2 green onions, sliced 

In a large pot boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain well and return to pot. Mash potatoes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Add butter, milk, sour cream and seasonings and mix well. Stir in Parmesan cheese and one cup of cheddar.
Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25 min. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheddar cheese and bacon. Bake for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

chocolate chip cookie pie...

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. LOVE. This pie is my new favorite dessert. It comes together so fast and is extremely gooey and delicious. The chocolate chips sink to the bottom creating a fudgy layer and the center is what chocolate chip cookie dough dreams are made of. To make this happen even faster, buy frozen pie crusts already in the pie tin. I usually make two because...why not? Take one to a friend and keep one for yourself! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

1 unbaked 9 in. deep-dish pie crust (or frozen pie crust)
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Beat eggs on high speed until light and foamy. Add both sugars, the flour and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in the softened butter. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into prepared, unbaked pie shell. Bake 50-60 min or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Set on cooling rack for 15-20 min before slicing. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

the BEST sandwich...

If you are, by chance, in need of a lunch idea this week...well, look no further. This combination of hearty bread, cream cheese and veggies is perfection. You could add turkey or ham to make it even more filling. Have you tried "Dave's Killer Bread?" This is the Good Seed variety. The story behind this bread is so worth the read (

This is how I doctored up the sandwich, but by all means, cater it to your own liking!

2 slices Dave's Killer Good Seed bread (or any hearty, seeded bread)
Cream cheese 
Salt & pepper (very important!!!)
Sliced English cucumber 
Sliced green onions 
Shredded carrots 
Spinach leaves 
Yellow banana peppers 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

chocolate chip m&m cookies...

I am a cookie snob. There, I said it. These cookies are the BOMB! It doesn't get much better than this folks. This recipe makes a BIG batch of cookies...the good news is that the dough freezes beautifully. If you don't need 6+ dozen cookies in one shot (and why wouldn't you) just scoop dough onto cookie sheets and place in freezer. Once frozen place into freezer bags. The beauty of this is that if you have a hankering for one or two cookies, and who doesn't from time to time, just pull from freezer and bake. You're welcome.

1 1/2 cups shortening
1/2 cup butter; room temp
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar 
4 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla 
5 cups flour 
2 tsp salt 
2 tsp baking soda 
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup m&m's 
1/2 cup m&m's; set aside

Cream butter and shortening; add both sugars and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add in three batches, mixing just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and m&m's. Scoop onto lined baking sheets. Use reserved m&m's & place 1-2 m&m's on top of each cookie before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 min. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

crispy roasted potato wedges...

Do you ever buy a giant bag of potatoes for $1.99, use what you need for one...maybe two recipes and then still have a giant bag of potatoes left?? Well, here's one solution for you. These bad boys are addictive. They are crispy and delicious on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Mmmmmm!!

1 medium russet potato per person
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3-4 wedges. Place in a large ziplock bag. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat and sprinkle in salt & pepper. Shake to coat. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake about 10 min and flip to other side (don't rush this step...if potatoes don't lift easily after 10 min give it a little longer. When they have developed a crust they will lift easily) Bake an additional 10-15 (approximately) until crispy on each side and tender in the middle.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

balsamic quinoa vegetable salad...

Quinoa...Yes?? No??

The first time I tried quinoa the answer was a resounding "NO!" I didn't like it. 
Everyone else did.
So I played around with it until I found recipes I liked. This, being one of my favorites. There is no specific recipe, mostly just assembly. Even better! No measuring!

By all means if you feel inspired to make your own balsamic dressing, please do so. I go that route occasionally but I'm pretty happy with a pre made version. Cater the veggies to your own liking. I just used what I had on hand. 

This is great served at room temperature and would be perfect for a Summer BBQ...if Summer ever comes.

Balsamic Vegetable Quinoa Salad 

cooked quinoa 
english cucumber; diced
yellow pepper; diced
red onion; diced
carrots; shredded or diced
chopped baby spinach
sugar snap peas; chopped 
salt & pepper; to taste 
balsamic vinaigrette 

Mix everything together and let sit at least 30 min. before serving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

tortilla and black bean pie...

4 flour tortillas (10 inch)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion; diced
1 jalapeno chile; minced (remove seeds & ribs for less heat) *if desired
2 garlic cloves; minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper
2 cans (15oz each) black beans; drained and rinsed (OR 1 can black beans and 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef)
1 1/2 cups water1 pkg (10 oz) frozen corn
4 green onions, thinly sliced; plus more for garnish
2 1/2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim (if necessary) tortillas to fit a 9-inch spring form pan, using bottom of pan as a guide. Set aside.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef, onion, jalapeno, garlic and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5-7 min.
Add the beans, and water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until the liquid has evaporated, 8-10 min. Stir in the corn and green onions and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Fit a trimmed tortilla in the bottom of the spring form pan; layer with one quarter of the beans and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat three times. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20-25 min. Unmold pie, sprinkle with green onions. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

This is a fabulous recipe from Everyday Food's Great Food Fast cookbook. I love this book. I have so many recipes bookmarked just waiting to be made. The original recipe calls for 2 cans of beans and no meat. The meat was a delicious I'm feeding a hungry husband and three growing boys who love beef! I did also leave out the jalapeno.
We LOVED this. It was very filling and such a nice change from the regular tacos/burritos.
I think this would work great in a cake pan if you don't have a spring form pan. Just cut the tortillas to fit and it would be fine. This would also be great if you are cooking for a crowd and wanted to double or even triple the recipe.
I lightened this up by using lighter tortillas (thin & crispy, low carb, whole grain, etc) and using less cheese.