Friday, October 29, 2010

Gourmet Caramel Apples

So these are totally a guilty pleasure of mine. At $8.00 a pop at the chocolate store, I had to figure out how to make them myself. I got some pointers on and went for it. And if I do say so myself, they were dang good! Aren't they pretty too? And your friends and neighbors will be so impressed. (Assuming that you decide to share!) Here they  are step-by-step.

Gourmet Caramel Apples
apples (granny smith work best)
caramel (I used the caramel bits because you don't have to unwrap them!)
sticks (five come in each bag or caramel bits, but I found there's enough caramel for six apples, so improvise. I used forks!)

Prep your apples by washing, drying, "roughing" them up (I used sand paper. You don't need to do this too much, just enough to remove any wax. This helps the caramel stick better), and stick in the sticks. Make sure the sticks are in deep because once you dip the apples they will be rather heavy and you don't want them falling off the sticks. Melt the caramel according to the directions on the package. Carefully dip each apple and use a spoon to help fully coat. If you are going to use a topping, roll in the topping now. Then place on greased waxed paper. Place in fridge to cool and harden between layers of toppings.

I made several of these ideas below. So far the German chocolate is my favorite!
Topping ideas:
Apple Pie: let caramel cool then dip in white chocolate and roll in crushed graham crackers mixed with cinnamon.

German Chocolate: Roll in pecans while caramel is hot. Once cooled roll in melted chocolate and toasted coconut.

Chocolate covered pretzel: Roll in crushed pretzels while hot. Once cooled drizzle with chocolate.

Smore: Roll in mini marshmallows while still hot. Once cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate then graham cracker crumbs.
Chocolate Graham: Once cooled, dip in chocolate then drizzle with white chocolate and roll in graham crackers.

Turtle: Roll in pecans while caramel is still hot. Once cooled, dip in chocolate.
Black and white: Once cooled, dip in chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate.

*Tip: melt 1 cup chocolate chips with 1 Tbs. shortening in microwave for 2 minutes for silky smooth consistency.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rolo Pretzel Turtles

This one comes from Stephanie's Tried and True cook book again, courtesy of my aunt Betty. When I saw that it combines my favorite candy with my favorite nut and one of my favorite snacks, I was sold. So easy to make and even easier to make disappear! Perfect for gifting. My husband's taking these in cute little Halloween bags to his home teachees.
Rolo Pretzel Turtles
Rolos-I used 5 packs. There's 8 in a pack.
Pecan halves-I bought 1/3 lb. from the bulk bin and it was more than enough
Pretzels-the little twisty ones, not the sticks!

Preheat your oven to 200. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Lay out 40 pretzels in a single layer. Top each pretzel with a Rolo. "Bake" for 5 minutes. They will be glossy ad soft but still retain their shape.
Press a pecan into each Rolo. Work quickly or the caramel will begin to harden. Let the "turtles" harden in the fridge. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taco Soup

This recipe is simple, yet delicious. It is a go-to recipe for me because I just about always have the ingredients on hand. It's a great way to use some of your food storage. And let's face it, you can never have too many soup recipes this time of year.

Taco Soup
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream for garnish

Brown the ground beef with the onion. Add in about half the taco seasoning and 2-3 Tbs. of water once the meat is cooked and the onion is translucent. (At this point I always wish I would have made double to freeze half for tacos later.) Drain off the grease. Dump the meat mixture in a crockpot with the tomatoes and juices, corn and juice, beans, and the rest of the taco seasoning. Add about 1/2 cup water and stir. Don't add too much water as it will get waterier as the tomatoes cook down. Cook on low until ready to serve. Serve with crushed tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream on top.
* You, of course, can do this on the stove but I prefer to do the work in the morning and know that my dinner is ready to go.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Best French Toast

I think I have already mentioned on this blog how much I LOVE French toast. So when I saw that this claims to be the BEST French toast, I was a little skeptical. But I will say, I would have to agree. It is a little more work than just dipping your bread in eggs, but so worth it. This recipe also comes from Stephanie's Tried and True recipes. Thank you Lizzie Heiselt of Brooklyn, New York for submitting it. Serve this with warm maple syrup, a side of bacon, hash browns, eggs, fruit and juice. It doesn't get any better than that! (What can I say? I like a big breakfast. I get it from my father.)

(image courtesy of google images and

The Best French Toast
1 large egg
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted + more for skillet
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4-5 slices thick sliced bread or 6-8 slices sandwich bread

Heat your skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile beat the egg in a shallow pan or pie plate. Then whisk in the melted butter, then milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt. Continue whisking until smooth. Soak bread without over saturating (30-40 seconds per side depending on thickness of the bread.) Allow excess to drip off as pull each slice out of the batter. Swirl 1 Tbs. butter in hot skillet. Cook bread until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes on first side, less on second side. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chubby Chunk Double-chip Peanut Butter Cookies

A couple of months ago I went through my cook books and made a list of all the desserts I want to make by the end of the year. I came up with about 2 dozen decadent desserts. The only rule (for the sake of my waistline) was that I could only make something off of the list if I had a reason to share. These cookies made the list. I made them for the going away party we threw for some good friends who moved to Washington D.C. This recipe comes from a cookbook my cousin Steph put together a couple of years ago. She collected tried and true recipes from friends and family and this has become my go-to cook book in many ways. Thank you Stephanie for being such a crafty, creative, inspiration and thank you Lorraine Olsen of Layton, Utah for submitting the recipe.

Chubby Chunk Double-chip Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup butter softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugars in large bowl.
Beat in eggs, baking soda, and vanilla until well blended. Beat until dough is stiff and smooth. Blend in flour and peanut butter.
Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
Drop dough onto cookie sheets. Press down slightly to flatten.
Bake 12-14 minutes (dough will appear underdone). Do not over bake.
Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for about 1-2 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool the rest of the way.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
(Standard Examiner, April 4, 2000)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Onion rings and dipping sauce

So I can't really take credit for this since it was from a mix. But these were ridiculously good, so I had to share a good find. I found this mix at my local Sprouts Farmer's Market. I love a good onion ring with a Tumpura style batter rather than a crumbly breading.

This is all that was left before I remembered to take a picture because they were that good. (And while I could have eaten the whole batch myself, I did have plenty of help!)
I found a recipe for the dipping sauce on I liked this sauce, but I wish it had a little more of a kick to it. Next time I would probably add more horseradish or a splash or two of hot sauce.

Onion Rings with dipping sauce
2-3 medium YELLOW onions (yellow onions tend to be a little sweeter) cut into rings
Tempura style onion ring batter mix
oil for frying
Cook onion rings according to instructions on the batter mix

1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. ketchup
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated raw horseradish (I used prepared horseradish, maybe the raw stuff would have given it the kick I was looking for)
1/4 tsp. paprika

Mix well and chill before serving.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Potato Soup

Potatoes were on sale (88 cents for 10 lbs!) and I wanted to make this yummy soup that my cousin posted awhile ago. Of course, I didn't have leeks (I have made it with the leeks and it is mighty tasty) so I improvised. I thought, what could I add to give it a punch of flavor? And of course I thought of garlic. This is perfect for Halloween because you will ward off all the vampires with your garlic breath, but it is delicious.

*I think I like the original recipe better. So here it is. But if you don't want to go buy leeks (or if you want to ward off all the vampires that are out this time of year), I will give you my alterations at the bottom.

K’s Potato Leek Soup
3 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced*
1 medium or large onion, chopped
6 – 8 russet potatoes, thinly sliced**
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
1 cup heavy cream (I used light whipping cream and it was still rich and delicious!)
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1) Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat then add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring, until onions are limp and just slightly brown.
2) Add sliced potatoes to saucepan then pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat and stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent scorching on the bottom.
3) Add one cup of heavy cream (or more if you desire) and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and serve.
Notes: *Make sure to clean leeks thoroughly and slice only the white and light green part of the leeks. **You don’t need to peel the potatoes as the peels add to the rustic texture of the soup. But make sure to scrub them thoroughly and remove any obvious blemishes before slicing. Although we always make it with chicken broth, this can easily become a vegetarian soup by simply using vegetable broth instead.

-Roast one head of garlic by chopping off the top and drizzling olive oil onto the exposed cloves. Then wrap in foil and cook at 400 for about 45 minutes. (Or if you were lucky enough to be gifted an electric garlic roaster at your wedding use that. Unfortunately mine was buried in boxes in the basement, so I did it the old-fashioned way.) Remove from foil and squeeze out garlic cloves. Mash roasted garlic with a fork. Add garlic when you add the potatoes and leave out the leeks.
-I used whole milk and it was mighty tasty. I'm sure "K" knew what she was doing with the heavy cream, but I saved a few bucks and a few million calories.

I served this with yesterday's rolls.  This meal might just be a weekly staple at our house in one form or another until spring decides to show her pretty little face!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Whole Wheat Rolls

This recipe comes from the big red cook book. You know which one I'm talking about, right?
(picture courtesy of google images)
This is probably the most used wedding gift we got besides our bed. There are recipes for everything you could think of. This recipe is for whole wheat bread, but I simply shape it into rolls. (There is a recipe of whole wheat rolls in the book too, but this one always turns out better for some reason.) Perfect with a big pot of soup. These aren't your light and fluffy dinner rolls. These are hearty and delicious. Did I mention that my one-year-old begged for these several times a day until they were gone? Yes, they are that good.

Whole Wheat Rolls
3 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl combine 2 cups all purpose flour and yeast. Set aside. In a small sauce pan combine water, brown sugar, butter, and salt. Heat until just warm (120-130 degrees) or butter is almost all the way melted. I would recommend removing it from the heat and letting it cool for 3-5 minutes before adding to the flour mixture. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast and the rolls won't rise as much. Add stove mixture to flour mixture. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Then beat on high for 3 minutes. This is important because it starts to build the gluten and cuts down on the kneading time. Using a wooden spoon stir in the whole wheat flour and as much of the remaining all purpose flour as you can.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining flour for 6-8 minutes until moderately stiff and smooth. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Turn dough in the bowl until all sides are greased. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise until double in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down dough then turn out onto lightly floured surface. Let rest 10 minutes. To shape into rolls, pinch off a piece a little larger than a golf ball. Roll into a ball and place in a greased 9x13 glass pan. Don't put rolls too close together (3 across) to allow for rising. Once pan is full, cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise again until almost double in size.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and they make a hollow sound when you tap them. Right after taking them out of the oven, unwrap the end of a stick of butter and rub it all over the top of the hot rolls to give it a pretty glossy look. Makes 18-24 rolls.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Whenever I hear someone say "I don't like (fill in your favorite vegetable)" I can't help but think, "Maybe you just haven't had that vegetable prepared in a way that you like it." Now I admit, there are some things that some people just don't like to eat. However, don't rule out an entire category of vegetable simply because you had it once and you didn't like it. That said, here is my favorite way to cook many different vegetables. I have done this with carrots, potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and I'm sure many others that I can't think of right now. This isn't the best picture, but I like it because it shows the carmelization and color and color means flavor!

Roasted Vegetables
prepare vegetables (clean, peel, chop, etc.)
toss in olive oil
season with salt and pepper...when I'm in a really crazy mood I use garlic salt and lemon pepper
Roast on a cookie sheet at 375 for about 20 minutes or until tender

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I'm not really sure where the term "Whoopie Pie" comes from, but I've seen several different versions of this floating around cyberspace. I had to try them, and they did not disappoint. This particular version came from because Martha has never steered me wrong.

(I left some an single cookies so they wouldn't be so GIANT!)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 Tbs. ground cloves
(I used 1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice and 1 to 1 1/2 Tbs. cinnamon instead of the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves listed above)
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup softened butter
8 oz. cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. In another bowl whisk together brown sugar, and oil. Then add pumpkin. Whisk until combined. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Finally, whisk in the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until just starting to crack and toothpick comes out clean. (about 15 minutes) Let cool completely.

Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in sifted powdered sugar. Then stir in vanilla until smooth.
Assemble cookies by generously frosting the flat bottom of one cookie and topping with another. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sundried Tomato Pasta

My mom has been making this recipe for years. It is a family favorite. After drying all those tomatoes I figured the natural thing to do with them would be to make Mom's signature recipe. There's not a lot of measuring going on in her kitchen, so I'll do the best I can to estimate. This one has a lot of similarities to my Garden Pasta, in fact this is where the inspiration for that one came from. If you use whole grain pasta, I would qualify this one as a perfect recipe!

(This picture doesn't really do it justice. I promise there are lots of sundried tomatoes in there!)

Sundried Tomato Pasta
1 lb. spaghetti or spaghettini
1 lb. chicken cut into bite-sized pieces (I like tenderloins)
1 yellow or brown onion diced
olive oil
parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jar sundried tomatoes with oil or about 1/4 cup homemade sundried tomatoes
*If you are using homemade, rehydrate them in warm water or olive oil for a couple of hours until they plump up some.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook the chicken, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Chop the sundried tomatoes. Toss the onion, chicken, garlic, tomatoes, and oil the tomatoes were packed in with the warm pasta. Serve with lots of freshly ground pepper and Parmesan cheese on top.
So simple, yet so delicious!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sundried Tomatoes

Our garden went better than anticipated this year. We had tomatoes coming out of our ears for weeks! So after freezing a bunch and giving away a ton, I decided to dehydrate some. Aren't they pretty? I did some by parboiling to remove the skins, then slicing. The rest I just sliced. That was much easier, less messy, and they turned out prettier, but then you have a somewhat tough skin to deal with. I guess it's a trade-off.

 I stuck a bunch in a freezer bag and the rest I stuck in a jar, covered in olive oil, and stuck in the fridge. Now what do I do with them?
Stay tuned. A yummy recipe coming up tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

 This recipe came via a recommendation from my cousin Monica. She and her friends have a food blog that this comes from. The original recipe is Ina Garten's, so of course it's gonna be good! My mom suggested roasting the squash first. So we had this as a side dish, then a couple days later it was soup! I'll give you Ina's original recipe, followed by my adjustments below.
Winter Squash Soup- Ina Garten (Straight from the cookbook-Barefoot in Paris)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 small or one large)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
3 cups Homemade chicken stock or canned broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half and half
Creme fraiche, grated Gruyere, or croutons for serving (optional)

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the pumpkin puree, butternut squash, chicken stock, salt and pepper. cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is very tender. Process the mixture through the medium blade of a food mill. Return to the pot, add the half-and-half, and heat slowly. If the soup needs more flavor, add another teaspoon of salt. Serve hot with garnishes, if desired.

My adjustments (I'm sure the original recipe is amazing as is, but these are more for simplicity's sake.)
-I used whole milk because who has half and half on hand? Not I. But thanks to my husband and child we always have whole milk.
-I topped with sour cream and croutons again because who has Gruyere and creme fraiche? I'm sure it would be extra yummy with bacon bits. Mmmmmm!
-I blended it in my blender.  This can be a little tricky with the hot liquid. Be sure to only fill the blender about halfway and be sure to leave a way for the steam to escape. (I left the lid off but covered it with a towel to avoid spills.) I'm sure an immersion blender would be very handy in this instance as well.
-As mentioned above I roasted the squash first and served it as a side dish. This accomplished a few things:
1. I was able to use the squash for 2 meals 2. I cut the recipe in half and had just enough for the two of us plus some leftovers instead of TONS of leftovers. 3. I was able to cut down the time I cooked the soup because the squash was already tender when I added it.
To roast the squash simply peel, chop, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Bake at 375 until tender and slightly carmelized.

 Thank you Queens of the kitchen and of course, Ina!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taquitos and Guacamole

This is a fabulous way to use your leftover pork or beef roast. While they don't exactly fall into the "healthy" category, they are oh so yummy. And there are never any leftovers which is great because who wants leftovers of their leftovers? This idea comes from my wonderful mother. Deee-lish!

leftover pork or beef roast, shredded
one small onion
taco seasoning
corn tortillas
olive oil
 vegetable oil for frying

Dice the onion and cook in about 1 Tbs. olive oil.
Once the onion is translucent, add the shredded meat and taco seasoning.
Add a couple Tbs. water to help the taco seasoning bind to the meat and onions.
Steam the tortillas. My favorite way to do this is to run each tortilla under water then put in a plastic bag (usually the bag they came in). Then I microwave the bag for 30 seconds or so. This softens the tortillas so they don't crack when you roll them.
Heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a heavy bottom pan. A heavy bottom will heat evenly and help the taquitos to cook evenly. I usually use my big soup pot so if the grease pops it stays in the pot.
Once the oil is hot (throw in a crumb from a tortilla. If it sizzles, it's ready) put some of the meat and onion mixture down the middle of a tortilla. Do not overfill!
Roll up the tortilla as tightly as you can and place in the oil seam side down.
Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
Remove from oil onto paper towels to cool.
Salt them immediately, while still hot. (This step is imperative!)
Serve with sour cream and guacamole.
Watch them disappear!
*This recipe is simple, but I always get complimented on it. It is my favorite way to make guacamole.
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup more or less of your favorite salsa
onion powder
garlic powder
lemon juice (fresh is always best, but I usually resort to bottled because that's what I have on hand)
salt and pepper

Mash the avocado with a fork. Add in the salsa, a couple shakes of onion powder and garlic powder, 1 Tbs. or so of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010


 I know what you're thinking, "Oatmeal?! Everyone knows how to cook oatmeal." And you're probably right. This is more of a product recommendation than a recipe. I have never like oatmeal. It is always so mushy. But I tried this oatmeal at Costco and came home with a bag. It is steel cut oats so the texture is nuttier. It reminds me of the cracked wheat cereal of my childhood. The awesome thing about it is that it is also quick. Just 4 minutes in the microwave. Add a little brown sugar and a handful of blueberries and you're good to go. I  have it several times a week. Oh so yummy! Everyone in the family loves this one.

Does your Costco carry this product?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This pizza crust recipe was part of a wedding gift from our good friends the Reyes family. It is our favorite crust, and this is my new favorite pizza. I typically have all these ingredients on hand, whereas I don't always have pepperoni. If you consider pizza healthy, than this one falls into the perfection category. Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
1 Tbl. yeast
2 cups warm water
4 + cups of flour
1-2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt

2 chicken breasts or 6 chicken tenders
BBQ sauce
1 onion
mozzerella cheese

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 475. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix sugar, salt, and flour then add yeast mixture. Mix and knead until soft. Add more flour if necessary. It should not be too sticky. Let rise in a greased bowl if you have time. Oil hands and divide dough in 2. Set one half aside for another pizza. Using the other half, form a disk and roll out. Prick crust all over with a fork and bake for 3-4 minutes to help make the crust crispier.

*Note: I have found that cornmeal helps the dough from sticking to the pizza stone. If you roll the dough out on a pastry mat then you can use less flour which helps the texture of the dough. Also you can flip the rolled out dough off of the mat onto the hot pizza stone instead of having to transfer it by hand. (That is if you don't have one of those nifty wooden paddle things a lot of people use with pizza stones. :-)

Marinate chicken in BBQ sauce for several hours then bake with the sauce in a 350 degree oven until done (about 30 minutes). Discard the sauce the chicken cooked in. Dice the chicken, onion, and pineapple. After crust has pre-baked, top pizza with more BBQ sauce, then chicken, onion, pineapple, and cheese.  Cook until bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Friday, October 8, 2010

French Toast Waffles with berry sauce

I ripped this recipe out of a magazine because it sounded too good to be true. French toast and waffles in one?! Two of my favorite things. Is it possible? I love this concept. I'm dying to try it with ham and swiss as the filling like a Monte Cristo sandwich or with a flavored cream cheese filling like stuffed French toast. Let me know if you try any variations. Here's the original recipe:
(sidenote: my picture does this recipe a disservice, so use your imagination on this one.)

French Toast Waffles with Berry Sauce
8 slices sandwich bread with crust removed
4 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
4 Tablespoons peanut butter

Leave bread out overnight to get stale. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Spread peanut butter on 4 slices of bread and top with the other 4 slices. Flatten "sandwiches" slightly. Soak sandwiches for a couple minutes on each side in egg mixture. Heat and grease waffle iron. Put sandwiches in one or two at a time depending on size of your waffle iron, but DO NOT overfill. Press down on waffle iron until closed. Cook each sandwich until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with berry sauce.

Berry Sauce
one 16 oz. bag mixed berries
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons raspberry preserves
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Cook berries and sugar until boiling and berries get soft (about 10 minutes). Transfer to blender. Add lemon juice and preserves. Blend until smooth. Serve warm.

*I'm guessing this concept works best with a traditional waffle iron rather than a Belgian waffle iron. If you try it with a Belgian waffle iron, let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

I've seen several versions of this recipe online lately. This comes from Suzi, a high school friend of mine, via facebook. Three minutes to chocolate bliss. Fast, easy, affordable, delicious, simple. Perfection from the microwave!

3 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
1 small handful of chocolate chips
a few drops of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Pour in greased mug. Cook in microwave for 3 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream (but you already knew that!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BBQ Chicken Salad

This one is similar to a salad you might find at any given restaurant. I will give you the simple version and you can add to it and make it your own. The idea for this salad comes from one of my college room mates, the one and only Becca Badger. Yes, Rebecca, I still make this...often!

BBQ Chicken Salad
Romaine lettuce
1-2 Tomatoes
1 Avocado
breaded BBQ boneless wings from your local deli counter (We always got them from Walmart in college, but King Soopers around here has some good ones too.)
Ranch dressing

Dice tomatoes, avocado and chicken. Toss well with lettuce and ranch dressing. *Note: don't use too much dressing, you need less than you think.
That's it! From here the possibilities are endless: olives, corn, tortilla strips, cilantro, green onion, bell pepper, (I think you get the idea). What makes this so good is the BBQ sauce on the chicken mixing with the avocado and the ranch to make a yummy, creamy, spicy, lip-smacking-good dressing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Brownie Pudding Cake

This one is as good as it sounds. I made this when we had the missionaries over awhile back, and I think we were all licking our bowls afterward. This recipe comes from my big red Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. Easy, simple, affordable, delicious. That's perfection!
 (image courtesy of Google images)
Brownie Pudding Cake
1 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 T cooking oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, 2 T cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla, then stir in the nuts. Pour batter into greased 8 in square pan. In a small bowl stir together brown sugar and 1/4 cup baking powder. Stir in boiling water. Slowly pour over the batter. Bake for 40 min. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 45 min to 1 hour. Serve warm. There will be a brownie layer on top and a gooey, fudgy, pudding layer underneath. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you've got hot fudge brownie sundaes. You're welcome!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Classic comfort food. I love this because it is so versatile, it's a one-pot meal, and I almost always have the ingredients on-hand. Here's my version of a classic.

Chicken Pot Pie
1 lb. chicken cooked and diced or one large can of chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
2-3 (depending on the size) baked potatoes diced
1-2 cups frozen vegetables (I prefer the corn, carrots, peas, green beans mix)
garlic powder
onion powder
curry powder

Preheat oven to 375. Start with the cream of chicken soup and add milk until it is liquidy enough to pour, but still somewhat thick (about 3/4 cup). Add about 1/4-1/2 tsp each of garlic, onion powder, and salt. Add about 1/4 tsp of pepper and close to 1/2 tsp curry. (In my opinion the curry is what makes the flavors in this dish pop.) Stir in chicken, potatoes, and frozen veggies. Pour the whole mixture into a greased square baking dish. Top with crust. Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbly (30-45 min.)

*I use whatever I have on hand for crust. I have used canned crescent rolls or biscuits rolled out and patchworked together, bisquick biscuit batter in dollops on top, and traditional pie crust. Whatever you use make sure you roll it thin enough that the underside will be cooked when the top is golden.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fresh from the Garden Pasta

This is a recipe I created while improvising with all the yummy stuff coming out of the garden. While you can of course use stuff from the grocery store, garden fresh is always best! This one is simple, easy, affordable, healthy, and delicious. That makes it a perfect recipe folks!
*As a side note, you can easily make this one vegetarian by omitting the chicken.

Fresh from the Garden Pasta
(Since this was an improvisation, I didn't measure, but I'll do my best to estimate!)
1 lb. chicken
4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 medium zucchini or 2-3 small (the small ones taste better)
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 lb. whole grain pasta (I used spaghettini. I think penne would work well with this too.)
Parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Once water is boiling, add pasta. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, dice the onion, mince the garlic and saute all of it in olive oil until chicken is almost done. Add salt and pepper along the way. Add a little more olive oil and tomatoes. Let cook until tomatoes break down some. Add zucchini and cook until zucchini is done. Toss with cooked pasta. Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper on top.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Boston Cream Cupcakes

 Welcome to my first post! I made these for my daughter's birthday party and they were a big hit! This recipe comes from Paula Deen via my mom. Easy, simple, affordable, and delicious! That's what I call a perfect recipe!
(photo courtesy of
Boston Cream Cupcakes
yellow cake mix and ingredients on the box
3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (I only had 1 1/4, but it worked fine)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Bake cupcakes according to directions on the package.
2. While the cupcakes are cooling mix pudding, cream, powdered sugar, milk, and sour cream until you have stiff peaks.
*Note: this makes a LOT of filling. You can probably cut the recipe in half, or eat the extra with a spoon. Your choice. You can probably guess which option I took. :-)
3. Fill the cupcakes. This can be done using various methods. I found the one that worked the best for me was to clip the corner of a ziplock bag, insert the decorator tip with the fattest opening, and fill the cupcakes by stabbing and squeezing in filling 2-3 times. The cupcakes split open on top, but the next step takes care of that.
4. Make ganache!
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups powdered sugar
Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Let sit 20-30 min.
5. Pour ganache over filled cupcakes. It should pour smoothly right on top. My ganache sat a little too long and needed to be spread out a little, but it worked fine too. The ganache is going to get on the cupcake papers, it's fine. It's actually kinda pretty.
*Note: Put the cupcakes on a cooling rack on top of waxed paper before pouring on ganache. It's a lot less messy!
6. Put cupcakes in fridge to cool and set up. (I just transferred the whole waxed paper/cooling rack/cupcake set-up to the fridge so the cup cakes could continue to drip.)
7. Devour! (but you already knew that!)