Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mexican Dorito Chicken

Chris works for ConAgra Foods.  One of my many favorite ConAgra products is Ro-tel.  I love all you can do with Ro-tel tomatoes... and they have so many yummy varieties.  I have lots of recipes that "call for" Ro-tel.  I often make King Ranch Chicken and I love White Queso.  You can totally be creative.

Chris was visiting with a co-worker and she shared one of her favorite Ro-tel recipes.  I wasn't sure if I would love the Nacho Cheese Doritos in a dish... but this turned out great.  The teachers loved it and Chris finished off the extras for dinner.  I made the meat mixture the night before and then layered the Doritoes and chicken mixture and baked it at school.  I loved making the meat mixture early and then layering it right before baking!

Enjoy this new recipe.  I think all kiddos.. and most adults like Nacho Cheese Doritoes!

Also, please make that Cranberry Salsa you see in the picture.  It is SO yummy - perfect holiday dish!

Dorito Chicken Casserole

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used diced chicken breast meat)
2 cups Mexican cheese, shredded and divided
1 (10 oz ) can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup milk ( I had cream :)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes, drained
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1 large 10 oz bag Nacho Doritos, crushed
shredded lettuce, optional
diced tomatoes, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together chicken, 1 cup of the cheese, soup, milk, sour cream, Ro-tel tomatoes and taco seasoning.  Mix well.

Grease a 2 quart baking dish.  add a layer of crushed Doritos, a layer of the chicken mixture and then another layer of crushed Doritos and the last of the chicken mixture.  Top with a cup of the cheese and sprinkle with a few more crushed Doritos.  Cover and bake at 350 for 25- 30 minutes.  ( I didn't cover mine and it turned out great)  Remove from oven.  Garnish with chopped lettuce and diced tomato if desired.

Printable Version

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sausage Minestra Soup

We do a birthday lunch every month at preschool.  Susan is a preschool teacher and a great cook.  She brought this soup to our October birthday lunch.  I knew my hubby would love it.  Susan got this recipe from.... What's For Dinner?

Also, be sure you go to the little bit of extra trouble to make the homemade croutons.  I have been known to skip those extra steps like... toasting a bun with olive oil for a yummy sandwich... or making the homemade croutons,,,, etc.  Chris and I loved the homemade toasty croutons with this soup.

                      ( We aren't food photographers - sorry!  We just want to give you the general idea!)

Sausage Minestra (adapted from What's For Dinner?)

Parmesan Croutons
3 cup baguette, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Toss the baguette cubes in the heated olive oil and toast until crisp.  Take off the heat and toss with Parmesan, set aside.


1 lb link Italian sausage, take off casing and cut into bite size pieces
2 cups diced onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
1 cups fresh spinach, chopped

Cut casing off sausage links and using kitchen shears, cut sausage into bite-size pieces.  Cook in a large pot over medium-high heat until browned,  add onion, garlic and seasonings.  Cook until onion is soft, 3 or 3 minutes.  Deglaze with the wine and reduce until almost evaporated.  Add broth, tomatoes and orzo; bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering for about 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Stir in spinach until wilted.  Serve soup with Parmesan croutons on top.

Printable Version

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Asparargus Roll-Up Appetizer

I enjoyed this easy recipe at my friend Michelle's house last month. We can all use an easy appetizer that looks pretty.  I am not sure if she has a name for this recipe so I am calling them  - Asparagus Roll-Ups.  I did find pickled/marinated asparagus on the canned vegetable aisle.  Be sure you buy pickled/marinated - the regular is WAY mushy - to me!  Grab one or two jars of pickled asparagus, 1 container of Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese and 8 oz or so of Boar's Head thinly sliced Sopressata ( I used two packages)  You can also have it freshly sliced for you.  I LOVE Boar's Head products!

I used one or two slices of Sopressata, overlapped and then spread on some Boursin cheese and topped with two or so thin marinated asparagus and rolled them up.  I started off with two pieces of Sopressata and then switched to one slice, a little cheese and then 2 asparagus.

Easy and yummy!  My Sunday School group ate every one!  Enjoy!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Salted Caramel Nuts

LOVE this new recipe!  I spied this recipe in my newest issue of PEOPLE  - Holiday Entertaining. This is a yummy recipe from Ina Garten!  All of her recipes are fabulous - this one caught my eye.  I made them Saturday for a Sunday School party.  I plan to make them again today.  I think this might be my new favorite holiday recipe.

I have made this recipe several times.  To me, it is a little tempermental... like toffee and other caramel type recipes.  My first two batches were a little sugary - the water and sugar was hardening as clumpy granular sugar and not s a caramel.  So, I studied... "caramelizing sugar/water".  I switched from a saute pan to a ... high side medium-size heavier All-Clad pan.  I recommend a light colored pan so you can see the mixture change to caramel color... and I used a silicone spatula to stir until the sugar dissolved.  Once the sugar dissolved and the mixture was clear, I added 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar... to keep the sugar from crystallizing.... and I used a candy thermometer.  I swirled the pan until the mixture turned a nice caramel color and reached about 330 degrees.  YAY - this worked amazing!
All that to say... this isn't a hard recipe.  I just needed to figure it out!  

The recipe does call for kosher salt and fleur de sel.  I wasn't sure about the "fleur de sel" so I googled it.  You could use any sea salt .... but always go that extra mile and use fleur de sel if you have any or have access to it.   I did remember that my good friend Barb had given me a little ziploc bag of Fleur de Sel for just this kind of recipe.

  1st try - they were great,  Tried again below and were edible and too sugary and then... see third picture!  YAY - they are so yummy!  These nuts would make a great gift!
OOPS - taste good - look awful!  This is when I decided to add the 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar just after melting and use a candy thermometer!  

 This is my third try - this is AWESOME!

Salted Caramel Nuts (adapted from Ina Garten and People magazine)

1 cup each whole roasted cashews, whole large pecan halves, 
               whole unsalted almonds and whole walnut halves (4 cups total)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the nuts and spread them to a thin layer on a sheet pan.  Roast them for 7 minutes of until they become fragrant.  Set aside to cool.  

After the nuts are cooled, place sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium 10 inch saute pan  ( I like a a medium heavy pan with sides) and mix with a silicone spook..., until all of the sugar is moistened. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts... and is clear.  Mix in 1/8 tsp of Cream of Tartar to keep mixture from crystallizing.   From this point on, don't stir the caramel, just the swirl the pan. Don't worry, the mixture may start to look as they it's crystallizing, continue swirling for 5 - 10 minutes, until the mixture because a clear golden brown, swirling the pan constantly at the end.  (I chose to use a candy thermometer until it reached about 330 degrees) Take off the heat, quickly add the vanilla (it will bubble up) and swirl the pan to combine.  Quickly add the nuts and kosher salt and using two large spoons, quickly toss until the nuts are completely coated.  

Pour the nuts any any extra caramel in the pan onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Spread the nuts out in one layer - pulling them apart with two forks.  Sprinkle with Fleur De Sel (or sea salt) and set aside to cool.  When they are completely cooled, carefully break the nuts into the desired size pieces, trying not to break the nuts too much!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

I know this is still pumpkin season... everything is pumpkin.  I enjoy pumpkin.... but don't totally love it.  These brownies are yummy.  They aren't just real easy... a few steps... but if you love pumpkin pie, you are going to love these brownies.  I LOVE chocolate and thought the chocolate was amazing in these brownies.  My teachers friends that love pumpkin pie thought they were fabulous.  I might just swirl a little more next time so the pumpkin isn't so thick in spots.  Also, be sure to bake it until done. This is an extra moist dessert - with the six eggs and pumpkin - so just make sure it is nicely done. Mine was too gooey in the middle!

 Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Southern Living)

1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I used salted)
3  (1 oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cold brewed coffee
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt, divided

1 ( 15oz) can pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350.  In a double boiler, bring one inch of water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  Place first three ingredients in top of double boiler over simmering water.  Cook, stirring occasionally ... 5 - 6 six minutes or until melted.  Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.  

Whisk together 3 eggs, granulated sugar, brewed coffee and vanilla.  Gradually whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture and cool 10 minutes.  

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking with butter and dust with flour or line with parchment paper - leaving 2-3 inches over the side to form handles.  (I didn't use parchment paper - just greased and floured pan)

Sift flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp of the kosher salt.  Whisk into chocolate mixture and pour into prepared baking pan... reserving 2/3 of the chocolate mixture.  

Whisk together pumpkin and next 4 ingredients and the remaining 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Pour over brownie mixture.  Top with the remaining 2/3 cup brownie mixture.... swirling batter 3 times in one direction and three in the other - with a knife or wooden spoon. 

Bake at 350 for 45 - 50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, for about two hours.  If using parchment paper, use parchment paper handles and lift out of the pan.  Cut into 24 squares.  

Note - To make ahead, refrigerated cooled uncut brownies, uncovered, overnight and cut into squares while cold!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Baked Caramel French Toast

This is amazing!  My friend Stacie at preschool is a great cook.  I don't think she has brought one thing to preschool that I haven't loved.

She often makes this Baked Caramel French Toast for a large crowd.  She will use a thinner Italian loaf and she stands the slices up so she can get a lot in a pan.  That works great for a crowd.  She also mentioned that she has topped it with cooked bacon crumbles or cooked sausage crumbles - before baking.  Yum!

I used French bread so I had pretty big slices.  I love pecans so I made one pan with pecans and one pan without... so I doubled the recipe... making two pans of sauce too.

My girls favorite part was that the bread was crunchy on one side and then nice caramel was on the other side.

One other side note... one of my pans was on a darker metal an one was a lighter colored metal.  I definitely liked the texture of the caramel from the recipe in the lighter colored pan - not quite as chewy!  I should probably have used a glass pan like the recipe suggested!

Baked Caramel French Toast


1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
sprinkling of sea salt on top (optional)

French Toast

3 eggs
1/2  cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
8 (1/4 inch thick) diagonal slices French bread

Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium saucepan, combine all Topping ingredients, mixing well.  Cook over medium heat until smooth, stirring constantly - do not boil.  Spread topping in sprayed baking dish.  (if adding chopped nuts, sprinkle chopped nuts on top of poured topping and... then I sprinkled some sea salt over the nuts)

Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.  Add milk, vanilla and salt - beating well.  Dip each bread slice in egg mixture - making sure to absorb all egg mixture.  Place bread slices over Topping in sprayed baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

To serve - heat oven to 400 degrees.  Uncover baking dish and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until bubbly and toast is golden brown.  Let stand 3 minutes and invert onto a large serving platter, scraping any extra caramel topping from baking dish onto toast.  Serve immediately.  4 servings

Printable Version

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Strawberry Bread

We have been making this yummy Strawberry Bread for years.  It is definitely a favorite.  I use to make it without the glaze on top but my mom starting mixing some of the reserved strawberry juice with powdered sugar and pouring it over the top.  I love this addition - the sweet crunchy top is extra yummy!

Strawberry Bread

3 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
4 well beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 tsp red food coloring
*2 (10 oz) pkg of frozen strawberries, chopped (reserve 1/2 cup juice
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray and grease two loaf pans.  Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients; add eggs, nuts, oil, food color and chopped strawberries.  Mix all together except the reserved 1/2 cup juice.  Pour into the two prepared loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes - or until tester comes out clean.  Run a knife around edge of pan and invert onto a platter. While cooling, mix some or all of the reserved juice with powdered sugar to achieve a glaze-like texture.  Spoon over the warm bread.  Enjoy!

*I could only find a 15 oz container of strawberries - turned out great!
Printable Version

Monday, October 24, 2016

Garlic Butter Salmon in Foil

Another great recipe from Facebook... from Cafe Delites.  I love my fish on the drier side.... and crusty around the edges.  I baked it according to directions and then cut it in half and broiled it 8 - 10 minutes or until I thought it looked perfect.  I thought it was WAY yummy!

Garlic Butter Salmon in Foil (adapted from Cafe Delites)

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 lb side of salmon (I bought a fillet from Costco with no skin)
sea salt to taste
cracked pepper to taste
lemon slices to serve
fresh parsley ( i used dried)

Preheat oven to 375.  In a small sauce pan, melt the butter of low-medium heat.  Add the honey, garlic and lemon - whisking until the honey has melted and mixture is heated through. Make a packet with foil - one piece on the bottom with the side curved up.  Lay the salmon on top.  Pour the butter/honey mixture over the salmon slowly so it stays in the bottom piece of foil Sprinkle with a good amount of seal salt, cracked pepper and sprinkle with parsley.  Lay the other piece over the foil and crimp the edges together to completely seal the packet.

Bake until cooked through -a bout 15 - 18 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon and your preference.  Open the foil, being careful of steam.  Broil or grill 2 - 3 minutes to reach desired texture.

 ( I cut our salmon fillet in half and broiled in a separate pan without the juice for 8 - 10 minutes to reach the texture I like)

Garnish with parsley and serve with fresh lemon slices!


Printable Version

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Caramel Corn

I am always looking for new "snack mix" type recipes to take to different large group events.  I make Texas Trash and The World's Best Snack Mix all of the time.  I love this new recipe for Caramel Corn - it got great reviews from my preschool teacher friends!  Southern Living is my go to all of my favorite recipes!  I found this recipe in my October 2015 magazine!

I doubled the recipe.  I have two large foil pans that I use for all of my snack mix recipes.  One large double bag of Vic's popcorn worked great.  I used one silver bag of popcorn for each container.  I also heat the sauce in two separate pans... so I don't goof and pour it unevenly!

I didn't add the peanuts because of several new allergies in friends and family!

Yum - enjoy!

Caramel Popcorn (adapted from Southern Living)

15 cups popped popcorn (about 3/4 cup kernels)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup (I used light corn syrup)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup salted, roasted dry roasted peanuts (optional)
1  10.5 oz pkg of candy coated pieces (I used M & M's but could use Reese's pieces) (optional)

Preheat oven to 325.  Spray a foil pan lightly with cooking spray.  Pour popcorn in pan.  In a small saucepan over medium - low heat, melt butter and add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Pour over popcorn and gently stir to coat.  

Bake at 325 for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  If adding peanuts, add during last 5 minutes. Remove from oven and spread on lightly sprayed wax paper, gently separating as you spread it.  Cool completely for 20 minutes,  Break apart large pieces.  Stir in candy pieces.  


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Baked Pesto Chicken

I love all of the Facebook recipes - the fast videos, the pictures, etc.  I save them and look back when I need a new, fun recipe!  Some are easy, some are hard and some seem outrageous - things I have never thought of!  That is why I like it!

I can't believe I haven't made this recipe before.  I keep the large container of pesto from Costco in my fridge.  This recipe didn't take many ingredients at all and was a snap to make.  Chris and I both enjoyed it.  I loved the texture of the fresh mozzarella after baking!

There ends up being a lot of juice from the chicken and the pesto.  I recommend a side of rice to enjoy with your chicken..... or even pasta.  Chris especially loves rice so we had Pesto Chicken, rice and roasted cauliflower.  Enjoy!

                               sorry - not great pictures - almost forgot

Baked Pesto Chicken  - Adapted from "Get in My Belly" on Facebook

1 lb chicken tenders (I used four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
prepared pesto (approx 3.5 oz)
2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
8 oz fresh Mozzarella
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray your pan with a cooking spray.  Layer your chicken tenders down your pan or place your chicken breasts.  I topped each chicken breast with 1 Tbsp or so of prepared pesto. Top with tomato slices.  Top with fresh Mozzarella cheese slices.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning and shredded Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes or until chicken is done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

I LOVE peanut butter!  My sweet friend and "nail lady"... Paige gave me this recipe from her Aunt Cecelia.  Paige and I both love good food and are often talking recipes, etc.  She shared this recipe and told me how yummy it is.  She said, "the frosting looks like bacon grease... but it is soooo good!"

Easy cake, tastes amazing.... doesn't look great!  I thought about sprinkling with peanut butter chips or chopped salted cocktail peanuts... I didn't... but I might in the future!  This cake is moist and dense like a Texas Sheet Cake.  You will love it!

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake


2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In a saucepan, bring oil, butter, peanut butter and water to a boil.  Pour over dry ingredients, mixing well.  Add beaten eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.  Pour into a greased and floured 11 x 15 pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make frosting:


1/2 cup evaporated milk or 1/2 & 1/2
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla

Combine milk, sugar and butter in a saucepan.  Bring to a oil, cooking for two minutes.  Remove from heat and add peanut butter and marshmallows, stirring until melted.  Stir in vanilla.  Gently pour and spread over warm cake.

Printable Version

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sun-dried Tomato and Provolone Bread

Since we are empty nesters, I often find myself thinking... what can I cook?  The problem is... I don't need to eat it.  I like to cook when I can take it places.

We had an Italian theme birthday lunch at preschool this week.  I found this yummy bread in an old Southern Living Homestyle Cooking cookbook.  I love all of the flavors in this bread so I gave it a try.

It was perfect for our lunch.  I especially like it toasted with a little butter. I loved all of the BIG flavors - sun dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, provolone cheese and pine nuts!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Provolone Bread (adapted from Southern Living)

In a medium bowl, mix....and set aside.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Combine in large bowl, mixing with a wire whisk,...

2 tsp of reserved sun-dried tomato oil
2 tsp shortening
2 tsp sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

After mixed, add:

1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped and drained, reserving liquid
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 cup (4 oz) provolone cheese, shredded
1/3 pine nuts, chopped (I didn't chop)

Mix dry ingredients with tomato mixture.  Spoon into a 8 1/2 inch x 4 inch loaf pan.  Smooth the top.  Bake at 350 for 45 - 50 minutes or until top is golden and center of bread is done.  Removed from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Printable Version

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kahlua Chocolate Chip Cake

I remember making this cake years ago with a chocolate cake mix.  I made it this weekend with a yellow cake mix.  Both are so yummy... very moist!

I have found that cake mixes are coming in different sizes now.  You will have to add part of a 2nd cake mix or adjust the ingredients.  I used part of a 2nd cake mix and thought I would just make the cake again soon.

AND - I love, love my silicone bundt pan.  Cakes just pop out!

Kahlua Chocolate Chip Cake

1  18.25 yellow cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1  3.9 oz pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vodka or water
1/4 cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (tossed in a little flour or cake mix - so they don't sink)


1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur

Combine cake mix, sugar, instant pudding, oil eggs, vodka or water and 1/4 cup of Kahlua.  Beat at medium speed for several minutes until well combined. Mix in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes ( I baked mine about 50 minutes) or until tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool on wire rack for 20 minutes and invert onto plate.   

Mix glaze while cake is baking/cooling.  Once cake is inverted onto plate, poke holes in the cake using a toothpick.  Pour the glaze over the top of the cake.  Top with sprinkled powdered sugar.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Kahlua Brownies

YUM!  I love these brownies!  I got this recipe from my friend, Lanae!  I have known Lanae since I first moved to Omaha - she was one of my first friends - play groups and Bunko!  Thank you Lanae for this yummy recipe!  I made this just before taking our girls back to college.

You will love these if you like Kahlua!  I couldn't stay out of them!

Kahlua Brownies

21 oz pkg brownie mix
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

Mix brownie mix with the next three ingredients.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 according to box directions.  Don't over bake.  Cool.


1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp Kahlua
1 tsp instant coffee
2-3 tsp milk

In a small saucepan or microwave, heat 2 Tbsp Kahlua with the instant coffee. Cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla,  Once coffee/Kahlua mixture is slightly cooled, add to powdered sugar and butter mixture.  Beat together until smooth, creamy and of desired spreading consistency.  Spread over cooled brownies.


1 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp chocolate

 In a small saucepan or microwavable bowl, melt chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally.  Once melted, drizzle in desired pattern over frosting.

Store in the refrigerator.  These are also great to make ahead and freeze.

Printable Version

Monday, August 1, 2016

Spinach Apple Salad

My mother-in-law recently sent me this recipe.  She also loves a good recipe and we have enjoyed exchanging recipes over the years.  We had this yummy salad for dinner last night!  My hubby grilled chicken.  Some of us tossed the grilled chicken in our salad and some wanted grilled chicken on the side.  Either way, love this new summer salad!

Spinach Apple Salad

1 red apple ( I only used one red apple)
1 green apple
6 cups of greens (I used the Spring Mix)
2/3 - 1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup crumbled feta or gorgonzola (I used feta)
1/3 cup or more dried cranberries
1/2 cup or more of chicken or steak (I used grilled chicken)


1 cup apple juice
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Whisk dressing ingredients together and refrigerate.
Prepare salad ingredients and place in a large bowl.  Toss just before serving.

Printable Version

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Roasted Almond Bark

I love Baker By Nature - I follow her on Instagram and so enjoy Ashley's recipes.

I have made several of her recipes.  When I spotted her "3 Ingredient Toffee Bark", I knew I had to make it.  Please visit Baker by Nature for all of her helpful hints regarding this chocolate toffee bark. It was so easy and it is so yummy.... I am making it again today!   I love chocolate, roasted almonds and toffee!!!

I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate bars.  I did cheat and buy roasted almonds - I didn't roast my own. :(..... And.... I topped it with sea salt.  I also broke mine into irregular shaped pieces instead of cutting into neat squares like Ashley

This recipe looks fabulous and tastes even better!!  LOVE IT!!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad

I have mentioned before... I love pasta salads in the summer.  They are great to make ahead, take to parties... and they don't get "wilty" or yucky!

I love this hearty pasta salad from Southern Living.  The smoked cheese and artichoke hearts make for great flavor.  I could see adding a black olive... but I have to many "olive haters" in my world.  I made this over the July 4th weekend.  I took some to two different gatherings, and we enjoyed some at home!  I doubled the recipe!  I think this is a keeper!

Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad (adapted from Southern Living)
*I doubled the recipe

1  6 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1  8 oz pkg rotini pasta, cooked and drained
1  7 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips or bites
1/2  lb smoked Mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch bites
1/2  5 oz bag of baby spinach leaves (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2  4.5 can chopped green chiles, drained (I didn't use these)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, minced
Garnish - tomato wedges, spinach leaves or a little shredded Parmesan cheese

Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade.  Cut artichoke hearts in bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add pasta and next four ingredients, tossing gently.  Stir together the reserved artichoke marinade, mayonnaise and the next four ingredients until blended.  Add to pasta mixture, gently stirring to combine.  Cover and chill until ready to eat.

*I only added about half of the artichoke marinade at first...and then added a little more.  I didn't want the dressing too runny. I saved the extra artichoke marinade for the next day.  Pasta salads tend to soak up some of the dressing and I "refreshed" it with a little more marinade.

Printable Version

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

S'mores Cookie Bars

Who doesn't love S'mores in the summer!

One of our four year old classes at preschool makes a cookbook for a mother's day gift.  This fun recipe came from one of those four year olds and her mommy!

Enjoy!  I thought it was great!

S'mores Cookie Bars (I doubled the recipe and made a 9 x 13)

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

1  1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1 regular size milk chocolate Hershey bar
extra marshmallows for top

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper or spray with baking spray.  Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of prepared pan.  (I baked my crust for 5- 7 minutes to set - the original recipe didn't bake the crust first)

Cream 1/2 cup softened butter... adding sugars and beat until fluffy.   Mix in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and add to butter mixture, mixing well.  Once this is all combined, fold in chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.  Spoon cookie dough evenly over crust. Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes.

While bars are baking, break Hershey into sections and place in freezer.  After 12 minutes of baking, take cars out of oven and sprinkle with some mini marshmallows.  Return to oven to finish baking and lightly brown the marshmallows.  When tester comes out clean, remove from oven and gently place Hershey bar pieces on the top of the bars.  Let cool completely before cutting.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Quinoa Salad

My crazy, fun friend, Kathy, shared this recipe with me.  Kathy is Celiac and often cooks "gluten-free".  My family enjoys different salads in the summer... so I decided to try Kathy's yummy salad. We loved it!  Kathy told me to double the recipe and to cook my quinoa in a rice cooker.  I don't have a rice cooker.  I bought my quinoa at Costco and just followed the directions on the package.  I have a good-size bag of quinoa so I am going to have to come up with some new quinoa recipes.  I thought it tasted yummy right out of the pot - reminds me a little of brown rice.  

I pretty much followed Kathy's recipe to a T!  My middle daughter was with me when I made it and she thought I should add avocado to it upon serving.  I didn't put avocado in the whole recipe - just in individual servings.  I also think you could add grilled chicken for a complete dinner!  

Try this yummy, refreshing summer salad! 

Quinoa Salad (Kathy recommends doubling the recipe)

1 cup of quinoa, cooked  with 1/2 tsp salt

Cook quinoa according to package directions and allow to cool.  While it is cooking, make dressing and prepare ingredients.   


Combine ingredients and set aside

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (more if needed)
1 Tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
pepper to taste
lemon zest to taste


2 green onions, chopped
fresh basil, chopped ( I use kitchen shears to cut)
fresh cilantro, chopped (I use kitchen shears to cut)
1 - 2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Once quinoa is cooked and fairly cool, add all ingredients to the quinoa.  Add the dressing!  Toss and chill until ready to serve.  

*serve with avocado and/or diced grilled chicken

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Zucchini Bread

Two of our girls are home for summer.  I made banana bread recently but wanted to try a good zucchini bread.  Susan teaches at preschool with me.  She sent me her a picture of her grandmother's recipe.  I love the spills on the recipe.  I have lots of recipes like that - they are "well-loved"!  I especially like the ones in my grandmother's handwriting... or my mom's handwriting.  Those are extra special.

I used her recipe as is - except I used less cinnamon and I did a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of walnuts.  We loved it!

I made four mini-loaves.  I love planning ahead and freezing a few loaves for later ... or giving one or two to a friend!

I will totally make this recipe again!  The sweet crunchy edges were my favorite!

P.S.  My chocolate chips mainly sunk to the bottom.  I was okay with that.  But, if you don't want them to sink to the bottom, toss them in a little flour before adding them.  This will help suspend them in your batter!

Grandma Bowers' Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups unpeeled zucchini, coarsely grated
2 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon (I used 1 - 2 tsp of cinnamon)
optional - 1 cup chopped nuts or semi-sweet chocolate chips ( I used chocolate chips)

In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Add sugars, oil and vanilla, beating until thick.  Stir in flour, soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.  Stir until combined.  Fold in nuts or chocolate chips. Prepare loaf pans with cooking spray.  Pour mixture into loaf pans and bake.  If one large loaf pan, bake for about 50 minutes - to an hour.  (I used four smaller pans - and baked 30 - 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted came out clean.)  After baking, run knife around the edge of the bread/pan.  Allow bread to sit in pan for about 10 minutes before turning out.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fun Cake

As I have mentioned many times, I love peanut butter and chocolate.  My girls were headed home from college recently... and I wanted to try a new recipe.  I found this recipe at Epicurious.  I thought it was fabulous.  I think it was a little too rich for my hubby but the rest of us loved it.  The cake part isn't overly sweet - kind of dark, rich chocolate.  I thought the frosting was fabulous.  I will make both again.  I think I will use the frosting for other things as well. I was a little intimidated by the frosting.  I don't think I have ever made a true Buttercream Frosting.  I followed the directions - it turned out beautifully.  Just sayin... I could eat it by the spoonful!

I doubled the recipe and made a 9 x 13.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fun Cake (adapted from Epicurious)

* I doubled the recipe and baked in a 9 x 13

  1. Chocolate cake:
    • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)  *I used bittersweet
  2. Peanut butter buttercream:
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
    • Kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (about 1 3/4 ounces) *I used semisweet
    • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted, dry roasted peanuts  *I used salted, cocktail peanuts
  1. For chocolate cake:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat bottom and sides of pan with nonstick spray;  Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups water; whisk until smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate. Scrape into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  *line pan with parchment paper if want to lift out to frost and cut
  2. For peanut butter buttercream:
    1. Combine sugar and egg whites in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat; using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until cool and thick, 5-6 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter. With mixer running, add butter a few pieces at a time, beating to blend between additions. Season with salt.
    2. After cake is cooled, spread peanut butter buttercream over top. Garnish with chopped chocolate and peanuts.  *If you used parchment paper and you choose to lift the cake out of the pan....Run a thin knife around pan to release cake. Invert cake onto a serving plate.  Cut into 2" squares. 
    3.  DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.  
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Feta Cheese Dip

LOVE this easy Feta Cheese Dip... or spread.  I needed a quick something to take to a friend's house last week and I had all of these ingredients on hand.  I keep the large container of feta from Costco on hand.  I whipped it up the night before and took this with some veggies and crackers.  I think my girls would love it... if I would just keep this on hand.  So yummy... and so easy!

Feta Cheese Dip

4 oz crumbled feta cheese
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/8 tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. If you like, sprinkle with some dried basil and garnish with basil leaves.   Serve with your favorite cracker, veggie, pretzels...

*I think you could add chopped kalamata olives, chopped sundried tomato, capers....

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies (with a little chocolate/toasted almonds)

Love these simple cookies!  My hubby loves shortbread.... simple cookies.  He likes chocolate but he doesn't love it as much as I do!  I made these cookies and he loved them plain - before adding any chocolate, almonds or whatever.  He did enjoy a few after I added the chocolate.

This recipe made about 30 cookies.  I used a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter.  I wasn't sure how I wanted to decorate them so I dipped some in chocolate, frosted the top and drizzled the top.  I like the half-dipped the best... but I guess it depends how much chocolate you want.  I think they would be great dipped in a white chocolate, a maple flavored white chocolate - really anything.  The basic cookie had a great flavor!

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp shortening

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350.

Put your slivered almonds on a small baking sheet.  Bake for about 5 minutes to get almonds slightly browned with a nutty aroma.  Watch carefully so you don't burn.  Allow to cool.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a Silpat liner.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until well mixed.  Add in the egg yolks, one at a time and beat until well mixed.  Add the flour and beat until mixed.  Form the dough into a ball and pat the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll or pat out - about 1/8 inch thick.   Using a 2 inch or so cookie cutter or glass, cut the cookies and transfer to prepared cookie sheet.  Bake the cookies 9 - 10 minutes or until slightly golden edges.  Allow to cool slightly and transfer to a cooling rack.  Allow the cookies to cool completely before dipping or frosting.

In s medium microwave bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening in 30 - 40 second increments until all melted.  When cookies are cooled, either dip half of the cookie in chocolate or spread or drizzle. Top with toasted slivered almonds.  *for drizzling, spoon chocolate into a small ziploc bag, seal and snip a tiny hole in a bottom corner of the bag... and drizzle.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

LOVE this appetizer - savory and sweet!

I have had this recipe for over 20 years.  A dear neighbor in Katy, Texas ... Kendra shared this with me... along with the recipe.  She called it Cheese Souffle.  It reminds me of a yummy, flavorful cheeseball with sharp cheddar, green onions, pecans, mayonnaise... and topped with delightful raspberry preserves.  I know it sounds like a weird combination but I promise, you will love it.  I brought it to school last week and told the teachers... "I know it looks a little weird ... but you have to try it!"  They loved it too.  We enjoyed it for two days at lunch!

I snapped this picture as I was spreading on the raspberry preserves - so you could get the idea!

I served it with Wheat Thins - but any favorite cracker will do!

Cheese Souffle

1 lb or a 16 oz block sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 bunch of green onions - chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp Tobasco sauce
3/4 cup real mayonnaise
1 cup raspberry preserves 

Mix together and form a ball.  Flatten into a serving dish.  Top with raspberry preserves.  Refrigerate. Serve with favorite crackers 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Coconut Pound Cake

I LOVE this cake!  I have had this recipe for at least thirty years.  It is truly one of my favorites. When the cake is just first out of the oven, you pour this sweet hot glaze over the top.  I love the sweet crunchy edges of the cake.  I know it has five eggs, and oil.... but just make it!  You will love it!!

I couldn't decide how to take a decent picture so I just snapped a picture in my silicone bundt pan. Mainly to show you how much I love..... a silicone bundt pan.  The preschool teachers gave me this as a gift and I love it.  I still greased and floured but cakes come out perfectly!

These edges are not burnt - fabulously crunchy and sweet!!

Coconut Pound Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 oz coconut

Mix first six ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until mixed.  Pour mixture into a greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes to an hour.  Ready when knife or testing stick comes out clean.


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp coconut extract

Towards the end of the baking time, mix the above ingredients and bring to a boil.  Pour over the cake as it is removed from the oven.  Let cake set until cooled before inverting cake onto servingplatter.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Browned Butter Blondies with Toasted Pecans

YES - I am on a huge "browning butter" kick!  I can't believe how "browning butter" totally enhances the flavor of cookies and bars.  Please try it if you haven't!  You will be hooked too.

Most cookie/bar recipes call for two sticks of butter.  I brown one stick over medium high heat for 3 - 5 minutes.  Stir constantly as the butter will also quickly burn.  You just want the butter to turn to a nice golden consistency.

If you need just "softened" butter for your recipe, add the browned butter to the other stick of butter and whisk together.  You can refrigerate for a bit to reach your "softened"  consistency.

With these blondies, I just whisked the two together and went with that texture.  It worked out great!

My husband LOVED these bars.  I made several desserts last week for the teachers at preschool for our Teacher Appreciation week.  Chris kept asking me if there were extra Blondies!  I did save a few for him!

I like Blondies for several reasons....1.   I always have the ingredients on hand and.....2.  you can totally change a Blondie by adding toffee pieces, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips... or whatever sounds good to you.  I would love dried cherries , mini chocolate chips and almonds.

Browned Butter Blondies with Toasted Pecans

2 sticks butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 with cooking spray or line the pan with parchment paper.

Put one stick of butter in large mixing bowl.  Melt the other stick in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring constantly for 3 - 5 minutes.  Watch carefully so not to burn butter.  Butter will turn a nice golden brown and have a nutty aroma.  Pour browned butter over the other stick of butter - using a whisk or fork to mix together.  This is a thick dough - might be easier with a mixer.  Add dark brown sugar, mixing well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each.  Add vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Add toasted pecans and gently mix until pecans are dispersed throughout the thick dough.  Pat mixture into a prepared 9 x 13 pan.  I like to sprinkle lightly with white sugar.  Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes.  **Please do not overcook.  I check my bars at 18 minutes  - see if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Enjoy!!

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