Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homemade Trail Mix

This healthy and delicious snack is originally from Cooking Light, March 2010, but I got the recipe from my friend Ali Taylor. My kids love it sprinkled over yogurt! It would also be a great snack for lunches or hikes!

1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels (pepitas)*
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seed kernels*
   * I substitute 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely diced for pumpkin and sunflower kernels
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
2 cups old-fashioned oats -OR- rolled barley flakes
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ 
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Place pumpkin and sunflower seeds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil.  Bake for 5 minutes in preheated oven. Cool for 5 minutes. *If kernels are already toasted, skip roasting and go to step #2.
  2. Combine syrup, canola oil, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and cardamom in a medium bowl. Stir in toasted pumpkin and sunflower kernels (or diced almonds), oats (or barley) and toasted wheat germ.
  3. Spread mixture in a single layer on a parchment paper or tin foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes at 325° F, stirring every 8-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and cool granola in a pan on a wire rack. Stir in blueberries and cranberries. Store in an airtight container. Serve over yogurt, as granola cereal or as a snack. Makes 4 cups (serving size= 1/3 cup)
Nutrition per serving: CALORIES 181 ; FAT 6.5g (sat 0.7g,mono 2.3g,poly 2.8g); CHOLESTEROL 1mg; CALCIUM 13mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27.4g; SODIUM 59mg; PROTEIN 4.5g; FIBER 3.7g; IRON 1.4mg

Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Moist Chocolate Cake

My construction loving 4 year old requested a truck cake for his birthday. He was very specific that it should be chocolate cake with orange frosting and green letters. I didn't have a chocolate cake mix on hand, but I found this recipe in the "Keeping Up Cookbook" and it was fabulous.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter- softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups boiling water
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In another bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the boiling water and then add the eggs and beat until well combined. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I am positive that we have posted our favorite frosting recipe already, but I will include it for yourconvenience. If you are looking for a great tasting basic buttercream, this is your recipe.

1/2 cup (one cube) butter- softened
4 cups (a one pound bag is perfect) powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat together butter and powdered sugar until the butter is well incorporated. Add milk and vanilla and beat well. At this point, you can add a little more milk if the frosting seems too thick and color as desired.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Bars

These no-bake bars taste a lot like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and are often requested by the 9 and 10 year olds in my Primary class. They are very rich, so I like to cut these into small squares. Recipe adapted from

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 16 whole rectangles)
2 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 Tbs. peanut butter
  1. Line a 9 x 13" pan with tin foil and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, crush graham crackers into fine crumbs (Or put in a Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin).
  3. Melt butter, then pour it into a 1 cup measuring cup, swirl around then pour butter into a medium mixing bowl. Next, scoop 1 cup peanut butter into the emptied buttered measuring cup. This will make peanut butter come right out of the measuring cup with little trouble!
  4. Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar until well blended. Press mixture into foil-lined pan.
  5. In a small glass bowl, melt chocolate chips with 1 Tbs. of peanut butter for 30 seconds at a time, until melted and smooth. Pour over the top of peanut butter mixture and smooth the top.
  6. Place bars in the fridge just until chocolate is set. If bars are too firm, let set for 10-20 minutes at room temperature before cutting. Cut into bars with a sharp knife. Makes about 25 bars.

Caramel Brownies

My friend brought me these brownies 2 weeks ago and I think I've been dreaming of them ever since! I love brownies, but these Caramel Brownies are in a class all their own! 
Recipe from Michelle Ashby...
Caramel layer:
1 (14 oz.) package individually wrapped caramels (about 48-50)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 13" pan and set aside.
  2. Unwrap caramels and place in a small saucepan with 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Combine cake mix, melted butter, the other 1/3 cup evaporated milk and vanilla. Beat well and spread half of the batter into prepared pan with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 8 minutes.
  4. Remove brownies from oven and sprinkle with 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour the melted caramel mixture over the top, then, with a spoon, drop the remaining half of the brownie batter evenly over the top.
  5. Bake for another 18-20 minutes, or until top is mostly set. Let brownies cool completely in pan, then cut into bars. Makes about 18 brownies.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beef Enchiladas

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion-chopped
1/2 c. diced green pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbs. fresh parsley (or about 1 Tbs. dried)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can enchilada sauce- we like the green kind
6-8 flour or corn tortillas

Brown ground beef and drain off excess fat. In the same pan, saute onion and green pepper until tender. Add beef back to the pan and stir in sour cream, cheese, parsley, and pepper. Pour about 1/3-1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish and spread out evenly. Place meat mixture into each tortilla and roll up. Then place into the pan with the seam side down. When all the enchiladas are assembled, pour remaining sauce over and top with additional grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve while hot and garnish with sour cream and fresh tomatoes.

Banana Cake (with Cream Cheese Frosting!)

1 1/2 cubes margarine
2 cups sugar
3 dark bananas- mashed
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. sour cream

Lightly grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan. Cream together margarine and sugar. Add eggs and beat until creamy. Slowly add remaining ingredients and pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

4 oz. cream cheese- softened
1 Tbs. butter- softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup milk

Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients until you reach your desired consistency and frost cake once it has cooled.

Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

Okay, for those of you who love Cafe Rio salads, this dressing is for you.
I have tried 3 different knock-off recipes, and this one is by far the best & closest to the real thing.
Pair it with our Cafe Rio Pork & Cilantro Lime Rice recipes.

1 c. buttermilk
1 c. mayo
1 pckg. dry buttermilk ranch dressing mix (I use Hidden Valley)
2 tomatillos (husked)
2 Jalapenos (seeded)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
Juice from 1/2 fresh lime
1 clove garlic

*Puree all ingredients in a blender.  Refrigerate until chilled.

Makes about 1 quart (so plenty to share)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

My husband recently took me out for dinner at The Village Tavern here in Colorado. The food almost made me cry, it was so good! We had Bacon-Wraped Scallops for an appetizer and I've wanted to make them at home ever since. Scallops are a shellfish that have a mild flavor and my kids really like them. I found this recipe by Emeril Lagasse on The Food Network and adapted it to my family. These can either be baked in the oven or grilled...

8 slices applewood or hickory smoked thick-cut bacon
15 large sea scallops, fresh or frozen
2 Tbs. Creole Dry Rub (recipe follows)
5 bamboo skewers
  1. If using frozen scallops, thaw in warm water for a few minutes.
  2. Place skewers in warm water for a few minutes to prevent burning when cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 425° F or preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Cut bacon in half. Sprinkle scallops with about 2 Tbs. Creole Dry Rub and wrap each scallop in a half piece of bacon. Thread scallops onto skewers, securing the beginning and ends of the bacon around the scallops. If baking in the oven, place skewers onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. If grilling, place on a large piece of tin foil on a plate.
  5. Bake in oven for about 12-15 minutes or grill for about 10-12 minutes, turning often, until bacon is slightly crispy. Serves 5 (3 scallops each).
Creole Dry Rub: (makes about 2/3 cup)
     2 1/2 Tbs. paprika
     2 Tbs. salt
     2 Tbs. garlic powder (I use 1 Tbs.)
     2 Tbs. white sugar
     1 Tbs. black pepper
     1 Tbs. onion powder
     1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (I omit for my kids)
     1 Tbs. dried leaf oregano
     1 Tbs. dried thyme

Apple Squares

A few weeks ago, I found this recipe on and followed the directions exactly. They were okay, but I followed the suggestions in the comment section and made them again this week for my daughter's Book Club. I just doubled the recipe and halved the topping and they were ★★★★★ marvelous! Recipe by BarbiAnn...

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla 
1 cup apple, chopped (about 1 apple)
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

2 Tbs. white sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 13" pan. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar with a wooden spoon. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the apples and nuts, if desired. 
  3. Stir together white sugar and cinnamon for the topping in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the bars.
  4. Bake for 28-35 minutes or until bars spring back when lightly touched and are browned. Cool in pan; cut into squares. Makes about 24-28 bars.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Catherine's Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

Our cute friends Brian and Catherine invited us over to their beautiful home for dinner last weekend. A few minutes into the meal my sweet 8 year old came over and whispered in my ear "Mom, I like Catherine's sloppy joes better than yours." You've gotta love brutal honesty! I knew right then that I had to have the recipe, and Catherine was sweet enough to share it with me. They are quite divine and obviously kid friendly. Hope you enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. mustard
2 Tbs. vinegar
2 Tbs. worcestershire
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
6-8 hamburger buns

Combine all ingredients (except the buns, obviously!) in the crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Serve on warm buns.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

This is a moist and delicious pumpkin bread recipe that I got at a church activity when we lived in California. The butterscotch or peanut butter chips are a nice surprise that make this bread taste very special. It makes a lot, but the leftovers freeze well...

1 (15 oz.) can pure canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
3 cups sugar (can sub. half for sugar substitute)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 1/2 cups flour
1 bag (2 cups) butterscotch chips -or- peanut butter chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  2. Blend the pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and sugar until smooth. 
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. 
  4. Stir in the butterscotch or peanut butter chips. 
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans. Follow baking times below, depending on size of pan:
  • 2 large lightly greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes.
  • 8 lightly greased and floured mini loaf pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  • 44-48 paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake for 12-18 minutes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Cafe Rio" Pork

**This is my version of one of our SLC favorites! I have experimented and combined many different recipes, and this seems as close to Cafe Rio's as I could get!

**This is the party-sized recipe... it will serve a crowd! Halve it for a family-sized serving, or make the whole recipe, eat what you need and freeze the rest for another day! My kids are always begging for more!!

5-6 pound boneless pork roast
2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper- Not DIET!!
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup water
1 large (7 oz) can diced green chilies
1 large (28 oz) can red enchilada sauce
1 1/2-2 cups brown sugar

After trimming excess fat, put the pork roast in a tupperware or heavy duty ziploc bag to marinate. Add 2-3 cups of Dr Pepper and about 1/2 c. of brown sugar. Marinate in fridge overnight.

In the morning drain marinade and put pork, 2 cups Dr Pepper, 1/2 cup water, and 1-2 tsp garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours or on low for 8 hours (I do mine on high until lunch-time). Remove pork from crock pot, scrape off excess fat and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork with two forks. Return pork to crock pot.

In blender combine chilies, enchilada sauce and 1 1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar (you can add a little more or less to taste) and blend until smooth. Pour over shredded pork in crockpot and then mix in 1 1/2 to 2 cups Dr Pepper (add more if sauce is too thick). Cook on low for at least 2 hours. I usually let it simmer on low until dinner-time! Serve with tortillas, black beans, cheese, cilantro-lime rice, salsa, guacamole and lettuce for a deluxe burrito, or with the same toppings over lettuce, topped with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Ranch and garnished with cilantro and crushed tortilla chips, for a fabulous salad!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Steamed cabbage: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My father-in-law cooks Sunday dinner each week(!) The first time I had cabbage as a side dish was at my husband's house, 15 years ago, when we were dating. He made cabbage and declared it "colon friendly." I wasn't sure what to think! Surprisingly, I loved it and now I make cabbage for my family often. I think it tastes a bit like broccoli, which I also love. With St. Patrick's Day next week, why not give this traditional Irish dish a try?

1 head fresh green cabbage*
salt, pepper & butter, to taste

Wash cabbage and carefully remove stem with a knife. Cut cabbage into 10-12 wedges and place in a steamer over boiling water. Steam for 8-12 minutes, or until fork-tender. Serve with butter, salt and pepper. 

*I head serves about 6 people. Cabbage is easy to save, if you want to use 1/2 a head at a time.

Slow Cooker Ribs

Okay, I'll call these Ribs...Take 2! These were super easy and fall-off-the-bone tender. I'm pretty sure the way to my husband's heart is making him ribs for dinner :) 

3-4 lbs. pork loin back ribs (Country-style ribs would be fine too!)*
Salt and pepper
I (12 oz.) bottle Thai sweet chili sauce (such as Mae Ploy)*
  1. Cut rack of ribs in half. With a knife, peel away a corner of the fatty membrane on the back of the ribs and remove (see picture below).
  2. Flip ribs over and season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Place ribs in a slow cooker. (I line my with a Reynold's Slow Cooker Liner first for easy clean up).
  4. Pour the entire bottle of sweet chili sauce over the ribs and cook on low for 6-7 hours. 
*I use 2 full racks of ribs for my family of 5 and we usually have a few ribs left over. This would be great with country-style ribs too, which are less expensive and have more meat. You can also substitute a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce for the sweet chili sauce. Both ways are delicious!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quick & Easy Breadsticks

I have tried 3 different yeast breadsticks recipes during the past month and these are my favorite! I found this recipe on the fun blog Jamie Cooks It Up. I love how easy the dough is to work with and they are truly ready in 45 minutes from start to finish!

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tb. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2- 4 cups flour
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
Johnny's Garlic Seasoning (I used an Italian herb mix, but I'll be looking for Johnny's next time I'm at Costco's :)

  1. Mix the water, sugar and yeast together in a measuring cup or in the bottom of your mixer. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and the flour, one cup at a time, until it is well incorporated. Mix on high for 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Melt the butter and pour half of it into a jelly roll pan (large cookie sheet). 
  4. Place the dough in the center of the pan. Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes. Letting the dough rest makes it MUCH easier to shape. 
  5. Spread the dough out flat onto the pan until it reaches all of the edges. Doing all of the spreading and cutting of these bread sticks, in the pan makes cleaning up your counter so much easier! 
  6. Pour the other half of the butter onto the dough. Brush it on with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the Johnny's Garlic Seasoning all over the dough, and then the Parmesan cheese. 
  7. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into three rows lengthwise, and then into about 12  rows, height wise. 
  8. Put the pan into a 170 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes. The breadsticks should rise about 1 inch.
  9. Turn your oven up to 350 and bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. When they come out of the oven, let them sit and rest again for about 5 minutes. 
  11. Use a knife or pizza cutter to redefine your lines and serve!
These would be amazing dipped in pizza sauce! Check out Jamie Cooks It Up for more amazing recipes...

Garden Orzo with Chicken

This is a recipe from The Woman's Day Cookbook (1995). It was originally a side dish, but I always add chicken to make it a full meal. Without chicken, it would make a delicious side dish for grilled chicken or pork. Nutrition info below is for the side dish recipe without chicken...

2 chicken breasts (frozen are fine)
1 Tbs. dried onion
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups orzo (rice-shaped) pasta (8 oz.)
1 tbs. olive or grapeseed oil
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  1. Add the chicken breasts to a small saucepan and barely cover with water. Add dried onion and bring to a boil. Boil for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and shred with 2 forks. Set aside. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add orzo and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Drain if necessary.
  3. While the pasta and chicken are cooking, heat the oil over medium heat, in a separate medium skillet. Add the zucchini, bell pepper and onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and shredded cooked chicken and cook for a few minutes more. Remove from heat.
  4. In a serving bowl, mix the hot orzo, the vegetable mixture, Parmesan cheese, basil and pepper. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired. Serves 5.
Per serving (without chicken): 242 calories, 9 g. protein, 6 g. fat, 37 g. carbs

Lettuce wraps

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE PF Chang's lettuce wraps and I've been craving these for weeks! I found this recipe on Our Best Bites that I adapted to my family's tastes. They can be served as an appetizer, but I actually served them for dinner with some steamed broccoli and rice...

1 pound ground chicken or turkey (or use cooked & shredded chicken or turkey)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, minced (I used a bit more)
1/2 a head of cabbage, minced (about 3 cups)
3-4 green onions, chopped
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium lemon, zested & juiced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sesame oil (*ln the Asian food section at the market)
1/4-1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 heads lettuce, washed (Bibb, Iceberg or Romaine)

1.  Wash lettuce and separate individual leaves on a paper towel to drain. Refrigerate until serving to keep crisp.
2.  Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and add garlic & ginger and ground chicken or turkey, breaking up the meat as you cook. (If you have cooked & shredded chicken or turkey, skip to the next step and add meat later). Cook meat until no longer pink. Drain, if necessary.
3.  Add mushrooms, cabbage, green onions, water chestnuts and cooked chicken or turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently.
4.  In the meantime, zest the lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add soy sauce, honey and sesame oil and stir well. Pour on top of the meat and vegetable mixture, combine and continue cooking until cabbage is softened. 
5.  Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. 
6.  Serve the mixture on lettuce leaves and roll up (taco style) to eat. Serve with Dipping Sauce, if desired.

DIPPING SAUCE  (Mix together in a small bowl):
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
6 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tb. honey

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cajun Broiled Tilapia

My family recently sampled some tilipia, which is a mild, firm white fish, at Costco. Don't you love it when they have lots of food samples at Costco? I was pleased to find that all of my kids liked the fish and said they would eat it if I bought some. SCORE! My husband and I love fish, and I order it nearly every time we go out to eat because I don't like cooking it at home. First, I really never know how to prepare it and second, I don't like my house to smell like fish!

I am pleased to tell you that this recipe will not make your house smell like fish and it's super fast and easy... I'm talking less than 20 minutes from start to ready to eat! My 8 year old son tasted it and exclaimed, "Mom, it doesn't taste like fish. It tastes like...... MEAT!" I guess thats a good thing! My 3 year old loved it too so I'll be making this often for a quick meal...
Frozen tilapia loins
Grapeseed* or olive oil
CAJUN SEASONING(Emeril Lagasse):
     2 1/2 Tbs. paprika
     2 Tbs. salt
     2 Tbs. garlic powder (I use 1 & 1/2 Tbs.)
     1 Tbs. black pepper
     1 Tbs. onion powder
     1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (I omit for my kids)
     1 Tbs. dried leaf oregano
     1 Tbs. dried thyme
     1 tsp. sugar
  1. Thaw tilapia in the refrigerator for a few hours or place frozen tilapia in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes to thaw. 
  2. Move oven rack up to about 5 inches below the broiler (2 slots from the top on my oven). Set oven to broil. 
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil and spray with cooking spray. 
  4. Dry fish and place on baking sheet. Brush fish lightly with oil.
  5. Sprinkle fish with Cajun seasoning and place in the oven under the broiler. Bake for about 5-6 minutes and check often. Broil until fish flakes easily with a fork (mine took about 12 minutes).
*Grapeseed oil is my new favorite oil for high-heat cooking (like broiling). It has a longer shelf life and slightly lower cost than olive oil and a higher smoke point. If you've never used grape seed oil before, you can read more about it HERE.

Double Chocolate Waffles

My son requested waffles for dinner tonight (love it!) and my search for a recipe turned up this yummy recipe by Alton Brown. You might just want to have these for dessert!

4 Tbs. butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (or substitute almost 2 cups milk + 2 Tbs. vinegar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. 
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powders, baking soda, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. 
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, melted butter and vanilla, then add the buttermilk.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well, then let rest for 5 minutes. 
  5. Heat the waffle iron and spray with cooking spray.
  6. Pour waffle batter onto waffle iron and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Close iron and cook until done. (You could omit chocolate chips from cooking and sprinkle on top of waffles after they are cooked.)
  7. Serve waffles hot with with your choice of butter, maple syrup, sliced bananas, peanut butter, strawberry or raspberry jam or syrup, fresh fruit or whipped cream.
Makes about six (8") round waffles or four (10") square waffles.

Cheesy Potatoes (a.k.a. "Funeral Potatoes")

 I was asked to make "Funeral Potatoes" last week for my son's Blue & Gold Banquet for Boy Scouts. My oldest daughter asked me, "Are they called 'funeral' potatoes, because you'll die if you eat them?" NOT exactly... This potato dish is easy, feeds a crowd and has earned this silly nickname. Nonetheless, they are delicious and are perfect to serve with ham for Easter, which is right around the corner! Serves about 12.

3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
olive oil or butter
2 pounds (32 oz.) hash brown potatoes* 
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cans condensed Cream of Chicken soup
2 cups sour cream (1 pint)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
2 cups Corn Flakes cereal, coarsely crushed
2 Tbs. melted butter
  1. Spray a 9 x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  3. Sauté onion in a little olive oil or butter until translucent. 
  4. Mix hash browns, 1/2 cup melted butter, condensed soup, sour cream, salt and cheese in a large bowl. Pour into prepared dish and bake for about 35 minutes, or until bubbly.
  5. Meanwhile, mix crushed Corn Flakes and 3 Tbs. melted butter. After about 35 minutes in the oven, remove potato casserole and carefully sprinkle with buttered Corn Flakes. Return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, or until top begins to brown.  
*(I use Simply Potatoes, but if you use frozen hash browns, be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator first)
My funeral potatoes, in all their glory: Taken at Boy Scouts with my cell phone :)

Key Lime Pie

My Dad's favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie so for his Birthday last week I decided rather than stopping by Marie Calendars like I usually do I would make homemade pies instead. They turned out great!!! This recipe is definitely worth sharing. 

recipe from 

1 (9 in) graham cracker pie crust 
3 c. sweetened condensed milk 
1/2 c. sour cream (I use light
3/4 c. key lime juice (juice from about 20-30 key limes)
1 Tablespoon grated limes zest 

   Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and pour into crust. Bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes. Watch not brown!!! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Top with whipped cream. 

tip: Juicing the limes can be tedious (especially if you are making more than one pie) so use a garlic press or juicer if you have one to speed up the process.

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