Monday, June 20, 2011

Corn Pop Scrabble

2 cubes butter
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbs. water
1 cup nuts (Your choice either mixed nuts or all one kind) (I like Raw Almonds)

Combine in a sauce pan and cook together until the mixture starts to turn light brown.
Pour over:
1 Super size pkg. Western Family Corn Pop
Stir well.

Makes enough for a large crowd.

Chicken and Rice Salad

Great for showers and luncheons!
Adapted from Sylvia Terry's recipe.

3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Canola oil
2 Tbs. white vinegar

Mix together and pour over:

4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained
3 cups cooked white rice

Stir together and refrigerate overnight.

The next day add:

1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 - 2 cups washed grapes
1/2 - 1 cup cashews
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Stir well. Fold in: 
2 (15 ounce) cans mandarin oranges.

Chill until time to serve. Serves 10 -14.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tutorial: Color-swirled cupcakes

I helped with a friend's baby shower last month and it was my job to make the cake. I was SO excited, because the theme was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" book by Eric Carle. I'd seen a few cakes online that inspired me, so I had lots of ideas. I wanted to try color-swirling my cupcakes so my caterpillar would resemble the one in the book, but I had never tried this technique before. Here are 3 options for multi-colored frosting:
  1. Brush striping (for bold color stripes): Put the tip onto your pastry bag, then fold the edges down. Squeeze or brush food coloring in stripes from the pastry tip out toward the wide end of the bag. Carefully spoon frosting into the bag, then decorate cupcakes.   
  2. Spatula Striping (for subtle color swirls): Make 2 (or more) different colors of frosting. Using a spatula, layer different colors of frosting into your pastry bag, then swirl onto cupcakes.
  3. Separate color swirl technique: Make 2 different colors of frosting. Lay out a rectangle of waxed paper, then spread your first color onto it in a long stripe. Roll it up and twist one end. Repeat with the other color of frosting. Cut one end of each frosting roll and place side by side in a prepared pastry bag. When you squeeze the frosting out, it will have 2 colors, side by side! HERE's a great tutorial for this technique.
TIPS: You'll do best with a thicker frosting, such as buttercream. When you are ready to decorate your cupcakes, squeeze all the air out and get the frosting flowing first by testing on a plate.

For this cake, I used 1 box of Devil's Food cake and made 22 cupcakes and baked the small round cake (for the caterpillar's head) in a Pyrex glass bowl. I made the eyes, nose, feet and antennae out of Marzipan (almond paste) that I colored with food coloring. I covered a large piece of cardboard with wrapping paper for the backdrop. 

UPDATE: July, 2011
I used technique #3 (3 separate colors, wrapped in waxed paper, then put in one pastry bag) for my daughter's birthday party and here's how the cupcakes turned out...


I volunteered to bring 2 dozen cookies to church today for Father's Day, so I asked my son what kind of cookies I should make. He thought for a minute, then said, "Make Snickerdoodles. Everyone likes them!" I think he's right. Cinnamon and sugar, buttery, slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside... What's NOT to like?

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (I prefer butter-flavored)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Roll in:
2 Tbs. sugar mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together butter, shortening, sugar and eggs. Beat in cream of tartar, soda and salt, then flour. Mix well. Roll into balls and then in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees F. Remove to cool completely. Makes 3 dozen cookies. 

Earthquake Cookies

These are often a Christmas cookie, but I think they are fabulous anytime you're in the mood for chocolate! They are another variation on The Lemon Cake Cookies posted here. 

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. Devil's Food cake mix*
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar

Mix cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil. Roll into balls and then in powdered sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees, or just until cookies begin to "crack." Remove to a rack to cool completely. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

*Can substitute any flavor of cake mix.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slow-Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

Well, Summer is here and I try to turn on my oven as little as possible these days. If I'm planning on a hot meal, I usually grill outdoors or use my slow-cooker so I don't heat up my house any more than necessary! I found this recipe for delicious sandwiches over at Favorite Family Recipes and we loved it! 

1 (2-4 pound) beef roast, trimmed of fat
2 (16 oz.) cans beef broth (I subbed 4 cups water + 4 tsp. beef bouillon) 
2 pkgs. dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix
8 French hoagie or Sub Rolls
Cheese slices (we love Swiss)

Place the beef roast in the slow-cooker. I recommend using a Reynold's Slow Cooker Liner for easy cleanup. Mix the beef broth with the Onion Soup Mix and pour over the beef.  Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours. Shred roast with a fork, then return the meat to the crock to soak up those yummy juices while you prepare your rolls.

Split rolls in half and toast lightly. Pour meat through a fine mesh strainer and collect the juice in another bowl. Pile meat onto toasted rolls and top with a slice of cheese. (Can broil quickly to melt the cheese). Serve sandwiches with au jus on the side for dipping. Serves 8.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pasta Fresca with Parmesan Chicken

This is similar to one of my favorite dishes at Noodles n' Company that my Mom brought me in the hospital after I had my baby and has been my favorite ever since. (by the way that baby is now 20 months old loves this dish
Pasta Fresca
1 red onion, diced
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
6 (yes... six) cloves garlic, minced 
1 (14.5 oz)  can diced tomatoes (undrained)
3-4 cups fresh spinach
8 oz. penne pasta 
1/2 c. feta cheese (more for garnish if desired) 
salt & pepper, to taste

Cook pasta in salted water til al dente. Meanwhile in large sauce pan heat olive oil and add garlic and onion. Saute til tender. Add spinach and cook a few minutes til spinach wilts. Add tomatoes and let simmer a couple minutes, stirring, then add your pasta, feta cheese and salt & pepper to taste. Heat through. Enjoy as is, or for some extra protein, top with parmesan chicken....

Parmesan Chicken
Desired amount of chicken breasts or tenders (if breasts pound them down first) 
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese 

Pour eggs and bread crumbs into 2 separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken into egg then into the bread crumbs. Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bud Nielson's chocolate chip cookies

These are a family favorite!!!

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter flavored Crisco
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
Cream together
3 1/2 cups fpour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp soda
Beat into above
Stir in:
2 cups chocolate chips

Drop by spoonfuls on a tempered cookie sheet
Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes

Hot Fudge Sundae Sauce

1 1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1 Tb butter
1/2 cup water
3 Tbs. cocoa

Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a boil while stirring.
Boil for two minutes then add:

2/3 cup (one small can) evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Return to a boil then allow to cool. (it thickens as it cools)
Reheat lightly to serve.
Also good as a brownie sundae sauce.

Easy Lite Cheesecake

1 pkg 1/3 calorie cream cheese
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup sugar

Beat together until smooth
Then beat in 1 carton lite Cool whip

Pour into a graham cracker crust and chill for several hours
Serve with canned fruit pie filling or fresh sweetened berries

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I made these for dinner last night and they were so good I thought I'd share. Check them out

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos 

I used sour cream instead of cream cheese cause that's what I had (although I think cream cheese may be better) and I used flour tortilla's instead of corn. For dipping sauce I combined some sour cream with green salsa. Seriously delicious!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Simple Honey Wheat Bread

I just made 2 batches of Homemade Freezer Jam, so what better to go with it than hot homemade wheat bread? This bread uses some whole wheat flour, but is still very soft. I really like the flavor of this bread! It takes about 3 hours, start to finish. Recipe from

STEP #1:
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/ 45 degrees C)
2 (.25 oz. packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp. total) 
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour

1.  In a stand mixer, mix warm water, yeast and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups bread flour and stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

STEP #2:
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbs. salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2.  Mix in 3 Tbs. melted butter, 1/3 cup honey and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Continue to add wheat flour by 1/2 cups until dough is just starting to pull away from the side of the bowl, yet still a little sticky. Place in a large greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough (so it doesn't get hard on the top). Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

3.  Punch down and divide into 3 loaves. Place in 3 greased 9 x 5" loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by 1 inch.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter to prevent the tops from going hard. Cool completely.

Yield: 3 loaves (12 slices each loaf)
Nutritional info: Per slice: 143 calories, 25 gms. carbohydrate, 2.2 gms. fat., 1.7 gms. dietary fiber

Easy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Since it's finally warming up here, we're in the mood for homemade ice cream!
Recipe from 

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. mint or peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips*
  1. In a large bowl, stir together everything, except the chocolate chips, until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container and freeze for 2 hours. Serves 10.
*Chocolate chips can be finely chopped (think Starlight Mint) if you don't like whole chips.

Skinny pork burritos

We love barbacoa-style pork burritos and make them often around here. Recently, I tried this recipe and  loved it! The chipotle chiles give this pork such a good flavor. Recipe from (I just added a bit more cumin:)

Step #1- MARINADE:
2.5 lbs. pork loin roast, all fat trimmed
Salt & pepper
Garlic powder
6 oz. Coke Zero (could sub Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper)
1/4 cup brown sugar

Season pork with salt, pepper and garlic powder and place in crock pot. Add Coke and brown sugar. Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, turning meat at least once while marinating.

Step #2- COOK:
1/4 cup water
8 oz. Coke Zero
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeds discarded and finely chopped*
7 oz. can diced green chilies, drained
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. chipotle chile powder (to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup brown sugar

Remove crock from refrigerator, add water and cook on high for 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily). Remove pork from crock and discard any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork with 2 forks and place it back into the crock pot. 

Mix the remaining ingredients (Coke Zero, tomato sauce, diced chipotle chile and adobo sauce, green chiles, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper and brown sugar) and pour on top of the shredded pork in the crock pot. Cover and cook on high for another hour. Makes about 10 servings.

*NOTE: I'm loving chipotle chiles lately, but most recipes only call for 1 or 2. There's a great little tutorial on these chile peppers over at, if you're interested!

Pizza Pancakes

I know they sound strange, but these pizza "pancakes" are so good! This is a recipe from Taste of Home magazine (August, 2003) and I used to make these for lunch fairly often. I hadn't made them for years, so we had them for dinner this week when I had to make something fast. These are surprisingly filling. They are quick to make and my kids love them! 

2 cups biscuit & baking mix (such as Bisquick)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (I use ham)
1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped (I use 1/2 cup)

1 jar (8 oz.) pizza sauce, warmed
  1. In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix and Italian seasoning. Combine the eggs and milk; stir into the dry ingredients, just until moistened. Fold in the cheese, pepperoni (or ham), tomatoes and green pepper. 
  2. Pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Spread with a spoon, if needed (batter will be thick). Flip when bubbles form on top; cook until the second side is golden brown.*** Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.
Makes 14 pancakes. Serves 7, with 2 pancakes each.

***NOTE: I have a hard time getting these to cook through completely in the middle. I stack them on a plate and microwave them for about 30-60 seconds before serving and they are prefect!

Lemon-Lime Bars

My oldest daughter has been menu planning and grocery shopping with me, now that school's out for the Summer, so this was one of her picks for the week. I love lemon bars, so these were a fun little twist on the classic. The colors didn't swirl together like I'd imagined and the bars ended up with yellow on top and green on the bottom, but the flavors of lemon AND lime were certainly there. Tastes like Summer to me! Recipe from Sweet Tooth...

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt

Zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. lime juice
1 1/2 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
Green food coloring (optional)

Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8" glass pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Place crust ingredients in a small bowl and blend on low until well combined. Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the fillings in 2 separate bowls. Add green food coloring to the lime filling, if desired. (I was surprised how similar in color they were without food coloring, so I added 3 drops of green to the lime)
  4. Remove the crust from the oven and pour one filling at a time into the pan in a zig-zag pattern. Use a knife to carefully swirl the colors, if needed.
  5. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the filling is slightly golden brown.
  6. Cool completely, then cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Serves 12.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chicken and Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake

I found this recipe at the Picky Palate  and my family LOVED it! It's definitely a keeper.  My husband suggested that next time we put some tortilla strips on top for some crunch which I think would be yummy. Either way I am sure we will have this again.

2 cups long grain white rice
2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
One 15-ounce can mild green enchilada sauce
One 4-ounce can sliced black olives
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cream 
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (Tillamonk is best in my opinion

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Place chicken, enchilada sauce, olives, tomatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper and cumin into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Pour cooked rice into prepared baking dish and layer beans on top of rice. Pour chicken mixture over rice and top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and rice is hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Here is another easy crock pot recipe for busy days.

10-12 chicken tenders (or 5-6 breasts)
3/4 c. soy sauce
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1 can crushed pineapple (undrained)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. finely chopped green onions
1 Tbs. grated ginger
*If you don't have (or don't like) ginger, leave it out. It is good either way.

Combine all ingredients except chicken in large bowl then pour over chicken in a ziplock bag. Marinate overnight. In the morning simply pour into the crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred chicken and serve over rice.  Easy as that! 
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