Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Pasta Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

This recipe actually comes from the Betty Crocker website. It is really a chicken pasta salad, but I used turkey because it is what I had on hand. I also used rotini instead of bowtie pasta.

Chicken Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

3 cups uncooked farfalle (bow-tie) pasta (8 ounces)
6 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets
2/3 cup refrigerated Alfredo sauce (from 10-ounce container)
1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package (6 ounces) refrigerated diced cooked chicken breast
1 can (11 ounces) Mexicorn whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained

1.Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli for last 3 minutes of cooking. Rinse with cold water; drain.
2.In small bowl, mix Alfredo sauce, bell peppers and salt. In large bowl, mix pasta, broccoli, chicken and corn. Add pepper mixture to pasta mixture; toss until coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.

~Kiss The Cook

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This is my first post and I am going to start off with fruitcake. Now, don't run off! This is really delicious, I promise. It's the only fruitcake that I've ever eaten and enjoyed.

I got this recipe from my Mom probably ten years ago. She got it from our neighbor when we were little kids, probably 30 years ago. Lord only knows how long the neighbor had it before that.

(it makes a ton, so this is half the recipe)

4 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 ½ c. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. salt

4 c. pecans
½ pound candied pineapple

½ pound candied cherries (I use 4 oz. each of green and red)
1 pound chopped dates
½ T. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add fruit to dry ingredients an
d stir to coat. Add nuts and stir. In a small bowl, beat eggs and stir in vanilla. Add sugar to fruit mix. Add eggs and stir. It is very thick and hard to stir, but it gets better as the sugar melts in the eggs. Spoon into two greased 8 inch pans. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 250 degrees.

*note - for some reason, it took mine closer to two hours to bake

Weekly Meal Plan #10 from...

Meal Planning Mayhem


~Chef Val

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Frosting

I made cupcakes tonight for Justin to take to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. I cheated and used a boxed cake mix because I just didn't have time to do it from scratch. I decided to make the peanut butter frosting that everyone raved about last time, and I think it was even better this time! I chopped some Reese's cups up and sprinkled them on top as well.

Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and chopped reese's on top

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Put sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in mixer. Mix on medium low until creamy, scraping with spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high until the mixture is light and smooth.

Original Recipe

~Kiss The Cook

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling you-hoo... Inside the chicken is cooking and my husband is shouting woo-hoo! 

Ok, that was a lame attempt at a joke on the weather right now. It's not the worst that I've seen but it's record breaking snow fall (already a foot in Nov?!) and temperature lows (-10?!) right now so what better than a yummy comfort food casserole to warm up the evening. Brrrr! Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chicken (you can boil and shred chicken breasts or buy chunk chicken in a can)
  • 1 lb fresh chopped broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta (I used smaller shells)
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese 
  • 1 package stuffing mix
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. If using chicken breasts, boil chicken until tender and shred or cut into bite size pieces. If using chunk canned chicken, just make sure it's chopped up nicely. 
  3. Steam broccoli until crisp but tender. 
  4. Boil pasta until firm.
  5. In a small bowl mix together the soup and milk. Set aside. 
  6. Layer the chicken, broccoli, soup mixture, and cheese in baking dish. 
  7. Prepare stuffing mix according to package and sprinkle over the top.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is browned.
Look you can see the steam!
 We only had a Columbia Crest Merlot in the house tonight but that'll warm us up just fine with this dish! I'd probably prefer a Chardonnay but I'm not venturing out in this snow. Enjoy!!!

~Vino Vixen~

For the Love of Lasagna!

I made lasagna for the first time in a long time. This is by far one of the best I made. I did it all by scratch, but you could use bottled sauce and achieve the same results. I also added canned mushrooms to the meat layer, but you could leave them out.


  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1-28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, undrained

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 c red wine

  • 1 small can tomato paste

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 T sugar if needed- it depends on your tomatoes

Cheese mixture:

  • 1-15 oz container ricotta

  • 1 small onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 c cottage cheese

  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1/2 c pepperoni slices


  • 1 c mozzarella cheese, shredded

  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

  • 12 lasagna noodles

  • 1 can mushrooms (optional)

To make the sauce: Start with a medium saucepan and sweat onions in 1 T olive oil and 1-2 T butter. Let them get translucent and start to turn golden in color. Add the garlic, bay leaves, basil, and oregano. Stir them into the onions and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook the tomato paste until darkened in color- about 4-5 minutes. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir all together. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes for the flavors to come together. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. Add sugar if necessary.

To make the cheese mixture: Saute the onions in 1 T butter until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Let the mixture cool a few minutes. Add onions and garlic to the ricotta and cottage cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the meat mixture: Place the pepperoni in the food processor and process until chopped small. Brown the ground beef with the pepperoni in a skillet until no longer pink. Set aside to cool a bit.

Place the 12 lasagna noodles in a dish with hot water to cover for about 40 minutes to one hour until pliable.

In a 8x11 glass dish, start with covering the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Layer 3 noodles across. Use about 1/2 of the cheese mixture to spread over the noodles. Layer 3 more noodles. Add a thin layer of sauce over the noodles. Add the meat mixture. Add the mushrooms-optional. Add a little more sauce to the meat. Layer 3 more noodles. Spread the remaining 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Layer 3 more noodles. Add a layer of sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and hot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Banana Blackberry Waffles

So a couple of amazing coincidences made this waffle happen. I have some Hodgeson's Mill Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancake mix at my house. I was trying to be healthy with whole grains, but as you can see in my profile I will be going gluten-free in a few days so I have to get this outta my house! I cannot resist temptation. Also, my first few clients canceled so I have some extra time this morning. Put those things together and out came this delicious breakfast treat!

3/4 cup Whole wheat pancake mix
1 egg
1/3 cup almond milk (I'm sure you could use real milk if that's what you have)
1 banana

1/2 cup frozen blackberries (or blueberries or other yummy addition)

Put the blackberries in the microwave for about 45 seconds on half power (I hit the "vegetable button" on my microwave and don't know exactly what that does, but either way, unfreeze your blackberries).
Mix together the first ingredients mashing the banana as you go.
Add the blackberries and the juice from de-thawing it. Fold in

Spray the waffle maker with non stick spray and cook until machine stops steaming. Top with butter and agave nectar (or syrup if you'd like) and ENJOY!! Mmmmmmmmm

-Neat -n- Natural

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Best. Turkey. Ever.

Seriously. I am working on Thanksgiving, so Justin and I had our own little "Thanksgiving" dinner today. I tried a new recipe when I made our turkey today and it turned out amazing! It is a little time consuming, but well worth it. The meat comes out extremely moist and with just the right amount of flavor. SO GOOD!

Perfect Turkey
I used a 13 lb turkey and just adjusted the amount of ingredients a little.

1 (18 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine

1.Rub the turkey inside and out with the kosher salt. Place the bird in a large stock pot, and cover with cold water. Place in the refrigerator, and allow the turkey to soak in the salt and water mixture 12 hours, or overnight.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Thoroughly rinse the turkey, and discard the brine mixture.
3.Brush the turkey with 1/2 the melted butter. Place breast side down on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, 1/2 the carrots, 1/2 the celery, 1 sprig of thyme, and the bay leaf. Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover with the white wine.
4.Roast uncovered 3 1/2 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Carefully turn the turkey breast side up about 2/3 through the roasting time, and brush with the remaining butter. Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.

Original Recipe

~Kiss The Cook

Thursday, November 18, 2010

White Cheese Chicken Lasagna

OH CHEESE HEAVEN! Oh so bad for my diet!

Enter... White Cheese Chicken Lasagna! I hate traditional lasagna so I was a little skeptical at making this but it looked SO good that I couldn't resist.

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water. 
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the flour and salt, and simmer until bubbly. Mix in the broth and milk to a boil stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Season with basil, oregano and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer with 3 of the noodles, the ricotta and the chicken. Arrange 3 of the noodles over the chicken and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, spinach and the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange remaining 3 noodles over cheese and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with parsley and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
Top with a glass of heavenly chardonnay and ENJOY!!! 

~Vino Vixen~

Polish Pierogies and Kielbasa

Original Recipe

This is pretty much the only Polish recipe I know, but it is definitely something we make on a regular basis. The whole dinner takes about 15 minutes. Easy!


1 med sliced onion
2 Tbsp butter (can sub olive oil - diary free)
1 pkg Mrs.T's Pierogies (we like the Potato and Onion ones - diary free)
1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced


Saute onions in butter until tender.
Add frozen pierogies and kielbasa and saute 6-8 minutes, stirring pierogies and kielbasa pieces to brown on both sides.

~The Mess Maker

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leftover Turkey Salad

Photo credit

Please excuse the random google pic. I forgot to take a picture of mine, but thought the post looked sad without a yummy picture.

About a week ago I made my very first Roast Turkey. I am not a huge soup fan, so I debated over what to do with the leftovers. Finally decided on Turkey Salad, and man, I'm glad I did. That stuff is so delicious - even better than chicken salad, in my humble opinion. The best part - it's super easy!

Leftover Turkey Salad


1 cups cubed/chopped turkey meat (white or dark)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise (this is generous - less would work, too)
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients. Serve on bread or lettuce bed. I love mine on potato rolls.

~ The Mess Maker

Monday, November 15, 2010

Farro Pilaf

I'll start this by acknowledging that I'm the world's worst sous chef. Seriously. After making this pilaf yesterday night, I'm a heck of a lot more thankful I'm married to a man who is great at "finely dicing" all sorts of veggies. Because as good as it looks, there are a TON of large onion pieces in my pilaf right now.

Second, I'll tell you what Farro is. It's a whole grain that looks a bit like brown rice when it's cooked. It's a little nutty, and has a nice bite to it when it's cooked properly. Normally, you have to soak it to soften it, and then cook it. In this recipe, it's cooked in broth to impart a little flavor while it cooks, and the soaking step is removed.

This is a really festive-looking dish, and it's nutritious too. It would be a welcome addition on any holiday table at our house--I hope it can share your table too!

Adapted from the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Clean Eating, here's how I made it.

  • 4c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2c. water
  • 2c. whole-grain farro
  • 2/3c. unsalted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (next time, I'll use 4)
  • 1 onion, diced (next time, I'll use 1/2)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1T thyme (dried or fresh--a little less dried works well)
  • 1/2c. dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2c. dried apricots, chopped
  • 1t. Kosher salt
  • 1/2t. fresh ground black pepper

First, bring broth and water to a boil. Add the farro, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 18-20 minutes. The farro should still have a little bit of a bite to it. Drain the farro in a colander over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Reserve 1c. liquid, plus the farro.

While the farro is cooking, toast the pine nuts. You can do this in your toaster oven (not your toaster!), or in a skillet by heating them until they are golden brown. If you cook them in a skillet, stir constantly because they'll burn quickly. This only takes 2 minutes or so. Let the nuts cool on a plate.

Next, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the garlic, onion, carrots and celery until the onion is soft and translucent, but not brown--about 5 minutes. Add the fruit, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook 3 minutes more. Add the farro, and stir to combine. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and simmer for a few minutes (3-5) until the liquid is absorbed.

To finish, remove from heat and stir in the pine nuts. Serve warm or cold.

Serves 12 (1/2c. servings)

Asian Country Beef Cubes

This is one of my favorite recipes and I'm kind of bummed I wasn't picked as a  finalist for The Nest's "Couples who cook" contest...hmm maybe it was too adventurous but I thought it was easy to make & a good alternative to stir fry. 

Country Beef Cubes is a Vietnamese dish that great for dinner entrée, it's real name in Vietnamese is "Thit Bo Lu Lac" which translates to "Shaking beef", perhaps this is because the beef needs to be toss in the wok so that all the sides are seared. My family has been cooking this dish for years.

  • 1 1/4 pound Tri-tip(bottom sirloin/culotte) Steak
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon canola or peanut oil

2 cups of cooked rice
1 bunch (~2 cups)  of watercress (use only the tender leafy parts)

Trim excess fat from the steaks and then cut each into 3/4-inch cubes. In a bowl, combine the pepper, sugar, garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce. Add the beef and toss well to coat. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the beef and spread it out in one layer. Cook in batches, if necessary. Let the beef sear for about 1 minute, before shaking the wok or skillet to sear another side. Cook for another 30 seconds or so and shake. Cook the beef this way for about 4 minutes total, until nicely browned and medium done.

When the beef is done, pile the beef on top of the watercress and serve immediately with lots of rice.

Serves about 2-4 people

**I've been asked a few times but you can usually find watercress near by the parsley &  other herbs at most grocery stores, it's green & leafy with a peppery, tangy taste to it. This is not to be confused with water chestnuts which are completely different. The heat of the meat wilts the watercress a little and the pan sauce (from the marinade) makes the flavor of the watercress less intense... if you prefer to not use watercress, I recommend using some sort of green leafy lettuce 

Also often Mr.HG & I like to add in more vegetables with our meal, so we usually accompany this dish with some cooked carrots or sliced cucumbers.   

~Homemade Goddess 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Polenta with Corn

Hi! This is my first post, and I'm glad to be sharing what goes on in my kitchen with you. I'm traveling quite a bit over the next few weeks, so I hope to share more as the New Year gets closer. Today, it's a polenta recipe I made last week.

For years, POLENTA was a scary word to me. It sounded hard to make. In this month's Everyday Food, I spied a polenta recipe that not only looked awesome, but took less than 30 minutes from start to finish--just enough time to bake some chicken or fish while it cooked. I adapted it, and this is what I came up with!

Melt 1T. unsalted butter in a saucepan.
Add 1.5-2c. frozen corn and 1-2t. thyme (less for fresh, more for dried)
Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium/medium-high heat until the corn is warmed.

Add 1c. milk and 1.5c. water. I used whole milk for a creamier/richer texture.
Bring to a boil, and then whisk in 1/2c. finely-ground cornmeal. When you're whisking the cornmeal in, feel free to give it a good beating to get rid of any lumps that might be hanging around. This has to be done as you're adding and combining the cornmeal because it gets pretty thick, pretty quick. I used white cornmeal.

Stir constantly over medium heat until very thick, about 6 minutes.
Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in another 1T. unsalted butter and salt to taste. You can also add 1/4c. Parmesan cheese, that will make it cheesy and a little saltier.

I served this with short ribs, but it's an easy side dish for any meat. It has the consistency of mashed potatoes, and is really delicious! (In fact, I've been thinking about it all week--so I'm off to make some now).

-Chef Mary

My weekly meal plan featuring...


I'm so excited about all the new recipes we've all been posting that on my Meal Planning Mayhem blog this week, my meal plan is made up of recipes totally from this blog.  I've linked each recipe to each individual post, and included a grocery list.

Thanks for the amazing recipes ideas, everyone!

Meal Planning Mayhem: Weekly Meal Plan # 9

~Chef Val

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Broiled Feta Chicken Parmesan

Yum yum yum! I love feta. On just about anything. And lately I've been buying it in a block and slicing/chopping whatever I need for various recipes. It's got much more flavor than the crumbled feta and I'd definitely recommend using the block instead of crumbled. This was our little twist on chicken parmesan. Breaded chicken is pan-fried, then topped with fresh tomato slices, fresh basil and sliced feta and broiled until bubbly.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • oil for pan frying
  • 1/2 medium tomato, sliced
  • fresh basil
  • 1/2 block of feta, sliced
  1. Coat chicken breasts in breadcrumbs. Discard remaining breadcrumbs.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken, frying about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Chicken should be about 75% cooked, or about 130 degrees.
  3. Remove chicken from pan and drain quickly on paper towel. Top with fresh basil leaves, sliced tomato and sliced feta. Broil about 3-4 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown and chicken registers 160 on a meat thermometer.
  4. We like to serve it with a side of pasta or fresh steamed veggies.

Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie Soup

On those cold and blustery winter days, sometimes a nice pot pie sounds good but it is just too time consuming.  But I have good news, I have found this recipe and it is soooo good.  It will warm you to the core on a cold day.  Tastes just like a nice, hot pot pie and could have less calories since there isn't any crust.

You will need:
4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast meat
2 bags frozen mixed vegetables
2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup
2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
4 cups skim milk

Combine all ingredients except the milk.  Place in the crock pot and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hrs.  During the last hour add the milk.

Serve with crumbled crackers on top.

Enjoy it!

Until next time,
Crockpot Momma

Rolo Pretzels

This is pretty much the easiest and fastest dessert recipe out there. Every year for Christmas, I get a giant box of Rolos. That's 36 rolls of Rolos! So I figured it was time to get busy trying out some recipes involving the Rolos, so we don't just sit in front of the TV pigging out.

  • Small pretzels -- twists or circles work best
  • Rolos - you'll need 1 Rolo per pretzel (FYI - 8 Rolos come in each roll)
  • Toasted walnuts -- halves or chopped, or you can use pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Spray with non-stick spray and wipe with a paper towel.
  2. Arrange pretzels in a single layer on sheet pan. Top each pretzel with a Rolo.
  3. Bake at 325 for 5 minutes, until Rolos are soft, but not melted.
  4. Remove pan from oven and using nuts, smoosh the Rolo and press the nuts into it. Let them cool completely on the parchment/tin foil, then store in an air tight container.

Hubby's Favorite Meal

Broccoli-Sausage Pasta

Original recipe from Peace, Love and French Fries

DH begs for this meal every other week!  It's super yummy and fairly easy.  

     1/4 C of Olive Oil
     3 cloves garlic, minced
     1 small red onion, sliced thin 
     1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
     1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes  (more or less depends on how spicy you want it!)
     1lb package of smoke sausage (beef or turkey), sliced and quartered
     8 oz of short cut pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
     Shredded or grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet with high sides on medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill pot with water and start heating it up for the pasta.  Slice and quarter the sausage.  Add sausage to skillet and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut broccoli into florets.  Put pasta in water to cook.  Add the broccoli and red pepper flakes to the skillet and toss.  Continue cooking 8-10 minutes until pasta is ready.  Drain pasta, but reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Add cooked pasta and reserved water to skillet.  Heat 2-3 more minutes.  Serve topped with parmesan cheese. 

Hope some of you enjoy this!

~Chef Val

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Donut Muffins

This is a repost from my personal blog, but I haven't cooked anything exciting lately due to my work schedule. I have posted about these before in the community.

Donut Muffins

1-3/4 cup Flour
1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoons Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/3 cups Oil
3/4 cups White Sugar
1 whole Egg
3/4 cups Milk

1/4 cups Butter
1/3 cups White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bowl. Combine the white sugar with the cinnamon in another bowl.

Shake muffins out while still hot. Dip muffins in butter, then into the sugar/cinnamon mix. Let cool.

Original Recipe

~Kiss The Cook

Cooking with Empty Cupboards!

Well, I obviously need to get to the grocery store stat! Alas, we had a bit of a rough day getting my little man down for his naps but he FINALLY is so I'm obviously stuck for the time being but I have a minute to throw something together. I had NOTHING in my cupboards but a bunch of miss-mash ingredients and three boxes of Hamburger Helper I've had enough Hamburger Helper in the last few weeks that I was determined to have a home cooked meal. Here's what I came up with... 

Bear with me here.... I was desperate!
Makeshift Shepherd's Pie
  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts (I only had one?!)
  • 1 can each of Green Beans, Corn & Mushrooms (I also added a handful of frozen peas I had)
  • Egg noodles (any kind of pasta would probably work though)
  • Instant potatoes
  • Tortilla chips 
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
     Boil chicken until cooked through - set aside to cool. Crush tortilla chips. Boil noodles according to directions, drain and place in 9x13 pan. Mix in veggies and mushrooms. Shred cooled chicken with two forks and add to mixture. Mix in garlic, salt and pepper. Make instant mashed potatoes according to directions but add a little extra water (or milk) to make them a little more thin. Add to chicken mixture. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and with crushed tortilla chips. Bake on 350 until heated through and tortilla chips are browned. Enjoy!!!

I didn't have a 9x13 because mine literally exploded in my oven about 3 weeks ago 
so my crock pot worked ok?!

I'm not gonna lie... it was missing... something?!?! I'm not sure what though. But with what I had it turned out pretty good. Maybe a nice glass of Semillion or Chardonnay would have perked it up a little but I digress... To do list for tomorrow includes a trip to the grocery store!!!!

~Vino Vixen~

Penne Fume

Hello All! I'm Ardent Tart, a nickname that my husband picked out for me based on my...ahem...fiery disposition and my weird obsession with making pies and tarts. (Seriously...if I can put it in a pie shell, I will try it) I promise to regal you with the misadventures in baking soon, but I figured I would start with one of my regular old stand-byes.

My Mom has been making this pasta dish for years, and it is amazing. Guaranteed to make you heart ache from the richness, but so worth it. I recommend no more than once a month, and preferably as the end of a week so you don't have think about how many point you've already spent during the week. I've made a few modifications based on what I think is better and my personal preference for super spicy food.

Without further ado, I give you....Penne Fume

1 package of bacon, chopped into bite size pieces
1 8oz container of sour cream (low-fat is okay)
2 6oz cans of tomato paste
1 half-pint of heavy whipping cream
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp of cayenne (I usually put in 2 tablespoons, but again, I like my food really spicy, you can adjust the amount up or down based on your personal preference)
Penne Noodles

Cut the bacon up before you cook it. Fry in a heavy-bottom pot until it done the way you like it, but I've found that closer to crisp works best. Drain the bacon and return to low heat. Add the tomato paste and sour cream, stiring vigorously. Stir in the heavy whipping cream and mix well. Add in the spices (you can do this in steps to make sure it doesn't get too spicy for your liking) and allow the sauce to heat up. Be careful that you don't get it too hot as it can curdle the dairy. Serve over penne noodles, and enjoy!

Later gators!
--Ardent Tart

Monday, November 8, 2010

Three for one!

Alright, ya'all... here's a three-fer for you! Three of my go-to fav's all in one night!!! Enjoy!!!

French's Onion Chicken 

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Mustard (either regular yellow or dijon works)
  • French's Fried Onions
      Thaw chicken and remove fat. Coat in mustard. Crush up onions and coat chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or until cooked through. 

Twice Baked Potatoes

  • Baker potatoes
  • Butter
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Bacon bits
  • Milk
      Bake or microwave potatoes until partially cooked and soft to the touch. Cut off tops and scoop out centers. Place a few crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese and 1/2 tbsp of butter in the bottom of each skin - bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 30 min. While the skins are baking, mash the inside of the potatoes with milk and butter. After the skins are done, fill with mashed potatoes. Top with cheese crumbles and bacon bits and cook until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cheesy Bacon Green Beans

  • Fresh green beans
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Almond slices
       Cook bacon and set aside to cool and crumble. Place almonds in the oven to roast on 350 degrees for 15 -20 minutes or until golden. Blanche green beans. Saute green beans in bacon grease. Place on serving dish and top with bacon, Gorgonzola crumbles and almonds.

So there ya go! My yummy dinner... topped with a glass of Chardonnay - I'm not sure that's the right pairing but it suited me just fine :) Cheers!

~Vino Vixen~

Easy Crock-pot Chili

First a little about me:

I am not an expert in the kitchen. I like to think I'm adventurous, but I'm not. In fact, I usually only try recipes that have 5 ingredients or less. Ten ingredients is stretching it. On top of that, I am a working mom of a beautiful little girl. I want dinner to be quick, easy and (most importantly!) edible.

Many of my recipes will be diary-free. Since my daughter is currently allergy to cow's milk protein (crossing my fingers she grows out of it very soon!), I avoid diary, except for the occasional piece of chocolate. I hope she can forgive me for that. That said, most recipes I use will have a diary-full variation, since my husband can't fathom a dinner without cheese.

So here we go...

Easy Crock-pot Chili

Serves 8-10


2 lb ground beef (I used 90/10)
2 medium onions - chopped
2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of dark kidney beans
1 15 oz can of pinto beans
2 packages of McCormick Slow Cookers Chili Seasoning
I bag frozen corn (optional)
Shredded Cheddar for topping (optional)
Sour Cream for topping (optional)


Brown hamburger with onions; drain fat. Combine cooked hamburger, tomatoes, beans, corn and seasoning packets in slow cooker. Cook covered on low for 6-8 hours. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until ready to serve.

Serve with cheddar cheese and sour cream, if desired.

I totally forgot to add my corn this time...darn! But it still tasted great without it. This recipe was enough for 4 dinners in our house. I usually serve over a bed of noodles. And of course, I always make some Jiffy cornbread muffins to go with!

Looking forward to more cooking!

~ The Mess Maker

Turkey-Pasta Primavera

I have started to experiment with various crock pot recipes and this is one of the first I tested. It was quick to assemble as it has just five ingredients. The cook time is 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high. I'll definitely make this again as it tasted delicious. I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and they were just as good reheated. I think I could've added more vegetables, but that is probably the only thing I would have changed.
I served with tostones (fried plantains)
Recipe courtesy of 5-ingredient slow cooking.
2 lb turkey breast tenderloins or boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 16-oz. package frozen sugar snap stir-fry vegetables
2 tsp. dried basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning, crushed
1 16-oz. jar Alfredo pasta sauce
12 oz. dried spaghetti or linguine, broken (I used whole wheat pasta)
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Cut turkey into 1-inch pieces. In a 4 1/2-6 quart slow cooker combine turkey and frozen vegetables. Sprinkle with dried herb. Stir in Alfredo pasta sauce.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Stir cooked pasta into turkey mixture in slow cooker. To serve, spoon pasta mixture onto dinner plates. If desired sprinkle with parmesan cheese.Per serving: 407 calories, 11g total fat, 103mg cholesterol, 447mg sodium, 39g carb, 2g fiber

Happy Cooking!
Yankee Doodle

Meal Planning Rocks!

I second Baking Beauty's sentiments about meal planning. It is not easy, but if you are disciplined enough and willing to put in the work, it can turn cooking into something fun and affordable! On average, I save $30 a week on groceries with meal planning compared to before; just getting up and going to the store.

To increase your savings, you might have to muster up the energy to go to a couple different stores. My grocery shopping trip starts at Aldi, then to a local fresh produce shop, and ends at Target. I'm lucky that they are all within two mile of each other, but I would still say that it would be worth even an extra mile or two on top of that.

I started meal planning for the same reasons mentioned above; eating out too much and not planning accordingly for the week. It's so easy to run out to the local pizza joint, or order Jimmy John's. But what you spend there could easily equal 3 to 4 meals you can cook throughout the week! This summer our budget got to the point where we had to make sure we had a meal planned for every day! (Hubby was transitioning between jobs). Now that we've gotten into the habit, I still plan 7 meals every week, and we almost always stick to the plan. We've probably only eaten out 4 times in 2 months.

So, here is a link to my own blog: Meal Planning Mayhem. This week is all about casseroles!

Meal Planning Mayhem: Week 8

I can't wait to get ideas from everyone else for new meals to create!

~Meal Planning Mayhem Maker (Chef Val, Zello)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Easy Beef Stroganoff in the Crockpot

Since having my daughter, I have found it harder and harder to have the time to cook.  So shortly before she came home, I started preparing several meals that we froze.  Typically I will freeze half of the meal and then the other half is stored in the fridge for weeknight dinners.

This one is really easy, super yummy and makes the house sell yummy while its cooking in the Crockpot.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

  • 2 pounds lean cubed stew beef
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 package mushroom gravy
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Combine beef, soup, mushrooms and gravy in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Blend sour cream with flour; stir into beef stroganoff. Cook about 15 minutes more, or until well heated.

You can serve this over Egg Noodles or Rice (white or brown) OR just as it is.  It is that yummy!

As a side note - I have a 6 qt. crockpot and this recipe only filled it half way.  So you could easily double this recipe if you have a big enough crockpot.

Enjoy it!

Until next time,
Crockpot Momma

Its Game Day!

I dunno about you guys, but Football Sunday is a big day in our house! From 1pm til we go to sleep football is on. My husband's friend comes over....there is lots of Beer drinking, milk drinking (now that Miss Marlee is here), and lots of snacking! A Game Day favorite in our house is Buffalo Chicken Dip! I haven't met a person who doesn't like it!

2 cans of chunck chicken
2 blocks of cream cheese
1 cup ranch dressing (or blue cheese...up to you!)
1 cup of hot sauce, like Franks...more or less if you want. We like it hot!
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese.

In a pan heat chicken, ranch, and hot sauce. Then add cream cheese, I cut it into little chuncks so it melts faster. Once cream cheese is just about melted add half the cheddar cheese mix it all together. You can put it in a dish or crock pot. Then add the rest of the cheddar cheese on top! Of course on Game Day its served in a football crockpot! We usually serve it with tortilla chips, crackers, and celery!

Hope you all enjoy!

*Countess Cupcake*

Baking Beauty : Meal Planning, I try but I can't seem to find the motivation these days!

Trying to save money can be difficult when you are used to going out to dinner when you don't feel like cooking. However, now that we are on a tight budget, that is no longer an option. I have started doing a little meal planning to help me stay motivated. We would just go get something if we both came home tired and said "What's for dinner?" I would shrug and say "I didn't get anything out of the freezer." Those days are long gone. We have to save where we can if we want to make our dreams come true.

To help answer the age old question "What's for dinner?" I have started meal planning. I plan out at least 4-5 meals for the week. I also always have something quick and easy for back up in the freezer, be it frozen pizza or Stouffer's. This has really helped me stay motivated to cook and made it easier to save.

So what is on the menu for this week you ask?

Day 1: Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

I got this recipe from Publix's website. I thought I would give it a try. Publix has many of their Apron's recipes online. They are all simple, easy meals for working families.

Day 2: Steak with Garlic Cheese Potatoes

Day 3: Grilled Chicken with Provolone and Bacon with Homemade Honey Mustard

Day 4: Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken

Day 5: Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Corn and Corn Muffins

Now that the meal plan is complete, it is time to make the shopping list. Meal planning has really cut down our grocery bill. I make a list, stick to it, and don't come home with all kinds of things and nothing to eat!

I will try to post a step by step with pictures of the Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken and Rice later this week.

Have a great week!

~Baking Beauty