Friday, December 31, 2010

Popcorn Soup

This really isn't a soup, it's more like a breakfast porridge. We call it popcorn soup, because we ground popcorn kernels to make it. (That 25lb bag of popcorn from Sam's takes a long time to use up, even for a family of 8!) Maybe it should be called Cream of Popcorn, or Sweet Polenta or, yeah - Sweet Polenta. I like the sound of that. Anyway... here's how you make it:
1 cup polenta (or coarsely ground corn meal -or coarsely ground popcorn, in case you have about 20 pounds too many, like we did)
3 cups cold water
2 cups milk
dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine 2 cups of the cold water and 2 cups of milk in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring it to a low boil. Stir the polenta into the remaining cup of water. Once the milk mixture is boiling, add the salt and slowly stir in the polenta/water mixture. Keep whisking it so that it doesn't get lumpy. Simmer for several more minutes while stirring, or until it is thickened. Remove from heat & stir in the sugar & vanilla. Ladle into bowls and serve with milk, if desired. (Which, around here, it always is.)
Serves 5-6.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Octopus & Seaweed

I know this isn't a real recipe, but it's such a fun & cute idea that I just had to post it here. I first read about it several years ago, but hadn't made it for my younger set of kidlets. So, if you aren't philosophically opposed to feeding hotdogs & ramen to your children, here's how ya do it:
Get a hot dog & cut legs all the way up to within an inch of one end. (Mine only had 6 legs, but only a couple of my kids noticed.) Boil the hotdogs for a couple of minutes, and their legs will magically open up and they will become Octopi. (Design their faces with mustard.) Serve over a bed of ramen, which you can tint with green food coloring if you want it to be more realistic, that is, of course if you aren't opposed to feeding your kids even more chemicals. :P

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sugar Cookies

I just love Christmas baking, and in case I haven't posted enough sugary recipes here lately, here's another one...

This is another slightly altered allrecipes recipe. I love the flavor of these cookies. If you roll them out a little thick (1/2") they are just soft enough without being cakey. Thinner and they will be a bit crispier, but still tasty. The flavor is sweet, but not too sweet, which is important because most of my decorators like to really pile on the icing & sprinkles!

This is important & will save you lots of mess: instead of rolling the cookies out on a floured surface, I have found it much easier to roll them out on floured parchment paper and transfer the paper to pans for baking. The dough is rather sticky and may bunch up or tear if you try to transfer it with a spatula.


  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Overnight Caramel Sticky Buns

This recipe came from The buns are so sticky, gooey and delicious [how could they be otherwise, with all that butter & sugar?] and make a great special breakfast (i.e. Christmas!). The best part is that you do all the work the night before, so that in the morning all that is left is to stick them in the oven. I changed the recipe to double the caramel goo, because they weren't quite gooey enough for me.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, milk, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, egg and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  3. Heat brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter until melted. Remove from heat; stir in corn syrup. Divide mixture between two 9x13 inch baking pans. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in each pan.
  4. When dough has doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle and spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Starting with the long side, roll up the rectangle into a log, and slice into 1 inch wide rolls. Place the rolls slightly apart in pans. Wrap pans with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 48.
  5. Remove rolls from refrigerator and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until golden 30 to 35 minutes. Immediately invert pan on heatproof serving plate. Wait for 1 or 2 minutes before removing pan, so that caramel drizzles over rolls.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Every year for the past 4 (I think!) we have made gingerbread houses. It is a lot of fun & is something the kids talk about and look forward to all year. I got this recipe from friends who make incredible gingerbread constructions (Noah's ark, lighthouses, etc...) every year. It is very dependable and makes yummy cookies, too.

1 1/2 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine first four ingredients. Stir in the remaining ingredients until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. (I've even made the dough up to a week ahead of time.)

Heat oven to 350F. Roll dough 1/4" thick on floured surface. Cut with floured cookie cutter or knife or pizza wheel, etc...Place about 1" apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until no indentation remains when touched, about 10-12 minutes. Cool before using for construction.

For icing glue, beat together 4 egg whites and 4 cups of powdered sugar until smooth. If you're building houses, you may need to support the structures (canned vegetables work well for this) until the icing hardens.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hakuna Matata Breakfast Frittata

Hakuna Matata Breakfast Frittata
Ain't no passin' phrase!
It means no worries, for the rest of your days.
Breakfast - problem free, with eggs and cheese...
Hakuna Matata, Breakfast Frittata!
I love this recipe, because it is easy and simple. You can make it plain or dress it up. When I make it for the kids, I make it plain, but I think adding some sauteed mushrooms, red onions & swiss cheese would make it even better!
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbs melted butter (I subbed 1 Tbs of the leftover grease from the bacon instead of the butter - bad me!)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely diced ham or crumbled bacon
1 cup shredded cheddar
Beat the eggs, milk, salt & pepper. Pour it into a greased 9x9 pan. Sprinkle with ham or bacon and then the cheese. Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. Serves 5-6.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I love hummus. It is so yummy, healthy & easy to make. I've seen many recipes for it and have come up with my own version. If you don't have the Gochujang, never fear. It is not necessary, I just like the hint of zippy flavor that it adds. If you don't have it, just use a dash or two of tabasco sauce or cayenne.

2 cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp gochujang
salt & pepper, to taste

Drain the beans, saving the liquid from the cans. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process until it looks like mush. Mix in enough of the bean liquid to make it creamy. Serve with cut veggies, crackers, bagel chips or even spread it on bread & make a sandwich!

P.S. This is what Gochujang looks like. It has a very, very, VERY spicy and unique flavor. You should be able to find it at an asian grocery store.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet Potato Chips

I've turned 35 and have entered a new phase in my life. (I'm not sure how long this phase will last, but that's beside the point.) I'm trying to seriously reduce the amount of white flour & white sugar that I eat, and add more whole grains, fruits & veggies to my diet. This excludes my Coffeemate French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. And ice cream. And cookies. Oh, and cake, pie, etc...

Anyway, my sister-in-law told me about this recipe. I love sweet potatoes, anyway, so I thought I'd give it a try.
It was really good! Three of my children liked the chips, two tried a small crumb & wanted no more, and one remained true to his anti-sweet potato convictions and wouldn't touch them. (Oh well, more for me!)
Even though the taste of these were really good, I probably won't make them very often unless I get a mandolin slicer. It was really hard to get them sliced thin enough (think paper-thin) by hand.
1 sweet potato
Slice the potato into very thin slices. Lightly coat with oil. Lay the slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350F for around 30-40 minutes (turning them over every now & then). Keep an eye on them! They won't be crispy unless they are a little brown. Remove them from the pan as they start to brown, leaving the rest behind until they are brown, too. They will get crispier as they cool, though, mine weren't 100% crispy. It was more like a combination of crispy/chewy and sweet/salty - which I loved.
One potato made 4 baking sheetfulls.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pie Crust

Pie crust is easier than you think! This one is pretty foolproof. Just be careful to add just enough water to get the dough to clump together.

1/2 cup shortening or butter*
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt
pinch sugar
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

Mix the flour, salt & sugar. Cut in the shortening or butter until it's crumbly. You can use a fork or a pastry blender to do this. Slowly stir in the water. You may not need all of it!! Just pour enough in to allow the dough to clump together & not be dry & crumbly. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it's big enough to fit your 9" pie pan. To put it in the pan, I lightly dust the top of the crust with flour and roll it up loosely. Lift it carefully into the pan and unroll.

If you are using it for a pie that has a prebaked crust, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, lay a sheet of parchment paper over it and carefully fill it with dry beans.That's what the picture is above, in case you were wondering. (I have an ice cream bucket of pintos set aside for this purpose.) Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

*Note: If using butter, make sure it is cold and cut it into cubes before cutting into the flour mixture.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mexican Casserole

This is one of my high-mileage recipes. It is a great way to use leftover chicken or Thanksgiving turkey, or any kind of meat really. It's also a great way to use those refried beans I mentioned below. You can even make it without the meat - it's a very flexible dish.

4 cups cooked chicken or turkey, shredded or chopped
2 Tbs taco seasoning (or a packet)
2 cups salsa
1 1/2 cups sour cream
4 cups refried beans
2 cups cheddar cheese

In a 9x13 dish, layer the ingredients in the order in which they are given. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until heated through. Top with whatever taco fixin's you normally like (olives, salsa, lettuce, etc...) and serve with tortilla chips. Serves 8.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Refried Beans

If you like the refried beans at mexican restaurants, you have GOT to try these. They are so easy and so good. I usually make them at least once a week. The first night that I make them, we have them as soup. The next day, they have thickened and we'll eat them as a side dish. The rest will go in the freezer or in burritos and then into the freezer. The recipe came from and whenever I make them, I make a double batch. (It fits perfectly in my 7 quart crockpot.)
1 onion, diced
3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed

1/2 jalapeno, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
9 cups water

Combine everything in the crockpot. Cook on high for 8 hours. Mash the beans (see note below) with a potato masher, or better yet, a stick blender. Serves a lot.

The beans will be runny, but will thicken with refrigeration. If you want them less runny, scoop out a cup or two of the water before mashing. Then, you can add the water back after mashing if you want them thinner.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Look out Amelia Bedelia, you've got competition! This pie is really good, and it's fairly simple to make, too. It uses ingredients that I always have on hand.

1 prebaked pie crust
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs flour
3 Tbs corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup lemon juice (I used bottled!)
2 Tbs butter
4 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tbs sugar

Combine sugar, flour, corn starch & salt in a medium pot. Stir in milk and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Add butter & stir till melted. Turn off heat. Scoop out 1/2 cup and slowly stir it into the 4 egg yolks. Add that mixture back to the pot and cook until thickened. While that is still hot, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks start to form. Gradually beat in the 6 Tbs of sugar.

Spread the filling into the pie crust. Spread the meringue over top. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes or until meringue starts to turn golden. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour and then refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
Note 1:
To keep the meringue from shrinking, you must spread it over the filling while the filling is still hot.
Note 2:
The reason the lemon part of my pie pictured above looks so orange, is that our chickens' egg yolks are very orange!
Note 3:
If you don't know who Amelia Bedelia is, you must go to the library and look her up!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Easy 100% Whole Wheat Bread

This is my go-to bread. When I'm in a hurry or need homemade bread with very little effort, this is what I make. It is soft and not heavy or dense, like you would expect 100% whole wheat bread to be. The best part about it is that you don't have to knead it! That means no sticky or doughy hands.

8 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs yeast (see note below!!)
2 tsp salt
3 Tbs molasses
3 cups warm water

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. It will look like a thick, sticky batter. Let it rise until doubled. (Watch out! It rises relatively fast.)

Punch down and spoon into 3 greased loaf pans. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

With all my breads, I use the bulk yeast from Sam's club. It is wayyy cheaper than the packets. It may be the same thing as the jar labeled "Bread Yeast" from a grocery store, but I am not certain. You add the bulk yeast to the flour before you add any wet ingredients. If you choose to use packets for this recipe, you will need 3 of them, and you will need to add them to 1 cup of warm water before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. If you do, then decrease the amount of water you add to the rest of the bread by 1 cup.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ham Chowder

It's raining here today. That is good news. One, because I don't have to go anywhere. And two, because I can make soup for dinner! Soup is so much more appetizing when it is cold and rainy.

This is a soup that I started making several years ago from a recipe that used canned cream of mushroom soup and canned vegetables. I lost that recipe somewhere along the way, and have come up with my own version. My own version is subject to change, depending on what I have in the fridge & pantry. Today when I made it, I measured and wrote down what I used. You can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have.
1 stick butter
2 onions
8 cups potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cups green beans (2 cans would work, as well)
2 cups carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth (I use bouillon and water)
2 cups diced, cooked ham
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp pepper

Sautee veggies and butter in a large pot until veggies are just about tender. Stir in flour. Slowly stir in broth and cook over medium heat (stirring frequently) for 5 minutes. Add ham, sour cream, milk & pepper. Heat over low heat for 3-5 more minutes or until heated through. Serves an army, or about 8-10 people. You can easily halve this recipe.

If you use fresh green beans, you may want to steam them separately for a few minutes before you start. The potatoes were tender long before they were.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Graham Crackers

A box of graham crackers lasts approximately 38 seconds around here. (That's pretty much how it is with most anything edible.) So, it behooves me to learn to make these kinds of things from scratch. Afterall, it is much easier (and cheaper & probably healthier) to make a batch of them than it is to load all seven or eight of us up in the van & make a trip to the grocery store.

I love getting a chance to use the word behooves.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey (though I have used corn syrup in a pinch)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk

cinnamon & sugar

Cream the butter & sugar. Beat in the honey, milk & vanilla. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except the cinnamon & sugar) until thoroughly combined. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour. (You can keep it in the fridge up to one week.)

Divide the dough into fourths and roll a fourth at a time onto parchment paper. Roll it to about 1/4" thickness. Place the dough, still on the parchment paper, onto a baking sheet & sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mix, pressing it down lightly. Cut the dough into squares or shapes & leave them next to each other. In other words, don't move it once you cut it. Prick it all over with a fork to keep it from bubbling up. Bake at 350F for about 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. (And repeat with the remaining dough:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pizza Roll

Pizza. One of the best inventions ever known to man. Tasty. Portable. Easy. Fairly cheap. And it contains all of the food groups, right?

We eat pizza at least once a week in one form or another. This recipe is a tasty changeup from the ordinary version. It also allows the eater to control the amount of sauce, which is a big plus if you have people in your family who don't like sauce.

3 1/4 cup flour
1 pkg yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

2 cups mozzarella
4 Tbs grated parmesan
8 ounces pepperoni

pizza sauce, for dipping

Make dough with the first 6 ingredients. Let it rise for 1 hour. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Roll each half into a large rectangle, about 1/2-3/4" thick. Spread with pepperoni & sprinkle with the cheeses. Starting with a long side, roll the dough and pinch the seams to seal. Bake at 350F on a greased baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Serve with warm sauce, for dipping.

You can use almost anything for filling - like salami, or turkey & swiss, olives, spinach, etc... Or make it a breakfast roll, by using cooked sausage and cheddar in place of the pepperoni and mozzarella.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hot Fudge Ice Cream Bar Dessert

A long name for a simply delicious dessert!

We found this recipe on allrecipes recently and it instantly shot up to the top of our favorite desserts list. One of the nice things about this dessert (besides its really good flavor) is that you can make it several days ahead of time.

2 cups chocolate syrup
3/4 cups peanut butter
19 ice cream sandwiches
1 12oz container cool whip
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Heat syrup & peanut butter in a small saucepan, stirring until the peanut butter is melted.

In a 9x13" pan, layer half the sandwiches, half of the cool whip, half of the chocolate mixture, and half of the nuts. Repeat layers. Freeze for about 1 hour. Cut into squares to serve. Makes about 15 servings.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Like the Boxed Stuff Pancakes

There is a certain someone living in my house who is a pancake snob. To protect the guilty, I won't name any names, but while the kids and I willingly eat a variety of homemade, whole wheat, oatmeal, etc... pancakes, this person repeatedly tries to sneak home boxes of Aunt Jemima or (gasp!) Hungry Jack.

However, this certain nameless someone does like this recipe. It produces fluffy white pancakes, just like Jemima's and Jack's. I found the recipe on allrecipes and once again, tweaked it to suit our tastes. Enjoy!


3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs sugar
3 eggs
2 to 2 1/2 cups buttermilk*
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. If you want thinner pancakes, just add a little more milk to make the batter runnier. Brown on both sides on a hot, greased griddle. Serves 8 generously.

*I rarely have buttermilk on hand, so I substitute regular milk mixed with 2-3 tsp of lemon juice.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sausage Balls

These are so simple and good. I've brought them to potlucks and church breakfasts & they are always gobbled up.

1 pound ground pork sausage (hot/spicy is best, in my opinion)
1 cup biscuit mix*
1 pound sharp cheddar, shredded (the sharper, the better)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients and shape into walnut-sized balls. Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet at 350F for 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes about 4 dozen.

*I never have biscuit mix on hand, so I use 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp salt instead.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creamy Apple Crisp

I don't really know if this qualifies as a crisp, but whatever it is, it is good. We really liked it for breakfast.
2 cups quick oats (though I think rolled would work as well)
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 sticks butter/margarine
4 large apples, peeled & sliced (tart apples work best)
1 cup cream
Combine the first 5 ingredients, using only 1 cup of the sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Press half of it into a 9x13" pan. Layer the apples and sprinkle them with the remaining sugar. Crumble the remaining mixture on top. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Pour the cream evenly over the crisp and bake for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sundried Tomato Chicken Pasta

This is sooooo good. My sister-in-law made it for us several years ago & it has been one of our favorites ever since. I have tweaked the original recipe a bit to suit our tastes and number of servings.
Just look at that creamy, flavorful sauce...
1 Tbs oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes*, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup grated parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
basil, chopped
8 oz pasta (I usually use bowties, but this time I happened to use campanelle)
2 Tbs butter
Cook & drain the pasta according to package directions. Stir in the salt & butter. Set aside.
Cook the garlic & onion in oil until translucent. Add the chicken & tomatoes and cook until the chicken is done. Stir in the cream, milk, parmesan, salt & pepper. Cook over medium heat until it is heated through.
Spoon over plates of hot pasta & sprinkle with a little chopped fresh basil. Serves 8.
*If the sundried tomatoes are packaged dry (as opposed to being packed in oil), rehydrate them by soaking them in very hot water for 10 minutes. If they're in oil, drain them well.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tasty Cake

Remember Tastycakes? This cake has a taste & texture just like them. If you're looking for a cake that is pretty & tidy, this isn't the one. But if you're looking for a soft, moist & very delicious cake, this is it.

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two or three 9" baking pans. Combine the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs, milk, oil & vanilla together. Mix with the dry ingredients until smooth. Stir in the boiling water. Pour into pans & bake for about 25 minutes or until springy to touch. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool thoroughly before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Combine all the ingredients until smooth. Spread a thin layer over cooled cakes.

And... the harsh realities of food blogging:

Not to mention the extra calories I have to consume while staging these shots. (Can't touch the camera with chocolate fingers, you know.)

I am editing this post to say that I didn't mean to imply that this is my own recipe. I got the cake part from ("One Bowl Chocolate Cake") and the icing recipe was one I found and altered from another source. I combined the two to come up with our version of Tastycakes... Wherever it came from, you can be sure it is very yummy! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chocolate Popcorn

Sooooo good. Good enough to package & give as a gift. Good enough to take to a potluck. Good enough for an extra special snack...

1 cup popcorn kernels
whatever you normally use to cook & season your popcorn with
6 squares (2oz each) almond bark/candy coating (I used 3 chocolate & 3 white)

Pop your popcorn and season as usual (i.e. salt & butter). Spread half of it onto a large baking sheet. Melt the almond bark in the microwave, stirring frequently. Drizzle half of it onto the popcorn. Top with the remaining popcorn and drizzle that with the remaining almond bark. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or until the almond bark is hardened and you have wonderful, mouthwatering, chocolatey popcorn clusters. Like so:

Note: You can make this with air popped, but it is sooo much better when done the old-fashioned way on the stovetop with oil & salt.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love Fall... leaves rustling, candles burning, goodies baking... and pumpkins, lots of pumpkins...
These muffins are so moist & yummy, and even the pumpkin flavor-haters in my family will eat them.
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups pumpkin (I used a 15oz can)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine the sugar, butter, pumpkin & eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients. Bake in a greased muffin tin (or use liners) at 400F until springy to the touch. Makes 4 dozen mini-muffins.
Hint: I have found that my kids are far more likely to try new muffins if I make them mini. Of course, chocolate chips help too. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Brown Sugar Granola

Brown Sugar Granola is a staple in our kitchen. It is inexpensive and easy to make, using ingredients that I almost always have on hand. You can spruce it up a bit by adding nuts, coconut, raisins, dried cranberries, etc... but my family seems to prefer it just as it is.


1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Melt the margarine and sugar in a large pot. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Spread the mixture onto a large baking sheet and bake at 375F for about 10 minutes, or until golden. (Stir occasionally to prevent the edges from burning.) If you let it cool in the pan without stirring, you will have more chunks in your granola. My kids seem to like it better when it is chunky.

Either rolled oats or quick cooking oats will work in this recipe. Rolled oats produce a chewier granola, and quick are slightly more crunchy. Makes 8 generous servings.

P.S. I did add some sliced almonds to this batch. Shhh!

Our favorite pickles

We grow a lot of veggies around here, and therefore do a lot of canning. This is our favorite way to eat cucumbers. The kids love them because they are very sweet and tangy. I like them piled on a big, juicy burger!

This recipe makes a lot & can easily be halved or fourthed (is that a word?).

8 cups white vinegar
9 cups sugar
3 Tbs pickling spice
about 3 dozen 5" cucumbers, washed & sliced

Bring vinegar, sugar & spice to a boil in a large pot. Add cukes. Pack into hot, sterile jars & process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Makes about 10 pints.

*You could add other yummy ingredients like sliced onions & peppers, but if I did, I'm afraid it would result in anarchy.

P.S. Pickling spice can be found in the spice aisle & it looks like this:

Unfried Rice

Fried rice, or Unfried rice, is a great way to make a little bit of meat and veggies go a long way. The sauce I use in it is salty & sweet and also makes a great marinade for meats. Soy sauce brands vary in flavor & saltiness, so you may want to taste the sauce as you go along (but before you add the garlic - trust me). You may need to add a little more water if it is too salty.

Sauce ingredients:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 Tbs sesame oil
8 Tbs sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced

Remaining ingredients:
8 cups of hot, cooked rice
1/2 to 1lb diced cooked meat (I used some leftover pork loin in this batch)
1 onion chopped
2 cups mixed veggies (I used carrots, some leftover lima beans & salad greens)
2 eggs, beaten

Combine sauce ingredients in a small pot & heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Have a very large pot or bowl ready. (I used my turkey roaster.) Sautee each veggie seperately in a little oil and put them in the large pot. Do the same to the meat. Scramble the eggs & put them in the pot.

Put the rice in the pot, pour the sauce over and mix it all up. Serves 8.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crusty Joes

The kids & I made bread sticks this morning & ended up with some extra dough. (Sigh...if only it was the $ kind...) I thought I'd use the extra for pizza crust & then remembered that I didn't have a pizza pan or another big baking sheet (or mozzarella, for that matter). So, I came up with this idea: Crusty Joes.
Sloppy joes in a deep pizza crust. I love the sweetness of the beef combined with the sharpness of the cheddar and yeasty-ness of the dough. Mmmm...
1 batch bread/pizza dough (I suppose you could use the canned kind)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 Tbs white vinegar
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
dash salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups cheddar (sharp is best!)
Squish your crust onto the bottom and up the sides (as much as possible) of a lightly greased 9 x 13" pan. Prick the bottom of it here and there with a fork so it doesn't bubble up. Bake it at 350F until lightly golden.
Brown the beef & onions in a pan. Drain the grease & stir in the remaining ingredients (except cheese). Top with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Serves 8.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fish Chowder

This is a creamy, comforting & fairly easy to make soup. Paired with some homemade bread, it makes the perfect meal for a cool autumn day.
2 tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed potatoes
1 lb fish, cubed (I used cod filets)
1/2 tsp old bay
salt & pepper, to taste
1 16oz bottle clam juice
1/2 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 cup cream
Sautee the onion, celery and garlic in the butter. Add chicken broth & potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the fish & and old bay & simmer another 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the clam juice & flour. Slowly stir into the simmering chowder, until thickened. Stir in milk & cream & reheat. Add salt & pepper to taste. Makes 8 good-sized servings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

In searching for a recipe for pancakes that I could make the night before, I found a version of this one that halfway fit the bill.

These pancakes were delicious & had a great texture. The oatmeal made them more nutritious & filling as well. I will definitely be using this recipe again.


2 cups oats
2 cups buttermilk (I substituted 2 cups milk with a Tbs lemon juice)
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbs sugar or honey
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine oats & buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight. Combine the next 5 ingredients. (You can do this at night to save time in the morning.)
Mix all ingredients together in the morning and fry on a hot, lightly greased griddle.
One batch makes enough for 6 young-ish children. Their mama prefers coffee for breakfast.