Monday, December 28, 2015

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake recipe is from my friend Lynette and it is wonderful. It is rich and has just the right spice mixture. I really love the flavor the chopped pecans give this cake. You can either make this cake in a half sheet cake pan or make it thicker in a 9x13 baking pan. It feeds a lot of people when made in a half sheet pan - at least 20. I actually made this for a church training meeting and everyone loved it. So yummy! Oh and the frosting is fantastic!

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrots
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup finely chopped pecans

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 lb or 16 oz package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions for Cake:
In a mixer combine vegetable oil and sugar and beat well. Add eggs and mix well. Add carrots and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixer and mix well. Add in pecans and mix well. Pour into a greased half sheet cake pan or a 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before frosting with cream cheese frosting below.

Directions for Frosting;
Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and creamy. If it's too thick add milk by tablespoonfuls until it is the right spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crock Pot Beef Tips & Gravy

This is such a great and delicious crockpot meal! It tastes like beef stroganoff without the mushrooms so my kids absolutely loved it (when will they start liking mushrooms - probably never). It is so good served over mashed potatoes, but you could serve it over rice or egg noodles also. This is definitely one of my new favorite Sunday dinner recipes.

Crock Pot Beef Tips & Gravy

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, or chuck roast cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
14 oz can low sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour

Place cubed beef in slow cooker and sprinkle evenly with lemon pepper. In a large bowl whisk together dry onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, and beef broth; pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove meat from crockpot with a slotted spoon, place in a bowl, and cover with foil. Set aside for now. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour and whisk well. Cook for about a minute. Whisk in the gravy/juices from the crockpot and heat until thickened and heated all the way through. Add in the set aside beef and simmer for a few minutes. Serve the beef tips and gravy over mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chocolat Chaud (Hot Chocolate - Stove Top or Crock Pot)

I back-packed Europe the summer after I graduated from high school. I treasure the memories I made on that trip. Some wonderful memories are the breakfasts in France. French food is amazing. Even poor backpackers get hot chocolate, or "chocolat chaud" in French, and fresh croissants for breakfast at youth hostels. It's a beautiful thing and I remember that hot chocolate so well. This homemade recipe for hot chocolate is the closest thing I've ever made to the hot chocolate I remember drinking in France. It's rich, creamy, and oh so chocolatey. I love it. The quality of the unsweetened cocoa and chocolate chips mean a lot to the flavor. I don't have Valrhona chocolate in my pantry to use in this recipe, but when I want it to be really good I do use the best chocolate chips I can find at the grocery store (I really like Guittard) and Dutch processed cocoa powder. It's the perfect cold weather and Christmas time treat.

Chocolat Chaud (Hot Chocolate for Stove Top or Crock Pot)

2 cups heavy cream
6 cups whole milk
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)

Fast Stove Top Directions:
In a large saucepan combine heavy cream, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and vanilla if using. Heat, whisking constantly, until you just bring it too a boil. Turn down heat and simmer, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Check taste. You can dilute it a little with a cup or so of milk if you like a less rich taste (I add more milk when making for my kiddos).

Crock Pot Directions:
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook on low for 2 hours, whisking every so often to combine the chocolate with the milk.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Slow Cooker Apple Spice Cake

My husband is a huge fan of fruit cobblers, pies, crisps... All of that. Well this is probably the easiest version of an apple cobbler I've ever made. You've probably seen the Tasty video of this one on Facebook and it was because of that video that I wanted to make it. I've made other versions of this called "dump cakes" - a cherry walnut one, a peach one, and they are all yummy. This one is no exception. It was super yummy and it made my husband very happy. And vanilla ice cream on top is a huge must!

Slow Cooker Apple Spice Cake

2, 20 oz can apple pie filling
spice cake mix
2 sticks or 8 oz butter, cut into slices
vanilla ice cream

Spray the interior of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Add apple pie filling. Sprinkle dry spice cake mix evenly over the apple pie filling. Place butter slices evenly over the top. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Serve with ice cream on top of individual servings.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

This recipe is for real! It actually tastes like restaurant chicken tikka masala and I'm so happy about it!! I really love Indian food and chicken tikka masala and butter chicken are my top faves to order at Indian restaurants. The one thing about this recipe is that it requires quite a number of spices. I was able to find all of these spices and spice blends at my local grocery store, but you can also find good Indian spices on Amazon (love Amazon Prime!). This made my house smell fantastic as it was cooking all day. I served it with basmati rice and naan. Yum!!

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1, 29 oz can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Garam masala
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (can increase this for a spicier dish)
2 bay leaves
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a large bowl combine chicken and onion. In another bowl mix together garlic, ginger, tomato puree, yogurt, olive oil, Garam masala, tumeric, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and cayenne; pour this mixture over the chicken and onions and toss well. Spray the interior of a crockpot with cooking spray. Pour the chicken and sauce mixture into the crockpot and add the 2 bayleaves to the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. In a medium bowl whisk together the cream and cornstarch; pour into the mixture in the crockpot and stir well. Let cook an additional 20 minutes to let it thicken. Remove bay leaves and serve over cooked rice.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Easy Cilantro Lime Rice

This is probably the easiest version of a Chipotle or Cafe Rio-like cilantro lime rice. So this is probably the one I will stick with from now on! All it has in it is cooked rice, lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. It's great! I served this with our homemade Cafe Rio dinner - which is crockpot sweet pork that each family member either makes a burrito or burrito bowl with. It's a family favorite dinner. I hope you love it like my family does.

Easy Cilantro Lime Rice

3 cups uncooked long grain white rice, or basmati rice (basmati rice is what's pictured)
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cook rice (I just use my rice cooker). When rice is ready and hot add lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro and toss. Serve with any mexican dish.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Homemade Brown Gravy

Homemade gravy rocks! And this particular recipe is so darn good and not to mention easy! Almost as easy as making a packet of brown gravy. I made it from pot roast drippings, but you could also substitute butter for the drippings if needed. You can also substitute chicken broth and chicken bouillon for the beef broth and beef bouillon if you are making a gravy to go with poultry. A fat separator is a great gadget for making gravy, but if you don't have one, you can pour all the pan drippings into a large measuring cup, wait for the fat to separate from the juices, and then spoon off the fat with a spoon.

Homemade Brown Gravy

1/4 cup fat from pan drippings or butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup pan juices
1 cup beef broth
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons beef bouillon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1/4 cup of fat from pan drippings or butter in a saucepan. Add flour and cook over medium heat, whisking, until the roux is golden brown, about the color of peanut butter. Add in juices, broth, milk, and bouillon, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mini Meatloaves

So this meatloaf recipe is awesome! It's from and it's just a nice change from your standard meatloaf. The flavors all mix well together. And my kids all loved the individual mini-loaves. If you don't have a mini-loaves pan, you can make this mixture into a regular loaf and then just bake it longer. I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans and it was a great comfort food dinner.

Mini Meatloaves

Meatloaf Mixture:
2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 eggs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder
ground black pepper
1 cup quick oates

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together in a large bowl. Take small handfuls and shape into mini loaves and place in an 8 mini-loaves pan.

Mix together topping ingredients. Place a heaping tablespoonful of the topping and spread on each mini loaf.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until meat loaves internal temp is 160 degrees. Remove from oven and let sit about 5 minutes before removing from pan and serving.

Monday, September 7, 2015

30 Minute Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

This is a kid pleasing version of chicken cordon bleu. More like a chicken cordon bleu macaroni and cheese. It's creamy and cheesy and good. I got this recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up and changed it just slightly. If you are in the mood for an easy comfort food casserole this is right up your alley. And the best part about it is that it's a fast weeknight dinner that will make your whole family happy.

30 Minute Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

1, 12 oz package bowtie pasta
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups half and half
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 cups cooked and cubed chicken
2 cups chopped ham
1-2 cups shredded swiss cheese
1 cup Italian panko bread crumbs

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet combine chicken broth, half and half, cream of chicken soups, mustard, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add sour cream, chicken, ham, and cooked and drained pasta. Toss to coat well. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with shredded swiss and then panko bread crumbs. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot and the crumbs on top are starting to brown.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Short Cut General Tso's Chicken

Have you watched the documentary In Search of General Tso? It is fascinating! All about the origins of General Tso's chicken, which is such a popular American Chinese take-out dish. Well here is a great short cut version of this ubiquitous dish and my family thought it was so good! We loved the sticky, sweet sauce. Of course this is not a super healthy dish, but it tastes so much like the take-out version and can save you some money by making it at home. Hope you enjoy it too.

Short Cut General Tso's Chicken

2 lbs frozen popcorn chicken (I used Tyson's)
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
sesame seeds for garnish

Bake popcorn chicken according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine ketchup, honey, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce. Bring this mixture to a boil, whisking. Turn down heat and let simmer, still stirring, until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Toss baked popcorn chicken with the sauce and garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve over prepared rice. Yummy.

Friday, August 28, 2015

No Bake Energy Bites

This is one of those recipes that is all over food blogs and Pinterest. This particular version is from Gimme Some Oven and it's perfect. My kids all love these bites and my 9 year old asks me to make them all the time. They taste a little like no-bake cookies. Yum! It's a great snack for school lunch boxes or snack time. This recipe makes anywhere from 20-25 bites, depending on how big you make the balls; I used a small cookie scoop to help me make them about the same size and got 22 bites.

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup dry oats
2/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl stir all the ingredients together until mixed well. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour. 

Once chilled, scoop out dough (a small cookie scoops works well) and shape into balls. Place shaped bites into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Creamy Pesto Pasta

This recipe is so fast and easy. Honestly I can't believe I've never tried this before. Adding cream to pesto is heavenly. You can have this meal on the table in the time it takes to boil the pasta. I used a jar of prepared pesto from Costco, because that made this meal that much faster, but you can also make your own pesto. I served it with cantaloupe and zucchini bread and it was a perfect meatless summer meal, though I think it would be great any season.

Creamy Pesto Pasta

1 lb cellentani pasta (or any other pasta you want to use)
1 cup prepared pesto
1/2 cup cream (might need a bit more)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine pesto and cream in a large skillet. Bring to a boil as you whisk frequently. Simmer on low just until sauce begins to thicken a bit. Add in the cooked and drained pasta and toss until coated. Add in Parmesan and toss and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Top each serving with Parmesan.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fast Sauteed Zucchini and Mushrooms

This is my favorite vegetable side dish! It's so delicious! The veggies are the same ones you would get at a Japanese steakhouse - zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and garlic - and I love the combination of these vegetables! You can serve this plain, add some soy sauce for a more Asian flavor, or add some Parmesan cheese at the end for a more Italian flavor. It's easy to throw together and only takes about 10 minutes to saute it all. The only reason I'm including this recipe on my blog, because it's kind of a no-brainer, is so I remember the ratio of veggies that I like the best.

Fast Sauteed Zucchini and Mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 zucchini, chopped
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 onion, cut in fourths then sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

optional: Parmesan or about 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet or wok until melted and hot. Add zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. Cook stirring. The mushrooms will release moisture as they cook and you want to cook until this moisture has cooked off. Add garlic and saute for a couple minutes. You want the vegetables to must be beginning to turn golden, but not browned. At this point if you desire add a couple tablespoons of soy sauce or Parmesan cheese. Toss and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Crock Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken

So this easy crockpot dinner is just like creamy Italian chicken, but using a ranch dressing mix instead and it's great! My family really liked it with the ranch taste, just as much as the Italian version. It's creamy and good and you can serve it over rice or pasta like bowties or vermicelli. I served it with corn and green beans and it was such an easy dinner that was very family pleasing.

Crock Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken

4 chicken breasts (can use frozen)
1 packet ranch dressing mix
8 oz cream cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
cooked rice or pasta for serving

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and sprinkle with dry ranch dressing mix. In a saucepan combine cream cheese and cream of chicken soup and heat, stirring, until cream cheese is melted and combined. Pour this soup mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Remove chicken breasts and shred with 2 forks. Put shredded chicken back into the sauce and stir. Heat through for another 10 minutes or so and serve over rice or pasta.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Easy Beef Enchiladas

This is a simple beef enchilada recipe that tastes great!I make chicken enchiladas all the time, but this was a nice change and I loved the flavors - cheesy and just a little spicy. Yum! I served it with a green salad and after I took the picture above I topped individual servings with sour cream and guacamole. Even my two year old gobbled this dinner up.

Easy Beef Enchiladas

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
1, 20 oz can red enchilada sauce
corn tortillas (can also use flour if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown ground beef and onions in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add 1 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Mix well until combined.

Heat tortillas in the microwave for about a minute to soften. Put a large spoonful of meat in the center of tortillas and roll up and place seam down in a non-stick sprayed 9x13 baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Serve with guacamole and sour cream if desired.

Friday, August 7, 2015

My Favorite Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

So I have a couple of different versions of this recipe on this blog. This one is my favorite. I think it's because it is the easiest. I use frozen chicken breasts and serve it over rice cooked in my rice cooker. It's just fast, easy, delicious, and my whole family looks forward to this dinner every time they see it on the menu. To top it off I usually serve it with canned green beans or steamable frozen mixed veggies. So the actual prep time involved in this meal is about 10 minutes. It doesn't get much easier than that.

My Favorite Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

5 chicken breasts, frozen is great
1 packet dry zesty Italian dressing mix
1, 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cans cream of chicken soup
cooked rice or pasta for serving

Place chicken in slow cooker and sprinkle the Italian dressing over it. In a small saucepan combine cream cheese and soups and cook until combined and cheese is completely melted. Pour this soup mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Once chicken is cooked through, remove and shred with two forks; place back in crockpot and stir. Serve over cooked rice or pasta.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Tomato Basil Soup

I have a lot of tomato basil soup recipes on my blog and they are all just a little different, but all also wonderful and delicious in their own ways. This one is a chicken tomato basil soup and its also a crockpot recipe. I love crockpot soups. It just makes it so easy. This recipe if from Jamie Cooks It Up. I changed it just a little, served it with some french bread, and my family loved it. Thanks for another great recipe Jamie!

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Tomato Basil Soup

4, 14 oz cans Italian stewed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 chicken breasts (frozen is fine)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Pour the 4 cans of stewed tomatoes into the slow cooker. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (or you can blend the stewed tomatoes in a blender and then add to slow cooker). Add 2 cups of chicken broth. Add basil, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, sugar, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Add in the chicken breasts (I used frozen), cover, and cook on low for 7 hours. When chicken has cooked through, place on a plate and shred with two forks. Place back in crockpot. in a measuring cup, combine the cup of cream and cornstarch, stirring until smooth. Pour this mixture into the crockpot and stir well. Add in grated Parmesan and cook on high for about 20 minutes or until soup has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated Parmesan on individual servings.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Corn Chowder

I'm posting this recipe again because I've updated it and I like it even better now. It is the perfect corn chowder, to me anyway. I took out the carrots and added more celery. I also added more bacon and if you want even more bacon flavor, follow the cooking note at the bottom of the recipe. I also changed the method, cooking the veggies first in butter, which I think is the key to a really good soup. This is my oldest daughter's favorite soup and she requests it all the time, even in the middle of summer! It's just that good. I hope you like it too!

Corn Chowder

3 tablespoons butter
8 slices bacon, cooked and cut up into small pieces**
1 small finely chopped onion, about 3/4 cup
3 stalks celery, diced (include some of the leaves from center of celery bunch)
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock or broth, divided
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups half and half
1 can creamed corn
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
ground black pepper, to taste
milk as needed to thin soup

In a large soup pot melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add onion, celery, and bacon pieces and saute until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Pour in 4 cups of chicken stock. Add potatoes and corn. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to medium and boil for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through, stirring occasionally.

In a saucepan melt 1/2 cup butter, add flour and cook, whisking, for about 2 minutes. Add half and half slowly, whisking, and cook until thickened and just starting to bubble. Pour this white sauce mixture into the soup pot. Add can of creamed corn, remaining 2 cups of chicken stock, salt, onion powder, cayenne, pepper. Bring to a boil and heat through. Thin as needed with milk. Season again with salt and pepper and serve.

**As a note: If you want this soup to have even deeper bacon flavor, which makes it fabulous, use 8 strips of uncooked bacon at the beginning. So instead of melting the butter first, cut up the bacon into small pieces and put that in the bottom of the soup pot to cook and render out the fat. Once it is cooked remove the bacon pieces to add back in later, leaving the bacon fat at the bottom of the pot. Add a couple tablespoons of butter and melt, then add the onion and celery and saute until softened. Then add back in the bacon, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Then follow the directions above from that point (next you'll add the chicken stock, and so on). I don't always do it this way because a lot of times I buy big packages of precooked bacon from the freezer section of Costco, but when I make it with uncooked bacon I love the flavor even more.

Easy Hamburger Stroganoff

Have I ever mentioned how much I love stroganoff? It's a perfect comfort food meal to me. I love the creamy, beefy, mushroom taste. So good. This is the short cut version of stroganoff using ground beef instead of cubed steak and cream soup and it's still so good. That might seem like cheating, but it makes stroganoff into a 30 minute meal and sometimes that's all I have time for. So yay for delicious stroganoff in a hurry. I served it over egg noodles with a quick steamable mixed veggie and it was on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Easy Hamburger Stroganoff

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
egg noodles

Brown ground beef with chopped onion and season with salt and pepper. Drain fat, but leave a little to saute mushrooms in. Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Add cream of mushroom soup, gravy mix, and 1 cup of water; stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in sour cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over egg noodles or carb of choice.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta

This yummy chicken pasta dish is from Picky Palate. It's a great 30 minute meal for a busy night and it uses rotisserie chicken so it's fast to put together. I really loved the fajita veggies in this, it just made it so different and fresh tasting, but if your family would prefer another vegetable mix, feel free to use that. I served this with watermelon and French bread and it was a great weeknight dinner.

Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta

1 pound fusilli pasta (or other curly dry pasta)
2 cups milk
1 packet dry Ranch Dressing mix
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped fajita vegetables (I used 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, and 1/2 an onion sliced)
3-4 cups cooked and cubed or shredded chicken (meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet. Add fajita vegetables and saute until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat milk and ranch dressing mix in a dutch oven or large pan over medium heat, for about 5 minutes, until hot.

Microwave the cream cheese in a bowl for about 45 minutes and then whip it with a whisk, slowly stir this whipped cream cheese into the milk until combined. Stir in cooked pasta. Stir in cooked fajita vegetables. Heat and stir for a few minutes until all combined and hot. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 6-8 servings.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chicken Alfredo Rotini Casserole

This is just a great casserole that my whole family loved. In fact, my 2 middle kids loved this so much they asked me to put the leftovers in their lunch boxes the next day. It's pretty much a creamy alfredo macaroni and cheese casserole. Yum! I jotted down this recipe while I was at my parents house last Thanksgiving and it's taken me this long to finally make it, but I'm so glad I put it on my to-try list. I served it with a Caesar salad and French bread and it was a great meal.

Chicken Alfredo Rotini Casserole

1 lb box rotini pasta
16 oz jar Alfredo sauce (I used Emeril's)
4 cups of cooked and cubed chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine pasta, Alfredo sauce, cooked chicken, broth, Parmesan, 2 cups of the mozzarella, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread this mixture evenly into a non-stick sprayed 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 - 35 minutes or until bubbly, hot, and just starting to turn golden in spots on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Crock Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This is my pasta e fagioli soup recipe that I posted last year, just updated to be made in the crockpot and it is just great fixed in the crockpot! I really liked being able to throw it all together in the morning and not have to worry about dinner during our busy late afternoon. I served it with bread sticks and it was a great Olive Garden-ish dinner at home.

Crock Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup

1 lb hamburger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
3 teaspoons minced garlic
11.5 oz can spicy V8 juice
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock
4 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (or 4 cubes)
15 oz can dark red kidney beans, undrained
15 oz can great northern beans, undrained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta
grated Parmesan

In a large skillet brown ground beef until almost cooked through. Add kosher salt, pepper to taste, chopped onion, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and minced garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Pour this into a large slow cooker. Add V8, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, beef bouillon, kidney beans, great northern beans, vinegar, basil, oregano, and thyme. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add ditalini pasta and cook on low for another 45 minutes - 1 hour. Serve individual servings with grated Parmesan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oven Roasted Sausage, Potatoes, and Peppers

This is a very easy dinner to throw together and it tastes great! It smells so good as it's roasting away and tastes even better. My whole family loved this one. I created the recipe by modifying my roasted red potatoes recipe by adding onions, peppers, and some shredded cheddar at the end. I served it with French bread and canned pears and it was oh so yummy.

Oven Roasted Sausage, Potatoes, and Peppers

3 lbs red potatoes
14 - 16 oz package smoked sausage, cut into slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and cut potatoes into fourths lengthwise, then slice the other way into triangular pieces. Place into a pot with water covering by an inch or so. Bring to a boil and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and place into a large bowl. Add sliced sausage, onions, bell pepper, melted butter, garlic, garlic salt, parsley, thyme, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss to mix it all well. Pour into a baking tray with an edge or into a half sheet cake pan (that's what I used). Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are golden brown. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for another few minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Broccoli

This is the crock pot version of chicken & broccoli casserole and it's a great, easy dinner. We had this for a Sunday dinner recently and everyone loved it. My family loves pretty much any version of chicken and rice and I love having another go-to crock pot recipe that pleases everyone. This recipe is from Picky Palate and I changed it just a little to suite our tastes.

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Broccoli

5 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
14 oz can chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup sour cream
6 cups cooked, steamed broccoli florets
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker. In a bowl combine the soups, broth, Cajun seasoning, and garlic salt; pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on for for 6 hours. When chicken is cooked, use 2 forks to shred it into bite size pieces. Stir in the sour cream, broccoli, and shredded cheese. Cover and cook on low for 1/2 hour. Serve over steamed rice.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Duggar's Tater Tot Casserole

I'm a fan of 19 Kids and Counting. I like the Duggars. I think they have a fascinating reality show what with managing all their children, homeschooling, courtships, marriages, etc. It's just interesting to me. I especially love whenever they share a family recipe and this is one of those recipes, though it's been scaled down to a smaller family size. I think this recipe was on their first TLC special when they had 16 or 17 kids. Anywho, this recipe all over the internet/Pinterest so I finally decided to try it. I have my own version of this casserole that I posted quite a while ago, but I really like this version too. I served it with a green salad and a quick fruit salad.

The Duggar's Tater Tot Casserole

1 lb ground beef
2 lb bag frozen tater tots
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup (you can make these both cream of mushroom)
1, 12 oz can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Brown and drain the ground beef. Spread cooked ground beef into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Top with frozen tater tots. In a bowl combine the soups and evaporated milk; pour this over the tater tots. Top with shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour or until bubbly and baked through.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easy 2 Loaves Banana Bread

When I make quick breads I like to double the recipe and make two loaves. One for now and one to freeze and have later. Lots of times I unfreeze banana bread to put in my kids lunches. Banana bread smeared with peanut butter is a favorite lunch around here. So this recipe is for two loaves and it's a great, easy, traditional, banana bread. It's moist and yummy and bakes perfectly every time without the wet part in the middle that some banana breads tend to have.

Easy 2 Loaves Banana Bread

1 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
5 tablespoons milk (that's 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 350 and spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray (I use non-stick loaf pans as well for this recipe to ensure the loaves will release easily.)

In the bowl of a mixer combine oil and sugar and beat until combines. Add mashed bananas, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add this dry mixture to the wet mixture in the mixer and beat until completely combined, but don't over mix. Pour mixture evenly into the 2 prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy one loaf now and, if desired, wrap up the other in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

This is such a great soup - lasagna in soup form and it's delicious! A huge bonus is that it takes such little effort. It really does taste like lasagna. I served it with homemade Italian bread and it was a hit. I think everyone had seconds. The melty cheese on top is the best! I combined a couple of recipes I found on Pinterest to create this recipe and it turned out great. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes (I used Hunts)
6 oz can tomato paste (I used Hunts)
1 cup spicy V8 juice
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella, for topping

Brown ground beef with onion. Pour ground beef and onions into a slow cooker. Add beef broth, garlic, parsley, basil, tomatoes, tomato paste, and V8 juice. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Add uncooked shell pasta and cook on low for an additional 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with shredded mozzarella on individual servings.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Favorite Gooey Rice Krispie Treats

This is my favorite version of Rice Krispie treats. I love them a bit on the gooey side and that's what these are. You can make them with regular Rice Krispies or Cocoa Krispies and both are delicious. My kids like the chocolate ones better and I like regular old Rice Krispie ones the best. Either way they are so good. So so good. I want one right now!

My Favorite Gooey Rice Krispie Treats

16 oz bag large marshmallows
12 oz box Rice Krispies or Cocoa Krispies (about 10 cups)
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

Place marshmallow in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir the mixture well until combined and smooth. Pour in cereal and stir well until cereal is completely coated. Spread evenly in a greased 9x13 pan and pat down with greased hands. Allow to cool and then cut into squares.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Easy Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

I would have to say that mashed potatoes has got to be one of my favorite foods and it's been a favorite, like most people, since I was a little kid. Oh the sweet ambrosia that is creamy mashed potatoes. Growing up my Mom always made real mashed potatoes. I had no idea what instant potatoes were until I was served them, ice cream scooper style, in my elementary school cafeteria. Oh my Mom loathes instant mashed potatoes and when I got married I found out my husband also loathes instant mashed potatoes. He doesn't even like the Kentucky Fried Chicken version, which I have cravings for every now and then. The only reason I keep instant potato flakes around is to make potato rolls. Any who, making real mashed potatoes can be time consuming, so here's an alternative, crock pot mashed potatoes! Genius. The only problem is that they aren't quite so fluffy as the time consuming, boiled, then mashed potatoes. If you are ok with that this is the recipe for you. They cook all day and then when you are ready to eat, it only takes a matter of minutes to mash them up and serve them. They are certainly better than instant potatoes.:) I served these potatoes with the crock pot roast and gravy that I posted earlier this week. These potatoes were awesome with that gravy.

Easy Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs red or yukon gold potatoes, chopped (unpeeled)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 - 1 1/2 cups cream, half and half, or milk, warmed

Place chopped potatoes into slow cooker, add chicken broth, and butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours or until potatoes are tender.

Mash potatoes with a potato masher right in the slow cooker. Add some of the warmed cream (or half and half or milk) and beat with a hand held electric mixer. Add more cream until you get the desired creamy texture. Serve right away or cover and keep warm on the warm setting until serving time (up to 2 hours).

Monday, March 9, 2015

Souper Easy Crock Pot Roast and Gravy

This year we have church from 1:00pm - 4:00pm. It really feels late when we get home from church, especially on fast Sundays (when we abstain from eating or drinking until dinnertime). So almost every Sunday I am making slow cooker meals, so that when we get home dinner is ready. Yay. I made this super easy crock pot roast recently because I just didn't feel like chopping up a lot of veggies and this recipe also makes it's own gravy, another time saver. It's probably going to be my go-to roast recipe this year. I served it with slow-cooker mashed potatoes, recipe coming later this week, the gravy made from the juices and soups in the recipe, and steamed, buttered peas. It was a great, easy, comfort food meal.

Souper Easy Crock Pot Roast and Gravy

3-4 lb pot roast
Montreal steak seasoning
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 cup water
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Spray the inside of your crock pot with non-stick spray. Season both sides of pot roast with Montreal steak seasoning. Place pot roast in crock pot. In a bowl combine soups, water, and onion soup mix. Pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

When you are ready to serve remove roast and pull apart into big serving size chunks. Cover with foil to keep hot. Strain juices from crock pot into a pot and skim off some of the fat (or you can use a gravy fat separator), and bring to a boil. Serve this gravy over the roast and potatoes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

This is the yummiest way to cook broccoli. It totally changes the flavor and texture and it's delicious. I really do love roasting veggies and the bonus is that it's so easy. You can leave out the Parmesan or sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice as soon as it comes out of the oven. I served this along side the glazed pork chops I posted earlier this week and it was so good.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

4-5 cups fresh broccoli florets (3 heads of broccoli with stems trimmed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425. Place broccoli on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until stems are slightly browned and crisp looking. Remove broccoli and immediately sprinkle with Parmesan.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Apricot-Ginger Glazed Pork Chops

My husband really loves pork chops, but I've found that pork chops tend to be dry, at least the way I've been cooking them. This is a MUCH better way to cook pork chops - pan frying with a sauce. They stay moist and tender. I don't know if I'll ever bake pork chops again. I'll keep frying them. This recipe is from Our Best Bites cookbook and I changed it slightly to add more servings to the recipe and tone down the ginger a little. My family loved this and it ended up having a very Asian flavor which was very tasty. I served it with Parmesan roasted broccoli - recipe coming later this week.

Apricot-Ginger Glazed Pork Chops

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
7 boneless loin pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup pineapple jam

Combine salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. Sprinkle one side of the pork chops with some of the spice mixture. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add pork chops (spice side down). Sprinkle the other side of the pork chops with spice mixture. Cook the pork for 3 minutes on each side. Remove pork chops from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the skillet. When melted add garlic and ginger and saute for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits form the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 1 minute. Whisk in the jams. Bring to a simmer and return pork chops to the pan. Cook for an additional 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve pork and sauce over rice.