Friday, July 29, 2011

Corndog Muffins

If your kids are anything like mine, they would eat hot dogs for every meal. They're quick and easy, but not exactly the healthiest thing. (yes, I've heard all those stories about what goes into them and I still let my kids eat them). I like to change things up, and this way they eat a little less hot dog and maybe more good stuff (except my son who picks out the hot dogs and leaves the muffin part). This is a nice quick, easy, cheap and kid approved meal.

Corn Dog Muffins

1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
4-5 hot dogs, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400. Spray muffin with non-stick spray. Combine the mix, egg, and sugar. Place approximately 1 tbsp of batter in each cup. Place as many pieces of hot dog as you want in each cup. Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before trying to remove or they will be really crumbly. Serve =) It makes approximately 12 muffins.

To change things up with it or to make it grown-up friendly, use brats, polish sausages or mini cocktail wieners. To make this a good breakfast food, use breakfast sausage with and mix in a bit of cheese. You can do lots with this. If you don't like hot dogs, leave them out and you've got a sweet corn muffin.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(Sorry for the oh so wonderful pictures. My camera battery won't hold a charge so I have to use my phone)

I have a blog that I follow Picky Palate and this lady comes up with the most amazing cookies ever!!! I wish I could take credit for coming up with this recipe, but I can't. But I will take credit for whipping these bad boys up and having them turn out so delish! It's a good thing I went for a 3 mile run this morning because of all the cookie dough I ate....someone had to lick the batters, the bowls, the spoons, and the fingers.

Peanut Butter Cookie Centers
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg

Fudge Cookie
2 sticks softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet
1 cup cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place peanut butter and sugar into a medium bowl, mix to combine then add egg, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
3. In a stand or electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined.
4. Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add to wet ingredients along with cocoa powder, and chocolate chips, slowly mixing until just combined. Scoop out some chocolate, flatten it a bit, put a dollop of peanut butter on top, get some more chocolate dough and put on top and surround the peanut butter. The chocolate doesn't have to perfectly surround the peanut butter. I would highly recommend spraying your hands with some non-stick spray before doing this.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve with milk.

These are soooooooooooooooooooo good!!!! Now I have to go run another 3 miles to offset the cookies and dough I ate. =)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

 One of the absolute best cookies out there is the chocolate chip cookie.  There are so many things you can do with it too.  You can add different candies and nuts.  You can stuff it in cupcakes or stuff things inside of it (for those amazing recipe, go to Picky Palate).  It is one of the most versatile cookies, and it's guaranteed to please most everyone.  I like my cookies to be nice and soft, not hard.  Yes, I know, there are some cookie lovers who like the crunchy ones.....I'm just not one of them.  I used to have issues with getting my cookies to stay soft.  They would stay soft fresh out of the oven, but once they cooled, they would be more crunchy.  I tried every trick, under cooking, cold butter, freeze the dough, even several recipes.  Then I found this recipe and I have never used another chocolate chip cookie dough.  It works every, the dough itself is so good that I'm surprised any of it actually makes it into cookies.   So if you are in need of a very tried and true recipe....give this one a whirl....I promise you won't be disappointed!!!

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla (yes, tablespoon)
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
3/4-1 c. mint chocolate chips (I used the Andes)

Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla together.  Add in eggs.  Add chocolate chips.  Stir in salt, soda, and flour.  Dough will be slightly crumbly. 

Scoop out dough by rounded tablespoons and form into balls.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let them cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then transfer them to a cooling rack or parchment paper.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

What is more satisfying on a hot summer day than a nice cold bowl of ice cream?  I can't think of much.  I got an ice cream maker for Mother's Day and have been loving it! 

 It's so nice to be able to throw some stuff in it and approximately 30-45 minutes later, have some fresh ice cream.  Especially since it's a lot cheaper to make your own than go to the store.  Plus, you don't have to worry about weird things getting added in....unless you add the weird things yourself =)  I had some strawberries that were starting to go mushy and I needed to use them quick so I figured the kids would love a nice treat, and I'm always in the mood for ice cream.

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp strawberry extract (optional)
2 cups mashed fresh strawberries

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions of your ice cream maker.  Easy!!!

This makes it nice and thick.  Love it!  I used 1 % milk and it was just fine, but I'm sure it would be a bit creamier with whole milk.  If you want, you could use all milk and it just wouldn't be as creamy, if you're watching what you're eating.  If you want lots of big pieces of strawberries, leave some chunks, but I recommend most of it being mashed or cut into smaller pieces so you get lots of flavor in it.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato and Chicken Pasta

Usually on Sundays I just make sandwiches or heat up a pizza for the kids since my husband usually works and I don't want to make a big meal for just the 2 kids (I'm usually not very hungry either).  This Sunday he was actually home so I had to cook up some dinner.  I had a couple ideas of what I wanted to do, all involving potatoes, and then I went to get the potatoes out and I was out!  Being Sunday and all I couldn't go to the store so I started brainstorming what I wanted to do.  I had these sun-dried tomatoes that I made in my dehydrator that I had originally done for a recipe and then forgot what recipe it was (I do that all the time!).  So I figured, what the hey.....let's throw some stuff together and give it a whirl.

1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 c white wine cooking wine
1 1/4 c. half and half
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 lb chicken, cut in strips
2 tbsp fresh basil (or use dried)
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 c. flour
2 tsp garlic pepper
8 oz. fettuccine pasta, cooked according to package directions.
2 tbsp. oil

Heat oil in skillet, add garlic cloves.  cook for 15-30 seconds.  Add the cooking wine and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook until tomatoes soft, about 10 minutes.

 Meanwhile, combine the flour, and garlic pepper.  Coat the chicken in the flour.  In a separate skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp. oil.  Cook onions.  Remove onions and add remaining oil.  Add the chicken.  Cook until juices run clear or no longer in the center.

 In skillet with tomatoes, add cream and bring to a boil.  Let it simmer for 10 minutes,  add basil and Italian seasonings, Parmesan, and onions.  Let sauce simmer for another 10 minutes. 

 Dish up noodles on plates, pour sauce over noodles, put chicken on top or to the side.  Enjoy!

I am doing this post for that is hosted by Debbie Does Healthy.  Check out her blog, it has some yummy stuff that is friendlyier to the waistline. =)

Cinnamon Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls, especially fresh out of the oven and dripping with frosting and cinnamon and butter oozing out...the messier, the better.  For the longest time I hesitated to make them because I thought they would be hard to do.  Then, one day, I gave it a whirl.  It was a success!   Now, a few years later, I think I have my recipe just the way I like it.

1 c. warm milk (110 degrees)
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp almond extract
2 eggs- room temperature
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted, cooled
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 cups bread flour (may need more, depending on the stickiness of the dough when you mix it)

1 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 c. white sugar
combine and set aside

1/3-1/2 c. butter, melted

Combine yeast, 1/4 c sugar, and milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes.  In a large bowl combine 1/4 c. sugar, eggs, salt, almond extract, butter, and 1 cup flour.  Add in yeast mix.  Gradually mix in rest of flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  You can either use your hands, or if you are lucky enough to have a kitchen aide mixer, use that.  Knead into a large ball, until dough no longer sticks to your hands, but is still a little sticky.  If dough is too sticky, add more flour, a little at a time.  Spray a large bowl (or same bowl used to mix) with non-stick spray, work dough into a large ball and place in bowl.  Spray top of dough with spray.  Cover with a warm cloth, in a warm place and let rise until doubled.  That is usually about an hour, but it depends on the temperature of where the dough is.  I like to put my oven on warm and put the bowl on top of the stove.

Once dough has risen roll our to about 1/4 in. thick and form into a rectangle.  Spread butter on top of dough and sprinkle cinnamon mixture generously on top.  Don't be afraid to use it all and make a little more.  Roll the dough up, starting on the long side. 

Cut the dough in 12 pieces. 

Place rolls in a greased 9x13 pan, or use more pans if you need to, I usually use one 9x13 and one 8x8 pan. the trick to getting the cut nice and easy, either use dental floss, unflavored of course, or string.

Cover and let rise until doubled, usually about 45 minutes, but that depends on the temperature of the room.  Once risen, cook at 400 degrees form 12-15 minutes.  Spread with frosting and enjoy!

8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. butter
1 1/2 - 2 c. powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

Place cream cheese in mixer and mix until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix for 10 minutes.  Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too runny.  This isn't supposed to be a thick frosting since it's going on rolls that are warm, it'll soften down anyway.  To thicken the frosting, place in fridge.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Best Lemon Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. almond extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour, almond extract, and 1/2 cup sugar. Press into the bottom of an greased 9x13 inch pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.
Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven. The bars will firm up as they cool.

I sometimes have to bake mine a little longer. You don't want them too jiggly, you want it to start browning a little. As soon as you take them out, sprinkle with powder sugar and let cool in refrigerator. They are much better the next day or after cooling for a few hours. If you're short on time, you can even freeze them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

 What is more refreshing on a warm summer's day than a tall glass of cold lemonade?  Not much, but these come close.  I was blog hopping one day and came across these oh-so-yummy cupcakes.  I found the original at That's so Michelle.   I have been trying to stay away from chocolate lately (step 1 in getting away from too many sweets, next step will be the other stuff =)  )I still have to have my desserts though so I wanted something with no chocolate but something that could satisfy my sweet tooth.  Boy oh Boy!  These sure did!  They are nice and sweet with a bit of tartness.  Plus, they are super easy!!!!  Not much more to them than regular cupcakes.  I was excited that my frosting actually stayed in place.  For some reason, I can never get frosting to thicken up the way I want it to.  I don't like it to taste like powdered sugar so I try to minimize it, but it's tough trying to find things to add in that add structure and if anyone has any suggestions or good frostings without a ton of powdered sugar, hook me up! should whip up batch of these!  These would be perfect for a baby shower too =)

1 box white cake mix
3/4 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 drops of red or pink food coloring(optional)

2-3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 c butter (room temperature
1/4 c. shortening
3 tbsp frozen pink lemonade concentrate
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan with liners. Combine all of the ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Divide the batter evenly, filling the liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Combine all frosting ingredients in an electric mixer on a low speed until combined.  Whip on medium-high until light and fluffy.  Spread on cupcakes and enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homemade Granola

I have recently rediscovered granola.  I've eaten it before, here and there, but lately I have been craving it!  I have loved putting it in yogurt, and eating it as cereal.  I'm not the only one that's been eating it too, the whole family likes it. I had a few bags of granola that were given to me and I'm on the last bag.  I didn't want to go buy some at teh store because it's a bit pricey.  so I figured I would do what I usually do when I don't want to pay full price- make it myself.  As I looked up recipes, there are a ton out there!  But I just wanted something simple since I didn't want any bran, flax seed, wheat germ, sesame seeds, etc.  I know that stuff is probably good for you, but I'm not a bird, I don't want a lot of seeds.  I found a couple recipes I liked and did my usual thing of taking what I like from each and combining it into the one I use.  I love that this is just a plain simple one and it is easy to add whatever you want.  I can't wait to try my own variations of different fruits, nuts and maybe even some chocolate chips.  Yum!!

2 c. old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 c. coconut (unsweetened or sweetend, it doesn't matter)
2/3 c. sliced almonds
2 tbs. butter- melted
2 tbsp honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
 1/4 tsp cinnamon

(This is how it will look before it is cooked)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed.  You may need to use your hands. Spread granola in a jelly-roll or cokkie sheet.  Bake for 45-minutes, stiring every 10-15 minutes.  Store in an airtight container or ziploc back.  Will last 1 week at room temperature or longer if stored in the friege.  May be frozen for 3 months.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

S'more Stuffed Brownies

Since it is the summer, one of the favorite things for everyone is s'mores. Seriously, is there really anything much better? Crunchy graham cracker, warm, gooey marshmallow that you roasted yourself (and if you're anything like me you usually have to blow out the flames on it because you weren't paying attention and put it directly in flames, or wipe the ashes off because you dropped it on a log) and then add chocolate (what isn't good with chocolate?) and then another cracker. One of the best sandwiches ever invented!! Since not all of us are camp gurus (me) we don't get to partake the s'more goodness the way it's meant to be enjoyed (sorry, a kitchen torch or a microwave aren't a substitute for a campfire) how about we combine it with the goodness we can enjoy in our kitchens.....brownies!!! I am not the genius behind the original recipe, that is from one of my favorite cooks over at Picky Palate. I did take her recipe and change a few things. So here's my version : (if you want cute pictures of it, check out her site, otherwise, you're stuck with the ones i take using my phone =P )

Brownies (or if you want to be lazy, use your favorite box mix and prepare as instructed on box but my brownies stay nice and moist even after sitting out on the counter all night =)  )
2 cups sugar
1 3/4cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 1/2 graham crackers
10-12 oz. mini marshmallows
half a bag of chocolate chips (or you can use Hershey's bar, but I like dark chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Combine the brownie ingredients and pour half into pan.

Cover with graham crackers

Cover crackers with chocolate chips, then add marshmallows.

Pour remaining brownie batter over top of marshmallows.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting and serving. Trust me on this one! If you don't, then the chocolate comes oozing out and it's a big gooey (albeit delicious) mess. Restrain yourself and let it cool, or put it in the freezer (out of site, out of mind, right?) Once cool, cut and serve and enjoy!! You can then heat the individual pieces if you would like.

Put some marshmallow fluff on top and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs.
I need to add a little note....The first time I made these, I used the big marshmallows and thought they made them too gooey, so this time I made them using the small ones. I didn't get as much of the marshmallow taste as I wanted, so I think next time I make them, I will do a mix of both, or if you make them and do it, please let me know how it worked for you. This is still one of my recipes that I am fiddling a bit with so be on the lookout for an update of it when I get it the way I want =)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

3-Cheese Chicken and Bacon Pasta

So as I was sitting here, 30 minutes before I wanted to start making dinner and I had no clue what I wanted to make. Usually I have a list of dinners that I want to do for the next few weeks and somehow that list disappeared and I couldn't remember a single thing on it, except what I did for dinner last night. I go to thinking....what do I have? what doesn't require me to use too many brain cells because I am more than ready for a nap right now? what will my kids and hubby eat? Then I remembered I had a half a package of bacon and 2 half blocks of cheese. hmmm...what can I do with that? So here's what I did:

1 lb chicken
12 oz. elbow macaroni
8 oz. mozzarella, shredded
4-6 oz cheddar (I wasn't quite sure how much of the block was left), shredded
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded (I used the Kraft stuff instead of fresh)
8 oz. sour cream
1/4-1/2 c half and half (depends on how creamy or thick you want it, can use milk as well)
1 orange pepper, diced (any color you want, orange is just what i had on hand)
2 tbsp. dried minced onions (or half an onion minced)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 sm. can green chilies
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
bread crumbs

Preheat oven 350 degrees
Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook your chicken and shred. I like to cook mine in a little bit of water (about half covering the chicken) and a chicken bouillon cube. When chicken is done, drain water, toss in the peppers and onions and saute for a few minutes until peppers are soft. Set aside. In a bowl combine the cheeses, basil, bacon, chilies, sour cream. When pasta is finished, drain, and while it's still hot, add to bowl of cheese. Add in half and half until desired thickness. You don't want it really dry or overly soupy, but a little liquid is perfect. Stir in chicken mix. Put all of it in a baking dish. I used a 7x 11 dish (2 qt). Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

The family loved it! I think every plate was scrapped clean and we usually have to fight with the kids to finish. This is a lot like mac and cheese, with a bit of a kick and twist. I think this will replace my usual homemade mac and cheese. But be warned....this is definitely not diet food =)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

One of my favorite side dishes is the Suddenly Salad Ranch and Bacon.  I will eat a whole box myself.  While browsing along through some recipes on my favorite site, , I found this one for a homemade version.  Perfect!!!  I tried it out today for a bbq we're doing with some friends.  I made sure to test it out before hand so I wasn't giving anything to our friends that wasn't good.  then I had to test it several more times before I was satisfied (I had to stop "testing" or else there wouldn't have been any left for tonight).  This will now be one of my "go to" recipes for a pasta salad, especially for get togethers and bbq's.  I love how creamy it is.  The box stuff never seems to have enough sauce for my tastes.  What's even better....real bacon!!!! Not bacon bits or whatever it is they use in the box.


1 (12 ounce) package uncooked pasta
8 slices bacon
1 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


1.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2.Place bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until evenly brown. Drain and crumble.
3.In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder, and garlic pepper. Stir in milk until smooth. Place bacon, tomato, black olives and cheese in bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and chill at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Toss with additional milk if the salad seems a little dry.

I have no clue the point value for this, but it's probably on the high end with the bacon, cheese, pasta and mayo (even though I used light mayo). but hey, if you're using this for a bbq who's really counting calories or points at those because, let's face it, most the time the desserts are irresistible and every diet goes out the window with them.  =)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Parmesan Breaded Pork Chops and Creamy Tomato Sauce

4 pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
2 c. crushed Parmesan Goldfish crackers
4 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375.  Dip the chops in butter and roll in crumbs. Heat up a skillet, add about 2 tbsp oil. Brown the chops in a skillet for about 5 minutes on each side.  Place in a baking dish, either 8x8 or 9x13, depending on the size of your chops.  Bake in the oven for approximately 15 -20 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle.

Creamy Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp oil
1 sm. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Italian diced tomatoes, don't drain
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 c. cream or half and half
1 tbsp. butter

Saute onions and garlic until onions soft.  Add tomatoes and seasonings.  Boil for 5 minutes, or until liquid evaporates.  Add cream and butter and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve over your favorite noodles or rice.