Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bread

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bread

Fall is my favorite time of year!  This last week we got a little teaser of fall with some nice cool, rainy weather.  It get me all in the mood for hoodies, jeans and pumpkin flavored stuff. (not to mention that hoodies would be more comfortable to wear now that I don't fit into any of my clothes......a few more weeks to go until our newest addition gets here!)  I have had this recipe saved for awhile and have just been waiting for a good time to make.  So I figured now was as good as ever.  I love how this combined pumpkin and cream cheese....two things that are perfect together!  It's like eating pumpkin bread and cheesecake in one bite =)


  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • BREAD:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chocoalte chips (optional, but oh so yummy!!!)


  • In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg and milk; set aside.

  •  In a large bowl, beat the sugar, pumpkin, oil, water and eggs. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  • Pour half of the batter into three greased and floured 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Spoon filling over batter. 

  • Cover filling completely with remaining batter.

  • Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes (for larger loaves, if using mini-loaf pans like I like to, the cook time is closer to 30 minutes, but use the toothpick method) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Wrap in foil; refrigerate until serving. Yield: 3 loaves (16 slices each).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Homemade Samoas

I've decided that my daughter needs to be in Girl Scouts, mainly so I can have access to the cookies without having to search for the tables at the grocery stores.  But alas, there isn't a troop in our area and I have way too much going on to try and start one. So i will have to make do with buy a bunch and stashing them in my freezer (I may or may not still have at least 2 in my freezer....) and then trying to make some copycat versions.  My ultimate favorites are the Samoas   When I made these, I was very happy with how they turned out out =)  So when I need my cookie fix, I know how something I can make.  Sure, it takes more time than just opening up a box....but I can make a whole lot more! (and consequently, eat more!)

Homemade Samoas Bars
Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
First, make the crust.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)
Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
Makes 30 bar cookies.
Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above, and you won’t quite get the Samoas look, but the results will still be tasty.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

I have been a little lazy with cooking lately....I haven't had much energy to put into it.  but since for some reason my family thinks they need to eat everyday, I can't avoid it.  So I love when I find easy meals.  One of my go to sites for these is 365 Days of Crockpot.  She has awesome crockpot recipes.  I love my crockpot because I can throw everything in it and let it do the work.  I found this recipe for Hawaiian Chicken on there and it looked pretty easy and yummy so I gave it a whirl.  My kids loved it!  I think this is something I am going to be making more often.  I did change a few things so if you want her original, go to her website for it.

2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour ( I think I may have used a little more)
1 (20 oz) can pineapple rings, juice reserved
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 red bell pepper, diced 

1.  Dredge the chicken thighs in the flour and place in the slow cooker.
2.  Combine 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, soy sauce,  Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder, tapioca and vinegar.  Pour over the chicken.  
3.  Top the chicken and sauce with the pineapple rings.
4.  Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.  Add in the  pepper and cook for another 30 minutes on HIGH (without lid). (I was short on time so I cooked it on high for about 2 1/2 hours)
5.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sinful 4 layer Cookie Bars

I discovered this dessert about a year ago, but I always forget to take pictures and there is nothing left of it by the time I remember.  This is super yummy!!  It is four cookies in one.  So if you ever can't decide what cookies to make, you can make this and cover all your basis.  It is a bit time consuming to make all the cookies, but it is well worth it!  Just a warning....this isn't for anyone on a diet or diabetics =)

These aren't too difficult to make.  If you want to cheat, you can use already prepared cookie dough, or iv you have a favorite cookie recipe, use that.  But I will give the recipes for my favorite doughs.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9x13 dish with foil and pray with cooking spray. (you don't have to line with foil but it makes cleanup easier) layer sugar cookie, double chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate chip.  bake for 30 minutes.  Cover with foil and bake 15 more minutes. 

Sugar cookie
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 egg (or use egg white)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

cream sugar, butter, cream cheese.  add eggs and extracts.  stir in dry ingredients. Layer on bottom of the dish.  Move on to chocolate cookies.

Double chocolate chip cookies
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
3/8 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
7/8 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
chocolate chips

Cream sugars and butter.  Add eggs and extract.  stir in dry ingredients.  Spread over the sugar cookies layer.  I usually do blobs all over and then spread it together.

Peanut Butter cookie
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg.

Mix all together and layer over chocolate layer.

Chocolate chip
 1/2 c. butter
3/8 c. sugar
3/8 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
chocolate chips

Cream sugars and butter.  Add egg and vanilla. stir in dry ingredients.  Put over top.  Once you are done cooking as the directions above state, melt some chocolate chips and drizzle over.

This is a great treat to take to gatherings because it is pretty rich so one piece will go a long way.  I actually like how this tastes the next day.  It is still soft (if you keep it covered) and the flavors have a chance to settler and meld together.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken and Fried Rice

We love Chinese food!  But I always have a hard time recreating it.  I have tried several types of recipes and although they taste good, they don't really cut it.  But then I found this recipe from Life as a Lofthouse.  The whole family loved it and cleaned their plates.  I loved that it was relatively healthy since it was baked and not fried.  My husband said he liked it better than the restaurant ones because the chicken was a lot more tender and moist.  I was happy to find a fried recipe that was good.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

The chicken coating:
3-4 boneless chicken breast halves
salt + pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten (I actually ended up using 3)
1/4 cup canola oil

The sweet and sour sauce: ( I actually ended up using 1 1/2 of this I made it and then made another half)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

Preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Cut the chicken into cubes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs.  Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix all of your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken. Bake for one hour and during the baking process you will need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes.  

Fried Rice                                                                                             

3 cups cooked white rice 
3 tbs sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, ( I just used some from a mixed veggie bag)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce

      On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  Add the peas/carrots mix, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour your eggs on the other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated!   **You could really play around with this rice too! Try adding some diced ham, or green onion :) Yum!  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Crock Pot Casserole

My hubby was actually the one who suggested I try this out.  He was talking with some friends at work and he told me to find a recipe for it.  So find away I did.  This was super easy to do!  And it was super good!  My hubby inhaled his and then took some to work the next day and told me that this one was definitely a keeper.  The best part is the crockpot did all the work.  Love it!! This is definitely comfort food at it's best.

1 (32 oz.) bag frozen tater tots
1 pkg. microwave bacon (or cook up some regular bacon), crumbled
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
salt & pepper, to taste

Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

Layer half of the frozen tater tots on the bottom of the slow cooker.

Sprinkle with 1/3 of the bacon pieces.
Now top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese.

Add diced chicken on top.  Season with salt, pepper, season salt, or whatever seasonings you want.

Now add 1/3 of the bacon pieces and another 1/3 of shredded cheese.
Put the rest of the frozen tater tots on top.
Finish with the remaining 1/3 cheddar cheese and remaining 1/3 of bacon pieces.

Pour 3/4 cup milk all over the top.
Cover and cook on low about 4-6 hours.

I tried to get a good picture of it cooked in my crockpot, but the steam kept rising up and fogging the camera.  But believe me, it was great!!!  If you want to see some fabulous pictures, go to The Country Cook where I got the original recipe.  I added some onion to mine and my hubby suggested adding sour cream to it next time.  YUM!!!

This can easily be made in the oven as well.  To make this in the oven, spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
Layer ingredients into baking dish. Cover and bake at 350F degrees for about an hour.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oreo Pudding Cake

Do  you need a quick, easy, and fabulous dessert for dinner, an activity, a bbq, or whatever?  I have your solution =)  I have made this several times and each time the pan has pretty much been licked clean....not saying who did the licking....=P   I got the original recipe from The Country Cook.

1 box chocolate cake (you can use devil's food, regular chocolate, fudgy chocolate, whatever kind you want)
ingredients to make cake as directed on box (usually about 3 eggs, oil, and water)
2 pkgs. Jello Oreo Pudding
4 cups milk
1 pkg. Oreos (or the store brand works just as well)

Bake cake as directed on the box. (or if you have a totally awesome bake fros cratch chocoalte cake, you can use that as well)
While cake is cooking, crush up oreos (i crumbled some and added to the cake mix as well)/  When the cake has a few minutes left, mix the pudding and milk.  Mix for about 2 minutes, or until begins to thicken.  Set aside.
When the cake is finished (an inserted toothpick comes out clean), poke holes in it about 2 inches apart.  I used  handle of my wooden rolling pin.  You want the holes to be around dime sized, or a little smaller.  Then pour the pudding over the cake, make sure to get in all the holes. Sprinkle the crushed oreos over top.

Then let the cake set for a few minutes on the counter and the put it in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Then serve it and sit back let the compliments roll in.  Everyone will think you slaved for hours to create it.  It is super good!!!