Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Potato Chip Cookies



It is almost spring break.  I am starting to see the muddy earth beneath my snow piles.  There is an endless stream of dirt coming into my kitchen from the outside world.  The sun is warm on my back, and the sky is a pale blue.  The birds are singing and the children are yelling.  It has to be spring right?


Today is the last Sunday of getting things ready.  You know, making sure lunches are made and homework is done.  All instructions given out for the week, and making sure we have our days sorted.  Four more days of work and vacation starts.  We have been counting the days since Christmas break ended 96 days ago.  I’m serious.  We have been counting.


So here is a sweet way to end y0ur day or start your week.  Potato Chip cookies.  Yes, I know, it’s different.  I am on endless quest for quick and unique recipes and this one was perfect to fill a Sunday afternoon.  I found this recipe in the Taste of Home “Recipes Across America” cookbook.  The cookbook is divided by regions of the United States and has favorite local recipes from all over.  Evidently the potato chip cookies is quite popular in the northeast region of the United States. 

The butterscotch chips and the potato chips in this cookie really compliment each other.  There is the salty/sweet element I love.  The cookies are crispy and crunchy around the edges and soft and delicious in the middle.  The recipe called for butter flavored shortening.  I used butter and I think it made them a bit darker and tad crispier.  It definitely doesn’t take away from the flavor of the cookie. 



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hot Dogs, Mashed Potatoes, and Cheese


IMG_2699.JPG (2)

Don’t turn the channel!  Not until you fully understand the brilliance of this recipe.  Yes this is a recipe, not just a list of ingredients.  This is one recipe that I have kept hidden, from the gourmet favored public.  Some say I may lose readers.  Some say it shouldn’t’ be done.  I can’t keep it in any longer!  THIS IS ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE FOODS.  I will not be ashamed.  I can hold my head high and be proud to share this. 


This recipe is my childhood favorite.  Yes, I know I have said spaghetti is my all time favorite and it is, but my grandma made it.  This fantastic concoction, my mother made.  I guess you could call this a casserole.  Growing up I hated casseroles, all my food mixed together for me, and who knows what was hidden and lurking inside of them.  Green peppers, raisins, cooked tomatoes, all waiting for me to unknowingly and unwillingly bite down on them.  I shudder at the memory.  Your children’s stomach and imaginations will be safe with the knowledge that this casserole is an open book.  There are hidden agendas or secrets.  It’s all right there.  Hot dogs, mashed potatoes, and cheese.

IMG_2702.JPG (2)

My mother began making this casserole on camping trips.  It was and still is one of her most requested recipes, and those request still only come from my sister and I.  I think she found it in a church cookbook eons ago and has been making it ever since.  This is one dish my sister and I can agree on and we both can eat without an argument.  Hot dogs, mashed potatoes and cheese is totally gluten free!  In all the years my mother has been making this dish she has had only one mess up.  The night my boyfriend (now husband) Ted, came over for dinner I was raving about this dish to him.  My mother decided to use white turkey hot dogs instead of regular or the Oscar Mayer classic franks.  It was terrible!!!!  I was mortified!!!!  My mother hasn’t, and she won’t ever live that down. 

So here are some tips for making the best hot dogs, mashed potatoes, and cheese.

1.  Use only all beef or classic Oscar Mayer hot dogs.  You can also use cheese hot dogs too.

IMG_2682.JPG (2)

2.  You can use instant mashed potatoes if you are running short on time.  I try always make it with homemade mashed potatoes.  I like the chunky texture.

3.  You can use a variety of good melting cheeses for the top.  I like a mix of Colby jack and sharp cheddar, but you could use pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese.

4.  Understand that this is a comfort food and it’s not intended to be fancy and pretentious.  It’s fun! It is kids food.  Enjoy the magic.

Let me know in the comments below what you guys think and what your guilty food pleasures are. 



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Banoffee Pie



What the whaaah?  That was exactly my thought when I saw a few recipes for this blog post.  Banoffee pie, Banoffee ice cream, Banoffee brownies…….  I completely skimmed over the recipes.  I didn’t even read the ingredients.  I had already figured out what the word meant.  My thought was, bananas and coffee equals yuck!  Doesn’t’ that makes sense?  Bananas and coffee right Banoffee!  Nope.

It’s bananas and toffee.  Silly me.

Let me revisit this recipe again, with a whole other out look.  Bananas and toffee makes much more sense and most definitely something much more delicious.  What is Banoffee pie, you ask?  Banoffee pie is an English dessert created in the 1970’s by an restaurant owner in the Sussex region of England. This totally makes sense to me now, because the cookbooks I found for Banoffee pie were Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, two very English chefs.  In the United States the dish seems to be growing in popularity especially because it is so easy to make!!!!

IMG_2642.JPG (2)

The original recipe for Banoffee pie calls for a can of sweetened condensed milk, put into a pot and covered with water and boil for three hours.  The result of this chemistry magic is something called dulce de leche.  Dulce de leche can now be purchased at the store and it works just fine in this pie.  If you would like to attempt to make dulce de leche yourself, please be careful.  It is dangerous.  You have to keep the can of sweetened condensed milk completely submerged, or the can might explode.  Just buy the stuff at the store.  You will be eating your pie quicker.

IMG_2623.JPG (2) Dulce De Leche

Another ingredient you might not have used before are digestive biscuits.  These cookies are a British import.  I found mine in the international food aisle at the grocery store.  Here is a picture of them.   They taste like graham crackers.

IMG_2616 Digestive Biscuits

Please give this a try and let me know in the comments if you guys have heard of this before.  It is now one of my favorites.  My kids loved it and it so easy to make.  Banoffee pie is a winner in my house.  Its super rich and delicious and a special treat for sure.




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oh My Gosh This Dish is Amazing! Hoisin Pork Taco Wraps!



Is exactly what I said when I put this in my face.  Seriously.  This is that good.  I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys this week.  I want you to make it right now!  Ok, so not right now but definitely soon.  Remember that awesome smell you get when you walk in the house after working long hours and running kids everywhere?  This smell will make all that stress go away.  It’s roasted meat why wouldn’t it?


I found this recipe in the Taste Of Home “Slow Cooker Recipe Cards”.  I know this is my second slow cooked meal this week.  It has been that kind of week.  I needed something I could throw something together in a few minutes.  This cookbook has quite a few tasty recipes I can’t wait to try.  I want to share them with you! 


The beauty of this recipe is the lack of ingredients.  Seriously for the pork and just the pork, there are three.  Yep that’s it.  Well, how many for the coleslaw you make with it?  5.  That’s all.  The sweet, smoky flavor of hoisin sauce goes perfectly with the tangy, crisp textures of the slaw.  If you don’t know, or haven’t used hoisin sauce before, it’s a Chinese barbecue sauce.  You can find it in the international foods aisle of your grocery store.  Its’ rich and tangy and flavors the pork nicely.  For the coleslaw, you could use pre-shredded cabbage.  I used half a head of purple cabbage and I purchased a bag of pre-shredded carrots.  Rice wine vinegar is a flavored vinegar (also purchased in the same aisle as the hoisin sauce), it is sweet and tangy and when mixed with sugar makes a quick pickle out of the cabbage.


For a quick side dish, I served udon noodles sautéed in teriyaki sauce.  You could make ramen noodles or rice if you want too.  Please give this dish a try.  I know it will be one of your family favorites.  Everybody rated the dish 4.5 out 5 stars. 



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Fast/Slow Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake



Hello Everyone!!!  I hope every body had a great week!  Our week has been so busy!!!!!  Isabelle is in jazz band, science olympiad and honors choir.  Alex is involved in Model U.N. and high school track.  I am now the taxi service.  My time to write and my time to make delicious dinners has suddenly decreased dramatically.  I promise there are some more fantastic recipes to come!


So what do I mean by fast/slow chocolate peanut butter cake.  Well, I found a lovely recipe, that was super quick and easy to throw together and baked and all I had to do was put it in a crock pot and forget it.  Yes, that’s right I said a crock pot.  I have never made dessert in a slow cooker before.  I found this recipe in my Crock Pot “Slow Cooker Bible”.  I was perusing the cookbook to find a recipe for tomorrow, (Monday) and I came across quite a few dessert recipes.  Not only did this recipe call out to me, (chocolate/peanut butter Hello) but I had all of the ingredients in house!  The recipe is actually called Peanut Fudge Pudding Cake.  You can call the dessert what ever you like.  I would call it delicious!

IMG_2615.JPG (2)

I usually ask one of the kids to help me make recipes and ninety percent of the time they ignore me or tell me no, but this time I went to Alex and said, “Hey.  Lets make a cake.  I promise you can go back to your stuff in 10 minutes,”  and he said “Sure mom”  There is a science to slow cooker cooking.  Alex and I made sure we measured just what we needed and voila!  A super moist, fudgy, rich cake happened in our crock pot! 

Please give this a try.  It takes about 2 hours in the crockpot so you can easily make it in the afternoon for a quick dessert after dinner.  The house will smell fantastic too!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sweet Sundays: Chocolate Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies


IMG_2567.JPG (2)

Hello guys!  I took a few days off to take care of myself.  I haven’t been feeling the greatest a of late, so I have been working and coming home and getting into my pajamas.  I am going to blame it on the weather.  Thankfully it is March and the end of winter is near.  It’s crazy to think that when it’s 20 degrees outside people think it’s a heat wave.  It was 40 degrees yesterday and I saw a few kids running around without there coats on! 

IMG_2562.JPG (2)

Spring is almost a few weeks away.  Spring break is precisely 27 days away.  The kids are super busy with the after school activities and they are always famished when the get home.  I found a perfect “after school” cookie recipe with a little fiber and a little protein to help keep them satisfied until dinner.  In my “Taste of Home Cookies”, cookie there are loads of great cookie recipes.  Cookies that have just a few ingredients and cookies that are works of art.  Chocolate Toffee Peanut Butter cookies are perfect for a Sunday afternoon to ease everyone into another busy week. 


Here are some observations from the recipe.  This cookie dough is extremely dense.  I was starting to get concerned that the cookies would be dense and heavy.  Fear not, the cookies are light and crispy and a little bit chewy.  I also added the toffee chips to the recipe.  The original recipe didn’t not call for them, but I figured, hey everything taste better with toffee.  I love the peanut butter flavor in these (of course), you can use creamy or chunky.  I used both because I didn’t have enough of one kind.  The little nubs of peanut in the cookie gives it great texture as well.



Chocolate Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies


3/4 cup shortening

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunch)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups flour

1 cup quick cooking oats

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chocolate toffee bits


1.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the shortening, and the sugars until light and fluffy.

IMG_2552.JPG (2)

2.  Add eggs, beating mix between eggs to incorporate them.

3.  Add in peanut butter and vanilla.  Continue to beat until all ingredients are combined.

IMG_2556.JPG (2)

4.  In a different bowl combine the dry ingredients.  The flour, baking soda, oats and salt need to be whisked together.

IMG_2557.JPG (2)

5.  With the mixer running or with a spoon gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.

6.  Carefully stir in the chocolate chips and toffee chips.

IMG_2560.JPG (2)

IMG_2561.JPG (2)

7.  Drop rounded tablespoon size dough balls onto a greased baking sheet.  I use parchment paper.  Make sure cookies are about 2 inches apart.  I used an ice cream scoop, so my cookies are a little bit larger than they should be.

8.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown and set.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Easy Weeknight: Taco Pie


IMG_2464.JPG (2)

True fact:  I love Mexican food.  The spicier the better.  To be more accurate, I guess I love “Tex-Mex” cuisine.  Burritos, tacos, nachos, chimichungas, and the giant margaritas to wash them all down.  When I am looking for recipes to feed my family, I try to look for recipes that have the same flavor profile as my favorite Mexican dishes.  Taco pie nailed it on the head.  All the great taco and burrito flavor in one great dish!

IMG_2453.JPG (2)

Taco pie comes to us from the “Best Family Meals from the Bake-Off” cookbook.  Pillsbury has come up with such a handy idea of little cookbooks you can put into your purse so you can pull them out at a moments notice. I keep them in the car, in my purse, on my dresser, under my bed, you get the picture.  The books have slowly taken over my house.  I hope to eventually cook something out of each one of them. 

IMG_2456.JPG (2)

  Feel free to mix it up with the spices.  I used ground turkey, but you can use ground beef if you would like.  Let this sit for a few minutes to cool down and set up.  If you care to check out my other Mexican endeavors the links are listed below.

Texas Crunch Taco Burgers

Mexican Bubble Pizza

Speedy Mexican Skillet




Taco Pie


1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust from 15 oz package, softened as directed.

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (1.25 ounce), package taco seasoning mix

1 (16 ounce jar) thick and chunky salsa

1 can of corn

1 (2.8 ounce) can French fried onions

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 small tomato, diced

8 ounces shredded taco-flavored cheese blend


1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees. 

2.  Prepare pie crust according to package directions.  Lay the pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan or a 10-inch deep pie pan.  Bake at 450 for 9-11 minutes or until light golden brown.

IMG_2435.JPG (2)

3.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. 

4.  Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through.  Drain the beef.  Stir in the taco seasoning, corn and salsa.

IMG_2437.JPG (2)


5. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; simmer uncovered 5 minutes.  Add half of the fried onions and mix well. 

IMG_2441.JPG (2)

6.  Spoon meat mixture into prepared crust.

IMG_2444.JPG (2)

7.  In a bowl combine the eggs, ricotta cheese and one cup of the taco cheese blend.  Mix well and spoon over meat mixture.

IMG_2438.JPG (2)

IMG_2446.JPG (2)

8.  Bake at 350 for 25 to 35 minutes or until slightly puffed in the center.

IMG_2448.JPG (2)

9.  Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese.  Sprinkle fried onions in the center.  Return to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

IMG_2450.JPG (2)

IMG_2451.JPG (2)

10.  Sprinkle tomato around edge of pie and in center of filling.  Let pie stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving. 


Serves 6 people.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Easy Weeknight! Cowboy Biscuit Bake


IMG_2497.JPG (2)

I am always leery of feeding my family one pot dishes.  “Mom!  My food is touching this other food!”  or “I can’t eat this, it has this in it!”  So when I bring dishes like this one, “Cowboy Biscuit Bake”, to the table, my defenses are already on high alert and my emotions might be a little on edge. 

IMG_2509.JPG (2)

I think most people feel this way.  I mean, you spend your hard earned money at the grocery store and prepare a meal you spent some time finding, only to have it shot down before you even sit down.  I want to feed my family a variety of tastes and textures at each meal and sometimes that means lumping every ingredient into one pan.  Sometimes that means the family isn’t going to like it and sometimes they surprise you…..


Tada!!!!!!  Cowboy Biscuit Bake was a winner!  Quick, easy and delicious!  I found this recipe in my Pillsbury “Casseroles” cookbook.  When I was a kid I remember doing the same thing to my mother.  Whenever she would pull a casserole cookbook out of her collection, to make the grocery list, I would stand over her to make sure green peppers were not on the list.  So I understand a little bit of what my kids and husband go through.

Smokey, hardy, meaty and bacony are the words I would use to describe this dish.  I would have preferred a little spicier mix, but you can add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes if you like.  I also cut up the biscuits into smaller bits so they spread out more.  Alex (the 14 year old) gave this a ranking of 4 out of 5 stars.  If Alex has it for breakfast, that usually means the recipe is pretty good.  Please put this dish in your must have casseroles.  It will be a hit!




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Italian-Style Pork Pot Roast


IMG_2429.JPG (2)

There really isn’t anything like it.  You know, coming home and unlocking your door and having each of the kids whining about something or having the weight of the world on your shoulders.  You know, after having dropped your keys in the snow a third time or the constants drum of MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM in your ears.  You open your door, pile in to the kitchen, and then it hits you… Dinner is done and it smells absolutely delicious.

IMG_2428.JPG (2)

I love those days.  I need to have them more often.  It is so easy, I don’t know why I don’t.  Probably because my brain only thinks one day at a time and heaven forbid I plan anything ahead of time.  There are a few moments of clarity when I think, hmmmm maybe I will pick up stuff for dinner at the store for today aannnd tomorrow.  Makes sense right?  When you smell this pot roast in your kitchen you know for a few moments that the craziness of this world does make sense.

This recipe comes to us from the CrockPot* “Slow Cooker Bible”.  I love it.  There are so many great ideas in this cookbook.  Easy 4 or 5 ingredient dishes and desserts.  Each one of the has a unique spin.  I put a spin on this pot roast recipe when I swapped out the beef and substituted pork.  That’s the beauty of slow cooker recipes you can do that!  When I went to the store to purchase the beef bottom round roast I discovered that it cost twice as much as the pork counterpart and you got a lot less.  That was easy.  I bought the pork roast, cut it in half and now I have another meal for another time.

The one suggestion for this meal is to serve it with something more than just the beans.  The kids were happy with plain white rice and it was a bit more substantial in their tummies.  I hope you guys get to enjoy this recipe.  My gosh did it smell good and it sure did taste good too. 



P.S.  I apologize for the quality of the pictures.  It was early morning (6am).  Nothing should count before 6 AM.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Raspberry Almond Muffins



So bare with me.  I didn’t take pictures of the process on how to make these muffins.  I was busy making everything else and just want to get my work done.  I still think these muffins are definitely worth making and are easy enough to understand.  These muffins were served last week at church and I have had a number of people ask me for the recipe.  This recipe is definitely worth sharing.


My copy of Cooking Lights “Quick Baking”, is faded and sticky and covered in flour.  I have used it many times and each time I have not been disappointed.  Evidently I didn’t blog the other recipes besides the one listed below, but believe me, I did make some. This cookbook/magazine has everything you are craving and want to eat, but still lets you stay in your dietary guidelines (if you follow the portion control laws).  Raspberry Almond Muffins are a sweet treat to start your day or to have as small snacks throughout the day. 

Please give these muffins a try and let me know what you think in the comments section below.  I am really looking for feedback on the blog.  If there are any recipes you guys have questions about or any recipes you would like to see, please let me know!

Sticky Date and Coconut Cake



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chocolate Macaroon Bars



Yup, it’s chocolate time again.  This is the recipe I debuted at church this past Sunday.  Every time someone went through the line their reaction was the same thing.  “OHHHH I will definitely take one of those!”  “Chocolate and coconut?  Right up my alley!”  I guarantee these bars will be right up your alley too! 


I discovered this amazing, easy recipe in the Pillsbury “Best Family Meals from the Bake-Off” cookbook.  This little cookbook is loaded with fast easy meals that serve more than the normal family of four.  I made two batches of these bars and cut them into smaller pieces than required and I am glad I did.  The bars went like hotcakes!  This is the perfect dessert to bring to a potluck or to have for dessert at a dinner party.  I will be bringing these again for sure.   The dessert is so fancy, no one will know how much time you DIDN’T spend on it! 


The secret ingredient?  Refrigerated crescent roll dough.  Yup that’s it. I used two different kinds.  I had purchased a seamless roll earlier and hadn’t used it and then purchased a perforated crescent roll just in case I needed it.  Look at the pictures below.  It is way easier to use the seamless roll.  The crust bakes up more even and has a nicer texture.  Plus I didn’t have to spend time pinching all of the seams together. 


(Freshly roasted almonds)

Please give these bars a try.  They will become a crowd favorite.  My crowd liked them.  I promise your crowd will love them too.