Thursday, December 5, 2013

Polka Dot Macaroons

Polka Dot Macaroons
     It's Christmas cookie time!
     Now that the snow has come people are getting the Christmas fever. The shopping mall is packed and all the streets around it are busy with traffic. If one is planning on going shopping brace yourself for crowds of people and no place to park.

     Of course one could easily avoid this chaos. There would be no need to go to the  mall to shop if 1. Shopping was done in advance of Thanksgiving (not happening here!) or 2. Shopping online and taking advantage of that free shipping (probably what will happen from here on out.) 

     I love shopping, but not when there is a ton of people around. I like to take my time. Not be rushed to grab something because there is a limited amount left. I also don't like being jostled around by people going crazy for that one item that is marked down to an unbelievable price. It just ruins the whole shopping experience. It's like going to a restaurant and having to sit by the kid that screams and cries the whole time. Or flying on an airplane with the little kid kicking your seat the whole flight.

     I much rather prefer to stay at home and do some baking or sewing. These past week I have done a little bit of both. Although I have done some sewing this week (trying to make a quilt for Christmas) I have not done any cookie baking. husband has come through and made some delicious cookies using my Simple and Delicious cooking magazine. And since he went to all the trouble of making cookies and since they were so yummy I thought I'd share the recipe. 

     These cookies were so good we bought more coconut to make some more because we just inhaled the ones he made. He said they were easy to make, but they were a little sticky. He also made them a little bit bigger than what the recipe said to do. I believe they are meant to be more bite size, but heck who cares, they were still super good.

Polk Dot Macaroons
5 C flake coconut
1 Can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 C M&M Minis

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine coconut, milk and flour; mix well. Stir in M&M's. 
2. drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Recipe from Simple and Delicious

Monday, November 25, 2013

Potato and Corn Chowder

Potato and Corn Chowder
     Well it's only the end of November and the weather is feeling more like January. The temperature in the morning has been in the single digits and of course the wind has been doing its thing too. It was just too cold to take the dogs for their morning walk today. I opted to have them go outside in the backyard. Katie, my Sheltie, was not very happy about it. She loves her walks, but I know we would have frozen if we went. I worry about their poor paws when it is this cold.

     Since the weather has been so cold and miserable, I decided to make some soup for dinner. I sort of adapted this from a recipe in my Simple and Delicious magazine. I had to spice it up a bit so I added some red pepper flakes. Feel free to leave them out if you don't like it hot. You can adjust the intensity by just adding a shake or two of red pepper.

     The soup turned out nice and full bodied. It was very creamy and had nice chunks of potatoes with  just a hint of corn. It is similar to a Spicy Baked Potato soup that I make. (I'll have to share that recipe sometime soon.)

     This didn't take me very long to make. I made it on a Friday night after getting home from work. It probably took me about 45minutes to an hour to make. So not bad for a week night meal. Of course I doubled the recipe because one batch is never enough around here. Besides if there are any leftovers people like to have it for lunch the next day. I'm sure it would freeze well too. Just let it cool down before putting in a freezer container. When you want to eat again just thaw in the refrigerator.

     So here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Potato and Corn Chowder
1 T olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 C peeled, cubed potatoes
1/2 C shredded, peeled carrots
2 1/2 C water
2 t dried parsley flakes
2 t broth base
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 C frozen corn
2 C milk
3 T real bacon bits
1/2 C Velveeta cheese, cubed
Red pepper flakes (opt)

In a large soup pan put a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add the water, potatoes, carrots, parsley, broth base, salt, pepper and corn. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Stir in the milk and bacon bits. Bring it to a boil cooking until it starts to thicken up. Add the cheese and red pepper flakes. Stir until the cheese is melted. Serve.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chicken Lo Mein

Chicken Lo Mein
     Ooops! I said I was going to get this recipe posted on Wednesday and it just never happened. But here it is. Better a day late then not at all.

     I've just been so busy with the end of the trimester at school that I'm either correcting papers like a mad woman or entering data into the computer. I've been coming home exhausted which doesn't help since I'm running errands after work just about every night. Not to mention my attempts at trying to get to the gym 3 times a week to work out. Things just need to slow down some.

     Well at least this dish is quick and easy to make especially on a very hectic night. It doesn't take much time to make and I think that you could play with the ingredients a bit to make it the way you like.

     After I made this I thought that a can of mushrooms would be good in this. I also thought stir frying some carrots would be good too. I think you could mix it up with just about any kind of vegetable that you like or happen to have on hand.

     The original recipe called for lo mein noodles, which I didn't have so I used spaghetti noodles instead. It also called for fresh ginger root. I also did not have any of that either, so I just used some ground ginger. I used fresh pea pods instead of frozen and added some red onion to it too. Don't be afraid to mix it up a bit.

     Well here's the recipe I promised. Hope you enjoy it.

Chicken Lo Mein
8 oz spaghetti noodles
2 T oyster sauce
1/4 C soy sauce
1/2 C chicken broth
1 t cornstarch
Red pepper flakes
1 T olive oil
8 oz chicken breast, sliced thinly
1/2 t ginger
1 small onion, quartered and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, sliced (dark green parts reserved)
8 oz fresh pea pods
Sesame oil

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, toss with a few dashes of sesame oil and set aside.
In a small bow, whisk the oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth, cornstarch, and red pepper until smooth; set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes or until almost cooked through. Add the ginger, onions, garlic, white and light green onion parts, and pea pods.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onions are cooked to your preference, stirring frequently.
Whisk the sauce and add it to the pan, letting it boil for 1 minute before adding the noodles. Toss to coat. Top with dark green onion slices and serve.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

My new favorite cookbook. Check out the author.
     I just got this new cookbook and I am loving it. I have tried a few recipes and they all have been very easy to make and they have all tasted absolutely fantastic. This cookbook happens to be one of the better cookbooks that I've gotten in the mail. I always seem to have everything that I need to make most of the recipes in here. They don't really call for any weird ingredients.

     I had to laugh at the last name of the author. Who knew we'd share the same last name. I hadn't noticed it at first then one day I went to grab it off the shelf and I noticed the name. Made me laugh.

     Anyways I made the recipe in here for Chicken Pot Pie. I cut the recipe in half and I used a store bought pie crust. I also used frozen corn instead of frozen peas and it turned out to be really tasty.

     I wish we would have let it cool a little longer once it came out of the oven like the recipe says. We were so hungry we dove in. If we would have let it cool a bit the center would have thickened up a bit so it wouldn't have oozed all over our plates. Never the less it was still yummy, I just don't have any real good pictures of it. I'll add one at the end, but it's just not the best.

     I thought that one could substitute turkey for the chicken, especially since Thanksgiving is just around the corner and there is always the question of what to do with the leftovers.

     Here's the recipe and remember I've cut the recipe in half to make one pot pie.

Chicken Pot Pie
1 C peeled and diced potatoes
3 carrots peeled and sliced
1/3 C chopped onion
1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 C flour
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 T chicken soup base
1 1/2 C chicken broth
3/4 C milk
 2 C cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 C frozen corn
2 pie crusts

Preheat the oven to 350.
Boil the potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan over medium heat until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, saute the onion and butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and chicken soup base until blended. Gradually stir in the broth and milk. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until thick. Add the chicken, corn, potatoes and carrots to the broth mixture. Remove from the heat.
Place one pie crust in a glass pie plate. Lightly press along sides to form the sides and bottom. Add the chicken mixture. Put the top crust on and crimp the edges of the top and bottom crusts together. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Once pie has cooled cut and serve.
Pie can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Chicken Pot Pie

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup
  Today I'm going to share my recipe for Broccoli Cheese soup. I don't know why I've never shared this recipe before, because I make it a lot during the cold winter months. I have also been know to make it in the summer on a rainy day too.

     I found a recipe for Broccoli Cheese soup on the internet that was suppose to taste just like the soup one would get from Panera Bread. Well I've always like the soups from Panera Bread and so I decide to give this recipe a try.

     Now of course I have changed a few things about the recipe, but it still tastes great. One of the things that I do is I use my salad shooter to shred the carrots and the broccoli. If you don't have a salad shooter you could grate the carrots and chop the broccoli nice and fine to get the same results. Or if you have a food processor you can use that and get the same results.

     When I make this soup I always double the recipe. Everyone at my house loves this soup and if I only made one batch I would not have enough. It keeps well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. I don't think it has ever lasted in the fridge longer than 3 days. It always gets eaten right away.

     Well here's the recipe I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 T butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 C melted butter
1/4 C flour
2 C half and half
2 C chicken broth
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
2  carrots, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 C Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Saute the onion in the tablespoon of melted butter. Set aside.Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a pan and add the flour and heat for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the half and half stirring constantly. This is called making a roux. It is important that you keep stirring so as to not get lumps. Add the chicken broth stirring the whole time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for about 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should start thickening as you cook it. Once the vegetables have cooked add the cheese and stir until well blended.   

Serves 4

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
     Saturday morning breakfasts on a cold, chilly day calls for something hot from the oven. So how about some Banana Chocolate Chip muffins? They smell wonderful and fill the kitchen with the smell of banana bread baking, except this individual servings with a little kick. It's got mini chocolate chips. YUM!

     These muffins are super moist and have a delicious banana taste. I opted to use my large muffin cups to make these so I only got 6 muffins, but they were really good. The directions that I am going to give are for 12 regular sized muffins. I had to bake the large ones just a bit longer to get the middles baked through.

     I was lucky to find this recipe on Mr. If you haven't visited this site you should really check it out. He has some really good breakfast ideas on here.  I like going there when I just need something different to make for breakfast and it has so many good ideas on it.

     So here's the recipe. I of course modified it a bit to put my own twist on it. Enjoy some muffins on a cold, chilly morning.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
3 large bananas- mashed with 1 and 1/2 t lemon juice
1 t vanilla
3/4 C sugar
1/3 C butter softened
1/2 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 12 count muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg. Add the mashed banana, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and butter. Mix well until combined and smooth.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients mixing well. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. A toothpick should come out of the center of a muffin clean (no batter).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Parmesan Potatoes

Parmesan Potatoes
     Today I'm going share one of my families favorite potato dishes, Parmesan potatoes. These potatoes are easy to make. You toss them in a ziploc bag with the seasoned cheese mix and pour them into a dish with melted butter. Then you pour some melted butter over the top and bake. You turned the potatoes once and that's it. The potatoes get this crispy, golden brown crust. They are delicious!

    I never have any leftovers when I make these. I have been making these for some time now, but I just don't know where I got the recipe. All I know is everyone likes them. They go great as a side with just about anything, chicken, pork, beef or even fish. It's just an excellent way to make potatoes. I like the ease of making making this dish. It doesn't take much skill or time. Just peel a few potatoes, cut them into chunks toss in a bag with seasoning and bake. Not much easier than that.

     So impress your friends and family and make these at your next meal.

Parmesan Potatoes
6 large potatoes
1/4 C flour
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/3 C melted butter

Peel potatoes. Half or quarter them. Shake potatoes in dry ingredients. Put some of the melted butter in a 9x13 pan, then put in the potatoes and dribble the rest of the melted butter over the top. Bake at 375 for 1 hour. Turn once half way through cook time.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Garlic Bread Pizza Dough with Homemade Pizza Sauce

Homemade Pizza
    Fridayor Saturday nights around here are usually pizza nights. I didn't feel like calling out for pizza so I decide to try making my own pizza crust and pizza sauce. I've tried a few different pizza crusts and they were just never very good until now.

    This crust is made in the bread machine. I love my bread machine! You just throw everything in, plug it in, press a few buttons and you are done. The machine does all the work for you. No kneading to checking the temperature of the water so the yeast won't die. If you don't have a bread machine, seriously you should consider getting one.

     Anyways this crust is a garlic flavored crust. It also has Parmesan cheese in it. It smells divine while baking and tastes even better. The crust has such a great texture. It's not doughy nor is it crispy. It has an almost bread like quality. I know that we will be making this crust again.


     I also experimented with making my own pizza sauce, because of course I never have pizza sauce on hand unless I specifically know I'm going to make pizza. This time I was making pizza on a whim, so I need pizza sauce without having to run out and get some.

     I just used a can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste and some seasoning and tada! I had pizza sauce. Of course I had to get the blender out to puree it in, but it worked great and it even tasted better.

     As far as toppings go, put anything you like on the pizza, just remember that pepperoni goes on top of the cheese. Also I found baking the crust on a cookie sheet to work the best. I tried it on a stone and not so good results. The center of the pizza was not cooke all the way through.

Garlic Bread Pizza Dough
1 1/4 C water
3 T vegetable oil
1 t salt
4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 t garlic powder
2 T Italian seasoning
1 pkg of rapid rise yeast

Put all the ingredients in the bread machine pan in order. Make a little well in the flour for the yeast. Select the dough cycle on your machine and let it do it's thing.
Once it is done mixing remove from the pan onto a floured surface and knead it a few times. Divide into two even pieces and roll out each into a pizza. Once you have the desired size place it on your pizza pan or cookie sheet and add sauce and toppings. Bake at 400 for about 17 minutes.
Recipe from

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1-14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes
1- 6oz size can of tomato paste
1 t sugar
1t oregano
1 t basil
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour sauce on pizza crust and add your toppings.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Cookies with Royal Icing

Halloween Cookies with Royal Icing
     Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I know some people don't consider it to be a holiday, but I do. I love the decorations, the costumes, and the great holiday treats. I have some fond memories of Halloween from childhood into adulthood.

     I enjoy going to Goodwill or Savers looking for that perfect costume. The rummaging through the clothing racks looking for that just right item to complete a costume what fun! Some people think yuck! But I think this is fun. Easily amused I guess. I'm still debating if I want to dress up to hand out candy this year. I might just go with a simple costume for that, but if I had someplace to go this year I might really do it up.

     Well since it was the Education Minnesota Conference and I did not have to work. My daughter asked if we could make Halloween cut out cookies. Now one might think that my daughter is school age, but she is actually in college. Obviously she still likes to do the holiday stuff too. So it was decided that on Friday we would make cookies together.

     On Thursday I went to Michaels and they just so happen to have all kinds of Halloween cookie and cupcake decorating supplies on clearance. Much to my surprise I found a kit by Wilton with 7 Halloween cookie cutters in it. It was perfect for what we wanted to do so of course I had to pick it up.

     The next step was finding a cookie recipe where the cookies were soft. No crunchy cookies in this house. I almost made the lofthouse cookies but then I thought I'd check out the Wilton site for their cookie recipe. I also needed a royal icing recipe too and I found one on this site as well. I did change the icing a bit just to make it a little more spreadable.

     I just want to warn you that it did take us about three hours to make these cookies from start to finish. That includes cleaning up the kitchen too. But do not fear these cookies are well worth the time and effort. Besides I think they turned out pretty cool.

     So if you want to do something fun for Halloween give these cookies a try. You will not regret the time and effort that you put into it, and besides everyone will be in awe over your awesome cookies.
Cookie Dough 
1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t no-color almond extract
2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix flour, baking powder and salt, add 1 cup at a time to butter mixture, mixing after each addition.
Do not chill the dough.
Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. (I didn't do this and I had no problem cutting them with my cookie cutters).
Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet on top rack for 6-7 minutes. Let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a cooling rack.
Let cookies cool completely before icing them.

Easy Royal Icing
1 C powdered sugar
3 t milk
3t corn syrup
coloring paste, various colors

Mix together until smooth. Add coloring and mix well. Recipe adapted slightly from
I transferred the icing to squeeze bottles to decorate the cookies. It worked rather well. I also made about 3 different batches to color. One white, one gray and one black. I cheated with the orange and just used some orange frosting from a can. I just heated it a little in the microwave and then spread it on the pumpkins.

Recipes from

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
     It's pumpkin season! I bought my pumpkin for Halloween to carve up into an awesome jack-o-lantern. Everywhere I look there is pumpkin flavored this and pumpkin flavored that and I personally love pumpkin flavored anything. I really can't get enough of it. I'm a willing participant of these yummy treasures.

     Now when I got my Taste of Home magazine there were these delicious looking pumpkin bars I couldn't resist making. They had pumpkin and cream cheese and pecans. Yum! The picture alone in the magazine was enough to make my mouth water and so I just had to make them.

     Let me just say these bars were super simple to make. They also will not last long in your house. Mine lasted 3 days tops. They are so good.   I also want to say that I've never tasted anything like them before. I know I will be making these again real soon.

     I did change the recipe slightly. It originally called for allspice and cardamom and I did not have that on hand so I just used nutmeg instead. It still turned out great.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar, divided
1/2 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C cold butter, cubed
1 C old-fashioned oats
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened, cubed
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1 can (15oz) solid-packed pumpkin
1 t vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix flour, 1/4 C sugar and brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in oats and pecans. Reserve 1 cup for topping.
Press remaining crumb mixture on to bottom of a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. bake 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and remaining sugar until smooth. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until blended. Pour over warm crust; sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and filling is set. Cool on a wire rack. Serve or refrigerate, covered, within 2 hours of baking.

Taste of Home Sept/Oct 2013 issue

Friday, October 18, 2013

Apple Crumb Pie with Pat- A- Pan Pie Crust

Apple Crumb Pie
     I finally went to the apple orchard this month. Something that I wanted to do way back in September, but I tell you it was well worth the wait. I love going to the apple orchard in the fall. The apples just seem to taste so much better when one gets them from the orchard rather than the store.

     The atmosphere is also so wonderful. You can smell the apple brats cooking and the kettle corn being popped plus people are milling around with children and dogs in tow. The air is crisp and these sights and smells just add to the experience. 

     I was fortunate enough to try a new apple this year. It was called Sweet Tango. I guess it is a cross between a Honey Crisp (one of my favorite apples) and Zestar. They are sweet, crispy and tangy. I just cut those apples up and ate them with caramel sauce. I really want to go get some more they were so good.

     Besides the Honey Crisp and Sweet Tango apples I bought some McIntosh apples. McIntosh apples are perfect for making apple pie so I decided to find a recipe in my new cookbook. I just got this new Amish cookbook and it has some really good recipes and I choose a pie crust that you can make in the pie pan and the apple filling is just as easy.

     My husband a few days later told me that he really loved my apple pie. He commented on how the pie was full of apples and the filling didn't ooze all over. He liked how it stayed together so that each bite was a mouthful of apple goodness.

     Sorry I didn't get a picture of a slice of the pie. I forgot to take a picture when I first served it up and after that it honestly went so fast I didn't have a chance to get a picture. All I know is I'm going to have to make this pie again.

     One thing you might like about this pie is you make the pie crust right in the pie pan and the pie filling doesn't take too much effort to make. I do have a apple, peeler, corer gadget. It is one of the best things that I've ever purchased. I use it a lot believe it or not.

     Well here is the two recipes. I hope you enjoy the apple pie!

Apple Crumb Pie with Pat-A-Pan Pie Crust

Pat-a-Pan pie crust
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 C vegetable oil
3 T cold milk

Place flour, sugar and salt in a 9 inch pie pan and mix with your fingers until evenly blended. In a measuring cup combine oil and milk and beat until creamy. Pour all at once all over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the flour mixture is completely moistened. Pat the dough with your fingers, first at the sides of the pie plate and then the bottom. Flute the edges. Set this aside and prepare the apple filling.

Apple Crumb Pie
1/4 C sugar
1 t cinnamon
6-7 C sliced McIntosh apples
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 C all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon with the apples in a large bowl and put into the unbaked pie shell. Mix the butter, brown sugar, and flour in a medium bowl for the topping. Sprinkle over the pie. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes. Cool on a wire rack until the pie is firm, about 45 minutes. Store any leftovers in a sealed container. The pie will keep for about 5 days.

Recipe from The Amish Cook's family Favorite Recipes

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Oh this afternoon was a trying afternoon. Not that my students were misbehaving, they were just loud. It just seemed that as the afternoon wore on they got louder and louder. By the time we were heading for the bus my head was pounding.

     I knew that I needed either a drink or some chocolate. So since it is the middle of the week I opted for chocolate. Chocolate with peanut butter.

     I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided that they look like just the ticket for me. I really wanted chocolate, but this had a bonus of peanut butter. Plus this recipe had a minimal amount of ingredients.

     These cookies were perfect! About the time I started to mix them up a thunderstorm came rolling through. I love making cookies when the temp has cooled off and there is rain coming down on the roof. It is also a perfect time to eat warm cookies with a tall glass of milk. YUM!

     I followed the recipe almost exactly except I used chunky peanut butter. I was trying to use up some peanut butter in the cabinet and I figured what could a few peanuts hurt.

     I ended up making about 4 dozen cookies with this recipe even though the original recipe said it makes 2 dozen. I must have made my cookies a little bit smaller, but they are in my opinion a good size. This way I also get to eat a few more.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 C Chunky peanut butter
1/2 C shortening
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 egg
3 T milk
1 T pure vanilla
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 C semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Cream peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla together. In a separate bowl mix flour soda and salt together. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix together well. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pans and cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Silver Boxes

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Donuts

Apple Cinnamon Donuts
Well it seems fall has come overnight. School has started, the leaves are falling and the weather has suddenly cooled off. I caught the weather report this morning and he said that fall has arrived with this whole week being quite cool and fall like.

     Officially fall doesn't arrive until September 22. That is still a week away, but I've already started doing some baking and cooking that would be considered more fall like menu. It's those dishes that have those yummy aromas that just fill the kitchen and make you feel all warm inside. Seriously, on Friday when I was making dinner I felt like making a fire in my little chimney fireplace on my patio. The weather was perfect for it and my dinner was one of those fall/winter specialties.

     On the weekends I like to make breakfast. It's the only time that I feel like I don't have to rush around and I can just take my time making something delicious that everyone will enjoy. Sometimes it's as simple as scrambled eggs or pancakes. Sometimes I go a little more extravagant.

     This time I went for the more simple. I made donuts. I know some people think donuts that's hard. You need oil, a deep fat fryer and a donut maker. But all you need is a donut pan from the store. You can pick them up just about anywhere and they are not very expensive at all. You actually bake them and that couldn't be easier.

     Now these donuts that I made filled the house with that wonderful cinnamon smell. Just what you want to smell in the fall. They are very moist and your family will gobble them up. I doubled the recipe, because quite honestly 6 donuts would not be enough for my family. Twelve was more like it. That way we had a few for the next day too.

Apple Cinnamon Donuts
1 cup flour
3 T sugar
3 T brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
2 T half & half
1/4 cup applesauce ( I used one of those package cups of applesauce you use in your kids lunches)
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1 T canola oil

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/2t cinnamon
1 T half & half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray your donut pan with cooking spray.
Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mix the half & half, applesauce, egg, vanilla and oil. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix well. Do not over mix.
To fill the donut pan I put the batter in disposable decorating bags and just snipped the end off to fill the pans. You will need to do this twice if you double the recipe.
Bake for 10-12 minutes and cool in the pan for about 4-5 minutes. While they are cooling you can make the glaze. Once they have cooled dip in the glaze and put on a wire rack. I would put wax paper or parchment paper under the wire racks as glaze will run off slightly and then clean up will be much easier.

Recipe adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Antipasto Kabobs

Antipasto Kabobs
Today I will be going to a family gather. It is suppose to be a pool party, but I don't think the sun knew anything about our plans. It has been ungodly hot for the past week and wouldn't you know it today it is cloudy out. However the temperature is in the 70's. I'm still going to go in the pool if I can persuade others to go in too.

This party just so happens to be a potluck. I am bringing one of my favorite appetizers for summer. It is a recipe that I got from a Taste of Home recipe book. I like it because it is quick and goes well with a cold beverage, if you know what I mean.

I have tweaked this recipe for those that don't like olives, which happens to be my children. Instead of olives I use cubed cheese. You can use any type of cheese that you like. Pepper Jack cheese though is really good on these kabobs.

So I need to be getting to my party so here is the recipe. It's easy enough to still make it for Labor day festivities. Enjoy!

My pretty platter of appetizers.

Antipasto Kabobs
1 pkg (9ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
40 pimiento-stuffed olives
40 large pitted ripe olives
3/4 C Italian salad dressing
40 thin slices pepperoni
20 thin slices hard salami, halved

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.
In a resealable plastic bag, combine the tortellini, olives and salad dressing. Seal and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Drain and discard dressing. For each appetizer, thread a stuffed olive, folded pepperoni slice, tortellini, folded salami piece and ripe olive on a toothpick.

Makes 40 appetizers

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Carrot-Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
    I don't know about you but I love zucchini! I love grilling it and using it in breads and cakes. Now I have a recipe for bars. This is quickly going to become one of my families favorites. It's right up there with my Banana Bar recipe.

     These bars are very moist, almost cake like. In fact when my husband saw the bars he quickly got himself some and came to me saying, "How come you didn't tell me we had carrot cake?" I quickly told him it was Carrot-Zucchini bars. As he gobbled down his bar he told me he couldn't taste any zucchini in it. Ha, Ha! That's the whole idea. Something that tastes good and has some goodness in it.

     I do think, however, that the next time I make these bars I'm going to double the recipe and make it in my 10.5 x 15.5 pan. Because seriously, there is only half a pan left of bars and it's been less than 24 hours since I made them. Besides I used about half a zucchini to make these and if I doubled it the whole zucchini could be used.

Carrot-Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t baking soda
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 C light corn syrup
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 C shredded carrots
1 C shredded zucchini

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and soda; set aside.
In a large bowl mix together brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and blend well. Add the carrots and zucchini and mix well.
Spread the batter into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack to cool.
Using an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until creamy. Spread evenly over the cooled bars.
Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beef & Mushroom Braised Stew

Beef & Mushroom Braised Stew

     I just received my Taste of Home magazine last week. It has all these wonderful fall recipes that I want to make. My husband and I dogeared several pages of recipes last week when we were camping and this is just one of many recipes we wanted to try.

    Now I know the weather is not quite fall weather. In fact it has been downright steamy out. I just couldn't wait to make this. It is that comfort food that on a cold or rainy day makes you feel all warm inside. Even though it was still hot out my family gave it the thumbs up. They all really liked it.

     It is not your normal stew. This "stew" has a scoop of mashed potatoes served with it. Sounds a little weird, but it is very good.

     I changed the way it is cooked. Instead of baking it in the oven I just cooked it on the stove top. I also used stew meat instead of a chuck roast. I also used canned mushrooms and I left out the brandy and red wine. I don't think my family would have like it otherwise.

Beef & Mushroom Braised Stew
2-3 lbs stew meat
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3 T olive oil
2 -4oz cans of mushrooms
2 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (32 oz) beef broth
1 T tomato paste
1/4 t each dried parsley flakes, rosemary, sage and thyme
3 T flour
3 T water
Hot mashed potatoes

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat: brown beef in batches. Remove from pan. In the same pan, add onions and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic. and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in broth, tomato paste and spices. Return beef to pan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until beef is cook through.
In the meantime peel and boil potatoes for mashed potatoes. When potatoes are tender enough for a fork to pierce them easily they are ready to drain and mash. Mash potatoes with a potato masher. Add milk and butter and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.
Once beef is cooked through it is time to thicken it. In a small bowl put flour in and add water. Stir together and then slowly add to beef mixture. Let it cook and it will thicken. ( I personally like to use cornstarch instead of flour. It thickens up better without getting lumpy).
Scoop potatoes into bowl and then add beef mixture.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

     It is that time of year when gardens are yielding tons of produce. It's fun to go to the Farmers Market and look and see all those lovely veggies. I couldn't resist buying some corn, green beans and tomatoes. It all looks so good!

   My garden is doing well this year. I did, however, make the mistake of planting four zucchini plants in my garden and I may regret doing this. I think I'm going to have more zucchini than I can handle. I guess I'll just have to freeze some for those cold winter days that will be soon upon us so I can still enjoy those recipes for bread, muffins, and cake.

    I've never made cake with zucchini before and I decided to give this recipe from my Taste of Home magazine a try. I changed the recipe a little bit to suit my taste and it was great. The recipe also called for a custard type frosting, but I used a can frosting instead.

     The next time I make this cake I might cut back on the cloves a bit. I feel like 1/4 teaspoon is a little too much. Next time I'll use only 1/8 teaspoon. I would still use the canned frosting though. All I did was scoop out 1/2 of the frosting (I'll use the leftover frosting on graham crackers) and then microwave it for about 15 seconds and then poured it over the cooled cake. It doesn't get any easier than that.

     The cake got a thumbs up from my family and I doubt that it will last very many days around here.  In fact I'm sure they'll be sneaking another piece before bedtime.

     P.S. I got to use my new stand mixer today!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1 3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup cooking oil
1/4 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 Cups finely shredded zucchini
1/2 Cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can of prepared chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 10 inch fluted tube pan. In another bowl, beat sugar, oil and butter until well blended. Gradually beat in milk, eggs and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves; gradually beat into sugar mixture. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
Transfer to prepared pan. bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.
To frost take half the frosting out of the can and put in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave for only 15 seconds. You don't want the frosting to be too runny but it should be slightly pourable. Pour over the top of the cake and let it ooze down the sides.
Note: To remove cake more easily use solid shortening to grease pan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chewy Bars

Chewy Bars
 Today is my 3 year Anniversary for my blog! I cannot believe that I've been blogging for 3 years. I've learned some things along the way about blogging and I hope my postings have improved with my blog.

     I also hope that people have enjoyed the recipes and commentary that fill this blog. My hope was to bring easy and great tasting recipes for people to enjoy. I hope that I have accomplished this.

     I also want to say thank you to the people that have liked my Facebook page for Melanie's Minnesota Morsels. I encourage people to like my page if they haven't done this already. It will keep you in the loop on what my plans are for new recipes to be posted.

     I also want to say thanks to my followers of this blog! I appreciate you wanting to know when I've posted a new recipe and actually looking forward to what new dish I'm making. If your not a follower give it a try. You just might like it.

     Today the recipe I chose was a treat that my mom use to make and since my mom taught me how to cook I felt it was only appropriate to share a recipe that she handed down to me. These bars are called Chewy bars for good reason. The oatmeal base is very chewy and sweet. The frosting is a chocolate peanut butter combination that compliments the oatmeal bar wonderfully.

     Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Chewy Bars
4 cups dry oatmeal (I've used quick oats and old fashion oats)
3/4 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 teaspon salt

Melt butter in the microwave. While butter is melting combine in a mixing bowl the oatmeal, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Once the butter is melted add to this combination and mix well and press into a buttered and floured pan. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until light brown and bubbly.
Melt in a microwave
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
Mix well and spread over warm bars. When cool, cut in bars and store in a  cool place to keep good and chewy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Little Red Barn Cake

Little Red Barn Cake
     I made a barn cake for my brother's birthday this weekend. He's always liked living and working on a farm so when I ran across a picture of a barn cake I decided to make my own version of this cute little cake for his birthday.

     This cake was very easy to make. You don't really don't have to have had any cake decorating classes to make this. I only used two different decorating tips that are very common tips. The white writing and thin white lines I used a #3 tip and for the roof I used a #12 tip. I also buy the disposable decorating bags. It makes clean up so much easier.

     The little figures on the cake are actually candles. There were four candles in the package. A chicken, cow, tractor and a little barn. I felt like the cake needed a little something and these were the ticket.

     To make this I used a boxed cake mix and baked it in a 9x13 cake pan. Just follow the directions on the box. Once the cake is cool turn it onto the cake platter that you are going to use to serve the cake. I wish I had purchased some of those cardboard cake platters for this one. Instead I had just put it on my cake taker base and now I'm hoping the red frosting will wash off well enough.

     Once the cake is cool I cut off the corners of the cake to make the angled roof of the barn. Then it was time to put a crumb coating on the cake. Make sure you thin the frosting out a little before applying. This coating is to help eliminate the crumbs that can sometimes come off and show up in your finished frosting coat. You can also put the cake in the freezer for about a half hour before putting on the final coat of frosting.

     After crumb coating it let the cake sit to crust over and then you can apply the red and brown frosting. Make sure you make enough red frosting to cover the cake. You can always use the left over red frosting and color it brown  for the roof. You don't have to get a nice smooth coat with this cake either. It's suppose to look like the boards in a barn so run your spatula in one direction to make the look of boards on a barn.

     The roof is easy. You will only coat the triangular sides and then use the #12 tip to make dots on the top of the cake. This will make a nice clean finish between the red and brown frosting. Again don't worry if the sides are not super smooth, it's an old barn and it should look rough.

     Now for the finishing touches! Use white frosting for the outline of the doors and the words that you want to put on it. You will need to thin out the white frosting a bit so it is easy to apply. Check out Wilton's for more information on frosting and decorating. Add whatever kind of cute cake tops or candles you can find and you are done! Trust me people will be impressed and it really doesn't take much decorating talent to do this cake.

Buttercream Icing
1 Cup solid white vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon Wilton Flavor (Vanilla, Almond or Butter)*
7-8 teaspoon milk or water
1 lb. pure cane confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 Tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder (In case of egg allergies this may be eliminated)
Pinch of salt (optional, this will lessen the sweetness)

*Wilton Flavors may be used in any combination to suit your taste.
 Cream shortening, flavoring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Recipe from Wilton's Decorating Basics Book

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake
      I've been wanting to make cheesecake all summer and I finally did it. This is a recipe that I've used before, but instead of using blueberry pie filling this time I used cherry pie filling. It turned out just great! I think that with this recipe one could substitute any flavor of pie filling and it would taste wonderful.

     I did cheat a little with using an already made graham cracker crust, but I just wanted something that was quick and easy. So no harm in buying a pre-made crust. Besides I don't think one can go wrong buying the crust already done or if you're ambitious make your own.

     The one thing that I love about this cheesecake recipe is the simplicity of it. Trust me when I say anybody can make this and it will turn out great. You will impress your friends and family with this one. My family liked this so much that it did not last a 24 hour period in my house. It was gone in a flash.

     I guess I'll just have to make another one real soon.

 Cherry Cheesecake
2 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/4 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 graham cracker crust (9inch)
1 can cherry pie filling

In a mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, beating just until combined. Pour into crust. Drop 1/2 cup of pie filling by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the cream cheese mixture; cut through with a knife to swirl the pie filling.

Place pie on a baking pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Chill for 2 hours. Top with remaining pie filling. (I am using the remaining cherry filling to make some danishes.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

One Pan Goulash

Homemade Goulash
  I wouldn't normally be making goulash in the middle of summer but these last couple of days have felt more like fall than summer. I needed some good for the soul food that warms you up and this was the ticket. Plus it was super easy to make.

     Usually I'm guilty of buying the goulash from Schwans which my family happens to really love. I decided that I wanted to make my own because homemade is so much better. Another reason for making homemade is everyone in my house is trying to really watch what they eat, so we're not buying as many prepackaged dinners.

     I found this recipe on pinterest and did a little tweaking to it to accommodate what I had in the pantry. I happen to use elbow macaroni, but I would have like to use some bigger noodles I just didn't have any in my pantry. I think you could use any kind of noodle that you have on hand.

     The original recipe called for V8 tomato juice and I didn't have any of that so I just replace it with water. Next time I'll use tomato juice or hopefully I'll have V8 tomato juice in the house.

     This meal was a hit with the family. I served it with some cheddar biscuits and it was delicious. They gobbled it up and I kept hearing how great it tasted. I know this one is a keeper. Besides its got to be cheaper than the prepackaged stuff and I'm guessing probably better for you too.

One Pan Goulash
1 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 C water
1 can diced tomatos (14.5 oz)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1 t Lawry's season salt
1/2 t chili powder
1 bay leaf
1 C dry elbow macaroni
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper

In a large skillet combine beef, onion and green pepper. Cook over medium heat until beef is cooked all the way through. Drain off the fat.
Add tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, Lawry's salt, chili powder and bay leaf. Cover and continue cooking for 20 minutes.
Add macaroni and stir well. Put the lid on and cook for 20 more minutes or until the macaroni is tender. If it looks too dry you can add another 1/4 cup of water.
Add the salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat and let the liquid be absorbed. Take the bay leaf out before serving.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chicken Caesar Wraps

Chicken Ceasar Wrap
     I decided today I was going to use the lettuce that I've been growing in my garden. Now I had to decide what to make with it. So this took a little looking around in the fridge to see what I had on hand to go with it.

     After looking through the freezer and finding frozen chicken strips I had an idea. Make chicken wraps! It just so happen to that it was lunch time and I was looking for something somewhat healthy to eat.

     I wanted to use the lettuce from my garden, so I got a little basket out and went to the garden to pick some fresh lettuce leaves. It has been a while since I've grown lettuce in my garden and I forgot what it takes to get it clean for eating. Wish I wouldn't have tossed that salad spinner long ago. Well needless to say I got it all clean and ready to eat without much of an issue.

     While I was cleaning the lettuce I placed the chicken on a baking sheet and got that in the oven. I then dried the lettuce with paper towels and then ripped it into bite size pieces. To that I added real bacon bits, parmesan cheese and mayo. I mixed this well and when the chicken was done baking I let it cool a bit before adding to the mix.

     Once I had this all mixed together I put it on a flour tortilla and Walla! We had lunch ready to go. Everyone liked it and the lettuce was yummy too!

Chicken Caesar Wraps
2 C diced cooked chicken
3 C torn lettuce
1/2 C bacon bits
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 C mayo
flour tortillas

Cook chicken and let cool slightly. Mix lettuce, bacon, cheese and mayo. Add cooled chicken and mix well. Put this mixture on a flour tortilla and enjoy.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bombsicle AKA Lemonade & Raspberry Vodka

Raspberry Lemonade
     Awe yes! The weather is a balmy 87 degrees out, 84 in the shade, so of course one needs a refreshing drink to cool off with in the sun.

     My go to drink lately has been this beauty. I believe the makers of UV vodka call it a Bombsicle. It is suppose to taste like those frozen red, white and blue popsicles that we all loved as a kid and I would have to say that this tastes very close to those beloved popsicles.

     These drinks are easy to make and are so refreshing when it is hot outside. This has been my go to drink this summer. It is a great drink to make because it is so easy and does not call for anything exotic. All you need is some lemonade and some raspberry vodka.

     Now I always keep on hand frozen concentrate lemonade and of course some UV Blue, aka raspberry vodka. I'm a little hooked on these flavored vodkas this summer. I suppose you could go with any kind of lemonade, but I just prefer the frozen kind.

     There are so many different kinds of UV vodka and so many different drinks that you can make with them. Just last week they had samples at the liquor store and they gave me some different options for the cake vodka and the salty watermelon vodka that I just may have to make these and post my results. I can't think of a better thing to do on a hot summer day than to sample some new drink ideas.

    Well anyways, the recipe follows this post. Give it a try and remember to drink responsibly. Always have a DD or enjoy a drink in the comforts of your own home :)

Frozen lemonade
UV Blue

Fill a glass with ice and add lemonade. Add a shot of UV Blue. Stir and enjoy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fruity Rice Krispie Bars

Fruity Rice Krispie Bars
     It's turning out to be a beautifully hot summer. I am enjoying every single day of sun, heat and yes, even the humidity. That's what summer is all about after all. Every morning I get up and take my dogs for a walk and then I go out on my deck and drink my coffee with my dogs in tow. We enjoy the ducks and geese out on the pond and any other little critter we might get to see while taking in the beauty of summer.

     Now with the heat one does not want to turn the oven on and make the house any hotter. That's why usually I try to use the grill as much as possible or even use the microwave. 

     One treat that reminds me of summer is Rice Krispie bars. It can be made using the microwave and they are delicious. One can also use different flavored rice cereal to make this treat and I just happened to use fruit flavor rice cereal this time. You can use regular rice cereal or even chocolate flavored rice cereal. All of these choices are crowd pleasers.

     When you make these treats don't forget to use cooking spray on the spatula. That way when you are scraping the mixture out of the bowl it won't be so difficult and spreading it in the pan will be much easier too.

Fruity Rice Krispie Bars
3 T butter
1 package of large marshmallows
6 C fruit flavored rice cereal

Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray. Place butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Take bowl out and stir. Place back in microwave and cook on high for 30 seconds. Take bowl out and add the cereal. Mix well. Spray a spatula with cooking spray and scoop mixture into the pan and spread evenly in pan. Let bars cool and set up before cutting. Store in an air tight container.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada Cupcakes
 Sunday was the big celebration for my son's skills graduation. We did a Mexican themed buffet and it was a big hit. We had tacos, chicken fajitas, Mexican rice, chips and salsa, guacamole, hot cheese dip, brownies and pina colada cupcakes.

     My husband makes some really awesome tacos, so I had him do his magic and make his world famous tacos for our event. People just love his tacos. People were going back for thirds on Sunday and needless to say we did not have very much taco meat left after the party.

     My chicken fajitas ran a close second to the tacos. It did well, but not as good as the tacos. I had one full pan left of fajitas which isn't too bad because we love them and we don't mind eating them as leftovers.

     Now the Mexican rice was a different. I doubled the recipe and it made a boat load of rice. I should of just made one recipe and not doubled it, but the recipe said it served 6 so I thought well I'll need to make more. It was, however, very good and next time I would just make the recipe without doubling it.

     For dessert I made brownies and some pina colada cupcakes. The brownies are just some brownies from a box and canned frosting, but the cupcakes were a doctored up cake mix that was amazing and the frosting was canned frosting with a little kick.

     Pina Colada Cupcakes
1 box (18.25 oz. box) Yellow Cake mix
1/3 C Vegetable oil
1/2 C water
1/4 C pineapple juice, reserved from the crushed pineapple
1/4 C Malibu coconut rum
3 whole eggs
1/2 C sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 C crushed pineapple, drained

1 container (16oz size) white frosting
2 T pineapple juice, reserved from the crushed pineapple
2 T  Malibu coconut rum
1/4 C sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners.
Blend together cake mix, oil, water, pineapple juice, coconut rum and eggs with a hand mixer for two minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the edges of the bowl. Fold in shredded coconut and crushed pineapple.
Portion mix into paper liners, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 19 minutes. Let cool in pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store over night in an airtight container.
Whip together frosting, pineapple juice and coconut rum. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavor to maximize and icing to thicken.
Keeping the icing as cold as possible,spread the icing over the cupcakes with a spatula. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen

How to toast coconut
 Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread unsweetened coconut shavings, or sweetened shredded or flaked coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes. If toasting sweetened coconut, check and stir more frequently because the added sugar causes irregular browning.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cheerio Treats

Cheerio Treats
Today is graduation day from Skills training for my son. He just finished all his training in anticipation of becoming a police officer. Very exciting!

     I know that I talked about the college graduation in May, but this is different. This class was training that was to prepare him for being an officer. He always had stories to tell as everyday was different and sometimes challenging. 

     We are traveling down to Mankato for the ceremony.  Then after the ceremony we will be packing up what is left in his apartment and bringing it home. We shouldn't have too much left to bring home. Thank goodness it was a furnished apartment.

     He also just got his gun permit so he is ready to purchase his handgun. That is our graduation gift to him. I think he already knows what he wants he just needs to go and check out a few guns for fit. Yes, I said fit. It has to feel comfortable in ones hand, so he'll be seeing which one fits better.

     Oh and for those of you that are cringing with the idea of a gun in the house don't worry. He will have a gun safe to keep it out of the wrong hands.

     So the recipe I am posting today is an easy and quick treat to make. Also you don't have to use the oven and heat up the house. All you need is the microwave.

     These have become a favorite for my family. They don't last very long in my house, so be prepared to make a second batch.

     This recipe is from Taste of Home and the original recipe calls for mini marshmallows, but I have used both mini and large marshmallows. Hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

Cheerio Treats
1 pkg mini marshmallows
3 T butter
1/2 C peanut butter
5 C Cheerios
1 C M&M's

Place butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. 
Take out of microwave and stir in peanut butter. Add Cheerios and mix well. Add M&M's and mix lightly. Spread in a 9X13 pan that you have sprayed with cooking spray. It will help if you spray a spatula with cooking spray when you are spreading it in the pan. Let it cool down and once it is cool cut into squares.  


Monday, June 24, 2013

Over the Top Chicken Pot Pie

Over the Top Chicken Pot Pie
 What a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are singing and there is a wonderful gentle breeze blowing. The perfect day for a bike ride. Today is actually a carbon copy of yesterday and both days I went for a bike ride.

     I am still amazed at how many people do not wear bike helmets. Sometimes I think they look at me and snicker because I'm wearing one and they think it looks ridiculous. I get it. When we were younger we never wore helmets and we were fine. I just prefer not to take that chance.

     Now I usually ride with my husband when I bike ride and he does not wear a helmet. I have tried to convince him to but he refuses to. He is one of the reasons I wear a helmet. He has several times crashed into me or run me off the path. I don't know what it is but I've learned to never ride to close to him and to anticipate his next move. lol

     Another thing that we like to do is watch the Food Network, HGTV, and DIY. We are the do it yourself kind of people. We have totally fixed up our house to our liking. Not that our house was in need of repair it just wasn't to our tastes.

     We also like to hang out at home and do our own cooking. Sure I like to go out to a restaurant every now and then, but I'm expecting some awesome food when I order. A lot of times we say to ourselves, "We could do this at home".

     So Sunday we were watching the Sandwich Kind on the Food Network and he was making this Chicken Pot Pie Sandwich. It looked amazing so I decide I could make something like that too. I wasn't going to make a sandwich though. Mine was going to be more of a biscuit smothered with this amazing chicken pot pie filling.

     Well the end result? It turned out better than I ever imagined and it was very easy to make. I used a biscuit mix that I bought at Sams Club. It's called Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix. They were very good. One could always use Bisquick to make biscuits similar to these. Just follow the package directions, but add 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese to the mix.

So here's my Minnesota Morsel original Over the Top Chicken Pot Pie!

Over the Top Chicken Pot Pie
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 C flour
1/2 C half & half
2 C chicken broth
1/4 t thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 C frozen peas
2  cooked chicken breast, diced ( I cooked mine in my mini crock pot)

Baked biscuits

Saute the onion and carrots in olive oil until the onions look clear.
Start mixing your biscuits up and put in the oven to bake.
Add the flour to the veggies and mix well. Slowly add the half & half to the flour mixture, stirring until absorbed. Then slowly add the chicken broth stirring until well blended. This is the roux.
To the roux add the thyme, salt and pepper, frozen peas and chicken. Mix well and heat it thoroughly.
Take the biscuits from the oven and place two on a plate and cover with heaping spoonfuls of the chicken pot pie and serve.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Swirl Bars

     Last night was one heck of a storm here in the Twin Cities. I could not believe how violent the winds got. It was really scary. Streets and highways were flooded. Thousands of people are without power and are not expected to get power until at least Monday.

     I'll say it again it was really scary! The sky just got black out and the rain and the wind where intense. At one point my husband and I were looking out the living room wind and the trees came swooping towards the house and we both jumped back from the window. At that point I went downstairs and gathered the doggies to go into the crawl space.

     Well once the storm had subsided I decide I needed something sweet to eat. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted, so I started looking through my recipe box. Yes, this time I did not resort to the web for a recipe. This time I looked up an old favorite, something that I've never seen on Pinterest or on any recipe post for that matter.

     This recipe I have no idea where it came from but it is almost cookie like. If you like peanut butter and chocolate you will like these bars. I also like it because more than likely you will  have all the ingredients in cupboard. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Swirl Bars

Peanut Butter Swirl Bars
1/2 C peanut butter
1/3 C butter, softened
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C crystal sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
6 oz. chocolate chips

- Combine peanut butter, butter & sugars.
- Beat in eggs & vanilla.
- Blend in flour, baking powder & salt.
- Spread in greased 9x13 pan.
- Sprinkle with chips.
- Place in 350 degree oven for 3 minutes.
- Remove & run a knife through dough to marbalize.
- Return to oven and bake 25-30 minutes.
- Cool & cut.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Banana Oat Muffins

Banana Oat Muffins
It was such a wonderful morning today and I again I had those slightly browning bananas staring at me on the kitchen counter. I don't know what it is, but I just can't eat the bananas in my house fast enough and no one but me eats them at my house.

     Now bananas are one of my favorite fruits, but obvious not for anyone else in my family. However, they do like when I make baked goods with bananas. I am thankful for that. If they didn't I would be as big as a house or my coworkers would be eating very well, because I would have to take my baked goods to work.

     This recipe is a healthy and very yummy treat. It was hard not to eat a couple when they were fresh out of the oven. A little butter on them.....Yum!

    These are simple to make and do not take much time at all. Now give them a try I know you have some bananas just waiting to be made into these scrumptious muffins.

Banana Oat Muffins
1 1/2 C all -purpose flour
1 C old fashion oats
1/2 C sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1/3 C canola oil
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 C mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tine with paper bake cups.
Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
In a large bowl beat the egg lightly. Stir in milk, oil and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.
Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
      My son has graduated from college this year! His major? Law enforcement. He currently is taking his skills class which will finish up at the end of June and then he'll come back home and get prepared to take his POST test to become a police officer.

     It's all a process to become a police officer. Most people think that you just graduate from college and poof! You're ready to work as a police officer, but it just doesn't work that way.

     There are a lot of steps to take to actually becoming a police officer. One has to first be certified as a first responder. Then there's the background check and the traffic violations check. All this and the college credits earned must then be submitted to the department head to sign off on before the POST test can be taken.

     There were other things that he needed to do like take a class on DWI training, learning how to drive a squad car, learn how to clear a building and shooting a gun. Of course all these classes have technical names that I don't know, but regardless there are a lot of steps to becoming an officer.

     I don't think your average citizen realizes the training that one must go through to become a law enforcement officer.  Also I don't think people realize how much continuous training they must go through to keep up to date and well trained throughout their careers.

     I also wonder if people realize the great sacrifice that these men and women give everyday to keep our communities safe. I know we are all guilty of complaining about getting busted for speeding or what have you, but the truth is what would happen to our communities if we didn't have them. Something to think about.

    Well I'm am happy to say that soon my son will be home and we are going to celebrate his great accomplishment by having a party. We are going with a Mexican theme and I of course had to test out a recipe ahead of time to see if it was worth serving for the party.

      I found this recipe on facebook and I copied the recipe thinking that maybe I might make it sometime and then I got the bright idea of making it for the party. I just want to say that this fajita recipe is totally awesome. I don't think I'll ever make fajitas on the stove top again. This recipe is quick and easy. I made it with fully cooked frozen chicken from Aldis, but I'm thinking I could easily do this with the frozen beef for fajitas that I've see at Sam's Club.
Fresh out of the oven Chicken Fajitas

     I only slightly tweaked the recipe, but my family thought this was a winner. I hope you enjoy it.

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
1 pound fully cooked frozen chicken
2 T canola oil
2 t chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4t seasoned salt
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes, lightly drained
1/2 can (4oz) of diced jalapeno peppers
1 medium onion, sliced
1 green pepper, cut into strips

flour tortillas
sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken into a greased 9x13 inch pan. In a small bowl combine oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat. Next add the tomatoes, jalapenos, onion and green pepper and stir to combine.
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
Serve in warm flour tortillas and top with sour cream.

Green chilies can be substituted for the jalapenos and red pepper can also be added or combined with the green peppers.