SOFT Sugar Cookies

I still haven't found, in the two I've used ever in my baking career, a sugar cookie recipe that is good enough to stand alone. (i.e. sweet) I know typically they are always frosted and that gives the sugar hit, but sometimes you just want them plain. I actually added about 1/4 cup of sugar to this recipe, and it didn't really do much to the sweetness, but they were certainly edible to eat plain. I've had them sitting out uncovered and they are still soft when you bite into them. I call that success! I rolled my dough to about 1/4+ thick and put on parchment. I think they look the most edible when the bottoms get a bit brown, but to each his/her own. With one sheet of larger sized cookies (thanks Emily for the cookie cutters!) I think 9 minutes worked well, but every oven can vary.

Also, I need directions spelled out in a recipe, this one doesn't do that. It says to combine everything at once except the flour, etc. but I think you should cream the butter and sugar first. I did it all at once and the butter never got totally smooth. It all still worked out, but I'd suggest doing just butter, sugar until smooth, THEN the rest of whatever it says. I used my Kitchenaid mixer as well.

Soft Sugar Cookies
by Alison Tolbert

1 cup sour cream
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
6 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sour cream, sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat for a 2-3 minutes.

Add dry ingredients and mix well. Let the dough chill in fridge for 25 minutes or until firm.

Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutters to make shapes or circles. You may have to add a little flour to roll them out so the dough is workable but remember the less flour you use the softer your cookie will be.

Bake until LIGHT golden brown-no more than 10 minutes. When you take them out they will seem underdone but they aren't. Let them cool on the pan and they will be perfect and moist. It you like them harder and more crunchy just bake them a little longer.

Makes around 4 dozen.

Easy Pretzel Turtles

Made some of these for the recent family birthday celebration. They were all gone by the time everyone left... I'd say they were a hit!  Including them here, so I don't forget about them!  (As seen on Our Best Bites.)

Easy Pretzel Turtles

small pretzels (I like squares)
Rolo candies - one bag has about 55 candies
Topper – pecan halves, peanuts, cashews, M&Ms
Optional:  almond bark or white chocolate for drizzling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Place pretzels on a lined baking sheet (foil, parchment, silpat).
Unwrap your Rolo candies and place one on top of each pretzel like a cute little hat.

Place pan in the oven for 2-3 minutes. (Any longer is probably too long. You just want the chocolate on the outside to look glossy and melty, but they should still hold their shape.) 
Remove pan from oven and take your topper and gently press it right into the center of the chocolate candy.

Optional:  If you want to get fancy you can give them a little drizzle of almond bark or white chocolate. Just melt some in a plastic baggie and nip the corner off to drizzle. (A little goes a long way - half a square of almond bark for half a batch of candies, and there will be plenty left over.)

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken

New crock pot recipe that we tried tonight...  I loved it!  (Found here.)

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in strips
1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate (just use half of a 12 oz. can)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Mix flour, salt, and pepper in shallow container. 
Dip chicken in flour mixture and brown in a small amount of oil. (You don’t need to cook the chicken all the way, just brown it up.) 
Place chicken in crock pot. 
Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. 
Cook on High for 3-4 hours or Low for 6-8. (I cooked mine on High for 3 hours, and it tasted delicious!)
Serve over rice.

Ritzy Chicken

This recipe is a classic - there are variations on this everywhere.  I wanted to capture the way we make it, so I can replicate it.  Definite kid-pleaser.

Ritzy Chicken

1 egg, beaten
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (in a Ziploc bag)
1/2 tsp. garlic salt OR 1 tsp. Chef Ivo's Seasoning Salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp. paprika (optional)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix chicken pieces and beaten egg together, until well coated.
Drop coated chicken into bag of cracker crumbs.  Close and shake until well coated.
Lightly grease an 8" square baking dish with cooking spray.
Evenly arrange crumbed chicken into dish, and top with butter pieces.
Bake for 40 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Serves 4.

Free Menu Printables

Over on Sprik Space,
I've posted a couple of free menu printables this past week.

These are sized at 8"x10", which makes them perfect for framing.  
Just cover them with a piece of glass,
and they become a dry erase menu board.

These are sized at 8.5"x11", and intended
to be added to a recipe or home organization binder.  
These could also be mass-printed and turned into handy notepads.

Please click on the images above to be taken
to their original posts on Sprik Space.
Download instructions are listed there.


Creamy Italian Chicken

There are all kinds of versions of this easy recipe online.  This is the way I made it the other night... and it was DELICIOUS!

Creamy Italian Chicken

1/2 c. water
12 oz. lowfat cream cheese, softened
1 can lowfat cream of chicken soup
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can be frozen)

Mix water, cream cheese, soup, and dressing mix together with a spoon or hand blender.
Place chicken in crockpot and pour mixture on top.
Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours (depending on how thawed your chicken was to begin with).
Stir occasionally (once per hour) until chicken is done.
Serve over rice.

Chinese Chicken Salad

This is the yummy salad that Faith Watabe would always make...  from the good ol' days in Houston.

Chinese Chicken Salad

1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. MSG (optional)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2 c. salad oil

Combine all but salad oil & dissolve over low heat.
Cool, then add salad oil.
(Best if made ahead of time - refrigerate until ready to serve.) 

3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1-6 scallions, sliced diagonally
1/4 c. sesame seeds, toasted
1 small pkg. slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 pkg. rice sticks

Cook chicken in water with 1-2 slices of fresh ginger. Drain, cool & shred.
Deep fry rice sticks & drain on paper towel.
Shred lettuce & toss with almonds, sesame seeds, scallions & 1 tsp. grated ginger.
Just before serving, add fried rice sticks & chicken and toss with dressing.

Pico de Gallo

Because it's that good, it deserves its own post!  (Plus, it'll be easier to find later.)

Pico de Gallo

1 c. diced tomatoes (remove seeds)
1/3 c. diced red onion
1 diced jalapeno (at least a Tbsp, but more if you prefer)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 limes, juiced (about 1/3 c.)
1 Tbsp. cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
Refrigerate to keep chilled.

Pico de Gallo Chicken Quesadillas

This recipe was an experiment for us tonight...  a conglomeration of various recipes I saw online.  I'm happy to report it was a huge hit!  Plus, anything that includes fresh, homemade pico de gallo is divine in my book.  (Pico de gallo recipe from here.)

Pico de Gallo Chicken Quesadillas

Pico de gallo:
      1 c. diced tomatoes (remove seeds)
      1/3 c. diced red onion
      1 diced jalapeno (at least a Tbsp, but more if you prefer)
      1 Tbsp. minced garlic
      2 limes, juiced (about 1/3 c.)
      1 Tbsp. cilantro, plus extra for garnish
      Salt and pepper

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1-2 packages of flour tortillas
1 bag of Monterey Jack-Cheddar shredded cheese blend
Sour cream (garnish - optional)

Make pico de gallo:
     Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
     Refrigerate to keep chilled.

Cook chicken:
     Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
     Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in skillet.
     Saute chicken pieces until cooked through (about 5-10 minutes).

Make quesadillas:
     Place 1 tortilla in a pan.
     Cover with cheese.
     Top with pico de gallo & chicken.
     Cover again with cheese.
     Place another tortilla on top.

Cook quesadillas until heated through, and cheese is all melted, flipping once.  (Only takes a couple of minutes in a hot pan.)
Remove from heat, slice into quarters, and serve with a dollop of sour cream (optional).

Enjoy remaining pico de gallo with tortilla chips.

Makes 6+ quesadillas.

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

This is the pasta salad we had at the family gathering on June 26, 2010.  I happened to really like it, don't know about everyone else...  :)
(Recipe found on Pioneer Woman.)

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

     1 jar sundried tomatoes (7 oz.)
     4 cloves garlic
     3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
     1 c. extra virgin olive oil
     salt & pepper, to taste

     16 oz. corkscrew pasta (rotini/spiral)
     1 jar Kalamata or assorted olives
     1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes (cut in halves)
     10 leaves fresh basil (10-15 leaves), chopped or julienne
     1.5 c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Preparation Instructions


In a blender combine sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar until tomatoes are chopped. Continue blending while drizzling in olive oil, until all mixed together.  (Ingredients might still separate a bit.)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until no longer hot.

Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the pasta; add olives and toss together.
Add remaining ingredients, tossing together and adding more dressing until the salad is coated to your liking.

Serve chilled on a big platter or in a big bowl, with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Kristen's Mexican Lasagna

I made this the other night even though I didn't have zucchini. My adjustments are typed in BLUE. I want to try it again with zucchini, but if you don't have any, then this recipe is still really yummy. Oh and I didn't have an onion so I just used a little onion flakes. If you don't use produce (haha!) then this is a recipe you can make almost exclusively from things you can store in the pantry - minus the tortillas, cheese, and sour cream. Let me know what you think!
(As seen in Woman's Day.)

Kristen's Mexican Lasagna

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Total Time:  1 hour

2 tsp. olive oil
1.5 c. chopped onion
1 lb. zucchini, diced (about 3 c.)
2.5 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with chiles
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
1 can (11 oz.) corn niblets, drained
1 can (10 oz.) mild enchilada sauce
0.5 c. chopped cilantro
5 (8-in.) whole-wheat flour tortillas
1.25 c. shredded reduced-fat cheddar

Garnish: reduced-fat sour cream

Heat oven to 400ºF.
Coat a 3-qt round baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion and sauté 5 minutes.
Add zucchini and cumin, and sauté 5 minutes or until zucchini is crisp-tender.
Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn and enchilada sauce; bring to a simmer.  (So I jumped to this step, added the cumin (1 tsp.) and let it simmer.)
Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
Put 1 tortilla in baking dish.
Top with 1.5 c. zucchini mixture; sprinkle with 0.25 c. cheese.
Repeat layers 4 times.
(My dish was a round ceramic dish about 8" in diameter, and I had to trim my tortillas. With the trimmed pieces I tossed them with a little EVOO and salt, and baked them - if yours don't burn like mine did, then these might be a nice garnish!)
Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly around edges and cheese is melted.
Cool 5 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, if desired.  (I'm not much of a sour cream person, but I'm becoming converted. It is a nice combo with the mild spice that is in this.)
We also ate this with tortilla chips, since a lot doesn't make it on your fork. This is almost like nachos or a burrito or something, just in a different form.

Chicken Roll-Ups

Previously, I had made a version of this recipe, called "Chicken Packets".  Then I saw Chicken Roll-Ups on Somewhat Simple, and I'm a new convert.  This is how I want to have this meal from now on!  (The recipe below is how I modified things for our dinner.)

Chicken Roll-Ups

2 breasts of boneless, skinless chicken
2 tubes of crescent rolls
3 green onions, chopped
1 box of cream cheese
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. milk
bread crumbs

Place chicken in pot with plenty of water; heat to a boil, and then cook 15 minutes more until chicken is cooked through.
Shred chicken.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix chicken, onions, and cream cheese together.

Roll out crescent rolls, and place a spoonful of the chicken mixture on top.
Roll up each roll, and coat with bread crumbs.
Bake on a cookie sheet (all 16 should fit on one sheet) for 13 minutes, or whatever the crescent roll package recommends.

For the sauce, heat up soup, cheese, and milk on the stove.
Drizzle sauce over the top of the cooked crescent rolls.

Serves 4-5.

Note:  I added Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute to both my boiling water and the cream cheese mixture.

Granny's Fruit Cobbler

This recipe comes from my mom's mom. We tend to make peach because it is our favorite, but you could use any fruit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup Flour
3/4 cup Milk
3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup Butter
dash salt
1 can or 1 1/2 - 2 cups of fruit (no juice if using canned)

Mix dry ingredients, add milk and mix. Melt butter in a round baking dish. Pour the batter into the dish over the butter. Pour fruit into the center of the dish over the batter. Do not mix. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Soft Sugar Cookies

This recipe was given to me by my sister. Haven't tried it yet, but she says it's good.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 c. Butter
1 1/2 c. Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
2 3/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
5 Tbl Butter Milk

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and mix. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the sugar mixture. Roll the dough into 1-1 1/2 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. do not press down. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Margene's Lasagna

Margene's Lasagna

1 lb. hamburger, browned
1 16-oz. jar Prego spaghetti sauce (I use the fresh mushroom)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. minced garlic

Mix all together.

1 16-oz. container cottage cheese, small curd
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
8 oz. med. cheddar cheese, grated

8 oz. pkg. lasagna noodles--cook as directed on package

Put in either a 9x13 or 2-square pans (line one with foil and freeze for another day)

Put a little sauce in the bottom of the pan, so the noodles won't stick.

Then layer 2 times, in this order:
     meat sauce
     cottage cheese
     cheddar cheese
     mozzarella cheese

Heat in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese bubbles.

Aimee's note:  I have substituted ricotta cheese for the cottage cheese in this recipe, and it turned out great!

Margene's Special Shrimp Salad

This is the salad Mom would always make when we had fancy dinners... you remember, the ones with round steak for the kids.  ;)

Margene's Special Shrimp Salad

2 c. cooked sm. shell macaroni
2 Tbsp. diced onion 
1.5 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. red pimento (optional - I never had any to add to the salad)
1 sm. can shrimp
3-4 shredded carrots
salt & pepper

2/3 c. Miracle Whip
1 tsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Mix altogether and chill.

Margene's Famous Potato Salad

This is mom's recipe as she gave it... this variation of the recipe has some ratios and other details in it.

Margene's Famous Potato Salad

Dill Pickle
Green Onion
Miracle Whip
Hard-Boiled Eggs

Boil some potatoes, then peel and dice.
Add chopped: celery, cucumber, dill pickle, green onion
Mix with Miracle Whip and mustard.
When well mixed, add chopped egg.
Garnish with a sliced egg and paprika sprinkled on top.

Instant Pot version here.

Texas Chocolate Cupcakes

Think Texas Sheet Cake... with caramel icing on top... in a CUPCAKE!  Mmmmm....
(I originally found this delicious recipe here.)

Texas Chocolate Cupcakes

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 c. water
1 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. butter, cubed
2 eggs
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, cubed
1/4 c. milk
2 - 2 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring cocoa, water, oil and butter to a boil.
Gradually add to dry ingredients; mix well.
Combine eggs, buttermilk and vanilla; gradually add to batter and mix well (batter will be very thin).
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For icing, in a heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and milk.
Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat to medium. Do not stir. Cook for 3-6 minutes or until bubbles form in center of mixture and syrup turns amber.
Remove from the heat; transfer to a small mixing bowl. Cool to room temperature.
Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar.
Spread over cupcakes.

Makes 2 dozen.

Margene's Chicken Pineapple Cheese Supreme

Yeah, the name is obnoxious, but this dish is divine!  :)

Margene's Chicken Pineapple Cheese Supreme

1 9-oz. pkg. frozen broccoli spears
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
2 Tbsp. margarine/butter
1 8-oz. can pineapple slices, drained
4 oz. (4 slices) Monterey Jack cheese

Cook broccoli as directed on package.
Meanwhile, place 1 chicken breast half, boned side up, between 2 pices of plastic wrap or waxed paper.  Working from center, gently pound chicken with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/4" thick; remove wrap.  Repeat with remaining chicken breast halves.
In shallow pan, combine flour, salt, and pepper.  Coat chicken with flour mixture.
Melt margarine/butter in large skillet.  Add chicken; cook 5-6 minutes on each side, or until chicken is fork tender and juices run clear.
Place pineapple slice on each chicken breast half.  Drain broccoli; top each pineapple slice with 1/4 of broccoli spears and 1 cheese slice.  Cover; cook an additional minute or until cheese is melted.

Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip

This one is Kristen's personal favorite!

Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip

8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
16 oz. strawberry yogurt
1 c. fresh strawberries, mashed
fresh fruit

Combine Cool Whip with strawberry yogurt.
Add fresh strawberries, and mix well.
Serve as dip with fresh fruit.

Makes 5 c.

Margene's Snickerdoodles

I've tried other recipes over the years, and these are by far my favorite.  Guaranteed to make your mouth water!

Margene's Snickerdoodles

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. margarine
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix shortening, butter, 1 1/2 c. sugar, and eggs thoroughly.
Measure flour by sifting.
Blend flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
Stir into shortening mixture.
Shape dough into 1" balls.
Mix together 2 Tbsp. sugar and cinnamon.
Roll dough balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 7-8 minutes.

Makes 6 dozen.

Orange Julius

Just like the ones at the mall!

Orange Julius

1 sm. can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 sm. can water
1 sm. can milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar
1 tray ice cubes (12)

Blend until smooth!

Russian Refresher (Mormon Tea)

This is a powdered hot-drink mix... easy to make, nice to have on hand.
Back in Houston days, this recipe was Kim Dein's.

Russian Refresher (Mormon Tea)

2 c. Tang
3 oz. presweetened lemonade mix
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Mix all together and store in an airtight container.

To make:  Add 3 tsp. to cup or mug of hot water.

Homemade Lemonade

This'll taste better than the powdered stuff... promise!

Homemade Lemonade

1 c. sugar
5 c. cold water
1 c. lemon juice

Dissolve sugar in 1 c. of water and lemon juice.
Add remaining cold water.
Serve over ice.

Makes 6.5 cups

Margene's Banana Bread

Margene's Banana Bread

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 large, overripe bananas
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter, sugar, and salt together.
Add in eggs and bananas.
Mix in flour and baking soda.
Grease and flour loaf pan(s).
Bake at 375 degrees for:
    1 large pan - 1 hour
    2 medium pans - 40-45 minutes
    3 small pans - 30-35 minutes
Bread is done when toothpick comes out clean.

Texas Sheet Cake

Homemade chocolate heaven... an easy classic.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 c. butter
1 c. water
1/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.
Grease cookie sheet / jelly roll pan.
Mix sugar & flour.
Bring to boil the butter, cocoa, and water.
Pour hot mixture over sugar and flour; and mix well.
Add soda, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla; and mix well.
Pour into greased cookie sheet.
Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
Cool in pan about 15 minutes.

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. cocoa
5-6 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 box powdered sugar (about 3.75 c.)
1 c. chopped nuts

Mix together butter, cocoa, and milk in a saucepan; bring to a boil.
Cool slightly.
Add vanilla, sugar, and nuts; mix well.
Frost the cake!

Strawberry Freezer Jam

While Mom was in town visiting, we made the most delicious strawberry freezer jam I've ever had.  It tastes more like fresh fruit than sugar, and I think I've had it every day since!  In a little over an hour's time, we made 12 jars of jam, from start to finish.  This recipe is the one printed on the pectin package.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

4 c. crushed strawberries (approx. 2 lbs. of fresh fruit) *
1.5 c. sugar
1 packet Ball No-Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin
5+ 8-oz. freezer containers (I used Ball plastic jars)

Stir pectin and sugar in a bowl until well blended.
Stir in strawberries until fully incorporated.
Stir 3 minutes longer.
Ladle jam into clean jars to fill line.
Twist on lids.
Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes.
Refrigerate up to 3 weeks, freeze up to 1 year.

* I recommend using a food processor to crush your strawberries (use the 'pulse' mode a few times).  Otherwise, you'll wear yourself out using a potato masher.  I have the Cuisinart SmartPower Duet Blender/Food Processor, and it was perfect!

Cooking spray mess

I LOVE this tip from No Biggie!  I've integrated it into my own cooking habits, and I'm sold.

When using cooking spray, open up your dishwasher door and spray your dish over it.  This way you'll catch the overspray inside the dishwasher, and avoid greasing up your countertops.  Plus, there's no mess to clean up afterwards - can't beat that!

Sprinkles Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe is from a Sprinkles Cupcake Mix, and I wanted to be sure to save it...  so delicious!

Sprinkles Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cold cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, firm but not cold
1/8 tsp. salt
3.75 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
milk (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese, butter, and salt on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioner's sugar and beat until incorporated.
Add the vanilla, and beat until just incorporated.
Do not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream.
Add milk, 1 tsp. at a time, if frosting doesn't have a spreadable consistency.
Should be enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes.

Sesame Chicken

Try this just once, and I can guarantee it'll become part of your regular dinner meal rotation!  This was sooooo good!  I served it with white rice and a side of steamed broccoli.  (Another delicious recipe from Vittles Divine.)

Sesame Chicken

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. sugar
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. flour
salt and ground pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sesame seeds
1 stalk green onion, chopped **
2 c. white or brown rice, cooked according to package directions

In a bowl, combine soy sauce and sugar and stir well to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken pieces and flour.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stir well to combine.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
Once hot, add chicken.
Cook, stirring often, until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes, depending on how large or small your pieces are.

Transfer chicken pieces onto a plate and put the pan back on the heat.
Stir the soy sauce mixture again (some of the sugar will have settled in the bottom) and pour the soy sauce mixture into the pan.
With a wooden spoon, scrape the cooked bits on the bottom of the pan while the soy sauce mixture simmers.
Let simmer for 2 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Add the chicken back into the pan.
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and toss well, coating all the chicken pieces in the soy mixture.

Serve over rice and garnish with green onions. **

Yields 6 servings.

** Megan's Tip:  Do try not to leave out the green onions. The tiny bit of Asian flavor that they add is really nice and really helps bring it all together.

Montreal Roast

This was Sunday night dinner... and it was AMAZING!  In fact, this is the only way Brian would like to have roast from now on.  (Not that he gets to dictate everything I fix for us, but since this roast is so easy, I'll likely oblige him.)  Plus, I think it smells better while it's cooking than my other method...  more spice smell, less onion smell.  (As seen on Vittles Divine, posted below are my miniscule variations.)

Montreal Roast

2.5 - 3 lb. roast
3.5 c. water
Montreal Steak Seasoning

Place roast in crock pot.
Add water.
Season the top liberally with Montreal steak seasoning.
Cook on high for 8-10 hours.
Shred with fork, or slice, and serve.

This roast turns out incredibly moist, but will dry out fast.  I would also recommend (as advised by Vittles Divine) both serving and storing the leftovers immediately.

Banana Blueberry Cake

I made this dessert last night, too... also a new-to-me recipe, and it was soooo good!  Tasted a lot like banana bread with blueberries in it (so, of course, Brian was a big fan!).  I did make it with the frosting, but probably will do it differently the next time (and there will definitely be a next time!) - frosting is uber-sweet.  This would be yummy in a bundt pan with a lemon glaze or sifted powdered sugar on top, instead of the frosting.  This could even be considered a breakfast cake!

Banana Blueberry Cake

1 c. sugar
½ c. butter (1 stick), room temperature
2 eggs
¼ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed fine
1¼-1½ c. fresh or frozen blueberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan and set aside.
In a roomy bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla and blend until smooth.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Gradually add to the batter and mix well.
Stir in the mashed bananas.
Fold in the blueberries, if using.
Pour into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.
Frost, if desired.

FROSTING (optional):
    1 c. butter (2 sticks), room temperature
    2 tsp. vanilla
    4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
    6 Tbsp. milk, divided

Cream the butter and vanilla together on medium speed with an electric mixer.
Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk; mixing well on low speed after each addition.

Baked Ziti

I was brave last night and made this brand-new-to-us dish for company. It.did.not.disappoint! Rave reviews all around... AND we'll have leftovers for days! :) (As seen on Vittles Divine... originally posted on All Recipes where it received high ratings.)

Yes, the recipe does call for sour cream, but it's an important part of the recipe and it turns out delicious!  I'm posting the recipe below as I made it...

Baked Ziti

1 lb. dry ziti pasta  (Whole box)
1-1.5 c. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 32-oz. jars spaghetti sauce  (I buy the large Classico Tomato & Basil jars from Costco... using 2 makes it extra saucy, but extra delicious as leftovers.  You could also use just 2 26-oz. standard-size jars of sauce as well.)
6 oz. provolone cheese, sliced
1.5 c. sour cream (fat-free is fine)
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion, garlic and ground beef over medium heat.
Add spaghetti sauce; warm through.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly oil or spray a 9x13 inch baking dish.  (With the extra sauce, I've found that I have to bake this in a lasagna pan (larger than your typical 9x13.)

Layer as follows:
   1/2 of the ziti
   sour cream
   provolone cheese
   1/2 sauce mixture
   remaining ziti
   mozzarella cheese
   remaining sauce mixture
   parmesan cheese

Bake, uncovered,  for 30-40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Allow to rest on counter for 3-5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!

Swiss Chicken

We had this tonight for the first time...  super-easy and really yummy! 
(As seen on Every Crafty Endeavor.)

Swiss Chicken

4-5 chicken breasts (I cut each of mine in half to facilitate portioning)
4-5 slices of swiss cheese
1 can of cream of chicken soup  (I used cream of chicken with herbs soup)
dash of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute  (optional - I use this herb mix nearly every time I make chicken)
1/2 c. of milk
bread crumbs

Lay the chicken breasts in an oven safe dish.
Cover each piece of chicken with a slice of swiss cheese.
Mix together the soup, milk, and seasonings and cover the chicken and cheese.
Top with bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 for an hour.

Serve over rice.

Brian was raving about this meal!  I made mine tonight with green beans and cheddar bay biscuits.

"Red Lobster" Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Sooooo good, and taste just like the restaurant's!  
(As seen on Every Crafty Endeavor.)

"Red Lobster" Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2 c. Bisquick
1/2 c. cheddar cheese
2/3 c. milk

Mix Bisquick, cheese and milk together.
Drop golf ball size spoonfuls of dough onto your cookie sheet.
Bake at 450 degrees for 7-10 minutes.

While your biscuits are baking make your butter sauce:
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. garlic salt/powder
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. parmesan cheese

When your biscuits are a golden brown, brush on garlic butter, and you’re done!

Cook's Helpers

I have a measurement equivalents chart I refer to all the time

I saw these on Martha Stewart's site and thought they were definitely worth sharing. 

Go here for a downloadable pdf.

Margene's Pork Chops with Apples

Margene's Pork Chops with Apples

2 pork chops (I cut off all the fat)
1/2 onion, chopped
5/8 c. water
1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 apples, peeled & sliced (I use fuji-but any apple good for baking will do)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Brown pork chops & onions. (I spray a little veg. oil in pan first)
Combine water, bouillon & pepper.
Add to meat.
Cover & bring to a boil.
Reduce heat & simmer 20 min..
Skim off fat.
Add apples & cinnamon.
Cover & simmer 15 min. more.
Serve hot.

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Dip

I made this dip over the weekend...  soooo good!  Definitely a hit with our resident pizza lover!  (As seen on Noble Pig.)

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Dip

3/4 c. chopped pepperoni
1 can (15 oz.) pizza sauce
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 can (2-1/4 oz.) sliced black olives, drained (opt. - I left it out)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1-1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) refrigerated breadstick dough
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. minced parsley

In a heavy pot, over medium heat, combine pepperoni, (sliced olives), green onions, oregano and pizza sauce.
Cook until heated through, about 5-7 minutes.
Add cream cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Stir until melted and mixture is well combined.
Turn heat to low while preparing the breadsticks.
Stir occasionally.

Remove breadsticks from tube and cook according to package directions.
When breadsticks are finished baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve warm.

Margene's Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Always a hit!

Margene's Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

1/2 c. butter, softened
6 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. & 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips (if no nuts, add 1/2 c. add'l)
1/2 c. chopped nuts (opt.)

Combine butter, sugars, & vanilla; beat until creamy.
Beat in egg.
Gradually add flour, soda, & salt.
Stir in chocolate chips (& nuts).
Spread onto greased & floured pizza pan.
Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes.


1 c. + powdered sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1/6 c. milk
pinch of salt
food coloring (as desired)

Mix together.
Beat at high speed for 2 minutes.
Add food coloring and add'l powdered sugar as necessary.

Margene's Buckeyes Candy

Margene's Buckeyes Candy

1 lb. butter or margarine, softened
3 lb. powdered sugar
2 lb. creamy peanut butter
24 oz. chocolate chips (2 pkgs.)

Mix butter, sugar, & peanut butter well.
Shape into balls.
Chill or freeze.

Melt chocolate over hot water in double boiler.  (Do not let water boil.)
Use toothpick to stick ball into chocolate, leaving small part of peanut butter ball exposed.
Place on wax paper.
Chill or freeze.

Makes 180-200 balls.

Apple Crisp

This is my fail-proof recipe for Apple Crisp... super easy, super delicious.  (From Betty Crocker.)

Apple Crisp

Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 50 min
Makes: 6 servings

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 c.)
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Cream or ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375ºF.
Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.
Spread apples in pan.
In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients (except cream/ice cream) until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.
Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork.
Serve warm with cream/ice cream.

Variation:  For blueberry crisp, simply use 4 c. fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries for the apples.

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

Brian is gaga for anything blueberry...  this cheesecake is an oft-requested favorite at our house.  (And so easy!)  From Kraft Foods.

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

prep time: 15 min
total time: 5 hr
makes: 16 servings

1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. plus 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sour cream
4 eggs
2 c. fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix crumbs, 3 Tbsp. of the sugar and the butter.
Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pan.
Bake 10 min.
Beat cream cheese, remaining 1 cup sugar and the vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
Add sour cream; mix well.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended.
Pour over crust.
Puree the blueberries in a blender or food processor.
Gently drop spoonfuls of the pureed blueberries over batter; cut through batter several times with knife for marble effect.
Bake 45 min. or until center is almost set; cool.
Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

I have halved this before, and made it in a ready-made graham cracker crust for speed and convenience.  
You can also substitute 1 can (15 oz.) blueberries, well drained, for the 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries.
Instead of using a blender, crush the blueberries in a bowl with a fork. Drain before spooning over the cheesecake batter and swirling to marbleize as directed.

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

These are always a big hit, and look pretty, too!  From Kraft Foods...

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

prep time: 20 min
total time: 4 hr 48 min
makes: 9 servings

12 OREO Cookies, finely crushed
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 squares white chocolate, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 c. red raspberry preserves

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 8- or 9-inch square pan.
Melt 2 chocolate squares as directed on package.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended.
Add melted chocolate; mix well.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended.
Pour over crust.

Bake 25 to 28 min. or until center is almost set.
Cool 5 min.; spread with preserves.
Melt remaining chocolate square; drizzle over cheesecake.
Cool cheesecake completely.
Refrigerate 4 hours.

This recipe can be easily doubled. Just prepare as directed, doubling all ingredients and baking in 13x9-inch pan. Makes 18 servings.

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Oatmeal Carmelitas

1 c. flour
1 c. quick-cooking oats
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. melted butter or margarine

1 c. chocolate chips
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
3 tbsp. flour

Combine flour, oats, sugar, soda, salt, & butter in large bowl to form crumbs.
Press 1/2 of mixture into bottom of 9" pan.
Bake at 350 for 10 mins.

Sprinkle 1 cup (I use less) choc. chips over top of baked mixture.
Mix 3/4 c. caramel ice cream topping with 3 tbsp. flour and pour over choc. chips.
Sprinkle remaining crumbs over caramel topping.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 mins. until golden brown.

Chill before serving.

Try not to eat the entire pan in one sitting!

Aimee's Parmesan-Garlic Chicken

This is an often-requested dish at my house, and since my in-laws call it simply, "Aimee's Chicken", I will, too!
(Originally spotted this recipe here.)

Aimee's Parmesan-Garlic Chicken

1 clove garlic, minced (I keep a jar of minced garlic in my fridge)
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 1/4 pound), melted
1 cup dried bread crumbs (this is really good with Panko crumbs, but regular bread crumbs work, too)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or 2/3 cup if you are using a Microplane zester)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
A large pinch of Italian seasoning (herb mix)
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken meat, cut into pieces no larger than 2x2 inches

Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the melted butter.
In another bowl mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper.
Dip chicken pieces into garlic butter, then into crumb mixture to coat.

Place coated chicken pieces on to a greased 9x13 baking dish.
Try to leave a little room between each piece.
Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and bake uncovered 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
Note that the chicken will get much more browned on the bottom side than on the top.

Serves 4-6.

Caribbean Sweet Pork Salad (aka Cafe Rio Salad)

Caribbean Sweet Pork Salad (aka Cafe Rio Salad)

Serves 6


6 flour tortillas, warmed
2-4 c. cooked white rice, warmed
3 c. Sweet Pork, warmed (see recipe below)
1 can black beans, warmed
1 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces
Pico de Gallo (see recipe below)
Cilantro Ranch Dressing (see recipe below)
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Place a warm tortilla in a bowl or on a plate.
Place approximately 1/3 c. rice, 1/3 c. sweet pork, and 1/3 c. beans on the tortilla.
Place lettuce over beans.
Sprinkle with Pico de Gallo over the salad as desired.
Drizzle with cilantro ranch dressing and sprinkle cheese as desired.
Serve and enjoy!


Serves 12
Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  6-8 hours

4 lb. pork shoulder roast
1 c. Pace picante sauce
2 c. brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Remove pork roast form packaging and wash.  (Don't cut the roast to expedite cooking time.)
In a bowl, mix picante sauce and brown sugar.  Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
In a crock pot, place the roast in the cooker and cover with the sugar mixture.
Place on low-medium heat, cover and simmer.  Check it every hour or so the rotate roast in the juices.  The roast will eventually produce enough juices to make the right consistency, so do not add water or remove any liquid.
Once the roast is fully cooked (6-8 hours), use a fork to separate the meat into smaller segments.  Cover and continue to keep warm.
If it appears to be too juicy, turn slow cooker down to its lowest setting, remove the cover and let it reduce as needed.
Any remaining meat from the meal can be refrigerated, frozen, or canned for future use.


1 c. diced tomatoes (remove seeds)
1/3 c. diced red onion
1 diced jalapeno (at least a Tbsp, but more if you prefer)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 limes, juiced (about 1/3 c.)
1 Tbsp. cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
Refrigerate to keep chilled.


1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch buttermilk ranch dressing (prepare according to pkg. directions)
3 Tbsp. salsa verde (found near traditional salsa in grocery store)
1/4 bunch of cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 c. lime juice
1/8 tsp. tabasco sauce (if desired)

Clean and rinse cilantro and remove large stems.
Pour prepared ranch dressing in a blender and add remaining ingredients.
Blend until cilantro is finely chopped.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until dressing has thickened.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

One word... DIVINE!  I like to make these at Christmastime - I use 3/4 bag of chocolate chips and 3/4 bag of Andes mint chips - either the green or the red ones, and omit the nuts.  YUMMY!

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix (I used a chocolate fudge cake mix)
1 family-size brownie mix (I used a dark chocolate brownie mix)
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1.5 bags of chocolate chips (any type of cookie chips would be good... peanut butter, mint, regular chocolate, etc.)
1-2 cups of nuts (I've used walnuts, but I usually omit nuts altogether)

Mix all ingredients together.. but DO NOT USE A MIXER!  (The dough is very thick and will burn up the motor... mix by hand.)
Roll the dough into balls, or ice-cream scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes (for crunchy cookies, bake for 12 minutes).

Tater-Topped Bake

I've looked at this recipe many, many times, and can't believe it took me so long to make it!  Soooo simple, and soooo DELICIOUS!  Changing the name to "Bake", because I'm not allowed to make casseroles.  :S

Tater-Topped Casserole Bake

prep time: 15 min
total time: 1 hr
makes: 6 servings, 1 cup each

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 lb. (1/2 of 32-oz. pkg.) frozen bite-size seasoned potato nuggets

Heat oven to 375ºF.
Brown meat with onions in large skillet, stirring occasionally; drain.
Spoon into 2-qt. casserole dish.
Mix soup and milk; pour over meat mixture.
Top with layers of vegetables, cheese and potatoes.
Bake 45-55 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and casserole is heated through.

Pretzel Jello Salad

Pretzel Jello Salad

2 c. crushed pretzels
3/4 c. melted butter
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 c. powdered sugar
1 lg. box raspberry,strawberry or blackberry Jello
2 c. frozen berries of any kind

Mix together pretzels, melted butter and 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar.
Press into a 9x13 inch pan.
Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Mix cream cheese, Cool Whip and 1 c. powdered sugar; pour over pretzel crust.
Dissolve Jello in 2 c. boiling water.
Add 2 packages of frozen berries, not drained.
Mix well and pour over cream cheese.
Chill for a couple hours.

Roasted Rosemary & Garlic New Potatoes

Roasted Rosemary & Garlic New Potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped  (I use minced garlic that I keep in the fridge - about 1-2 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves  (I use dried rosemary - just under 1 Tbsp.)
2 lbs. small red potatoes, rinsed and quartered
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In large bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.
Add potatoes and toss until well coated; season with salt.
In large, shallow roasting pan, arrange potatoes in a single layer.
Roast, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are crisp tender.

Serves 4.

Margene's Chicken Elegante

Margene's Chicken Elegante

Chicken Breasts (halved or whole)
8 oz sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
Almond slivers

Prep chicken, cut in half (if desired).
Wrap in bacon slices.
Place in dish.
Mix sour cream and soup.
Pour over chicken.

Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.
Add almond slivers during last hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Add almonds during last 15 minutes.

Pork Tenderloin

This is my mother-in-law's recipe...  it's super-delicious and easy!

Pork Tenderloin

About an hour or two before grilling, rub the tenderloin with olive oil on all sides.
Sprinkle Montreal Steak Seasoning on all sides, rubbing it in as you turn it.
Add some fresh or dried rosemary - about a teaspoon of dried and rub it in too.
Wrap in either foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until grilling time.

Grill it on high for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning it about every ten minutes or so.
Most tenderloins will fall into two pieces so the grilling time can be shortened.

OR, put this in a roasting pan in the oven at 400 for about 40 minutes.

So easy and so good!

For leftovers, put either the whole piece or the chunks on a sheet of foil and pour a lot of barbeque sauce on it, wrap it tightly and freeze. It is easily heated in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes (from a thawed state). Or you can shred the leftover meat, put sauce on it and put it on buns.

Margene's Easy Chicken Parmesan

So, I made this for dinner and Dad really liked it. AND it was easy!  It’s a recipe to feed six, I just cut things in thirds. So here it is, the measurements in ( ) will be what the original recipe called for.

Margene's Easy Chicken Parmesan

Prep Time: 5 min.
Total time: 45-55 min.
Makes: 2 servings (6 servings)

1 c. (1 jar-26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
2 Tbl. (6 Tbl.) grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 small (6 small) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ c. (1 ½ c.) shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Pour sauce into a baking dish (for 2, I used a square glass dish; for 6, use a 9 x 13 glass dish).
Stir in 1½ Tbl. grated parmesan cheese.
Add chicken; turn to coat both sides with sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 – 50 minutes (I zapped it in the microwave for 3 minutes, to make sure they were cooked).
Uncover and top with remaining parmesan cheese and then the mozzarella cheese.
Bake 5 minutes more or until chicken is done (165 degrees) and cheese is melted.

Serve it over your favorite pasta (I just used spaghetti noodles).

Complete meal: Chicken Parmesan over pasta, green beans, salad, garlic bread

And before the pasta is added, it’s only 300 calories!

Next time I’ll plan on having spaghetti later in the week to use up the rest of a large jar (26 oz.) of spaghetti sauce. 

Margene's Broccoli Cheese Soup

Margene's Broccoli Cheese Soup

Saute in soup pot:
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 tbl. margarine

3 c. water
2 chicken boullion cubes or 2 tsp. granules
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Bring to a boil.

1-2 pkg. Top Ramen (chicken) noodles, broken up (I also put in the flavoring packets)
1 pkg. froz. or fresh broccoli (approx. 4-5 stalks), chopped & cooked (I only use the flowerettes, not the stalks)

3 c. milk
1/2 of a 12 oz. brick of Velveeta cheese (I use the light Velveeta)

Heat until the cheese melts.

Butterscotch Brownies/Blondies

These are dense & moist. If you cut them into 1x1 inch squares (bite-sized pieces), you get lots.

Butterscotch Brownies/Blondies

1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. coconut
1 c. butterscotch chips

Cream butter, brown sugar, eggs & vanilla.
Stir in flour, salt & baking powder.
Then add pecans, coconut and butterscotch chips.
Grease & flour a 9x13 pan.
Spread into pan and bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cool frost with a cream cheese frosting.
Then grate a chocolate toffee bar on top.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 c. or less of butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar

Because of the cream cheese, store in the fridge.

Margene's Spicy Hot Punch

Mom's famous throat soothing beverage...

Margene's Spicy Hot Punch

Make a spice bag or use a tea ball:
1 stick cinnamon (or)
1 stick cinnamon, crush 1 whole nutmeg, 1 tsp. whole cloves

Boil spices in 2 1/2 quarts water for 10 minutes.

1 c. sugar
1 sm. can (6 oz.) orange juice concentrate
1/2 c. lemon juice

Serve warm.

(I use the cinnamon stick and cloves)

Don't leave the spice bag or ball in the punch, thinking it will just make it more spicy. It doesn't. It makes it bitter. So, after it has boiled for 10 minutes, remove it.

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn

Boil for 5 minutes:
2 c. brown sugar
2 cubes margarine
1/2 c. Karo syrup
1 tsp. salt

Take off stove and add:
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla.

Pour over:
6 quarts (24 c.) popped corn

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, turning occasionally

Margene's Oatmeal Coconut Crispies

Margene's Oatmeal Coconut Crispies

Makes about 7 doz cookies

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flaked (shredded) coconut

Mix shortening, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.
Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting (not packed).
Blend flour, soda, and salt thoroughly: stir into shortening mixture.
Blend in rolled oats and coconut. (Dough will be soft)
Shape in 2 rolls, each about 2" in diameter.
Wrap in waxed paper; refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut rolls of dough into 1/4" slices.
Place on lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake 6-8 min, or until lightly browned.

Note: If you use self-rising flour, omit soda and salt.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
(Or, make into a cake - whichever you prefer.)

1 package plain white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
1 stick of butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 stick butter
3 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3-4 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and flour & grease 2 9" pans (for cakes) or line your cupcake tin. Place cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend for three minutes (stop to scrape once). Pour into pans and bake for 27-29 minutes (for cake) or 22-25 minutes (for cupcakes). Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Beat butter until fluffy for frosting. Add all other ingredients.

Note: These can be frozen (without frosting) to save for another occasion. They freeze very nicely!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

(previously seen on my blog)
I've made this twice now...YUMMY!

**I adhered to the "Karen's notes" modifications. One pan works well, you just have to bake closer to the 50 min mark, depending on your oven I suppose. You should also do a little more of the topping if you prefer, it ends up baking down in the top, not really a crumbily topping like I imagined. And I added a little extra pumpkin, cuz I knew I wouldn't have anything else to use it for and I wanted it to taste "pumpkin-y" I don't know if it really made a difference. Probably adding more pumpkin would help it be more moist. But it's usually better the second day anyway. Or I guess you could make 2 cakes! I also used fat-free sour cream cuz that's what I had. I doubt it makes a difference and you still have a stick of butter in there.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans

- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine sugars and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the sour cream, pumpkin and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture. Beat on low just until blended. Spread the batter into two greased and floured 8-in. round cake pans. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

I used a mixture of cloves, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for the pumpkin spice and skipped the nuts for you :-). I also used one pan instead of two and I think the thickness was perfect.

Coffee Cake

For the cake:

1 Yellow Cake Mix
4 Eggs
1 pkg. Vanilla Pudding
1/2 cup Oil
1 cup Sour cream


1/2 cup Sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
2 Tbl. Cinnamon
2 Tbl. Unsweetened Cocoa
1 cup of chopped nuts (Optional, but I use pecans)

In a small bowl, mix the cocoa, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine cake mix, eggs, pudding, oil and sour cream until smooth. This mixture will be thick. Layer 1/2 of the cake mix in the bottom of a greased and floured 9x13 cake pan (I use the sugar mixture instead of flour). Spread 1/2 of the sugar mixture, and nuts if desired, over the cake mix. Layer the additional cake mix and remaining sugar mixture and add additional brown sugar to the top if desired. Run a butter knife across the width and length of the pan to create a swirl effect in the cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Avocado Feta Cheese Dip

1 Avocado
3 Roma Tomatoes, Diced
4 oz. Feta Cheese, Crumbled
1/4 to 1/2 Red Onion, Chopped
1 tsp. Fresh Oregano (dried works as well)
1 tsp. Fresh Parsley
1 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 Tbl. Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 Lime, Juiced
1 clove Garlic, Minced
Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Chill and serve with tortilla chips.

Parmesan Chicken

Parmesan Chicken

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 egg
1 1/2 tsp. melted butter
Marinara sauce

Flatten chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.
In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil and melted butter.
In another bowl, beat the egg.
Dip chicken into egg, then coat with crumb mixture.
Place in greased, glass baking dish.
Cook at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce.

Classic Orange Jello Salad

This might be a no-brainer to some, but I wanted to include it, seeing as how it's a family favorite and all...

Classic Orange Jello Salad

1 small pkg orange jello
1 cup boiling water
1 cup orange juice
1 can mandarin oranges, drained

Mix the boiling water into jello powder, until dissolved (approximately 2 minutes).
Stir in orange juice.
Pour in mandarin oranges and stir to spread evenly through liquid.
Chill at least 4 hours until set.

Crash Hot Potatoes

These are perfect with steak or barbeque chicken!

Crash Hot Potatoes
by Pioneer Woman

12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt To Taste
Black Pepper To Taste
Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.
On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Alice Springs Chicken Bake

This dish is inspired by Outback's Alice Springs Chicken.  I've made it a few times now, and it's definitely a family favorite!

Alice Springs Chicken Bake

Serves 4-6

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Pinches of Italian seasoning, thyme, and onion powder
1 can mushrooms, stems & pieces
4 oz. Canadian bacon, diced  OR  cooked breakfast bacon, diced
1 c. chicken broth
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. cold water
16-oz. jar of alfredo sauce
2 c. small shells pasta
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 c. sharp cheddar cheese. grated

Preheat oven to 375F.
Spray 9x9 baking dish or covered casserole dish with non-stick spray.
Cook chicken pieces in olive oil, adding Italian seasoning, thyme, & onion powder to chicken during the last few minutes.  Place in large mixing bowl.
Boil water and cook pasta as directed.  Drain and add to mixing bowl.
Saute mushrooms in a little olive oil, until all water has been released.  Add to mixing bowl.
In same frying pan, saute Canadian bacon a few minutes to release flavor and slightly crisp it.  Add to mixing bowl.  (No need to saute cooked bacon, if used instead, just add to mixing bowl.)
Put chicken broth in sauce pan and boil to reduce by 1/3.  Mix flour with cold water, then slowly whisk into broth and cook 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Whisk in alfredo sauce to broth mixture and heat through.  Add sauce to mixing bowl and stir ingredients together.
Place mixture in baking dish.  Cover with lid or foil and bake 20 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake another 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned and casserole is bubbly.  Enjoy!

Homemade Snickers Bars

These are easy to make, but take quite a bit of time.  They do taste just like real Snickers bars!

Homemade Snickers Bars

Prep Time: 45 min
Total Time: 2 hours 30 min
Makes: 36 bars

Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg

1/3 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
Dash salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Caramel Layer
1 bag (14 oz) caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

1 bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)

Cookie Base 
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. (Skip the cooking spray, and instead line the pan with quick-release foil for easy cleanup and removal of bars from the pan.) In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat all filling ingredients except powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until well blended (filling will be thick). Press filling over cookie base. Refrigerate while preparing caramel layer.

Caramel Layer 
In 2-quart saucepan, heat caramels and 2 tablespoons water over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Stir in peanuts. Spread evenly over filling. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until caramel layer is firm.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once, until melted. Spread evenly over caramel layer. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chocolate is set. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered at room temperature.
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