Chubby Hubby Clusters

I really wanted to make some sort of candy this year for Christmas... I saw these online, and they intrigued me... and did not disappoint!  The whole family loves them!

Chubby Hubby Clusters

Serves: 30

1½ c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter chips
½ c. butter, cut into pieces
¼ c. peanut butter
2 c. pretzel sticks, roughly chopped (I broke them in half)
1 c. salted peanuts

In a large bowl, mix together chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butter, and peanut butter. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, stir, and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth (if it isn't completely melted, return to the microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring after each time).

Add pretzels and peanuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir until they are completely coated in chocolate.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Optional: drizzle with melted peanut butter.

Store leftovers in an airtight container.

One-Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice


This is the dish I made for Connor's 6th Birthday Dinner.  He loved it!  It was delicious, and very easy.  I adapted this recipe from here.

One-Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced finely
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, in bite-sized pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 c. uncooked extra long grain white rice
2 1/2 c. broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces (or smaller)
2 1/2 c. of low-sodium chicken broth
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I like mild)

In a large skillet or pan, sauté onions in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Once onions soften, increase the heat to medium high and add chicken to the pan.

Brown the chicken pieces and add the garlic. Cook for about 1 more minute.

Push chicken to one side of the pan and add additional tablespoon of olive oil to other side.

Add the uncooked rice in the olive oil and sauté it for a couple of minutes.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid.

Cook chicken and rice mixture covered for about 12 minutes.

Sprinkle the broccoli evenly over the chicken and rice mixture and stir to combine.

Continue to cook covered another 8 minutes on low, or until broccoli and rice are both tender.

Remove from heat and stir in half a cup of cheese.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover with a lid, letting it sit for 1-2 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

This recipe might be one of the yummiest desserts I've ever made.  Seriously... it's so good!  Perfect for fall... meant for September.  I adapted this recipe from here.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. sugar

Streusel Topping:
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 c. caramel topping for drizzling after baked

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

CRUST: In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan (greased & floured OR lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil). Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

CHEESECAKE FILLING: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

APPLES: In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cheesecake.

STREUSEL TOPPING: For the streusel topping: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients with clean hands to thoroughly integrate the butter into the mixture. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over apples.

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Turn off oven, and open door to let it begin to cool and firm up. Chill.

Serve cold, and drizzle each piece with caramel topping. Enjoy!
Makes 16 servings.

Connor's Baked "Skabetti"

Connor had one request for his Back to School Dinner this year: "SKABETTI".  Personally, I find regular spaghetti and sauce to be a little boring, so I scoured the internets for a different version, and ended up making this.  It was delicious!  Below is how I modified the recipe to suit our family:

Connor’s Baked “Skabetti”

2/3 of 1 package (16 oz.) spaghetti noodles
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jar (32 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. Italian seasonings
2 eggs
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
5 Tbsp. butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 container (16 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
In a large skillet, brown beef, onion, & garlic over medium heat; drain.
Stir in spaghetti sauce, seasoned salt, & Italian seasonings.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese & butter.
Drain spaghetti; add spaghetti to the egg mixture and toss to coat.

Place half of the spaghetti mixture in a greased 9x13 glass baking dish.
Top with half of the ricotta cheese, meat sauce & mozzarella cheese… and repeat.

Cover and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

I made this delicious pork recipe last weekend for the boys... and we LOVED it!  You could easily adapt it to pork chops (in the crockpot, as well), and we're already making plans to add the glaze to grilled chicken this summer.  (Recipe adapted from here.)

Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

Pork Loin:
1 (2-3 lb.) boneless pork loin
1 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c. water

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast.
Place in slow cooker with 1/2 c. water.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan.
Heat and stir until mixture thickens.
Brush roast with glaze 2-3 times during the last hour of cooking.
Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Chocolate Lasagna

I made this deliciousness last night... To. Die. For.  The whole family loved it!  (I adapted this recipe from here.)

Chocolate Lasagna

Prep Time: 20 min.
Total Time: 1 hr. 20 min. - 4 hrs. 20min.

1 package Oreo cookies (not Double Stuff) - about 36
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened (I used light)
0.25 c. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. cold milk
1.50-1.75 tubs (12-14oz. total) Cool Whip, divided (I used light)
2 small boxes (3.90oz. each) chocolate instant pudding
3.25 c. cold milk
1.50 c. mini chocolate chips

Crush Oreo cookies (food processor, or crush with a rolling pin) into fine crumbs.

Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter with a fork. Transfer the mixture to a 9x13 dish, and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.

Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tbsp. milk and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1.25 c. Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust.  Place the pan back in the refrigerator.

In a bowl, combine pudding mix with 3.25 c. cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until it starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for 5 minutes in the refrigerator so that the pudding can firm up further.

Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

Easy Homemade Chocolate Frosty / Ice Cream

Tastes just like a Wendy's Chocolate Frosty... only 3 ingredients... you're welcome!  (I found this recipe here.)

Easy Homemade Chocolate Frosty / Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 8 oz. tub Cool Whip
1/2 gallon chocolate milk

Mix the sweetened condensed milk with the cool whip and about half of the chocolate milk (or, as much as your mixing bowl will hold).
Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine (I used my Cuisinart - rotates a prefrozen bowl for 30 minutes or so), and fill the remaining chocolate milk to the fill line.
Follow your ice cream machine directions to finish the ice cream.

Perfection!  It tastes just like a Wendy's Frosty, and you didn't even have to leave the house!

Toffee Crunch Cookies

These might be my most favorite cookies that I've ever made!  Perfectly chewy and crunchy, all at the same time.  There isn't any toffee in them, but something magical happens between the Rice Krispies and the marshmallows... YUM!  I made them this past Christmas, and will definitely make them again - but I won't wait until December.  :)  They were a big hit with family and friends.  (I adapted this recipe from here.)

Toffee Crunch Cookies

2 sticks (1 c.) butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. quick oats
1 c. Rice Krispies cereal
1-¼ c. milk chocolate chips
1 c. mini marshmallows

Beat butter with sugars.
Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.
Beat in flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Fold in oats, cereal, morsels and marshmallows.
Drop by 1-2 tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  (I used a small ice cream scooper.)
Bake in a 350ºF oven for 10-12 minutes.

Rosemary & Oregano Chicken

Simple and delicious!  We all loved this meal.  (I adapted this recipe from here.)

Rosemary & Oregano Chicken

2-4 chicken breasts (I used 2 large breasts from Costco)
5-6 small, red potatoes, quartered (enough to fill the dish)
1/3 c. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (I used dried)
1.5 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (I used dried)
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Place chicken and potatoes into a large bowl.
Pour olive oil over top, and stir to coat.
Place coated chicken and potatoes in a large baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining ingredients over the top.
Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.

Italian Chicken and Vegetables

A friend of mine gave me this recipe - simple ingredients, easy prep, delicious results - we all loved it!

Italian Chicken and Vegetables

2 raw chicken breasts (sliced into smaller chunks)
Cubed new potatoes
Green vegetables (fresh or canned green beans, or I used frozen broccoli)
1 packet Italian dressing mix
Olive oil

Arrange potatoes, chicken and vegetables in 9x13 dish.
Sprinkle with dressing mix.
Top with a drizzle of olive oil.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Easy Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

I had never made ribs before these, but this recipe made it look so easy, I couldn't resist.  They did not disappoint!  Super messy, so have wet wipes handy!  (I adapted this recipe from here.)

Easy Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp. ground black pepper

5-6 lbs. baby back ribs (St. Louis-style spare ribs)
2-3 c. favorite BBQ sauce (we prefer Sweet Baby Ray's)

Combine paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Rub the mixture over the meaty side of the ribs.
Place ribs in slow cooker standing them upright with the meaty side against the wall of the cooker.
Pour the BBQ sauce over the ribs.
Cook on low for 4-5 hours until tender.
Remove ribs and allow to sit for 15 minutes (cover with foil).
Cut ribs apart.
Cover with BBQ sauce left in cooker if desired.

Pecan Pie Cookies

I made these at Christmas for Brian... he loved them!  They turned out pretty large, so 1 cookie is plenty to satisfy.  Super easy to make - I definitely want to experiment with other no-bake fillings next time!  (I adapted this recipe from here.)

Pecan Pie Cookies

1 pkg. (regular-sized roll) Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
1-1/2 c. chopped pecans
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. rum extract (optional - I didn't use any.)
1/4 c. powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Prepare muffin top pan with baking spray.  (I don't own a muffin top pan, so I just used a large muffin pan instead.)
Slice cookie dough in 1/2-inch slices.
Place one slice into each area of the pan.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden on the edges.
Place butter, sugar, corn syrup, salt in medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Adjust to medium heat and boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in pecans and vanilla (& rum extract).
Allow cookies to completely cool in pan before removing from pan.
Place 2 heaping Tbsp. of pecan filling into each deep dish cookie.
Allow filling to cool and set up before serving.

Makes 14 cookies.

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

This easy dinner received RAVE reviews from both boys... and it made great leftovers the next day!  (I adapted this recipe from here.)

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

6 pork chops, 0.5” thick (I used 3 thick Costco chops, that I sliced in half to get 6 thinner chops)
1 pkg. dry Ranch Dressing Seasoning
2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup (I used Healthy Request for the lower sodium)

(Instead of the suggested Parmesan Mashed Potatoes below, I just made my traditional mashed potatoes... but I used peeled and cubed yellow potatoes, 3 tsp. minced garlic from a jar, 1/2 c. Costco shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 3 Tbsp. butter, 1/4 c. milk, and 1/3 c. light sour cream... and I used my hand mixer to whip them up.)

4 lbs peeled, cubed potatoes
5 Tbsp butter
1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves roasted garlic (see below)
1-1.5 c. milk
1 Tbsp. salt, or to taste
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Place pork chops, ranch seasoning and soup into a crock pot on low heat for 5.5-6 hours.

About 45 minutes before pork chops are done, place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Place onto stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Drain and transfer to a bowl and use an electric mixer. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed then add butter, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed.

For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk, slowly until your desired consistency.

Scoop mashed potatoes onto serving plates and top with pork chops and soup gravy from crock pot. Garnish with a little parsley on top.

Serves 6.

Roasted Garlic – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bulb of garlic with skins on, wrap lightly in tin foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove from foil and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove garlic from skins, place in a bowl and mash with a fork until completely mashed. Set aside. One garlic bulb will have around 12 cloves.

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This was a quick and easy meal that fed us for 2 nights... the whole family loved it!  (Adapted this recipe from here.)

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 (10.75-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
5 c. milk
2 c. cooked chicken (shredded rotisserie chicken... or I cubed my raw chicken and cooked it up quick in olive oil)
1 (9-oz.) bag frozen mixed vegetables (I used a mix of green beans, corn, carrots, peas)
1 tsp. seasoned salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 c. dry egg noodles

Whisk together soups and milk in your slow cooker.
Stir in chicken, vegetables and seasoned salt. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Stir in uncooked egg noodles 30 minutes-1 hour before serving.

Serves 8.

Best Baked Potatoes

I know baked potatoes aren't rocket science, but I always seem to forget these basic, little tricks... so I thought I'd better immortalize them here.

Best Baked Potatoes

SALT THE SKINS - Wash and poke holes in the russet potatoes, and then generously rub them with kosher salt (all over the skins).  This will create a delicious, crispy skin.

FLUFF IT - Bake the potatoes at 400F for 1 hr.  While each potato is still hot, cover your hand in an oven mitt, pick up the potato and smash it on a cutting board (just to break up the fibers inside).
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