Thursday, December 29, 2011


I was online last night trying to figure what to make for supper when I came across this recipe. Now the title for this recipe was Beef Mac Casserole, but to me it tasted more like goulash so that is what I decided to call it. This was really easy to make and it helped that I had all these ingredients on hand. I didn't have pasta shells so I used elbow pasta and some rotini pasta. I also didn't have any mozzarella cheese so I used Colby Jack cheese instead. This casserole was absolutely delicious and made a lot of leftovers for Luke and I to take in our lunches the next couple days. I was also excited because I got to use one of my new Bubble and Brown casserole dishes that I got for Christmas. If you ever get a craving for some good, down-home cooking, definitely try this recipe. It has the perfect amount of spice and is great for cold winter nights. ENJOY!


1 (16 ounce) package uncooked pasta shells
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 (3 ounce) package pepperoni, sliced
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 cups tomato juice
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the shell pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 13 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir ground beef, onion, and green pepper until browned. Drain off excess grease. Stir in pepperoni, tomato sauce, tomato juice, oregano, celery salt, onion powder, garlic salt, basil, red pepper flakes, and cooked pasta. Pour into the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving Calories: 315 | Total Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 43mg

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chocolate Mint Cookies

This year I decided to do something different. My mom used to make these cookies when I was younger and I got a craving for them. For these cookies, you need to use the Hickory Farms Melt-away mints. The only issue I ran into was that they don't make the big mints any more, only the minis. I figured the cookies would still turn out, I would just use 3-4 mini mints instead of 1 big one. Unfortunately, the minis did not melt like I expected them to, but the cookies were still delicious and everyone enjoyed them. I think next time I make these, I'll just mix the mini melts in the batter instead of putting them on top of the cookie. I also want to thank my Aunt Rebecca for sending me the recipe so that I could make these wonderful cookies. ENJOY!

2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/3 C. packed brown sugar
3/4 C. butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. water
2 C. semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 pound pastel cream mint kisses

1. Stir together flour and baking soda. In a medium saucepan heat and stir brown sugar, butter or margarine and water over low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips. Heat and stir till chocolate is melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes or until cool.
2. Beat egg into chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture till well mixed. (Dough will be soft.) Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours or till easy to handle.
3. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove and immediately top each cookie with a mint. Return to the oven and bake about 2 minutes more or till cookies are done. Swirl the melted mints with a knife to "frost" the cookies. Remove and cool till mints are firm. Makes about 48.

"Frosting" the cookies
Bake the cookies till they're almost done. Top each with a candy mint and put the cookies back in the oven till done. The mints will melt so that you can spread them over the tops of the cookies like frosting.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oatmeal Gingersnaps

I wanted to try some new cookies recipes this year. I know gingerbread cookies are a big hit around the holidays but I have never made them. I asked Luke if he would prefer gingerbread men or gingersnaps. He voted for gingersnaps. I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I receive an e-newsletter from Taste of Home and for the month of December they had a cookie countdown, where a different cookie was featured each day. The Oatmeal Gingersnaps was the recipe of the day towards the beginning of the month. They are delicious and stay nice and soft. Once again, another hit with my co-workers, especially Heather because she loves ginger cookies! ENJOY!

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Additional sugar

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Roll into 1-in. balls; roll in additional sugar.
Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until set (do not overbake). Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 68 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 46 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.

PS Sorry, no picture on this one :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thai Peanut Noodle Bowl

Luke loves thai peanut sauce so when I found this recipe on Fitness Magazines website, I figured he would really like. And I was right, he did! I didn't realize until I started cooking that this recipe is for 1 serving only. I increased this recipe by 4. This made enough for Luke and I to eat supper and enough for leftovers for work the next day. The edamame is really good, but I think added too much to the bowl. That was basically all I could taste, I wasn't able to enjoy the rest of the vegetables. I also added chicken to the recipe as well. I cooked the chicken before everything else and added that in at the end. If you're looking for something different to try, this would be it! ENJOY!

2 ounces uncooked whole-wheat pasta
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts
2 scallions, sliced

1. Cook pasta according to directions.
2. In a skillet, saute peanut butter, lime juice, garlic and ginger for 1 minute.
3. Add edamame and vegetables and cook for 12 minutes until vegetables are tender; pour over pasta.
4. Top with peanuts and scallions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

It has been a crazy month so far. I am definitely not as organized as I was last year. I am really far behind on all of my baking so I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished in the next couple days. I did get this recipe made the other day. I found the recipe on Taste of Home's website. I had always wanted to try making homemade marshmallows so I did. They were actually very easy to make. I added green food coloring to the mix to make them a bit more festive. It was a lot of fun decorating them with sprinkles and sugar. I also used some baking cocoa on some of them. I haven't eaten one yet, because I was too full from dinner, but I am definitely looking forward to trying one later today. I hope everyone is enjoying all of the preparations for the holidays. I know I am. And now that I have water again, since the valve broke yesterday, I am looking forward to getting a lot of baking accomplished tonight. ENJOY!

2 teaspoons butter
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon clear Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
Optional toppings: melted chocolate, hot fudge and/or caramel ice cream topping
Optional garnishes: baking cocoa, confectioners' sugar, crushed assorted candies, chopped nuts, colored sugars and/or sprinkles

Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil and grease the foil with butter; set aside.
In a large metal bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 240° (soft-ball stage).
Remove from the heat and gradually add to gelatin. Beat on high speed until mixture is thick and the volume is doubled, about 15 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Spread into prepared pan. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.
Using foil, lift marshmallows out of pan. With a knife or pizza cutter coated with cooking spray, cut into 1-in. squares. Dip or drizzle marshmallows with toppings if desired; coat with garnishes as desired. Roll other marshmallows in the garnishes of your choice. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Yield: about 9-1/2 dozen.

Nutrition Facts: 1 marshmallow (calculated without optional ingredients) equals 22 calories, trace fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, trace protein.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

BBQ Turkey Pizza

I know it's been a few weeks since Thanksgiving and all the leftover turkey has been used up, but this is a great way to get rid of those leftovers. If you plan on having a turkey for Christmas dinner this would be something to keep in mind for then. I made a homemade barbeque turkey pizza. I just used what I had in my pantry and fridge to make this come together. I used bisquick for the crust. I baked that first. Mix turkey and BBQ sauce together, spread that over the crust. Top with sliced onions, black olives and cheddar cheese. Pop it back in the oven until the cheese is melted and the everything is heated through. My crust got a little bit fluffier than I would have liked, but it still worked out. I hope you enjoy making your homemade pizza.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

I love this time of year. I just wish it wasn't so cold all the time. I bought everything I need to make all of my goodies for Christmas this past weekend. I made these cookies last weekend for a co-workers birthday. It is another great cookie recipe. Adding the package of pudding, really makes these soft and chewy. I used a package of vanilla instant pudding instead of chocolate and used chocolate chips instead of white chocolate chips. I got rave reviews on these too! I officially started my Christmas baking yesterday. My oatmeal gingersnaps are made and I will be posting the recipe later this week. ENJOY!

1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (3.9 ounce) Chocolate INSTANT pudding
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 package white chocolate chips if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add dry pudding mix; beat until well blended. Add eggs and baking soda; mix well. Gradually add flour, beating after each addition until well blended. Stir in chocolate.
Drop tablespoons of dough, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 min. on baking sheets; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Cake Cookies

My sister sent me this recipe over a year ago and I never got around to trying it. This is a really simple recipe and the cookies are fabulous. I did add a little bit of milk because there was not enough wet ingredients to mix everything together and make it stick together. I also used peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips. Everyone in my office raved about these cookies. If you need to make cookies that are quick and easy, this is the recipe for you! ENJOY!

1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix---or any cake mix flavor you want
1 egg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips if desired

1. Combine all ingredients in the order given. Do not use mixer. Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Make sure they cool a good 10 minuets before removing from baking sheet, they will break.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Pops

I found this recipe while watching Food Network a few weeks ago. I had never made cake pops before and now I know why! These are very time consuming! Don't get me wrong, they are delicious and my coworkers loved them! It's basically a pumpkin bar on a stick! You will most likely need more white chocolate because I did run out. If you ever decide to try these, let me know how they turn out!

Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian
Unflavored nonstick cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar

1 1/2 pounds finely chopped white chocolate (or two 11-ounce bags white chocolate chips)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the cake: Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together. Stir in the milk and vanilla, and then add the oil. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir the batter together, and then switch to a whisk and give the batter a good 3 or 4 beats before pouring it into the prepared baking dish. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the batter and place it in the oven until the cake is golden and springs back to light pressure, 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Divide the cake into quarters and crumble it into a large bowl. Once all of the cake is crumbled, drag 2 forks through the cake in opposite directions to crumble it into a very fine crumb (you can also use a food processor to pulse the cake into fine crumbs). Set aside.

For the frosting: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until airy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir the cream cheese frosting into the cake crumbs and, once the mixture looks like wet graham crackers crumbs, roll it into ping pong-size balls. Place the cake balls on the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour.

Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50-percent power, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (or melt the chocolate over a double boiler, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted).

Remove the cake balls from the freezer and insert a lollypop stick or small appetizer-length skewer into the top of each one (stick it in far enough so it is more than halfway through but doesn't puncture the other side of the ball). Dip each ball into the white chocolate, using a spoon to help coat the underside. Tap the stick against the side of the bowl a few times and swirl the stick to encourage the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the cake pop back on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, so the stick points straight up. Repeat with the remaining cake balls. Let the cake pops stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve that day or refrigerate for up to 3 days and then serve.

I still love to eat cake pops/balls but I don't think I'll be making them again anytime soon. I'm looking forward to all of my holiday baking. Look for those recipes in the coming weeks! ENJOY!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Italian Pasta Salad

It is officially the holiday season and that means there are going to be a lot of parties to attend. One thing that is really popular in my office is to do a potluck. It's a great way to celebrate anything and there is always so much delicious food. This salad is something my mother-in-law always makes for different get-togethers and it is delicious. It's super easy to make and everyone will love it. Once again there are not any actual measurements because it depends on how large of a batch you want or need.

Spaghetti noodles, cooked and rinsed in cold water
Onion, diced
Black olives, sliced
Broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
Baby carrots, sliced
Green pepper, diced
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Pepperoni, diced
Italian salad dressing

Mix the noodles and vegetables. Pour on the dressing, you will probably need an entire bottle. Also remember, if you're making this the day before to have extra dressing because the noodles will absorb some of that moisture.

This is a great salad for parties and get-togethers and it's super easy to throw together. You can use any type of vegetables or noodles you want. It just depends on what you have on hand. ENJOY!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Honey-Ginger Shrimp and Vegetables

November has been a crazy busy month. Luke and I hosted 2 Thanksgiving dinners this year, one for friends and one for family. I definitely plan on being in the kitchen alot in the next month. I need to start figuring out what goodies I'll be making for Christmas! This is a recipe I found that incoporates a lot of Luke's favorite things.

2 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 cups fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/2 cup honey
1 pound medium shrimp-peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Stir in garlic, onions, ginger and red pepper flakes. Quickly cook until the onion softens and just begins to brown. Stir in bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms; continue cooking until the zucchini softens, about 4 minutes.
Stir cornstarch into honey until smooth, then add to vegetables and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

I used frozen green beans instead of zucchini and then I served it over brown rice for more substance and to add a starch to the dish. This dish is the perfect combo of sweet and spicey. More to come tomorrow! ENJOY!!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy November!

It's been a few weeks since my last blog and I just thought it was time for an update.  I don't have any new recipes to add but with the holidays coming up, I will more than make up for that.  I have been cooking, I just haven't tried any new recipes.  Last week, we had Sloppy Joe's and cheesy carrots.  This past Monday, we had a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin that I roasted along with mashed potatoes and gravy.  I'm making sure my hubby stays good and full.

So here is what Luke and I have been up to recently.  We went to Kansas City the last weekend in October to spend time with Dana and Dustin & Jake and Amy.  We had a great weekend hanging out with everyone.  Halloween night, we went to our first NFL game to watch the Chiefs play Monday Night Football.  It was a great game and Chiefs beat the Chargers in overtime.  We don't have a lot of plans for the rest of the year, which we are very thankful for.  We are looking forward to spending time at home.  Hope everything is well with everyone!  I promise more recipes will come very soon!  I'll start gathering my holiday recipes, which I will definitely share.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Slime" Filled Cupcakes

I always try to make some sort of yummy treat for my co-workers around holidays.  With Halloween less than a week away, I thought it was a good time to try out a new recipe.  I made these last night, because I will not be in the office on Halloween.  These cupcakes are a combo of two different recipes and amazingly they turned out delicious.  If you like chocolate, this is a cupcake for you.  The chocolate frosting might be one of the best frosting's I have ever tasted.  I stood in the kitchen licking the beaters clean, it was so good!  Here is the recipe:

2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. water
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 tsp. vanilla extract

Line 30 muffin cups with paper liners and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Add water, oil and vanilla; stir until batter is blended.  (Batter may be thin.)  Spoon into prepared cups, filling 2/3 full.  Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer cupcakes to wire racks after 5 minutes and cool completely.

1/4 c. shortening
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 c. confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
8 drops green food coloring, optional

Cream the shortening, butter, confectioners' sugar, milk and food coloring until light and fluffy.  Using a pastry bag with a small round tip, add the filling to the bag.  Push the tip through the bottoms of paper liners to fill cupcakes (the top of the cupcakes will begin to expand when they are full).

1/2 c. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. baking cocoa
2 Tbsp. milk
Combine all ingredients together and frost cupcakes.

1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
6 drops green food coloring
Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over frosting.

This cupcakes are delicious but they were a little time consuming.  Make sure you have enough time when attempting these.  I would also suggest filling the cupcakes from the top.  This way you don't have to worry about breaking through the paper and the hole on the top will be covered with the frosting later.  Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lasagna Soup

My sister got me interested in this website called  It's a place where people can 'pin' pictures of things they like.  Looking around this website at the different pins, I found this recipe.  It's from a blog called a farm girl's dabbles (  Her blog is awesome and she has a lot of great recipes on there too.  This soup is so delicious and it really tastes like lasagna.  It will be a great dish to make again once it really starts to get cold!  Enjoy!


for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before adding the pasta.  Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Servings:  8

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Candy Corn Bark

I have made this recipe the past 2 years to take up to McGregor for our weekend away every fall.  Luke and I look forward to this weekend every year.  It's nice to be up in the bluffs by the Mississippi River and watching the leaves change.  We even made it to Effigy Mounds this year.  The weather this year was perfect which made it even more enjoyable.  We had a great time with family and ate way too much food.  My candy corn bark was a huge hit with everyone and I never bring home any leftovers.  This is super easy to make and is very festive.



  • 16 Halloween-colored chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups broken small pretzels
  • 1 1/2 pounds white chocolate, broken into squares
  • 2 cups candy corn
  • orange and brown sprinkles


  1. Spread the cookies, pretzels and raisins evenly onto a lightly greased small baking sheet. Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave, stirring frequently until melted. Remove from the heat while there are still a few chunks, and stir until smooth. White chocolate burns easily.
  2. Drizzle chocolate with a spoon over the goodies in the pan, spreading the top flat to coat evenly. Top with candy corn and sprinkles. Let cool until firm. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

This would be a great treat to have the kids take to school for their Halloween parties or even taking it to a party you've been invited to.  I promise it will get eaten.  It's irresistible.  ENJOY!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baked Bean Chili

I found this recipe a couple years ago in a cookbook Luke gave me.  Before this recipe I have never been a big fan of chili because I don't like kidney beans.  This is an interesting take on chili.  It still has the chili taste because of the seasoning packet but it's also a little sweet thanks to the baked beans.  This makes a huge batch so be prepared to feed a lot of people or freeze some of it.  This is being entered in a chili cook-off challenge so I hope the judges like it.  Everyone who has tried this chili so far has loved it.
2 lbs. ground beef
3 cans (28 oz. each) baked beans
1 can (46 oz) tomato juice
1 can (11.5 oz) v8 juice
1 envelope chili seasoning
In a large pot, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer; uncovered for 10 minutes.

It's the perfect time of year to start thinking about different types of soups and stews to make since it's starting to get colder.  I plan on trying out a lot of different soup recipes this winter.  ENJOY!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lobster Bisque

Luke and I went to Chicago this past April for a long weekend.  We had a great time and ate at some really great restaurants.  One night for dinner, instead of ordering an appetizer we both had a bowl of soup.  The soup of the day was lobster bisque.  This is something I had never had before and I absolutely loved it.  I decided, this can't be that hard to make, so I looked around to see if I could find a recipe.  The below is what I found.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 white onion, chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup cooking sherry

  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 can (6 ounce) tomato paste

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 5 cups milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay®)

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 green onion, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked lobster claw, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Directions

    1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the chopped onion, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white wine and sherry. Cook and stir until the liquid has reduced by half. Sprinkle in the flour while stirring to ensure there are no lumps. Once a thick paste has formed, stir in the tomato paste, then pour in the chicken broth and milk. Season with cayenne pepper, black pepper, seafood seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and green onion.
    2. Cook and stir over medium heat until the bisque begins to simmer, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lobster meat, and reheat before serving.

    Nutritional Information

    Amount Per Serving  Calories: 281 | Total Fat: 11.1g | Cholesterol: 42mg

    I love making soups so this was not difficult to do at all and it tastes great.  I added some chopped up mushrooms to cook with the onions, because I love mushrooms and onions together.  I also didn't have any cooking sherry, so I used 2 different kinds of wine, a dry white, like the recipe calls for, and white zinfandel in place of the sherry. This makes a decent batch and is delicious each time you have it.  It's really great served with grilled cheese as well.  ENJOY!

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011


    Since I like to cook and bake so much, I usually offer to bring treats to work if it's one of my co-workers birthdays.  Yesterday was such a day.  My co-worker, Jeff, asked if I could make baklava.  I had no idea what this was when he first mentioned it, but doing some reseach, I found this recipe.  It is really simple and incredibly delicious!  I recommend melting the butter and brushing it on the phyllo dough.  This will save you time and a mess.

    Servings Per Recipe: 18

    1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough (thawed)
    1 pound chopped nuts
    1 cup butter (melted) 
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 cup water
    1 cup white sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup honey

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
    2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
    3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
    4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
    5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

    Nutritional Information
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 393
    Total Fat: 25.9g
    Cholesterol: 27mg
    Sodium: 196mg
    Total Carbs: 37.5g
        Dietary Fiber: 3.1g
    Protein: 6.1g

    Everyone I work with said this was the best baklava they had ever tasted.  I couldn't believe how easy it was to make.  This is one of those recipes where it looks like you spent all day in the kitchen making it, but you really didn't! :)  ENJOY!

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry

    My husband loves stir-fry and I'm sure he wishes I would make it more often.  I usually don't have all the vegetables I want to put it on hand so when I do, we both really get a craving for it.  This is just something I threw together really quick based on ingredients I already had.  No measurements, just tossed together.  I'll try to put some measurements around this so it can be recreated by one of you.

    4 chicken breasts, cut into bit-sized pieces
    1/2 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
    2-3 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
    black pepper
    garlic powder
    minced onion
    minced garlic]
    4 Tbsp honey
    1/2 bag frozen broccoli florets
    1/4 bag frozen mixed vegetbales
    2 C minute rice

    Mix together soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, pepper, garlic powder, onion, garlic and honey.  Add the chicken, toss so chicken is coated evenly.  Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet and add chicken; cook through.  Add frozen vegetables, continue to toss until vegetable are cooked.  Cook minute rice according to package directions.  Toss with chicken and vegetables or serve stir fry over the rice.

    This is a great one dish meal.  You get everything you need, protein, vegetables and a starch.  This has really good flavor and I am looking forward to making it again.  ENJOY!

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Throw-Together Macaroni Casserole

    This is a quick and easy meal to throw together for your family on busy nights.  To me, this is a yummier version of Cheesy Hamburger Helper.  I got this from a friend of mine, who's mom used to make it when she was growing up.

    2 boxes Macaroni and Cheese
    1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
    1 can cream of chicken

    Prepare macaroni and cheese according to box directions.  Mix together the hamburger, macaroni and cream of chicken.  Heat through and serve.

    This meal is so easy to prepare and I'm sure everyone in your family will love it.  I served this with some fresh green beans.  It makes great leftovers for your lunch the next day as well.

    I continue to participate in the Brown Bag Challenge that is being sponsored by the Healthy Eats Blog at  It has been a great way to make sure I always bring something from home to eat for lunch.  I am hoping to make this habit and continue brown bagging my lunch even after the month of September is over.  This is a great way to save money and control your calorie intake and portion control.  ENJOY!

    PS I finished my first 5K on 9/10/11.  I finished in 47 minutes.  I walked most of it but end up running about the last half mile.  My goal for next year is to run the entire thing.  Time to get back in the gym and continue with my healthy makeover!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Simple Quiche

    I have joined a challenge for the month of September called the Brown Bag Challenge.  This challenge is being sponsered by the blog Healthy Eats at  The purpose of the challenge is to encourage everyone to bring their lunch to work Monday-Friday.  This challenge is encouraging everyone to eat healthier and save money, by avoiding eating out at lunch. 

    Everytime I make supper for Luke and I, always try to make sure there will be at least 2 servings of leftovers for lunch the next day; one for me and one for him.  I was on the phone with my friend Caitlin last night and she was in the process of making a quiche similar to this recipe for supper and subsequent lunches this week.  This reminded of a recipe I have and like, but haven't made in awhile. 

    This is a great recipe to use ingredients you have on hand.

    4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and diced
    1 can chicken, shredded
    1 c. mushrooms, canned or fresh
    1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
    1/2 c. onion, chopped
    4 eggs
    2 c. milk
    1/2 c. biscuit baking mix
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. pepper

    Sprinkle bacon, chicken, mushrooms and onions in the bottom of a greased 9" pie plate.  In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk together; add cheese and remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.  Pour into pie plate over bacon mixture.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until center tests done.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.  Makes 8-10 servings.

    Nutrition Facts
      9 Servings
    Amount Per Serving
      Total Fat9.9 g
         Saturated Fat4.5 g
         Polyunsaturated Fat1.3 g
         Monounsaturated Fat3.5 g
      Cholesterol114.6 mg
      Sodium556.7 mg
      Potassium197.1 mg
      Total Carbohydrate9.1 g
         Dietary Fiber0.7 g
         Sugars3.3 g
    Protein13.4 g

    This is a great recipe and the leftovers will be great for breakfast or lunch.  It's also healthy for you as well.  Enjoy!

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Sunshine Angel Food Cake

    As you all have gathered, I love to cook and bake.  For the past couple years, I have been entering baked items for judging at the Iowa State Fair.  I am proud to say I have placed with at least 1 item every year so far.  This year I won 2nd place in the angel food cake class with this recipe.  This recipe was a last minute decision and it was first time I had every made it.  I have to say it was risk that paid off.  Since it was the first time I made this cake, I have no idea what it tastes like but obviously the judges liked it.  I am looking forward to making it again soon so my friends and family can enjoy it as well.

    Sunshine Angel Food Cake

    6 eggs, separated
    3/8 tsp. salt, divided
    ½ tsp. cream of tartar
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 ½ c. sugar, divided
    1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour, divided
    ¼ c. cold water
    1 tsp. baking powder
    ½ tsp. lemon extract

    In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium setting, beat egg whites until foamy.  Add ¼ teaspoon salt, cream of tartar and vanilla; beat on high setting until stiff peaks form.  Mix in ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup flour; pour batter into an ungreased 10” tube pan.  In a separate large bowl, beat egg yolks until lemon colored.  Add water, baking powder, extract and remaining salt, sugar and flour; mix well.  Pour egg yolk mixture over egg white mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Serves 10.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Pasta Carbonara

    I finally got around to trying a new recipe tonight.  I found this on Bethenny Frankel's website (  She has a lot of great recipes and tips for living a healthier life.  And like always, I added my own touch to the recipe.

    1 box whole wheat pasta (I used rigitoni, most people use penne)
    1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
    1 Tablespoon butter
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    6 pieces turkey bacon chopped
    1.5 teaspoons salt
    1.5 teaspoons pepper
    1/3 cup skim or soy milk
    1 egg beaten
    3 Tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
    1 cup frozen peas
    1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped

    1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the penne pasta
    2. In a large skillet, sauté turkey bacon until crispy.  Then coarsely chop.  Place bacon back in the skillet.
    3. Cook pasta al dente, drain, leaving pasta slightly wet (adds texture and thickness)
    4. Add the pasta to the skillet with the bacon, add the remaining ingredients and fold until well mixed.
    5. Garnish with parsley

    I also added a couple dollops of sour cream to make the sauce creamier and some dried basil and thyme for another dimension of flavor.  ENJOY!

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Homemade Butter Rolls

    I made these rolls for Easter this past year and they are absolutely delicious.  I entered this recipe at the State Fair and sadly, they didn't place.  This recipe is extremely easy to prepare.  No kneading necessary.  My Gramma Farm made the best dinner rolls ever.  As far as I know, she never had a recipe.  So for the past several years I have been trying to find recipes that taste as much like hers as possible and I think this recipe comes pretty close.

    Homemade Butter Rolls

    1 C. water
    1 env. active dry yeast
    ½ C. sugar, divided
    3 eggs, beaten
    ¾ tsp. salt
    4 ½ C. all-purpose flour
    ½ C. butter, melted

    Heat water until very warm, about 110-115 degrees.  In a large bowl sprinkle warm water with yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Stir; let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in remaining sugar, eggs and salt.  Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough.  Cover and let rise for about 1 ½ hours, or until double in bulk.  Punch down.  Use the melted butter to coat hands generously; form dough into 2 dozen rolls.  Place rolls into 2 greased 13”x9” baking pans.  Cover and let rise again until double, about 2 hours.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Makes 2 dozen.

    I don't have any pictures yet of these rolls but I will one posted as soon as I make these again. Enjoy!

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Grill Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes

    I am continuing on my quest of finding new ways to prepare some of my favorite meals in a healthier manner.  I am a farm girl and as such I refuse to stop eating meat, no matter how many times I read that red meat should be consumed in very small quantities, I will not give this up!  :)  That being said I came up with a new approach to pork chops.  I cooked these under the broiler but you could easily bake or grill them.  This is just something I threw together so there are no measurements.  Just go based on what types of flavors you like.

    4 pork chops
    salt and pepper
    minced garlic
    chopped chives
    parmesan cheese

    Sprinkle each pork chop with salt and pepper.  Rub the garlic and chives in to the chops and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Place on broil pan and place under broiler to form a nice crust with the cheese.  Flip and repeat the spices.  Cook through.

    I also made mashed potatoes and sweet corn to go along with the chops.  Instead of using milk and butter like I usually do to make mashed potatoes, I used olive oil instead and only used about half the milk I usually do.  They tasted great and the leftovers will make great potato pancakes.  ENJOY!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Grilled Shrimp, Zucchini and Mushrooms

    I love grilled shrimp.  It's quick and easy to prepare and it's good for you.  Since the humidity finally went away, I made the majority of dinner on the grill.

    I bought a bag of raw, frozen, easy-to-peel shrimp.  This is a great thing, because all I had to do was pull of the tails.  They have already been deveined, which is the worst part about cleaning shrimp.  I then skewered the shrimp on bamboo skewers.  For seasoning, I melted 2 tablespoons butter, added garlic salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and a dash of chili powder.  I brushed this over the shrimp before and during grilling.  These skewers will only take a couple minutes on each side to cook.

    I had some leftover mushrooms in the fridge so I pulled out the stems and skewered those as well.  I didn't add any seasonings to them, and just let them cook over the heat of the grill.

    I also grilled zucchini, which is a great way to have zucchini, especially when it's in season.  I sliced the zucchini and coated each slice with olive oil, salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash seasoning.  Grill each slice until tender.

    I also prepared a rice packet so we had something with a little substance for supper.  If you decide to recreate any of these, I hope you enjoy.  Happy grilling!

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Beef Stroganoff

    I made this for lunch this past weekend.  While I was in kitchen, it really reminded me of Saturday's I spent with my gramma.  She is the reason I love to cook and bake.  I spent many Saturday's in the kitchen with my gramma, making everything from strawberry pie to chicken noodle soup.  I love beef stroganoff but I don't make it very often because I usually don't have sour cream in the fridge.  This time I planned ahead and made sure I had everything I needed to prepare the following recipe.

    1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
    1 onion, chopped
    1/4 c. butter, divided
    2 lbs, beef round steak, cut into 2 1/2 in. strips
    1/4 to 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    10 1/2 oz. can beef broth
    3/4 c. water
    1 t. salt
    8 oz. container sour cream
    cooked egg noodles

    In a large skillet over medium heat, saute mushrroms and onion in 2 tablespoons butter.  Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside.  Toss beef in flour, coating thoroughly.  Add remaining butter to skillet and brown beef; add broth, water and salt.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until beef is tender, stirring occaisionally, about 1 1/2 hours.  Add mushroom mixture and sour cream; heat through.  Serve over cooked noodles.  Serves 6.

    I served this with fresh Iowa Sweet Corn!  It was all delicious!  Enjoy!

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Chicken Lasagna

    Luke and I are continuing our training for the 5K on September 10, so this means I need to start finding healthy meals for us.  I found this recipe at  It's fairly easy to prepare, just a little time consuming assembling the lasagna.  Of course I made substitutions and changed the recipe a bit as I went along, but it tastes great and makes a lot of food.

    1  teaspoon  olive oil
    1  pound  ground white-meat chicken
    1  teaspoon  crushed red pepper flakes
        Salt and pepper, to taste
    1  garlic clove, chopped
    1  tablespoon  dried basil
    2  eggs
    2  15-ounce containers  part-skim ricotta
    1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
        Nonstick cooking spray
    3 1/2  cups  prepared marinara sauce
    12 cooked lasagna noodles
    1 bag baby arugula, steamed and drained

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the ground chicken with the red pepper flakes and salt and black pepper to taste. Add chicken and the garlic to the skillet; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
    2. Combine the basil, eggs, ricotta and Parmesan in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
    3. Mist a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the dish. Arrange 4 cooked noodles over sauce and top with half of the ricotta mixture, half of the chicken mixture and half of the arugula; top with 1 cup marinara. Repeat layers, ending with noodles and remaining marinara.
    4. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes.

    Here is what I did differently:
    I didn't have ground chicken, so I roasted some chicken breast and shredded that.  I then added the red pepper flakes, garlic and salt & pepper to the shredded chicken.  I had a really hard time finding arugula so I used baby spinach instead.  I also did not cook the spinach before putting it in the lasagna.  I used the oven-ready noodles, to skip the time needed to cook them.  Everything else was the same.  This is a really good recipe and there are only 408 calories per serving.  Serve with some garlic bread!  ENJOY!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011


    I love breakfast.  I could eat it for every meal if need be.  Last night we decided to have breakfast for supper, so I made pancakes and bacon.  I never seem to remember to pick up bisquick at the store, so I don't have it on hand very often.  This posed a problem when it came time to make pancakes or waffles, so I came up with a recipe that doesn't require bisquick at all.

    2 C all-purpose flour
    1/4 C sugar
    2 Tbsp baking powder
    1 tsp. salt
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 C milk
    1/4 C vegetable oil
    couple dashes of cinnamon
    splash of vanilla extract

    Combine all ingredients and drop 1/4 cups of batter onto a hot griddle.  Cook until golden brown on both sides.  Serve with butter and your favorite maple syrup.

    These are quick, easy and delicious.  Have a good breakfast for dinner!  ENJOY!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    A take on Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

    I got a new cookbook a few months ago for my birthday.  This cookbook is from the Gooseberry Patch Series and I absolutely love all of their cookbooks.  I have about 6 of them right now and I hope to continue to add to that collection.  My cookbooks are definitely going to need their own bookshelf some day.  I like cabage, depending on how it's cooked, so when I found this recipe I thought it would be something yummy to try

    1 lb. ground beef
    1/2 lb. ground pork
    1 onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
    1 C. instant rice, uncooked
    1 head cabbage, shredded
    2 C. tomato juice, divided

    In a skillet over medium heat, brown beef and sausage with onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Drain and set aside.  Combine undrained tomatoes and rice.  Add beef mixture and mix well; transfer to a greased 13"x9" baking pan.  Place shredded cabbage on top.  Drizzle with one cup of tomato juice over cabbage.  Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes; add remaining tomato juice if needed.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake an additional hour, or until rice and cabbage are tender.

    This is a really yummy supper and it makes a ton, so if you make it, be sure to have lots of people around or enjoy lots of leftovers.  I used V8 juice instead of tomato juice and one of my cans of tomatoes had italian seasoning in it so that added a lot of flavor to the dish.  I think that if I had only used diced tomatoes with no additional seasoning the dish would have been a little bland.  Also if you don't have ground pork, you can use 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef.  If you like cabbage and tomatoes, I hope you ENJOY!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Fruity Red Smoothies

    Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than an ice cold, creamy smoothie.  After working out today, I was really craving one.  I received this recipe at one of bridal showers before Luke and I got married.  I have always wanted to try it, so today I whipped up some smoothies.

    1 8 oz. carton strawberry yogurt
    1/2-3/4 C cranberry juice
    1 1/2 C frozen strawberries
    1 C. frozen raspberries
    1-1/2 tsp sugar

    Blend the yogurt and juice together.  Then add fruit and sugar.  Blend until everything is combined.  Serve in tall glasses with a strawberry and raspberry as garnish.

    These were delicious and they are fairly healthy too since yogurt is used instead of ice cream.  Hope this recipe helps you beat the heat.  ENJOY!

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Turkey Manicotti with Chive Cream Sauce

    Luke and I have decided to run a 5K in September and today marked our first official day of training.  Our big reason for doing this is to get healthier and permanently change the way we live our lives.  So along with working out 5 days a week, we also need to start eating healthier.  This is a recipe I found that only has 381 calories per serving and 1 serving is 2 shells.  This makes 6 servings.

    12 dried manicotti shells
    1 8 oz. tub cream cheese with chive and onion
    2/3 C milk
    1/4 C grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
    2 C chopped cooked turkey or chicken
    1 10 oz. pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
    1 4 oz. jar diced pimientos, drained
    1/4 tsp black pepper

    1. Cook manicotti according to package directions, drain.  Rinse with cold water; drain again.  Cool manicotti in a single layer on a piece of greased foil.
    2. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a heavy small saucepan heat cream cheese over medium-low heat until melted, stirring constantly.  Slowly stir in milk until smooth.  Stir in cheese.
    3. For filling combine 3/4 cup of the sauce, the turkey, broccoli, pimientos, and pepper.  Using a small spoon, carefully fill each manicotti shell with 1/4 to 1/3 cup filling.
    4. Arrange filled shells in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce over shells.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.

    Nutrition info:
    381 cal, 17 g total fat (10 g sat. fat), 78 mg chol, 256 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 22 g protein.

    I was unable to find the chive and onion cream cheese so I used the Philadelphia Cooking Creme-Italian Cheese and Herb.  This is a really good meal and it fills you up as well.  ENJOY!