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!!