Thursday, November 29, 2012

Easy Chicken Spaghetti

I love spaghetti and anything I can do to change it up and make it a little different, I will do. I have tried a couple different chicken spaghetti recipes. This one is not my favorite but it's still really tasty. Luke liked it because the Rotel gave it a little kick. This recipe is super easy. I bought a bag of Tyson's grilled chicken strips to use and just cut the strips into bite sized pieces. Again, this was another recipe I found on Pinterest.

This weekend I will be working on my list of the different types of Christmas goodies I will be making this year. I so looking forward to baking this year, as I actually have some free weekends to get this done, plus my sister is back in Iowa so we'll be able to have some fun together in the kitchen as well.

Baby R is growing fast and will be here before we know it. It is now less than 90 days to my due date, so we're starting to get the house organized and prepared for our little one to arrive. I hope everyone is getting in the holiday spirit and enjoying time with family.


8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 cups chopped, grilled chicken or 1 large can of chicken
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of mushroom soup (98% fat free or regular)
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup (98% fat free or regular)
1 can (10 ounces) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
8 ounces sour cream
Sprinkling of Parmesan or Mexican-blend cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil pasta as package directs and drain. Mix all other ingredients (except cheese), add to cooked pasta and put in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with your choice of cheese and return to oven to melt.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheesy Onion Burger Buns

I hope everyone is getting ready for Thanksgiving this week. I know I am. I am looking forward to spending time with family and eating lots of good food. I'm making spinach balls, rolls and pumpkin and cherry pies to take to my parents on Thursday. I will be trying a new roll recipe, just have to decide which one. Look for that recipe to be posted in the coming weeks.

I made these for the Iowa State Fair this year and they were delicious. I do think I had an issue with the baking time. I think I left them in the oven a little too long, because they were a little dry and the bottoms were a little too crunchy. Next time I make these, and I recommend if you try to make these too, is to set your timer for 15-20 minutes and check them to see if they are done then. These are delicious with a nice, juicy homemade hamburger.


1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 tsp. granulated sugar
2 C. warm water
2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
½ small onion, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tsp. salt
6-7 C. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese


1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes.
2. Stir in cheese, onion, and salt into yeast mixture.
3. Using a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, beat in flour, ½ cup at a time, until a stiff dough forms.
4. On a floured surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour to prevent sticking.
5. Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a damp cloth; let rise in a warm place until double, 1 hour.
6. Grease 2 baking sheets. Punch down dough. Roll into a rope; cut into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; flatten balls into 4-inch buns.
7. Place buns, 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Cover again; let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 45 minutes.
8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
9. Brush buns with oil. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden, 25 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

If you ever have any questions on any of my recipes, please don't hesitate to post a comment and I will try to answer them as best I can.!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Trix Treats

My department at work had a big potluck for Halloween. I decided to make something different. This recipe comes courtesy of Pinterest once again. I never would have thought of using any other cereal besides Rice Krispies to make marshmallow treats. This recipe has you using Trix instead of Rice Krispies and they are oh so good. Everyone was presently surprised and they disappeared quickly. I did cut this recipe in half, as I didn't realize it called for a 400 g bag of marshmallows. I recommend making Rice Krispie Treats like you normal, just use Trix instead.

On another note, Baby R is growing fast. I can't believe this little one will be here in about 15 weeks. Luke and I are so excited to become parents and we're starting to get the baby's room organized. I still have a lot of things to go through before we can even think about moving in the baby stuff. Good thing we don't have a lot yet. :)

1 x 400g bag of mini marshmallows
10 cups Trix cereal
1/4 cup butter

Place the butter and marshmallows in a glass bowl and pop in the microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes to melt.
Stir well.
Mix in your trix and stir.
Pour into a large greased pan (9 x 13 or 11 x 11) and press down with a spoon.
Cut into squares.

If you spray your spoon with non stick spray before using it to press down the krispies it works really well.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Old Settlers' Baked Beans

I am already looking forward to the holiday season. I have a lot of new recipes I really want to try. Luckily, Luke and I will be able to spend more weekends at home and work is starting to slow down a bit for me as well. That being said, I have a lot recipes stocked up that I need to get posted to share with all of you. This will make room for all the new recipes I plan on trying in the next couple of months.

My mom has a recipe similar to this that she calls Picnic Beans. She'll make it in the crockpot and take to family gatherings. I made this recipe earlier this year because I had a craving for it and I had all the ingredients on hand. I did end up using a full pound of hamburger, because I really don't know what to do with a leftover half pound of hamburger. This recipe is great served with a salad and any type of bread. The cornbread recipe I posted last month, would be perfect with this dish.


1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 (16 oz) can pork and beans, undrained
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16 oz) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained


In a large skillet, cook beef, bacon and onion until meat is done and onion is tender. Drain any far. Combine all remaining ingredients, except beans. Add to meat mixture; mix well. Stir in beans. Place in a greased 2-1/2 qt. casserole dish. Bake covered at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until heated through.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spinach & Tortellini Crock Pot Soup

I have been spending a lot of my free time on Pinterest recently. I have been getting a lot of great ideas for easy suppers, Christmas ideas and baby ideas. I definitely think I'm starting to get into the nesting phase of my pregnancy that everyone keeps talking about. The busyness that has been our lives for past several months is finally starting to cease, so I am looking forward to spending more time in my kitchen and being more creative with other crafts!

I am definitely going to be using my crock pot more often. I know the slow cooker liners have been available for awhile but I've never given them a try. This past weekend while visiting some friends we made a breakfast casserole in the crock pot and used one of these liners. They are fabulous and really make clean-up so easy! So I definitely recommend using one every time you use your crock pot.

This recipe calls for white sauce mix and I wasn't entirely sure what this meant so I picked up a packet for country gravy. I would recommend this over chicken or turkey gravy mix. It already has the pepper in it, so you don't have to add more at the end.


1-1 1/2 - 2 ounce envelope white sauce mix
4 cups water
1-14 ounce can vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1- 7 or 8 ounce package dried cheese tortellini (about 2 cups)
1-12 ounce can evaporated milk
6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves or torn spinach
Ground black pepper (optional)
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)


1.Place dry white sauce mix in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Gradually add the water to the white sauce mix, stirring until smooth. Stir in broth, mushrooms, onion, garlic, basil, salt, oregano, and cayenne pepper.

2.Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

3.Stir in dried tortellini. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 1 hour more or high-heat setting for 45 minutes more.

4.Stir in evaporated milk and fresh spinach. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

About a month ago we had a cupcake war at work. My friend, Liz, sent me this recipe and they were a hit. They did not win the cupcake war, but my co-workers loved them and we raised some money for the United Way in the process. As always, my co-workers are more than willing to gobble up any yummy goodies that I bring in to share. I don't think I've brought home leftovers yet, which is good mine and Luke's waistline. Speaking of waistline's mine is continuing to expand, thanks to our little peanut who is continuing to grow. The baby has finally gotten big enough that I can feel him or her moving every day. The baby was moving and kicking so much last night that Luke was actually able to feel the baby move. We are super excited that in 4 short months we will be meeting our little bundle of joy. Of course, I will continue to cook and bake once I become a mommy, but the types of recipes will most likely be changing. The recipe for the cupcakes is below.


1 boxed chocolate cake mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Chipotle Chili Pepper
- Mix per box instructions, adding the cinnamon and chipotle pepper
- Bake per box instructions
11/2 cup butter, room temp
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Beat butter on low for 30 seconds. Add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low. Add 3 Tbsp cream. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Beat on medium for 1 minute. Blend in 1 Tbsp of cream in frosting is too thick.

Once cupcakes are cooled, frost them. I garnished the cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles and a cinnamon stick. I also thought it would be cute to garnish with dried red chili but I was unable to find them in the short amount time I had to get prepared for this recipe.


Friday, October 26, 2012

All-American Corn Bread

Our busy schedule has continued. Last weekend, my sister got married and Luke and I were both part of the wedding party. I think we are all still trying to recover from an exhausting but wonderful weekend. We are looking forward to spending time with the new Mr. and Mrs. Ihle when they return from their honeymoon in Mexico. This weekend we have another wedding to attend, but this time we are just guests, so Luke and I looking forward to celebrating with everyone.

I love corn bread but I've never made it completely from scratch before. Every other time I've made corn bread, I've just used a box mix. My mom was going through all of her cookbooks and found some little booklets that she didn't want any more. I found this recipe in one of those booklets. I love finding recipes that can be baked using a cast iron skillet. Corn bread is the perfect recipe for making in a cast iron pan.

2 cups biscuit mix
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. Scald (heating to just below its boiling point) butter and cream; add to dry ingredients. Mix in eggs. Pour into a greased and floured 9-in or 10-in cast-iron skillet or a 13-in x 9-in x 2 in baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Luke could not get enough of this and asked for a big helping for lunch the next day. Be sure to have honey on hand because it makes the perfect after dinner snack as well. ENJOY!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I had a great year at the Iowa State Fair this year. I entered 15 or 16 items and placed with 4 of them. Some of my recipes will be posted in the next couple of days and some we're posted a while ago. My mother-in-law found this recipe for me and I tried it out for the first time for the fair. The recipe won 3rd place in the Cooking with Iowa Wine Class. The rules were to make a dessert using a wine made in Iowa. I used Sven Red Wine from Snus Hill Winery. This is the winery Luke and I got married out and they have some of my favorite wine. Can't wait to have a glass after the baby is born. This recipe is really simple and tastes more like a brownie than a cake but it's still amazing. Be sure to keep an eye on it while it's baking. If it bakes too long then it's really dry and crumbles a part. I recommend dusting with powdered sugar or making a glaze for the cake.


6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup  firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup  white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup  red wine, any kind you like*
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almost Shrimp Bisque

I'm back!!! I have finally found some time to update my blog and all of you with my very busy life. As I mentioned in my last post, we moved to Grimes and are loving it. We love being so much closer to family and friends. A few weeks after moving, we found out that we are expecting baby #1 in February. We are beyond thrilled to become parents and cannot wait to meet our little one. My due date is February 24th so we are half-way there. Luke got a job working at Cintas, which is located here in Grimes, so it's nice that he doesn't have far too go to get there. We haven't been home much since moving. It seems we've always had something going on. We're looking forward to things slowing down before the baby gets here.

I have mentioned this before but Luke loves soup. I am always looking for new recipes to try. I found this recipe online and it was super easy and very delicious. The directions call to blend the soup but I didn't feel like messing with the blender so I just left everything whole. It was delicious the way I made and I'm sure it would be just as good blended as well. I would recommend using an emulsion blender instead of an actual blender if you have one, less mess that way. Serve with crusty bread or breadsticks.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 pound cooked or raw shrimp, tails removed, cut in pieces
2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot chile sauce, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


In saucepan, heat olive oil. Add red pepper and onion; saute on low heat until soft, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp, half-and-half, tomato sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter.
Put 1/2 hot mixture in a blender and carefully process at high speed about 10 to 15 seconds, or until no large pieces remain. Transfer bisque into soup bowls.
Repeat with remaining mixture. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.
Optional garnishes: herbs and additional shrimp.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sugared Orange Rolls

It has been over a month since my last post and it has been one hectic month. We moved out of our townhouse in Waterloo and into a duplex in Grimes. We are still in the process of unpacking but after tomorrow we should be just about done. The good news is that my kitchen is completely unpacked and I am finally able to cook again (when I'm not working).

Last weekend we had some friends stay with us, and I was looking for something to make for breakfast and came across this recipe. It is super easy and I just happened to have all the ingredients I needed.


1 C. sugar
1/2 C. butter
1 T. orange zest
3 71/2 oz. tubes refrigerated biscuits
Garnish: powdered sugar


Combine sugar and butter in a small saucepan; heat over low heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Stir in orange zest. Arrange biscuits in a lightly greased Bundt pan; pour orange mixture over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden. Invert onto a plate and allow to cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serves 6 to 8.

More to come...ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sizzling Fajita's

Since I've been working in Des Moines and only going back to Waterloo on the weekends, Luke has been deprived of my good cooking. Last week, he requested that I make fajita's. It worked out well as it was Cinco de Mayo this past Saturday. This recipe was the recipe of the day on Food I followed the recipe for the marinade, but I didn't cook everything according to the directions. I cooked the chicken first in the saute pan. Once the chicken was done, I removed that from the pan, then added the vegetables. I also added fresh mushrooms, along with the peppers and onions. After the veggies were almost done cooking, I added the chicken back in to heat everything together. These were delicious and also created leftovers for my wonderful husband so he was very happy about that. All in all, this was a very easy recipe. I'm looking forward to making it again, but using shrimp instead. Enjoy!

(Courtesy of Paula Dean)

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds meat (boneless, skinless chicken breast, skirt steak or peeled and deveined shrimp)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 lime, juiced, for topping
Sour cream, for topping
Salsa, for topping
Guacamole, for topping
Cheddar cheese, shredded, for topping


In a heavy duty resealable plastic bag, combine 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper and your choice of meat. Seal and toss the bag around to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator. *Cook's Note: 15 minutes for shrimp, 20 minutes for chicken and 1 hour for skirt steak.

Preheat your cast iron servers in a preheated 400 degree F oven for at least 20 minutes, to get a good sizzle when you plate the fajitas.

Heat the outside grill or a large indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and place it on the hot grill, discard the marinade. Cook chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, skirt steak about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare and about 2 minutes for shrimp. Slice the chicken and steak into strips if you are using.

In a large skillet heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and fry the onions and bell peppers until crisp-tender with some salt and pepper.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven with the servers for 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, remove the cast iron servers from the oven and quickly arrange the meat and peppers and onions on it. It will immediately start to sizzle from their fat and moisture. Serve sizzling immediately with the warm tortillas and other accompaniments.

Monday, May 7, 2012


In honor of Cinco de Mayo this past Saturday, I made homemade fajita's (recipe to follow in next post) and guacamole for Luke and I to enjoy. I slowly but surely beginning to like guacamole. I figured if I made it myself, I could control the ingredients and the spice level. The last time I had guacamole, it seemed almost like a soup and not a dip. The avocados had just been mashed way too much. I think this recipe turned out very well. Luke seemed to like it. I forgot to buy cilantro when I was at the store, so that was not included in my dip, but I'm sure it could only make it better. I think this dip would be great to serve at a party, just make sure to keep the lid on so it doesn't turn brown. :) Also, letting it sit in the fridge, definitely enhanced the flavors.


3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)


In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately.


In other news, Luke and I officially have a place to live in the Des Moines area. We will be living in Grimes. We found a great duplex to rent that is very similar to what we have now. Luke only has 3 more weeks at GMAC and we are definitely looking forward to being able to live together again. We are able to move in starting June first. So we will be spending Memorial Day weekend, packing and moving. I am definitely not a fan of this in between living thing I am doing. Half of my things are at my parent's house and half of my things are in Waterloo. The end of the month cannot get here fast enough. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ham and Green Bean Casserole

I have officially made it through my first week at Wells Fargo. I spent that first week in training, so my brain was on overload by the end of the week. It's a lot of new information to learn in a short amount of time. I am enjoying being in Des Moines though. Luke is still in Waterloo. He plans on working at GMAC through the end of May. I am still trying to find a place for us to live, so hopefully I'll find something soon. Luke is also still looking for a job around Des Moines too. He keeps applying so we hopeful he'll find something soon.

When Luke and I got back from Chicago at the beginning of the month, I decided we still needed to have an Easter dinner. The Monday following Easter, I made a ham steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and focaccia bread. I knew I definitely needed to do something with the leftover ham and I of course wanted to try something new. I found this recipe online and decided to give it a go. It was delicious and I definitely look forward to making it again. I didn't have any cream of celery in the pantry so I used cream of mushroom instead. This is a great way to use leftover ham. ENJOY!


3 tablespoons butter
3 cups cubed bread
1 onion, minced
3 cups cooked ham, cut into one inch cubes
1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups instant rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 (15 ounce) can green beans, drained
6 slices American cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Oil a 13"x 9" baking dish with spray cooking oil.
Place the bread cubes in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet, and pour half over the bread cubes. Toss cubes and set the bowl aside.
Add the onion to the remaining butter in the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped ham. Stir in the cream of celery soup and the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat.
Put the rice and water into the baking dish. Top with the drained green beans. Then spoon the ham mixture on top of the green beans. Cover with the slices of American cheese, then sprinkle over all with the bread cubes.
Bake uncovered until cheese melts and edges bubble, about 45 minutes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Banana Spice Bread

The best way to use overly ripe bananas is to make banana bread. Last week I had some bananas sitting on the table that had gotten too ripe for me to eat, so I decided to make some banana bread. I have not found a favorite banana bread recipe, so I'm always trying new ones. This recipe is a different take on banana bread and I must say it was delicious. The cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg really add another dimension to what would normally be just plain banana bread.


1/2 cup hazelnuts or walnuts (optional)
3 medium bananas
3/4 cup sugar
7 Tbsp butter, melted
1 large egg
2 Tbsp half-and-half
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. Finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside
2. Place the bananas in a large bowl. Mash the bananas. Stir in the sugar, melted butter, ground hazelnuts, egg, half-and-half and vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just blended.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of oven until the bread springs back lightly when touched in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I have been trying out some new recipes, so I will gradually be getting those added to my blog. I can enroll to compete in the Iowa State Fair again starting May 1. I definitely need to be thinking about what I want to enter. I am definitely open to suggestions. :)


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Herb and Garlic Focaccia Bread

I love focaccia bread. My favorite recipe of focaccia bread won first place at the Iowa State Fair in 2010. This is a different recipe and it is so delicious with all of the different herbs you can put in it. This is a recipe I found in a new cookbook. I have only tried 2 recipes out of it so far and they have both turned out fabulous. I accidentally left it in the oven a couple minutes too long, so it got a bit crispier than I would have liked, but it was still delicious.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil, divided
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 tsp mixed garlic


1. Combine the flour, 1 Tbsp basil, the yeast, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 1/2 cups warm water (105 degrees-115 degrees F) and the oil. Stir until a soft dough forms, adding more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, if needed.
2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Form the dough into a 9-inch wide circle. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a pizza pan or large rimmed baking sheet. Place the dough on the prepared pan.
4. Combine the butter, the remaining basil and the garlic in a small bowl. Mix well. Make 4 score lines in the dough and spread with the butter mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

I didn't have fresh herbs, so I used dried herbs and they work just as well. You will get more flavor using fresh, but dried herbs are much easier to store.

Tomorrow is my last day at GMAC. It will be a bittersweet moment. I am looking forward to the new adventure that awaits me at Wells Fargo in Des Moines, but I am really going to miss my co-workers and everyone I have become such good friends with over the past couple of years. Luke and I are still looking for a place to live but we do have some feelers out, and it will be easier to go look at places when I'm down there on a more regular basis. My parents are definitely looking forward to having me cook for them. I'm excited to have some new guinea pigs. :)


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip

I got this recipe from one of my co-workers. She brought it to a potluck and it was a huge hit. It is definitely best served with apples. I am not a big fan of graham crackers so I wouldn't eat those anyways. I also didn't wait for it to turn into an actual cheese ball. I just mixed everything together and left it as is in the bowl. It was really ease to do and super delicious. I made for a party I went to recently and it was a loved by everyone.

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese at room temp
1 c powdered sugar
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
3 T brown sugar
3/4 c chocolate chips
3/4 c peanut butter chips
Graham crackers, apple slices

1. Beat cream cheese, sugars, peanut butter in large bowl until blended.
2. Spoon into large plastic wrap, bring in all 4 corners & twist tightly forming into a ball.
3. Freeze 1 hour 30 min or until firm enough to keep shape. Place peanut butter & chocolate chips in flat dish, remove plastic wrap from ball & roll in chips until completly covered. Pressing in if needed.
4. Cover & freeze 2 hours until almost firm. If overnigh let thaw @ room temp for 20-30 minutes.

Now, on to some non-food related business. I got a new job with Wells Fargo in Des Moines. I start my new job on 4/16. So this means that Luke and I will be moving to Des Moines by the end of May at the latest. Luke is still looking for a job, but we are confident he will find one soon. Right now, our biggest concern is trying to find a place to live. Luke will continue to work at GMAC in Waterloo until he finds another job or our lease is up. During the week, I get to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad! :) We are very excited, a little nervous and kind of stressed for all of the new changes taking place. We are looking forward to being closer to family and friends to be able to spend more time with them. More to come as we finalize our plans. This weekend we're off to Chicago with some friends for a mini vacation. It should be a lot of fun and we have lots of fun things planned. ENJOY!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marinated Pork Chops & Mustardy Green Beans

I set out some pork chops last week to thaw while I was at work. I hadn't really decided what I wanted to do with them at that point. I just knew that's what we would be having for supper. While on break at work, I was searching online to see what kind of recipes I could find that used pork chops. I found this marinade recipe. I decided it would be perfect, considered they didn't need to marinate that long. I followed the recipe, but I also added some minced onion, black pepper, olive oil and red pepper flakes. I broiled the pork chops instead of grilling and I served them with mustardy green beans and a noodle packet. The recipe for the green beans is below. I used canned green beans because that's what I had, but fresh or frozen would be ideal. The beans won't fall apart as easily this way, but they still taste great no matter what type of green beans you use.

I had never made the mustardy green beans for Luke before and he really like them. He is a big fan of mustard so that probably helps. Since spring is almost here, I am looking forward to all of the fresh produce that is going to become available. I am also looking forward to visiting the local farmer's market. Luke and I are hoping to move to the Des Moines area within the next couple of months. We are both busy applying for jobs, so hopefully something will become of that.

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 pork chops

In a shallow dish, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey and garlic powder. Place chops in dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate for 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat grill to high heat, and lightly oil grate.
Grill steaks 5 to 8 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.

Mustardy Green Beans

4 cups green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the green beans until just tender; drain. Heat olive oil, mustard, and salt and pepper in pan. Place the beans back in the pan, turning to coat. Serve warm.

I hope you enjoy trying something new!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brownie Swirl Cheesecake

This is the very first cheesecake I've ever made that didn't come in box where all you had to add was milk. I definitely need to practice this a bit more. But the good news is that it came out all right and was incredibly delicious! I had to borrow a springform pan from a co-worker, so I definitely need to get one of my own. My birthday is next month, so I will be adding that to my wish list. This was a pretty easy recipe, especially since the crust is made from brownie mix. You just have to patient enough for it to bake and cool before eating it. I'm hoping to be able to spend more time in the kitchen this coming week, but I did have 2 new classes start that will be keeping me busy. I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend, enjoying the warm weather. Spring is on it's way! :)


1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)

4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Fresh raspberries and chocolate curls, optional


Prepare brownie mix according to package directions for chewy fudge brownies. Set aside 2/3 cup brownie batter; spread remaining batter into a greased 9-in. springform pan.
Place pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. Bake at 350° for 25-28 minutes (brownies will barely test done). Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla on low speed just until combined. Stir 1/3 cup into reserved brownie batter; set aside. Spoon half the cheesecake batter into crust; dollop with half of reserved chocolate cheesecake batter. Repeat layers. Cut through batter with a knife to swirl the chocolate cheesecake batter.
Place in a larger baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan. Bake at 325° for 1-1/2 hours or until surface is no longer shiny and center is almost set.
Remove pan from water bath and foil. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with raspberries and chocolate curls if desired. Yield: 16 servings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crockpot Lasagna

I did not realize it had been so long since my last post. I have quite a few recipes to get uploaded, as I have tried some new ones. I made this lasagna on Sunday. I found the recipe on Taste of Home's website. I have tried a lot of recipes from their website recently and I have not found a bad one yet. Since Luke was gone all weekend, enjoying some time with the guys, I decided this would be the perfect thing to throw in the crock-pot so that it was ready and waiting by the time he got home. This was really easy to throw together. I used ground lamb instead beef, but only because I felt like having lamb. The lasagna was delicious and I had some Texas Toast in the freezer. So I just threw that in the oven to serve with it. This recipes makes a ton, so we have leftovers to last us the week. I guess I know what I'm eating for lunch every day this week. Look for more recipes to be added this week as I try to get myself more organized. I have 2 new classes starting this week, so that will keep me busy along with work. ENJOY!!


1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package (8 ounces) no-cook lasagna noodles
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt and oregano.
Spread a fourth of the meat sauce in an ungreased 5-qt. slow cooker. Arrange a third of the noodles over sauce (break the noodles if necessary). Combine the cheeses; spoon a third of the mixture over noodles. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat sauce.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until noodles are tender. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Nutritional Facts:
1 serving (1 slice) equals 482 calories, 20 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 84 mg cholesterol, 1,317 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 38 g protein.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red Velvet Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day! I think Valentine's Day is a fun holiday. Regardless if you have a significant other or not, you can still go out and have a good time. You can send your friends and family valentines and there are so many delicious desserts you can make to share with your friends, family and co-workers. My office is having another potluck today, so I decided to make a valentine themed dessert. I came across this recipe yesterday. I have always wanted to try a red velvet recipe, but up until last night, I never got around to it. These cookies are a great alternative to red velvet cake (though I am looking forward to attempting one some day). This recipe makes a lot of cookies and they stay nice and fluffy thanks to the whipped egg whites. I did not crumble up any cookies to sprinkle on top. I needed to have more cookies this time around. I hope everyone has a terrific Valentine's Day. ENJOY!

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons red food coloring
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups butter, softened
3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk

1. In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and food coloring.
2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
3. In another bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
5. In a large bowl, beat the butter, confectioners' sugar and salt until blended. Add enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Crumble eight cookies and set aside.
6. Frost remaining cookies; sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 1 month. Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.

Nutritional Facts
1 cookie equals 124 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 71 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Dorothy Lynch was my favorite salad dressing when I was kid. It was the only dressing I would eat on my salads. Several months ago, my sister told me she had made meatloaf using a recipe she found on the Dorothy Lynch bottle. That got me thinking as to what other recipes were available using this dressing. I checked out the website and found this recipe of Corn and Shrimp Chowder. It is absolutely delicious. The dressing gives it a sweet taste at first and the cayenne pepper gives it a little kick in the end. I had also never cooked with arugula before. I have always heard that it has a peppery taste and I really enjoyed it. It helped to balance out the sweetness of the dressing. I am hoping to have the time to try some more new recipes this weekend. If not, I will be next weekend as I make some good snacks for the Super Bowl. ENJOY!

1 ½ - 2 cups frozen sweet corn kernels
4 slices bacon
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tsp salt1 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups 2% milk
1 cup Dorothy Lynch Home Style Dressing
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups baby arugula or other peppery greens (mache, mustard or turnip greens)

Cook bacon in large Dutch oven. Remove from pan, leaving drippings in Dutch oven. Drain bacon and crumble. Add onion, corn, salt, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper to bacon drippings. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add flour, whisking well. Cook for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, milk and Dorothy Lynch. Cook 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Stir in arugula. Serve with crumbled bacon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken-Barley Stew

This past weekend, Luke and I went to Barnum, Minnesota to visit with friends for a long weekend. We had a great time and luckily didn't freeze. Barnum is about 25 minutes away from Duluth, Minnesota, so it's a ways up there. I knew that it would be cold up there so I thought a hearty stew would be good for us to eat (The temperature was -17 degrees F when we arrived at our destination on Thursday night). This recipe was featured in one of the recipe newsletters I get emailed to me every week. This is a super easy dish, especially since you just let sit in the crock-pot all day. We had a hard time finding barely at the store, but we eventually found and it is great substitute for rice. This stew will definitely fill you up and keep you nice and warm. I added some additional seasonings to spice things up and bring out the flavor of the vegetables. I hope everyone is keeping warm this January. Waterloo received over 7 inches of snow on January 20th. Luke and I had some shoveling to do when we got home on Monday. Now we're back in the swing of things and have no travel plans until mid-February. We're looking forward to spending some time at home. ENJOY!!


3 large carrots, sliced (2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 bone-in chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pound), skin removed
3 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup uncooked medium pearled barley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (14.5 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1. In 4 to 5 quart slow cooker, place carrots, celery and onion. Place chicken breasts on vegetables. Add remaining ingredients, except parsley and thyme.
2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 9 hours.
3. Remove chicken from cooker; place on cutting board. Remove meat from bones and chop into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces; discard bones.
4. Stir chicken, parsley and thyme into stew. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 10 to 15 minutes longer or until chicken is thoroughly heated.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 220 (Calories from Fat 25); Total Fat 2 1/2g (Saturated Fat 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 40mg; Sodium 470mg; Total Carbohydrate 30g (Dietary Fiber 6g, Sugars 6g); Protein 19g. Daily Values: Vitamin A 140%; Vitamin C 10%; Calcium 8%; Iron 15%. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Very Lean Meat. Carbohydrate Choices: 2.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pretzel Bites

I found this recipe on Pinterest. If you don't know what Pinterest is, you need to get on board. Pinterest is a ton of fun. You can find ideas for anything from crafts to recipes, to home projects and picture ideas. I found a lot of recipes and other ideas here, thanks to other people pinning things they like. I am already looking forward to spring, especially with the 6-10 inches of snow they are predicting for tomorrow. I still have some cold weather recipes I am looking forward to trying. I hope everyone is staying warm as the winter weather continues.

Texas size Rhodes Frozen roll dough (follow the directions on the package to thaw the dough)
*as many as you like – each roll makes four bites
coarse salt, Parmesan

Take a thawed roll. Cut it in four equal sections.

Place dough bites on greased sheets. I placed five across and five down on large baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and let dough rise until double in size (about 35-45 minutes).

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. When dough has risen, plop about 10 pieces into the boiling water, tossing gently for about 45 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon, and place bites on paper towels to drain slightly.

Move bites to greased baking sheets, and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until done and golden brown.
Brush bites with melted butter, sprinkle with Kosher or Sea Salt, garlic and toss in Parmesan cheese. You can also toss in any other toppings you like as well, such as cinnamon and sugar.

These were delicious and really not hard to make. They're great for sharing and would work perfectly to serve at your Super Bowl Party. ENJOY!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ham & Cheddar Hashbrown Bake

I am participating in another monthly challenge this month called Healthy Every Week. This challenge is hosted by the Healthy Eats food blog on The challenge for week 1 of January was to eat breakfast every day. I ate a lot of oatmeal, but luckily there are a lot of different flavors and it's the perfect time of year to be eating oatmeal. I had been having a craving for a good egg bake and I found the recipe in my Christmas cookbook. It's really easy to make, especially since you don't have to let it sit in the fridge overnight like most egg bakes. I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers for breakfast this week. I hope everyone is have a fabulous beginning to the new year. ENJOY!

3 c. frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed
1/3 c. butter, melted
1 c. cooked ham, diced
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
salt and pepper to taste

I also added chopped mushrooms and diced onions, just to add more flavor to the dish. I also used 4 eggs instead of 2 because I like eggs and really wanted to be able to taste them.

Press hashbrowns between paper towels to remove excess moisture. Press into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9" round baking pan; drizzle with butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Combine the ham, cheese and green pepper (mushroom and onion); spoon over baked crust. In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour over ham mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until center tests done. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. If you use 4 eggs, the casserole will need to bake for about 45 minutes in order for the eggs to be completely cooked.

On another note, I also made liver and onions for my wonderful husband tonight. He turned 29 on the 6th and he loves this dish. This just goes to show how much I love him, because liver is not my cup of tea. I bought the liver at Moo Roo a local store that is connected to a local dairy. Luke said the liver was cooked perfectly and that it had really good texture. So I guess, if you ever want to try liver and onions, come to our house this time next year, because I will only make this dish once a year. :) Happy Birthday, Luke!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I am always trying to find new recipes for homemade soups because soup is one of Luke's favorite things, especially during the colder months. Recently, I got a huge craving for broccoli cheese soup and I remembered I had this recipe in my recipe box. It is really cheesey. It's not very healthy, considering there is a pound of Velveeta in it, but it tastes soo good! This soup is really easy to make so long as you have all the ingredients, it's a quick and easy dinner. It is great served with hot biscuits or crescent rolls. I hope everyone is having a happy new year! I still have some cookie recipes to post so those will be posted later this week! ENJOY!

1/4 cup chopped red onion 1 tablespoon margarine 2 1/2 cups milk 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 pound processed cheese, cubed 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
Melt butter or margarine over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook and stir onions in butter or margarine until tender. Add milk and cream cheese; stirring until cream cheese melts. Stir in cheese food and broccoli. Stir until cheese food melts, and soup is heated through.
Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving Calories: 556 | Total Fat: 43g | Cholesterol: 132mg