Monday, May 30, 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Wow. That's a bad picture. I made this for a Memorial Day BBQ- Gotta love those Monday holiday BBQ's! To be fair, this gem was a sliver of the last piece at the end of the evening when I remembered I needed a picture. The last piece, split in half! The only alternative was this:

For the failure it was photogenically, it certainly was not a failure to the palate! Impressive, especially since I did my best to mess it up. Seriously, even though it's really not a difficult recipe, I was having a crazy hard time today for some reason. So, if you were one of the ones who got some today, you'll probably far surpass my offering just by having the plan to make this! Yikes! Enough about how bad this turned out- It is actually one of my favorite recipes! I mean, c'mon: White chocolate- check. Raspberry- check. Cheesecake- Check! Eat it all day long- Check! Oops, did I just admit to that? ;)




12 oreo cookies, finely crushed


2 tbsp butter, melted


3 oz white chocolate, divided{1 square = 1 oz}


2 pkgs cream cheese, softened


1/2 C sugar


1 tsp vanilla


2 eggs


1/4- 1/3 C preserves {I like it thick!}




Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 8" square pan. Melt 2 oz of chocolate as directed on package. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with a mixer until well blended. Add melted chocolate, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake 25-28 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool 5 minutes.


Warm preserves in microwave 30 seconds or just until soft. Spread over cheesecake. Melt remaining chocolate and drizzle over preserves. Cool cheesecake. Refrigerate 4 hours.




Just for giggles, I'm going to share with you how my actual attempt at this went today. {#1}For posterity and in hopes you will all understand {#2} I make as many mistakes as anyone else and {#3} most things will survive even if it's not quite right...




For starters, I only had frozen cream cheese {yeah, who does that?? Me. For occasions just like this.} and since I decided to make this about 2 hours after I needed to start making it, it was not thawed. Nuke it! Still, not quite the same. But I press on, doubling the recipe cause this only makes an 8" pan. Seriously, what's everyone else going to eat? So I kinda burnt the white chocolate, but stir it enough that the chunks of burnt chocolate mostly dissolve making the chocolate slightly grainy. Add sugar, vanilla, now eggs one at a time{whew, took 4 eggs, had exactly 4 eggs! Lucky break!}, double check I've properly doubled everything- OH CRAP! I didn't double the cream cheese! Ya know, from 5 steps ago! So back to the freezer {I'm out of cream cheese, now, BTW}, pop in the microwave, ok, that's 'thawed' enough. If thawed means mostly not frozen... Mix that in, pour over the crust and bake. My oven sucks, so about 15 minutes after it should have been done, it finally was. Look at that, cool and chill for 4 hours? Well, party starts in 1 & 1/2, so back to the freezer! Oops, I'm out of white chocolate {man, this cleaned my cupboards!}. Guess we'll just drizzle semi-sweet chocolate over top. Nuke that. Kids wake up from napping, so I stir the mostly melted chocolate as I come talk to my son and SPLASH! Melted chocolate on my carpet! *SIGH* Seriously debate crawling back into bed. Nah, then it's just me and the kids and there is no 'crawling back to bed' with two little ones jumping and crawling all over! Luckily, it came out. Whew. Done. Did it seriously take me almost 2 hours to make this?? So much for Mom Time during nap time... Wait! There's more... It was still not quite chilled by the time the dessert comes out. Yuummm... room temperature cheesecake! It's just not right! One of these days I'll have a do-over and get good pictures and prove that, even as good as everyone thought it was, it should actually be much better! Ranting done. Why are you still reading this??? I'm going to bed. ;)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Seriously, real life. This picture is what was leftover from the first Memorial Day BBQ today. After the rest was picked over, these got shoved in some foil and toted home sideways in a cramped bicycle trailer! And they still manage to look tasty! They are from my mom's 'magical' cookbook. This is one of my favorites when I wanna throw something tasty together for several people. They are always good and are easy to eat out of your hand. We especially like this juuuust this side of done...

2 eggs
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2/3 C oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 C nuts (optional)
1 C chocolate chips

In a small mixer bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until well blended. Add oil and vanilla, beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Spread in greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake!

For an extra special taste bud overload, try decreasing the brown sugar to 1 cup and cut the cooking time by 5-10 minutes (until it looks like it needs about 5 more minutes). Serve that gooey goodness hot with vanilla ice cream. You will thank me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Breakfast Cake



aka Coffee Cake, except we don't drink coffee. This is what my hubby ALWAYS requests for Father's day, birthdays, no good reason... The sweet cake topped with a brown sugar crumble topping... Oh, yeah... We like to double the topping. If you have more than 4 people you are feeding, you may wanna consider doubling the whole recipe. In which case, I recommend quadrupling the topping. That's right. Quadruple the goodness! When there's a little extra, it tends to seep down into the cake and make little pockets of brown sugary heaven. Matt likes to dig out the middle of the cake wherever it looks like one of these pockets may be. Then I punch him in the stomach and steal his piece. ;)


Cake:

1 1/2 C flour

3/4 C sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 C shortening

3/4 C milk

1 egg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Add shortening, milk and egg. Beat vigorously until smooth. Spread in greased 9x9 {or 9x13 if you doubled it} pan.


Topping:

1/3 C brown sugar

1/4 C flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp firm butter


Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm.


Now, go ahead and smear some more butter around the top and sides of that piece and be grateful that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! BTW- joking about punching my husband. So... don't call the cops. Thanks.

Breakfast Bake

It really is amazing how many different egg bake recipes I seem to have! And they are all so very tasty and unique! My brother doesn't even like eggs and he likes this one! Just make sure to knife test this one- I pulled it out when the timer went off, but ended up having to cut off the edges to feed my starving family, then put the middle back in the oven! That doesn't usually happen...

1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 pkg smoked ham, chopped
6 eggs
1/2 C cold milk
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll dough into the bottom of a 9x13" pan; press to cover the bottom of the dish, firmly pressing holes and seams together to seal. Sprinkle ham over crust. Beat eggs, milk and pepper with whisk until blended. Pour over ham and top with cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until center is set.

Again, we like to serve with maple. We also like maple on our spaghetti, topped with marshmallows and m&m's. {If you didn't catch that one, pick up the movie "Elf"}

Homemade Maple Syrup

When several breakfast recipes are shared, there is the inevitable, frequent mention of maple. Most people call it 'syrup', but we grew up calling it 'maple'. I think part of that may be because my mom NEVER bought syrup. She bought maple flavoring and made her own syrup. It's actually really simple and some say it even tastes better than store bought. Cheaper, too. Anyway, with as often as I've mentioned "serve with maple" I figured it was high time to share what that was!

2 C sugar
2 C water
1 tsp maple flavoring.

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in maple flavoring. Do not store in fridge!

Off the cuff, it might be interesting adding a little butter to the syrup for 'butter flavored maple', or trying it with brown sugar for extra sticky sweetness... However, I have not attempted either of these yet, so don't hold me to it...

Mom's French Toast

There are about as many variations of French toast as there are stars in the sky. But this one is my mom's, therefore, it is the best. My favorite syrup is boysenberry, which slightly resembles blood in this picture. Gross. Sorry about that. Didn't look that morbid before. Maybe you didn't notice until I pointed it out. If so, sorry. Try it anyway. With just maple.

4 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon {I double this}
1/8 tsp nutmeg {and this}
1/4 tsp vanilla {and this!}
1 1/2 C milk
18 slices of bread

Beat all ingredients together. Dip stale or frozen bread slices into batter, then place on hot griddle. Cook about 3 minutes on each side. To make them extra special, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

German Pancakes




Most years, in the fall, my mom slaves all day in a hot kitchen to make the most amazing applesauce. She cans it, then stores it for when us kids come to visit and pilfer it. And I love her for it! Not because I like applesauce, because I really don't {it's a texture thing}, but because I LOVE this dish and it is not the same without her applesauce. Weird, right? Applesauce smothering a thick, hearty, buttery egg dish? But, oh my. Oh, my! It's been a while since I've been home when she's had any extra to steal, so we had to make do with store bought, second rate... :( If the applesauce weirds you out, it can also be served quite successfully with maple. Though, I think you should at least try it. I wonder what it'd taste like with apple-butter... BTW- don't you just love how the edges curl up the sides? Almost like it's trying to reach out and hug you!




5 tbsp butter


6 eggs


1 C milk


1 C flour


1/2 tsp salt




Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in a 9x13" pan. Beat eggs just until evenly yellow. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. Do not over beat. Immediately pour over melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes on lowest rack of oven. Serve warm with maple syrup or heated applesauce.

Hamburger Puffs

I apologize for how cruddy this photo is. It was just one of "those" nights... Ok, so they may not look like anything special, but let me ask you something: Do you like hamburgers? Do you like soup in bread bowls? If you answered yes to either of these, then you will definitely like Hamburger Puffs! It's basically a hybrid of those two things. These were one of my dad's favorite meals and now it's one of Matt's favorites, too. If you don't have French rolls on hand, it will take a little planning a head, but it's still really simple and worth the minimal effort. Plus, they are great for on-the-go kind of stuff.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 C onions, chopped
1/2 C green bell peppers, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 dozen french bread rolls {or hard rolls}

Brown ground beef, onion and pepper. Add soup and milk; simmer. Cut the top off each roll and dig out the insides. Stir the insides into the simmering sauce. Spoon sauce mixture into each hollow roll and replace the top. Serve immediately.

These are definitely best right away. If left out the bread gets hard and if refrigerated it tends to get a little rubbery. Still tastes good, just a texture thing. I just realized I want to try this with bacon pieces in it. Guess I better put French rolls on my shopping list again!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beef and Green Bean Dinner

Ok, before you are weirded out by meatballs, green beans, and rice, give this one a chance! My hubby was very uncertain of this when I brought it out, but it was another tried and true family recipe {From my maternal Grandma Adamson} and once he tried it, he was unquestionably on board! The tomato based sauce has kinda sweet flavor to it. Weird? Nah, a big bite with a little of everything makes for one succulent treat! I had two helpings, then finished off my son's leftovers... My 11 month old was just as crazy about it- I think she ate as much as my 3 1/2 year old!
This is another one I like to simplify with frozen meatballs, but just in case you like to make your own:
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2 slices bread, crumbled
1 tbsp dehydrated onions
2 tbsp evaporated milk

Stir together ground beef, bread crumbs, onions, and milk. Shape into meatballs or patties. Fry until brown, drain excess grease. If using frozen meatballs, simply fry until heated though.

Sauce:
2 cans tomato soup
2 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 (16 oz) can of green beans

Mix soup, vinegar, sugar and 1/4 C liquid from the green beans. Pour over meatballs. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Serve over hot rice with green beans.

Buffalo Burgers

Don't worry- they aren't really made of buffalo meat! Eww... That, for some reason, is just what they are called. My mom passed on a recipe she got from her sister who got it from her 7th grade Home Ec teacher! The recipe for a stuffed burger really takes on so many options... The trick is to put what are normally topping ingredients in between two really thin patties, making one monstrous burger. I've included the original recipe and additional possible ingredients for stuffing in a burger. BTW- I've decided to use a different font when I am rambling than I'll use for the actual recipe. I'm worried these recipes are looking longer and harder than they are because I can't shut up... Shutting up now.


2 lbs ground beef {or about 1/3-1/2 lb per person}

8 1/4" thick slices of cheddar cheese

Sweet Pickle relish

Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper


Make 6 THIN patties from 1 pound of ground beef. Place one slice of cheese, 1 tsp relish, a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper on each. Top with a thin patty made from remaining beef. Pinch edges to seal and shape into smooth, fat patties. Grill or broil until done on both sides and cheese starts to melt out. Serve with you favorite hamburger toppings.


I actually like to add about 1/3 C of oatmeal per pound of beef and sprinkle the salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce on the beef before I mold it into patties. The oatmeal helps the patties stay together a little better and helps keep the burgers moist. The S&P and sauce keep the flavor a little more evenly delish. The burgers pictured have Monterey Jack cheese and relish as the filling, with some dehydrated onion lightly pressed directly into the inside of a patty.

Other options include, but not limited to:

Avocado slices, sauteed onions or mushrooms, salsa, A-1, bacon {though, I don't know if I would put this INSIDE the burger...}, Teriyaki sauce and pineapple crushed or tidbits, etc...

Matt's Tri-Tip Garlic Dry Rub

Look at this! My hubby is so dang supportive! He found a recipe, altered it {who does that?? ;)}, and wrote it down for me! Kinda... He is the master griller in the family. Seriously, I can't seem to get anything good on the grill. I blame it on the fact that grilling is a very intuitive thing, and I tend to forget when a timer isn't set... Anyway, I'm not generally a straight meat kinda person, but this was REALLY good! Just don't over cook it... So, to the best of his description:

Tri- Tip( about 1 lb per person)
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp parsley flake
{this makes a lot of dry rub so you could save the unused portion for another time}

Preheat a grill on high heat and lightly oil the grate. In a medium bowl, mix all spices then coat both sides of the tri-tip. {Matt actually likes to let it sit on the meat for a couple hours.} Sear both sides on a hot grill then cook for 20-25 minutes or until center is light pink. Slice at an angle. EXCELLENT!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monterey Chicken

I got this from my sister-in-law, Kristen. Chicken, cheese, bacon, what's not to love?? It's really easy and awesome for grilling on these gorgeous summer evenings. Until it gets too hot... Luckily, it's pretty versatile.

12 chicken tenders or 5-6 chicken breasts; seasoned and fried, baked, or grilled.
1 - 1 1/2 C Barbecue sauce
1 lb bacon, crisped and halved
1 - 1 1/2 C cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheese, shredded (we opted for sliced Monterey jack)
Tomatoes, chopped
Green onion, chopped {But, obviously not pictured... forgot about these...}

Season the chicken with your favorite seasoning salt or chicken seasoning. Cook chicken according to your preference. Place the cooked chicken in a casserole or 9x13" pan. Pour BBQ sauce all over and top with bacon and cheese. Broil in oven until cheese is melted. Top with tomatoes and onion.

We just left the chicken on the grill and turned the heat down really low before adding the sauce and toppings. We also added sliced pineapple for a little extra zing.

Blueberry pancakes

I dislike blueberries. Give me a salad with blueberries in it and I will eat around them. BUT, cooked, they are amazing. Go figure. These are a special treat and only when blueberries are on sale, cause they are expensive! But you guys are worth eating the cost in order to share a picture with! ;) Side note- included in this picture are the Breakfast Bake and the Hawaiian Fruit Dip leftovers turned into a salad. I'm sure you could just add 2 C blueberries to about any pancake recipe, but: Fun Fact- Got this recipe out of a kids book I borrowed from the library for my son. It was about a cat that cooks. Thanks, Tallullah!

1 1/4 C flour



2 1/2 tsp baking powder



1/2 tsp salt



1 tbsp sugar



1 egg, well beaten



1 C milk



3 tbsp oil



2 C blueberries






Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Mix together beaten egg, milk and oil then add to the dry ingredients. Rinse blueberries {and double check for stems}. Add to batter. Cook on a skillet about 2 minutes on each side.

Raspberry Cream Cheese White Cake

Individually, neither picture seemed impressive enough, so I included both in hopes it adequately conveys how sinfully delightful this is!

A moist, heavy cake topped with a cream cheese icing smothered with juicy berries. Summer Heaven! I got this from a really good friend in Utah, Rachel Van Beekum. She was the head baker at a grocery store and was always good for some food advice. This is one of her crowning achievements! Sure do miss her...

Cake:
1 C butter {no wonder it's so good!}
1 C water
2 C flour
2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C milk or buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter and water. Bring to a boil. Pour over flour, sugar and salt. Mix well. Beat eggs and add along with buttermilk, soda and vanilla. Beat. Pour into greased 9x13" pan. Bake 30 minutes. Cool.

Cream Cheese frosting:
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
2 C sugar
2 tbsp milk

Mix cream cheese, sugar and milk until smooth. Spread over cake.

Fruit:
The recipe calls for fresh fruit, but I like to use a 12 oz bag of frozen mixed berries. I thaw it, then mash it. This gives it lots of juice that's sweet and tangy. If you want lots of juice with fresh fruit, just sprinkle a couple tbsp over your fruit then let it sit for an hour or so. That brings out the natural juice of the fruit. Spoon the fruit over the cream cheese layer and you can serve immediately, but I like to refrigerate the whole thing for a couple hours.

One last tip- In case you hadn't noticed, there is a LOT of sugar in this. But the fruit makes it healthy. Right??? If you don't mix the cake or cream cheese mixture enough then you will get a little crunch of the sugar granuales in your cake. Some people don't like to be reminded of how sugar-laden their food is, but we kinda like it better with that extra bit of texture.

Think I'm going to check if we still have leftovers...

Breakfast Quiche







A tasty, fluffy egg bake to start your day off right. My mom made us a good breakfast almost every single day and even if it was just cereal we ALWAYS ate together. Whether we wanted to or not. Even if the company wasn't cool enough for my teenage tastes, the food was always fabulous! Case in point-



2 C cheese



favorite breakfast meat{ham, sausage, bacon, something else from a pig...}



6 eggs



1 C Bisquick



2 C milk



1/4 C Miracle Whip



In a greased 9x13" pan, spread a layer of cheese. Cover with a layer of meat, then another layer of cheese. Mix remaining ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds. Pour over cheese and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.



We like this with a little maple or taco sauce on top.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fav Waffle Toppings...

This is just a quick one... Just some of my favorite ways to top a waffle. These really could work on waffles, French Toast, pancakes, etc... I haven't found a waffle recipe I like enough to replace the ease of Bisquick- But I am open to suggestions!

Strawberries and Cool Whip. Slice or mash a carton of strawberries and let sit overnight or just add a couple tablespoons of sugar and let sit 10-15 minutes. This gets them nice and juicy... Top with Cool Whip!

Cottage cheese, peaches or mandarin oranges, and a sprinkle of Honey Bunches of Oats or granola. This is actually my new favorite...

Peachy Keen (not pictured). Slice 3-4 peaches(about 1 peach per person) and saute with 1-2 tbsp of butter for about 5-7 minutes or until good and soft. Top with granola or Honey Bunches of Oats. Follow same directions for bananas.

Creamed Turkey/Tuna/Chicken-a-la-king/Biscuits 'n Gravy Gravy

Check it out- dinner or breakfast in one recipe! This one's a doozy- So many possibilities from one recipe! This is one of those that I never think of off the top of my head, but never regret when I remember to make it- delish!

Creamed Turkey

1/3 C butter

1/2 C flour

3 1/2 C milk, divided

1/2 C celery, chopped

1 tbsp minced dry onion

2 chicken bullion cubes

1/2 C water

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 C cooked turkey, cubed

1 C frozen green peas


Melt butter in large pan. Remove from heat, stir in flour until smooth. Stir in 2 C milk. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Stir in remaining milk until sauce is of desired consistency. Heat celery, onions, water and bullion in microwave for 3 minutes on high. Add to sauce with all remaining ingredients, simmer until heated through. Serve over toast cups {pinch the corners to fit bread into a cupcake tin then broil until lightly toasted.}


Creamed Tuna:

Make as above, substituting 1 can tuna for turkey and omitting bullion.


Chicken a-la-king(my personal favorite):

Make as above substituting chicken for turkey, reducing milk to 3 cups and adding 1 can cream of mushroom soup with remaining ingredients.


Biscuits and Gravy Gravy:

Prepare as above, omitting celery, bullion, and peas. Reduce milk to 3 cups and add 1 can cream of mushroom soup. Add cooked link or ground sausage. I just make biscuits following the directions on a Bisquick box.

Black Bean Soup

This is the Black Bean Soup recipe Brooke Anderson brought for Mexican night. It was super tasty and the squeeze of lemon gave it a nice kick. Plus, black beans are fat free and pack full of great nutrients. Healthy AND delicious- what a combo!

2 cans black beans
1 can chicken broth
1 medium onion (Brooke uses about a tbsp of dried onion)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Mix ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. To serve, garnish with sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice. Yum Yum!! They love to eat this with cheese quesadilla's.

Italian Chicken

Admittedly, this looks gross. However, what it lacks in presentation, it makes up for in taste! It's simplicity makes it one of my favorite meals, it's taste makes it one of my family's favorites. The creamy, flavorful sauce wouldn't work on a Weight Watcher's diet, but it meets my 'must taste great' criteria! Plus, it can be done in 15 minutes on the stove, or early in a crock pot.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts {unless they are Costco breasts, then only two. Seriously, what do they feed those chickens for them to have breasts as big as mine??? TMI?;)}
3/4 stick of butter
1 pkg Italian dressing mix
1 pkg cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C evaporated milk {if I'm feeding a larger group, I just add a bit more of the can}

Place chicken, butter, and Italian dressing mix in crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. One hour before serving, heat cream cheese, milk, and soup on stove until well blended. Add to chicken and cook for the last hour. Serve over hot noodles or rice.

For the stove:
Chop the chicken breasts and cook in a large skillet with the butter and dressing mix until cooked through. Add the cream cheese, milk, and soup and stir until well blended. Let simmer about 15 minutes.

Lazy Lasagna Toss

I love lasagna, but then, who doesn't! My mom is kinda famous for hers, so I have a high expectation for anything that calls itself lasagna. While I wouldn't call this my first choice for lasagna, it's a pretty good option when you don't have the time to do it the right way. Hence, Lazy Lasagna Toss!

1 lb ground beef
1-2 green peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced {I was fresh out, but about a tbsp garlic powder was a good substitute}
1 (26 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 2/3 C water
1/4 C zesty Italian dressing
12 oven ready lasagna noodles, broken into quarters {to use regular lasagna noodles, just up the water to 2 cups and plan on needing to cook it a little longer.}
1 Can olives (optional)
1/2-1 C ricotta or cottage cheese (optional)


1 C mozzarella cheese



Brown meat in a large saucepan, drain. Stir in peppers, garlic, spaghetti sauce, water and dressing; bring to a boil. Add noodles and olives; stir. Cover. Cook on medium-low heat 10 to 15 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gently stir in cottage cheese. Sprinkle with mozzarella, cover. Let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I needed something that could stay warm long enough to take in to meet my hubby for his dinner break, so I made this in the crock pot- the way to go! I browned the meat and put it in the crock pot along with the peppers, garlic, spaghetti sauce, water, and dressing. I let that simmer for about 4 hours on high, then stirred in the lasagna noodles and olives {forgot to add the cottage cheese, but I would next time}. I let that sit for about a half hour for oven ready, hour for regular lasagna noodles. It was still nice and hot and easy to transport! Might do it like that again next time!

Jello Cake

This is one of my favorites to do when I need a dessert but don't want to invest a lot of time into it, yet can't be content with just a plain ol' cake. It is light and refreshing- plus there is no fruit or chocolate! Shocking, coming from me! Another family recipe handed down from my mom.

1 pkg white cake mix
1 6 oz pkg Jello {Lime is my personal favorite}
2 C boiling water
1 9 oz pkg Cool Whip

Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on package for a 9x13 pan. Cool in pan for 15 minutes; poke with a meat fork at 1/2" intervals. Dissolve jello into boiling water. Pour slowly and evenly over the cake. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with cool whip. Store in the fridge. That's it.

For a fun Christmas treat bake the cake mix in 2 wax paper lined 9" pans. Use one 3 oz pkg of green jello and one 3 oz pkg of red jello, individually dissolved into one cup boiling water EACH. Pour the green over one cake and red over the other. Refrigerate 4 hours. Unmold one layer onto a cake plate and frost with 1 cup cool whip then top with the second layer and cover with remaining cool whip.

For a larger group, follow the 9x13 pan directions, but bake in a cookie sheet.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Desserts!!!

I LOVE dessert, so this was an exciting night for me! We had TONS of good food and lots of fun! Here's some of the food to anticipate as soon as I get the recipes...

Jennifer Fulton's vegetable thing... Just wanted to make sure there was an option or two without so much sugar!

Ruthanne Miller's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies


Jennifer Fulton's Grape beverage

Stephanie Johnson's homemade donuts

Jennifer Fulton's fudge


Next gathering will be June 2nd and we're doing Breakfast! Keep an eye out for more details and sneak peeks! Side Note- We don't care if you don't get a chance to make something- there's always plenty of food so come with or without! If you don't get a chance to make something, but have a recipe that's good enough to share, just bring a copy of the recipe and we'll still post it for you!

Georgie Porgie



This came from a friend of my mom's. We loved this so much as kids that we would ask for it for our birthdays. First is the original recipe, followed by the mint rendition I made.


Original Georgie Porgie

Crust:

1 C flour

1/2 C margarine or butter

1 C nuts, chopped

Blend flour, butter, and nuts with a pastry cutter. Press into 9x13" pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

We also like to do an oreo crust of about 16 crushed oreos mixed with 2 tbsp melted butter and pressed into the bottom of a 9x13. Refrigerate while preparing the next layer.


First Layer:

1 C powdered sugar

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened

1 12 oz carton cool whip, divided

Mix powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in 3 cups of the cool whip. Spread over the cooled crust. Chill.


Second layer:

1 (6oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding

1 (6 oz) pkg instant vanilla pudding

4 C milk

Mix pudding mixes with milk. Pour over cream cheese layer. Chill.


Third Layer:

When pudding is set, spread remaining cool whip over top. Sprinkle with grated candy bar or nuts if desired. Chill for 2 hours or until served.


Mint Variation

Crust- Use mint oreos instead of the regular oreo crust. There is a mint chocolate pudding mix you can use or about 1/2- 1 tsp mint flavoring in the pudding layer. I chopped up about 15 andes mints and added that to the pudding layer. Then I used a potato peeler to shave a couple andes mints for decoration.

Lemon Lush

Catrina Bowers got this from her mother-in-law. It's one of their family favorites. We chuckled at how the cream cheese layer of this sounded kinda like the cream cheese layer of the Georgie Porgie I brought. When I actually took a look at the recipe, it turns out it is VERY similar! Kinda opens up a whole world of possibilities. Using either recipe as a guide, you can take your pick of what kind of flavor you want with what kind of pudding you use. Rich and chocolaty or sweet, tangy and lemony...

Crust:
1 C flour
1 stick butter
1/2 C pecans, crushed
1/4 C sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix and pat ingredients into 9x13" pan for 13-15 minutes then cool completely.

Second layer:
8 oz cream cheese
1 C powdered sugar
1 C cool whip
1 tbsp of lemon juice (optional)

Mix well (can use a mixer)and spread over cooled crust.

Third Layer:
2 small boxes Lemon instant pudding
3 C cold milk
8 oz cool whip

Blend pudding mix with 3 cups of cold milk and spread over cream cheese layer. Top with 8 oz of cool whip then sprinkle with leftover pecans (pecans on top are optional).

Hawaiian Fruit Dip

I jumped at the chance to make this scrumptious fruit dip. It is pudding based but the pineapple and lime give it a sweet, tropical twist. Careful, it makes a lot. Great for a party, but if you make it for dinner, plan on it for a couple of days. Not that that would be a bad thing....

3/4 C milk
1/2 C Sour Cream
1 lg pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1/2 C sweetened flake coconut, toasted and divided
1 lime

Combine milk, sour cream, and pudding mix in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir in pineapple with juice and 1/3 cup of the coconut. Zest lime to measure 1 tsp. Juice lime to measure 1 tsp. Stir juice and zest into dip. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with fruit

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best Banana Bread

I LOVE this recipe. Funny story: This is another one from my mom and I always loved it growing up. So, I grow up and get married and decide to make this for my husband. Well, it calls for buttermilk, which we don't just have on hand, so I dutifully make a trip to the store to get some. I follow the recipe and stick it in the oven. It smells so good as it cooks, but when I go to pull it out the center is all sunken in and the edges are rock hard. I was seriously disappointed. Undeterred, I tried several times more, each time hoping for that warm, delicious reward. Each time with the same results! I gave up on it for a while and blamed it on my oven. Then we moved. New oven, new chance to succeed! ...Or not. Finally, I call my mom and ask her what in the world I'm doing wrong. That's when I realize: 1 cup of buttermilk, PREPARED! Not 1 cup of powdered buttermilk. Iiii'm an idiot. But she doesn't even use buttermilk. She uses regular milk with some lemon juice in it. That was NOT in the recipe. Now, I am happy to say, I can make it with the best of them! Finally! FYI- the best banana's to use for this are WAY past their prime. I'm talking BLACK peels. Like, when you think a banana is just past that peak of ripeness and starting to taste funny- wait a couple more days to a week. The more past ripe they are, the stronger their flavor. Unless they start to ooze. Then throw them away.

1 C bananas{I use 2 large bananas or 3 small to medium bananas}
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
1 C nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 C buttermilk {Prepared!! Or about 2 tbsp lemon juice then add milk to make a cup and let sit for a minute and the milk will curdle.}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and mash bananas. Add sugar, brown sugar, shortening, vanilla, bananas, and eggs. Cream together. Sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add alternatively with the buttermilk. Pour into 2 large, or 4 small greased loaf pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of a loaf comes out clean.

Navajo Tacos

I was introduced to Navajo tacos by my in-laws. It's basically a taco on a scone. This taco meat recipe is great on the scone or as Mexican haystacks {a bed of Frito's instead of a scone and a little more emphasis on the lettuce}, or taco salad. This particular meat recipe is one I got from my mother-in-law, Christie, and adjusted to fit my taste.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 lg can diced tomatoes, with juice {I used a can of tomatoes with diced jalapenos that night}
2 tsp chili powder
1 can kidney or black beans
2 tsp garlic powder
dash of cumin

Brown ground beef with the onion in a large skillet pan. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.

For Navajo Tacos:
I made the dough recipe from the comments of this post in my bread machine and used that to make scones. You can buy scone mix or look a scone recipe up at any of the lovely links to the right of this blog. Fill a large skillet about 1/2" deep with canola oil {healthiest cooking oil} and slowly heat on medium to medium low heat. You can tell when oil is hot enough for frying by either dripping a little water in it and having it pop or putting the handle end of a wooden spoon in the oil and when little bubbles form around the wood, it's done. Roll a handful of scone dough into a ball than smash into a disc about 1/2" inch thick and about 4" in diameter. Carefully place into hot oil and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Serve hot with lettuce, cheese, olives, sour cream, or taco sauce.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mexican Chicken Casserole

I got this recipe years ago and have added to it over time to this masterpiece. My family votes that pretty much anything covered in cheese is a winner. Ta-dah! Still, it's pretty simple, especially if you use canned chicken(rinse well first, if you do). Mostly a can of this, a can of that and voila! Makes me laugh, though, because I SERIOUSLY doubt any good abuela made anything authentic that called for a can of Cream of Mushroom. Slap some chili's in it and call it Mexican! Call it good... Matt and I made this when we went to Hawaii once. We had a condo with a full kitchen, so to save money we packed a bunch of cans of stuff into our check in. Yeah, we're cheap. On our way home we had to convince the airport security guy that it really was just garlic salt in Matt's bag and not sand!

2 C boneless, skinless chicken breast(or 2 cans cooked chicken, rinsed well)
1/2 onion, diced
1 bag tortilla chips or Doritos {we prefer the Salsa Verde Doritos}
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
1 C sour cream
1 can corn, drained(optional)
1 C minute rice
3 C shredded cheese
2 C chicken broth
1 can olives, drained(optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube and cook chicken with diced onions in a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat until cooked through. Mix remaining ingredients, except olives. Grease a 9x13" pan and line with a layer of chips, slightly smashed. Sprinkle the chicken mixture, the olives, 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 the sauce over the chips. Add another layer of chips and top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.

Done.

Fruit Topped Triple Chocolate Pizza


THE pizza from the party... One I made a while ago with regular chocolate chip cookie dough. Closer to how the recipe dictates...


I made this for a gathering of some friends the other night and was bombarded with requests for the recipe. Even my hubby's cop buddy who got some of the leftovers requested it! And for good reason- it's hard to fail with cookies, cream cheese, fruit, or chocolate. But put them all together... Yeowsa! I was actually starting to make Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies for the party, then I remembered this recipe and used the cookie dough to make this instead. Is it terrible that I was on the fence about going (it started a half hour before my baby goes to bed. I LOVE when my baby goes to bed....) until I realized it'd give me an excuse to make this? I actually have two variations, an easier one, and one that takes a half second more effort but is just a tad better. The one I followed was:


Fruit Topped Triple Chocolate Pizza

1 (18 oz) pkg chocolate chip cookie dough (Alexa's recipe here)

2 squares white baking chocolate

2 tbsp milk

1 pkg cream cheese, softened

1/4 C powdered sugar

1 C thawed whipped topping

12-16 oz of strawberries, cut in half

1 can mandarin orange segments, drained

1/4 C semi sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape cookie dough into a ball and place in center of a large pizza stone. Using a lightly floured rolling pin {aka, my fingers...} roll dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/4" thick. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are set. Cookie will be soft, do not over bake. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Loosen cookie from pizza stone. Cool completely.


Place white chocolate and milk in small mixing bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Microwave and additional 10-20 seconds if necessary. Cool slightly. In separate bowl combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; mix well. Gradually stir in white chocolate mixture; mix until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cookie. Arrange strawberries and oranges over cream cheese mixture. Microwave chocolate chips and oil on high 30 seconds or until chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle over fruit. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.


My variation

I used this recipe for the crust and made it in a greased cookie sheet, baked for about 7 minutes or until edges were set. I doubled the topping since it was such a large surface and then I added kiwi with the fruit. I think it the cookie base was so crumbly that night because it had been out of the fridge for a bit. After I put the leftovers back in the fridge, the cookie stayed firm as I kept piecing away at it....


Slightly easier, brownie version
1 box brownie mix

1 pkg cream cheese, softened

1/3 C sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 C fresh strawberries, sliced

1 C blueberries, rinsed

1 C raspberries

1/2 C apple jelly


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 12 inch pizza pan. Prepare brownie mix according to directions on the package. Spread in the pan. Bake 28-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2" from edge comes out clean. Cool completely.


Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Spread evenly over the brownie. Arrange berries over the cream cheese{these berries make a lovely American flag design.}. Stir jelly until smooth; brush over the berries. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

These were one of my favorite cookies growing up. I hadn't made them for a long time, I guess subconsciously I figured they were like Lucky Charms- great when I was a kid, but my tastes had outgrown. I made them not too long ago with my son and, MAN, was I wrong! Still amazing! Seriously, I just ate two. I think they're even better chilled, which is really nice as we head into Arizona summers. This is what I made my cookie pizza with. I made an entire cookie sheet sized cookie pizza and still had enough dough for about 3 dozen cookies.

3/4 C butter
1 C shortening
3 C sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 C flour
1 C cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 C chocolate chips

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; blend into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes. Do NOT over bake. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

These are also amazing with peanut butter or mint chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips. They also make and EXCEPTIONAL ice cream cookie sandwich.

Ham and Cheese Brunch Squares

Oh, look! Another Easter recipe that thought it could escape! Breakfast is one of my top 3 meals of the day. Right after dessert and chocolate. This is Easter-y because I used leftover ham for it. Or it'd be good for an Easter brunch. Serves A-LOT. To serve even more, make in a cookie sheet, but keep an eye on the cooking times.

2-3 C shredded cheese
1 pkg shredded hash browns, thawed
8 oz cream cheese, softened
12 eggs (or 2 3/4 C liquid eggs)
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz deli ham, coarsely chopped (or Easter leftovers, or sausage, or whatever breakfast meat you have around. Though, ham is my favorite. In case you make this for me some day.)
2 stalks green onion (optional.)
3 plum tomatoes (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread hash browns into a greased 9x13" pan. Press gently into an even layer. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the hash browns. Bake 13-15 minutes or until crust starts to brown and cheese is melted. Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add eggs and black pepper. Whisk until smooth{I kinda like the cream cheese to still be just a little chunky}. Slice green onions and cook with the ham over medium heat until hot. Sprinkle over the hash browns when they are done then pour the egg mixture over all. Bake 8-10 minutes longer until center is set. Top with remaining cheese and tomatoes.

Snowball Cake/ Chick cupcakes



I made these for Easter, then totally forgot to post the recipe! Good thing we're doing desserts on Wednesday... Maybe no one will notice the little yellow bird part of this... I saw the idea for these cupcakes on a blog and thought they were super cute. I always envy adorable cupcakes, I just can't bring myself to spend 5 minutes decorating ONE cupcake just to have some under-appreciative person devour it, then comment on it's taste. The chicks were super cute AND super simple. I, however, can't be content with just plain cupcakes, so I took one of our favorite recipes and adjusted it for cupcakes. Notice the inside of the cupcakes have a little white filling. Cream cheese filling. Pudding frosting. When this is done as a cake it comes out looking like an overgrown Snowball- the nasty Ding Dong kind, not the throw-in-your-face kind. But it tastes SOOO much better. To be honest, I don't think the cupcakes came out quite as good as I'd hoped, but still, addictively yummy. First the cake recipe, then the chick decorating instructions.

1 pkg devil's food cake mix

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened (I always use Neufchatel- a lower fat cream cheese)

1 egg

2 tbsp sugar

1 (3.4 oz)pkg instant vanilla pudding

1/4 C powdered sugar

1 C cold milk

2 C thawed Cool Whip

1 C flake coconut


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake batter in 2 1/2 qt OVENPROOF bowl, as directed on package; scrape sides of bowl (since you cook the cake in this bowl, scraping the sides helps keep it from sticking when you're done). In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, egg and granulated sugar until well blended. Spoon into center of batter in bowl.


Bake 1 hour 5 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool bowl 10 minutes. Loosen cake from bowl with a knife or spatula, then, using potholders if necessary, invert onto wire rack. Remove bowl and cool cake completely.


Meanwhile, beat pudding mix, powdered sugar and milk in medium bowl with a whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in Cool Whip (this will still have a slight yellowish tint to it. Don't worry, we'll cover it with coconut which will make it look less like... yellow snow.). Refrigerate until ready to use.

Once it's cooled, place cake on a plate and frost with the pudding mix. Cover with coconut. Keep refrigerated.


Cupcakes:

For the cupcakes I just poured the cake batter into a cupcake pan lined with cupcake paper then dropped a dollop of the filling in the center. In the cake, the filling sinks almost to the bottom of the bowl, so when it's inverted it's about 1/2" from the top. The filling doesn't really go anywhere with the cupcakes, so it's just cream cheese in the middle. I used the same frosting because it's so good and it has a yellowish tint to it already. If you use a different frosting, add a few drops of yellow food coloring to it. Add a few drops to the coconut as well and mix well. Try not to MASH the food coloring in. Not as cute. Seems like that would be obvious. To most... Dip, sprinkle or dump the coconut on each cupcake. The eyes are mini M&M's. The beaks are orange starbursts cut into quarters and smooshed into shape. Have fun!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

I was exploring some of the sites that are linked to this page one day and came across this recipe at Our Best Bites. My hubby LOVES caramel popcorn and for some reason it's the one sweet I can actually usually resist, so I thought I'd give it a try for him. WORTH IT! I'll be honest, I've got a bunch of stuff to do and the kids should be waking up any minute, so I'm going to be lazy and just let you follow the link for the recipe.
I just wanted to share this with you with my stamp of approval. The only difference we made was peanuts instead of pecans and much more white chocolate. I might also try the variation that calls for a little salt... So much for being able to resist caramel popcorn....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Oh, holy cow. This. I mean. Wow. It's super fancy, without being uppity or really very time consuming. You can just see the moist cake layer peeking out from the strawberries there along the bottom, but that top, light brown layer is a rich mousse. Really. Really. Good. It doesn't call for strawberries, but again, that is my favorite and I think it added even more to an already incredible dessert!


1/2 C chocolate syrup
1 pkg chocolate cake mix {again, I used Devil's food}
1 C water
1/3 C oil
7 eggs, divided
1/2 C sour cream
1 pkg cream cheese
1 C sugar
1 can (12 oz) Evaporated milk
4 squares baking chocolate or 2/3 C chocolate chips, melted



Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12- cup fluted tube{bundt} pan with cooking spray; pour in chocolate syrup. {Make sure it's a 12 C pan. Mine wasn't and could have been disastrous! If you have a 10 C, like mine, just leave out 2 cups of the cake batter. That will make about 9 cupcakes, if you want.}



Beat cake mix, water, oil and 3 eggs with a mixer for 2 minutes or until well blended. Blend in sour cream. Pour over syrup in pan and set aside. Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until well blended. Add remaining eggs; mix well. Blend in milk and chocolate; gently spoon over cake batter. Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray, sprayed side down.



Place the tube pan in a shallow pan (9x 13' worked for me). Add enough water to larger pan to come at least 2 inches up the side of the tube pan. Bake 1 hour and 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 2 hours. Invert cake onto plate. Remove pan. Serve cake topped with cool whip and strawberries.



{There should be a little chocolate glaze on the top from the chocolate syrup put in at the very beginning. This worked the first time I made it, but when I made it most recently the chocolate syrup somehow was cooked into the layers. Still tasted amazing, but if this happens to you, you may want to put a little more chocolate syrup along the top for aesthetics.}


By the way- my darling husband let me get a new camera for Mother's Day, so if you hadn't already noticed, pictures should get a lot more tempting from here on!

Double Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

I am such a fan of chocolate and strawberries. I think about 60% of my dessert recipes entail chocolate and fruit of some sort. The other 40% probably still have at least one or the other! I made this for a auction to benefit the scouts and since I know I'm not one for fancy cake decorating, I knew I needed something to look tempting enough for people to put money on, and still be tasty enough that they didn't regret it! I'm proud to say it sold for $22! So please don't tell the people who put a quarter-hundred on it that the recipe is now available for free- and actually pretty darn simple!

1 pkg chocolate cake mix {I used devil's food cake}
3/4 C milk
1 large pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 C Cool Whip, thawed
3-5 tbsp strawberry jam
2 C sliced strawberries, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix as directed on package for two 9" round baking pans. {This can be done in a 9x13" if you are looking to feed more- it just won't look quite as pretty.} Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pan. Invert onto racks; gently remove pans. Cool completely. Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk for 2 minutes (mixture will be thick). Gently stir in whipped topping. Place one cake layer on serving plate; spread with jam.{I warm up the jam a bit in the microwave so it will spread easier} Top with layers of half each of the pudding mix and strawberries. Prepare second layer of cake with the remaining pudding mix and place on top of the first cake layer. Add remaining strawberries. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
I was short on time so it didn't get the full hour refrigeration. That, combined with the fact I'd followed the original recipe and placed the second cake layer on the first layer and THEN spread the last layer of pudding, caused the bit of filling seepage seen in this picture. Hopefully yours will look a little better contained....

To make it extra enticing, I put a dollop of cool whip on top, drizzled some chocolate {chocolate chips melted with some cool whip} then gave a dusting of powdered sugar. The recipe only really calls for the powdered sugar, but it was all in the name of the scouts!

Tip: Use skewers to keep the cake layers from sliding during refrigeration. Remove them just before adding the top layer of strawberries and serving.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cinco De Mayo

We celebrated in grand fashion by having Mexican night! Mexican food was one of the most anticipated themes. I just wish it hadn't been planned the same night as another activity that obligated several people who'd been looking forward to it... Oh well, we still had a blast!! Aside from the good food, I was impressed at what an active group of women we had there! I think everyone there had run a full or half marathon or a triathlon, including Keathanne, who completed the Boston Marathon this year in just over 3 hours!! We decided it would be super fun to all do a triathlon together with a little pot to sweeten the deal... We played one of my favorite games and learned some HILARIOUS things about each other, including nasty habits and what a MILF is... Just ask Brooke Anderson! ;) I'm still waiting on the recipes for a few of the dishes, but here's pictures of what to look forward to: Brooke Anderson's Black Bean Soup


Brooke's Refried Bean recipe she included for our Go-To night




Angie Randall's Tres Leches



Angie was so sweet to host for us. I think her kids loved it as much as we did. Her boys munched nonstop on everything and even joined us for a game. And, as you can see, her daughter was especially 'helpful' when it came time to clean up!




Next gathering is May 18th and we'll be doing Dessert, at the request of my husband. I doubt we'll have many complaints there! After this, at each Exchange we'll draw a theme for the following Exchange. Desserts happen to be my favorite, so *knuckles cracking* get ready for some fun!

Fried Bananas



This sneaky dessert manages to be delicious, but manages to make you feel like you made a healthy choice by having dessert! This is from Keathanne. She says it is best served warm over ice cream. I got the ingredient list, but the instructions weren't written down. When I get it correct, I'll update it. Until then, here's how I imagine it would go...


1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 C whip cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp butter

6 bananas, cut half once lengthwise and once in the middle


Stir together chocolate chips, whip cream and vanilla in a small sauce pan. Cook on medium low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. {Or you could probably get away with nuking it in a microwave safe dish. Nuke it on high for 30 seconds, then stir. If necessary, repeat until smooth.} Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saute pan. Add the bananas and saute until soft. Serve as-is with the chocolate sauce drizzled over the bananas or serve on top of ice cream or with cool whip.