Red Velvet Brownie Cheesecake

Another instant favorite!!

I was told that these are rich.
(My sweet tooth has a hard time distinguishing.)
Small pieces will do.

red velvet brownie cheesecake_1653-1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.

Red Velvet Layer:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Add melted butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar,
in that order, mixing between additions.
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix.
Fold in the flour until lightly combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan,
saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan.
Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer.
Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern.
Bake the brownies for 30 minutes.

Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are a fan of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream…
you will be a fan of these.

I enjoy trying new treats for the holidays.
Variety is nice for parties and sweets for the neighbors.

What attracted me to these was the fun green color.
The taste will bring me back!DSC_0041

1 (1 pound 1.5 ounce) pouch Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
6 drops green food color
1 egg
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips
(Andes makes these)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
(I used chips, since that was what I had on hand)

Mix cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg in bowl, until soft dough forms.
Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.

    Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
    Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes.
    Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
    Serve warm or cool completely.
    Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

A seasonal favorite
by request…

Pumpkin Sheetcake

15 oz canned pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat pumpkin, sugar and oil. Add eggs and mix well.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Add to pumpkin mixture and beat until well blended.
Pour into greased 15x10 jellyroll pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool.
For frosting - beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add sugar and mix well.
Frost cake and sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Terry’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love it when friends share recipes.
This is no exception.
My first taste of this wonderful soup was a year or two ago at a Christmas Party.
A variety of soups for dinner.
Christmas Caroling.
A perfect combination.


    2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    1-1/2 C chopped onion
    2 Tbsp minced garlic
    4 cup chicken broth
    3 corn tortillas - cut in squares
    1 can diced tomatoes w/chilies
    1  tsp oregano
    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tsp coriander
    1 tsp cumin
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    2 cup cooked chicken **
    1-1/2 cup frozen corn
    1  Tbsp lime juice
    salt & pepper to taste
    1 can black beans drained & rinsed

Sauté onion and garlic in oil for 3 minutes. Add broth, tortillas, tomatoes, oregano, cayenne, coriander & cumin. Heat to boiling then cool 5 minutes. Blend until smooth. Return to heat, add cream chicken corn. Heat to boiling, simmer 5 min. Add lime juice, salt & pepper and beans. Heat until warm.

** I have used leftover turkey… just as delicious!!


By request…

We recently served these at a banquet for Gamma, my daughter sorority. The original recipe comes from Paula Deen.

Photo courtesy

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 vanilla wafers
  • 1 (21-ounce) can blueberry filling, or other pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a muffin pan.

Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Place a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with blueberry filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.

Note: The cakes will come out of the oven puffed up, but as they cool, the center will sink, creating a well, perfect for filling with the topping of your choice.

Just for fun, I am including some photos of the table decorations. My daughter was responsible for decorating them, and she did a great job.


Penne Arrabiata

My family is (was) in a pasta rut.
We enjoy pasta, but our dishes were the usual: spaghetti, lasagna or mac n cheese,
(Any of which was homemade or premade.)

I was determined to break out of that rut, so my hunt began.
My first source is always
That is where my hunt began and ended.
It did not take long at all to locate a recipe that was an instant HIT.

Penne Arrabiata_1459

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 (12 ounce) package dried penne pasta  ** (I prefer the whole grain variety!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound thin chicken breast cutlets

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and saute for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, and sauté for another minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and add the basil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta, and cook for 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs with a fork. Place bread crumbs in a separate bowl. Stir the garlic powder, salt and pepper into the bread crumbs. Dip chicken cutlets into the egg, then press into the bread crumbs until completely coated.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until the coating is a nice dark brown color.

Remove chicken, and cut into slices. Toss the chicken slices into the sauce, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked penne, simmer for a few more minutes to soak up the flavor, then serve.

(Original recipe is HERE)

Chocolate Chip, Almond, Toffee Cookies


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toffee pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter and dark brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat for another minute. Add the vanilla, beat well.

Whisk dry ingredients together. In two or three additions, mix the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.

Fold in the chocolate chips, toffee and almonds. Use a mini ice cream scoop or tablespoon to drop balls of the dough onto baking sheets. Gently flatten the tops of the dough.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet.

(Original recipe found HERE)

Caramel Popcorn

I am not a fan of chewy caramel popcorn, so this recipe is perfect for me.
It is sweet, buttery and crispy!!
Just the way I like it.

• 1 cup butter
• 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
• 1/2 cup corn syrup
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 5 quarts popped popcorn**
• 2-3 cups spanish peanuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a large roaster.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour over popcorn, stirring to coat.
Place the roaster in preheated oven and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

** I like to pop this in the microwave. Place about 1/4 cup of unpopped popping corn in a brown paper bag. Fold down the top a few time and place in microwave. I use the "popcorn" setting. It takes about 3-4 batches for this recipe. (Be sure to filter out the unpopped kernels as you pour it into the roasting pan.)

S’Mores Bars

S’Mores seem to be a favorite around here. I personally, don’t care for them. I think I could, I am just not a big fan of the dry, crispy graham cracker surrounding the gooey goodness of chocolate & warm marshmallows.

I have been on the hunt for a suitable substitution for this popular treat.

My hunt ended today when I stumbled across this recipe while surfing a featured blog on (I am on there too!)

  • 16 Tbls. butter (that’s 2 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsps. vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 14 full graham crackers)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large (4.4 oz.) chocolate bars
  • 3 cups marshmallow fluff (that’s roughly one 16-oz. tub of marshmallow fluff)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 9x13 baking pan.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate bars over dough, side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.
Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.
Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool completely before cutting into bars.

I gave in to the prodding by my daughters to cut the bars before cooling completely. While they were DELICIOUS, they were not photogenic. I will practice more patience next time and also put them in the fridge before cutting as advised on the linked recipe below.

I found the photo & recipe HERE.

Spinach and Orzo Salad

I often find myself tired of packing sandwiches for family outings.
I have been searching for yummy, health alternatives.
I fould this recipe from Sunset Magazine.
It was an instant HIT.
FYI - I omited the olives and added chicken.

1 cup orzo pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
About 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 quart lightly packed baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup slivered dried tomatoes packed in oil
12 pitted kalamata olives, sliced

Cook orzo according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, oregano, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the pepper and reserve.

Drain pasta, rinse with water until cool, and drain again.
Add to bowl with dressing and gently mix in spinach, tomatoes, and olives to combine.
Add more salt if you like.

Keeps: Up to 2 hours at room temperature (without chicken), 4 hours with ice packs.

Cream Filling for Cupcakes

With this recipe. . .

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend together and pipe into the center of cupcakes.

You get this. . .

cupcake filling (6)

Monster Cookies

A childhood favorite I never grew out of!

monster cookies

  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 pound candy-coated milk chocolate pieces
  • 1/4 pound semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, white sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Mix in baking soda and oats until well blended. Stir in the chocolate candies and chocolate chips. Roll dough into 2 inch balls, and place 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Chicken Fettuccine with Peanut Sauce

Once again, my neighbor shared a winner.

  • 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup sprouts

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (if you don't have low sodium mix 1/8 cup soy sauce to 1/8 cup water)
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar  (I didn’t have any, OK to use White Wine Vinegar or Cider Vinegar)
  • 2 tsp grated, peeled fresh ginger (may use power instead)
  • 2 tsp chili paste with garlic (Didn’t have this either, used 2 tsp Hot Chili sauce)
  • 4 garlic cloves minced

Combined and cook all ingredients in saucepan over medium and whisk until smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cook pasta per package directions in large pot and drain then put back in pot used to cook pasta. Add chicken, onions, carrots and sprouts. Add PB mixture toss gently.  This dish has many variations. Shrimp or tofu instead of chicken. Or add snow peas, bell pepper strips or other veggies. Just use your favorites.

Thanks Krazy cake lady! 
Her recipe is HERE


I just returned home from girls camp. Five fun filled days in the dirt and sun.
It sounds glamorous, right?
If you were to judge that week by the food that was prepared for us, you would think we were at the Hyatt or JW Marriott.

One such menu item was Bruschetta.

I am not a fan of tomatoes, but thought… since we are roughing it, why not.

So here I am, showered and rested and looking for recipes that mimic this wonderful appetizer. This is what I found and I do believe, it wins my picky eater seal of approval. Not only do I like it, but my youngest and most picky eater does too.InlineRepresentation5dd3f2cf-3bc3-4601-b954-cc03f2b55bdf[2]

  • 8 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil (fresh basil is a MUST!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf French bread, sliced and toasted

In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, basil and garlic. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Serve on toasted bread slices. If desired – top with fresh shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Fish Tacos

Enjoyed even by those who dislike fish (myself included)…fish tacos Inspired by THIS recipe.

FYI – Costco sells a great package of Mahi Mahi fillets in the freezer section.

Evaporated Milk Substitute

This Sunday morning, I realized that I forgot to buy a Pound Cake for today’s Trifle dessert.
No problem, I will make one. (More delicious, right?)

I pulled out one of my favorite, most trusted cookbooks and found the perfect recipe.
I started to collect the ingredients and quickly realized I did not have Evaporated Milk, (Crisis #2)

A quick search online, I found this perfect solution.
The best news – it is another great use for the powdered milk I have in my food storage. (We try to avoid drinking it!)


2/3 cup non-fat dry milk
3/4 cup water


Mix the water and dry milk powder together. Then, use in place of the evaporated milk in any recipe.

Yield: 1 cup (8 ounces)

Taco Twist Soup

Winter is holding on – so we might as well eat soup!

taco twist soup

Almond Chicken Salad

Made from the leftovers of last nights Teriyaki Chicken.

almond chicken salad(The original recipe is HERE)

Teriyaki Chicken

From another magazine page. This one from Simple & Delicious July/Aug 2009.

teriyaki chicken I use the leftovers to make THIS.

Chicken Milan

Once again, I was sorting through another pile of recipes cut out of magazines. I tried one and threw it away. This one was a keeper.

I used 1 lb chicken and also topped with steamed broccoli.

(Click on recipe to view or save for printing)

chicken milan ( Original recipe HERE)

Hamhock and white bean soup

This is a great way to use your Easter ham leftovers.

Ham hock and Bean Soup
Spiral-cut ham, cooked with brown sugar and mustard
3 cups Great Northern beans (or 6 cans with 10 cups water)
15 oz. can tomato sauce
½ cup salsa
1 tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp garlic powder

Eat ham, save the bone and extra meat. Soak beans in 8 cups water overnight. Drain; add 8 cups water, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, and then simmer approximately 2 hours . Add 4 cups water, tomato sauce, salsa, pepper, garlic powder, ham hock and any remaining ham leftovers. Simmer together of 1 ½ to 2 hours, until ham falls off the bone. Add salt before serving (but not before. Salt makes the meat tough)


Easter morning yields many hard boiled eggs in our home. Even with grown kids. It seems to be the only time we enjoy them in many varieties.

Traditional breakfast is this…


  • White Sauce (see HERE)
  • Hard boiled eggs
    • Chop egg whites
    • finely grate egg yolks
  • Toast

Prepare the white sauce. Add the chopped egg whites. Spoon over toast and sprinkle yolks** on top.


**I use the leftover egg yolks in Deviled Eggs.

Deviled Eggs

Another Easter favorite.

Here is the basic recipe, but I usually eyeball it…

  • 6 eggs, hard-boiled – halved
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • paprika

Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise and remove yolks. Place yolks in a bowl; mash with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar; mix well. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stuff egg white halves with yolk mixture. Garnish with paprika.

Basic White Sauce

  1. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
  2. Blend 2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
  3. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Cooking for this length of time will minimize 'flour' taste.
  5. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly.
  6. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.
  7. For thin white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Thin white sauce is used in cream soups.
  8. For thick white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. Thick white sauce is used in soufflés.
  9. For heavy white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour. Heavy white sauce is used as a binder for croquettes.

Perfect Black Beans

Part of my weekend routine includes the Food Network. This morning was no exception. Thank goodness I tuned in. I was looking for something new to make for dinner since the family was staying home, glued to the TV for the Semi-Annual General Conference of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I braised a Boston Butt and complemented it with these:

black beans

  • 1/2 pound dried black beans
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped scallions, for garnish

The night before**, soak the black beans in a large pot of water. The next day, rinse the beans, cover with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam. Stir in the onion and simmer 30 minutes more. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and vinegar, and taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn out into a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped scallions.

** Since this recipe did not come to me in time to soak overnight, I used the speed soak method:
Rinse beans in warm water. Put in a medium pot and cover with enough water to cover beans plus about an inch. Bring beans and water to a boil. Continue to boil for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let soak for at least one hour. Rinse the beans and continue as directed in the recipe.

Chicken Taquitos

Again, when recipes collide, you get this. Be sure to take a look at the reduced fat version at the bottom. It is the  same method I use when preparing corn tortillas for  enchiladas. IMG_2769_0004

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup picante sauce  or salsa
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups shredded Colby/Jack cheese
  • appx. 36 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  In a medium bowl combine the shredded chicken, picante sauce, cheeses and ground cumin. Mix together.

In a small skillet heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Place a corn tortilla in the oil for 1 to 2 seconds on either side to soften. Repeat with all of the tortillas. Place tortillas on paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

Put 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture in the center of a tortilla. Roll up tortilla and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, seam side down. Repeat with all of the tortillas until chicken mixture is gone.

Bake tortillas in the preheated oven for 15 to 25 minutes or until tortillas are a little crispy and golden brown.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

LIGHTER VERSION (the method I use!)

Using the same ingredients, prepare the chicken mixture.

Instead of frying the tortilla in the heated oil,  I heat them up one at a time in the microwave for 10-15 seconds each. I fill them and roll them immediately after heating them up.
(HINT: the fresher the tortilla, the less likely it will tear or break while rolling or baking.)

(If using this method, spray the taquitos with Pam before baking.)


I love hummus. My technique for making it may not suit everyone, so I've attempted to give accurate quantity measurements. My personal technique is a very scientific, refined system of dumping, free-pouring, and tasting! I've never measured anything I've dumped into the food processor when I've made this dip, so these are "best-guess" quantities.

2 cans garbanzo beans (I hear that it's smoother and tastes better with fresh garbanzo beans, but I've NEVER found fresh beans anywhere!)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (out of the green plastic container-the fresh grated stuff doesn't have the right consistency for this use)
Approximately 1/4 cup olive oil
Approximately 1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper sauce (Rooster sauce works well)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Rinse garbanzo beans, then use a food process to chop everything together until smooth - about 5 minutes. Add oil and lemon juice in equal quantities to loosen the beans as they process. Add the different seasonings to taste.

Serve with warmed or toasted pita bread, or your favorite crackers.

I've substituted garlic powder for the minced garlic, and ground cayenne pepper for the red pepper sauce. I prefer to use fresh ground black pepper from a mill over the pre-ground stuff.

Favorite Pizza Sauce

This one has a bit of a kick.

  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water (just use the empty tomato paste can)
  • 3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Empty tomato paste into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly until combined. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and allow to stand until ready to use. Covers two average-sized pizza; freezes extremely well.

(Original recipe found HERE)

Garlic Bread Seasoning

  • 1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. marjoram
  • 2 tsp. parsley

Combine ingredients in a jar (preferably one with a sprinkle top) and shake. Sprinkle on top of breadsticks or combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning with 1/2 c. of softened real butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter's melted. If you want, you could also pop it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes so it gets brownish and crispy.

(Original HERE)

Homemade Ketchup

Today is Sunday. It is my turn to cook for the family (extended included).  I am grilling hamburgers in spite of the weather (thanks Evan!). As I was filling dispensers with condiments, I realized I was out of Ketchup. Being a fan of the 10 commandments, panic ensued.

I quickly googled and found this recipe and though I would give it a whirl.  I had all of the ingredients on hand, so why not. When I first blended the ingredients together and gave it a quick taste, the cinnamon and cloves were quite noticeable. I am a picky eater and a die hard Heinz® Ketchup fan, so I was a little nervous about serving it but reminded myself to give the flavors some time.

  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar**

Mix together, cover and refrigerate (for at least two hours to allow the flavors to blend). Remember that when you make things from scratch, they don't have as many preservatives (good and bad). You are going to have to use it up in a month or so.

** I didn’t have any cider vinegar on hand, so I used white wine vinegar.
POST EDIT REVIEW: The cinnamon and cloves were still a distinct flavor that I did not like in the end. Will attempt to make ketchup again, but not with this recipe. I will try the one posted below.

Version 2

I have since found this recipe, and I like the recommended spices for this one. I will most definitely try this one next time. I predict it will be closer to what I expect from a ketchup and I will opt out of the the cinnamon and cloves for sure.

  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • pinch cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch ground cloves (optional)
  • pinch cumin (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. You may adjust spices to your taste. (Some prefer a "spicier" ketchup.) If the mixture is too thick, add more water until the ketchup reaches the consistency you prefer. Cover and refrigerate. Since this ketchup doesn't have preservatives, it should be used up within a month.

Balsamic-Marinated Chicken

Once again, my neighbor, the krazycakelady, comes through with another great recipe. This one is for Balsamic-Marinated Chicken.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halved (or use 10 tenders)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette (She used Kraft reduced fat Balsamic Salad dressing)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic

Combine all ingredients

Place chicken in large zip-lock bag. Add marinade to chicken. Squeeze air out of bag and seal. Marinate in fridge 4 hours (the longer the better, on Sunday mornings I make it early and let it marinate for 6-8 hours.)

Set up grill on medium high heat. Oil grate when ready to start cooking. I brush with Olive oil or use Pam for grilling, this is very important or chicken will stick. Remove from marinade, grill for 3-4 minutes per side until chicken is no longer pink.

Variation: Can be cooked under broiler. Broil 6-8 inches under heat source. Broil for 5-6 minutes per side or until chicken is no longer pink.

Oreo Cookies

Depending on your definition of homemade, these might not fit the bill...they come from a boxed cake mix. I have not had much luck yet finding a made-from-scratch recipe that taste the way I like these… as soon as I find one, I will re-post. Until then, enjoy this quick, easy and delicious version.

  • 1 Pkg Chocolate Cake Mix (I used Devils Food today.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 C Shortening

Mix ingredients with mixer (it will be stiff). Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool and ice with vanilla or white icing, sandwiching two cookies together.

Favorite Cinnamon Roll Frosting

It just dawned on me that I promised this recipe when I posted THIS recipe for Cinnamon Twists back in November.

  • 4 oz cream cheese – softened
  • 1/4 C butter – softened
  • 1-1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp milk
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup

Frost sweet rolls.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 2 1/2 cups wide egg noodles
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups diced, cooked chicken meat

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and oil, and boil for 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and rinse under cool running water.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine broth, salt, and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil. Stir in celery, carrots and onion. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Gradually add to soup, stirring constantly. Stir in noodles and chicken, and heat through.

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

A Paula Deen classic!


2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.
Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth.
Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.
Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Homemade Applesauce

Does not need much of an explanation other than – Once you try this, you will never eat store bought applesauce again.

I was very impatient when I made this for the first time. I did not wait for it to cool. I mashed the apples while they were still warm and then decided to blend them down instead.  We ate it warm. Not a complaint.

homemade applesauce_0403
  • 4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Raspberry Lemon Cream Angel Food Cakes

This is another recipe that is shared by my neighbor THE KRAZY CAKE LADY.

They look and taste delicious. However, I had some failures on this first attempt so I will share what I learned and share her pic:

  1. DO NOT over fill the cupcake tins. It is better to under fill than overfill.
  2. WATCH THE BAKING TIME CAREFULLY. The box of mix I used said to bake 12-20 minutes. That is a very broad range. My first batch over baked at 16 minutes (I split the difference), so I had to adjust down.
  3. If you are piping the cream with a star tip… CHOP THE RASPBERRIES VERY FINE. I was constantly picking out raspberries that were plugging the tip. I ended up removing the tip and piping from the bag without it.
  4. DOUBLE THE CREAM (at least) I am sure you will love it as much as I do. I threw out 1/3 of the cakes (burnt) and I still ran out.

Angel Food Cupcakes

  • 1 box angel food mix
  • Follow all direction on box but add zest of one large lemon, and replace 2 tbs. water for 2 tbs fresh lemon juice.

Line cupcake tin with liners and bake according to package directions.

Raspberry lemon whipped cream

  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
    (this helps cream hold it's shape for decorating)
  • fresh raspberries roughly chopped

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla, sugar, lemon juice and corn syrup until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like. hint: if cream is over beaten you can add a dash of unbeaten cream to smooth it out. Once cream is whipped add 1 cup chopped raspberries to cream and mix in by hand.

To decorate
Use a large star tip or round tip and drop into a decorators bag fitted with a coupler. Or just drop a tip into a slightly trimmed large ziplock bag. Or just use a bag with not tip. Starting outside in make a coil shape with cream on top of cupcake. Top with 1 raspberry.

Crockpot vs. Oven

Sometimes I need to cook a roast that is too big for my Crockpot.
Every time I do, I find myself on Google, looking for a temperature conversion.
This is what I found, and thought I would index it and pass it along.

  • Low is 180 to 200 degrees.
  • High is around 300 degrees.

I found this conversion on TWO different sites, but remember … Crockpot’s vary and this is only a guideline.

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