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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

3D cake

Have you ever had to make a cake and you're stumped because you feel like you keep making the same cakes over and over and OVER again?  We have 12 kids in the family so that equates to a lot of cakes made over the years and I want each one to either be exactly what they asked for or something a little bit special. 

Which brings me to Alivia's last cake.  She was very indecisive.  Imagine that for a 4 year old.  All she said was that she wanted a pink cake. 

She added later that she wanted her Strawberry Shortcake dolls on top.  I decided to get a little funky and create the chocolate cake toppers freehand.  This was the end result.  She loved it.

Monday, February 25, 2013


We've been getting some winter weather.  Image that, it's end of February and we're finally getting some snow.  At any rate, I needed something warm and comforting.  Something that reminded me of when I was a kid.  A "real" home cooked meal.  So, I went looking in my recipes and meatloaf was the winner of the day.  I've posted before, but maybe you missed it?? 

At any rate, this is a quick, 6 minute meatloaf.  Yes, you read that right. Six minutes is all it takes to make this meatloaf. Add the mixing up part and we're at about ten minutes total.

So, obviously, I make a pretty simple meatloaf. It's the one I grew up with. My Mom is not a fan of Ketchup so her meatloaf is like a big meatball without sauce and this is her recipe. I prefer to make a brown gravy with mine but you can throw some Ketchup on top if that's what makes you happy.

Here's what you'll need..

1 lb Ground Beef
1 Egg
3/4 package of crushed Saltines or about 1/2 C bread crumbs ~ I prefer saltines because it isn't as heavy
1/2 small Onion minced
1/2 medium Green Pepper minced
2 cloves minced Garlic
1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
1/2 t Garlic Powder

Mix everything together and pat into a microwave safe dish. Divide the meatloaf down the middle so you have two rectangles. I used a 9x7 rectangle. I also have lost the top to my dish or maybe I never had one so I used Saran wrap over the top. Microwave on high for 6 minutes. You can also bake it at 350 covered with foil for probably an hour.  But why would you do that??  This is quick, this is easy, this is moist and yummy!!

Let it cool a couple of minutes, remove wrap, slice and serve with garlic mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Or my favorite way, let it cool and make a sandwich!

Throw everything in the bowl
Pat into microwave dish
Cut to make sure it's cooked through
Dinner is served

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chicken Lentil Soup

What happens when you make a soup you really like?  You make another version of it with a different leftover.  In this case, salsa chicken.  Yes, I came up with yet another recipe to use Salsa Chicken in and it was YUMMY!  You could also use leftovers from crockpot chicken, your choice.  Same as with beef, I keep adding chicken and broth to a "leftover" bowl in the freezer until it screams, "Make something comforting"!

Because you're starting with leftover chicken, this soup can be done in an hour.  Rich, tastes like it's cooked all day on the stove in less than an hour!  Crazy talk right??  Nope, give it a try.

Once again, I only have a final shot of the soup because it was that easy.  So, easy that I almost forgot to take a photo since I was inhaling it for lunch.

3-4 C leftover salsa chicken
10C water
6 bouillon cubes or 10 C chicken broth replaces water and bouillon
12 baby Carrots chopped
I can Diced Tomatoes with green chili's
1 C Salsa
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 small onion minced
3/4 C dry Lentils
1 C frozen Corn
1 1/2 C fresh Green Beans
3 C Chopped Zucchini
2 t Olive Oil
2 t Red Pepper Flakes

Bring leftover chicken, water/bouillon or broth, salsa, carrots, tomatoes, garlic and onion to a boil in your soup pot. Turn down heat to a simmer and pour in 3/4 C dry lentils. Simmer for about 45-50 minutes stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.

Chop zucchini and green beans into bite size pieces, drizzle Olive Oil over top and season with 1/2 t of salt, 1/2 t Garlic Powder, 1 t of pepper. Toss together and put on cookie sheet. Into a 425 degree oven to roast for 30 minutes.

When lentils are soft, add corn, roasted vegis and red pepper flakes. Cook until heated through.  Serves 7 and has 6 points per bowl.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Country Fried Pork

What do you make for dinner when you took boneless pork chops out and you have about 15 minutes to cook?  Country Fried Pork! 
Put your pork chops between plastic wrap and using your meat mallet, gently start pounding in the middle, working your way out to the sides so that it's even.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and dredge through some flour.  Shake off excess.

Heat about a 1/4 C of Olive Oil in a pan and when it's hot (few minutes) drop in your floured pork.  Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes.

Serve with your favorite sides. 
Easy and quick, that's my kind of dinner!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Beefy Lentil Soup

I had some leftover crockpot beef and wasn't really sure where I was going so I didn't take step by step photos but it's easy.  You've got this:)  The result is YUMMY!!  Did I mention that I don't typically like lentils?  I promise, they worked in this soup.  It was the kind of soup that warms you up and makes winter weather a bit better for a day.

To achieve leftover beef, everytime I make it, I throw what's left in a ziploc and throw in the freezer.  When I get a decent amount, I make soup.  Or if you want to skip the leftover part, make the beef with a smaller roast and you're directly ready to make soup.  You can still follow the recipe, it will just make more broth which is a good thing:)

What you'll need:

1 1/2 lbs of leftover crockpot beef
12C water
7 bouillon cubes or 12 C beef broth  replaces water and bouillon
12 baby Carrots chopped
I can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 small onion minced
3/4 C dry Lentils
3 small Potatoes sliced into bite size pieces
1 C frozen Corn
1 1/2 C fresh Green Beans
3 C Chopped Zucchini
2 t Olive Oil
2 t Red Pepper Flakes

Bring leftover beef, water/bouillon or broth, carrots, tomatoes, garlic and onion to a boil in your soup pot.  Turn down heat to a simmer and pour in 3/4 C dry lentils.  Simmer for about 45-50 minutes  stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.

Chop zucchini and green beans into bite size pieces, drizzle Olive Oil over top and season with 1/2 t of salt and 1 t of pepper.  Toss together and put on cookie sheet.  Into a 425 degree oven to roast for 30 minutes.

When lentils are soft, add corn, potatoes, roasted vegis and red pepper flakes.  Cook until potatoes are done.

Makes 10 servings at 6 points per bowl.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup

I have posted this before BUT I just figured out that it's only 4 WW points per serving if you do the fat free options!  Woo Hoo! 

SUPER easy, no fail soup for you to enjoy after your cold day outside. You can make it in a crock pot or you can make it on the stove. Either way...YUMMY:)

1 can Black Beans rinsed
1 can Diced Tomatoes ~ I like the ones with green chilis added but not necessary
10 oz Frozen Corn
1/2 small Onion chopped
1/2 Red Pepper diced
10 oz can Enchilada Sauce ~ I used Mild because that's what I had, prefer HOT
1 C Salsa ~ I used Thick and Chunky Medium
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup ~ I used 98% fat free
1 1/2 C Milk ~ I use skim
3 Boneless Breasts
1 C Pepper Jack Cheese shredded ~ optional for topping
1 t Chili Powder and 1 t Cumin optional

Pour your Enchilada sauce, Chicken Soup and Milk in crock pot, give it a whisk. Add Chicken breasts and everything else. Give it a bit of a stir. Crock on low for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken, mix back in and serve. Top with cheese, sour cream, guacamole or chips if you want but it's good enough without.

If you want to make it on the stove. I typically have extra cooked chicken breast in the freezer. So, add the chicken and all your ingredients and cook on low for 1 hour.

I only took one photo of the finished product because to be honest, I was in a hurry and I don't think you need step by step to dump cans;) Makes 7 servings.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Molten Chocolate Cake

I have been doing Weight Watchers again.  Actually counting points and have lost a few pounds but if I were going to splurge today and I might, this is what I would have.  Let me also say, that I am not really a "cake" person but this cake, well, it is so yummy and rich.  Truthfully, I could eat this cake EVERY day and my kids smile using all their teeth as my Dad would say when they see this being brought out for dessert.

I have posted this recipe before but it is worth repeating because it is SO yummy! It is an awesome and easy way to let someone know you love them or it makes a crappy day better. I orginally found the recipe here.

Here's what you'll need.
4 squares of Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Stick of butter
1 C Powdered Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
6 T Flour

Put the butter and chocolate in a bowl. I actually use a Large Mixing bowl so I can pour the batter. It's not necessary, just makes it a bit easier. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave. I only needed a minute to melt the butter and make the chocolate soft.

The chocolate will not be completely melted so you need to stir it around in the butter until it's completely melted and incorporated. See how shiny it is.

My trusty assistant and daughter Claire thought that I should show all of you how to separate an egg. Crack the egg over a cup or bowl. Tilt one side so the yolk goes into half of the shell and the white slides into the bowl.

Flip the egg into the other half of the shell, getting rid of all the white. Hope that makes sense?? Claire thought it did, lol;) Add the rest of the ingredients and make sure it's mixed well.

Here are the custard cups. This recipe only makes enough for 4 of this size. Spray well with cooking spray, you don't want them to stick. Place the cups on a cookie sheet.

Equally fill the custard cups. These are ready for the oven, are you getting excited?? Did you taste the batter?? YUM.

They take 14 minutes at 425 in my oven, should be obviously set around the edges, lightly browned. Let stand one minute and then invert on a plate.

Claire thought you needed to see what happens when you cut into the cake, yep, that's hot fudge that comes out of the middle. Can you hear the angels singing??!

We have either ice cream or whipped cream on the side. Unfortunately, neither photograph well. Trust me, the cream is worth it!! This cake will SO make your bad day better. And, if you're having a good day...BONUS!

To make the whipped cream

Small container of Whipped Cream
1 t Vanilla extract

Whip it until it's firming up. Add 3/4 Powdered Sugar and whip until stiff. It's PURE heaven.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Peanut Butter Hearts

Ok, so I don't have a photo because I'll be making these tonight know the peanut butter blossoms that I made at Christmas.  The ones with the Hershey kiss in the middle??  Well, we are going to get funky and put a heart shaped Dove in the middle for Valentine's Day!!  These are such an easy cookie and they are sure to put a smile on someone's face.

Unwrap a bag of Dove Hearts so they are ready to go.

1/2 C Butter softened
1 Egg
1/2 C Peanut Butter
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Brown Sugar

Cream together. And then add...

1 1/2 C Flour
1/4 t Salt
3/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Baking Powder

Roll into small balls about the size of a medium gum ball. That is bigger than the ones that cost a penny and smaller than the quarter size. Basically you are going to have a bite size cookie when it cooks.

Roll in sugar. Put on pan and bake at 375 for about 7 minutes until bottom is lightly browned.

Immediately put on waxed paper and immediately push a Dove Heart in the center. You are not going to be able to move these for at least two hours because the heart will soften a bit. They need to completely cool before you package these.

These freeze well

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sugar Cookie

The tried and true. The cookie that makes Valentine's day complete.  We make these together and deliver them to friends on Valentine's Day. 

I will try to show you how to avoid the mistakes that make sugar cookies tough or dry. The two big tricks are to handle the dough as little as possible and watch the flour.

I always double the recipe because if you are going to take the time to make cut out cookies, you might as well make a bunch. These freeze very well. This is the "single" batch recipe.

2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Sugar
1 t Baking Powder
2 Eggs
2 t Vanilla
1/2 t Salt
12 T Butter ~ soft

Combine butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar at medium speed. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined and dough forms. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Roll dough and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes.
I did use my trusty KitchenAid Mixer but up until a year ago when I got it, a regular hand mixer and bowl did the trick. Here's your butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar ready to mix.
Make sure your wet ingredients are well mixed. Now it's time to add the dry.
The dough will form and look like this. Put in the fridge to chill. Make sure you chill at LEAST 4 hours, if you don't...the dough absorbs more flour when you are rolling it out and your cookies will NOT be good.
Sprinkle your counter with flour and divide the dough in half.
Push your dough down so you don't have to do so much work with the rolling pin.
Sprinkle the top with flour. You don't want your rolling pin to stick.
Start rolling out your dough, applying even and steady pressure with the rolling pin. Try to keep the dough a consistent thickness as you roll.
Cut your cookies as close together as you can. The less you have to re-roll the dough, the better the cookies.
This is a good thickness for your cookies. If they are thinner, watch them closely when baking because they will cook fast and be more crispy. If they are thicker, they are going to have a more doughy consistency even when fully cooked.
They don't spread much so this is how close you can put them. Bake for about 8 minutes at 375
In my opinion, a good sugar cookie should NOT be browned on the top at all. If you've rolled the dough so the thickness is consistent, they shouldn't be brown even on the edges. The bottom should look like this...lightly browned.
After you've rolled out the first batch, these are your leftovers, set aside. Roll the fresh batch same as the first.
This is your second time around. Mold dough ever so slightly into new ball. Use less flour on your counter because the dough is less sticky the second time around and re-roll the dough.
Save the sprinkle cookies until the end because your pan is going to have some sprinkles left over on the pan. Don't OVER sprinkle because the cookies don't cook evenly. This amount is perfect.
Here's the frosted ones drying and ready to bag.

To make butter cream frosting
1 stick soft Butter
4-5 C Powdered Sugar
2 t Vanilla
4-7 T Milk

Start out with 1 stick butter, 4 C powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 T milk. Mix it with your mixer. Keep adding milk by the T until it's the consistency you want. IF you add too much milk, add more powdered sugar. I've never used a true recipe for frosting, it was an add and adjust philosophy. When it's done, separate into different bowls and add food coloring. If you are using liquid food coloring remember it will thin the frosting a bit more.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Valentine Week!

I've posted this before but it's something my kids look forward to so I thought I would post again. 

When my kids were old enough, I started doing a scavenger hunt for them. Every year on Valentine's Day I hide clues and small presents. I knew they liked it but I didn't realize how much until they had friends sleeping over a couple of years ago the night before Valentine's day and before they went to bed they said, "we're still having our scavenger hunt right"?

I will admit that some years I am more prepared and the clues rhyme well. Some years I have them on pretty paper, neatly printed on the computer. Some years they have to figure out the clues together. It doesn't matter "how" I do it, just that I do.

Typically they'll have 4 to 5 clues/stops. The first clue can be attached to a heart shaped balloon or just on their door. It might say something like, "Look for some clothing that's blue...there you will find your very first clue".

In the pocket of their BLUE robe or hoodie, they'll find a heart shaped sucker and the next clue.

This continues 4 more times and takes them all over the house. I typically give a small heart filled with chocolate (Walmart $1), heart printed socks or underwear, their favorite beverage or snack or Pez and then a little gift for the final.

It's about the fun, so have some!!