Antler Dog Chews

Antler Dog Chews
Find great antler dog chews at our Etsy shop!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chicken Stew

*~*~*Hey everyone! I'm featured today over on CafeMom!! If your coming over from CafeMom, welcome!! I'm glad to have you here!! You can check out my feature here!*~*~*

My oldest son, who is four years old, recently started taking karate classes. The classes happen to be at 5:00 in the evening, which means that dinner needs to be cooking at home while we're at karate class. Thank goodness for crock pots!! I've got two crock pots that I use pretty often, and I love! This dinner was made up one day before karate class, as both a way to use up some chicken thighs that were in the fridge and a way to get dinner done and ready by the time we got home from karate. My kids ate this up and wanted more! I think they just really love good home style foods like stews, soups and casseroles. Things that fill you up and make you warm inside (not that we need to be warm in August, but you know what I'm talking about!). So if your family loves that kind of food too, they will be sure to love this chicken stew! I served mine over white rice, that I cooked when we got home from karate along with some homemade wheat bread. I hope you enjoy!

Chicken Stew

1 ½ pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
½ pound baby carrots
1 onion, chunked
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can water (use the empty soup can)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup frozen peas

Brown the chicken pieces in a large skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook, stirring often until chicken is cooked through. Once the chicken is done cooking, place in a crock pot. Add in all ingredients except for the peas and mix well. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours, or until the veggies are soft. Half an hour before serving, add in the peas and mix in. Continue cooking until the peas are warm, about 30 minutes. Enjoy with biscuits, rolls or over cooked rice.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

I don't make cake or cupcakes very often, simply because I like baking cookies a lot better because you get more out of them and they are easier to share and store. So, you probably won't see too many cake or cupcake recipes here. But the other day I was looking in my cupboard at a box of cake mix and part of a package of Oreos that needed to be used and came up with this recipe. I know there are lots of recipes for cookies & cream cupcakes out there, but I threw this one together and I think it turned out pretty good. My favorite part was the frosting and crushed Oreos on top! My kids also absolutely loved these!

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

1 (18 ounce) white cake mix
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
12 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe follows)
6 Oreo cookies, crushed for topping

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Mix together the cake mix, buttermilk, oil and eggs in an electric mixer. Once it has been combined mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add in the chopped Oreos and mix until combined. Pour into a muffin pan that has been lined with cupcake papers. Be sure not to overfill them, about 2/3 of the way is good. Bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure not to over cook them. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan and then take them out and let cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with chocolate buttercream frosting and sprinkle crushed oreos on top.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the cocoa powder, mixing well. Stir in milk and vanilla extract and beat on high for 2 minutes, or until the frosting has lightened slightly. Frost your favorite cake and enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barbecue Smothered Chicken

I made this chicken the other night and we all loved it! With mushrooms, onions, barbecue sauce, bacon and cheese, you can't go wrong! When I made it I used crimini mushrooms and purple onions, which is what I had on hand, but button mushrooms and any color onion would work. And we always use Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, but you could use whatever is your favorite. Give this a try, your family will love it!

Barbecue Smothered Chicken

3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with My Go To Seasonings
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup pre-cooked bacon crumbles

Preheat oven to 375° F.
In a large skillet melt butter over high heat, once melted add the mushrooms, garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the kosher salt and pepper and mix well. Take off of heat and place in a bowl for later use. In the same skillet heat the olive oil on high heat. Add the seasoned chicken breasts and cook for about 3 minutes per side, not fully cooked, just brown them. Once they have browned, place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. On top of each chicken breast, evenly distribute the mushroom mixture. On top of the mushroom mixture spread the barbecue sauce, cheese and bacon crumbles on each chicken breast. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Loaded Zucchini Muffins

These muffins would be a great idea for an after school snack or even a nice breakfast before the kids hop onto the bus. My four year old will be starting preschool on the 31st and he'll be taking the bus to school (I can't begin to tell you how scared and excited I am about this whole thing!) so I'm sure some mornings we'll be rushing to get him out the door. These muffins would be a great thing to hand him on his way out the door. And you don't have to feel bad about giving them to your kids because they are loaded with fruits and veggies! I'll be making more of these muffins to stash in my freezer!!

Loaded Zucchini Muffins

1 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup raisins
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In an electric mixer, combine the oil, sugar and eggs until mixed well. Add the carrots, zucchini, coconut and raisins and mix well. Finally add the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and mix until everything is combined thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins (I spray mine with baker's joy) to almost the top of the tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes for mini muffins and 18 to 22 minutes for regular sized muffins. I got 24 mini muffins and 18 regular muffins out of this batter. Enjoy!


Growing up with a mom that is half Puerto Rican and a dad this is part Scottish, we ate lots of different kinds of foods. Puerto Rican foods being my all time favorite! I love a good bowl of rice and beans or some arroz con gandules. Yum! There isn't any better kind of comfort food to me! And whenever we ate Puerto Rican foods you could always find these fried plantains or tostones on the table! Actually they never made it to the table because we'd be standing by the stove waiting for them to be done so that we could grab some off the plate when they were nice and hot! Just one of my many childhood memories, that inevitably had something to do with food. When I was a kid, my mom would make fried plantains like this, or she would shred the plantains and then fry them in little piles, they kind of resembled a fried little haystack or a spider. But, I like my tostones like this the best. This isn't really a recipe, but more of a technique. I hope that you make these, your family will love them!
Puerto Rican Tostones (Fried Plantains)
desired quantity of green plantains
vegetable oil for frying
garlic salt for seasoning

Make sure that when you buy the plantains that they are completely green, no yellow or brown. To peel the plantains cut off the ends with a knife and then cut a line from top to bottom only going through the peel. Then stick your finger under the peel and remove, this can be a little tough, just make sure that you get all of the peel off. Heat the oil for frying. Slice the plantains into big chunks, a little smaller than ½ an inch. Put a few plantains in the preheated oil and fry for about 2 minutes per side or until a nice golden color, continue until done frying all of them. Then once all of them have been fried once, smash the plantains by placing a plate over the plantains and pressing down, you can also use the smooth side of a meat tenderizer to do the job. Fry one more time until crispy and golden. Season with garlic salt and serve immediately. Enjoy.

This is what the plantains look like when you buy them, be sure to get the ones that are completely green, not yellow or brown. You can find them in the produce section of most grocery stores, next to the ethnic fruits, such as the mangoes and papayas. Out here in Idaho I can find them at Wal Mart and at Winco.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yellow Squash Casserole

I found this recipe over on The Provident Pantry and let me tell you, this is the best way I've ever eaten yellow squash, in my entire life! Seriously, it was that good! So, if you still have over-active squash plants in your garden and you have a bounty of yellow squash that still needs to be used up, make this recipe! You won't be sorry!! I'm thinking of even slicing and blanching some yellow squash so that I can make this recipe during the winter months! I know my family won't complain about that! I hope you visit The Provident Pantry for more great food storage ideas.

Yellow Squash Casserole

2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
1 (6 ounce) package dry stuffing, prepared according to box directions

Boil the yellow squash and onion together in a large pot filled with water, until they are soft. Drain and place in a large bowl. Mix together the soup, sour cream, cheese and salt and pepper. Add the soup mixture to the squash and onions and mix well. In a 3 quart casserole dish, layer half of the stuffing, then pour on all of the squash mixture, followed by the remaining stuffing. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and stuffing on the top is slightly crunchy. Enjoy!

Banana Pecan Crumb Bread

This bread is my new favorite banana bread recipe. Seriously, this stuff is so good! Too good for words! I got the idea for this bread from Southern Plate, if you haven't heard of Southern Plate yet, be sure to check out Christy's website, she's got lots of yummy recipes! This banana bread is rich, full of banana flavor and don't even get me started on the pecans. I love pecans! They are my all time favorite nut to be baked with. You must make this bread with the pecans, the only people that shouldn't are the ones that absolutely can't eat nuts. Trust me, don't leave them out unless you have to! A tip when buying nuts is to look over in the produce section, the nuts in the produce section are usually cheaper than the ones that you'll find over by the baking things. This way you can make the bread with the pecans and save a bit of money too! Okay, enough about pecans...

Everyone that tried this bread after I made it thought that it was the best banana bread that they had ever eaten. I'll be entering this one into the fair this year, hoping for a blue ribbon! Try it out, you won't be sorry.

Banana Pecan Crumb Bread

3 large bananas
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans
Crumb Topping

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In an electric mixer mix together bananas and sugar until the banana is completely mashed. Add in the butter, eggs and vanilla extract and mix until well creamed. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Mix in the buttermilk and then finally add in the pecans and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the crumb toppings with a pastry cutter or fork. It should form a nice crumb. Pour half of the bread batter into two greased bread pans. Then layer half of the crumb topping on top of that bread batter. Pour remaining batter over the crumb mixture and then top with the rest of the crumb topping. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes in the 350° F preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Smashed Potatoes

This side dish is easy and a real crowd pleaser! I'm a huge fan of potatoes, so anything with potatoes in it I'm sure to love. Good thing we live in Idaho! My favorite part of these potatoes are the crunchy bits and pieces, not to mention the cheese! Add these to your menu for something new and different from the same old things you always make.

Smashed Potatoes

6 large red potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rosemary or dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Parmesan cheese or ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
crumbled bacon (optional)

Preheat oven to 425° F.
Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, boil until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place on a cookie sheet that has been coated with one tablespoon olive oil. Smash each potato individually with a potato masher once by pressing potato masher down until skin breaks. Drizzle remaining olive oil over potatoes. Sprinkle rosemary or parsley flakes, salt and pepper, cheese and bacon evenly over potatoes. Place potatoes in oven at 425° for approximately 30 minutes or until crispy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This pasta was so yummy! If you love chicken Alfredo and also like a little kick, you'll love this pasta! We eat a lot of pasta in my house, simply because it's filling, makes a lot of food (which equals leftovers for my hubby's lunch the next day) and it's cheap. As I've said before, I shop sales and then stock up on items so that I don't have to pay full price later. This is exactly what I do with pasta! About once a year pasta goes on sale for 50 cents a pound out here. That is when I stock up! I buy tons of it and then store it all in a big Rubbermaid tote in my food storage room. At 50 cents a pound, you can eat good and cheap! So, I have to be creative with pasta since we eat it so often. And if you know my husband, he's a meat and potatoes kind of guy, who isn't actually all that fond of pasta. But, he understands that we're on a budget so he eats what I make regardless. This recipe was easy to put together using some store bought help and my husband raved over it!
You could easily make this recipe into a food storage friendly recipe by using canned chicken chunks, dried garlic and instead of the cream cheese using another half a jar or so of the Alfredo sauce. And, don't forget about powdered milk, it's a great substitute for regular milk in recipes!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

1 pound linguine pasta (or other shape pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices
2 teaspoons Cajun season salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or leave it out if you don't like too much spice)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained (or fresh)
1 (15 ounce) jar creamy Alfredo sauce
¼ cup milk, plus more if desired
8 ounces cream cheese
paprika & dried parsley for garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions, once cooked, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat olive oil over high heat. Add chicken breast slices, seasonings and garlic and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add drained mushrooms and mix well. Pour jar of Alfredo sauce into skillet, mixing well to coat all of the chicken. Measure out milk and then pour it into the empty Alfredo sauce jar and shake around to get any extra Alfredo sauce out, pour into skillet along with all of the other ingredients. Break small pieces of the cream cheese off and place them into the skillet, stirring well so that they are evenly distributed and can melt evenly. Stir until cream cheese is completely melted. Add the cooked and drained pasta into the skillet and toss well. If the pasta is too dry for your liking, simply add a bit more milk until you reach the consistency that you like. Garnish with sprinklings of paprika and dried parsley on each individual plate.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe won me a blue ribbon at the state fair a few years ago, so if your searching for a winner of an oatmeal cookie, you've found it right here! When I entered it into the fair, I didn't put in the chocolate chips and added a bit more raisins so that it was just a pure oatmeal raisin cookie. I encourage you to try it like that, but with the chocolate chips it takes this cookie over the top! Be sure to use both butter (never use margarine) and shortening in this recipe. It makes the cookie crunchy and soft at the same time, trust me they are killer good. The guys at my husband's work request these babies often and these are always a great cookie to take over to a neighbor's house. Have fun baking!

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ c. butter (no substitutes)
½ c. shortening (no substitutes)
1 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
3 c. old fashioned oats {can use quick cooking or mix the two kinds}
1 c. raisins
1 c. chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Cream the butter and shortening together in an electric mixer. Add sugars and continue mixing until nice and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gradually add flour, a little at a time, mix well but not too much! Add baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add all of the oats, and mix well. Add the raisins and the chocolate chips and mix. Drop by the rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. I bake mine for 10. Let cool on sheet for at least 4 minutes and then transfer to a rack. Store in bags or an air tight container. Enjoy! Makes about 3 dozen.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kicked Up Pintos

These beans are another great food storage recipe that can be completely food storage friendly if you use dried onion and garlic in place of the fresh. I personally keep real cooked bacon bits in my food storage. I buy them at Costco in the large bags and just keep them in a big plastic tote away from the elements. That is exactly what I used in this recipe when I made it. I love those things! They have less fat in them then if you were to fry up the bacon yourself and it's really convenient. These spicy beans are so yummy, any fan of spice will be sure to love them! If you aren't too into spice, just cut down on the jalapeños a bit, but do keep some of them in because they add so much flavor. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Kicked Up Pintos

1 pound dried pinto beans, cooked and drained
½ cup cup onion, chopped (I used red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup cooked bacon pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can water (use the empty tomato can)
1/3 cup chopped jarred jalapeño peppers

The day before you want to eat these beans, soak and cook the pintos according to package directions. When done cooking, place in refrigerator overnight. The next day, dump all of the ingredients into a crock pot and mix well. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yummy To The Tummy White Bread

Every now and then I mix things up with our bread and make this instead of my whole wheat bread recipe. This bread is soft, sweet and doesn't stick around for long! Our favorite way to enjoy this bread is making egg salad sandwiches out of it. If your family is a white bread loving family and you've been wanting to start making your own bread, this is a great recipe! To learn more about why I use vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer in my breads, read my Awesome Whole Wheat Bread recipe. In this recipe, if you don't want to invest in those two ingredients, you could replace the all-purpose flour with bread flour and leave out the dough enhancer and vital wheat gluten. Your bread won't turn out as soft and delicious as my original recipe, but it will still be yummy.

Yummy To The Tummy White Bread

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup oil
1 tablespoon dough enhancer
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
5 – 6 cups all purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit until the yeast has proofed, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with dough hook attachment until combined. Then let the mixer knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 – 7 minutes. Turn dough into a greased bowl and cover with a towel, place the bowl in a warm place and let dough rise to double it's size. After it has risen, punch the dough down and divide into two portions. Form loaves with the dough and place into greased bread pans. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until the dough is about an inch above the pan. Once risen, place the bread into a preheated 350° F oven and bake for 30 minutes. When done baking remove from pans immediately and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creamy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

You'll never want to eat the stuff out of the box again after making this recipe! My family LOVES this mac & cheese! My husband prefers his macaroni and cheese to not be baked, so that is how I make this recipe. But, I have baked it before and I still think it's great that way too. You can decide for yourself!

Creamy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
1 lb. elbow macaroni (in this picture I used large elbows)
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 ½ cups milk (evaporated milk works great!)
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded for the top

Preheat oven to 350° F, if you like your macaroni and cheese baked, if not skip this step.
Boil the macaroni noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, in a saucepan melt butter over medium high heat. Add flour, salt and pepper and stir until flour is cooked, about one minute. Slowly add in milk and stir with a whisk to ensure that there are no lumps in the sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and then add the Velveeta cheese and stir until melted. Mix pasta into sauce and enjoy as is for a super creamy mac and cheese, topping each serving with a bit of the shredded cheddar cheese. If you like your mac and cheese baked, pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish sprinkling the cheddar cheese on top. Bake in 350° F oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Extreme Chicken

This dinner is pretty versatile, if your kids don't like spicy things, just leave the jalapeño rings off of their plates. And, if you like more spice use spicy hot chili! If your watching your weight, use vegetarian or turkey chili, reduced fat cheese and ranch dressing, and use a baked potato instead of the tater tots. It's still going to be really yummy! This is one of those dinners that is just so easy to put together, but it tastes amazing! And what kid isn't going to love eating chili cheese tater tots with some chicken thrown in for dinner?! My kids love this dinner and always eat it all up! Just serve with a veggie (in this case we made green beans from the garden) and you are good to go!

Extreme Chicken

2 lb. bag frozen tater tots
6 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
season salt to taste
2 (15 ounce) cans chili with beans
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded divided
prepared ranch dressing, for topping
chopped tomatoes, for topping
diced onions, for topping
jarred jalapeño rings, for topping

Cook tater tots as directed on bag. While those are cooking heat a large skillet over high heat. Spray with cooking spray and place chicken breasts that have been seasoned with season salt into skillet. Brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side or until the chicken is almost all of the way cooked through. Once the chicken is browned, open and pour the two cans of chili over the chicken breasts. Cover with a lid or with foil and cook on medium heat until chili is heated through and chicken is done cooking. Remove lid and cover everything with 1 cup of shredded cheese, place lid or foil back on until cheese is melted. To serve, place a serving size of tater tots on plate, cover with one chicken breast and some of the chili. Add extra cheese, if desired and drizzle ranch dressing on top, followed by any of the other toppings that you like. We use diced onions, chopped tomatoes and jalapeño rings. Enjoy! Serves 6.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zucchini, again?

I know, your probably all sick of zucchini, right? I swear, our plants are growing like crazy this year. We are getting so much zucchini I can barely keep up with it! Here is another way that I've made it this year. I usually just saute it in some butter with salt and pepper, but I decided to get a little more creative with it. This turned out really yummy! The bacon and mushrooms give it a nice flavor and this was a nice way to use up part of a purple onion that I had. You could use any color onion though. Enjoy!

Zucchini, again?

4 slices bacon, cut into strips
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cups sliced zucchini
½ onion, sliced (any color)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried parsley

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Add in the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft. Enjoy!

Pistachio Cookies

These delicate green goodies are too yummy to pass up! If you love pistachio ice cream or pudding, your gonna love these cookies! These would be a fun cookie to add to a Christmas cookie platter or to serve on St. Patrick's Day, since they have a nice green color to them. If you want a brighter green color, just add a couple of drops of green food coloring. While these cookies aren't too sweet, they are addictive! I hope you love them!

Pistachio Cookies
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar, for rolling

In an electric mixer blend butter, shortening and powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract, eggs and pudding mix and mix well. Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, leaving about two inches between each cookie. Press down on each cookie with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly. Bake in the 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies just start to turn golden in color. Remove from oven and transfer to a cookie rack immediately.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Surprise Cupcakes

My original idea for these surprise cupcakes was to make a hostess-like cupcake at home. But then after making the filling, I realized that I had way too much of it and I didn't want to waste it. So, instead of making a ganache for the topping, I added a couple of baker's chocolate squares to the filling and made my frosting. I still decorated them to look like hostess cupcakes and they sure do taste yummy!! But the surprise about these cupcakes is not that they are filled with a creamy center. It's that they are made with yellow squash puree!! So, if you've got lots of yellow squash in your garden, I highly recommend pureeing some of it and making these super moist cupcakes! Your family will have no idea that these are made with some of your garden vegetables!! You could even try making these with zucchini puree if you don't have any yellow squash, I'm sure they will still turn out delectable!

Surprise Cupcakes

1box devil's food cake mix
1 cup yellow squash puree
½ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt (I used fat free Greek)

filling & frosting

½ cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 squares bittersweet baking chocolate, melted (for the frosting)

Preheat oven to 350° F.
To make the cupcake batter, mix together the cake mix, squash puree, water and vegetable oil. Mix until combined and then add the eggs, mixing between each addition. Finally add the yogurt and mix until the batter is light and fluffy. Pour batter into paper-lined cupcake pans, filling to 2/3 full and bake according to cake mix directions, about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once done baking, remove from oven and let sit in pans for ten minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, beat together the butter and cream cheese until soft. Add powdered sugar, being sure to add a little at a time, until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, put about 1 ½ cups of the filling into a pastry bag with a medium sized tip. Pipe the filling into the cupcakes, going in through the tops of the cupcakes and filling until you can't put anymore in. It will be about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of filling per cupcake. Once all of the cupcakes are filled, reserve some of the white frosting to decorate the tops of the cupcakes, about 1 cup. With the remaining frosting, melt the baking chocolate in the microwave, according to the package directions. Mix the chocolate into the frosting and beat until well combined. Frost the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting and then take the reserved white frosting and decorate the tops of the cupcakes with a swirly design, using a small tip or putting into a small ziploc bad and then cutting a small hole in the tip. Refrigerate the cupcakes for at least an hour before enjoying for best taste. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Here's tip, if you don't have a pastry bag and medium sized tip to fill the cupcakes, make a hole in the top of each cupcake with the end of a wooden spoon and then place the filling inside of a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off of the bag. Then use the bag to pipe the frosting into the hole to fill the cupcakes. This is what I had to do because I couldn't find my tips. Also, to make the design on the top of the cupcakes, simply make a smaller cut in the tip of the bag and pipe on the top of the cupcakes! Enjoy!

Fried Green Tomatoes

I made these babies a week ago or so after walking through my garden and getting a little excited for all of my tomatoes. I picked three of them, which were hard and green and brought them in the house dreaming of fried green tomatoes. I don't live in the south, nor have I ever even visited the south, but the night before I was watching a show on the travel channel that was talking about fried green tomatoes and I just had to make some! So, that is how this recipe came to be. I'll have to admit that I'm the only one in my family that really appreciated them, my kids ate the fried batter part and left the tomatoes and my husband ate one but wasn't too excited about them. So, don't expect that your family is going to go gaga over these, they might not. But, if you serve them with a side of ranch dressing, they might really like them too! So, if you have lots of tomatoes that are still green out in your garden, go pick a few and fry them up! You might like 'um!

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
4 green tomatoes, sliced thick about 1/4"
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon Cajun season salt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
oil for frying

In a bowl mix together the buttermilk and egg until combined. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, Cajun seasoning, kosher salt and ground black pepper. Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet. Take the slices of green tomato and dip in buttermilk mixture and then into the flour mixture, repeat dipping back into buttermilk mixture and then back into flour mixture. Place into hot oil and cook until a nice golden color on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. When done cooking, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and let cool a minute or two before eating. Serve with ranch dressing if desired.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Double Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

If I wasn't the one that just baked this, I would tell you that this bread absolutely does not have zucchini in it. But, I did just bake this and guess what? There are 3 cups of zucchini in this recipe!! So, if your still looking for recipes to use up all of your zucchini, this is the bread for you! Trust me, don't tell your family that it has zucchini in it, they will gobble it up and not even notice!! My husband told me that I could make this bread every day and he wouldn't be sick of it. It's that good! I got this recipe from Tasty Kitchen, but I didn't add in the spices like the original baker did. I wanted a pure chocolate flavor in mine. Please do try this, it's so good!!

Double Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups zucchini, shredded
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In an electric mixer, mix together the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Once combined add in zucchini and mix well. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well. Mix in the chocolate chips and then pour into two greased bread pans (I use baker's joy). The batter will be very thin, this is how you want it to look. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Easy Country Style Pork Ribs

I buy country style pork ribs more often then I do any other type of rib, because it's a cheaper rib. They were on sale a couple of weeks ago and I got a couple of packages to stick in the freezer, which is what I do with most of our foods. I shop sales and stock up when things are really cheap and then save them for later, this way I don't have to pay full price for things! Not only is this recipe cheap, it's delicious too! Try it soon!

Easy Country Style Pork Ribs

1 large package country style pork ribs
1-2 (46 ounce) cans pineapple juice, enough to cover ribs
1 (18 ounce) bottle sweet baby ray's barbecue sauce
Place ribs in to a large pot and cover with pineapple juice. Bring pot to a boil and boil the ribs in the pineapple juice for at least 45 minutes and up to 1 ½ hours. Drain off juice and place ribs into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with sauce and bake for 30 minutes at 350° F. You can also grill these ribs after they have boiled, just drain them off and then grill for about 15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago when I heard someone talking about possibly putting cream cheese into a chocolate chip cookie. The person with the original idea didn't know how to actually make the idea into an end product, so I stepped in and came up with these! They are so good!!! Everyone will be asking you for this recipe!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 ¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugars in an electric mixer, such as a kitchen aid. Add cream cheese and mix well. Add vanilla extract and egg, continue mixing. Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until a nice creamy dough forms. Add in chocolate chips and mix until combined. Place dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart, using a small cookie scoop (or about 2 tablespoons). Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, I usually take mine out after 10 minutes of baking. The cookies should be light golden in color, and kind of soft. Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, store in a zip loc bag or other air tight container inside of the refrigerator. Eat cold and enjoy with a tall glass of milk!
Have you tried this recipe? If you have, head on over to Tasty Kitchen to rate and review!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"The Gourmet Hillbilly" Potatoes

If you love potatoes of any kind, then you'll love this recipe! It's rich and decadent and oh so good! I adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, her recipes all look so delicious! I mentioned that I was making baked chicken a couple of days ago, if you want to see what I seasoned it with read this post. I baked the chicken on a foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven along with these potatoes for about 40 minutes. Bone-in chicken breasts are so much better for baking than boneless skinless. They stay tender and juicy and the best bits are the pieces that are in between the bones. I always leave the skin on while I'm cooking and then take it off when I'm eating it, this helps to keep the meat juicy too. If you don't want to leave the skin on, then pulling it off would be just fine. I hope you all make these sometime soon, you won't be sorry!

"The Gourmet Hillbilly" Potatoes
8-10 large red potatoes, cleaned and cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 small yellow onion, cut into small pieces
½ cup cold butter, sliced
½ pint heavy cream
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
paprika to taste
dried parsley flakes to taste

Cut eight squares of foil. Evenly divide all ingredients among the foil squares as follows; potatoes, onion, butter, salt, pepper, paprika, parsley and heavy cream. Making sure to season to your liking. Fold each piece of foil into a packet and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 425° F oven for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. To serve, place a packet on each plate and let everyone open at the table. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Look!! I Got Featured!!!

I just went over to Tasty Kitchen to check things out and on the front page I saw the picture of my Savory Zucchini Pie featured as a Featured Recipe!!! I'm so excited about that!! So, if your coming on over from Tasty Kitchen, welcome! I'm glad to have you over here!! I hope you find some yummy recipes!! Enjoy!

Dutch Apple Pie

Apple pie is truly an American favorite! We have an apple tree on our property that produces apples almost every year, one way for us to use up some of those apples is by making this delish pie! Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, your family will be in heaven!! To make this pie even easier, you could use a can or two of apple pie filling and just use the crumb topping on top! Enjoy!

Dutch Apple Pie

1 pie shell, store bought or made with your favorite recipe
6 cups apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375° F.
In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well and pour into a pie shell. To make crumb topping, mix flour and brown sugar until it is a fine mix in a separate bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Sprinkle mixture over pie and bake for 40 minutes. Check and if it needs to be covered with foil, do so and bake another 10-20 minutes. Makes one pie.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Savory Zucchini Pie

This is another yummy way to use up some of your zucchini, after all we all know that zucchini grows better than weeds! This savory zucchini pie is a sort of quiche, made with a tube of crescent rolls. I found the idea on and modified it to my likings. You could use the reduced fat crescent rolls and reduced fat cheese in this recipe to make it a bit more healthy. It sure is yummy though and my kids gobbled it up! Enjoy!

Savory Zucchini Pie

4 tablespoons butter
4 cups zucchini, sliced and halved if large
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded & divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 (8 ounce) tube crescent rolls
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Melt butter in a large skillet. Add the zucchini, onion and garlic and cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent and zucchini is soft. Mix in the parsley flakes, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning so that the vegetables are coated well with the seasonings. Turn off the heat and let sit while you prepare the pie plate. To prepare the pie plate, take a large 9 or 10 inch pie pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and line it with the crescent rolls so that there are no holes, you may have to stretch out the crescent rolls and cut them up to make it fit. Once the crescent rolls are covering the bottom of the pie plate, spread the Dijon mustard evenly across the crust. Now stir in one cup of the cheese and then pour the beaten eggs into the zucchini mixture and pour everything into the prepared crust. Sprinkle with remaining one cup of cheese and place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until no longer runny. Let cool a few minutes before slicing into it and enjoy!

White Chicken Chili

This is for sure a family pleaser!! We've been enjoying this recipe at our house for a few years now and every time I make it it gets gobbled up really quick! My young children love it and they don't mind the little bit of heat in it one bit. If your family doesn't like too much heat, just use one can of the green chilies instead of two. To make this recipe food storage friendly, you could replace the fresh chicken with 2 large cans of chicken breast meat, like the kind you might find at Costco, if you do this just be sure to take out the chicken broth and leave the juices with the chicken. And you could also use a can of evaporated milk instead of the sour cream. I hope your family loves this recipe as much as we do!

White Chicken Chili

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes {or 2 large cans chicken chunks}
1 medium onion, chopped {or you can use the equivalent in dried onions}
1 garlic clove, minced {or use the equivalent in dried garlic}
1 tablespoon oil
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) pinto beans, with juices
1 can white hominy, drained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth {leave out if using canned chicken & just use the juice from the canned chicken instead}
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cilantro dried or fresh
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups sour cream {or a can of evaporated milk for food storage version}

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, hominy, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately. This is really good with tortilla chips or cornbread. Serves 4-6.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Zucchini Lasagna

Here is another way that I use up some of my bounty of zucchini. It's basically a lasagna without the noodles, using zucchini slices in place of the noodles. So, if your doing the low-carb thing, this would be great for you! I used a pretty big zucchini when I made this, so that the pieces were bigger, but you can use whatever size you have. If your still looking for ways to use up your zucchini, be sure to make this for your family!

Zucchini Lasagna

1 pound bulk Italian Sausage, browned into bite-sized pieces
2 pounds zucchini, sliced
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 (26 ounce) jar favorite pasta sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan layer a thin coating of pasta sauce, on top of the pasta layer zucchini, Italian sausage, sauce and mozzarella cheese. Continue layering until all of the ingredients are used up, ending with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the very top, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes are up, take off the foil and bake another 10 - 15 minutes, to brown the cheese. When done baking, take out of oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. This dish does have a lot of juices in it because of the zucchini, so it needs some time to set. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Whopper Cookies

These cookies are soft and chewy with a nice crunch, probably unlike any other peanut butter cookie you've tried before. You could also try making this same recipe with original whoppers if you can't find the peanut butter version. These are sure to be an after school snack favorite!

Peanut Butter Whopper Cookies

½ cup softened butter
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3.5 oz container Peanut Butter Whoppers, coarsely crushed
sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 375° F.
In a stand or electric mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla until well combined. Place flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl, stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients on low speed, then add whoppers until just combined. Scoop dough with a medium cookie scoop, roll into sugar then place onto a baking sheet, pressing down with a fork to make a criss cross design. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cooked but still soft. Makes about 3 dozen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Authentic Refried Beans

Here is another great food storage recipe! To make it completely food storage friendly, you could use dried onions and garlic, both of which I keep in my food storage. Just be sure to rehydrate them before you make the recipe. With these refried beans, now you can have the delicious restaurant style refried beans that you love, right in your own home!! Since moving to Idaho I've had to teach myself how to recreate some of my favorite restaurant meals that I grew up eating in California, a good authentic refried bean recipe being one of those. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Authentic Refried Beans

1 pound dry pinto beans
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Soak beans over night in water. In the morning rinse and put beans into a large pot. Cover beans with water. Cook on medium heat uncovered until boiling. Cover and reduce to a simmer, continue cooking until beans are soft, about 2 ½ hours. Drain beans, but reserve the water that they cooked in. In the same pot melt lard, cook onion and garlic until soft. Add beans and a small amount of the reserved water. With a hand held blender, blend the bean mixture until it is nice and smooth. If you need more liquid, add more of the reserved water. Add salt to taste and enjoy. Serves 6-8.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Navajo Tacos

I first made these tacos a couple of years ago while my mom was visiting us. Since then my family won't eat hard shell tacos anymore! We love this recipe, they are super filling and hit the spot! Using the crock pot to cook the chicken saves time because it can cook all day while you get other things done!

Navajo Tacos Fry Bread

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups water
vegetable oil for frying

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together well. Add water gradually making sure the dough is stiff. Let dough rest covered with a damp towel for at least 10 minutes. When ready to make tacos, pull off egg-sized balls of dough and quickly roll, pull, and on a floured surface pat them out into large, plate-sized rounds. They should be thin in the middle and about 1/4 inch thick around the edges. Using a fork poke holes in the dough to prevent bubbles from forming. In skillet, heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil. Brown dough circles on each side until golden brown. You will need to stand over the skillet and with your fork and poke at any bubbles that may come up. When golden brown, lift from oil, shake gently to remove bulk of oil, and place on paper towels to drain.
Top with your favorite taco meat and taco toppings such as sour cream, lettuce, salsa, cheese, guacamole and olives. Makes about 8.

Chicken Taco Meat for Navajo Tacos

1 whole chicken
1 taco seasoning packet
1 cup salsa
1 1/2 cups water

Place whole chicken seasoned with salt and pepper in crock pot and cover with water, cook on low for about 5 hours. When done cooking, drain the liquid and take all meat off of the bones and take a fork and shred it. Put the meat back in the crock pot with the taco seasoning packet, salsa and water. Let cook on low for one hour. Serve on top of Navajo Taco Fry Bread along with your favorite taco toppings. Serves 8.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I had this idea in my head for a couple of weeks of a cookie that had pretzels in it. First I was thinking of just a chocolate chip pretzel cookie, which would probably be really tasty. But then I got the awesome idea to mix in some peanut butter into the cookie to make a cookie that was kind of like one of my favorite snacks, chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. I've done it! This cookie is awesome, with a crunch from the pretzel and big bites of chocolate, it's a keeper!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¾ cups crushed pretzel pieces
1 (11.5 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chunk morsels or chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat butter, peanut butter and sugars until creamed. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well. Add flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix. Finally add crushed pretzel pieces and chocolate chunks, mix until combined. Using a small cookie scoop, place cookie dough on ungreased cookie sheets, making sure they are 2 inches apart from each other. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.
Have you tried this recipe? If you have, head on over to Tasty Kitchen to rate and review!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sneaky Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bars

I made these sneaky chocolate chip zucchini bars yesterday to use up some of my surplus of garden fresh zucchini. I got the recipe over at 2 Kids and Tired Cooks. I'm happy to report that my kids ate these without even thinking twice about the fact that there was a vegetable in it! They couldn't even tell! I think they kind of got distracted by all of the gooey chocolate in them! My husband got home after work and ate some dinner and then asked what was for dessert, I pulled these out and he ate 3 huge squares of them. So, they are tasty! He even asked if I put any in his lunch this morning. I did make a bit of a change to the original recipe, I added a bit more sugar than the recipe called for, simply because I thought that 1/2 cup for the entire recipe wouldn't be sweet enough. I think that they turned out great the way I made them! Be sure to peel your zucchini before you grate it, this way your end product won't be green and it will be easier to get picky eaters to eat them!

Sneaky Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bars

¾ cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
1 ¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and eggs together. Add the vanilla and zucchini and mix well. Add the flour, salt and baking powder mixing well. Finally add in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined. Pour into a 9x13 inch cake pan that has been greased. Bake in preheated 350° F for 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and cut into bars. Enjoy!

Quick & Easy Ranch Chicken

When using boneless skinless chicken thighs, this chicken stays nice and moist. My husband couldn't even tell that it was baked!! Your family is sure to love this easy yummy chicken!

Quick & Easy Ranch Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup pre-made ranch dressing
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning salt
½ teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven at 425° F.
On a large plate mix together breadcrumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan cheese, cajun seasoning and garlic salt, set aside. Pour ranch dressing into a bowl and dip each chicken thigh into the dressing and then into the seasoned breadcrumb mixture. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and repeat until you have all of the chicken thighs on the cookie sheet. Place in 425° F oven and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Yummiest Peach Cobbler

This peach cobbler is by far THE best I have ever tried in my life. Truly. My mom first made this recipe while visiting us one year and since then, this is the only peach cobbler recipe I'll use. The crust of this cobbler has a wonderful lemon flavor and it's just too good for words! You must try this while the fresh peaches are plentiful this year! If you are craving peach cobbler in the dead of winter, you can sub frozen or canned in this recipe too, but you must try it with fresh, you won't be disappointed. Oh, and vanilla ice cream is a must!!

The Yummiest Peach Cobbler

2 pounds ripe peaches
¾ cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¾ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Peel, halve, and pit the peaches. Slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges. Combine the peaches, ¼ cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Let the fruit stand, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Make the dough: Cream together the butter and remaining ½ cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest until the batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir until just combined. Transfer the peaches to an 8-inch square-baking pan. Drop the dough in rounded tablespoonfuls over the fruit. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden, 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cobbler cool slightly and serve it warm.

Just Like Olive Garden Salad

Salads are a great lunch or side dish in the summer, or anytime!! If you love the salad at the Olive Garden, I'm sure you'll love this salad! You can use the dressing on any salad, but if you really want the salad to taste like Olive Garden's you'll want to mix in some red onions and olives! MMM!!!

Just Like Olive Garden Salad

1 large bag of romaine lettuce salad mix or desired amount of lettuce
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 can black olives, drained and refrigerated
10 peperoncini pepper rings
1 tomato, cut into slices
1/2 cup croutons (optional)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans (optional)
desired amount of dressing (recipe below)

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, tossing until everything is coated with the salad dressing. Serve and enjoy!

Just Like Olive Garden Salad Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons corn syrup
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a blender until well mixed. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

My husband loves jalapeño cheese bread and had been asking me to make some for the longest time. I had tried many times to make it, but it never turned out the way I wanted it to. Until I finally figured out that cheese chunks instead of shredded cheese was the way to go! Now we get big pockets of cheese!! This bread is killer good and I'm sure you'll love it!

Jalapeño Cheese Bread

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 1/2 cups flour
½ cup jarred jalapeño slices
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese chunks, about .5" each

Mix all of the ingredients together, only until all of the flour is integrated, about 1 minute. DO NOT KNEAD!! The dough will be wet and sticky, this is how it is supposed to look. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit unrefrigerated for 2 hours. Cut the dough into three pieces, one for each loaf. If you only want one loaf, then cut off enough for one loaf and place the rest of the dough in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. To make a loaf of bread take the piece of dough that you just took out and fold the dough in half once, and then in thirds. DO NOT KNEAD!! Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. After resting place the dough into a heavily floured tea towel and cover. Let sit until double in size. To bake the bread, place a large oven proof pot that has a lid in the oven, turn the oven on to 450° F. After the pot has sit in the oven for 30 minutes to heat, take the pot out and plop the dough into the pot, it's okay if the dough looks a little weird. Cover the pot with the lid and place in the 450° F oven to bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting into the bread. Enjoy! Makes three loaves.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Drizzle Popcorn

I bet that you don't look at that picture and think that this gourmet looking popcorn is a food storage recipe, but guess what? It is!! Everything in the recipe is completely shelf stable, which equals food storage! Wouldn't your family be delighted to eat this if you had to live off of your food storage? I know mine would! Food storage doesn't have to be all wheat, rice and beans. Although those things are really good to have in your food storage, you should have a variety of things, like popcorn, peanut butter and chocolate!

I love peanut butter and chocolate combined, those two together is probably my all time favorite flavor combo. If you're like me, then you'll love this tasty popcorn treat! Not to mention that it looks so gourmet that you'll impress your family and friends!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Drizzle Popcorn

¾ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups popped popcorn
1 cup chocolate chips

Make the popcorn either with an air popper or on the stove top according to the directions on the bag, set aside in a large roasting pan or two large cookie sheets. In a saucepan over medium heat mix together the corn syrup, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla. Bring to a boil stirring constantly, once it has reached a boil, cook for one minute. Take off heat and pour over popped corn, working fast stir in all of the peanut butter coating, mixing well so that all of the popcorn is evenly coated. Let popcorn sit for about 10 minutes and then mix again to break up the pieces. In a bowl melt the chocolate for 20 seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring in between each 20 second cooking, until the chocolate is melted through. Be sure not to burn the chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn either with a spoon or by spooning the chocolate into a small zip loc bag and then cutting a small hole at one of the tips and then drizzling over by squeezing the bag over the popcorn. Let set for 30 minutes and then break up the popcorn! If the chocolate isn't setting you can put your cookie sheets or roasting pan into the fridge for 15 minutes and then you should be good to go! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Yellow Squash Fritters

We have a few yellow squash plants in our garden that are just growing like crazy and I needed to come up with a new way to cook them. Something that my kids might actually eat too, so I thought about fried squash and then got to thinking that they could probably still tell that it was squash if I just sliced it and then battered it and fried it. So, I was looking online and got the idea for these fritters. I combined a few different recipes and came up with this one that is really really yummy. My kids even ate them up! Dip them in ranch dressing or fry sauce and they are just too good! If you have lots of yellow squash in your garden, be sure to make these soon!

Yellow Summer Squash Fritters

1 cup yellow squash puree
1 egg
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
vegetable oil for frying

Combine the yellow squash puree (to make, boil sliced yellow squash in water until soft and then drain and puree in blender or food processor) and egg in a large bowl with a whisk. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, Cajun seasoning and onion powder, mixing well until there are no lumps in the mixture. Heat oil over high heat until hot and drop batter into hot oil by the tablespoon. Fry one to two minutes on each side, or until a nice golden brown color is achieved and the fritters are cooked through. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Special Zucchini Bread

If your like us then you probably have tons of zucchini growing in your garden. Thank goodness for zucchini bread! This zucchini bread is probably the best recipe that I've ever come across. It comes from my mother-in-law, who adds raisins to her zucchini bread. If you took the raisins out it would be a typical zucchini bread recipe, but the raisins add so much more to this bread! They help to keep the bread moist and they add an extra sweetness. This recipe will not disappoint!

If you have too much zucchini and you can't seem to keep up with it, shred it and put it into freezer bags and then pop it in the freezer, this way you'll have zucchini ready to be made into bread that you can use in the winter!

Special Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 ½ cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups raisins

Preheat oven to 325° F.
Combine all wet ingredients in an electric mixer and then add all dry ingredients. Mix well and add raisins last. Pour into greased and floured bread pans and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let bread sit for 15-20 minutes in pans before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Makes two loaves.