Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cajun Spiced Grilled Chicken

Whoops!  I found this photo in my camera.  I think it's from way back in Sept.  Well it's December and cold now.  Who isn't hankering for a big ole piece of grilled meat?

I think this Cajun Spiced Grilled Chicken from Supper for a Steal is Mrblocko's new favorite grilled chicken recipe.  It's mine too now that I've cut out nearly all of the soy in my diet.  (This Firehall Marinade is the best marinade in my opinion.  Curse you tasty teriyaki sauce!!!!)

You wouldn't think that a marinade with Cajun and Italian seasonings would make a good combo.  Somehow, it's magical.

Cajun Grilled Chicken from Supper for a Steal
½ c olive oil
2 T Cajun seasoning
2 T Italian seasoning
2 t garlic powder
juice from ½ lemon (I used 1 1/2 T lemon juice)
1 t black pepper
4 large chicken breasts, pounded flat

In a large ziploc bag mix all ingredients together. Marinate 30 -60 min, turning 2 or 3 times.
Remove from marinade and grill over med high for 5 -8 min per side depending on thickness.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins

I grew a whole bunch of jalapenos in my garden this year.  Let me clarify.  By a whole bunch, I mean one plant.  It was fairly prolific.  Particularly considering that I don't use a lot of jalapenos in my cooking. 

I figured I best get cracking at using up those jalapenos I begged Mrblocko to deseed for me.  I found this recipe for jalapeno cornbread muffins from Heart Mind and Seoul that I thought would be a great stepping stone into the world of jalapeno use.

They turned out perfect.  Just a hint of that jalapeno flavor.  Not too much so that it was too spicy for Blockette or myself, but spicy enough to make Mrblocko notice that this cornbread was special.

Jalapeno Corn Muffins from Heart Mind and Seoul
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
½ t salt
2 beaten eggs
1 c milk
¼ c oil
1 c shredded cheddar
4 ounce sliced or chopped fresh jalapenos or canned jalapenos or green chilies

Ready a muffin tin with 12 paper cups. Set aside. In med bowl, stir flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of dry mixture; set aside.
In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, and oil. Add egg mix all at once to well in dry mix. Stir just til moist. Fold in cheddar and jalapenos. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 425F for 20-25 min til wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cherry Coffee Cake

This Cherry Coffee Cake from Controlling my Chaos was amazing.  Yes.  It IS ugly as sin.  But don't let that fool you.

I made this for Mrblocko to take as a dish to pass for breakfast with the 8th graders who are going through Confirmation at church.  There was a LOT of food so I thought it was a great testament to the goodness that he only came home with half the pan as leftovers. 

Poor us.  Forced to eat half a pan of Cherry Coffee Cake!  The horror! 

Actually, Blockette didn't want to try any at first.  She "hates" cherries.  I convinced her to take a taste test and I think her eyes rolled back in her head with delicious delight.

Truth be told, I don't like cherries either.  I didn't think I was going to like it, especially since it looked so hideous.  The cake mix is so sweet that it balances out any tart from the cherries.  Also, the crumble on the top tastes like cake batter.  I love cake batter.

I made one minor change to this recipe.  I used about half the glaze as a drizzled topping.  The cake was already so sweet with the cake mix and canned cherries.  I felt too much glaze would have made the cake overly sweet.  I say this and I have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know.  Half the glaze was just enough to help moisten the crumble topping and keep it in place for transport. 

Cherry Coffee Cake from Controlling my Chaos
1 box yellow cake mix, divided
1c flour
2 1/4 t yeast (or one package)
2/3 c warm water
2 eggs, beaten
1-21 oz can cherry pie filling
1/3 c cold butter cut into cubes

Glaze (use sparingly)
1c powdered sugar
1T corn syrup
1 t vanilla
1-2 T water

Mix 1 1/2 c cake mix, flour, yeast and water til smooth. Add eggs.  Pour in greased 9x13 pan. Top w cherries.  In small bowl mix remaining cake mix and butter with hands til crumbly.  Sprinkle over cherries.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 min.  (at 35 min the contents of the pan giggled a bit, after another 5 min they had firmed up)  Once cake is cool, combine glaze ingredients and drizzle liberally over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chicken Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

In the summer we grill hamburgers at least once a week.  I love it because it means Mrblocko is in charge of dinner.  However, by the time September rolls around, I'm sick of burgers.  Of course I start missing those easy dinners by the time October rolls around, not to mention the tasty goodness of grilled meat.

While this meal of BBQ Chicken burgers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries (both from How Sweet it Is) isn't as speedy preparation wise as those burgers we ate this summer, it is a nice autumnal twist on the whole burger and fry combo.

We ate our burger sans bun and cheese, topped with onions.  The burgers were incredibly moist and paired well with the sweet from the caramelized onions and roasted sweet potatoes.  It was a perfect meal for a warmer fall day that was too windy to use the grill.  Double thumbs up from the whole Blocko clan.

BBQ Chicken Burgers from How Sweet it Is (makes 4)
1 lb gr chicken (I used semi frozen breast and my stand mixer w the meat grinder attachment)
1/4 c finely grated sharp cheddar
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (We used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle cause it's our fav.)
2 onions, sliced into half moon rounds
1 T olive oil

In lg bowl, combine chicken, BBQ, spices and cheese. Mix just til combined, and form 4 patties. Preheat skillet and cook burgers until fully cooked through about 8 min per side. (Remember these burgers are chicken, not beef.  You want them cooked all the way through. Salmonella is not your friend.) While burgers cooking, heat med skillet on med heat with olive oil. Cook onions til caramelized, about 10 min. Top burgers with onions(and cheese, BBQ sauce, lettuce and a bun if desired.)

Sweet Potato Fries (serves 2-3)  from How Sweet it Is
2 lg sweet potatoes
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t smoked paprika
2 T br sugar

Preheat oven to 425F.

If desired, peel potatoes and cut into wedges of desired size and shape. Add potatoes to bowl, combine w remaining ingred. Toss with hands so every wedge is coated. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Lay wedges on wire rack. Bake for 25 min, then check to see if potatoes are done. Rotate and bake for 15 minutes. They may need  5-10 min after that. (I did not have a wire rack so my potatoes did not get as crisp as I would have hoped, but nevertheless they were omnomnom good.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

A while ago I had the intention of posting a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I had tested once a month.  We became overwhelmed with cookies, so that thought became a bit impractical.

 If I make cookies and bake up the entire batch, the cookies will be gone in a few days.  We all decided as a family that was not the healthiest thing for us.  Now, instead of baking up the entire batch, I bake up one cookie sheet and freeze the rest of the dough.  I think I've mentioned that before.  Not only is it portion control, but it makes for quick preparation when we want a tasty treat.

These whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Baked Bree cook up great from the freezer.  I think even better than they were when I baked them initially.  As usual, when baking cookies from frozen dough, you'll need to add a few minutes to your bake time.

The whole family liked the flavor twist that the peanut butter chips added.  If you don't (or can't) have peanut butter chips, I think butterscotch chips would be an excellent replacement.  I liked the slightly nutty flavor that the whole wheat flour imparted.  I also like that I can pretend they are healthy.

This recipe goes in the make again pile for sure.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from Baked Bree
1 c butter, room temp
1 c sugar
1 c br sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 c whole wheat flour
2 c old fashioned oats
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c chips (I used a combination of semisweet, milk, and peanut butter chips)

Cream butter and sugars til lt and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mix to butter mix. Add chips. Line baking sheet w parchment. Scoop dough leaving 2 " between cookies. Bake 350F for 11-13 min. (or15 to 17 min if using a big scoop.) Cool on a cooling rack.

Friday, November 22, 2013

From Scratch Chicken and Dumplings

I've made chicken dumplings before, but never from scratch.  The kind that I made before consisted of a few veggies, condensed soup, chicken and biscuits from a can.  Very easy and tasty. 

This version from Hip Foodie Mom was pretty tasty as well.  It contains mushrooms and dumplings with dill.  Since you are in control of the salt and fat, it's oodles healthier than the quick version.  Since there isn't all that salt and fat, it's not quite as tasty.  It does come in a close second though! 

I'm sure it would be tied if I had fresh instead of dried dill.  Fresh herbs are just so tasty!

Chicken and Dill Seasoned Dumplings from Hip Foodie Mom
3 T butter
1 med onion, cut in half moons
5 med carrots, cut crosswise into 1½" pieces
½ t dried thyme
1 c flour; split
29 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
½ c mushrooms; sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breastts, cut into 2" pieces
2 T chopped fresh dill (I used 2t dried)
1¾ t baking powder
½ c plus 2 T milk
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas

In Dutch oven heat butter over med-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and thyme. Cover and cook, til onion is soft, 5 min. Add ¼ c flour and cook, stirring, for 30 sec to make roux. Add chicken broth and mushrooms. bring to boil, stirring constantly; season w salt and pepper. Nestle chicken in pot; reduce heat to med-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 min. Meanwhile, make dumplings: In a med bowl, whisk remaining ¾ c flour, dill, baking powder, and ½ t salt. With fork, gradually stir in ½ c milk to form moist, soft batter. It should be just a little thicker than pancake batter; you can add an additional 2 T milk if too thick. Set aside. Pour peas in pot. And using a cookie scooper or spoon, drop batter in simmering liquid in 10 heaping tablespoonfuls (or smaller if desired), keeping them spaced apart. The dumplings will swell as they cook. Flip dumplings to ensure even cooking. Cover and simmer until chicken cooked through and tender and dumplings are firm, for about 20-25 min. Serve.  (Note:  I didn't think there were enough dumplings so I doubled the dumpling part.  After 4 servings I thought the soup was pretty dumpling sparse so when I reheated the soup for leftovers I made yet another batch of dumplings.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Butternut Squash Sloppy Joes

A few days ago I wrote about how my mom came to visit and brought cookie dough mix in tow.  She also brought me several butternut squash (squashes?) from a relative's garden.  We aren't the biggest fan of squash in this house.  Although I gotta say that I turned everyone around with zucchini from the garden.  However, as a general rule, squash is not food for happy fun time at the dinner table.

I hemmed and hawed so much that one of the squash started crying.  I'm going to guess it was crying cause it was oozing this weird yellow stuff from it's eye, bellybutton, place where it was attached to the stalk. 

So I stepped up the pace and decided on Butternut Squash Sloppy Joes from A Sunshiny Day.

Surprise surprise...They were delicious!

I guess my mom should give me stuff she doesn't want more often. 
I really hope she starts not wanting boxes of $100 bills!

Butternut Squash Sloppy Joes adapted from A Sunshiny Day
1lb gr beef
1 T olive oil
2 med onion (diced)
1 c butternut squash (peeled & finely diced)
1 med red pepper (diced)
14.5oz fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used tomatoes from the garden that were pureed)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 t cinnamon
2 t oregano
2 t sugar
1 t worcestershire sauce

 In lg pan heat oil over med-high heat. Add onions, peppers and squash. Cook 8-10 min stir occasionally. Mix all spices in sm bowl and set aside. Add gr beef to onion mix and cook 5-10 min til meat cooked through. add spice mix.  stir to coat meat. Add tomatoes and worcestershire and cook  5 min til reduced. Serve on a roll.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sugar Cookie Apple Crisp

My mom came to visit and brought lots of goodies with her a while back.  She had this almost expired package of cookie dough mix that she didn't have time to make before it "went bad."

I usually make cookies from scratch so I thought that if I made cookies from the mix my family might be grumbly that they weren't "homemade."  So I did some searching...and searching... and searching.  Finally, I found a recipe I thought would be perfect, Sugar Cookie Apple Crisp from

The sugar cookie put a fun spin on a classic dessert.  While we all enjoyed the Apple Crisp immensely, I think I still prefer the basic crisp with oats, brown sugar and oats. 

I'm glad I had the chance to try it.  If you've got some sugar cookie dough mix laying around in your pantry, I highly recommend trying it.

Sugar Cookie Apple Crisp from
2 T butter, melt and cool
1/4  br sugar
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch salt
6 med apples, peel, core and chop in bite-size chunks
1 (14 oz) pkg refrigerated sugar cookie dough, broken into chunks(Or mix up your cookie dough mix per pkg instructions)
1/2 c rolled oats

Heat oven to 375F. Spray 9x9"casserole or deep baking dish with oil. In lg bowl combine butter, sugar, lemon, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Add apples and toss to coat. Transfer to casserole dish. Set aside. In food processor, combine cookie dough and oats. Pulse several times, til mix like coarse, wet sand. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Bake 20-25 min, til topping lightly browned and  apples bubble. Let cool slightly before serving.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Big Fat Brown Sugar Maple Cookies

These cookies are like a big ole slice of fall.  Sink your teeth into them!

The original recipe called for dark brown sugar,  but I never have any of that on hand so I used 1 c of light brown sugar and 1 T molasses!  It worked out great. 

As usual, my cookies didn't poof up as I thought they should have, never the less, they were still just as tasty as can be!

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies  adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
1 c bread flour
1 c all-purpose flour
2 t cornstarch
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 T Molasses
1 egg, room temp (I forgot to do this part!)
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t maple extract

In med bowl, whisk flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In stand mixer with paddle , cream butter and sugars on med til light and fluffy, 3 min. Scrape sides and add molasses, egg, vanilla and maple extract. Beat til well combined. Add half  flour mix and mix for 15 sec. Add remaining flour and beat til just incorporated. Roll scant 1/4 c dough into ball (about 2 1/4 ounces) and place on a parchment paper lined plate, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate  2 hrs.Heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 sheets w parchment paper. Bake, til barely golden brown around edges, 10-12 min. Tap down lightly with back of spoon to flatten if too poofy.  Cool on sheet 5 min, then cool on rack.  I thought the cookies baked better from frozen.  If baking from frozen add another 5 min to bake time. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cheater Pull Apart Apple Bread

I think I've said on this blog once or maybe a trillion times that I love bread.  Carbs=love.  Even Blockette has been known to choose bread over dessert at times.  Particularly if its fresh bread.  I can't really blame her.  Bread is just so tasty.

So bread in dessert form? brainer.

This recipe is super simple.  All you need is a can of biscuits, an apple, and cinnamon sugar. 

Where have you been all my life?

Apple Pie Pull Apart Bread from Heather's French Press
1 can Biscuits (I used Grands)
1 medium apple, peeled,cored and thinly sliced
cinnamon - sugar {1/3 c sugar mixed w 1 t cinn and 1/4 t nutmeg}

Line a bread pan w parchment. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Toss apples in cinn-sugar. Set aside.
Slice each biscuit in half  to get 16 rounds and coat in cinn sugar too.  Place in pan starting with bread and alternating with apple and bread, ending with bread.  Bake for 20 min or until brown, then cover with foil and bake for 20-30 more min until the bread is fully cooked.  Top with a glaze made from milk and powdered sugar, or caramel sauce, or ice cream if desired!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stuffed Pepper Hotdish

I'm slowly learning to love peppers.  I'm still not a fan of green peppers, or raw peppers of any kind.  However, red, yellow and orange peppers that have been roasted, that's a different story.  Roasting them really brings out their sweet flavors.  Super yum in my book.

Mostly Homemade Mom had this recipe for a Stuffed Pepper Casserole that I thought was high time I gave a try.  Of course, I used roasted red peppers instead of green peppers.  I also added black and pinto beans, just because.  This made an enormous casserole, and the leftovers froze very well.  I'd totally make this recipe again.

Cheesy Stuffed Pepper Casserole serves 10 - 12: from Mostly Homemade Mom
2 c cooked rice
1 lb ground beef (Shredded or ground chicken or turkey also tastes great)
1 T olive oil
2 roasted red peppers, diced
1 large diced onion
29 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
3 (14 oz) cans tomato sauce (I used tomatoes from my garden!)
2 (14 oz) cans corn, drained (I used 2 c frozen corn)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1 can each black and pinto beans (or 1.5c each)
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Brown gr beef in a large stock pot, drain, remove from pan and set aside. Heat oil in stock pot on med high. Add peppers and onion. Saute 5-10 min. To pot, add tomatoes, sauce, corn, garlic, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 min. Stir in rice and beans. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. (Mine was too full so I froze the remainder in a 8x8 dish.) Top with shredded cheese. Bake 350 for 12-15 min til cheese melts.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole wheat tortillas have been my obsession as of late.  I find them super tasty for some reason.  Even more tasty than white flour tortillas.  I love me some carbs.  (Let me tell you, when I had to take a test to see if I had celiac disease a few years ago I sang from the roof tops when the test came back all clear.)

I had made homemade tortillas in the past, but only with all purpose or unbleached flour.  Fresh homemade tortillas are a kajillion bazillion times better than the stuff you can buy at the grocery store.  That is a scientific fact.

I've attempted to make a direct swap with whole wheat in the past, and it didn't work out so well.  Whole wheat is tricky because, in my opinion, it acts like a little sponge and soaks up all the moisture.  If you don't have the right liquid to flour ratio, your resulting product can end up dry and crumbly.  Bleck.

As luck would have it I stumbled across this recipe from Handle the Heat for Whole Wheat Tortillas.  Hot damn.  These tortillas are the bomb. 

The tortillas are not dry or crumbly at all.  They have this lovely almost nutty flavor to them when they get toasted on the griddle.

Too bad no one else in my family knows this.  I made a batch one Monday morning and had quesadillas for lunch every day.  Yeah.  I ate the whole batch by my onsies.  I have no shame.

Whole Wheat Tortillas from Handle The Heat : Makes 10 tortillas
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
3 T veg oil
2/3 c warm water

Combine flour and salt in med bowl. Add oil and warm water.  The dough should be soft.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 min.  Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface, knead a few times, and pat into disk. Cut into 10 pieces, and roll each piece into ball. Cover with plastic wrap for 20 min more. If you are lucky enough to have a tortilla press, use it to flatten each ball. If you’re like me, flatten each ball into a disk and then roll flat on a lightly floured work surface.  Tortillas should be 6-8" across.  On ungreased griddle, on med, heat tortilla on first side for 1 min, then flip and cook for another min.  I find that I have enough time to roll out the next tortilla while the first one is cooking.  Stack the cooked tortillas on a plate covered with a cloth kitchen towel to keep them warm.  I've been told the cooked tortillas last 1 week in the fridge, or frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.  My tortillas never last that long though!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Fledge

I am the queen of misheard lyrics.  When I first heard LMFAO's  "Party Rock Anthem," I swear it sounded like they were singing, "Polly Pocket's in the house tonight.  Everybody just have a good time."
Now I know they are singing "party rock is," not "Polly Pocket," but it totally sounds like Polly Pocket.  I even intentionally sing the song that way to make Blockette crack up.  Works every time.

Anyhow, flash back to when I was a wee kindergartener.  I was a pretty skilled reader, which back in the 70's was fairly rare for a kindergartener.  When we learned the Pledge of Allegiance it wasn't written down anywhere.  I guess they figured they didn't need it written anywhere if they thought we couldn't read it.  We just had to pick it up by listening to what the teacher was saying. 

I came home from school asking my mom why we had to talk about witches every day.  Naturally she inquired further, to which I replied, "Yeah you know.  When we say the Fledge of Allegiance?  Four witches stand.  Who are these witches?  Why are they standing? etc...."

Oh yes.  Much hilarity ensued.  I'm pushing 40 and I will never live that one down.  So, to embrace and celebrate my dorkiness, I created this cross stitch.

I adapted it from a pattern called "Wicked? or Wise?" by The Stitcherhood. 

Notice the witch on the far left is holding a flag.  (You can't say "The Fledge" without a flag, Amirite?)  The witch on the far right is sporting ruby slippers, in red metallic thread, of course.  You can't tell from this photo, but the two witches in the middle are fist bumping each other.  Yeah.  It's a pretty hip bunch of witches.

The design is 53x93 stitches.

The threads I used are as follows (2 strands of each unless specified):
Dresses and hats: GAST Black crow
Skin: GAST Spring Grass
Lettering: WDW Mulberry
Cauldron Whisps: one strand each -Whisper W79 and DMC5272
Stars and Moon: WDW curry
Ruby Slippers: on strand Kreinik #4 braid 061
Red on flag:814
Blue on flag: 336
White on flag: 00
Flag pole: 3784
Cauldron: Crescent Colours Black Coffee
Cat: Rainbow Gallery Splendor 5801

The design is stitched on some sort of 28 count light tan linen.  My guess is that it is DMC brand.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chicken Cornbread Casserole

Dinners have been crazy this school year.  Blockette has a later start time for school, which means a later end time.  Most days we don't walk in the door until 4:00.  We used to eat dinner at 5, but unless we're eating leftovers that just doesn't happen.  It works out though.  Because of the later start time, Blockette doesn't eat lunch until 1:45!  She's not really hungry again until a little before 6. 

I'm glad I don't have to wait until 1:45 to eat lunch!  I'm starving at 11AM!  At least they have a snack time so all the rumbling tummies don't disrupt class.

Blockette may not be hungry by 6, but I sure am.  By the time dinner is on the table I'm gobbling it up, not snapping a no photo.  I'm working on remedying this!  I promise!

Anyhow, Monday I said I'd write about what I made with the Maple Chili chicken leftovers.  I shredded them up and put them in this Chicken Cornbread Casserole from Betty Crocker.  I adapted the recipe a bit by adding some more veggies.

I'd make this again with leftover chicken.  The leftovers heated up nicely and made for an easy second day meal.

Southern Chicken-Cornbread Casserole  adapted from Betty Crocker
3 cups cubed (1 inch) cooked chicken breast (I used 2 large chicken breasts and shredded them)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (I omitted since my chicken was already seasoned)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 c low fat sour cream
1 c milk
Salt and pepper to taste
3 green onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1c corn fresh or frozen
1c peas fresh or frozen

1.5 c shredded Cheddar cheese (I used mexican blend with jalapenos)

Cornbread Topping 
1 box cornbread mix
1 can (14.75 oz) cream corn
1 egg
2 T butter, melted

Heat oven to 400ºF. Spray 13x9-inch dish w spray. In lg bowl, mix chicken, garlic powder, sour cream and milk. Season well with salt and pepper. Fold green onions and veggies. Spoon mixture evenly into dish.  In medium bowl, combine cornbread mix, corn, egg and butter. Spread evenly over chicken mix. Top w shred cheese. Bake 30-40 min til toothpick comes out clean. Let set up 15 min before serving.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chili Maple Crockpot Chicken

This crockpot recipe for chili maple chicken hails from the blog When The Dinner Bell Rings.  It doesn't look like much, but it was amazing.  I loved the spicy and the sweet together!

I didn't have any real maple syrup on hand so I used homemade pancake syrup instead.  I got some chipotle chile powder for my birthday and I thought the smokey element of the chipotle would add another flavor dimension.  Not having used chipotle powder before, I was concerned it might be too spicy for Blockette.  I used half regular chili powder and half chipotle.  The chicken was just spicy enough to prevent the chicken from tasting bland, perfect for tender tastebuds.

The lack of water in this recipe really surprised me.  I'm so used to cooking chicken that is completely submerged in some sort of sauce or broth while baking in the crockpot.  Rest assured, the chicken turns out just fine and is in no way dry!

We ate our chicken in a cold salad.  Since there was no real sauce, I thought it would be too bland or dry served with pasta or rice. The salad turned out to be perfect as we were having unseasonably hot temps when I made it back in late September. We wound up having leftovers.  I'll write about what I did with the remaining chicken later this week!

Chili Maple Glazed Chicken from When the Dinner Bell Rings
2 Tablespoons Water
1 Teaspoon Salt
1.5 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
4 chicken breasts

Toss all ingredients in slow cooker on high. Bake covered 4-6 hrs. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Crockpot Minestrone Soup

This is the last recipe I made from the zucchini harvested from my little garden.  I had to remove the plant the first week in October.  The zucchinis were only growing to half as large as a normal sized zucchini before they began rotting on the plant.  If I brought them inside, they would start to get fuzzy after 24 hours.  The one plant gave us lots of veggies, but it was time to say good bye.


The minestrone soup was really awesome the first day.  It made a lot so I froze the leftovers.  The zucchini got a bit more mushy upon defrosting and reheating that I'd have liked, but was met with zero complaints from the peanut gallery.  Well, at least no complaints about the zucchini.

After eating the soup for the second time my husband told me he does not like cooked kale, or spinach, or any leafy green.  They do get a bit slimy so I can't really blame him.  We've come to a compromise to leave the greens out of the soup and serve them in a side salad instead.

Cooked greens or no, this is the perfect dish to make with the last of your zucchini harvest as the weather makes the transition from summer to fall.  It's a nice healthy hearty soup that makes your insides all toasty and warm after a crisp autumn afternoon!

Crockpot Minestrone Soup from Skinny Taste
1 small onion, chopped
2 large  carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed (i used 1 1/2c cooked cannellini beans)
3 c chicken broth (I used homemade)
1 oz chunk of good Parmesan cheese rind (I omitted because I didn't have it)
1 fresh rosemary sprig (I used a t of dried rosemary)
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I used 2 t dried)
1/4 c chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I used 2 T dried)
salt and fresh pepper
1 med zucchini, chopped
2 c chopped fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach or kale (I used kale)
2 cups cooked small pasta  (al dente) (I used ditalini)

Rinse and drain beans. Puree beans with 1 c broth. In crockpot, toss broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, Parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.40 min before soup done, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 min. Add cooked pasta, cook 10 min more. Remove bay leaves, rosemary sprig, parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with extra parm if desired.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Morning Glory Oatmeal Cookies

So I don't have a photo for today's recipe, but I do have one of this enormous zucchini from our garden. The zucchini plant overwhelmed the raised garden bed, and this little squash got half hidden in the grass.  When I picked it, I thought it was going to be normal zucchini sized.  Boy was I wrong.

Most of this zucchini was shredded and put into muffins, but I did use some to bake these delicious zucchini carrot oatmeal cookies from Mom on Time Out.  They made a wonderfully moist, but not too moist cookie.  I think they taste just like these morning glory muffins I made back in July of last year, except the muffins have apples instead of zucchini!

I'd definitely make these cookies again next zucchini season.  The dough froze very well uncooked.  I love doing this for baking in the summer.  That way you only have to have the oven on for 15-20 min (including preheating) and there aren't a bunch of left over cookies calling your name throughout the week.

Morning Glory Cookies from Mom on Time Out
1 c old fashioned oats
1 c flour
1/2 c wheat flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
3/4 c butter, softened
1 c grated zucchini
1/2 c shredded carrot
1/2 c shredded, sweetened, coconut
1/2 c Craisins
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate zucchini and squeeze out excess water, then grate carrot, let both sit in strainer until ready to use. Beat butter and sugars til fluffy in stand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla til combined. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in med bowl. Gradually add flour mix to butter/sug mix. Beat on low til well combined. Add oats, zucchini, carrot, coconut, and Craisins. I used a small cookie scoop, about 1 T, to portion out dough.  Place 2" apart on sheet. Bake 10-12 min til just start to turn color. Cool on sheets 5 min before moving to a cooling rack.  To freeze: portion out dough and place on plate or cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer.  They can be close, but not touching.  Leave in freezer until they harden, about 1-2 hrs, then transfer to zip top bag for storage.  Cookies can be baked right from the freezer, but you will need to add an additional 3 min to their bake time.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dairy Free Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins

Here's a different version of Zucchini muffins. These Zucchini muffins from We Made That are made with whole wheat, oil and almond milk.  While they still contain quite a bit of sugar, it is less than a traditional muffin.

I put 1/2 c raisins in half the batch and 1/2 c chocolate chips in the other half of the batch.  If you add either one of these things, the cinnamon sugar sprinkle topping is not necessary as the chocolate and/or the raisins add their own sweetness.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of these muffins.  At least, I don't think I did.  Truth be told I couldn't tell if the pictures of the muffins were for the Loaded Zucchini muffins, or these!

They are both great recipes!  I made this version for a friend who can't eat dairy.  They got a double thumbs up from him.

 Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins from We Made That
2 C Whole Wheat Flour

1 1/3 c Flour
1 C Sugar
2 t Cinnamon
2 1/2 t Baking Powder
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
2 2/3 C Shredded Zucchini(I used shredded yellow squash and zucchini)
1 C almond Milk
1/4c Oil
1/4c Honey
2 eggs

optional topping:
2 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F.  in lg bowl mix flours, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. In sm bowl mix squash, milk, oil, honey and eggs. Add wet to dry. (Fold in any add ins at this point.)  Scoop into sprayed or paper cup lined muffin tins.  Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle on top of batter, if using.  Bake 15 min.  Remove muffins from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Zucchini Brownies

These zucchini brownies from Crazy for Crust were so rich and chocolaty.  A slice this small was almost too much!   

We had some of these brownies for dessert when Blockette had a friend over.  She was so amazed that they contained zucchini.  Cause zucchini is super gross and who would put a vegetable in a brownie. 

Me, of course!

I liked that these brownies were vegan.  I mean the frosting isn't, but the base is.  It would be very easy to swap out a different frosting, like this one, if needed.

Zucchini Brownies from Crazy for Crust
1/2 c oil
1 1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla
2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 c shredded zucchini (1 lg or 2 sm)
1 T water
1/2 c chopped walnuts

3 T cocoa powder
1/4 c butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c milk
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9x13 pan w foil and spray with Pam. Set aside. In med bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Fold in zucchini. If mixture very powdery, add up to 1/4 c hot water, adding 1 T at a time, stirring after each addition.  The batter will be crumbly, but NOT powdery.Fold in Walnuts. Bake 25-30 min til brownies spring back when gently touched.
For frosting: Mix soft butter, cocoa, and powdered sugar with hand mixer. Add milk and vanilla. Spread over cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zucchini Waffles

Zucchini in waffles? Why not!

I'd like to say that you can't taste the zucchini in these waffles, but that would only be a half truth.

Fresh off the waffle iron there is not even a hint of zucchini, but when the leftovers were reheated on a skillet, I could taste a hint of zucchini.  This was probably because I eat waffles with little to no syrup.  I'm sure normal people who drown their waffles in butter and syrup couldn't taste anything but waffley goodness.

Zucchini tasting leftovers or not, I'll be making these again next year at zucchini harvest time.

Zucchini waffles from The Perfect Pantry
2 med zucchini, shredded
1-1/2 c unbleached flour
1 T baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1 t cinnamon
1/3 c sugar
1-1/2 cu skim milk
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla

Place shredded zucchini in a strainer, and sprinkle with 1 t kosher salt and let drain for 30 min. Rinse under cold water, shake off excess liquid, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can from  zucchini, and set aside.  Preheat waffle iron to high.  In lg bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar.  In another bowl, mix milk, eggs, and vanilla . Add dry ingredients, then zucchini. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray (top and bottom plates). Add batter and cook per your waffle iron directions.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Loaded Zucchini Muffins

Let's talk about ZUCCHINI!

This was my first year growing zucchini.  I planted one yellow squash and one zucchini plant.  My yellow squash didn't produce a lot, but the zucchini did.  This next series of posts is going to be about the various things I made with the zucchini from the garden.  (Well, aside from shredding them up to put in pasta sauce and grilling them up and topping them with Parmesan cheese...mmmm!)
I made these zucchini muffins from Simply Recipes three times I liked them so much!  The muffins froze really well too so I didn't have to worry about them going bad before we got around to eating them.  I made a batch for the girls at Blockette's birthday party sleep over to eat for breakfast.  One girl liked them so much she ate THREE...and half a peach and a bowl of cereal.  I'm pretty sure she had a hallow leg.

So why do I call these loaded zucchini muffins?  Cause I added everything but the kitchen sink!  They've got raisins, craisins, walnuts, pecans, white  and semi sweet chocolate chips.  What's not to like?  I'm not normally a fan of raisins in baked goods, but even I enjoyed them in these muffins!

The last time I made these muffins I had a very moist zucchini.  When I assembled the batter, I felt it was too viscous.  To fix that I added about a cup of oats to thicken up the batter.  The resulting muffins were a bit drier than the original, but not to the point of being crumbly.

Loaded Zucchini Muffins adapted from Simply Recipes
3 c grated zucchini (do not squeeze out excess water)
2/3 c melted butter
1 1/3 c sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 t vanilla
2 t baking soda
3 c flour
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 c raisins1/2 c craisins
1/2 c walnuts
1/2 c pecans
1/2 c white chips
1/2 c semi sweet
About 1 c rolled oats, if needed

 Preheat oven to 350°F. In lg bowl mix sugar, eggs, and vanilla by hand. Add zucchini, then melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to  zucchini mixture. Add, nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.  Once combined, add oats if needed.  Spray pan or use paper muffin cups.  I like to use a 3T cookie scoop to portion the batter into the muffin tin.  I got 24 regular sized muffins and 5-6 mini muffins.

 Bake 25-30 min, on middle rack til muffins are light brown, and tops spring back when pressed. Cool for 5 min in pan. Remove muffins and cool completely on rack.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jalapeno Jelly

Who would have thunk it? I LOVE jalapeno jelly! 

I had this plethora of jalapenos from the garden this year.  (Hooray for not killing off all the plants this summer!)  There were so many that I thought I'd take a risk and attempt something new...canning.

This was the perfect way for me to delve into the world of canning.  There was a very small yield, so if I completely messed things up I wouldn't have wasted a bunch of time and energy.

The recipes I used were from Mommy's Kitchen and the Cafe Sucre Farine. Most jalapeno jelly is green, but I used half a red and half an orange pepper, so my jelly is orange-y.  I prefer this because green jelly weirds me out.  It reminds me of Slimer from Ghostbusters.

I haven't tried the jelly in these jars yet.  I didn't sterilize enough jars so I put some jelly up in the fridge.  The fridge jelly seemed a lot clearer and brighter, probably because it didn't go through that final boil to seal the jars. 

The Jelly in these jars look a lot more brown than orange.  That is more a trick of the poor lighting in my kitchen.  Although, like I said, the fridge version of the jelly is a lot more vibrant than the stuff that went through the canning process.  Hopefully, it will taste just as good.

Jalapeno Jelly from Mommy's Kitchen and Cafe Sugre Farine
6 oz jalapeno peppers, seeded (about 7 medium) (I took all the seeds out of mine, but leave some in if you want the jelly to be really spicy!)
1/2 each roasted red and orange peppers, seeded
1  c apple cider vinegar
3  c sugar
1 - 3 0z pouch Ball or Certo Fruit Liquid Pectin (Ball makes a really thick jelly, which I prefer)
3 - half pint canning jars with Lids & Bands

Wash jars in hot soapy water and then prepare a large pot with a round rack or dish cloth on the bottom of the pot. Place jars on top of rack/dish cloth. Simmer, not boil, jars and lids in hot water bath until ready to use. Set bands aside.  Remove seeds and stems from all peppers. Use gloves when handling the jalapenos as the oil will burn for some time if you touch your eye or nose, even if you are super careful.  Puree peppers in food processor with 1/2 c cider vinegar til smooth, do not strain. In lg pot combine puree w remaining 1/2 c cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil 10 min, stirring frequently, making sure it doesn't boil over. Add pectin, making sure to squeeze all of it out of the pouch.  Boil hard for 1 min, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam. (I didn't have any)
Ladle into hot jar leaving 1/4" head space. Wipe rims with clean cloth. Remove lids from hot water and center on jars. Apply bands but do not over tighten .   Add jars to hot water bath. Water level should be as such to cover jars completely.  Boil 10 min, starting timer when water is at a rolling boil.

Remove jars to hot pad to cool.  After 24 hrs, lid should not pop up when center is pressed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Bars

I made these Cinnamon roll bars from Blissful Whimsy for my husband's family reunion in early Sept.  The only changes I made was to use butter pecan cake mix and half the drizzle the recipe called for.  I made a full recipe of glaze and saved half in the fridge to use on apple bread!  (Which I'll write about at a later date.)

I don't know that I would go so far as to classify them as cinnamon roll bars.  People thought they tasted more like gingerbread bars.  Not that they were complaining!

This was a super easy recipe that I would definitely make again.

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars from Blissful Whimsy
1 box yellow or butter pecan cake mix
1/2 c melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 c br sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 T cinnamon  (Yes. Tablespoon.  Do it.  Cinnamon is awesome!)

2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix all bar ingredients in large bowl and pour into a greased 9"x13" baking dish. Bake at 350F for 25 min. When browned and edges pulling away from the side of the pan, remove from oven and cool.  Once cake is room temp, mix powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle icing over top in kriss-cross pattern.  I only used half of the icing called for in the recipe, and stored the remainder in the fridge.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Watermelon Slushy Fail

A few weeks ago I bought this massive watermelon.  The large ones were cheaper than the personal ones for some reason.  A large watermelon is way too much for the three of us to eat before it spoils.  I looked to see if there was some other way we could consume the melon aside from just eating it normally in cut up cubes.

I came across this recipe for Watermelon Lime Frosties over at My Life in Food.  So I froze the remaining watermelon, which just happened to be exactly 3 cups-exactly what the recipe called for.  It must be kismet, right? 

Not so much.

First off my wimpy blender did not like the frozen watermelon.  I thought I was going to burn out the motor on the poor guy.  As luck would have it, I did not and I managed to puree the mixture after adding an additional cup of water.  That and pulsing and poking at the concoction for a good 20 min.

Then I thought to myself, "Man, this better be worth it."
Sadly, not so much.  Although, it wasn't nearly as bad as the Cucumber Drink of Slime.

The drink was a beautiful pinkish red though.  I think that was the biggest improvement over the Failed cucumber drink.  It actually looked like it was going to taste good.

So what was the problem with the drink?  It tasted bitter.  I even added additional maple syrup - 3 additional Tablespoons for a total of 5 Tablespoons.

I'm pretty sure the culprit was the seeds.  Huh?  Well, you ask, why didn't I pick out the seeds?  It was a seedless watermelon.  What?  I thought you said the seeds were the problem.  Gee you should get your story straight. 

Yes.  The seeds WERE most likely the problem.  Even seedless watermelon has seeds.  They are usually those tiny puny little seeds that are impossible to pick out.  Normally, they just get eaten and you can't taste them at all.  But in pureeing the melon...they get pulverized and their bitter qualities overwhelm the entire drink.  This is the only thing that I can think of that would make the drink bitter as the lime juice was sour, and the banana and maple syrup were sweet.

To be fair, this drink wasn't a total Fail.  Blockette loved it.  I'm not sure why.  I gave her a big old glass and she slurped and gulped that bad boy down.  I poured some of the leftovers into Popsicle molds, but tossed the rest.  Mrblocko didn't even want to try it.  I think he was still reeling from the cucumber drink debacle. 

This slushy concoction could have been salvaged by adding some booze.  Something like Malibu would have added sweetness and I believe the coconut flavor would have overwhelmed the bitterness.  However, it was a school night and Alcohol and I are not friends.  I didn't think the experiment was worth the pain I'd have to suffer the next morning. 

Hangover + walking into traffic = Pancake Mrsblocko

Watermelon Lime Frosty from My Life in Food
3 c watermelon, cubed and frozen
1 ripe banana, peeled and frozen
2-5  T  maple syrup
Zest from 2 limes
Juice from 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)
1/2 -1 c water

Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding more water as needed to keep the mixture moving. Add booze as needed.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Chewy Chunky Chip Cookies

This is my take on the Chunk cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction.

They were good, but I didn't think they were really any better or any worse than any other chocolate chip cookie.  Mine didn't get as puffy as the original recipe.  They never do.  I think it's some sort of cookie conspiracy.  They were puffier than Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies though.  So I guess that's something. 

I did freeze half the batch and they baked up the same way, puffy, but not as puffy as I expected.  I'm going to blame the poofy failure on the humidity, as I made them in early July.

So have you tried this recipe out?  Let me know how your's turned out!

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction
2  1/4 c  flour
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1/2 t salt
3/4 c  butter, melted
3/4 c  br sugar
1/2 c  sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk - room temp
2 t vanilla
1 c chocolate  chunks

In lg bowl mix flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt. Set aside. In med bowl, mix melted butter and sugars til smooth. Whisk in whole egg, then yolk, then vanilla. Pour wet into dry and combine. Fold in chips.  Cover and chill dough for 2 hrs - 3 days. Soften dough at room temp for 10 min while oven preheating to 325F. Roll into 3T dough balls.  Dough may be crumbly. Roll dough taller than wide, to aide in thick baked cookies.  8 cookie dough balls per parchment/silpat lined cookie sheet. Press a few chocolate chunks on top of dough balls if desired. Bake 11-12 min. The cookies will look  underbaked. Cool on sheet 10 min as the cookies continue to cook. Move to wire rack and cool completely.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Turkey Mushroom Wild Rice Casserole

I made this Turkey Mushroom Wild Rice Casserole way back in June when Blockette was away at camp.  I thought it would be a perfect meal for Mrblocko and I to enjoy while she was away.  That way we could eat our dinner without the whining and gagging noises that we are serenaded with when Blockette is forced to endure eating a meal that includes mushrooms in some form or another.

The recipe was originally called mushroom and wild rice casserole. I found it over at the blog: Girl Versus Dough.  I hadn't intended on altering the recipe so much, but that's the way things wound up.  First, I added 2 cups of shredded turkey.  I knew the man would not be happy without some meat in his meal.  Turkey and wild rice always seem like a natural choice, plus I happened to have some hiding in the freezer. 

The next biggest change I made was to use Progresso creamy mushroom soup.  I could not find the Progresso Soup Starter.  Apparently my grocery store doesn't carry it.  I imagine that the soup starter is more like condensed soup.  Regular Progresso soup is well...soupy.  To make up for the extra liquid I added some carrots, celery, peas, corn, and red pepper.  They made the dish nice and colorful too. Well, as colorful as a dish that gets coated in white sauce can be.  Yeah.  No picture this time.  C'mon, Blockette was at camp and I had a nice long weekend alone with my husband.  Who thinks about taking a picture of their food when blessed with that kind of opportunity.  Not this lady.

The last change I made was to use both Gruyere and Italian blend cheese.  I thought I had enough Gruyere, but I was sadly mistaken.  I did have just enough so that you could taste the salty wonderfulness that is Gruyere though.  Gruyere rocks in my book.

With all these additions I needed to bake it in a 9x13 pan.  Boy did we have leftovers!

And guess what?  I wound up feeding some of those leftovers to Blockette when she came home and miracle of miracles...she loved it.  Not a single complaint about the mushrooms!  She even said they tasted good.   Amazing what summer camp will do!


Turkey Mushroom Wild Rice Casserole adapted from Girl Versus Dough
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1/2 roasted red pepper, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 c frozen corn
1 c frozen peas
3 cups cooked wild rice
2 c shredded cooked turkey
1 can Progresso mushroom soup
1/4 -1/2c shredded Gruyere cheese
1 c Italian blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Over med-high heat, heat large skillet with 1T olive oil and cook mushrooms until liquid evaporates, about 5 min.  Add onions, cook 3 min, add carrots, celery, and red pepper. Cook 3-5 min.  Add corn and peas until heated through, about  2 more min.  In a large bowl add contents of skillet, rice, turkey and soup.  Stir to combine and pour into pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the cheese is salty.  Top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake 35 min.  Remove foil and bake 20-30 min until filling is bubbling and cheese is golden brown.  Let sit for 15 min before serving.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Butterscotch Marshmallow Bars

I made these Mello Scotch Bars from Shugary Sweets for my birthday.  Yeah, I know.  I'm weird.  I didn't want cake.  Cake was too much effort with the baking, and the cooling, and the frosting, and the keeping the cat from eating the frosting. 


My birthday, and If I gotta make something for myself I don't want to have to spend all day doing it.

I'm so fancy with my photo props: house phone, water bottle, plastic wrap.  Just keepin it real!

The bars were very sweet, but I have a massive sweet tooth so that's ok.  Some people might think that a tiny bar is no comparison to a big ole slab of cake.  To you I say, "Plbbt."  The candles stuck in these bars just fine.

I was a bit worried that the marshmallows would turn into little pebbles after coming out of the oven.  No pebbles here.  Hooray! 

Butterscotch Marshmallow Bars from Shugary Sweets
1/2 c butter
1 c butterscotch chips
2/3 c br sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 c marshmallows, (the little ones, not the roasting variety unless you wanna cut them up but that's too much work)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 13×9 baking dish with Pam.  (Or better yet, line the pan with parchment for super easy removal from the pan.) In sm micro safe bowl, nuke butterscotch chips and butter for 30 sec at a time, stir between each time until chips are melted. Set aside. In lg bowl, add br sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in melted chips, flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in choc chips and marshmallows. Pour batter into dish and bake 18-22 min. Cool to room temp, then cut into bars. Chill for at least an hr before serving to allow bars to set.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lemon Mug Cake

Yeah, another mug cake. You can't be tired of seeing these recipes can you?   I like variety! Lemon to me is just so summery.  Sometimes chocolate is too heavy for summer.  I think it's something about the way it coats your mouth.  Or maybe that's just me?  Personally, I feel this lemon mug cake from Kirbie's Cravings is a perfect summer treat for one. 

Lemon Mug Cake from Kirbie's Cravings
1/4c flour
1/4 t baking powder
3 T milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 1/2 T sugar
1 T oil
1 T lemon juice
lemon zest -if you have it.  I didn't and it turned out tasty

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, milk, oil, lemon juice and zest, if using, in micro safe mug. Cook in microwave for 45-60 sec. Let cool before eating. Add a lemon glaze if desired.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I made these cinnamon chip snicker doodles from Averie Cooks early on this summer.  I had a bag of Hershey's cinnamon chips that I'd been saving for just the right thing.  Why do stores only carry cinnamon chips seasonally?  Don't they realize people have cinnamon chip cravings besides Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Sheesh.

Anyhow, the cookies were rockin awesome with cinnamon goodness. Although, mine didn't rise and get poofy like they did on Averie Cooks.  I baked them right from the fridge too.  Maybe it had something to do with the humidity?  I even tried baking them right from the freezer.  Alas, poofy cookies were not to be.

Poofy cookies or not, these were still an excellent use of my precious cinnamon chips and a must bake for all you cinnamon fiends out there!

Soft and Chewy Cinnamon Chip Snickerdoodles from Averie Cookies
1 egg
1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 T sour cream
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
2 t cinnamon
2 t cornstarch
1 t cream of tartar
1/2 t baking soda
10 oz bag (1 2/3 c) cinnamon chips
granulated cinnamon-sugar mixture for rolling, optional

Mix egg, butter and sugars on med high with paddle attachment of stand mixer for 5 min til lt and fluffy.  Add sour cream and vanilla, beating 2 more min.  Scrape sides and add flour, cinnamon, cornstarch, cream of tartar, and baking soda, beating 2 minutes. Add chips. Scoop out dough and chill dough balls for several hrs to 5 days. Warm cookies will spread worse than mine did. When ready to bake preheat oven to 350.  Bake 2" apart on lined cookie sheet.  Bake 8-9min, til tops and edges just set.  Do not bake more than 10 min, cookies will continue to cook as they cool.  After 5 min cooling on cookie sheet transfer to rack or paper towels to come to room temp before storing in air tight container.  The dough freezes nicely and bakes up well frozen, but you may need to add additional time for dough straight from the freezer.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Carrot cake poke cake

Here is a recipe I made back in...oh I don't know, maybe May.  I THINK maybe I made it for some sort of family gathering, but I don't remember what.  I do remember that it was swept out of the house before I could take a picture and I returned with an empty pan.

What on earth am I talking about?  I'm talking about carrot cake poke cake from Something Swanky.  A super easy cake made from carrot cake mix.  It also has something that I'd never heard of:  Cool Whip Frosting. 

It's an evil hybrid of pudding, frosting and cool whip.  Magically delicious. 

I was surprised to find it in the grocery store. Right there on the shelf next to the ordinary Cool Whip.  Who knew.
Anyhow, if you are a carrot cake fiend like we are in this house, (yeah, even the cat likes carrot cake..Bad Boo!) make this recipe.  It's om nom good.

Carrot Cake Poke Cake from Something Swanky
9x13 Carrot Cake recipe of your choice, baked and cooled (I used a box. Don't go fancy on me here...A cake w pineapple and raisins will get all weird with the condensed milk. )
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
8 oz Cool Whip
10.6 oz Cool Whip Vanilla Frosting (Cream Cheese flavor)
6 oz (half a tub) whipped cream cheese (must be whipped)
 1/2 c caramel sauce or more
1 c chopped pecans or more

Leave cake in dish it was baked in. Poke 20-25 holes, spread evenly, over top of cake with bottom of a wood spoon or chopstick. Pour sweetened condensed milk over top, trying to fill holes. In lg bowl, with hand mixer, beat together cool whip, cool whip frosting, and whipped cream cheese until smooth. Spread over cake. Pour caramel sauce over top, and sprinkle with pecans. Chill overnight. Cut into 12 squares.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What Not To Do With Cucumbers

I planted one lonely cucumber plant.  This spring I debated whether or not that was a good idea, you know, just in case the one plant dies...then you've got a backup. 

Whoooo boy.  Am I sure glad I only planted one cucumber.  That sucker is prolific.  I'm pretty sure there is a law of physics where you have to have at least 4 cucumbers on your kitchen counter at a time.


I've given cucumbers to the food pantry, my best friend, my husband's best friend, and Blockette's teacher.  I still have an overabundance.  Cucumbers up the wazoo.

What on earth was I going to do with all these cucumbers?  I did a search online and found this recipe for a cucumber drink.  It called for a pound of cucumber, 1/2 c lime, 1 1/4c mint, 1/2 c sugar and 1 c water.

Long story short, you make a simple syrup out of the sugar and water, then dump it and all the other ingredients into a blender and puree.  After straining, you then add 3 more cups of water. 

The recipe said to leave the skins on.  That the skins would give the drink a lovely green color.  Um no.  It made the drink a pukey green color.  That was problem number one.

Problem number two was my mint had gone to seed.  I had a dilly of a time trying to get a cups worth of mint. And then there was the tiny matter of a giant moth that hid inside the mint I brought outside.  I mean it wasn't Mothra, but it wasn't one of those dainty white ones.  Think Silence of the Lambs.  Yeah.  There was lots of screaming. 

The third issue was that I realized my lime juice had gone bad.  So I mixed everything up without that.  I tested the drink to see how it was before I went out and bought some lime juice.  It tasted...ok, but it seemed like it would be a lot better with the lime.

So Blockette and I headed out to the store where I purchased some non-brown non-lumpy lime juice, which I added to my cucumber drink.

I poured the three of us each a glass.

We all took a sip and declared it "not bad."  Then we had another sip.  My family was silent.  (Yeah.  They are some smart peeps.)  They all looked at me.  Blinking.  I quietly grabbed their glasses and dumped their contents down the drain, along with the remaining gunk in the pitcher. 

Then my husband said, "Honey?  Never EVER make that again."

Done. And. Done.

(Although, I think if I used better mint and peeled the cucumber...Kidding honey!  Just kidding!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peeling Tomatoes

I grew a pretty fruitful tomato plant this year, so I've already had to make several small batches of tomato sauce.  I'm still too chicken to can it though.  I don't think I need to with only one super fruitful tomato plant.  We're using up the sauce fast enough that I'm not running out of room in the freezer, so I think I'm ok.

Tomatoes are not my thing so I don't particularly care for a chunky sauce.  So that means pealing the tomatoes.  Do I ever remember how to do this from year to year?  Absolutely not.  I'm tired of searching for directions on how to do this so I'm posting them here.

These directions are basically from alrecipes, but I'll break it down on here as well.

1. Get a big pot of water boiling.

2.  Make a big bowl of icy ice cube a riffic water right next to the stove.

3. While you are waiting for your water to boil.  Cut an "X" into the bottom of your tomato, just through the skin.  This year I grew some funky shaped heirloom tomatoes.  Some of them looked like 2 mutant tomatoes growing together.  For those freaky guys I cut an "x" on each section of the mutated fruits. I've also found it helpful to cut out the stemy core thingie at this point.

4. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to simmer and place the tomatoes in the pot with a slotted spoon.  Try not to over crowd them.

5. Let them bob and weave in the water for about 30 seconds.

6.  Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and plunge them in the ice bath.

7.  After the tomatoes have cooled enough to the touch, the nasty skins should peel right off.

Warning: Do NOT attempt to do this with apples.  Mom...I'm looking at you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm back...with oatmeal goodness.

My little hiatus went a bit longer than I anticipated.  We had a family friend have some medical issues that threw me for a loop.  He spent most of August in the hospital, but, thankfully he is home and on the mend.

Blockette is enjoying the third grade.  For some reason, this year, more than others, I'm finding that I'm missing her.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not that I didn't miss her in years past, while she was at school.  I think this summer we were busier than normal, so we didn't have a chance to get sick of spending all day, every day with each other.

My illustrious career as a crossing guard has been interesting this year as well.  School starts later in the day this year, so at the end of the day the parents are antsy to get home or something.  I've had more than my share of near misses, and school hasn't even been in session for a full month yet.

I've also been having issues with my knees.  Basically, my knee caps aren't tracking correctly and they pop out when I try to do little things like walking.  Let me tell you, this is not a fun ailment to have when your job is basically walking for 45 min twice a day.  I've been extremely cranky and that makes me not want to blog, or clean or do anything except eat chocolate covered almonds.  But, I'm working on strengthening the muscles around my knee, and finally found a knee brace that isn't so huge that it could pass for a skirt.  I can actually get stuff done again. So a blogging we will go...

Let's talk about breakfast.

Like many people, I don't have a lot of time for a fancy breakfast.  When I get up I water the plants, make Mr. Blocko and Blockette's lunch, eat and then head out the door to work.  A few years ago I used to just eat a bowl of cereal, then started having digestive issues so  I switched to Yogurt and granola.  Not only did it not change the digestive issues, but the sugar levels in the yogurt and granola left me feeling shaky and twitchy.  My Dr said dairy was the cause of my digestive problems, so I should limit the amount of milk products I consume in a day.  I went to just eating toast.  This was all fine and dandy until last spring when I got a bike and rode to work.  That toast just didn't give me enough fuel.

Then I tried almond milk.  It wasn't so bad, so I started having regular cereal again.  However, I found that I didn't feel satisfied from that either.  I was toying with the idea of eating hot oatmeal, but at the time it was nearing summer.  The idea of eating something hot didn't appeal to me one bit.

But oatmeal doesn't have to be eaten hot.  Did you know you can eat it cold as well?


I had no idea!

And get this...I don't even cook it.  Not at all!

Cold Overnight Oatmeal - serves 1
1/2 c oatmeal (I like quick cooking, but old fashioned works as well)
1/2 c milk (I use unsweetened almond milk as I'm trying to keep the AM sugars in check)
1/2-1 T semi sweet chocolate chips

Before you go to bed at night, combine all the ingredients in a container, making sure all the oats are covered by the milk.  I like the small round ziploc brand containers, but a bowl with plastic wrap will do the trick as well. Stick that bad boy in the fridge and in the morning, just add a splash or two of milk to get the consistency of your preference.  That's it.  You can really add anything you like, but for me, just a pinch of chocolate chips gives me the hint of sweetness I crave, without going overboard. The chocolate chips soften up in the milk overnight as well.  They still have a little bit of bite to them, but they aren't rock hard like you think they might be from sitting in the fridge.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Hiatus

Hey everyone! 
 I've decided to take a little break from blogging until Blockette starts up school.  
Look for me to return in about a month!


Thanks to you all for visiting my blog...see you back here mid August!