Thursday, December 31, 2009

The BEST Sugar Cookies

Prepare to throw the rest of your sugar cookie recipes away...these really cannot be beat. They are fluffy like a pillow. If you make them, make sure you have lots of extras because they will disappear fast. You can use whichever icing you prefer, but the almond-flavored recipe I have included is a-mazing.
The BEST Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. You can cook these immediately (my favorite way) or cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight) if you want to use cookie cutters.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven or 10-12 minutes if you cook immediately. Cool completely.

Almond Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. butter, room temp.
1 Tbs. + 3/4 tsp. milk (or to desired consistency)
1/4 tsp. almond flavoring

Beat ingredients together until smooth. Spread a small amount on cooled cookies.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lemon Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce

This made a delicious Christmas morning breakfast. We also made blueberry pancakes because not everyone was too fond of the idea of lemon, but everyone who tasted these were well-pleased! The recipe only makes about 10 pancakes, so keep that in mind!

Lemon Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce
passed down from family, originally from a bed and breakfast

3 eggs, separated
In bowl, mix:
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup melted butter
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest

Beat egg whites until they hold peaks. In another bowl, mix all ingredients. Fold in the beaten egg whites until no yellow streaks show with spatula. Drop onto griddle.

Serve with Raspberry Syrup:
Make a simple syrup with 2 cups sugar added to about 1 cup boiling water. Dump in a bag of frozen raspberries and cook it down until it is a syrup consistency.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Perfect One Bowl Brownies

Merry Christmas! I made these brownies the other day from The Sister's Cafe and they were delish. I've always a strong supporter of brownies from a box because it just didn't seem like homemade brownies were ever as moist and chocolatey as boxed ones. But, I tried this because I needed something fast, easy, and last-minute. "Mmmm good," is all I and everyone that tried them had to say.

Perfect One Bowl Brownies
from The Sister's Cafe

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips (or however many you like)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl melt butter in microwave, then stir in oil, sugar and cocoa. With a wooden spoon stir in the remainder of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Spread into a 9x13 pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top (I like my chocolate chips better mixed in, but whichever you prefer). Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. If your toothpick comes out clean you have cooked them too long! DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

This chicken dish delivers...I usually prepare it when I am having guests and it always earns rave reviews. Its pretty easy and is great served over a bed of noodles. It would definitely qualify as comfort food- you really can't go wrong with this one.

Chicken Parmesan
Betty Crocker's Cookbook

7-8 chicken breasts
1 egg
1 Tbs. water
2/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. olive oil
jar of spaghetti sauce
Shredded Mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
Spaghetti Noodles

Heat olive oil in large 12-inch skillet. Mix water and egg well in small, flat-bottomed bowl. In separate similar bowl, mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mix and then into the bread crumb mix and coat well. Place in skillet and cook 5 minutes (2 1/2 min. each side) until the chicken is golden brown, but not entirely cooked through. Place chicken into a baking dish and pour the jar of spaghetti sauce over the top. Sprinkle liberally with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is golden brown at edges. Serve over cooked noodles. Enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crockpot Chicken Chili

This is guaranteed to be one of the easiest, no-fail soup recipes you'll ever make. But what it lacks in complexity, it definitely makes up for in taste. My mother-in-law made this for us a few years ago and I was flabbergasted at the short ingredient list. It's one of the recipes that will always be in my dinner rotation- a sure staple. Not to mention it's one my family's faves.

Crockpot Chicken Chili
JoLynn Bell

1-2 chicken breasts (depending on size, I usually use 2 for a more hearty soup)
24 oz salsa (I just use the cheapest store brand because in all the times I have made this, I can never tell a difference between the expensive salsas and the cheap ones)
4 oz pepperjack cheese (if you're spice-averse, do half cheddar or colby jack)
2 cans Great Northern beans

Place all ingredients in crock pot on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken and serve topped with sour cream, tortilla chips, and more cheese, if you like.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

This meal is super easy and has a rich flavor without the fat. I really, really enjoyed it. I left out the celery because I just made the recipe last minute and didn't have any in the fridge. But that's the goodness of this--you should have everything on hand!

Easy Chicken and Dumplings
from Southern Living magazine

cooked chicken, 1-2 pounds
1 can cream of chicken
32 oz container chicken broth
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 can of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; return to a low boil.

Smash biscuits into a 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 1/2 inch-wide strips.

Drop strips, 1 at a time, into boiling broth mixture. Add carrots and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Candy Cane Brownies

Candy Cane Brownies
by Me:)

I had some extra candy cane Hershey Kisses. So...I threw together some brownie (just a mix) put them in muffin tins and squished a kiss in the middle. Baked at 350 for about 14 minutes. And...voila! Amazingly yummy and festive brownies! Watch out...try to eat just one!

Chicken Burrito Casserole

This is one of those wonderful throw together meals. My new favorite method of cooking chicken is throwing it in the crock pot with some chicken broth. Then it just falls apart when it's done and has a delicious flavor. No fuss. Doing that, I made this meal in about 5 minutes (minus cooking time). Total man-love meal!Chicken Burrito Casserole
from Family Circle magazine

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
1 package frozen bean and cheese burritos, such as El Monterey
1 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 c sliced black olives

1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Cook and shred chicken.
3. Line burritos in a single layer in a 13-by-9-inch dish. You may need to cut burritos to fit. Scatter the chicken over the top.
4. In bowl, mix together milk, soup, 1 cup of cheese, and the olives. Pour mixture evenly over the chicken and burritos. Top with remaining cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.
Serve immediately.

Asian Chicken Spinach Salad

My new favorite recipe! This salad is addictively delicious! I could have kept eating it all night long. I halved the recipe and it made PLENTY! Must make--AMAZING!
Asian Chicken Spinach Salad
from 320 Sycamore Blog

1 c. canola oil
2/3 c. teriyaki sauce
2/3 c. white vinegar
6 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

16 oz. Pkg bowtie pasta
2 bags fresh spinach
1 (6 oz) bag craisins (I like lots of these)
3 cans mandarin oranges, drained well
½ c. fresh parsley, chopped
4-5 chopped green onions
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
6 oz. Honey roasted peanuts (I like lots of these too)
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (optional)
1 cup fresh 4-cheese Italian blend

Blend vegetable oil, teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a blender. Pour over pasta and chill in refrigerator for at LEAST 2 hours (I usually let mine sit overnight, because the flavors come out better the longer it marinates). Toss in spinach, craisins, mandarin oranges, parsley, green onions, sesame seeds, peanuts, and chicken. Sprinkle Italian blend cheese on top and serve cold.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies

Funny thing...I got this recipe off the internet and wanted to try it and the very next day Tamara Daniel, in my ward, gave them to me. TO.DIE.FOR.
Made by Tamara Daniel

Peanut butter
Ritz crackers
Melting chocolate
About half as much white melting chocolate as the other
(You can also use milk chocolate and white chocolate chips melted with some shortening)

Spread peanut butter on crackers and top with more crackers to make cookie sandwiches. Melt chocolates together. Dip crackers in chocolate with fork and set on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. If using melted chocolate chips put in the fridge to set up. If using candy coating then they should set up at room temp. in just a few minutes. Sometimes I dip these in milk chocolate but I like them better dipped in both chocolates melted together. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

We can thank Martha for this one. Jake requested it for his birthday. It was good, but it's not the easiest recipe in the world. I guess a man can make a tough request for his 30th birthday!

Red Velvet Cake
Martha Stewart, submitted by Emily Hutchings

(Makes one 8-inch cake)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for pans
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 one-ounce bottles liquid red food coloring
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, and butter again. Dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, and baking powder; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, food coloring, and water; beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well combined. Add reserved dry ingredients in additions, alternating with the buttermilk; beat on low speed until well combined. In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and vinegar; add to batter. Beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Be sure not to over beat. Divide batter between prepared pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread about 1/3 of the frosting over top. Place the second layer on top, and spread with the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until ready to serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

(Makes 2 cups)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Fold in walnuts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut Butter Balls
from the kitchen of Kay Wilkinson

These are a Christmas tradition at my house growing up. They are so good that my mom usually ended up making two or three batches. They are fun to make together as a family - they can be time consuming but worth it!

1 cube butter (soften)
2 cups plain peanut butter
4 cups powder sugar
3 cups mashed Rice Krispies*
1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
1/2 lb Milk chocolate Hershey bar
1/4 block of paraffin wax (buy in the canning section - a box has 4 bars. Use 1/4 of one bar)

Cream butter, powder sugar, Rice Krispies & peanut butter together. (Add the peanut butter last.) Roll the mixture into small balls. You may have to add more peanut butter if the mixture is not sticking together well. Chill the balls in the refrigerator.
In a double broiler melt wax. Add chocolate chips and Hershey bar. After the chocolate has melted, turn to low heat. In the double broiler let the water roll gently, don't let the water boil vigorously.
Get the peanut butter balls out of the fridge and drop each ball into the chocolate. Coat evenly. I use a fork when I dip the balls into the chocolate that way most of the chocolate will drip back into the pan.
After you dip all the balls put them in the fridge so they will set up.


* I put the Rice Krispies on wax paper and use a rolling pin to mash.

Don't double this recipe - it has never turned out whenever we have tried to double it.

Salsa Verde Tostadas

Salsa Verde Tostadas
From My Kitchen Cafe

*Plan Ahead: the recipe calls for cooked chicken. Also, the flavor of the chicken or pork intensifies as it marinates so you may want to plan an additional 2-3 hours for that (but it isn't absolutely necessary).

4 flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken or pork
1 cup green salsa (salsa verde) plus more for serving
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, etc.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tortillas, bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together the chicken (or pork), salsa verde, 1/4 cup cilantro, beans, and cumin (this can marinate all day if you like). Spoon mixture evenly over the tortillas and bake until heated through about 8 minutes.

Top warm tostadas with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream and other toppings as desired. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve immediately with additional green salsa if desired.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

The unexpected favorite of the holiday baking. This stuff is really strangely addicting. I'm telling need to make this.

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

from Our Best Bites

2 bags microwave popcorn* (use natural/lightly salted, one bag microwave popcorn has about 10 cups in it, so if you're air-popping, do about 20 cups)
1 lb Almond Bark
1 6oz box candy canes, crushed. (About 1-1 1/2 C total and Bob's are the best!)
2 tsp peppermint extract
3/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Unwrapping the candy canes to crush them is the most labor intensive step of this easy treat, so you can do that ahead of time if you want too. I put my candy canes in a large zip-lock bag and hit it with a heavy marble rolling pin. My toddler loves to help with the meat mallet. (And just so everyone knows, that's the only time he gets to play with the meat mallet. :))
To melt the almond bark, follow the instructions on the package. I just break it up and put it in a glass measuring cup and microwave on 1 min intervals until it's nice and smooth.
When your almond bark is melted, add the peppermint extract. Place your popcorn in a large bowl and pour the almond bark over it, then stir to combine. Then sprinkle the candy canes all over. Stir it up really well until the candy is evenly distributed. Pour the popcorn out onto a piece of waxed paper, parchment, or foil. Spread it out into an even layer and leave it alone!
While the popcorn is setting, place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted and smooth. I really like dark chocolate to counter-balance the sweetness of the almond bark, but I know there's a lot of dark haters, so do what you want!
Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn. You can use a fork, or put it in a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off. Leave it until the almond bark and the chocolate is hardened. If you need to hurry it up, do this whole process on lined cookie sheets you can pop in the fridge.
When chocolate is hardened, use your hands to break up popcorn into chunks. Toss in a bowl, a jar, a cute package, or in your mouth!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chicken Marinade/BBQ Chicken Salad

This chicken marinade is so interesting. It has an oriental/bbq flavor. Jake declared it as amazing! Worth a try for sure.

Chicken Marinade

Adapted from Blue Cricket Design

6 Chicken breasts
One Cup Soy Sauce
One cup Vegetable Oil
And 1 1/2 cups Fresca Soda

That's it!!! Mix all that together and pour it over your Chicken in a bowl and let it marinate over night or for 4 plus hours! You won't be sorry! It's super simple and super delish!

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad

Adapted from Sister's Cafe

1/2 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 head Iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 Haas avocados, diced
shredded cheese, Mexican blend or cheddar
crispy tortilla strips

Stir shredded chicken in with the BBQ sauce until well coated. Of course you can use less or more sauce, it's up to you! I like quite a bit since I love the smoky flavor of BBQ sauce in a salad. Toss together the lettuce, cilantro, corn, beans, and chopped veggies. Top with shredded chicken, cheese and crispy tortilla strips. Drizzle ranch or cilantro lime dressing over salad and enjoy!

*to make crispy tortilla strips simply slice about 10 corn tortillas in narrow strips and place on cookie sheet. Spray with vegetable oil cooking spray and sprinkle generously with salt. Place under the broiler and let bake until crispy and brown around the edges.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Apple Cider Syrup and Pumpkin Pancakes

I'm telling you, you will not believe how good this syrup is! It's like a caramel apple for breakfast. So, so good! I really loved the pancakes also. Be adventurous! Give it a try!

Apple Cider Syrup {Perfect over Pumpkin Pancakes}
From The Sister's Cafe

3/4 Cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBs cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups fresh apple cider (or juice would work)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter

Mix sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg well. Add apple cider and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, use within a week or two.

Pumpkin Pancake Recipe
2 cups flour (I use at least 1/2 freshly ground white wheat flour)
3 Tb brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (I do an overflowing 1/2 cup)
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 Tb canola oil
2 Tb vinegar

In one bowl mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, oil and vinegar. Combine dry ingredients separately and them stir into pumpkin mixture just until combined. Heat your pan or griddle (lightly butter or oil if it is not seasoned), using about 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with apple cider syrup.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sedgwick Birthday Cake

This gi-normous birthday cake is a Sedgwick tradition. This is my first attempt at making it, however, in the 11+ years we've been married. I've always been too intimidated by the ice cream. This picture was taken after half of it had been eaten, and the ice cream was well on it's way to melting. But you get the idea of it's delicious-ness. I can't really call it a "recipe" because nothing is homemade, but here are the instructions for making it:

Birthday Cake

Chocolate Cake Mix (I used Devil's Food moist supreme)
1 1/2 tubs of fudge frosting (the more frosting, the better!)
Mint n Chip ice cream
Cool Whip

Bake the cake in two 8-inch round pans, cool, then cut each cake in half so you have four halves. Then freeze the cakes so they are easier to work with (wrap in plastic wrap or ziploc bags). You will only use 3 of the cake layers. Frost each layer of cake, then pull the ice cream out. You have to work fast now so the ice cream doesn't melt and make a big mess. Cut the ice cream into chunks until it fits nicely on top of the bottom cake layer (use the rounded corners for the edges so it looks prettier, but it's obviously not going to be a perfect circle). Do that for 2 layers, then put cool whip on the top layer of cake/frosting. I topped it all with chocolate shavings, but you can use whatever your little heart desires (maraschino cherries look nice). Wrap wax paper around the sides of the cake, and it will make it look nicer and keep it from dripping so much. Serve slightly defrosted so the cake is moist and not dry. Try not to eat more than one slice or you might get sick. :)


This was really, really good! It had that rich, store-bought taste. However, it was definitely a little more intense than just throwing some stuff in and nuking it in the microwave. Classy stuff--definite recommendation for Christmas give-aways! This recipe doubled makes a perfect sized batch for those big jelly roll/cookie sheet pans.


1 can evaporated milk
2 sticks butter
4 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt (plus maybe a little pinch - I think the salt brings out the flavors a little)
1 package of Ghiradelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow cream

1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice

{before you start cooking, get a little bowl of ice water and set it next to you} Add first four ingredients to a large pot; cook and stir constantly on medium-high heat until it starts to boil. Turn the heat down to medium, and continue to stir. You want the mixture to reach the "soft ball" stage, which is where you drop a spoonful into that bowl of ice water and if the mixture holds together in a soft ball, then you're ready to move on. However, if it dissolves quickly then you've got to keep stirring. Don't rush this part because it's what makes your fudge creamy and not grainy and runny. Even if you think it's at the "soft ball" stage but you're not sure, keep going a little longer. Read a book while you stir - that's what I do!

**ALSO, dump out your ice water and start again if you need. Don't keep using the same bowl because you won't be able to tell what's going on with your fudge.

Remove from heat and then add package of Ghiradelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips
jar marshmallow cream. Stir or whisk until everything is dissolved. Then, add vanilla and nuts of choice. Mix everything all together until it is all incorporated. Pour into buttered 9 x 13 cake pan, let it cool for a few minutes, and cover with plastic wrap. If it's cold outside, you can set it outside to cool faster or put it in the fridge.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Black Bean Soup with Quesadillas

We really enjoyed this soup- especially served with a little cheese sprinkled on top. Our favorite part was dipping the quesadillas into the soup and using it as a dip. This soup is very healthy as well- bonus! Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of
Black Bean Soup
From Our Best Bites

1 T olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 C diced carrots (about 2 med carrots)
3/4 C diced celery (about 2 ribs)
1 C diced onion (about 1 sm-med onion)
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3.5oz can green chilies
2 cans low-sodium beef broth
1 t kosher salt
1 dash black pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t cumin
1/2 t dry oregano leaves (if you use ground oregano, use 1/4 t)
1 bay leaf

Toppings: sour cream, tortilla chips, grated cheese, lime

Add olive oil to a large stock pot on med-high heat. Saute carrots, celery, onion, and garlic about 4-5 minutes. Add in the black beans, chilies, and beef broth. Stir to combine and then add the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Find that bay leaf and pull it out and discard it. Place all the soup in a blender. (You could use an immersion blender in place of this step) Place lid on blender, but remove the stopper in the middle. Place a paper towel over the hole! Puree soup until completely smooth. Squeeze in the juice from one big lime (optional- I didn't have a lime on hand, so I skipped this and it still tasted great).
Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese, tortilla chips, etc. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These are so, so good! It makes 40 servings, so they're great for a cookie exchange or party!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Kenda Purdy, submitted by Emily

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons milk

½ cup sugar

40 miniature Reese’s, unwrapped

½ cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mock turtles

My mother-in-law introduced me to these and they are one my holiday favorites to eat and make. They are about as easy as it gets and very tasty and CUTE too!

Mock Turtles
Julie Allred

Ingredients: (I am NOT kidding...this is it)

Hershey's Rolos
Pecan halves
Snyder's pretzel "snaps"

Lay the pretzels out on a cookie sheet. Place unwrapped Rolos on top of pretzel. Put in oven on low broil until Rolos are soft (they will be shiny). Smash pecan half gently on top of caramel.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Red Velvet Cake Balls

These are intense! I actually didn't have any store-bought frosting on hand so I used homemade. I think the store-bought would be better. Mine was too moist and not quite rich enough.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
from Bakerella

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.) Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. Chill for several hours - make sure they are really firm. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.) Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra - two forks also works great if your chocolate is warm enough.) Drizzle with extra chocolate bark (I used melted semisweet chocolate to drizzle on top.)

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Pic courtesy of Sister's Cafe's another soup recipe. This one isn't as damaging to the waistline as the last one I posted. I made this last night and I love the twist that is on traditional chicken noodle soup. My family gobbled it up! Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
adapted from Sister's Cafe

2 cans chicken broth (14oz)
3 T chicken bouillon (I just use 3 cubes)
2-3 cups of water depending on desired thickness (you can add more later, too)
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped (I omitted this b/c my husband doesn't like celery)
1/2 med onion, chopped
12 oz. noodles, homestyle egg pasta (I used whole wheat egg noddles and they were so good)
1 1/2 lbs cooked, chopped chicken breast
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 12oz can evaporated milk

Boil the broth, bouillon, water, carrots, celery and onion for 20 minutes, or until tender. Add noodles and boil for another 10 minutes. You can half cook the noddles in a separate pot of water beforehand so they don't absorb all the broth and then add them to the vegetable-broth mixture. Add more water as necessary. Then add chicken, cream of chicken soup and canned milk. Heat thoroughly. Add pepper to taste.

*Sidenote*: This makes a LOT of soup, so you can half the recipe with great results or eat it and then freeze the rest for another night!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Pic courtesy of Sweet Pea

If you are in any way a Jewkes and you haven't tried these cookies
, well, where have you been? These are definitely in my arsenal of all-time top 3 favorite cookies. Every time, and I mean, EVERY TIME, I make these I'm asked for the recipe. They are pretty much no-fail and are just the right combo of sweet, chocolatey, and satisfying. It should also be noted that the recipe is a great base for any variety of mix-ins you might fancy, whether it be chocolate chips, Reese's, Oreos, peanut butter, white chocolate, etc., etc.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies
(I can't take credit for this recipe, but I honestly can't remember where I got it and there's no reference)

1 1/4 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa (I usually add 1/8 to 1/4 cup more cocoa b/c I'm a chocoholic)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
whatever mix-ins you like

Cream butter and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Blend into creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Southwest Chicken Salad Panini

Pic courtesy of Kraft Kitchens

Every once in a while I like to throw my family for a loop and make a sandwich for dinner. I found this recipe on the regular emails I get from Kraft Kitchens and knew that I just had to try it. It's ooey, gooey, somewhat healthy, and very unique. I made a few simple changes from the original recipe to make this a sure keeper!

Southwest Chicken Salad Panini
adapted from Kraft Foods

2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breasts
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or MIRACLE WHIP Light Dressing
2 Tbsp. Light Ranch Dressing
1 Roma tomato, diced
8 slices Italian bread (I used whole wheat sandwich slices)
1 avocado, sliced
4 slices of Monterey or cheddar cheese

Heat panini grill (I just use my George Foreman grill). Mix chopped chicken breasts, chili powder, mayo or miracle whip, ranch dressing, and diced tomatoes in small bowl. Lightly butter outside of both pieces of bread. Place one piece of bread on grill and add chicken mixture to cover bread. Add avocado slices and cheese slice to liking. Top with second piece of bread and grill.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sloppy Joes

I love sloppy joes- they're a really great comfort food...I made this tonight and thought it tasted great. This is a fancy sloppy joe (if there is such a thing!)- I served it on nice hamburger buns, with or without cheese melted on top. Be careful with the cloves- don't put too much in!

Sloppy Joes
from Simply Recipes

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced carrots (can sub chopped bell pepper)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lb ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
2 cups tomato sauce (or 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, puréed)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 turns of freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns

1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the carrots and sauté until soft. (If you are using bell pepper instead of carrots, add those at the same time as the onions.) Add the chopped onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent, about 5 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat. Remove vegetables from the pan to a medium sized bowl, set aside.

2. Using the same pan (or you can cook the meat at the same time as the vegetables in a separate pan to save time), generously salt the bottom of the pan (about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon). Heat the pan on high. Crumble the ground beef into the pan and cook until entirely browned.

3. Return the vegetables to the pan. Add the ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and brown sugar to the pan. Stir to mix well. Add ground cloves, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste (I added salt). Serves 4.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clone of a Cinnabon

Pic courtesy of

Throw away all of your trusty cinnamon roll recipes because once you make these, you will NEVER, EVER need another cinnamon roll recipe again. The name of this recipe is only deceiving in that it's better than a Cinnabon. And, it's almost as easy as jumping in your car and driving over to the nearest mall for a creamy, doughy, cinnamon fix.

Clone of a Cinnabon
adapted from

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
If you don't have a bread machine, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, butter or margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Then pick up with rolling out the dough. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

A recipe from Aunt Jana. She says this is an extraordinary cookie!

Soft chocolate chip cookies

4 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 c butter softened
1/2 c white sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 packages instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 c semisweet chocolate chips
2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
1.pre heat oven 35o Sift together the flour and baking soda,set aside.
2. in a lg. bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar,and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mixuntil blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets
3 bake 10 12 min. in the preheated oven Edges should be golden brown.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Aunt Jana just sent me this recipes to add on to the blog. She says they're amazing! I'm not a shrimp fan or I would test them myself.

Mexican Shrimp cocktail

2 lbs cooked shrimp peeled and deveined
1tbs crushed garlic
1/2 c finely chopped red onion
1/4c fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 c tomato and clam juice cocktail
1/4c ketchup
1/4c lime juice
1tsp hot pepper sauce to taste
1/4c prepared horseradish
salt to taste
1 ripe avocado peeled pitted and chopped
1. Place the shrimp in a lg bowl. Stir garlic, red onion, and cilantro,Mix in tomato and clam juice coctail, ketchup, lime juice, hop peeper sauce, and horseradish. Season with salt. Gently stir in Avocado. Cover and refrigerate 2-5 hrs. I did it over night then added Avocado right before we served it. Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

AMAZING! A little piece of heaven on earth. Must try this.

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

1 (8 oz package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
10 slices bread (I used Texas toast)
3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 tablespoon milk
4 tablespoon butter, optional
2 tablespoon powdered sugar extra

Combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, and beat until smooth, and then spread 1/2 the mixture on one side of five slices of bread. Top with the sliced strawberries (you will have some extra). Spread more of the remaining mixture on the remaining five pieces of bread and place on top, and make five sandwiches, pressing them together gently to enclose strawberries inside.
Beat the eggs and milk together and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F . Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place in oven to warm up. Melt 1/2 tbsp or so of butter in a frying pan. Take the sandwiches, one by one, and place in the egg and milk mixture, turning so that the mixture covers both sides. Transfer the sandwich to the pan and cook until the first side is lightly brown. Flip over and cook the other side. When both sides are lightly brown, place the sandwich on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Before serving, top with the extra sliced strawberries and 2 tbsp powdered sugar. Drizzle with maple syrup or the Strawberry Syrup recipe below.

Strawberry Syrup
*Definitely recommend making this

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup pureed strawberries

Combine all the ingredients in a small pan. Stirring constantly, heat mixture over medium heat until it begins to thicken (approximately 5 minutes). While still warm, pour over French Toast and serve immediately.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tuscan Bread Salad

This is a recipe from our ward cookbook. Amy Foulger is a totally gourmet cook- anything and everything she makes is delicious- this is her recipe. You must try this- it was absolutely divine. My kids don't eat this, so I divided everything so Brian and I had it two nights in a row. The first night I cubed the bread and ate it all on a plate with the chopped romaine(like a salad). The next night I cut the loaf length-wise, toasted it, and put everything on top- this was my favorite way to eat it. I cannot tell you how perfectly delicious it was!

Tuscan Bread Salad

Amy Foulger

1 loaf rustic country bread (I used a ciabatta loaf)
1 large ball fresh mozzarella
2 large tomatoes
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
Chopped Romaine

Dressing: 1 clove garlic, 6 Tbs. olive oil, 3 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop tomato and cheese into 1-inch cubes. Spread bread on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until crisp and lightly browned. Mix tomatoes and basil in a small bowl. As the bread comes out of the oven, layer the tomato mix, cheese and romaine on top. Pour dressing on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper, as desired. You have to be creative with this and figure out which way to eat it that suits your preferences the best. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Orange Honey Grilled Chicken Strips

This was surprisingly tasty and refreshing. I made this for Mom's birthday dinner tonight. I served it up with an asian salad with mandarins and some hummus and foccacia sticks. Then we made Rachel's delicious Strawberry Cream Puff Cake. To die for!

Orange Honey Grilled Chicken Strips

Sister’s Café Blog

1 to 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 TB butter softened

2 TB finely chopped scallions

2 TB fresh orange juice

2 TB chopped cilantro leaves (I like a little extra)

1 TB honey

1-2 TB grated orange zest, from ~1/2 an orange (I use just 1 TB)

Cut each chicken breast into 3 length wise strips. (I just bought chicken tenders and used those). Thread 3 strips accordion style, on each of 4-6 long metal or wooden skewers. If using wood skewers, soak them for at least 20 minutes in cold water before using to prevent scorching on the grill. To make the basting sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the butter, scallions, orange juice, cilantro, honey, and orange zest. Brush about half of the sauce on the chicken, covering each strip well. Set aside to marinate for about 15 minutes. If you have to let the chicken marinate longer refrigerate. Prepare grill to medium hot. Grill chicken about 15 minutes, turning several times, until the chicken is cooked through but still moist. Baste several times with the remaining basting sauce. Stop basting 5 minutes before the chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the grill and serve immediately. (Do not serve any of the basting sauce with the chicken.)

Cheezy Chicken Chowder

This is Jennefer's recipe in our cookbook. I made it today for a party and thought I would add it on the blog. It is so good and extremely hearty. A good man meal!

Cheezy Chicken Chowder

1 pkg. bacon cooked/crumbled
4 lg chicken breasts cooked/diced
6 medium red potatoes chopped
celery, diced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 med onion, minced
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
2 cans corn-drained (3 c. frozen)
1 stalk broccoli florets
1-2 c. light velveeta cheese
2 large carrots, grated
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme (optional)
1 1/2 c milk

Cook veggies (except corn and broccoli) in water for 20 minutes until tender. Drain, and add everything except sour cream and velveeta cheese. Add these last!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This is my all-time favorite soup. Maybe that's because it has my favorite vegetable in it! I love, love, love broccoli. This soup is so easy too. I took the kids to the park, got home at 5:30, and dinner was on the table by 6. So fast. My kids love this too- I mean, what kids like soup with broccoli? You have got to make this one- it delivers for sure!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

From My Kitchen Cafe

1 can chicken broth
1 small onion, diced

1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. butter
Pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 c. milk (I used 1% with great results)
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese
steamed chopped broccoli (the amount of broccoli really boils down to preference - I wanted a lot of broccoli in my soup, so I chopped and steamed approximately 2 1/2 to 3 cups of broccoli florets)

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour and pepper. Cook together for a couple of minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium-high heat until soup starts to thicken. Next add chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and steamed broccoli. Serve immediately.

Baked Manicotti

A meal to impress! This looks way fancier and harder than it is! But it is so good!

Baked Manicotti

*Serves 6 to 8

Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (in juice)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried basil

Cheese Filling and Pasta
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I use the Barilla brand - apparently they are supposed to be the most similar to homemade pasta and I love them, both in this and in lasagna)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan chese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs; set aside.

To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.

Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soupspoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. (You should be able to fit 8 manicotti in each row, allowing all 16 to fit in the dish). Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

The manicotti can be prepared right up until the baking step then covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.