Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grandma Heninger's Banana Pie

Banana Cream Pie

Mom was here staying with us and Seth's favorite treat is PIE! I had told him my mom makes the best and he dared to say otherwise! So we put her to the test! And it was AMAZING!!! As we all know, it is the best banana pie!

3c milk (2% is best to prevent a runny pie)
2/3c sugar
1/3c corn starch
dash of salt
2 eggs
1 T butter
1 t vanilla

whipped cream

Mix dry ingredients together then slowly add milk. Mix well. Cook over medium heat to boil. Beat eggs in separate bowl. Then slowly add a small amount of the hot mixture into eggs and mix to prevent from cooking. Then return egg mixture to pan and bring to just a boil stirring always. This burns easily. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Cool in fridge with plastic wrap touching surface to prevent a film. Add cut bananas after cooled and pour into baked pie crust. Top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

*I felt like there was enough filling for two pies, depending on size of crust!

Cinnamon Belgian Waffles

Its no secret that I love breakfast food and I definitely have my favorite recipe for waffles.  However, I'm always up for trying something new.  In this case, I'm so glad I did.  I might be adding cinnamon to waffles from here on out.  We served this with maple syrup, fresh whipped cream and bananas.  So delicious.
Cinnamon Belgian Waffles
Recipe from

2 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 Tbs. white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon (add more if you prefer)

Preheat your waffle iron.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, buttermilk, and butter until well blended.  Whisk in all dry ingredients- don't overmix.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff.  Fold gently into the waffle batter.  Cook batter in waffle maker until steam subsides.  This makes about 3 large waffles- so if you are cooking for a crowd, I would definitely double the recipe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grasshopper Mint Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

I made these for a party a couple of weeks ago and I LOVED them.  They are very rich and delicious- but also a little more fussy than a regular cookie because your'e making two different cookie toppings.  It was worth it, trust me.
Grasshopper Mint Cookies
From Six Sisters Stuff

Cookie bottom:
1 Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together (don't follow directions on back of cake mix).  Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes (do NOT overcook).  Let cool completely.

Peppermint Frosting:
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 Tbs. milk
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. peppermint extract
Green food coloring (I added about 8 drops to get a good color)

Mix together all the ingredients- adjust for desired consistency.  Spread on top of each cooled cookie.

Chocolate topping:
2 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter

Melt chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler or microwave (for 30-second intervals, stir and repeat until fully melted).  Spread melted chocolate on each cookie using the back of a spoon to smooth.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

pic courtesy of Favorite Family Recipes

Oh. My. Goodness. This is SO good and almost identical (if not completely identical) to Cafe Rio's soup. It's so fresh and hearty. Christian hasn't raved about dinner this much in a long, long time.

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from Favorite Family Recipes 

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a dash (or two) cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • vegetable oil (to taste)
  • pico de gallo or your favorite fresh salsa (I used Jack's salsa)
  • 2-3 avocados, diced
  • 2 c. pepper jack cheese
  • tortilla strips
  • cilantro (for garnish)
  • lime wedges (for garnish)
  • In a small skillet, saute onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until onions become slightly soft. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and chili powder and saute an additional minute or two.
  • Transfer seasoned onions to a small crock pot (or medium-sized saucepan). Add chicken broth, cliantro, lime juice, pepper and pinto beans to onions and simmer on low-heat for at least 2-3 hours.
  • In the meantime (when you are close to serving), combine taco seasoning and paprika. Brush chicken with oil and rub with taco seasoning/paprika mixture. Grill chicken over medium-heat until cooked through (try to turn only once during the grilling process). After cooking on one side, flip chicken, add small amount of water to pan and cover. Remove from grill. Let rest for 10 minutes and shred.
  • In individual bowls layer chicken, about 1/3 c. pico de gallo or salsa, 1/3 c. diced avocado, and 1/3 c. pepper jack cheese. Ladle about 1 cup of chicken broth directly over the layers. Top with tortilla strips and garnish with cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges, if desired.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Simple Shredded Chicken

Pic courtesy of Mels Kitchen Cafe
I have used this method of cooking chicken twice now and it's now going to be the only way I cook chicken because it is THAT good. Chicken just pulls apart (almost crockpot-like) and it's yummy and so easy.

Simple Shredded Chicken
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe 

*Makes 3-4 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (about 2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup water or low-sodium chicken broth
In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken top-side down in the hot skillet and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes until golden brown on top. Flip the chicken, add the water or chicken broth, cover the skillet and let the chicken simmer gently over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (it will register 160 degrees on a thermometer). Don’t overcook or it might be dry. While the chicken is simmering, add additional water 1/4 cup at a time if the liquid evaporates too quickly. Remove the chicken from the skillet. Let it cool slightly before shredding. The cooked chicken will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Blondies with Chocolate Chips

Pic courtesy Mel's Kitchen Cafe
I have been pinning everything from Mel's Kitchen Cafe lately. She's my favorite food blogger and pretty much everything I have tried from her blog has turned out great. And, this is no exception. I ate almost the whole pan myself, and I'm only partly embarrassed to admit that. Anyway, I followed her "low fat" option on these by subbing applesauce for half of the butter and it made it so moist and yummy, but not as rich and dense as I imagine butter would have made it (It was more like a cake than a brownie). But, it was so yummy and pumpkin-y.

Pumpkin Blondies with Chocolate Chips
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe 

*Note: I adapted the original recipe so that I could sub out half the butter for applesauce. Yay for the cut in calories! By doing this, the bars become slightly more cakey than brownie-like so if you want the denser texture, use 2 sticks of butter and omit the applesauce instead. Also, if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, I’ve included a DIY below the recipe (for this recipe, triple the DIY amounts to get the 1 tablespoon called for in the recipe).

*Makes 9X13-pan of bars

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on each long side so the bars can be easily pulled out of the pan once they are done baking and cooling.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter, applesauce, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled – that’s completely fine!
Mix in the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before lifting the bars out of the pan, cutting into squares and serving.

*For a homemade pumpkin pie spice mix use the following, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon cloves. Mix together for the equivalent of 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jana's Corn Dip

This is Jason's absolute favorite dip and he frequently requests it. We love it in the summertime because its so fresh and cool. Its a unique and delicious dip.
Jana's Corn Dip

1 cup sour cream
1/2 c mayo
3 chopped green onions (cut it all, green and white parts)
1 small can chopped jalapenos undrained
2 cans mexicorn drained (MUST use Mexicorn, chipotle corn is NOT the same)
10 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Directions: Combine all ingredients and chill for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Matooz' Rolls

I have never cooked rolls (or even bread for that matter) in my life but I was really craving some yummy homemade rolls so I stole this recipe from my sis-in-law Suzanne's blog. She has made these rolls for lots of family occasions including thanksgiving and christmas and they never disappoint and are requested often. I was nervous to try them because last time I tried baking bread it ended horribly but I'm happy to say these were a success! Even I (the baker) was raving about how good they turned out :) I halved this recipe and got about 2 pans worth of rolls which was plenty for us but it is a great amount if you're cooking for a large group.  Taken from

My Family's Roll Recipe
In a medium/small bowl combine 2 Tbsp. yeast and 1 Tbsp. Sugar into 1/2 cup warm water. Set in a warm place. The yeast needs time to rise and become active. (maybe 10-15 mins.)

In a large bowl combine:
1 Cup butter (melted)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Boiling Water

Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ingredients from the first bowl (yeast, etc) to this mixture.

Add: 4 eggs, beaten
1 cup cold water
2 tsp. salt
7 1/2 cups Flour  ( I needed more flour at sea level, dough should be a little shiny and just barely too sticky to roll out)
in the order they are listed and mix with a spoon.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. About 2 to 3 hours before baking remove from fridge and form rolls.

For crescent rolls, divide dough into fourths and roll each part out into circle and spread with melted or softened butter. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter and roll up each piece, beginning at wide end of triangle.

Cover (we just usually use a clean dish towel) and let rise for 3 hours.

Bake at 425 for 8 to 12 minutes. Altitude and humidity seem to affect these a lot, so check them often to see how long it takes where you live! (I barely needed 8 min at sea level)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crockpot Barbecue Chicken

Pic courtesy Stick a Fork In It

In food, just as in life, there's the sweet and the savory. Barbecue, for me, is one of those foods that kinda lingers between the two. It's so sweet but savory at the same time (at least the way I like it)! There's really not much better- whether it's a nice steak or a yummy ice cream sundae. I could literally eat it for a week straight. That being said, here's another BBQ crockpot recipe that I made a couple days ago that we loved. I made mashed potatoes with it and then sprinkled it with cheese. Mmmmm.

Barbecue Crockpot Chicken
from Stick a Fork in It 

4-6 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts (i threw them in frozen... even easier!)
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1/4 c vinegar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder

mix BBQ sauce with all ingredients listed under it. place chicken in crockpot. pour sauce over it and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. Shred if desired.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jennefer's Cinnamon Rolls

It was love at first taste with these babies. They are better than ANY homemade cinnamon roll I have ever had. No contest. And they are pretty easy. I don't even look around for recipes any more. I once strayed and tried a cinnabon recipe but went back to this one. Jennefer got it from a friend and I could've sworn it was on the blog because its a staple among all of us. Shocked it wasn't on here!

1/2 c warm water
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 (3.4oz) pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 c warm milk
1 egg, room temp.
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
4 c bread flour (I have always just used regular!)
1 pkg yeast

Put ingredients in bread machine and mix on dough cycle. I don't have a bread machine so I put it in my Bosch and just mix it for about ten minutes. Turn dough onto slightly floured surface and roll into 17x10 rectangle. Spread with 1/4 c softened butter. Combine in a small bowl 1 c brown sugar and 4 t cinnamon. You can add chopped pecans into the mix if desired. Spread evenly over dough. Roll up from long end to long end. Cut into 1inch slices. Mom's tip: use floss or sewing thread to cut...just ease the string under then tie it around and off, slicing the dough. Let rise until double, about 45 minutes. Preheat over to 350. Bake for 12-15 minutes. While rolls bake mix the icing.
Mix the following with beaters:
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/8 t salt

Put icing on WHILE ROLLS ARE HOT! Devour.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pic courtesy of the cafe sucre farine

I made this for dinner last night and it was SOOOO delicious! Christian went on and on about what an amazing cook he thinks I am the whole time he was eating (he's a little biased).  I love a good green salad with some fruitiness to it, but then you add the avocados and cilantro and then the nuts...oh my goodness. The nuts were amazing. I also added chicken because we are a meat-eating family:). Another plus is that you can make the nuts ahead of time and store them for lots of different recipes! (I only made 1 cup of nuts and it was plenty.)

Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette
from The Cafe Sucre Farine

Ingredients for the dressing:  (I halved the dressing and it was more than enough)
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried mustard
1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable oii
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the salad:
12 ounces baby spinach, arugula, field greens
1/2  small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems
2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup Candied Spiced Almonds

 Candied Spiced Almonds (I made one cup of almonds and it was plenty)

5 cups sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package*
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin*
1-1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika* - some smoked paprikas are quite hot, if you don't like "hot", just use 1 teaspoon and they will be mildly spiced.
1 teaspoon vanilla
sea salt
*The cumin and the smoked paprika give just a hint of mysterious, delicious flavor - even though these are savory spices, these almonds are still wonderful served with sweets like ice cream or yogurt.

Candied Spiced Almonds Directions:
1. Place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.

2.  Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat , occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it is all melted into a pale golden syrup.

3. Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.

4. Add the nuts and stir gently to coat. Don't worry if you have some clumps of caramelized sugar - they will melt as you continute to sauté the almonds. Cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown. Watch very carefully as they can go from beautiful to burned very quickly! Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool.
Salad Directions:
1. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.

2. For the salad, place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss gently. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass extra dressing at the table.

6 dinner size salads, 8 side salads

Thursday, October 4, 2012

White Texas Sheet Cake

Pic Courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

I made this cake way back in July- for the 4th of July, actually. It was a kind of "Welcome to Texas" for us.:) Just kidding. Anyway, it reminded me so much of that white cake we used to eat at the school cafeteria growing up. I know- not to appetizing, but trust me- it was REALLY good. I could have eaten the whole thing myself.  And, no boxed cake mix necessary!! It came together really easily and was super moist and almond flavored (Need I say more?).

White Texas Sheet Cake
Source: AllRecipes via Life as a Lofthouse
Serves 24
1 cup butter
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose four
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup milk
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium saucepan bring butter and water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add flour and sugar and mix. Then add in eggs, sour cream, extract, baking soda and salt. Slowly pour in the boiling butter/water mixture. Stir with a spatula until well combined and smooth.  No need to use an electric mixer. Batter will be very thin.

Pour into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Your cake will be flat and not very tall (it's a sheet cake). Cool for about 10 minutes. You still want your cake a little warm when you add the frosting so that it spreads well.

For the frosting: In a large saucepan, combine butter and milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and then stir in the powdered sugar and extract. Stir until smooth and all combined. Spread immediately over warm cake. Decorate cake with sprinkles, if desired.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

 picture courtesy of Southern Living 

I always make the same two cookie recipes. So when Jana passed this recipe along to me I thought I would try it. I don't think you can go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. This recipe is good. I will have to factor it into my rotation. Especially since I was out of lemon juice, so I am curious to see how that taste in these cookies - Jana swears that is what makes them so good!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
by: Loni Ponce

1/2 - 3/4 cup rolled oats
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup gradulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 eggs
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grind oats in food processor or blender. Combine the grounded oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. (important to grind the oats for this recipe)

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Add eggs. Mix until smooth. Stir in the dry mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips. Spoon desired sized balls onto a cookie sheet.

Bake 350 for 9 - 13 minutes. Watch the cookies the first time you make these so you will know the exact time. My cookies took 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chinese Chicken Salad

Pic courtesy Foodie Crush

I made this a while ago and can't believe it's taken me this long to post it b/c it was SOOO yummy! I love a good salad and this was different from most I've tried recently. I loved the crispy wontons with the pasta and the nuts. All those different crunchy textures really made this scrumptious!

Chinese Chicken Salad
from Foodie Crush

12  3-inch wonton skins, sliced into 1/4″ strips
1/4 cup canola or corn oil for frying
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 chicken breast, shredded
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted lightly
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 cups cooked fusilli pasta noodles, cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil (add more to taste if you prefer a strong sesame taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Heat canola or corn oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, fry wonton skins in batches of 5-7 strips for 30 seconds each side or until lightly browned, working quickly so they don’t burn. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels until cooled.
2. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, chicken breast, green onion, almonds and pasta.
3. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well until sugar dissolves. Dress lettuce mixture with 2-3 tablespoons of sesame dressing and top with sesame seeds and wonton strips and serve.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Grilled Cheese

 We love, love, love pesto at our house. We also love grilled cheese sandwiches. So, this was a big winner for us. And, it was so easy to throw together on a busy school night, with most of the ingredients already in my pantry. Also, I just used my George Foreman grill.

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Grilled Cheese
from Two Peas and their Pod 

2 slices ciabatta or French bread (I just used whole wheat sandwich bread but I'm sure it's better with these!!)
1 tablespoon soft butter, for brushing the bread
2 slices mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese


1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
2. Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Spread basil pesto on the inside of each slice of bread. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of one piece of bread. Top with the other slice of bread. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese on the outside of one side of the sandwich.
3. Place the sandwich, cheese side down, on the hot pan. Grill for 2 minutes or until Parmesan cheese is crusted and golden brown. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese on the outside of the other side of the sandwich. Cook until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2 more minutes. Serve immediately.