Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!!!!

Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I made this dish about two weeks ago and we all enjoyed it very much.  You can find the original recipe here. I'm not going to retype the recipe since I made it exactly as it was written - no changes.  My son loved it so we can categorize this one under "kid friendly" also. 
The big news around here today is that I have finally learned how to text! Yes, text!   Believe it or not I had it blocked on my phone but have finally given in and have found that I really enjoy it.  Maybe because it's new?  I don't know but for right now I am having fun with it.  My youngest son was given a cell phone for Christmas and we now have a family plan with the whole texting package and all. So my 12 year old showed me how to text....It's amazing what a 12 year old can teach you these days!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!!

Here's to wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!!!! Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Coconut Fudge Cookies

This will probably be my last post before Christmas for the "starter" cookies.  The original recipe from Betty Crocker calls for using a butterscotch topping and hot fudge topping but I used melted down chocolate chips instead. I omitted the butterscotch completely since I'm not a big fan of it.  These are definitely for coconut lovers out there.  I will be baking more Christmas cookies today but don't think I will have any more time to post them so I may be posting more cookies after the holidays.  Enjoy these cookies!

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
1 to 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
3/4 cup hot fudge topping or (1 cup chocolate chips, melted)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large bowl, stir cookie mix, melted butter and egg until soft dough forms.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll balls in coconut.  On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.
Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown and coconut starts to toast.  Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to waxed paper.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave hot fudge (or chocolate chips) uncovered on high 15 to 30 seconds or until spreadable.  If using chips, microwave for 30 seconds and stir and keep microwaving at 30 second intervals and stirring until chips are melted and spreadable.
Carefully spread on top of each cookie.  Serve warm or cool.  Store loosely covered.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Red Velvet Rich and Creamy Cookies

Here's another starter recipe that is easy and delicious!  These are just so easy to make and they're guaranteed to disappear as soon as you put them out too!  I don't think I've ever used so many Betty Crocker mixes as I have lately.  I do have to say that every recipe I've made from this cookie mix has been delicious and easy. I also find this a much more economical way to make cookies.  I think this is a great way to cut costs without sacrificing that home baked taste. 

School here let's out early tomorrow and the kids don't go back until Jan 3rd.  My son is very excited to be off from school and I am very happy to have some time off from work. 
1 pouch (1 lb. 5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional (I used colored sugar)
Cream cheese frosting (You can use the canned from Betty Crocker or your own.)

Heat over to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, cocoa, butter, sour cream, food color and egg until soft dough forms.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set.  Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
Frost cooled cookies with frosting.  Sprinkle with nuts (if using) or colored sugar.  Store tightly covered at room temperature.
Makes 36 cookies (approximately).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shrimp Cocktail ChristmasTree

I was going to post another "starter" cookie recipe but remembered I had been wanting to post this since Christmas and New Year's are right around the corner and I thought some of you out there might be interested in making this.  My husband had worked for 20 years in the catering business and can make a mean watermelon basket - turns out he can also be creative using shrimp!  This caught his eye in a magazine and he decided to give it a go.  It is soooo festive and pretty and the bonus is that it uses shrimp and is delicious!!!  You use a stryofoam cone that you can buy in your local arts and crafts store.  Listed below are what you will need for the tree and instructions.  I'll be back again next week with more "starter" cookie recipes!

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup creamy horseradish sauce
1/4 cup minced red onion
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 yellow pepper
12" tall Styrofoam cone
Round wooden toothpicks, broken in half
2 lbs. cooked extra large shrimp, peeled, tails left on
1 1/2 cups red and/or yellow grape tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves (or parsley)

Mix mayonnaise , horseradish sauce, onion and lemon juice; cover and reserve.  Using 2" star-shaped cookie cutter, cut star from pepper; cover and reserve.

Wrap cone with plastic wrap; place on serving plate.  Insert 1 toothpick piece into each shrimp; insert into cone.  Repeat with tomatoes.  Tuck basil (or parsley) leaves in between shrimp and tomatoes.  Serve with dip.  You can also place tree on top of bed of lettuce and surround with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Linzer Cookie Tarts

This is another Betty Crocker "starter" recipe.  I thought I would post a bunch of these recipes until Christmas for those of you out there that would like something about as close as you can get to a "from scratch" cookie that just doesn't take that much time or effort.  These are really good and I've made several varieties of these "starter" cookies.  I think this one is my favorite!  These really taste like true linzer cookies. No one would ever know these were started from a mix, believe me!

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted, finely chopped
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup dark of semisweet chocolate chips
*Powdered sugar, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and almonds.  Stir in melted butter, almond extract and egg until stiff dough forms.

On floured surface, roll half of dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut with 2-inch round or fluted cookie cutter.  On ungreased cookies sheets, place cookies 2 inches apart.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set.  Cool 5 minutes;  remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.  Cool completely.

Meanwhile, on floured surface, roll other half of dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut with linzer cutter with hole in center, OR cut same 2-inch round or fluted cookie cutter and use small 1-inch cutter or bottle top to cut round hole out of center of cookie.  On ungreased cookie sheets, place cookies 2 inches apart.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.  Cool completely.

Spread 1 teaspoon jam on bottom of each whole cookie;  top each with cutout cookie to make sandwich cookie.  In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High about 1 minutes, stirring after 30 seconds, until melted and stirred smooth.  Using tip of fork or knife, drizzle chocolate lines over cookies.  Let stand until chocolate is set, about 45 minutes.  Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.

*You can also just sift some powdered sugar over cookies instead of drizzling chocolate, if you prefer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Here's a really easy cookie recipe for someone who wants a great cookie but wants to keep it simple.  This is what's called a "starter" recipe.  It starts with a mix and you simply add to it.  My husband made these the other evening and they were gone in no time at all.  I really have to start watching how much in the sweets department I eat. I have a major sweet tooth and lately have been indulging way too much. It doesn't look like it's going to get any better either over the next month with Christmas coming up!  I'm already starting a list of Christmas cookies I want to bake and the list is growing by the day!!! Have a great weekend everyone!

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softenend
1 egg
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
red or green sugar, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, egg and flour until dough forms.

Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls; place 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Using thumb or handle of wooden spoon, make indentation in center of each cookie.  Spoon about  1/4 teaspoon jam into each indentation.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are ligh golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips on High 1 or 2 minutes or until chips are melted; stir until smooth.  Spoon melted chips into small resealable plastic bag; cut small hole in corner of bag.  Squeeze bag gently to drizzle melted chips over cookies.  Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coconut Pumpkin Bread

Back to recipe posting again!  This pumpkin bread is truly irresistable as long as you are a coconut lover.  I never would have thought that pumpkin and coconut would go well together but surprise - they do!  I also LOVE this glaze.  White chocolate baking chips. They are just so perfect with the bread.  Hope you give this a try and enjoy it as much as I did. My husband also loved it but I can't say the same about my son. He is not a fan of coconut, so this bread was a thumbs down from him!  I found this recipe at Betty Crocker.

1/2 cup butter, softenend
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice


1 cup white chocolate baking chips
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat butter and both sugars with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.  Stir in 1/2 cup coconut and the walnuts.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie
spice;  gently stir in.  Pour batter into pan.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan about 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to cooling rack.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
In a small microwavable bowl, microwave white chocolate baking chips and whipping cream on high in 30 second increments, stirring between microwaving, until mixture is smooth and creamy.   Drizzle over cooled loaf; sprinkle with coconut.  Let glaze set before slicing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Here are some pictures from yesterday when we visited Old Town Alexandria.  This is a really pretty town with old cobblestone streets and unique gift shops and restaurants.  Old Town is on the water and there are boats that will take you over to Georgetown and Washington, DC.  You can take a sightseeing tour on these boats and some of them have dancing and dinner on board.  Me, I like the shopping, eating and walking.....especially on a beautiful day like yesterday. It must have been near 70 degrees. On  Saturday there is a Farmers Market and always some type of music or entertainment down by the water.  This town is also very dog friendly.  There are bowls of water outside many of the stores and when the weather permits, many of the restaurants have outside dining where our canine friends are very welcome!   Pictured above are the Cherry Blossom that will take you on a dinner cruise.  The other is a typical Old Town restaurant all ready for Christmas.  To the right is my husband...although he looks like a tourist in this photo he was actually born right in Old Town (many, many years ago...!). So many in fact that the hospital he was born in is no longer standing!  Below to the left is a picture taken from the Visitors Center. You can see there are also many townhouses that must be over100 years old......and very pricey but beautiful!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Pics from Thanksgiving Weekend!

Here are some pictures form Thanksgiving weekend.....the handsome young guy is my youngest son with his grandpa and the little cutie pie is my granddaughter with me.....We had wonderful weather here in Virginia the past few days and I've taken advantage of it by staying outdoors  most of the time.  These pictures were taken down in Richmond.

More pictures from my day in Old Town Alexandria tomorrow.  Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pillow Cookies

This recipe is one that my husband made the other night.  This cookie is perfect with Thanksgiving coming up.  We had gone to the Farmer's Market in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday and he saw these and they caught his eye.  He went online and found a great recipe for them.  I have no clue where the recipe came from but the frosting came from a site called Instructables.....Anyhow, they are soft just like pillows. I thought that maybe they had egg whites only in them or cake flour but that's not the case.  The are very, very light so they go down very easy. And they are addicting. Even if you are not a big pumpkin lover, these really just have a mild pumpkin flavor.  Hope you enjoy them! 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baker powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt ( if using salted butter leave this out)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin, canned or fresh
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease your baking sheets, unless you are using an air bake sheet.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt (unless you are using salted butter) into a bowl (not your mixing bowl).

Cream sugar and butter (in your mixer bowl) until blended.

Add the pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth.  Gradually beat in flour mixture, beat until blended.

Drop tablespoons (ice cream scoop works better) onto your baking sheets, approximately 1 inch apart.  The cookies spread a little.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firming up and the center is no longer jiggly.  Do not overbake - you want them to remain soft.   Cool the cookies on your baking sheet for a minute or two; then place onto wire cooling racks.

8 ox block of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter (4 tbs), softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Flavor Options
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp peppermint extract OR
1 tbs finely crushed peppermint candies
2 tbs lemon juice OR
2 tbs lemon zest

Let the butter and cream cheese soften at room temperature.

Cream together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Add in any flavors now.

Gradually add in the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, until fully blended and smooth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Praline Pumpkin Cake

I was going to post another recipe today but I thought with Thanksgiving coming up this would be more appropriate and some of you might like to make this for your Thanksgiving dessert. It is delicious!  It comes from Betty Crocker and starts with a mix but you add a few extra ingredients to really bump it up a notch.  It is so darn pretty too! 

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 box Betty Crockert SuperMoist yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.  In 1 quart heavy saucepan, stir together butter, whipping cream and brown sugar.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until butter is melted.  Pour into two ungreased  9 or 8 inch round cake pans; sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup pecans.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium speed for two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Carefully spoon batter over pecan mixture in each pan.

Bake 41 to 47 minutes of until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.  (I removed mine after 10 minutes).

Frosting (my recipe)
2  (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softenend
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups confectioners's sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
caramel topping, if desired
additional chopped pecans, if desired

Mix together on medium speed cream cheese and butter.  Sift sugar and pumpkin pie spice and add gradually to cream cheese mixture.
To assemble cake, place 1 layer, praline side up, on serving plate.  Spread with half of the frosting.  Top with second layer, praline side up; spread remaining frosting to edge of layer.  Drizzle with caramel topping and additional pecans.  Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cherry Coffee Cake

This comes from Coleen's Recipes.  It is one delicious cake.  I had never used tart pie cherries before and I have discovered that I love them.  This is a great after dinner cake to have with coffee and goes well with some whipped cream or ice cream on the side too.  You don't remove this cake from the pan so Coleen suggested (and I agree!) to use a nice looking pan.  I will HAVE to make this again soon. Easy and delicious.......

I'm home from work today and I'm sooo glad about that.  You know that feeling when you just need a break from work?  I have been feeling it big time here.  My youngest son is also home from school today and if any of you mom's out there have sons I would say 12 years and older, I'm sure you know that Modern Warfare 3 was released today....So you all know what my son is doing!  If you don't know what Modern Warfare 3 is consider yourself lucky.  All I've been hearing all day are it bedtime yet????

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Put all of the above ingredients into an electric mixer and beat on high 2 minutes.  Spread evenly into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan and set aside.

2 (14 oz) cans pitted tart pie cherries (save the juice) DO NOT USE CHERRY PIE FILLING
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup reserved juice from pie cherries
1/2 tsp almond extract

Drain cherries, saving the juice.  Arrange cherries on top of the cake batter.  Sprinkle  1/2 cup of sugar over the cherries. Set aside.  Heat 1 1/4 cup of reserved cherry juice and almond extract until it simmers and then very gently spoon over the cherries and batter.  Bake in oven  35-45 minutes.  Do not remove cake from pan.  Slice from pan when still slightly warm and serve by itself or with some whipped cream or ice cream.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yep, it's another banana cake post!  This one was not baked by me but by my husband instead. Guess I am not the only banana cake lover in the family.  This banana cake was so delicious that I ended up having to bring it to work with me so I would not keep eating it as if it was the last cake on earth.  The night before I brought it to work I was having some beef stew for dinner.  Instead of having a bowl full of stew I decided to have only half a bowl for dinner and a big slice of cake. After doing that I just thought "this is no good - the cake HAS to go!"  It was a big hit at work and didn't last long. He found this recipe at Evil Shenanigans.  It looks like I will have to be sharing my blog with my husband.  He has been cooking and baking so much lately and he is so good at it!  Better than I think it will be fun to share his dishes too! 

1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Frosting (my husband's recipe)

2 bars (8 oz each) cream cheese, soft
1 stick butter, soft
2 cups sifted powder sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (coconut is good too)
coconut flakes (if desired on outside of cake)
chopped walnuts (if desired on top of cake)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two 9" cake pans with non stick spray.

Peel your ripe bananas and mash them with a fork.  Pour the buttermilk into the bananas and mix well.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar until well combined and lighter in color.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla.  Mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and the banana mixture in three installments, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out to cool completely on racks.

While the cake cools prepare the frosting by creaming the cream cheese with the butter, then adding the powdered sugar and vanilla. 

Fill and frost the cake, then chill for one hour before slicing. (Note:  this cake tastes better the next day.  Make sure to remove from refrigerator about one hour before eating since banana cake is heavy and tastes much better at room temperature.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jewish Apple Cake

My apples from Graves Mountain are finally being put to good use besides just being snacked on.  I made this Jewish Apple Cake last week and it's definitely a winner.  My only change to this recipe would be the glaze.  It didn't turn out the way it should have. The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of butter along with orange juice and sugar, but I would omit the butter all together.  Next time I will make a glaze with just orange juice and powdered sugar.  This comes from Allrecipes

2 cups peeled apples, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9 inch tube pan (I used a Bundt pan).

Mix apples, 5 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Beat the oil and 2 cups of sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl.  Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend in the sugar mixture before adding the next.  Beat in the vanilla and 1/4 cup of orange juice with the last egg.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and stir into the sugar mixture;  mixing until just incorporated.  Pour half of the batter into the prepared tube pan.  Layer the apple mixture on top, then pour the remaining batter over the apples.  Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Allow cake to cool for 15 -20 minutes before removing from pan. (The original recipe calls for allowing the cake to cook completely in the pan but I prefer removing the cake earlier).

To make glaze: Combine 1 to 2 cups powdered sugar with several tablespoons orange juice to desired consistency.  Drizzle on cake while still slightly warm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Shrimp

Forgive this picture. Not the best that's for sure. I didn't take a picture of the soup in a nice bowl because once I tasted it I was too busy eating it. And that my friends is the sign of a good recipe. A great tasting soup and I'm not a soup person.  I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this soup. It's 2 bowl good...maybe 3 if you are a big meal person. It comes courtesty of Martha Stewart. You can bet I will be making this again. You can spice this up with pepper as hot as you like it. I didn't have any cayenne pepper on hand so I just sprinkled on red pepper flakes with a heavy hand and boy did I love it!  Sweet and heat together!  Enjoy!

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound frozen large shrimp (peeled and deveined), thawed
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 butternut squash
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used red pepper flakes, liberally)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (I used regular and you may want to up this to 4 cups)
coarse salt (if using low sodium broth)
1/4 cup sour cream (I used a little bit more)
fried sage leaves (optional, I didn't add this)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque throughout, 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate; cover with foil.
Increase heat to medium-high.  Add 1 tablespoon butter, onion and chopped sage; cook until onion is softened, about 8 minutes.  Add squash, cayenne pepper (or flakes) and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.  Season with salt if desired.  Tranfer half the mixture to a blender or food processor.  Add sour cream and puree until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids).  Return to pot along with shrimp; stir to combine.  To serve, divide soup among four bowls; top with fried sage leaves, if desired.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caramel Drizzled Pumpkin Poke Cake

It's pumpkin time again!  Thank goodness we have no pumpkin shortage here. This cake is so good and so perfect to have this time of year.  I can't imagine anyone not liking it. I literally could not stop eating it.....once slice, two slices.....But they were small ones! I've made this twice in the past two weeks. Once for my family and one for a church fundraiser.  I hope you enjoy it. It's simple to make and comes from Betty Crocker.


1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix
1 cup (from 15 oz can) pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice


1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 jars (12 oz each) hot fudge topping  (I used caramel in holes since hot fudge was too hard to fill in)
1 container Cool Whip (I added 1/2 tsp coconut extract - it was really good. I also added a small container Yoplait French Vanilla Yogurt)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons caramel topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees F or 325 for dark or nonstick pan.  Grease or spray bottom only of 13x9 in pan.
In a large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium speed 2 minutes.  Pour into pan.  Bake 26 to 33 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.
Immediately poke cake every inch with handle of wooden spoon halfway into cake.  Drizzle condensed milk evenly over top of cake; let stand until milk has been absorbed into cake, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place hot fudge in medium microwavable bowl.  Microwave uncovered on High 15 to 30 seconds or until smooth.  Spoon and spread over cake, pressing slightly into holes.  Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake.  Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.

Just before serving, drizzle caramel sauce over each serving of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping

I found this recipe in my "To Try" folder and it's from Bon Appetit, September 2008. I think it's about time that I try it already!  I hadn't realized that the recipes in there go back 3 years (and probably longer).  Part of me wants to just throw the whole bulging folder out and the other half says there's a reason I kept these recipes. So we'll see what happens. I kept a few and thrown out a few but have a ton more to check out.  Let's just say I am glad this one became a "keeper." It's very, very good. I've already made this twice in the past 3 weeks.  Had extra bananas that were way overripe just laying around and this recipe won out over trying a new banana cake recipe. Yes, it's THAT good.  My only change from the original recipe was adding dried cranberries since I have a bunch of these way too long already that I needed to use up. They are a perfect addition to this bread.  I doubled the recipe and made two so I have another one of these babies just waiting in the freezer for me!

It's apple season here again and I'm sure I will be bringing back a bunch of apples from Graves Mountain.  Hope to have a slew of new apples recipes to try. If you have any really good ones you'd like to suggest please let me know. I'll be having plenty of apples to use up and one can make but only so many apple pies!!!!

Makes one 9 x 5 in loaf

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3 medium)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour 9 x 5 x 3 inch metal baking pan.  Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Whisk next 5 ingredients in large bowl until smooth.  Add dry ingredients; stir to blend.  (if using cranberries add and gently stir at this point).  Transfer batter to pan.  Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and brown sugar;  sprinkle over batter.

Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool bread in p
an 30
 minutes.  Turn pan on its side, slide out bread, being careful not to dislodge topping.  Turn bread right side up and cool completely.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicken and Apple Curry

I made this dish several weeks ago and I'm ready to make it again! It's a nice twist on the usual chicken recipes.  The apple gives it a touch of sweetness and the curry a touch of spice.  It's also a nice recipe to have in the fall when there is an abundance of apples in this area.  We usually go up to Graves Mountain in Syria, Virginia and stock up on apples at their apple festival.  About that time is when I start going on a recipe hunt for anything with apples!  I can't say this is kid friendly since my son wouldn't try it but it cerainly is adult friendly!  I found this at a good old allrecipes!  So often I find a recipe there when it is featured as recipe of the day.  This was one of those.

3 tablespoons butter
2 small onions, chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup hot chicken broth
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute apple and onion in butter or margarine until tender.  Add curry powder and saute 1 minute more.  Add flour and continue to cook 1 minute longer.  Add stock or broth and milk; stir well.
Salt and pepper chicken breasts to taste and lay in a single layer in a 9x13 inch (or larger) baking dish. I ended up using 2 pans.

Pour sauce mixture over chicken breasts and bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until chicken is done.

Monday, September 26, 2011

No recipe just Schweddy Balls!

I couldn't resist posting this picture of Ben & Jerry's latest ice cream flavor. If you watch Saturday Night Live this will sound familiar. This was not an easy find.  Found only one container of this at a local grocery store.  I  read one blogger's review of this ice cream and they stated that it had rum flavoring. I wasn't sure that I would care for this since I am not a big fan of rum but to be honest it just tastes like vanilla to me!  It has small malt balls scattered throughout the batter....It is really, really good.   Definitely give this a try in the near future because this won't be a regular flavor. I believe they are making one more batch and that will be it. Am I saving the container? You bet!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Banana Bars

I've baked these bars several times now and have finally taken same pics of them so I can share them with you!  These are really more cakey than you would think.  They are wonderful. I brought them to work the first time I made them and they were an instant hit!  The frosting is so good. So good in fact that  I got carried away and started eating it right out of the bowl, which is not good to do!  Also, you can replace the sour cream wth some yogurt if you like. I didn't have sour cream on hand the second time I made this so I just used strawberry/banana yogurt and it came out fine.  I found these over at Cafe Zupas.  Delicious!


1/2 cup butter, softenend
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
 1 cup sour cream
1 teapsoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the wet batter.  Finally, mix in the mashed banana.  Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar

In a bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese.  Beat until smooth.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until completely smooth.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Easy Chocolate Pudding

Well it looks like we have survived the rains of the past few days. Would you believe the rain was so bad here this week (and especially last night) that the county schools were closed!!!  They are using their "snow days" already. Let's hope that we have some sunshine here for a while.  We're all going to Kings Dominion tomorrow so I'm really hoping the sun stays out.  Amusement parks are definitely no fun in the rain! 

Here is a recipe though that is fun and delicious! It comes from Coleens food blog.  Please check out her blog if you are not familiar with it.  Every recipe I have tried from her site is a winner.  This one too!!! And easy.  The only change I made was not to add the coffee.  It was quite chocolately without it.  I also love pudding "skin" so I did not put plastic wrap on it.  Another must is whipped cream. It just adds so much to it. This is so much better than boxed pudding and worth the extra steps!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and stay dry!!!

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 rounded tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk (not low fat)
1 tablespoon strong coffee
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together until there are no lumps (this will also help incorporate it into the liquids).  Whisk in the evaporated milk and coffee, until smooth.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with rubber spatula.  When the mixture starts to thicken, turn the heat down to medium low.  Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking, stirring constantly (in figure 8 motion), for one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.  Pour into dessert dishes and place plastic wrap (if you don't care for skin) or waxed paper directly on the surface of the hot pudding.  Chill completely and serve with whipped cream.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Brownie Goodie Bars by Betty Crocker

These are a basic brownie with a bit "extra" added and boy were they ever good.  Don't think I would eat these on a daily basis but they certainly are a nice treat.  I found myself just picking at these all day long as they sat around.  Although the brownie and frosting are both from a mix you can certainly use a homemade one. I have just been into trying mixes lately and adding extra ingredients to them. So far most have been successes! 

I can't believe that it's the start of another school year.  This summer has just flown by.  My son is definitely ready for school though and looking forward to 7th grade.  I think he is really glad that he is not a 6th grader any more and at the bottom of the totem pole in middle school!

1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium brownie mix (or your own from scratch)
Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on the brownie mix box
1 cup Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting (from 16 oz container) Or your own homemade frosting
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/3 cups (8 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease bottom only of a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray or shortening.  (For easier cutting, line pan with foil, then grease foil on bottom only of pan.)
Make and bake brownies are directed on box.  Cool completely.
Frost brownies with frosting.  Sprinikle with peanuts; refrigerate while making cereal mixture.
Measure cereal into medium bowl; set aside.  In 1-quart saucepan, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly.  Pour over cereal in bowl, stirring until evenly coated.  Spread over frosted brownies.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until set before cutting.  For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.  Store lightly covered at room temperature or in refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zucchini Coconut Layer Cake

This has now become my new favorite cake. And it's not even chocolate!  It starts with a cake mix (my latest craze) and you just bump it up from there. I could literally just eat this icing out of a bowl.  It's a marshmallow icing which is my favorite. It makes so much icing that I have a chocolate cake in the oven since I need to use up the rest of it!  But really.....this cake is just the best I've had in a very long time. The recipe comes from Woman's World.
We survived Hurrican Irene with hardly any real damage in the northern Virginia area.  We're very lucky. I had been down in Richmond on Saturday and made the (dumb) decision to drive back up to northern Virginia since it wasn't really "that bad." Well, down there it was way worse than here.  I was greeted on the highway with a huge fallen tree across all three lanes.....then on the next highway that I needed to get on to the first thing I saw was a car turned upside down. That's when my heart started to race and I even thought of pulling off I-95 and staying in a motel for the night. But I just slowed down and took my time getting back home. There were numerous cars that spun out. I guess from traveling too fast. But I made it back safe and swore NEVER again to when there is a chance of a hurricane ahead.  Stupid...stupid.....

Anyhow, here is this simple, fantastic and easy recipe. Oh and a tip.....I don't care to have any kind of green color from the zucchini skin to be seen in the cake. This type of cake, in my humble opinion just looks so much prettier if you peel the zucchini which is what I did. But that's just my opinion here!


1 package (18.25 oz) French vanilla cake mix (couldn't find French vanilla here so I used just a yellow mix)
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 medium zucchini, 14 oz., grated, 2 cups
1/2 tsp coconut extract (my addition)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 container (16 oz) Marshmallow Fluff
2 1/2 cups confectioners's sugar
2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract (preferably clear)
2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat 2 (8") round cake pans with cooking spray.  On medium speed, beat together cake mix, eggs, 1 cup water and oil (and extract, if using).  Stir in zucchini.  Evenly divide between pans.  Bake 28-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on rack 20 minutes.  Transfer from pans to racks; cool completely, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile on medium speed, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add Fluff; beat until combined.  On low, gradually beat in sugar, then coconut and vanilla extracts.

Place one cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting.  Top with remaining layer.  Spread cake top and side with remaining frosting.  Press coconut  onto side of cake.  If not serving immediately, refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peaches 'n Cream Cake

I'm sitting here right now and enjoying the cake that I am blogging about. Oh is this good......I made this yesterday and it is just wonderful.  Sooo super easy too.  This starts with a box mix.  I have to say that when you add additional ingredients to a box cake it just adds a lot to the cake itself. It not only tastes great but is sooo economical too. I've made many yellow cakes from scratch that have turned out so dry or just not good.  One of my favorites uses 8 egg yolks. Sorry that's a lot of wasted egg whites. And 8 yolks are alot......Since I've been blogging and trying all kinds of cake recipes there are some that are just wonderful from scratch that a box mix can't match but as far as a yellow cake goes a boxed version with added ingredients can be quite good.  This recipe is definitely one of those.  One tip though with making this cake is that if you use frozen peaches to decorate the cake, make sure you thaw and blot them dry with a paper towel or they will get runny on top of the cake.  Also if you add the colored sugar like I did, make double sure they are dry!

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free harvest peach yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups frozen (thawed) reduced-fat whipped topping
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free harvest peach yogurt
2 cups frozen sliced peaches (from 16-oz bag), thawed, drained

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with baking spray with flour.
In large bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour into pan.
Bake 32 to 36 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
In a small bowl, mix whipped topping and 1 container yogurt until blended.  Serve cake with peaches and topping mixture. 

Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweetie Pie

I love the name of this pie!  That alone caught my attention and the fact that it is a 5 ingredient or less recipe.  I came across this in the latest issue of Woman's Day and knew it was just a matter of time until I made it. It is soooo easy that ANYONE can make it. And you just can't mess this one up. It's that simple. It's also very different than the usual chocolate pie since it somewhat hardens after it's refrigerated.  It kind of reminds me of a cheesecake but withoust being nearly as heavy.  You don't need a big slice of this however to feel full.  It's very chocolately so a little goes a long way. 


1 15 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 lb semisweet chocolate, chopped, plus more for shaving
6 oz ready to fill chocolate cookie pie crust
1 cup heavy cream

Place the ricotta in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high, stirring every 15 seconds, until no longer cold, about 1 minute.
Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high, stirring every 15 seconds, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the warm chocolate to the food processor  and puree until fully incorporated and very smooth.  Spread the mixture into the crust and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

When ready to serve, using an electric mixer, beat the cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream over the pie and top with shaved chocolate, if desired.