Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops

I'm kind-of a cheesecake freak. I like almost anything to do with cheesecake. You may recall that I am not a fan of pie, so every year at Thanksgiving time, I make a pumpkin cheesecake. Well, this year I will be in Connecticut for Thanksgiving, so I decided to bake my cheesecake early and make it into these cute little treats! This is my Aunt Vicki's pumpkin cheesecake recipe, and it is SO big and dense and creamy and good. But, the dense part is what makes it work well in these cute little pumpkin cheesecake pops!

First you start out by baking the cheesecake, without a crust. The crust is not needed for these sweet babies. You just want that creamy, yummy center.

Aunt Vicki's Pumpkin Cheesecake (sans crust)

2 lbs (4 packages) Cream Cheese at room temperature (NO lite cream cheese!)

1 ½ C sugar

5 Eggs

¼ C flour

2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 15 oz can Libby’s Canned Pumpkin (I always use Libby's because it is consistently the same

color and flavor, while other brands are not)

Set out cream cheese and eggs a few hours before you are going to make the cheesecake. You want everything at room temperature to avoid lumps! Wrap the bottom (the outside of the pan) of a 9 inch spring form pan with foil. Because this cheesecake doesn't have a crust, some filling may leak out the bottom of your pan. Preheat oven to 350. Whip cream cheese until fluffy, then add sugar and eggs, one at a time. Beat well, and then gradually add flour and pumpkin pie spice. Mix in pumpkin and pour into pan (no need to grease). Bake for 1 hour and 30-45 minutes, or until center is firm. You want to avoid browning the cheesecake too much because the creamy center part makes the best pops, so try not to over bake it. It's fine if it's still a little wiggily in the middle, but definitely not really wiggily or liquidy. Cool cheesecake and chill in the refrigerator over night.

Before starting the cheesecake balls, first make sure that you have enough room and clearance for a cookie sheet or other pan with sucker sticks sticking out of the top in your freezer. Next, take your small or medium sized cookie scoop and scoop out balls of cheesecake. Roll them into pretty balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Then, stick a cute dowel or sucker stick into each one. (You can do these more like truffles and omit the sucker stick,
but the stick makes these super easy to dip!) Freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Once the cheesecake centers are frozen, you can dip them in white or milk chocolate. Refer to my Chocolate 101 tips for melting and dipping info! Because the pops are frozen, the chocolate will set really quick, so I would suggest making sure that your chocolate is pretty melty. If it starts to thicken up, it will coat the pops too thick, and then the chocolate may crack. So, every now and then, pop your chocolate back into the microwave for a few seconds to keep it nice and smooth. Also, if you're going to use cute sprinkles, you need to work quickly before the coating is set up. I rolled the white chocolate pops in these cute little sprinkles, but I wouldn't suggest doing this. It made that part of the pop really crunchy, so if you want to decorate them with sprinkles, just sprinkle them on.

These pops are so fun and SO delicious. I love that you can make the cheesecake a few days ahead of time and get the pops to a frozen stage, and then just dip 'em when you have a minute. It really is a very easy process, and not too time consuming if you spread it over a couple of days. I made 24 pops using my small cookie scoop, then I used some of the rest of the cheesecake to make pumpkin cheesecake milkshakes (and I wonder why I gained 5 lbs in the past 2 weeks! ) So, you could probably get more like 30 out of this recipe. Kids and adults can't resist these! Make them for a fun Thanksgiving day treat!

Mmmm...the cheesecaky middle....mmmm.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yummy Yummy Yams

Since I can remember, my mom would make the Thanksgiving day yams from real, baked, yams. I think that they taste so much better than the canned yams that lots of people use. Yams are easy to bake and really don't take that much more time than the canned variety. My husband is a sucker for toasted marshmallows on top (and really, who isn't?), but of course, you can make these without the extra little clouds of sugar on top!

The great thing about this dish is that you can make it a day or two in advance and then bake it and add the marshmallows just before dinner.

Yummy Yummy Yams

2 large Sweet Potatoes/Yams (about 2 lbs)

¼ C + 1 Tbs. Brown Sugar

2 oz (1/4 C) chopped pecans (optional)

1 apple, finely chopped

¼ C Butter (1/2 stick)

Mini Marshmallows (optional)

Line a large baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. If the yams are very large, cut them into big chunks so that they will roast evenly. Bake yams at 350 until softened, 1 1/2 -2 hours. Remove yams from the oven and let them sit until slightly cooled. Remove skins and put the yams into a large bowl. Mash cooked yams with the butter and brown sugar. Then, stir in the pecans and apple. Mix well and pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish. (At this point, the yams may be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days.) Bake yams at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. If desired, just before serving, top the yams with mini marshmallows and place under the broiler until the marshmallows are toasted. Don’t leave marshmallows unattended! Serve immediately. Makes 8 side dish servings.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

I kind-of forgot about this cake, but for some reason it came to mind when I picked up a bag of butterscotch chips at Walmart. Then, we were having a neighbor over for dinner who doesn't like chocolate (I know...who doesn't like chocolate?? It's hard for me to fathom!). So, I decided to make this cake, and oh boy...I'm so glad I did. It's moist and pumpkiny with a hint of butterscotch, and then you can boost the butterscotch flavor by mean drizzling on some of the butterscotch sauce. It's a slice of fall on a plate!

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake


1 2/3 C butterscotch morsels, split (11 oz pkg)

2 C flour

1 ¾ C sugar

1 Tbs baking powder

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

1 C canned pumpkin

½ C veg. oil

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Powdered Sugar

Butterscotch Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease/flour a bundt pan. Microwave 1 cup morsels in small bowl on medium high heat for 1 minute, stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir together melted morsels, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Stir in flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cook in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with Butterscotch Sauce.

Butterscotch Sauce: Heat 1/3 C evaporated milk (I just used regular milk and didn't ever let it boil. Just heat it until warm enough to melt the chips, whisk in chips, and cool.) in a medium sauce pan over medium heat just to a boil; remove from heat. Add remaining morsels; stir until smooth. Return to heat, stirring constantly. Bring mixture just to a boil. Cool to room temperature. Stir before serving.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that if you cook your buttermilk
until it's a deep amber color...then you refrigerate the leftovers, and it thinkens up...(if you never have leftovers, make a double batch...please!)

It's pretty much caramel?

Caramel that's perfect for dipping apples in or eating with a spoon? Or...probably drizzling on ice cream?

Well, I may or may not have tried one or three of those ideas in the past 5 minutes.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Zucchini ideas and Zucchini Bread

I love this time of year! I'll be posting some fun fall recipes soon...but recently we have been harvesting lots from our garden! Since I'm not a pro at canning (yet!) I have been doing simple things like making freezer jam (raspberry peach...yum!) and shredding some zucchini to freeze and use during the winter. If you like baking with zucchini and you have some big ones from your garden, this is a must!

I made some low fat zucchini cookies while we were shredding.

We had this pasta for dinner this week. I used peppers and zucchini out of my garden. Mmmmmm....

Also, Zucchini Bread! When I have those big zucchini's sitting on my counter, all I want to do is make zucchini bread. Zucchini Bread is so moist and yummy. I experimented with my recipe and made a healthier version so that I can eat it more often, or eat more in one sitting...or (insert here whatever YOU tell yourself to make yourself feel better about stuffing your face).

When I say "healthier", please don't think "yuckier". I really try not to sacrifice taste to make something healthier. I thought this bread turned out really good and I got some good reviews from others as well! I have included the original recipe, and in the parenthesis, I included the changes I made to make it a bit healthier. I may or may not have added a bunch of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to my "healthier" recipe. shhhhhh!

Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour (substitute half whole wheat pastry flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (substitute half vanilla yogurt, so 1/2 C oil, 1/2 C yogurt)

1 C brown sugar

1 1/4 C white sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Cinnamon and sugar (optional)

Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch or two 9x5 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together for 1-2 minutes, or until well combined. Add sifted ingredients gradually to the creamed mixture, and mix just until combined. Stir in zucchini and nuts or chocolate chips. (Tip: Combine nuts and/or chocolate chips in a small bowl with 1-2 tsp of flour before mixing into the batter. Sometimes this helps the nuts and chocolate chips not sink to the bottom of the pan.) Pour batter into prepared pans and sprinkle the top with some cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 60 minutes (or about 50 minutes for two 9x5 pans), or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Breakfast Panini Sandwiches

I am such a blog slacker. I have been so busy with three kids! I got out of the habit of blogging, and now it's just hard to find time! But, we had this for dinner last night, and it was a hit, so I thought I'd share. We love breakfast for dinner!

I got a panini grill for my birthday, and we've used it at least once a week since then. If you're on the fence about whether or not you want to own a panini maker, stop thinking about it and get one now! They are so handy and you can make lots of things with them. I've made desert, sandwiches, breakfast, and wraps. Yum!

I started these yummy breakfast panini's by making some English Muffin Bread from a blog called "What Megan's Making". This stuff is the easiest bread ever...and totally delish. I'm sure that you could use regular store bought english muffins, but believe's going to be much better with this bread. Did I say it was easy? Even if you're afraid of yeast, try this. I don't know that you could mess it up. It doesn't even have to be kneaded! Plus, it makes the best.toast.ever.

Breakfast Panini Sandwiches

8 slices of English Muffin Bread, or English Muffins

6 Eggs, scrambled (but not dry, they'll cook a little in the grill) and seasoned to taste

Cheese, grated

Ham, Bacon, Sausage


Take two slices of bread and butter the outsides. Make sure that your butter is soft because this bread is soft (but it gets a tiny bit crispy when grilled or toasted...ooohhhhh!). Add a layer of ham or bacon or sausage (or all 3!), scrambled eggs, and cheese on top. Grill in a panini grill or in a hot frying pan until the bread is a bit brown and toasty. Serve with fruit and juice or other yummy breakfasty items. Makes 4 sandwiches.

What's your favorite thing to make for breakfast?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mixed Roasted Vegetables and Pasta

My cute sister-in-law Kristen sent me this recipe. It's so yummy and quite healthy for you, which is good cuz my little family can pretty much finish the entire dish in one sitting....and it fills a cookie sheet, so...uh...good thing it's loaded with veggies! I made a couple of slight changes, but it was pretty fantastic to begin with! If you have planted zucchini and peppers in your garden, bookmark this recipe and get excited to make it soon!

Mixed Roasted Vegetables and Pasta

1 medium green or yellow bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper cut into one inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated
2 medium zucchini, cut into one inch pieces
8 oz whole mushrooms, optional (if they're big, I cut them in half)
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed (or 2 tsp. bottled chopped garlic)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 C (6 oz) pasta - penne, cavatappi or gemelli work well
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces (the picture shows cherry tomatos, which can be a bit overwhelming unless you really love them)
1 bag (8oz) shredded Italian Style 4 cheese blend (2 cups)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a 15x10x1 inch pan (standard cookie sheet with sides) or 3 quart casserole, place bell peppers, onion, zucchini and mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1/3 C chopped basil. In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, and salt and pepper. Drizzle evenly over vegetables. Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and add tomatoes and pasta to vegetable mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered 15 minutes longer or until veggies are tender and cheese is melted. Just before serving, sprinkle with reserved chopped basil. Serve immediately. This is excellent with a green salad and some garlic bread!

(This time I added some grilled chicken that I seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and S&P just before the 2nd baking, but really, it's so good either way!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Baby Shower Food

My sweet friend from high school, Hillari, is now a cute cute pregnant lady. I made the food for her baby shower and had some requests for recipes, and I'm finally getting around to posting them. Uploading these pictures made me hungry, and I might need to go get a little chocolate fix when I'm done with this post!

Let's start with the lemon bars... I like Paula Deen's recipe, and who wouldn't with all of the butter that she uses in everything. One time I saw a show where she deep fried butter. Then, she ate it. True story.

Lemon Bars

Source: (Paula Deen)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
Pinch salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan.

Make the crust by combining the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or confectioners' sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, mix the eggs, granulated sugar,
flour, and lemon juice. Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.

Next, Coconut Bread. If you like coconut, you must try this. My brother doesn't like coconut and gobbled this down like he hadn't eaten in days. It's from a blog called Taste the Joy. She has some fun recipes. Her recipe calls for a glaze at the end, but it kind of soaks the bread more than glaze it...which is fabulous if you're serving it like a cake. But, I wanted it a little less messy for the shower, so I made a simple glaze with about a cup of powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of milk, along with a teaspoon of coconut extract. I baked the batter in smaller (5 inch, I think) loaf pans, cooled it, glazed it and then sprinkled it with coconut flakes. Yuuuuuum. Little slices of heaven.

Coconut Bread


2 C sugar

1 C buttermilk

4 eggs

1 C vegetable or canola oil

2 tsp coconut flavoring (extract)

3 C flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 C coconut

1 C walnuts (optional)

Cream together sugar, buttermilk, and eggs. Gradually add oil. Mix well and add extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda, salt and coconut. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the nuts. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch loaf pans, or 4 5 inch loaf pans. Bake 9 inch pans at 325 for 50-60 minutes, or 5 inch pans for 35 minutes. (or until lightly brown around the edges, and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes (in the mean time, prepare the glaze) and remove from loaf pans. Place loaves on a cooling rack and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Glaze: (this is her original glaze recipe)

1 C sugar

½ C water

2 TBS butter

1 tsp coconut flavoring

Heat all ingredients to boiling, and boil for 5 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you want it thickened). Poke small holes in bread and pour over top. Top with additional coconut if desired.

Brownies... Mmmmm...I love brownies. If you haven't noticed, I'm a chocoholic. If it were up to me, everything I made would have had little bits of chocolate in it somewhere, but the cute prego lady was craving fruity type stuff, so I only made one chocolate treat. But, I decided that since there was just one, it had to be over-the-top, rich, yummy, with lots of chocoly chocoly (a word that my 4 year old daughter invented...bless her little heart) goodness. So, I made this yummy brownie recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. The recipe is easy, soooo good, and calls for ingredients that I always have. Then, I threw in a bunch of chocolate chips and slapped on some fluffy home made chocolate frosting. Seriously...I gained two pounds that weekend...

Easiest Brownies in the World

1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips (use the kind you prefer) ( plus 6 oz if you're making them my way!)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate chips. Stir constantly and remove from heat when chips are fully melted. In the same pot, blend in the sugar and vanilla. Then add eggs, blending fully one at a time. Add flour and salt and beat until air bubbles form in the batter. (This is when I added another cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips!) Pour into a greased 9 X 13-inch pan (this recipe works great doubled and poured into a large 11 X 17-inch rimmed baking sheet). Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
Adapted From: Hershey's Cocoa Box
1 Stick (1/2 C Butter), at room temperature
2/3 C Cocoa Powder
3 C Powdered Sugar
1/3 C Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Cream butter until fluffy (1-2 minutes). In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Measure out your milk and add vanilla. Gradually add sugar mixture alternating with milk mixture until the frosting is the consistency you want. It should be nice and fluffy and spreadable.

Now, spread that frosting over the cooled brownies. Chill for 1-2 hours and cut into bars. Try not to eat the entire pan.

Mini Fruit Pizzas. Hillari wanted fruit, and I love fruit pizza, so I decided to make a mini version of the one I usually make. You can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe, or heck, even a refrigerated dough would work if you're really in a crunch. I used a recipe from, which worked perfectly. 2 days before the shower, I made and chilled the dough, and cut out round cookies with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Then, I baked the cookies and layered them carefully between parchment, inside a Tupperware container, and froze them. I wanted everything to be as fresh as possible, but I couldn't make everything the day of the shower. Freezing these for a day and a half worked out great. Here's the recipe for the cookies:

Sugar Cookies

1 C real butter (no substitutions!)
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond extract (I used vanilla instead)
3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.

Shape the dough into 2 flat disks and wrap in waxed paper (I used plastic wrap because I didn't want the dough to dry out) and place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours. If you want your cookies to hold their shape well, the dough needs to be chilled properly. A great tip to speed things up is to immediately roll dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and place on a flat surface in the fridge. It will chill super fast and be ready to go in no time.

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin.

Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. If you like them really soft under-bake them. In my oven, about 8 minutes does it. However if you're making large cookies, or ones with small parts or heavy frosting, you might want to be careful because they might break when they're super soft.

About 8 minutes will get you a really soft cookie, a few minutes longer (when they start to just brown around the edges) and you'll get just a little crispiness around the edges and then a soft center, bake even longer (and roll thinner) and you'll get a buttery, crispy cookie that will just melt in your mouth. Any way you do it, they'll taste good. Remove onto cooling racks when you're done and let cool completely. I honestly think these even taste better the second day.

Topping the pizzas:

To make the white "frosting", mix together 1 8 oz container of Cool Whip (light works well too) and 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature (light works okay too). Beat until nice and fluffy. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of sugar, to taste.

I frosted and topped the cookies with fruit right before the shower started so they wouldn't get soggy. I used strawberries, kiwi and little chunks of mango. You could use pineapple or mandarin oranges, blueberries, bananas, blackberries....any fruit really. Serve immediately.

These would make a super easy last minute dessert if you had some frozen cookies on hand and just had to whip up the topping and top with whatever fruit you had on hand. These are so pretty and so delicious!

Now, wake up from your sugar coma and start baking! What are your favorite finger foods to eat or make for baby/bridal showers?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

One of my favorite food blogs is Our Best Bites. They have a recipe that I use all the time, even when I'm on a diet. (which is why I haven't been posting a lot at my house has been kinda boring!)

It's called Guiltless Alfredo Sauce. It's super easy to make, always turns out great, is pretty close to guiltless, and tastes wonderful! Oh, and it may even taste better as leftovers! What more could you ask for? I love those girls!

My favorite thing to make with this sauce is Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo. If you don't like shrimp, don't stop reading now! It's also great with chicken or veggies or whatever! My 4 year olds scarf this down like they haven't eaten for days.

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

1 recipe of Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
1 pound Shrimp, raw, de-veined and shelled (or substitute chicken chopped into small pieces)
1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
12 oz Fettuccine or other pasta
1 Tbs. Butter

Make the Alfredo sauce, and while the Parmesan cheese is melting in, cook your pasta according to package directions. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add your garlic. Saute garlic for 30 seconds or so, just until fragrant. Add shrimp and cook until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes on each side. Drain your pasta and combine sauce, pasta and shrimp (including any juices from the shrimp). Toss and serve immediately!

If you choose to make this with chicken, saute your chicken in the butter and garlic (along with some salt and pepper) until the chicken is no longer pink. Add a dash of nutmeg to your sauce, then toss pasta, sauce and chicken together. Try adding some steamed broccoli at the's soooo yummy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Italian Stuff

For some strange reason, I had a lot of time to cook while I was in college. Some of my favorite recipes come from the time that I used to cook for my room mates and my...uh... boyfriends. (shhhhh...don't mention this to my husband) This recipe came from that time in my life. I always just called it "Italian Stuff", and I've never officially named it. Anyone have a good idea for a real name?

Baked pasta has a tendency to be dry, so don't be afraid if it looks a bit saucy. In my opinion, it needs more than one jar of sauce, so you can use a jar and a half of sauce, or add some tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce.

1 lb Mostaccoli, Rigatoni or Penne noodles
1 lb Italian Sausage, bulk or removed from casings (I always use pork sausage)
36 oz Spaghetti Sauce (or a 24 oz jar plus 2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce and 1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning)
2 cloves Garlic
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small Yellow Squash, thinly sliced
8 oz Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 medium Tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Saute onion and sausage together in a large frying pan until brown. Drain sausage if needed. Add spaghetti (and tomato sauce plus Italian seasoning if using) to the sausage mixture. Simmer on low for 5 minutes to let flavors come together. Boil noodles according to package directions. I usually cook the noodles for the minimum time on the package because they're going to be baked, and you don't want soggy noodles! Combine cooked noodles, sauce, and 1 1/2 cups grated cheese. Spoon mixture into an 11x15 pan or deep casserole dish and bake, covered, for 20 minutes, or until it's a little brown around the edges.

Add 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a frying pan and add 2 cloves of minced or pressed garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add squash and mushrooms and cook, just until softened.

Remove pasta from oven and cover with remaining cheese, sauteed veggies, and sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Return the pan back to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes are softened. Serve hot with garlic bread and a green salad!

Oh, by the way...this makes probably about 10 servings. It's pretty large, so feel free to freeze half of it, but I would freeze it without the veggies on top because I can imagine that they would get pretty soggy. Enjoy!

(the yellow squash didn't look great, so this time, I used 2 zucchinis)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Creamy White Bean and Apple Chili

I am not a huge fan of chili, but this recipe and I are more than just friends. I just might love it. My husband on the other hand just "likes" there are two reviews for you.

This is a super easy crock pot recipe. I originally found it on the "Year of Crockpotting" blog...the one where she was making a recipe in her crock pot every day for a year. Brave soul. You can find the original recipe here. Anyway, I modified it a bit so that it's a rich, creamy, kinda sweet, yummy soup.

Creamy White Bean and Apple Chili

3 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used Great Northern Beans)
1 onion, chopped
2 apples, cut in tiny chunks, no need to peel
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 T butter
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup plain non fat yogurt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Put the butter into the bottom of a warmed crockpot. Dump in 2 cans of drained and rinsed beans. Add the onion, apples, garlic and spices, and pour in the broth. Stir in the yogurt. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5. This is done when the onion has reached desired tenderness and the flavors have melded. Slightly blend or puree soup, not until smooth, so that there are still some small chunks. (You can do this with a hand blender, or do 2-3 batches in a regular blender.) Then, stir in the last can of drained and rinsed beans. Heat until the beans are warmed through. Serve with corn chips, grated cheese, and sour cream….and/or corn bread…yum.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cap'n Crunch French Toast

You may have noticed that I have an obsession with breakfast foods. What can I say? I just love breakfast. Well, over the holidays I was watching a lot of Food Network, and on the show "Diners, Drive-in's and Dives", they showed this little diner/shack that made french toast covered in Cap'n Crunch. My first thought was..."that's going to be too sweet". But, my next thought was "I'm totally making that for my husband's birthday breakfast!!". (see how happy he is? The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right? he he!)

Well, I can honestly say that I liked it even more than the Frosted Flake French Toast. But, let me tell you the secret...lots of butter. Sometimes I try to cut out a few calories by just spraying the pan when I make french toast, but this needs to be cooked in butter. The butter kinda softens and caramelizes the cereal, so don't skimp on the butter!

Cap'n Crunch French Toast

2 beaten eggs
½ C milk
¼ tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
5-6 slices French bread
2-3 C crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal
Maple Syrup

Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Heat your frying pan or griddle to medium low heat, and melt a tablespoon or two of butter. Dip bread into the egg mixture, and coat the bread according to your preference. I like my french toast really...uh...frenchy? Anyway, I like it kinda soaked in the egg mixture, so I let it sit for a few seconds. THEN, toss it into a bowl of crushed Cap n' Crunch. Kinda press the cereal into the bread. Cook the toast according to your desired doneness. Just be careful not to burn the cereal on the outside of the toast. A little brown is good, black is, uh, burned! Top with maple syrup, and enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Sorry it's been SO LONG since I posted anything. I was pregnant and sick, then sick of being pregnant, and now I'm busy chasing around two three year olds and holding, kissing, snuggling and loving this little guy...

But, I have been cooking a bit, and have a few fun things up my sleeve to share soon.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

P.S. Happy Birthday Jay-Dub! :)