Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Such a treat with summer coming. I am one girl that loves lemon.  It is sweet, and yet tangy.  So good.  These cupcakes are fun and spice up the simple average cupcake.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
1/3 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2-3 drops red food coloring

Mix the cake, concentrate, buttermilk and eggs together.  Once well blended, add in red food coloring.  Pour batter into paper liners and fill about 3/4 full. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. 

Cool completely and frost!

The frosting I put on these is a Lemon Cream Cheese.  It is yummy & matched the pink lemonade flavor.  The more lemon flavoring you put in, the more lemony the frosting will be, of course.  You can also just put a Whipped Cream frosting on these if you don't want any more lemon & tang. 

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese ~ softened
1/2 cup butter ~ softened
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp lemon flavoring
(all depends on how Lemony you want it)
3-5 drops yellow food coloring

Mix cream cheese & butter together till fluffy.  Add in powdered sugar & mix till well blended.  Then add in lemon extract & food coloring.  After all is blended, frost cupcakes!

Yogurt Parfaits

Yes, I know ... I didn't make any of this.  But I did however spend the money.  This is one of my all time favorite snacks.  Ever since I had my youngest child, I {heart}Yogurt Parfaits.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy them before, but for some reason now I love them.  This may sound really weird, but I love the yogurt parfaits at McKay Dee Hospital.  Is that creepy? Some of you are thinking, why not just go to McDonald's, and all I have it one word ... Yuck! The fruit is always frozen or mooshy.  Never fresh. The granola has no flavor.  After my youngest was born, I ate a "homemade" yogurt parfait just about once everyday.  DIVINE

Yogurt Parfait
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 pouch Oats & Honey granola bars ~ crushed up
1/3 cup fresh fruit of choice ~ cut up

Pour yogurt into bowl & add granola & fruit. Enjoy a little breakfast or snack that is refreshing & yummy!

Chicken Roll Ups

My middle child loves to dip foods when she is eating.  This recipe is perfect with her, because it allows her to do so.  My oldest child doesn't really care much for dipping, except when it comes to french fries.  So this yummy recipe also allows her to not dip.  You can put the gravy on the side & dip the roll up.  You can put the gravy on top of the roll up. You can have no gravy with the roll up.  Pleases everyone to their likings.

Chicken Roll Ups
2 large cans chicken
1 can mushrooms ~ size of choice & also optional
8 oz. cream cheese ~ softened
2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls 
1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 tbsp butter ~ melted

Creamy Chicken Gravy
1 cup chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup

Mix chicken & cream cheese together till well blended.  Then add in mushrooms and mix.  Spread chicken mix in crescent rolls and roll up.  Brush melted butter over tops of rolled up crescent rolls.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over tops of rolls. Let sit for about 10 minutes to rise a little.  

Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes.

While crescent rolls are cooking, make your gravy. 

Mix chicken broth & cream of chicken soup together & heat on low till creamy & warm.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Did you know

These are a few of my TOP favorite cooking/baking things ...

Microplane Zester/Grater
The name pretty much says it all.  You can use it for Parmesan, Fresh Coconut, Zest, Fresh Ginger, Garlic, and so much more! 

Spiral Whisk
Amazing for all the gravy making. Just ignore all the other utensils.

Cookie Scooper
I know it looks like an ice cream scoop, but it is just for cookies.  It makes cookies perfectly round & even helps them be a little fluffy.

KitchenAid Mixer
I use this baby for everything. It is a huge help for my bread making. I love it & i don't know how I lived in the kitchen without.


The quality of pictures, as you can tell, is not the best.  I have been shopping for a new camera & will hopefully within the next 2-3 weeks be getting my new one.  Thanks for continuing to check the recipes.  Enjoy them & get excited for some better quality pictures to come!

Winter Smores'

These are fun for kids & it adds a little change.  We have an in ground fire pit and you can always find us using it during the summer.  Now during the winter, it is a different story of course.  Well, I will sometimes find myself getting a little craving for a Smore' during the winter and this recipe does just the trick!

Winter Smores'
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tbsp butter
1 (12 oz) package milk chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1 (12 oz) box Golden Graham cereal
3 cup miniature marshmallows

Grease a 9x13 pan.  pour cereal in a large mixing bowl.  Heat corn syrup, butter and chocolate morsels to a boil.  Remove from heat  and stir in vanilla.  Pour liquid mixture over cereal and toss until well coated.  Fold in marshmallows, 1 cup at a time.  Press into greased pan.  Let stand for 1 hour and then cute into squares.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I got this recipe from a friend & it one a favorite here at our house.  Since one of my kids doesn't like a lot of spice, I can make it as spicy or as little spicy as we want it to be.  The flavors are divine, Plus the colors in the dish are just beautiful.  It is one dish that makes a lot, so have fun & invite someone over.  This also goes great with rolls & a tossed salad.

I do have to apologize about the picture.  I made this for dinner the other night & then had to run off to an LDS Relief Society Meeting, when I got home I realized I still needed to eat & hadn't taken a picture yet.  So it doesn't really show the amazing colors & all. Please forgive me.  

Cajun Chicken Pasta
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts ~ cut into think strips or bite sized pieces
4 tsp. Cajun Season 
(I use a little Creole Seasoning instead)
4 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 large red pepper ~ thinly sliced
1 large green pepper ~ thinly sliced
1 large yellow or orange pepper ~ thinly sliced
1 cup of mushrooms
(You can either do canned sliced ones, or buy fresh & slice them yourself)
1-2 packages linguine noodles ~ cooked & drained
grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 bunch of green onions ~ thinly sliced
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. dried basil 
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a large skillet, over medium heat, saute' chicken in butter, Cajun/Creole Seasoning until almost tender.  Add in all vegetables and cook.  Stire for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat a little, and add in cream.  Heat through.  Add over pasta and toss.  Let sit over a low eat till heated through.  Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. 

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are so rich & yet so yummy.  My hubby loves these just plain & simple.  Me, I love to have them like a little Cookie Sundae.  Put a scoop of ice cream on top with a few toppings of choice. (Hot fudge, Carmel, Chopped nuts, Sprinkles, etc.)

Be prepared ... When making these cookies, ever cookie "patty" has to be shaped by hand.  Therefore, your hands get a little messy.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 stick butter ~ softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
23 oz (2 bags) Milk Chocolate Chips

Cream together brown sugar, sugar, & butter till fluffy.  Add in egg & vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt together.  Slowly add into cream mixture.  Then add in chocolate chips.

Shape cookie patties to be a little bigger than palm on hand & also make a little thin.  If dough is too stick, add a little more flour & then shape. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Bake on Parchment Paper & let cookies completely cool on sheet after baking. 

Makes about 6-8 Cookies

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Whoopie Pies

Also known as Homemade Oreo Cookies. Spice these up by using different fro stings in the middle.
(Lemon, Strawberry, Butter Cream, Cherry, etc)
You can also put different colors in cream cheese frosting & make them fun.
(Red, Purple, Lime Green, Blue, Orange, etc)

Whoopie Pies
2 boxes devil food cake mix
4 eggs
2 tbsp flour
1 cup margarine or butter

Mix all ingredients together.  Batter with be thick & sticky.  Roll batter into balls. about the size of a walnut. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Let cool completely. 

Frost bottom of one cookie & sandwich with the bottom of another.

Shepherd's Pie

This recipe has a little spin on it which is makes it different from all other Shepherd's Pie that I have made/had. It is easy & one good thing about Shepherd's Pie, is that you can pretty much add whatever vegetable to it that you want.

Shepherd's Pie
1 pound hamburger
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 cup carrots - chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup BBQ sauce - flavor of choice
1 can green beans - french cut style
2 cups mashed potatoes
1-2 cups shredded cheddar - depend son how cheesy you like it
3 green onions - sliced (optional)

Cook onion with hamburger while browning. Add in carrots, salt, pepper, sage, ketchup & BBQ sauce.  Stir till it is well mixed.  In a sprayed 9x13 pan, add the meat mixture * spread till pan is even covered.  Add green beans on top of meat.  Then spread mashed potatoes over beans.  Top with cheese & green onions. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

One Skillet Casserole

Try it out before ya write it out.  I know it might sounds kind of "weird" or even odd to some, but it really is a yummy dish.

One Skillet Wonder
1 pound hamburger
5-6 potatoes - thinly sliced
2-3 cups carrots - thinly sliced
1 large onion - thinly sliced
2 cans cream of chicken soup

Brown hamburger in large skillet.  Drain out grease & put hamburger into a large bowl.  In same skillet, put sliced potatoes to cover bottom.  Next, add your sliced carrots on top of potatoes.  On top of the carrots evenly spread hamburger over & then end with onions on top.  Add both cans of soup over the very top of all layers.  

Cover with skillet lid & cook on medium heat for about 30-40  mints, till potatoes, carrots & onions are tender.

Mint Patty Brownie Cupcakes

Who doesn't like chocolate & especially when it involves a little mint?  My kids a blast making these with me, I let them help with unwrapping all the mints & then had them stick a patty in each cupcake. 

Mint Patty Brownie Cupcakes

1 dark chocolate brownie mix - Family size 
*If you don't care for dark chocolate, go ahead & use a regular brownie mix
2 eggs
1.4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup oil
1 bag mint patties

Mix together brownie mix, eggs, water, vanilla and oil.  Stir until moistened.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into every cupcake liner.  Put 1 unwrapped mint into center of each. Put 2 if you want a lot of mint. Top with remaining batter, filling about 3/4 full. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes, until soft - but not wiggly. The middle will be gooey but oh so delicious!

You can either dust cupcakes with powdered sugar or frost.

The frosting I chose to use is Chocolate Butter Cream.  Yum!  Butter Cream frosting is one of my favorites.  It isn't as heavy & "sugary" as others, I think.  
Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter ~ room temperature
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar ~ sifted
3-4 tbsp whipping cream
(Milk will also work)
2 tsp vanilla

Beat butter in bowl until light & fluffy, for about 30 seconds.  Add in coca powder, sugar, 3 tbsp cream and vanilla.  Beat frosting on low speed and add up to 1 more tbsp cream if frosting is too thick.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baker's Substitutions

These are interesting & really good to know. I hope you all keep a copy somewhere so you can check things if needed while cooking/baking. 

Don’t have:                                  Use:
1 cup cake flour                             1 cup minus 2 tbsp
                                                        all purpose flour

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar     1 cup granulated sugar 
                                                        with 2 tbsp molasses

1 tsp baking powder                       1/4 tsp baking soda plus 
                                                        1/2 tsp cream of tarter

1 cup whole milk                           1 cup skim milk plus 
                                                       2 tbsp melted butter

1 cup buttermilk                             1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup (stir & let stand 5 minutes.)

1 cup sour cream                            1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup honey                                   1 1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 2 tbsp liquid

1 cup molasses                                1 cup dark corn syrup or honey

1/2 cup corn syrup                          1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tbsp liquid

1/2 cup raisins                                 1/2 cup currants, dried cranberries, chopped dates or chopped prunes

1 oz (1 square)                                3 tbsps unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tbsp shortening
   Unsweetened chocolate
1 oz (1 square)                                 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tbsp sugar
    Semi-sweetened chocolate                
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips       6 ounces semi-sweet baking chips, chopped

1 tsp fresh grated lemon peel             1/2 tsp dried lemon peel

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice                    Combine 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp ground allspice, & 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Cookie Problems & Solutions

Problem: Dough is too Soft.
Solution: Chill the dough until it is firm enough to handle or add addition tbsps of flour at a time.

Problem: Dough is very crumbly and cracks when rolled.
Solution: if dough feels too cold, let it stand at room temperature until workable. Or add a tbps or two of liquid (milk, cream or water).

Problem: Cookies spread too much.
Solution: Make sure butter is not too soft or partially melted. Chill dough briefly and keep dough refrigerated between batches of baking. Avoid placing dough on/next to hot baking sheets & stove top. As last resort, add 2-3 tbsps of flour to dough, then bake several for testing to check texture.

Problem: Uneven baked cookies.
Solution: Drop or Hand-Formed cookies, the dough should be uniform size & shape. Cutout cookies, the dough must be rolled out in even thickness.  For compensating over hot sports, rotate cookie sheets from top to bottom – front to back during baking.

Problem: Cookies are too dry, dark and/or crisp.
Solution: Use an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your over temperature.  Dry cookies are a result of over-baking.  Dark or too thin of cookie sheets can cause cookies to darken as well.  If baking with dark sheets, reduce over temperature by 25’F.  Too much flour can also make the cookies extra-crisp.

Cookie Fundamentals

Cookie Sheets: 
      Best cookie sheets are ones with little or no sides.  They allow the heat from the oven to circulate easily during baking. Heavy-guage aluminum & light in color are best.  Thin ones “buckle” & dark ones absorb too much heat. Nonstick sheets are not for the all purpose cookie baking. They cause the cookies to “spread” too much.  
      Successful cookie baking is the careful measuring of all ingredients. Level your dry ingredients. Measure wet ingredients on flat surfaces. 
      Ingredients should be at or near room temperature before baking, (unless your recipe calls differently). It helps create a well blended batter/dough. Butter should be slightly firm; give gently to pressure. Eggs should be removed 20-30 minutes before baking. 
Testing for Doneness: 
      Drop cookies - The surface will be lightly brown & a slight imprint will remain after touching. Hand-Formed Cookies - Edges will be lightly browned. 
      Cutout Cookies - Edges will be firm & bottoms lightly browned. 
      Refrigerator Cookies - Edges will be firm & bottoms lightly browned. 
      Fudge-Like Bar Cookies - Surface will appear "dull" and a slight imprint will remain after touching.  Cookie-Like Bar Cookies - Toothpick inserted into center comes out clean & dry.

      Always allow baked cookies to sit on sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Baked Potato Soup

I don't know about all of you, but the last couple days here have been rainy & a little cooler.  What better weather to something warm for dinner.    The other night we enjoyed some of this yummy recipe.Whatever you like on your baked potato, try putting into the soup.  With in reason of course.  I have even put chopped up broccoli in. 

Baked Potato Soup
6 T. butter
2 c. onion, finely chopped
4 T. flour
2 cups chicken broth
6 medium potatoes, cut into bites size pieces
1 package of bacon, only cook half.
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 c. half-and-half 
 *If you don't have Half-and-Half, you can substitute Whole Mike or 2% in.

Garnish options:
Cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions.

Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook a couple minutes.  Then, add in chicken broth. Once the broth is added in & mixed with onions, Add potatoes, salt,  pepper, basil, and garlic salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium/low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in half-and-half (or Milk) and heat through.
With the bacon, I always cook half a package.  Then I crumble it up & add it into the soup, rather then just on top. I also always double this recipe. 

Easiest Fuit Dip

Seriously a recipe that no one can mess up. Really, It is that simple. Only two ingredients & you are done. I love fresh fruit, especially when the weather is getting closer to spring/summer.  But every once in awhile I enjoy a little twist of something different.  This dip is perfect! Quick & delicious.The nice part is, you can really make as much or as little as you want.  Just mix your ingredients to the portions ya want.

1 yogurt (6 oz.) flavor of your choice
1 cool whip (8 oz.)

Mix the two ingredients together. Enjoy with your choice of fruit(s).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming Soon

I had been asked by a handful of friends to start a cooking site.  So, here I am!  I am excited to share the little tricks of cooking & baking that I know &  the recipes of yummy dishes & desserts that I have. Cooking & baking can be intimidating for some, but trying new things is always fun.  
I hope there are recipes that you find to fit your liking. 

Stay tuned for the start of all the postings!