Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken and Dorito Casserole

This is a variation on King Ranch Chicken. This is not my favorite recipe, but Nathan LOVES it. He loves the super saucy chicken and of course he loves Doritos. I haven't made this for probably 9-10 months, I forgot I even had this recipe.

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel brand tomatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese
nacho cheese Doritos

Crush Doritos into large pieces and layer them into the bottom of a 9x13" casserole pan. In a bowl mix soup, Rotel, and chicken. Spread the chicken mixture over the Doritos. Top casserole with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted.

*I've used the cream of chicken soup, Rotel, and shredded chicken as filling for enchiladas before, that and some cheese. It turned out really nice.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana

This is the soup that Alisha made and served at Jenni's shower.

* 1 lb ground Italian sausage
* 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
* 1 large diced white onion
* 4 Tbsp bacon pieces
* 2 tsp garlic puree
* 10 cups water
* 5 cubes of chicken bouillon
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
* ¼ of a bunch of kale

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
3. Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. Delicious!

This photo is from Olive Garden's website.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Southern Cream Dessert

This is such a yummy dessert! My mom use to make it all the time growing up and we loved it! I haven't had it forever, so Justin made if for me this last weekend! He is so sweet! If you are a pudding lover or even if your not, you should try this one!

1 cup flour
1 cube butter melted
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Mix together and press into a 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool crust.

8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups Cool Whip
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat together and pour over cooled crust.

1 pkg. small chocolate instant pudding
1 pkg. small vanilla instant pudding
3 cups milk

Mix together like pudding and pour over cream cheese mixture. Top with cool whip and sprinkle with nuts. (We do half nuts, half without to make everyone happy) Chill.

I think next time we make it, we will double the crust because it was pretty thin and didn't cover the whole pan. Also, I think we might do a banana pudding instead of the vanilla to make it a chocolate banana dessert. You can change it up the way you like it!

Pizza Sauce and Garlic Bread Seasoning

This recipe comes from Our Best Bites. It is so good! I cut the sugar in half because Nate and I aren't huge fans of sweet sauce. It makes for a great dip for garlic bread and it's also really good in calzones.

1 6-oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water (just use the empty tomato paste can)
3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning*
1 Tbsp. sugar (I only use 1/2 Tbsp. we don't like really sweet sauce)
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Empty tomato paste into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly until combined. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and allow to stand until ready to use. Covers two average-sized pizza; freezes extremely well.

*Garlic Bread Seasoning:

combine the following ingredients

1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

This was the second of two new recipes I tried this week.  My little brother and sister were over for the Ute bowl game and they really enjoyed this dish.  Nate loves anything wrapped in bacon, so it was a winner with him too.



1-3 lb. pork tenderloin (you could totally do a bigger roast, it just may take a bit longer to cook)

6-8 slices of bacon

Lawry’s Steak and Chop marinade



Trim any excess fat off tenderloin.  Soak pork in marinade for 4-6 hours.  Once finished marinating, lay tenderloin in roasting pan and lay bacon slices over the top.  Bake  at 350 for 1-1.5 hours, until internal temp reaches 160.  Once finished baking,  place roast under broiler for 2-3 minutes to make bacon crispy.   Let rest 5-10 minutes then slice and serve.

I served this with some buttermilk biscuits and green beans.  I could only find roasts that were a pound, so I bought two since I was serving company

*again, not great pictures, but here you go



Cafe Rio Style Burritos

Nate loves Cafe Rio, I don’t.  This recipe is a nice compromise that we both really liked.  I got the idea from Kuki’s Kitchen.  I am so glad Whitney told me about this site, I have gotten some great meals from there.  

I have to be honest, these turned out really really good.  I didn’t think I would like the green chili sauce but I really did.  I bought the La Victoria brand because it was on sale, and I will continue to buy that kind.  If you like a lot of sauce, use a large can.  The leftovers held up really well too.  I will definitely be making this again!


chicken *, cooked and shredded (I had made a rotisserie style chicken earlier in the week so I shredded my leftovers and used those)

1 can La Victoria mild green chili sauce (I used a small can and it was plenty for the two of us)

Mexican rice (I made my own, recipe is listed here)

Monterey Jack cheese (I had cheddar jack so that’s what I used)

1 can black beans, drained

large flour tortillas

*you could also use shredded beef or pork



Mix chicken, half of the green chili sauce, black beans,  and Mexican rice in a skillet.  Heat through.  Once warm spoon mixture into tortillas, top with cheese and wrap them up like a burrito.  I find it is helpful to warm up the tortillas in the microwave so they are more pliable.  Once you are finished making the burritos, pour remaining green chili sauce over the top of the burritos and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until your cheese is melted. *  

*The website said 30 minutes, but mine were done after 20.



Italian Chicken

Okay folks, this is a super easy recipe!  It was born out of necessity when I didn’t have the ingredients to make teriyaki chicken.  Don’t laugh, it is really simple, but really good.  Nate requests it all the time.


olive oil

1 packet Italian dressing mix

chicken (I almost always make chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins)



Whisk together olive oil and Italian dressing mix until well combined.  Pour mixture into ziploc bag and add chicken.  Coat well and refrigerate until ready to use.   This makes enough marinade for 1-2 lbs. of chicken.  It is really flavorful so I would only marinate the chicken for  30-60 minutes, the longer it sits in the marinade, the stronger the flavor.  We usually cook our chicken on our indoor grill, but you can also use the stove top and it turns out really great!  It makes for a quick and easy meal.


Mexican Rice

Yum! I love Mexican rice. I had tried a few of the box mixes and they were always way too spicy for me. If you like a nice mild Mexican rice that is good as a side dish or as part of a recipe, try this.


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
4 oz. tomato sauce
4 oz. water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained*
½ onion, diced
cilantro (optional)
*you could also substitute a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes instead of the diced tomatoes and the onions if you want more spice

In large skillet (or pot) heat oil over medium/high heat. Add rice. Toast rice, stirring frequently, until tan in color. Then add chicken broth, water, tomato sauce, garlic, tomatoes, onion, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed, keeping lid on. Turn off heat and let stand for another 10 minutes. Fluff rice and serve. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

This recipe is also from Alisha.

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4-5 sweet potatoes (cooked and peeled) OR 1 40-oz can sweet potatoes (I use the canned yams)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup quick oats
Pinch of cinnamon
Miniature marshmallows (as needed)

Mash the sweet potatoes. Add 1/3 cup butter, milk, vanilla and egg. Mix well and transfer into a well greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Prepare the streusel mixture in a plastic bag by mix all of the ingredients together until combined leaving out the marshmallows.
On top of the casserole, alternate the streusel mixture with the miniature marshmallows, making diagonal rows with each. Bake at 350 degrees until the streusel and the marshmallows are golden brown, approximately 30 - 45 minutes.

*If you prefer your sweet potato mixture to be sweeter, you can add ½ to 1 cup of sugar to the potato mixture, along with the butter, milk, vanilla and egg.

**If you are planning on feeding several, you may want to make 2 of these. Everyone will want seconds!

Ginger Snap Cookies

2 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Molasses
4 Cups Flour
4 teaspoons Soda
1 tablespoon Ginger
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt

Cream together the sugar, oil, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients. Roll into 1" balls and roll in sugar. Place on a pan. Cook 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Poppy Seed Chicken

This recipe comes from Alisha. I've heard it is really good.

8 Chicken breast, boiled and cubed
1/2 c. butter
2 Cans cream of chicken
12 oz. sour cream
Mix above ingredients in bowl.

3 c. cooked rice

1-2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/4 c. butter (melted)
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
Mash Ritz, butter, and poppy seeds in bowl.

In 9X13 pamed pan lay down cooked rice. Now mixed chicken and cream of chicken soup mix. Next top with Ritz and Bake for 30 mins in 350 oven.

Monday, December 20, 2010

White Grape Punch

Amanda and I decided to do a hot chocolate party as our gift to the Smith Family this Christmas. It turned out really well! Everyone seemed to have a really good time. In addition to the varieties of hot chocolate we also served this white grape punch. The idea came from Kuki's Kookbook. So easy, and I thought it tasted pretty good.

1 bottle white grape juice
1 (2 L) bottle sprite

Combine juice and sprite in a large punch bowl. Add ice and garnish of your choice.

Steak Bites

So I have been sick for the past 5 days. However, I had already planned my menu with yummy things so I am sticking to my menu and Nate is loving being the guinea pig. Saturday evening I was feeling better and I was really looking forward to these Steak Bites. As soon as I started cutting the steaks I got sick again. Nate assured me that dinner was so good though, I served the steak bites with garlic bread and salad. He gave it an 11 on a scale of 1-10. I think I will have to make these again soon so I can try them. I adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

sirloin steak or 1 pkg. pre-cut beef tips
Kosher salt
black pepper (I used Lawry's seasoned pepper)
steak seasoning (optional, I added a bit of Montreal Steak seasoning)
2 Tbsp. butter

Trim fat and membranes off of meat. Cut meat into 1” cubes.
Add salt, pepper, and seasoning to meat. Toss to coat thoroughly.
Turn on your ventilation fan overhead. Heat the skillet over medium high to high heat. As the pan heats, add about 2 Tbsp. butter to the skillet. The point here is to allow the butter to melt, then brown, before you add the meat.
Place some of the meat in the pan in a single layer. It should sizzle loudly when it hits the pan – if it doesn’t, the pan isn’t hot enough. Don’t stir or disrupt the meat until ready to flip. You want it to sizzle and brown on one side. Now scoop as many steak bites as you can with your spatula and flip them over. Repeat until all the meat is turned. Cook just long enough to sear the outside of the meat. Cook longer for medium-well.
When meat is finished and plated, pour remaining butter from pan all over the meat. Nate had the butter poured over his steak and he said it was delicious! I am not sure I would want it.

*I only eat my beef medium-well, or well done. If you like you beef done that way, be sure and cook it a bit longer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

French Dip Sandwiches

We had these sandwiches for dinner tonight and they were really good! My roast was falling apart when I took it out of the crock pot. I cooked it the full 10 hours and it was super moist and tender. I am going to use the leftover meat in another dish later on this week. This recipe comes from Our Best Bites.

1 2.5-3 lb. beef roast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1-ounce packages dry onion soup mix
2 c. water
2 cans beef broth
6-8 large buns (or more...6 would be VERY generous servings!)
Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and rub roast with salt and pepper.
When very hot, carefully place roast in pan and sear on all sides. You're not cooking the meat, you're just browning it quickly on all sides to add flavor and seal in the juices.
Place in crock pot and sprinkle with onions soup mix. Pour water and beef broth over roast.
Cook 8-10 hours on low or cook 4-5 hours on high and another 3-4 hours on low. You know it's done when you pop a fork in it and the meat just falls apart. When meat is ready, shred with a fork.
Place meat in crusty rolls. Top with cheese and broil open-faced in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.
Ladle juices into small cups for dipping and enjoy!

*Nate ate his sandwich with cheese and loved it, I ate my plain and I thought it was so good. I am trying to be better about taking pictures of my cooking, I took pictures of the beef and the aux jus after cooking. I totally forgot to take pictures of the sandwiches though. Oops!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bacon and Onion Fingerling Potatoes

Oh goodness, these are good. Super unhealthy, but good. We had them for dinner just a few nights ago and Nate already wants me to make them again! These are definitely good, but they are going to have to be special occasion potatoes at our house. I adapted this recipe from Picky Palate.

1 lb. fingerling potatoes (or chopped russet potatoes)
½ lb. bacon, sliced into ½” pieces
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. reserved bacon drippings
½ cup onion, diced
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ - 1 Tbsp. parsley flakes

Boil potatoes for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and slice lengthwise if using fingerlings. If using russets, peel, chop, and boil.
Cook bacon until crispy in a deep pan. When browned and crisped transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but 2 Tbsp. of bacon drippings. Place the 2 Tbsp. back into the pan along with the butter until melted over a medium heat. Add onions; saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sliced potatoes, cooked bacon, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir then reduce heat to low to keep warm. Ready to serve. Makes 4 servings.

Okay, this is a lousy picture, but you get the idea

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crock Pot Pepper Steak

Nate and I love PF Changs. His favorite dish is their Pepper Steak. I have to admit, I find cooking Chinese food to be a little intimidating, so when I found this easy crock pot recipe I knew I had to try it. This is my adaptation from a Rachael Ray recipe. I am not a fan of Rachael Ray, but we really liked this recipe. I halved the amount of meat for the two of us, but left the rest of the recipe the same. I served this with basmati rice.

3 lbs. beef sirloin
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. ginger, grated (I left this out)
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1.5 Tbsp. brown sugar
¾ cup soy sauce
ground black pepper, to taste
cooked rice

In a large skillet, sear the meat in some oil until nice and brown on both sides. Remove the steak to a cutting board and slice the steak into 1-inch thick strips.
Place the sliced steak into the crock-pot bowl, then dust the meat with cornstarch and mix the meat around until there is no more visible cornstarch.
Add the remaining ingredients to the crock-pot, then place a lid on top and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
Serve on top of cooked rice. Makes 6-8 servings.

*I forgot to buy ginger, so I didn't add it. Also, I cut into my red pepper and it didn't look great, so I didn't add that either. The recipe still turned out great. I did take pictures, but they aren't the greatest. This tastes a lot better than the pictures look.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

3 chicken breasts (cubed or shredded)
3 small cans of cream of chicken soup
12 oz sour cream
2 C. cheese (we like to get the mexican or fiesta blend)
1 small can of green chilis
6 tortillas

  • Cook your chicken and salt and pepper to taste
  • preheat oven to 375degrees
  • mix together 2 cans of cream of chicken, sour cream, 1 C. cheese, and green chilis
  • in the bottom of your pan your pan spread the remaining can of cream of chicken  (picture below)

  • put 3 spoonfuls of mixture in 1 tortilla and a few peices of chicken and roll it up
(continue this till all tortillas are filled up) 
(leave some of the mixture to put on the top)
(picture below)

  • top it off with the rest of the mixture (like you did on the bottom)
  • then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (pitcure below)

  • cover with tinfoil except the corner (to vent)
  • cook 25 min with tinfoil on
  • remove the tinfoil and cook another 10 min

(finished enchiladas, we cut them in half to get them out of the pan easier)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Menu for December 8- December 15

Okay, here is my menu for the next week, I am trying several new recipes. I'll let you know how it goes! I am really really excited!

Wednesday: Smashed Sandwiches

Thursday: Mexican Lasagna and Corn

Friday: Italian Chicken with Bacon and Onion Roasted Fingerling Potatoes (potatoes are new recipe)

Saturday: Lunch- Chinese Chicken Salad
Dinner- Durfee Family Party

Sunday: Brunch- Breakfast Casserole and Donut Muffins (muffins are new recipe)
Dinner- Pepper Steak and Basmati Rice (new recipe)

Monday: Chicken Tomato Linguine (new recipe)

Tuesday: Potato Soup and Breadsticks

Wednesday: French Dip Sandwiches (new recipe) and Fruit Salad

Some times I feel like it takes forever to put a menu together. I don't like to have the same protein several night in a row, I like to try and have one vegetarian meal in the mix, and I like to try and get the prep work done ahead of time. For example, I will cook all my chicken for the week on Friday. Then it makes my Chinese Chicken Salad and Chicken Tomato Linguine super easy to throw together. I put those meals on my busier days. The Pepper Steak recipe is one that goes in the crock pot so that will be easy (it's a new recipe I'm trying, so hopefully all goes well). Anyway, I am really trying to add some new things to my dinner rotation. I would love it if you guys would share your menus to give me some ideas! Happy cooking!

Potato Soup

Oh my gosh, potato soup is one of my absolute favorite things. My Grandma Olson (my mom's mom) is the best cook. I love her potato soup. For some reason I don't have her recipe so I experimented a little bit with a recipe from Kuki's Kookbook and here is what I came up with.

6 medium russet potatoes
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup bacon or ham, cooked (optional)
3 tsp. Lawry's seasoning salt (Nate likes things really salty, so you may not need this much, it also turns you soup to an off white color, so if you want it white, just add regular salt)
1/2 tsp. celery salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups hot milk

Wash and peel potatoes. Cut them into pieces. Boil until fork tender, I always add a little salt to my water when I boil potatoes. In a large pot, saute onions in the butter until they are translucent. Add seasoning salt, freshly ground pepper, and celery salt to the onions, combining them thoroughly. In a separate pot, heat milk until hot. Add the boiled potatoes to the onion mixture. Stir in heavy cream and the hot milk. Once combined, add frozen corn and ham (if you want ham). You don't need to defrost or cook the corn, it will cook in the soup. After everything is added bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Don't turn down your heat, I made that mistake and my soup didn't thicken. Mix in cooked and crumbled bacon just before serving. Serve immediately! I think it keeps well and that the leftovers are really good.

Click to enlarge the recipe card. Once enlarged, right-click to save.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

1 Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 Cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
Ingredients on cake mix instructions

Make cake according to mix instructions. After the batter has been beaten, add the mayo and mix well. Grease and flour two round cake pans (8" or 9"). Pour batter equally into the two pans. Bake at the temp and time indicated on the mix. Cool on a rack upside down until completely cool.

It is important that the cake always be used upside down from now on!

Once cool, the cake can be frosted or frozen, (still upside down). If frozen,wrap in foil after it is frozen hard. Because the mix makes two cakes often freezing one for later works well. Cake can be frozen for 3 to 4 weeks. Cake can be thawed by sitting at room temperature, or thawed in the microwave. If the cake is slightly cool it works better with the frosting than if it is hot.

Once ready to frost, put the cake on several sheets of wax paper as the frosting is liquid and runs, it can make a mess.

Frosting for one cake:
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 Tbs. light corn syrup
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1 tube white glossy decorating gel

Melt chocolate. Stir in corn syrup. The consistency will change. Add the cream and stir well. The consistency will change again! Quickly pour onto the cake. Quickly spread on top and sides with a spatula or knife. Quickly draw a line with the shite gel across the center of the cake. This line now becomes the east-west center line. Make several parallel lines above and below the center line, all running east-west. Now using a long knife, drag the knife across the cake running north to south starting on the edge of the cake and work your way back and forth across the cake. You will have a beautiful feather pattern.

The cake is ready to eat or it can sit for several hours in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator. Do not put plastic wrap on this cake because it lifts the frosting right off!

Now, that is the end of my friend Melinda's recipe... Now I will tell you what I do! I love to make it a two layer cake so I double the frosting and put it in the middle of the cake. Then I put whipped cream on top of the frosting. Next comes the second layer of cake. Finish it off with the frosting (to die for) and make your design with the white gel! I often make 2 cake mixes and put them in my large cookie sheets to have a giant cake... which disappears quickly. I have found that if I freeze the cake right in the pan and take it out right before I am ready to use it, I am more successful with the frosting! ENJOY!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Last Things

Sorry for the overload on posting. Are you all sick of me yet? Hopefully not, and hopefully some one else will post soon, so then you see their post first! Anyway, I just had to share that I made calzones this week with the Pantry Secrets bread recipe. Best calzones over! Oh my gosh, they were really good, you should try them!

Second, if you are looking for new and healthy recipes, try Taste of Home. They have the nutritional information at the bottom of the recipe. I've found some really good looking dinners for less than 250 calories a serving. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Banana Crumb Muffins

These are the muffins that I brought when we dipped strawberries for Brandon's wedding. A few people wanted the recipe.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted

Crumb Topping-
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 375 and line or grease muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl beat together bananas, egg, sugar, and salt. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. In a small bowl mix brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, and cinnamon. Cut in 1 Tbsp. butter and mix. Sprinkle over tops of muffins. Bake for 16-19 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

*I like to add my crumb topping halfway through baking

Costa Vida Chicken

Okay, I tried this recipe and it is good. Personally, I would not put it back in the crock pot for the extra hour. It made the chicken too strongly flavored I thought. However, Nate really really like it the way it was. I got this recipe fromReal Mom Kitchen.

1 (16 oz.) bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 skinless, boneless chicken breast

Cook all together in a crock pot on low for 4 hours, shred meat and cook 1 additional hour. This recipe makes a lot so you can do have or freeze the leftovers for another meal.

Swiss Steak

This is another recipe passed down to me by my Grandma Olson. I love the flavor of the sauce.

2 lbs. round steak, cut into serving size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cups celery, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water

Season meat with salt and pepper and roll in flour. Sear meat on both sides. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. I serve mine over egg noodles, but it can all be served over rice or potatoes.

Strawberries 'n Cream Cupcakes

I made these for Stephanie's 19th birthday party. They are a nice variation on plain white cupcakes and they have just a hint of strawberry flavor. I found this recipes on the Betty Crocker website.

1 box white cake mix
1 1/4 cups strawberry flavored soda
vegetable oil and egg whites as called for on the the cake mix box
frosting of your choice, I think a white frosting looks best with the pink cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Make and bake cake mix as directed on box for 24 cupcakes, substituting the strawberry soda for water, and using oil and egg whites. Cool in pan 10 minutes, and then remove and let cool. Once completely cook, frost cupcakes.

Pepperoni and Meatball Lasagna

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I adapted this recipe from one of Guy Fieri's. I really like his show Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, but I cannot stand his cooking show. I found this recipe and knew I had to try it. It is just a nice variation on plain old lasagna.

Basically you make your lasagna the same way you always do except, substitute cooked beef meatballs for your ground beef or sausage. I slice the meatballs in half so they lay flat. Since meatballs are so thick I just do one layer of them. On the top of your lasagna, after you sauce it, you are going to put on pepperoni. Before you add the pepperoni cook it up in a pan until it crisps up then add to the top of the lasagna and bake like normal. It is a fun new way to liven up your lasagna.

*in our house we like turkey meatballs and turkey pepperoni

Nate's Favorite Steak Marinade

Nate has searched high and low for a good marinade recipe. After much trial and error this is what we've come up with. I mix the marinade when I get up in the morning and let the meat marinate all day. This is a definite husband pleaser!

1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 sliced onion
1 clove minced garlic

Just whisk the wet ingredients together and add the pepper and vegetables. Add meat and let marinate. I turn meat every 2 hours or so just so it's evenly coated.

Oreo Truffles

I got this recipe from Bakerella. This recipe is pretty easy and it is definitely a crowd pleaser.

1 package oreo cookies, divided (including the cream center)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
white chocolate bark

Finely crush cookie parts in a food processor. Stir in softened cream cheese. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Place them into the freezer for a few minutes to help them firm up. Melt bark in a double boiler and dip balls into chocolate, set aside on cookie sheet to dry. Refrigerate once dry. Makes about 36 truffles.

I gave these out as neighbor gifts two Christmases ago.

Mother Goose Popcorn

This recipe comes from my grandma. When I first got married she sent me a cookbook filled with recipes for cooking for just two people. She also sent me a bunch of her personal recipes all typed up on this fluorescent yellow paper that I keep still. I've got them all filed away in plastic sleeves in my recipe binder. I love them. This particular recipe is one that I can remember eating even as a little girl. My siblings and I used to argue over who got to pick the color. My grandma would make batches so large we would have to mix them in an old baby bathtub she had. I hope you enjoy this treat!

3 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup granulated sugar
food coloring

Cook to softball (1 minute after boiling). Pour over popped corn. Mix until evenly coated.

Nate's Favorite Chocolate Pudding Pie

I had a request from Nate to make a chocolate pie. He said he wanted the kind made with pudding. So after a couple of experiments, this is what I came up with.

1 1/4 cups cold milk
2 packages chocolate instant pudding
1 (8 oz.) package of fat free whipped topping, thawed
1 pre-made graham cracker crust

In a large mixing bowl, mix milk and pudding mixes with wire whisk. Don't worry, the mixture is supposed to be really thick. Mix in the whipped topping. Carefully spread onto graham cracker crust. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Roasted Red Peppers

Nate hates leftovers so I always have to be careful to cook just the right amount or it will be thrown away. When Nate asked me to try this recipe I told him that there would be leftovers, but he still agreed to try it. He LOVES this meatloaf. He took leftover meatloaf to work for lunch for several days and said it still tasted amazing. This is actually the first and only meatloaf I've made since we have been married. I found this recipe online at Nook and Pantry, I just adjusted a few things to fit Nate's taste.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp worcestershire
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
pinch of salt
vegetable oil
McCormick Grill Mate's Hamburger seasoning, a few good shakes
6 - 8 slices of bacon

Roast your bell pepper. I don't have a gas range so I used my broiler. You have to cut the pepper so it lays flat and place it on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet right under to broiler and cook until the pepper skin gets black and blisters. Once the pepper is done set it aside until it is cool enough to handle and then peel off and discard the skin. Finely dice the pepper.

Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook onions and pinch of salt until the onions are translucent and soft. Then add the garlic and cook until warm and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine all the ingredients excluding the meat in a large mixing bowl. Once they are well mixed add the ground beef being careful to not over mix or else your meat will be tough.

Form the meat into a loaf shape on the baking sheet and cover with bacon.

Bake for about an hour, until bacon is crisp and the internal temp of the beef is 165 F.

Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Easy Bean Dip

Okay, seriously, this is hardly even a recipe. But I promise it makes refried beans taste much much better. This is the only way Nate will eat refried beans now.

1 can refried beans (Nate like the fat-free Taco Bell brand)
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning (again, Nate likes the Taco Bell brand)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix beans and taco seasoning and heat through. I have a little crock-pot designed for dips that I use. You can also do it right on the stove too. Once warm add in the shredded cheese and cook until melted. Serve warm with your favorite tortilla chips! If a recipe calls for refried beans, I always make them this way and then add them to the recipe.

Basmati Rice

Ever since we tried Basmati rice, it is the only rice I use. It is so much better than regular rice. It smells amazing and tastes amazing. You can find it in regular grocery stores or in bulk at Sam's Club, (I haven't checked Costco for it). Here is how I cook mine.

Rinse rice and then soak in cold water for 20-30 minutes. Drain before cooking. Cook rice at a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 ½ cups water. Add water and rice to pot, I also add seasoning salt and a little bit of butter, cover with a tight fitting lid and bring to boil. Once rice comes to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for 12-14 minutes. DO NOT disturb rice while cooking! Remove saucepan from heat and let stand covered for 5-10 minutes. Once finished, fluff rice and serve!

Brazilian Lemonade

Oh my gosh, it tastes just like Tucano's! We love it, but I only make it on special occasions because of the sugar content. Also, it doesn't do well left over. Drink it as soon as you make it! This recipe is from Our Best Bites.

4 juicy limes (try and find the ones with thin, smooth skins. they’re the juiciest and the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
1 cup sugar
6 cups cold water
6 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk

Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.
Wash limes thoroughly. Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.
Place ½ of the limes in your blender, skins and all.
Add ½ of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and sugar water. Add sweetened condensed milk. Serve immediately over lots of ice. Serves 4.

Creamy Salisbury Steak

I have been trying a bunch of new recipes lately and this is one both Nate and I really enjoyed. It is from Real Mom Kitchen, and I chose it because I had all the ingredients on hand. I have to admit, I didn't really know what salisbury steak was. I had only heard of it in tv dinners. Like I said, I had the ingredients already so we gave it a try. We love this dinner. It is so good, one of Nate's all time favorites.

2 lbs. ground beef
1 package onion soup mix
½ cup cracker crumbs
1 egg
2 (0.75 oz.) brown gravy mixes
1 cup sour cream
egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes to serve steak with

Make hamburger patties using ground beef, cracker crumbs, egg, and soup mix. Fry or grill until patties are browned on both sides.
While the hamburgers are cooking, mix together the brown gravy, the water required on the package, and whisk in the sour cream.
Spray a 9x13” pan with nonstick spray and lay cooked patties in the pan. Cover the patties with the sour cream and gravy mixture.
Bake covered, at 350 for 30-40 minutes, turning the patties halfway through. Serve with egg noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.

*I halve the meat portion of this recipe for Nate and me. I keep the sauce the same because Nate loves having lots of sauce. I make 4 patties and so we have enough for leftovers, I also use fat-free sour cream.

Creamy Cheesecake

This is the recipe for the cheesecake that I brought to our last beading party. It is from Our Best Bites. Nate loves cheesecake and I tried a ton of different recipes before I found one he loved. Here is the winning recipe.

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
½ tsp. cinnamon

2 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened (NOT low-fat or fat-free)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
3 cup sour cream (NOT low-fat or fat-free)

Preheat oven to 375. Combine crust ingredients and gently pat into bottom of 9” springform pan. Set aside
Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth and then add the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Add in the sugar, salt, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high for 3 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl often. Make sure mixture is completely smooth. Add the sour cream and mix well. Pour batter into springform pan and set pan inside a turkey roasting bag. Place the wrapped pan into a larger baking or roasting pan and fill the pan with water so it comes up about ¾ of the side of the spring form pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until filling is custard-like. The center shouldn’t be completely set, it should kind of jiggle like firm jello, but it shouldn’t be liquidy either. Just don’t overbake. Turn off heat and crack the oven door and allow cheesecake to stand for another 20 minutes inside the oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours. DON’T remove springform pan until cake has set for 8 hours.

I've also made this cheesecake in individual springform pans. Nate prefers his cheesecake plain, his grandpa requests strawberry glaze.

Nate's Favorite Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I've had lots of people ask me for this recipe. Here you go!

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup peanut butter (Nate prefers creamy, not chunky)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 ½-3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (6 oz.) milk chocolate chips
2 cups Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped

Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and then gradually add to the wet mixture. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped Reese’s.
Drop cookies 2” apart on a cookie sheet, I always use a cookie scooper to shape my cookies. Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Makes a ton!

Lion House Rolls

2 c. warm water
2/3 c. nonfat dry milk (instant)
2 T. yeast
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. salt
1/3 c. shortening (or butter/marg.)
1 egg
5-5 1/2 c. flour

I will paraphrase to make this easier. Put your yeast in your warm water in your mixing bowl. Add your sugar to the yeast mixture. Sugar feeds yeast and makes it work faster. Salt kills yeast so you may want to wait to add that. Dissolve the instant milk in the yeast mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients except only half of the flour. Mix well. Continue to add the flour until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Mix for several minutes. The more you mix bread dough the more the gluten works up which is good for bread (bad for cookies, cakes etc.) Put dough in greased bowl and then turn it over which greases the top. Let it rise until doubled in size. Now you're ready to roll out and cut into desired shapes. Place on greased baking dish and put in warm place until doubled in size. (About 1-1 1/2 hours) Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes! Makes about 2 dozen rolls.

The Redneck's Best Caramels

I should put a disclaimer that I don't really know what I'm doing but...I do know from a failure last year that here in Utah the boiling point is 202 degrees which is 10 degrees lower so when you cook your caramel it says to cook it to 248 degrees but you will want to adjust that to 238 degrees. I will post the recipe exactly as it appears in the recipe I recieved. Try not to be put off by the name. It is just easier than regular caramel recipes. This is actually doubled so feel free to half it if that is better for you.

The Redneck's Best Caramels (Should I change that to "Redhead's...)

2 c. sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 c. light corn syrup
3 c. whipping cream or heavy cream
2 t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients except the vanilla. Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 248 degrees. Remove from stove and stir in vanilla. Pour into BUTTERED dish (9x13). You can add nuts if desired! Cool with dish on baking rack. Cut into desired sized pieces and wrap in wax paper.