food

Tasty Tuesday: Cake Mix Cookie Bars

Ok this is a recipe that I have made for years!! I have been making it since before the turn of the century… wow that sound strange and like it was EONS and EONS ago. I found this recipe back in the early 90s on the side of a box of Funfetti Cake Mix.

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It is the easiest cookie, or in this cake cookie bar to make. Also, you can make it so many different ways and I’ve yet to have one I didn’t like!

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 2 eggs
  • mix-ins (optional)
  • frosting (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Mix the cake mix, oil and eggs. (add mix-ins if using)
  3. Form into balls
  4. Flatten slightly
  5. Bake for 6-8 min or until the edges start to brown
  6. let cool and then frost

I was being lazy today and decided to make them into cake mix cookie bars. I baked them in an 8×8 pan that I sprayed with non-stick spray. Then I baked them at 350 for 22 min.

Today I made confetti (Colby’s favorite) and triple chocolate (that’s what I had, but devil’s food is my favorite chocolate for these)

Some of my favorite combinations:

  • devil’s food cake mix, peanut butter chips, vanilla frosting
  • yellow cake mix, chocolate chips, chocolate frosting
  • spice cake mix, cream cheese frosting
  • lemon cake mix, lemon frosting
  • devil’s food cake mix, mint frosting
  • strawberry cake mix, strawberry frosting
  • yellow cake mix, peanut butter chips

This was a go to recipe when the boys were wanting to help bake cookies. It is simple to measure, mix and create. It also allowed them to create their own combinations. Colby loves to take and make funfetti cookies and then add peanut butter chips and more sprinkles to his. Blake typically will make devil’s food and then add more chocolate to his cookies.

I’m not sure I like them as much as bars as I do cookies. They are very tender and don’t feel as much like cookies as I expected, but they still taste yummy!P1070755

 

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food · reviews

Baked Potato Soup

Since life is cold here in PA, we have been eating more soup in our house. My sons did not grow up eating soup, when you live in Orlando, you don’t really need to eat soup. Over the years they had tried a few different soups, but since they didn’t eat it often they didn’t really ask for soup ever.

Since we’ve moved here I’ve been trying to make at least one batch of soup a week. Both boys tried my Baked Potato Soup the last time we went to Panera Bread, so I decided to test out a Copy Cat Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup recipe last week.

I pretty much followed the recipe as written with a few minor changes. I used a whole small sweet onion that I diced finely. I also used teeny tiny potatoes, have you seen these? I cooked them whole instead of chopping up a baking potato. The final thing I did was use chicken stock instead of broth and leave out the chicken stock base. Ok so there were some changes, but they weren’t major…??

Once the potatoes were cooked I broke them up and left them in large chunks in the soup (my downfall with Colby, but I’ll get to that later).

We had this with grilled cheese, what is better than grilled cheese and soup?

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Reviews:

Blake really enjoyed the soup. He ate a whole bowl of it and actually licked the bowl clean. Image result for 4 stars

Colby didn’t like the soup. He liked the broth, but didn’t like the chunks of potatoes. He said it would have been better if I had used my “boat motor” to break it down into a smoother soup. Image result for 1 stars

Richard said it looked like a bowl of mashed potatoes, but then really enjoyed eating the soup. He felt it needed more bacon than I put in it, but Colby had eaten most of the bacon we had so I only had 2 pieces to add to the soup… I agree that more bacon would have made it better.  Image result for 3 stars

I really enjoyed this soup and will make it again. Next time, I will cook chopped up bacon in my sauce pan and then use the fat from that to cook the onions. This will add more bacon goodness into the soup. I will also blend it into a smoother soup so that maybe Colby will eat it? Image result for 4 stars

food

Tasty Tuesday: Ricotta Meatballs

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I had bought ricotta to make lazy lasagna a week or so ago. When I was getting it the 32oz container was on sale for the same price as the 16oz one…. ummm I think I’ll take the 32oz thank you very much.

This meant I then had 16 oz of ricotta cheese leftover. I didn’t want to make another stuffed pasta dish, ok I would have easily ate more stuffed pasta, but I needed to admit that something else would probably be a better option.

I decided to start looking for something to make with the ricotta and came across ricotta meatballs. I wasn’t 100% sold on any of the recipes I read, so I decided to make my own!

So here it is:

  • 1 1/2 lb of ground beef (I had 80/20 that I got on sale)P1070299
  • 2 eggs
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs (more if needed)
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion flakes
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • S& P
  • Jar of sauce
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl… get in there with your hands they are the best tool for this job
  3. Roll into golf ball size balls
  4. Place balls into a 9×13 pan
  5. Pour the whole jar of sauce over the top
  6. Bake 25-30 min or until balls reach an internal temp of 165

I baked mine a bit short and then put it into the Crockpot with homemade spaghetti sauce then then let them get happy in that hot bath.

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We had them served over rotini pasta.

Reviews:

Blake ate 3 of the meatballs and didn’t finish his pasta, so I guess that was a success for him. He said they were really good 9cfe6-3252c0

Colby barely touched his meatball, but put away a HUGE portion of pasta. Colby is a pasta hound and this doesn’t shock me at all about him. He didn’t have anything negative to say about the meatballs, but just didn’t seem to groove on them. Image result for 2 stars

I thought they were good. I missed the crust I typically get when I pan fry the meatballs before baking them. I was afraid they would fall apart if I tried to fry them. They were really soft, but I didn’t want to add too more breadcrumb, I can’t stand when meatballs are tough from too much filler. I think if I make them again, I will use fresh onion and garlic,. I will use just one egg and maybe a bit less ricotta, then they won’t be so soft and I can fry them. 9cfe6-3252c0

(Richard wasn’t home when we had these, so he couldn’t review them)

 

 

food

Tasty Tuesday- Taco Pizza Rolls

Way back before Colby crashed and busted open his mouth, I had Taco Pizza Rolls on the menu. Since we hadn’t made the dish before, and Colby couldn’t bite into food at that time, we pushed the dish aside.

Well, his mouth is doing better, still watching a few of his teeth, but at least they are pretty much aligned again. So, we decided to bring the dish back onto the menu this week.

When I unrolled the pizza dough I thought it was way too thick, so I rolled it out.. this may have been my downfall. I also make my own taco mix. I would share the recipe, but it is sort of add a dash of this and a pinch of that. But, I wonder if I left the meat a bit chuckier than they did. When I went to roll this, there was no rolling into nice neat rolls that I could cut up.

So I baked it more like a stromboli. This didn’t prevent it from oozing everywhere, but it was better than if I’d try to cut it open. P1070221

All four of us enjoyed this. Richard wished it was spicier, but that isn’t a surprise, I can’t make it spicy or the boys won’t eat it.

Blake ate 2 pieces of it. Colby almost ate his whole slice. He picked an end and left just the space that had all crust.

If I made this again, I would use fresh pizza dough and treat it like a stromboli on purpose. I would also make sure I had more taco toppings like lettuce and tomatoes to add on when you are eating, if you so choose.

I project we will make this one again!

Taco Pizza Rolls

Ingredients
1/2 lb ground beef
1 can Pillsbury™ refrigerated pizza crust
2 tablespoons Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix (from 1-oz package)
3 tablespoons water
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Optional toppings: lettuce, tomato, sour cream, onion, and guacamole

Step 1 Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Step 2 In a medium skillet, cook and brown beef until no longer pink. Drain. Add
taco seasoning and water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Set aside and cool slightly
before using.
Step 3 Take pizza dough out of its package and unroll it onto a at
surface.
Slightly roll or press the pizza dough out into a rectangle.
Step 4 Add the taco meat evenly on top of the pizza dough. Sprinkle the cheese
evenly on top

food

Tasty Tuesday- Mexican Meatza

Welcome back Tasty Tuesday! As promised on Sunday. I have a recipe for you.

This weekend I decided to make a dish that I haven’t made in a longggg time. That is Mexican Meatza. This is a Rachael Ray recipe. She calls it this because she describes it as Mexican pizza, but it’s not really.IMG_20171105_174839.jpg

Mexican meatza is taco meat on top of corn bread.  Yep!  You read that correctly. In the past I used this as a party dish because it is easy to make and super yummy. I think it became one of those we’ve had this too many times so now I never make it recipes. I recently purchased/received cast iron pans to go on my gas stove. I decided that having a cast iron skillet was a good reason to break out the meatza recipe again. So I did!

I baked the corn bread in the cast iron pan following the directions on the package, I used Jiffy Corn Muffin mix.

IMG_20171105_173657.jpgThen I made my taco meat. I make my own seasoning mix, but you can easily use a package or follow the seasoning on Rachael’s recipe. I added in onions and cubanelle peppers (that’s what  kind I had), but I put them through the grater on my food processor. This way the boys wouldn’t whine and pick out all the pieces.

When the corn bread is baked, top with the cooked meat and cheese. Pop it back into the oven for 5 min or until the cheese is ooey-gooey.

I serve with salsa and sour cream. You could also serve with lettuce, tomatoes, raw onions, jalapenos… anything you put on your tacos.

 

In the past, I have made this in an 8×8 or 9×13 depending on how many people I was serving. I never had an issue with serving it. When I made it in the cast iron pan, the layer of meat didn’t stay on top of the cornbread when I served it. The picture above was my slice, the only one that remotely stayed together. Next time I’m gong to put some of the cheese between the cornbread and the meat… glue!

 

Reviews!

Richard and I really enjoyed this. Richard wished it was a bit spicier since the cornbread adds a layer of sweetness. I didn’t add as much heat since I was feeding it to the boys. Typically I would add jalapenos and red pepper flakes to the taco mix for this to kick it up a notch.

Blake tried the cornbread, but didn’t like it. He did eat all the taco meat off the top.

Colby had a mini meltdown when he was served this and threatened to top it all with ketchup even when I told him he didn’t have to have the cornbread. He did end up eating the taco meat with nacho chips, but not totally willingly. I think he was having an off night, so I wouldn’t totally take his opinion at face value. 🙂

 

food

Chili it’s what’s for dinner, when it’s chilly!

Last night was was cool, OK well for us it was cold, but for the rest of the folks in this area of the world it was cool. It was in the 50’s for a high yesterday. So, I decided that was a great opportunity to make chili for dinner.

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I think chili is one of those meals that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. The way I make my chili is is loaded with veggies, made with ground turkey and well just yummy. It is one of those dishes that is never really made the same way, but always tastes good.

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This is my chili recipe that I posted on Facebook back in 2009. I can say that I don’t make it exactly like this each time, but there is a lot of things I do always do.

Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 medium bell peppers
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 large jalapeño (I used 1 un-seeded and ½ seeded in each batch)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • grill seasoning
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • coriander
  • red pepper flakes
  • chili powder
  • hot sauce
  • EVOO
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 10 oz can of RoTel diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro
  • bar-b-que sauce ( I use Bull’s Eye Guiness)
  • 1 bottle of beer (I used Long Hammer IPA)
  • 1-2 chipolte in adobo sauce
  • fresh cilantro
  • frozen corn

brown ground turkey in pan. When almost cooked season with seasonings. Add EVOO and hot sauce and bell peppers, onions, and carrots. When almost soft, add in jalapeño and garlic.

Add 1 bottle of beer to deglaze the pan. Let this cook out for a min or two then add in tomato sauce and bar-b-que sauce.

Let this cook down about 4-5 minutes . Add in the rest of the tomatoes and chipolte.

Let simmer… the longer the better!

10 minutes before serving add in corn.

Top with cilantro just before serving

 

This version that I had last night didn’t have bbq sauce, hot sauce,corn, or chipote in adobo because I didn’t have them at home. This also made it less spicy since I didn’t have two ingredients that make it spicy in it. You can add or subtract whatever you like or don’t like. the idea is to make a hearty yet healthy meal.

I also made pasta last night and put the chili over it. I may have mixed it all together for the pictures, and cause it tastes good that way. Typically we have it with just chips and cheese. Occasionally I’ll top mine with sour cream as well.

 

food

Tasty Tuesday– Root Beer BBQ Chicken

When I was making my menu for this week I was originally going to make mock Chick-fil-A chicken, but well I didn’t have all the right ingredients soooo… I went searching for a different recipe.

I found a recipe for Root Beer grilled chicken wings. Well, I wasn’t making wings and I don’t have a way to grill. I decided to make my own version of the bbq sauce and chicken breast in the oven.

Root Beer BBQ sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cup Root BeerP1070129.JPG
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays
  • 1 Tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 tsp ground onion
  • 1 tsp ground garlic

I mixed all the ingredients together.

P1070138.JPGI then put about 1/2 the mixture into a pot to reduce. This will be used as bbq sauce on the cooked chicken.

 

P1070134.JPGThe rest I used to marinade the chicken and cooked the chicken in the mixture.

I baked the chicken at 350 for 25 minutes, they were cut into thin-ish strips.  Cook until the chicken is done!

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The chicken turned out yummy. The marinade wasn’t super sweet, but was a nice balance between sweet and spice (from the mustard).

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Both boys started eating just the chicken and didn’t want to try the sauce, but I did get them to to try the thickened sauce.

Reviews!

Blake liked this meal. He said he felt the chicken may have either been over cooked or under cooked, but he couldn’t tell. He did like the bbq sauce and went back and added more to his chicken after he tried it. He actually dipped his carrots in the bbq sauce as well, he doesn’t like raw carrots… sorry dude you need more veggies in your life. (Blake took leftover chicken to school for lunch)

Blake’s rating: Image result for 3.5 out of 5

 

Colby liked the chicken right away. He had grabbed Caesar dressing to dip his carrots in so he was already dipping his chicken in the dressing as well before he tried the sauce. Then he decided he too liked the sauce, but he liked it even better combined with the Caesar. Colby said he would want us to make this dish again.

Colby’s rating: aa81a-40

Richard came home late for dinner, so by the time he arrived home the chicken was no longer hot. He decided to just have the chicken as it is instead of heating it back up. He put the BBQ sauce on right away. Richard said it was good, but not the best he has ever had. He wished it either had more of a root beer flavor or a bit more spice.

Richard’s rating: 9cfe6-3252c0

I did like this meal. I didn’t like the chicken without the thickened sauce. I found it a bit bland. It certainly needed more salt, pepper and onion in the cooked version. I did like the reduced sauce, but it lost the root beer flavor the more it got reduced. I got it to the right thickness, but it needed more of something.

Lori’s rating:  9cfe6-3252c0

food

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

I have been trying to incorporate more veggies into our daily diet. I find that there are times I have to hide the veggies, and other times I just try to make them well yummy! This recipe could be seen as either of these options. It is Spaghetti Squash Lasagna. I have made this for my family in the past and it was a hit, but it is not something that any of the guys would ask for when menu planning. We will see how they receive it this time!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • EVOO
  • salt
  • pepper
  • spaghetti sauce
  • chopped up meatballs (optional)
  • shredded cheese (I used both provolone and mozzarella)

Filling:

  • 10 oz container of Ricotta
  • 1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp of dried oregano
  1. Preheat over to 350
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash’s ends off and then cut it in half.
  3. Scoop out the seeds
  4. Drizzle EVOO over the cut side and season with salt and pepper
  5. Place the squash cut side down in the pan and pour a bit of water in to help steam the squash
  6. P1060972
  7. Bake the squash for 35-40 minutes. (the squash should have a bit of give when it is done) [You can also cook this at a higher temperature and roast the squash, but remember it will cook again with the lasagna]
  8. While the squash is cooking, put together the filling.. add all ingredients in a bowl and stir togetherP1060975
  9. When the squash is cooked let it cook for a few minutes before shredding
  10. Shred the squash with a fork to create the “spaghetti” effect.
  11. Pour sauce in the bottom of the pan
  12. Add a layer of squash to cover the pan
  13. Add all the filling on top
  14. If using sliced meatballs add now
  15. Add a layer of cheese
  16. Add a layer of sauce
  17. Top with the rest of the squash
  18. Top with more sauce (if needed)
  19. Top with a final layer of cheeseP1060978
  20. Bake for 30-35 minutes. I baked mine 10 min covered in foil so the top didn’t get over toasted since the boys don’t really like browned cheese.

 

Enjoy!

So we just finished eating dinner and here are the reviews:

Blake: He ate the whole thing. Granted most of it he put on top of the Italian bread we were having with it. I was shocked since I wasn’t sure he’d groove on the texture of this meal. He didn’t have any suggestions of how to make it better. He did say he would eat it again if we made it.

Blake’s rating: Image result for 3.5 out of 5 rating

Colby: He started off strong and seemed to be enjoying it a lot. He said it tasted good, but would be better if we had either put it over pasta or incorporated pasta into the dish. Granted Colby is a pasta hound and would eat pasta for every meal. Colby added more cheese to his and did not finish it.

Colby’s rating: Image result for 4 out of 5 rating (My guess is he really thought it was more of a 3 star dish, but this was the first time we did the ratings so I think he was erring on the high side)

Richard: He liked it, but said he would rather have the squash mixed in with the sauce itself because he didn’t like the texture when you got a bite that was more squash than anything else. He also said the flavor was good, but it was a texture thing that was off for him.

Richard’s rating: Image result for 3 out of 5 stars

Me: I thought this turned out well. I wish the cheese was a bit more toasty on the top, but that is how I like it and the boys don’t, so I didn’t try to brown the top. I like the mix of the meatballs with the squash, that was a new twist this time. I prefer it made with homemade sauce, but I didn’t have a small enough portion to pull out without defrosting a huge batch. That would have brought about more veggies to the dish as well. It very well could be used over the top of pasta, as Colby suggested. I do enjoy this dish and will make it again.

My rating: Image result for 4 out of 5 rating

1 star is this is gross never serve it again… 5 being OMG this is the best can I have it again next week?

 

 

Uncategorized

Tasty Tuesday- Ham and cheddar sliders

I found this recipe for Hawaiian Ham and Cheese sliders on Facebook and then pinned it.  I decided to try it out, but make it my own.

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Ham and Cheese Sliders

  • slider rolls (I used Pepperidge Farm Sweet and Soft Sliders)
  • deli ham
  • cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp deli mustard
  • 1 tsp dried onions
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

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Heat over to 350. Melt butter and then mix in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, onions, sugar. Stir until sugars dissolve. I kept tasting and adding a bit of this, a bit of that until I found a taste that worked for me. So play feel free to add more of any flavors as needed.P1060954

Spray pan with non-stick spray. Arrange bottom buns in pan. Then top with ham, cheese and top bun. I used 1 slice of ham on each slider and 3/4 piece of cheese.

Spread butter mixture over the tops of the rolls. Then bake for 15-20 min until the cheese is melted and the sandwich is nice and oozy yummy.

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These were really good. Blake ate them, Colby took the top bun off and at them open face. Richard and I enjoyed them. We thought it needed more ham. We also decided these would be really good a Cuban sandwiches: sliced pork, sliced ham, sliced Swiss cheese, and a pickle slice. Or make scrambled eggs and make them breakfast sandwiches.

We had two left over and I had one yesterday for breakfast. They were still good cold.

Have you made this recipe before? What did you think of it? What type of deli would you put on the sandwich?

Uncategorized

Tasty Tuesday– Granola

I love recipes that I can make over and over and they turn out yummy, but never are the same. Yes, you read that right.  My granola recipe is one of those.

Here is the original recipe, my mom gave me this recipe years ago. I can’t tell you the last time I looked at the actual recipe.

Homemade granola
2.5 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. coarsely chopped almonds or walnuts
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 c. unsweetened wheat germ
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. oil
dried fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 300.

In a large bowl combine oats, coconut, nuts, seeds, and wheat germ.  Combine honey and oil in a separate bowl.   Add honey mixture to dry mixture.  Spread onto a cookie sheet.

Bake at 300 until golden brown (recipe says 45 min, I baked mine for 40 and I think it was slightly over cooked).  Stir mix every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.

Remove from oven. Stir in fruit.  Remove to another pan to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Store in an air tight container or freeze.

In my opinion the only ingredients you need are: oats, oil, nuts and some type of sweetener.

 

Here is the recipe I made this week!

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The grocery store we go to here in PA has a bulk section so I switch up the nuts I use all the time. This week I had: peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. I also used oats, wheat germ, canola oil, agave nectar, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

Put all the ingredients into the pan, mix well to distribute the oil, sweeteners, and flavorings.

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I baked it at 350 for for 30 minutes. Make sure to stir it around every 10 minutes so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

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You will smell the nuts and oatmeal browning. They should end a nice golden color

You need to let it cool before eating. I usually take it out of the pan before it totally cools so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. I’d typically make this on cookie sheets with silt pads to prevent sticking, but those are still in boxes, so I’m making due with what I have!

Right now, Richard is eating this daily on yogurt for breakfast. I typically pick out the nuts and clumps of granola to have as a snack or eat it with yogurt as lunch or a late afternoon snack.

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I hope you choose to try this recipe. You can always start with the classic version posted at the top and then play around with it as you please. Or, if you are like me… just jump in and make up your own version. I swap out nuts, add other flavoring such as maple, more vanilla, add fruits or chocolate chips.  Whatever floats your boat.  Let me know what you think, and especially let me know if you try it out! Enjoy!!