I know. I’ve been writing this blog for more than a year and I am finally getting around to posting my first craft project. I’ll say it flat out: I do not consider myself a craft person. I mean, like … Continue reading
I am a big fan of meatloaf. For me, it’s one of those ultimate comfort foods. It’s a big, meaty, “I love you,” for your stomach. Throw in some mashed potatoes and some bread or rolls and I’m set. Also highly in meatloaf’s favor is that it is so easy to make. A little bit of prep work and getting your hands dirty (I firmly believe true meatloaf should be mixed by hand), some time in the oven, and a wonderful dinner is ready to go.
I stumbled across this recipe a while back using stuffing mix and I gave it a try. I definitely liked the concept, and the first attempt went fairly well, but it wasn’t quite right for me. There just seemed to be something missing, and the loaf itself was a little dry. I solved that problem with my leftovers by putting applesauce over the top, which tasted quite nice, leading me to think, “Aha! Next time I’ll add some applesauce to the meatloaf itself!” I did, and I am very pleased with the result. I guess my version has two secret ingredients.
- 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1 box of stuffing mix (I used sage because I like the extra herb flavor. The recipe I adapted this from used chicken.)
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
Mix everything together and put it in a loaf pan (I used an 8×4). Cook in an oven set at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much meat you used. Enjoy! (Really, that’s it!)
Adapted from Dancing Thru the Minefield
Tweaks and Overall Review
Aside from using a different flavor of stuffing mix, the main thing I did was add the applesauce to the recipe, and I have to say I really think it makes this dish shine. The meatloaf stays nice and moist, and there is a slight sweetness from the applesauce which I think goes quite well with the herb flavors from the stuffing mix. I really enjoyed it, as did some friends who joined us for dinner. Since the prep time is minimal, probably less than 5 minutes, this is a perfect recipe for a busy night.
I am so excited to get this recipe up for y’all! I have seen tons of variations on cake mix cookies all over Pinterest, so now I’m taking my stab at the idea. These are so easy to make and … Continue reading
My husband’s unit has a spouse group. We have get togethers once a month in order to hang out a bit, chat, possibly escape for a few hours without kids, etc. We had our February get together last week. We had a potluck and I am tickled to say that the group picked my suggestion as theme for the potluck. I had suggested a “New Year, New Recipe” theme. We all chose a recipe we had never made before to bring to our get together, along with copies of the recipe for everyone to take home. Basically a good excuse to use each other a culinary guinea pigs.
Anyhoo, there were a couple of people who had already said they were going to bring dessert type items, so I decided to make a side dish. I had originally wanted to bring some sausage bites I pinned a few months ago, but I couldn’t find the right type of sausage. So back I went to the drawing board (and my pantry) to see what I could put together. It turned into another case of having exactly what I needed on hand. I had just enough rice, a can of chicken broth, and a zucchini I had been meaning to make with dinner but hadn’t used yet. And so Cheesy Zucchini Rice was brought to the potluck. I mean really, when you just happen to have everything you need on hand, I figure that’s the universe’s way of saying, “Make this one!” I got this recipe from Buns In My Oven.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 or 2 zucchini (grated), depending on size
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- splash of milk if the cheese seems too thick
Grate your zucchini, either in a food processor or by hand. I just did it by hand with an old-fashioned cheese grater. Seriously, zucchini is so easy to grate, I personally don’t see a reason to break out a big, fancy food processor. It’ll take you less than five minutes.
In a medium pan over medium heat, warm up your olive oil. Add the rice, stirring to coat. Keep stirring the rice in the olive oil until it becomes golden.
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then cover your pan and lower the heat. Allow rice to cook for about 20 mins, or most of the broth has been absorbed.
Take the cooked rice off the heat and add your butter, grated zucchini, cheese, and garlic powder. Stir until everything is mixed well and then cover and allow to sit for 5 more minutes.
Season to taste and serve.
Tweaks and Overall Review
I only tweaked a few things about this recipe, and really I only made my tweaks for convenience’s sake. First off, while the recipe calls for two cups of broth, I just used one standard can (slightly less than 2 cups) and it worked fine. If you’re using broth in one of those resealable boxes, by all means go ahead and use the full 2 cups, but if you just have cans, just use one can and don’t worry if you come up a bit short. Also, while the original recipe calls for shredded sharp cheddar, I used a Mexican cheese blend, because that’s what I had on hand. It turned out fine, in my opinion. A slightly less strong cheese taste than if I had used the sharp cheddar, but still perfectly cheesy and delicious. Finally, I used closer to a full teaspoon of garlic powder (because garlic is delicious and good for you) and as such, didn’t see the need for additional seasoning from salt and/or pepper.
This turned out really well. It was easy to make and I think works as a side for pretty much anything. Add the fact that it’s a wonderfully sneaky way to add some extra veggies to a meal, I’m sold. I’ll definitely be making this again. The other ladies at the potluck agreed. And when I say it was pretty easy to make, I mean I made it while also getting ready for the potluck, making dinner for the older two kids, and putting the baby down to sleep. If I can do all that, make this, and still have it taste good, this is a weekday winner for sure!
As promised, here is No Peek Chicken. I’ve been trying to find more dinner options to add to my regular rotation just to give myself a greater range of meals to choose from. That and the fact that we are having people from my husband’s crew over for dinner on a semi-regular basis means I also don’t get as many leftovers, so I’m cooking more often. This recipe comes from Thrifty Decorating, and while it does take time to cook (two and a half hours), the prep time is minimal.
- 1 box of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Wild Rice (Original Recipe – Though you could probably sub in a different flavor if you so desired and it would not be an issue.)
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 1 can of water (You can add up to an additional cup of water if you want more tender rice.)
- chicken breasts or tenders (I used tenders.)
Set your oven to 350°F.
Grease a 9×13 baking dish. (Don’t forget to do this! I did, and while it wasn’t the worst thing I could have overlooked, my baking dish did need a good soak after dinner in order to get all the stuck on rice loosened up so I could clean it.)
In your baking dish, mix your rice, soups, and water. Stir everything together until you have a uniform mixture. Arrange your chicken on top.
Cover and seal the dish with foil and bake for two and a half hours. Do not remove foil until done.
Tweaks and Overall Review
Given how simple this recipe is, there’s not a lot to mess with. The only thing I noticed that I would try to adjust next time is that between the spices which come with the rice and the “cream of” soups this dish came out just a tad too salty for my liking. Since I only used the single cup of water in my preparations (I like a little more chew in my rice), I figure I can either use another half cup of water to further dilute things a bit, or I can use the reduced sodium versions of the soups. Either would probably work. Other than that, this made for a great weeknight family dinner. The chicken was deliciously moist and tasted great with rice mixture. True, there’s quite a bit of cook time, but as long as I can have this in the oven soon after picking up Big Bit from school, dinner is still ready and on the table at a reasonable time.
Oh my goodness! The holidays and everything that goes with them are starting to take over life here, thus why this New Pinterest Recipe of the Week is so late in getting up. (Maybe I should just start calling it New Pinterest Recipe of the Every Other Week.) Anyway, I’m hoping to have the time to try some new Christmas recipes to post up here in the next few weeks, but until then enjoy this throwback to November, with Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins!
Like I mentioned earlier in the blog, due to my husband’s schedule we did an early Thanksgiving. However, I am not the type to send him off to work empty-handed, especially on a holiday. Since a dinner was being provided, I needed something that would go with the meal, but wouldn’t be a repeat of something already being served. Obviously pumpkin is one of those quintessential fall flavors (just check Pinterest any time between September and November if you have any doubt), and muffins aren’t likely to already be on a Thanksgiving table. Add to the fact that these include Nutella, and I was sold. I found this recipe over at The Novice Chef.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark, but it probably doesn’t make much of a difference if you use light brown instead.)
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. milk (I used whole milk.)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Nutella for swirling
Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare your muffin tin(s) by adding liners.
In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with both the granulated and brown sugars. Add the egg, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract, beating until combined. Slowly add your dry ingredient mixture, mixing until there are no lumps. (I divided the dry mixture into thirds for mixing it in.)
Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full with batter and then top with Nutella. Use a toothpick or a knife point to swirl the Nutella.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick or tester stick comes out clean.
Tweaks and Overall Review
So when buying canned pumpkin, that smallest can one can find (or at least I could find) was 15oz. 15 oz. is more than a cup. Fortunately though, it is not much shy of two cups, so to make my life easier, and yours, too, if you don’t want to have a partially used can of pumpkin puree lying around when you try this, I took the standard 15 oz. can, used the whole thing, and just doubled the recipe. Problem solved. Now, partially since I doubled the recipe and partially since I like a bigger looking muffin, I filled my tins a little fuller than 3/4. That increased my baking time to about 20 minutes and also gave me a yield of 22 total muffins for my double batch.
I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. Big and Little Bit both seemed to enjoy them. The only thing I would tweak on a future attempt is that if you got a bite that didn’t have much Nutella swirl in it, the flavor seemed a little bland. To give the pumpkin batter a little of its own kick, I’ll probably add some cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice to it the next time I make these. I’m leaning toward the cinnamon just because that seems a pretty safe bet for the other flavors I’d be working with. On the whole though, this was a pretty straight-forward, easy recipe, perfectly suited to when you need some pumpkin flavor in your life.
So before I get into the recipe, let me just say hello! I know I’ve been silent for a while. If the lack of posts didn’t give you a hint, we’ve been BUSY out here. There just never seemed to be enough time to sit down and write a post. Part of that was Big Bit being on fall break for a chunk of the time. She’s gotten used to having a nice, active day, so when she was on break we had to have something to do (preferably outside the house) or she, and thus the rest of us, would have gone crazy. We filled the time with trips to the zoo, the museum, just going for walks, etc. Anything to get her out of the house and burning off all that energy she has.
Anyway, one of her days at home, Big Bit decided to be my baking helper and so she actually assisted with this particular Pinterest recipe (she was a most excellent mixing assistant). Now, full disclosure, this isn’t my first time making these muffins. I made them once before for Hubs to take on a work shift. The original recipe comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction and it turned out well enough, but not quite to my taste. Granted, part of that was due to the fact that from the get go I was making tweaks to the original recipe, so this time around was for me to tweak my tweaks. Anyway, I’m going to give you my version, but by all means, go back to the source and try the original, if you care to. I’ll explain some of the changes I made further after the recipe.
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed, light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup and 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup diced strawberries
- 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
Preheat your oven to 350°F and either spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray or use liners. As you know, I prefer the liner method.
In a bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and cinnamon). In a separate, and slightly larger bowl, combine the white and brown sugars with the applesauce until there aren’t any lumps. Once the sugar/applesauce mixture is smooth add the egg. Then take the dry ingredients and add them to the wet, mixing until they are just combined. Gently fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.
Spoon out your batter into your muffin tin (I got an even dozen). Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. When done the tops should be lightly browned and a tester stick should come out clean. Mine took closer to the 20 minutes than the 15, so unless your oven runs hot, I wouldn’t check them until about 17 minutes in to the bake time, and even then they might need an extra minute or two. Allow them to cool and then enjoy.
Tweaks and Overall Review
Ok, so what did I change and why. Well, first off, I increased the amount of cinnamon used. I just like the taste of cinnamon, so this was totally a personal preference. Second, the original recipe calls only for an egg white, but I just went ahead and used a whole egg. Granted, that makes my version less “skinny” than the original, but for only doing a batch of these at a time, unless I happen to have a spare egg white lying around (which I never do), I’ll just use the whole egg and skip separating it and then trying to figure out something to do with the yolk. Using the whole egg rather than just the white does make the muffins a little richer, but since I’m not overly concerned about calorie counts for myself, I don’t mind. If you want to go ahead and just use an egg white like in the original, go ahead. It shouldn’t have to much of an impact on the overall flavor. When it came to strawberries I upped the amount from 2/3 of a cup to a full cup. The first time I made these I stuck with the original measurement and there just didn’t seem to be enough strawberry flavor in combination with the chocolate. Part of that was my use of semi-sweet chips rather than a milk chocolate or even a dark chocolate chip, so the chocolate flavor was pretty strong to begin with. By increasing the amount of strawberry pieces in the batter, I was able to get a better balance between the chocolate and the strawberries.
I’m really happy with how this batch turned out. The original recipe was good, but now I think I’ve got this to where it suits my own tastes perfectly. Once again, they were a huge success when my husband took them to work. I hope you like them, too. I’d be really interested to hear from other people who try this recipe both ways and what their thoughts are or any tweaks they make themselves.
Enjoy your muffins!
I tend to be a very social person. I love having people over and I love feeding them while they’re here. This past Sunday we had a group of guys from my husband’s work come over to watch the football games, so I had the perfect excuse to make some party food. I’ve had these pinned for months so I was really excited to finally get to make them. The recipe originally comes from Taste of Home magazine (the March/April 2008 issue, in case anyone wants to find the hardcopy) and can be found online here. The website says this was one of their contest winners and I can see why.
- 1lb. ground beef (I used 88% lean, but I wouldn’t recommend anything leaner than that.)
- 1 4oz. can of chopped chiles
- 1 8oz. package of cream cheese
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. chile powder
- 3 tubes of crescent rolls (standard size)
Cook the ground beef and chiles together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the meat is no longer cooked, remove from heat and drain off any fat. Stir in cream cheese and spices. Allow the mixture to cool.
Preheat your oven to 375°F and start preparing your crescents. Spoon a rounded teaspoon’s worth of the beef mixture at the short end of the triangle and then roll it up as normal. Check to see if there are any openings in the dough and pinch them shut.
With the point side pointing down, place your rolled-up crescents on ungreased baking sheets and bake for about 11-14 minutes or until golden.
Tweaks and Overall Review
I didn’t tweak a lot about the ingredients themselves, except for using a bit more spice than the original recipe calls for. I like a little kick and 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin and chile powder just sounded like too little. The main tweaks I made were in the method of preparation. I added my spices while my ground beef was cooking and since I didn’t have a ton of fat left in my pan, I didn’t bother to drain it after. I also tweaked the oven temperature down to 350°F since my oven tends to run a little hot. It only added another minute or so to the total cook time. Finally, I ended up with extra beef mixture after stuffing all of the standard size crescents (the three tubes give you 24 total), so I broke out a tube of my Grands! crescents and used those to take care of the extra. I upped the amount of beef mixture in each crescent to two rounded teaspoons and then baked them for about 16 minutes. Depending on whether or not you want to make these as a snack/party food or as part of a meal, using the larger crescents may be preferable.
The verdict: These were gone as fast as I could make them! Big Bit didn’t care for hers, but she’s been going through a picky phase lately. Everyone else, including Little Bit, loved theirs. These were declared to be good “man food” and I get the feeling will now be expected fare when we host parties for games or fights. They were easy to make, and like I said earlier, I can see why these won a contest. Easy and man-approved is a winner in my book.
I’m mixing it up a bit this week. For once, the chosen recipe is savory, not sweet and/or banana based. I figured it was time for something different. Since things are plenty busy around here, quick and easy meals are very much my friends right now. I found a bubble up pizza recipe a while back and have made it a few times. The family seems to enjoy it well enough, but it doesn’t keep as well as I would like, so leftovers aren’t as tasty (the biscuits tend to get a bit hard and crusty). However, the recipe, and the concept in general, makes for a good meal when crunched for time.
Enter the Chicken Alfredo Bubble Up. I was scanning Pinterest and came across this variation of the bubble up concept and immediately I was intrigued. Hubs loves chicken alfredo and since this recipe is alternately known as “White Pizza Bubble Up,” I can still call it “pizza” to the girls. (Sneaky mommy. Lol.) Anyway, this recipe originally comes from Julie’s Eats and Treats. Enjoy!
- 2 cans of refrigerated biscuits
- 1 16oz. jar of your chosen alfredo sauce
- 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic salt (I omitted this)
- 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (I didn’t have “Italian seasoning” on hand so I just used a mixture of dried parsley and oregano. The oregano came from our little patio herb garden.)
- 1 lb. of cooked chicken, cubed
Preheat your oven to 375°F and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, cut up your biscuits into 4-6 pieces, depending on size. Toss the biscuit pieces with the alfredo sauce and seasonings.
Add the chicken and 1 cup of the cheese, making sure everything is blended evenly.
Spoon or pour the mixture into your baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, making sure the biscuits (especially those in the middle) are done.
Tweaks and Overall Review
Okay, so I’m going to go ahead and admit to tweaking this recipe quite a bit based on what I had on hand in my own kitchen. The original recipe used standard sized Grands biscuits, cutting them up into 6 pieces. I used Grands Jr. biscuits, so I only cut mine up into 4. Also, because I used a garlic parmesan alfredo sauce (and the fact that I didn’t have any on hand), I omitted the 1/2 tsp. of garlic salt. (If you’ve followed this blog a bit, you know I am a firm believer in using what you have on hand, rather than buying an ingredient solely for one recipe unless absolutely necessary.) Also, as noted above, I made my own “Italian seasoning” with some help from our herb garden. Finally, I added about 1/4 cup of milk to the alfredo sauce. I hate that when you pour out the jars you are left with so much clinging to the inside, so I pour in about 1/4 cup of milk, screw the lid back on, give it a good shake (think like mixing a martini) and then pour that out as well. I think it was very helpful in this recipe since it added a little extra liquid to keep things moist.
This was a total hit in my house. My husband said he liked it better than the original pizza bubble up I’d been making (so do I), and apparently when he took some leftovers to work for lunch, some of the crew was jealous. Speaking of leftovers, this kept very well. Much better than the original pizza bubble up recipe. Even a few days later the biscuits were soft and moist after being reheated in the microwave (about 2:30 on 50% power and then another 20 seconds or so on full power, by the way). The most time consuming portion of this recipe is prepping the chicken, but if you have some pre-cooked from another recipe or just use a rotisserie chicken from the store, you’re back down to maybe 20 minutes of prep work before dinner is in the oven and that’s if you’re moving slowly or being distracted by kids. If you have to start from scratch with the chicken you’ll add another 15-20 minutes to cube and cook it, but I’d still consider that negligible time-wise. Overall, a really good “throw together” meal for busy nights. I’ll definitely make this again (and again) for us here at home, and one of these days I’ll probably send a batch to work with Hubs, since his leftovers seemed to cause food envy.
New Pinterest Recipe of the Week is back! Like I said earlier, we’re still getting back into the swing of things here. Even though Niblet is a pretty good sleeper for a newborn, I’m still finding myself sleep deprived and I don’t function as well when that happens. Hubs has also gone back to work, so now I’m learning how to juggle everything solo. Progress is being made, though certainly some days are more productive than others.
Anyway, when Hubs went back to work I knew I needed to make something for the crew. Not only do I enjoy making food for people who enjoy eating it, but the guys were kind enough to get us a little something for Niblet and what better way to say “Thank you,” than with baked goods. I needed something relatively easy, and that at certain points I could pause to attend to a newborn and not have the dish suffer because of it. Also, I wanted something with a little more of a Fall feeling to it. Even though the days here still feel sort of summery, the mornings when I am getting Big Bit off to school are starting to get a nip to them and the nights are definitely cooler. Searching through my Pinterest boards, this Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler from Baked by Rachel seemed like perfect fit. It’s not overly complicated, let me pause when I needed to, and, to me, cinnamon and apples are very much flavors of Fall.
For Your Snickerdoodles
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2/3 cup flour (I used all-purpose)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus another 1/2 cup sugar (The 1/2 cup is for rolling your snickerdoodles in)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
For the Apples
- 8 cups of sliced apples (About 6-8 depending on size. I used Granny Smiths and sliced up 7 apples to get my approximately 8 cups.)
- 1/4 brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Combine the dry ingredients for the snickerdoodles (cream of tartar, salt, baking powder, and flour) in a small bowl. In a separate (and slightly larger bowl) cream together the butter and sugar then adding the egg. Follow with the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. In a small bowl mix your 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set everything aside. I would recommend putting your dough in the fridge to let it firm up at this point, otherwise you will probably have snickerdoodle covered hands when it comes time to roll the dough into balls. Also, putting the dough in the fridge while you deal with the apples technically means you’re multitasking. Efficiency!
Prepare your apples by peeling, coring, and slicing them up, putting the slices in a large bowl. Add your 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and toss the apples around until all the slices are coated. Place the coated apples in an 8×8 baking dish.
Go back to your snickerdoodle dough. Make approx. 1 inch balls of dough and roll them in your cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place over the apples in the baking dish and flatten them slightly with your hand.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the apples appear tender and the snickerdoodle top has gotten lightly golden brown. Resist temptation, and let the cobbler cool a bit before serving.
Tweaks and Overall Review
The main thing I tweaked from the original recipe was I increased the amount of cinnamon used. I love cinnamon, so I tend to like a stronger cinnamon flavor in my foods. For the snickerdoodle cinnamon-sugar mix, I would say I used closer to a full teaspoon of cinnamon, if not a bit more than that. Also, I used no where near the full half cup of sugar for rolling the dough balls in. You could probably get away with using 1/3 cup, maybe even 1/4 cup of sugar, and still have enough to coat all your snickerdoodles. For the coating of my apples, I’d say I used another full teaspoon of cinnamon and maybe a smidge more brown sugar. My cobbler needed the whole 55 minutes to finish baking and the snickerdoodles spread quite bit. Next time I make this I will definitely spread them out over the apples a bit more.
First off this smelled amazing while baking. The entire house smelled of apple-cinnamony goodness. I think the whole thing turned out rather well. I’m glad I used Granny Smith apples since they seemed to have helped balance the flavors and held up to baking well. They were nice and tender, but still had a bit of chew to them. The dish I sent Hubs off to work with came back virtually licked clean, so I’d guess the guys agreed that this was a pretty good recipe. Overall, I was pretty pleased with this. It was easy, allowed for breaks in the process, and tasted good. I will probably pull this out again for occasions where I need an easy Fall dessert since even though total time is about 90 minutes, depending on how long it takes you to get the apples prepared, hands on time is only about 30 minutes.