Monday, November 24, 2008

Chocolatey Centered Brownie Bites

Does that look like heaven or what? I know, I know not all of you love chocolate but I do so this is a recipe for all you chocolate and brownie lovers out there. I got this idea off of the Picky Palate. She used a boxed brownie mix but I don't like brownie mixes really so I made my favorite brownie recipe and then followed Picky Palate's recipe after that. Her website is I again cannot take the credit for this fabulous idea!! But alas, it was too good to not let everyone know about it!! She also called them something different but I don't remember what!!

Chocolatey Centered Brownie Bites
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large hershey's or symphany milk chocolate candy bars~broken into chunks
9 fun size butterfinger candy bars crushed~I placed the candy bars in a ziploc bag and crushed them with a rolling pin.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa, salt and vanilla and mix until well combined.

Then fill muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray up halfway with batter and place a chunk of chocolate from a large candy bar in the middle of each on and press it down.

Then place more batter over the candy bar chunk. Till the muffin cups are almost full with batter. Then Sprinkle the top of each brownie bite with crushed butterfinger candy bars. Like this:

Place in a 320 degree oven for 27-30 minutes. I did mine for 27 minutes and they were perfect each time.

Jessie's Pulled Pork Sandwiches

So I can officially say I have created my own recipe!!! I love pulled pork and have never made it before and thought why don't I. I have had a pork roast in our freezer that I have needed to use so yesterday I cooked it and we made pulled pork sandwiches. It was so yummy!! My husband ate 2 1/2 of them. Not that making pulled pork is that inventive or creative but I am proud to say I did not use someone elses recipe for it. The only thing my husband would have like different is for it be be a little spicier!! I didn't make it that way because of the kids but next time I told him I would put a little bit of kick into it!!

Here is the kids version of it!! We also had grapes and carrot sticks and homemade french fries they just aren't pictured.

Here is the adult version~with avocados, spicy brown mustard, and carmelized onions. MMmmmmm...... I can still taste it!!

Jessie's Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1-14 oz can beef broth
1 cup your favorite bbq sauce plus 1-18 oz bottle
4-5 lb pork roast
2 T. liquid smoke
2 tsp. each of Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt
1 T. minced garlic

Rub the roast with the cajun, salt and pepper. Place in crockpot. Cover with the beef broth, 1 cup bbq sauce and garlic. Cook on high for 5 hours. Then turn it to low and cook for 3 more hours. Pour the juices off of the roast but save one cup of juices to mix back in with the pork. Shred the meat with two forks. Pour reserved juices over meat and the 18 oz bottle of bbq sauce~or just enough to make it as saucey as you would like. Serve on toasted buns with mustard, avocados, and carmelized onions!!!

This is what our meat looked like after being shredded and having the bbq sauce added.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Homemade Granola Goodness!!

This is for all you granola lovers out there. This is such a healthy homemade version of granola and I think it tastes way better than any store bought kind. It is also a lot cheaper!! This is what I love to have for breakfast. All these natural raw ingredients taste so good!! My kids will even eat it!!

Homemade Granola
2/3 cup frozen unsweetened 100% apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup real maple syrup~not Mrs. butterworths or any of the like it must be real
1/3 cup almond oil or canola oil~I use canola oil it is a lot cheaper than almond~Don't use vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat grem or bran
1/2 cup whole flax seeds
1/2 cup sliced or whole almonds
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds without the shell on
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins or blueberries

Position oven racks in the to and bottoms 3rds of the oven. Preheat the Oven to 325 degrees. Coat 2 large cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, Whisk together the apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, oil, and maple syrup. Over medium heat bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and pecans. Stir in the juice mixture and mix until well combined.

Then spread the mixture out on the 2 cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes~one on one rack one on the other. Then take out and stir and put bake in the oven but reverse the pans so the one that was on the bottom is now on top and the one that was on top is now on the bottom. Continue baking for another 15 minutes. Take out. Let cool 5 minutes on pan.

Then dump into a large bowl. Dump the cranberries in and mix well. Let cool completely then store in a ziploc bag or a cereal container.

Note: I always double the recipe. It makes a ton but it stores well in a Ziploc bag and you can even freeze it if you want or vacuum seal it in bags you if have a vacuum sealer. You can use any kind of nuts you want~You don't neccesarily need to use pecans and walnuts. Same with the cranberries use any dried fruit you like.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Divine Breadsticks

Don't those just look so yummy? We love bread around here. We had these breadsticks with the pasta in my previous post. All my family really liked these and they are super simple and easy. I got this recipe off of . Who got the recipe from Melanie Gunnel. I just want to make sure I give credit where credit is due. I don't want to take credit for a recipe that someone else created!! Anyway, you must try these!!

PS. don't mind the ugly breadsticks~they aren't quite the same size or even. This was the first time I ever made them so you see I need some practice twisting them!!

Divine Breadsticks
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 T. instant yeast
2 T. sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 T. butter, melted

Mix the instant yeast with 1 cup flour and set aside. Meanwhile, mix the water, sugar, salt and 1 cup flour until well mixed. Add the yeast and flour mixture and mix for two minutes. Add the rest of the flour and mix until smooth. Knead on a floured surface for about 3 minutes. Then roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut into about 1-2 inch strips. Place 2 T. melted butter on a cookie sheet and make sure it is spread all around. Then twist two strips of dough together and place on the cookie sheet. Continue with all the rest the same way. Place fairly close together. Brush the remaining melted butter over each twisted breadstick. Sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Cover let raise for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Chef's note: I used 4 T. butter~2 on the cookie sheet and 2 to rub the breadsticks with and I used 1/2 tsp salt not 1/4. But you can do whichever on you like!! Oh I also sprinkled a little parsley all over the top as well with the parm cheese and garlic salt because I thought it made them look prettier!!

Baked Rigatoni!!!!

We love pasta!! I found this recipe on the Picky Palate. I altered it a little bit but I cannot take credit for the recipe!! If you would like the original recipe go to She has a lot of other yummy recipes!! This pasta is loaded with yummy canned tomates and spinach and cheese. It is a good way to get your kids to eat spinach because you can't even taste it!! My kids loved this pasta. Ours turned out a little spicy Because I used hot italian sausage!! We loved it that way!! We also had spinach and green lettuce salad and Breadsticks with it!!

Baked Rigatoni

1lb rigatoni~I used penne because that is what I had in the cupboard
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 T. minced garlic~you may use less we just like to keep the vampires away around here!!
1 lb Italian sausage
1 tsp. each of salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and oregano
5 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
3-14 oz cans diced tomatoes or fire roasted tomates with garlic~I used both
1-14 oz can crushed tomates
2-8 oz cans tomato sauce
16 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and chopped or 1 T. dried basil
1 cup shredded romano or parm cheese
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup -1 cups seasoned bread crumbs

Cook pasta according to pkg directions. Set aside. Heat oil in a large pot. Add the onion and red pepper and cook until veggies are tender. Add the sausage, garlic, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and oregano and cook until sausage is no longer pink. Add the Spinach and cook until wilted down. Add all the canned tomates and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15- 30 minutes. The longer the better the sauce tastes. Mix the cheeses and bread crumbs. Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta and pour into a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with bread crumb cheese mixture. Put in preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Next time I will probably use more spinach and you can also use whole wheat pasta if you would like it a bit more healthy. I use both kinds of pasta at my house depending on my mood that day. You can even omit the sausage if you don't want the added fat but we like the little bits of ground up sausage throughout it!! All things in moderationn right!! You just need a well balanced diet and hey this has pasta, cheese, meat, and veggies in it!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Caramel Chip Bars

Chocolate and Caramel, what could be better?

Now if this doesn't make you want to jump through the screen and eat it I don't know what will. I got this recipe for these bars off of a local talk show here. They have a cooking segment and a local viewer submitted this recipe. I tried it and it has become one of our favorite desserts!! The original recipe calls for a yellow cake mix but you can make it with a chocolate one also. This is the first time I have made it with a chocolate and I almost like it better but for those of you that don't like that much chocolate it is very very yummy with a yellow cake mix.

Caramel Chip Bars
1 box yellow or chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 pkg. mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla or white chocolate chips
1 heath candy bar, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1-14 oz pkg caramels
1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

In a large saucepan, mix the butter caramels and sweetened condensed milk and cook over medium low heat until melted and can stir it smooth. Meanwhile, mix the cake mix oil and eggs together. Add all the chocolate chips and candy bar. Mix well. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 320 for 12 minutes. Take out and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour the caramel mixture over the cake layer and then by teaspoonfulls sprinkle the caramel with the rest of the cake mixture. Bake for another 20 -25 minutes. You can also serve these with ice cream!!

Hope you enjoy these!! and Happy Baking!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and Rolls

Who doesn't love a homemade bowl of soup and hot homemade rolls on a cold rainy/snowy or wintery day? We had a rainy day yesterday and my husband works outside so I decided to make something warm for him to eat for dinner!! We love homemade soup and it is great because you cook it all in one pot so there is less clean up!

Jessie's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 T. olive oil
1-2 lb diced raw boneless skinless chicken breasts(depends on how much chicken you like in your soup-my husband likes more veggies and less meat)
1 large onion
2 T. minced garlic
4 stalks celery, diced
5 large carrots, diced
2 large potatoes, diced
2 small cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 qts chicken stock/broth
1/2 qt water
2 T. dried parsley
2 dried bay leaves
6 T. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. pepper
1-14.5 oz petite diced tomates (sometimes I use 2 cans depending on my mood)
1/2 to 3/4 lb pasta-any kind you like-egg noodles, shell, rotini, bowtie (i have used all kinds)
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots and cook for 5-8 minutes. Then add the diced tomates, chicken broth, water, chicken bouillon, parsley, bay leaves, pepper, potatoes and cream of chicken soup. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or until the veggies are tender. Then add the pasta and bring to a boil and simmer until noodles are tender. The longer it simmers the more flavorful it becomes. Note: I sometimes make homemade noddles and they are great!! If you have a little extra time try to make homemade noodles. Here is a recipe for them:
2 cups flour, 4 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 2 T. melted butter~ Mix these until well combined. Cover the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Then roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thick (or with a pasta maker) and cut into strips. Place in simmering soup and cook until they rise to the top of the soup. They are done when they rise to the top.
This is all the soup in the pot!! It makes a large pot so you can freeze some for later, give some to a neighbor or just cut the recipe in half. It makes great leftovers though. I always make the full batch and we usually eat it all up!!
Here are some Yummy homemade rolls!! This recipe comes from my mom but I roll them out different then her because I can't make them look as good as hers doing it the way she does!!

Becky's Homemade Rolls

2 cups warm water
2 T. instant yeast or active dry yeast~I use instant because you don't have to activate it before you throw all the ingredients in together. But if you use active just mix the yeast with the warm water until bubbly~about ten minutes then mix with all the rest of ingredients
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 T. oil
1 tsp. salt
3-5 cups flour

If using instant yeast, mix the yeast with one cup flour and set aside. Meanwhile, Mix the warm water, eggs, sugar, salt, and oil together. Add 2 cups flour and the flour yeast mixture and mix for two minutes. Then add another cup of flour and mix until smooth. Continue adding flour until a soft smooth dough is formed. Dough should not be too sticky but not too stiff either.Take out of bowl and knead it by hand on a floured surface for 5 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl , cover and let rise until doubled in size.(about 1 hour) Punch down and let rest for 2 minutes. Then roll the rolls into desired shape. Place on a greased cookie sheet or in a greased pan, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 20-30 minutes. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
If you want to make them like mine in the picture you cut the dough in half after the first raising and then roll each half out into a circle like a pizza and cut it with a pizza cutter into slices of pizza. Take the large end and roll up like a crescent to the small end. Place on cookie sheet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cream Cheese Banana Bread!!!

My friend, Andrea, emailed me the other day and wanted to know if I had a good banana bread recipe. I have tried many different recipes but I like this one the best. It is so yummy and has a streussel topping that makes it extra tasty. So if you are looking for a new banana bread recipe try this one!! You can make it in loaves or as muffins as shown above!!

Cream Cheese Banana Bread
3/4 cup butter
8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups mashed bananas
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted pecans (optional)
1 T. flour
1 T. butter, softened
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add eggs and mix just until combined. Add flour, powder, soda, and salt and mix well. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla until well combined. Pour into loaf pans or muffin tins. Sprinkle with streussel topping and Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

This is what it should look like before going in the oven:

Note: I would double the streussel topping but that is just me. I like the sweet crunch on the top!! I have also left out the nuts in the streusel and it is just great that way to for those that don't like nuts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pumpkin Cheesecake!!

So this is heaven!!! My favorite dessert hands down is cheesecake. My husband's is pumpkin pie. This is a mixture of both and these pictures do not do it justice. Maybe one day I will have a professional photographer to take pic of my food one day. You serve this with fresh whipped cream and it is so yummy!!
Pumpkin Cheesecake
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely crushed gingersnaps
1 T. flour
1 T. powdered sugar
2 T. butter melted
2-8oz pkgs of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1-15 oz can pumpkin
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Whipped cream for garnish (you can use cool whip but it won't be near as good)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, gingersnaps, flour, powdered sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the 3 eggs all at once and mix just until incorporated on low speed. Transfer 1 cup of cream cheese mixture to a medium bowl. Add pumpkin, egg, milk, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Beat on low speed until combined. Pour over the crust. Top with the rest of the cream cheese mixture. Using a kitchen knife swirl gently to give a marble effect. Place sprinform pan on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until 2 1/2 inches around edge appears set when gently shaken. Cool for 15 minutes. loosen Sprinform pan-take the edge off and let cool 30 minutes more. Cover and chill for 4 -24 hours. Serve with whipped cream!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chili and Honey Cornbread Muffins

Who doesn't like a warm pot of chili on a cold day? It has been feeling like winter here lately so I made chili for dinner last night with Honey Cornbread muffins. It was so good and the thing I love about this chili is it cooks in the crockpot so all you have to do is brown the beef before hand. It is so simple and good. If you like chili not so sweet this is for you. My mom makes an
excellent chili that is more on the sweet side but I was in the mood last night for not so sweet chili. This chili also goes well for Navajo tacos if you like those also.

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion
2 T lime pepper or lemon pepper if you can't find lime pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained
2-15 oz cans hot chili beans in sauce
2-15 oz cans black beans, drained
1 T. minced garlic
2 T chili powder
1-4 oz can diced green chilies
24-32 oz tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup medium salsa
1/2 T. crushed red chili flakes

Brown the beef with the onion, lime pepper seasoning, cumin, and 2 tsp chili powder until beef is cooked. Drain the grease and then pour into a 5-6 quart crockpot. Dump all the rest of the ingredients into the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hrs then on low for 2 more hrs.

Serve chili with these yummy muffins:

Honey Cornbread Muffins
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Whisk in the milk, eggs, melted butter, and honey just until combined. Spray a muffin tin well with cooking spray. Pour batter into each muffin tin till about 2/3 full. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Makes about 12-16 muffins. Be sure to spray the muffin tins each time you fill them or your muffins will not come out well.

I have always liked cornbread and I stumbled across this recipe on the Food Network website. These are my new favorite and will be the only way I will make cornbread for now on!!