Thursday, April 28, 2011

Marinade for Pork Chops or Steak

This recipe came from my mom's recipe collection. It is easy to mix up and should be made ahead since it is a marinade and all. It is good on both pork and steak, but Mark will tell you that pork is his top choice for it...

1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp minced onion
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black powder

Blend ingredients together. (I actually use a blender to make sure everything blends together well)

Pour marinade over meat (we used boneless pork chops tonight) in a shallow dish or a gallon ziplock bag. Refrigerate. For pork, marinate for 24 hours. For steaks, marinate for at least 12 hours.

When you are ready to grill, remove the meat from the marinade. Discard the remaining marinade.


Edited 4/21/12 Here are some steaks grilling after soaking up this marinade all day. It was yummy. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sour Cream Bacon Chicken

I got this recipe from my co-worker Claudia who gave me the Baked Potato Soup recipe. The funny thing is I had a recipe very similar to this I used to make but the chicken baked in the oven for like 3-4 hours which made cooking at the end of the school day difficult. This recipe actually cooks in the slow cooker, so I run home at my lunch time (which is easy since I live five minutes from my school) and get it started. Then by dinnertime, it is ready to go.

So, here is the recipe...
8 slices bacon
8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I just used a 2.5 pound bag)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (it actually calls for the Roasted Garlic kind, but I always forget that and just use the regular which works out for my non-garlic eater in the house)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup flour

Wrap the bacon around the chicken breasts.

Put in the bottom of a 3-4 quart slow cooker/crock pot.

Whisk together the soups, sour cream, flour.

Pour over chicken.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

I didn't have time to completely defrost my chicken in the microwave on my lunch break, so I put it in the crockpot partially frozen. It worked out well because my crockpot cooks faster rather than slower. The chicken was perfect by dinnertime.

Oh, and of course, I used my crockpot liners. Easy clean up!

I serve it with wild rice, garlic bread, and some veggies (raw). Oh, and we had the chocolate molten lava cake for dessert...


Oh, all of the family will eat this one!

Happy cooking!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sausage Egg Casserole

I know, I know, almost everyone has a recipe similar to this. But I am going to post it anyway. If anything, just so if I ever lose mine, I will know where to find it. :)

Oh, the brown spot? That is the sausage. For whatever reason, I am missing a piece of cheese. I don't know why.

We had this (and pumpkin muffins) for Easter breakfast. The nice thing about this casserole is that it needs to be prepared the night before. Then you just get up in the morning and stick it in the oven.

My kids will eat it sometimes though they are not really sausage eaters. We eat bacon more often.

Mark and I like it though. And it is a great dish to take for a brunch.

Anyway, here it is...

4 slices of bread
1 pound sausage
6 eggs
1 cup milk
6 slices American cheese (or 1 cup grated cheddar cheese or Colby)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Line a greased 11x7 inch dish with bread slices (cut when necessary).

Fry sausage, drain.

Spread sausage over the bread slices.

Cover the sausage with cheese slices. (Don't forget one like I apparently did)

Beat eggs, milk, dry mustard, and salt. Pour over cheese.

Refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.


Happy cooking!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fried Chicken Tenders

I really rarely fry. Rarely. But sometimes you just want something fried, like maybe some fried chicken.

My friend Carrie recently posted a fried chicken tender recipe on her blog. *sidenote: Carrie is the one who gave me the recipe for the lava molten cakes...she comes up with some good stuff!

I was sold. Easy sell. It just sounded SO good.

So I decided last night that it was time to attempt to fry chicken.

Pretty sure that it was my first time ever.

Won't be my last.

Not that I can do it very often. I know there are probably healthier ways to go.

But yum.

Just have to say, yum.

Here is a link to Carrie's blog. She tells it so much better than I will...
Fried Chicken Tenders

Fried Chicken Tenders

Buttermilk (I used one was low fat)
2 cups flour
2 tbsp seasoned salt (more or less to taste)
1-2 pounds of chicken tenders
2 eggs, whisked
oil (I used canola, in an attempt to be healthy...healthier. :)

Take the chicken tenders and cut into smaller pieces. I just cut each one once or twice. I had a variety of sizes. Oh, I used the frozen kind. Just defrosted in the microwave until almost thawed. It is so much easier to cut when it is a little frozen still.

Take a plastic bag or a bowl and "marinate" the chicken in the buttermilk.

I didn't do it for too long. Next time I will do it longer, but it still worked.

Next, put the flour and seasoned salt in a gallon ziplock bag. Mix together. (I just shook the bag a few times)

Put the chicken in the bag with the flour mixture. Shake well. (I wouldn't put it all at the same time...)

Then put the chicken into the egg mixture. Cover the chicken with the egg mixture.

I did this with a bowl, but honestly, next time, I think I will do this in a ziplock too.

Take the chicken out and dip into the flour again. I ended up having another ziplock of flour mixture just so I could have a rotation/assembly line going.

You can do all of this ahead of time and let it sit for a while. I think I will do that next time just so it is ready when I need to cook. The process ended up taking longer than I meant for it too since I was attempting to make mashed potatoes at the same time. By the way, I have yet to find a good mashed potato recipe. I welcome suggestions...

Anyway, when you are ready to cook, heat the oil in a skillet. (Pour about a half inch into the skillet first) Heat to around 350 degrees.

This is one other thing I think I will do differently next time. We have a Fry Daddy. We don't use it much other than for donuts and occasionally french fries. I think I will try it next time just because it is easier to monitor the temperature on it.

Fry for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown. I turned them constantly so they wouldn't burn.

"Drain" oil by putting the fried chicken on top of a paper towel on a plate.


I told Carrie later how much I enjoyed this recipe. She said that if you use the buttermilk, it is so thick, you don't really need to double "dip". However, having done both not knowing this, I think I will stick to both...I loved the thickness of the buttermilk as well as the two layers of flour. Yum.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Basic White Sauce

Not long ago, I posted a recipe for spicy bacon wrapped shrimp. I think I mentioned then that we eat potatoes in white sauce with helps tone down the "spicy" part.

Here is the recipe for the basic white sauce; this recipe came from my mom. It is easy and quick...

Basic White Sauce
3 tbsp margarine, melted
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 1/2 cups milk

Stir ingredients together. I just stir them in a large glass measuring cup.

Microwave in 1 minute intervals. After a minute, whisk, then return to microwave. Continue until sauce has thickened.

The first three or four minutes it will still be very runny. You will think it will never thicken. It does. I promise. And it really doesn't take that long.

I cheat on the potatoes. I use canned new potatoes...the sliced are the best. (In the picture, I used whole that I cut apart) I microwave them for a few minutes then pour the sauce over them.

This sauce can be used with other vegetables too.

Very easy. Very quick. And yummy. My favorite combination!

Happy cooking!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Buttercream Frosting

Someone at our house has a birthday coming up this weekend. That means it is time for me to get my decorating tips out to attempt to create a cake masterpiece. No, not really. I am not that talented. But if the kids know what I am attempting, then I have done my job.

I know it would be a LOT easier if I would just go buy a cake. Probably a lot nicer looking too. But I have a confession. I am a frosting snob. Completely. I blame it on my mom. She always made our cakes and used buttercream frosting. After having that, I have yet to find another frosting that comes close.

I have gotten smart enough to know now to make the frosting a day before the cake. Decorating takes long enough without mixing up the frosting too.

So that was my night.

It always takes longer than I think it will. But I treated myself with licking one of the beaters from the mixer so I can't complain too much.

Here is the buttercream frosting I use which is probably a lot like other buttercream frostings. Even if you don't have a cake to decorate, make some sometime and spread it on graham crackers. Yum.

Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp milk

Cream margarine and shortening using mixer.

Add vanilla.
Here is a pic of my favorite sifter. I have tried others including one that involved me pressing on a lever (and hurt my fingers after just a few minutes) and a battery operated one that died after about the second time I used it. This one is easy and quick. Love it.

Anyway, add sifted powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Mix (I would use a lower speed for this part because the powdered sugar will fly everywhere otherwise!).

Add milk then beat on high until light and fluffy. Sometimes I add a little more milk if it isn't creamy enough.

When you are done, you will have a big bowl of this: (note: Pic is a small bowl...I had already divided it)

The fun part with buttercream is that you can make just about any color you want...
Just remember that the colors will darken over time.

My advice: If you have cooking/food prep gloves, wear them. I used ziplocks to cover my hand, but somehow the colors find me anyway...

It is hard to believe all of that will hopefully make a Buzz Lightyear...time will tell.

Oh, and one MAIN direction. Always take time to lick the beater. Life is short. Live it to the fullest.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spicy Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

A sign of warmer weather: We move from having soup in the crockpot to food on the grill.

One of my favorite grilled food (other than flank steak) is bacon wrapped shrimp. One summer Mark's aunt and uncle had a shrimp feast (they live on the coast) for us. One of the dishes was bacon wrapped shrimp. For some reason, this combination had never occurred to me. After that night, it was all I could think of. That was before Internet was a big deal, so getting the recipe after the fact took a while. Finally one day I was coasting the Web and came upon a recipe for something similar. It is a favorite now.

I realize this meal will only appeal to a small percentage of the population which is even smaller when you consider number of readers. :) But it is a regular here during the summer. Most of the kids won't touch them, though one has recently come around. We just throw a few chicken breasts on the grill for them.

Oh, and don't let the "spicy" part fool you. It does have a little bite to it but it isn't spicy enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Spicy Bacon Wrapped Shrimp


1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil (I always go with olive when given a choice :)
4 tsp paprika
1 tsp each: salt, pepper, curry powder, ground cumin and ground coriander
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 or 2 packages of large shrimp, easy peel, raw
1 package bacon

Peel/clean shrimp. This is the longest part of the process to me and probably keeps us from eating this more often. That and the whole cost thing...

In a bowl, combine the sugar, lemon juice, oil, and seasonings. Mix well.

Now, the real recipe says to pour 1/4 cup marinade into a large resealable (ziplock type) bag, then to save the rest for basting.

Honestly, I pour ALL of the marinade into the bag over the shrimp. In fact, I don't even mix it in the bowl first. I just pour the ingredients into the ziplock bag as I go.

Seal the bag.

Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, though I typically do this a few hours before.

The original recipe also calls for cooking bacon over medium heat in a skillet until cooked.

Confession: I never pre-cook the bacon.

When ready to cook, remove the shrimp from the marinate and discard the marinade. Wrap the shrimp with bacon and secure with a toothpick. I typically cut each slice of bacon into thirds which is just the right size. I have also done this with skewers.

If I run out of bacon, we just throw the rest of the shrimp into the basket on the grill.

Grill shrimp, uncovered, over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.

I usually serve with potatoes in white sauce which seems to balance well with the spicy shrimp. (Recipe for the potatoes/sauce soon) and bread. I also put some carrots and Ranch on the table and had a lot more eaten than I expected.

If you are not a shrimp lover, you are probably gagging. However, if you ARE, this is a recipe you should try!

Happy cooking!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easy Cheesy Beefy Crescent Squares

Ask me what "comfort food" is, and this is the first meal that comes to mind.

Easy Cheesy Beefy Crescent Squares.

Just say it a few times. It is so much fun to say.

This is a family favorite. It is not necessarily an exciting meal but it is tasty, easy to make, and just comfort for the soul.

This recipe came from my mom. We had this growing up as a child, so it has been around for a while.

1+ pounds ground beef, browned and drained. I always throw in onion and garlic for a little taste
1 package/roll of crescent rolls
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package  (or two cups) shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan. Unroll crescent rolls dough into one large rectangle. The original recipe said to go up the sides of the pan but I haven't been overly successful with that. I just make sure to cover the bottom.

Mix the browned ground beef and the can of cream of mushroom soup. Pour mixture over the crescent roll rectangle.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. During the last ten minutes, sprinkle cheese over the top and finish baking. (Since I use low fat, this part if important. If I put it on any earlier, it gets too tough.)


To help make a "balanced meal", I threw some carrots and some strawberries on the table to munch on during slow periods. It worked. They are eating up both!

Happy cooking!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mint Chocolate Brownies

I apologize for the photo. It was a quick photo taken with my phone at my school before I cut the brownies...

Finally. I am finally going to get this post done. I say that, and I have two more I could do for tonight's dinner. Oh well, all in due time...

One of the second grade teachers brought these to school one year and graciously shared the recipe. It has become a favorite, though I rarely make it for just us at home. I usually take them to a potluck or school event. I am afraid if I made it for home, I would eat the whole pan on my own. I love the combination of mint and chocolate, so this is a heavenly treat for me. :)

You actually need to make these ahead of time to let them chill before serving.

Here we go...

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Brownies Ingredients:
one package of favorite brownie mix/necessary ingredients (I used a dark chocolate brownie mix last time...yum. Fix as directed for fudgy brownies in a 9 x 13 inch pan)

Filling Ingredients:
1/3 cup butter, softened (I use unsalted)
1 package cream cheese (3 ounce)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp peppermint extract or 3 tbsp creme de menthe syrup (I just use the peppermint extract)
green food coloring if desired (it is more fun :)

Frosting Ingredients:
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 oz.)
1/3 cup butter

Heat oven to 350.

Grease bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. (It says bottom only but I usually grease the whole thing)

In a large bowl, combine the brownie ingredients and mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 28 minutes or as directed on the brownie mix box. Do not overbake. Cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add remaining filling ingredients; beat until smooth with a mixer. Spread evenly over cooled brownies. (The kids love to lick the beaters once I am finished...or if they aren't up, I do it :)

In a small saucepan, melt frosting ingredients over low heat until smooth.

Cool 10 minutes and then pour over the pan of brownies. Spread evenly.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Strawberry Smoothie

Recently a friend of mine posted about making smoothies with her daughter. She made strawberry banana smoothies, I believe. That got me to sounded yummy. The only thing is I am not that crazy about bananas. (Don't tell my kids...they will eat them all day long!) So I set off on an Internet search for a strawberry smoothie...strawberry being the only fruit.

I finally found one on Allrecipes.

Here it is with a few minor adjustments.

8 strawberries, hulled...I actually have a bag of frozen strawberries in my freezer. I am typically all about fresh if possible, but when I buy fresh strawberries, they typically get chomped up in no time by my young ones. So I bought frozen and just take the ones I need. Plus I like that they are frozen which goes with the whole smoothie image :)
1/2 cup milk (I just use 1 percent since that is what we have on hand typically)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
3 tbsp sugar
6 cubes ice (I have just been using cubes, my blender is pretty tough :)

Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend on high until it is the texture you want.


I have been having it as part of my meal. I just eat some pistachios on the side (or tonight I had avocado and light Tostitos). Figure I am getting my dairy and fruit. :)

I promise, the mint chocolate brownie recipe is coming...soon.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

I actually had started a post on mint chocolate brownies. I will get to it soon. But this is fresher on my mind. And it is easier to type up. :)

We were supposed to have a "burger bundle" dinner tonight. I was all ready to make it. Then some things happened, time ran short, and I needed to do a quick change. So I went with chicken spaghetti which I had also planned for dinner this week. I am glad I did. It was easy. And even more, the kids ate it up. So much so, I will not be taking any to school tomorrow because it is gone, gone, gone. Bummer. I think even the sometimes vegetarian 3 almost 4 year old ate three or four helpings...

Oh, I got this recipe from my sister. How many times I have said that on here? She seems to find good recipes. :)

2 to 3 chicken breasts (I have mentioned...I use tenderloins. I just guesstimate how many we will eat as a family, probably about a pound.)
1 small onion (I rarely have an onion on hand unless I think about it first, so I use dried chopped onion)
1 green pepper (I have mentioned where my family stands on green peppers here)
1 dab of butter (I used cooking oil)
salt and pepper to taste)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I use shredded because I just like it :)
1/2 tbsp garlic
a small can tomato sauce (I just buy a regular size can since I have more chicken)
1 small package Mozzarella cheese (We don't use small packages of cheese for anything :)
spaghetti noodles (I use one package...I do use wheat)

Cut chicken into small pieces. Brown in butter or oil in a skillet.

Add onion and green pepper (or not :)and saute'.

Add salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and garlic.

Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and Mozzarella cheese.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti noodles. (I just mix it all together in a dish)
That is it. It really is easy. And like I said, my family gobbled it up. You would think they could have saved me a small helping for tomorrow?

Here is a pic after I added a little cheese to the top just because we like cheese...

Happy cooking!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Pork Chops Ole

This recipe showed up in our family cookbook a few years ago courtesy of my little sister. I will admit, I didn't really notice it for a while. But then one day I decided to try it. Oh, yum. Loved it. So now it is in our rotation. I love the combination of pork and Mexican flavor!

Pork Chops Ole
6 loin pork chops (I use boneless)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
seasoned salt and pepper
3/4 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 cups water
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 envelope taco seasoning (about 2 tbsp)
chopped bell pepper
1 bag cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350.

In a skillet, heat the oil (I don't really measure it). Brown pork sprinkled with seasoned salt and pepper. I am fairly liberal with it.

Meanwhile, in a greased baking dish (I use 13x9), stir together water, tomato sauce, rice, and taco seasoning.

Place browned pork chops on top.

Top with bell pepper. Do you remember me saying that we are not big veggie eaters? I think this one would be at the bottom of our list. It is one taste I have yet to acquire. So I don't use one. :)

Cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

At the end of the cooking time, take out and sprinkle with cheese. I usually use cheddar OR the Mexican blend (both low fat). Return to oven until cheese is melted.

This is a dish my whole family will eat. Even my "non Mexican" food eaters will eat it.

It is a good recipe, though you have to plan ahead due to cooking time.

Here are a couple of pictures...have I mentioned I am not a good food photo taker? :)

Here is a not pretty pic of my plate. I wasn't in a plating mood. I was in a hungry mood. The left is the pork chop, the right is the rice. The rice is by far my kids' favorite...

Happy cooking!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Aunt Janet's Cheese Dip

I honestly have no idea who Aunt Janet is. I got this recipe from my friend Carrie (who also gave me the "square ham sandwiches" recipe. And this is how she labeled it. I will have to ask her if SHE has an Aunt Janet. The funny thing is that I have made this for school, and now one of my co-workers brings it on occasion. And when people ask her about it, she always responds, "It's Aunt Janet's Cheese Dip".

Probably more information than you wanted.

Anyway, I made this tonight for our Life Group and wanted to share the recipe.

Hawaiian King Bread Bowl
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Parmesan (it calls for freshly grated...I priced fresh Parmesan once. It was way beyond my price range. I use bagged shredded...I prefer it anyway.)
2 cups Mozzarella
8 oz. sour cream
1 tbsp Accent salt
garlic powder to taste

Take the bread bowl. Cut a large hole on top and then pull out the bread. Save the bread for "dipping" later.

Mix together all of the other ingredients and place mixture into bread bowl.

Use "extra" bread pieces and/or Fritos for dipping.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Homemade Donut Holes

Glazed Donut Holes
Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes

Some time over the Christmas holiday, my sister reminded me that we used to make homemade donut holes when we were younger. She posted on Facebook that she was making them with her kiddos, we reminisced about it, and I decided to make them with my own kiddos soon after. Since them, we have made them a few times. They are VERY easy and probably not the slightest bit healthy. That is why they are a treat we only have once in a while.

Refrigerated biscuits (we just used the cheap pack of four rolls in a pack...we use two at a time
Vegetable oil
Powdered sugar/milk (if you prefer glazed)

Cut the biscuits into fourths. Roll into balls. My oldest daughter loves doing this part.

Drop into hot oil in a skillet or a Fry Daddy. We use the Fry Daddy so it is easy to get them in and out. When we made these in December/January, it was the first time we had even used our Fry Daddy in a few years I think! When they are golden brown, remove them. We stick them in a bowl to cool for a minute.

For cinnamon sugar holes: Pour some cinnamon and sugar into a paper lunch bag. Drop the donut holes in the bag, a few at a time, close, and shake away. Shake off the excess and then return to a bowl.

For glazed holes: Boil about a cup of milk, remove from heat. Add powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time. Whisk, continuing to add powdered sugar to desired consistency. Drop donut holes in a few at a time. Stir. Remove. Our glaze was very light.

That is it!

Eat and enjoy.

Happy cooking,