Friday, December 21, 2012

Eggnog Bundt Cake with Maple Icing

This is the perfect cake to make for Christmas Eve. Get your pajamas on and bundle up by the fire while watching your family's favorite Christmas movies or singing Christmas songs. Serve this Eggnog Bundt Cake with some warm hot chocolate or iced cold milk.Yummy! Merry Christmas!

Cake Ingredients:

1 - 18 oz. yellow cake mix
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups Eggnog
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bundt pan with non-stick baking spray.

In a large stand mixer bowl, add cake mix, melted butter, eggnog, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack. When cake has cooled, place on serving plate.

Glaze Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
milk - enough to make thick glaze

In a bowl, add the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Add just enough milk to create a thick pourable glaze while whisking until smooth. Pour glaze over top and let drip down sides. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Mommy's Kitchen

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rich, Spicy, Smoky Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

It's finally getting cold here in Texas! My oldest daughter, Madison, is excited to wear her favorite pair of jeans and boots. It also means it's time to go shopping for new winter clothes since they all grew much taller this year. My husband knows not to ask how much we spent at Justice...I will just shrug and then have our 3 girls model their new outfits complete with accessories while taking pictures like they are at a photo shoot. It's like a 2 hour show, and like most men, he would rather watch football and yell at the TV screen like they can hear him. But you know it melts his heart when the girls give him a big hug and say how thankful they are for how hard he works for our family. Seriously, he spoils them way more than I do. Our girls are so sweet and absolutely love their Daddy to the moon and back.

So to warm Daddy up for the pending shopping spree(s), I made this Chicken and Sausage Gumbo because it's his favorite cold weather soup. Time to take my girls to Justice!


1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup flour
4 Tbsp Creole seasoning, divided
1 white onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 poblano chilis (roasted, skin and seeds removed), chopped
2 cups andouille sausage, cubed
1 cup frozen okra
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock
2 dry bay leaves
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
Louisiana hot sauce, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
sliced scallions, for garnish

Roast poblanos over gas stove, or in cast iron skillet until charred. Scape away the skin, cut in half, remove the seeds, and chop.

In a large deep cast iron skillet or large soup pot, whisk together the oil and flour until you have a nice "milk chocolate" roux. Add the andouille sausage, 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning, and the trinity of veggies (onion, celery, poblano), stirring to cook until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the okra and garlic and cook another two minutes. Add the chicken stock, 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and cook additional 20 minutes. Taste and season with hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve up in big soup bowls, top with sliced scallions, and serve with steamed rice.

Recipe adapted from Columbia Daily Tribune

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Overnight Cinnamon Yeast Waffles

These waffles are perfect...crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. You make the batter the night before, refrigerate, and they are ready for the hot waffle maker when you wake up. It's best to serve them with room temperature syrup because warm syrup will soften them and you lose the crispy waffle texture. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon to take them over the top. Your family will eat them up and ask for seconds!


2 1/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, and salt.  Add the eggs, canola oil, milk, and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.

The next morning, preheat the waffle iron.  Remove the waffle batter from the refrigerator and stir to release all the bubbles.

Spray the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray when heated, then pour in some waffle batter, making sure to spread to the edges.  Close the lid and wait patiently.  Don't be tempted to lift the lid until they are cooked through and crispy brown.  Repeat for all waffles.  Serve with room temperature syrup, and sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

This recipe made 5 waffles on my waffle iron.

Recipe from Lovin' From the Oven

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banana Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Glaze

You may have noticed that I took a little break from blogging (5 months to be exact). I decided that sharing my love of cooking and baking brings too much happiness and joy to my life (and my family's tummies) to continue this blogging break. I hope that my readers have stuck around and are still interested in following me on this journey through our family's kitchen.

There are so many amazing recipes that I have pinned from Pinterest and tried these past several months. I'm truly inspired by all the wonderful home cooks out in the world. I LOVE Pinterest and plan on adding my recipes to my Big Mama's Favorites board as I post them on the blog and Facebook.

Now, let's talk about this cake! This is a simple cake that uses a box mix that is dressed up with bananas and a scrumptious thick vanilla bean glaze.  It's very moist and full of flavor. I think this was the perfect dessert to welcome Fall, and the perfect ending to our cheese enchiladas last night. I'm ready for some cooler weather and can't wait to make all my favorite soups.

Cake Ingredients:

1 - Betty Crocker Super Moist Spice Cake Mix (15.25 oz)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
4 large bananas (about 1 1/2 cups) mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a non-stick bundt cake pan.  In a large stand mixer, add the cake mix, water, oil, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Add the bananas and mix just until combined.

Pour the cake mix into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 42-45 minutes, or until wooden skewer comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack.


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
milk, enough to create thick glaze

In a bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste.  Add milk slowly until the consistency is a thick pourable glaze. Transfer the cooled cake to a plate and spoon or pour glaze over top.  Enjoy!

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Southern Creamed Eggs over Biscuits

I grew up eating Creamed Eggs, and I'm from Texas. This is my Mimaw (Great Grandmother) and Meemaw's (Grandmother) recipe, and Meemaw would make it for us every time we visited her at home in Oklahoma City. My Mom would often make it for us on the weekends. It's my brother's absolute favorite breakfast...if you ask him what he wants for breakfast, this will always be his choice. So this is dedicated to my Big Bro Jason!

I'm posting this just in time for the weekend so you can enjoy a hot breakfast on a lazy Saturday morning. It's so easy to make and will fill you up until you figure out what's for lunch.


8 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 to 3 cups milk
2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

To make the eggs, in a medium sauce pan, add the eggs and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and let sit for 12 minutes with the lid on. This will cook your eggs perfectly.

Run the eggs under cold water, tap them gently on the counter, and peel off the shells.  Chop up eggs and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Pour in 2 1/2 cups milk and whisk often until thickened. Add dry mustard and salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully stir in the eggs and add more milk if too thick.

Serve over warm buttered biscuits. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

My hubby loves Salisbury Steak, but I can honestly say that I've never tried it before now. Let me tell you...I was missing out. It was tender and moist and the mushroom gravy took it over the top! This is a Sandra Lee recipe so it's fast and easy on the wallet.


1 lb lean ground beef (93/7)
1 - 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup, divided
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp McCormick Montreal steak seasoning
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 - 8 oz pkg mushrooms, sliced
2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 packet brown gravy mix
1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, 1/4 can cream of mushroom soup, bread crumbs, egg, onions, and steak seasoning.  Form into 4 oval patties and set aside.

In a large deep skillet over medium high heat, add 1 Tbsp canola oil and 1 Tbsp butter.  Brown both sides of the patties and remove to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp butter to the skillet and saute the mushrooms over medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the beef broth, gravy mix, remaining cream of mushroom soup, rosemary, and black pepper to taste, and whisk until smooth.

Add the browned patties back to the skillet and spoon the gravy over top.  Cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Sandra Lee

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Classic Yellow Bundt Cake with Flavor Variations

This simple bundt cake can be combined with any of your favorite summer fruits and whipped cream to create gorgeous, satisfying desserts.  You can also use this base recipe and add some lemon or orange flavors for a brighter flavor.  Just look at my favorite combination...

This cake stays moist stored at room temperature in a cake carrier for several days and still tastes great. The longest it lasted at our house is 4 days...before it was all eaten.

Classic Yellow Bundt Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a glass measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.

In a large stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, and beat until combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture.  Repeat with 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture followed by the remaining buttermilk mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix just until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan (batter will be thick) and smooth out the top with rubber spatula.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until long wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

Let the cake cool in the pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then flip out onto wire rack to cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.  Enjoy!

Flavor Variations:

Lemon Bundt Cake:
Increase the amount of lemon juice to 3 Tbsp and add 3 Tbsp lemon zest to the buttermilk and vanilla mixture.

Orange Bundt Cake:
Add 2 Tbsp orange juice and 2 Tbsp orange zest to the buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice mixture.

Marble Bundt Cake:
Melt 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, and 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder together in microwave, stirring often until smooth, about 1 minute.  Divide the cake batter into 2 bowls and stir the chocolate mixture into one of the bowls.  Pour the plain cake batter into the bundt pan, then top with the chocolate cake batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the batters together.

Recipe adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Healthier Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Loaves

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I make banana bread alot...seriously all the time. We just can't get enough of this quick bread. It's great for breakfast, afternoon snack, and dessert.This is a healthier version that uses apple sauce, just a little bit of butter, and a combination of white and whole wheat flour. These lovely mini loaves were moist, chocolaty, and delicious!


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 T unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray mini loaf pan (8 cavity) with non-stick cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.  Add the eggs and beat until well combined.  Mix in the apple sauce, vanilla and mashed bananas until thick.

Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.  Add the mini chocolate chips and mix to incorporate.

Pour the batter into the mini loaf pan, filling each about 2/3 of the way (makes 8 mini loaves). Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Skinny Taste

Thursday, April 5, 2012

White Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chile Sauce

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Enchiladas are a favorite in our home. These are made using a rotisserie chicken and topped with a simple creamy green chile sauce. They are easy to make especially when you have your kiddos help roll them up.


2 rotisserie chicken breasts, chopped
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 tsp cumin
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
Flour tortillas


3 T canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T flour
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup 2% milk
4 oz can green chiles
4 oz (1/2 block) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cubed
1/2 tsp cumin
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste


1 cup monterey jack cheese
cilantro, as garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray (I use our big lasagna dish).

In a large bowl, combine chicken, monterey jack cheese, cumin, salt, and pepper.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the canola oil and saute the garlic for one minute.  Whisk in the flour and cook for another minute.  Add the chicken broth and milk and cook until thickened, whisking often.  Add the green chiles and cream cheese and stir until melted and combined.  Add the cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off heat.

It's time to assemble the enchiladas.  Wrap flour tortillas (about 10) in wet paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds.  Take a flour tortilla, put some filling down the middle, and top with cilantro.  Roll up tight and place in prepared dish seam side down.  Repeat and lay them down side by side in dish.  Pour sauce evenly over top.  Sprinkle remaining 1 cup monterey jack cheese over top.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve up and top with cilantro and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos

There's nothing better than knowing dinner will be a breeze to put on the table for my hungry family. These shredded chicken tacos are cooked in the slow cooker with sliced peppers, onions, garlic, and spices. I found these fun little peppers at Super Target and picked them up for our dinner and fresh salads throughout the week. The big peppers are outrageously priced no matter the season, so until I plant some in my garden, these little peppers are perfect. I love how it has all three of my favorite sweet pepper colors in one package.

If you like your tacos spicy, you can add some chipotles in adobo into the slow cooker for even more flavor. When ready to serve, set out your favorite toppings and let your family create tacos their way.


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 packets low sodium taco seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 cup Tri-color sweet peppers, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotles in adobo, minced (optional)
Toppings of choice: sour cream, shredded cheese, avocados, jalapenos, sweet peppers, pico de gallo

Add the taco seasoning, black pepper, cumin, and chicken broth to slow cooker and stir.  Add the onions, sweet peppers, and garlic. Add the chicken breasts and nestle into the mixture. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, shred, and return to slow cooker. Set out toppings and have fun creating your favorite tacos.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cake Ball Sundae Cones

We spent St. Patrick's Day making these fun Cake Ball Sundae Cones from my new book Cake Pops Bakerella.  

We used a boxed strawberry cake mix and vanilla frosting for the cake balls, and vanilla coating for the outside.  Fun sprinkles and a skittle on top made them look so cute.  My girls loved them as you can tell from their big smiles.


1 box cake mix, plus water, oil, and eggs per box instructions
1 can vanilla frosting
2 or 3 bags Wilton candy melts (I used white and pink vanilla flavor)
sprinkles and skittles

Bake cake in a 9x13 pan per box instructions.  Let cool.

Crumble cake into a large bowl, then add the frosting.  Stir well until it all comes together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll the cake into large balls just large enough to cover the ice cream cone opening.  Freeze for 1 hour.

You will need a place to set the cones upright for the melted chocolate to set up.  I used a wire cooling rack balanced on top of two plastic cups.  You can also use some styrofoam or empty egg carton with holes punched big enough for the bottom of cone to balance without falling over.

In the microwave, melt one bag of the candy melts in a deep bowl.  Dip each cake ball in the melted chocolate, then use a spoon to carefully set on top of cone.  You want the chocolate to drip down the sides of cone (this will seal it). Decorate with sprinkles. Place into your drying station so the chocolate can set up.  Repeat with all cake balls, melting more chocolate as needed.

Melt the other bag of candy melts in contrasting color.  Spoon over each dried cake ball and add a skittle on top.  Let chocolate set up.  Enjoy!

These can be stored at room temperature, but are best eaten the same day as the cones will lose their crispiness and become very chewy.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Mint Chocolate Pudding Cups

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Happy St. Patrick's Day weekend! On my hubby's day off work, he picks up our girls from school. I like to surprise them with a special snack when they get home before we go outside to play. These Mint Chocolate Pudding Cups are layered with instant chocolate pudding flavored with mint extract, triple double chocolate Oreos, chocolate mint marshmallows, and frozen Cool Whip that is scooped like ice cream.

Jordyn helped me assemble the pudding cups, then we hid them in the refrigerator for the girls to find. Let's just say they were pleasantly surprised by this chocolate sweet treat and practically licked the cups clean!


5.1 oz. box Jell-o instant chocolate pudding
3 cups cold 2% milk
1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
8 triple double Oreos, cut into quarters
16 chocolate mint marshmallows
8 scoops Cool Whip Lite

In a medium bowl, whisk together the chocolate pudding mix with milk and peppermint extract until thick, about 5 minutes.

In 4 glasses, layer the ingredients:

mint chocolate pudding
scoop of frozen Cool Whip
mint chocolate pudding
scoop of frozen Cool Whip
chocolate mint marshmallows

Serve immediately and Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bacon, Tomato, Swiss, Guacamole Grilled Cheese

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We make fancy sandwiches for dinner quite often.  My kids love them and the possibilities are endless.  So get out your griddle and fire it up...these grilled cheese sandwiches aren't just for kids.


Sourdough sliced bread
2 avocados
2 T cilantro, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
kosher salt
black pepper
garlic powder
1/2 lb thick cut bacon, cooked
roma tomatoes, sliced
swiss cheese slices

Preheat griddle over medium low heat.  Butter one side of the sourdough bread.

In a small bowl, mash up the avocados.  Stir in the cilantro, lemon juice, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder (to taste).

Assemble the sandwiches by spreading a layer of guacamole on the inside of each slice of bread.  Add a layer of cooked bacon, roma tomatoes, and swiss cheese.  Grill until toasted and the cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Happy Spring Break! My girls are home for the week, and we have lots of fun stuff planned. Dinner is always a priority, so when I saw these Mexican Stuffed Shells on Pinterest, I couldn't stop thinking about them.  Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with creamy, seasoned ground taco beef, then topped with a taco sauce/hot sauce mixture and shredded cheese.  They were so easy and simply delicious!


20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
1 cup water
4 oz. lite cream cheese
1/4 cup cilantro
1 cup hot sauce (I used Pace Picante medium)
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese
Lite sour cream, for topping
Cilantro, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook jumbo pasta shells in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain and set aside on a baking sheet in a single layer.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground beef until cooked through.  Add the onion and cook another 5 minutes.   Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Stir in the taco seasoning and water.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat, then stir in the cream cheese and cilantro.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together the hot sauce and taco sauce.  Spread a layer into the prepared baking dish.

Spoon meat mixture into each of the cooked pasta shells and place side by side in baking dish open side up. Top with remaining sauce mixture and sprinkle shells with shredded cheese.

Cover with non-stick foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Serve immediately and top with lite sour cream and cilantro.  Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from The Way to His Heart

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

{Diet} Coca Cola Sheet Cake is my 40th Birthday, and since I love chocolate so much, I thought I would share this delicious, rich chocolate cake with you.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

For the Cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup Coca Cola (I used Diet)
1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large 15x3x1 inch jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the butter, cocoa powder, coca cola, and buttermilk until it comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and whisk into dry ingredients.  Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick tester comes out clean.

For the Icing:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup Coca Cola (I used Diet)
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the butter, cocoa powder, and Coca Cola.  Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth. You could always add some chopped up pecans now, if you prefer.  Pour over the warm cake.  Let cool until the icing has set.  Enjoy warm.

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Recipe from May Flaum

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crispy Oven Baked Cheese Sticks and "Unfried" Pickles

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This is a healthier way to enjoy the typical fried appetizers you love. They are baked, not fried, and get their nice crispy coating from a mixture of panko and bread crumbs. You can spice up the coating mixture with whatever you are in the mood for, i.e Italian herbs, smoky cumin, spicy cayenne. Choose your favorite dipping sauce and you are ready for a real treat.


1 package low-skim mozzarella cheese sticks
3 egg whites + 1 T water
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set a baking rack on top.

Unwrap the cheese sticks and set aside.  Stir together the egg whites and water in a shallow dish.  In another shallow dish, stir together the panko, bread crumbs, and seasonings.

Dip the cheese sticks into the egg whites, then roll around in the coating mixture.  Set on prepared baking sheet rack.  Repeat for all cheese sticks.  Starting with the first cheese stick, repeat the dipping and coating process again.  Repeat for all cheese sticks.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is soft but not melting.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Arrange on serving platter and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.  I used some homemade marinara that I store in the freezer in small ziplock freezer bags.

Use the same process for the dill pickle slices.  I used Buttermilk Garlic Dip for the pickles.

Try my recipes for Baked Onion Rings too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

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I love healthy, flavorful soups, especially when they are quick and easy to make.  I found this recipe on Pinterest recently and saved it to my Soups board.  This soup starts with a roux based sauce on the stove top, then you add all the ingredients to the crock pot and let it simmer all day long.  The chicken is so moist and the soup has an amazing rich smoky flavor. You can top it with your favorites, like shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, olives, jalapenos, etc.  I topped mine with sliced avocados, and my hubby and kids always use shredded cheese on all soup.


3 T olive oil
3 T flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup 2% milk
1 - 15 oz. can enchilada sauce
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 - jalapeno, finely diced
1 - green bell pepper, chopped
1 - yellow onion, chopped
1 - 15 oz. can corn, no salt added
1 - can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - can mild Rotel tomatoes, with juice
1 - lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
Toppings of choice: shredded cheese, avocados, sour cream, green onions, olives, jalapenos

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Cook for a minute, then stir in the chicken broth and milk.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until thick, whisking constantly.  Add the enchilada sauce, cumin, paprika, chili powder, Mexican oregano, and garlic powder and whisk to combine.  Turn off heat.

In a crock pot, add the jalapeno, green bell pepper, onion, corn, black beans, and Rotel tomatoes (with juice) and stir.  Place the chicken breasts on top of veggies and pour the sauce all over.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.

When you are ready to serve, remove the chicken and shred.  Add it back to the soup and stir.  Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.  Top with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Adapted from Dainty Chef

Monday, February 27, 2012

100th Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies & New Blog Design

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Did you notice my new awesome blog design?  Ashton from Something Swanky not only creates original and drool worthy desserts...she also creates custom blog designs.  Ashton took my vision and made it come to life at a very affordable price.  I just LOVE opening up my blog every morning and seeing the cheerful colors and polka dots!  You can see more examples of  Ashton's custom blog designs here under the Design Gallery on the right side bar.   Go visit Something Swanky's Etsy Shop to get started!  

I'm working on creating a visual recipe index, but for now, you can find recipes by browsing the categories on the right or using the search box.  There's a new "Printer Friendly" button at the end of each post where you can choose to remove the images and delete my ramblings so you are left with just the recipe to print.

Now...let's talk about the Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies!  Aren't they pretty?

I walked into Super Target for my weekly grocery and household shopping, and I saw these on the front aisle of good snack food.  Oreo is celebrating 100 years of the best cookie ever with these Birthday Cake Oreos.

I've made moist Homemade Oreos before using cake mix, but this homemade version is from scratch using a chocolate cookie recipe from My Kitchen Addicition.  I created the filling that tastes like birthday cake by  adding cake mix and french vanilla creamer to homemade buttercream frosting.  The chocolate cookies are not very sweet on their own, but when combined with the filling, they are amazing!


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined.

Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take one disk of cookie dough and roll out on lightly floured work surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes and place on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 12 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Birthday Cake Filling:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup yellow cake mix, sifted
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 Tbsp french vanilla creamer (half n half, cream, or milk can be used)
1/2 cup sprinkles

In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla until smooth.  Add the sifted cake mix and powdered sugar.  Slowly turn on the mixer and add the creamer.  Add more creamer if needed to make thick frosting.  Add the sprinkles and mix just until incorporated throughout.

Assemble the cookies by piping a thick layer of frosting on the bottom of a cookie and placing another cookie on top.  You can add more sprinkles to the sides of frosting by hand or by rolling into sprinkles.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Moist Date Bars

My Mom makes the most fabulous date pinwheel cookies every Christmas holiday season for us to snack on.  I asked for her to pick up some dates at the fancy specialty grocery store she frequents so we could make cookies on Christmas eve.  She brought over the best Medjool dates I've ever tasted...seriously, they were like candy.  We spent Christmas eve making frosted sugar cookies for Santa and having so much fun with our girls that we never made the cookies.  I put the dates in the freezer to keep fresh, planning to use them when life slowed down a bit. 

Life finally slowed down and the dates caught my eye every time I opened the freezer door.  I found this recipe for Classic Date Bars at and decided to try it out.  Oh my gosh, they are so moist and delicious!  I can't wait to make them for my Mom.  These bars are quick and easy to make and really showcase the Medjool dates.


1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups fresh Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  

    In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a simmer. Add the dates and simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

    In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Add butter and use pastry cutter or hands to work into dry mixture until moist clumps form. 

    Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture over. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into bars and serve.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Skinny Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan is one of my favorite Italian dishes.  It's great when I can feed my family a healthier version without compromising the taste.  I used a combination of Panko and Italian breadcrumbs to get the nice crispy outer layer.  The chicken is baked in the oven on a rack so both sides get crispy.  It is then topped with a simple homemade marinara and reduced fat finely shredded mozzarella cheese.  It's the perfect meal when served with a greek side salad drizzled with light balsamic vinaigrette.  This dish was inspired by Leslie's post over at The Hungry Housewife.

Chicken Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 20 oz)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or more if needed)
3 egg whites
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
reduced fat finely shredded mozzarella cheese ~ top after baking

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set a baking rack on top.

Add the flour to a pie dish.  Add the egg whites to another pie dish.  Add the panko, Italian breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and oregano to another pie dish and stir together.

Put each piece of chicken in the flour to coat both sides, into the egg whites, then into the breadcrumbs.  Place coated chicken onto prepared baking sheet.  Spray or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. 

Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.  Notice the chicken was not pounded out thin, so make sure to cook it through.  You can turn on the broiler if you want the coating to brown at the last minute.  Don't walk away because it will burn easily.

Easy Marinara:

1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 15 1/2 oz can tomato sauce
1 - 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
pinch red pepper flakes

In a small pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute onions for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and seasonings.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This can be made while the chicken is cooking.

When ready to serve, plate up the chicken and top with marinara and reduced fat mozzarella cheese.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This is my husband's favorite creamy soup, so I thought it was about time I made it for him. It truly is a one pot meal and so easy to make, which means I will be making it more often. This recipe is a copycat recipe from Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup.


1 T olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half n half
2 cups chicken broth
3 stalks broccoli, cut into florets
pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, over medium heat add the olive oil and saute the onion for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Melt the butter, then add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes.  Add the half n half and chicken broth and whisk to combine.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Add the broccoli and cook for another 20-25 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.  Add the nutmeg, garlic powder, and cheddar cheese.  Stir to combine.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Use a potato masher to break up some of the broccoli, leaving some broccoli in florets.  This will give a nice creamy broccoli flavor with good bites of broccoli.  Serve in soup bowls and top with shredded cheese and croutons.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day Red Velvet and Brownie Cakes

Valentine's Day is next week so I created a dessert that is perfect to make for your loved ones.  I used boxed brownie mix and red velvet cake mix to speed up the process, but you can use your favorite brownie and red velvet cake recipes.  I used my favorite homemade chocolate buttercream frosting to pipe between the layers and on top. 


1 - box Red velvet cake mix plus ingredients to make (water, oil and eggs)
1 - box Brownie mix plus ingredients to make (water, oil, and eggs)

Bake the Red velvet cake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes in a 16x12x1 inch parchment lined sheet pan (leave overhang to lift baked caked out easily).

Bake the Brownies at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes in a 9x13 inch parchment lined cake pan (leave overhang to lift baked brownies out easily).

Let cool completely in pans on wire rack.  Remove the cake and brownies by gently lifting using the parchment paper.

Use heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes.  You could use different sizes too.  You will only need 1/2 of the red velvet cake if you plan on using brownies on all of them. 

Note:  I made Red Velvet Cake Truffles with the leftover cake.  All you have to do is add just enough canned cream cheese frosting to bring it all together (I used about 1/3 can).

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk (maybe less, maybe more)

In a large stand mixer bowl, beat the butter for a minute. Add the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract, then slowly add the milk, a little at a time, until the right consistency is achieved. Piped frosting needs to be thicker than frosting that will be spread using offset spatula. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until thick and fluffy.

Assemble the brownies and cakes and pipe or spread frosting in between the layers and on top.  Decorate with Valentine's sprinkles.  Store in airtight container lined with wax paper at room temperature.  Enjoy!
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